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Executive Council takes action on series of revenue questions

Sun, 02/24/2019 - 5:01pm

[Episcopal News Service – Midwest City, Oklahoma] During its Feb. 21-24 meeting here, The Episcopal Church Executive Council made a number of decisions about the church’s finances.

The main actions centered on revenue, including its on-going response to dioceses that say they cannot pay the full 15 percent of their income — or the assessment — that the church’s canons require they contribute to church-wide operations. Council also considered how to handle the money it earned from the sale of a city block in Austin, Texas.

Granting four assessment waivers while denying a fifth

At the 2015 meeting of General Convention, bishops and deputies turned the-then voluntary diocesan budgetary asking system into a mandatory assessment, beginning with the 2019-2021 budget cycle. Dioceses may ask for full or partial waivers. Without getting a waiver, a diocese that does not pay the full assessment will be unable to receive grants or loans from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the church’s legal and corporate entity).

The Rev. Mally Lloyd, chair of the council’s finance committee reported to the council on Feb. 23 that by lowering the percentage that dioceses were asked to pay, and adding the waiver process while requiring payment, the number of dioceses fully participating has gone from 44 in 2013 to 75 dioceses in 2019.

“We have made incredible progress,” she said.

Council members agreed to give the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast a waiver because it had submitted a plan to increase its payments over the course of the triennium. It will pay 12 percent in 2019; 14 percent in 2020 and 15 percent in 2021. The council also granted one-year assessment waivers to the Diocese of Colombia, which will pay $1,500 this year; the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, which will pay $15,000; and, the Episcopal Church in Taiwan, which will pay $3,000.

The council denied the Diocese of Dallas’ waiver request. Lloyd said the Dallas diocese has pledged to be at the 15 percent mark by 2022, but noted that “their 15 percent is split between about 12 percent that comes to us and 3 percent that goes to other ministries of the church of their choosing.

“The committee felt that the assessment is not a split-able entity,”she said.

The council’s Assessment Review Committee has waiver requests pending from Colorado, the Convocation of Churches in Europe, Honduras, Pennsylvania, Rio Grande and Venezuela, according to Lloyd.

Albany and Florida have committed to paying less than 15 percent and have not asked for waivers, she said. Fond du Lac has also committed to less than the required amount but will be requesting a waiver. Thirteen dioceses have not yet submitted their commitments.

At its October 2018 meeting, council members granted waivers to Arizona, Haiti, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and West Texas.

The waivers decision came on the same day that council agreed to forgive a loan and interest of $233,614.38 extended to the Episcopal Church in Navajoland. The Episcopalians there will pay $100 as payment in full through a deduction from its next monthly block grant payment. They also pledged to pay Navajoland’s full assessment beginning this year.

Investing the proceeds of the Archives land sale and dealing with a budgetary surplus

Lloyd also led the council through a step-by-step recommendation about what to do with two sources of revenue. One is how to allocate the $5.7 million in revenue from the 2016-2018 triennium that remained after expenses were covered. The other is how to allocate $19 million netted from the sale of a city block in Austin after paying off the debt on the land.

Council had previously agreed to move $1.1 million of the $5.7 million extra from the previous budget into the current one because that amount had been budgeted for racial reconciliation work. The money, however, was not expended because of the program’s long start-up process

The members agreed with the finance committee’s recommendation that they allocate 20 percent, or $920,000, to the church’s short-term reserves and to keep the balance of $3.680 million in the treasury’s cash operating account to fund various non-budgetary actions approved by council.

They also agreed to allocate $2.880 million of the proceeds from the sale of the Austin land to the short-term reserves, bringing that account up to the $9.5 million that the committee has said would be needed to fund three months of church-wide operations. The account has not been fully funded in a number of years, Lloyd said.

The council set up a trust fund for the $16.340 million remaining from the Austin land sale. The church had hoped to use the city block as the site of a new Archives of The Episcopal Church, but later decided that the value of the property had increased so much that it made sense to sell the land and take more time to decide on the parameters of a new Archives building, according to a press release.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said the money was “being put aside for the time being” and will not “be frittered away.” He said he hopes the council members will have a report on next options for the Archives by as early as their June 10-13 meeting.

Lloyd said that the finance committee knows that it, Executive Council and General Convention must be disciplined about the existence of that money. She said there is always the temptation to go after parts of the $420 million the DFMS has invested. The committee members discussed at length the concerns about the “slippery slope of the little nibbles here and the little nibbles there, and we as the finance committee are not going to be party to that,” she said.

The council approved the committee’s proposal via resolutions FIN021 and FIN029 on two voice votes with scattered opposition.

Among other action at the meeting

* Council revised the 2019 budget for The Episcopal Church to increase the non-government refugee ministry budget; add $125,000 for Spanish translation of the Title IV training website; and, add $449,000 for ongoing software development, licensing, hosting, maintenance fees and technical requirements of General Convention.

* Expressed “deepest concern regarding the humanitarian and political crisis affecting Venezuela and sends greetings to our brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Venezuela,” which is part of The Episcopal Church. The country, which has been wracked by political upheaval for years, saw a huge outbreak of violence during the days of the council’s meeting. The resolution sought to assure Venezuelans “that they are not alone, that we remember them and are praying daily for their safety and well-being, and that we reach out to them in love and affection, even as we seek ways to bring peace and security to them, their families, and their churches.”

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council comprises 38 members – 20 (four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 lay people) elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seat and voice but no vote.

Some council members are tweeting from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The Feb. 21-24 meeting is taking place at the Sheraton Midwest City Hotel at the Reed Conference Center.

Episcopal News Service’s previous coverage of the meeting is here. A summary of all resolutions passed at the meeting is here.

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

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A summary of Executive Council resolutions

Sun, 02/24/2019 - 4:58pm

[Episcopal News Service – Midwest City, Oklahoma] During its Feb. 21-24 meeting here The Episcopal Church Executive Council adopted multiple resolutions that are summarized below.

Committee on Finance

* Establish Trust Fund 1194 as an investment account for St. Brendan’s Episcopal Church of Juneau, Alaska (FIN015).

* Extend its thanks to those who have included The Episcopal Church in their wills (FIN016).

* Recognize the “diligent and effective work” of its Investment Committee, thank for their service Michael Kerr, David Lorenzo Alvarez-Roldan, Bishop Clifton Daniel, Bishop Rodney Michel, Dena Frith Moore, B. Waring Partridge IV, Maibeth J. Porter and Ronald W. Radcliff, Jr. (FIN017).

* Thank retiring members of the Economic Justice Loan Committee Diane Aid, Kim Jackson, Bishop Rodney Michel (FIN018).

* Thank retiring members of the Executive Council Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility the Rev. Canon Kathleen Cullinane, the Rev. N. Chase Danford, the Rev. John Floberg, William McKeown and William Smith (FIN019).

* Give thanks for the life of the late Rev. Alden Besse, who included The Episcopal Church in his will; and recognize his generosity in supporting the ministry of The Episcopal Church (FIN020).

* Establish Trust Fund 1195, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society Long-Term Reserve Fund for the general purposes of the Society, with an initial investment of $16,340,000 (FIN021).

* Agree to “conclude”  a loan and interest of $233,614.38 extended by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the DFMS is the church’s corporate and legal entity) to the Episcopal Church in Navajoland, the Episcopal Church in Navajoland shall pay $100 as payment in full through deduction from its next monthly block grant payment and shall pay its full assessment beginning in 2019 (FIN022).

* Approve revisions for the 2019 Budget for The Episcopal Church as follows: Non-government refugee ministry budget increased from $113,000 to $319,816; add $125,000 for Spanish translation of the Title IV training website; and $449,000 for ongoing software development, licensing, hosting, maintenance fees; and technical requirements of General Convention (FIN023).

* Distribute  $270,000 of the total $667,000 Long-term Development Grants (budget line 402 here) for the four principal dioceses engaged in Native American ministry as follows: Navajoland: Hozho Center, Fort Defiance Arizona, to complete its hospital, $100,000;  Navajoland: St. Christopher’s, Bluff, Utah, renovation work on church buildings, $100,000; South Dakota: renovation of a house on Standing Rock Indian Reservation, McLaughlin, South Dakota, for youth ministry programming and rental, $40,000; Navajoland, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska: Indigenous Theological Education programming, $30,000 (FIN024).

* Authorize distribution of income from Trust Fund 809 up to $61,700, for additional expenses of educational and theological programs, as recommended by the Commission on Theological Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (CETALC) at its meeting in the Dominican Republic, July 31-August 4, 2018; disbursement conditioned on the receipt of appropriate documentation to secure financial and operational accountability (FIN025).

* Recognizes the “diligent and effective work” of its Audit Committee and extends thanks to Nancy Koonce, Michele Racusin and Jeff Fisher (FIN026).

* Grant assessment waiver for the 2019-2021 triennium to the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, according to the following schedule: 12 percent in 2019; 14 percent in 2020; 15 percent in 2021; grant a one-year assessment waiver for 2019 to Diocese of Colombia (will pay $1,500 for 2019), Diocese of the Dominican Republic (will pay $15,000 for 2019); grant a one-year assessment waiver to the Episcopal Church in Taiwan (will pay $3,000 for 20190; deny waiver request from the Diocese of Dallas (FIN027).

* Establish Trust Fund 196, St. Mary’s Cadillac Investments for St. Mary’s Episcopal Church of Cadillac in Michigan  (FIN028).

* Allocate 20 percent, or $920,000, of the estimated budgetary surplus for the 2016-2018 triennium to the short-term reserves; balance of the estimated surplus, $3.680 million, to remain in the cash operating account, which has been used to fund various non-budgetary actions approved by council; allocate $2.880 million of the proceeds from the sale of Block 87 in Austin, Texas, to the church’s short-term reserves (FIN029).

Committee on Governance and Operations

* Approve the amended Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) Employee Handbook Policy on Equal Employment Opportunity (GO001).

* Approve the revised DFMS Employee Handbook Policy 101 – Professional Development (GO002).

* Approve the Episcopal Church Women’s (ECW) By-laws as updated and adopted at the July 2018 Triennial Meeting; approve the slate of officers and members of the national board elected at the June 2018 Triennial Meeting and those since appointed by the board (GO003).

* Thank David Booth Beers for his service as chancellor to the presiding bishop and wish him and his wife, Debbie, a happy retirement (G004).

* Support the conclusions and the recommendations of the working group that the president of the House of Deputies appoint lay and clergy members to a new Court of Review with the consent of the lay and clergy members of Executive Council; resolution needed because General Convention Resolution 2018-A110 established but did not expressly include a method by which such court for clergy discipline cases was to be initially populated (GO005).

* Exclusion of spouses at Lambeth Conference: When do all mean all? (See Episcopal News Service story here.) (GO006).

Committee on Mission Beyond The Episcopal Church

* Approve the presiding bishop’s and the president of the House of Deputies’ appointments of the Rev. Ted Thompson, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, and the Rev. Alfred E. Moss, Baltimore, Maryland, to the Interreligious Convening Table of the National Council of Churches (MB002).

* Express gratitude for the continuing dialogue with The United Methodist Church; recognize the faithfulness of members of The United Methodist Church as they meet in a Special Session of the General Conference, Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, Missouri (MB003).

* Express “deepest concern regarding the humanitarian and political crisis affecting Venezuela and sends greetings to our brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Venezuela (MB004)

Committee on Mission Within The Episcopal Church

* Authorize Young Adult and Campus Ministry grants recommended by the YACM grant review committee for payment from line item 359 of the budget (MW001).

* Authorize Young Adult and Seminarian grants recommended by the United Thank Offering (UTO) Board for payment from UTO grant funds (MW002).

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Executive Council asks bishops, spouses to ‘prayerfully and carefully consider’ response to Lambeth decision

Sun, 02/24/2019 - 4:53pm

Many of the major liturgies during the Lambeth Conference of bishops take place at Canterbury Cathedral, the seat of the archbishop of Canterbury and what is considered the “mother church” of the Anglican Communion. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Midwest City, Oklahoma] Executive Council has asked The Episcopal Church’s bishops and their spouses, and the House of Bishops collectively, “to prayerfully and carefully consider her/his/their response, choices and actions” in the light of what it calls the “troubling circumstances” of the decision to exclude same-sex spouses from to the 2020 Lambeth Conference of bishops.

Council unanimously approved a resolution on Feb. 25 that says it finds the decision “inconsistent” with the positions of The Episcopal Church and with multiple statements of Anglican Communion entities that have urged the church to listen to the experiences LGBTQ persons.

“Exclusion of spouses at Lambeth Conference: When does all mean all?” calls the decision “particularly misguided and inconsistent with the stated purposes of the conference,” in part because the conference planning group decided to run a joint program for bishops and their spouses, rather than the traditional parallel programs. The FAQs section of the Lambeth2020 website says that the joint conference “is in recognition of the vital role spouses play across the Anglican Communion and a desire to support them in their ministry.”

The resolution came in response to a Feb. 15 Anglican Communion News Service blog in which Anglican Communion Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon wrote that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby had invited “every active bishop.” However, Idowu-Fearon said, “it would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited to the conference.” He said the Anglican Communion defines marriage as “the lifelong union of a man and a woman,” as codified in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

The cameras were out Feb. 24 as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached during Eucharist at St. Paul’s Cathedral in downtown Oklahoma City. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in a statement after council’s vote that the resolution “reflects our commitment to be ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as the Bible says, where all are truly welcome,” he said.

“It reflects our commitment to be an inclusive church, not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture but based on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all. It reflects our belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians should be true for the church today: ‘All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.’”

