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Director of Anglican Centre in Rome steps down after sexual misconduct allegation

Fri, 12/21/2018 - 12:34pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome have announced the resignation of the centre’s director, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, following an allegation of sexual misconduct. The Anglican Centre in Rome is the permanent Anglican Communion presence in Rome. Its director is also the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Personal Representative to the Holy See.

Read the entire article here.

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Primate of South Sudan plans New Year’s Eve peace march and prayer service

Fri, 12/21/2018 - 12:30pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of South Sudan Justin Badi Arama is calling on Christians in the country to take part in a peace march and prayer service on New Year’s Eve. His vision is for 10,000 Christians to take part in the march, which will set off from Buluk Field in Juba. They will take part in a mile-long march to All Saint’s Cathedral, where a prayer service will be held, “asking God for real peace in our nation in 2019.”

Read the entire article here.

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No word from kidnappers as more details of Nigerian bishop’s abduction emerge

Fri, 12/21/2018 - 12:28pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Police in Nigeria’s Rivers State have expressed their hope that the Bishop of Ahoada, Clement Ekpeye, will be released. He was kidnapped on the evening of Dec. 18. The Tide news website reports that the kidnappers have not made any contact to express ransom demands. The Tide reports a rise in “serious tension and anxiety” in the area following the abduction.

Read the entire article here.

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Living nativity scene offers roadside evangelism in Central Pennsylvania

Fri, 12/21/2018 - 9:31am


[Episcopal News Service] Take a centuries-old tradition. Find a church with a big front lawn on a busy street. Get a priest who is also a carpenter. Recruit volunteers – lots of volunteers. Get your friends to donate costumes. Figure out who has farm animals. Get the bishop to deliver some hay.

Put it all together, and it’s the living nativity scene at St. Andrew’s in the Valley Episcopal Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that was staged Dec. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m.

If the estimated 300 people who drove past the scene, and those who took advantage of the chance to get a photo with St. Nicholas, learned something about Jesus and the nativity and realized that “the heart of the season is open to them,” then the effort was a success, Central Pennsylvania Bishop Audrey Scanlan told Episcopal News Service.

If those folks make the connection that what she called this “creative and novel” effort came to them via the Episcopal Church, “that’s bonus to me.”

The living nativity was the December edition of Scanlan’s “Bishop Out of the Box” series, or BOTB, an effort to show Episcopalians how they experiment with new kinds of evangelism by thinking outside the box.

The Rev. Nelson K. Baliira, St. Andrew’s rector, said in an interview the morning after the event that he hoped the living nativity scene showed that “the Episcopal Church is a living church” in which “we are not telling our own story, we are telling the story of Jesus.” It is a story, he said, that must be told to the world over and over again.

The effort was part of Scanlan’s ongoing invitation to local Episcopalians to live out the Gospel in new and creative ways and encourage them to collaborate across parish lines. “This is a project that has taken people from the cathedral. It’s involved farmers from across the diocese,” she said. “It’s involved people from four or five different parishes who have agreed to come together to be shepherds and angels.”

The living nativity scene also attracted the attention and work of some young people “who don’t necessarily go to church all the time,” Scanlan said. Some of them took turns portraying Mary and Joseph so no one has to be outside for a long time in the winter night.

Altogether, about 40 people volunteered to make the event happen, according to the Rev. Dan Morrow, canon for congregational life and mission, who had suggested the living nativity idea. He explained that St. Andrew’s, with that big front lawn and 30,000 cars driving past each day, was a great location for something he’d been wanting to do for years.

To publicize the nativity scene, the diocese rented a large orange digital highway construction warning sign and parked it on the side of the street by the church’s sign, with the message, “Live nativity here 5-7 December 19.”

Baliira, a bi-vocational priest who grew up in Uganda, put his skills as a carpenter to work to build the crèche with the help of Steve Guszick, a member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg and the husband of Alexis Guszick, diocesan canon for communications. Morrow gave Baliira a photo of a crèche and, the carpenter priest told ENS, “I knew exactly what I needed to do” to get it built.

He joined together wood pallets from a local roofing company for the floor and built the back and sides with plywood and two-by-fours. The roofing material came from Home Depot, Baliira said.

The Rev. Nelson K. Baliira, left, rector of St. Andrew’s in the Valley, was building the manger for the living nativity scene Dec. 17 when Central Pennsylvania Bishop Audrey Scanlan drove up in her pickup truck to deliver the needed hay. Photo courtesy of Nelson K. Baliira

“We put everything together in four hours” on a drizzly Dec. 15, he said. Scanlan delivered the hay in her pickup truck on Dec. 17 while Baliira was building the manger.

The evening of Dec. 19, between 70 and 80 cars, each filled with adults and children, drove up the church’s quarter-mile-long driveway to view the tableau. Some got out of their cars to pet the goats and donkeys, and one dog, and to talk to the participants.

Then they drove on to where the driveway forks and saw a sign inviting them to stop at the church for cookies, hot cocoa and a visit with St. Nicholas and Scanlan. Ryan Tobin, a young man who is the junior warden of St. Stephen’s in Harrisburg, played St. Nicholas. “He’s an experienced St. Nicholas,” Scanlan said. “He’s done this before.”

Tobin was vested as the bishop that St. Nicholas was, rather than the Santa Claus that his life inspired. The point was to show that Nicholas and Scanlan are “part of that same big family,” Morrow said. A history of the St. Nicholas-Santa Claus connection, written by the St. Nicholas Center, was available.

Along with his traditional gift of gold (chocolate) coins, St. Nicholas handed out candy canes that young people at the diocesan fall youth retreat had decorated to look like croziers.

The organizers also distributed an invitation “to reflect on the gift of Jesus Christ at Christmas,” Morrow said.

Baliira, who had seen living nativity scenes in his native Uganda, said the one on St. Andrew’s front lawn seemed alive with the presence of God.

“We were away from the malls,” he said with a chuckle. “We were in our little village of St. Andrew’s” with animals and people out in the quiet night air.

“The noise was the noise of the donkeys and the other animals” that reflected “the natural beauty in which the Lord Jesus came to visit us and be part of us,” he said.

Part of a bigger plan

BTOB began in September with an agape love feast in Riverfront Park along the Susquehanna River that runs through Harrisburg. Scanlan said participants asked passersby if they needed prayers and, if so, invited them to pray with them.

