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Episcopal Church in Minnesota finds new home in North Minneapolis

Fri, 01/26/2018 - 9:42am

Minnesota Bishop Brian Prior speaks at an open house to celebrate the Episcopal Church in Minnesota’s new offices in North Minneapolis. Photo: Episcopal Church in Minnesota

[Episcopal Church in Minnesota] The Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior and the trustees of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota (ECMN) have known for a while that the offices located on Loring Park in Minneapolis were not a fit for ministry.

Only one room could accommodate more than 10 people and the building lacked accessibility and an elevator, meaning meetings often needed to be scheduled elsewhere. Over time, the list of ways that the space did not work grew longer.

With a relocation inevitable, Prior and the trustees were determined that the move must follow the call of God rather than simply finding a building with the right space and dimensions. “We wanted to make sure that we were locating ourselves in a community,” said Prior. “We knew that we needed to learn and grow through relationship, that we needed to be connected to our neighbors, and be working to steward the gifts and resources that God has given us to be useful and usable in that space.”

It was a relationship that brought ECMN to its new community on the corner of West Broadway Avenue and Emerson Avenue, in the heart of North Minneapolis.

Sammy Mcdowell owns Sammy’s Avenue Eatery, home to what many locals consider the best sandwiches and sweet potato pie in North Minneapolis. Sammy’s had provided food for ECMN events, and through this a relationship began to form. So, when one of the tours of countless office spaces brought the bishop and the trustees to the address of Sammy’s Avenue Eatery, and they toured the office space right above the café, they began to sense the call of God to this new space.

North Minneapolis has faced its share of challenges over the years. With a lack of investment by businesses, schools and industry, the community has been economically depressed. And yet there are churches and organizations that have been doing good work there for decades.

As the bishop and trustees discerned their call to a new space and they sense that God was moving and calling ECMN to this new building in this new neighborhood, the purchase was made, and the process began of shaping the space for the needs of ECMN. As they considered designs, Prior said, “We took into consideration the widest possible definition of our community – we’ve asked ourselves questions like: how will this space be useful in 20, 40, 60 years?  How can this be a usable asset for every faith community in the state? How could this space serve our neighbors?”

The purchase and construction of the new offices was funded by the the sale of the previous office building. The new offices are set over three floors and include four conference rooms, one large meeting space, and many other areas to gather, collaborate and network. There are offices that will be used by community partners, both those with Episcopal roots and others, to act as an incubating space for innovative work that benefits Minnesotans.

Meanwhile, Sammy’s Avenue Eatery is co-located in the space, further deepening and strengthening the existing partnership, and continuing to act as a hub of meeting for North Minneapolis residents, offering a place to meet and eat and build relationships with others in the community.

During a recent open house hosted in the new offices, Episcopalians from across the state crowded into the newly renovated Gathering Space – intended for 100 people, but on this below zero Saturday afternoon nearly 200 crammed in shoulder to shoulder. They gathered to hear the words of Bishop Richard D. Howell, leader of Shiloh Temple International Ministries, a highly revered church of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. His words of blessing rang out as those in the room nodded their heads in agreement, “that there will be love and peace and your witness oh God, that as we lift up your name all men and women shall be drawn unto you. Bless this work, bless this congregation, bless this community of believers today, that every person passing up and down that street will truly say ‘surely, the Lord is in that place.’”

— Kelsey Schuster is missioner for communications with the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.

South Carolina bishops join ecumenical letter to lawmakers urging action on education equity

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 5:00pm

[Episcopal News Service] The bishops of the two Episcopal dioceses in South Carolina have joined four of their counterparts with other Christian churches in signing a letter to the state’s General Assembly urging lawmakers to join with the educators, advocates and the faith community in working to improve public education.

“Inequity in education delivery in our state cannot be remedied by the Legislature alone,” the bishops say in their letter, released this week. “The Courts cannot correct this injustice alone. Only together can we make a difference for the children of South Carolina.”

Diocese of Upper South Carolina Bishop Andrew Waldo, left, speaks Jan. 17 about an education initiative involving several Christian denominations in the state. Waldo was part of a panel discussion during the All Our Children conference held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Bishop Andrew Waldo of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina and Bishop Skip Adams of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina have been working on the issue of education equity with other Christian churches in the state since 2014, when they formed the Bishops’ Public Education Initiative. The initiative aimed to encourage church-school partnerships while providing a collective voice in speaking out for public policy changes to benefit all children, regardless of race or economic status.

Waldo and Adams were joined in signing the recent letter to the General Assembly by bishops from the state’s Lutheran, Roman Catholic, United Methodist and Christian Methodist Episcopal churches.

The letter references the bishops’ initial 2014 “Statement on Public Education” and it comes two months after the South Carolina Supreme Court said it was up to lawmakers, not the courts, to set education funding levels, despite evidence that the state had failed to ensure students in 30 or more poor school districts were receiving “minimally adequate education.”

The court’s November ruling essentially reversed its own 2014 ruling that ordered the General Assembly to develop a plan for fulfilling the state’s obligation to all its students.

