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Lillibridge Dining Hall completes master plan at Camp Capers

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 12:22pm

Catherine and Bishop Gary Lillibridge hold up the chalices and paten created by jeweler and silversmith Skip Edwards as a gift for Camp Capers from the Rt. Rev. David Reed, in honor of the Lillibridge’s ministry. Photo: Kaylin Thomae

[Diocese of West Texas] The new Lillbridge Dining Hall at Camp Capers in Waring, Texas, was dedicated June 5 and named in honor of the Rt. Rev. Gary and Catherine Lillibridge, in the presence of senior high campers, camp staff and numerous Camp Capers alumni who came to celebrate this momentous occasion. The construction of the 11,000-square-foot dining hall completes the master plan of renovations at Camp Capers, a plan created in the 1990s and put into motion around 2008.

The Lillibridge Dining Hall allows 360 people to sit and share a meal together and offers an updated, flexible kitchen for meal preparation. In this new space, a separate, smaller dining area exists to accommodate conference lunches or other meeting or retreat groups.

The Rt. Rev. David Reed dedicates the new Lillibridge Dining Hall at Camp Capers in the presence of summer campers, camp staff, and guests. Photo: Kaylin Thomae

“Everything you do at camp is part of life in the Church,” said the Rt. Rev. David Reed, bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of West Texas. “One thing the Church does well together is to bless and share a meal. That is a gift at camp – to share a meal, converse with each other and grow in love. God’s people eat, so that they may go out and feed others.”

The master plan for Camp Capers, which started with the vision of a new dining hall, is a $4.5 million project. Other new or updated buildings on site include: Steves Hall (meeting space), two exquisite lodges, a welcome center with office space for year-round staff, a health center, activities building, river-side amphitheater, a new entry into camp and new road through camp and an outdoor garden. An additional 108 adjacent acres also were purchased in 2013, more than doubling the size of the original 80-acre camp.

The Lillibridge Dining Hall honors the ministry of Bishop Gary and Catherine Lillibridge throughout the years at Camp Capers and in the diocesan camping program. Jeff Rochelle, chair of the Camp Capers Capital Campaign Committee, said, “Lillibridge is to be commended for us celebrating this; he has worked very hard for it. It is quite telling that the entire Development Committee wanted to honor him and Catherine with this dedication.” Lillibridge, the ninth bishop of the diocese, retires this summer.

Catherine Lillibridge, during her remarks, told the present campers that Camp Capers has stayed in her heart since she first attended at age 15. “I always recall Jeremiah 31:3 – ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.’ Let that sink into your heart and carry it in your bones. You are loved.”

Bishop Lillibridge, humbled by the honor, said the dedication of the dining hall is a special gift, a birthday gift, for Camp Capers, which celebrates its 70th year in 2017. “Though we are blessed by many sacred sites in our diocese, Camp Capers is known as the ‘spiritual center of the diocese,’” said Lillibridge.

Also during the dedication, a gift was presented to Camp Capers in honor of the Lillibridges from Bishop Reed. Two chalices and a paten bearing the Camp Capers logo, were designed and created by silversmith and jeweler Skip Edwards, member of Redeemer Episcopal Church, Eagle Pass, Texas. “Today they are dedicated, and they will be made holy by your use of them for what they were created,” said Reed.

After the earlier construction and numerous projects, a plea was made to the diocesan family to raise $5 million for the new dining hall at Diocesan Council in February 2015. The people responded and the money was raised in less than a year, which led to the quick construction of the dining hall, ready for this year’s summer campers.

“The timing was incredible,” said Rob Watson, director of camps and conferences. He extended many thanks to the work of the Capital Campaign Committee, including Rochelle and honorary co-chairs Bonnie and Ed Longcope and Mollie and Bartell Zachary. Watson also acknowledged the hard work of Beatty Palmer Architects, which also designed Steves Hall and the new lodges; MJ Boyle Construction, which also built the activities building; as well as Alan Lindskog, civil engineer who is also a Camp Capers alum. “They all performed unbelievably well to meet our summer camp deadline,” said Watson.

Ron Wood, Camp Capers alum, and the staff from summer camp in 1986, designed a stained glass window in the shape of the Camp Capers cross that is striking above the entrance to the dining hall. The middle square is a sundial, set to Daylight Savings Time, and you can track the time by shadows beginning at 2:30 p.m. each day. There is a small mark on the sundial that commemorates the death of Bishop William T. Capers, third bishop of the diocese for whom the camp was named, on March 29, 1943. “A shadow will fall on this mark each year on March 29,” said Wood.

Following the dedication service, guests and campers were served a delicious meal of fried chicken, homemade macaroni and cheese, and coleslaw, all with freshly sliced watermelon on the side, prepared by Camp Capers Chef Graham McKim and the summer kitchen crew.

Speaking to all, especially the present campers who have never been in an Episcopal church, Reed said, “Live in this, share this meal, be the Church and keep coming back.”

— Laura Shaver is communications officer for the Diocese of West Texas.

Newly ordained Anglicans, seminarians make fact-finding visit to Anglican Communion office

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 10:20am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Recently ordained Anglicans and seminarians from 14 countries have visited the Anglican Communion office in London to learn about its work through a series of presentations by staff members. The guests came from Australia, Brazil, India, Ghana, Hong Kong, Kenya, Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, United States and Zimbabwe.

Full article.

