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Updated: 2 hours 51 min ago

Episcopal Church eyes investing in gun manufacturers to press for greater gun safety

6 hours 39 min ago

Episcopalians join a interfaith group of demonstrators outside a Smith & Wesson facility in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 14. Photo: Victoria Ix/Diocese of Western Massachusetts

[Episcopal News Service] Shareholder advocacy is nothing new for the Episcopal Church. With an investment portfolio worth about $400 million, the church has long used some of those investments to influence companies based on Christian principles and General Convention resolutions that set church policies and priorities.

What’s new is one of the investment tactics the church plans to implement in the new year to address gun violence.

General Convention passed a resolution in July that calls on Executive Council’s Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility to research investing in gun manufacturers to give the church a new voice in how those companies do business. The goal: “to minimize lethal and criminal uses of their products.”

“We’ve never purposely gone out and bought [shares in] what we’d consider a bad actor in order to press the company to change behavior,” said Brian Grieves, the outgoing chair of the committee, which oversees the church’s shareholder advocacy.

The resolution, B007, was proposed by Western Massachusetts Bishop Douglas Fisher, a member of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, who will take over for Grieves as committee chair in January. Fisher’s diocese is home to the headquarters of Smith & Wesson in Springfield, and in March he participated in a rally outside the gun manufacturer led by high school students in the wake of a deadly high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Fisher acknowledged a “sense of frustration” among anti-gun violence advocates in response to Congress’ inaction. “The federal government is doing nothing about the public health crisis of gun violence,” he said. “So where can the church engage this big issue?”

Shareholder advocacy already has produced results on the issue, such as the decision by Dick’s Sporting Goods in February to stop selling assault rifles at its Field & Stream stores and to stop selling any guns to customers under 21. The Episcopal Church, as a shareholder, was involved in the effort to pressure the chain based on the Sandy Hook Principles, named after the school in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 students and six educators were gunned down six years ago, on Dec. 14, 2012.

The Dick’s shareholder effort was aided by a coalition called Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, or ICCR, an organization to which the Episcopal Church belongs that helps religious organizations pool their shareholder power. The group has recently worked with other of its members to do what General Convention urged: buy stock in a gun manufacturing company to influence corporate behavior. Eleven Roman Catholics organizations invested in Sturm, Ruger & Co. and in May were able to pass a shareholder resolution requiring the company to produce a report documenting how it is mitigating the harmful effects of its products.

Fisher said the Episcopal Church intends to take its cue from ICCR and base its advocacy with gun manufacturers on principles developed by an anti-gun violence campaign called Do Not Stand Idly By.

Such efforts aren’t opposed to gun ownership or the Second Amendment, Fisher said. “We’re really taking the approach of, why can’t gun companies act like car companies? Car companies are already trying to make their cards safer. … That’s good business practice. Why can’t gun companies go down the same path?”

That’s a worthwhile case to make to those companies, said the Rev. Rosalind Hughes, a Cleveland-area priest who has been vocal and active in the fight against gun violence, but she isn’t sure investments are the best way to make that case.

“My personal feeling is that I would prefer that we were not investing in the manufacture of guns in the first place,” said Hughes, rector at Church of the Epiphany in Euclid, Ohio. She favors stepping up lobbying efforts to pass stricter background checks, an end to gun-show loopholes and other reform measures. Bishops United Against Gun Violence has backed such measures as well.

“The fact that we’re talking about this on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting doesn’t escape my notice,” Hughes told Episcopal News Service. “And the idea that the best that we can do is to invest in the manufacture of more guns in order to influence the landscape of guns in this country that doesn’t sit well with me.”

Grieves, who will remain on the Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility after stepping down as chair, describes actively investing in such companies as just one of the alternatives available to the church as it pursues a range of policy goals.

“One size does not fit all,” he said. “It’s a strategic decision, and we’re going to have to look at how we arrive at those particular positions.”

Even if this approach gets results on gun safety, it may not be the best approach toward one of the church’s other priorities, which include climate change, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, indigenous people’s rights, corporate board diversity and ending human trafficking.

The church already owns shares in Caterpillar and Motorola, for example, and for years has been pressing those two companies to address human rights concerns related to their contracts with Israel in the occupied territories.

“The purpose is to engage in dialogue and try to get the company to move toward making a change in its behavior,” Grieves said.

General Convention, however, stopped short of approving a blanket divestment in Israel, which some critics of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories have called for. Instead, bishops and deputies passed a resolution that calls on Executive Council to establish a “human rights screen” to determine the criteria that would justify divesting from specific companies based on their track records on human rights.

The church also maintains so-called no-buy lists against investing in tobacco companies, for-profit prison companies and companies that earn more than a specific percentage of their business as military contractors.

Fisher noted that affirmative investing is another approach the Episcopal Church takes, such as its support for companies doing good work in the Palestinian territories. The Bank of Palestine is one example.

On climate change, the church seeks out investments aligned with its interest in caring for God’s creation. Fisher’s diocese took the additional step in 2015 divesting from companies that profit from fossil fuels.

It’s one thing to divest from oil to invest that money in alternative fuels, Fisher said, but that approach doesn’t work well in addressing gun violence. “What would you invest in that would impact the public health crisis of gun violence?”

By investing in gun manufacturers, then, the church and its partners may be able to persuade those companies take steps that will reduce the number of gun deaths. One example would be to adopt technology like fingerprint recognition, familiar to any iPhone user, that would lock guns for everyone except the owner.

“Even if you don’t get shareholder resolutions passed, if you stay with it long enough … people start to take notice,” Fisher said. “It’s not something that gets ignored. It gets addressed.”

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

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Archbishop of Canterbury calls for UK-based international Joint Reconciliation Unit

7 hours 45 min ago

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has called on the British government to establish a Joint reconciliation Unit to work in conflict zones around the globe. The archbishop made his call during a debate he led in the House of Lords on reconciliation.

Read the full article here.

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Archbishop of Burundi leads march against gender-based violence

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 1:29pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican primate of Burundi, Archbishop Martin Blaise Nyaboho, has led hundreds of people on a march through Makamba in a protest against gender-based violence. The march took place during the annual, international 16 Days of Activism, which concluded on Dec. 10 – international Human Rights Day.

Read the full article here.

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Christian, Jewish leaders in Britain speak against anti-Semitism, persecution of Christians

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 1:26pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has joined other Christian and Jewish leaders to speak out against the rise of anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom and the persecution of Christians in many parts of the world. The religious leaders, co-presidents of the Council of Christians and Jews, co-signed a letter to The Times newspaper on Dec. 13.

Read the full article here.

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Episcopal Church’s support for historically black universities cited in St. Augustine’s turnaround

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 11:12am

St. Augustine’s University President Everett Ward speaks Dec. 11 at a news conference to announce the university has received a 10-year accreditation. Photo: St. Augustine’s, via YouTube

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s longtime support for historically black colleges and universities was credited this week in a major success story in Raleigh, North Carolina. St. Augustine’s University, a school the church helped establish more than 150 years ago, announced that its accrediting agency had taken the institution off probation, indicating it finally had turned the corner on its financial struggles and enrollment decline.

St. Augustine’s President Everett Ward sounded euphoric at a press conference Dec. 11 to present the good news.

“By God’s grace, I am here today and can report to you that we have saved St. Augustine’s University,” Ward said, according to the News & Observer. In a subsequent press release, Ward touted a “turnaround strategy” that drew support from alumni, faculty students and community partners.

“I would like to especially highlight and thank the Episcopal Church for its unwavering support,” Ward said in the press release. “From Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s letters and encouragement, to the church’s HBCU Committee and their consultants’ foundational, administrative, and advisory support, and to all who offered gifts of prayer as well as financial contributions.”

The Episcopal Church at one point supported 11 HBCUs in Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. By 1976, only three remained, and in 2013, one of those three, Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia, also folded.

The two survivors are St. Augustine’s and the much smaller Voorhees College in Denmark, South Carolina. The Episcopal Church has invested millions of dollars in the two schools in recent years while also providing administrative guidance and fundraising support. Voorhees’ accreditation was not in doubt, but in 2016, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ accrediting board placed St. Augustine’s on probation because of concerns about its financial security.

When the board met last weekend, the stakes were high for St. Augustine’s. Losing accreditation could have dealt a devastating and potentially fatal blow to the school. Instead, the board decided to renew St. Augustine’s accreditation for 10 years.

“It’s really a wonderful time, not only for St. Aug’s, but the church can be very proud that one of its institutions will continue to provide quality education for students and support for their families and continue to exist for the years to come,” the Rev. Martini Shaw told Episcopal News Service by phone after the announcement.

