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Young Africans urged to take leadership roles in churches

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 11:23am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Young people from across Africa have been urged to take leadership roles in their churches and communities and be active voices in the continent’s development. The call came at last week’s Continental Youth Congress organized by CAPA – the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa.

Read the full article here.

Archbishop of Canterbury convenes high-level Commonwealth freedom-of-religion discussion

Thu, 04/19/2018 - 11:21am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Parliamentarians and senior religious leaders from 11 Commonwealth countries gathered at Lambeth Palace, the London official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, for two-days of discussions on freedom of religion or belief. The event was convened by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in partnership with the Commonwealth Initiative on Freedom of Religion or Belief project director, Baroness Berridge.

Read the full article here.

Episcopal delegation participates in UN conference on indigenous issues

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 6:09pm

[Episcopal News Service] A seven-member delegation of Episcopalians from Native tribes across the U.S. represented Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in New York this week during the opening days of the annual meeting of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The delegation, included the Rev. Bradley Hauff, Episcopal Church missioner for indigenous ministries, as well as clergy and lay leaders from Alaska, Idaho, South Dakota, Oklahoma and the Navajoland Area Mission.

Wilton Littlechild, Cree Chief from Canada, addresses the audience April 17 at the first informal interactive hearing of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Photo: United Nations

The purpose of the Permanent Forum is to allow indigenous people to provide expert advice to global leaders through the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council, or ECOSOC, and to inform U.N. agencies working on a variety of international issues, from human rights to the environment. As an ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organization, the Episcopal Church has a powerful perspective to present in those discussions, Hauff said.

“I hope it’s an indicator to people that we as a church, those of us who are indigenous and who are not, we want to own up to what has happened historically, and we do want to be instruments of justice and restitution, equity and reconciliation,” Hauff told Episcopal News Service on April 18, the third day of the conference. “We really see that as the church’s role, and we want to be a part of it.”

The church history that Hauff referred to is one of close ties to early American colonialism and the oppression of Native people in North America through much of the last 500 years. Episcopal missionaries ministered to American Indian tribes, but conversion to Christianity typically required leaving Native spirituality behind.

The Episcopal Church has made a deliberate effort in recent decades to atone for its role in past injustices and to welcome Native Episcopalians into fuller participate in the church. General Convention resolutions starting at least as far back as the 1970s sought to support Native American land claims and human rights. A 1997 resolution specifically called on the church to “take such steps as necessary to fully recognize and welcome Native Peoples into congregation life.”

And in 2009, General Convention repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, rooted in a 1493 document that purported to give Christian explorers the right to claim lands they “discovered” and convert the people they encountered. The General Convention resolution described the doctrine as “fundamentally opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and pledged to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was formed by U.N. resolution in 2000 to focus on indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. Its first meeting was held in 2002.

This year, the 17th meeting of the Permanent Forum is being held April 16 to 27 at U.N. headquarters in New York. The theme is “Indigenous people’s collective rights to lands, territories and resources.”

Indigenous people risk falling short of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals “as long as our rights over our lands, territories and resources are not recognized,” Chairwoman Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine of Mali said in her opening remarks April 16. “In the same way, the world risks losing the fight against climate change and the destruction of the environment.

The Doctrine of Discovery was among the topics of discussion in the first days of the session, Hauff said, as were treaty violations, misuse of natural resources and substance abuse. He said he was struck by the similarities between the concerns of indigenous cultures around the world and those in the U.S. and the Episcopal Church.

One member of the Episcopal delegation, Ronald Braman of Idaho, a member of the Eastern Shoshone tribe, sat on a panel discussion on the Doctrine of Discovery, and the Rev. Brandon Mauai, from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, spent part of April 18 attending a presentation about the federal response to Standing Rock’s 2017 standoff in opposition to an oil pipeline across the Missouri River.

Mauai, through “his work with the tribal council there, as well as the church, has a direct link to a number of the issues being discussed here at the forum,” Hauff said.

Although the Episcopal delegation is only participating in the Permanent Forum session through April 19, delegates have plenty of experiences, information and lessons to bring back to their home communities. In one memorable episode, an indigenous woman from Latin America spotted the Rev. Michael Sells, a deacon from Navajoland Area Mission, and her attention appeared to be drawn to his clergy collar.

“She pointed at him and said, ‘colonista,’” Hauff recalled, or “colonialist” – a present-day reminder of the church’s past association with colonial powers.