Youth leaders discuss future of ministries in West Indies

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 3:45pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Youth directors in the West Indies have held a meeting in Barbados to develop a strategic plan for youth ministry in the region. The Provincial Youth Commission of the Church in the Province of the West Indies met last week at Codrington College – drawing together youth directors from each diocese and young people from Guyana and Barbados, to explore how youth ministry can be refocused around the Anglican Marks of Mission.

Full article.

Mark Stevenson among 4 alumni honored by Nashotah House

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 3:01pm

[Episcopal News Service] Nashotah House Theological Seminary honored four alumni at an awards banquet held in May, including the Rev. E. Mark Stevenson, director of Episcopal Migration Ministries.

The Rev. Mark Stevenson is director of Episcopal Migration Ministries.

Stevenson, a 2000 Nashotah House graduate, received the Bishop McKim Award, “presented to an individual who has demonstrated distinguished leadership in international service.” He was named EMM’s director in May 2016. Before that, he served as the Episcopal Church domestic poverty missioner, responsible for encouraging poverty ministry efforts aimed at systemic change and overseeing Jubilee Ministries, with nearly 700 ministries that focus on the economically impoverished.

Other alumni receiving awards from Nashotah House were Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools; the Very Rev. Robert Nelson Smith, president and CEO of St. Frances Community Services, and the Rev. Martha Bradley, retired deacon of the mass in Springfield, Illinois.

Nashotah House, located in Nashotah, Wisconsin, is celebrating its 175th year. This week, it is hosting a conference, “Living Sacrifices: Repentance, Reconciliation and Renewal.”

 

Rhode Island church opens doors to Jewish congregation in search of new home

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 1:03pm

Trinity Church in Cranston, Rhode Island, offered space in its buildings to a Jewish congregation that was in search of a new home. Photo: Trinity Church

[Episcopal News Service] A Jewish congregation that was left without a home after its former Rhode Island synagogue was placed in receivership is being welcomed with open arms by Episcopalians south of Providence.

The new interfaith partnership will be celebrated June 11 when dozens of members of the Congregation Or Chadash will take turns carrying three Torahs from the former Temple Am David in Warwick, Rhode Island, in a procession across the Pawtuxet River to the congregation’s new home at Trinity Church in Cranston.

Or Chadash will be based in a classroom at Trinity that previously was used as a day care center. Trinity is allowing the Jewish congregation to use various other church facilities, including the kitchen and meeting room. And Or Chadash plans to use a small chapel and church hall at Trinity for Shabbat, which won’t overlap with Trinity’s Sunday services.

The Rev. Mitch Lindeman, Trinity’s priest-in-charge, called it a “ministry of facility.” In an interview with the Cranston Herald, he said the response has been uniformly positive.

“From the most senior to the newest members, no one batted an eye,” Lindeman told the Herald, adding that the doors of the church should remain open for the community.

Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely said his diocese is honored to offer Congregation Or Chadash this hospitality, an example of a wider emphasis on expanding the uses of church facilities.

“We’ve been asking all of our congregations across the state, how do we use our buildings as a resource to empower the whole life of the community and not just as focal point of our Christian worship?” Knisely told Episcopal News Service in a phone interview.

Beth Veltri, president of Or Chadash, which means New Light, told the Herald that hers is a new congregation that is no longer tied financially to the former Temple Am David. The old synagogue was sold to a Buddhist group for Rhode Island’s first Buddhist temple, the Herald reports.

In search of a new facility, Veltri reached out to Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, who happened to be a parishioner and senior warden at Trinity. The Episcopal church seemed like a good fit, the mayor told the Herald, and the interfaith partnership was born.

“Our wardens and vestry are excited about this partnering which expresses our commitment to ecumenism and fellowship, while supporting our sisters and brothers in the Jewish faith community,” Trinity says in a post on its website inviting the community to the welcoming procession on June 11.

Knisely is expected to attend the festivities “to welcome this faith community into this new relationship with Trinity Church,” he told ENS. “We look forward to learning together about the riches of God’s love to the world.”

He also noted that there are examples of such interfaith hospitality at other Episcopal Church facilities. Washington National Cathedral made headlines in 2014 for hosting a Muslim prayer service for the first time. Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston also regularly hosts Muslim prayer services.

“We do have a tradition within the Episcopal Church of providing hospitality for other faith groups within our buildings,” Knisely said.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Prayers and defiance follow London Bridge terror attack

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 1:15pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Churches around the United Kingdom have been praying for the victims of the June 3 terrorist attack in London and their families and friends. Seven people died and 48 were injured when three men drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and then went on the rampage stabbing people in bars and in the street.

Speaking at Folkestone in Kent on June 4, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said, “The terrorists want to divide us. They want to make us hate one another. They want to change our way of life. But just like we saw in Manchester, Londoners are responding with generosity and open hearts… with courage and resilience.”

Full article.

Anglican environmental group expresses sorrow at Trump decision on Paris deal

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 1:07pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Communion Environmental Network has added its voice to those condemning President Donald Trump for deciding to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

“We know that our brothers and sisters on every continent are already experiencing the damaging and sometimes catastrophic effects of climate change,” the network said. “We call on fellow Christians and all people of faith in the USA to hear the voices of their brothers and sisters who are already impacted by climate change. Our faith calls us to feed the hungry. Today, this means halting those actions which are causing hunger and starvation.”

Full article.