Shaw, who is rector at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, serves as chair of the HBCU committee of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council. The council established the HBCU committee in 2017 to continue work begun by an HBCU task force that formed in 2015.

The church’s recent work with HBCUs coincides with an emphasis on racial reconciliation under Curry’s leadership, though Episcopal ties to these academic institutions dates back further to the post-Civil War period. Colleges and universities like St. Augustine’s and Voorhees were founded to provide educational opportunities to black men and women who were excluded from white institutions of higher learning because of segregation.

Saint Augustine’s was established in 1867 by the Episcopal Church and opened its doors the following January. The school that later would become Voorhees College was founded in 1897, and the Episcopal Church has supported it since 1924.

About 100 such schools are still open today across the United States, accepting students of all races, and some of the financial and enrollment challenges faced by St. Augustine’s and Voorhees are common among other historically black colleges and universities.

The demographics of those colleges’ student bodies are changing as well. Pew Research Center reported last year that less than 9 percent of black students attended a historically black college in 2015, down from 17 percent in 1980.  Over the same period, historically black colleges and universities have become more racially diverse, with the number of students who aren’t black rising from 13 to 17 percent.

Overall enrollment at HBCUs also has been in decline since hitting a peak in 2010, when 327,000 students attended one of the colleges, according to the federal government’s National Center for Education Statistics.

The agency’s Digest of Education Statistics shows that Voorhees increased its fall enrollment that year, to 752 students, but St. Augustine’s was already beginning its downward trend, falling from the 1,529 students it had enrolled in 2009 to 1,508 students.

The decline at St. Augustine’s gained speed in the first half of this decade, with enrollment dropping to just 810 students by fall 2015. Ward was named president that year, after taking the reins as interim president a year earlier.

In 2016, St. Augustine’s logged its first enrollment increase in seven years, welcoming 944 students that fall. The number grew to 974 in 2017 but dropped sharply to 767 this fall, which the university blames on a negative article on HBCUDigest.com suggesting the university was near closure. By easing the uncertainty around its accreditation, Ward and other university officials see further opportunities to expand enrollment and academic programs.

Everett Ward became the 11th president of Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina, in April 2015. Photo: Saint Augustine’s University

“The relevancy of any intellectual community has got to be that you grow and advance with the changing society, because we’re producing the leaders of society here at St. Augustine’s and subsequently you have to embrace diversity,” Ward, a graduate of St. Augustine’s, told ENS in 2017 for a Q&A during the university’s 150th anniversary year.

The Episcopal Church’s financial support has helped stabilize the two schools and, in St. Augustine’s case, bring it back from the brink of losing accreditation. General Convention has approved about $2 million to support HBCUs with Episcopal ties for the past several triennia. After Saint Paul’s closed in 2013, the money was split between the remaining two colleges.

The 2016-2018 budget included $1.1 million for each college, and the same amount has been approved in the 2019-2021 budget. Separately, the church’s Development Office has worked to increase awareness of the schools within the church and to help with fundraising.

St. Augustine’s also points to improved internal controls and an increase in alumni giving in allowing the institution to end its 2018 financial year with a surplus. As they build on these successes, university officials will continue to have the support of the Episcopal Church.

“We as the church are going to continue to work very closely with them to assure that they succeed,” Shaw said. “We don’t want to lose another one of our Episcopal schools.”

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

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Carta a la Iglesia Episcopal del Obispo Presidente, Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 5:56am

Estimado Pueblo de Dios en la Iglesia Episcopal:

Hace casi un año, nosotros publicamos un llamamiento a que la iglesia examinara su historia y lograra una mejor comprensión de cómo hemos manejado o maltratado casos de acoso sexual, explotación y abuso a través de los años. En particular, pedimos escuchar las voces de la iglesia más amplia en la Convención General para que los diputados y obispos pudieran considerar tanto cómo expiar el pasado de la iglesia y formar un futuro más justo. Como seguidores de Jesús de Nazaret, como hijos de Dios con todo el mundo, no podíamos hacer menos y debemos hacer más.

En julio, la Convención General consideró 26 resoluciones y una conmemoración que abordan los asuntos que el movimiento #YoTambién (#MeToo) ha sacado a la luz, muchos desarrollados por el Comité Especial de la Cámara de Diputados sobre Acoso y Explotación Sexuales. Una de estas resoluciones, Resolución D034, suspende por tres años el canon (ley eclesiástica) que impone un plazo para iniciar procesos en casos de mala conducta sexual en contra de adultos por parte de clérigos. No existe un plazo para denunciar mala conducta sexual en contra de niños y jóvenes menores de 21 años de edad por parte de clérigos.

Como resultado de esta resolución, desde 1 de enero de 2019 hasta 31 de diciembre de 2021, los que quieren iniciar un caso de mala conducta sexual contra un clérigo podrán hacerlo, independientemente de hace cuanto tiempo ocurrió la supuesta mala conducta. Las alegaciones de mala conducta pueden presentarse al gestor en la diócesis donde ocurrió la supuesta mala conducta, o, si la alegación es contra un obispo, a la Oficina de Desarrollo Pastoral. Pueden aprender cómo comunicarse con el gestor en una diócesis buscando en su sitio web o llamando a la oficina del obispo.

Esperamos que esta suspensión temporal del estatuto de limitaciones será una manera en que la iglesia pueda aceptar los casos de mala conducta sexual en nuestro pasado colectivo. De aquí a la Convención General en 2021, los laicos, clérigos y obispos nombrados a varios grupos de trabajo por la Convención General de 2018 trabajarán en otras maneras de abordar estos asuntos, incluso un proceso de ayudar a la iglesia a involucrarse en la veracidad, la confesión y reconciliación respecto a nuestra historia de discriminación basada en género, acoso y violencia.

Agradecemos los numerosos diputados, obispos y otros voluntarios en toda la iglesia cuyo trabajo cuidadoso antes de, durante y después de la Convención General ayudan a que nuestra iglesia avance al día cuando, habiéndonos arrepentido de nuestros pecados y enmendado nuestra vida común, podamos ser restaurados en amor, gracia y confianza el uno con el otro mediante nuestro Salvador Jesucristo.


El Rvdmo. Michael B. Curry                          La Rda. Gay Clark Jennings

Obispo Presidente y Primado                       Presidente, Cámara de Diputados

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As one historically black Episcopal church closes, others face strong headwinds

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 4:00pm

Acolytes and a crucifer from St. Ambrose Episcopal Church stand outside All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Warrenton, N.C., during a closing service on Dec. 8, 2018. Photo: Yonat Shimron/Religion News Service

[Religion News Service] On a chilly December morning, 100 years and one week after its sanctuary opened, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, an African-American congregation with a proud history, was formally closed.

Bishop Samuel Rodman presided over the Eucharistic service in an elementary school a block away from the church, where weekly services ended more than three years ago. Several longtime members returned to read Scriptures and sing hymns. Afterward, the group of 100, including history buffs and well-wishers from North Carolina and Virginia, shared a meal of fried chicken and baked beans.

All Saints is hardly alone among mainline Protestant and Catholic congregations. Faced with dwindling members, crumbling infrastructure and costly maintenance, some 6,000 to 10,000 churches shutter each year, according to one estimate. More closures may be in the offing as surveys point to a decline in church attendance across the country.

But All Saints is an example of an even sharper decline.

Historically African-American churches across the South are fast disappearing. Some were created after the Civil War when slavery was abolished; others in the crucible of Jim Crow, when whites who had long relegated blacks to the church balcony no longer tolerated them at all.

The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina once boasted 60 such churches. Today, a mere dozen are left and, of those, only three have full-time clergy. Epiphany Episcopal Church in Rocky Mount, N.C., closed two years ago; at least one other is in danger of shuttering next year.

Of course, African-Americans have been welcome in all Episcopal churches for years — and the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, who served as bishop of the North Carolina diocese before leading the 1.7 million-member denomination, is black.

At Saturday’s (Dec. 8) closing service, there was a recognition that it was in part progress in race relations that has doomed African-American congregations. But there was as much tribute paid to the sacrificial work of so many pioneering black Episcopalians.

“Jesus provided those saints with the fortitude … to say, ‘We belong to the house of God,’” said the Rev. Nita Byrd, chaplain at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, who delivered the closing service sermon. “We are not aliens in the Christian family. We are not second-class citizens in the Episcopal Church.”

As North Carolina wrestles with the aftermath of Jim Crow — the University of North Carolina’s trustees have recommended that a racially motivated Confederate statue torn down by protesters in August be housed in a $5.3 million museum to be built on campus — there is a sense that these churches slowly fading from view also have a story to tell about the racial history of the region.

Members of All Saints hope that story is preserved.

