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Memorial services held for Bishop Jean Rigal Elisee of Newark, New Jersey

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 11:43am

[Diocese of Newark] With sadness, members of the Diocese of Newark announced the passing of the Rt. Rev. Jean Rigal Elisee, who served as the diocese’s supply bishop, assisting with confirmations from 2005 to 2007. His funeral was Sept. 30 at Grace Church in Newark, New Jersey, followed by a repast. It was preceded by a viewing that morning and the prior evening.

Born to Joseph Elisee and Melicia LaBorde on Sept. 26, 1927 in Leogane, Haiti, Elisee died Sept. 20, at St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, New Jersey, six days before his 90th birthday. He was the oldest of 12 children, with three siblings and eight half-siblings.

After receiving his masters in divinity from the former Philadelphia Divinity School in Philadelphia, Elisee first became an ordained priest in the Diocese of Haiti. He was then sent by the Domestic and Foreign Mission Society as missionary to Monrovia, Liberia. In 1980, he was appointed as bishop of The Gambia and the Rio Pongas in the province of West Africa to be a missionary of the Episcopal Church and the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in London, England. He spent more than 22 years in mission in West Africa, serving in Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau and Liberia.

Prior to leaving Haiti for his mission in West Africa, he married his wife Anita, who worked by his side as a missionary teaching at the church nursery, developing strong relationships with the local people in each country and being actively involved in the church.

In 1986, Elisee came to the United States and served for several years in the dioceses of New York and Newark as a supply bishop assisting with confirmations until his retirement.

Elisee is survived by his wife, Anita, and his four children Ruth, Raynald, Joseph and Monique. He also has four grandchildren: Michelle, Brittney, Jordan and Chanel. He is also survived by his brothers, Martelly, Roland, and half-brothers and half-sisters, Nicholas, David, Jean-Baptiste, Pauline and Catherine. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother Ovide, half-brother Ribeau and half-sisters Ann and Mamie.

Good and gracious God, the light of the faithful and shepherd of souls, you sent your servant Jean to be a bishop in your church to feed your sheep with your word and to guide them by his example; give us the grace to keep the faith he taught and to follow in his footsteps. We entrust him into your unfailing mystery of love and hope through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Presiding Bishop at Nashotah House praises seminary for making ministers for Jesus Movement

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 3:10pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, speaking Sept. 28 at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Nashotah, Wisconsin, gets a laugh from the crowd, including Acting Dean Garwood Anderson, center, and Bishop Daniel Martins, right. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Nashotah, Wisconsin] “It is good to be here.”

A throwaway cliché in most speeches, but spoken Sept. 28 by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry as the fall sun was setting at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, there was reason enough for his audience of 150 or so people to believe he was being sincere.

For starters, Curry was in Nashotah to receive the seminary’s Ramsey Award, named after Arthur Michael Ramsey, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1961 to 1974. Bishop Daniel Martins of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, who serves as Nashotah House’s board chairman, presented the award to Curry for “his eloquent, inspiring preaching to refocus church discourse in a Christo-centric manner.”

Martins also noted Curry’s “tireless efforts seeking reconciliation in Christ’s broken body from his first days of ordained ministry all the way to his service now as presiding bishop,” adding that Curry’s “work to promote growth in racial equality, educational development, social justice and humanitarian outreach are equally noteworthy.”

Curry’s trip to the tranquil rural countryside west of Milwaukee also served as a reprieve between big church events. He had just attended the six-day House of Bishops meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, and was on his way to London to attend the Anglican Communion’s primates meeting.

The pleasure of being in Nashotah, Curry indicated, also stemmed from an appreciation of the seminary’s mission, training leaders for what Curry regularly describes as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.

“We are making ministers in this mission moment, to claim and provide leadership for a movement, a movement that began long ago … a movement whose purpose is to change this world from the nightmare our sinful, selfish selves make of it to the dream, the vision of the kingdom, the reign that God has intended,” he said.

After joining the crowd in applauding the matriculation of 21 seminary students and then receiving his award, Curry began his 30-minute convocation address by thanking the seminary for the honor and quoting the words of Ramsey that are reproduced on the plaques now given to every newly consecrated bishop in the Episcopal Church.

As he proceeded, he began developing the theme of movement, citing the “active verbs” and commands that Jesus uses in the gospels.

“Follow me.”

“Come and see.”

“Go and proclaim the good news.”

“This is action,” Curry said. “This is movement. These are verbs of movement. This is a movement.”

Jesus called on his disciples to “be my witnesses, in Judea, in Samaria and unto the utmost parts of the Earth, and in the first century Palestine and in 21st century America,” he said.

Curry followed up that thread with a nod to seminary history.

“I’m at Nashotah House. … You got here because somebody named Jackson was part of a movement,” Curry said in summarizing the 175-year-old seminary’s origin story – the founding role of Bishop Jackson Kemper, the influence of what was known as the Oxford Movement and the desire to bring the church back to its roots in the Anglo-Catholic tradition.

“That’s what catalyzed and woke up this wonderful old church of ours,” Curry said. “You know, the power of movement to change institutions and change the world.”

Curry, always a ready storyteller, also took time to engage the students, faculty and family members with tales of childhood winters spent up in Buffalo, New York, of his grandmother’s deep Christian faith, of an inspiring visit to Howard University. He injected notes of humor that several times had the crowd erupting in hearty laughter.

While incorporating a favorite refrain of his sermons, that God is love, he returned throughout the speech Sept. 28 to the theme of movement and the calling of spreading Jesus’ message of love.

“That high calling is worth claiming. That high calling is worth giving your life for,” he said.

