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With two dioceses under one bishop, first-of-its-kind experiment to emphasize collaboration

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 10:55am

[Episcopal News Service] The “least likely” friendship in the House of Bishops between the Episcopal Church’s oldest active diocesan bishop and its youngest has fostered a first-of-its-kind collaborative experiment that could point to the future shape and feel of dioceses.

Western New York Bishop William Franklin, 71, recently told the House of Bishops that he and Northwestern Pennsylvania Bishop Sean Rowe were the “least likely of friends.” He called himself “an Anglo-Catholic church historian.” He holds a doctorate in church history from Harvard University and was dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University when he was elected. He has served the diocese for seven years. Rowe, 43, has been bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania for 11 years. He holds a doctorate in organizational development from Gannon University. Franklin called him a “very low church expert in adaptive change.”

However, Rowe said, they “took an idea that came out of friendship” and a common concern for the mission of the church and have been collaborating in new ways. When Franklin and Rowe explained their experiment to the House of Bishops on July 13, General Convention’s closing day, Rowe said that the Great Lakes region is in “an adaptive moment” and that the church ought to be part of that moment by trying a new model that could free up more resources for ministry by eliminating duplication in administrative costs.

For the past five years, Episcopalians in the Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania have been sharing certain operations. They have a joint formation process for deacons, a shared board of examining chaplains for the ordination process and have held some joint clergy conferences. The dioceses have just started sharing transition ministry functions, and a Northwestern Pennsylvania diocesan staff member is now the intake officer for disciplinary matters in Western New York.

The next step will come Oct. 26-27 when the two dioceses hold a joint convention in Niagara Falls, New York. At that gathering, Western New York will vote on whether to make Rowe its bishop provisional for five years. Rowe served as bishop provisional of the Diocese of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania from August 2014 until August 2017 while the diocese had what the standing committee called “a healthy, productive period of reflection and discernment about the mission to which God is calling us” after the retirement of Bishop Paul V. Marshall. Franklin is due to retire April 2, 2019, a milestone that had a lot to do with the proposal.

How the two dioceses got to this point

In April 2017, when he announced his retirement, Franklin asked his diocesan standing committee to consider calling Rowe as provisional bishop. After talking to both bishops, the standing committees of both dioceses agreed to consider the prospect.

The bishops presented the idea to a joint clergy conference in September 2017 when, Rowe told Episcopal News Service, it initially “played to mixed reviews.” Clergy wondered about hidden agendas, and some wished the plan was more fleshed out. Rowe and Franklin told them the agenda consisted of putting the idea to them and “honestly let people be part of planning it.” There was enough of a consensus to have a small group of people from both dioceses meet to think the idea all the way through.

The results of that process went to both diocesan conventions last October and both agreed to keep moving forward. More than 500 people in both dioceses came to eight listening sessions last winter to discuss the proposal with its pledge to enhance the collaboration between the two dioceses. In May, the standing committees of the two dioceses unanimously voted to support the idea.

If the Western New York convention elects Rowe on Oct. 26, the collaboration would be just that and not a merger of dioceses. A merger would require the consent of General Convention, and right now neither diocese wants to lose its identity, the two bishops told ENS.

“We’ve never used the word merger,” Franklin said in an interview. “It’s a proposal to have one bishop for two dioceses, and for five years have a provisional bishop.”

Rowe said the experiment “is being driven by a real call to mission and being a missional church and to try to experiment.”

“The only way we’re going to know if these models work is to try them so, it’s a risk. This is not being driven by finances or trying to drive success” he said. “This is us asking, what do we think is the next best step, given where we are, and we’re going to experiment with it. There’s too much conversation about these things in the church and not enough implementation and this is a big step. We don’t know if it will work.”

James Isaac, chair of the Western New York Standing Committee, told ENS that his attitude is: “why not give it a try.”

“The pooled energy of ministry of both the clergy between Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania, and the strength of the laity has huge potential,” he said.

Rowe and Franklin met at Kangua Camp and Conference Center in 2015. “We realized that we had a very similar vision of the church,” Franklin said. “Even though I’m a historian, I’m pretty radical about wanting to do different things.”

Just don’t call it the Rust Belt

What they have in common is a love of their neighboring dioceses, which are in a part of the United States that has undergone a massive economic downturn. Lake Erie forms the dioceses’ eastern boundaries. Western New York, with headquarters in suburban Buffalo, comprises 57 parishes between Pennsylvania and Canada. Northwestern Pennsylvania, with headquarters in Erie, is composed of 33 congregations.

[The maps above of the two dioceses come from the Episcopal Asset Map. The unnumbered markers point to congregations while the number ones point to clusters of congregations.]

The presence of coal, inland waterways and a ready labor force once made the area a manufacturing center with steel mills at its core. But those mills eventually became outdated, and as the American automobile industry declined jobs were lost. Wages stagnated. People left.

The area became known as the Rust Belt, but that moniker is not a happy one for many of its residents. When the two bishops and others set up a website for their effort and called it “Rust Belt Episcopal,” they got a lot of pushback.

“It makes my people angry,” Franklin said.

However, redevelopment is happening in some the cities of both dioceses. “Both areas have seen the worst, and they’re coming back in a different form,” Isaac said, adding that it is not outlandish to use the word “resurrected” when talking about Buffalo and Erie.

“We’re trying to do church in a way that allows the Episcopal Church to survive and flourish in an area where we’ve had challenges, demographic and cultural challenges,” Franklin said.

Rowe agrees. “This is not a move to save an institution. This is not about diocesan viability. In fact, I don’t like that word,” he told the House of Bishops. “Even the smallest of places might be viable. What this is about is what’s best for the mission of the church in our region and the mission of God.”

Rowe told ENS that he and Franklin talked often about the long-term future of the church in a region like theirs. “We put everything on the table and we said we want a missional church and we want what’s best for the mission of the Gospel,” he said. “What is the best way to do that?”

Woirking out the details will take time

Eventually, there will be one staff for two dioceses. Rowe will have offices in both Buffalo and Erie, which are about 90 minutes apart, and make visitations in both dioceses. Elected leaders in both dioceses will exercise their canonical functions and each diocese will maintain its cathedral.

During the first three years of Rowe’s tenure as bishop provisional, the two dioceses plan to explore more deeply their relationship and “develop shared mission priorities,” to a set of frequently asked questions here.

“If it’s a complete disaster, we could end it at any time,” Rowe said, but he’s asked people to commit to five years “so that we have a long enough time to try this.”

Both bishops and Isaac, the Western New York Standing Committee chair, point to the possible financial efficiencies that could free up more money for mission. There is the possibility, in Rowe’s words, for “a pile of savings.” First off, a bishop search can cost upwards of $200,000, according to those FAQs.

Combining diocesan staffs will “increase the staff capacity for the same number of dollars” by allowing for more specialized staff, Rowe said. He doubts any staff members will lose jobs because both staffs anticipate retirements and other pending departures.

If some people do lose their jobs, Rowe said, “we’re going to treat people like a church does, we’re going to be good to people, and fair and help people find the next thing.”

Franklin, acknowledging that he will be removed from the equation once he retires, hopes that the two dioceses “learn to be a missional church above all; that we cannot do business as usual and that we have to do new things.”

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

Diocese of Kansas names three women as candidates for bishop in historic first for the Episcopal Church

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 5:27pm

The Rev. Cathleen Chittenden Bascom, left, the Rev. Martha N. Macgill and the Rev. Helen Svoboda-Barber are candidates for 10th bishop of the Diocese of Kansas. The election is set for Oct. 19 in Topeka. Photo: Diocese of Kansas

[Episcopal Diocese of Kansas] In a first for the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Kansas will select the 10th bishop of the diocese from a slate of women candidates.

The three people are:

  • The Rev.Cathleen Chittenden Bascom, assistant professor of religion at Waldorf University, Waldorf, Iowa
  • The Rev. Martha N. Macgill, rector, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Cumberland, Maryland
  • The Rev. Helen Svoboda-Barber, rector of Luke’s Episcopal Church, Durham, North Carolina

The Presiding Bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development confirmed that this will be the first time that a diocesan bishop is elected from an all-women slate of candidates.

Macgill and Svoboda-Barber were presented as candidates on June 21 by the Council of Trustees, acting in its canonical role as the diocese’s Standing Committee. Chittenden Bascom was added by petition and announced by the council on Aug. 15.

More information about all three candidates is online here.

The Very Rev. Foster Mays, president of the Council of Trustees, said, “From the beginning of our bishop search process, grounded and directed by the Spirit, everyone has sought a slate of excellent candidates for election as the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Kansas. We now have three such candidates. The fact that they are all women, while historic, speaks to the ministry and experience of ordained women across the Episcopal Church. Kansas is delighted to be the first diocese to select their next bishop from an outstanding group of women.”

The first woman bishop in the Episcopal Church (and in the worldwide Anglican Communion) was the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris, who was elected bishop suffragan of Massachusetts in 1988.

The first woman to serve as diocesan bishop was the Rt. Rev. Mary Adelia McLeod of Vermont, who was elected in 1993.

Women first were ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church in 1974, in irregular ordinations that were recognized by the Episcopal Church in 1976. The first woman to be ordained as deacon and priest in the Diocese of Kansas was the Reverend Mary Schrom (now Breese) in 1982.

The election of the next bishop will take place on the first day of Diocesan Convention, Oct. 19, at Grace Cathedral in Topeka. The Service of Ordination and Consecration is scheduled for March 2, 2019, at the cathedral, with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry officiating.