“A lot of churches in this day and age have a lot to be anxious about: numbers, dwindling finances, the building, clergy shortages,” Morrow said. “One of the things we found is that, given all those things to worry about, given all the anxiety, sometimes what suffers is creativity and imagination.

“So, the basic idea of Bishop Out of the Box is to go to these different communities and help them do something that’s out of the box, something that’s imaginative, something that gets them out of the church building and into the community. We try to do them in ways that are easy to implement and are easily replicable.”

Scanlan said their travels are part of her vow to live the sermons she’s been preaching around the diocese this year. She speaks about Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s call to the Way of Love. She said she echoes his sense that God calls people “not just to the places where we’re comfortable but to go to places that sometimes make us uncomfortable and that are challenging for us, because God often needs us there even more.

“So, in standing up in the pulpit and telling people to do this, I’m also trying to model it for them; kind of walk the walk and say, ‘well, I’m going to do this, even if it makes me uncomfortable as well. We can walk together in this.’”

Also in September, BOTB did a prayer walk through the Bloomsburg Fair. When diocesan convention convened in Williamsport in October, BOTB staged a walk through the downtown “to warm up the city to us being there,” she said. Participants went to the emergency room and the bus station to pray with people.

The day before Thanksgiving, BOTB was at the Central Market in Lancaster, asking shoppers what they were thankful for and what gives them hope.

In January, BOTB will be in the Allison Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. The area is predominantly African-American, with refugees and immigrants living there as well. People will be invited to help paint and color in an outline of King on a giant canvas and use a big blackboard to answer the question, “What is your dream?”

The monthly travels have become popular, Scanlan and Morrow say. “People are kind waiting for us to come to them, and when we get there we’re inviting them to come along and they’re proud and happy to be part of it,” she said.

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

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Diocese of Ohio couple in national spotlight for outreach to Haitian asylum seeker

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 5:05pm

[Episcopal News Service] Two Episcopalians, a husband and wife from Ohio, are receiving national recognition for their outreach to a Haitian man who recently was released from federal detention after spending more than two years behind bars waiting for a decision on his request for asylum.

Not only was Ansly Damus released while his legal case proceeds, but he has been welcomed into the Cleveland Heights home of the couple who championed his cause, Melody Hart and Gary Benjamin. Living with the couple was one of two court-approved conditions of his release, the other being that he wear a monitoring bracelet on his ankle.

Benjamin’s and Hart’s nearly yearlong support for Damus and for his efforts to win release were detailed by the Washington Post in a 3,000-word feature story that appeared as the centerpiece on the cover of the newspaper’s Dec. 17 print edition. It also can be found online here.

The latest from @elisaslow: A Haitian asylum seeker had spent two years in U.S. detention until an Ohio couple tried to do something about it https://t.co/9HJUCRrUrr

— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 17, 2018

“There is no question that Mr. Damus’ access to a just process was entirely the result of Melody and Gary’s relentless advocacy on his behalf,” Ohio Bishop Mark Hollingsworth Jr. said in a written statement to Episcopal News Service. “They are a model of what is means when we vow in our Baptismal Covenant to ‘strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.’

“It is not only Ansly Damus who has benefited from their faithfulness, but each of us. They have held us and our justice system accountable for his treatment.”

Hollingsworth’s office and the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C., offered logistical support for Benjamin and Hart, who are members of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland. An Office of Government Relations staff member also helped transmit letters from Damus to his family back in Haiti.

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention has frequently passed resolutions in support of immigrants, including those seeking asylum. A resolution from 2015 specifically called for “an immediate release of detained asylum seekers.”

The Post story notes the Ohio couple first heard about Damus’ case from a friend who is involved in immigrant justice issues. Hart told the Post she remembers saying simply, “We’ll do whatever we can.” That turned out to be quite a lot.

Damus, 42, was an ethics professor in Haiti whose criticism of a local politician with suspected ties to gangs resulted in threats of violence to him and his family. He chose to flee, at first to Brazil, and in 2016 he presented himself to American authorities on the Mexico border and asked for asylum, following procedures outlined by U.S. immigration law.

Federal authorities took him to a detention center in Ohio and continued to hold him, saying they considered him a flight risk. Hart and Benjamin, in addition to visiting Damus and sending Damus dozens of supportive letters, rallied others in their congregation and social circles to show he had a community willing to welcome him with open arms.

They brought 32 of those supporters with them by bus for Damus’ recent hearing in a federal courtroom in Michigan, which prompted the federal judge to remark that it was clear Damus had “a community that cared about him,” according to the Post’s report.

We are here in Ann Arbor at federal court fighting for our Haitian asylum seeker’s immediate release from Geauga County Jail. Ansly has been in a windowless cell for more than 2 years. pic.twitter.com/8IsBHNVGZl

— ACLU of Ohio (@acluohio) November 28, 2018

“I hope this shows that people in this country care about what’s happening to him,” Hart said in the Post story. “He has to believe that he’s come to the right place.”

The judge chose to delay a ruling that day on Damus’ prolonged detention, but federal authorities decided to offer a deal for Damus’ release rather than wait for a ruling, the Post reported.

Now Benjamin and Hart are Damus’ official sponsors, allowing him to live with them as he and his lawyer continue to pursue a victory on his asylum request.

“Today I am so happy,” he said on the day of his release, as Hart and Benjamin prepared to drive him home.

A Haitian asylum seeker had spent two years in U.S. detention until an Ohio couple tried to do something about it https://t.co/Wzq616hYAt pic.twitter.com/jKxuXleY9n

— Global Cleveland (@GlobalCleveland) December 18, 2018

The plight of asylum seekers has become a hot-button political issue in the United States, with the Trump administration seeking to limit the number of such immigrants allowed into the country. On Dec. 20, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would require asylum seekers at the Mexican border to wait in Mexico while their claims are under review. It wasn’t immediately clear if such a policy would apply to a case like Damus’.

“Aliens trying to game the system to get into our country illegally will no longer be able to disappear into the United States, where many skip their court dates,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a news release that provides no specifics on how widespread such cases are.

The release notes that the U.S. is dealing with a backlog of more than 786,000 pending asylum claims.

President Donald Trump also was criticized last fall for using and amplifying language that demonized a migrant caravan from Central America in the runup to the congressional midterm elections. Trump’s claims that asylum seekers were invading the United States were widely seen as a misleading tactic intended to drive conservative voters to the polls – a tactic he immediately dropped after the election.

The Office of Government Relations has called on Episcopalians to raise their voices on such issues based on General Convention’s resolutions on immigration policy.