The resolution also:

* expresses its love, support, concern and prayers for the spouses who have not been invited or may not be invited to the Lambeth Conference, and

* affirms and laments the hurt and pain this action causes to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons across the Anglican Communion.

The resolution includes a lengthy summary of what it calls General Convention’s more than 40 years of “support of homosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons, their partners, spouses and families, both in secular society and in the church,” beginning in 1976.

It offers a summary of statements and resolutions that have been issued by Anglican Communion entities about the full inclusion LGBTQ people in the life of the church. Among those are the Anglican Consultative Council’s decision in 2012 to commend to the communion for study the statement of the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation’s “Rites Relating to Marriage”.

Section 15.5 of that statement says “Some in the Anglican Communion are discerning that much of what is held to be true of Christian marriage between a man and a woman is also found and given expression in faithful, committed, monogamous, lifelong relationships between two men or two women, whether it is called a marriage or something else. This provides an opportunity for continuing conversation within the Communion, and listening to the experiences of gay and lesbian disciples of Christ.”

The council passed the lengthy resolution on the final day of its four-day meeting here after its governance and operations committee spent hours the day before writing and revising it.

The Rev. Aaron Perkins told the committee on Feb. 23 that he and council colleague Dianne Pollard discussed House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings’ opening remarks and agreed that “the council should not leave here without some sort of statement, without some sort of resolution that speaks to the issue.”

When the council’s debate raised the question of why the resolution does not tell Welby to invite same-sex spouses,  Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny said he and his committee colleagues tried to “be in a place where we said something that definitely describes our concerns about what has happened without crossing over into a place where we’re being attacking in some way.”

The committee hoped that the resolution would support people who can be part of an ongoing conversation with Anglican Communion officials in hopes of giving Welby “the opportunity to react or respond on his own, if there is flexibility in that space,” he said.

“[If] we don’t give him the space, if there is any, to change his mind,” the rest of the communion will feel that Welby is “bound to the pressures” of The Episcopal Church.

Pollard urged the council to approve the resolution because it shows that the council disapproves of a decision that is “unfair to those that we hold dear.” In addition, she said, “giving the archbishop [of Canterbury] quote, wiggle room, unquote, is a very good strategic idea while trying to avoid telling him to do something.”

The resolution “certainly is not the strongest resolution that I would have liked but I think that it is a good middle point,” she said.

The Rev. Mally Lloyd reminded the council that it meets three more times before the Lambeth Conference convenes on July 23, 2020. “What I like about this resolution is that it is very open and if we need to narrow it down and be more directive, we can,” she said.

Meanwhile, Welby’s exclusion of same-sex spouses will no doubt be discussed at the House of Bishops’ previously scheduled meeting March 12-15, 2019, at Kanuga outside Hendersonville, North Carolina.

During the governance and operations committee meeting on Feb. 23, Konieczny noted that the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, or ACC, is scheduled for April 28-May 5 in Hong Kong. He will be attending for the first time as the bishop member of The Episcopal Church’s three-person delegation.

“I hate to say this, but I’m looking at it from the political sense of how do I engage this conversation when I get to Hong  Kong with the ACC,” he told the committee.

Executive Council’s Committee on Governance and Operations on Feb. 23 considers the wording of the resolution responding to Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s decision to not invite same-sex spouses to the 2020 Lambeth Conference of bishops. The entire council approved the resolution the next day. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

In Jennings’ remarks on Feb. 21, she told the council that Welby’s decision to not invite same-sex spouses to the conference was wrong on many levels.

Jennings said that Idowu-Fearon’s post  promulgated “a misconception about the Anglican Communion’s governance” by claiming that the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage is defined by that resolution because the Lambeth Conference has no constitutional power to set policy for the communion. That authority rests in the Anglican Consultative Council, which is seen as the corporate entity of the Anglican Communion by the four Instruments of Communion’s governing documents, and British law.

The Lambeth Conference is a periodic gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion, which the archbishop of Canterbury calls and issues invitations for. The last gathering was in 2008. The July 23-Aug 2, 2020, gathering will be held, as is tradition, in Canterbury, England, with most of the sessions at the University of Kent. The theme for the 2020 gathering is “God’s Church for God’s World: walking, listening and witnessing together.”

Konieczny said on Feb. 23 that he thought there was a possibility that Welby could change his mind, despite saying that “I know that the word from [Anglican Communion Secretary General] Josiah [Idowu-Fearon] is that this is a done deal; there’s no more conversation.

“Personally, I don’t think the cement has completely solidified around that yet,” Konieczny added.

“I don’t that [Welby] was prepared for this to become public yet,” he said. “He was pre-empted.”

While some have suggested that Episcopal Church bishops and/or their spouses should boycott Lambeth 2020. Konieczny argued that staying away would not “serve our cause.” The bishops and spouses ought “to be there to witness to what’s happening and say this is inappropriate,” he said.

Welby’s refusal currently effects at least two bishops and one bishop-elect in the Anglican Communion who are publicly known to have same-sex spouses. Diocese of New York Bishop Assistant Mary Glasspool is currently The Episcopal Church’s one actively serving bishop who has a same-sex spouse.

The Rev. Thomas Brown is due to be ordained and consecrated on June 22 as the next bishop of the Diocese of Maine. He is married to the Rev. Thomas Mousin. The diocese elected Brown on Feb. 9. His election is about to enter the consent process canonically required in all bishop elections. A majority of diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction must sign off on each election.

The only other active bishop in the Anglican Communion to whom Welby’s decision is known to apply is Diocese of Toronto Bishop Suffragan Kevin Robertson, who married Mohan Sharma, his partner of nearly 10 years, on Dec. 28, 2018. The diocese congratulated him on his marriage, which was attended by Toronto Archbishop Colin Johnson and Toronto Bishop Diocesan Andrew Asbil. Robertson recently told Episcopal News Service that Welby told him in person earlier this month that Sharma would not be invited. Robertson and Sharma are the parents of two young children.

The Feb. 21-24 meeting took place at the Sheraton Midwest City Hotel at the Reed Conference Center.

Some council members tweeted from the meeting using #ExCoun.

Episcopal News Service’s coverage of the meeting is here.

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

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Movement against proposed gas pipeline inspires Virginia Episcopalians’ environmental advocacy

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 2:58pm

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians in Virginia are joining a movement to block a proposed mid-Atlantic gas pipeline that they say will disrupt and pollute minority communities and increase American dependence on fossil fuels at a time when the church and others are pushing for greater reliance on renewable energy sources.

The proposed multibillion-dollar Atlantic Coast Pipeline would carry natural gas underground 600 miles from West Virginia through Virginia and deep into North Carolina. The pipeline’s opponents drew new attention to their concerns this week at a rally that featured former Vice President Al Gore and the Rev. William Barber II, one of the leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign. The Episcopal Church is one of the many partners in the Poor People’s Campaign.

We are all #UnionHill! Testifiers, including @RevDrBarber and @algore, at @PpcVirginia’s Moral Call for Ecological Justice tonight. #PoorPeoplesCampaign pic.twitter.com/cs15u5DVCx

— Poor People's Campaign (@UniteThePoor) February 20, 2019

“It’s been miraculous to see people come together,” the Rev. Weston Mathews, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Virginia, said in an interview with Episcopal News Service. He was among the hundreds who attended the rally Feb. 19 in a school gymnasium in Buckingham, Virginia.

The Episcopal Church’s interest in such issues focuses on both creation care and environmental racism, Mathews says. The rally was held in the mostly black community of Union Hill, which would bear a large part of the pipeline’s negative impact. Dominion Energy and its partners want to build a compression station there, which opponents warn would spew toxic pollutants into the air.

“The pipeline should be canceled,” Gore said, according to a Prince Williams Times report. “It’s an environmental injustice, and it’s not too much to say environmental racism is located in this historically black community.” Union Hill was founded by former slaves who were freed after the Civil War.

The companies’ website lists jobs, lower energy costs and tax revenue among the benefits of a new underground pipeline, which it calls “the safest form of energy transportation in the country.”

Mathews participated in the Feb. 19 rally as a member of The Episcopal Church’s Task Force on Care of Creation and Environmental Racism, which was established in response to General Convention resolutions related to the environment.

One focus of the task force is on changing government policies that result in “disproportionate health or environmental impact on those living closest to the land in subsistence cultures, ethnic minorities or poor communities.” Another goal is to study practices aimed at “supporting humanity’s transition from industrial life to sustainable life.” The threat of climate change looms large over that mission.

Fossil fuel infrastructure projects like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are “the building blocks of our climate crisis,” Mathews said, so activists feel an urgency in stopping new construction. Episcopalians in his own congregation and others around the Diocese of Virginia are supportive of such advocacy and generally committed to conservation of Virginia’s natural beauty, he said.

He also is working on these issues through the Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice, a nonprofit he founded a year ago with a fellow Virginia Episcopalian, Robert Dilday, who is now a seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria.

Dilday told ENS that environmental advocacy comes down to Episcopalians living out their baptismal covenant to “strive for justice and peace among all people and to respect the dignity of every human being.”

“That’s the overarching criteria by which we come to this environmental justice movement. The ways in which creation is being degraded is not only a way in which God’s gift is lost,” Dilday said, “but also, people who are most impacted by it tend to be marginalized communities.”

The Episcopal Church has taken a stand against environmental racism at least since 2000, when General Convention passed a resolution supporting efforts to “eliminate the practice of locating polluting industries disproportionately near neighborhoods inhabited by people of color or the poor.”

Episcopalians have been particularly active in recent years in supporting demonstrations against pipeline projects that could pose a threat to the environment and to minority communities, from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in the Dakotas to the Great Lakes.

The Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice, one of numerous organizations opposing the pipeline project, is focused on raising money to support nonviolent civil disobedience and direct action on environmental and conservation issues. Its current work is in Virginia, mainly because Mathews and Dilday are based there, but they are leaving the door open to expanding their work beyond the state in the future.

Much of the success in opposing pipeline projects is measured by victories in court or with regulatory agencies, but for residents who live in the path of such proposals, Episcopalians often can serve them by “just being with people and meeting with them and helping them keep their morale up,” Mathews said. “That’s the good, slow work of environmental justice organizing.”

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

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No invitan a cónyuges del mismo sexo a la Conferencia de Lambeth del año próximo

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 12:07pm

Muchas de las principales liturgias durante la Conferencia de Lambeth tendrán lugar en la catedral de Cantórbery, la sede del Arzobispo de Cantórbery y la que se considera “iglesia madre” de la Comunión Anglicana. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service] El arzobispo de Cantórbery Justin Welby no invita a la Conferencia de Lambeth 2020 a los cónyuges de obispos que sean del mismo sexo.

La decisión de Welby se hizo pública en una nota del secretario general de la Comunión Anglicana Josiah Idowu-Fearon publicada en el blog del servicio Informativo de la Comunión Anglicana , en la cual él decía que “se han enviado invitaciones a todos los obispos activos” porque “así debe ser: reconocemos que todos los consagrados al oficio de obispo deberían poder asistir”. Esas invitaciones provienen tradicionalmente del arzobispo de Cantórbery.

“Pero el proceso de la invitación también ha debido tener en cuenta la posición de la Comunión Anglicana sobre el matrimonio, que es la de una unión de por vida entre un hombre y una mujer”, escribió Idowu-Fearon. “Esta es la posición establecida en la Resolución I.10 de la Conferencia de Lambeth 1998. En virtud de esto, sería inapropiado que cónyuges del mismo sexo sean invitados a la conferencia”.

Idowu-Fearon dijo que el arzobispo de Cantórbery “ha tenido una serie de conversaciones privadas por teléfono e intercambios de cartas con unos cuantos individuos a quienes esto se aplica”.

La Resolución 1.10 fue aprobada por la Conferencia en 1998 luego de acalorado debate.

En la actualidad, la Iglesia Episcopal tiene un solo obispo en activo servicio que tenga un cónyuge del mismo sexo. La Rvdma. Mary Glasspool, electa obispa sufragánea de la Diócesis de Los Ángeles en diciembre de 2009 y consagrada en mayo de 2010 —y quien ha sido obispa auxiliar de la Diócesis de Nueva York  desde abril de 2016— está casada con Becki Sander, su pareja de más de 30 años.

Mary Glasspool, obispa auxiliar de la Diócesis de Nueva York.

Glasspool le dijo a Episcopal News Service el 18 de febrero en una entrevista telefónica que ella había recibido una carta de Welby el 4 de diciembre de 2018 en la que él le decía que le estaba escribiendo “directamente ya que siento que te debo una explicación por mi decisión de no invitar a tu cónyuge a la Conferencia de Lambeth, una decisión que estoy consciente de que será para ti motivo de dolor y que lamento profundamente”.

Welby se reunió con Glasspool y Sander en septiembre cuando él visitó la iglesia de La Trinidad [Trinity] de Wall Street. Ella la definió como una sesión de familiarización, que no abordó [el tema de] la Conferencia de Lambeth.

Glasspool dijo que ella y Sander, así como el obispo de Nueva York Andy Dietsche y el obispo sufragáneo de Nueva York Allen Shin, “han estado orando y conversando acerca de esto” desde que recibieron la carta. El obispo primado Michael Curry también se reunió con Glasspool y Sander para discutir la carta de Welby. “ Uno de mis aportes fue cómo podemos dar un testimonio positivo, creativo y sensible del amor de Dios en Jesucristo nuestro Señor”, dijo, respecto a cómo ellas y la Iglesia deben responder a la decisión del Arzobispo.

Curry estaba en Sudáfrica el 18 de febrero y emitió un breve comunicado en el que decía: “Aún no he tenido la oportunidad de consultar con el liderazgo competente de la Iglesia, pero así lo haré”.

