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Southern California Episcopalians respond to wildfires

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 10:21am

Fire damage to grounds of Epiphany Church, Oak Park, California. Photo: Courtesy Susan Anderson.

[Diocese of Los Angeles] At least 11 homes of Southern California Episcopalians have been lost in the raging Woolsey and Hill brush fires that displaced some 200,000 residents and burned more than 83,000 acres with flames racing to the driveways and parking lots of parish properties in Malibu, Oak Park and Thousand Oaks but sparing church buildings.

Ten homes of parishioners of St. Aidan’s Church in Malibu, and one home of members of Epiphany Church, Oak Park, were destroyed, according to reports from leaders of the local congregations.

Pastoral and practical response continues in a united effort of clergy and laity in the region, joined by Bishop John Harvey Taylor, Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce and Canon to the Ordinary Melissa McCarthy, together with the diocesan disaster relief task force, chaired by the Very Rev. Michael Bamberger, rector of Ascension Church, Sierra Madre, and dean of diocesan Deanery 5.

Contributions to the diocesan Fire and Mudslide Relief Fund may be made online here. Priority is placed on disbursement of aid to the region’s low-income and otherwise most vulnerable who might not otherwise receive relief amid the disaster.

As prayers encouraged by the bishops and clergy ascended across the diocese, firefighters doused the property Thousand Oaks’ St. Patrick’s Church on Friday, Nov. 9, protecting it from devastation, reported the Rev. George Daisa, rector, who had the evening before been a leader in the city hall prayer vigil responding to the Nov. 8 shooting deaths of 13 at the nearby Borderline Bar and Grill. Sunday services were conducted in the church.

In Oak Park, flames charred landscaping and vegetation around Epiphany Church, located on Churchwood Drive where several homes did not survive the blaze. Neither church buildings nor the congregation’s vineyard suffered damage, said the Rev. Greg Brown, vicar. Parishioners were able to visit the church and gather for services.

In Malibu, the Rev. Joyce Stickney, vicar of St. Aidan’s Church there, is mobilizing support for profoundly affected parishioners, and also called the sparing of the church buildings and adjacent clergy residence a true miracle. She expressed gratitude for the members of the Malibu Muslim community who have called hourly with offers of food, housing and other support for St. Aidan’s parishioners.

Stickney added that that Aidan, a seventh-century bishop on this island of Lindesfarne in the North Sea, has been considered a protector against wildfires, his name meaning “fire” in Gaelic.

Due to mandatory evacuation orders still in effect, services were not held at the newly remodeled Malibu church on Nov. 11 but are expected to resume on Nov. 18, Stickney said, with a dedication of the renovated sanctuary set for Nov. 25.

In neighboring communities including Pacific Palisades, parishioners and clergy had “go bags” packed and ready for evacuation on a moment’s notice.

The Woolsey fire follows nearly one year after other devastating firestorms in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and the disastrous Montecito mudslide last January. The recent blaze burned concurrently with the Camp Fire in the northern California town of Paradise, where at least 29 persons died, 200 went missing, and 6,700 structures were destroyed.

The diocese will continue to monitor and report on congregational and diocesan responses to the fire disaster.

– Bob Williams is canon for common life in the Diocese of Los Angeles and a former director of Episcopal News Service.

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Albany bishop rejects General Convention compromise on gay marriage, refuses to allow rites

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 5:13pm

Members of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Albany, New York, pose in October for a Facebook photo promoting it as a congregation that “welcomes ALL for worship, fellowship and service.”

[Episcopal News Service] Albany Bishop William Love, in a Nov. 10 pastoral letter to his diocese, forcefully condemned the Episcopal Church’s adoption of same-sex marriage rites, vowed to reject a General Convention resolution intended to offer the rites in all dioceses and suggested Episcopalians in his diocese would leave the church if his directive were overturned.

Using Biblical citations from Leviticus to Romans to support his belief that sexual intimacy between two men or two women was never God’s plan, Love’s eight-page letter labeled homosexuality “sinful and forbidden,” and cast the long-simmering Episcopal debate over same-sex marriage as a kind of existential crisis for the church, which he argues has been “hijacked” by a powerful, secular “Gay Rights Agenda.”

Bishop William Love has led the Diocese of Albany for 12 years. Photo: Diocese of Albany

“There is no doubt the Episcopal Church and now the Diocese of Albany are in the midst of a huge storm that can rip us apart if we are not careful. That is exactly what Satan wants. We don’t have to play his game,” Love said. “If we focus on what divides us, we will be destroyed. If we focus on what unites us – our Lord Jesus Christ – He will get us through to the other side.”

Resolution B012, when it was approved by the 79th General Convention in July, was seen as a compromise between conservative bishops like Love and advocates for greater LGBTQ inclusion in the church. It passed with broad support in both the House of Bishops and House of Deputies.

It wasn’t immediately clear what steps church leaders might take in response to Love’s directive, which specifically forbids diocesan clergy from using the trial rites supported by B012. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry issued a statement Nov. 12 saying all clergy are required to “act in ways that reflect and uphold the discernment and decisions of the General Convention of the church.”

“I have read the recent statement from Bishop Bill Love of the Diocese of Albany and am aware of the deep hurt on all sides of the issues it addresses,” Curry said. “I have been, and will continue to be, in conversation with Bishop Love about this matter. Along with other leaders in the Episcopal Church, I am assessing the implications of the statement and will make determinations about appropriate actions soon.’

Episcopal News Service was unable Nov. 12 to reach clergy in the diocese to speak about Love’s letter on the record, and a diocesan representative said the bishop wasn’t immediately available to answer a reporter’s questions by phone.

Despite the impasse in Albany, the Episcopal Church has made steady progress toward marriage equality in recent years, said the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies.

“We recognize the Holy Spirit at work in the marriages of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” Jennings said in a written statement. “And we know that there are Christians who have been drawn further into fidelity and service to the world by living in committed same-sex partnerships and marriages based on holy love and the gift of seeing Christ in one another. When we celebrate these marriages, the entire church is blessed by the love and fidelity of these faithful couples.”

Love’s decision already has generated backlash in Albany and churchwide among supporters of same-sex marriage.

“Parishioners at St. Andrews, Albany, burned the bishop’s letter while it was being read at church,” parishioner John White said in a Facebook post. “How did your congregation ‘celebrate’?”

The Rev. Susan Russell, a priest from the Diocese of Los Angeles who has advocated for years in favor of greater LGBTQ inclusion in the Episcopal Church, said Love exceeded his canonical authority, and she expects the church to hold him accountable.

“In a moment when we’re being led by a presiding bishop who prophetically proclaims on a worldwide stage that if it’s not about love it’s not about God, we have a bishop named Love who is drawing lines in the sand, who is explicitly excluding people from God’s blessing,” Russell, senior associate rector at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California, told ENS by phone.

Leading up to General Convention this year, Albany was one of eight dioceses that refused to offer trial rites to same-sex couples wishing to marry in their own churches, because the bishops held to theologically conservative interpretations of scripture, church canons and the Book of Common Prayer. With B012, General Convention intended to let those bishops opt out personally, without blocking the rites. The solution was to ask another bishop to provide pastoral oversight for the marrying couples.

B012 takes effect Dec. 2, the first Sunday of Advent, and in most of the eight dioceses, the bishops, though reluctantly, and have made plans for implementing it. Love, however, objected to B012 when it was approved and repeated his objections in his Nov. 10 letter. He said he raised those concerns in a recent meeting with Curry, warning the resolution’s mandate would do “tremendous damage” to the church and his diocese.