Members of the diocese will have the chance to meet the candidates in walkabouts scheduled across the diocese for Oct. 2-5.

The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas includes more than 10,000 members in 44 congregations. It was founded in 1859, and its offices are located in Topeka. The diocese covers the eastern 40 percent of the state of Kansas, extending as far west as Abilene and Wichita. It also includes the cities of Topeka, Lawrence, Manhattan and the entire Kansas City metropolitan area on the Kansas side of the state line.

Ya está disponible el Resumen de las Acciones de la 79.a Convención General

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 5:06pm

[15 de agosto de 2018] El Rdo. Canónigo Michael Barlowe, secretario de la Convención General, ha anunciado que el Resumen de las acciones de la 79.a Convención General está ahora disponible en línea en el sitio web de la Convención General, aquí.

Puede acceder al texto de las resoluciones en la sección de las resoluciones de la carpeta virtual, aquí: vbinder.net.

El Resumen de las acciones de la 79.a Convención General presenta los resultados de las resoluciones y la membresía del Consejo Ejecutivo como también otras elecciones y nombramientos hechos durante la 79.a Convención General, que se llevó a cabo el 5-13 de julio de 2018 en Austin, Texas. Este documento está en cumplimiento con el requisito del Reglamento de Orden Conjunto V.15 de la Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal.

El registro diario de la 79.a Convención, que es el registro oficial de las actas, estará disponible comenzando en el 2019.

Si tiene preguntas acerca del Resumen de las Acciones de la 79. a Convención General comuníquese con gcoffice@generalconvention.org.

Some same-sex couples will still face hurdles accessing church’s marriage rites

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 2:34pm

[Episcopal News Service] There are times when the Episcopal – and Anglican – tendency toward compromise makes for differing interpretations on how far the church’s big tent has been stretched, and what it all means for the people seeking shelter under its flaps.

The latest example is the recent 79th General Convention’s passage of often-rewritten and often-amended Resolution B012, designed to give all Episcopalians unfettered access to two trial-use marriage rites that were approved in 2015, days after U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. B012 was passed in response to the refusal by eight of the diocesan bishops in the church’s 101 domestic dioceses to “make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies.” They did not authorize use of the rites and required couples wanting to use them to be married outside their diocese and away from their home church.

The Episcopal Church ensures that marriage is available to all couples in all dioceses. #B012 #gc79 pic.twitter.com/1PUqbrAVOb

— Scott Gunn ن (@scottagunn) July 13, 2018

When Resolution B012 becomes effective on the First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2, same-sex couples in most of those dioceses still will have to go through some steps that are not required of straight couples, even though the resolution moved the authority for deciding to use the rites from the diocesan bishop to their parish priests.

The compromise that B012 represents is a “classically Anglican solution” to help same-sex couples in all dioceses use the rites in their home parishes and give bishops who oppose such marriages “a way to live within the canons of the church and yet still not violate their theological conscience,” according to the Rev. Susan Russell, a deputy from Los Angeles and longtime leader in the effort for full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of the church.

Russell, who worked for what she has called the “hard-won compromise” of B012, told Episcopal News Service that “bishops are going to do what they’re going to do, but that doesn’t mean that that isn’t what the resolution says, that isn’t what the resolution is requiring. They’re making those choices on their own.”

She said there is a “relatively broad continuum of how [the resolution] is being interpreted or misinterpreted or framed and/or distorted.”

The Rev. Susan Russell, a deputy from Los Angeles, has called the final version of Resolution B012, among other things, “a great teachable moment for the wider church about actually how our polity works, about the reality that the rector does have the prerogative or the charge to make those choices.” Photo: Screenshot from on-demand video

The pertinent part of B012 says that when a bishop “holds a theological position that does not embrace marriage for same-sex couples, and there is a desire to use such rites by same-sex couples in a congregation or worshipping community, the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority (or ecclesiastical supervision) shall invite, as necessary, another bishop of this Church to provide pastoral support to the couple, the Member of the Clergy involved and the congregation or worshipping community in order to fulfill the intention of this resolution that all couples have convenient and reasonable local congregational access to these rites.”

For the bishops who have prohibited same-sex marriage in their dioceses and denied use of the trial-use rites (and required same-sex couples to go elsewhere in the church to get married), it comes down to the interpretation of the words “shall invite, as necessary.” Six of the eight bishops have publicly said that they would require the assistance of another bishop for clergy who want to use the rites.

They are interpreting B012 as requiring – or allowing them to require – the involvement of another bishop. Some of those bishops have said that mission congregations in their diocese, where the bishop is effectively the rector, will not be allowed to use the rites.

California Deputy Christopher Hayes told Episcopal News Service that he believes General Convention overwhelmingly passed Resolution B012 to give bishops with a theological objection to same-sex marriage a place to stand within the order and discipline of the Episcopal Church while giving same-sex couples “an equal place in the church.” Photo: Screenshot from on-demand video

California Deputy Christopher Hayes, who helped lead the revision of B012 and then proposed it to the House of Deputies, agreed with Russell’s sense of the hard compromise that the final version of B012 represents.

“Some of us who had hoped to see these liturgies become part of the prayer book or at least be on track to become part of the prayer book did not get as much as we would have liked to see,” Hayes told ENS. “People on the other side of the issue prevailed on that issue, but they do not get to have entire dioceses where same-sex couples are forbidden from being married. I’m concerned that these are efforts to undermine the compromise.”

Russell, Hayes and other framers of the revised resolution say that B012 does not require the involvement of a bishop, except to deal with a canonical provision about remarriage after divorce. Canon I.19.3 (page 60 here) requires priests to show their bishops (or the bishop in the diocese in which the service is planned) that they have verified the annulment or dissolution of a divorced person’s previous marriage, and that they discussed with the couple the need to show “continuing concern” for the well-being of the former spouse, and of any children. Resolution B012 specifically notes that this requirement applies to same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex ones and requires a bishop who opposes such marriage to invite another bishop to provide the needed consent.

The framers changed the original version of B012, proposed by Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, to remove its requirement that congregations wishing to use the rites but whose bishop objected could ask for the 14-year-old option of Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) and the bishop would have to grant it. The House of Bishops devised DEPO in 2004 for congregations that so severely disagree with their diocesan bishops on matter of human sexuality and other theological matters that their relationship is completely broken.

“We worked really hard to not use DEPO language in that resolution,” Vermont Bishop Tom Ely, who also worked on the resolution, told ENS. “We did not feel it was necessary because we kept hearing in the hearings [at convention] from those bishops that they had great relationships with the congregations. There were just some who didn’t agree with them” on this issue.

East Carolina Deputy Joan Geiszler-Ludlum, who chaired General Convention’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage and worked on the B012 compromise, “implored” deputies on the final day of convention to adopt the final version of the resolution. She later told Episcopal News Service that “clergy have shelter” on both sides of same-sex marriage: they can choose to perform them, and choose not to, although she hopes the resolution’s provisions will encourage more priests to “begin to see their way into doing this.” Photo: Screenshot from on-demand video

A summary of where the eight bishops stand now

Albany Bishop William Love has not said whether he will require such outside support. He passionately conveyed his opposition to the resolution during debate in the House of Bishops. Love has scheduled a Sept. 6 meeting with the diocesan clergy “to discuss their concerns and the potential impact of B012 on the clergy and parishes of the diocese.”

Central Florida Bishop Greg Brewer spoke on July 21 about his commitment to implement B012. However, he later told ENS that he has not yet worked out the details of his plan. Jim Christoph, senior warden of St. Richard’s Episcopal Church in Winter Park, Florida, a congregation that has advocated for marriage equality in the diocese, was at the July 21 gathering and told ENS that Brewer was clear that the resolution did not call for “a DEPO mechanism” but a more limited arrangement for oversight by another bishop. Christoph said he understood that Brewer will require the vestry to agree with the clergy’s desire to use the rites.

Dallas Bishop George Sumner, likewise, is still working out the details of his plan, but he said on July 19 that any parish wishing to use the rites will need to have another bishop handle all of that congregation’s pastoral oversight, provide confirmation and manage the process of people discerning a call to ordination.

Florida Bishop John Howard told his diocese earlier this month that he is “committed to honoring Resolution B012” even though he opposes same-sex marriage. He said he would work with clergy “to find a fellow bishop willing to undertake pastoral oversight” in accordance with the resolution.

North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith said that DEPO will serve as “a roadmap for these matters” in his diocese. However, he did not say whether that “supplemental episcopal pastoral care” would involve more that same-sex weddings.

Springfield Bishop Dan Martins said that he will at first require that a congregation’s “ministry leadership team” meet with him “to discern whether there is indeed a consensus around the desire to hold such a ceremony.” If so, they will agree to “the terms, conditions, and length of the relationship” with another bishop who will provide all episcopal functions.

Tennessee Bishop John Bauerschmidt calls B012 “a creative application of the principle of the local adaptation of the historic episcopate” that sets up “a particular structure that upholds the bishop’s unique role as chief pastor and teacher and presider at the liturgy,” even when the bishop cannot support same-sex marriage. Bauerschmidt said he will consult with clergy and vestries that desire to use the rites and will ask another bishop to provide the pastoral care to ensure that the trial liturgies will be available in the diocese.

Virgin Islands Bishop Ambrose Gumbs told ENS via email on Aug. 9 that he will not ask clergy to request pastoral support from another bishop. “As the bishop of the diocese, I should be able to provide pastoral support to clergy who request it,” he wrote. “I am committed to following the mind of the church.”

