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Same-sex spouses not invited to next year’s Lambeth Conference of bishops

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 1:41pm

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] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is not inviting same-sex spouses to the 2020 Lambeth Conference of bishops.

Public word of Welby’s decision came in an Anglican Communion News Service blog post by Anglican Communion Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon. He wrote that invitations have been sent to 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.” Those invitations traditionally come from the archbishop of Canterbury.

“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,” Iduwo-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.”

Iduwo-Fearon said that the archbishop of Canterbury “has had a series of private conversations by phone or by exchanges of letter with the few individuals to whom this applies.”

Resolution 1.10 was passed by the conference in 1998 after heated debate.

The Episcopal Church currently has one “active bishop” who has a same-sex spouse. The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool was elected as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles in December 2009 and consecrated May 2010. She has been bishop assistant in the Diocese of New York since April 2016. She is married to Becki Sander, her partner of more than 30 years.

Diocese of New York Bishop Assistant Mary Glasspool

Glasspool told Episcopal News Service Feb. 18 in a telephone interview that she received a letter from Welby on Dec. 4, 2018, in which he said that he was writing to her “directly as I feel I owe you an explanation of my decision not to invite your spouse to the Lambeth Conference, a decision that I am well aware will cause you pain, which I regret deeply.”

Welby met with Glasspool and Sander in September when he visited Trinity Wall Street. She called it a get-acquainted session which did not touch on the Lambeth Conference.

Glasspool said she and Sander, New York Bishop Andy Dietsche and New York Bishop Suffragan Allen Shin “have been praying about this and talking about this” since receiving the letter. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry also met with Glasspool and Sander to discuss Welby’s letter. “One of my takeaways was how can we make a positive, creative, responsive witness to the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord?” she said about how they and the church should respond to his decision.

Curry was in South Africa Feb. 18 and issued a short statement saying, “I have not yet had an opportunity to consult with appropriate leadership in the church but will do so.”

Both Glasspool and Sander replied to Welby in separate letters later in December. Glasspool said her two-page letter to Welby, parts of which she read to ENS, told him about her 30-year experience in The Episcopal Church “and where the church has come,” and evoked Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, especially his emphasis on just and unjust laws.

“When will the church accept to it the gift of the LGBTQ community?” she asked Welby. “Young people are watching us. If they haven’t written off all of Christianity for being homophobic, they do find The Episcopal Church inviting and inclusive.”

She told the archbishop that “the important thing I want to say is it’s about love. I am talking about people who love one another and look to the church to support them in their life-long marriage where the values of faithfulness, respect, dignity, truth-telling, monogamy and the love that is our loving God’s gift to all of us are upheld.

“After a lifetime of discussion, I am relatively confident that The Episcopal Church will never again turn its back on the LGBTQ community. Will the same be said of Lambeth 2020?”

Spouses who attended the 2008 Lambeth Conference of bishops pose July 25 on the University of Kent campus in Canterbury. Photo: Anglican Archives

Glasspool told ENS that Sander noted in their conversation about Welby’s decision that it seems to be based in part on an apparent assumption that “spouses are simply an extension of the bishop to whom they are married, and that somehow there is a view of marriage that doesn’t quite sit well with an egalitarian or reciprocal or a mutual partnership” model.

The bishop said that she expects to attend Lambeth 2020, and she has asked Sander to come with her for support. “The issue is will she be included in the conversation,” Glasspool said.

Glasspool said she plans to “consult, as much as people are willing” at the House of Bishops’ previously scheduled meeting March 12-15, 2019, at Kanuga outside Hendersonville, North Carolina. “Not with the expectation that we are all of one mind, but because I do not wish to respond only as an individual, but rather with a sensitivity to the body as a whole,” she said.

Prior to the House of Bishops meeting in March, the church’s Executive Council, composed of bishops, clergy and laity, begins its winter meeting Feb. 21 in Midwest City, Oklahoma.

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.

Brown told ENS that he would not comment about the Lambeth Conference decision because of his pending consent process.

Across the communion, it is unclear just how many bishops are included in Welby’s decision. Diocese of Toronto Bishop Suffragan Kevin Robertson married Mohan Sharma 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 has not replied to ENS’ request for comment.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada is scheduled to vote in July 2019 on changing its marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage.

The bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference of bishops pose July 25 for the traditional group photo. Photo: Anglican Archives

The Lambeth Conference is a periodic gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion which the archbishop of Canterbury calls and issues invitations. 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.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and his wife, Caroline, are featured on the home page of the 2020 Lambeth Conference. Photo: 2020 Lambeth Conference

Spouses have typically participated in a parallel program. However, in 2020, there will be a joint program for the first time. Spouses of bishops will attend combined sessions “at key points in the overall program,” according to information here. There will also be separate sessions on the specific responsibilities of the ministry for bishops and spouses, according to the Lambeth website. The conference’s website features a photo of Welby and his wife, Caroline. The page was recently changed to add a link to Idowu-Fearon’s blog. It now reads, “the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is sending personal invitations to every eligible bishop and spouse (excluding same-sex spouses) and is looking forward immensely to hosting them.”

Iduwo-Fearon’s statement that “all those consecrated into the office of bishop should be able to attend” the Lambeth gathering might be seen as a certain amount of movement beyond the most-recent previous Lambeth Conference. In 2008 then-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams refused to invite Bishop Gene Robinson, who had become the first openly gay and partnered bishop in the Anglican Communion in 2003. He served as bishop of New Hampshire until his retirement in January 2013. He and his then-partner of 25 years Mark Andrew were joined in a civil union in 2008 and married in 2010. They divorced in 2014.

At the House of Bishops meeting in March 2008, three bishops whom then-Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold asked to discuss Robinson’s then-still-pending invitation reported that “a full invitation is not possible.”

Robinson urged his colleagues not to boycott the conference because of his exclusion. Instead, addressing the House, he urged them to participate fully in it, and thanked all who were willing to “stay at the table.”

At the end of that meeting, the bishops said in part that “Even though we did not all support the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire, we acknowledge that he is a canonically elected and consecrated bishop in this church. We regret that he alone among bishops ministering within the territorial boundaries of their dioceses and provinces, did not receive an invitation to attend the Lambeth Conference.”

Then-Diocese of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson signs copies of his book “In the Eye of the Storm” July 31, 2008, in the Lambeth Conference Marketplace on the University of Kent campus in Canterbury. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Some other bishops from across the more than 165 countries in which the Anglican Communion is present refused to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference due to theological disagreements with the main body of the church about the full inclusion of LGBTQ people and women in the life of the church.

Robinson went to the gathering in what he called an act of witness. Organizers permitted him to be in the Lambeth Marketplace, the conference’s display and sales area, an invitation he initially refused. He was also allowed to attend two receptions hosted by Episcopal Church bishops that were specifically intended to allow him to meet colleagues from around the world. He was invited to worship and speak at several other venues in the Canterbury area, including the University of Kent’s law school.

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


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Interfaith community, San Diego Episcopalians continue to respond to asylum seekers’ needs

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 3:24pm

Interfaith volunteers at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in San Diego, California, gather weekly in the church’s sanctuary to sort through clothing and other donations. Here, Senior Warden Penny Powell and the Rev. Janine Schenone, rector, sort through donations. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – San Diego, California] When last fall U.S. Immigration and Customs Control alerted the San Diego Rapid Response Network it would begin releasing asylum seekers – including families with children – onto the streets, the county’s interfaith and social and human rights organizations responded by setting up temporary shelters.