David M. Reed invested as the 10th bishop of the West Texas

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 12:54pm

BishopGary R. Lillibridge hands over the diocesan bishop’s crozier to BishopDavid M.Reed. This cozier has been carried by the bishops of the Diocese of West Texas for 98 years. Photo: John Gaskins

[Diocese of West Texas] The Rt. Rev. David M. Reed was invested as the 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas on June 3, during a service held at TMI – The Episcopal School of Texas in San Antonio. Clergy and lay members of the diocese filled the 500-seat chapel. Reed was first consecrated bishop in 2006 when he was elected to serve as the diocese’s fifth bishop suffragan. Reed is the first bishop suffragan of the diocese to be chosen as diocesan bishop.

On Saturday, the Rt. Rev. Gary R. Lillibridge, ninth bishop of the diocese, who retires this summer, presided over the investiture service for Reed and lead him through the renewal of his ordination vows. During the service, Lillibridge symbolically handed over to Reed the diocesan bishop’s crozier, a crozier that has been carried by bishops of the Diocese of West Texas for 98 years.

During his homily, Reed said he was able to accept all the pageantry around a bishop’s investiture, as long as the diocesan family “doesn’t forget where we’re headed together with Jesus, if we will give ourselves to the work of remembering the life to which we are called by the grace, mercy, and love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. I will go along with this, if you will go along with me … this way, following Jesus … toward the Kingdom.”

Last year, Reed introduced his vision for the diocese: the Kingdom of God, which, he said, is the purpose for which the Diocese of West Texas exists. “Together, we’re going to go this way … the way of Christ.”

On June 3, Reed continued, “I can be audacious enough to take the pastoral staff and serve as a shepherd only because Jesus is our one, true Good Shepherd; and therefore, the whole Church—all of us sheep of his pasture—are called to rise up on our hind hooves and be shepherds of the Kingdom with him.”

Referencing the diocesan annual theme, “Behold, I make all things new,” (Revelation 21:5), Reed said, “This passage is not a call to our churches to shelter in place and await the sweet by-and-by. Our hope and expectation of an end—God’s purposeful completion—frees and empowers us to live, love, and serve more fully in our own places.”

Reed said, “May the Spirit awaken us anew to the liveliness of this kind of life, in which we are empowered to join with Christ in his abundant self-offering.”

Changing up the traditional closing procession, Reed exited the chapel first, along with the other visiting bishops, and he asked the acolytes, vergers, and children to go last, “the place of honor in a parade,” he said.

“Real shepherds don’t stay in the back, but lead and move among the sheep and know them by name. And shepherds are called to lead the Church outside … passionate and open-armed … where Jesus is calling us, into the pain, anger and division of our world,” said Reed.

Visiting bishops included the Rt. Rev. Dena Harrison, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Texas; the Rt. Rev. Benito Juarez Martinez, bishop of the Diocese of Southeast Mexico; the Rt. Rev. Nathan Kyamanywa, retired from Bunyoro-Kitara Diocese of Uganda; the Rt. Rev. Francisco Moreno, bishop of the Diocese of Northern Mexico; and the Rev. Ray Tiemann, bishop of the Southwestern Texas Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Reed was first ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in January 1984 after receiving his Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin in 1983. He served as the assistant rector of St. Alban’s, Harlingen (1983-1987); rector of St. Francis, Victoria (1987-1994); and rector of St. Alban’s, Harlingen (1994-2006). He is married to Patti (Kopec) Reed, and they have two adult children.

As the diocese celebrated the Investiture of Reed, many expressions of congratulations and love were received from past parishioners and family friends. Pat Menville, formerly from St. Francis, Victoria, said of Reed and his wife Patti, “Amazing people like you are like ripples in water – and you may never see the shores touched by the ripples, but they have all been shaped by that water.”

The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas comprises 26,000 members in 87 congregations spread across 60 counties in Central and South Texas and covers 69,000 square miles. The diocesan headquarters are at the Bishop Jones Center in San Antonio, Texas.

— Laura Shaver is communications officer for the Diocese of West Texas

Goats hired to clear Utah church’s weedy lot become unexpected evangelism tool

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 12:16pm

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in West Valley City rented a flock of goats to tame an overgrown field of weeds on church property. Within days, the goats had made impressive progress. Photo: The Rev. Mary Janda

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Mary Janda has new perspective on Matthew 25:33. If God is to separate the righteous from the cursed like sheep from goats, Janda’s recent experience at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in West Valley City, Utah, has gotten her thinking Matthew was a bit unfair to the goats in destining them for eternal punishment.

“I mean, give the goats a break,” said Janda, the vicar at St. Stephen’s.

Janda is not alone in her newfound affection for these biblically maligned animals. She, her congregation and its neighbors spent nine eventful days in May getting to know a flock of 108 goats – give or take a few, due to one death and three births. The goats proved surprisingly useful in taming the church’s field of weeds, when they weren’t escaping and getting into mischief in the neighborhood.

St. Stephen’s, a mission congregation of the Diocese of Utah, chose to rent the flock as a less expensive and more environmentally friendly way of clearing about an acre and a half of vacant church land, Janda said. In the process, the goats became an unexpected tool for evangelism.

“People stopped and took pictures, and we made the evening news,” she said by phone. The goats “just did a fantastic job.”

Churches have long incorporated animals of all kinds into their ministries, from pet-blessing services to farming projects. St. Peter’s Church in Malvern, Pennsylvania, even has maintained a flock of sheep in the church cemetery since 2003.