As Nashotah House gears up for Experiencing Nashotah on Nov. 9 and 10, a twice-annual event for prospective students, Curry he praised the seminar for its work in educating, not just future priests, but also a new generation of deacons and lay people who will carry out Jesus’ mission.

“We need this seminary to form leaders of a movement,” Curry said, “a movement that will bring folks Christ and send them out in his name to change the world.”

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

Bishop of Mexico thanks Communion for prayers and concern after earthquake

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 2:36pm

[Anglican News Service] The Bishop of Mexico, Rt. Rev. Carlos Touché-Porter, has written to the Anglican Alliance to thank the Anglican Communion for their prayers and concern following the magnitude 7.1 earthquake, which hit Mexico City last week.

Read the entire article here.

Church leaders appeal for dialogue over U.S.-North Korea nuclear crisis

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 2:07pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Church leaders in Korea and the United States of America have appealed for dialogue to replace the conflict between the two countries’ political leaders. In separate moves, the National Council of Churches in Korea, which includes the Anglican Church of Korea; and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, which includes the Episcopal Church, are calling on politicians and Christians to push for peace.

Read the entire article here.

Preparing for Primates 2017: Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 10:06pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church in Canada, looks ahead to the 2017 Primates Meeting

Preparing for Primates 2017: Archbishop Winston Halapua of the Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 9:59pm


[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Winston Halapu, one of the primates of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, looks ahead to the 2017 Primates Meeting.

Preparing for Primates 2017: Church in Wales Archbishop John Davies

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 9:53pm


[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop John Davies, primate of the Church in Wales, looks ahead to the 2017 Primates Meeting.

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry hopes to discuss immigration at Anglican Communion primates meeting

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 9:42pm

 

 

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs]  “I am so looking forward to being with my friends and colleagues in the upcoming gathering of the Primates,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry stated in a video message.

The Primates of the Anglican Communion, of which Curry is a member, will be meeting Oct. 2 to 6 at Canterbury Cathedral in England.

Curry shared that he wants to discuss immigration at the gathering.  “I do hope we have an opportunity to talk about migration and immigrations and refugees,” he said.  “Most of our countries are impacted.”

Following the recent Episcopal Church House of Bishops meeting, in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the issuance of A Word to the Church focusing on the environment, Curry is also planning to discuss climate change and environment with the primates.

More information on the primates meeting is here, and more information on the Anglican Communion is here.

Alaskan Episcopalians eager to worship in Native language with Book of Common Prayer translation

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 4:52pm

Alaska Bishop Mark Lattime shakes hands with parishioners outside St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Fairbanks after a Sunday worship service on Sept. 24. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Fairbanks, Alaska] St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, in the business center of the Interior region’s largest city, is distinctly Alaskan in its wood and its words.

Log buildings are ubiquitous Alaskan structures, both the homes and churches – from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in the small town of Nenana to Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in the Interior village of Venetie. And in Fairbanks, St. Matthew’s presents a familiar facade to the worshippers who enter the log church on First Avenue.

What sets St. Matthew’s apart from churches in the Lower 48 is what is said inside: Every Sunday, the congregation recites the Lord’s Prayer and doxology in Gwich’in, the Native language most common in the region. The congregation, a mix of white and Native families, doesn’t offer a full service in modern Gwich’in, however, because official services in the language don’t exist in the Episcopal Church – at least not yet.

“I would love it,” said Irene Roberts, who serves as an usher at St. Matthew’s.

On Sept. 24, she greeted dozens of Episcopal bishops and their spouses as they filled her church’s 9:30 a.m. Sunday service, at the midpoint of the six-day House of Bishops meeting in Fairbanks. “It only took me 83 years to see this many ginkhii ch’oo,” Roberts said, using the Gwich’in word for bishops.

The Diocese of Alaska, which hosted the bishops Sept. 21 to 26, is overseeing work on the first modern Gwich’in translation of the Book of Common Prayer. Those efforts got a boost this year with a $40,000 grant from the Episcopal Church’s United Thank Offering program, or UTO. When the translation is done, services in the Native language finally will be possible for any ginkhii, or priest, who wants to offer them.

“It will be an opportunity for people to worship in the language they speak and with the prayer book that they use,” Alaska Bishop Mark Lattime said. “This has a lot of support from elders and folks in the Interior who are excited to be making it happen.”

 

The Book of Common Prayer has been translated into more than 200 languages, including Takudh (pronounced “tah-GOH”), a Canadian dialect related to Gwich’in. St. Matthew’s also has a hymn book in Takudh. But the Takudh prayer book is more than 100-years-old, and Takudh isn’t the language Alaskan Natives like Roberts speak and read in their daily lives.

“Some of the hymns, I know the tune, but the words are difficult for me,” Roberts said.

Irene Roberts, left, joins the congregation at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Fairbanks, Alaska, in reciting the Lord’s Prayer in her native Gwich’in language on Sept. 24. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The Takudh translation of the Book of Common Prayer was completed in the late 1800s by Archdeacon Robert McDonald, an early Anglican missionary who is credited with helping the indigenous people put their spoken language into written words. But McDonald’s translation was based on the Canadian prayer book, not the one used by today’s Episcopal churches, and it was not updated as the language evolved. The Takudh of McDonald’s translation is a dialect distinct from the modern Qwich’in spoken by many of Alaska’s Episcopalians.

At the same time, the Gwich’in people of Alaska, like other Native tribes, have struggled to maintain their traditional culture, customs and way of life, and that includes their language. The younger generation is more comfortable speaking English than the language of their ancestors, said Allan Hayton, who works as language revitalization program director for the Doyon Foundation, the charity branch of one of Alaska’s 12 regional Native corporations.