“Not only was All Saints important to us, but to the community and the nation,” said Wilhelmina Ratliff, a middle school teacher who is one of the last six remaining members.

The church was formed in 1892 — about five years before Jim Crow made it nearly impossible for blacks to remain in white churches. It was not the first black Episcopal church in North Carolina. That honor belongs to St. Cyprian’s in New Bern, which got its start in 1866 and remains open.

But All Saints in particular benefited from, and nourished, a succession of notable black priests. Among them was Henry Beard Delany, who would become one of the first two black bishops consecrated in the Episcopal Church, in 1918. (His daughters, Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delany, told about their civil rights struggles in their 1993 best-selling book, “Having Our Say.”)

Henry Delany, who was born into slavery in Georgia, preached at All Saints for more than two decades, traveling an hour by train from Raleigh one Sunday a month.

His daughter Sarah recalled: “When Papa became a bishop, he occasionally was encouraged by a friendly conductor to take the Pullman instead of the Jim Crow car. But Papa would say no. He would be amiable about it, though. He would say to the conductor, ‘That’s OK. I want to ride with my people, see how they’re doing.’ And he’d go sit in the Jim Crow car.”

Delany helped establish a parochial school at All Saints where young African-Americans were educated. Later he worked to raise money for a new church building. Delany wanted the new building, which eventually rose on the corner of West Franklin and Front streets, to honor a late black Episcopal priest with roots in Warren County.

That priest, Thomas White Cain, was the first black Episcopalian to serve alongside white priests with equal voice and vote in the national legislative body of the Episcopal Church, the General Conference. (He died when he was swept away by a 1900 hurricane that destroyed Galveston Island, Texas.)

Delany was able to raise $1,500 for the All Saints building, which would also be known as the Thomas White Cain Memorial. Of that, $500 was pledged from among black Episcopalians across the country.

Delany and Cain are only two of a dozen trailblazing black Episcopal priests who came through All Saints or the larger Warren County, whose population to this day is estimated to be 51 percent African-American.

“These were people of remarkable achievement working under very difficult circumstances, underpaid, underresourced, willing to travel great distances to minister to far-flung congregations,” said the Rev. Brooks Graebner, the diocesan historian.

Though never large, the congregation was a vital part of the community. In later years, it operated a center for special-needs children in its basement. Scholarships from the church sent local students to college. The rectory next door was used as a shelter for victims of domestic violence.

“It was a vibrant place, full of energy and enthusiasm,” said Robin Williams, a retired juvenile court counselor who attended the church for 25 years.

The Rev. Jemonde Taylor, rector of St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Raleigh, another historically black church, worries about what the decline of churches like All Saints might mean for recruiting black clergy.

“More than 75 percent of black priests come out of historically black congregations,” said Taylor. “Those black churches lift people up for ministry. So if we don’t have black churches, will we no longer have black priests?”

The Episcopal Church does not keep records on race, but a Pew Research survey found that about 4 percent of Episcopal Church members identify as black.

The remaining members of All Saints now attend other Episcopal churches nearby. But they are not quite ready to abandon their old home. A group is exploring the possibility of reopening the closed structure to house some kind of ministry for the community, perhaps in partnership with another group. First, it needs some repairs, which is why the closing service was held at the elementary school.

“We have hope,” said Ratliff. “We know this is not it. Everybody’s coming together on the same page. What will the rest of the story be? We don’t know yet.”

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Presiding Bishop preaches in East Carolina, listens to stories of Hurricane Florence’s aftermath

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 3:23pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry shares a hug during his pastoral visit to the Diocese of East Carolina on Dec. 8 and 9. Photo: John Bauerlein

[Episcopal News Service – Wilmington, North Carolina] Three months after Hurricane Florence made landfall along the coast of North Carolina, many are living in what feels like a liminal space. The initial chaos of the storm has passed, but the state of disorientation and uprootedness has become the “new normal.”

During his pastoral visit last weekend in the Diocese of East Carolina, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry emphasized that he had come primarily to listen to the stories of those who had been impacted, to bear witness to the recovery work being done and to call members of the wider Episcopal Church to remember that their siblings in East Carolina are still in need.

The diocese includes the coastal third of North Carolina. Over the course of his two-day visit, Curry preached at a Sunday Eucharist and attended two additional gatherings that provided opportunities for community members to share their stories and time for Curry to respond pastorally.

The first gathering was held at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Jacksonville, North Carolina, in the evening of Dec. 8.

At this gathering, three individuals from around the diocese shared their experiences prior to, during and in the aftermath of Florence. The thread that was woven through each of these stories was the importance of connection and caring for one another.

The Rev. Cortney Dale from Christ Episcopal Church in New Bern spoke about how her partners in ministry were invaluable during this time and allowed her to supply the essential needs of those in her community. Shirley Guion of St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church in New Bern shared the history of her parish, highlighting what a rock it had been for so many people, and how heartbreaking it had been to evacuate and return to major damages in her church.

Pam Banta, director of the St. Anne’s Parish Day School in Jacksonville, explained how she had been unable to evacuate, but she was grateful that she had been there amid the storm because it allowed her to begin the process of providing temporary fixes for leaks in school before others were able to return.

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wilmington on Sept. 14 with 90 mph winds, part of a particularly active hurricane season that left a path of destruction from the Gulf Coast to coastal Virginia. Florence was blamed for the deaths of 50 people.

Hurricane Michael made landfall a month later in the Florida Panhandle as an even more powerful storm with 155 mph winds, killing at least 40 people. Curry has scheduled a pastoral visit in the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast in January.

On Dec. 9, Curry spent the morning with the congregation of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Southport. Due to damages to the congregation’s three main buildings, St. Philip’s is currently worshiping every Sunday in the Oak Island Moose Lodge.

Though being away from one’s church building provides a whole slew of headaches and complications, there seemed to be a lot of joy during the congregation’s Eucharist with Curry.

In his sermon, the presiding bishop emphasized the importance of remaining hopeful and continuing to dream, even if those dreams feel out of reach during times when everything around us is in disrepair.

A packed house at St. Philip's, Southport this morning, as @Pb_curry proclaimed a message of hope from Isaiah 40: “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth.” #episcopal #ecdio pic.twitter.com/SQdv4TrcWS

— Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina (@EpiscopalECDio) December 9, 2018

The final gathering was another storytelling session, held in the afternoon Dec. 9 at St. James Parish, the oldest church in Wilmington.

The Rev. Jody Greenwood of Church of the Servant Episcopal Church,  Wilmington, shared what it has looked like to organize relief and recovery work in the Lower Cape Fear Deanery. Like Dale in New Bern, the relationships Greenwood has built with ministries and relief organizations has helped her connect those with time and resources with those who have needs.

Lisa Richey, dean of the Lower Cape Fear Deanery, shared some of her personal story and emphasized that there are many people in the deanery who have not yet recovered from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Just two short years later, they faced destruction once again during Florence.

– Lindsey Harts is communications coordinator for the Diocese of East Carolina. Episcopal News Service Reporter David Paulsen contributed to this report.

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‘In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form and void’

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 11:07am

[Episcopal News Service – Washington, D.C.] In the heyday of America’s space program, the Apollo 8 mission that went aloft 50 years ago this month was a first in all of human exploration, not just that of space.

Humans left Earth’s orbit for the first time and headed to the moon nearly a quarter million miles away. Just shy of three days later, on Christmas Eve 1968, William A. Anders, Frank Borman and James A. Lovell Jr. put their spacecraft into lunar orbit and became the first people to see the far side of the moon. Later that day, they became the first to see the Earth rise over the lunar horizon.

“Look at that picture over there! Here’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty!” astronaut William Anders said on Dec. 24, 1968, as he, Frank Borman and James A. Lovell Jr. rode the Apollo 8 space capsule through their fourth orbit of the moon. “The hair kind of went up on the back of my neck,” he later recalled. Anders grabbed a Hasselblad camera and snapped one of the most iconic images of the space age. As Anders saw it, the Earth “rose” from the moon’s side, not over the top as usually depicted. Photo: NASA

The astronauts did not keep secret their discoveries. They conveyed them from space to the people on Earth who were following their mission, and changed the way humans viewed their place in the universe.

As they came around the moon, the astronauts had a new vision of Earth, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry told a large crowd gathered at Washington National Cathedral on the evening of Dec. 11.  “I wonder if, at some level, God whispered in their ears and said, ‘Behold. Behold the world of which you are a part. Look at it. Look at its symmetry, look at its beauty. Look at its wonder. Look at it. Behold your world.”