Cónyuges que asistieron a la Conferencia de Lambeth 2008 posan el 25 de julio en el campus de la Universidad de Kent, en Cantórbery. Foto de Archivos Anglicanos.

Tanto Glasspool como Sander le respondieron a Welby en cartas separadas a fines de diciembre. Glasspool le contaba  a Welby, en una carta de dos páginas, partes de la cual ella le leyó a ENS, acerca de su experiencia de 30 años en la Iglesia Episcopal “y hasta donde la Iglesia ha llegado”, y mencionaba la carta de Martin Luther King Jr. desde la cárcel de Birmingham, especialmente su énfasis en las leyes justas e injustas.

“¿Cuándo la Iglesia aceptará el don de la comunidad LGBTQ?”, le preguntaba ella a Welby. “Los jóvenes nos observan. Si no han descartado a todo el cristianismo por homófobo, [es porque] encuentran a la Iglesia Episcopal acogedora e incluyente”.

Ella también le dijo al Arzobispo, “Lo importante que quiero decir es acerca del amor. Me refiero a personas que se aman y que miran a la Iglesia para que les apoye en su matrimonio de por vida, en el cual sostenemos los valores de fidelidad, respeto, dignidad, veracidad, monogamia y el amor que es don de nuestro Dios amoroso para todos nosotros.

“Luego de una vida entera de debates, estoy relativamente confiada de que la Iglesia Episcopal nunca le volverá a dar la espalda a la comunidad LGBTQ. ¿Se dirá lo mismo de Lambeth 2020?

Glasspool dijo a ENS que Sander hizo notar en su conversación acerca de la decisión de Welby que parece basarse en un aparente supuesto de que los “cónyuges son simplemente una extensión de los obispos con quienes están casados, y que de alguna manera hay una visión del matrimonio que no se aviene bien a un modelo de relación igualitaria, recíproca o mutua”.

La obispa dijo que ella espera asistir a Lambeth 2020, y le ha pedido a Sander que la acompañe como muestra de apoyo. “El problema es [si] ella será incluida en la conversación”, señaló Glasspool.

Glasspool dijo que ella se propone “consultar a tantas personas como estén dispuestas” en la reunión de la Cámara de Obispos programada previamente del 12 al 15 de marzo de 2019 en Kanuga en las afueras de Hendersonville, Carolina del Norte. “No con la expectativa de que todos seamos de la misma opinión, sino porque no deseo responder solamente como individuo, sino más bien con la percepción del organismo como un todo”, señaló.

Antes de la reunión de la Cámara de Obispos en marzo, el Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia, compuesto de obispos, clérigos y laicos, comenzó su reunió de invierno el 21 de febrero en Midwest City, Oklahoma.

Thomas James Brown, obispo electo de Maine.

El Rdo. Thomas Brown debe ser ordenado y consagrado el 22 de junio como el próximo obispo de la Diócesis de Maine. Él está casado con el Rdo. Thomas Mousin. La diócesis eligió a Brown el 9 de febrero. Su elección está a punto de entrar en el proceso de consentimiento que se exige canónicamente en todas las elecciones de obispo. Una mayoría de los comités permanentes diocesanos y de los obispos con jurisdicción deben  aprobar cada elección.

Brown le dijo a ENS que él no haría ningún comentario acerca de la decisión de la Conferencia de Lambeth debido a que su proceso de consentimiento esta aún pendiente.

El obispo sufragáneo de la Diócesis de Toronto, Kevin Robertson, se casó con Mohan Sharma el 28 de diciembre de 2018. La diócesis lo felicitó por su matrimonio, al cual asistió el arzobispo de Toronto Colin Johnson y el obispo diocesano de Toronto Andrew Asbil.

Robertson dijo en una entrevista telefónica con ENS el 18 de febrero que Welby le dijo en persona que Sharma no sería invitado. Robertson estaba en el Palacio de Lambeth, residencia oficial de Welby en Londres, el 7 de febrero, como parte de una orientación anual de 10 días para nuevos obispos dirigida por la catedral de Cantórbery,  cuando lo llamaron a la oficina de Welby. La conversación tuvo lugar dos días antes de la elección de Brown en Maine.

“Él me dijo que sólo había dos que estuvieran en esta situación en la Comunión, ‘tú y Mary’, y dijo que si invitaba a [nuestros] cónyuges a la Conferencia de Lambeth, no habría una Conferencia de Lambeth”, explicó Robertson.

Welby, dijo Robertson, parecía estar “dispuesto a ir más allá de lo que sucedió en 2008 cuando no invitaron a Gene Robinson. Él estaba dispuesto a invitarnos a Mary y a mí, pero sería demasiado invitar también a nuestros cónyuges”.

Su conversación se produjo el mismo día en que el arzobispo nigeriano Nicholas Okoh, primado de la Iglesia Anglicana de Nigeria y presidente de la Conferencia Futuro Anglicano Global, o GAFCON, emitió una “advertencia” en que decía que él esperaba que Robertson “y su pareja asistirán [a Lambeth] y fueran recibidos con pleno derecho.”

Okoh manifestó, “con gran pesar tenemos que llegar a la conclusión de que la Conferencia de Lambeth 2020 será un obstáculo para el evangelio al abrazar una enseñanza y un modelo de vida que están profundamente en desacuerdo con el testimonio bíblico y el cristianismo apostólico a través de las edades”.

Robertson dijo que rehusar invitar a su cónyuge y al de Glasspool es “hiriente”, Y agregó que él y Sharma, que tienen dos hijos, han estado juntos durante diez años.

“En verdad lo encuentro bastante ofensivo. Sé que es una palabra dura, pero estoy consciente de que la Comunión Anglicana no es unánime en torno al matrimonio”, afirmó. “Sin embargo, la decisión de invitar a todos los otros cónyuges sin invitar a los nuestros, creo yo, envía un claro mensaje respecto a la manera en que las relaciones [entre personas] del mismo sexo se valoran en la Comunión. Creo que es una señal alarmante”.

Kevin Robertson, obispo sufragáneo de la Diócesis de Toronto

Robertson dijo que su primer impulso fue no ir a Lambeth sin su cónyuge. Si bien no ha tomado aún una decisión definitiva, agregó que, en el momento, cree que es importante que todos los obispos que se encuentre en esta posición vayan para que sus voces sean tenidas en cuenta.

Durante el tiempo que pasó con los 29 obispos que fueron parte de la orientación en Cantórbery, Robertson dijo que algunos de ellos discutieron la carta de Okoh. Si bien todos no estuvieron de acuerdo, esas conversaciones “me hicieron recordar que es muy importante estar en la conversación; es importante estar en el proceso de entablar relaciones, esa es la única manera en que  vamos a superar esto”.

“Francamente, es por esto que me siento tan desencantado de que no inviten a los cónyuges. Si vamos a salir de esto, será porque la gente llegue a conocer a obispos en relaciones con personas del mismo sexo y se den cuenta de que también somos personas. No [se resolverá] excluyendo a las personas. Creo que es lo peor que puede hacerse”.

El Sínodo General de la Iglesia Anglicana del Canadá está programado para votar en julio de 2019 sobre el cambio de su canon matrimonial para permitir matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo.

Los obispos asistentes a la Conferencia de Lambeth 2008 posan el 25 de julio para la tradicional foto en grupo. Foto de Archivos Anglicanos.

La Conferencia de Lambeth es una reunión periódica de los obispos de toda la Comunión Anglicana, a la cual el arzobispo de Cantórbery convoca y para la cual cursa invitaciones. La última reunión fue en 2008. La reunión tendrá lugar del 23 de julio al 2 de agosto, como es tradición, en Cantórbery, Inglaterra, siendo la mayoría de las sesiones en la Universidad de Kent.

El arzobispo de Cantórbery Justin Welby y su esposa, Caroline, aparecen en el sitio web de la Conferencia de Lambeth 2020. Foto Conferencia de Lambeth 2020

Los cónyuges suelen participar en un programa paralelo. Sin embargo, en 2020, habrá un programa conjunto por primera vez. Los cónyuges de los obispos asistirán a sesiones combinadas “en puntos clave en la totalidad del programa”, según información que se encuentra aquí. Habrá también sesiones separadas sobre las responsabilidades específicas del ministerio de los obispos y los cónyuges, según el sitio web de Lambeth. El sitio web de la Conferencia destaca una foto de Welby y su esposa, Caroline. El sitio lo cambiaron recientemente para añadir un enlace al blog de Idowu-Fearon. Ahora dice: “El arzobispo de Cantórbery, Justin Welby, envía invitaciones personales a todos los obispos con derecho y a sus cónyuges (excluyendo a los cónyuges del mismo sexo) y está inmensamente deseoso de recibirles”.

La declaración de Idowu-Fearon de que “todos aquellos consagrados en el oficio de obispo deben poder asistir” a la reunión de Lambeth podría verse como un cierto avance respecto a la anterior Conferencia de Lambeth. En 2008, el entonces arzobispo de Cantórbery Rowan Williams rehusó invitar al obispo Gene Robinson, que se había convertido en el primer obispo abiertamente homosexual y con pareja de la Comunión Anglicana en 2003. Él prestó servicios como obispo de Nuevo Hampshire hasta su jubilación en enero de 2013. Él y su entonces pareja de 25 años, Mark Andrew, contrajeron una unión civil in 2008 y se casaron en 2010. Se divorciaron en 2014.

En la reunión de la Cámara de Obispos en marzo de 2008, tres obispos a quien la entonces obispa primada Katharine Jefferts Schori les pidió que discutieran la invitación de Robinson, pendiente aún en ese momento, informaron que “una invitación plena no es posible”.

Robinson instó a sus colegas a no boicotear la conferencia debido a su exclusión. En lugar de eso, dirigiéndose a la Cámara de Obispos, les instó a participar plenamente de la misma, y les dio las gracias a todos los que estaban dispuestos a “quedarse a la mesa”.

Al final de esa reunión, los obispos dijeron en parte, “Aunque no todos apoyamos la consagración del Obispo de Nuevo Hampshire, reconocemos que él ha sido canónicamente electo y consagrado obispo en esta Iglesia. Lamentamos que él solo entre los obispos que ministran dentro de las fronteras territoriales de sus diócesis y provincias, no recibiera una invitación para asistir a la Conferencia de Lambeth”.

Gene Robinson, entonces obispo de la Diócesis de Nuevo Hampshire, firma ejemplares de su libro In the Eye of the Storm, el 31 de julio de 2008 en el Mercado de la Conferencia de Lambeth en el campus de la Universidad de Kent en Cantórbery. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

Algunos otros obispos de los más de 165 países en que la Comunión Anglicana está presente rehusaron asistir a la Conferencia de Lambeth 2008 debido a discrepancias teológicas con el principal cuerpo de la Iglesia acerca de la plena inclusión de personas LGBTQ y mujeres en la vida de la Iglesia.

Robinson asistió a la reunión en lo que él llamó un acto de testimonio. Los organizadores le permitieron estar en el Mercado de Lambeth, el área de exposición y venta de la conferencia, una invitación que, en un principio, él rechazó. También le permitieron asistir a dos recepciones ofrecidas por los obispos de la Iglesia Episcopal que tuvieron la deliberada intención de permitirle reunirse con colegas de alrededor del mundo. También lo invitaron a asistir a cultos y a hablar en varios otros sitios del área de Cantórbery, entre ellos la Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad de Kent.

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

The post No invitan a cónyuges del mismo sexo a la Conferencia de Lambeth del año próximo appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Vida Joven de México ofrece a los huérfanos un hogar, educación y oportunidad de vida

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 5:25pm

Una mamá y un tutor ayudan a los niños con la tarea después de la cena, en Vida Joven de México, un orfanato en Tijuana, México. Foto: Lynette Wilson / Episcopal News Service

[Servicio de Noticias Episcopales – Tijuana, México] Rutina y orden. Esa es la regla de la vida en Vida Joven de México, un orfanato donde viven 24 niños mexicanos abandonados de 2 a 18 años.

La casa  se encuentra  cerca de una prisión para hombres de máxima seguridad, donde en la década de 1970, surgió una “aldea” improvisada de mujeres y niños pobres para vivir cerca de los hombres. Fue peligroso; los niños fueron testigos de violencia, asesinatos, tráfico de drogas y abuso.

Beth Beall, directora ejecutiva de Vida Joven en EE. UU., realiza visitas semanales al orfanato desde su casa en San Diego. Foto: Lynette Wilson / Episcopal News Service

En 1996, los episcopales de Los Ángeles se enteraron de la aldea y respondieron con Vida Joven, que permanece en su edificio de concreto original de 2,000 pies cuadrados con capacidad para 25 niños.“Estábamos destinados a rescatar a los niños del peligro. Nunca tuvimos la intención de ser un lugar para que los niños crecieran”, dijo Sylvia Laborin, directora fundadora de Vida Joven, que se jubilará más adelante este año después de 22 años.

En México, los niños abandonados caen bajo la tutela del estado y son enviados a refugios u orfanatos, o terminan viviendo en las calles. El ochenta por ciento de los niños que llegan a Vida Joven provienen de agencias de servicios sociales; el 90 por ciento de ellos tiene al menos un padre vivo, pero todos han sido entregados o abandonados, dijo Beth Beall, la directora ejecutiva de Vida Joven en Estados Unidos.

Tijuana, que limita con San Diego, es una de las ciudades más peligrosas del planeta. Con una población de 1.7 millones, la tasa de homicidios de la ciudad llegó a 2.500 en 2018. Se estima que entre 3.000 y 4000 niños están bajo custodia estatal en Baja California, el estado mexicano en la península de Baja California, donde Tijuana es la ciudad más grande.