The goats provided by 4 Leaf Ranch had plenty to eat when they arrived at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church’s overgrown field. Photo: Mary Janda

A flock of goats may not be the best fit for many other congregations, but St. Stephen’s found it uniquely suited to its needs. Years ago, the diocese provided extra land for St. Stephen’s and other churches in Utah with the hope that it would be useful to expanding congregations. Instead, the land in West Valley City has remained vacant – “just a collection of weeds,” Janda said.

This year, when church leaders were discussing the need to hire a contractor or rent equipment to mow the land, someone said it was too bad they didn’t have goats to do the job for them. Someone else mentioned that farms rent goats for jobs like that.

The church took the idea seriously and discovered a flock for hire at 4 Leaf Ranch in Kamas, Utah. The diocese agreed to pay the ranch $1,250 to rent the goats long enough to eat the weeds in St. Stephen’s lot, and Janda said goats munch so close to the roots that their services likely are only needed once a season, rather than hiring someone to mow several times over the summer.

On May 17, the 108 goats arrived by truck and were unloaded at St. Stephen’s. The ranch set up an electric fence around the church lot to keep the flock contained and provided a water trough. One of the ranch’s goat herders was assigned to remain with the flock, sleeping in a small camper that he parked on the property.

The congregation delighted at the visitors, especially when some of them walked up to the church window and stared in at worshipers during Sunday service before returning to their meal of weeds.

The congregation also learned that a lot can happen when you invite a flock of goats over for nine days. In addition to eating virtually nonstop, the goats staged a couple of “breakouts,” in one case getting under a chain-link fence and venturing into a neighboring school yard before they were caught again.

Another time, some of the goats got out and made a snack out of a nearby resident’s flowers. Two joggers stopped to help the goat herder corral the animals back onto church property, and 4-Leaf Ranch covered the cost of the neighbor’s damaged plants.

“All in the life of the goat-herding business,” Janda said.

Life sometimes is mixed with death in this business. One elderly goat died after arriving at St. Stephen’s, a case of old age, Janda said. Two other goats had been pregnant upon arrival and gave birth in the church’s lot, one single birth and one case of twins. The mothers and newborn kids then were taken back to the ranch.

Mostly, though, the goats just ate and ate, paying little attention to the bands of onlookers who gathered now and then at the edge of the lot to watch.

“They’re so busy eating,” Janda said. “They’ll notice your presence, and then they’re continue eating.”

The goats are seen in a corral shortly before leaving St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. Photo: Mary Janda.

St. Stephen’s is working on a plan to turn part of the vacant lot into a community garden by next year, but the congregation still may need the services of the goats to clear any remaining weed-filled land.

“I just think anything we can do to show how we’re not just your institutionalized church, we’re trying to do things that are environmentally conscious and just have some fun doing it,” Janda said.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Episcopal Church Foundation announces 2017 fellows

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 10:53am

[Episcopal Church Foundation press release] The Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) has named five 2017 Fellows – Jennifer Adams-Massmann, Stewart Clem, Ashley Graham-Wilcox, Renee McKenzie-Hayward, and David Peters.

The Fellowship Partners Program is ECF’s longest running program and has supported emerging scholars and ministry leaders across the Episcopal Church for more than fifty years. Established in 1964 to identify academicians who intended to teach in seminary classrooms, the program continues to support emerging scholars and ministry leaders who have a passion for forming the next generation of leaders in the Episcopal Church. A full list of past recipients is available here.

ECF President Donald Romanik extended his congratulations to the 2017 Fellows saying, “The Fellowship Partners Program embodies ECF’s vision for the future of the Church, fostering theological formation and ministerial leadership, while supporting innovative scholars and leaders as they bring their passionate vision to life. This year’s Fellowship recipients are involved in a variety of initiatives that will help the Church move into exciting, new directions. We look forward to partnering closely with them over the next three years.”

The five recipients’ scholarship and ministry projects demonstrate a Church that is actively engaged with the world. The 2017 Fellows are addressing the value of truth-telling in an age of fake news, developing an understanding of congregational life through the lens of trauma, strengthening veterans’ ministries, researching the role of women in ecumenical history, and expanding key Episcopal institutions’ access to and interest in a more diverse Church. Read more about each of their projects below.

The 2017 Fellows are:

Jennifer Adams-Massmann: Jennifer is a Ph.D. candidate in American religious history at the University of Heidelberg in Germany and an Episcopal priest. Jennifer’s dissertation project deals with the first Protestant women missionaries: the Moravians. Memoirs, mission records, and travel diaries reveal their unprecedented leadership roles and influence, but also other gendered aspects of early Moravian missions including female networks, piety, and discourse which shaped the nature of early missions. Jennifer plans to share her research with the church and wider public through various media: a book publication, academic journals, popular magazines or radio podcasts, conferences, or teaching. Her goal is to help Christians engage appreciatively but critically with our past in order to address today’s challenges. Jennifer received her B.A. in English literature and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her M.Div. from Duke Divinity School, with studies abroad in Germany and Switzerland. Ordained in 2007, she worked in university and parish ministry in the U.S. and Germany before beginning doctoral studies. She has taught courses in American religious history at the University of Heidelberg and church history with the Cambridge Theological Federation in the UK. She recently moved to England, where she lives with her husband Alexander, a German theologian and ethicist, and their son.