“A rapid response team here in San Diego brings asylum seekers who’ve been released by border officials to a shelter, provide food and medical attention, and assists the asylum seekers in arranging transportation to family members or others who will host them while their cases are adjudicated, said San Diego Assisting Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, adding that the adjudication process can sometimes take years.

Good Samaritan Episcopal Church was one of the many churches that stepped up identifying immediate needs, such as food, clothing, diapers and cash assistance. The church began accepting clothing and other donations in late October. It has continued to receive donations daily, and once a week, an average 10-12 interfaith volunteers sort clothing donations by size and wearability.

“We felt it was the right thing to do,” said Carol Hamilton, Good Samaritan’s outreach chair. “One of the most beautiful things for us is that it has drawn in other faith communities.”

In the three years the Rev. Janine Schenone has served as rector, she’s encouraged the congregation to get more involved in social justice and outreach, said Hamilton.

“She’s been such a support and driving force to move us out of our comfort zone,” she said. “We are very mixed politically and this has brought so many people together.”

At first, said Schenone, some members of the congregation were concerned the church was helping undocumented immigrants, but when it became clear they were assisting people seeking legal entry into the United States through the asylum process, they got behind it.

Carol Hamilton, Good Samaritan Episcopal Church’s outreach chair, greets Tyler Seibert, who is also a rapid responder, as he delivers donations to the church. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Good Samaritan has assisted some 6,000 asylum seekers since October, when ICE began releasing large numbers of asylum seekers into communities without a support system. That was when Good Samaritan and other partners in the San Diego Rapid Response Network, an existing coalition of human rights, social services and legal aid organizations, mobilized.

Shelters offer asylum seekers, a place where they can find food, rest, a shower and clothing before boarding buses and airplanes to unite with family member across the country, said Shenone, who has used her discretionary fund to provide travel cash to families traveling to other parts of the country.

“You can’t just stick people on the bus without food, diapers, money,” she said. “The real heroes are the people [volunteers] who were showing up at the bus station.”

From the time of initial need, the interfaith community  advocated for a crisis declaration, hoping the government would assist the way it did in 2016 when a surge of Haitian asylum seekers crossed the border, said Kevin Malone, executive director of the San Diego Organizing Project, a nonpartisan, multi-faith network of 28 congregations in San Diego County.

“[Former California] Gov. [Jerry] Brown opened up the armory to process a lot of people really fast, but it’s a completely different crisis, they are not moving thousands across in a short period … it’s been 50-70 a day for a long time, and in a way that leaves them on the street.”

“Without us they would have added to the homeless population – people were coming across with no money – and that would have been awful,” said Malone. “We were able to act quickly because we have these existing networks.”

Eventually, after the network’s temporary shelter was forced to move four times because of safety concerns, on Jan. 29 the San Diego Board of Supervisors voted to lease an old courthouse to the San Diego Rapid Response Network to operate a shelter for asylum seekers through 2019.

Until late January, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol processed up to 100 asylum seekers a day; the Trump administration reduced that number to 20 on Jan. 25.

On Feb. 11, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an order to withdraw two-thirds of the state’s National Guard troops from the border, disputing claims of an “illegal immigration crisis” and calling it nothing but “political theater,” according to coverage from Reuters.

On Feb. 15, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to build a border wall citing an invasion on at the southern border.

Apprehension of people crossing the border illegally fell to some 396,000 in 2018, down from a peak of 1 million in 2006. The rights of persecuted people to seek asylum and undocumented immigration often become conflated in political arguments.

“Frequent public misunderstanding of the distinction between ‘asylum seeker’ and ‘undocumented immigrant’ adds to the confusion. Asylum seekers do so legally, whether they are met by officials at the border or after entering the United States,” said Jefferts Schori. “It is vital to recognize that seeking asylum is a legal right. Even if a person crosses the border without official permission, international law requires that the request for asylum be heard.”

The Episcopal Church, through General Convention and Executive Council resolutions, has a long history of supporting refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. During the 79th General Convention held last July in Austin, Texas, Episcopalians gathered outside a detention center housing migrant women in public witness to the Trump administration’s immigration policies separating families.

In the time since, Episcopalians have joined interfaith efforts across the Southwest to respond to and shed light on the humanitarian crisis at the border in places like El Paso, Texas, which borders Ciudad Juarez, and in San Diego.

The San Ysidro port of entry connecting Tijuana and San Diego is the busiest border crossing in the United States, both in terms of economics and people. People and students cross the border daily for work and to attend school.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent patrols the U.S.-Mexico border fence between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, California, in what is, on the United States side, Friendship Park. Photo: Antonio Zaragoza for Episcopal News Service

For 20 years a slatted border fence has separated San Diego from Tijuana. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agents patrol the United States side, where a state park and a protected estuary form a buffer between the border and the nearest residential beach community. On the Tijuana side, people live up close to the fence, which extends into the Pacific Ocean.

The existing border fence, however, has not deterred migrant caravans and asylees’ arrival at the border. (In 2014, an unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in Central America were detained crossing the border.)

The border fence between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, California, was first constructed in the 1990s during President Bill Clinton’s administration. Photo: Antonio Zaragoza for Episcopal News Service

Hundreds of Central American migrants began arriving Nov. 14, 2018, in Tijuana, and other ports of entry. The caravans have been politicized in United States and in their Central American countries of origin, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, where one of the main drivers of migration – forced displacement by violence – is often denied. Here in the United States, Trump has called economic migrants and asylum-seekers an “assault on our country,” and last November the president deployed National Guard troops to the border.

“The current border crisis is centered on aiding asylum seekers as they leave the border to wait for their cases to be adjudicated.  The level of violence in Central America has caused thousands of people to flee for their lives, and many are seeking asylum in the United States,” said Jefferts Schori. “Those seeking asylum are women with small children, families, unaccompanied minors and single individuals of working age.

“They have left home because they are afraid, particularly after family members and friends have been killed and threatened in a place they used to call home, but no longer supports life.”

-Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of Episcopal News Service. She can be reached at lwilson@episcoalchurch.org.

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Bishop of Tamale Jacob Ayeebo dies in Ghana at age 58

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 2:29pm

Bishop of Tamale Jacob Ayeebo welcomes Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to Ghana in 2017 during a pilgrimage organized by Episcopal Relief & Development.

[Anglican Communion News Service] Tributes have been paid to Bishop of Tamale Jacob Ayeebo, who died suddenly this week in the office of his diocese’s development agency. He was 58.

Ayeebo, the second bishop of Tamale in Ghana, part of the Church of the Province of West Africa, died Feb. 12 at the offices of the Anglican Diocese Development and Relief Organization, in Bolgatanga, Ghana. The cause of death was reported as congestive cardiac failure. Funeral arrangements are being finalized. He leaves a wife, Rita, a daughter and three sons.

During his tenure, Ayeebo built a partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development and collaborated with Episcopal Church staff on integrated programs to address poverty and disease in the Upper East region.

Episcopal Relief & Development also organized pilgrimages to Ghana to showcase Ayeebo’s work, including one in 2017 that included Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and members of his staff. Episcopal Relief & Development issued a statement on Ayeebo’s death here, saying, “we will always remember Bishop Jacob’s warmth and friendship.”

Read the full article here.

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Bishop travels 8,000 miles for confirmations in world’s southernmost Anglican cathedral

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 2:19pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Three people were confirmed this week in the southernmost cathedral in the Anglican Communion – but the cathedral’s bishop, the Rt. Rev. Tim Thornton, had to travel some 8,000 miles from his office in London, England, for the service. The Falkland Islands are not within an Anglican Communion province but rather an Extra Provincial area under the metropolitical authority of the archbishop of Canterbury. The bishop to the Falklands is a post held by the bishop at Lambeth – the senior episcopal assistant to the archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace.

