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First Native American woman in Wyoming ordained to Episcopal priesthood

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 10:12am

The Rev. Roxanne Jimerson-Friday became the first Native American woman from the Wind River Indian Reservation, in the state of Wyoming, ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church on May 26 by Bishop of Wyoming John S. Smylie. Photo: Diocese of Wyoming

[Diocese of Wyoming] On May 26, the Rev. Roxanne Jimerson-Friday became the first Native American woman from the Wind River Indian Reservation, in the state of Wyoming, ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church. The ceremony took place at Our Father’s House Episcopal Church in Ethete, with the Rt. Rev. John S. Smylie, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming, presiding. The Rev. Tommy Means gave the sermon. Jimerson-Friday is the first woman Shoshone tribal member to be ordained to the Episcopal priesthood.

Jimerson-Friday is part of the Seneca Nation of New York, on her father’s side, and part of the Shoshone Tribe of Wyoming, on her mother’s side. She was born in Lander, grew up in New York until she was 10, and then moved back to Wyoming. She currently lives in Ethete with her husband, Aaron Friday.

Her interest in becoming ordained started when she realized she had always been the person that people turn to when they are in need. More recently, she witnessed a miracle when her grandson almost died. She and her family were told he wouldn’t make it, but through the power of prayer, God healed her grandson. Because of that experience, along with a life of living in relationship with God, she made a promise to God that she would serve Him and bring people to Him. She says, “I made that promise with my whole heart and then everything seemed to fall into place like a path was made just for me.”

Jimerson-Friday has been thinking about her goals. “I am really in God’s hands. Wherever He is leading me, that is the path I am taking. When I look into the future I feel that I am going to bring peace and a sense of healing.”

When asked how she felt about her accomplishment, she said she is very proud. “It’s a matter of uplifting all the Native American women, that you can do whatever you want to do.”

Churches mobilized as Sri Lanka floods death toll passes 200

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 10:00am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Clergy in Sri Lanka have been urged to prepare their churches and church halls to provide refuge for people displaced by serious flooding in the country’s Southern and Sabaragamuwa regions. On May 31, Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Center said that 202 people had died as a result of the devastating floods and landslides caused by severe rains that have hit the country since May 26, when Cyclone Mora hit the island.

Full article.

Costa Rican Anglicans urged to live their faith naturally

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 9:57am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans in Costa Rica are being encouraged to live their faith naturally – Vive tu fe naturalmente – in a new campaign designed to encourage environmentally sustainable lifestyles.

The Diocese of Costa Rica, part of the Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America (the Anglican Church in Central America), adopted the campaign at its recent National Convention, the diocese’s first “Green Convention.”

Full article.

RIP: Sister Margaret Cook, 85, of Community of St. Mary

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 4:13pm

Sister Margaret Cook, 85, of Knoxville, Tennessee, died peacefully in her sleep on the Eve of the Ascension, May 24.

Cook entered the Community of St. Mary on May 1, 1990, and was in her 22nd year of profession when she died. She was a cradle Episcopalian and was always very active in the Church.

Before coming to the Community she had served in her church, especially with the Daughters of the King. She, likewise, served at the University of Tennessee in the Graduate Studies Program, and for a time, she actively managed a Girl Scout Camp.

Cook was especially known for her great sense of humor and her love of music, animals, hiking and canoeing. She lived a vibrant life of prayer and hospitality and expressed her care for family, young people and nature in her daily life of service.

Within the Community she ministered over the years, both in the Philippines and in Sewanee, Tennessee. She served with cheer and energy in multiple capacities as sacristan, sister-for-associates and sister-in-charge and expressed her care for sisters, guests and associates through those roles.

Her death ends her five-year struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, for which we give thanks. She will be missed, but she has left the world with blessing.

Cook is survived by her sisters of the Community of St. Mary, her nieces, Teresa Butler and Margaret Evans, and her nephew, Phillip Cook, and their families. Her life and ministry will be celebrated with a Requiem Mass in the convent chapel, located at 1100 St. Mary’s Lane, Sewanee, Tennessee, on June 3, at 11 a.m., followed by the interment and a reception.

‘River of Life’ pilgrimage down Connecticut River offers 40 days of prayer, paddling

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 1:13pm

The Connecticut River is a popular place for paddling by canoe and kayak. Starting May 31, it also will become a place of prayer through the River of Life pilgrimage organized by the Episcopal dioceses of New England. Photo courtesy of Kairos Earth

[Episcopal News Service] New Hampshire Bishop Robert Hirschfeld has rowed on the Connecticut River for years. It once was a sort of industrial “sewer” but has since been cleaned up and restored to “a place of stunning beauty,” he said. Hirschfeld intends to show it also can be a place of worship and an inspiration for prayer.

The bishop is preparing to lead a 40-day pilgrimage on the river, from source to ocean. In our sound-bite culture, Hirschfeld’s message can be reduced to this: Put down that cellphone, and pick up a paddle.

“This is a way to experience God’s love for us, God’s grace, God’s desire to flow in us and around us,” Hirschfeld told Episcopal News Service in a phone interview. “And in our forming a community of pilgrims, my desire was to slow down and put aside our electronic devices, all the busy-ness of our life, and just be fully present with God and each other in the midst of God’s creation.”

The River of Life pilgrimage, which launches May 31 near the Canadian border, is a collaboration of all Episcopal dioceses in New England, as well as the New England synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and several conservation groups. More than 50 people signed up in advance to canoe or kayak multi-day segments, camping overnight, and others are invited to join the group for day paddles. Daily segments average 10 to 12 miles.

Pilgrims without a paddle or who live far from the Connecticut River still are encouraged to participate in the pilgrimage by following along as a “pilgrim in prayer” with the River of Life prayer book.

The Connecticut River is New England’s longest river, passing through New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut before emptying into Long Island Sound. Paddling the length of the river isn’t unusual, and a speedy paddler could cover its 410 miles in about a week. But Hirschfeld sees this as a unique faith-based journey, offering a slower, more contemplative experience.

The choice of 40 days was intentional – think Noah’s 40 days and nights of rain, or Jesus in the desert. Organizers also wanted to challenge the notion that Christian pilgrimages must lead to traditional destinations, like the Holy Land.

“Why is it that we’ve never considered doing such things at home in our own sacred landscape, the places we actually live?” asked the Rev. Stephen Blackmer of Church of the Woods in Canterbury, New Hampshire. He has worked closely with Hirschfeld and Jo Brooks, their logistical coordinator, in planning the River of Life pilgrimage.

“Part of the joy for me of exploring this is to say we can have similar experiences … right here,” Blackmer said. “And in that, we both bring ourselves closer to God and we restore our connections with the very places we live.”

Blackmer, who began canoeing as a child, said he had about 30 years of experience in environmental advocacy before being called to the priesthood a few years ago, around the same time Hirschfeld was being considered for bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire.