Love’s letter begins by citing his authority as bishop, which the Book of Common Prayer says includes a call “to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church” and to “boldly proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Christ.” It concludes by affirming his “respect for the authority of General Convention as an institutional body” but pledging his “ultimate loyalty” to God.

His letter enumerates seven reasons for his rejection of B012, starting with biblical teachings that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“The fact that some in today’s sexually confused society (to include 5 of the 9 U.S. Supreme Court Justices in 2015) may have broadened their understanding of marriage to be more inclusive, allowing for same-sex marriages, doesn’t mean that God … has changed His mind or His purpose or intent for marriage.”

Albany remains the exception to church’s support for marriage equality

The reference to the Supreme Court invokes the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex civil marriage in all 50 states. It already had been legal by law in New York since 2011.

However, tensions in the Episcopal Church over homosexuality stem back even further. Those tensions flared up in 2003 with the ordination of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson as the church’s first openly gay bishop, and after several years of theological disagreements, some bishops, priests and lay Episcopalians left the church, causing protracted legal battles in some places over diocesan property.

Separate efforts to welcome same-sex couples more fully into the life of the church took a major step forward in 2015 when General Convention created and authorized two trial marriage rites for same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

“For more than 40 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed, studied and discerned and, in doing so, we have seen the evidence of God’s blessing in the lives of LGBTQ people,” Jennings said in her written statement, calling General Convention “our highest temporal authority.”

Despite their earlier objections, the bishops of the dioceses of Central Florida, Dallas, Florida, North Dakota, Springfield, Tennessee and the Virgin Islands have signaled they are satisfied by the compromise reached in B012. Implementation may vary from diocese to diocese.

“I think we’ve come out of this with something that lets everyone stay true to their conscience,” Dallas Bishop George Sumner told the Dallas Morning News in July.

Like Love, Florida Bishop Samuel Howard opposed the comprise resolution, but he sent a message to his diocese on Aug. 3 saying he would implement it. If a parish wishes to conduct a same-sex wedding, Howard said he will ask a fellow bishop to step in.

“Please know that I am committed to honoring Resolution B012, as passed by the General Convention, even though my own theological position and pastoral teaching continues to be rooted in traditional Gospel understandings as set forth in our Book of Common Prayer,” Howard said. “My prayer is that both ‘sides’ of this issue will come to see the other not as a ‘side’ at all, but rather as fellow members of the Body of Christ, seeking in good faith to follow the Gospel.”

Love, however, has offered no such conciliation. “We’re in the midst of a major schism,” Love told the Albany Times-Union in a Sept. 1 story, and in a Sept. 7 letter to the diocese he said he was still considering the resolution’s meaning and collecting input from diocesan clergy before deciding how to respond and “how it will be dealt with in the Diocese of Albany.”

The diocese is based in New York’s capital city, though most of its 130 congregations are in less-populated communities between the Canadian border and Catskill Mountains. By Nov. 11, Love had made his decision, and it echoed off the walls of those churches. Parish clergy were instructed by Love to read the letter to their congregations after Sunday worship.

“B012 turns upside down over 2000 years of church teaching regarding the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, and is in direct contradiction of the Episcopal Church’s ‘official teaching’ on marriage,” Love said.

Love’s letter also frames his objection to same-sex marriage by arguing at length that it is rooted in a faith-based opposition to homosexuality, and to premarital sex of any kind.

Allowing gay couples to marry does “a great disservice and injustice to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ, by leading them to believe that God gives his blessing to the sharing of sexual intimacy within a same-sex relationship, when in fact He has reserved the gift of sexual intimacy for men and women within the confines of marriage between a man and woman.” He continues by accusing the church of encouraging Episcopalians with “same-sex attractions” to sin by acting on those impulses.

Love implicates the Episcopal Church in that sin and suggests it will hasten the church’s demise.

“Not only does the same-sex couple come under God’s judgement and condemnation, but it also brings God’s judgement and condemnation against The Episcopal Church,” he said. “Recent statistics show that The Episcopal Church is spiraling downward. I can’t help but believe that God has removed His blessing from this Church. Unless something changes, The Episcopal Church is going to die.”

Bishop raises alarm over widening church schism

Implementing B012 also would require Love to violate his vows of ordination, he said, adding that others in his diocese are just as adamant in opposing same-sex marriage.

“There are many in the Diocese of Albany who have made it clear that they will not stand for such false teaching or actions and will leave – thus the blood bath and opening of the flood gates that have ravaged other dioceses will come to Albany if B012 is enacted in this diocese,” he said in his letter.

Love’s final justification for rejecting B012 expands the decision’s scope by invoking the diocese’s positive relations with the Anglican Communion, which also has grappled in recent years with divisions between its provinces, one of which is the Episcopal Church, over homosexuality.

Some in the Episcopal Church are willing to take what they see as a “prophetic” stance, Love said, even if others in the Anglican Communion don’t “embrace this ‘new thing’ that they believe God is doing.” Love calls this the devil’s deception.

“Satan is having a heyday … by deceiving the leadership of the church into creating ways for our gay and lesbian brothers and sister to embrace their sexual desires rather than to repent and seek God’s love and healing grace,” he said.

Love concluded his letter with a lengthy passage that mines a range of viewpoints on Christian outreach to people “who are struggling with same-sex attractions” while making clear he views homosexuality as a sin that requires repentance.

Curry, in his statement Nov. 12, was clear about the Episcopal Church’s official understanding of the issue.

“We are committed to the principle of full and equal access to, and inclusion in, the sacraments for all of the baptized children of God, including our LGBTQ siblings,” Curry said. “We also are committed to respecting the conscience of those who hold opinions that differ from the official policy of the Episcopal Church regarding the sacrament of marriage.

“It should be noted that the canons of the Episcopal Church give authority to all members of the clergy to decline to officiate a marriage for reasons of conscience, and Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention does not change this fact.”

Russell, the California priest, said several fellow advocates for marriage equality and priests in the Diocese of Albany contacted her to inform her of Love’s decision. It greatly saddened her, she said.

Russell called Love “a complete outlier” among bishops on this issue, but that doesn’t take away the sting felt by gay and lesbian couples in his diocese.

“My heart goes out to the LGBTQ people in the Diocese of Albany specifically, but also to those in the wider church and community who will hear this again as another indication of how deeply homophobia runs in the veins, in the world and the church, and how much we have to do to eradicate it,” she said. “And I do think it’s up to the whole church to stand together in love and compassion.”

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

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Declaración del Obispo Presidente acerca de la Carta Pastoral y la Directiva Pastoral del obispo Love del 10 de noviembre

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 4:39pm

12 de noviembre de 2018

El Obispo Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal Michael Curry ha emitido la siguiente declaración:

He leído el reciente comunicado del obispo Bill Love de la diócesis de Albany y soy consciente del profundo dolor que existe desde todas las perspectivas de los asuntos que aborda. Al respecto, he estado y continuaré manteniendo un diálogo con el obispo Love sobre este tema. Junto con otros líderes de la Iglesia Episcopal, me encuentro evaluando las implicaciones de dicho comunicado y tomaré pronto las determinaciones que correspondan a las acciones apropiadas.