Read the full article here.

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Episcopal seminaries embrace role as testing grounds for the Way of Love in action

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 4:08pm

[Episcopal News Service] At Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, it is being used to frame small group discussions about cultural issues and Friday morning worship. At Episcopal Divinity School in New York, it has deepened the seminary’s commitment to justice issues. And at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California, it is shaping seminarians’ field work in local parishes.

This is the Way of Love in action, with an emphasis on Christian formation.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry unveiled the Way of Love’s seven practices in a sermon during the opening Eucharist of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas, in July. He and his team of advisers looked to monastic traditions for their model in developing the Way of Love’s framework for a rule of life based in seven practices: turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go and rest.

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers is canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The church encouraged Episcopal seminaries and schools of theology to incorporate this framework into their programs of theological education in ways appropriate to their individual contexts. Such institutions were an ideal venue for experimentation because of their “quasi-monastic” atmosphere and their influence on the future of the church, said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care.

“Change in the experience of theological education yields a changed church,” Spellers told Episcopal News Service. “If we can help to make seminary a time of deep engagement with spiritual practice and … help people to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus during those years, pretty soon you’ve got a very different church.”

Virginia Theological Seminary, or VTS, is one example of an institution that has taken the Way of Love and run with it.

Lisa Kimball, the school’s associate dean for lifelong learning and a member of the team that helped Curry develop the Way of Love, said she is supervising a student developing a Way of Love parish retreat for Lent as part of an independent study. Kimball also has presented the Way of Love to the Christian formation courses she teaches while highlighting the growing church-wide trove of resources based on the framework.

We're sponsors of The Episcopal Church's Way of Love – how are you incorporating it into your every day life? https://t.co/FhUes3inRl https://t.co/FhUes3inRl

— Lifelong Learning @ VTS (@VTSLifelong) January 10, 2019

Students are leading the way, too. A VTS student worship team kicked off Friday morning services this month centered on the Way of Love practices. A working group at the seminary is developing a faculty rule of life based on the Way of Love. It has been shared with the campus community by e-newsletter, and Kimball encourages students who find examples in the congregations where they worship to bring those ideas back to campus and share them.

“I feel committed to the ambitious goal that everyone that graduates from VTS will be familiar with the Way of Love as the perfect process it is for discipleship,” Kimball told ENS, “and therefore will know where the resources are and will have a powerful model for inviting people to practice the way of love … in ministry.”

Worshipers were given Way of Love wallet cards at the July 5 opening Eucharist of the 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas, as seen in this photo taken from an Episcopal Church video of the service.

The seven practices should be familiar to most Christians, but by pulling them together in a rule of life, the presiding bishop’s team sought to give Episcopalians a clearer idea for how to live out their faith as part of what Curry often calls “the Jesus Movement.”

  • TURN: Pause, listen and choose to follow Jesus.
  • LEARN: Reflect on Scripture each day, especially on Jesus’ life and teachings.
  • PRAY: Dwell intentionally with God each day.
  • WORSHIP: Gather in community weekly to thank, praise and dwell with God.
  • BLESS: Share faith and unselfishly give and serve.
  • GO: Cross boundaries, listen deeply and live like Jesus.
  • REST: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace and restoration.

That’s the starting point. Episcopal institutions, from Forward Movement to Forma, are building from there, treating the Way of Love like a piece of open-source computer software for the soul. The Episcopal Church is promoting its own resources tied to the liturgical year, with materials now available for Lent.

“The approach that we’ve tried to make is to offer a framework, offer a very generous shape for a rule of life, and then step back and let the people and the spirit take it where they need to go,” Spellers said. “I’m very excited to see what will seminaries do with this.”

Most recently, Episcopal seminaries and schools of theology also have been applying the Way of Love to their Lenten preparations.

The Rev. Caroline Carson, a deacon and third-year seminarian at Sewanee: University of the South in Tennessee, has produced Lenten reflections each year while at the seminary, and this year she is incorporating the seven Way of Love practices.

“Sometimes, it may be a call to fast for that afternoon in reflection of an area of the Anglican Communion in strife,” Carson said in an emailed statement. “Sometimes, it may be an invitation to worship in a different setting. Often it will be a question asking how will you be a visible sign of God’s love to someone today?”

Carson also is developing a Way of Love community bulletin board to collect students’ ideas, and she plans to create a Way of Love station in the campus’ commons room, where students can come for baked goods and take slips of paper that combine lines of scripture with calls to reflect, pray and learn.

At the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, “we really don’t implement that within our curriculum officially,” spokesman Eric Scott said, but the seminary maintains close relationships with local parishes, where talk of the Way of Love has “exploded.”

“It kind of informally works its way into classrooms,” Scott said. “We really empower our students to build those things organically on their own.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaches Feb. 11 at General Theological Seminary’s Chapel of the Good Shepard in New York. Photo: General Theological Seminary

General Theological Seminary in New York also is in the early stages of considering how to incorporate Way of Love into its program. It received plenty of inspiration Feb. 11 when Curry preached in the seminary’s Chapel of the Good Shepherd.

“This Jesus of Nazareth has shown us the way,” Curry said. “This Jesus of Nazareth, his way of love is the way of life. It is the way that will set us all free.”

Episcopal Divinity School, or EDS, welcomed its first cohort of 10 seminarians in the fall after reaching an affiliation agreement with Union Theological Seminary. Miguel Escobar, EDS’ director of Anglican Studies, said he and the Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, EDS’ dean, were inspired by Curry’s sermon at General Convention when he first spoke of the Way of Love.

EDS “has a long history of seeing the Gospel as very focused on justice issues,” Escobar said in an interview with ENS, citing racial justice, alleviating poverty and environmental conservation. The Way of Love, from that perspective, is also the way of justice, he said, and with each of the seven practices, “there’s actually a public justice aspect of it.”

“Go,” in particular, speaks to the Christian call to work toward a better community for all members, Escobar said. The “Turn” toward Jesus also entails a turn away from hatred and fear. And in “Prayer,” Episcopalians are urged to pray for the least among us, but also to pray with the least among us in the community, he said.

Although EDS has not yet created any new educational or formation offerings for its students based specifically on the Way of Love, Escobar said the presiding bishop’s rule of life is informing conversations in EDS classrooms and beyond.

Jed Dearing, a second-year seminarian at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, or CDSP, is helping a nearby Episcopal parish, St. John’s in Ross, connect its parishioners to the Way of Love. At a parish retreat in September, he led a session about developing a rule of life and another session about contemplative prayer as seen through the lens of the Way of Love.

St. John’s has been active in encouraging parishioners to take up the seven practices. This month, the congregation is focusing on “Bless,” with a discussion group on Feb. 10 and a “mini-retreat” planned for March 2.

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

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Southern Virginia Bishop Herman Hollerith retires, is honored by Annual Council

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 3:24pm

From left to right, Bishop James B. Magness, Carolyn Magness, Lizzie Hollerith and Bishop Herman Hollerith.

[Diocese of Southern Virginia] The Rt. Rev. Herman Hollerith IV, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, retired on Dec. 31, 2018. Bishop Hollerith was elected on Sept. 27, 2008, and was consecrated as the tenth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia in Feb. 13, 2009.