Stewart Clem: Stewart is a John Templeton Foundation graduate scholar and doctoral candidate in moral theology and Christian ethics at the University of Notre Dame. His research focuses on the ethics of language, with a special emphasis on lying and truth-telling in contemporary society. His current project draws upon the thought of the scholastic theologian St. Thomas Aquinas to develop an account of the virtue of truth and its opposing vices. One aim of the project is to suggest ways in which faith communities can cultivate this virtue, arguing that a just community must also share a commitment to truthfulness. Stewart serves as Assisting Priest at St. Paul’s Church (Mishawaka, Indiana) and is a frequent contributor to Covenant, the weblog of The Living Church magazine. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University (M.A., B.A.) and Duke Divinity School (M.Div.), and his essays in philosophy and theology have appeared in journals such as New Blackfriars, Religious Studies, and the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics.

Ashley Graham-Wilcox: Ashley is director of communications for Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers, the nationwide network of the summer camps, retreat centers, and conference centers that serve as a front line of welcome of the world to the Episcopal Church. Ashley’s goal is for campers and retreat center guests to always feel themselves welcomed and see themselves reflected when visiting an Episcopal camp or conference center. The 86 sites and over 100 programs in Episcopal camping and retreat ministry serve incredibly diverse audiences, through summer camp, retreats, conferences, outdoor education, and teambuilding programs. This fellowship aims to expand, rethink, and empower how we welcome those diverse audiences and reflect our communities, through programming, training, and staffing. Ashley worked in high tech marketing and advertising, before finding her calling in the rad and radical hospitality of camping and retreat ministry.

Renee McKenzie-Hayward: Renee is the vicar of the George W. South Memorial Church of the Advocate located in Philadelphia PA within in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania; she has served this congregation as well as Temple University as the Episcopal Chaplain since 2011. Renee received her PhD from Temple University in 2005 with a concentration on Womanist Thought and the Philosophy of Religion. The Church of the Advocate sits at the center of a historically black community, adjacent to Temple University. As an established community hub offering a variety of social service programs, the Advocate is a central place for the community to organize for social justice. Generational and sudden trauma extracts a great toll on this community. Renee’s project will develop a Trauma Informed Ministry that understands the human cost of Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome and informed by Womanist and Liberation Theologies. The proposed project will enhance the Advocate’s work by organizing the ministry under a framework of healing trauma. Trauma Informed Ministry will the lens that informs relationships and services offered with and among congregation members and community. Staff and congregational leaders will better understand the manifestations of trauma, allowing the traumatized to heal via a holistic approach to wellness addressing the needs of the mind, body and spirit.

David Peters: David enlisted in the Marine Corps in his teens, finished college and seminary, and went to work as a youth minister in a suburban church in Pennsylvania. Shortly after 9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, David volunteered to serve as an Army chaplain and deployed to Iraq in 2005. After Iraq, he was assigned to the amputee and psych wards of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. These experiences in war and the trials of homecoming led him to start the Episcopal Veterans Fellowship in the Diocese of Texas in 2014. The EVF equips the Church for ministry to veterans with moral injury and the spiritual and theological affects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This grant will enable David to travel to parishes and dioceses across the Church to nurture existing veterans ministries and coach parishes and dioceses as they start new ones. David is a graduate of Seminary of the Southwest and the author of two books on war and reconciliation. His most recent is Post-Traumatic God, published by Church Publishing in 2016. An engaging preacher, his 9/11 sermon, “Learning War and Reconciliation,” won the Reconciliation Preaching Prize from Trinity, Wall Street in 2015. If you would like David to come to your parish or diocese to share the work of EVF, please contact him at runnermonk@gmail.com

Shrine security increased ahead of Uganda’s Martyrs Day

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 10:41am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Security in and around the Namugongo district of Uganda has been increased ahead of the June 3 Martyrs Day commemorations. The district is home to two neighboring shrines to 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic converts to Christianity who were executed in the mid-1880s on the orders of Mwanga II, King of what was then Buganda.

Full article.

Church funding ends for Gaza mobile dental clinic

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 10:40am

[Anglican Communion News Service] A special fund established to pay for a mobile dental clinic in Gaza is being wound up – seven years beyond its original end-date.

The Church in Wales established its Jubilee Fund as a Millennium project in 2000. The mobile dental clinic in Gaza was the fund’s main beneficiary until 2007, when it became the sole project to be supported by the fund. The Jubilee Fund was originally planned to run for just a decade, but the bishops of the Church in Wales decided to continue funding the dental clinic after hearing about the important work it was undertaking.

Full article.

Presiding Bishop responds to Trump’s decision to pull U.S. out of worldwide climate accord

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 4:36pm

[Episcopal News Service] President Donald Trump announced June 1 that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, a 2015 pledge to limit climate change signed by 196 nations.

The agreement includes a plan to decrease carbon emissions and limit global warming to 2 degrees Celcius, and a commitment from wealthier nations to provide $100 billion in aid to developing countries. The agreement is the first-ever binding, international treaty in 20 years of United Nations climate talks.

The presiding bishop’s statement follows.

With the announcement by President Donald Trump of his decision to withdraw the commitment made by the United States to the Paris Climate Accord, I am reminded of the words of the old spiritual which speaks of God and God’s creation in these words, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” The whole world belongs to God, as Psalm 24 teaches us. God’s eye is ever on even the tiny sparrow, as Jesus taught and the song says (Luke 12:6). And we human beings have been charged with being trustees, caretakers, stewards of God’s creation (Genesis 1:26-31).