Nosotros estamos comprometidos con el principio de un acceso pleno e igualitario, además de la inclusión en todos los sacramentos para todos aquellos hijos de Dios bautizados, incluyendo a nuestros hermanos LGBTQ. Tal como nos lo recuerda San Pablo en Gálatas 3: “por la fe en Cristo Jesús todos ustedes son hijos de Dios, ya que, al unirse a Cristo en el bautismo, han quedado revestidos de Cristo. Ya no importa el ser judío o griego, esclavo o libre, hombre o mujer; porque unidos a Cristo Jesús, todos ustedes son uno solo”.

Como miembros del Cuerpo de Cristo (1 Corintios 12), también estamos comprometidos a respetar la conciencia de aquellos que poseen opiniones que discrepan de las políticas oficiales de la Iglesia Episcopal con respecto al sacramento del matrimonio. Es preciso señalar que los cánones de la Iglesia Episcopal les otorgan autoridad a todos los miembros del clero para rehusarse a oficiar una ceremonia de matrimonio por razones de conciencia, y la Resolución B012 de la 79.ª Convención General no cambia este hecho.

En todo lo que nos concierne a aquellos de nosotros que hemos hecho los votos de obedecer la doctrina, la disciplina y la adoración en la Iglesia Episcopal, debemos actuar de tal manera que nuestras acciones sean un reflejo y preserven el discernimiento y las decisiones de la Convención General de la Iglesia.

Pido que todos en la Iglesia oremos en estos momentos mientras seguimos adelante.

Reverendísimo Michael Curry
Primado y Obispo Presidente

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Fijian priest elected archbishop of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 3:52pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Rev. Fereimi Cama, vicar of St. Peter’s in Lautoka on the Fijian island of Viti Levu, has been elected bishop of Polynesia. When he is consecrated and installed, he will also become one of the three archbishops and primates of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. The election was announced Nov. 12 by the church’s two existing primates, Archbishop Don Tamihere and Archbishop Philip Richardson, who have responsibility for the church’s Maori and Pakeha tikangas, or cultural streams.

Read the full article here.

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Episcopal student interviews Presiding Bishop for Georgia radio service

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 12:06pm

Rebekah Glover interviews Presiding Bishop Michael Curry for the Georgia Radio Reading Service. Photo: Andrew Payne/Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was in Atlanta Nov. 7-9 for the National Association of Episcopal Schools biannual conference. Curry served as celebrant and preacher at the conference, but took time out of his busy schedule to meet with 15-year-old Rebekah Glover at Atlanta’s Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.

The enterprising sophomore wrote Curry in late October, requesting an interview for the Georgia Radio Reading Service (GaRRS), where she volunteers. GaRRS provides broadcasts to those who are visually-impaired or have difficulty with the printed word

Rebekah told Curry in her warm missive—sent to Curry’s public email address—that she was raised in a non-denominational faith, that her mother is from North Carolina (Curry has longtime ties to North Carolina), and that she enjoys visiting her 88-year-old grandmother. “I often read the Word and sing hymns—it brings so much joy to Grandma!” she wrote.

“Bishop, I know you’re an extremely busy man, but I’m asking, should you ever come to the Atlanta, Ga., area, Sir, please allow me to interview you. I volunteer my services at GaRRS—Georgia Radio Reading Services. I would love for this audience to hear from you!”

And to Rebekah’s surprise, the trailblazing bishop, who impressed millions last May 19 with his rousing royal wedding sermon on the power of love, quickly agreed to come. They met for an interview on the Holy Innocents’ campus Thursday, Nov. 8, and then Curry took part in an All School Eucharistic Convocation.

“You don’t really expect to be a 15-year-old and have a person as big as Michael Curry respond to you,” noted Rebekah, who added that Curry had been an inspiration to her long before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.

“I love his contagious energy when he speaks, and his love for Jesus of Nazareth. And when I hear his powerful messages, it makes my spirit leap.”

Rebekah’s mother arranged to have a GaRRS producer record the interview, and, Glover, who plans to major in film and TV production in college, prepared questions for Curry about the Jesus Movement, the bishop’s experience with people with disabilities, and his new book “The Power of Love.”

“I was so happy to converse one-on-one with him.”

GaRRS,  where Rebekah volunteers as a reader, has a mission “to improve the quality of life for every Georgian who is blind, visually-impaired, or has difficulty with the printed word,” according to the organization’s website. The nonprofit offers an expansive library and streams hundreds of programs in its broadcasts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Patrons access the service through special radios, an online webstream, telephone, or a mobile app.

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, one of the nation’s largest Episcopal schools, has 1,360 students enrolled in grades PK3-12.

Peggy J. Shaw is a Georgia-based freelance journalist.

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American Cathedral in Paris honors ‘Great War’ soldiers, rededicates battle memorial

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 11:41am

A veteran attends a memorial service at the American Cathedral in Paris on Nov. 11. Photo: Angie Kremer

[Episcopal News Service] On Nov.11 at 11 a.m., the worship service at the American Cathedral in Paris paused so parishioners could listen to the peals of church bells sound across the City of Lights, just as they rang 100 years ago to signal the Armistice and the end of Word War I.

As the United States observes Veterans Day today, around the world and especially throughout Europe, special events—including visits by dozens of heads of state—have been held to mark the centennial anniversary of the end of the Great War. The American Cathedral, part of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, commemorated the occasion with two special events.

The convocation’s bishop-elect, the Rev. Mark D.W. Edington, preached at the memorial service on Sunday. And on Nov. 10, the cathedral rededicated the Battle Memorial Cloister, the first monument ever erected for the American casualties of World War I, according to historian and parishioner Ellen Hampton.

In a video about the cloister, Hampton shared that shortly after the war ended, families began asking to erect plaques in honor of their loved ones, but the priest and vestry opted for another, all-inclusive memorial, and raised funds for the Battle Memorial Cloister. The memorial honors the 116,000 American casualties of World War I, as well as civilian units that supported France before the United States officially entered the conflict in 1917.

The cloister is lined with plaques commemorating the fallen and features the insignia of the American armed forces, as well as scenes from major battles.

Ironically, little room was left in the cloister for plaques for the dead in World War II. When the cloister was designed, there was no thought of it needing to be bigger; World War I was considered then to be the war to end all wars, Hampton explained.

Parishioners Charles Truehead and Ann Dushane, along with the Very Rev. Lucinda Laird, the cathedral’s dean, have led the arrangements for the commemoration events. The rededication on Nov. 10 featured World War I poetry and special music.

At the close of the service, attendees placed poppies on a wreath of remembrance, a tradition with its origins in the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae.

“Something our bishop-elect wrote recently might help put this in context,” said Truehead. “He wrote that a church is a community of memory…Here is an example of memory with a capital M, where we are coming together to remember the dead and the people who came before us at the cathedral for something that mattered for them and was cataclysmic to the world.”

For the American Cathedral, participating in this type of commemoration is part of its duty, Truehead said, both as a worshiping community and as a cathedral committed to opening its doors to the broader community. This dedication to community has been a hallmark of the church throughout its history. The Rev. Jason Leo, now canon for transitions and congregational vitality for the Diocese of Southern Ohio, grew up at the American Cathedral, when his father Jim served as dean.

“Every year on the anniversary of D-Day, there were celebrations and commemorations throughout the city,” Leo said. “The cathedral was a hub for all of this. I was 16 years and remember sitting in a pew behind a U.S. president during a service and thinking that this was a pretty big deal. But certainly, the most moving experience was to look out into that enormous worship space and see one veteran in kneeling in silence: the memories of friends, immeasurable sacrifice, and the blessing of freedom, all being offered to God in prayer.”