Hayes said, “I commend Bishop Gumbs for stating that he will make provisions for priests to perform marriages for same-sex couples in their parishes and that he is committed to providing full pastoral support for those priests.” He noted that the diocese is in “a legally anomalous position.” The U.S. Virgin Islands has civil marriage equality, but the British Virgin Islands, which are also part of the diocese, does not.

Working out B012 in Tennessee

Indie Pereira, who serves on the vestry of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, told ENS that she is “cautiously optimistic” about the stance Bauerschmidt has taken. “We’ll wait and see about how the details work out,” she said.

Four couples at St. Philip’s hope to use the rites, but some members oppose same-sex marriage, she said.

The vestry plans to use an outside facilitator “to help us come to a consensus as a parish” before the clergy move forward, she said.

Pereira and her partner, who wed civilly during the time when Bauerschmidt required same-sex couples to be married in the Diocese of Kentucky, want to have their marriage blessed in their home church. “We’re pretty hopeful,” she said. “More hopeful than I have been in a long time.”

Connally Davies Penley, who helped form the advocacy group All Sacraments for All People, or ASAP, in the Diocese of Tennessee, told ENS that she is grateful that the bishop “is conforming to the vote taken at General Convention.”

“One of the gifts that John [Bauserschmidt] has brought to the diocese is that he really cares about unity, unity within the diocese and unity with the church,” she said. “He is really moving in a way that we can stay together. I am grateful for that.”

And in Dallas

The Rev. Casey Shobe, rector of Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas, told ENS that he and Sumner have discussed the bishop’s “draft plan for how he envisions trying to implement this.”

Shobe called it “a way forward that would potentially allow us to have even greater pastoral oversight from a visiting bishop beyond just the issue of marriage.” That, he said, could mean this bishop would perform confirmation, license clergy and supervise the discernment for those considering a call to ordination, including LGBTQ persons.

“We are comfortable with this proposal, because it would result in Transfiguration experiencing a big leap forward on a set of matters that are deeply important to us, which have consistently kept us at odds with our bishop in the past,” he said.

After convention approved the rites in 2015, Shobe said he did not ask Sumner for DEPO because he was not given assurance he and the congregation would not be punished for performing same-sex marriages even under the oversight of another bishop. The diocese’s canons prohibit same-sex marriage. Instead, Shobe and others spent the time until the Austin meeting advocating for convention to help remedy the issue.

Meanwhile, eight couples went elsewhere to be married by other clergy. Shobe says Transfiguration hopes next year to have a “significant celebration and renewal of vows” for those people. He also anticipates a number of “long-expected and hoped for weddings” taking place at the Dallas church in 2019 and 2020.

A different ecclesiology in Dallas and Springfield

Sumner of Dallas and Martins of Springfield contend that their understanding of their episcopal ministry means that any congregation wishing to use the rites must be assigned another bishop for all of their congregation’s spiritual, pastoral and sacramental oversight.

Sumner said in his letter that he cannot “by conscience and conviction” oversee a parish using these rites because “a bishop and his or her doctrinal teaching cannot be separated.”

“Let me emphasize that this referral will not [occur] because of any anger, breakdown of pastoral relation, or rejection — it is because of a deep difference in theology,” he said.

Springfield Bishop Dan Martins, shown here speaking to the House of Bishops during General Convention, says there must be a “firewall” between congregations in his diocese who want to solemnize the marriages of same-sex couples and him, because he opposes such unions. Photo: Screenshot from on-demand video

Martins summed it up this way in an interview with ENS: “The theology that runs behind this viewpoint is that all sacramental ministry, all ordained ministry, in a diocese is a derivative of the bishop’s ministry. There’s nothing that can happen that can be separated from that. There’s no way that we can have our spiritual fingerprints on it or canonical fingerprints for that matter.”

He said in his letter that “there must be a robust firewall between a community that receives same-sex marriage into its life, along with its clergy, and the rest of the diocese, including and especially the bishop. This does not have to mean that there is anger, rancor, or anything but sincere love between such a congregation and the diocese.”

And, he told ENS, his July 2015 prohibition against Springfield clergy using the rites outside of the diocese still applies. “I’m hoping canonically resident clergy will take me at my word,” he told ENS, and respect his teaching about marriage and respect their oath of obedience to their bishop.

Hayes, who is also the chancellor of the Diocese of California, said the view of the episcopate that Sumner and Martins hold is not supported by the Episcopal Church’s canons, which vest control of a congregation’s worship with the clergy member in charge.

“The bishop’s obligation is to provide for there to be sufficient clergy to serve the needs of the people, and to be sure that the canons and rubrics are obeyed,” he said. “The bishop does not have the right to say, ‘I disagree with the priest’s lawful use of those liturgies that conform to the rubrics and canons.’ The bishop simply does not have that right and never has, not in our tradition.”

Hayes added that “what’s of more concern to me is that they seem to be using it as, I’m sorry to say, an intimidation tactic” to force congregations to into a DEPO situation if their clergy want to these rites.

“They’re putting up hurdles that are not contemplated in the resolution or authorized by canons,” he said. “A rector does not need to consult with the bishop about the use of an authorized liturgy of the church.”

That, Hayes said, is a canonical provision that dates to 1904 and has its roots in the traditions of the Church of England. (Canon III.9.6(a)(1a) at page 91 here. More background is available in the highlighted sections on pages 818, 826, and 855–856 here.)

Vermont Bishop Tom Ely says he doesn’t think bishops who oppose same-sex marriage need to set up a DEPO-like arrangement for priests and congregations who want to use the rites. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonb erg

On its way to passage, the eight bishops called for an amendment to B012 to say that nothing in the resolution narrows the authority of the rector or priest-in-charge, as outlined in that canon, Ely said. It was meant to protect clergy who did not want to offer the rites, but, he said, it also applies to clergy who do want to use them and whose bishops not approve.

“If you need to put up 27 hoops to make your clergy jump through in order to provide local access, that’s a pastoral decision you are making,” Ely said. “I don’t think you need to, but if you believe you need to, then craft it in a way that it works but make sure it works.”

During convention, the California deputation shared a table in the House of Deputies with that of Springfield, and Hayes said the deputies spoke about belonging together despite disagreeing about marriage.

“We belong together despite disagreeing on this issue and that has been part of what defines Anglicanism for 500 years,” he said. “The issues of Protestant versus Catholic were a lot harder to bridge than this issue of marriage. They go much deeper into the creeds. To have people who agree about every word of the Nicene Creed say we can’t be in relationship with each other because we disagree about marriage is really is a misapprehension of what we’re called to be as church.”

Read more about it

  • Full ENS coverage of marriage equality is available here.
  • The two rites at the root of this debate are here and here.

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

Tributes paid to women’s justice campaigner Beth Adamson after tragic death

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 12:36pm

Beth Adamson poses in April 2015 with the Award for Global Service that was recently presented to her by the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Anglican Communion News Service]  Colleagues and supporters have paid tribute to a leading campaigner for gender justice within the Anglican Communion, Beth Adamson-Strauss. Beth Adamson, as she was known, a Methodist who was a volunteer for the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, died on Aug. 5 in hospital where she was receiving treatment for serious injuries caused by an accident two weeks earlier. For several years she had led the Episcopal Church’s campaigning on gender justice issues at the United Nations; and helped to organise delegations from both the U.S.-based church and the wider Anglican Communion to the annual U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) meetings in New York.

“Beth has touched so many people with her passion, determination, wisdom and joyful heart,” Canon Terrie Robinson, the Anglican Communion’s director for women in church and society, said. “Through her faith-filled and tireless work at the U.N. and with Anglican delegations to UNCSW, there are women and girls the world over who have been inspired and energized by her to be strong champions for gender equality, even in the most difficult circumstances.

“I am one of them and I will always be grateful to her. Our love and prayers are with Beth’s husband Ned and their family. Beth will be sorely missed by so many.”

Rachel Chardon, the former general program and administrative officer at the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations in New York, said: “For many years, Beth and I led delegations to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women on behalf of the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations. Together, we worked on every aspect of preparing women from around the world to attend this annual two-week session. This included a Time Line that would generate over a seven month period materials for study that addressed the priority theme set for that year with the main purpose of empowering women.

“When the two-week event concluded, these women had bonded and they soon returned home with new resources to share with their respective communities. Beth was exceptional in this charge! As a volunteer to the Office, Beth was a key support in engaging all elements of gender awareness via the various bodies of the United Nations and served as a sounding board for ideas approaching various issues.”

The Rev. Margaret Rose, ecumenical and interreligious deputy to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and former Episcopal Church director for women’s ministries, said: “Beth was instrumental in organizing what was then called Anglican Women’s Empowerment. She has since continued that work through the Anglican Communion office, the U.N. Working Group on Girls and much more.

“But as important as her accomplishments, which were many, was Beth herself, whose generous spirit called out the best in every one she touched. . . Ned Strauss, Beth’s husband, wrote about ‘our Beth’ – and that is indeed who she was: a woman who consistently offered herself to others, that they – we – might be more whole.

“She carried and offered the ‘light of Christ’ to all, and experienced the world with joy and wonder. In the face of suffering or poverty or pain or injustice, Beth refused to give up hope and was instrumental in addressing systemic change in every possible way.

“She knew we were in it for the long haul and her legacy will be that none of us gives up the hope which propelled her and us to continue the struggle.”

Beth Adamson (right) chats with Caroline Christie, a UNCSW delegate from the Episcopal Church. Photo: Anglican Communion News Service

The Episcopal Church’s representative to the United Nations, Lynnaia Main, also paid tribute to Adamson, saying she was “beloved by so many.”