“Most of the individuals in the caravan are asylum seekers and are fleeing dangerous and unstable conditions,” the Office of Government Relations said in an October fact sheet on the Central American migrants. “The U.S. has a responsibility to respond to those seeking asylum in a humanitarian way that complies with international law. Deterring asylum seekers or turning them back is unlawful and inhumane.”

The fact sheet also says detention is “not the solution.”

“Compassion – not brutality – will help people fleeing violence now and prevent others from needing to flee,” the office said. “When someone fears for their life or the lives of their family members, cruel tactics like detention or family separation will not work. We should respond in an orderly, sensible and compassionate manner to these families.”

Damus also was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that contested the Trump administration’s detention policies. A judge ruled in July that detainees like Damus could not continue to be held arbitrarily after clearing certain hurdles in the asylum process, and the government must conduct case-by-case reviews to determine if “humanitarian parole” is warranted, according to an NPR report.

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

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Diocese of Jerusalem’s Princess Basma rehabilitation center secures international accreditation

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 12:00pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Diocese of Jerusalem’s rehabilitation center for children with disabilities has secured its second consecutive audit from the Joint Commission International Accreditation. The Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre, on the Mount of Olives, provides a structured program of holistic care for Palestinian children from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. In December 2015 it received its first three-year accreditation, becoming the first – and to date, the only – Palestinian rehabilitation center to receive such international accreditation. It has now completed its second audit, gaining accreditation for the next three years.

Read the full article here.

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Nigerian bishop abducted from home by gunmen

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 11:48am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop of Ahoada Clement Ekpeye has been abducted from his home in Nigeria’s Rivers State by unknown gunmen. The assailants stormed the Bishop’s Court residence in the Ahoada East local government area around on Dec. 18. Deputy Superintendent Nnamdi Omoni of Rivers State Police said that officers from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad were leading the investigation and search for Bishop Clement.

Read the full article here.

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Nombran al Obispo Primado creador de noticias religiosas del año

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 11:00am

“Las copresentadoras del Today Show Hoda Kotb, a la izquierda, y Savannah Guthrie escuchan el 1 de noviembre al obispo primado Michael Curry hablar acerca del poder del amor. Fue una de las muchas entrevistas de prensa que Curry concedió este año. Foto de The Today Show.

[Episcopal News Service] La Iglesia Episcopal ha oído al obispo primado Michael Curry anunciar el mensaje del incondicional amor de Dios desde que fuera electo en julio de 2015. En mayo, su mensaje se hizo global y viral cuando predicó en la boda real del príncipe Harry y Meghan Markle, y ahora eso le ha ganado el título de “creador de noticias religiosas del año”.

La Asociación de Noticias de Religión dijo que el sermón de Curry había “realzado su imagen como una voz religiosa progresista”.

Eso podría entenderse. La imagen de Curry, más allá de la Iglesia Episcopal, comenzó a despegar en el momento en que se anunció su participación en la boda del 19 de mayo. Abundaron los artículos que intentaban responder a la pregunta “¿quién es Michael Curry?

Luego, él subió al ambón de la capilla de San Jorge [St. Georges], y comenzó a predicar. Según las estadísticas de los medios de prensa, 29,2 millones de personas en Estados Unidos y 18 millones en el Reino Unido vieron la boda. Y luego estuvo Twitter, donde 3,4 millones de usuarios de esa red social enviaron mensajes acerca de la boda real. Enviaron 40.000 mensajes por minuto durante el sermón de Curry, más que los 27.000 por minuto [que enviaron] durante la declaración de Harry y Meghan como marido y mujer.

Ese día, “el obispo Michael Curry” fue un “tema popular” de primera línea en Google, con una puntuación de 100 en una escala de 0 a 100 para las búsquedas diarias, y “episcopal” estuvo en el tope de las búsquedas en el [diccionario] Merriam-Webster.

La peregrinación a El Paso arroja una ‘luz de verdad’ sobre la crisis humanitaria de los migrantes en la frontera

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 10:55am

El Rdo. Paul Moore, a la derecha, que preside el ministerio de la frontera de la Diócesis de Río Grande, interpreta para el Rdo. Héctor Trejo, a la izquierda, que atiende tres iglesias anglicanas en Ciudad Juárez, México, la cual está del otro lado de la frontera de El Paso, Texas. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – El Paso, Texas] El Servicio de Inmigración y Aduana de EE.UU. entrega semanalmente dos mil personas a la hospitalidad de la Casa de la Anunciación [Annunciation House] aquí en El Paso.

Muchas de ellas son familias que han esperado su turno del otro lado de la frontera y solicitan asilo. Si la Casa de la Anunciación tuviera espacio para 2.500, serían 2.500, dijo su fundador y director, Rubén García.

Los asilados reciben alimento, cama, útiles de aseo,  un paquete de atención, acceso a una ducha y ayuda para ponerse en contacto con parientes a fin de preparar su viaje. En el transcurso de 48 horas, los instalan en autobuses o aviones para que se reúnan con miembros de sus familias en otras partes de Estados Unidos.

“La gran mayoría de la gente tiene a alguien”, dijo García.

En su mayoría, vienen de El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras; pero algunos vienen de Nicaragua, Brasil, Cuba, Venezuela, incluso hasta de la India. Algunos huyen de la violencia, algunos vienen en busca de oportunidades económicas, otros escapan de la persecución, religiosa o de otro tipo.

Unas 30 personas en representación de grandes congregaciones episcopales urbanas y suburbanas, se reunieron en Texas Sudoccidental para lo que llamaron una “Peregrinación  a El Paso”. Aquí se ven reunidos en Ciudad Juárez, junto al muro fronterizo que separa México de Estados Unidos. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

El 13 de diciembre, unas 30 personas en representación de grandes congregaciones episcopales, urbanas y suburbanas, se reunieron en Texas Sudoccidental para lo que llamaron una “Peregrinación a El Paso”. El Rdo. Gary Jones, rector de la iglesia de San Esteban [St. Stephen’s] en Richmond, Virginia, inició la peregrinación motivado por el deseo de contrarrestar una opinión que denigra a los solicitantes de asilo como narcotraficantes y violadores, cuando de hecho huyen para salvar sus vidas y en busca de medios de subsistencia.

La primera escala de la peregrinación fue la Casa de la Anunciación, donde los participantes escucharon un informe de García, que ha trabajado en la frontera durante 40 años presenciando y respondiendo a diferentes oleadas de migrantes y refugiados a lo largo de ese tiempo.