“We had a conversation about that in our group, what that experience meant,” Hauff said. Sells, who is part Navajo and part Athabaskan, acknowledged it was a powerful, uncomfortable moment, “but it was important for him to experience it, based on our history.”

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

Faith leaders call for urgent climate change action at Commonwealth leaders’ meeting

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 1:55pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has joined more than 170 other leaders from across the Commonwealth urging the 53 member-nation governments to turn “words into action” on climate change. The heads of government are meeting in London this week for their biennial CHOGM summit. The Anglican Communion is playing a significant role in official Commonwealth youth, women, business and citizens forums; and in a parallel program of events. In a letter published in London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, the faith leaders say that “not even the remotest corner of the Commonwealth remains unaffected” by climate change, and that the greatest impact is felt by the group’s poorest people.

Read the entire article here.

Funerals held as 157 victims of the genocide in Rwanda buried in Ruhanga memorial

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 12:43pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The recently discovered bodies of 157 victims of the Rwandan Genocide have been laid to rest in a former Anglican Church, alongside the bodies of 36,700 victims already buried there. On April 15, 1994, more than 25,000 people seeking refuge and sanctuary at the Ruhanga Episcopal Anglican Church were slaughtered. The church is now a memorial for the victims. The scenes at Ruhanga were repeated at other churches across Rwanda. While several of them have been turned into memorials, Ruhanga is the only Anglican church that has become a memorial site.

Read the entire article here.

Beloved Episcopal priest, 87, mourned as New York police seek his attackers in home invasion

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 11:17am

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians in the Diocese of Long Island are mourning a beloved priest, the Rev. Paul Wancura, who died this week at age 87 from injuries suffered during a home invasion last month at his home.

No suspects have yet been identified in the attack on Long Island’s East End, and a $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

“The sad news of the death of Canon Wancura has touched everyone in our diocese,” Bishop Lawrence Provenzano said late April 17 in a message to the diocese. “Those who knew him well are suffering the loss of a devoted priest and friend who was quick to provide support and prayerful insight to all who sought his counsel. Those who did not know him personally are struck nonetheless by the reported cruelty and violence during a home invasion that resulted in the death of this beloved priest.”

A fellow priest found Wancura on March 19 tied up between a bed and a wall in the elder priest’s Shelter Island home. He had failed to show up as expected at a Sunday service March 18 at Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Central Islip, and church leaders asked the Rev. Charles McCarron, rector of Shelter Island’s St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, to check on him.

The initial police investigation indicated the attacker or attackers may have specifically targeted Wancura, who had been tied up for at least two days when McCarron found him, according to the Shelter Island Reporter.

Wancura was flown to Stony Brook University Hospital in critical condition. His injuries from being tied up led to amputation of a hand. This month, a “slight improvement” in his condition was reported, but he died April 16.

Caroline Church of Brookhaven, where Wancura served as rector for 26 years, said in a Facebook post that his funeral was scheduled for April 24 at the church in Setauket, New York.

“I feel like I lost a beloved uncle,” McCarron, rector at St. Mary’s, told Newsday, saying the cause of death was sepsis.

Wancura, a native of Queens, New York, felt a calling to the priesthood while serving in the Army in Europe during the Korean War, according to Newsday. He was reported to have earned a Master of Divinity degree from General Theological Seminary in New York.

Provenzano’s message noted that Wancura had served the diocese as priest for more than 50 years.His ordained ministry began at Church of the Ascension in Brooklyn, New York, and he was archdeacon of Suffolk County from 1966 to 1974, assisting parishes and missions and providing administrative oversight on behalf of the bishop’s office.

This portrait of the Rev. Paul Wancura is included in a timeline of rectors maintained online by Caroline Church of Brookhaven, where Wancura served from 1974 until his retirement in 2000.

In 1974, Wancura became rector of Caroline Church of Brookhaven on the north shore of central Long Island.

He retired in 2000 but continued to assist churches in the area as needed, and at the time of his death he was the second oldest priest still serving on Long Island, including as a supply priest at Church of the Messiah, Provenzano said.

“Paul was an old-fashioned priest with the sensibility and spirit of a very forward-looking man,” Provenzano said. He was spry and witty – the kind of person who would engage everyone in conversation and be interested in knowing about everything happening around him. … Not only could he tell a story well, he was always interested in hearing the story of the people he met. His intellect and good humor were a delight to encounter.”

Wancura’s wife died shortly after he retired, and they had no children, friend Kevin Lockerbie told Newsday.