In 2011, Hirschfeld was serving as rector at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst, Massachusetts, when he got a letter inviting him to interview for New Hampshire bishop. A veteran of rowing teams in high school and college, Hirschfeld needed to reflect on that invitation, so he got out his one-man sculling boat and headed down to the Connecticut River.

Rowing upstream, the idea came to him of a Christian pilgrimage on the river that would incorporate references to its natural history, human history and cultural history.

For several years, that idea remained just an idea. He was elected bishop coadjutor in 2012 and took the reins of the diocese the following January. Then, in 2015, while attending an annual Advent retreat with all the bishops from Province I, he remembered the river pilgrimage and mentioned the idea to the other bishops.

“They immediately got excited about it,” Hirschfeld told ENS. “It was like lightning had struck. … Even those not interested in kayaking or canoeing, they just saw a value to this as a way of doing public liturgy, as a way of bearing witness to the health of water.”

Blackmer, one of the first new priests Hirschfeld ordained in New Hampshire, has been at the forefront of the diocese’s environmental ministries, including through weekly outdoor worship services at Church of the Woods, on 106 acres of woods and wetlands in Canterbury.

“Steve makes things happen,” Hirschfeld said. Blackmer became an integral partner in developing the River of Life pilgrimage.

“When people ask me what they can do for the environment, the first thing I say is, go outside,” Blackmer said.

That, too, is a guiding principle of the River of Life pilgrimage. Hirschfeld and Blackmer expect eight pilgrims to make the journey to the headwaters pond of the Connecticut River, at the northern tip of New Hampshire. The first three days will be spent hiking from pond to pond in that region, until the nascent river becomes navigable. Then they will start paddling south in three canoes.

“The number of pilgrims will grow and swell just as the river does as it travels downstream over the next four weeks,” Blackmer said. Hirschfeld and Blackmer will miss certain segments of the trip, due to their individual schedules, but each plans to paddle more than half the distance. Two guides are the only paddlers expected to be on the river all 40 days.

For the northern half of the trip, most of the overnight stays will be at campsites chosen along the river. On the southern half, where outdoor campsites are harder to come by, most nights will be spent camping in churches. A support vehicle will follow by land with food and other supplies as needed.

Each day, prayers will be read from the pilgrimage’s prayer book, but “the large part of each day will be in silence, to reflect that part of it is simply being there,” Blackmer said.

They also have scheduled stops along the journey where community events will be held, typically on weekends. A list of events and day paddles is available on the pilgrimage website.

And by the time the journey reaches Essex, Connecticut, on July 8 for a concluding celebration, “who knows, we may have a flotilla of canoes and kayaks,” Blackmer said. The pilgrimage officially ends the next day, July 9, with a final six-mile paddle to Long Island Sound.

After that, any river in American could be ripe for the next pilgrimage, if another diocese wants to pick up the New England dioceses’ trailblazing oar.

“We’re taking extensive notes as we go through this,” Hirschfeld said. “It would be wonderful if other dioceses and other spiritual organizations could replicate this.”

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

RIP: The Rev. Carlson Gerdau, canon to presiding bishop

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 1:09pm

The Rev. Carlson Gerdau, second from right, died May 27 at age 84. He is seen here attending the installation and investiture of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop in 2006. Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold is second from left. Photo: Washington National Cathedral

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Carlson Gerdau, who served for a decade as canon to the presiding bishop under the Most Rev. Frank Griswold and the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, died May 27 at age 84.

Gerdau’s work for Griswold dated to 1988, when Griswold as bishop of the Diocese of Chicago hired Gerdau as the diocese’s canon to the ordinary and director for ministry, deployment and communication. When Griswold was installed as presiding bishop in 1998, Gerdau joined him in New York.

After Jefferts Schori took over as presiding bishop in 2006, she asked him to stay on for the transition. Gerdau retired a year later.

The Rev. Carlson Gerdau is honored by the Executive Council in 2007 at his retirement. Photo: Episcopal News Service

“You never know what’s to be ahead of you, but it’s been a wonderful journey,” Gerdau told the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council in 2007 on his retirement.

Griswold will deliver the sermon May 31 at Gerdau’s funeral service (details below). “He cared deeply about the church and her institutions,” Griswold says in a copy of the sermon provided to the Episcopal News Service in advance.

In the draft sermon, Griswold compares Gerdau to the biblical Elizabeth, who reassures and encourages Mary after Jesus’ mother is visited by the angel Gabriel.

“I think of Carl as a similar minister of encouragement, who has helped countless men and women and young people, and certainly me as well, to be their best selves and sing their own songs,” Griswold says.

Fond memories of Gerdau have been pouring in from across the Episcopal Church since news of his death was received over the weekend.

“Carl was one of God’s enduring gifts, filled with surprises, and grounded on the Rock of Ages,” Jefferts Schori said in an email to the Episcopal News Service. “His gruff manner shielded a heart of gold, and he was always thinking strategically about how better to love others. Like Jesus, he is reputed to have shown up more than once at a friend’s door, saying ‘I’m staying here tonight.’ And like Jesus, he remains in the hearts of all who knew him. Rest from your labors, dear friend.”

The Rev. Shawn Schreiner, former rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park, Illinois. described him as a “gentle giant” who helped her get her first job in the Chicago area. Her tribute to him on Facebook also noted his sense of humor, as well as their differences in height.

“I remember him telling me to call him once a month about (job openings). If I called more often I would be pestering him and if I called less frequently he would forget about me,” she wrote. “I also remember him reminding me that we would pass the peace by me standing on a pew or chair. That always made him smile.”

The Executive Council passed a resolution at the time of his retirement honoring him for his “considerable influence, often gentle, on every aspect of the church’s governmental, legislative and diplomatic life.”

The resolution further described him as a man “whose sometimes gruff exterior inadequately conceals a soul of extraordinary kindness, wisdom and humor, a soul deeply in love with the Church his entire life, and wide enough to embrace everyone from those in high places to those in need, unknown, unacknowledged and known only to him and them.”

Gerdau was born Feb. 22, 1933, to the late Kathryn Schaefer Gerdau and Carl Gerdau of New York City. “He found his vocation in the church in 1949 by serving as a counselor to the Brantwood Camp in Peterborough, New Hampshire,” a family obituary says.

He graduated from General Theological Seminary in 1959 and was ordained to the diaconate and the priesthood the same year. Gerdau served for 20 years as vicar and rector at several churches in Michigan until he was appointed archdeacon of the Diocese of Missouri in 1979.

In 1986, Gerdau spent a year on sabbatical studying Spanish in Guatemala and theology at the University of Chicago. He then served from 1987 to 1988 as interim rector at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Deerfield, Illinois, before joining Griswold’s staff at the Diocese of Chicago.

Gerdau was superior general of the Oratorio of the Good Shepard, a religious order he joined in 1964. He also served on the boards of the Episcopal Church Pension Fund, Bexley Hall Seminary, Bexley Seabury Seminary Foundation, Auburn Seminary, the Church Historical Society and Friends of Canterbury Cathedral in the United States.

He is survived by four nieces and their children.

A funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 31 at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Manhattan, his family’s church. A private burial will take place at Woodlawn Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Brantwood Camp, P.O. Box 3350, Southborough, NH 03458, or NAACP, of which he was a lifelong member, at NAACP Development, 4805 Mt. Hope Drive, Baltimore, MD 21215.

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

USPG chief Janette O’Neil to step down

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 11:21am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The international Anglican mission agency USPG has announced that its chief executive, Janette O’Neil, is to retire at the end of August. O’Neil has been at the helm of the organization for the past six years. USPG’s trustees have now begun a search for “an effective leader with strong links to the Anglican Communion” to succeed her.

Full article.

Church Pension Fund plans major revisions for greater flexibility in a changing Episcopal Church

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 11:15am

Garth Howe, a Church Pension Group assistant vice president in its Integrated Benefits Account Management Services office, talks to Diocese of Pennsylvania clergy in Philadelphia May 24 about planned changes to the Church Pension Fund. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The biggest changes to the Church Pension Fund in the past 60-some years are due to go into effect next year. They are designed to better serve a changing Episcopal Church and its clergy and lay employees while sustaining the fund and maintaining the value of retirement benefits.

That’s the message Church Pension Group officials are taking to every diocese to explain the breadth and depth of the changes that are expected to go into effect Jan. 1, 2018. (The pension fund is one of five companies that make up CPG).

The plans are being revised, according to Mary Kate Wold, pension fund chief executive officer and president, to “create more modern plans that address the realities of a changing Episcopal Church, while ensuring that each pension plan remains financially sustainable.” Those realities include providing for emerging, non-traditional types of ministry, as well as the changing needs of interim ministers, bi-vocational priests, part-time clergy, and clergy who experience longer breaks in service.

Moreover, Garth Howe, a CPG assistant vice president in its Integrated Benefits Account Management Services office, told one of two gatherings in the Diocese of Pennsylvania May 24, the changes will provide more flexibility for clerics, promote consistency across the plans, simplify communication about the plans, and improve their administration while maintaining the overall value of the benefits.

Two important aspects of the clergy plan will not change. It will remain a defined-benefit plan and the mandatory assessment a cleric’s employer pays will remain at 18 percent. However, the formula for calculating that percentage will be simplified and the timeframe for paying the assessment will change.

“We knew we had to react and adjust to the changing Church,” Howe said, explaining that CPG staffers spent three and a half years traveling around the Church to hear from more than 1,500 Episcopalians how the pension fund ought to react to such change. Some of the suggested changes that emerged were incorporated into the revisions, he said. Some tweaking of the revisions still may occur as CPG staff members listen to feedback during the diocesan sessions.

As CPG was listening to the Church and discussing possible revisions, General Convention in 2015, via Resolution A177, approved the effort. In Resolution A181, it also told CPG to study compensation and the cost of benefits for clergy and lay employees in the dioceses of Province IX, the Diocese of Haiti, the Episcopal Church in Cuba, and with its covenant partners. The Church’s canons authorize the pension fund to provide retirement and disability benefits to eligible clergy. The fund is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Source: Church Pension Group Annual Report for 2016. Graphic: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The revisions represent a deep dive into the intricate mechanics of the pension plans. Many are interconnected. Below is a summary of some of the larger changes, followed by links to additional information and schedules of CPG presentations on the revisions.

Eligibility for the clergy pension plan

Currently, participation in the plan is mandatory if a cleric works three or more consecutive months and is paid at least $200 per month. The revision will make participation mandatory regardless of pay level for ordained clergy who meet eligibility criteria. It will also require a cleric be “regularly employed” by the same Church employer for five or more consecutive months. The change, says CPG, will provide flexibility for short-term service and give lower-paid clergy access to the plan.

More information, including the “regularly employed” definition, is here.

Total Assessable Compensation

Total Assessable Compensation, upon which employers pay an 18 percent assessment, is currently the sum of cash salary, other cash compensation (e.g., bonus, overtime, employer-paid tuition for dependents, employer contributions to retirement saving plans, and other taxable income), Social Security tax reimbursements, utilities allowance, housing (depending upon how it is provided) and, in certain cases, severance. The calculation will be simplified to include most items reported on a Form W-2 (or equivalent), as well as any cash housing allowance and the value of employer-provided housing. The change in the treatment of housing will allow clergy whose only compensation is employer-provided housing access not only to the Clergy Pension Plan but also to the other pension fund benefits. That change might impact the budgets of those congregations that provide their clergy with housing but not salary because they are currently not required to pay an assessment.

More information is here.

Paying Assessments

Employers currently can choose to pay assessments quarterly or monthly. Next year all assessments must be paid monthly. Currently, the pension fund charges interest on assessments that are more than two years overdue. The 2016 fiscal year interest rate is 4.125 percent. Beginning in 2019, employers will be charged interest on assessments that are three months or more overdue. The annual interest rate will be consistent with CPG’s annual investment objective. That rate is currently 7 percent.

More information is here.

Credited Service

Credited Service is an important key component of a cleric’s pension benefit calculation and is also important for determining eligibility for other benefits, such as the fund’s life insurance benefit and the Medicare Supplement Health Plan (MSHP) subsidy. Currently, clergy receive one full month of Credited Service for one month of work if they earn at least 1/12th of the Hypothetical Minimum Compensation, now set at $18,200 per year. His or her employer must have made timely assessments payments; if those assessments are not fully paid, the Credited Service amount is prorated.

The revision will allow Credited Service for pension and life insurance benefits at any level of compensation if assessments are fully paid for that month. There will be no proration. Clerics will still have to meet the Hypothetical Minimum Compensation ($18,000 for 2018) to earn Credited Service to be eligible for the Medicare Supplement Health Plan subsidy. Also, clergy who have a break in service for any reason may make personal assessment payments for up to 24 months, instead of the current 12 months.

CPG says these and other details of the Credited Service revisions will allow lower-paid clergy and clergy with interrupted service to accrue a more meaningful pension benefit as well as help to maintain their eligibility for other benefits.

More information is here.

Highest Average Compensation

A major change involves the Highest Average Compensation (HAC), another important number in the calculation that determines the amount of a person’s retirement benefit.

Currently, the HAC (“hack”), as it is known, is the average of the highest-paid seven out of eight consecutive 12-month periods during which the person has earned “Credited Service.” Such service is earned by being eligible for the pension plan and having his or her employer pay the required assessments. Some people who want to maximize their monthly pension check seek ever-higher paying calls to increase their HAC. The current calculation method, however, may not provide flexibility to those who, for instance, feel called to take a lower-paying job because the mission and ministry of that job appeals to them.

Under the new plan, those seven highest-earning 12-month periods will not have to be consecutive. The new formula will apply to participants who earn what is called Credited Service after the revisions go into effect. If a cleric has already established his or her HAC as of Dec. 31, 2017, and still earns Credited Service after the revisions, the new calculations will never lower that number.

More information is here.