She added: “I can hardly think of any person with more light, joy, smiles, smarts, energy, kindness and love for God and others than Beth. Some light has gone out of my life, all of our lives, with her passing.

“Beth had worked for many decades in the arena of women’s and girls’ empowerment, with the Episcopal Church’s women’s ministries and with the Anglican Communion. She served for many years as a member of the leadership team for the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations in its work with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

“She expanded her work to focus at the crossroads of church, United Nations and girls’ empowerment, most especially through the UN’s Working Group on Girls (WGG). She served as co-chair of the WGG and continued to be very active there. She was an integral part and pillar of so many communities at the UN, an astute observer of the political machinations of the UN and an excellent and very knowledgeable strategist in reaching member states to advocate for girls’ rights.”

Main spoke about Adamson as “a valued mentor and colleague” and how “the warm and totality of her embrace and inclusiveness in welcoming newcomers to UNCSW” was “so much appreciated”.

She said: “her joyous love for people was genuine and I never ever heard her say a critical word about anyone. She managed to be light-hearted, quick to laugh and fun to be around while at the same time being totally serious about and committed to her work. She was especially good at being a mediator who could hold together worlds in tension, bringing them in closer relationship to each other through her patient relationship-building. She was a master negotiator and very much a motherly influence on the girls in her care.”

Every year on Oct. 11, the International Day of the Girl Child, Beth would take a group of “girl advocates” from the Working Group on Girls to the Episcopal Church Center in New York. “They would visit our space so the girls could practice their lines and relax prior to their Girls’ Speakout at the UN for the International Day of the Girl Child event,” Main said. “Those girls loved Beth – I watched her nurture many young women with her kindness and encouragement.”

She pledged that  Adamson’s “exemplary work will continue to move forward, as we honour her presence, her gifts and her legacy, but we can never replace her,” she said. “We have loved her and learned so much from her. We will continue the spirited work she’s done, as best we can, inspired by her example, a gift to us and the world.”

In 2015, Adamson was presented with an Award for Global Service in recognition of her for her dedicated work to strengthen Anglican women’s presence at the UNCSW. The award was created to honour volunteer service that furthers the work of the Anglican Communion through the vehicle of the U.N. Office.

Speaking after her death, Strauss said that had she survived, it was likely “that she would never fully recover her cognitive ability or her fine motor skills.” He said: “so now, she can rest and be totally at peace.” A private family funeral service is being planned in Exeter, Nebraska, where she was born and raised, ahead of a celebration of her life for friends and supporters in Redding, Connecticut, most likely in September.

 

Anglican Consultative Council chair expresses hope of provincial status for Chile

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 12:27pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A delegation from the Anglican Consultative Council has concluded its fact-finding visit to the Diocese of Chile, with its chair, Archbishop Paul Kwong of Hong Kong, expressing his hope that it will become the 40th Province of the Anglican Communion.

The Anglican Church in Chile is currently a Diocese in the Province of the Church of South America; but has been moving towards becoming one of the Communion’s independent-but-interdependent autonomous Provinces. The delegation will report its findings to the ACC’s Standing Committee next month. If they give the go-ahead, and if that decision is ratified by a majority of the Communion’s Primates, the Province of Chile could be operational by the end of the year.

Read the full article here.

First students graduate from St. Frumentius’ Theological College in Ethiopia

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 12:25pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] An Anglican theological college established in the Gambella region of Ethiopia is celebrating after its first group of students completed the three-year course and collected their qualifications. Two of the seven graduates of the St. Frumentius’ Anglican Theological College are refugees and the others are from two different ethnic groups that have a history of conflict. At several points over the past three years, high levels of ethnic tensions in the Gambella region made it unsafe for students to meet on campus together.

Read the full article here.

Episcopalians rally around ‘Way of Love’ framework for living into Jesus movement

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 11:37am

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry introduces The Way of Love during his sermon July 5 at the opening Eucharist of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas, in this image taken from a Episcopal Church video of the sermon.

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry spent much of his first three years as head of the Episcopal Church talking about Episcopalians being part of the Jesus movement. He has called them to follow Jesus into loving, liberating and life-giving communion with God, with God’s creation and with each other.

“Pretty early on, people started saying, how do we do that?” said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care. “So, the presiding bishop really took that to heart.”

Curry provided an answer last month by launching a “rule of life” framework dubbed “The Way of Love”, featuring seven practices for Jesus-centered living. The churchwide response to the initiative so far has been overwhelmingly positive, Spellers said, and efforts to promote The Way of Love have just begun.

“You want to be people of the Jesus movement? You want to follow Jesus and to live his way? Well, his way is the way of love,” Spellers said. “And if we as a whole church commit to living a set of spiritual practices with conviction and in community, we will more and more live as Jesus’ people in this world.”

Worshipers were given Way of Love wallet cards at the July 5 opening Eucharist of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas, as seen in this photo taken from an Episcopal Church video of the service.

Curry first spoke of The Way of Love in his sermon July 5 for the opening Eucharist of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas. Since then, Spellers and her staff have produced more than 100,000 wallet cards for the initiative and posted additional print-ready materials to The Way of Love website. Those materials have begun showing up in church bulletins across the church, and Episcopal partners, including Church PublishingForward Movement and Forma, are developing and releasing their own Way of Love resources for congregations. Some bishops, meanwhile, have issued personalized messages to their dioceses inviting them to follow the Way of Love practices.

Those practices, hardly revolutionary, should be familiar to most Christians.

  • TURN: Pause, listen and choose to follow Jesus.
  • LEARN: Reflect on Scripture each day, especially on Jesus’ life and teachings.
  • PRAY: Dwell intentionally with God each day.
  • WORSHIP: Gather in community weekly to thank, praise, and dwell with God.
  • BLESS: Share faith and unselfishly give and serve.
  • GO: Cross boundaries, listen deeply and live like Jesus.
  • REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace and restoration.

As we focus on the 1st discipline in The Way of Love, TURN, here is a question to ponder: Who will be your companion as you turn toward Jesus Christ?
Tweet your response so we can all learn from each other as we follow The Way of Love together! #WayOfLove pic.twitter.com/rKbLorEZVn

— ECWW – Olympia (@DioOfOlympia) August 4, 2018

Curry, his staff and a group of outside advisers known as his “kitchen cabinet” began working on that framework in December. “We realized that we already have what we need in the tradition of the church going back centuries,” he said in his July 5 sermon, citing monastic traditions that have long relied on rules of life.

The presiding bishop also drew a comparison to the set of practices followed by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders of the civil rights movement to focus their efforts. The Jesus movement, then, is built on the practices of The Way of Love, and Curry’s initiative aims to refocus Episcopalians on what it means to be a Christian in today’s world.

“I know and I believe that we in this church can help Christianity to reclaim its soul and re-center its life in the way of love, the way of the cross, which is the way of Jesus,” he said.

Spellers called this “an invitation to come home again.”

“If you look at what it takes to really grow spiritually vital Christian community, it’s not rocket science, but it does take commitment,” Spellers said. She thinks The Way of Love has been an early success because church members are hungry for spiritual formation and eager as Jesus’ followers to work for justice.

Church leaders also emphasize this isn’t a solitary journey. The shared commitment to The Way of Love echoes Episcopalians’ commitment to their baptismal covenant, a way of saying “yes” to God in a particular way.

“That’s powerful, and it’s also what movements do,” Spellers said.

Spellers’ team plans to begin a major push on social media soon in support of The Way of Love while encouraging local congregations to share their experiences with the hashtag #WayOfLove. They also are developing Way of Love liturgical materials that will be ready in time for Advent in December.

Wallet cards and brochures explaining The Way of Love can be downloaded from the website and printed for distribution locally. Spanish-language resources are being prepared. Congregations also are encouraged to experiment in how they incorporate The Way of Love into their parish life, part of an “open source” approach to developing the initiative.

Looking for ways to engage in "The Way of Love" at home? "The Way of Love for Families" is a free resource and ready to download https://t.co/p1AR6LbnV0 #wayoflove #episcopal #jesusmovement pic.twitter.com/bBS6NlbJfl

— Church Publishing (@ChurchPubInc) July 28, 2018

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Conway, Arkansas, has paired each of the seven practices with a different liturgical season over the coming year, and The Way of Love will help shape all ministries from the youth group to a senior citizen book club. Jerusalem Greer, the minister of formation and connection at St. Peter’s, is active in Forma and was part of the group Curry assembled to develop The Way of Love.

“One of the things that makes this really necessary right now is, as a culture we feel a little free-floating, a little lost,” Greer said. “And I think this helps us create a trellis, to try to kind of cling to and grow up.”

And as Curry inspires more and more people with his talk of being part of the Jesus movement, “people want to know how do you do that,” Greer said. “I think it’s that age-old question, how then shall we live? … I want to figure out how to be light and hope in a very dark world.”

One of the questions The Way of Love asks is “who will you walk with?” Forming discipleship groups will be an important step, to support each other and share experiences of spiritual growth, Spellers said. Parishioners may choose to form small Bible study groups, and several Episcopal seminaries have committed to developing on-campus gatherings centered on The Way of Love, including Virginia Theological Seminary, General Theological Seminary and the seminary at Sewanee: University of the South.

“That gives us the chance to shape the leadership of the church and to deepen the spiritual roots for the next generation of Episcopal leaders,” Spellers said.