Un niño de 5 años, uno de los cuatro hermanos que viven en Vida Joven de México, coloca  sillas después de la cena. Foto: Lynette Wilson / Episcopal News Service

El tráfico de drogas es en gran parte responsable de la violencia, y muchos de los padres de los niños abandonados sufren de adicción a las drogas. Por ejemplo, cuatro hermanos aterrizaron en Vida Joven después de que un vecino viera al mayor, una niña de 7 años, que buscaba comida en la basura. Ambos padres se drogaban.

“Tenemos más necesidades en este momento, y no me refiero a alimentos, suministros o lo que sea”, dijo Laborin. “Son las necesidades de los niños. Están perdidos… carecen de raíces”.

Hace veinte años, los niños eran “muy obedientes y amables”; sin embargo, hoy,  Laborin dijo, “están enojados con sus familias, con todo”.

La familia es importante en la cultura latina. Es costumbre que los niños permanezcan con sus familias, por lo que vivir separados de ellas puede ser difícil para los niños, especialmente los adolescentes.

“Algunos se han escapado para reunirse con la familia, y no ha funcionado bien”, dijo Laborin.

Ahora que es una institución de la Diócesis de San Diego y una organización sin fines de lucro establecida en EE. UU., Vida Joven  opera con un presupuesto anual de 320.000 dólares, con operaciones de financiamiento de 220.000 dólares en Tijuana. Cuesta alrededor de 8.000 dólares por niño, la mayoría de los cuales se destina a los salarios del personal, dijo Beall.

Vida Joven funciona con 15 miembros del personal las 24 horas, incluido un psicólogo y un trabajador social, ninguno de los cuales vive en el lugar. Los niños duermen en dormitorios: bebés y niños pequeños juntos en una habitación; niños mayores y niñas en dormitorios separados, cada uno equipado con un baño. Las camas están bien hechas, la ropa colocada en el armario. Hay una oficina administrativa, un espacio dedicado al estudio, una cocina y un comedor, que también sirve como espacio común para la tarea.

Recientemente,  un jueves por la tarde, después de una comida de frijoles refritos, guacamole y tortillas, los niños abrieron sus cuadernos y comenzaron su tarea.

En el México moderno, es imposible encontrar un trabajo como cajero sin educación, algo que los líderes y partidarios de Vida Joven enfatizan. México ofrece educación escolar pública gratuita, pero cuesta alrededor de 100 dólares comprar los uniformes necesarios para comenzar el jardín infantil, mientras que el trabajador promedio en Tijuana gana 4 dólares al día, dijo Beall.

Una mamá ayuda a una niña con su tarea. La educación es una parte importante de la vida en Vida Joven de México. Foto: Lynette Wilson / Episcopal News Service

Muchos de los padres de los niños tienen poca o ninguna educación más allá de la escuela primaria. En el pasado, los estudiantes podían abandonar la escuela después del sexto grado; hoy el gobierno exige una educación hasta12º grado. Sin embargo, como ha descubierto el liderazgo de Vida Joven, la capacidad supera el espacio en unos 10.000 estudiantes.Los estudiantes de Vida Joven en edad de educación secundaria asisten a una escuela privada por 200 dólares  al mes.

“Tenemos la suerte de contar con donantes que realmente lo obtienen y financian la educación”, dijo Beall.

En los últimos años, Vida Joven ha recibido apoyo no solo de los donantes de EE. UU., sino también de personas de Tijuana que han venido a apoyar al orfanato.

Un mosaico fue colocado en una pared en el patio de Vida Joven de México en Tijuana. Foto: Lynette Wilson / Episcopal News Service

“Así es cómo se ve la salvación: la gente está rescatando y salvando las vidas de estos niños”, dijo Beall. “Este es un lugar de sanidad. No todas las historias tienen un final feliz, pero sí sabemos que si no estuvieran aquí, estarían muertos o en el comercio sexual”.

Beall hace un gesto hacia un mosaico en el patio. “Estos niños han sido destrozados en pedazos. Les damos la oportunidad de crear algo mejor”, dijo. “Estamos aquí para amar, proteger y educar”.

Antes de que Laborin se convirtiera en directora de Vida Joven, trabajó como esteticista. Después de que su esposo muriera y sus hijos se casaran, cerró su tienda. Descubrió que “no hacer nada” era terrible. Entonces, vio un anuncio de trabajo para Vida Joven. Fue una de las 100 solicitantes y cinco seleccionadas para entrevistas.

“Vi este lugar y estaba sucio”, dijo. “Pensé, si me contratan, me quedaré por un tiempo”.

Una de las primeras cosas que hizo Laborin fue limpiar el edificio. Era algo que podía controlar porque, incluso con el orden y la rutina, no hay dos días iguales. Hace veintidós años, cuando llegaron los primeros niños, Laborin esperaba que sus pertenencias también llegaran. No fue así; sólo llegaron con la ropa puesta.

“La necesidad, en realidad, [era enorme] estaba abrumada totalmente”, dijo.

Sylvia Laborin, a la derecha, la directora fundadora de Vida Joven en Tijuana, y Beth Beall, directora ejecutiva de Vida Joven en Estados Unidos, conversaron durante la visita de Beall al orfanato. Foto: Lynette Wilson / Episcopal News Service.

Durante los primeros años, Laborin admite que sintió enojo hacia los padres de los niños por abandonarlos, hasta que un día una amiga le dijo que debía superar su enojo y colocarse en la situación de la gente. Después de eso, dijo, lo dejó pasar, pero admite que hasta el día de hoy, a veces “todavía no lo entiendo”.

Sin embargo, una de las cosas más importantes, dijo, es que sus ojos se abrieron a la humanidad y a las necesidades invisibles de la gente.

“Vivimos en una pequeña burbuja; no vemos”, dijo Laborin. “Ni siquiera conocía las necesidades”…

– Lynette Wilson es reportera y editora gerente de Episcopal News Service. Puede ser contactada en lwilson@episcopalchurch.org.

The post Vida Joven de México ofrece a los huérfanos un hogar, educación y oportunidad de vida appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Executive Council called on to reflect on the future of faith communities, Anglican Communion

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 4:17pm

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council opens its Feb. 21-24 meeting at the Sheraton Midwest City Hotel with Morning Prayer. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Midwest City, Oklahoma] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president, placed the future of faith and the church as an institution, and the shape of the Episcopal Church’s relationship with the Anglican Communion, before the Executive Council as it opened its four-day meeting here.

Curry framed his opening remarks around his experience the week before while visiting the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. While there, a young Anglican asked him if there was a future for the church.

“I realized he was asking if there is a future for faith,” he said. “Therefore does the church, the community of people who have faith in Jesus, have a future? That may be one of the most critical question before us in our time.”

The question applies to all faith communities, not just Episcopal ones or even solely Christian ones, he said.

Jennings devoted most of her opening remarks to Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s decision to not invite same-sex spouses to the 2020 Lambeth Conference of bishops. She asked whether “there is still time to resolve this situation and ensure that all bishops’ spouses will be invited to the Lambeth Conference.”

Jennings said if the communion is “not yet able to hold a global meeting of Anglican bishops and spouses to which everyone is invited, then I think we should not be holding global meetings of Anglican bishops and spouses.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry poses a question to council members: Is there a future for faith? Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

Do faith and faith communities have a future?

In answer to the question of the church’s future, Curry told the young man, “faith does not have a future if faith and religion is seen and understood primarily and essentially as an institutional arrangement.

“Faith will not have a future if we believe that the church is primarily an institution which we must prop it up to keep it going,” Curry said. “I say that as a 65-year-old man who, when he finishes his term as presiding bishop, will then go on the Church Pension Fund. I’m not anti-institutional.”

The sorts of questions the young man asked, Curry said, are not calling on the church to enact another strategic plan, but to risk “daring to ask the spirit where shall we go?”

Curry reminded the council that the Christian church has “only been an institution periodically; it began as a nascent Jesus Movement.” In later centuries, it became an institution that crowned emperors, only to be divided by theological schisms and reformations. The church has moved from the established churches of the majority to “a fragile minority.”

The way of love exemplified by Jesus is not just the way of love for the world, Curry said. It can be the way of life for the church if it can witness to that way of love. “When we are less than that, then we ought to die because we have nothing to give the world,” he said.

The presiding bishop insisted that the Holy Spirit was inspiring the members of council “to think, to pray, to listen what the spirt is saying to our church and to find our life.

“We may not have easy days ahead of us, but that’s all right. Our Lord was crucified; Pilate thought he killed him – thought he was down for the count, but on Sunday morning, the brother got up and that’s who we follow. If we follow his way of love, then the gates of hell will not prevail against us.”

Council gave Curry a standing ovation when he concluded.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president and council vice chair, told Executive Council that she hopes there is time to ensure that all bishops’ spouses will be invited to the 2020 Lambeth Conference. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

Raising the Lambeth question

Anglican Communion Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon wrote in a Feb. 15 Anglican Communion News Service blog that Welby had invited “every active bishop” because “that is how it should be – we are recognizing that all those consecrated into the office of bishop should be able to attend.

“But the invitation process has also needed to take account of the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage which is that it is the lifelong union of a man and a woman,” Idowu-Fearon wrote. “That is the position as set out in Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Given this, it would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited to the conference.”

Resolution I.10 was passed by the conference in 1998 after heated debate.

Jennings said that Idowu-Fearon’s post promulgated “a misconception about the Anglican Communion’s governance” by claiming that the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage is defined by that resolution.

She said that among the communion’s four Instruments of Communion –  the archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council, or ACC – only the ACC is seen as the corporate entity of the Anglican Communion by the instruments’ governing documents and British law. Thus, Jennings said, setting policy is the ACC’s job.

She also noted that the resolution’s reference to marriage as a “lifelong union” seems to not pertain to the opposite-sex spouses of bishops who have been divorced and remarried but are still invited to Lambeth. “We are left to conclude that excluding same-sex spouses is a selective decision—perhaps even an arbitrary one,” she said.

Jennings suggested that if the communion cannot resolve to invite all of the bishops’ spouses, “I think that the day is coming when we will need to take a hard look at where and how we invest the resources of The Episcopal Church across the Anglican Communion.”

However, she cautioned, her stance “is not at all the same thing as saying that we should not be in relationship with the rest of the Anglican Communion.”

The Episcopal Church’s 2019-2021 budget pledges $1.15 million to the work of the Anglican Communion office (line 416 here) plus an additional $538,000 in block grants to other communion provinces. The budget also shows nearly $2.3 million in staff costs in the Anglican Communion budget lines, but that money covers members of The Episcopal Church staff who work with partners and program across the communion.

Echoing Curry’s distinction between a church’s institutional structures and the local incarnation of its mission, Jennings said her travels across the communion have shown her that the communion “not as a series of dictates from archbishops or an office in London, but as life-giving, life-saving, mutual relationships rooted in dioceses, congregations and networks across the world.

“That is the Anglican Communion that deserves our energy and attention, our commitment and our resources,” she said.

The impact of Welby’s decision

Welby’s refusal currently effects two bishops and one bishop-elect in the Anglican Communion. Diocese of New York Bishop Assistant Mary Glasspool is currently The Episcopal Church’s one actively serving bishop who has a same-sex spouse.

The Rev. Thomas Brown is due to be ordained and consecrated on June 22 as the next bishop of the Diocese of Maine. He is married to the Rev. Thomas Mousin. The diocese elected Brown on Feb. 9. His election is about to enter the consent process canonically required in all bishop elections.

The only other active bishop in the Anglican Communion to whom Welby’s decision applies is Diocese of Toronto Bishop Suffragan Kevin Robertson, who married Mohan Sharma, his partner of nearly 10 years, on Dec. 28, 2018. The diocese congratulated him on his marriage, which was attended by Toronto Archbishop Colin Johnson and Toronto Bishop Diocesan Andrew Asbil. Robertson recently told Episcopal News Service that Welby told him in person earlier this month that Sharma would not be invited. Robertson and Sharma are the parents of two young girls.

“I cannot overlook the fact that the Anglican Communion Office has created a public situation in which two children are learning that the hierarchy of the church considers their family to be a source of shame and worthy of exclusion,” Jennings said. “That makes me very angry. When little children are collateral damage, that is not the way of love.”

After Jennings concluded, she received a standing ovation from council and Curry replied “Thank you, Madam President. Amen.”

Also on the meeting’s first day

* Executive Council also heard a report from Treasurer Kurt Barnes that showed the church ended the 2016-2018 triennium with between $5 million and $6 million more in income than it had in expenses, due in large part to the startup of some programs that was delayed to the current triennium. The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s investment portfolio was down just more than six percent in 2018, Barnes reported, noting that the year was hard on all investments. Saying that the DFMS (the church’s corporate and legal entity) “will always look at the long term,” Barnes said the approximately $40 million investment portfolio’s 10-year annual average is 9.7 percent after fees and expenses.

The portfolio recovered 6 percent in January. “We just hope and pray that it continues for the remainder of this year,” said Barnes, noting that growth this year impacts the amount of money available to the church two years from now, because of the way the budget’s draw on investment income is calculated. Council member Diane Pollard cautioned that some investors fear that January’s investment markets performance was “kind of like Disneyland” and will not be sustained.

“In college I learned that Darwin only used survival of the fittest once or twice, but referred more to empathy and survival is greatest among those who place communal interest first.” Treasurer Kurt Barnes on Episcopal Church support for the Diocese of Cuba #excoun pic.twitter.com/8bQSgRkYY9

— Frank Logue (@franklogue) February 21, 2019

Barnes also told the council that the sale of a city block in Austin, Texas, that it had hoped would be the site of a new Archives of the Episcopal Church netted “on the order of $20 million” after paying off the debt on the land. The church is bound by a confidentiality agreement typical for transactions of this type and magnitude with the buyers to not yet disclose the purchase price.