“He was so human,” Lockerbie said. “He understood people’s trials. … He was very connected to the common man because he had been one.”

McCarron remembered Wancura as a dedicated priest, a sharp dresser and a reserved man with a deadpan sense of humor.

“He would make a comment, pause and give you a look,” McCarron told the Shelther Island Reporter. “There was a twinkle in his eye.”

The attack on Wancura is now being investigated as a homicide by Shelter Island and Suffolk County police. A second burglary was reported near Wancura’s house on April 4, and police are trying to determine if the two crimes are connected.

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

Fueron anunciados los miembros del Equipo de Planificación del Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales 2019 (EJE19)

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 6:34am

Ya fueron anunciados los 14 miembros del Equipo de Planificación del Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales 2019 (EJE19).

Tentativamente, EJE está programado para ser celebrado durante el mes de julio de 2019. El lugar aún no ha sido confirmado.

EJE19 está siendo planificado conforme a la resolución #1982-D079 de la Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal que convoca a un evento internacional para los jóvenes de tal manera “que la energía de la juventud de la Iglesia Episcopal pueda continuar siendo utilizada de manera activa en el ministerio como miembros del Cuerpo de Cristo”.

“El Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales se da en respuesta al crecimiento de los ministerios de Jóvenes y Jóvenes Adultos de la Iglesia Episcopal a lo largo de la IX Provincia”, dijo Bronwyn Clark Skov, directora de Ministerios de Formación, Jóvenes y Jóvenes Adultos. “EJE19 es un evento contextualizado, planificado e implementado por y para los episcopales que viven en y alrededor de la IX Provincia”.

“Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales (EJE), es un gran logro y va a unificar el Ministerio de Jóvenes en nuestra Iglesia,” dijo Coromoto Jiménez de Salazar, Representante Laico IX Provincia, Consejo Ejecutivo. “Le va a dar oportunidades iguales de participación a aquellos  jóvenes que viven en zonas urbanas, zonas rurales y zonas indígenas de nuestros países, y quienes poseen dones y talentos maravillosos.”

El siguiente grupo de jóvenes servirá en el Equipo de Planificación de EJE19, el cual se reunirá a lo largo de los próximos 17 meses para planificar EJE19. Ellos son:

  • Erika Alejandra García Gordón, Diócesis de Ecuador Central
  • Diana Marcela Abuchar Sierra, Diócesis de Colombia
  • Ana Victoria Lantigua Zaya, Diócesis de la República Dominicana
  • Dannes Alexis Olvera Díaz, Diócesis de Ecuador Litoral
  • Byron Fabricio Fernández, Diócesis de Honduras
  • Kenianne Joan Rivera, Diócesis de Puerto Rico

Los siguientes jóvenes servirán en el Equipo de Eventos de EJE19, el cual proveerá liderazgo local y apoyo durante el evento:

  • Andrea C. Salazar, Diócesis de Venezuela
  • Wilfreddy Alexander Carmona, Diócesis de la República Dominicana
  • Santiago Felipe Hincapié Guzmán, Diócesis de Colombia
  • Sofía Norellisa Calidonio Cerna, Diócesis de Honduras

Los siguientes mentores adultos servirán en el Equipo de Planificación de EJE19:

  • Luis Brenes Vargas, Diócesis de Honduras
  • Jairo Chirán, Diócesis de Ecuador Litoral
  • Hilbeth Daniela Salazar, Diócesis de Venezuela
  • Patricia Martín, Diócesis de la República Dominicana
  • Wendy Barrett Buchanan, Diócesis de Ecuador Central
  • Bryan Alexis Vélez, Diócesis de Puerto Rico
  • Israel Portilla Gómez, Diócesis de Colombia
  • Ángel Dávila, Diócesis de Puerto Rico
  •   Francisco Morales, Coordinador IX Provincia

Los siguientes mentores adultos servirán en el Equipo de Eventos de EJE19:

  • Kara de Mejía, Diócesis de Honduras
  • Pastor Elías García Cárdenas, Diócesis de Colombia
  • Luis Alberto García Correa, Diócesis de la República Dominicana
  • Juan Carlos Quiñonez Mera, Diócesis de Ecuador Central
  • Gina Angula Zamora, Diócesis de Ecuador Litoral

Financiamiento parcial para el Equipo de EJE19 es proveído por el Fondo Constable. El evento está siendo planificado en conjunto con la Oficina de Ministerios Jóvenes, Oficina del Ministerio de Jóvenes Adultos y Universitarios, Oficina de Relaciones Globales, Oficina de Ministerios Latinos, La Diócesis Episcopal de Panamá y las siete diócesis de la IX Provincia.