The initiative also is drawing attention from other corners of the Anglican Communion. A priest in Canada wrote recently to Spellers saying he’d like to print Way of Love posters for his church. A similar inquiry came from someone in the Anglican Church of Mexico.

Curry’s team conceived of The Way of Love as part of the Anglican Communion’s Season of Intentional Discipleship, an initiative following the theme of “living a Jesus-shaped life.” That language and vision pairs with how Curry describes the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement.

“I want to ask not only you, but every Episcopalian, to make a commitment to throw yourself into the hands of Jesus. And then live life out of that,” Curry said in his sermon at General Convention. “These tools may help you.”

Others in the Episcopal Church are helping to spread the word about The Way of Love.

“Any rule of life takes practice, and really that’s the point, practice. In a sense we never stop practicing,” Diocese of Olympia Bishop Greg Rickel said in a video message encouraging Episcopalians there to take up The Way of Love. “It’s a lifelong practice, one most of us never get to be perfect, but in this, the practice is the gift.”

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

Diocese establishes support centers after serious flooding in Japan

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 2:30pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Diocese of Kobe in the Nippon Sei Ko Kai – the Anglican Communion in Japan – has responded to significant flooding in the region by establishing support centers. Bishop Augustine Kobayashi called for the centers in response to the immense damage caused by heavy rain last month. Areas of western Japan were inundated with water as result of the extreme weather, and the diocese has been providing support to the victims of the tragedy.

Read the full article here.

Church of South India appeals for help in responding to devastating floods

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 12:59pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] At least 39 people are now known to have died as unprecedented torrential rains causes severe flooding in parts of Kerala, India. The six dioceses of the Church of South India are already active in relief work. The church is urging “all the Christian organizations in India [and] sister churches to express their solidarity and proactively engage in the relief work, which will be a great support they can extend to the Keralites in this time of calamity.” The Anglican Alliance, which helps to coordinate the work of Anglican relief agencies around the world, is planning a conference call to organize international support.

Read the full article here.

Northern Michigan provides emergency assistance in the wake of massive UP flooding

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 3:51pm

A massive June 16-17 rainfall caused flooding in three Upper Michigan counties. This photo shows the water level at Suzanne Brush’s home, which had to be condemned, just outside Lake Linden. Photo: Courtesy of Lois Siler

[Episcopal News Service] Lois Siler’s phone rang at 4:45 a.m. on June 17; it was her 29-year-old daughter Suzanne Brush calling to tell her she was homeless. She wasn’t homeless, exactly, but she, a friend and a dog were trapped in her home’s second level and water continued to rise.

Brush next called emergency responders, volunteers in this rural part of Michigan, and an hour and a half later called her mother to say that she, Katelyn Hough, and Polar, a white, husky mix, were safe and at the fire station.

“My daughter’s house is a total loss with the flooding,” said Siler, a Lake Linden resident and member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Houghton, in a telephone interview with Episcopal News Service.

Brush’s was one of eight homes destroyed by the massive flood that ripped through Houghton County; hitting Lake Linden, Hubble and Tamarack City particularly hard. Brush’s homeowner’s insurance policy didn’t include flood insurance, so even though the property was condemned, she’s still responsible for the mortgage and property taxes. Brush, Hough and Polar have been staying with a friend in Lake Linden, said Siler, while they look for permanent housing.

Following the June floods in the Western and Central Upper Peninsula, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared disasters in Houghton, Menominee and, later, Gogebic counties. The Federal Emergency Management Agency early this month made available disaster assistance.

The rains began on Saturday night, June 16, and continued into Sunday, when more than seven inches fell in a matter of hours on the Keweenaw Peninsula, the northern most part of the state, home to just over 36,000 people, more than 20 percent of whom live in poverty.

“That set off this really strange flooding that happened all over the area,” said Rick Stanitis, campus missioner for Canterbury House at Michigan Technological University in Houghton. “Lake Superior is a huge watershed and you don’t [usually] have to wait long for it to drain.”

But the rains intensity was more than the watershed could readily absorb, made worse by rock and steep hills, and the flood destroyed streets and knocked out culverts, and left 500 basements filled with mud. Close to two months later, some residents still have mud in their basements, he said, in a telephone interview.

“There’s a lot of suffering going on and a lot of poor folk. A lot of people suffering without money who are not going to tell anyone they’re in need and they have a basement full of mud,” said Stanitis.

Three weeks after the first flood, heavy rains caused a second flood in Houghton County. It is

Stanitis’ job to keep the diocese informed of the work of the Long-Term Recovery Group Steering Committee, which is working on solutions to bring resources to the emerging needs. Following the June flood, the Diocese of Northern Michigan began collecting donations in support of flood relief and continues to do so.

“The flash flood in Houghton County on Father’s Day has left a path of destruction to infrastructure and homes in Houghton County, said Northern Michigan Bishop Rayford Ray, in an email to ENS. “Many of you have seen the photos and videos on news and social media sites showing the devastation to public infrastructure, but individuals in the community have also suffered many losses and set backs of all types. The community continues to assess the damage from the disaster, and relief efforts have been underway and continue to this very day.

“It is estimated that costs are over $50 million because of the flooding which does not include the emotional impact to those who were touched by this devastating flood.”

Siler’s yard was damaged, nothing serious. Brush, though, who lived just outside Lake Linden’s village limit in School Craft Township, near an old railroad bed that has since been filled in to accommodate snowmobiles and off-road vehicles, lost everything. That fill, along with water, ended on Brush’s property and, even though the century-old house still sits on its foundation, it’s beyond repair.

“This was a unique experience, the home she lived in was 100 years old and has managed to make it through serious weather … this was an extraordinary event,” said Siler. “The house is gone; the cars are gone. All is well with them, there’s been a little game of find Suzanne’s stuff, it’s strewn all over the place.”

To contribute to the diocese’s flood relief fund, make checks payable to The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan. In the memo line, please write Houghton County Flood Relief. The address is: The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan 131 East Ridge Street Marquette, MI 49855.

-Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

New Central America primate sets out mission and justice manifesto at installation service

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 3:49pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Julio Murray urged his province to “embrace the project” of the Kingdom of God as he was installed at the sixth primate of the Anglican Church of Central America (IARCA) on Aug. 11. He was elected by the provincial synod in April. Hundreds of people included guests from around the world packed into St. Luke’s Cathedral in Panama City for a vibrant, colourful service which reflected elements from the five nations which make up the province – Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. One moment which drew gasps from the congregation was the gospel reading: it was preceded by the appearance of a group of dancers each wearing a hat topped with a flaming candle.

Read the entire article here.

A photo gallery is here.

Episcopales se empeñan a fondo en la movilización de votantes locales con vistas a las elecciones de noviembre

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 10:10am

[Episcopal News Service] Las elecciones de noviembre no tomarán a nadie por sorpresa en la iglesia de San Martín de los Campos [St. Martin-in-the-Fields] en Filadelfia, Pensilvania. Docenas de miembros de la iglesia participan en jornadas de capacitación electoral, y la meta de la congregación es que el 100 por ciento de los feligreses vaya a votar el día de las elecciones.

La participación cívica es también una primera prioridad en la iglesia episcopal de la Santa Cruz [Holy Cross] en Decatur, Georgia, un suburbio de Atlanta. La congregación está enviando a los feligreses a encuestar el barrio en torno a la iglesia en apoyo del empeño estatal de inscribir hasta 1,2 millones de nuevos votantes.

Y en Indiana, la Diócesis de Indianápolis ha auspiciado eventos de activismo electoral en los que voluntarios de la iglesia forman parte de una iniciativa interreligiosa que se propone llegar a más de 100.000 residentes de ese estado que no han votado antes.

“Con frecuencia hablamos de cómo la vida de Jesús nos orienta a ser políticamente activos… Debemos cuidar de los miembros más vulnerables de nuestra comunidad”, dijo la Rda. Carol Duncan, diácona que está coordinando la participación de San Martín de los Campos en las actividades relacionadas con las elecciones. Los episcopales como Duncan siempre han sido francos en su llamado a “votar lealmente” porque la Iglesia sola no puede cambiar sistemas injustos. “Ustedes no pueden hacerlo a menos que voten”.

La Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia Episcopal tiene su sede en Washington D.C., cerca del Capitolio, y brinda recursos para ayudar a los episcopales a movilizarse para las elecciones con iniciativas no partidarias. Foto de David Paulsen.

Aunque los episcopales pueden estar motivados por convicciones políticas personales, sus empeños electorales a partir de la Iglesia son necesariamente no partidarios. Estos empeños también se basan en políticas de la Iglesia establecidas por la Convención General, que acabó de aprobar el mes pasado resoluciones adicionales en que llaman a los episcopales a una mayor participación política. Esa participación cuenta con el continuo apoyo de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia en Washington, D.C.

“Votar y participar en nuestro gobierno es una manera de participar en nuestra vida en común, y esa es una obligación cristiana”, dijo el obispo primado Michael Curry en una declaración en vídeo antes de las elecciones de 2016. La Red Episcopal de Política Pública de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales volvió a citar el comentario de Curry esta semana en  un mensaje actualizado acerca de las próximas elecciones.

¿Cómo alguien “vota lealmente”¿ El mensaje emitido el 7 de agosto ofrece recursos, entre ellos enlaces a información sobre registro de votantes, normas de votación de los estados y colegios electorales. También tiene enlaces al “instrumental” del votante de la Iglesia Episcopal,  que brinda orientación adicional sobre la acción individual y cómo movilizar a comunidades guiadas por la fe.