“One of the aspects of language revitalization is the prestige of the language and its public visibility,” Hayton said. To preserve, it should be spoken at home, in schools, in churches and at other public gatherings, Hayton said. “The more we can create for them … the occasion to hear the language in a public setting, all of those things make a big difference.”

Hayton is a member of St. Matthew’s in Fairbanks and the head translator for the diocese’s Book of Common Prayer project. On Sept. 21, the opening day of the House of Bishops meeting, Hayton also was invited to the bishops’ 4 p.m. Eucharist to read the gospel passage in Gwich’in.

Allan Hayton reads the gospel passage Sept. 21 during the Eucharist on the opening day of the House of Bishops meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

He met with Native elders over the summer to being work on translating the Rite II Eucharist. That work built on the diocese’s success in 2015 partnering with the Yukon Native Language Centre to celebrate a Holy Eucharist entirely in Gwich’in at St. Matthew’s.

The scope of that earlier effort was limited, and a full translation may take years. But Hayton and church leaders think the effort will pay off in time. With the UTO grant, they hope to translate the Ministry of the Word and Great Thanksgiving Prayer A, as well as to start translation of the Collects and Prayers of the People.

The goal is to publish a Gwich’in liturgical supplement that can be used alongside the English language prayer book. Translations into other indigenous languages may follow.

If services can be offered in Native languages, “more people in Alaska will understand the service and might come participate,” Hayton said.

“It would be easy for me,” Roberts said outside St. Matthew’s after the Sept. 24 service. She was born in Fort Yukon and later lived in the tiny village of Circle before moving to Fairbanks.

Roberts is encouraged by efforts to preserve the Gwich’in language. “It makes me sad that we’re losing it.” Even in remote villages, English often drowns out the Native tongue, she said, and younger generations aren’t being taught their people’s language. She said she sometimes answers her phone in Gwich’in only to have callers hang up on her, even fellow Alaska Natives.

“A lot of us are not speaking [Gwich’in] to our kids, and we should,” she said.

Earlier, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry had preached at St. Matthew on the theme of family, based on the gospel reading.

“Jesus came to show us how to be the family God,” Curry repeated throughout the sermon, and he took a moment to underscore the breadth of the family that Jesus had in mind.

“Make disciples of all nations, all stripes and types, all ethnicities. Teach them, indigenous folk and other folk. Teach them, black and white. Teach them, Anglo and Latino,” Curry said. “Make them a family, when you teach them and baptize them into the very life of God.”

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

Trump’s refugee limit ‘runs counter to the reality’ of crisis, Episcopal Migration Ministries says

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 3:39pm

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal Migration Ministries’ director released a statement Sept. 28, saying the Trump administration’s reduced cap on admitting refugees runs “counter to the reality of an ever-growing worldwide crisis.”

“We are thankful, however, that we are now one step closer to fully resuming a program of welcoming refugees to the safety and hope of this land,” the Rev. E. Mark Stevenson of Episcopal Migration Ministries, or EMM, says in the statement (included below).

The Rev. E. Mark Stevenson, Episcopal Migration Ministries director, holds a sign listing the biblical imperatives for welcoming the stranger. Photo: Episcopal Migration Ministries via Facebook

Federal officials announced in a Sept. 27 Department of State special briefing the planned cap of 45,000 refugee admissions for the 2018 fiscal year — the lowest number in the history of the Refugee Admissions Program.

The regional breakdowns will be: Africa, 19,000; East Asia, 5,000; Europe and Central Asia, 2,000; Latin America and the Caribbean, 1,500; and Near East South Asia, 17,000.

Federal law requires the president to make an annual determination of the maximum number of refugees who will be allowed to resettle in the United States. Under President Trump, the number will be cut to less than half the historic average number of admissions.

There are more than 65.6 million refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people all over the globe, forced by violence to leave their homes, according to EMM.

EMM is one of nine agencies that contract with the U.S. government to resettle refugees. The other resettlement agencies are Church World Service; Ethiopian Community Development Council; HIAS (formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society); International Rescue Committee; Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service; U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants; the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services; and World Relief.

Although EMM receives some money from the Episcopal Church, the majority of its income comes from contracts with the federal government to cover the costs of resettling refugees approved for U.S. entry. Stevenson said 99.5 percent of the contract money directly goes to resettling refugees. The rest of the income is for administrative costs, including all staff salaries. Any unused money goes back to the government.

EMM had announced in April that it would cut its network by six officers in the new fiscal year, in anticipation of a reduction in refugee resettlement under Trump.

Refugees benefit everyone, Stevenson said Sept. 28, “providing a fresh infusion of entrepreneurial spirit and friendship into a country built into a world leader over centuries” by such values.

Also, welcoming people into the United States from other countries is a Christian act, Stevenson reminded Episcopalians. Jesus says in the gospel that the way to him, his grace and redemption is among the poor, the sick and the stranger.

— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for The Episcopal News Service. She is also a journalist and editor based in Brooklyn.

The Rev. E. Mark Stevenson, director of Episcopal Migration Ministries, released the following statement Sept. 28 in response to the Trump administration’s decision to reduce the number of refugees allowed annually into the United States to 45,000:

The Administration has reported to Congress that their intent is to set the refugee admissions ceiling for the coming year at 45,000 persons, a cap that is not only the lowest in the history of the program but which also runs counter to the reality of an ever-growing worldwide crisis. At this critical moment, 65.6 million women, children, and men live forcibly displaced by violence from their homes, including 22.5 million refugees who have fled across the border of their homeland to another country into situations often only slightly more sustainable than the horrors they have fled. By the end of this day – and of every day that will follow for some time – more than 28,000 additional persons will find themselves in this predicament. In the face of such a crisis, this cut in our response to less than half the historic average is sad and hard-hearted.