Hollerith announced his intention to retire in his address to the 126th Annual Council of the Diocese in 2018. “We have come a long way together,” Hollerith told council, “You have taught me much.” He went on to say that the time had come for “fresh eyes and fresh energy to lead the community forward.”

On Feb. 8, 2019, at its 127th Annual Council, the Diocese honored Hollerith for his 10 years of ministry in Southern Virginia. In his address to Council, Bishop Diocesan Pro Tempore James B. Magness gave thanks for Hollerith’s leadership following a very difficult time in the life of the Diocese of Southern Virginia. “For 10 years he worked to build staff and structures that would, as we used to say during my Navy career, right the ship,” Magness told council.

Hollerith undertook a significant diocesan reorganization during his tenure, including the relocation of the diocesan office to a more central and accessible location. He led Southern Virginia in a diocesan response to the sins of slavery and racism, establishing the Repairers of the Breach Task Force.  A service of Repentance, Reconciliation & Healing which included a formal apology from the bishop on behalf of the Diocese of Southern Virginia, was held in 2013. Hollerith supported the full inclusion of LGBTQ Christians in the life of the church, establishing the Living a Holy Life Task Force to foster conversation throughout the diocese around issues of human sexuality.

Hollerith has served in numerous leadership roles during his tenure, including as a member of the board of the College for Bishops; a member of the House of Bishops Committee on Pastoral Development; a member of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops; and a member of the board of the Berkeley Divinity School, the Episcopal Seminary at Yale University.

The Standing Committee of the diocese has appointed a Nominating/Search Committee and a Transition Committee to discern bishop candidates and conduct an election. Names are currently being received and an election is scheduled for Sept. 21, 2019. Information about the process and timeline for the election of the new Bishop are available at diosova.org.

The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia stretches from Virginia’s Eastern Shore to the Dan River, with 102 congregations organized into nine convocations. It has 102 active priests and 12 active deacons. Chanco on the James is the camp and conference center, located on the banks of the James River in Surry County. The Diocesan Office is located in the City Center area of Newport News.

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Chicago Bishop Jeffrey Lee to retire in 2020

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 10:55am

[Episcopal News Service] Diocese of Chicago Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee sent a letter to his diocese on Feb. 14 announcing his intention to step down in August 2020. He has called for the election of his successor. The text of press release about his announcement follows.

Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee announced today that he will retire as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago in August 2020, and called for the election of his successor.

“When I reflect on the work we have done together, I am most grateful for our shared success in focusing the work of my staff and the diocese’s leaders on congregational vitality,” Lee wrote in a letter to the diocese. “As you have often heard me say, the only excuse for something like a diocese is to foster thriving congregations in local communities using the best data and resources we can muster. Together, through prayer and song and fierce conversations, we have accomplished that cultural shift, and it is bearing fruit across our region.”

Lee was ordained in February 2008 to lead a diocese that comprises 33,000 people in more than 120 congregations northern and west central Illinois. His tenure included the reunification of the Dioceses of Chicago and Quincy and a major renovation of St. James Commons, the diocesan headquarters in downtown Chicago, that created a venue for retreats and meetings called the Nicholas Center.

Under Lee, the diocese conducted an examination of the legacy of slavery in its common life, and supported the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender queer Christians in the sacramental and ministerial life of the church and policies to stem the tide of gun violence in the region and across the country. Through advocacy and personal support, members of the diocese also worked against the persecution and marginalization of immigrants and refugees.

Planning for the election of Lee’s successor began last night when Bishop Todd Ousley, the Episcopal Church’s bishop for pastoral development, held a teleconference with the diocese’s Standing Committee, which will oversee the search and transition process.

“In my remaining time as your bishop, I intend to do all I can to advance the excellent work of the Taskforce on Hispanic/Latino Mission and Ministry Sustainability, to forge a new partnership between the diocese and Episcopal Charities, and to attract energetic, talented clergy who want to join us in fostering vital congregations,” Lee wrote. “Finally, I hope to leave a gift for the future vitality of God’s ministry in this place by increasing the diocese’s program endowment and supporting the capacity of congregations to raise capital funds.”

The Standing Committee will inform the clergy and people of the diocese about the search process that will soon begin, Lee wrote. The process typically includes the formation of search and transition committees, the development of a diocesan profile, a period of nominations, the announcement of a slate of nominees, and an election in 2020 on a date to be determined.

“As we travel together toward the place where our paths will diverge, I will cherish each remaining opportunity to celebrate the sacraments with you and to pray together for a time of transition filled with hope and trust in God’s never-failing goodness,” Lee wrote.

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Virginia bishop calls on Episcopalians to ‘look at our own lives’ as blackface scandals grip state

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 3:56pm

[Episcopal News Service] Diocese of Virginia Bishop Suffragan Susan Goff issued a statement this week about the series of political scandals that have engulfed the state, which Goff said provide Episcopalians an opportunity to “take a close look at our own lives” and to repent.

“This scandal invites us to confess the ways we have fallen short of the image of God that is in us and to repent, to turn around and act in a different way,” Goff said Feb. 12. “The political realities of this current moment in our commonwealth are complex, but our faith response is not. Out of our own confession and repentance, we can call for the repentance of our leaders.”

Protesters demonstrate Feb. 2 outside the Virginia governor’s mansion in Richmond demanding Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam resign. Photo: Reuters

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has faced widespread calls to resign over revelations that he wore blackface in the 1980s, a scandal sparked by the discovery of a photo on his college yearbook page showing a someone in blackface standing next to another person dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Northam, a white Democrat, has said he intends to stay in office as the political uproar has spread to include other top Virginia leaders. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is black, has since been accused of sexual assault by two women, and two additional white politicians in the state, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, have come forward to admit their own experiences wearing or promoting blackface decades ago.

Virginia Gov. Northam says he wants "to heal that pain" of racial inequality and won't resign, according to a Washington Post report https://t.co/xnnsHTHdBl pic.twitter.com/v1NLNEEqy6

— CNN (@CNN) February 9, 2019

Blackface’s roots date to the pre-Civil War era, when white performers in the North and South would darken their skin to spoof black characters, often with exaggerated features and gestures that served to glorify negative stereotypes of black appearance and behavior. The tradition, which persisted into the 20th century in everything from pop culture to college parties, is widely condemned today as racist.

“After World War II, black Americans, by dint of a long struggle, finally managed to shame white Americans into not doing blackface anymore. And then other ethnic groups continued shaming white Americans into not doing other kinds of ethnic face since then,” John Strausbaugh, author of “Black Like You,” said in an interview with Vox. “Certainly by the 1960s, blackface had become one of the few very absolute taboos in American culture.”

In the Diocese of Virginia, Goff has taken on the role of ecclesiastical authority while the diocese seeks a successor for Bishop Shannon Johnston, who stepped down last year. The diocese encompasses 38 counties in the northeast third of the state, including suburban Washington, D.C.

Susan Goff

In her Feb. 12 statement, Goff, who is white, alluded to “the painful legacy of racism in our nation.”

“White American culture once not only tolerated white people donning blackface, but embraced it as a form of entertainment. Yet it was always hurtful, demeaning and insulting to people of African descent,” Goff said. “What was accepted back then was not acceptable, and it is not acceptable now.”

The Episcopal Church has identified racial reconciliation and healing as one of its three top priorities, in addition to evangelism and creation care, under Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the church’s first African-American leader. General Convention in 2015 placed such racial healing work in the context of the church’s decades-old efforts to confront its historic complicity in the sin of racism during the eras of slavery and segregation. Additional resolutions targeting racism were approved in 2018.