In addition to Curry, “The Spirit of Apollo” program at the cathedral featured Lovell, who also flew on Apollo 13, Gemini 7 and Gemini 12; Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator; Ellen R. Stofan, the director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and the Very Rev. Randy Hollerith, dean of the cathedral. The five were invited to explore the spiritual meaning of exploration and the unity created by the mission’s Christmas Eve broadcast and the iconic “Earthrise” photo taken by one of the astronauts.

The program at the cathedral is one of a series of “Apollo 50” events leading up to a five-day celebration, July 16–20, 2019, at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and on the National Mall to commemorate Apollo 11 and the first moon landing. The museum received $2 million from the Boeing Corp. to help pay for the cathedral event and all of the commemorations.

A view from the Apollo 8 spacecraft showing nearly the entire Western Hemisphere, from the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, including nearby Newfoundland, extending to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. Central America is clearly outlined. Nearly all of South America is covered by clouds, except the high Andes Mountain chain along the west coast. A small portion of the bulge of West Africa shows as well. Photo: NASA

Hollerith suggested that Apollo 8 was “a holy journey not only for what it accomplished, but for what it revealed to us about our place in God’s grand creation.”

Curry said that “some have said that that moment changed human consciousness forever,” adding that the view of Earth from space showed “that we are a part of it, not the sum total of it.”

Lovell agreed, describing how he realized that his thumb could cover up the entire Earth as he saw it through the space capsule’s window. “In this cathedral, my world exists within these walls, but seeing the Earth at 240,000 miles, my world suddenly expanded to infinity,” he said.

“Just think: over three billion people, mountains, oceans, deserts, everything I ever knew was behind my thumb,” he said. “As I observed the Earth, I realized my home was a small planet. It is just a mere speck in our Milky Way galaxy and lost to oblivion in the universe.”

Lovell, who had received sustained applause and a standing ovation as he approached the lectern to begin his remarks, said he began to question his own existence, asking “how do I fit into what I see?”

Apollo 8 astronaut Jim Lovell: “To me this would be a mini Lewis & Clark expedition; exploring new territory on the Moon’s far side.” #SpiritofApollo pic.twitter.com/0rzGMnbK6z

— National Air and Space Museum (@airandspace) December 12, 2018

As a near-capacity crowd gathered in the cathedral, the same waxing crescent moon hung in the sky that people on Earth saw on that Christmas Eve, and the International Space Station passed overhead during the Dec. 11 event, Stofan noted.

Images from space transform the exterior of Washington National Cathedral the night of Dec. 11 while, inside, hundreds of people gathered to honor the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

On Christmas Eve 1968, the crew spoke to Earth’s inhabitants in what was then the most watched TV broadcast. Anders began by describing the moon as “a rather foreboding horizon, a rather dark and unappetizing-looking place…

“We are now approaching lunar sunrise,” he then said. “And, for all the people back on earth, the crew of Apollo 8 have a message that we would like to send to you.

Anders began to read the biblical story of creation. After he recited verses 1-4 of the first chapter of Genesis, using the King James Version, Lovell read verses 5-8 and Borman read verses 9-10.

“And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close, with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good earth,” Borman concluded the broadcast. It lasted just more than three minutes and was heard by an estimated 1 billion people around the world.

The mission commander, Borman, had been scheduled as a lector for the Christmas Day service at his parish, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in League City, Texas, until NASA moved up the launch date. “We kidded Frank about going to such lengths — all the way to the moon — to get out of … services,” the Rev. James Buckner told NBC News in 1999.

“Apollo 8 was full of surprises. We knew we were going to the moon. But hearing the story of creation beaming down to us on Christmas Eve, even the steely-eyed flight directors in Mission Control wept,” said Stofan. “Some of our bravest pilots and sailors, riding atop repurposed weapons of war, delivered a message of peace for all humankind. That was the spirt of Apollo.”

The nave of Washington National Cathedral was was bathed in blue light and stars on the night of Dec. 11. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

During the cathedral program, images of stars were projected on the vaulted ceiling of the nave and celestial images covered the building’s exterior. The Cathedral Choir performed “The Firmament,” which matched singing with a recording of the historic broadcast.

The iconic photo was a scramble to capture

“Earthrise” has been credited for inspiring the beginning of the environmental movement. It was included in Life Magazine’s 100 Photographs that Changed the World issue. Anders once told NASA that the crew was just starting to go behind the moon when he looked out of his window and, “saw all these stars, more stars than you could pick out constellations from.” Suddenly “I don’t know who said it, maybe all of us said, ‘Oh my God. Look at that!'” as they saw the Earth rise.

The vision set off a scramble to record the scene as the astronauts searched for a color film camera for Anders. The transcript relays the fear of any photographer of missing the shot.

“We came all this way to explore the Moon,” Anders once said, “and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.”

Curry mused on God’s reaction to Apollo 8. “I wonder if when they saw it, and then later we saw it, and when they read from Genesis, if God kind of gave a cosmic smile,” he said. “And I wonder if God said, ‘Now y’all see what I see.’ God says ‘y’all.’ It’s in the King James version of the Bible.”

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on Apollo 8’s Earthrise photograph: “Some have said that was a moment that changed human consciousness forever.” #SpiritofApollo pic.twitter.com/ErHl6edScH

— National Air and Space Museum (@airandspace) December 12, 2018

Curry urged those gathered to rededicate themselves to exploration, and to the preservation of Earth.

“My brothers, my sisters, my siblings, may this commemoration be a moment of re-consecration and dedication to mount on eagles’ wings and fly, to explore new worlds, to seek out vast knowledge and then to mobilize the great knowledge of science and technology, and the wisdom of humans to save this oasis, our island home,” he said.

Curry then began to sing “He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands,” the song that had been his refrain during his remarks. The Cathedral Choir slowly joined in and, at his urging, many in the gathering began to softly sing along.

The Apollo 8 mission had many dimensions

The mission and the Christmas Eve broadcast came at the end of a very trying year for a country that was “shaken by division and civil unrest,” in Stofan’s words.

The Tet Offensive in Vietnam at the end of January had shown the falsity of official claims that the war’s end was in sight. In April, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and riots broke out in more than 100 U.S. cities. Robert Kennedy was murdered in June after a presidential campaign appearance. Anti-war protests also roiled cities and college campuses.

Officially, the mission was designed to test the Apollo command module systems and evaluate crew performance on a lunar orbiting mission. The crew photographed the lunar surface, both far side and near side, obtaining information on topography and landmarks, as well as other scientific information necessary for future Apollo landings.

The three Apollo 8 astronauts, left to right, James A. Lovell Jr., command module pilot; William A. Anders, lunar module pilot, and Frank Borman, commander, pose Nov. 13, 1968, beside the Apollo Mission Simulator at the Kennedy Space Center. Photo: NASA

It also aimed to give the United States a huge lead in the space race with the Soviet Union. The desire to beat the Soviets to the moon was precisely what made NASA decide, based on intelligence it received in mid-1968, that the U.S.S.R. might be able to send astronauts to orbit the moon by the end of that year. In August, NASA turned Apollo 8 from an Earth-orbit test flight into a lunar mission. It was dangerous, and the three astronauts were, among other things, “Cold War warriors,” Bridenstine said in a press briefing before the event.

“Their Christmas Eve broadcast reached not just almost all of America, but tens of millions of people behind the Iron Curtain where Christmas was still illegal — and they reached them with a Christmas message,” he said during the program. “That is an amazing tool of national power, of soft power. The idea that we can change the perception of people all around the world towards the United States with space exploration and discovery and science, and that’s what NASA did in the Christmas of 1968.”

The NASA administrator said the cathedral program was also about the future of America’s role in space exploration. He noted that President Donald Trump has told the country it is going back to the moon. “I want to be clear,” Bridenstine said. “We’re going forward to the moon. We’re doing it in a way that has never been done before. This time when we go, we’re going to stay.”

He described “sustainable, reusable architecture” that will utilize the resources present on the moon, including “hundreds of billions of tons of water ice at the poles of the moon.” Astronauts will repeatedly go to the moon with commercial and international partners, he predicted, because that water can sustain them, and be used to produce the rocket fuel needed to get home.

Rather than the “contest of ideas” that marked the first race to the moon, Bridenstine said this future effort’s technology will be open-sourced and available to any nation, as well as a company or private individual “that also want to plug into that architecture in a commercial way.” He also predicted that the moon effort would be replicated “in our journey to Mars.”

Artist Rodney Winfield of St. Louis, Missouri, created the design for the cathedral’s Space Window to symbolize the macrocosm and microcosm of space, and to show the minuteness of humanity in God’s universe. It is the only stained glass window in the cathedral that incorporates all three lancets into a single image. The night of the Apollo 8 celebration, the window was illuminated by three spotlights mounted on tall scaffolding outside the south side of the cathedral. Photo: Washington National Cathedral

National Cathedral has a cosmic connection

The cathedral has long honored space travel. Its so-called “Space Window” contains a 7.18-gram basalt lunar rock from the Sea of Tranquility, donated to the cathedral by the crew of Apollo 11 (Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins). The window was dedicated on the fifth anniversary of Armstrong’s and Aldrin’s lunar landing, July 21, 1974.