Diocese of Utah Bishop Scott Hayashi, an Executive Council member, provides music on Feb. 21 for his colleagues to sing “I want to walk as a child of the light” during Morning Prayer. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

The rest of the meeting

After the opening plenary on Feb. 21, council spent the rest of the day meeting in its four committees. The same will be true the morning of Feb. 22. Later that day, council members will visit the Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum. The memorial and museum memorialize the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh, an act of domestic terrorism that killed 168 people and injured 600 others.

Committee meetings will take up the morning of Feb. 23, and members will return to a plenary session that afternoon during which the committees will begin their reports to the full body, proposing resolutions for the full body to consider. The members will travel to St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Oklahoma City for Eucharist the morning of Feb. 24. The council will conclude its meeting that afternoon.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council comprises 38 members – 20 (four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 lay people) elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seat and voice but no vote.

Some council members are tweeting from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The Feb. 21-24 meeting is taking place at the Sheraton Midwest City Hotel at the Reed Conference Center.

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

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How2charist offers digital version on typical ‘instructed Eucharist’

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 9:26am

The parts of the priest’s vestments are explained at the start of the How2charist. Photo: Screengrab/How2charist

[Episcopal News Service] Run a traditional piece of Episcopal Church formation – the instructed Eucharist – through the new world of digital ministry and what do you get?

You get How2charist, an annotated video with a 28-page discussion guide for learning why Episcopalians do what they do when they celebrate the Eucharist. The on-screen explanations range from descriptions of the priest’s vestments and the vessels used on the altar to explanations of each part of the liturgy, such as the memorial acclamation and the epiclesis.

Many Episcopal priests occasionally preside at a Eucharist during which they stop the service to explain what they are doing and why, discussing tradition and liturgical theology. How2charist offers a seamless Eucharist that explains without stopping the action, so to speak.

The video can be viewed as a whole but is also available in individual chapters to make a four-session small-group series. Two of the sessions cover the flow of the Liturgy of the Word portion of the Eucharist through the Prayers of the People. The next two chapters show the Liturgy of the Table. The full film and the chapters can be viewed online or downloaded to use offline

It’s all free for the taking. The only “charge” is an email address for getting a “token” that provides access to the film and discussion guide.

How2charist is the culmination of a nearly 11-year-old dream of the Rev. Callie Swanlund, an associate rector at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Gladwynne, Pennsylvania. It also represents an innovative collaboration between her and The Episcopal Church’s digital evangelism team.

The Rev. Callie Swanlund has been dreaming about making How2charist since she was in seminary. Photo: Screengrab/How2charist’s trailer

The idea for How2charist came to Swanlund in 2008 when she took a course at Church Divinity School of the Pacific with the Rev. Micah Jackson called “New Media in Worship & Preaching.” Swanlund started with the idea of an instructed Eucharist and thought about VH1’s Pop-Up Video series, which between 1996 and 2006 had put “pop up” bubbles – called “info nuggets” –  containing trivia, witticisms and other comments on music videos. Swanlund’s first version was a PowerPoint but, she and others kept thinking bigger.

In a screengrab from How2charist’s trailer, the Rev. Callie Swanlund breaks the host as an explanation appears on the screen.

How2charist has been available just since earlier this year. As of Feb. 20, the film has been viewed, at least in part, 1,310 times. Some 1,350 people have requested access codes to view it and the guide.

Feedback, both to Swanlund personally and via social media posts (which How2charist encourages) have shown her that the creative way that people are using How2charist “goes beyond anything I could have dreamed up,” she said in a telephone interview with Episcopal News Service. Those ways include congregations who will use it to help train their acolytes as well as dioceses using it in their classes for training would-be priests locally.

One congregation plans to “deconstruct” the video, reprinting some of the pop-up explanations to expand the special bulletins they use to guide guests who come to witness baptisms. “It goes back to, in some ways, what I was moving away from in making this digital version, but I love it,” she said. “It shows that they love the information contained it in and not just some flashy model of presentation.”

The film crew, led by Michael Collins, Episcopal Church manager of multimedia services, left, discusses its plan as the Rev. Callie Swanlund stands at the altar and the Rev. Nancy Frausto, a priest in the Diocese of Los Angeles, listens at right. How2charist was staged at Trinity Episcopal Church in Ambler, Pennsylvania. The full-length Spanish version, at which Frausto presided at Church of the Epiphany in Los Angeles, is due out this spring. Photo: Jeremy Tackett

The choice of liturgical style was a challenge. “That was the fear that kept me awake,” Swanlund said. She knew she had a good film crew, a good group of volunteers both on screen and acting as consultants behind the scenes to prevent her from doing something “that is going to get me burned at the stake.” She also knew that “it’s me that it falls on” because she was claiming to be “representing the Eucharist to the entire Episcopal Church.”

Swanlund anticipated valid criticism. She also figured there might be some nitpickers “because we’re Episcopalians and we love to be nitpicky; I think it is one of our core values,” she said, laughing. Such criticism “comes from a place of deep love and care for our liturgy.”

Swanlund aimed for what might be called “a broad church” liturgical style, not too plain or “low church” and not too much of the so-called “smells and bells” associated with a “high-church” style of presiding. She encouraged the volunteer congregation to act the way they would in their own churches. So, some people crossed themselves frequently; others did not. Some sang and prayed with raised hands. Some knelt when others stood.

“I wanted to honor this liturgy that we share. It’s common prayer so I wanted to make it as common as possible, knowing that there are differences,” she said. The discussion guide gives viewers the chance to reflect on the differences they see.

Criticism “has been, so far, less than I anticipated,” but there has been some, she said. Very few people said that they wished the style had been lower, but some wished it had been higher, Swanlund said. And, then, there was the debate on the online discussion site Reddit about whether her left-handed-ness invalidated her blessings.

Some viewers debated whether it was appropriate for the Rev. Callie Swanlund to bless with her left hand. Photo: Screengrab/How2charist

There are overhead shots, close-up shots, multiple angles and slow-motion sequences. “We wanted to have the people watching it to have an intimate view of the Eucharist that they might never have in a typical Sunday service,” she said. A project with these kind of production values costs money.

Swanlund started an online fund-raising effort through Kickstarter to pay for How2charist. The effort began during General Convention’s meeting in Austin, Texas, last July.

The Diocese of Texas was an early backer, according to Swanlund. Carol Barnwell, who was then the diocesan director of communication, “was a cheerleader” even during the an earlier effort that Swanlund realized she was not in a position to pull off. Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce took Swanlund to meet other bishops in Austin. The diocese became How2charist’s largest backer. Swanlund also contacted other bishops she knew.

There were non-Episcopalians who became supporters, some at the $500-or-more partner level such as  Jenn Giles Kemper, the developer of the Sacred Ordinary Days planner. Giles Kemper is what Swanlund called a “liturgical Baptist” from Waco, Texas. “To see another woman entrepreneur say, ‘I’m committed to this project and also to other women doing ministerial entrepreneurship’ was really, really cool,” Swanlund said. “It buoyed me”

The support of 236 Kickstarter backers, including dioceses, congregations and individuals, raised $35,000. Swanlund said many backers whom she did not know have since introduced themselves to her at events and they seem to express “a communal pride” about being part of the project.

The film crew shot from many angles during the Eucharist at Trinity Episcopal Church in Ambler, Pennsylvania. Photo: Jeremy Tackett

Meanwhile, How2charist fit with the mandate that General Convention gave the churchwide staff in 2015 (via Resolution 2015_B009) to create somewhat timeless content that would be available to the church for download. Jeremy Tackett, the church’s digital evangelist and senior manager for creative services, told ENS that “rather than simply try to figure out on our own what kind of content would be attractive to the church, we decided to look for creators who were already in the process of doing unique things in the church.”

He called Swanlund’s Kickstarter effort “innovative” and explained that “if the fundraising was successful on its own, we knew that we’d have a project with buy-in from folks who would use it once created.” Its success gave the Digital Evangelism department “an established proof of concept” that showed that the church’s partnership with Swanlund would be “good stewardship of our resources.”

Swanlund’s fund covered the costs of development and then filming the English language version of the How2charist. Tackett’s department took the project through post-production, including producing a Spanish-language version, and into distribution of the film and guide. (The full-length Spanish video, at which the Rev. Nancy Frausto presided at Church of the Epiphany in Los Angeles, is due out this spring.)

Tackett said he is excited about using the model of How2charist in future projects. “By partnering with creators throughout the church, we’re able to expand the pool of ideas and concepts beyond what those connected directly to our office can conceptualize,” he said. “And by working with creators who have a model for at least ‘seed’ fundraising, we can establish that there’s an audience and market for the product we’re helping bring to life.”

The hope, he said, is that both his office and Swanlund can now become “partners with and guides to other dreamers who are doing unique things in the world of digital ministry, and that we can bring those ideas to a churchwide audience.”

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

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Janani Luwum’s family and Idi Amin’s kinsmen reconcile on 42nd anniversary of martyrdom

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 4:40pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The family of Archbishop Janani Luwum, the former primate of what was then the Church of the Province of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire, have reconciled with kinsmen of former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, who ordered Luwum’s killing. Uganda’s Black Star News website reports that Canon Stephen Gelenga, from the same Kakwa tribe of Amin, delivered an emotional apology to Luwum’s family and the people of Acholi tribe during commemoration events over the past weekend.

Read the full article here.

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Archbishop of Canterbury calls an Anglican Primates’ Meeting in Jordan in January 2020

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 4:37pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written to the leaders of the 40 autonomous churches in the Anglican Communion to invite them to attend a Primates’ Meeting in January 2020. Primates’ Meetings are one of four “Instruments of Communion” within the Anglican Communion. The last one took place in Canterbury in October 2017. The 2020 meeting will be in the Jordanian capital Amman from Jan. 13 to 17.

Read the full article here.

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‘Una Vida Transformada: El Camino del Amor para la Cuaresma’ disponible en español

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 4:24pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] El viaje de la Cuaresma hacia la Pascua es un viaje con Jesús. Somos bautizados en su vida, su auto entrega y muerte; luego nos elevamos en esperanza a la vida transformada. En esta Cuaresma, se invita a las comunidades de fe a caminar con Jesús en su Camino del Amor y en la experiencia de la vida transformada.

Los nuevos recursos del Camino del Amor para la Cuaresma ahora están disponibles en español:

          Foro para adultos: este conjunto de siete foros para adultos, adecuados para
diversos entornos, vincula las lecturas de la Vigilia Pascual con las siete prácticas
del Camino del Amor. Aprovechando la antigua práctica de dedicar la Cuaresma,
como un período de estudio y preparación para vivir como discípulo cristiano
(conocido como el catecumenado), los foros atraen a los participantes a reflexionar
sobre la historia de la salvación, caminar hacia la tumba vacía y abrazar la realidad
transformadora del amor, la vida y la liberación. Mientras estamos con las tres
mujeres en la tumba vacía, escuchamos su llamado a ir y vivir esa realidad
transformada. (Formato: descarga digital, disponible aquí.)

          Día de retiro: el programa para el día de retiro condensa los foros en un viaje de un
solo día. Se ofrece como una opción para iglesias y diócesis que buscan una
alternativa a la clase semanal. (Formato: descarga digital, disponible aquí.)

Los recursos adicionales de la estación, disponibles en español, incluyen:

Fondo Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo, Meditaciones para la Cuaresma

Brújula de Vida: Viviendo bien a través de la Cuaresma

Calendario de la Ofrenda Unida de Acción de Gracias

Si su ministerio ha desarrollado material estacional del Camino del Amor, por favor, compártalo en wayoflove@episcopalchurch.org. Nos encantaría incluirlo en el sitio web y rezar por nuestro viaje compartido a una nueva vida.

Explore el camino. Comience con un grupo pequeño. Siga a Jesús. Permita que el amor de Dios le transforme a usted y a su ministerio. Encuentre materiales para cada estación litúrgica aquí:www.episcopalchurch.org/wayoflove.

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Episcopal bishops to meet with lawmakers on background check bills as gun deaths mount

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 3:25pm

[Episcopal News Service] There are several reasons a group of Episcopal bishops is preparing to descend on the nation’s capital next week, but the motivation to travel is rooted in one democratic principle.

“In our legislative process, showing up really does matter,” Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, one of the co-conveners of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, said in an interview with Episcopal News Service about the bishops’ upcoming Capitol Hill visits.

During a month when the nation marked one year since the high school massacre in Parkland, Florida, and when five new victims were mourned after a mass shooting at a workplace in Aurora, Illinois, Douglas and his fellow bishops will gather Feb. 27 on Capitol Hill to represent a “culture of life in the face of a culture of death.” Eight bishops, working with the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations, are scheduled to spend the day meeting with lawmakers and their staffs to advocate for legislation toughening regulations on background checks for gun purchasers.

Bishops United also will hold internal planning meetings while in Washington, D.C., as well as meetings with partners in the push to end gun violence, such as the Brady Campaign, the Newtown Foundation, Everytown for Gun Safety and Guns Down America. The week will culminate March 1 with a brief prayer service that will be streamed live on Facebook, part of Bishops United’s series of services held every Friday during Epiphany and hosted by bishops around the country.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence is a network of about 80 Episcopal bishops that formed in the wake of two mass shootings in 2012, at a Sikh temple just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Despite the national outcry over such violence, calls for gun safety reforms have gained little traction in Congress, even as the number of mass shootings continues to climb.

Douglas, though, remains hopeful.

“I’d like to believe the landscape is changing,” he said, pointing to the large freshman class of lawmakers after November’s midterm elections.