“El fenómeno de los refugiados no es un problema de El Paso, es un problema de EE.UU.”, dijo García.

“Ahora mismo, debido a la  aplicación de [la política migratoria de] EE.UU., estamos presenciando cambios que hacen la vida miserable”, afirmó. “La frontera se ha convertido en un lugar muy complicado”.

Cuando Casa de la Anunciación comenzó su ministerio hace 40 años, servía fundamentalmente a hombres que venían a Estados Unidos para el trabajo estacional, regresaban a casa para estar con sus familias y luego volvían a trabajar. En 1996, cuando el último cambio legislativo en la ley de inmigración hizo imposible entrar y salir, los hombres ya no podían regresar a sus hogares y en lugar de eso se quedaron.

“Una vez que toman la decisión de quedarse, pierden a la familia”, explicó García.

Un letrero a lo largo de la cerca fronteriza frene a la iglesia anglicana de San José en el lado de México, dice: “No somos delincuentes ni ilegales, somos obreros internacionales”. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Con el cambio de la ley migratoria de mediados de los años 90, la población indocumentada aumentó de 6 millones a 12 millones para 2004, ya que los hombres procuraban la reunificación familiar y las mujeres y los niños empezaron a llegar. En la actualidad, hay 11 millones de inmigrantes indocumentados en Estados Unidos, algunos de los cuales han estado viviendo clandestinamente de 20 a 30 años, dijo él.

A su llegada, los migrantes y solicitantes de asilo deben presentarles sus casos a agentes en los puntos de entrada designados o saltar muros y cruzar ríos para presentarles sus casos una vez arrestados a los agentes del Servicio de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza de EE.UU. o CBP (por su sigla en inglés), explicó García.

Hace un par de semanas, unos solicitantes de asilo estaban durmiendo en el puente para no perder su lugar en la cola, ya que sólo dejan entrar a 20 personas a un tiempo. Luego, en un esfuerzo por despejar el puente, el CBP comenzó a dar números que escribían con marcadores indelebles en los brazos de los solicitantes de asilo para controlar su lugar en la cola, dijo él.

De allí, los envían a los albergues de Ciudad Juárez, justo del otro lado de la frontera, para que esperen su turno.

Miguel Escobar, director ejecutivo de la Escuela de Teología Episcopal del Seminario Teológico  Unido, saluda a niños de la municipalidad de Rancho Anapra en las afueras de Ciudad Juárez. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Los peregrinos episcopales llegaron a El Paso en el preciso momento en que daban la noticia de la muerte de una niña guatemalteca de 7 años en internamiento administrativo de la Patrulla Fronteriza de EE.UU., al día siguiente de que ella, su padre y otros 161 migrantes se entregaran a los agentes luego de ingresar ilegalmente en Nuevo México. Las circunstancias de la muerte de la niña  siguen sujetas a investigación.

Para los peregrinos, sin embargo, era un patente recordatorio del peligroso viaje que enfrentan los migrantes y solicitantes de asilo, así como del anticuado sistema de inmigración de EE.UU. y de la respuesta del gobierno de Trump a la actual crisis humanitaria en la frontera sudoccidental. El gobierno ha enviado al menos 8.000 soldados a la frontera en un intento de detener la entrada. No obstante, los migrantes siguen llegando en caravanas.

“Quería ver con mis propios ojos lo que estaba pasando”, dijo el Ven. Juan Sandoval, arcediano de la Diócesis de Atlanta, un mexicoamericano de tercera generación que creció en Phoenix.

“Parecería que en lugar de soldados, deberían enviarse gente de iglesia y cooperantes, personas que pudieran ayudar”, afirmó.

El Muy Rdo. Nathan LeRud, deán de la catedral episcopal de La Trinidad en Portland, Oregón, de pie por el lado de Ciudad Juárez junto al muro que separa México y Estados Unidos en la frontera de El Paso, Texas. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Es ahí donde intervienen las iglesias. En su mayoría, la hospitalidad proviene de las iglesias de El Paso, a la vanguardia de las cuales está la Iglesia Católica Romana y la Casa de la Anunciación. Algunos solicitantes de asilo reciben asistencia jurídica de organizaciones como el Centro de Defensa del Inmigrante “Las América” [Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center] la segunda escala en el trayecto de los peregrinos.

Allí, Cristina García, que ofrece asesoría legal, explicó la complejidad de la reunificación familiar, la cual puede tomar de 20 a 30 años, dependiendo de las cuotas de EE.UU. y del país de origen, y la dificultad en ganar casos de asilo. Su agencia, dijo ella, ganó seis casos de asilo en seis años y, en un triunfo importante, siete en lo que va de año.

La crisis actual, explicó ella “es deshumanizante en todos los aspectos e ignora el derecho humanitario al acceso”. Ella dijo también que El Paso, Atlanta y el estado de Arizona son los lugares más difíciles para obtener asilo, y en el Paso, como en el resto de Estados Unidos, los jueces toman decisiones arbitrarias caso por caso.

De allí [los peregrinos] siguieron a la iglesia de San Cristóbal [St. Christopher’s], una de las cinco iglesias episcopales de El Paso y la más cercana a la frontera, que dirige el Rdo. J. J. Bernal. El Rdo. Paul Moore, que preside el Ministerio Fronterizo de la Diócesis de Río Grande, proporcionó un panorama de la situación actual en lo que se refiere a Centro América, hablando acerca del fracaso de la economía de goteo, la política exterior de EE.UU. como se ha relacionado históricamente con Centroamérica, la deportación de los miembros de las pandillas, los problemas de seguridad a través del Triángulo Norte, [y] los cárteles de las drogas, asociados a la violencia y al apetito de Estados Unidos por las drogas.

A través del Triángulo Norte de América Central, una región que incluye El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras, más de 700.000 personas han sido desplazadas por la violencia. Sin embargo, se trata de un fenómeno global que afecta ahora a una cifra récord de 68,5 millones de personas en todo el mundo.

La peregrinación siguió a una Cumbre de Ministerios de la Frontera organizada por Moore y que se tuvo lugar aquí en noviembre.

El 14 de diciembre, los peregrinos salieron para Ciudad Juárez, algunos en automóviles y otros valiéndose de accesos peatonales a lo largo de los tres puentes que conectan las dos ciudades. En Juárez, el Rdo. Héctor Trejo, que llegó hace seis meses de Chihuahua, la capital del estado de Chihuahua, los llevó en autobús a dos de las tres parroquias anglicanas.