Hollerith, during his opening remarks, said the cathedral is “blessed to be stewards” of the 3.6-billion-year-old rock.

In January 1986, hundreds of mourners spontaneously came to the cathedral and laid wreaths of flowers beneath the window as a memorial to the scientists and technicians that it was designed to honor after the space shuttle Challenger exploded on liftoff. Then, 17 years later the cathedral hosted the national memorial service for the seven-member crew of space shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated upon re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere on Feb. 1, 2003.

Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon, was honored after his death in 2012 at a public service in the cathedral.

In a more prosaic vein, since 1986 a Darth Vader gargoyle, also known as a grotesque, has reigned over the dark, north side of the cathedral from its perch high on the northwest tower.

Apollo 8 headed home with big news

Shortly past midnight on Christmas morning, after just more than 20 hours and 10 orbits of the moon, the crew made history again when it ignited an engine burn to leave lunar orbit and start for home. Again, that firing had to take place on the moon’s far side, out of radio contact with mission control. People there listened anxiously for confirmation that the burn had powered Apollo 8 out of lunar orbit and toward Earth

“Roger, please be informed there is a Santa Claus,” Lovell radioed.

Read and see more about it

The on-demand broadcast can be viewed here.

The booklet for the Dec. 11 program is here.

The museum’s Apollo 50 page is here.

A NASA gallery of images from the Apollo 8 mission is here.

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

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St. Jude’s known as ‘the little church with the big heart’ in rural Ka’u

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 4:09pm

Bishop’s warden Cordelia Burt opens the door to one of Shiela’s Showers at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Ocean View, Hawai’i. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Ocean View, Hawai’i] The lay leadership at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church here in Ocean View has turned the small church in the rural, underserved district of Ka’u on the Big Island into a beacon of light and hope; it lives up to its reputation as “the little church with the big heart.”

Under the dedicated leadership of bishop’s warden Cordelia Burt and a small group of lay members serving on the bishop’s committee, St. Jude’s is more than a congregation. It’s a family, they say, attracting people from all walks of life, from the richest to the poorest, from those living on estates to those living in tents.

From left, Cindy Cutts, Cordelia Burt and Karen Pucci are three of St. Jude’s lay leaders. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“Everybody comes in, everybody comes in. Until you do something completely stupid, you are in,” said Karen Pucci, a member of St. Jude’s.

“And there are those that do stupid things,” said Cindy Cutts, who handles the congregation’s communications.

“But it takes quite a bit,” added Pucci, the women bursting into laughter. “You really do need to get the red flag out there and chase the bull.”

“Me being the bull,” said Burt.

Hawai’i’s Big Island covers just more than 5,000 square miles and is home to some 200,000 people, many of them veterans and many of them living well below the poverty line, according to U.S. census data. The island is home to full- and part-time residents, and others living off the grid in substandard housing or even tents, St. Jude’s leaders said.

It’s the off-the-grid folks and the hungry, homeless, technologically underserved, lost, lonely and forgotten who’ve inspired much of the congregation’s social outreach, including its shower ministry, named for a now-deceased transsexual member of the parish, Shiela, who suddenly stopped attending Sunday services.

The rules and regulations for Shiela’s Showers are posted outside of St. Jude’s. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“She wasn’t coming to church for a while and we knew she was sick, and her partner said she’s not coming to church because she doesn’t have any way to take a shower,” said Burt. “We’d been looking into building showers and doing this, and so I found out that they [Shiela and her partner] had no way of getting water. Their landlord didn’t give them a hose. The landlord said if they didn’t buy cigarettes, they’d have enough money for a hose.

“Long story short, when we learned that Shiela wasn’t coming to church because she couldn’t take a shower, we went and bought a hose, and I took a bar of soap over and gave it to them. And for as long as Shiela could make it, she came to church every Sunday, and the sad part of the story is we didn’t get the shower up and running until after Shiela died.”

“We decided that we would name the showers ‘Shiela’s Showers’ because she would have loved to have had hot water,” added Cutts.

Here’s how it works. On Saturday mornings, volunteers arrive at 8 a.m. and put on the coffee and the soup. At 9 a.m., shower patrons beginning signing up to use one of the two showers. Sign-up ends at 12:30 p.m., and the volunteers stay until the last patron showers. Before St. Jude’s installed a second shower, it might be 4 p.m. by the time the last patron showered. Now, with two showers, it’s more like 12:30 or 1 p.m., the leaders said.

“One of our first patrons that used the showers, when she came out of the shower, we have two people — male and female — sitting out there dispensing the shampoo, the conditioner, the body wash, fresh towels, we supply all of that, and she was crying and Beverly [the volunteer] thought, ‘Oh my God, was the water too hot?’ And she said, ‘No, this is the first time in six months that I’ve had hot water on my head.’”

Additional social services St. Jude’s provides to the community include hosting the county’s senior nutrition program, a food pantry, free veterinary services, free Wi-Fi and electronics charging stations, a computer lab, and space for 12-step addiction recovery programs and for community organizations.

St. Jude’s is one of five Episcopal parishes on the Big Island, the youngest, largest and easternmost of the archipelago’s eight main islands. In May, Kilauea volcano’s eruption and the lava river that followed destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced many other families on the Big Island. Holy Apostles in Hilo, the island’s largest and only incorporated city, continues its long-term response to the eruption.

– Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of Episcopal News Service. She can be reached at lwilson@episcopalchurch.org.

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Episcopal delegation steps up church’s advocacy for climate action at COP24 in Poland

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 2:56pm

California Bishop Marc Andrus, center, is leading an Episcopal delegation to the United Nations’ COP24 climate conference in Katowice, Poland. The delegation also has included Alan Yarborough, left, Office of Government Relations communications officer, and the Rev. Rev. Lester Mackenzie, right of Andrus. Photo: Lynnaia Main

[Episcopal News Service] An Episcopal delegation in Poland is past the halfway mark of its advocacy on behalf of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the United Nations climate conference known as COP24, including meetings with representatives from member nations to share details of the church’s positions as set by General Convention.

COP24, known officially as the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is following a range of “work streams” related to climate change: loss and damage, mitigation, adaptation, finance and ambition.

“Our hope is to not only learn about these important areas, but to help the church connect with them,” California Bishop Marc Andrus, who is leading the Episcopal delegation, told Episcopal News Service in a written summary of his team’s activities. He added that the Episcopal team members will produce reports on those activities afterward that will be shared with the wider church.

COP24 kicked off Dec. 2 in Katowice, Poland, and runs through Dec. 14, and one of its top goals is to hammer out a framework for implementing the Paris Agreement, which was reached in 2015 at the 21st conference.

The Episcopal Church began attending the conference that year, making this the fourth Episcopal delegation. Joining Andrus for both weeks is Lynnaia Main, the Episcopal Church’s representative to the United Nations, and Andrus’ wife, Sheila Andrus, an ecological entomologist representing the Diocese of California.

The rest of the delegation is split between the conference’s two weeks, with the first week including the Rev. Lester Mackenzie of Laguna Beach, California; Alan Yarborough, Office of Government Relations communications officer, and the Rev. Melanie Mullen, Episcopal Church’s director of reconciliation, evangelism and creation care. For the second week, they have handed off to Andrew Thompson, an environmental ethicist at Sewanee: University of the South, and Jack Cobb, the Office of Government Relations’ domestic and environmental policy adviser.

Each member of the Episcopal delegation is tracking one of the COP24 work streams as the team promotes keeping global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius, a more ambitious target than the Paris Agreement’s 2 degrees Celsius, which scientists predict would be necessary to prevent a spiraling catastrophe of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and related weather extremes.

“We delegates carry in our hearts the many ways that Episcopalians are already suffering from the early effects of climate change and feel the responsibility to represent those most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters,” Andrus said.

In addition to making that case directly to member nations, the Episcopalians at COP24 are participating in panel discussions, conferring with ecumenical partners and joining worship and prayer services.

California Bishop Marc Andrus, right, participates in a panel discussion Dec. 7 at the United States Climate Action Center during COP24 in Poland. Photo: Lynnaia Main

On Dec. 7, Andrus served on a panel discussion of the We Are Still In movement. “I was able to talk about our historic commitments around climate and environment at the 79th General Convention, and our movement to reduce the carbon footprint of the Episcopal Church by supporting individual and community sustainability choices,” Andrus said.