“Alentamos a los episcopales a participar del proceso democrático este otoño mediante la promoción de la inscripción de votantes, estar al tanto de los candidatos que aparecen en la boleta de su zona, hacer un plan para que Ud. vaya a votar el Día de las Elecciones y el ayudar a otros a hacer lo mismo”, le dijo a Episcopal News Service Rebecca Linder Blachly, directora de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales. “Nuestro instrumental para votar lealmente [Vote Faithfully Toolkit] proporciona materiales a parroquias y a individuos para involucrarse y participar en nuestro deber cívico”.

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La Rda. Fatima Yakuba-Madus, misionera para la participación comunitaria de la Diócesis de Indianápolis, vio el mensaje transmitido por correo electrónico esta semana y pensó que era un material perfecto para adaptarlo al próximo boletín diocesano. No todo el mundo en su diócesis tiene tiempo para participar de voluntario en la constante iniciativa de captar votantes.

Yakuba-Madus asumió el papel de misionera este año, luego de servir desde 2010 como diácona en la iglesia episcopal de San Juan  [St. John’s] en Speedway, Indiana. Mientras en San Juan ella participa regularmente en las campañas de barrio —tocando a las puertas, alentando a las personas a salir a votar y ayudándolas a inscribirse si aún no están inscritas—,ahora está activa en el colectivo de congregaciones conocidas como Fe en Indiana, empeñado en llegar a más de 100.000 votantes no inscritos y persuadirles de que acudan a las urnas el 6 de noviembre. Voluntarios de la iglesia han llamado a algunos de esos residentes durante las campañas telefónicas que la diócesis había llevado a cabo en la iglesia catedral de Cristo  [Christ Church Cathedral] en Indianápolis y en la iglesia episcopal de San Cristóbal [St. Christopher’s] en Carmel, al norte de la capital. Los voluntarios episcopales se centraron específicamente en llegar a los residentes de un distrito legislativo en el cual tradicionalmente ha habido muy pobre concurrencia a las urnas.

¿Por qué es ésa una función de la Iglesia? La acción cívica está directamente influida por la fe, arguyó Yakuba-Madus, basándose en los comentarios del Obispo Primado sobre el tema.

“Tenemos que participar en la votación”, apuntó. Las agencias del gobierno tienen una capacidad inigualada para cumplir la misión cristiana de servir a las personas que viven en los márgenes económicos de la sociedad, y “nadie va hacer eso si no votamos”.

La Convención General suele afirmar el compromiso de la Iglesia con la participación política.

“Nuestra iglesia tiene una política que nos insta a todos nosotros a abogar por el derecho al voto, incluso por la eliminación de barreras para votar”, dijo Blachly. “Los problemas de la inscripción de votantes se abordan en el ámbito estatal, de manera que les instamos a participar”.

Dos resoluciones aprobadas en Austin el mes pasado abordan los problemas del derecho a votar. La  ‘Resolución C047 compromete a la Iglesia a abogar en apoyo del principio de “una persona, un voto” —que los votos de todos los ciudadanos deben tener un impacto igual en los resultados electorales.

Aunque la resolución no entra en detalles, la explicación que la respalda apunta algunos ejemplos de áreas de interés: “Algunos impedimentos son tan viejos como nuestra nación y están integrados dentro de la Constitución de EE.UU., tales como el Colegio Electoral y la manera en que eligen a los senadores federales”, dice la explicación. “Otros impedimentos son más recientes o han llegado a ser cada vez más problemáticos a lo largo de las últimas décadas, tales como la manipulación de los límites de los distritos electorales, variaciones en el acceso a las boletas y la manera en que los votos se emiten y se cuentan a través del país, ciertos aspectos de la financiación de las campañas y la tecnología cada vez más sofisticada que se usa para llegar a votantes muy específicos”.

La Resolución D003 condena las medidas que den por resultado la supresión de votantes y apoya las iniciativas que aumentan la participación electoral, tales como “políticas que aumentan la votación anticipada, que extienden los períodos de inscripción, que garantizan un número adecuado de colegios electorales, que permiten el voto por correspondencia sin necesidad de presentar una excusa, y que prohíben las formas de identificación que restringen la participación del votante”.

La Resolución también critica la manipulación partidaria de las demarcaciones electorales e insta a la Conferencia Nacional de Legisladores Estatales a elaborar un proceso justo para el establecimiento de distintos legislativos y del Congreso.

La manipulación de estas demarcaciones consiste en la táctica de trazar distritos electorales que favorezcan a un partido en detrimento del otro en las elecciones, usualmente  reuniendo a votantes semejantes en unos pocos distritos o diluyéndoles a través de varios distritos donde seguirán estando en minoría. El Tribunal Supremo de EE.UU. decidió no pronunciarse sobre la constitucionalidad  de la manipulación partidaria de las demarcaciones electorales en un dictamen que emitió a principios de este año, dejando la puerta abierta a ulteriores demandas.

El debate sobre la manipulación de los distritos electorales es complicada, además, por la utilización de este procedimiento, conforme a la Ley de Derechos Electorales de 1965, y, a fin de garantizar una mayor representación de las minorías en el Congreso, se trazaron [demarcaciones distritales para crear lo que se conocen como distritos de “mayoría minoritaria”. Sin embargo, los críticos han argüido que esto ha tenido el efecto partidista a largo plazo de juntar a más votantes demócratas y ceder más distritos a los republicanos.

Luego, ¿por qué deben las iglesias y los cristianos intervenir?

“Para el seguidor de Jesús, la manipulación de las demarcaciones electorales socaba nuestro voto fundamental de respetar la dignidad de cada ser humano”, escribió en octubre de 2017 en un artículo el Rdo. Jarret Kerbel, rector de San Martín de los Campos en Filadelfia. “La participación en configurar nuestra vida común es un deber cristiano y algo que los cristianos consideran, respetan y protegen a todas las personas independientemente de su filiación, de su creencia o su no creencia”.

Pensilvania  estaba entonces lidiando con su propia controversia por la manipulación de las demarcaciones, y en enero, el Tribunal Supremo del estado dictaminó que las fronteras de los distritos del Congreso eran inconstitucionales. El tribunal presentó luego un mapa que establecía nuevas fronteras distritales que entrarán en vigor cuando comience el próximo período del Congreso en 2019.

La agrupación reformadora Fair Districts PA hizo una presentación en octubre de 2017 en la iglesia de San Martín de los Campos, en Pensilvania, acerca de la restructuración distrital. En el evento se mostró el mapa de Pensilvania en forma de un rompecabezas que los asistentes podían armar. Foto cortesía de San Martín de los Campos.

En el ínterin, San Martín de los Campos se ha centrado en la educación e inscripción de los votantes.

“Sabemos cuan importante es votar, particularmente este año”, dijo Duncan, diácona de San Martín. Su iglesia se ha asociado con un grupo llamado POWER, una coalición interreligiosa de más de 50 congregaciones centrada en la organización comunitaria de la zona suroriental y central de Pensilvania.

Los organizadores de POWER dirigieron un foro en San Martín de los Campos en julio, y alrededor de 40 feligreses asistieron para aprender más acerca de las iniciativas para la movilización de electores, explicó Duncan. Un entrenamiento está programado para el 26 de agosto para coincidir con el evento inaugural de una campaña para la educación de los votantes.

Otros ejemplos de la participación episcopal pueden encontrarse a través el país. La iglesia episcopal del Buen Samaritano  [Good Samaritan] en San Diego, California, auspiciará a la Liga de Electoras [League of Women Voters] el 29 de septiembre para una presentación acerca de las proposiciones estatales. La Fundación Episcopal de la Salud de la Diócesis de Texas se asoció en 2016 con Mi Familia Vota para inscribir a votantes hispanos, y empeños semejantes tienen lugar en el área metropolitana de Houston y en Atlanta para este ciclo electoral.

“Los votos de las personas son realmente importantes”, dijo Soyini Coke, miembro de la iglesia episcopal de la Santa Cruz [Holy Cross Episcopal Church] en Decatur, que coordina los esfuerzos de inscripción de votantes de la congregación en el área metropolitana de Atlanta.

Soyini Coke, a la derecha, preparó un taller de adiestramiento para la movilización de votantes en la iglesia episcopal de la Santa Cruz, en Decatur, Georgia, que tuvo lugar el 4 de agosto bajo la dirección de los organizadores del Proyecto Nueva Georgia, Carey C.J. Jenkins entre ellos. Foto de Dennis Patterson Jr.

Coke admitió que ella era una de esos ciudadanos que nunca votaba en las elecciones y que se había desinteresado del proceso político —hasta la elección presidencial de 2016. Ella se sintió decepcionada por los resultados, pero se comprometió a convertir su cólera en acción.

“No basta con quejarse”, dijo, de manera que ella y otros 20 feligreses se reunieron en la Santa Cruz el 4 de agosto para un [taller de] adiestramiento en la inscripción de votantes seguido por la [iniciativa] de ponerse en contacto directo con los votantes. Algunos se dividieron en equipos de a dos para llamar a las puertas, orientando a votantes no inscritos a través del proceso de inscripción. Otros se quedaron en la iglesia para llamar a votantes potenciales  de listas facilitadas por el Proyecto Nueva Georgia.

Durante varios años, el proyecto no partidario ha estado inscribiendo a georgianos para que voten con un objetivo de plena participación de todos los que tienen derecho al voto y pudo identificar a 400 residentes no inscritos en un radio de 3 kilómetros de la Santa Cruz, contó Coke. La campaña de inscripción del 4 de agosto generó 396 llamadas por teléfono, 97 contactos con votantes y siete nuevas inscripciones de votantes.