 

Pension fund participants receive a booklet to help guide them through the Church Pension Group’s diocesan presentations on the revisions coming next year.  Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Retirement benefits beyond monthly pension check

The current early-retirement provision for clerics who turn 55 and have 30 years of service will continue. The revision changes some other early-retirement provisions and adds more options. More information is here.

The revisions simplify the eligibility requirements for the resettlement benefit provided to help clergy move when they retire, as well as how the amount is calculated. There will be a new minimum of $2,000 and a maximum of $20,000. More information, including changes regarding eligibility, is here.

The Christmas benefit, or so-called 13th check, will continue and will no longer be subject to the 40 years of service cap. More information is here.

The revision includes a new lump-sum payment provision to any cleric whose retirement benefits have a present value equal to or less than $20,000 at the time of retirement. More information is here.

The fund’s rules about working while pensioned are being revised to offer more flexibility to deploy retired clergy. More information is here.

Fact sheets and presentation schedules

Details about changes to the clergy plan, including the international plan and retirement benefits, are available via a series of fact sheets here. Many of the individual fact sheets are linked to above.

The calendar of CPG diocesan presentations and webinars is here.

Fact sheets outlining changes to the lay employees’ defined-benefit and defined-contribution plans, along with the Episcopal Church Retirement Savings Plan, are available here. Changes to the lay plans will ensure a consistent definition of compensation and Highest Average Compensation across all plans.

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

Prayer and solidarity after another terror attack on Coptic Christians

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 11:12am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican church leaders have expressed their prayerful solidarity with the Coptic Church after the latest terror attack in Egypt on May 26 left 29 Christians dead. A further 24 people were injured in the attack in the Minya region, which targeted pilgrims who were visiting the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor. Daesh has claimed responsibility.

Full article.

Anglicans, Roman Catholics agree on ecclesiology statement

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 11:08am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans and Roman Catholics should see in each other “a community in which the Holy Spirit is alive and active,” the latest communiqué from the official ecumenical dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church says.

Full article.

German Protestant Kirchentag opens with call for renewal of global order

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 10:57am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Former U.S. President Barack Obama joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in front of tens of thousands of people on May 25, the first full day of Germany’s biggest Protestant gathering, the Kirchentag, or “church festival.” Obama and Merkel participated in a 90-minute podium discussion on democracy and global responsibility.

Full article.

Anglican agency pledges solidarity with Philippines church following bishop’s arrest

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 10:54am

[Anglican Communion News Service] United Society Partners in the Gospel, the Anglican mission agency, is standing in solidarity alongside the Philippines Independent Church following the arrest of a bishop on what it describes as “the spurious charge of illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions.”

The Rt. Rev. Carlo Morales, bishop of Ozamis – together with his wife, aide and driver – were arrested by police earlier this month.

Full article.

Anglican Church playing key role in tackling malaria in southern Africa

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 4:23pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The bishops of Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe took part in recent World Malaria Day events along the shared borders between the four countries.

As Southern African countries move closer to malaria elimination, increased community and church involvement is needed to identify and treat every last case of malaria, and to provide trusted malaria education on how the disease is spread and how to prevent it. Ministers of health emphasized the important role of the Anglican Church in ending malaria for good.

Full article.

Christians condemn declaration of martial law in Mindanao in southern Philippines

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 4:20pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Christian Conference of Asia, or CCA, has expressed serious concerns about the declaration of martial law on May 23 in Mindanao in southern Philippines by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The CCA, a fellowship of churches and ecumenical councils in Asia, issued a statement calling on President Duterte to lift the martial law, which subjects the people of southern Philippines to curfews, checkpoints and other restraints on their human rights.

Full article.

California diocese hosts eco-justice conversation

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 3:39pm

California Bishop Marc Andrus, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, far right, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care, pose with confirmands during an EcoConfirmation service at the Presidio of San Francisco on May 20. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – San Francisco, California] “The work of saving God’s creation is nothing less than the work of God.” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry spoke these words during a May 19 sermon framing creation care in terms of the Jesus Movement here at Grace Cathedral.

“This is God’s world,” he said, encouraging those present to affirm and to encourage one another in the care of God’s creation.

“I am convinced that God came among us in Jesus to show us the way to not just become the human family, but the family of God. And that’s why we’re here because the environment, no, the creation, is part of the family of God … God’s family is the entire created world and universe.”

The Episcopal Church has witnessed the presiding bishop’s thoughts on the Jesus Movement unfold in his dynamic preaching and speaking since he took office in November 2015. His May 19 sermon, put creation care and environmental justice squarely in that context.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached during a May 19 eco-justice Eucharist at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

The presiding bishop preached to an interfaith congregation in a packed cathedral as part of a larger eco-justice conversation on safeguarding climate, food and water hosted by the Diocese of California May 18-20. On May 18, the cathedral held a benefit conference for the St. Barnabas Center for Agriculture, an Episcopal college in northern Haiti, and two Bay Area environmental groups. A May 19 panel discussion explored climate change’s effects on agriculture and food security. Lastly, on the morning of May 20, Curry presided at an EcoConfirmation service.

The conversation came at a time when the Trump administration has sought to gut environmental regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting air and water resources. The administration also is reviewing public lands and national monuments, considering opening them to oil and gas drilling, and has promised to revive the coal mining industry.

The Episcopal Church’s 78th General Convention prioritized evangelism, reconciliation and creation care; to address the latter it created an Advisory Council for the Care of the Stewardship of Creation and authorized the creation of liturgical resources for honoring God in creation.

The eco-justice conversation sought to further engage Episcopalians in environmental issues, including water- and food-security, and environmental justice, particularly following on the Episcopal Church’s solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in its opposition to the North Dakota Access Pipeline’s route through tribal lands and beneath the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. A reservoir, Lake Oahe provides water to the Standing Rock reservation and others downstream. Indigenous nations across the United States and worldwide came together in an unprecedented show of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux, and along with climate activists, environmentalists and others, including many Episcopalians, in its challenge to the pipeline. Leaks have been detected along a feeder line and the main pipeline, which is scheduled to begin full operation June 1.

The Episcopal Church, through its Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations and the Episcopal Public Policy Network, using Church policy as a guide, advocates for the care of creation at the local, national and international level.

California Bishop Marc Andrus moderated an eco-justice panel discussion at Grace Cathedral on May 19. Panelists included from left, Nicolette Hahn Niman, a writer and rancher; Aaron Grizzell, executive director of the Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Foundation; the Rev. Elizabeth DeRuff, founder of Honoré Farm and Mill in Marin County, California; Jayce Hafner, the Episcopal Church’s domestic policy analyst; and Grace Aheron, an activist and board member of Cultivate: The Episcopal Food Movement. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“Policy and faith, it doesn’t seem like it’s a natural correlation at first. I find that as I work with members of the Episcopal Church and visit different dioceses and parishes I get questioned a lot, people will say ‘we have these incredible ministries at our church, we [our building] is energy efficient … why do we need to advocate on top of that, why do we need to get political,’” said Jayce Hafner, the Church’s domestic policy analyst during the May 19 panel discussion.