We are thankful, however, that we are now one step closer to fully resuming a program of welcoming refugees to the safety and hope of this land. We live in a time of great hurt, yet also in a time of great promise. These past many months have raised awareness across our great nation of the struggles faced by refugees, and of the benefits to all of us when they find a new life in one of our communities. Refugees have overcome the greatest of trials, and refugees are providing a fresh infusion of entrepreneurial spirit and friendship into a country built into a world leader over centuries by such things. The struggles, and the successes, of these new Americans provide inspiration, opportunity, and optimism for a brighter future for us all.

Jesus, in the parable of the mustard seed, reminds us that even the smallest of faithful acts can grow into something spectacular and transformative. He also instructs us throughout the gospel that it is among the poor, the sick, and the stranger that we will find him, and his grace and redemption. So, we will welcome 45,000 children of a loving God to a better life in this coming year, and pray and work for even more in the years following. And, we will conform our wills to the Divine Will, loving even as Jesus has loved, to the glory of God and the transformation of our own lives.

To learn more about ministry among refugees, or to donate to this work in this critical time, we invite you to visit EpiscopalMigrationMinistries.org.

The Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson, Director, Episcopal Migration Ministries

Kenyan bishops call for national dialogue over ‘political and social crisis’

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 2:54pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Kenya’s Anglican bishops have called for a national dialogue conference to resolve the current “political and social crisis” in the country. A fresh general election will be held Oct. 26, after the country’s supreme court ruled that the original poll, on Aug. 8, was “neither transparent or verifiable.” The court annulled the declared result, which gave sitting President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Alliance 54.17 percent of the vote; and his nearest challenger, opposition leader Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance, 44.94 percent. The remaining six candidates received just 0.89 percent of the reported votes.

Read the entire article here.

Historic western Cape church badly damaged in student protest arson attack

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 2:50pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A 130-year-old church in District Six at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town has been badly damaged in a suspected arson attack. The building was set alight the night of Sept. 27, during the latest in a long-running series of sometimes violent protests at the campus. The church’s undercroft and hall bore the brunt of the damage. The protests relate to the suspension of four students last month as a result of their involvement in demonstrations about student facilities and in-sourced workers. The protests have continued despite the university obtaining a temporary court order prohibiting students from unauthorized occupation of campus buildings.

Read the entire article here.

Bishop offers blessing on visit to one of Europe’s newest Anglican congregations

Wed, 09/27/2017 - 4:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of England’s suffragan bishop in Europe, the Rt. Rev. David Hamid, has paid a visit to one of the continent’s newest Anglican congregations and offered a blessing for its priest, the Rev. Giovanni La Rosa. Last November, the embryonic congregation was received as an Italian Anglican congregation in the Diocese in Europe.

Read the full article here.

Boost in number of ordinands helps Church of England address clergy reductions

Wed, 09/27/2017 - 4:05pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The number of people entering training to become clergy members in the Church of England is at the highest level for a decade, it was announced Sept. 27. The boost is a response by the church to falling clergy numbers caused by the increasing age profile of its ordained ministers. The number of ordinands starting training this fall is 544 – up 14 percent from last year – making the intake the highest figure for 10 years, according to statistics from the Church of England’s ministry division.

Read the entire article here.

EPPN: Protect the Arctic Refuge

Wed, 09/27/2017 - 3:58pm

[Episcopal Public Policy Network policy alert] The bishops of the Episcopal Church recently returned from a meeting in Alaska where they encountered the pressing need to address issues relating to the environment. In their Letter to the Church, the bishops of The Episcopal Church stated: “You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are … members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). The residents of interior Alaska whom they met are not strangers; they are members of the same household of faith.

Among those “members of the household of God” the bishops met in Alaska were members of the Gwich’in nation. An indigenous people, the Gwich’in have lived in the area today called the Arctic Refuge for more than 10,000 years through subsistence hunting. While they are today overwhelmingly Episcopalian, the Gwich’in nation’s historic cultural and religious traditions hold that an area within their land where the caribou calf their young is called “the sacred place where life begins.” As the bishops lead Episcopalians in their prayer:

Give us new ears to hear and understand those who live off the land
and to hear and understand those who extract its resources.
Give us new hearts to recognize the brokenness in our communities
and to heal the wounds we have inflicted.
Give us new hands to serve the earth and its people
and to shape beloved community.

This sacred land is under threat. Congress is about to vote on plans that would open the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. The Episcopal Church has long stood by the Gwich’in, defending their right to exist and feed themselves. As the bishops of the church call us to prayer, education, and reconciliation, we must also act.

Take action now: ask Congess to stand against any harmful changes in the status of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge Coastal Plain!

Episcopalians don’t forget Puerto Rico in their hurricane recovery and relief efforts

Wed, 09/27/2017 - 1:50pm

Members of the community of Miñi Miñi use diggers to help get their neighbors out of flooded areas. Loíza is a coastal municipality that was severely affected by Hurricane Maria. Photo: Yuisa Rios/FEMA

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Rafael Zorrilla couldn’t believe his phone worked to make this call.

But Zorrilla, canon to the ordinary of the Diocese of Puerto Rico, managed to share with Episcopal News Service his experience on the island, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20 and seemingly cut off from the rest of the world since then.

The most urgent need has been communication. Food, clean water, shelter and gas are desperately needed too, but there has been little success in sharing those needs so far.

“You’d have to have lived in 1942 to understand like what it’s like to live here now. No email, no internet, no phones most of the time,” Zorrilla told Episcopal News Service from his home in San Juan near the diocesan center.

“Puerto Rico is suffering a lot right now. I’m expecting, personally, we’re not going to get electricity for at least six months. It’s a lot of damage. A lot of damage.”