During the service, Truehead shared the story of one of the Americans who volunteered to fight in the foreign war: a young poet, Alan Seeger, who died on July 4, 1916. His name might sound familiar. The American Library in Paris was created, in part, to honor Seeger’s history, and his way with words became a family tradition, carried on by his nephew, folk singer Pete Seeger, Truehead said.

The service included one of Seeger’s poems, “I have a rendezvous with death.” In the poem, Seeger contrasts the life he could have led, “Pillowed in silk and scented down … Where hushed awakenings are dear…” with the one that he chose in the fight for freedom, “At midnight in some flaming town,/ When Spring trips north again this year, / And I to my pledged word am true.”

– Richelle Thompson is deputy director and managing editor of Forward Movement.

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Westminster Abbey hosts Christians and Jews to remember Kristallnacht

Fri, 11/09/2018 - 1:47pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Congregations from several London synagogues joined Christians at Westminster Abbey on Nov. 8 for a Service of Solemn Remembrance and Hope on the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht. The pogrom was carried out by the Nazis throughout Germany and Austria on Nov. 9 and 10, 1938. It saw synagogues across the country destroyed and many Jewish shops and business premises vandalized, and homes of Jews were burnt down.

Read the full article here.

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Bishops offer ‘Litany in the Wake of a Mass Shooting’

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 5:01pm

[Bishops United Against Gun Violence] In response to the mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, Bishops United Against Gun Violence today released “Litany in the Wake of a Mass Shooting”  to commemorate the dead, comfort their loved ones, and honor survivors and first responders. “[W]e do so,” the bishops wrote, “with the reminder that one does not pray in lieu of summoning political courage, but in preparation for doing so.”

Bishops United is a group of more than 80 Episcopal bishops working to curtail the epidemic of gun violence in the United States.

Much of what can be said in the wake of such appalling carnage has been said,” the bishops wrote. “It was said after the mass shooting at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; and it was said after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the two devastating events that brought Bishops United Against Gun Violence into being. And it was said most recently after the anti-Semitic massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, just 12 days ago. Mass shootings occur so frequently in our country that there are people who have survived more than one.

“While the phrase “thoughts and prayers” might have become devalued by elected leaders who believe speaking these words discharges their duty in the wake of a massacre, we nonetheless believe that we are called to pray for the dead, those who mourn them and those who respond to the scene of mass shootings.”

Litany in the Wake of a Mass Shooting is available online at: http://bishopsagainstgunviolence.org/litany-in-the-wake-of-a-mass-shooting/

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Lilly grants support Episcopal entities, priests in various ways

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 3:29pm

The Rev. Jane Patterson teaches during a class offered by the Iona Center at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas.

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church has an important partner as it responds to shifts in the religious landscape. In 2018, the Lilly Endowment Inc., a private philanthropic foundation based in Indianapolis, awarded nearly $4.5 million in grants to launch or strengthen programs that help pastoral leaders thrive in their ministry with congregations. And these grants are only the latest in a long history of support from the religion division of the foundation, whose mission is to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians.

The endowment’s “willingness to pay attention to what is going on in pastoral leadership is helping us not only identify where the needs might be … but encourages organizations to experiment and find out what works,” said Scott Bader-Saye, acting dean and president of Seminary of the Southwest, located in Austin, Texas. “Lilly is doing a really fantastic job of priming these experiments in the context of mainline churches that are trying to figure out what the church might look like and what the world’s needs might look like in the future.”

The lion’s share of the grants to Episcopal entities came from an initiative at the Lilly Endowment called Thriving in Ministry. At the core of the initiative is a belief that strong, spiritually healthy pastoral leaders are integral to building and sustaining strong and healthy congregations. Thriving in Ministry grants support programs that are helping clergy develop mentoring relationships and peer groups, especially during times of transition or for those serving in particular contexts, said Judith Cebula, communications director of the Lilly Endowment. In 2018, the endowment made 78 Thriving in Ministry grants to religious organizations around the country, totaling nearly $70 million.

At Seminary of the Southwest, a grant of nearly $1 million will support bi-vocational priests and deacons – clergy who work primarily in secular jobs and who may or may not be paid for their ministry in local churches.

Typically, “bi-vocational priests do not receive the same level and amount of formation as those who attend a three-year residential seminary,” said Bader-Saye. With the support of the grant, the seminary’s Iona Collaborative will create cohort groups for bi-vocational clergy to pursue different tracks of continuing education, including preaching and spiritual formation and clinical pastoral education. Individuals will also have mentors during the program.

A theme of peer-to-peer learning and the importance of mentoring will undergird new work at the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Building upon the seminary’s expertise in training of trainers, the seminary will use its nearly $1 million Lilly grant to develop mutual mentoring groups for clergy serving in rural communities, Latino/Hispanic ministry, historically African-American congregations, and those in nontraditional educational programs.

“I hope what we will create is a new network of people in each of these areas to get to know each other and depend upon each other,” said the Rt. Rev. Neil Alexander, dean of the School of Theology. “We want to explore together the question of how to adapt and change our current models of mentoring and formation that speak to the needs of the church, now and in the future.”

Alexander believes the cohort groups will create a symbiosis that can bear tremendous fruit.

“When you bring the wisdom of the current leaders and the wisdom of future leaders into the same room, the learning works both ways. The people who are being trained often have ideas that push the trainers. … It’s amazing what enrichment can come from that,” he said. “I’m a great believer that whether it’s the church or the larger society, when there are problems to be addressed, you have to invest in leadership.”

Virginia Theological Seminary is exploring how to strengthen leaders through three Lilly grants awarded in 2017 and 2018, totaling $2.75 million. The grants support two new initiatives: Baptized for Life and a Thriving in Ministry mentoring program, as well as a continuation of the project Deep Calls to Deep, which seeks to improve preaching through peer learning groups.

The seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, received $1.5 million from the Lilly Endowment for Baptized for Life: An Episcopal Discipleship Initiative. The focus of this program is on encouraging lay involvement and ownership in congregations. The program will work with 20 congregations that reflect the diversity of the Episcopal Church and develop formation resources that help individuals of all ages live into their baptismal vocation.

A nearly $1 million Thriving in Ministry grant will help priests who are at various transition points in their ministry, such as moving into church planting or female clergy who become senior rectors.

“Ministry can often be isolating,” said the Very Rev. Ian Markham, dean and president of VTS. “If you’re going to succeed, you need strategies outside the congregation to help. A primary one is training of mentors and peers because we know that our most effective learning comes from one another.”

As part of its ministry to “seed the field with the type of leaders the church needs,” the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina will embody the principle of team learning and collaboration in its new initiative, Reimagining Curacies, said the Rt. Rev. Sam Rodman, bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina. Funded by a nearly $1 million grant, the program will create cohorts of three nearly ordained clergy who will serve as a team in three different contexts: rural, urban and multicultural. The cohorts will meet regularly with senior clergy, mentors and lay leaders.

At the end of three years, these new ordinands “will have been part of the leadership of three different faith communities, which will leave them better prepared for whatever the Holy Spirit is calling them to do next,” said Rodman. The hope is that “this sense of collegiality, partnering, and cross-pollination becomes integrated and embedded into their understanding of what church leadership looks like, so wherever they go, they are going to cultivate that model of leadership and are equipped to build this type of team,” he said.