Para más información favor comunicarse con Skov en bskov@episcopalchurch.org.

Planning team members announced for 2019 Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales (EJE19)

The 14 members of the Planning Team for the 2019 Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales (EJE19) have been announced.

Tentatively, EJE19 is slated for July 2019 and will include young people ages 16-26. The location has not yet been confirmed.

EJE19 is being planned in accordance with General Convention Resolution #1982-D079, the Episcopal Church convenes an international youth event so “that the energy of the youth of the Episcopal Church can continue to be utilized in active ministry as members of the Body of Christ.”

“Evento de Jóvenes Episcopales is a response to the growing youth and young adult ministries of the Episcopal Church throughout Province IX,” noted Bronwyn Clark Skov, Episcopal Church Director for Formation, Youth and Young Adult Ministries. “EJE19 is a contextualized event, planned and implemented by and for Episcopalians living and worshipping in and around Province IX.”

“EJE represents a great achievement that will unify youth ministry in our church,” said Coromoto Jiménez de Salazar, Lay Representative IX Province, Executive Council. “It will give equal opportunities for participation to those young people who live in urban areas, rural areas and indigenous areas of our countries, who possess wonderful gifts and talents.”

The following young people will be serving on the EJE19 Planning Team, which will be meeting throughout the next 17 months to plan EJE19:

  • Erika Alejandra García Gordón, Diocese of Central Ecuador
  • Diana Marcela Abuchar Sierra, Diocese of Colombia
  • Ana Victoria Lantigua Zaya, Diocese of Dominican Republic
  • Dannes Alexis Olvera Díaz, Diocese of Ecuador Litoral
  • Byron Fabricio Fernández, Diocese of Honduras
  • Kenianne Joan Rivera, Diocese of Puerto Rico

The following young people will be serving on the EJE19 Event Team, which will provide on-site leadership and support during the event:

  • Andrea C. Salazar, Diocese of Venezuela
  • Wilfreddy Alexander Carmona, Diocese of Dominican Republic
  • Santiago Felipe Hincapié Guzmán, Diocese of Colombia
  • Sofía Norellisa Calidonio Cerna, Diocese of Honduras

The following adult mentors will be serving on the EJE19 Planning Team:

  • Luis Brenes Vargas, Diocese of Honduras
  • Jairo Chirán, Diocese of Ecuador Litoral
  • Hilbeth Daniela Salazar, Diocese of Venezuela
  • Patricia Martin, Diocese of Dominical Republic
  • Wendy Barrett Buchanan, Diocese of Central Ecuador
  • Bryan Alexis Vélez, Diocese of Puerto Rico
  • Israel Portilla Gómez, Diocese of Colombia
  • Angel Dávila, Diocese of Puerto Rico
  • Francisco Morales, Province IX Coordinator

The following adult mentors will be serving on the EJE19 Event Team:

  • Kara de Mejía, Diocese of Honduras
  • Pastor Elías García Cárdenas, Diocese of Colombia
  • Luis Alberto García Correa, Diocese of Dominican Republic
  • Juan Carlos Quiñonez Mera, Diocese of Central Ecuador
  • Gina Angula Zamora, Diocese of Ecuador Litoral

Financial support for the EJE19 Planning Team is provided by the Constable Fund. The event is a partnership of the Office of Youth Ministries, Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministries, Office of Global Relations, Office of Latino Ministries, the Episcopal Diocese of Panama and the seven dioceses of Province IX.

For more information contact Skov at bskov@episcopalchurch.org.

World Council of Churches reiterates calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 1:23pm

[World Council of Churches] The World Council of Churches, or WCC, has urged the international community to find a way to break the cycle of violence in Syria. A WCC statement issued April 16 came two days after the U.S., France and the U.K. carried out missile strikes following a suspected Syrian government chemical weapons attack.

“A just and sustainable peace for all Syrians can only be brought about through a political solution,” the WCC statement says.

Read the full statement here.

Archbishop of Kenya urges electoral reform and new commissioners

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 1:20pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit, has called for the speedy appointment of new electoral commissioners and electoral reforms in the country. He made his remarks as three members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission stepped down.

Read the full article here.