Becoming Beloved Community, a framework launched in 2017, has become the church’s cornerstone initiative on racial reconciliation, symbolized by a labyrinth with four parts: “Telling the Truth,” “Proclaiming the Dream,” “Practicing the Way” and “Repairing the Breach.”

The core questions under the heading “Telling the Truth” include, “What things have we done and left undone regarding racial justice and healing?” Goff echoed that question in her message about the Virginia scandals.

“We as people of faith, no matter what our race, gender or ethnicity, promise in our baptismal vows to respect the dignity of every human being. We also know the power of confession, so much so that we engage in the practice regularly,” Goff said. “This current scandal provides us an opportunity to examine not only the lives of our political leaders, but to take a close look at our own lives.

“When have we done or said things that have diminished the dignity of others? In what activities have we engaged that were once accepted, but never acceptable?”

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

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Alabama Bishop Kee Sloan announces plan to step down at end of 2020

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 1:04pm

[Episcopal News Service] Diocese of Alabama Bishop Kee Sloan issued a message to his diocese on Feb. 9 announcing his intention to step down at the end of 2020. He has called for the election of a bishop coadjutor, who will succeed him as diocesan bishop.

Sloan first announced his plans in an address to the diocesan convention. The text of his written message to the diocese follows.

Hello, friends

This morning in my address to our Diocesan Convention, I called for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor, who we will elect to become my successor. It is my intention to continue to serve as your Bishop Diocesan until the end of 2020. You will be able to see and hear the address here or read it here, but the essence of it is that I think it’s time for me to step aside for new leadership as we continue to share the Good News of the love of God in Jesus Christ in a changing world.

Diocese of Alabama Bishop Kee Sloan

We will release more details about the process of nominating and electing the 12th Bishop of Alabama when they become clear, but it will likely take a year and a half or so, and after we elect and ordain the next bishop, there will be a few months of overlap so that the transition is orderly and smooth.

The part of us that is always on the lookout for something juicy or scandalous will have to be disappointed this time: I have loved being your bishop, and I still do.  I’m not mad at anybody, I haven’t lost my faith, I’m not quitting in a huff, and I’m not being run out of town. It’s just time. By the end of 2020, I will be 65 years old and will have been ordained for over 39 years, 13 as a bishop. By the end of 2020, I will have been married to Tina my sweet and patient wife for 33 years, and we want to have some time for travel and new adventures.

The world is changing quickly, and the Church will either change with it or become a museum.  I find myself more and more thinking in terms of The Way We’ve Always Done It, and I have loved the Episcopal Church too much for too long to get in the way now.  As I say in the address, “Change looked more fun when I was one of the young priests, leaning into the new Prayer Book, supporting the ordination of women.”

So I guess I’m a Lame Duck now, and there’s not much I can do about that.  But it’s not time for goodbyes yet; I’m still the bishop for a while, and I really don’t want to spend the next 20 months saying goodbye every time I say hello.  There will be time for goodbyes later, and we have a lot of work to do before then.

The Lord bless you, and keep you, and make his face shine upon you.

God’s Peace,


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Retiring Western New York bishop to serve as assisting bishop in Long Island

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 12:54pm

[Diocese of Western New York] Bishop Bill Franklin, who will retire as bishop of Western New York on April 3, will become assisting bishop in the Diocese of Long Island in May.

“Bishop Bill Franklin is a wonderfully gifted bishop whose experience and wisdom will add a great deal to the overall ministry of our diocese,” said Bishop Larry Provenzano, bishop of Long Island. “I look forward to welcoming my esteemed friend and colleague to the staff of the diocese.”

Franklin, who holds a doctorate in church history, will work with the Long Island diocese’s Mercer School of Theology, conduct parish visitations and support clergy and lay leaders. He joins Bishop Daniel Allotey and Bishop Johncy Itty, who also serve as assisting bishops. Bishop Geralyn Wolf is the assistant bishop of Long Island.

In retirement, Franklin will also teach a fall 2019 course in liturgical history at Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He continues to serve as vice-chair of the Board of the Archives of the Episcopal Church and as chair of the Episcopal Church’s Task Force to Coordinate Ecumenical and Interreligious Work.

The Diocese of Western New York will hold three events to celebrate Franklin’s ministry, including a service on April 7 at which Northwestern Pennsylvania Bishop Sean Rowe will be installed as bishop provisional.

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La Iglesia Episcopal de Colorado anunció el exitoso proceso de consentimiento canónico

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 8:06am

La Iglesia Episcopal de Colorado recibió una notificación del Obispo Presidente y Primado Michael B. Curry y del Registrador de la Convención General, el Reverendo Canónigo Michael Barlowe, de que el obispo electo Kimberly D. Lucas ha recibido la mayoría requerida de consentimientos en el proceso de consentimiento canónico detallado en Canon III.11.3.

Al dar consentimiento a su ordenación y consagración, los Comités Permanentes y los obispos con jurisdicción dan fe de que “no hay impedimento debido al cual” el obispo electo Lucas no debe ser ordenado como obispo, y que su elección se llevó a cabo de acuerdo con los cánones.

El Reverendo Kimberly D. Lucas fue elegido obispo el 27 de octubre. El Obispo Presidente Curry oficiará en su ordenación y servicio de consagración el 18 de mayo.

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Vida Joven de Mexico offers ‘orphans’ a home, education and chance at life

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 5:14pm

A house mom and a tutor help the children with homework after dinner at Vida Joven de Mexico, an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Tijuana, Mexico] Routine and order. That’s the rule of life at Vida Joven de Mexico, an orphanage here where 24 abandoned Mexican children ages 2 to 18 live.

The home is located near a maximum-security men’s prison, where in the 1970s, a makeshift “village” of poor women and children emerged to live in proximity with the men. It was dangerous; children witnessed violence, assassinations, drug trafficking and abuse.

In 1996, Episcopalians from Los Angeles learned of the village and responded with Vida Joven, which remains in its original 2,000-square-foot concrete building with a 25-child capacity.

“We were meant to rescue kids from danger. We never intended to be a place for kids to grow up,” said Sylvia Laborin, Vida Joven’s founding director, who will retire later this year after 22 years.

Beth Beall, Vida Joven’s U.S.-based executive director, makes weekly visits to the orphanage from her home in San Diego. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

In Mexico, abandoned children become wards of the state and are sent to shelters or orphanages, or end up living on the streets. Eighty percent of the children who land at Vida Joven come through social service agencies; 90 percent of them have at least one living parent, but all have been either surrendered or abandoned, said Beth Beall, executive director of Vida Joven in the United States.

Tijuana, which borders San Diego, is one of the most dangerous cities on the planet. With a population of 1.7 million, the city’s homicide rate reached 2,500 in 2018. An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 children are in state custody in Baja California, the Mexican state on the Baja California Peninsula, where Tijuana is the largest city.

Drug trafficking is largely responsible for the violence, and many of the abandoned children’s parents suffer from drug addiction. For example, four siblings landed at Vida Joven after a neighbor saw the oldest one, a 7-year-old girl, searching for food in the garbage. Both of the parents were on drugs.

“We have more needs right now, and I don’t mean food or supplies or whatever,” said Laborin. “It’s the needs of the children. They are lost … there’s a rootlessness.”

A 5-year-old boy, one of four siblings living at Vida Joven de Mexico, puts up chairs after dinner. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Twenty years ago, the children were “very obedient and nice”; today, however, Laborin said, “they are angry with their families, with everything.”

Family is important in Latin culture. It’s customary for children to remain with their families, so living apart from them can be tough for the children, especially teenagers.