When meeting with some of those lawmakers, the bishops’ focus will be on passage of two companion pieces of legislation – the Bipartisan Background Checks Act in the House and the Background Check Expansion Act in the Senate – which aim to close loopholes in government oversight of gun purchases.

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations is arranging for the Capitol Hill visits of eight Episcopal bishops on Feb. 27. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Such measures are just a piece of the wider package of reforms that Bishops United and its partners are advocating, including toughening enforcement of existing gun laws, making gun trafficking a federal crime, promoting “smart gun” technology and spending more money on research into violence-prevention strategies. The bishops’ immediate focus will be on background checks, but their scope is broader, Douglas said.

“I’m taking the long view on this one,” he said. “This is not going to be a one-off. It’s about culture change and awareness.”

And the bishops, a mix of gun owners and others who have never fired a gun, stress that ending gun violence shouldn’t be a partisan issue. They are deliberate about highlighting the “common sense” behind the measures they are advocating.

“The goal in Bishops United was always to be about common-sense gun laws that could bring as many people to the table as possible,” said Milwaukee Bishop Steven Miller, who also is a Bishops United convener. Miller won’t be joining the Capitol Hill visits but will be in Washington for the subsequent partner meetings and prayer service.

“All of us want sane and reasonable gun laws that protect both the rights of those who wish to own firearms and use them in appropriate ways but also to keep our country and our streets safer,” Miller said.

The Episcopal Church has spoken out forcefully on the issue through the years at General Convention, and in July, bishops and deputies passed a new resolution recognizing gun violence as a public health issue.

The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show gun deaths in the U.S. are on the rise, with the number of fatalities nearing 40,000 people in 2017. Of those, about 24,000 were suicides and about 15,000 homicides.

“We are in an epidemic,” Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton, representing Bishops United, said in July during a committee hearing on the General Convention resolution. “Think of the cost to our families, our communities, our health systems.”

The Office of Government Relations also has been active on the issue of gun violence, based on church policies set by General Convention. The office monitors legislation, coordinates with partner agencies and denominations, develops relationships with lawmakers and encourages Episcopalians’ activism through its Episcopal Public Policy Network. The bishops’ visits on Capitol Hill amplify that work.

“As bishops, what we bring uniquely to this conversation is the voice of a particular Christian denomination that has gone on the record by General Convention for gun safety,” Douglas said. “In addition to that, we are speaking out of our conviction as Christians in the Jesus Movement that the loving, liberating and life-giving reality of Jesus commands us to address matters that are death dealing.”

Advocacy is only one part of the mission of Bishops United Against Gun Violence. With mass shooting deaths still all too common, the network also is committed to providing spiritual and pastoral support to those affected by gun violence, Douglas said. Public liturgies are another major component of the bishops’ work.

Last year during General Convention, Bishop United gathered each day at the convention center in Austin, Texas, for five-minute liturgies that included prayers for victims of gun violence. Those services were streamed on Facebook and attracted a sizable viewership, as did a larger public liturgy in a park across from the conference center.

The positive response to those liturgies prompted the bishops to consider ways to continue that witness after General Convention. In November, Bishops United Against Violence released its “Litany in the Wake of a Mass Shooting.” The bishops’ discussions also led to the Friday prayer services this year, and some have drawn as many as 4,000 viewers, Douglas said.

“Where else in The Episcopal Church are you getting 4,000 people together to pray?” he said.

Last week, Western Massachusetts Bishop Douglas Fisher hosted the prayer service, and Chicago Bishop Jeffrey Lee followed up the next day, Feb. 15, with a litany in memory of the Aurora shooting victims in his diocese. This week, on Feb. 22, the prayer service will be led by former Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith.

The prayer service next week during the bishops’ trip to Washington will be held at noon ET March 1 in the chapel of the building where the Office of Government Relations offices are located. It is expected to last about a half hour. Check Bishops United’s Facebook page that day for the video feed.

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

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Mary Kostel nombrada Canciller del Obispo Presidente; David Booth Beers se retira después de 27 años de servicio.

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 12:48pm

[20 de febrero de 2019] El Obispo Presidente y Primado Michael B. Curry anunció el nombramiento de Mary E. Kostel, Esq., de la Diócesis Episcopal de Washington, como Canciller del Obispo Presidente a partir del 1 de enero de este año. Es la cuarta persona en ocupar este cargo canónico desde que se creó en la década de 1970. Sucede a David Booth Beers, Esq., también de la Diócesis Episcopal de Washington, quien ha servido como Canciller desde 1991.

La Sra. Kostel, episcopal de toda la vida criada en el suroeste de Virginia, se graduó en la Universidad de Princeton y en la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Virginia, donde fue jefa de redacción de la Revista de Derecho. Después de dos pasantías judiciales federales, se desempeñó en el Departamento de Justicia de EE. UU. y ejerció el derecho en firmas de Washington, donde representó a La Iglesia Episcopal en varios asuntos. Fue nombrada en 2009 por la Obispa Presidente Katharine Jefferts Schori como Consejera Especial para el litigio de “propiedad” de la Iglesia y asuntos disciplinarios. La Sra. Kostel continuó en ese papel para el Obispo Presidente Curry hasta su actual nombramiento. Recientemente renunció como Canciller de la Diócesis de Washington, donde había servido durante once años.

La Sra. Kostel está casada con Gregory DiMeglio, también abogado en ejercicio, y tiene dos hijos. Ella asiste a los servicios de la parroquia de St. Alban en Washington, DC, y también es miembro del Consejo del Seminario Teológico de Virginia.

El Obispo Presidente Curry dijo al anunciar el nombramiento de la Sra. Kostel: “Mary ha usado sus extraordinarios dones en el servicio a la Iglesia durante más de una docena de años bajo la presidencia de dos Obispos Presidentes y se ha convertido en una cercana confidente y asesora desde que asumí el cargo. Estoy realmente agradecido de que haya aceptado servir conmigo en los próximos años”.

El Sr. Beers, también episcopal de toda la vida, se crió en Connecticut y se educó en el Trinity College y en la Universidad de California en Berkeley antes de ingresar en la práctica de derecho privado en Washington, DC, en 1961. Ahora es Asesor Legal del Bufete de Abogados Goodwin. en esa ciudad. Después de servir como Canciller de la Diócesis de Washington desde 1977 hasta 1991, en ese año fue nombrado Canciller del Obispo Presidente por el Obispo Edmond L. Browning, y por lo tanto sirvió a cuatro Obispos Presidentes. Antes de ese nombramiento, el Sr. Beers fue diputado durante cinco veces a la Convención General y se desempeñó un período en el Consejo Ejecutivo. También es fideicomisario del Seminario Teológico de Virginia, que recientemente lo honró con la Cruz del Decano por el liderazgo de servicio. El Obispo Presidente Curry expresó su “profundo aprecio por el servicio ejemplar de David a la Iglesia”.

Como se indica en el Canon 1.2.5, “El Obispo Presidente puede nombrar, como Canciller del Obispo Presidente, un comunicante adulto confirmado de la Iglesia de buena reputación que sea experto tanto en la ley eclesiástica como en la secular, para servir mientras el Obispo Presidente lo desee, como consejero en asuntos relacionados con la oficina y el desempeño de las responsabilidades de esa oficina”.

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Campus food ministries come in all serving sizes

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 5:14pm

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians across the church helped Episcopal News Service understand food insecurity on college campuses. Here are some of their stories.

St. Alban’s Episcopal Church’s UTA Food Pantry in Arlington, Texas

St. Alban’s Episcopal Church vestry member Doug Hunt talks with the Rev. Kevin Jones and vestry colleague Pam Hardaway about the arrangement of a new storage shed that holds non-perishable food for the parish’s ministry to international students. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The budding food pantry at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church grew out of the parish’s desire to find ways to connect with University of Texas at Arlington, or UTA, two blocks away. “I don’t think we really knew what that was going to be,” said Doug Hunt, a St. Alban’s vestry member.

Pam Hardaway, another vestry member, said the parish’s previous ministry of offering lunch to UTA students was popular for a while as were some night activities, but then they seemed to wane.

Last May, Johnson and some parishioners talked with a representative of the university’s student affairs office, and “the conversation quickly moved into food,” he said. The university has a large number of international students, mostly Hindu and Muslim. They have some other food-assistance options, but they weren’t as robust as they had been, according to Hunt.

“And they were being proselytized,” said the Rev. Kevin Jones, St. Alban’s rector, referring to feeding ministries of other Christian organizations.

“So, something clicked, and we said, maybe that’s our niche,” said Hunt.

They began to research how best to set up such a ministry. The pantry became a part of the 4Saints Food Pantry, a ministry of a group of Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Fort Worth. It formed another partnership with Green’s Produce, a local farm market and garden center.

After scouting locations and contacting UTA’s International Student Organization, the group chose a location just off campus near an international student housing area. It is actually the parking lot of another church. The student organization suggested once-a-month distribution on a Saturday afternoon.

Members of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, Texas, pre-bag food for a monthly distribution to international students at nearby University of Texas at Arlington. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The pantry launched in November. The group had 50 bags of food, and 32 students came. December saw a drop to 18 students, a decline Hunt said could be attributed to the double whammy of it being finals week and the Saturday of a home football game. The pantry did not run in January because of semester break.

The effort has been evolving ever since. Jones said recently that UTA’s Student Affairs Office asked that St. Alban’s move the pantry on campus to the Athletic Center, which gets a lot of foot traffic on Saturdays. The International Student Organization stepped up their publicity, and the Student Counseling and Psychological Services Office asked the church to provide food stocks for students whom they knew were experiencing food insecurity.

In two hours on Feb. 2, they gave away everything they had with them: 65 bags of food, plus fresh fruit and vegetables from Greens Produce, 50 loaves of bread, and dozens of bottles of spices and cans of coconut milk, among other things, said Johnson.

One young woman asked, “You mean you’re not going to make me pray with you first?” When Johnson told her, “It’s just free food. No strings attached,”  he said, “a big smile appeared on her face.”

“The program is on a measurably positive trajectory,” Johnson said, and the parish is excited. “It really was one of those things where their needs lined up with our resources.”

Hardaway agreed, adding, “I think this is a calling that maybe we have not really been listening to for a while.”

Episcopal Campus Ministry’s Student Food Pantry in Eugene, Oregon

The Student Food Pantry, run by the Diocese of Oregon’s Episcopal Campus Ministry in Eugene, operates out of a converted one-car garage. Photo: Episcopal Campus Ministry

Like many such pantries, the Student Food Pantry less than a block from the University of Oregon campus partners with a local food bank, Food for Lane County. The pantry, which began in 2011, is part of the ministry of the Diocese of Oregon’s Episcopal Campus Ministry program. It also serves students from a community college, a private Christian university and a small alternative college, according to the Rev. Doug Hale, who has run the ministry since 2013.

Food for Lane County supplies most of the student pantry’s food. While Hale said the student pantry does not always control what it gets, coordinators try to make good choices. “From the very beginning the pantry had some connection with the health center at the university and the dietician in particular, and so from the beginning there was a concern about trying not offer junk,” he said.

In the pantry there is a shelf of canned produce and a section of “good portion sources shelf-stable,” a grains section and in the center, “we try to have, if it’s available, as much fresh produce that we can offer in the space,” he said. The pantry has a refrigerator and a freezer so it can offer frozen meats and vegetables, plus yogurt from a local company.

“And it’s all crammed into this one single-car garage,” Hale said.

Last year the pantry served about 100 people weekly. When they decided to go from one to two days a week, Wednesdays and Thursdays, “the number jumped immediately” to about 150, he said. Now about 190 students a week come through, an increase Hale attributes to social media promotion and word of mouth.

People have to show that they are enrolled in the schools to use the pantry, and they can come once a week, which Hale said is more frequent than some other Eugene pantries allow. If a student has children, that increases how much they can take on each visit.

The pantry’s relationship with the university has waxed and waned over the years, Hale said, and now is in good shape. The current administration is experimenting with a number of programs to fight food insecurity among students. It is also looking at whether it can lease the pantry what Hale calls “a significantly larger space.” Increasing the pantry’s capacity might allow it to begin serving staff and faculty who also struggle with food insecurity issues, he said.

Asked what advice he might have for other Episcopal congregations and ministries in college towns, Hale suggested first connecting with local food banks. Then “take a look around at what is being offered,” either on campus or by other community organizations, and see where they might fit.

Houston Canterbury 

Houston Canterbury spent the last academic year looking at who comes to a 20-year-old Wednesday community meal at the University of Houston run by the campus ministry association, what the Rev. Eileen O’Brien called the association’s “big feed model.” Monitoring student IDs and some face-to-face interviews showed they were largely reaching international students who were paying for their own education but struggled with living costs and graduate students who did not have a meal plan and who were on campus at the time of the Wednesday meal.

“We weren’t getting to those undergrad students who do actually struggle with food scarcity,” said O’Brien, who said undergraduates at commuter schools like University of Houston are often the least connected to the campus.

O’Brien, who will soon begin a new job as rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas, said Houston Canterbury is trying to decide how to better serve the university community. The “big feed” will continue and in fact has expanded to include Thursday “Coffee in the Lobby” at its home base, the A.D. Bruce Religious Center.

FREE Lunch at the AD Bruce Religion Center today, 11:30-1. #UH #GoCoogs pic.twitter.com/GmWRKLIRAG

— Eileen O'Brien (@EileenEOBrien) January 16, 2019

Houston Canterbury is hoping to partner with campus organizations to find more ways to address the issue, including helping commuter students find services nearer to their homes. That next step will begin, she predicted, with conversations with the university’s student affairs office and the school’s Urban Experience Program and the Honors College.