Bishop Victoria Matthews bows out with attack on cathedral preservation campaign

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 1:48pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The outgoing bishop of Christchurch, Victoria Matthews, has said goodbye to her diocese with an attack on civic authorities over their handling of the future of Christchurch Cathedral. The cathedral was all-but destroyed in a 2011 earthquake. The diocese’s property trust wanted to replace the building with a modern purpose-built construction; but faced a series of unsuccessful legal challenges from campaigners who wanted the old building reinstated. Last year, after a lengthy consultation and a promise of funds from campaigners and local and national government, the diocesan synod voted to go ahead with re-instatement rather than replacement.

Read the entire article here.

Archbishop of Canterbury urges Commonwealth to put words into action

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 1:43pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said that the Commonwealth of Nations will last and be a blessing to the world – if it continues to put its word into action. His comments came in a sermon during a special evensong service at Westminster Abbey April 15, in advance of this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London and Windsor. He told the congregation, which included government leaders, diplomats, officials and an ecumenical group of church leaders, the Bible, “in the clearest terms,” sets out the way people are to behave: “It is to raise up the poor, to bring freedom to the captives, to lighten the load of the suffering,” he said.

Read the entire article here.

Episcopal Church joins call for end to Gaza violence and measures to protect Palestinians

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 5:19pm

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who visited Gaza City days before protests began along the fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel, has added the Episcopal Church’s name to a joint statement protesting Israel’s deadly response to the violence.

The 15 denominations and Christian agencies say that they “cannot be silent” as Gazans have been killed or injured during the first two weeks of protests that are expected to occur until May 15. That is the day when Palestinians mark the “Nakba,” which is Arabic for “catastrophe,” and commemorates the estimated 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced off their land during the war that followed Israel’s 1948 declaration of independence from the British mandate of Palestine. That day is expected to be particularly fraught this year because it falls near the day when President Donald Trump plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a controversial shift in U.S. policy.

Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition into crowds of Palestinian protesters, killing 15 and injuring some 1,000 others during the first day of protests March 30, which was the eve of Passover. Some of those injured later died. Close to 30,000 Palestinians had gathered near the fence for what organizers call the “March of Return.”

A Palestinian hurls stones at Israeli troops during clashes, during a tent city protest along the Israel border with Gaza, demanding the right to return to their homeland, the southern Gaza Strip March 30. Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

While the majority of protestors were said to have not engaged in violence, some reportedly used slingshots to shoot stones at Israeli soldiers, lobbed Molotov cocktails over the fence line and sent burning tires rolling to the fence. Israeli Defense Force spokesman Brig-Gen. Ronen Manelis said March 30 that Palestinians were attempting to cross or harm the fence and “IDF troops returned precise fire.” He added that live ammunition was used only against those attempting to harm the fence. The IDF has said Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, is exploiting the demonstrations as a cover to carry out terrorist attacks.

Violence broke out again a week later on April 6. Seven Palestinians were killed and about 1,400 injured, including nearly 400 with gunshot wounds, the Gaza Health Ministry said.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said it  found that, in all, 26 people died, including three children, and 445 children were among the injured. OCHA said no Israeli casualties have been reported.

The churches and agencies said in their April 12 statement that they “support the Palestinian people as they courageously stand up for their rights.”

“We have worked in our own context in the cause of justice, peace, and equality, and continue to do so even as we recognize we have too often fallen short in these efforts. We reject the use of violence by individuals, groups or states,” they said. “In the wake of demonstrations that have resulted in tragedy and death, and anticipating the continuation of Palestinian protests over the coming weeks, we cannot be silent.”

The statement outlines a series of steps the groups would like to see taken:

  • An end to the use of deadly force by the Israeli military, and support for the call by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, to Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to shoot.
  • An investigation into the deaths and injuries suffered resulting from the use of force.
  • A censure by the United States, and particularly Trump and members of Congress, of “the violent and indiscriminate actions of the State of Israel” and holding Israel “appropriately accountable, ensuring that U.S. aid isn’t used in ways that contravene established U.S. and international laws.”
  • U.S. support for the rights of refugees, including Palestinian refugees, based on international law and conventions.
  • A decision by the United States to resume its full funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which supports schools, hospitals and other essential services for Palestinian refugees. The U.S. recently announced that it would provide $60 million to UNRWA with no assurance of further funding for 2018, an 83 percent funding cut over the 2017 contribution of $365 million.
  • A call for the international community, including the U.S. government, to insist on an end to the blockade of Gaza, “which has resulted in uninhabitable conditions for the people there, including poverty and lack of sufficient access to clean water, food, medicine and medical supplies, electricity, fuel, and construction equipment.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, left, and Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani walk March 26 through the barren area between an Israel checkpoint and Gaza City. They were going to visit the Anglican Al Ahli Arab Hospital. Their journey took place five days before violence broke out along the fence that separates Israel and the Gaza Strip. Photo: Sharon Jones

The statement said the Palestinians’ efforts to call the world’s attention to their struggle to  “recover, their rights—rights as refugees, to demonstrate, and to live in dignity” were met with “an immediate and tragic rejection of those rights.” The denominations and agencies declare themselves as “people of hope” who in the Easter season believe that those rights will ultimately prevail.