“Some have run away to reunite with family, and it hasn’t worked out well,” Laborin said.

Now an institution of the Diocese of San Diego and an established U.S. nonprofit organization, Vida Joven operates on a $320,000 annual budget, with $220,000 funding operations in Tijuana. It costs about $8,000 per child, most of which goes to staff salaries, said Beall.

Vida Joven functions with 15 round-the-clock staff members – including a psychologist and a social worker – none of whom live onsite. The children sleep in dormitories: infants and toddlers together in one room; older boys and girls in separate dorms, each dorm equipped with one bathroom. The beds are neatly made, clothing stacked in piles in the closet. There’s an administrative office, a space dedicated to study, a kitchen and a dining area, which also serves as common space for homework.

On a recent Thursday afternoon, following a meal of refried beans, guacamole and tortillas, the children dutifully opened their notebooks and began their homework.

In modern Mexico, it’s impossible to find a job as a cashier without an education, something Vida Joven’s leadership and supporters emphasize. Mexico provides free public school education, but it costs about $100 to buy the required uniforms to start kindergarten, while the average worker in Tijuana earns $4 per day, Beall said.

A house mom helps a girl with her homework. Education is a big part of life at Vida Joven de Mexico. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Many of the children’s parents have little to no education beyond primary school. In the past, students could leave school after sixth grade; today the government mandates a 12th-grade education. However, as Vida Joven’s leadership has found, capacity exceeds space by some 10,000 students.

Vida Joven’s secondary education-aged students attend private school for $200 a month.

“We are fortunate we have donors who really get it and fund education,” said Beall.

In recent years, Vida Joven has received support not just from U.S. donors, but from people in Tijuana who’ve come to support the orphanage, as well.

“This is what salvation looks like – people are rescuing and saving these kids’ lives,” said Beall. “This is a place of healing. Not all of the stories have happy endings, but we do know that if they were not here, they’d be dead or in the sex trade.”

A mosaic was mounted on a wall in the courtyard of Vida Joven de Mexico in Tijuana. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Beall gestures to a mosaic in the courtyard. “These kids have been shattered to pieces. We give them the opportunity to create something better,” she said. “We are here to love, protect and educate.”

Before Laborin became Vida Joven’s director, she worked as an esthetician. After her husband died and her children married, she closed her shop. She discovered that “not doing anything” was terrible. Then, she saw a job advertisement for Vida Joven. She was one of 100 applicants and five selected for interviews.

“I saw this place and it was filthy,” she said. “I thought, if they hire me, I’ll stay for a little while.”

One of the first things Laborin did was clean up the building. It was something she could control because, even with order and routine, no two days are the same. Twenty-two years ago, when the first children arrived, Laborin expected their belongings to follow. They didn’t; they arrived only with the clothes on their backs.

“The need, really, I was overwhelmed totally,” she said.

Sylvia Laborin, right, Vida Joven’s founding director in Tijuana, and Beth Beall, Vida Joven’s U.S.-based executive director, chat during Beall’s visit to the orphanage. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

For the first few years, Laborin admits she felt anger toward the children’s parents for abandoning them, until one day a friend told her she had to let go of her anger and put herself in their shoes. After that, she said, she let it go but admits to this day that sometimes, “I still kinda don’t get it.”

One of the most important things, though, she said, is that her eyes were opened to humanity and people’s unseen needs.

“We live in a little bubble; we don’t see,” said Laborin. “I didn’t even know the needs.”

– Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of Episcopal News Service. She can be reached at lwilson@episcopalchurch.org.

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South Sudan’s first Episcopal radio station named in honor of Mothers’ Union president

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 1:41pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Central Equatoria internal province has established the first Episcopal radio station in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. It has been named to honor the tremendous role played bySarah Meling, the first provincial president of the Mothers’ Union who served what was then the Episcopal Church of Sudan from 1985. The station is Sit Sarah Radio 98.1FM – the word “Sit” is coined from an Arabic word meaning Madam.

Read the full article here.

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Thomas Brown elected 10th bishop of Maine in historic vote

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 11:06am

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Thomas James Brown was elected Feb. 9 to become the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Maine.

Brown, 48, was elected at a special convention in Bangor. One of five nominees, clergy and lay delegates chose him on the third ballot. He received 57 votes in the clergy order and 84 votes in the lay order. (The diocese’s ballot page does not indicate how many votes were required in each order for an election.)

Brown is currently the rector of the Episcopal Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, Massachusetts.

The other nominees were:

  • The Rev. Kenneth Brannon, rector, St. Thomas, Sun Valley, Idaho
  • The Rev. Anne Mallonee, executive vice president and chief ecclesiastical officer, Church Pension Group, New York City
  • The Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton, rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Everett, Washington
  • The Rev. Janet Waggoner, canon to the ordinary and transition ministry officer, Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas

The diocese made history with the election. Brown will become The Episcopal Church’s only openly gay and married bishop currently leading a diocese. He is married to the Rev. Thomas Mousin, who is currently the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charlestown, a neighborhood of Boston.

The church currently has one other openly gay bishop. The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool was elected as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles in December 2009 and consecrated May 2010. She has been an assistant bishop in the Diocese of New York since April 2016. She is married to Becki Sander.

The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson became the first openly gay and partnered bishop in the Anglican Communion in 2003 and served as the Diocese of New Hampshire’s bishop until his retirement in January 2013. He and his then-partner of 25 years Mark Andrew were joined in a civil union in 2008 and married in 2010. They divorced in 2014.

Robinson’s consecration and ordination became a flashpoint in both The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Early in 2008, then-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams refused to invite Robinson to the decennial Lambeth Conference gathering of all the bishops in the Anglican Communion. Some other bishops refused to attend the conference due to theological disagreements with the main body of the church about the full inclusion of LGBTQ people and women in the life of the church.

The Anglican Communion office has not responded to Brown’s election.

After the election, the Rev. Maria Hoecker, rector of St. Columba’s in Boothbay Harbor and president of the Diocesan Standing Committee, said “We have been blessed by the Holy Spirit today with the election of Thomas Brown and the gifts he will bring as our next bishop,” according to a news release.

The bishop-elect told the delegates via a video link, “I give God thanks and praise for this call, and the opportunity to continue building the church in Maine on Christ the solid rock. Bishop Lane and his family, along with the diocesan staff, and every congregation are in my prayers as they continue in the holy work of transition. To God be the glory.”

Brown received his Master of Divinity from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, an Episcopal Church seminary in in Berkeley, California. He has also served as rector of St. Michael Episcopal Church in Brattleboro, Vermont, and as the director of alumni and church relations at CDSP. Bishop-elect Brown has held many leadership positions in The Episcopal Church and in the Diocese of Massachusetts, and is currently chair of the Church Pension Fund’s board of trustees.

Pending consent of a majority of the church’s bishops with jurisdiction and the diocesan standing committees, Brown will be ordained and consecrated on June 22 at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will officiate. Brown will succeed the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane who has served the diocese since 2008 and will retire in June.

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

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RIP: Patricia Carson (Nason) Mordecai, former Episcopal Church COO

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 10:36am

Patricia Carson (Nason) Mordecai, 80, of Scarborough, Maine, died peacefully at Gosnell Memorial Hospice Home on Feb. 7, 2019, from cancer. She was predeceased by her loving husband of 28 years, Donald D. Mordecai.