While these large grants focus on institutional and structural change, the Lilly Endowment also awards grants to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry on local levels. These include the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program, which began in 1998, first in Indiana and then nationwide.

The Rev. Laurie Brock took in this view of the Grant Tetons while riding Maverick during a sabbatical trip.

The program provides “an opportunity for pastors to step away briefly from the persistent obligations of daily parish life and to engage in a period of renewal and reflection. Renewal periods are not vacations, but times for intentional exploration and reflection, for drinking again from God’s life-giving waters, for regaining enthusiasm and creativity for ministry.”

A number of Episcopal congregations and their clergy have received these grants, including the Episcopal Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Lexington, Kentucky, and its rector, the Rev. Laurie Brock. A 2017 grant included money for Brock to attend a course on women and the Bible at St. George’s College in Jerusalem and spend a week riding horses in the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.

“I was surprised at how vocationally exhausted I was, and being able to get away for sabbatical time allowed me not only to be physically away from the congregation, but spiritually and mentally away so I could refresh, rest and recharge,” said Brock. “My time in Israel was especially renewing, as I was able to be a student again with familiar biblical accounts of women who were matriarchs, apostles and prophets. Standing in the place they stood, listening to the sounds they may have heard, and breathing the air that held them renewed not only my priestly vocation but also my faith.”

The grant funded supply clergy for the congregation during Brock’s sabbatical, as well as a conference, Women in the Bible, that gave the congregation a parallel encounter to their priest’s.

“Being able to share our experiences as priest and congregation during sabbatical time and looking to how God is calling us to be disciples together as we begin this next portion of our journey has allowed us to weave the wisdom we both gained from sabbatical into our mutual story and be excited about what comes next,” Brock said.

The Rev. Tim Schenck and the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts, also received a renewal grant in 2017. The question the grant application asks – What makes your soul sing? – is one “that often gets shoved aside while on the hamster wheel of parish ministry,” said Schenck. “And yet, as clergy, it’s vitally important to be in touch with that which inspires and delights our souls.”

Schenck focused his sabbatical on a theme of faith and coffee, traveling to coffee farms in Central America and to an Eastern Orthodox monastery in Pennsylvania where monks roast and market their own coffee. Although the grant doesn’t encourage participants to finish their sabbaticals with a product, Schenck wrote a book out of his experiences, titled “Holy Grounds: The Surprising Connection Between Coffee and Faith – From Dancing Goats to Satan’s Drink” (Fortress Press) that will be out in early spring of 2019.

After the sabbatical, “I remembered that I really do love the people I serve at St. John’s in Hingham,” Schenck said. “I mean, I’ve always been aware of this, but that old adage ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’? Yup. Breaks are important as they offer perspective. … I expected personal renewal, but I didn’t expect this sense of renewal of love for my congregation. That both surprised and delighted me.”

Learn more about the Lilly Endowment Inc. and the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program.

– Richelle Thompson is deputy director and managing editor of Forward Movement.

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Slate of candidates announced for 10th bishop of Maine

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 12:33pm

[Diocese of Maine] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine has announced a slate of five candidates for the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Maine who will stand for election Saturday, Feb. 9. The new bishop will succeed Bishop Stephen T. Lane, who is retiring in June after eleven years of service.

The candidates in alphabetical order are:

  • Rev. Kenneth Brannon, Rector, St. Thomas, Sun Valley, Idaho
  • Rev. Thomas Brown, Rector, Parish of the Epiphany, Winchester, Massachusetts
  • Rev. Anne Mallonee, Executive Vice President & Chief Ecclesiastical Officer, Church Pension Group, New York City
  • Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton, Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Everett, Washington
  • Rev. Janet Waggoner, Canon to the Ordinary & Transition Ministry Officer, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas

The announcement culminates a prayerful and thoughtful process over the past several months conducted by the Discernment Committee, chaired by The Rev. John Balicki, rector of St. Mark’s Church – Waterville. Rev. Balicki commented, “the Discernment Committee was pleased with the wide interest expressed from around the country in being the next Bishop of Maine. We spent nearly five months reviewing materials, interviewing candidates via teleconferencing, and eventually meeting some in person which led us to the slate of candidates we are pleased to present. We have significant diversity in age, gender and geography and we hope that everyone in the state of Maine will enjoy getting to know these candidates as well as we have.”

The Standing Committee received and approved the proposed slate by unanimous vote. In making the announcement, the Rev. Maria Hoecker, Rector of St. Columba’s Church – Boothbay Harbor and Chair of the Standing Committee wants the diocese to know that “together, we are walking as followers of Jesus. During this time of transition, and always, we are working in the spirit of transparency and collaboration, with trust and affection, as we go about our planning and prayers.”

Background on the slate of nominees, including a video, bio, resume and answers to questions posed in the discernment process, can be found on the Bishop Quest web site: http://bishopquest.episcopalmaine.org/.

The Standing Committee also announced nominations by petition may be filed until Nov. 15. Information on this process – by which candidates may be added to the slate upon successful completion of background checks and other requirements – can be found on the Bishop quest website.

A special convention for the election is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9 (snow date: Feb. 23) at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The Standing Committee will then then obtain canonical consents of the majority the dioceses of the Episcopal Church, following which the new bishop will be ordained and consecrated at the Cathedral of St. Luke in Portland Saturday, June 22. The officiant will be Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry.

Members of the diocese will also have the opportunity to meet the candidates face to face in attending “walkabout” presentations by the nominees. Organized by the Transition Committee, the meetings will be held in three locations across the diocese Jan. 18 in Augusta, Jan. 19 in Bangor and Jan. 20 in Portland.  The walkabouts will be live-streamed for those unable to attend in person.

The Episcopal Diocese of Maine includes 59 congregations, 18 summer chapels and other ministries across the state. It was founded in 1820.

For more information, please visit http://bishopquest.episcopalmaine.org/

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London churches stage violence summit as youth crime soars

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 4:49pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] London’s two Anglican dioceses are bringing together a panel of experts “to explore what a church response could be to the serious youth violence which impacts communities and parishes across London.”

Sponsored by the bishops of London, whose diocese mainly covers north of the River Thames, and Southwark, whose diocese mainly covers south of the River, the summit will “focus on gaining a wider understanding of the issues across London, listening and learning from participants and the experience of on the ground organizations,” the Diocese of Southwark said.

Read the full article here.

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Massachusetts congregations band together in face of slow progress after gas explosions

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 4:36pm

Utility crews continue to work this week on restoring gas service to homes on the south side of Lawrence, Massachusetts, as well as in Andover and North Andover. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Lawrence, Massachusetts] Grace Episcopal Church sits on the northern edge of a disaster zone, one that on first glance does not bear obvious signs of disaster. Traffic moves freely. Buildings stand firm. The Sunday afternoon service still draws dozens in this mostly immigrant congregation.

Life goes on in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover – but with difficulty and with rising complaints, nearly two months after a series of natural gas explosions killed one resident and left about 10,000 homes without gas service just as the weather began turning colder. Many of those residents, including some Grace Episcopal parishioners, still have not been able to return to their homes, and the region’s utility, Columbia Gas, announced recently it could not meet a mid-November deadline to have service restored to all customers.

That delay didn’t come as a huge surprise, given the vast scope of the repairs needed, but “just reading and hearing it was a slap in the face,” said Sadia Jiminian, a member of the congregation who has been living in a hotel with her family while they wait for completion of repairs to their home in Lawrence.