Eso es sólo el comienzo. La Santa Cruz espera organizar campañas semejantes en los meses previos a las elecciones de noviembre, dijo Coke. Esta es una iglesia de mayoría negra y tal activismo tiene profundas raíces en la tradición de la Iglesia negra, afirmó ella.

“Es muy natural allí” dijo. “Si vas a hablar de activismo en la comunidad negra, la iglesia es el centro de eso y siempre lo ha sido”.

– David Paulsen es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Pueden dirigirse a él en at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Bishop Moses Nag Jun Yoo elected primate of the Anglican Church of Korea

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 11:30am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The bishop of Daejeon, Moses Nak Jun Yoo, has been elected as primate of the Anglican Church of Korea. He was elected at the Province’s General Assembly to succeed Bishop Onesimus Park, the bishop of Busan, whose term of office had come to an end. He will serve as primate for the next two years. The General Assembly also appointed a new general secretary, Peter Jun Gi Choi. In a message to the Anglican Communion Office, the province asked “for your continuing prayer for the new leadership and churches of the Anglican Church of Korea.”

Read the entire article here.

Diocese of Melbourne hits back at television coverage of safeguarding complaints

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 11:27am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne and the independent body it established to investigate complaints against clergy have hit back at media reports concerning their handling of complaints against a former archbishop of Brisbane. Peter Hollingworth served as archbishop of Brisbane from 1989 until 2001, before becoming governor-general of Australia. He was forced to step down in 2003 after criticisms emerged of his handling, as archbishop, of allegations of abuse committed by clergy and teachers.

Read the entire article here.

Church in Wales highlights “poor upbringing” of Welsh children during Eisteddfod event

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 11:24am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Church volunteers are stepping in to provide food and support for struggling families as cuts to public spending impact on child poverty, the Church in Wales said this week during an event at The Eisteddfod, the annual cultural festival. The audience at the event heard stories of children struggling to keep up with school homework because their families couldn’t afford a computer or internet access, going hungry in holidays and parents not being able to afford school uniforms. The also heard that funding cuts were threatening Church-run family centres in some of the most deprived areas of the country.

Read the entire article here.

Charlottesville Episcopalians join peaceful gatherings marking year after hate groups’ violence

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 11:11am

The Charlottesville Clergy Collective holds an interfaith service Aug. 9, 2018, at The Haven as part of a week of faith-based activities to mark one year since hate groups’ demonstrations ended in violence in this Virginia city. Photo: Charlottesville Clergy Collective

[Episcopal News Service] The three Episcopal congregations in Charlottesville, Virginia, are participating in a weeklong series of ecumenical and interreligious events to promote peace, faith and unity one year after a white supremacist demonstration turned violent, thrusting the city into a national debate over race and Confederate symbols.

Prayer gatherings have been scheduled twice each weekday this week by the Charlottesville Clergy Collective, of which the Episcopal churches are a part. The collective also organized an evening worship service Aug. 9 described as “a service of gratitude, repentance and hope.” And an afternoon “singout” on Aug. 12 is expected to draw hundreds.

“There was a somewhat unspoken consensus that we wanted – we being Charlottesville – we wanted to be in charge of what this weekend looks like,” the Rev. Cass Bailey, vicar of Trinity Episcopal Church, told Episcopal News Service this week. “There just was a sense that we wanted to project a positive image.”

That positive image is intended as a contrast to the events of Aug. 12, 2017, when one counter-protester died amid clashes with a large assembly of neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen and other hate groups who had come to Charlottesville for a “Unite the Right” rally in opposition to the city’s plans to remove two statues of Confederate generals.

A year later, the legal battle continues over the statues, which remain in place. The white supremacists appear to be focusing on a new rally in Washington, D.C., on the anniversary rather than returning to Charlottesville en masse, which has relieved some anxiety locally, Bailey said.

The Rev. Cass Bailey, shown speaking Aug. 9 at the interfaith service, is vicar of Trinity Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, Virginia. “There just was a sense that we wanted to project a positive image,” he said earlier in the week. Photo: Charlottesville Clergy Collective

“Police are still gearing up for the worst-case scenario,” Bailey said. The city’s security measures this weekend will make it virtually impossible to hold worship services downtown, so Christ Episcopal Church decided to close for the weekend and will worship in the morning with Bailey’s congregation at Trinity and in the evening at St. Paul’s Memorial Church.

The Diocese of Virginia and its clergy and congregations, meanwhile, have expressed support for the churches in Charlottesville a year after many of them came to the city and joined with the faith community in standing against racism and hatred.

“I think that God has given an imperative to the church to hold firm in our resolve to stand in the public square in opposition to anything that is contrary to Jesus’ teaching that we must love one another — no exceptions,” Virginia Bishop Shannon Johnston said in a written statement. “We will therefore always stand up to hate-mongering, and we will continue to do all in our power to ensure that the world around us knows without question that the love of God is present to us and will always prevail over division and hatred.”

The events last year in Charlottesville turned this Southern university town into a flashpoint in the larger debate over the Confederacy and the Civil War’s ugly but enduring legacy of racism. Episcopal institutions, too, were swept up in that debate.

Washington National Cathedral altered its stained-glass windows to remove Confederate symbols. Sewanee: University of the South moved a Confederate general’s monument from a prominent byway in Sewanee, Tennessee, to a campus cemetery. An Episcopal church in Lexington, Virginia, that had been known as the R. E. Lee Memorial Church in honor of the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee changed its name to Grace Episcopal.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry stands at the foot of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Sept. 7, 2017, with the Rev. Paul Walker, rector of the nearby Christ Episcopal Church. The statue had been wrapped in plastic while the city fights a legal challenge to the monument’s removal. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

When Presiding Bishop Michael Curry traveled to Charlottesville for a pastoral visit, most of his itinerary was filled with clergy meetings and an evening sermon promoting love over hate, though he also took a few minutes to reflect at the foot of the downtown statue of Lee, which at the time was wrapped in a black tarp.

The tarp is gone, but the statue is still visible from the second-floor office window of the Rev. Paul Walker, rector of the historic Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Charlottesville. He returned just last week from a four-month sabbatical and was not involved in the decision by other church leaders to close this weekend, but he thinks it was the right call. Other downtown churches were making similar arrangements to worship elsewhere.

“The whole area will be on lockdown,” Walker said. “And there is a credible threat of violence downtown.”

Virginia’s governor also has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville because of the potential for renewed unrest.

“I’m very grateful that all hands are on deck for the weekend, because last year was horrible, deeply traumatic for our city,” Walker said.

Even a small group of white supremacists could set off a crisis, said the Rev. Will Peyton, rector of St. Paul’s Memorial Church, which overlooks the campus of the University of Virginia.

“I think there’s a strong sense, in terms of the city and state police … that law enforcement and government are going to be overprepared rather than underprepared,” Peyton said.

City officials were criticized last year for being unprepared for the “Unite the Right” rally, starting with the white supremacists’ Charlottesville Clergy Collective torchlight march in the evening of Aug. 11 at the University of Virginia rotunda while Episcopalians and other concerned citizens had gathered across the street at St. Paul’s for a prayer service. The next morning, members of St. Paul’s, Trinity Episcopal and Christ Episcopal joined an interfaith prayer service and then participated in their own march to Emancipation Park to rally against the supremacists’ event planned at the park, the site of the Lee statue.

Before the supremacists’ rally even started, the city deemed it an unlawful assembly and forbid it from proceeding as club-wielding and gun-toting white supremacists began clashing with counter-protesters, some of whom also carried weapons. The street clashes continued and even escalated, and the police force was later blamed for failing to keep the violence in check.

That afternoon, a crowd of counter-protesters was rammed by a car, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. A 20-year-old Nazi sympathizer from Ohio was charged with her murder.

Since then, Charlottesville has seen a dramatic turnover in its leadership.  The city attorney left, the city manager is leaving and Charlottesville has a new mayor, Nikuyah Walker, the first black woman to hold that office. And after the former police chief stepped down in the face of a report critical of his department’s response on Aug. 12, Charlottesville has a new police chief, RaShall Brackney.

That’s not to say that Charlottesville has solved all of its own problems, some of which stem from long-simmering racial divisions that were brought to the surface by last year’s violence.

“I would say that there’s still an extraordinary amount of tension and animosity in public life here,” Walker said. “I think that Charlottesville is really struggling to cope with what happened on Aug 12 and the history of racism here. And we’re a city steeped in history, and all of that is at the fore now.”

Peyton described the community as suffering from a sort of collective post-traumatic stress disorder, still shell-shocked from the events of a year ago, and on the anniversary, the national spotlight has returned along with memories of the horror of that day.

At the same time, “the local issues are the same as they are in many, many American cities, issues of housing and wages and entrenched structural racism,” he said. “We’re no different than a lot of other places in those regards.”

As for the legal battle over the statues – which, at least nominally, was the catalyst for last year’s violence – most accept that “to a certain extent it’s out of our hands,” Bailey said.

But the work of racial reconciliation continues. His church recently received a $11,000 grant from a local foundation to launch an African-American history project, featuring video interviews with older members of the community and workshops on the issue of historical trauma. The first event will be held this fall.

“In general, the community has acknowledged that there is a problem here in Charlottesville and the events of Aug. 12 were the erupting of underlying tensions,” Bailey said. “The work of the government and the work of the civic leader is to address those underlying tensions, and people have been trying in various ways to do that.”