The United States has been a global leader in caring for God’s creation through efforts over the years on climate change. President Trump’s announcement changes the U.S.’s leadership role in the international sphere. Despite this announcement, many U.S. businesses, states, cities, regions, nongovernmental organizations and faith bodies like the Episcopal Church can continue to take bold action to address the climate crisis.  The phrase, “We’re still in,” became a statement of commitment for many of us who regardless of this decision by our President are still committed to the principles of the Paris Agreement.

Faith bodies like the Episcopal Church occupy a unique space in the worldwide climate movement. In the context of the United Nations, the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, we are an international body representing 17 countries in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia and the Pacific. We also are a provisionally admitted observer organization to the UNFCCC process, empowered to bring accredited observers to the UN climate change meetings. Furthermore, the Episcopal Church is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the third-largest Christian tradition, and we remain committed to ensuring that Anglicans everywhere are empowered to undertake bold action on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

We know that caring for God’s creation by engaging climate change is not only good for the environment, but also good for the health and welfare of our people. The U.S. is currently creating more clean jobs faster than job creation in nearly every other sector of the economy, and unprecedented acceleration in the clean energy sector is also evident in many other major economies.

My prayer is that we in the Episcopal Church will, in this and all things, follow the way, the teachings and the Spirit of Jesus by cultivating a loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God, all others in the human family, and with all of God’s good creation.

In spite of hardships and setbacks, the work goes on. This is God’s world.  And we are all his children. And, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry sermon for Episcopal Preaching Foundation 30th anniversary

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 4:19pm

[Episcopal News Service –Richmond Virginia] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, honorary chair of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation, preached May 30 during Eucharist at All Saints Episcopal Church in suburban Richmond, Virginia, to celebrate the group’s 30-year ministry of setting new preachers on a path to meaningful sermons.

Celebrating 30 years of ‘sweet preaching’ in the Episcopal Church

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 4:09pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is the honorary chairman of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation, which A. Gary Shilling started 30 years ago to improve preaching in the Episcopal Church. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Richmond, Virginia] A. Gary Shilling likes to joke that he began the Episcopal Preaching Foundation after he realized he was reading the back pages of the Book of Common Prayer or even balancing his checkbook during a sermon.

That was more than 30 years ago and Shilling decided to do something about it.

Having already founded an investment advisory firm in Springfield, New Jersey, Shilling created, and largely funded, the Episcopal Preaching Foundation. By this year, close to 5,000 Episcopal Church preachers will have been strengthened by the foundation’s work. On May 30, foundation supporters gathered to celebrate that achievement and its instigator.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached during Eucharist at All Saints Episcopal Church in suburban Richmond, Virginia. He later joined in the tributes during dinner at the nearby Diocese of Virginia’s Roslyn Retreat Center. The celebration took place during the foundation’s May 28-June 2 Preaching Excellence Program for seminarians and recent graduates, who attended the celebration.

From the beginning, Shilling said, he was convinced that excellent preaching is key to engaging all Episcopalians, especially those for whom a sermon during worship is their main point of contact, with the Church. Good preachers, he reasoned, were rewarded, so he decided to connect with preachers who were early in their lives in the pulpit. The foundation’s mission is based on the premise that strong and vibrant preaching will attract congregants and grow the Episcopal Church.

During his sermon and in his dinner remarks, Curry, a 1991 Preaching Excellence Program alum, praised Shilling’s instincts. He also argued that preaching in today’s world was not just about growing a church but, rather, growing hope in a weary and troubled world that has a skewed idea of Christianity.

Christians often look like anything but the compassionate, life-giving and liberating Jesus of the Bible, he said.

“We need some witnesses to a way of being Christian that actually looks something like Jesus of Nazareth,” Curry said. “The Jesus of Nazareth who said, ‘the spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor’” and who preached compassion and love, even for one’s enemies.

“My brothers and sisters who would preach the word, we need you in your preaching to point us to that Jesus and then for all of us to go out into this world as the Jesus Movement to bear witness to him,” Curry said to an applauding congregation. “That is a church that matters and that is a church that will have a future.”

Episcopal Preaching Foundation founder A. Gary Shilling may be an economist, financial analyst and commentator, but his avocation is beekeeping. His bees produced the wax that he used to make the candles that lit the dinner tables during the May 30 celebration of the foundation’s 30th anniversary. Each dinner attendee received a bottle of Shilling Apiaries honey commemorating “30 years of sweet preaching.” Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Later at the dinner, the presiding bishop spoke directly to Shilling, calling him “wise, gentle and courageous.”

Curry, who recently agreed to serve as the foundation’s honorary chair, compared Shilling to Mary. Shilling said yes to “the calling of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

“Yes, so that we would raise up new generations of preachers; yes, so that they would be trained and equipped,” the presiding bishop continued, adding that Shilling’s “yes” has also supported seminaries in their effort to train preachers and supported new graduates who are sent out to preach good news.

The Very Rev. Andrew McGowan, dean and president of Berkeley Divinity School, praised Shilling for epitomizing the ministry of the laity, as described in the back pages of the Book of Common Prayer (on page 855, specifically). The catechism says that ministry is to “represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.”

Shilling, who attends Christ Church in Short Hills, New Jersey, has also served at the local, diocesan and churchwide level.