Patricia leaves her daughter Barbara Nason and husband Peter Sherman, son Thomas Nason and wife Jennifer Martin, stepsons Daniel Mordecai and David Mordecai, brother and sister-in-law Robert and Penelope Carson, grandchildren Leeland, Marshall, Emma, Alexandra, Gillian, great grandchild Oliver and numerous nieces and nephews.

Patricia (Pat) was born in Orange, New Jersey, and brought up in New Rochelle, New York. She graduated from The College of Wooster in 1960 where she met her first husband, Charles (Chuck) K. Nason. Pat was married to Chuck for 24 years and raised their children in Wayland, Massachusetts. In 1985, Pat married Donald D. (Don) Mordecai.  After residing in Wayland, they moved to various places following their careers in Connecticut, Washington, D.C and New York.

Pat had a life-long and commendable career with The Episcopal Church both nationally and locally, including at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, and St. Albans Church in Washington, D.C.  From 1998 until her retirement in 2006, she served as the chief operating officer of The Episcopal Church at its New York City headquarters.

“The chief operating officer exercises a ministry of care and oversight on behalf of the presiding bishop. I can think of no one more suited to that task than Pat Mordecai.  Her previous diocesan, seminary and parish experience, together with her well-developed ability to balance close attention to the proper working of the systems under her charge with respect and care for those engaged in the work at hand, made her the right person at the right time.  Pat was a wonderful colleague and a dear friend,” said former-Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold.

Following retirement, Pat and Don moved to Castine, Maine, where they were active in town and church affairs and enjoyed gardening, boating, walking, music and reading.  In 2011, Pat and Don moved to Scarborough where Pat was very active at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Falmouth and the Scarborough Garden Club.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on March 2, 2019, at the Episcopal Church of St. Mary, 43 Foreside Road, Falmouth, Maine. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to remember Pat may make a donation to The Island Institute (sustaining the islands and communities of the Gulf of Maine), P.O. Box 648, Rockland, ME 04841.

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Megan M. Traquair elected ninth bishop of Northern California

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 10:05am

The Rev. Megan M. Traquair

[Diocese of Northern California] The Rev. Megan M. Traquair was elected the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California at the diocese’s Special Electing Convention on Feb. 9 at Faith Episcopal Church, Cameron Park.

Bishop-elect Traquair is the first woman to be elected as bishop, selected from the first slate to ever include female candidates in the diocese of Northern California. Traquair was elected on the third ballot with a vote of 151 lay delegates and 85 clergy. To be elected required a majority of both orders on the same ballot.

Traquair is currently canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Arizona. Her husband Philip is a pediatrician at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. They have been partners and best friends as well as parents. They have two children: Hannah who teaches high school in Tucson, and Benjamin, who is an engineer in Colorado.

Bishop Barry L. Beisner said, “As one who deeply loves this diocese, I am personally most grateful to all five candidates for their faithful participation in this very demanding process. By making themselves available to the Holy Spirit in this way, they have given us a great gift. May they all be blessed. I ask all the people of God to join me in praying God’s blessing upon The Rev. Canon Megan Traquair, our bishop-elect. God strengthen and sustain her in this time of profound transition to new ministry, and to an exciting opportunity to serve our Lord in Northern California.”

Providing the Standing Committee receives the consents from a majority of the bishops of the church and a majority of the standing committees of the dioceses, the consecration is scheduled for June 29, 2019, at the Mondavi Center in Davis.

The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California comprises 68 parishes and missions and includes all of Northern California from Sacramento north, except for the five counties of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Alabama church removes pew, plaque dedicated to Confederate President Jefferson Davis

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 4:54pm

A pew known as the Jefferson Davis pew is seen among newer pews at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Photo: David Berenguer

[Episcopal News Service] The pew had been an unmistakable fixture for decades at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Online photos show the pew – a cross-shaped poppyhead carved in its wooden finial – sticking out among the rows and rows of newer, plainer-looking pews that filled the rest of the church’s sanctuary.

One other detail made this pew stand out: It was known as the Jefferson Davis pew and had an accompanying plaque touting its history, a tribute to the Confederate president who attended St. John’s for three months in 1861 before the capital of the Confederacy was moved from Montgomery to Richmond, Virginia.

Today, that pew is in storage. The congregation removed it recently and moved a newer pew from the back of the sanctuary to take its place. The plaque was removed, too. “To continue to allow the pew to be in our worship space would be troublesome,” the Rev. Robert Wisnewski, rector at St. John’s, said this week in a message to the congregation.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis is seen in this portrait by Matthew Brady. Source: National Archives

At a time when Episcopal churches and institutions across the country are reckoning with their historical ties to slavery, the Confederacy and Jim Crow segregation, Wisnewski and vestry members took steps to set the record straight at St. John’s. They removed the Jefferson Davis pew, Wisnewski said, because its ties to Davis were false and its dedication ceremony 89 years ago was a political act steeped in racism, which runs counter to Christianity.

“Davis was a political figure, not a church figure, nor even a member of the parish,” Wisnewski wrote. “Acting to remove the pew and plaque is the correction of a political act and hopefully will help us all to focus more completely on the love of Christ for all people.”

Wisnewski, when reached by email, declined Episcopal News Service’s request for an interview, saying he had “nothing to add to the statement I’ve made,” though he clarified why the church began scrutinizing the history of the pew and plaque.

“In teaching a Sunday school class this past fall, I became aware of the pew’s dedication not occurring until 1925,” said Wisnewski, who has served at St. John’s since 1995. That detail was the first loose thread that led to the unraveling of the story of the Jefferson Davis pew.

Wisnewski noted the plaque at St. John’s called Davis “a communicant,” but Davis was not yet a confirmed Episcopalian when he attended services at St. John’s. The pew that was dedicated in 1925 wasn’t an original, Wisnewski said. The congregation had replaced the old pews with new ones in the early 1900s. By the 1930s, a pew from Davis’ era had been re-installed and labeled, but its ties to the Confederate figure were uncertain at best.

More troubling was evidence that the 1925 dedication ceremony championed white supremacy as openly as any nods to local history. Its timing, with racism and segregation on the rise, coincided with the “Lost Cause” campaign across the South, which sought to rehabilitate the image of the Confederacy and its leaders by denying the South fought the Civil War to protect slavery.

Montgomery’s roots in antebellum South

In the 1950s, Montgomery would become a pivotal battleground in the civil rights movement, with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., as pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, joining others in leading the successful Montgomery bus boycott. But a century earlier, Alabama’s capital city was known as a commerce hub in the slave-powered cotton empire of the antebellum South.

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Montgomery, Alabama, is seen in an undated historic photo. Photo: St. John’s, via website

St. John’s is Montgomery’s oldest Episcopal parish. It formed in 1834, and in 1837, the congregation completed construction of its 48-pew brick church. When membership topped 100, the congregation built a new church in 1855, and slaves were given use of the old brick church, according to a guidebook published by the Civil Heritage Trail.

Montgomery “was the exhilarated, thronging capital of the Confederate States of America” in the first months of 1861, the guidebook says, and Davis was inaugurated the Confederacy’s president in the city on Feb. 18.

Davis was raised a Baptist and only began attending Episcopal services in Montgomery at the urging of his second wife, Varina.

“We have no way of knowing how many times he or his family attended, perhaps only a few times or perhaps as many as a dozen times,” Wisnewski said in his message to the congregation about the Davis pew. “Since Davis was not confirmed, it is probable that he never received Holy Communion here and technically was not a communicant.”

After leaving Montgomery, Davis was confirmed in 1862 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, once known as the Cathedral of the Confederacy. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee also worshiped at St. Paul’s.