The ministry also serves Texas Southern University, but O’Brien said the discussion of about food insecurity is not as far along at the commuter campus that is right across the street from the University of Houston. “One of the questions that we were thinking about was if we established some sort of food bank program, could it not serve both campuses?”

O’Brien said her time with Houston Canterbury made her “interested in how campus missionaries can do a better job of knowing the communities that our students come from and having good referrals within those communities” so that they can help commuter students find resources closer to their homes.

The interest came, she said, as the study showed her that the traditional ways campus ministries address hunger may not be the best ways to serve students. “I think that we’re naive if we get complacent with these sort of feeding programs and don’t step beyond them to address wider community health issues like food scarcity.”

Smokey’s Pantry at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Tables in the middle of Smokey’s Pantry at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville are typically used for produce. The produce in the green bins is grown on campus at the UT Grow Lab, a campus garden. Photo: Smokey’s Pantry

At Tyson House, the Lutheran and Episcopal campus ministry at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, or UTK, Smokey’s Pantry has been serving students every Tuesday during the academic year since January 2016. “We have a little bit of everything, from canned goods to fresh produce,” said Caitlynne Fox, Tyson House ministry coordinator and pantry intern.

Smokey’s has a partnership with a local community food bank. FISH Hospitality provides fresh produce, bread, meat, yogurt and hummus “along with the traditional canned goods and pastas,” she said.

“Our main goal is to serve the UTK students, faculty and staff, but it’s open to anyone who wants to come in and get food,” said Rusty Graham, Tyson House administrator.

Between 60 and 80 families come each week, meaning 80 to100 individuals get food from Smokey’s. There is no screening process for those who come to the pantry, and it was just this semester, Graham said, that they start asking if the individuals who came were students.

The pantry wanted to be able to know how many students it is serving, he said. They collaborated with one the offices at UTK that wanted to get more information about food insecurity on campus. “Ultimately, it’s going to help us know the impact that we’re having on campus. Those kinds of numbers will be great if we decide to pursue things like grant funding or just general reporting.”

Even though Tyson House is a denominationally supported ministry, Graham said Smokey’s Pantry is not operated as a faith-based program. “We want to limit any deterrent to guests coming in,” he said. “Eliminating those barriers to guests coming in can be tricky so the fewer barriers …”

“The better,” Fox concluded.

Canterbury Bridge Episcopal Campus Ministry at San Jose State University in San Jose, California

As campus chaplain, the Rev. Kathleen Crowe, a Diocese of San Jose deacon at Canterbury Bridge Episcopal Campus Ministry at San Jose State University, was asked in 2014 to be part of a campus-wide committee to examine the issue of homelessness and food insecurity on the campus in San Jose, California. They found that a third of the nearly 33,000 students “had to decide I am going to buy books, or I am going to eat,” in Crowe’s words.

The immediate response was to begin 15 portable food pantries across the campus in different departments that were stocked by those employees. “Often those shelves would be wiped out very quickly,” she said. Crowe would often talk to the students visiting the pantries, and she was able to give students “gold points” to use to buy meals in the school’s food court.

The 15 pantries were later consolidated into eight larger ones. “The vision had always been to have a permanent pantry on campus,” Crowe said. “And that dream was realized this semester.”

The university agreed to turn its old faculty dining room into such a pantry in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank. There are perishable and non-perishable food items.

“Students are on their honor, but it is for students that earn less than $33,000 a year,” Crowe said, adding that guests have to prove they are enrolled and must bring reusable bags.  The students swipe their ID cards so that the pantry can keep statistics.

The committee put money collection boxes in the food court, labeling them “Help Feed a Spartan,” the school’s nickname. “Those little boxes are stuffed full all the time,” taking in $700 to $800 to go toward buying food for the pantry, she said.

Meanwhile, the teachers of fourth-graders at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in nearby Saratoga asked if Crowe could help them develop a service project. She suggested they make personal hygiene kits. “Our students always need that kind of stuff,” she said.

Grace Café at Christ Episcopal Church in Valdosta, Georgia

Steph Johnson checks out the food set up for Thursday dinner at Grace Café, a ministry of Christ Episcopal Church, across the street from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia. Photo courtesy of Steph Johnson

What is now known as Grace Café at Christ Episcopal Church across the street from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia, grew from one woman’s desire to help young people. Steph Johnson and her husband, the Rev. Dave Johnson, Christ Church’s rector, had always been involved somehow in youth ministry. When the congregation’s campus ministry got stalled in its early stages, she took on the job.

Her daughter was in nursing school and Johnson told her to bring all her student friends to dinner at the rectory on Thursday nights. Then she told her son’s friends that they could continue to park for free at the church, “but they had to come and eat dinner with me on Thursday nights.” At the end of the first year, about 30 students were routine diners, and the group was out-growing the rectory. So, Johnson asked the vestry if she could have a house on the church’s campus, and it agreed.

The downstairs is now Grace Café, whose slogan is, “It’s not cheap … it’s free.” Coffee, drinks and snack foods are always available, and when she can afford it, breakfast items. Students of all ethnicities and sexual orientations, homeless and with homes, come to the café for food, Johnson said. Some stay to study and meet up with friends.

About 400-500 people stop by every day, she said. And, about 130 students fill the ground floor of that house, the deck and a nearby building for Thursday dinner.

“I know I have kids who are living in their cars, but they won’t tell me that yet,” she said. “I make sure they have lots of food.” The café has a shelf of ready-to-eat food free for the taking.

The café offers a church service on Sunday mornings followed by lunch. The café is open from 8 a.m. to midnight.

Johnson used to do all the work herself but now she has some helpers. Two other women help in the kitchen, along with two students who want to learn how to cook. Some parishioners bake desserts for Thursday night.

And then there are the interns. Four male students live rent-free above the café in exchange for 20 hours a week working at the café. When Johnson asked the vestry for another house on the church campus, the members agreed again. She renovated that building for five female students, who also intern at the café.

With more and more students coming to Grace Café and with a budding food pantry, costs were increasing, Johnson said. While some people suggested that Johnson could offer Thursday dinner for less money, she refused, saying she wants to treat the students like “honored guests.”

“I would want somebody to treat my kids that way,” she said, adding that she will only “cook things that I would want to eat myself.”

That has meant, recently, parmesan-crusted chicken, homemade fettucine alfredo and roasted broccoli. “I also do a vegetarian option,” she said. “I haven’t quite gotten to the vegan thing yet.”

Dave Johnson decided to ask parishioners to sponsor a meal at $350 a week. Those meals are now covered through this semester and the next. “Now I can take all that money I set aside for the Thursday dinners and put it into the café and the food bank,” she said.

“Basically, I have got a really, really super-supportive vestry that has yet to tell me no,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s because I am the priest’s wife or because they like what’s going on there.”

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

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Episcopalians try to counter ‘startling’ problem of food insecurity among college students

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 5:12pm

Students line up near the University of Oregon in Eugene for one of the twice-weekly food distributions at the Student Food Pantry run by the Diocese of Oregon’s Episcopal Campus Ministry in partnership with the local Food for Lane County food bank. Photo: Episcopal Campus Ministry

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians in college towns all over the United States are recognizing that many students have to choose between tuition and books or food, and they are trying to help.

Their ministries, often done in partnership with the schools and local food banks, range from start-up to long-established. Many are growing to serve an increasing need. Some are exploring whether what they do is helping. The problem they address is growing, and changing.

Food insecurity among college students is often hidden, bolstered by the myth that students who get financial aid have enough money. Let Steph Johnson explain it from her vantage point at Grace Café, a part of Christ Episcopal Church across the street from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia.

A sign on the wall at Grace Café says, “It’s not cheap … it’s free.” About 100 students fill the building on the Christ Episcopal Church campus and spill out onto the deck and another building for the Thursday meal. The café is open 8 a.m. to midnight for coffee, snacks and companionship. Photo courtesy of Steph Johnson

“I didn’t realize until I got into this ministry how there are kids who in order to go to college and get their books, they don’t have any food,” said Johnson.

Food insecurity can be an on-going issue for some students but only episodic for others, said the Rev. Doug Hale, who runs the Diocese of Oregon’s Episcopal Campus Ministry. Some students come every week, term after term, to the ministry’s Student Food Pantry. Others come and go as financial crisis hit them or their families. There are also the inexperienced young people who sometimes make bad choices within campus food service systems and the accompanying meal plans that “assume people make good choices,” he said.

Plus, “there’s always that stigma” and sense of shame that hungry students impose on themselves, said the Rev. Kathleen Crowe, a Diocese of San Jose deacon at Canterbury Bridge Episcopal Campus Ministry at San Jose State University in San Jose, California. Bringing the need out into the open helps, she said. When Second Harvest Food Bank’s Just in Time mobile food pantry attracted between 500 to 600 students other students saw that they weren’t the only ones in need, she said.

Schools with more commuter students find they have different types of hunger issues than schools with a more residential study body, according to the Rev. Eileen O’Brien, who until recently was part of Houston Canterbury. Of the school’s 47,000 students, she said, only 8,000 live in student housing. Many undergrads are coming from nearby communities and may work full time and go to school full time. Some have families with “mixed documentation,” which raises issues about who can legally work, she said.

The brand-new food pantry St. Alban’s Episcopal Church organized for international students and the University of Texas in Arlington strives to offer culturally appropriate goods to the primarily Hindi and Muslim population. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

O’Brien and the Rev. Kevin Jones, rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, Texas, both said international students have different needs and face different financial restrictions. At the University of Houston, international students often get no financial aid and their families back home are making big sacrifices for them to be in school. Most of that  money goes toward tuition, not food, housing or clothing. F-1 student visas carry stringent restrictions on work, making it harder for students to make ends meet. A number of international students she knows work “under-the-radar” jobs such as lawn care or parking cars.

Up at the University of Texas-Arlington where the international student population is mainly Hindi and Muslim, Jones said, St. Alban’s budding ministry soon realized that it had to tailor its pantry offerings to the students they hoped to reach. The organizers had to research foods and spices that are more specific to their diets, according to Doug Hunt, a vestry member. “We learned there’s different types of Hindi diets,” he said, adding that the international student organization advised the group on those choices.

The causes of hunger on campus are many

The Wisconsin Hope Lab said in 2015 that its survey of more than 4,000 undergraduates at 10 community colleges across the nation found what it called a “startling” 20 percent of students were hungry and 13 percent were homeless. In April 2018, the group said out of the 43,000 students it studied at 66 institutions in 20 states and the District of Columbia, 36 percent of students were food insecure in the 30 days preceding the survey.

The group, now known as the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, defines food insecurity as “the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or the ability to acquire such foods in a socially acceptable manner,” adding that “the most extreme form is often accompanied with physiological sensations of hunger.”

While some students can get federal help via the Food and Nutrition Service’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, not all of them know that. The government’s General Accounting Office, or GAO, told Congress in December that many college students may not have enough to eat, but it found that of the 3.3 million students who were potentially eligible in 2016 for SNAP, commonly known as food stamps, less than half say they participated.

They may have trouble accessing information about their eligibility. The GAO recommends that the Food and Nutrition Service improve student eligibility information on its website and share information on state SNAP agencies’ approaches to help eligible students.

While some may think that hunger is a low-income problem, many students from both lower- and middle-income families who get financial aid still struggle to pay for tuition, room and board, books, fees and other costs. Some who do not qualify for aid still struggle.

All the while, college costs continue to rise. Between 2005–06 and 2015–16, prices for undergraduate tuition, fees, room and board at public institutions rose 34 percent, and prices at private nonprofit institutions rose 26 percent, after adjustment for inflation, the National Center for Education Statistics said last year.

Episcopalians involved in food insecurity work also look for ways to focus attention on the systemic issues that cause food insecurity, often by partnering with college administrations. Crowe was invited to serve on a San Jose State committee to address hunger on campus. Hale is also involved with the University of Oregon’s efforts.

Smokey’s Pantry volunteers (from left) Kathleen Spight, Haley Channell, Lauren Donnelly and Nelly Stepanov were ready Feb. 12 to serve University of Tennessee-Knoxville students at the food pantry run by the Lutheran-Episcopal campus ministry. Photo: Tyson House

It isn’t always easy, though, to get beyond the day-to-day needs. On the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Rusty Graham, the administrator of Lutheran and Episcopal campus ministry known as Tyson House, which runs Smokey’s Pantry, said “we’re very limited with the human power that we have that goes into the pantry.” Other groups on campus are trying to address the systemic issues “but from our perspective, we have to limit our scope to solving the immediate problem.”

Caitlynne Fox, Tyson House ministry coordinator and pantry intern, agreed. “As a campus community, that discussion about addressing the systemic issues has really just begun,” she said.

In her work in Houston, O’Brien tried to convey to Episcopalians and others who are in the position to make systemic changes. She took “the story of real lived experiences of students on campus and tell that story in other places where you had people who could do something about that problems. Campus ministry can help the church building up its consciousness about the lives of young adults.”

Read more about it

Click here for descriptions of six campus food ministries that Episcopalians are running.

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

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UN Human Rights Council to hear of Anglican efforts to combat human trafficking

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 3:11pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Efforts by Anglicans and Episcopalians to tackle human trafficking in Ghana, Hong Kong, the U.S. and the U.K. will be brought to the attention of the U.N. Human Rights Council this week. The Anglican Communion’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., Jack Palmer-White, will tell the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women that faith organizations have a key role to play in preventing trafficking in women and girls in the context of global migration. The committee is hosting a general discussion on the issue on Feb. 22 to help it prepare a “general recommendation” for U.N. member states.

Read the full article here.