An economist by training and vocation, Shilling told the dinner guests that the success of the foundation rested on “an uptrend” in interest in preaching, and on a “lot of luck.”

He said he decided early on that the organization should not work with experienced preachers who were already being recognized for their work but with new preachers as they embarked on their careers and as they grew into their ministry.

Episcopal Preaching Foundation founder A. Gary Shilling, left, and Diocese of Virginia Bishop Shannon T. Johnston listen as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry answers a question during a May 30 news conference at Roslyn Conference Center in suburban Richmond, Virginia. The small news conference marked the start of the day’s celebration of the foundation’s 30th anniversary. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Preaching, Virginia Bishop Shannon T. Johnston said during a press conference earlier in the day, good preaching is “absolutely critical” to a faith community. “There is no better organization to send people to who want to study the craft and the art and the faithfulness of a good sermon,” he said of the preaching foundation and its programs.

The foundation’s centerpiece is its annual Preaching Excellence Program, which offers seminarians and recent graduates an immersion experience in the art and practice of preaching. PEP gathers seminarians, homiletics professors and rectors for a week of lectures, worship, workshops and small groups in which the students preach sermons for discussion and feedback.

The tuition-free program began in 1988. More than 1,500 Episcopal clergy have participated in the program. Participants are nominated by their seminaries.

Wesley Morris, a seminarian from the Diocese of North Carolina who attends Union Seminary in New York, gets a snapshot with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry after a May 30 Eucharist at All Saints Episcopal Church in suburban Richmond, Virginia, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation. Morris is one of 39 current and just-graduated seminarians attending the foundation’s annual Preaching Excellence Program May 28-June 2 at the nearby Roslyn Conference Center. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Beginning in 2014, thanks to a generous grant from the Robertson Foundation, “PEP II” has gathered recently ordained priests for a similar experience. This year’s session runs June 13-16 at Drew University, in Madison, New Jersey.

Since 2012, the foundation has also helped thousands of priests, deacons and lay preachers improve their skills through other conferences at the diocesan, national and international level.

This year the Episcopal Preaching Foundation partnered with the John Templeton Foundation to integrate studies on forgiveness into the practice of preaching. Forgiveness will be the focus at the Preaching Excellence Program and PEP II.

Everett Worthington, a professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University and a clinical psychologist, will lead preachers through his work on forgiveness. He told Episcopal News Service that he plans to discuss how preachers and pastors can incorporate “forgiveness education” into their preaching and into the lives of their congregations.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is senior editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Church of England helps win ExxonMobil shareholder battle over climate change

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 11:20am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Shareholders of the oil giant ExxonMobil pushed through a resolution on climate change at the company’s AGM on May 31 despite strong opposition from the board of directors. The motion, tabled by the Church Commissioners, the financial arm of the Church of England, with the New York State Comptroller, will require the company to provide annual reports on showing how the business will be affected by global efforts to reduce climate change.

Full article.

Religious leaders emphasize interfaith harmony for peace in Pakistan

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 11:17am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Interfaith and religious harmony is essential to bring about “guaranteed long-term peace and stability” in Pakistan, senior faith leaders said at a peace conference organized by the Diocese of Peshawar. Bishop Humphrey Peters, who has since been elected as the new Primate and Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, convened the meeting, which brought together leaders of minority faiths, including Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, with leaders of the majority Muslim faith.

Full article.

Rev. Ross Kane to Join VTS faculty as director of doctoral programs

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 10:56am

The Rev. Ross Kane. Photo: Virginia Theological Seminary

[Virginia Theological Seminary] The trustees of the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), at their May 17 board meeting, unanimously approved the appointment of the Rev. E. Ross Kane as the new director of the doctoral programs at VTS. Kane, who currently serves as senior associate rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia, will join the VTS community on July 1.

“Ross is an exceptional appointment,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of VTS. “He has already proven himself a good colleague, having served as an adjunct for both master’s and doctoral courses here at VTS over the last several years.”

Kane inherits strong doctoral programs from the Rev. David T. Gortner, who has successfully shepherded the programs since 2008. Last year Gortner was appointed associate dean of church and community engagement.

Before receiving his Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School, Kane received his bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia. He returned to the University of Virginia for his doctorate in religious studies, concentrating in theology, ethics and culture. A Virginia native, Ross was ordained in 2009 in the Diocese of Virginia.

His vocation joins a heart for parish ministry with rigorous scholarship that builds up the church.

Having earned his Ph.D. while serving full-time in the parish, his scholarship and publications explore the lived experience of faith communities, particularly the incorporation of new and unfamiliar expressions of belief and practice into the Christian tradition. Ross also brings an international perspective to his scholarship and priestly vocation, having served in the Anglican Communion in East Africa before entering parish ministry. His publications appear in academic and popular presses alike, such as Christian Century, Journal of Religion in Africa and Anglican Theological Review.

As senior associate rector of St. Paul’s, he crafted innovative adult education offerings and played a leading role in launching and sustaining new efforts to serve Alexandria’s most vulnerable citizens. In recognition of these efforts, Kane was a 2016 honoree in Alexandria’s inaugural 40 Under 40 awards.

“The doctoral programs at VTS have a rich legacy of building up clergy, transforming ministry and training dynamic leaders for tomorrow’s church,” Dr. Kane said. “They offer a rare nexus of scholarship, practical ministry, and prayerful reflection. It is a great privilege to lead these exceptional programs in the years ahead.”