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

Episcopalians dive into local voter mobilization efforts leading up to November elections

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 4:41pm

[Episcopal News Service] The election in November will catch no one by surprise at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dozens of church members are participating in voter education drives, and the congregation’s goal is 100 percent parishioner turnout on election day.

Civic engagement is running just as high at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Decatur, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb. The congregation is sending parishioners to canvas the neighborhood around the church in support of statewide efforts to register up to 1.2 million new voters.

And in Indiana, the Diocese of Indianapolis has hosted voter outreach events where church volunteers are part of an interfaith initiative seeking to reach more than 100,000 Indianans who haven’t voted before.

“We often talk about how Jesus’ life shows us to be politically active. … We need to care about the most vulnerable members of our community,” said the Rev. Carol Duncan, a deacon who is coordinating St. Martin-in-the-Fields’ participation in election-related efforts. Episcopalians like Duncan have been outspoken in their call to “vote faithfully” because the church alone cannot change unjust systems. “You can’t do that unless you vote.”

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations is based in Washington, D.C., near the Capitol and offers resources to help Episcopalians mobilize for elections in nonpartisan ways. Photo: David Paulsen

Although Episcopalians may be motivated by personal political beliefs, their church-based election efforts are necessarily nonpartisan. Those efforts also are grounded in church policies established by General Convention, which just last month passed additional resolutions calling Episcopalians to greater political engagement. That engagement has the continued support of the church’s Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C.

“Voting and participation in our government is a way of participating in our common life, and that is a Christian obligation,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in a video statement before the 2016 presidential election. The Office of Government Relations’ Episcopal Public Policy Network referenced Curry’s comments again this week in an updated message about the upcoming elections.

How does someone “vote faithfully”? The message issued Aug. 7 provides resources, including links to voter registration information, states’ voting policies and poling locations. It also links to the Episcopal Church’s voter “toolkit,” which provides further guidance on individual action and how to mobilize communities in ways guided by faith.

“We encourage Episcopalians to engage in the democratic process this fall by promoting voter registration, learning about candidates on the ballot in your area, making a plan for yourself to vote on Election Day, and helping others to do the same,” Office of Government Relations Director Rebecca Linder Blachly told Episcopal News Service. “Our Vote Faithfully Toolkit provides resources for parishes and individuals to get involved and to participate in our civic duty.”

We're aware folks want physical stickers of this graphic! Working on some troubleshooting with a recommended printer and will get back with folks for recommendations on ordering. #VoteFaithfully pic.twitter.com/sISJrbQUp7

— The EPPN (@TheEPPN) August 8, 2018

The Rev. Fatima Yakuba-Madus, missioner for community engagement for the Diocese of Indianapolis, saw the emailed message this week and thought it was perfect material to adapt for an upcoming diocesan newsletter. Not everyone in her diocese has time to volunteer with the ongoing voter engagement drives.

Yakuba-Madus took on the missioner role just this year, after serving since 2010 as a deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Speedway, Indiana. While at St. John’s, she regularly participated in neighborhood canvasing – knocking on doors, encouraging people to vote and helping them register if they weren’t yet registered.

She now is active in the collective of congregations known as Faith in Indiana, which is leading the effort to reach more than 100,000 unregistered voters and persuade them to go to the polls on Nov. 6. Church volunteers have called some of those residents during the phone banks that diocese has hosted at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis and St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church north of the capital in Carmel. The Episcopal volunteers are specifically focused on reaching residents in a legislative district with historically low voter turnout.

Why is that a church function? Civic action is rightly influenced by faith, Yakuba-Madus argued, taking her cue from the presiding bishop’s comments on the subject.

“We have to participate in voting,” she said. Government agencies have unparalleled capacity to fulfill the Christian mission of serving people living on the economic margins of society, and “nobody’s going to if we don’t vote.”

General Convention regularly affirms the church’s commitment to political engagement.

“Our church has policy that urges all of us to advocate for the right to vote, including eliminating barriers to voting,” Blachly said. “Voter registration issues are addressed at the state level, so we encourage you to get involved.”

Two resolutions approved in Austin last month address voting rights issues. Resolution C047 commits the church to advocating in support of the principle of “one person, one vote” – that all citizens’ votes should have equal impact on electoral outcomes.

Although the resolution doesn’t elaborate, its supporting explanation lists some examples of areas of concern: “Some impediments are as old as our nation and are embedded within the U.S. Constitution, such as the electoral college and the manner in which U.S. senators are elected,” the explanation says. “Other impediments are newer or have become increasingly problematic over recent decades, such as gerrymandering, variations in ballot access and in how votes are cast and counted across the country, certain aspects of campaign financing, and the increasingly sophisticated technology used in micro-targeting voters.”

Resolution D003 condemns measures that result in voter suppression and supports steps to increase voter participation, such as “policies that will increase early voting, extend registration periods, guarantee an adequate number of voting locations, allow absentee balloting without the necessity of having an excuse, and prohibit forms of identification that restrict voter participation.”

The resolution also singles out partisan gerrymandering for criticism and urges the National Conference of State Legislators to develop a fair process for establishing legislative and congressional districts.

Gerrymandering is the tactic of drawing districts that will favor one party over the other in elections, usually by packing similar voters into just a few districts or diluting them across several districts where they will remain in the minority. The U.S. Supreme Court chose not to rule on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering in a decision issued earlier this year, leaving open the door to further legal challenges.

The debate over gerrymandering is complicated further by gerrymandering’s use, under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to ensure greater minority representation in Congress by drawing district lines to create what are known as “majority-minority” districts. Critics have argued, however, that this has had the long-term partisan effect of pooling more Democratic voters together and ceding more districts to Republicans.

So why should churches and Christians get involved?

“For the follower of Jesus, gerrymandering undercuts our fundamental vow to respect the dignity of every human being,” the Rev. Jarrett Kerbel, rector of Philadelphia’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields, wrote in an October 2017 article. “Participation in shaping our common life is a Christian duty and something Christians regard, respect and protect for all people regardless of affiliation, belief or nonbelief.”

Pennsylvania was then grappling with its own gerrymandering controversy, and in January, the state Supreme Court ruled the congressional district boundaries were unconstitutional. The court followed up with a map establishing new district lines that will take effect when the next term of Congress begins in 2019.

The reform group Fair Districts PA held a presentation in October 2017 at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Pennsylvania about redistricting. The event featured the map of Pennsylvania in the form of a puzzle that attendees could piece together. Photo courtesy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields

St. Martin-in-the-Fields, meanwhile, has turned its focus to voter education and voter registration.

“We know how important voting is, particularly this year,” said Duncan, St. Martin’s deacon. Her church has partnered with a group called POWER, an interfaith coalition of more than 50 congregations focused on community organizing in southeastern and central Pennsylvania.

POWER organizers led a forum in July at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and about 40 parishioners attended to learn more about voter mobilization efforts, Duncan said. A training is scheduled Aug. 26 to coincide with the kickoff event for a voter education drive.

Other examples of Episcopal engagement can be found across the country. Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in San Diego, California, will host the League of Women Voters on Sept. 29 for a presentation about state propositions. The Diocese of Texas’ Episcopal Health Foundation partnered in 2016 with Mi Familia Vota to register Latino voters, and similar efforts in metropolitan  Houston and Atlanta are in the works for this election cycle.

“People’s votes really do matter,” said Soyini Coke, a member of Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Decatur, who is coordinating the congregation’s voter registration efforts in the metro Atlanta area.

Soyini Coke, right, arranged for a voter mobilization training at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Decatur, Georgia, led Aug. 4 by the New Georgia Project organizers, including Carey C.J. Jenkins. Photo: Dennis Patterson Jr.

Coke admitted she was one of the citizens who never voted in elections and had been disinterested in the political process – until the November 2016 presidential election. She was disheartened by the outcome but committed herself to turning her anger into action.

“It is not sufficient to just complain,” she said, so she and about 20 parishioners met at Holy Cross on Aug. 4 for voter registration training followed by making direct contact with voters. Some broke into teams of two to knock on doors, guiding unregistered voters through the process of signing up. Others remained at the church to call potential voters on lists provided by the New Georgia Project.

The nonpartisan project has been registering Georgians to vote for several years with a goal of full participation of all eligible voters. It was able to identify 400 unregistered residents within a two-mile radius of Holy Cross, Coke said. The Aug. 4 registration drive generated 396 phone calls, 97 contacts with voters and seven new voter registrations.

That’s just the beginning. Holy Cross hopes to organize similar drives in the months leading up to the November election, Coke said. It is a majority black church, and such activism has deep roots in the black church tradition, she said.

“It’s very natural there,” she said. “If you’re going to talk about activism in the black community, the church is at the center of that and always has been.”

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

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby set to address UN Security Council

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 3:42pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Justin Welby will become the first archbishop of Canterbury to address the U.N. Security Council when he takes part in an open debate later this month. The archbishop has been invited to brief an open debate on “mediation and its role in conflict prevention” by the U.K.’s Ambassador to the U.N., Karen Pierce. The event, on Aug. 29, is one two big “discretionary events” being organized by the U.K. during their rolling presidency of the U.N. in August.

Read the entire article here.

Christchurch Diocese in New Zealand to end residential elderly care provision

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 3:38pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican Care, the social action agency of the New Zealand Diocese of Christchurch, is to close its two residential elderly care centres. The agency cited “exponential growth in the aged care sector” as one of the reasons behind its decision to gradually wind down operations at Bishopspark and Fitzgerald residential centres. Currently, both sites offer independent living and rest home care. Fitzgerald also offers hospital and dementia care.

Read the entire article here.

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