“In this time, we pray fervently, speak clearly, and act diligently in support of peace, justice, and equality,” they conclude.

The signers include the Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Mennonite Central Committee U.S., National Council of Churches, Pax Christi International, Pax Christi USA, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Reformed Church in America, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society and the United Church of Christ.

After the first violence on March 30 and the day before the second round, Churches for Middle East Peace, or CMEP, a coalition of 27 U.S. denominations and organizations of which the Episcopal Church is a member, said, “we fully affirm the right of the Palestinian people to engage in nonviolent resistance.”

The organization said, “resorting to live fire against unarmed demonstrators is a negligent and inexcusable response that failed to distinguish between those who came to protest peacefully and those with more malicious intentions.”

In a related move earlier this week, Curry signed onto a CMEP letter to Trump calling on the administration to “protect the vulnerable Christian communities in the Holy Land” and oppose official Israeli efforts that it said would financially harm churches.

The letter refers to Jerusalem Municipality’s plan to collect taxes on all church property not used exclusively as houses of worship. Including back taxes, the churches were told to pay approximately $186 million, according to the letter. The Israeli Knesset is also considering legislation that would permit Israel to retroactively expropriate land sold by the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches since 2010.

The Times of Israel recently reported that the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has been hit with a bill of the equivalent of nearly $2 million. Curry learned during his Holy Week trip to the Holy Land that Muslim religious groups would owe $120 million. Even though the controversial plan was put on hold early in March, the diocese’s accounts are still frozen.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

Seminary of the Southwest cites church’s racial reconciliation efforts in announcing black scholars partnership

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 5:01pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Seminary of the Southwest is working with the Black Religious Scholars Group on a five-year partnership that will bring black scholars to the Episcopal seminary as visiting professors to improve racial diversity on the faculty and strengthen clergy formation on racial reconciliation issues.

The partnership creates the Crump Visiting Professor and Black Religious Scholars Group Scholar-in-Residence, with the Rev. Melanie Jones selected as the first visiting scholar. Jones, a Baptist minister, will teach at the Austin, Texas, seminary for a year starting this fall.

“This is a kind of direct initiative in order to not only bring black voices into this space but also to enable these voices to shape the curriculum and also to shape the theological development,” Jones said in an interview with Episcopal News Service.

The Rev. Melanie Jones. Photo: Seminary of the Southwest

Jones grew up in the Chicago area and now serves as associate minister of the South Suburban Missionary Baptist Church in Harvey, Illinois. She studied economics and political science at Howard University, earning a bachelor’s degree, because she initially wanted to become a lawyer, but she grew to believe she could do more for social justice by focusing on spiritual development and community involvement.

While earning a Master of Divinity degree at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, Jones worked with faith-based programs there aimed at helping prison inmates successfully re-enter society, and she began teaching at the nearby American Baptist College, which has a history of engagement on social justice issues.

The Episcopal Church’s emphasis on racial reconciliation is one of the reasons Jones is looking forward to teaching at Seminary of the Southwest.

“If we’re calling for an inclusive world, if we’re calling for black lives to matter, if we’re calling for there to be valuing of bodies, human beings, then we ought to have a multitude of voices at the table, in the room, at the lectern,” Jones said, “and not only for moments, but for significant ways of shaping the development and the formation of its students and leaders.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has made racial reconciliation one of his top priorities, most notably through the “Becoming Beloved Community” initiative. As he was elected in 2015, General Convention supported his call to that ministry. Convention has passed more than 30 resolutions on the subject since 1952, and some dioceses have taken up their own efforts to confront hard truths about their complicity with slavery, segregation and lynchings.

Seminary of the Southwest, in announcing the partnership with Black Religious Scholars Group, cited an increased sense of urgency in the wake of recent episodes of racial hostility around the country.