“I would say that there’s a difference between getting political and policy advocacy. Policy advocacy allows us to close the loop between the impactful programmatic work that we are doing to make sure that it reaches the halls of power. Because when you look at injustice in our country, especially in the environmental realm, policy is an incredible tool for promoting systematic injustice or spreading justice for our people and our planet.”

Curry framed it this way in his sermon: Humanity’s hope and salvation lies in a vision of God’s world that is not a nightmare. And he called on those present at the cathedral and the Episcopal Church to praise God not just in their worship but by safeguarding the water and the air.

“This is not secular do-goodism that we do, this is the Jesus Movement … Jesus came to show us how to become God’s family and in that is our hope and our salvation” said Curry. “This is the Jesus Movement and we are the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement and nothing on Earth can stop that movement.”

The EcoConfirmation included a “Cosmic Walk,” a meditation on the history of creation beginning with the Big Bang 14 billion years ago and the formation of the Earth’s atmosphere, through the emergence of homo sapiens, the writing of the Bible and Jesus’s birth to the discovery of gold in California in 1848 and oil becoming a major industry in the state in the early 20th century to 1969, when humans first viewed the Earth from space. Alisa Rasera served as the cosmic walker. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

The following day, some 40 confirmands affirmed their Christian beliefs as full members of the Episcopal Church. The confirmands – many of them students at the Cathedral School for Boys – gathered with other Episcopalians among the cedar, cypress and eucalyptus trees at the Presidio’s Golden Gate Overlook. A dense fog made invisible the Golden Gate Bridge and fog horns sounded in the distance.

It was the fourth EcoConfirmation in the Diocese of California, set apart from a tradition confirmation by three additional words added to the Baptismal Covenant’s fifth and final question: “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of the Earth and every human being?”

“As [California] Bishop Marc [Andrus] pointed out, there really is only one short change to the liturgy in the BCP [Book of Common Prayer], it emphasizes that we are in communion with all of God’s creation and in addition to the things we normally promise ourselves to,” said the Rev. Melanie Mullen, the Episcopal Church’s director of reconciliation, justice and creation care, in an interview with ENS during the EcoConfirmation.

“Overall, the work of the Jesus Movement includes creation care,” she said. By developing liturgical resources for honoring God in creation “we are learning how to pray the words of all of God’s creation into what we’re doing.”

It helps, said Mullen, to take the service outside.

It was Curry’s first outdoor confirmation, and it was “wonderful,” he said. “In the beginning of creation, it’s the spirit of God that broods over the chaos and brings order and creation, and to do confirmation out here in the wilderness, celebrating and giving God thanks for creation … confirmation is calling forth that same spirit that called forth the creation to call forth new life in those who are confirmed so that the risen Christ lives anew even in us. That’s awesome!”

Caren Miles, the Diocese of California’s associate for faith formation, takes a selfie following the EcoConfirmation. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

The Presidio of San Francisco, a former U.S. military fort, is part of the National Park Service. The site, at the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, was chosen for the view (on a clear day) of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. It was also chosen because it’s “an example of man carving into nature in preparation for a war that never came, and then nature reclaiming the land,” said Caren Miles, the diocese’s associate for faith formation, who planned the service.

The Diocese of California and Andrus have long been involved climate change and environmental justice advocacy; Andrus has represented the presiding bishop at the United Nations climate negotiations, both in Paris, France, and Marrakesh, Morocco, and at the signing of the Paris Agreement.

Gordon and Trillian Gilmore, members of St. Michael and All Angels Church/Holy Spirt Church in Concord, California, embrace while sharing a moment of wonder. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

During the EcoConfirmation service, California Bishop Marc Andrus asked the people present to contemplate wonder and the natural world.

“Wonder can guide us into deeper relatedness with nature, it is God’s gift from the beginning of the universe to help us become connected to each other, to the world and to God,” said Andrus, before inviting the congregation to contemplate a moment of wonder, what they experienced and how the moment changed them.

For Gordon Gilmore, his moment of wonder was when he first came to California. He was driving along Highway 37 and saw the sun setting on the pickleweed marshes. The road traces a crescent along the north shore of around San Pablo Bay north of San Francisco and through a national wildlife refuge created more than 40 years ago to protect migratory birds and wetland habitat.

Gilmore’s wife, Trillian Gilmore, also chose the sunset as her moment of wonder. For her, it was driving west through the Sierra Nevada mountain range and watching the sun set multiple times over 45 minutes as she rounded the mountain’s peaks.

“It was beautiful,” she said.

-Lynette Wilson is managing editor of Episcopal News Service.

WCC calls for Pentecost global day of prayer for ‘just peace’ in the Holy Land

Thu, 05/25/2017 - 3:36pm

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians are invited to participate this Pentecost in a global prayer campaign to call for peace in the Holy Land.

The World Council of Churches, through a campaign called “Come, Spirit of Peace: A Global Day of Prayer for Just Peace in the Holy Land,” is calling on Christians everywhere to unite in prayer on June 4 and 5 – by attending its worship service in Jerusalem, holding services in their home parishes or sharing individual prayers on social media.

“We are calling on Christians everywhere to share in our witness to unity and to use this moment as a focus for prayers for peace in the Holy Land,” the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, the ecumenical organization’s general secretary, said in a news release. “Our vision is to make this moment of prayer truly participatory.”

The main worship service in the prayer campaign will be held at 11 a.m. June 5, the day after Pentecost, in Jerusalem on Mount Zion. Afterward, at a session in Dormiton Abbey, participants will share details of their work in support of peace in the Holy Land.

For those unable to travel to Jerusalem, the World Council of Churches has made it easy to participate back home by offering an order of services in several languages, which can be incorporated into the liturgy for Pentecost or at separate services, said the Rev. Robert Edmunds, Middle East partnership officer for the Episcopal Church.

“It’s great to say, let’s go pray for peace in the Holy Land, but providing the resources and tools to bring that message home to various parishes around the country, around the Church, is a great asset,” Edmunds told Episcopal News Service.

Pentecost is described in the Acts of the Apostles as the day when a great wind brought “tongues of fire” that enabled Jesus’ disciples to communicate the gospel message to people in their native languages.

The prayer campaign comes as Israel prepares to mark 50 years since the 1967 war that resulted in the capture of east Jerusalem. Israel typically marks the anniversary as a celebration of the unification of the holy city, while Palestinians see it as the beginning of an Israeli occupation.

The stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process also has been in the news recently because President Donald Trump, who visited Jerusalem this week on his first foreign trip as president, vowed to succeed where his predecessors have failed.

“Making peace, however, will not be easy. We all know that. Both sides will face tough decisions. But with determination, compromise, and the belief that peace is possible, Israelis and Palestinians can make a deal,” Trump said May 23 in a speech in Jerusalem after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and, separately, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Edmunds said he also sees the importance of the World Council of Churches’ prayer campaign in the context of violence across the region, from Syria to Iraq to Yemen, including violence specifically targeting Christians.