The four-hour wait to get gas was frustrating, but Zorrilla knows there’s much worse. Thousands of people are homeless, he said. A diocesan staff member told him he had to walk five and half hours to check on his parents. They were OK.

This home in Loíza was destroyed by the strong winds brought by Hurricane Maria. The Category 4 hurricane tore through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20. Photo: Yuisa Rios/FEMA

Hurricane Maria was but the latest in a series of tropical storms to tear through the United States and its territories. The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has emerged as one of the most destructive in recent history, with hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria causing major damage from Texas to Florida, Georgia and throughout the Caribbean, according to Episcopal Relief & Development.

When Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, it was a Category 4 storm with sustained gusts up to 185 mph, the strongest hurricane to hit the island in over 80 years. Rainfall amounts ranged from 15 to 25 inches, with 40 inches or more in some spots, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“Some bridges and roadways have likely completely washed away,” the center reported.

Once transportation is available, many people could leave the island for good.

The Rev. Tim Nunez, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Central Florida, said his area, particularly Osceola County, has seen already a burgeoning Hispanic population, many of whom are Puerto Rican, due to the island’s suffering economy. “We are expecting a massive wave of Puerto Ricans to come to Central Florida,” Nunez said. “With the hurricanes, it will likely accelerate.”

Based on the number of flights scheduled, the Puerto Rican government estimates about 2,000 arrivals a day to the continental United States in the near future once travel opens up, said the Rev. José Rodríguez, interim rector at ​Iglesia Episcopal Jesús de Nazaret in Orlando.

“It’s going to cause a massive exodus of Puerto Rico,” Rodríguez told Episcopal News Service. “The first wave is going to be children and college students. It’s a very Puerto Rican thing to send your children ahead of you.”

Rodríguez is also the Episcopal chaplain for University of Central Florida. The school agreed to give free tuition to Puerto Rican college students, he said.

The Rev. Gladys Rodríguez is the priest at Church of the Incarnation just outside Orlando in Oviedo, Florida. A former Puerto Rican actress who was ordained in Orlando in January, Rodriguez can minister in the United States and in Puerto Rico. Her husband is on the island, her daughter evacuated to Orlando prior to the hurricane, said José Rodríguez.  One of her church members has a wife and daughters in Puerto Rico.

“The sad story is that people in Orlando who have families in Puerto Rico, which they can’t reach by cell or plane, are desperate. At Incarnation, we try to give them hope by preaching consolation with God’s promises for us,” Gladys Rodríguez told Episcopal News Service.

But help is on the way. Some of it was already there or nearby before Maria pounded the island.

On Sept. 26, Federal Emergency Management Agency workers load an emergency communications vehicle onto an airplane heading to Puerto Rico to support communications for search-and-rescue, medical and other federal teams. Photo: Jeff Sandli, FEMA News

Federal Emergency Management Agency-loaded vessels with more than 1.3 million meals, 2 million liters of water, 30 generators and 6,000 cots were enroute to St. Thomas, awaiting port opening and clearance, according to a Sept. 21 FEMA report. FEMA also positioned commodities at its distribution center and warehouse in San Juan, Puerto Rico, before the storm. The items such as meals, water, cots and blankets were ready for distribution to the Commonwealth as requested.

Episcopal Relief & Development also sent emergency support to the diocesan emergency committee ahead of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, knowing communication would crash and systems would be compromised. Authorities delayed the distribution due to the chaos, but permission is expected soon. Episcopal Relief & Development staff members sporadically have been able to text with Puerto Rican diocese members.

Ordained as the Puerto Rican diocesan bishop little more than two months ago, the Rt. Rev. Rafael L. Morales Maldonado formed a plan with diocesan staff, Zorrilla said. During the storm, they boarded up what they could and rode the storm out with their families at home. By Sept. 25, they were clearing the fallen trees at the diocesan center, which has electricity from a generator but no communication capabilities. They met to create an assessment team. They plan to head out Sept. 27 to designated areas on the island, bringing necessities and checking on Episcopal missions, parishes and homes.

“They will bring basic items for parishioners and collect inventories of the needs of clergy and parishioners. Physical damage to churches or structures will also be documented,” Morales wrote  in a Sept. 25 letter posted on Facebook, translated from Spanish. “Have much faith, God is with us. Be strong.”

The Cathedral San Juan Bautista in San Juan is relatively unscathed, Zorrilla said.

But three nearby Episcopal churches were not so lucky. Their roofs were torn open and rain flooded the interiors. Because of that flooding, Zorrilla and Morales led a Sept. 24 church service in the parking lot of Santa Maria Magdalena Episcopal Church in Levittown. So far, he hasn’t heard of any clergy or parishioner injuries or deaths, but time will tell as the assessments get underway.

Maria’s fury was unparalleled, Zorrilla said.

“The sounds were awful, the wind force. What I saw, I never saw before, and we’ve experienced other hurricanes before because we live in the tropics,” Zorrilla said. “This was so huge. The force of nature was amazing.”

On Sept. 26, the last day of the House of Bishops’ meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, the bishops unanimously passed a resolution to show their support. The resolution was aimed, not only at Puerto Rico, but other areas affected by natural disasters.

“We pledge to take such appropriate actions in our dioceses to educate ourselves and our people about climate change, and to advocate policies and actions to reduce the harmful environmental impacts that have been a factor in the recent storms on ‘this fragile earth, our island home,’ ” the bishops stated in the resolution, quoting from Eucharistic Prayer C in the Book of Common Prayer.

Episcopal Relief & Development has learned a lot, especially post-Katrina, on how to handle this, the Rev. Canon Michael Hunn, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry within the Episcopal Church, told the bishops gathered at the Fairbanks meeting. But it’s safe to say – with Texas, Florida, Georgia, the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Puerto Rico in need – “the system is overwhelmed,” Hunn said.