San José, está localizada junto a la frontera en Rancho Anapra, un poblado pobre en el lado noroeste de la ciudad, un área dedicada anteriormente a la cría de ganado donde se establecieron ocupantes ilegales y que los cárteles de la droga han infiltrado.

“Debido a que aquí la gente no tiene derechos de propiedad, se convirtió en un lugar para elementos delincuenciales”, dijo Trejo. “Hay casas de seguridad, y es un centro del movimiento de narcotraficantes y tratantes de personas.

“El reto aquí es grande”, añadió, diciendo que los miembros de la comunidad acuden a él por consejo sobre cómo franquear el muro [fronterizo] porque temen por sus vidas.

De derecha a izquierda,  la Muy Rda. Kelly Brown Douglas, decana de la Escuela de Teología Episcopal del Seminario de Teología Unido; Miguel Escobar, director ejecutivo de la Escuela de Teología Episcopal, y la Rda. Winnie Varghese, directora de justicia y reconciliación en la iglesia de La Trinidad [Trinity] de Wall Street, cruzan el Puente Internacional Paso del Norte hacia El Paso, Texas. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

A diferencia de la Iglesia Católica Romana, la Diócesis Anglicana del Norte de México no cuenta con un ministerio establecido para servir a los migrantes; era algo en que los episcopales buscaban participar y algo que Trejo abordó. La realidad es tal, dijo él, que los voluntarios deben ser adecuadamente adiestrados para tratar con personas que han estado viajando por semanas y a veces por meses, personas que no se han bañado ni se han cepillado los dientes en mucho tiempo, y que han huido de situaciones traumáticas, violentas y abusivas y han encontrado lo mismo a lo largo de su viaje. No obstante, él está buscando compañeros para el ministerio y para crear una red de intervinientes a lo largo de la frontera.

Fue algo de lo que Bernal, el rector de San Cristóbal en el Paso, se ha hecho eco. La Iglesia Episcopal, dijo él, necesita articular y establecer una visión para su ministerio en la frontera.

“La Iglesia Episcopal es una voz para los que no tienen voz”, afirmó. “Aquellos de nosotros aquí en la frontera nos sentimos aislados. Necesitamos más voces activas y más recursos humanos”.

A través de su Ministerio Fronterizo, la Diócesis de Río Grande busca expandir su ministerio, dijo Moore.

Y eso, explicó él, debe asumir la forma de un ministerio en la base dirigido por los que están en el terreno mediante asociaciones basadas en el respeto mutuo, no en el patriarcado.

El último día de la peregrinación del 13 al 15 de diciembre, dos autos repletos de peregrinos partieron para Tornillo, Texas, el sitio de un campamento que se abrió para albergar a 360 menores no acompañados y que ahora alberga a 2.700. Ellos no pudieron llegar al campamento pues, tal como los agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza les dijeron, se trata de una propiedad privada, pero lograron acercarse lo más posible y se reunieron en una cerca para orar por los niños retenidos allí: por su seguridad, por sus  afligidos padres y por su futuro.

“Me alegro realmente de que fuéramos al campamento —no lo llamaré albergue, no es un albergue—, es un campo de concentración para niños”, dijo el [Muy] Rdo. Stephen Carlsen, deán y rector de la iglesia catedral de Cristo en Indianápolis. “Sentí que necesitaba presenciar lo que estaban haciendo en nuestro nombre como estadounidenses.

“No puedo imaginar lo que sería si la frontera de EE.UU. es tu última esperanza… la manera en que las personas son [mal]tratadas y deshumanizadas. Si esta es su última esperanza, ¿de qué deben ellos huir?”

– Lynette Wilson es reportera y jefa de redacción de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

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South Sudan archbishop prays for peace with country’s president

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 4:53pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] South Sudan Archbishop Justin Badi Arama has paid a visit to South Sudan President Salva Kiir to pray for peace in the country. During the visit, Arama thanked Kiir for his continued support for the country’s churches and for his support for the funeral of the late Bishop Peter Munde, who died last month.

Read the full article here.

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Archbishop of Central America elected to Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 4:50pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Julio Murray, primate of the Anglican Church in the Central America Region, has been elected as the Americas’ regional primate on the Anglican Communion’s Primates’ Standing Committee and the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council. The elections took place as the leaders of the Anglican Church in the Americas and Caribbean gathered in Toronto, Canada, for a regional primates meeting.

Read the full article here.

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Strengthening family ties, sparking transformation with Cuba

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 11:41am

The Episcopal Church in Cuba held its annual General Synod in Havana Feb. 21-23, 2014, and adopted a three-year strategic plan. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Now that the Diocese of Cuba is officially back in the Episcopal Church’s fold, Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio has big dreams for strengthening family ties and sparking transformation.

For starters, Delgado wants “everybody to know how happy I am to be back in the family” and hopes to extend to other dioceses and congregations the bridges she’s built with the Diocese of Florida, over the past 30 years.

“For 30 years, we have learned to love each other, to work together, to respect each other and share gifts that each community has to offer the other,” she said in a recent telephone interview with the Episcopal News Service, via an interpreter.

“For us, a partnership means for two communities to work together, receiving and giving and valuing each other’s journey in the process, and valuing each other’s gifts.”

After a 52-year estrangement, the 79th General Convention July 5-13, 2018. in Austin, Texas, approved reunification with the Episcopal Church in Cuba.

Resolution A238 called “upon the dioceses, congregations and members of The Episcopal Church to acquaint themselves with the ministries of La Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba,” and to work in harmony and companionship for evangelism, mutual understanding, and the full expression of God’s mission, and to consider ways to be in partnership.

Bishop Griselda—as she is affectionately called—is hoping to live more fully and deeply into the spirit of the resolution, creating partnerships while deepening relationship with U.S. siblings. She aims to spark transformation by focusing on building community through rebuilding churches, and hopes to provide pensions for diocesan clergy.

The diocese encompasses 46 congregations and five small missions that are “becoming and growing and staring to grow up” she said. Each one faces different challenges but “each one can be worked out individually,” Delgado said confidently.

“The main thing is to be able to continue to bring the Good News to the people,” she said, “with the evangelistic tool of love and of knowing Jesus.

“We have much to learn from each other,” she added. “We want to do all of that while reaffirming the identity of the people of Cuba. This is what Cubans have to give to the world, their own experience and journey of faith in the church.”