Environmental justice is one of the church’s three main priorities, along with racial reconciliation and evangelism. Over the years, General Convention has passed numerous resolutions on the issue, whether supporting federal climate action or pledging to mitigate the church’s own impact on the environment.

We Are Still In brings together the Episcopal Church and many of its faith partners, as well as governments, nongovernmental organizations and companies, in committing to uphold the Paris Agreement despite the Trump administration’s vow to withdraw the United States. One of the Episcopal delegation’s tasks at COP24 has been to draft a response to the U.S. delegation’s effort to block “welcoming” a report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In 2016, the Episcopal Church was granted U.N. observer status, which allows members of the delegation to brief U.N. representatives on the Episcopal Church’s General Convention climate resolutions and to attend meetings in the official zone.

On Dec. 8, the Episcopal delegation participated in a prayer vigil in support of the Gwich’in, indigenous people in Alaska whose traditional way of life faces threats from oil exploration and rising temperatures in the Arctic. The Episcopal Church has rallied behind the cause of the Gwich’in, first through its House of Bishops and then at General Convention in July, when Gwich’in activist Bernadette Demientieff spoke at a joint session on care of creation.

Andrus and his COP24 team also attended an ecumenical worship service on Dec. 9 in the Roman Catholic cathedral in Katowice, and the first week included a reception hosted by the Brahma Kumaris Hindu order and an interfaith Talanoa Dialog, a tradition that originates in Pacific island nations.

The Episcopal delegation’s second-week team has hit the ground running, Andrus said, with plans to host an event Dec. 12 to show video of a sermon that Curry is scheduled to give Dec. 11 at Washington National Cathedral commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 space flight.

“After watching the video, we will be discussing what it means to see the Earth as a whole from outside of itself,” Andrus said. “I feel that those splendid, tender images have changed our minds and souls and contributed to our sense that life is deeply interconnected, and that all of life is mutually responsible.”

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

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Malawi’s president praises Anglican social ministry on hospital’s 120th anniversary

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 4:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The president of Malawi, Peter Mutharika, has praised the Anglican Church in the country, commending it “for the social services you provide to Malawians” as it marks the 120th anniversary of St. Martin’s Anglican hospital in the Mangochi district of southern Malawi. St. Martin’s was founded in 1898 as a single-nurse facility, providing basic medical care for missionaries and their families. Within five years it had developed and was providing care for 350 patients a month. It has continued to grow, and today, it serves a population of around 40,000 people at its site and through a mobile medical unit.

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English church receives outpouring of support after arson attack forces cancelation of services

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 4:00pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A Church of England parish church in Hertfordshire was forced to cancel services Dec. 10 after arsonists caused significant damage to the building. Neighboring churches offered to assist – including the independent Trinity Life Church, which invited St. John’s congregation to use its Town Hall base as a venue for tea and coffee. Trinity Life also invited congregation members to join them for their 10:30 a.m. service, as did Melbourn Baptist Church. Neighboring Church of England parishes have also offered support.

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Presiding Bishop prepares for pastoral visits to East Carolina, Central Gulf Coast after hurricanes

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 5:16pm

The 175-year-old chapel at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Southport, North Carolina, was one of three of the congregation’s buildings severely damaged by Hurricane Florence in September. The congregation is worshipping at a local Moose Lodge until repairs are completed. Photo: St. Philip’s Episcopal Church

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will travel this weekend to the Diocese of East Carolina for a pastoral visit focused on hearing the stories of Episcopalians recovering from two hurricanes that hit the Southeast in September and October.

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina, on Sept. 14 with 90 mph winds. A month later, Hurricane Michael also passed through North Carolina, though the worst damage from that storm occurred on and near the Florida Panhandle, where Michael made landfall Oct. 10 as a major hurricane with 155 mph winds.

After visiting East Carolina, Curry has scheduled a pastoral visit to the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast to meet with Episcopalians in the Panhandle on Jan. 12 and 13.

“We’re very grateful that he’s coming to East Carolina to see firsthand and just to be with us,” said the Rev. Paul Canady, rector of Christ Episcopal Church in New Bern, North Carolina, one of the communities hit hard by Florence.

Although Canady’s church wasn’t badly damaged in the storm, 31 families in the congregation were displaced, and some still are waiting nearly three months later for completion of repairs that will let them return to their homes.

Southwest of Wilmington, the congregation of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Southport has been worshiping in a meeting hall of the local Moose Lodge while repairs are underway to the congregation’s sanctuary, chapel and administrative buildings. All three buildings were severely battered by Florence and will require new shingle roofs and replacement of flood-damaged walls and floors.

Some members of the congregation were hoping to return to worshiping in the St. Philip’s sanctuary by Christmas. The Rev. Jim Hanisian, priest-in-charge, said Easter would be a more likely timeline, but even that is uncertain.

For now, every Sunday the congregation will travel seven miles away to their temporary home, where a giant moose head on the wall is waiting to greet them. Once inside, a left turn will take you to the Moose Lodge bar, so parishioners instead take the right turn into a bingo hall that the congregation coverts once a week into a makeshift worship space for the 8 and 10:30 a.m. services.

“It’s kind of an adventure,” Hanisian said, telling the story of someone accidentally turning on the disco ball in the hall and initially struggling to figure out how to turn it off.

“It’s been really interesting,” he said. “We expected that we’d have a pretty big decrease in attendance, and in fact it’s not. It’s been growing.”

Florence and Michael were the two most devastating storms in a particularly active hurricane season, with Florence blamed for the deaths of 50 people. Michael, said to be the third-strongest hurricane to hit mainland United States, killed at least 40 people.

The two storms brought intense wind, rain and flooding that left a path of destruction from the Gulf Coast to coastal Virginia. Episcopal dioceses across the region coordinated their emergency response and relief efforts before, during and immediately after the storms with help from Episcopal Relief & Development.

The Diocese of East Carolina, which covers the coastal third of North Carolina, received a $20,000 emergency grant from Episcopal Relief & Development, and the money was distributed through micro-grants to 13 different ministries in the diocese.

“Some used their micro-grants to purchase gift cards, which were handed out and enabled families in their communities to buy groceries and fill their cars with gas,” East Carolina Communications Coordinator Lindsey Harts said in an email. “Others used their grant money to rent U-Hauls so they could more easily distribute food, cleaning products, and other necessities to those in need.”

Christ Church in New Bern was among the micro-grant recipients, using $2,500 to help some residents meet emergency housing needs in the days and weeks after Florence, Canady said. The church used a second micro-grant to host a children’s program similar to a vacation Bible school for students initially unable to return to classes while their schools were closed.

The diocese also has received an outpouring of support from Episcopalians across the country.

“As we continue to do the work of relief and recovery in our communities, we are grateful for the generosity of our siblings in Christ across the Episcopal Church who have interceded on our behalf, sent kind letters, and donated monetarily,” Harts said. “We ask for your continued support, as this process of reorienting ourselves, picking up the pieces, and rebuilding our communities will be a part of our story for not just weeks or months, but years.”

The diocese maintained an online Hurricane Hub with emergency information during the storm, and it continues to update its relief and recovery page. Bishop Robert Skirving sent a letter to the diocese on Oct. 4 applauding the work of neighbors helping neighbors and urging church members to continue supporting all those affected by Florence.

“Alone, each of us could easily become overwhelmed by the challenges we face in so much of eastern North Carolina,” Skirving said. “But in Christ, and together with one another, we have been given by God every good gift that we will need.”

The letter also noted at that time 24 parishes in the diocese had filed insurance claims due to damage on church properties.

Among the damaged properties was Trinity Center, the diocese’s retreat center on the coastal Outer Banks. Many of the center’s buildings had to be repaired, renovated or rebuilt, and the center began slowly reopening to groups in late October.

“We still have a long road ahead of us as we continue to prioritize projects, but our friends and supporters have made that road seem much shorter,” the center said on its website.

Other churches were mostly spared by the storm and able to assist their communities in the aftermath. St. James Parish, Wilmington’s oldest church, sustained only a downed tree and was able to open its doors quickly after the storm to house relief workers needing a place to stay.

St. James, along with St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Jacksonville, will host Curry’s two main public gatherings during his visit to the diocese. The event at St. Anne’s will be at 4 p.m. Dec. 8, and St. James will welcome Curry at 2 p.m. Dec. 9.

“Each of these gatherings will provide an opportunity for those who have been doing the work of relief and recovery to share their stories and to allow Bishop Curry to respond pastorally,” the diocese said in an email to its members.

St. Philip’s isn’t on Curry’s itinerary of public events, but the presiding bishop is scheduled to join the congregation Dec. 9 for a tour of its damaged buildings and then a 10 a.m. Eucharist.