“This is going to be a long and drawn-out recovery effort, and we’re going to need to all work together,” he said.

Also at the Fairbanks gathering, the Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton talked about the companion relationship his Maryland diocese shares with Puerto Rico, a partnership that started about two years ago.

He was hoping to develop that relationship further at the House of Bishops meeting, so he was saddened the Puerto Rican bishop was not able to make it because of Hurricane Maria. The Maryland diocese has been asking its congregations to donate to the relief efforts, and Sutton plans to attend the Puerto Rican diocesan convention in October.

“I want to come bearing gifts, and maybe a big check,” Sutton said.

Monetary donations help the most, and can be made through Episcopal Relief & Development’s donation page, which breaks down different donation paths and provides more specific choices. There’s also a section for churches to print bulletin inserts for their congregations to donate.

Zorrilla said many homes are concrete and are hurricane resistant, but he suspects countless homes didn’t make it. It’s hard to tell right now. After the assessments begin this week, they will have clearer idea of what they’re dealing with as a diocese.

An Episcopal Relief & Development representative with extensive disaster experience will arrive on Oct. 2. He will support the diocese in conducting assessments and strategizing about the next phase of the response. As a result of the ongoing infrastructure and communications challenges, he is bringing satellite communications phones and the relevant equipment for stationing around the island. 

“Episcopal Relief & Development is working a lot for us. We don’t feel alone. We feel fully supported,” Zorrilla said.

Yet, “Prayers are really needed right now and all the help that the church can send us, because we are in real need.”

– Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, interim managing editor, and David Paulsen, editor/reporter, both with Episcopal News Service, also contributed to this report.

A Word to the Church from the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops

Wed, 09/27/2017 - 8:33am

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] The Episcopal Church House of Bishops, meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska (Diocese of Alaska) approved and presented the following Word to the Church, in English and Spanish.

A Word to the Church from The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops
Gathered in Fairbanks, Alaska, September 21-26, 2017

The bishops of The Episcopal Church came to Alaska to listen to the earth and its peoples as an act of prayer, solidarity and witness. We came because:

“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers” (Psalm 24:1-2). God is the Lord of all the earth and of all people; we are one family, the family of God.
“You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are … members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). The residents of interior Alaska whom we met are not strangers; they are members of the same household of faith.
• People have “become hard of hearing, and shut their eyes so that they won’t see with their eyes or hear with their ears or understand with their minds, and change their hearts and lives that I may heal them” (Matthew 13:14-15). We are blind and deaf to the groaning of the earth and its peoples; we are learning the art of prayerful listening.

What does listening to the earth and its people mean? For us bishops, it meant:
• Getting out and walking the land, standing beside the rivers, sitting beside people whose livelihood depends on that land. We had to slow down and live at the pace of the stories we heard. We had to trust that listening is prayer.
• Recognizing that struggles for justice are connected. Racism, the economy, violence of every kind, and the environment are interrelated. We have seen this reality not only in the Arctic, but also at Standing Rock in the Dakotas, in the recent hurricanes, in Flint, Michigan, Charlottesville, Virginia, and in the violence perpetuated against people of color and vulnerable populations anywhere.
• Understanding that listening is deeply connected to healing. In many healing stories in the gospels, Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” That is, he listened first and then acted.

What did we hear?
• “The weather is really different today,” one leader told us. “Now spring comes earlier, and fall lasts longer. This is threatening our lives because the permafrost is melting and destabilizing the rivers. We depend on the rivers.”
• The land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge where the caribou birth their calves is called the “sacred place where life begins,” so sacred the Gwich’in People do not set foot there. “Drilling here,” people said, “is like digging beneath the National Cathedral.”
• After shopping together, a native Episcopalian told one of us how hard it is to even secure food. “We can’t get good food here. We have to drive to Fairbanks. It is a two-hour trip each way.”

What we bishops saw and heard in Alaska is dramatic, but it is not unique. Stories like these can be heard in each of the nations where The Episcopal Church is present. They can be heard in our own communities. We invite you to join us, your bishops, and those people already engaged in this work, in taking time to listen to people in your dioceses and neighborhoods. Look for the connections among race, violence of every kind, economic disparity, and the environment. Then, after reflecting in prayer and engaging with scripture, partner with people in common commitment to the healing of God’s world.

God calls us to listen to each other with increased attention. It is only with unstopped ears and open eyes that our hearts and lives will be changed. It is through the reconciling love of God in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit that we and the earth itself will be healed.

A Prayer for Our Time and for the Earth

Dear God, Creator of the earth, this sacred home we share;
Give us new eyes to see the beauty all around and to protect the wonders of creation.
Give us new arms to embrace the strangers among us and to know them as family.
Give us new ears to hear and understand those who live off the land
and to hear and understand those who extract its resources.
Give us new hearts to recognize the brokenness in our communities
and to heal the wounds we have inflicted.
Give us new hands to serve the earth and its people
and to shape beloved community.
For you are the One who seeks the lost,
binds our wounds and sets us free,
and it is in the name of Jesus the Christ we pray.
Amen.

Resources are here.

La Cámara de los Obispos de la Iglesia Episcopal, reunidos en Fairbanks, Alaska (Diócesis de Alaska) aprobó y presentó la siguiente Palabra a la Iglesia.