“All these places are seeing terrible devastation,” Edmunds said. “Anything we can do to prompt peace-thinking rather than war-thinking is a positive thing. It’s about turning hearts away from violence.”

The campaign also is compiling prayers that people share by email and post to social media with the hashtag #SpiritofPeace. The online prayer wall is live, adding the latest prayers for peace.

“We’ll raise our voices to sing, our feet will dance wherever there are signs of life around us,” reads one tweet from the World Council of Churches that has been retweeted several times.

Pray for the #HolyLand "We'll raise our voices to sing, our feet will dance wherever there are signs of life around us" #SpiritOfPeace #WCC

— WCC Prayers (@WCCprayers) May 24, 2017

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention has expressed its support of peace in the region for decades. As one example, a 2012 resolution sought to “reaffirm this Church’s commitment to a negotiated two-state solution in which a secure and universally recognized State of Israel lives alongside a free, viable, and secure state for the Palestinian people, with a shared Jerusalem as the capital of both.”

And in a 2015 resolution, the Church pledged to be “an agent of reconciliation and restorative justice in the Holy Land by promoting conversation and by funding infrastructure and peace-building ministries in Palestine and Israel through the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East.”

With Pentecost to be celebrated on June 4, it’s an ideal time to get Christians of all denominations and languages involved in that effort, Edmunds said.

“How appropriate is that for Pentecost – a day in which people understood what was being said even though the languages at the time … were many,” he said.

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

Presiding Bishop’s video leads worldwide prayer campaign Thy Kingdom Come

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 5:42pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] On May 25, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry leads the Thy Kingdom Come videos for the Worldwide Anglican Communion. Thy Kingdom Come is a campaign initiated by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby calling for prayer by individuals, congregations and families.

Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray between Ascension Day – May 25 – and Pentecost – June 4 – for more people to come to know Jesus.  #ThyKingdomCome

Presiding Bishop Curry’s video is also here.

#ToJesus – The Most Reverend Michael Curry – 25 May 2017 from Thy Kingdom Come on Vimeo.

A new inspirational video message featuring a different religious leader each day will be presented throughout Thy Kingdom Come.

  • May 25 #ToJesus: The Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop and primate, the Episcopal Church
  • May 26 #Praise: His Eminence Christoph Cardinal Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna
  • May 27 #Thanks: The Most Rev. Paul Kwong, archbishop of Hong Kong
  • May 28 #Sorry: The Ven. Liz Adekunle, archdeacon of Hackney, London
  • May 29 #Offer: The Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio, bishop of Cuba
  • May 30 #PrayFor: The Most. Rev. Fred Hiltz, archbishop and primate, the Anglican Church of Canada
  • May 31 #Help: The Most Rev. John Sentamu, archbishop of York and primate of England
  • June 1 #Adore: The Rev. Roger Walton, president, British Methodist Conference
  • June 2 #Celebrate: His Grace Bishop Angaelos, general bishop, the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom
  • June 3 #Silence: Br. Keith Nelson, the Society of St. John the Evangelist
  • June 4 #ThyKingdomCome: The Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury and primate of All England

All videos will be available here

Pledge2Pray

Sign-up to participate in Pledge2Pray here or here.

Prayer resources for individuals, congregations and/or families can be downloaded at no fee here.

Resources and information

A wide selection of resources and information are available to participate in many ways in Thy Kingdom Come:

• Episcopal Church and Thy Kingdom Come here

• Thy Kingdom Come here

• Prayer resources that can be downloaded at no fee are here

• Join the Facebook page here

• A Prayer Journal to record thoughts, prayers and ideas throughout Thy Kingdom Come; for young people and adults. Download at no fee here.

• “Episcopal Church’s sense of prayer aids ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ campaign” by Episcopal News Service here

Water access in Zimbabwe key theme at roundtable discussion

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 4:23pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A roundtable discussion on Zimbabwe has taken place at Lambeth Palace, drawing together a group that included the Bishop of Matabeleland, a representative of the British Foreign Office and a water supply expert who has worked extensively in a number of African countries.

Full article.

Presiding Bishop preaches on ‘forgiveness, repentance, healing and reconciliation’ in Haiti

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 4:52pm

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry (center), Bishop of Haiti Jean Zache Duracin (left) and Bishop Suffragan of Haiti Ogé Beauvoir (right), talk before the solemn Eucharist on Tuesday, May 23 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The bishops and members of the Diocesan Standing Committee ceremoniously signed a covenant aimed at healing and reconciling the diocese. Photo: Michael Hunn

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached a sermon “on the occasion of the liturgical signing of the covenant of reconciliation” on May 23 at the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. All clergy in the diocese attended the special liturgy.

“Mutual forgiveness and repentance, healing and reconciliation are hard work and they often take time. Healing and reconciliation do not happen quickly. But it happens, if we are willing, to allow God’s grace to work in us, for God’s grace is sufficient. God is able,” said Curry in his sermon.

On April 24, the Episcopal Church announced that Curry, Haiti Bishop Jean Zache Duracin, Haiti Bishop Suffragan Ogé Beauvoir and the diocesan Standing Committee had entered a covenant agreement that “seeks to address and resolve many of the issues of conflict that have been burdening the diocese.”

The May 23 liturgy included a formal signing of the covenant, which took effect in April.

Sermon on the Occasion of the Liturgical Signing of Covenant of Reconciliation
The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti
The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” Matthew 28:16-20

I

My brothers and sisters, I greet you, in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I likewise bring you the greetings of your brothers and sisters in Christ who are, with you, the Episcopal Church, or, better yet, the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.

I give our God thanks for you, for the faithful ministries of clergy and lay people here. For you the clergy of this diocese, for the people of the the churches, parishes and missions, for all of the schools which educate new generations of children, for clinics and hospitals which care for the sick, for ministries like St. Vincent’s School for the Handicapped, the Center for Agriculture of St. Barnabas,  the Music School of Holy Trinity, for the ministries you and many share with groups like Episcopal Relief and Development, Fresh Ministries, Food for the Poor, Heifer International, Episcopal University of Haiti, and many, many more.

But I want to add a special word of thanks, and thanksgiving to Almighty God. In the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew chapters 5-7, the Lord Jesus taught us that the way of love is often realized in our willingness to go the second mile, sometimes when it hurts. The way of love, Jesus taught us, is the way of the cross, willingness to sacrifice self-interest, and even self, for the good of others.  That is the way of Jesus. And he is our Lord! And we are his followers, his disciples.

And you,
the Reverend Clergy of this blessed Diocese,
you, the Standing Committee,
you, Chancellors and other clergy and lay leaders of the Church here,
and especially you, my beloved brother bishops,
Bishop Zache Duracin, Bishop Oge Beauvoir,
you in this Covenant have been willing to go the extra mile, as Jesus taught us.
For the good of the people, for the good of the nation and for the good of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti.
You have sacrificed self-interest for the good of all.
You have been willing to begin the hard and difficult work of healing.
You have been willing through this Covenant to open the way that leads to reconciliation.