Evangelism: clean water, hot meals, gardens

Chip Weismiller recently returned from helping to install a water filtration system at Santa Cruz del Norte Episcopal Church near Havana, along with others from St. Luke’s Church in Darien, Connecticut, and from Christ Church in Bronxville, New York.

Members of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Darien, Connecticut, and Christ Church, Bronxville, New York, join their Cuban counterparts to help assemble and install water filtration systems at Santa Cruz del Norte Church. Photo: Stuart Weismiller

It means clean water, not just for the church, but for the entire community, “they are expecting to have 100 people a day come there to get fresh water,” he said.

It is a model for jump-starting ministries in areas with crumbling infrastructure and where, for several generations, the society has not approved of church, according to Pat Cage, who helped form Friends of the Episcopal Church of Cuba, at Delgado’s request.

The U.S.-based volunteer organization was created to assist Delgado to “realize their transformational vision of creating a church that, united in diversity, celebrates, preaches, teaches, serves and shares the love of God,” according to Cage.

“A way Bishop Griselda is trying to rebuild the church community is to serve the basic needs of the people,” according to Cage, a member of St. Luke’s, Darien, who has also visited Cuba.

The Rev. Yamily Bass-Choate, vicar of Iglesia Memorial de San Andres, Yonkers, New York, said her congregation, along with members of Christ Church, Bronxville, has partnered with the Diocese of Cuba, taking groups of teenagers to learn about the culture and people and to assist with establishing water filtrations systems.

“We have installed about 26 water filtration systems since we began several years ago, and have also trained people there to do it,” Bass-Choate told ENS.

“Bishop Griselda has a wonderful vision for the diocese,” said Michael Pollack, a Christ Church parishioner who recently returned from his eighth visit to Cuba to help with the water systems.

He keeps returning because “Cuba is a special place. The people are wonderfully warm. Their joyfulness for life and the goodness in it is palpable. It was right out there in front of everything, right there. There is a real sense of ‘we’re in this together and we need to help each other,’” he said.

Delgado’s vision originated during her ministry as priest at Iglesia Maria Virgen in Itabo, the congregation she served for about 25 years before she was elected bishop.

Partnering with churches in the Diocese of North Florida, the installation of a water filtration system sparked transformation.

“At her church in Itabo, people come from literally a hundred miles away in horses and buggies to get clean drinking water,” Cage said. “You can imagine the impact clean drinking water has on the community from a health and wellness standpoint; illness has been significantly reduced.”

Iglesia Maria Virgen, located in a rural area about 850 miles from Havana, also created a garden, growing beans, corn, coffee, eventually adding chickens and pigs. “The agricultural products are sold at a very low price to the community. At the end of each season, the seeds are given out to the community,” Cage said.

As a result, gardens are on the rise around the entire community of Itabo and so is church attendance. “It is meeting the needs, showing compassion and love and bringing church into the community,” said Cage. She said the Friends’ organization is hoping to facilitate similar partnerships between U.S. and Cuban churches.

Additionally, Delgado was able to shore up an unstable church facility and erect a dormitory-style dwelling for visitors in Itabo, Pollack said. A bio-gas generator uses waste from pigs to make cooking gas, and developing the gardens was vitally important, said Pollack, “because it was explained to me that before, food had to be imported.”

He added that: “Bishop Griselda’s vision is sustainable. There is no way to deny what she’s accomplished, given the circumstances in Cuba and the historical situation.”

Partnerships: a transformational, ‘relational’ ministry

Eating together, worshipping together, visiting the sick in their homes and praying for them felt as powerful for Stuart Weismiller as did watching a young girl sip her first drops of clean water for her husband Chip during their Nov. 6-13, 2018, trip.

St. Luke’s and Christ Church’s team joined their Cuban counterparts for meals, worship, even pastoral visits to pray for the sick in their homes, developing relationships and strengthening family ties. Photo: Stuart Weismiller

It was the second trip to Santa Cruz del Norte for the couple, members of St. Luke’s, Darien, who consider it pure evangelism, not a “project” ministry. “We want to have a relationship with the people. It was very important for us to partake in all parts of the worship services. Some members of our group read lessons. We ate together. We hugged each other,” according to Chip Weismiller.

He said Delgado’s vision is sustainable and transformational because “one of the ways you attract people to church is to provide a loving, accepting environment, and, way before you preach anything, you behave in deeds and actions.”

Roger Martin, also a St. Luke’s member who joined the trip, agreed. Delgado’s church, he said, “is a model for what can be done.”

According to Martin, the partnership between St. Luke’s and Santa Cruz del Norte Church has grown and blossomed. The addition of a Sunday evening meal has begun to build community, and the donation of baseball equipment has allowed the rector, the Rev. Frank Fernandez Triana, to organize teams of young people and also to bring them into the church.

“The wonderful thing about Cuba is the people going to Episcopal churches are young. Their parents may not come to church, but they do,” Martin said.Other opportunities continue to unfold: “because of the hurricanes [specifically Irma], the roof of the church is unstable,” said Martin, who served as associate dean of the Divinity School at Harvard from 1980 to 1986. “Our plan is to help them reconstruct the roof of the church and have it painted and fixed up. As we move forward, there’s going to be a lot of things to do to really improve the church.”

He added: “I taught mission at Harvard. I don’t see this as mission. I see this as working with people who can teach us a whole lot about the church.”

Big challenges, bigger dreams: Rest, pensions for clergy

Delgado’s vision also includes aid and support to Cuban clergy, who “have no state pensions or equivalent kind of social security because their service is not recognized as employment,” said former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, now assisting bishop in the Diocese of San Diego.

“At General Convention last summer, during our conversation about Cuba in the House of Bishops, I challenged the House to ask their congregants to offer $0.50 to help fund pensions for the Cuban clergy,” said Jefferts Schori.

“The total need is about $800,000 and that amounts to about $0.50 per Episcopalian,” she said in a recent email to ENS. “Several have already responded, and some dioceses have sent more than that. The [Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s] treasurer has established a dedicated fund to receive donations, and any diocesan finance officer can ask Kurt Barnes for details.”

She said retired Cuban clergy often “live in penury, depending on family members or their own meagre savings for support.  Some clergy in Cuba who served in Cuba before that diocese was set adrift in 1965 do receive small pensions from CPG [the Church Pension Group], but until the last few years it’s been very difficult to send those limited funds from the USA.”