Una Palabra a la Iglesia de la Cámara de los Obispos de la Iglesia Episcopal

Reunida en Fairbanks, Alaska del 21 al 26 de septiembre de 2017

Los obispos de la Iglesia Episcopal vinieron a Alaska para escuchar a la tierra y a sus gentes como un acto de oración, solidaridad y testimonio. Venimos porque:
”La tierra es del Señor y todo lo que está en ella, el mundo, y los que viven en ella; porque él la fundó en los mares y la estableció en los ríos” (Salmo 24:1-2) Dios es el Señor de toda la tierra y de toda la gente; somos una familia, la familia de Dios.

• “Ya no eres más desconocido o extranjero, porque eres… miembro de la familia de Dios” (Efesios 2:19). Los residentes del interior de Alaska a quienes conocimos no son desconocidos; ellos son miembros de la misma casa de fe.

• Las personas “se han hecho duras y no escuchan y cierran sus ojos para no tener que ver con sus ojos o escuchar con sus oídos o entender con sus mentes y cambian sus corazones y vidas para que pueda sanarlos” (Mateo 13: 14-15). Estamos ciegos y sordos a los gemidos de la tierra y a sus gentes; estamos aprendiendo el arte de escuchar en oración.

¿Qué significa escuchar a la tierra y a sus gentes? Para nosotros los obispos significa:
• Salir y caminar en la tierra, pararse al lado de los ríos, sentarse junto a la gente cuyo sustento depende de esta tierra. Tuvimos que aflojar el paso y vivir al ritmo de las historias que oímos. Tuvimos que confiar en que escuchar es rezar.
• Reconociendo que las luchas por la justicia están conectadas. El racismo, la economía, la violencia de todo tipo y el medio ambiente están interrelacionados. Hemos visto esta realidad no solo en el Ártico sino también en Standing Rock en las Dakotas, en los huracanes recientes, en Flint en Michigan, en Charlottesville en Virginia y en la violencia perpetuada contra las personas de color y las poblaciones más vulnerables en todos lados.
• Entendiendo que escuchar está profundamente conectado a la sanación. En muchas historias de saneamiento en la biblia, Jesús preguntó, “¿Qué quieres que yo haga por ti?” Eso es, él escuchó primero y luego actuó.

¿Qué escuchamos?
• Un líder nos dijo “el clima es realmente distinto hoy”. “Ahora la primavera llega más pronto y el otoño dura más. Esto amenaza nuestras vidas porque el permafrost se está derritiendo y desestabilizando los ríos. Nosotros dependemos de los ríos”.
• La tierra en el  Refugio Nacional Ártico de Vida Silvestre donde el caribú pare sus crías y se llama el “sitio sagrado donde la vida comienza”, es tan sagrado que el pueblo Gwich’in no pone un pie ahí. “Perforar aquí”, dijo la gente, “es como perforar debajo de la Catedral Nacional”.
• Después de comprar juntos, un episcopal nativo le dijo a uno de nosotros lo difícil que es  conseguir alimentos. “No podemos conseguir buenos alimentos aquí. Tenemos que manejar hasta Fairbanks. Es un viaje de dos horas de ida y vuelta”.

Lo que nosotros los obispos vimos y oímos en Alaska es dramático; pero no es único. Historias como estas pueden escucharse en cada una de las naciones donde se encuentra la Iglesia Episcopal. Pueden ser escuchadas en nuestras propias comunidades. Los invitamos a que se unan a nosotros, sus obispos, y a esas personas que ya están comprometidos con este trabajo, tomando tiempo para escuchar a las personas en sus diócesis y barrios. Busquen las conexiones entre la raza, la violencia de todo tipo, la disparidad económica y el medio ambiente. Luego después de reflexionar en oración y abordando las escrituras, asóciense con personas con el compromiso común de sanar el mundo de Dios.

Dios nos llama a escucharnos unos a otros con mayor atención. Es solo con oídos destapados y ojos abiertos cuando nuestras vidas y corazones cambiarán. Es a través del amor reconciliador de Dios en Jesús y el poder del Espíritu Santo cuando nosotros y la tierra misma seremos sanados.

Una Oración para Nuestros Tiempos y para la Tierra

Querido Dios, Creador de la tierra, este hogar sagrado que compartimos;
Danos ojos nuevos para ver la belleza que nos rodea y para proteger las maravillas de la creación.
Danos brazos nuevos para abrazar a los desconocidos entre nosotros y para conocerlos como familia.
Danos nuevos oídos para escuchar y entender a aquellos que viven de la tierra
y para oír y entender a aquellos que extraen sus recursos.
Danos corazones nuevos para reconocer los quebrantamiento en nuestras comunidades
y para sanar las heridas que hemos causado.
Danos nuevas manos para servir la tierra y sus gentes
y para moldear nuestra querida comunidad.
Porque eres el Único que busca a los perdidos,
venda nuestras heridas y nos dejas libres,
y en el nombre de Jesucristo oramos.
Amén.

Los recursos se encuentran aquí.

Bishops close meeting in Alaska with letter urging ‘prayerful listening’ on race, environment, poverty

Tue, 09/26/2017 - 8:47pm

Episcopal bishops gather in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska, on Sept. 23 as part of a day of “prayerful listening” to Alaskan Natives’ stories and of blessing the land. In Fairbanks they displayed this banner from a footbridge as they rallied in support of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Neva Rae Fox/Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs

[Episcopal News Service – Fairbanks, Alaska] The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops approved a letter to the church on Sept. 26 invoking the bishops’ experiences in Alaska listening to the stories of the state’s indigenous people, and they called on Episcopalians to join them in working toward environmental and racial justice.

The letter was the capstone of the bishops’ six-day fall meeting, held in Fairbanks but incorporating a weekend of travel far beyond this small city. Across Alaska’s vast Interior, groups of bishops visited Native communities that are struggling to preserve the subsistence way of life they have followed for thousands of years.