The Sept. 13 gas explosions that rocked the Merrimack Valley, a working-class region of former textile mill towns north of Boston, “was a very traumatic experience for everyone involved,” said Susan Almono, whose husband, the Rev. Joel Almono, leads the congregation. The Almonos and other members of the congregation met with Episcopal News Service after the Nov. 4 service to describe the lingering effects of that trauma and their efforts to hold Columbia Gas accountable.

The Rev. Joel Almono embraces parishioners on their way out of Grace Episcopal Church after the afternoon Eucharist on Nov. 4. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

At the same time, this time of crisis has brought local congregations together in ways never before imaginable, the Rev. Almono said. Grace Episcopal is working with Christ Church in Andover and St. Paul’s Church in North Andover to support affected residents with the backing of the Diocese of Massachusetts, and they have formed a coalition with the region’s broader faith community.

“All of us, we can see we have the same situation and are working together,” the Rev. Almono said.

Investigators determined that the more than 80 explosions and fires, which destroyed five homes and damaged more than 100 other buildings, were caused by highly pressurized natural gas, which flooded the neighborhood system because old pipes accidentally were replaced with new pipes that lacked pressure sensors.

The crisis left Columbia Gas scrambling to replace more than 40 miles of pipeline, and many homes also required replacements for furnaces, boilers, stoves and other appliances that were damaged.

Elsa Berroa, a Lawrence resident, recalled seeing gas shoot out of her flue on Sept. 13, and a gas smell filled her home. Firefighters arrived and told her and her husband it was too dangerous to remain in the house. Outside they could see the gas surge had caused fires in neighbors’ homes.

Berroa and her husband spent weeks living in one of the trailers that were provided as temporary housing for Lawrence residents unable to return to their homes. They were pleased at least that the trailer was in their own neighborhood, and by the time she spoke with ENS on Nov. 4, Berroa and her husband were finally back to sleeping in their own home.

Others have not been so fortunate. Jiminian was at work when the gas explosions struck, but her husband and daughter were there to see their furnace catch fire. She returned home to find their Lawrence neighborhood being evacuated by residents hauling away personal items in suitcases and shopping bags.

“I just broke down in tears, because I just never thought I’d see something like that in this community,” she said.

The family was left without heat or hot water, so Columbia Gas put them up in a hotel in Woburn, about a half hour south. Now they are dealing with a steady stream of inspectors and utility workers as they push the company to replace their damaged appliances and restore gas service.

The three Episcopal congregations in the region and their faith partners, as well as a handful of supporting organizations, cited the plight of residents like Berroa and Jiminian in an Oct. 9 letter to Gov. Charles Baker and top utility executives. Nearly two dozen clergy and lay leaders from the region signed the letter, which advocated immediate action to restore heat to homes and better options for replacement appliances.

“Those of us in the affected area continue to live without heat, hot water or adequate cooking appliances – a situation that imperils the health and well-being of everyone, but especially the fragile and sick among us,” the letter said.

The head of Columbia Gas met last month with some of those faith leaders at Grace Episcopal Church in response to the letter, though the company has been slow to act on the letter’s two primary requests, said Susan Almono, who serves on the board of Massachusetts Interfaith Power and Light, a nonprofit focused on climate change. She described an uphill battle in convincing the utility replace damaged appliance with high-efficiency models. And rather than install electric-powered heating devices known as air-source heat pumps, Columbia Gas offered families more temporary housing to wait out repairs to their gas-based systems.

Rows of trailers fill O’Connell South Common in Lawrence, Massachusetts, for families displaced by the gas explosions. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Signs of slow progress could be seen across the region early this week, as a makeshift trailer village filled O’Connell South Common just south of the Merrimack River. From Andover to the neighborhood known as South Lawrence, Columbia Gas pickup trucks and portable generators were parked on various side streets as utility workers in reflective vests tended to repairs from house to house.

With pipeline restoration complete, crews are fully focused on in-home work, Columbia Gas announced Oct. 30. Service had been restored for more than 2,300 residential meters as of Nov. 6, though that still is less than a third of the 7,500 meters serving about 10,000 homes in the affected neighborhoods.

Our crews and partners continue to restore service in the #AndoverMA, #LawrenceMA and #NorthAndoverMA communities. Customers can now view the progress by visiting our website. Here’s our latest stats. #MVGasRecovery pic.twitter.com/GRRT9nyHOt

— Columbia Gas MA (@ColumbiaGasMA) November 6, 2018

One bright spot has been the outpouring of support from Episcopalians around the Diocese of Massachusetts. “The prayers and concern of our entire diocesan family are with those in the Merrimack Valley communities affected by this disaster,” Bishop Alan Gates said in a statement released Sept. 14 that called on congregations in the diocese to collect an offering for disaster relief.

The diocese announced Oct. 17 that it had raised $26,000. Grace Episcopal Church also received a $12,500 grant from Boston Episcopal Charitable Society to help residents’ meet immediate needs. The Rev. Joel Almono said the congregation so far had written 57 checks from the pool of relief money to cover a variety of needs, primarily food and medicine.

Almono, a native of Dominican Republic like many in his congregation, also noted that parishioners have remained upbeat in the face of this disaster. Even on the first Sunday after the explosions, a diocesan official who was visiting the church remarked how happy the congregation seemed, especially while singing hymns during the Eucharist.

Such a show of optimism is a cultural trait, Almono said.

“They are a Spanish community. This is their behavior,” he said, but behind that cheerful exterior his community was experiencing and continues to feel real suffering and pain.

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

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Campus ministers respond to hungry, homeless college students

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 4:58pm

Kevin Mercy prepares the main course – a potato bar – for the Canterbury USC Late Night Café. The ministry serves 125 to 150 meals weekly. Photo: Glenn Libby

[Episcopal News Service – Los Angeles, California] The line of hungry students begins to form about 8:30 p.m. each Wednesday at the basement door of the United University Church on the University of Southern California’s Los Angeles campus.

There, volunteer and work-study students who are members of Canterbury USC – the university’s Episcopal campus ministry – have been prepping for hours. They have been chopping onions, baking potatoes, arranging tables and chairs, and placing napkins and condiments on tables for tonight’s potato bar main course, which is expected to help feed an average 120 students who otherwise might go hungry.

If it is a good evening at the Canterbury USC “Late Night Café,” then there will be seconds and possibly even to-go containers, along with beverages and Louisiana crunch cake for dessert, according to Winona, an 18-year-old freshman Canterbury work-study student.

A California native, Winona had no prior religious affiliation but said she was drawn to the Episcopal campus ministry after meeting the Rev. Glenn Libby, the Canterbury USC chaplain, and because of the opportunity to serve other students.

Tuition and fees have spiked as much as 168 percent over the past two decades at private national universities like USC, according to U.S. News and World Report. At public institutions, the increases are even higher, rising more than 200 percent for out-of-state students and 243 percent for in-state students, according to the 2017 report.

With a $72,000 annual cost for USC tuition, room and board, financial aid dollars – for those who qualify – don’t always stretch, making the meals a necessity for many students, Winona said. All are welcome, and the sense of community and camaraderie has deepened.

“Here, students don’t have to justify why they don’t qualify for financial aid, or if they’re undocumented or in graduate school,” typical reasons why students face food insecurity, Winona said.

On Sept. 4, 2018, National Public Radio reported that the popular image of the residential collegiate experience has vanished.