“It’s a shot in the arm to the congregation,” Hanisian said. “They’re so excited, it’s ridiculous.”

Some members of St. Philip’s have dealt with damaged roofs, broken windows and downed trees from Hurricane Florence, but luckily, Hanisian said, no family has been left homeless – only the congregation. So, instead of celebrating Eucharist with Curry in the damaged sanctuary or chapel, they will invite him to join them for one of their Moose Lodge services.

“The big question now is whether we’re going to turn on the disco ball when he’s preaching,” Hanisian said, at least half jokingly.

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

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Chilton Knudsen appointed assisting bishop in Washington

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 11:13am

[Diocese of Washington] Bishop of Washington Mariann Edgar Budde announced in a Dec. 7 letter the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen as assisting bishop in the Diocese of Washington. Read the full letter below.  To read Knudsen’s farewell to the Diocese of Maryland, where she’s served for three years as assistant bishop, click here

Dear Friends of the Diocese of Washington,

I am thrilled to announce that Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen will join the Diocese of Washington as Assisting Bishop, effective February 20, 2019. Bishop Knudsen served as Bishop of Maine for a decade (1997-2008) and has since served a missionary in Haiti and as an assistant bishop in four dioceses. She will complete her ministry in the Diocese of Maryland at the end of 2018.

Bishop Knudsen is a good friend to many in the Diocese of Washington, and she is known for her pastoral warmth, skill in conflict resolution, congregational development, and issues related to addiction and recovery. A person of great spiritual maturity and love for the gospel, she is excited to serve Christ among us. We will be richly blessed by her ministry.

As Assisting Bishop, a half-time position, Bishop Knudsen will help with parish visitations (two per month), ordinations, confirmations, and other events where a bishop is needed. She will work alongside Archdeacon L. Sue von Rautenkranz in the Deacon’s School. Already known and admired among EDOW congregations in southern Maryland, Bishop Knudsen will devote much of her energies among the clergy and lay leaders there, and, in particular, support the strategic planning process in their context. She feels a special call to congregations on the geographic borders of a diocese and thus will also develop pastoral relationships in our northernmost regions.

Bishop Knudsen and I have been in conversation about this possibility for half a year. In consulting members of the Diocesan Council, the Standing Committee and other diocesan leaders, I have received enthusiastic and unanimous encouragement to invite Bishop Knudsen to serve here.  I look forward to her collegial support and sharing the ministry of this wonderful diocese with her.

You should know that Bishop Knudsen’s ministry is her gift to us. She will receive only modest reimbursement for her work-related expenses and travel to gatherings of the House of Bishops and the consecration of bishops she has mentored. As Assisting Bishop, she will work on a 12-month, renewable letter of agreement.

Please join me in praying for Bishop Knudsen and all in the Diocese of Maryland as they mark the end of her ministry there. We can look forward to welcoming her among us in February.

Faithfully in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde
Bishop of Washington

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La nación despide a George H. W. Bush en la Catedral nacional de Washington

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 8:59am

El Obispo primado Michael Curry, al centro; el deán de la Catedral Nacional de Washington Randy Hollerith, a la izquierda; y el Rdo. Russell Levenson Jr., rector de la congregación de Houston a que pertenecía George H. W. Bush pronuncian la comendatoria al final del oficio fúnebre de Bush el 5 de diciembre. La Rda. Rosemarie Logan Duncan, canóniga de la catedral para el culto, de pie a la derecha, sostiene el báculo de la obispa de Washington Mariann Budde, que no se distingue entre Hollerith y Curry. El Rdo. Charles Robertson, canónigo del Obispo Primado para el Ministerio fuera de la Iglesia Episcopal, de pie entre Curry y Levenson, sostiene el báculo primacial del Obispo Primado. Foto de Danielle E. Thomas/Catedral Nacional de Washington.

[Episcopal News Service] Combinando la precisión militar, la liturgia de la Iglesia Episcopal y las amables y por momentos cómicos recuerdos de sus familiares y amigos, Estados Unidos despidió formalmente al ex presidente George H. W. Bush.

“Cuando llega la muerte, como nos llega a todos, la vida cambia, no termina”, dijo el Rdo. Russell Levenson Jr., rector de la congregación a que Bush asistía en Houston, durante el sermón en su funeral de Estado. “La manera en que vivimos nuestras vidas, las decisiones que tomamos, el servicio que prestamos importan. Les importan a nuestros semejantes, a este mundo que Dios nos ha dado y le importan a Dios. Pocas personas han entendido esto tan bien o han vivido sus vidas tan en consonancia con esto como el presidente George Herbert Walker Bush.

“Ahora bien, oigan lo que dije: vivido. No lo ganó ni se esforzó para lograrlo. Fue algo tan natural para él como respirar para cada uno de nosotros”.

Recordando el frecuente comentario que le hacía Barbara Bush de “buen sermón, demasiado largo”, Levenson predicó por poco más de 12 minutos durante el oficio en la Catedral Nacional de Washington, el cual duró cerca de dos horas y media.

El oficio, que puede verse aquí, contó con un aforo de casi 3.000 personas por exclusiva invitación, entre ellos los miembros de la familia, los cinco presidentes de EE.UU. que viven, senadores, representantes, magistrados del Tribunal Supremo, funcionarios del gobierno de Trump y dignatarios extranjeros, entre ellos la canciller alemana Angela Merkel y el príncipe Carlos de Gran Bretaña.

El féretro del presidente George H. W. Bush se levanta en el crucero de la Catedral Nacional de Washington durante su oficio fúnebre del 5 de diciembre. Foto del Distrito Militar de Washington del Ejército de EE.UU.

Fue el cuarto funeral presidencial celebrado en la catedral. Los tres anteriores funerales de Estado en la catedral fueron los del presidente Dwight Eisenhower en 1969, el del presidente Ronald Reagan en 2004 y el del presidente Gerald Ford en 2007. Bush hizo panegíricos en los funerales de Reagan y de Ford en la catedral. El presiente Woodrow Wilson está enterrado en la Catedral, pero su oficio de entierro en 1924 no fue un funeral de Estado.

El último funeral en la Catedral Nacional de Washington que se acercó a esa categoría fue el oficio por el senador John McCain el 1 de septiembre. Pero un funeral de Estado es un honor reservado a los presidentes, parte de la serie de tributos coordinados por el Distrito Militar de Washington del Ejército de EE.UU.

El ataúd de Bush llegó a la catedral en un coche fúnebre un momento antes de las 11:00 A.M., acompañado por la familia Bush. El obispo primado Michael Curry, la obispa de Washington Mariann Budde, el deán de la catedral Randy Hollerith y Levenson, de la iglesia episcopal de San Martín [St. Martin] en Houston, esperaban en las gradas de la catedral con la Rda. Rosemarie Logan Duncan, canóniga de la catedral para el culto.

Los portadores militares lenta y precisamente subieron las gradas con el ataúd hasta donde se encontraban Curry y Budde que recitaron las oraciones tradicionales de la “recepción del cuerpo”. “Con fe en Jesucristo, recibimos el cuerpo de nuestro hermano George para su entierro”, dijo Curry a la puerta.

La familia Bush fue escoltada al interior de la iglesia hasta la primera fila, el hijo del Presidente, el ex presidente George W. Bush, saludó al presidente Donald Trump y a los ex presidentes Barack Obama, Bill Clinton y Jimmy Carter, y a sus esposas, quienes se sentaron juntos en la primera fila del otro lado del pasillo de la familia Bush.

Luego, el bordón de la catedral comenzó a doblar 41 veces para marcar el número de Bush padre entre los presidentes de EE.UU., mientras los acólitos y el clero, entre ellos algunos de otras denominaciones, conducían lentamente a los portadores  que llevaban el ataúd por el largo pasillo central de la catedral. Hollerith y Levenson recitaron las antífonas del Rito de Entierro del Libro de Oración Común. El orden del rito se encuentra aquí.

Miembros de las fuerzas armadas de EE.UU. se alejan del crucero luego de haber llevado el ataúd del presidente George H. W. Bush al interior de la catedral. Foto de Danielle E. Thomas/Catedral Nacional de Washington.

Durante el oficio, cuatro panegiristas, George W. Bush, el ex primer ministro canadiense Brian Mulroney (cuyo período de gobierno coincidió con el Bush), el ex senador de EE.UU. Alan Simpson, de Wyoming, y el biógrafo de Bush Jon Meacham, recordaron al  viejo Bush.

Meacham comenzó los tributos, diciéndole a la congregación que Bush fue “un hombre imperfecto” que “nos dejó una unión más perfecta”. Bush, dijo Meacham, sabía que la política no podía ser completamente pura si uno quería ganar, y uno tenía que ganar si quería dirigir.