Several dioceses, among them San Diego, Arkansas, Louisiana, New York, Vermont and Utah, have responded, issuing calls to their congregations to aid the effort. Episcopal Church Treasurer N. Kurt Barnes declined, however, to comment about the amounts raised thus far.

“This has only recently begun; and I don’t think we are likely to provide running totals,” he told ENS in an email. “We have, however, established a custodial account to receive and hold the funds.”

Jefferts Schori added that the U.S. church has much to learn from its Cuban sibling.

“They are highly entrepreneurial and passionately focused on aiding their neighbors,” she told ENS in an email. Additionally, Bishop Griselda “has helped produce a development plan for the diocese that is beginning to bear abundant fruit – in terms of formation, accountability, partnerships and pastorally. I would encourage anyone with an interest to visit, learn more, and build a long-term relationship of mutuality.

“Our brothers and sisters in Christ in Cuba have much to show and teach and offer,” she said. “What they don’t have is much in the way of dollars. Think of this as something like Paul’s collection for the poor in Jerusalem. We have welcomed the Diocese of Cuba back into the Episcopal Church – this is a way of bridging the divide between the U.S. and Cuba.”

— The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.

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UTO grant allows seminarian to work for peace internationally

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 4:26pm

[Episcopal News Service] When her kindergarten teacher issued the classic assignment, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, Caroline Carson, 47, didn’t have a single answer. Instead, she had about 25 options—including becoming a horse and an interest in space travel.

Remarkable curiosity and uncommon exuberance have been a divining rod of sorts for Carson, helping her seek out spiritual nourishment by building relationships with people around the world.

Carson, a third-year seminarian at the School of Theology at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, has visited 40 countries, most in a quest to see and experience firsthand the movement of the Holy Spirit. Her latest endeavor has been teaching and learning about pastoral care for refugees in Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Funded by a United Thank Offering grant, the project included a trip this spring to Cairo to serve as a volunteer for Refuge Egypt. Pastoral care—especially interreligious care—is often an unfamiliar concept in the Arab community, Carson said. During her visit, she led a training about pastoral care, showing the variety of ways that care can be expressed, including art and music, and she spoke about the Anglican Communion’s commitment to peace and reconciliation. But most of her time was spent listening, learning about the needs of the community and talking with asylum seekers and refugees.

“When you look in the eyes of so many of these asylum seekers, you see that they’re lost,” said Carson. “They’re in shock. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to them, to be with them. There’s a story behind every person.”

The United Thank Offering, a ministry of the Episcopal Church, receives the offerings from individuals and congregations and distributes 100 percent of the collections to innovative mission and ministry.

“Goodness can foster goodness,” Carson wrote in her application for the grant. She recalled the directive from Leviticus 19:34: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

“The care of soul is of vital importance. Addressing injustice can spur the actions of justice. The displaced deserve a change to be shown godly love whether by sharing silence and presence, a story, a meal or being allowed to grieve.”

Though fascinated by ancient history, Carson’s connection to Egypt began with a post-modern twist: a priest in Egypt re-tweeted a photo that she had posted in her role as a volunteer in NASA’s Solar System Ambassadors Program.

“I thought, ‘I wonder who re-tweeted that picture?’ So I followed up,” said Carson. Her curious nature found a friend in the Rev. Kerry Buttram, a priest at All Saints Cathedral in Cairo. “I told him that I was going on a choir tour to Jerusalem and since that’s pretty close, what would it be like to come by the cathedral and shake his hand.”

So she did. And a few years later, Carson reached out again, asking, “What would it be like to offer some teaching on pastoral care?” So she did.

What might seem bold to some is part of Carson’s approach to a faithful life, one that takes joyful risks in seeking and building relationships with people around the world. This commitment to community is evident in another passion: music. Although she considered becoming a nun in high school, Carson couldn’t resist the sound of music; she eventually earned a doctorate degree from the University of South Carolina with a major in conducting.

“I love working with students, of being a part of making something collaborative happen,” Carson said. “Choral music is about communication, not just with your audience but with the text … that’s the nature of an ensemble. You might have that one flute line or an alto part, but you’re still part of the whole, part of a community.”

Her work as a conductor and teacher took her around the world. She began adding time on either end of her music trips to volunteer for mission work. Soon, she felt God beckoning her to a different vocation, and within the community of the Diocese of Louisiana, Carson discerned a call to the priesthood.

Scheduled to graduate from seminary in the spring of 2019 – and, God willing, ordained as a transitional deacon on Dec. 15, Carson has sought numerous opportunities to develop relationships. She traveled to the Philippines and taught a liturgy and music course at Saint Andrew’s Theological Seminary, and she volunteered at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center in Rome, Italy, before making her way to Egypt.

While Carson plans to work in parish ministry after graduation and ordination to the priesthood, she hasn’t lost her youthful enthusiasm. She still has a full list of things she wants to do. Returning to Egypt and continuing to listen to the needs and stories of refugees is a top priority. She has plenty of other plans too, all focused on peace building—in our churches, in our communities and in our world.

“Peace-building is the future of our church,” said Carson. “We are all called to be missionaries.”

– Richelle Thompson is deputy director and managing editor of Forward Movement, a ministry of the Episcopal Church committed to inspiring disciples and empowering evangelists.

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Diocese of Texas announces slate for bishop suffragan

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 4:18pm

[Diocese of Texas] Three candidates for bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Texas were approved by the Standing Committee on November 26. They include: the Rev. Hannah E. Atkins Romero, the Rev. Canon Glenice Robinson-Como, and the Rev. Canon Kathryn ‘Kai’ Ryan.

“After diligent work and prayerful discernment with male and female applicants from inside and outside the Diocese, it was our joy to present these three outstanding candidates for Bishop Suffragan to the Standing Committee for final approval,” said the Rev. Chuck Treadwell, chair of the Search Committee and rector of St. David’s, Austin. The Standing Committee met Monday, November 26 to finalize the slate of candidates. Instructions for the petition process for additional candidates, which opens at 9 a.m. CST on Nov. 27 and closes five business days later on Dec. 3 at 5 p.m. CST, can be found here. Please save Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, at Camp Allen to meet the candidates for bishop suffragan. The day will begin at 9:30 a.m. with prayer. Each candidate will offer a brief presentation followed by a question and answer session. Register here. The election of the new bishop suffragan will take place at the diocese’s 170th Council at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Conference Center on Feb. 22, 2019. The new bishop suffragan will succeed the Rt. Rev. Dena A. Harrison, who retires at the end of 2018. A celebration of Harrison’s ministry will be held at Council.