Instead, of the 17 million undergraduate students in the U.S., about half are financially independent from their parents, one in five is at least 30 years old, one in four is caring for a child, 47 percent attend part time at some point, two out of five attended a two-year community college, and 44 percent have parents who never completed a bachelor’s degree, according to the report.

From New York to California and elsewhere, Libby and other Episcopal campus ministers say they have adapted to the changing needs of such students. Some students are veterans returning from active duty, others are LGBTQ students seeking a safe space. Still others, are “nones” like USC’s Winona, who have no prior religious affiliation and are questioning and soul-searching.

The Rev. Shannon Kelly, the Episcopal Church’s officer for young adult and campus ministry, said the challenge is growing. “It is a nationwide problem that more and more of our campus ministers are becoming aware of and are trying to address.”

The former model of “showing up, having tea, doing Bible study, having worship, whatever that looked like” is in decline, Kelly told Episcopal News Service recently. “Campus ministry varies from place to place, (but) what we’re seeing is a need for food pantries, basic needs pantries, feminine hygiene products.”

Currently, there are about 150 Episcopal campus ministries in colleges and universities nationwide. “Some of those are brand new, and some have been going forever, and they’re all very different,” depending on their locale, Kelly said. Some have even created gardens to offer fresh food for cooking a community meal together.

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, through Kelly’s office, this year awarded $139,000 in grants to young adult and campus ministries, according to a May ENS report.

Kelly said student food insecurity relates “to the student debt crisis. The rising costs of school are really impacting how they are able to live outside of school hours.”

If churches are able to help out, it would be a great aid to students, she added. “I was just talking to a chaplain, and they have a lot of veterans on campus. Once a week, the veterans meet and make casseroles for their families. They cook meals for five days to take home. Sometimes, these are the only hot meals their families have all week.”

Homelessness is another challenge in some areas. With a shortage of campus housing, juniors and seniors are often ineligible for dormitory living, “and trying to rent an apartment is more expensive. It becomes this snowball effect,” she said.

Student homeless shelter in San Jose

The Rev. Deacon Kathleen Crowe says she’d love to do Bible study as part of her Canterbury Bridge Episcopal Campus Ministry at San Jose State University in San Jose, California, “but it has not unfolded quite yet, although it may.”

Instead, when she learned some students were sleeping in cars, she started a homeless shelter for them a few blocks from campus, with showers and a food pantry.

At San Jose State, nearly 15 percent of the student population has been homeless at some point during their college education, according to a June 2018 San Jose Mercury News report.

Crowe, a deacon, said she learned that about 300 of the campus’s 35,000 students are homeless, living in cars or couch surfing. “My immediate reaction is, that is just not right and we can’t sit here and do nothing about it and say ain’t it awful.”

She rents space from a local church and converted rooms into dormitory-like spaces. So far, about 20 students have lived there at various times in the past two years. “Eleven are still in residence with me,” she said, but she wishes she could add more.

“The need is very great to support kids who, against all odds, are trying to achieve academic goals,” Crowe told ENS. “Every one of them is a first-generation student with very little financial, emotional, or intellectual encouragement at home.”

She has discovered that evening prayer is “a connection of affection.”

“I’ve found I’ve been most effective by not forcing my theology on these kids,” Crowe said. “And they’ve thanked me for not doing that. And, in that way I’ve been able to express presence, God’s love, which is unconditional.”

She also offers the students “Sacred Suds,” a program to help them launder their clothes, and she passes out buttons with the message #IBIY – I believe in you.

The response from students often is that “they just can’t believe it. It’s like I’m giving them the sacrament – they receive it with such gratitude. We are planting seeds of love,” Crowe said.

She receives financial support from local congregations and a $12,000 yearly diocesan grant, and she contributes part of her own stipend so students may stay in the shelter free of charge. She also helps them find work to become self-sustaining.

“They have to believe you’re authentically caring about them, and when you do, they respond, and then you start to deal with their spiritual needs,” she said.

“If you don’t deal with the basic needs of young people, there’s no hope of getting them to any understanding of who God is, unless we are the hands and feet of Christ … and you do that through unconditional love, not through forcing dogma down their throats.”

The relevance of God

Often, campus ministers are the first line of defense in a growing national mental health crisis, with three out of four college students reporting feeling stressed and having suicidal thoughts, according to a Sept. 6, 2018, ABC News report.

The Rev. Karen Coleman, Episcopal chaplain and campus minister at Boston University, said, “I had a student come in a few weeks ago and say, ‘I need help.’ I walked them over to the health service. Students are bombarded with pressures to perform, study, attend classes, finish assignments, and all the other things going on within yourself in that age group. And, all the questions – Who am I? What am I? It’s a lot to hold.”

The chapel at Boston University offers community meals three times a week for food-insecure students, as well as compline, an ecumenical Eucharist, and a book (not Bible) study, she said.

Most students have no religious affiliation but come “because they like compline. They come because it’s a place for them to rest and be and nobody asks them to explain themselves,” Coleman said. “There’s no paper, there’s no grading, they can just come and be and eat.”

Eventually, the subject of the sacred surfaces.

“It’s both – God and organized religion,” she said. “They are trying to figure out who their God is and not the God of the church they went to before. It’s a safe environment to ask questions, maybe those questions you can’t ask of your parish priest but can ask here because that’s what a university campus is all about, asking those questions.

“A lot of it is just being in the space to allow them to move out of the language that they had when they were in high school and to really take a deep, hard look at how God is working and moving in their lives.”

Student food insecurity is very much in focus at SUNY-Ulster’s 2,000-student campus in Stone Ridge, New York, about 90 miles north of Manhattan, according to the Rev. Robin James.

A Canterbury alum from the University of Kansas, James said the ministry today is very different than the one she remembers. “Students come and ask if they have to be a member of the group or a Christian to participate in the pantry,” James told ENS recently. “Of course, we say no. This is about feeding people with dignity and respect.”

The number of student pantry guests rose from 400 to more than 600 in the past two years, James said, and students are facing such issues as, “Do I pay my tuition or have dinner tonight? Do I buy a $100 textbook that I can’t read online, or pay my electric bill? If I don’t pay my electric bill, I can’t stay connected to the Internet.”

A Sept. 2018 Wisconsin Hope Center survey (https://hope4college.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/2018-CUFBA-Report-web-2.pdf) of 262 participating colleges and universities indicated that 217 currently operate food pantries, yet most are hampered by insufficient funding, food and volunteers.

James, who helps run the Ulster pantry, said there are 37 active food pantries in the State University of New York system. The average age of students in 2015 on the Ulster campus was 33.

She also has counseled students on the brink of homelessness. “It’s the same kind of reasoning. If I’m going to pay $2,500 a semester in tuition, something has to give somewhere,” James said. “We have students working two to three jobs with two or three children and a spouse and trying to complete successfully a course of study.”

She doesn’t do worship but, instead, sits in the food court area with a sign that says “Faith Matters,” and she is thinking of reprising an interfaith Thanksgiving dinner, at the request of a Muslim student.

Traditional ministry models aside, “people remember where they found comfort and solace,” she said. “Food and acceptance – non-judgment – that’s what they’re looking for. And if they weren’t raised in a church, which is increasingly the case, they’re like, ‘Hmm … tell me some more about this God thing.’”