The threats to that way of life are many, though Native residents specifically voiced concerns to the bishops about climate change and the impact of the resource-extraction industry.

“The bishops of the Episcopal Church came to Alaska to listen to the Earth and its peoples as an act of prayer, solidarity and witness,” the message. Alluding to Ephesians 2:19,  the message continues, “The residents of Interior Alaska whom we met not strangers; they are members of the same household of faith.”

The bishops approved the letter in a unanimous voice vote after making several changes to the wording of various passages in the initial draft. The letter is due to be released when it is translated into Spanish.

The message includes a call to Episcopalians in all dioceses and congregations to join the bishops in “prayerful listening” in their own communities for the connections between racism, economic disparity and environmental injustice.

“God calls us to listen to each other with increased attention. It is only with unstopped ears and open eyes that our hearts and lives will be changed,” the bishops said in the letter. “It is through the reconciling love of God in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit that we and the Earth itself will be healed.”

The Episcopal bishops discuss changes to a draft letter to the church on racism, environmental injustice and poverty before voting to approve it Sept. 26 in Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The House of Bishops meeting kicked off Sept. 21 at the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel & Conference Center with a welcome from two Native elders, Will Mayo and Steve Ginnis. Mayo is a past president of the Tanana Chiefs Conference. Ginnis is the executive director of the Fairbanks Native Association.

Sessions on Sept. 22 focused on Native culture, including a conversation with Poldine Carlo, a founder of the Fairbanks Native Association. Gwich’in activists spoke about their efforts to raise awareness of the effects of climate change on Native village life. They also asked for continued support in protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling. The refuge is a major caribou birthing ground and is considered sacred by the Alaskan Natives who hunt the caribou when the herds migrate south.

The bishops spent the third day of their meeting seeking out the stories of village residents across the sparsely populated region north of Fairbanks. Bishops and their spouses broke into eight groups to board small charter planes to Alakaket, Arctic Village, Beaver, Eagle, Fort Yukon, Huslia, Tanana and Venetie. A ninth group drove to a former gold mining site, and other bishops remained in Fairbanks for a procession along the Chena River.

“What does listening the Earth and its people mean?” the bishops ask in their letter to the church. “For us bishops, it meant getting out and walking the land, standing beside the rivers, sitting beside people whose livelihood depends on that land. We had to slow down and live at the pace of the stories we heard. We had to trust that listening is prayer.”

What they heard were stories of longer summers and shorter winters, of melting permafrost affecting the rivers they fish, of the difficulty of getting food to supplement what they harvest in the wild, and of their concern for the future of the caribou birthing grounds.

A group of Episcopal bishops join with residents of Venetie, Alaska, to bless the river that runs next to the village on Sept. 23. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Each of those trips on Sept. 23 culminated in the bishops blessing the land, water and people in the 2 p.m. hour. And the next day, the 120 bishops and about 80 spouses gathered in Nenana with members of the local Native community and Episcopal congregation for a festive potlatch dinner, complete with singing, dancing and gifts for the bishops.

The Episcopal Church was once the only Christian denomination with a presence in the Alaskan Interior, and most of the people the bishops met there on their journeys were Episcopalians. The church also has been active for years on the issues of justice for indigenous people and environmental justice, including the fight to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry spoke of this history of Episcopal Church activism and the church’s historic ties to Alaskan Native communities in a video summarizing the House of Bishops meeting on Sept. 26.

“While we were here we met the people, who are Episcopalians, who are faithful, devout people for whom those lands are sacred, and our resolutions and our support and work in Washington to protect that land so that it will not be violated by oil drilling is a sacred trust,” Curry said.

Bishops close out fall meeting

The bishops also unanimously approved a resolution Sept. 26 offering support for the dioceses on the Gulf Coast and in the Caribbean islands that were hit hard by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as those affected by wildfires in the West.

“We are grieving with you and want to stand with you in the rebuilding of your communities,” the bishops said. “Our House of Bishops is sadly diminished by the absence of those bishops who could not attend this meeting due to these storms.”

That resolution, too, cited the environmental factors behind such devastation and “the relationship between human consumption patterns and global climate change.”

“We acknowledge that we all have a role to play in reducing the impact of our actions that result in the destruction of islands and coastal areas due to more frequent and severe storms,” the bishops said. “We pledge to take such appropriate actions in our dioceses to educate ourselves and our people about climate change, and to advocate policies and actions to reduce the harmful environmental impacts that have been a factor in the recent storms.”

And the bishops heard a detailed update on the talks between the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church on entering into full communion.

Bishop Frank Brookhart of the Episcopal Diocese of Montana said the Methodists were expected to vote in 2020, followed by a vote of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in 2021. Until then, he encouraged Episcopal bishops and congregations to begin developing relationships with their Methodist counterparts.

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

New minister general for Third Order of Society of Saint Francis

Tue, 09/26/2017 - 7:54pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Rev. John Hebenton, the vicar of Gate Pa, Tauranga, in New Zealand’s North Island’s Bay of Plenty, has been elected as the new minister general of the Third Order of St Francis. Hebenton, who has spent most of his 30-year ordained ministry working with youth organisations, becomes the “functional head” and “servant” of the international Anglican Franciscan movement, which brings together “men and women, clergy or lay, who are called to a lifelong discipline and vow”. He succeeds the Rev. Ken Norian from the US-based Episcopal Church.

Read the entire article here.

Growing church leads to double-ordination in United Arab Emirates

Tue, 09/26/2017 - 2:00pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A double-ordination has taken place in the United Arab Emirates to serve the growing church in the country. The UAE Minister of State for Tolerance, Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, attended the service as a special guest, as did the British Consul General to Dubai, Paul Fox.

Read the entire article here.

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