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Lambeth Conference seen as chance to proclaim ‘good news of Jesus’

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 3:10pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has set out his vision for the next once-in-a-decade meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Communion, saying that “the world . . . needs the good news of Jesus Christ.” Welby said that the world “needs to see it in our actions, envy it in our love together, and hear it in our confident proclamation of the good news of Jesus.” He made his comments in a video for the brand new Lambeth Conference website as the dates for the meeting were confirmed as July 23 to Aug. 2, 2020.

Read the full article here.

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Bishop Silvestre Romero installed as Anglican leader in Guatemala

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 3:06pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Silvestre Romero has been installed at the new Bishop of Guatemala in a special service at St James cathedral in the capital, Guatemala City. Silvestre, who was consecrated as coadjutor bishop a year ago, succeeds Bishop Armando Guerra, who has held office in the Church for more than 35 years.

Read the full article here.

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Anglican leaders from the Americas gather in Toronto for regional primates meeting

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 3:04pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The leaders of eight Anglican Provinces whose churches cover the territory from Cape Horn to the Arctic are gathering in Toronto for a regional Primates’ Meeting. Seven Primates and a bishop from the West Indies, where there is a primatial vacancy, are meeting in to discuss the Lambeth Conference 2020 and other issues including the Anglican Communion’s Instruments of Communion and relationships within the Communion.

Read the full article here.

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Diocese of West Tennessee elects Phoebe Roaf as bishop

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 3:00pm

[Diocese of West Tennessee] The Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee elected the Rev. Phoebe Roaf, rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia, as its fourth bishop on Nov. 17.

Roaf will be in stalled in a consecration service May 4 at Hope Presbyterian Church. The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, will preside.

The Rev. Phoebe Roaf

Roaf is a lifelong Episcopalian. She grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. She is rector at St. Philip’s, the oldest African-American church in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, where she has served as the parish leader since 2011. Before St. Philips’s, Roaf was associate rector for three years at Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans.

Roaf, who earned a law degree from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, and clerked two years for Judge James L. Dennis, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, worked in commercial real estate before pursuing a call to serve the Episcopal Church as clergy.

She completed her bachelor’s degree at Harvard University and MPA at Princeton University. She attended Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria. She is vice chair of the board of trustees at Virginia Theological Seminary.

The other nominees for the position were the Rev. Marian Dulaney Fortner, rector, Trinity Episcopal Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and the Rev. Sarah Hollar, rector, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Huntersville, North Carolina.

“The mission of the church is to promote reconciliation among people and with God. Phoebe Roaf has the creativity and vision to help the Diocese of West Tennessee set a bold vision for the work of Christ in this region at this time, and the ideal skillset to help us achieve it,” said the Rev. Sandy Webb, rector of the Church of the Holy Communion and chairman of the committee overseeing the bishop transition process.

Roaf was chosen in a balloting process in the diocese’s annual convention at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Germantown. All clergy and elected lay delegates are allowed to vote. Under the canons of the denomination, bishops are chosen by a clergy and lay leader votes. They must receive a majority from each group on the same ballot in order to be elected.

Roaf succeeds Bishop Don E. Johnson, who has served the Diocese of West Tennessee as bishop since 2001. The diocese, which covers all of Tennessee west of the Tennessee River, has 8,260 active members and an average Sunday attendance of more than 3,000.

The diocese announced the three nominees in late summer. They visited in late October, meeting with parishioners and clergy in Memphis and Dyersburg and responding to questions in a public forum.

In her application materials, Roaf referenced the divisions in the society and the role of the church.

“The Episcopal Church is ideally suited for a time such as this, when community building and reconciliation are needed. There is a deep hunger among many people to bridge our differences and to form meaningful connections. My life and ministry in multicultural and multiracial environments make me uniquely suited to serve among the geographic, economic, racial and ethnic diversity found within in the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee.”

For more information on Roaf, including her resume, photo and video reflection, go to wtnbishop.com/bishop-elect.

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Oklahoma Bishop Konieczny to retire in 2021

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 3:25pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma] The Rt. Rev. Dr. Edward J. Konieczny, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, has announced his intention to retire on January 1, 2021. Bishop Konieczny was elected and consecrated as the fifth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma in 2007, and at the time of his retirement will be in his 15th year as Bishop.

Bishop Konieczny intends to call for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor to be consecrated on April 18, 2020. A Bishop Coadjutor is elected to succeed a Diocesan Bishop. By electing a Bishop Coadjutor, there will be a time of overlap for the new Bishop and Bishop Konieczny to work together to ensure a smooth transition.

The responsibility for discerning Bishop candidates and conducting an election rests with the Standing Committee of the Diocese. More information about the process and timeline for the election of the new Bishop will be published soon.

In his letter to the diocese, Bishop Konieczny stated, “We have accomplished much during my tenure: we are healthy spiritually, financially, and prepared to grow and develop in new and emerging ways. It is time to discern the next Bishop who will lead the Diocese of Oklahoma into this new season of ministry.”

During his tenure, Bishop Konieczny has served in numerous leadership roles throughout The Episcopal Church, including as member of Bishops United Against Gun Violence who participated in the Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence March at 2015 General Convention, member of Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, member of Executive Committee of Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, member of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice, member of the Presiding Bishop Transition and Installation Committee, Co-Chair of the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop, and Key Note Speaker at the Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace Conference, and is a participating member in the Consultation of Anglican Bishops. In 2018, Bishop Ed was elected and appointed as the Bishop Representative to the Anglican Consultative Council for The Episcopal Church, a role in which he will continue to serve.

Additionally, Bishop Konieczny has served on numerous community, civic, and faith-based committees and commissions, as well as a consultant to corporations and municipalities on corporate leadership.

The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma includes all Episcopal congregations in the state of Oklahoma, spanning nearly 70,000 square miles and including numerous geographic landscapes. Our diocese includes approximately 25,000 Episcopalians; 70 congregations; and 150 resident clergy. We support 5 Episcopal schools, 2 residential communities for mature adults, and St. Crispin’s, a thriving Camp and Conference Center. The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma is a member of The Episcopal Church’s Province VII, which consists of 12 other dioceses in close proximity. Our Diocesan Offices are located in downtown Oklahoma City, and our Cathedral, St. Paul’s, is located just one block away.

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