Kane and his wife, Liz Doughty Kane, have two sons, Stephen and Philip.

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roanoke, Virginia, hires communications director

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 4:52pm

[St. John’s Episcopal Church] Cara Ellen Modisett has joined the staff of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roanoke, Va., as director of communications.

She has worked in music and communications in a range of settings. She served as minister of communication for Church of the Holy Communion (Episcopal) in Memphis, Tennessee, and prior to that as communications adviser for the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia.

She is a contributing editor for the Episcopal Cafe and was curator and writer for the Prayers of the People for General Convention 78, working with the Society of St. John the Evangelist. She also serves as music director for St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal, also in Roanoke.

In her secular roles, Modisett was editor of Blue Ridge Country magazine and a reporter/producer for WVTF public radio. She has taught English at Ferrum College and is currently staff collaborative pianist for Radford University.

She is originally from Harrisonburg, Va., and holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a bachelor’s degree in music from James Madison University and a master’s degree in creative nonfiction from Goucher College. Her writing has been published in The Living Church, Memphis Magazine, Still: The Journal, The Roanoker magazine and other periodicals.

Guatemalan woman facing deportation receives sanctuary at North Carolina Episcopal church

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 4:21pm

Juana Luz Tobar Ortega, center front, poses with her family for a photo released by American Friends Service Committee, which is helping her resist a deportation order.

[Episcopal News Service] An Episcopal church in North Carolina is sheltering a Guatemalan woman as she defies federal orders to leave the country after failing to receive a stay of her deportation.

The Guatemalan woman, Juana Luz Tobar Ortega, first came to the United States in the mid-1990s to escape violence in her home country, the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina said in a news release.

In April, she was told by federal immigration authorities that she had until May 31 to return to Guatemala, potentially leaving behind her husband, who is an American citizen, and her four children, as well as her job of eight years as sewing machine operator, the diocese said.

Working with a Quaker group called the American Friends Service Committee, St. Barnabas in Greensboro agreed to serve as a sanctuary church and take in Tobar Ortega while she fights deportation. She appeared with her family at a news conference held at the church on May 31, as seen in a video that was streamed live on Facebook.

“I want to thank the members of this church and the pastors for their support and their help,” Tobar Ortega said in Spanish. “I hope to not spend much time here. I hope to return to my home soon, to hug my children and grandchildren and to be with my family.”

The congregation had spent more than a year in a process of discernment before choosing to become a sanctuary church.

“There’s absolutely no reason for this woman to be torn away from her family and her community,” the Rev. Randall Keeney, rector at St. Barnabas, said in a news release from American Friends Service Committee. “She’s a child of God and we will give her shelter until ICE drops her deportation order.”

The modern sanctuary church movement dates to the 1980s, when some churches began opening their doors to immigrants fleeing wars in Central and South America. It has returned to the national spotlight and picked up steam this year in response to the immigration policies of the Trump administration. Some immigrant communities are on edge amid reports of deportation raids in various cities, with critics accusing the new administration of increasingly targeting immigrants who pose little or no threat to public safety.

Numerous Episcopal congregations across the country have been researching whether to offer sanctuary for such immigrants, and some, like St. Barnabas, have committed to provide that haven if needed.

The news release from the Diocese of North Carolina says the vestry at St. Barnabas voted unanimously to take in Tobar Ortega after the congregation completed its process of discernment on the sanctuary issue.

“Our prayers and our companionship with the immigrant community led us to this place,” Keeney said in the diocese’s news release. “Our simple hope is to support Juana and her family as they so bravely cling to the dignity given to them by God.”

The congregation has the backing of the diocese, the Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple, bishop diocesan pro tempore for the Diocese of North Carolina, said in the news release.

“The Diocese of North Carolina is eager and ready to assist our worship communities as they navigate the call to offer sanctuary to persons subject to the harsh realities of a broken immigration system,” Hodges-Copple said. “I have full confidence that each congregation has the capacity to be guided by prayer, research, theology and practicality to make their own decisions about how best to use its resources, including its buildings to the glory of God and in love and service of neighbors in need.”

More than 1,900 people have signed an online petition against Tobar Ortega’s deportation order. Her supporters rallied May 31 outside the High Point office of U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, asking him to intervene on her behalf.

When Tobar Ortega first arrived in the United States, her initial request for asylum was denied, but she received a work permit and was allowed to stay for six years while she appealed the decision on asylum, the diocese said. She went back to Guatemala in 1999 to care for her ailing oldest daughter, and when she returned to the United States, her work permit was revoked. She remained in the United States, and in recent years, she had been checking in with federal authorities regularly while she sought a stay of removal, according to the diocese.

That changed last month, when she was told by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to prepare for voluntary deportation.

“We’re only asking them to continue to grant her a stay of removal, as ICE has done for the past six years,” Lesvi Molina, Tobar Ortega’s eldest daughter, said in American Friends Service Committee’s news release. “My mom has spent about $17,000 over the last 23 years trying to adjust her status. We would like there to be a path for her to get permanent residency, but ICE just seems to want to punish, not to work with us.”

In addition to her husband, two of her children are U.S. citizens, according to American Friends Service Committee. She has two additional children who have been allowed to remain in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a policy that gives preferred consideration to immigrants who arrived in the country as children and who meet certain conditions.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

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