“This past year has shown how important the work of racial justice and reconciliation is in the United States,” the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, dean and president of Seminary of the Southwest, said in a news release. “Seminary of the Southwest believes that this work must include our own community of learning.

“It is our sincere hope that this partnership and what we learn from it will be a model for other seminaries to collaborate with aligned organizations to foster racial and ethnic diversity in their institutions, the church, and the world.”

Jones and subsequent visiting scholars will teach two courses each academic year at Seminary of the Southwest, one core course in the seminary’s curriculum and a second course that each visiting scholar will develop. The visiting scholars also will have opportunities to preach during worship services at the seminary and help shape and contribute to other aspects of campus life.

This also is a new venture for Black Religious Scholars Group, which in the past has connected its scholars with congregations in the black church tradition for symposiums that offer a mix of academic and spiritual enrichment. Stacey Floyd-Thomas, the organization’s executive director and co-founder, said he hopes the partnership with Seminary of the Southwest “serves as a hopeful beacon of great promise and wonderful possibility to other likeminded institutions.”

“The Black Religious Scholars Group acknowledges this partnership as an exemplary way in which theological education and the church can live into the promises of our ideals during an era that may otherwise suggest that all hope is lost in a church and society in deep crisis,” Floyd-Thomas said in the seminary’s news release. “The work that we are embarking upon is built on a steadfast belief that our shared Christian witness is far stronger than persistent economic insecurity, rising cultural intolerance, growing political divisions, and increased anti-immigrant attitudes.”

Seminary of the Southwest has one black professor on its faculty, Awa Jangha, though most of its 18 full-time faculty members are white.

The visiting professor program “will increase the diversity of our faculty and enrich the conversation around theology, race, and the church,” Kittredge said in an emailed statement to ENS. “The partnership will be a learning opportunity for the members of our ongoing community, faculty and students alike, and for the visiting professor.”

She added that the seminary looks forward to welcoming Jones in the fall.

“Living fully into the promise of diversity is an opportunity not only for Seminary of the Southwest but for the Episcopal Church as a whole,” Kittredge said. “We hope that what we learn will be of benefit to the wider community of the academy and the church.”

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

Archbishop of Kenya speaks out against politician’s polygamy suggestion

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 3:16pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit, has said the church would resist moves to promote polygamy in the country. The subject hit the headlines in Kenya after Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni Wamuchomba called for men to marry several women to ensure children in single-parent families had a father-figure. “We give birth to these children, and we do not want to own up to them,” she is reported as saying. “If you are a man from the Kikuyu community, and you can sustain five wives, have them; and if you are a man and you are in a position to bring up [many children], do it.”

Read the entire article here.

Young English adults still value church weddings, survey shows

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 3:11pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Research conducted for the Church of England suggests that almost three-quarters of unmarried adults younger than 35 still dream of getting married. The figure is taken from a survey conducted by 9Dot-Research for the Church of England’s Life Events team. It would appear to contradict statistics for the actual number of weddings, which show a continuing decline in both absolute numbers and in the rate: figures for opposite-sex marriage in 2015 show that there were 21.7 marriages per 1,000 unmarried men and 19.8 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women – the lowest rate on record.

Read the entire article here.

Bishop welcomes New Zealand government announcement on offshore oil drilling

Thu, 04/12/2018 - 3:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has announced a ban on new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration. In a move that has been welcomed by the bishop of Wellington, Justin Duckworth, Ardern said that existing exploration and mining rights would be protected but that the new restriction was part of a “just transition to a clean energy future.” She said that the coalition parties were “striking the right balance for New Zealand – we’re protecting existing industry, and protecting future generations from climate change.”

Read the entire article here.

Nigerian university investigating ‘sex for pass’ claims against Anglican professor

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 11:32am

[Anglican Communion News Service] A university in Nigeria on April 11 set up an investigation into claims that an Anglican priest who works as a university professor demanded sex from a female student in order to guarantee she passes the course. Nigerian media has named the man as a priest in the Anglican Diocese of Ife.

Read the full article here.

‘Service of cleansing and celebration’ to be held following nerve agent incident in Britain

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 11:30am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Sites across the center of Salisbury remain cordoned off more than a month after Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious on a bench in the city center. They were later found to have been poisoned by Novichok, a nerve-agent linked to the Russian government.

On April 15, Bishop of Salisbury Nicholas Holtam will lead a “service of cleansing and celebration” in the parish church of St. Thomas’, not far from where the Skripals were found.

Read the full article here.