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Equipo de planificación EYE20: Periodo de solicitud abierto para jóvenes interesados ​​en servir

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 3:04pm

Se aceptan solicitudes para jóvenes interesados ​​en participar en el Equipo de planificación para el Episcopal Youth Event 2020 (EYE20).

“Los miembros del Equipo de Planificación están encargados de crear e implementar EYE20 de principio a fin”, dijo Bronwyn Clark Skov, Director del Departamento de Formación en la Fe, que coordina el evento. “Los miembros del equipo deben ser maduros en su fe y ser capaces de emprender el trabajo y los compromisos necesarios durante el proceso de un año para desarrollar un evento internacional de esta escala”.

Para ser elegible para el Equipo de Planificación, los solicitantes jóvenes deben estar inscritos actualmente en los grados 9 a 11 y ser un miembro con buena reputación en una congregación de La Iglesia Episcopal. Además, todos los solicitantes deben estar disponibles para viajar sin acompañante en las siguientes fechas:

  •  Del 3 al 6 de octubre de 2019
  • Del 30 de enero al 2 de febrero de 2020
  • Del 16 al 19 de abril de 2020
  • Del 5 al 11 de julio de 2020

La solicitud en línea está disponible aquí en inglés y aquí en español.

La fecha límite para recibir solicitudes es el 17 de marzo de 2019 a las 5 de la tarde tiempo del Este.

El EYE20 es el 14º evento celebrado, que sigue siendo un evento popular y con buena asistencia. El EYE estará abierto a jóvenes episcopales en los grados 9-12 durante el año académico 2019-2020 y sus mentores adultos.

El EYE20 está programado del 7 al 11 de julio de 2020. El proceso de inscripción y los detalles adicionales sobre el evento estarán disponibles en otoño de 2019. La ubicación aún no se ha anunciado.

¿No está familiarizado con el Episcopal Youth Event? Lea acerca de EYE aquí.

Para más información diríjase a  bskov@episcopalchurch.org.

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La comunidad interreligiosa y los episcopales de San Diego siguen socorriendo a los solicitantes de asilo

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 7:39am

Voluntarios interreligiosos se reúnen semanalmente en el santuario de la iglesia episcopal del Buen Samaritano en San Diego, California, para clasificar ropa y otras donaciones. Aquí, la guardiana, Penny Powell, y la rectora, Rda. Janine Schenone, se dedican a esa tarea. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – San Diego, California] Cuando el otoño pasado el Servicio de Inmigración y Aduana de EE.UU. alertó a la Red de Respuesta Rápida de San Diego que comenzaría a soltar a la calle a solicitantes de asilo —incluidas familias con niños—, las organizaciones interreligiosas y de derechos humanos y sociales respondieron  con la apertura de albergues temporales.

“Un equipo de respuesta rápida aquí en San Diego lleva a un albergue a los solicitantes de asilo que han sido liberados por los agentes fronterizos, les proporcionan alimento y atención médica y les ayudan con el transporte para reunirse con miembros de sus familias u otras personas que los acogerán mientras fallan sobre sus casos, dijo Katharine Jefferts Schori, obispa auxiliar de San Diego, agregando que el proceso de sentencia a veces puede tomar años.

La iglesia episcopal del Buen Samaritano [Good Samaritan Episcopal Church] fue una de las muchas iglesias que se brindaron a identificar necesidades perentorias, tales como alimento, ropa, pañales y ayuda monetaria. La iglesia comenzó a aceptar ropa y otras donaciones a fines de octubre y ha continuado recibiendo donaciones diariamente y, una vez por semana, un promedio de 10 a 12 voluntarios interreligiosos clasifican las donaciones por talla y perdurabilidad.

“Sentimos que era lo que debíamos hacer”, dijo Carol Hamilton, presidente del [programa] de extensión social del Buen Samaritano. “Una de las cosas más bellas para nosotros es que esto ha atraído a comunidades de otras fes”.

En los tres años que la Rda. Janine Schenone ha servido como rectora, ha alentado a la congregación a participar más en la justicia social y en el compromiso comunitario, dijo Hamilton.

“Ella ha sido un apoyo y una fuerza motriz para sacarnos de nuestra zona de confort”, apuntó. “Políticamente, estamos muy mezclados y esto ha logrado juntar a muchas personas”.

Al principio, apuntó Schenone, algunos miembros de la congregación estaban preocupados de que la iglesia estuviera ayudando a inmigrantes indocumentados, pero cuando resultó claro que estaban ayudando a personas que buscaban entrar legalmente en Estados Unidos mediante el proceso de asilo, respaldaron la iniciativa.

Carol Hamilton, que preside el [equipo de] compromiso comunitario del Buen Samaritano, saluda a Tyler Seibert, que también es miembro del grupo de respuesta rápida, mientras entrega donativos a la iglesia. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

El Buen Samaritano ha ayudado a unos 6.000 solicitantes de asilo desde octubre, cuando el ICE comenzó a liberar  a gran número de estos solicitantes en comunidades sin sistemas de apoyo. Fue entonces cuando se movilizaron el Buen Samaritano y otros aliados de la Red de Respuesta Rápida de San Diego, una coalición de organizaciones de derechos humanos, servicios sociales y ayuda legal que ya existía.

Shelters les ofrece a los solicitantes de asilo un lugar donde puedan encontrar alimento, descanso, una ducha y ropa antes de abordar los autobuses y aviones para reunirse con miembros de su familia en todo el país, dijo Schenone, que ha usado su fondo discrecional para proporcionar dinero para el viaje a familias  que siguen para otras partes del país.

“Uno no puede simplemente  poner a esta gente en el autobús sin alimento, sin pañales, sin dinero”, señaló. “Los verdaderos héroes son las personas [voluntarias] que se personaron en la estación de autobuses”.

A partir del momento de la necesidad inicial, la comunidad interreligiosa abogó por una declaración de crisis, esperando que el gobierno ayudaría de la manera que lo hizo en 2016 cuando hubo un aumento de solicitantes de asilo haitianos que cruzaron la frontera, dijo Kevin Malone, director ejecutivo del Proyecto Organizativo de San Diego, una red no partidista y multirreligiosa de 28 congregaciones del Condado de San Diego.

“El ex gobernador de California] [Jerry] Brown abrió el arsenal para procesar a muchísimas personas de manera realmente rápida, pero ahora la situación es completamente diferente, no están haciendo cruzar a miles de personas en un corto período… ha habido de 50 a 70 al día durante mucho tiempo, y de una manera que les deja en la calle”.

“Sin nosotros se habrían sumado a la población indigente —personas que están llegando sin dinero— y eso habría sido atroz”, dijo Malone. “Pudimos actuar rápidamente porque contábamos con estas redes ya existentes”.

Finalmente, después de que el albergue temporal de la red se vio obligado a mudarse cuatro veces por razones de seguridad; el 29 de enero, la Junta de Supervisores de San Diego aprobó arrendar un viejo juzgado a la Red de Respuesta Rápida de San Diego para gestionar un albergue para solicitantes de asilo a lo largo de 2019.

Hasta fines de enero, El Servicio de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza de EE.UU. procesó hasta 100 solicitantes de asilo al día; el gobierno de Trump redujo ese número a 20 el 25 de enero.

El 11 de febrero, el gobernador de California, Gavin Newsom, firmó una orden para retirar de la frontera dos tercios de los soldados de la Guardia Nacional del estado, rebatiendo así los argumentos de una “crisis de inmigración ilegal” y calificándola como nada más que un “teatro político”, según una información de Reuters.

El 15 de febrero, el presidente Donald Trump declaró una emergencia nacional para construir un muro fronterizo  so pretexto de una invasión en la frontera sur.

El arresto de las personas que cruzan la frontera ilegalmente disminuyó del pico de 1 millón en 2006 a 396.000 en 2018. Los derechos de las personas perseguidas que buscan asilo y de la inmigración indocumentada con frecuencia se han inflado en las discusiones políticas.

“Frecuentes malentendidos públicos de la distinción entre ‘solicitante de asilo’ e ‘inmigrante indocumentado’ se suman a la confusión. Los solicitantes de asilo lo hacen legalmente, lo mismo si se encuentran con agentes en la frontera o después de entrar en Estados Unidos”, dijo Jefferts Schori. “Es vital reconocer que solicitar asilo es un derecho legal. Incluso si una persona cruza la frontera sin permiso oficial, el derecho internacional exige que se escuche la solicitud de asilo”.

La Iglesia Episcopal, a través de las resoluciones de la Convención General y del Consejo Ejecutivo, tiene un largo historial de apoyo a los refugiados, a los solicitantes de asilo y a los migrantes. Durante la 79ª. Convención General que se celebró en julio pasado en Austin, Texas, los episcopales se congregaron frente a un centro de detención que albergaba a mujeres migrantes en pública denuncia de las políticas del gobierno de Trump que separan familias.

Al mismo tiempo, los episcopales se han unido a los empeños interreligiosos a través del Sudoeste para responder y arrojar luz sobre la crisis humanitaria en la frontera en lugares como El Paso, Texas, que limita con Ciudad Juárez, y San Diego.

La vía de entrada de San Isidro, que conecta a Tijuana con San diego, es el punto fronterizo más concurrido de Estados Unidos, tanto en lo que respecta a la economía como a la gente. Personas y estudiantes cruzan diariamente la frontera para trabajar y para asistir a la escuela.

Un agente del Servicio de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza de EE.UU. patrulla la cerca entre Tijuana, México, y San Diego, California, en lo que es, por el lado de Estados Unidos, el Parque de la Amistad [Friendship Park]. Foto de Antonio Zaragoza para ENS.

Durante 20 años una cerca fronteriza de tablones ha separado San Diego de Tijuana. Los agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza vigilan el lado de Estados Unidos, donde un parque estatal y un estuario protegido forman una barrera entre la frontera y la más cercana comunidad residencial. En el lado de Tijuana, la gente vive junto a la cerca, que se extiende hasta el océano Pacífico.

Sin embargo, la actual cerca fronteriza no ha detenido la llegada de caravanas de migrantes y de solicitantes de asilo a la frontera. (En 2014, un número sin precedentes de menores no acompañados que huían de la violencia en América Central fueron detenidos cruzando la frontera).

La cerca fronteriza entre Tijuana, México, y San Diego, California, se construyó por primera vez en los años 90 durante el gobierno del presidente Bill Clinton. Foto de Antonio Zaragoza para ENS.

Cientos de migrantes centroamericanos empezaron a llegar el 14 de noviembre de 2018, a Tijuana y otros puntos de entrada. Las caravanas han sido politizadas en Estados Unidos y en sus países centroamericanos de origen, Guatemala, El Salvador y Honduras, donde uno de los principales móviles de la migración —los desplazamientos forzados por la violencia – con frecuencia se niega. Aquí en Estados Unidos, Trump ha llamado a los migrantes económicos y a los solicitantes de asilo un “asalto a nuestro país” y en noviembre pasado el Presidente desplegó tropas de la Guardia Nacional en la frontera.  Trump ha amenazado con suspenderle la ayuda a Guatemala, El Salvador y Honduras por cuenta de las caravanas.

“La actual crisis fronteriza se centra en ayudar a los solicitantes de asilo a que abandonen la frontera para esperar por las sentencias de sus casos. El nivel de violencia en América Central ha causado que miles de personas  hayan huido para salvar sus vidas, y muchos buscan asilo en Estados Unidos”, dijo Jefferts Schori. “Esos que buscan asilo son mujeres con niños pequeños, familias, menores no acompañados e individuos solteros en edad laboral.

“Han dejado su país porque tienen miedo, en particular después de que miembros de su familia y amigos han sido asesinados y amenazados en un lugar al que solían llamar patria, pero que ya no sostiene la vida”.

— Lynette Wilson es reportera y jefa de redacción de Episcopal News Service. Pueden dirigirse a ella en lwilson@episcoalchurch.org. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

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3 de marzo: Domingo de la Misión Mundial

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 3:37pm

Tradicionalmente celebrado el último domingo después de Epifanía, este año, el Domingo de la Misión Mundial se celebra el 3 de marzo.

El Domingo de la Misión Mundial, los episcopales están invitados a enfocarse en el impacto global del llamado del Pacto Bautismal de “buscar y servir a Cristo en todas las personas” (Libro de la Oración Común, p. 225). También es una oportunidad para crear conciencia de las muchas formas en que la Iglesia Episcopal participa en la misión de Dios en todo el mundo.

El Obispo Presidente y Primado Michael B. Curry de la Iglesia Episcopal, invita a la iglesia a observar el Domingo de la Misión Mundial en un video aquí.

“Como cristianos, estamos llamados a cruzar fronteras, a través de muros, de divisiones y a poner siempre a la familia en primer lugar, y nuestra familia es la humanidad entera. No hay fronteras geográficas en el mundo de Dios, solo hay amor, y el amor no conoce fronteras”, dijo el Reverendo David Copley, Director de Alianzas Globales y Personal de la Misión en un sermón publicado aquí.

Actualmente, los misioneros de la Iglesia Episcopal sirven en muchos lugares internacionales, incluyendo Aotearoa, Nueva Zelanda y Polinesia, Brasil, Costa Rica, República Dominicana, Inglaterra, El Salvador, Haití, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel / Palestina, Panamá, Filipinas, Qatar, Rumania, Sudáfrica y Tanzania.

Recursos adicionales sobre la misión mundial se pueden encontrar aquí.

Miembros actuales de Jóvenes Adultos del Cuerpo de Servicio de la Iglesia Episcopal aquí.

Más información sobre los Voluntarios Episcopales en Misión aquí.

Para obtener más información, comuníquese con Jenny Grant, Oficial de Relaciones Globales y Redes jgrant@episcopalchurch.org.

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