I thank you. And to God be the glory!

It was on the cross, as he was dying, that our Lord Jesus forgave even those who had tortured and crucified him. “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” Our beloved brother, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, has shown us that Jesus teaches us from the cross that forgiveness is the way to a new future. He says that without forgiveness there is no future.

Mutual forgiveness and repentance, healing and reconciliation are hard work and they often take time. Healing and reconciliation do not happen quickly. But it happens, if we are willing, to allow God’s grace to work in us, for God’s grace is sufficient. God is able.

And through this Covenant we — Bishop Duracin, Bishop Beauvoir, the Standing Committee, the Reverend Clergy, and I, as your Presiding Bishop, all of us together, we take this step in which we each repent for any way we have hurt each other,  we take a step toward mutual forgiveness, a step toward God’s healing, a step toward reconciliation through the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. This I commit to do, and I pray and believe you join me in that.

Now we are not perfect. We will make mistakes along the way. But if we press on, following this way of Jesus, walking together, upholding each other, we will make it because God’s power, working in us can do more than we can ask or imagine.  And this world needs our witness.  People need to know the power of God to heal, to forgive, to reconcile and rebuild. People need to know the power of our faith as we press on toward the Kingdom of God.

As St. Paul said in Philippians.

Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

II

So why does this matter? To Haiti? To the world? Pay attention to the roots, the source, the origin. The key is always there, in the roots.

I recently went on a pilgrimage to Ghana in West Africa. I’ve been to Ghana before, but I had not been to the slave camps, or to the castles where newly captured people, imprisoned and then boarded on ships for sale and slavery in the Americas and the Caribbean.

At the site of the slave camps, evidence of what happened there is still visible. Bowls for food chiseled in the rock, by the slaves, hundreds of years ago, are still there. Water wells dug in the ground, are still there. Burial grounds for those who died, are still there. In the oral tradition of our ancestors who told the story of what happened there, passing the story down from generation to generation, you can see and hear the cries of our African forbearers, longing to breathe free.

And then there were the trees standing in the field surrounding the slave camps. People were tied to those trees at night. Those trees saw it all. Those trees, still there, are witnesses to what happened. Those trees, like the tree that became a cross, bear witness.

One of the trees, on which undoubtedly hundreds of enslaved people were tied had a root system underneath it, the likes of which I have never seen. The roots above the soil were large and thick. And you could see them digging down into the soil where the minerals and sources of life are to be found. The roots of the tree are the key to the life of the tree.

The prophet Jeremiah said it this way:

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

 

The roots of that old African tree are the keys to its life. The roots of this Diocese will be the keys to its life and future. And the roots of this Diocese are in Jesus Christ who said:

“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5

Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen from the dead, he is the root, he and his way are the keys to the future of the Diocese of Haiti and to the entire Episcopal Church.  Jesus is the root which anchors us when the storms of life threaten to tear us down.

III

So why does this work of reconciliation, this covenant, matter? It’s all about that roots. The roots of that old African tree are the keys to its life. The roots of this Diocese will be the keys to its life and future.

When I met with the Bishop and Standing Committee last summer, we met in the conference room of Diocesan House. When I sat down in my seat I happened to look across the room. There, on the wall, was the famous portrait of Bishop James Theodore Holly, first Bishop of this Diocese.

When I saw that portrait it brought to mind a deep childhood memory. My father was an Episcopal priest. And like many priests of African descent in the Episcopal Church in those days, he had copies of the books of Father George Freeman Bragg, Jr.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Dr. Bragg, the Rector of St. James’ Baltimore, chronicled the history of sons and daughters of Africa in the Episcopal Church.

When I was a child I use to play in my father’s study. And I remember thumbing through his books. One of the pictures and biographies was that picture of Bishop James Theodore Holly. I’ve been seeing that picture of him since I was a very little child. And he has long been a hero to me.

Still longer, Bishop Holly is a hero and saint here, now one of the saints and worthies on the official calendar of our Episcopal Church.  One whose witness to the strength of Jesus, and whose hope in a new future for the people of this beautiful island still nurtures the growth of this diocese and also the Episcopal Church itself.

Soon after Bishop Holly left the United States and moved here, 43 members of the group who immigrated with the Bishop died from yellow fever and malaria, including his wife and some of his children. But he and others stayed. Bishop Holly loved Haiti, and the government eventually made him a Haitian citizen. And he is buried here in Haiti.

At some point in his ministry, Bishop Holly returned to the United States to raise funds and gather support in the wider Episcopal Church for the Church in Haiti. In one lecture he made the case for their continuing to financially support the work. The title of the lecture was, “A Vindication of the Capacity of the Negro Race for Self-Government, and Civilized Progress as Demonstrated by Historical Events of the Haitian Revolution.”

He reminded his audience that under the leadership of Toussaint L’ Overture the people of Haiti, brought here as slaves had done something incredible. In the American Revolution most of the American colonists had at least some semblance of freedom before the American Revolution. They were colonists, not slaves.  But the Haitian Revolution was a revolution of people who were slaves. And like the Hebrews under Moses in the Bible, they sought and won their freedom.

Bishop Holly said it this way:

The revolution in Haiti “is one of the noblest, grandest, and most justifiable outbursts against tyrannical oppression that is recorded on the pages of the world’s history.

A race of almost dehumanized men — made so by an oppressive slavery of three centuries — arose from their slumber of ages, and redressed their own unparalleled wrongs with a terrible hand in the name of God and humanity.”

“In the name of God and humanity.” There in that voice, there in those words, there in the spirit of James Theodore Holly who lived for this Church and this land, there are the roots of this diocese.

The roots of this diocese are in Bishop Holly’s fervent desire that the loving, liberating and life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ should be proclaimed among the descendants of Africa here in Haiti.

The roots of this Diocese are in Bishop Holly’s passionate conviction that following the way of Jesus the Church here might help the people and nation of Haiti to rise up and to claim the high calling among the nations of the earth.

But ultimately the roots of this Diocese are in the one of whom Isaiah prophesied when he said:

“A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Isaiah 11:1

 The roots of this Diocese are in Jesus Christ who died, and was raised from the dead, by the loving power of our God, who the Bible says, makes all things new.

So, standing firm, rooted in the faith of Christ Jesus, let the Diocese of Haiti rise up and reach out anew!

Rise up, reach out and go, make disciples of all nations.

Rise up, reach out and go, proclaiming the Good New of Jesus to all creation.

So keep on preaching the Gospel.

Keep on teaching the children.

Keep on healing the sick.

Keep on feeding the hungry.

Keep on loving the orphans.

Keep on standing with the poor.

And always remember, you do not do this alone. Your fellow Episcopalians stand with you.

For we are not simply the Episcopal Church. Together we are the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement. And Jesus promised, “I will be with you always, even to the close of the age.

God love you. God bless you. And you keep the faith. Amen!