Nigeria’s president meets Archbishop of Canterbury in London

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 11:27am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, held a meeting April 11 with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Josiah Idowu-Fearon. The two Anglican leaders were received by Buhari at Abuja House in London, Nigeria’s High Commission. A presidency spokesman had earlier said that Buhari would be discussing “inter-religious harmony in Nigeria and the world” with the archbishop, who was described as the president’s “good friend.”

Read the full article here.

Church reopens in ‘joyful scramble,’ heralds reconciliation efforts with Los Angeles Diocese

Tue, 04/10/2018 - 3:16pm

The Rev. Cindy Voorhees receives an ovation April 8 during announcements at the first Eucharist held inside St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, California, since 2015. Photo: Lissa Schairer

[Episcopal News Service] An Episcopal congregation in Southern California that had been barred from its church for three years amid a property dispute with the diocese has returned to St. James the Great Episcopal Church with a spirit of reconciliation and hope.

Families are inundating the church with requests for baptisms and weddings, the congregation is ramping up its outreach ministries and on April 8 worship services resumed at the Newport Beach church for the first time since 2015.

“It’s like a second startup, so we’re scrambling. But it’s a joyful scramble,” the Rev. Cindy Voorhees, vicar of St. James the Great, told Episcopal News Service. “We feel like we’re back home. It’s just time to thrive again, and we’re really just focusing on our mission and ministry of outreach.”

She got the keys to the church a couple weeks ago to inspect the structure for any maintenance requirements. Then last week, in preparation for the Eucharist on April 8, 25 to 40 volunteers showed up for five straight days to help clean the church, washing windows, vacuuming floors, scrubbing bathrooms. Voorhees and her staff are still working to get phone, internet and other services fully restored.

Many have described being back in the church as “surreal,” Voorhees said, and the mood among the 300 or so at the Eucharist was “extremely joyful.”

Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop John Taylor delivers a sermon April 8 at St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, California. “Welcome home, people of St. James Episcopal Church,” he said. Photo: Lissa Schairer

Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop John Taylor preached the sermon. His episcopacy paved the way for the congregation to return to the church. He addressed the property dispute in the sermon, saying negotiations made it hard for him and other church leaders to fulfill their roles as pastors.

“We are reclaiming our pastorship this morning,” Taylor said, drawing a parallel between Jesus’ resurrection and the congregation. He repeatedly invoked a theme of reconciliation.

“We are inviting everyone in our diocese to come home to a new sense of belonging of being at home with one another in the diocesan family,” he said. “Reconciliation, my friends, is for any herder who has squabbled with another one.”

The property had been at the heart of disciplinary proceedings last year against Taylor’s predecessor, then-Bishop J. Jon Bruno, for his attempts to sell the church building. Members of St. James the Great had been forced to worship in a Newport Beach Civic Center community room while the property remained in dispute.

The disciplinary hearing panel found Bruno guilty of the St. James complainants’ allegations and said he should be suspended from ordained ministry for three years because of misconduct. Bruno retired at the end of November, and Taylor took over as diocesan bishop on Dec. 1.

In November, the Diocese of Los Angeles released a statement outlining a plan for future use of the church property, including the eventual resumption of worship services there by the St. James the Great congregation. The diocese plans to use part of the facility for its Redeemer Center for Diocesan Ministries.

The diocese also committed to helping St. James the Great regain mission status. For now, it is a mission station with Voorhees as vicar. She hopes the diocesan convention in December will consider granting mission status.

Until then, St. James the Great has plenty to do. Although it had continued to pursue outreach ministries while worshipping at the Civic Center, it now will be able to resume after-school programs and step up other initiatives serving children in the area.

About 300 people attended Eucharist on April 8 at St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, California. The congregation had previously been barred from the church due to a property dispute with the diocese. Photo: Lissa Schairer

And Voorhees said the church has a backlog of baptisms to schedule – her own 2-year-old granddaughter among them. Not many families wanted to hold baptisms in the Civic Center, so they waited and hoped.

St. James the Great also is fielding a sudden barrage of calls about weddings. It is located next to a boutique hotel, which makes it something of a destination for engaged couples planning their ceremonies and receptions, Voorhees said.

This is a big change from just a couple weeks ago, when the congregation was forced to join with a local Baptist church to worship Good Friday, and it celebrated Easter with a Eucharist at the Civic Center. Things are starting to return to normal, though Voorhees said her congregation remains committed to reconciliation work with the diocese.

“There’s rebuilding that has to go on, and I think that everyone is willing and wanting to do that,” she said.

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

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