Pew plaques and stained glass windows at St. Paul’s had long touted the Richmond church’s historical ties to those two prominent Confederate figures when, in 2015, St. Paul’s launched its History and Reconciliation Initiative to re-examine that history and consider whether changes were warranted.

A massacre was the catalyst.

On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof opened fire at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine black worshippers. When photos surfaced of Roof posing with a Confederate flag, it fueled a nationwide debate over the racist legacy of such imagery and its embrace by white supremacists.

At St. Paul’s, the congregation decided to remove all representations of Confederate battle flags but to keep family memorials to fallen Confederate soldiers, and the congregation left untouched its plaques marking the pews where Davis and Lee once sat.

In 2017, a violent clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the fate of the city’s Confederate statues led to a new round of national debates and amplified calls to remove such symbols from public display, including at Episcopal institutions. Washington National Cathedral in the nation’s capital removed stained glass windows depicting Lee and a fellow Confederate general, Stonewall Jackson. Sewanee: University of the South in Tennessee moved a statue of another Confederate general from a prominent spot on campus to the university’s cemetery. R.E. Lee Memorial Church in Lexington, Virginia, changed its name back to its original Grace Episcopal Church.

“The argument is simple: The Confederacy fought to maintain slavery and white supremacy in the United States, and this isn’t something the country should honor in any way,” Joe McDaniel Jr., a member of General Convention’s Committee for Racial Justice and Reconciliation, said this week in an interview with ENS.

General Convention has passed numerous resolutions over the years to guide The Episcopal Church as it responds to racism and atones for its own complicity in racial injustice and support for racist systems. Such efforts have led to the creation of the Becoming Beloved Community framework, now the church’s cornerstone initiative on racial reconciliation.

McDaniel, a 58-year-old retired lawyer living in Pensacola, Florida, said he has followed closely the debate over Confederate statues and other memorials in recent years. He disputes arguments that removing such monuments amounts to erasing history. The monuments were not motivated by Southern pride or benign historic preservation, McDaniel said, but rather to promote a cause that was dedicated to keeping black Americans enslaved.

“Most of America is finally coming to terms with that,” McDaniel said. “I applaud St. John’s action in moving the Jefferson Davis pew.”

Little doubt about Davis pew’s racist pedigree

Vestry members made that decision last weekend at a planning retreat, Wisnewski said in his written message, after he brought his research on the pew to their attention, including the evidence that the pew was not in place for the 1925 dedication.

“The lore that the pew had been in place since the beginning of the Civil War and always known as the Jefferson Davis Pew is not true,” Wisnewski said.

The rector also discovered details of the 1925 dedication ceremony, which featured a speech by writer and historian John Trotwood Moore, known as “an apologist for the Old South” who espoused virulent white supremacist rhetoric and defended lynching.

John Trotwood Moore was known as an “apologist for the Old South.” He spoke at the dedication of the Jefferson Davis pew in 1925. Source: Tennessee State Library and Archives

A 1999 article in the Tennessee Historical Quarterly provides a description of Moore’s speech at the dedication of the Jefferson Davis pew, based on contemporary newspaper reports. The event was attended by Alabama’s governor and other civic leaders, and Moore was “their natural choice to deliver appropriate words,” according to the article’s author, Fred Arthur Bailey.

In addition to hailing Davis as a “pure blooded Anglo Saxon,” Moore made a case that racial purity and white superiority were part of Davis’ legacy.

“We are the children not of our father and mother but of our race,” Moore said. “It is well to teach our children that they are well bred, descendants of heroes. Only the pure breed ever reaches the stars.”

Wisnewski indicated that Moore’s role in the dedication of the pew gave little doubt about its racist pedigree.

“Confederate monuments and symbols have increasingly been used by groups that promote white supremacy and are now, to many people of all races, seen to represent insensitivity, hatred, and even evil,” Wisnewski said.

“The mission of our parish is diametrically opposed to what these symbols have come to mean. … Even if the actions which brought about the Jefferson Davis Pew in 1925 were only to memorialize an historical fact, and that appears improbable, the continuance of its presence presents a political statement.”

The vestry voted to remove the pew and place it and the plaque honoring Davis in the church’s archives.

“This was not done to rewrite our history or to dishonor our forebears,” Wisnewski wrote in his message to the congregation. The current vestry would not vote to add such a pew honoring Davis, so it would be “troublesome” to let the existing pew remain.

“St. John’s prides itself in being a spiritual home for all people and a place where politics takes a back seat to the nurture of our souls,” Wisnewski said. “Our worship space is sacred and should direct our hearts to the love of God without distraction.”

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

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El período de solicitud ya está abierto para las becas Roanridge Trust

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 4:34pm

Se están aceptando solicitudes para las becas Roanridge Trust 2019. Las diócesis, congregaciones y organizaciones e instituciones relacionadas con La Iglesia Episcopal están invitadas a solicitar.

Las becas Roanridge Trust se ofrecen anualmente y apoyan modelos creativos de desarrollo de liderazgo, capacitación y ministerios en pueblos pequeños y comunidades rurales de toda La Iglesia Episcopal. Las becas generalmente varían de 5.000 a 20.000 dólares y se otorgan para ayudar a equipar a los líderes que sirven como catalizadores del bienestar civil y social en los municipios rurales donde la comunidad está unida de manera única con la vitalidad de la iglesia local.

“Estas becas afirman los valiosos dones y el testimonio único del trabajo ejercido en las comunidades episcopales rurales. Son una pieza clave del Movimiento Jesús, en la creación de líderes que sostienen la esperanza, la salud y la creatividad en lo que se puede pasar por alto o en las localidades con recursos”, dijo Melanie Mullen, Directora de Reconciliación, Justicia y Cuidado de la Creación para La Iglesia Episcopal. “Los beneficiarios de la beca Roanridge Trust representan anualmente el gran potencial, la diversidad y la capacidad de recuperación basada en Jesús en la América rural”.

Más información, solicitud e instrucciones están en inglés aquí y en español aquí.

Aunque los destinatarios anteriores son elegibles para solicitar, se da prioridad a los nuevos solicitantes.

La fecha límite de solicitud es el 30 de abril de 2019.

El Roanridge Trust fue establecido por la familia Cochel, que originalmente donó una granja en Missouri llamada Roanridge a La Iglesia Episcopal. Los ingresos del Fideicomiso generan los fondos de la subvención.

Las preguntas sobre Roanridge Trust y el proceso de solicitud pueden dirigirse a Ann Hércules,  ahercules@episcopalchurch.org.

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Lambeth Conference: Archbishop of Cape Town calls on bishops to ‘express your difference’

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 11:30am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, has called on Anglican bishops to attend the next Lambeth Conference despite differences within the Anglican Communion.  Thabo chairs the international Design Group, brought together by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to plan the once-in-a-decade gathering of Anglican bishops, which will take place in Canterbury, Kent, July 23-Aug. 2, 2020. “I know people talk about the fabric of the communion as torn,” he said, “but we are all fallible human beings in need of God’s love and grace, and we need each other.”

Read the entire article here.

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Preliminary cathedral reinstatement works underway as Christchurch greets new bishop

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 11:25am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The new bishop of Christchurch in New Zealand, Peter Carrell, will be consecrated and installed Feb. 8 as efforts to reconstruct the earthquake damaged cathedral are finally underway. The cathedral was all but destroyed in the June 2011 earthquake. Years of dispute and legal wrangling over its future came to an end in September 2017 when the diocese agreed to rebuild the cathedral, with funding support from national and local government.

Read the entire article here.

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