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

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Michael Hunn consecrated 11th bishop of Rio Grande

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 1:28pm

Thirty bishops participated in the ordination of Rio Grande Bishop Michael Buerkel Hunn on Nov. 3 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo: Jim Frost

[Diocese of the Rio Grande] It was the consecration of a bishop reflecting the Southwest watched by thousands around the world.

Michael Buerkel Hunn became the 11th bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande on Nov. 3 succeeding the Rt. Rev. Michael Vono who served eight years and is resigning.

The service heard Spanish music, a gospel proclaimed in Spanish and English, prayers in the Navajo language and Native flute music. More than 1,000 people filled First Presbyterian Church, downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest church venue, to witness the making of the 1,110th bishop ordained by the Episcopal Church since Samuel Seabury.

Presiding Bishop Michael Bruce Curry was joined by thirty bishops including the Rt. Rev. James Gonia, Bishop of the Rocky Mountain Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to ordain Hunn. In his sermon, Curry acknowledged the 13 years he and Hunn had worked together. Hunn was Curry’s canon to the ordinary in North Carolina for 10 years and served three years as canon to the presiding bishop.

The service was livestreamed on Facebook and within 24 hours had nearly 20,000 views as far away as Hawaii and South Africa. The interest was likely fueled by Curry’s catapulting to prominence following the televised May 19 sermon at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and American-born actress Meghan Markle.

At the consecration Curry preached from a massive wooden pulpit in full view of three balconies, the nave and two transepts. He chose Second Corinthians 5:11-21 to preach on Paul’s view of the ministry of reconciliation. He said he likes the New International Version translation in verse 13 that reads, “Christ’s love compels us,” and then connected it to the Prayer of Consecration said over a new bishop.

“I’ve been a bishop for 18 years and prayed that prayer many times: ‘To you, O Father, all hearts are open; fill we pray, the heart of this your servant whom you have chosen to be a bishop in your Church, with such love of you and all the people,’ and it says, ‘all the people.’ There’s no asterisk. I checked,” Curry said to applause and laughter.

After being presented to the congregation as bishop, Hunn said, “Dear Diocese of the Rio Grande, we will love God, for there is much work for us to do. We will go from this place into the world and we will ask, what is the most loving thing we can do? We will ask, what is the most liberating thing we can do? We will ask, what is the most life giving thing we can do? and we will do those things together.”

The theme of love carried on the next day in Hunn’s sermon at the “Welcoming and Seating of a Bishop” at the Cathedral of St. John. “We tend to build cathedrals in cities because cities know about need and want,” he said to nearly 400 worshippers. He used the gospel reading of the raising of Lazarus likening cathedrals to tombs.

“Lazarus was the first to rise from the dead, but he is not the last,” he said. “And so we build cathedrals,” where resurrection can take place. “We come here to bear witness to the city of Albuquerque” and to bear witness that love “has burst open this tomb,” he said.

“I’ve seen glimpses of resurrection,” he said. “Our task is roll away the stone,” to be a place of art and music and love and reconciliation. “If we don’t do that there’s no way we’ll see glimpses of resurrection,” he said.

Hunn arrived at the cathedral as a pilgrim. He and about 25 young people walked through downtown streets streaming his pilgrimage on Facebook. He told the pilgrims of a tradition in England where a bishop would arrive at the city and walk to the cathedral making a holy journey. He then used his crozier to knock three times on the cathedral doors, saying the traditional words, “May the doors of this Cathedral be opened that I may enter and give thanks to the Lord.”

His pilgrimage ended at the bishop’s chair, the cathedra, where he was instituted and seated in “the symbol and center of [his] pastoral, liturgical and teaching ministry” in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Bells were rung throughout the cathedral and the cathedral organ liberally used a stop called “Bishop’s Trumpet” as the people celebrated.

Hunn opened his sermon on a light note: “That’s about the most commotion I’ve seen for someone who sits down on the job.”

Probably the most sitting he’ll be doing is driving his pickup truck between the 55 congregations spread throughout 154,000 square miles of New Mexico and Far West Texas that is the Diocese of the Rio Grande.

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Bishop’s concern for youth after government delays new gambling restriction

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 12:55pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A Church of England bishop has criticized the British government’s decision to delay new limits on a type of high-stake digital gambling machines. The bishop of St. Albans, Alan Smith, has been a vociferous campaigner against Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs). The C of E’s General Synod also expressed concern about the machines, which allow gamblers to risk £100 GBP every 20 seconds. In May the government bowed to pressure and said it would reduce the maximum stake to just £2.00; but last week, Britain’s finance minister Phil Hammond used the annual budget statement to announce that the reduction would not be implemented until October 2019.

Read the full article here.

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Birth of a new mission as ‘shining light’ Chile becomes Anglican Communion’s 40th province

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 12:51pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Iglesia Anglicana de Chile – the Anglican Church of Chile – has been inaugurated as the latest province of the Anglican Communion in a service of joy and celebration in the capital, Santiago. It had been part of the province of South America but was given permission to have provincial status after sustained growth.

Read the full article here.

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Colorado bishop-elect discloses cancer diagnosis

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 10:09am

[Episcopal Church in Colorado] Colorado Bishop-elect Kym Lucas sent a letter to the diocese disclosing her diagnosis last week of stage one breast cancer. Lucas was elected the diocese’s 11th bishop during its 131 convention on Oct. 27 in Denver.

Dear Friends In Christ,

I am both amazed and thrilled that the Holy Spirit has called us to minister together! The Episcopal Church in Colorado is an extraordinary and unique branch of the Jesus Movement. I enjoyed the short time I was able to spend in each region during the walkabout, and I look forward spending more time with you, getting to know one another, and discerning how God will use our gifts to proclaim Christ’s kingdom. The next few months will be full for me and my family as I plan our transition, but know that I am eager to be with you. Your confidence and love humble me, and I pray that I will be a faithful steward of both as your bishop.

As your bishop-elect, I want to make you aware of a deeply personal, but yet publicly important announcement regarding my health. Last week I had my final consultation appointment where I received my diagnosis of stage one breast cancer. The cancer was detected through a routine mammogram. The tumor was so small that without mammography, it would have remained undiscovered for some time. My doctor told me that while “nobody wants breast cancer, if you’re going to have it, you want it the way you have it: detected early at stage 1.” Detected at stage 1, my particular form of cancer has a 98% cure rate and my oncology team deems my quest to be cancer free by the end of January “entirely reasonable.”

The past several weeks have been a whirlwind of tests and appointments and more tests. The waiting has been an emotional rollercoaster for my family and me. Until two days before the election my doctors and I had no reason for serious concern. On Monday, I informed my congregation at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. about my diagnosis and later that day, I reached out to your President of the Standing Committee of Colorado, Bob Morse, to also let him know.

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month winds down, I find myself grateful: grateful that the Episcopal Church prioritizes preventative care for its employees, grateful that my primary care doctor is diligent in her care for me, grateful that technology makes stage 1 cancer detection possible, grateful for the medical team that cares for me, and grateful for all the encouragement from friends and colleagues who are survivors. I am blessed beyond measure for all of the people in my life who make carrying this load easier.

The next few months will include surgery (a lumpectomy) and recovery, followed by radiation therapy. The path will not be easy, but my doctors assure me that I will be able to continue my work and ministry if I am patient with myself and diligently manage the fatigue that comes with radiation. By God’s grace, I am confident that this will be a minor bump in the road and I will be healthy when we begin our ministry together in March. I ask that you will hold my family and me in your prayers.

Yours In Christ,


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