Les épiscopaliens et les méthodistes proposent un accord de pleine communion

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 4:01pm

Le Comité du dialogue Église épiscopale – Église méthodiste unie s’est réuni en avril à Charlotte (État de Caroline du Nord).

Un groupe d’épiscopaliens et de méthodistes a rendu publique sa proposition visant à une pleine communion entre les deux confessions.

La mise en œuvre intégrale de la proposition prendra au moins trois ans. La Convention générale de l’Église épiscopale et la Conférence générale de l’Église méthodiste unie doivent approuver l’accord qui est l’aboutissement de 15 années d’exploration et de plus de 50 ans de dialogue officiel entre les deux églises. La prochaine Convention générale de l’Église épiscopale se tiendra en juillet 2018 à Austin (État du Texas). La Conférence générale de l’Église méthodiste aura lieu en 2020.

La proposition de dix pages, intitulée « A Gift to the World, Co-Laborers for the Healing of Brokenness » [Un don pour le monde, en collaboration pour la guérison d’un monde déchiré] déclare qu’il « s’agit d’une initiative visant à rapprocher nos églises à travers une collaboration plus étroite dans la mission et le témoignage de l’amour de Dieu et à œuvrer ensemble pour la guérison des divisions entre les chrétiens pour le bien-être de tous ».

Frank Brookhart, évêque du Montana, co-président pour l’Église épiscopale du dialogue et l’évêque Gregory V. Palmer, co-président pour l’Église méthodiste uni, ont écrit dans une récente lettre que « la relation forgée au fil de ces années de dialogue et la reconnaissance qu’il n’y a aucun empêchement théologique à l’unité, prépare le terrain pour la présente proposition préliminaire ».

Il y aura dans les mois à venir des occasions de retours d’informations, de rencontres régionales et de débats sur la proposition, selon le le Communiqué de presse du 17 mai.

« Nous vous encourageons à dépasser les cadres confessionnels pour créer de nouvelles relations et approfondir les relations existantes par l’étude en commun de ces documents et la prière mutuelle pour l’unité de nos églises », ont écrit Frank Brookhart et Gregory Palmer. « Nous pensons que cette proposition représente un témoignage significatif de l’unité et de la réconciliation dans un monde de plus en plus divisé et vous prions de vous joindre à nous pour poursuivre ces travaux ».

De plus amples informations sur le sujet dont des documents historiques, sont disponibles ici.

L’Église épiscopale définit la « pleine communion » comme « une relation entre des églises distinctes selon laquelle chacune reconnait l’autre comme une église catholique et apostolique respectant les fondamentaux de la foi chrétienne ». Les églises « deviennent interdépendantes tout en restant autonomes », déclare l’église.

Le Comité de dialogue Église épiscopale-Église méthodiste unie qui a élaboré la proposition d’accord, explique que les deux confessions ne cherchent pas à fusionner mais qu’elles se « fondent sur un accord suffisant sur les éléments essentiels de la foi et de la constitution chrétiennes » qui permet, entre autres aspects de cet l’accord, l’interchangeabilité des ministères ordonnés.

« Heureusement, aucune de nos deux églises ni des organes de gouvernance qui antérieurs, ne se sont officiellement condamnés les un les autres, ni ont officiellement remis en question la foi, les ordres ministériels ou les sacrements de l’autre église », a expliqué le groupe.

La proposition épiscopale-méthodiste a également bénéficié du fait que les anglicans de toute la Communion anglicane et les méthodistes partout dans le monde sont en dialogue permanent, poursuit le groupe. Le dialogue a produit un rapport en 2015 intitulé « Into All the World: Being and Becoming Apostolic Churches  (Dans le monde entier : être et devenir des églises apostoliques) » qui décrit son état d’avancement. Cette publication a mis en lumière à cette époque la toute nouvelle relation de pleine communion entre les églises anglicane et méthodiste irlandaises et les mesures historiques concrètes prises en faveur d’un ministère interchangeable.

La proposition de pleine communion épiscopale-méthodiste unie reconnaît que l’Église méthodiste unie « est l’une des diverses expressions du Méthodisme » et fait remarquer que les deux confessions ont soutenu un dialogue avec les églises méthodistes américaines historiquement noires depuis près de 40 ans. Elles collaborent également avec l’Église épiscopale méthodiste africaine (AME), l’Église épiscopale méthodiste africaine Zion (AME Zion) et l’Église épiscopale méthodiste chrétienne (CME) dans divers groupes œcuméniques.

L’Église épiscopale et l’Église méthodiste unie ont ces dernières années adopté certaines mesures provisoires tendant à la pleine communion. Elles ont en 2006 conclu un Interim Eucharistic Sharing [Partage eucharistique provisoire], étape qui a permis au clergé des deux églises de partager la célébration de la Sainte Cène selon certaines directives.  En 2010, le groupe de dialogue a publié une synthèse de ses travaux théologiques intitulée « A Theological Foundation for Full Communion between The Episcopal Church and The United Methodist Church »(Fondement théologique pour la pleine communion entre l’Église épiscopale et l’Église méthodiste Unie).

La proposition de pleine communion met l’accent sur les accords au niveau de la compréhension de chaque ordre de ministère. Les ministères des laïcs, diacres et prêtres de l’Église épiscopale et des anciens ou presbytres méthodistes unis (ancien est la traduction en anglais de presbytre) seraient tous considérés comme interchangeables, tout en étant régis par les « normes et la politie de chaque église ».

Les deux églises ont une compréhension relativement similaire des évêques, selon la proposition.

« Nous réaffirmons que le ministère des évêques dans l’Église méthodiste unie et l’Église épiscopale est une adaptation de l’épiscopat historique aux besoins et aux soucis du contexte postérieur à la révolution américaine », indique le dialogue dans la proposition. « Nous reconnaissons les ministères de nos évêques comme pleinement valides et authentiques ».

L’Église épiscopale et l’Église méthodiste unie s’engageraient à ce que les futures consécrations d’évêques dans l’une comprennent la participation et l’imposition des mains par au moins trois évêques de l’autre et de partenaires de pleine communion qu’elles ont en commun, à savoir l’Église morave et l’Église évangélique luthérienne en Amérique.

L’Église épiscopale est actuellement en pleine communion avec l’Église évangélique luthérienne en Amérique, l’Église Mar Thoma de Malabar en Inde, les Églises vieilles-catholiques de l’Union d’Utrecht, l’Église philippine indépendante, l’Église de Suède et les provinces nordiques et méridionales de l’Église morave. Elle poursuit également des entretiens bilatéraux officiels avec l’Église presbytérienne (États-Unis) et avec l’Église catholique romaine par l’intermédiaire de la Conférence des évêques des États-Unis.

De plus amples informations sur le dialogue entre l’Église épiscopale et l’Église méthodiste unie sont disponibles ici.

Les travaux du Dialogue épiscopal-méthodiste uni sont validés par deux résolutions de la Convention générale : 2015-A107 et 2006-A055.

– La Révérende Mary Frances Schjonberg est rédacteur et journaliste pour l’Episcopal News Service.

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