Meacham afirmó que Bush creía que hubo una razón por la cual se había librado de la muerte en el curso de una incursión de bombardeo aéreo en el Pacífico durante la segunda guerra mundial, en la cual sus compañeros tripulantes murieron, y él pasó los próximos 74 años al servicio de esa creencia.

“Su corazón era firme. Su código de vida, como él decía, consistía en ‘Decir la verdad. No culpar a los demás. Hacer lo mejor que se pueda. Esforzarse. Perdonar. Mantener el rumbo’”, recordó Meacham. “Ese fue y es el más norteamericano de los credos”.

Meacham dijo que la frase de Bush de “Mil puntos de luz” de la que a veces se habían mofado y el llamado de Lincoln a los “mejores ángeles de nuestra naturaleza”son “versos compañeros en el himno nacional de Estados Unidos”.

Ambos presidentes, afirmó Meacham, llamaron a los estadounidenses a “a elegir lo justo sobre lo conveniente, la esperanza en lugar del temor y atender no a nuestros peores impulsos sino a nuestros mejores instintos”.

Mulroney, de pie en el podio muy cerca de Trump, encomió los empeños de Bush para preservar y fortalecer la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte luego de la desintegración de la Unión Soviética y del Telón de Hierro. Él también elogió la labor de Bush para lograr el acuerdo del NAFTA original, que dijo que había sido “modernizado y mejorado por gobiernos recientes”. Trump ha sido crítico tanto de la NATO como del NAFTA y recientemente anunció que se retiraría de este último, en un esfuerzo, al parecer, de obligar al Congreso a aprobar una nueva versión del pacto comercial con Canadá y México.

“De aquí a 50 o a 100 años, cuando los historiadores revisen los logros y el contexto de todos los que han servido como presidentes, creo que se dirá que en la vida de este país, los Estados Unidos —que es, a mi juicio, la mayor república democrática que Dios jamás haya puesto sobre la faz de la tierra— creo que se dirá que ningún ocupante de la Oficina Oval fue más valiente, más centrado en principios y más honorable que George Herbert Walker Bush”, afirmó Mulroney.

Durante el panegírico campechano y humorístico de Simpson, él recordó un momento cuando dijo que había caído de la lista A de Washington a lo que él llamó la lista Z debido a sus opciones políticas. Bush lo invitó a él y a su esposa a pasar con ellos [los Bush] un fin de semana. Los cuatro tuvieron una despedida muy ostensible en la Casa Blanca. Simpson recordó que Bush le dijo que su equipo le había dicho que no cursara la invitación, pero que él no había atendido el consejo, citando que la amistad está por encima de la política.

Bush nunca odió a nadie, dijo Simpson, recordando que ambos hombres tuvieron  madres de carácter firme que les enseñaron que “el odio corroe al recipiente que lo contiene”.

Bush entendió las decisiones que los líderes tienen que tomar, dijo el ex senador. A Bush le presentaron una vez un proyecto de ley bipartidario sobre el proceso del presupuesto, la atención sanitaria, la solvencia de la Seguridad Social y otros asuntos políticos. Para financiar el proyecto de ley tendrían que aumentarse los impuestos y eso exigiría que el Presidente fuera en contra de su conocida promesa de: “Escúchenme bien: no habrá nuevos impuestos”. El proyecto de ley fue aprobado en el Senado, pero los compañeros republicanos de Bush lo derrotaron en la Cámara de Representantes y, Simpson sugirió, su disposición a quebrantar su promesa de no aumentar los impuestos en pro de este proyecto de ley fue responsable de que no resultara reelecto.

Simpson afirmó que Bush le dijo que cuando se enfrentaba con opciones difíciles, él elegía “el país por el que había combatido”  en lugar de optar por su partido o su legado.

“A los que viajan por la calzada de la humildad en Washington, D.C.,  no les preocupa la intensidad del tránsito”.

En su encomio, George W. Bush dijo que se padre estuvo a punto de morir de una infección de estafilococos en su adolescencia. Eso y su experiencia en la segunda guerra mundial “le hicieron disfrutar del don de la vida, y él se juró vivir todos los días a plenitud”, dijo el 43er. presidente de su padre, el 41ro.

“Hasta sus últimos días, la vida de Papá fue instructiva”, dijo Bush. “En la medida en que envejecía, él nos enseñaba a madurar con dignidad, con humor y bondad, y cuando el buen Señor finalmente lo llamó, a encontrarse con él con valor y con el gozo de la promesa del porvenir”.

Bush dijo que su padre “nos enseñó que el servicio público es noble y necesario, que uno puede servir con integridad y siendo fiel a los valores importantes, como la fe y la familia.

“Él creyó firmemente que era importante retribuir a la comunidad y al país en el que uno vivía. Reconoció que servir a otros enriquecía el alma del dador”.

Bush añadió que él supo años después como la fe de sus padres les había sostenido cuando su hermana, Robin, estaba muriéndose de leucemia a los tres años. “Papá siempre creyó que un día él abrazaría a su adorada Robin otra vez”.

Bush comenzó a llorar al finalizar su reflexión, diciendo: “Y en nuestra aflicción, sonriamos, sabiendo que Papá está abrazando a Robin y sosteniendo de nuevo la mano de Mamá”.

Durante su sermón, Levenson dijo que la vida de Bush mostraba que “la fe significa algo más que palabras”, añadiendo que la fe de Bush era “una fe profunda, una fe generosa y una fe sencilla en el mejor sentido de la palabra.

Él conoció y vivió los dos grandes mandamientos de Jesús, amar a Dios y amar a tu prójimo”, afirmó Levenson. “El Presidente no sólo sirvió a algunos, sino a todos los que Dios puso en su camino”.

El día en que Bush murió a los 94, Levenson dijo que James Baker,  el amigo del Presidente, estuvo junto a la cama de Bush, frotándole los pies durante unos 30 minutos, y haciéndole sonreír. Levenson dijo que él había percibido [en ese gesto] el sentido del servicio de Jesús, el Jueves Santo, cuando lavó los pies de sus amigos.

Luego, todos los que estaban con Bush se arrodillaron y pusieron sus manos sobre el Presidente y oraron “y luego hubo silencio por un buen rato mientras el hombre que cambio todas nuestras vidas, que cambió nuestra nación, que cambió nuestro mundo, partía de esta vida para la otra”, afirmó él.

“Fue un hermoso final; fue un hermoso comienzo”.

El funeral continúo luego con la estructura tradicional del Rito de Entierro y, luego que Curry, Budde, Hollerith y Levenson pronunciaron la comendatoria, volvió de nuevo la pompa militar. Los portadores  se acercaron al lugar y levantaron el ataúd de Bush mientras el órgano comenzó a tocar el himno “Hoy, por los santos que descansan ya”[For All the Saints]. Los nítidos sonidos de las voces de mando militares podían oírse por encima de la música mientras el clero acompañaba el ataúd hacia el exterior de la iglesia.

El obispo primado Michael Curry, visible en primer plano a la derecha de la bandera, y el Rdo. Russell Levenson Jr., rector de la congregación de Houston donde asistía el presidente George H. W. Bush, a la izquierda de la bandera, se encontraban entre los que condujeron el ataúd del presidente Bush hacia el exterior de la Catedral Nacional de Washington después del oficio de honras fúnebres del 5 de diciembre. Foto ENS, captura de pantalla.

Allí aguardaron junto al coche fúnebre estacionado frente a la catedral mientras montaban el ataúd para el viaje a la Base Conjunta Andrews donde el Avión Presidencial esperaba para llevar a la familia Bush de regreso a Houston. El cadáver del ex presidente reposará en la iglesia episcopal de San Martín hasta las 6 A.M. del 6 de diciembre, donde se celebrará otro oficio conmemorativo más adelante esa mañana.

Después, el cadáver de Bush será llevado por tren hasta College Station, Texas, donde, en una comitiva de vehículos, será conducido hasta la Biblioteca Presidencial George H. W. Bush [situada en esa ciudad universitaria] donde será enterrado junto a su esposa, que falleció en abril, y a Robin, la hija de ambos.

– La Rda.. Mary Frances Schjonberg es redactora principal y reportera de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

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Bishop of St. Helena is first to be consecrated on remote South Atlantic island

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 4:59pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Dale Bowers, the new bishop of St. Helena, has become the first to be consecrated on the remote island in the South Atlantic. The island has played an important part in the history of Anglicanism in the area now covered by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. It is the first part of the province to experience Anglican ministry and is home to the oldest surviving Anglican church in the Southern Hemisphere.

Read the full article here.

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