The bishops’ new statement on the issue comes a week after the Episcopal Church helped convene a conference in South Carolina on education equity through the All Our Children network. The conference, held Jan. 16 to 18 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, drew more than 100 educators, advocates and church leaders from multiple denominations. Some of them cited the court decision as a call to action, as did the bishops in their letter this week.

“In light of the recent Supreme Court decision to end oversight of progress made, especially in rural schools, we renew our call to people of faith to join us in support of flourishing education for all children,” the bishops’ letter reads. “It is now time for us to act where progress is on hold or stalled.”

The bishops reaffirmed their commitment to South Carolina’s children, including through tutoring and mentoring programs, and they pledged to support efforts to bring more qualified teachers to the states’ classroom, including through better pay. The letter also emphasizes the need to address the “uneven” availability of technology from district to district.

“We commend those who work across district lines to collaborate and consolidate resources,” the letter concludes. “We stand ready to encourage these efforts in any way possible. We know this work will require all of us. We are here to work with you. We are calling on you to give this issue your greatest attention. We invite you to call on us.”

Read the full letter here.

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

California congregation uprooted by deadly mudslides finds solace in faith, fellowship

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 3:46pm

The Rev. Aimee Eyer-Delevett, second from right, rector of All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito, California, chats with parishioners Jan. 14 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, where members of both congregations worshiped while All Saints was under an evacuation order due to the recent mudslides. Photo: Sheri Benninghoven

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Aimee Eyer-Delevett and her congregation got the word Jan. 24 that they could return to their church for the first time in two weeks, but they have no expectations of an immediate return to normal life or business as usual at All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito, California.

Fire and flood have changed everything for this community sandwiched between mountain and ocean on the east side of Santa Barbara.

All Saints and its neighbors have suffered weeks of disaster, from the massive wildfire that threatened in December to the Jan. 9 mudslides that have killed at least 21, with two people still missing. The church and its parish school have been closed since authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation from the neighborhoods in the path of the mudslides. The church wasn’t damaged, but the sprawling debris field left Highway 101 impassable and split the congregation in two, with parishioners on the Santa Barbara side isolated from those in the region to the east and south.

“It’s been a very difficult time,” Eyer-Delevett told Episcopal News Service by cellphone. “The community has suffered a collective trauma, the entire community of Montecito.”

Her uprooted congregation has found solace in faith and fellowship. Until they can worship in their own church again, All Saints parishioners are attending services at Episcopal churches in Santa Barbara and Ventura and at home churches outside the evacuation zone. After Highway 101 reopened Jan. 21, all are invited to a “Service of Healing and Hope” on Jan. 26 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara.

Great news: #Hwy101 is now OPEN thru #Montecito @SBCounty! Thanks to our crews & contractors who made it happen. Off-ramps in area remain closed so watch for truck traffic & use extra caution. Safe travels, everyone. pic.twitter.com/thC429v6kM

— Caltrans District 5 (@CaltransD5) January 21, 2018

All Saints clergy and lay leaders, meanwhile, are focused on providing pastoral care to their now scattered members, including to the newest member – a baby boy, born last week to Montecito residents who have been staying with a fellow parishioner in Santa Barbara. Such generosity has been replicated in countless ways across the region since early December, when the Thomas Fire began threatening.

The wildfire grew to become the largest in California’s history, and though Montecito and the Santa Barbara area were largely spared by the fire, the smoke and ash still upended daily life for weeks.

It also forced All Saints to cancel Sunday services on Dec. 10 and 17. Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Santa Barbara invited the All Saints congregation to join Trinity for worship on Dec. 17, but then Trinity had to cancel its service, too, when the downtown church became part of the evacuation zone.

All Saints leaders were able to return to their church Dec. 19, just in time to prepare a full complement of Christmas Eve and Christmas services. They turned their focus to clearing ash from church grounds, including facilities used by the Friendship Center, an elder-care day center that operates on All Saints grounds.

Then, heavy rain began to fall.

The wildfire had created conditions in the higher elevations that were ripe for disaster, and the deluge early Jan. 9 turned those fears into reality. The water cascaded down the hillside, picking up mud and debris and smashing through anything in its path. Homes were damaged or destroyed. Cars were washed away. Some residents were trapped until emergency crews reached them. Others failed to make it out alive.



Most of the damage was centered on Montecito, an unincorporated community of about 9,000 people. Power and phone service was lost. Water from taps was ruled unfit for drinking without boiling. All Saints closed its parish school but opened the church grounds for use as a medical triage site. The church also was used by the California National Guard as an evacuation gathering point. By the end of the day Jan. 11, the church grounds were mostly deserted.

A day later, on Jan. 12, the Thomas Fire finally was declared 100 percent contained.

Communicating with the congregation was difficult, but Kathleen Bright, the parish’s director of administration, worked with parishioner Sheri Benninghoven to begin compiling a list of parishioners who were confirmed safe. Benninghoven posted updates on social media and sent emails to the congregation asking people to add to the list of names. The emails also sought to identify families in need, as well as families able to provide help. Another parishioner checked parish and school directories against a website that showing damaged or destroyed homes.

From those information sources, All Saints produced an Excel spreadsheet that church leaders used to match needs with offers of help, such as temporary housing, meals and clothes.

Those in need included a couple from the parish who were days from the birth of their second child and suddenly homeless. Another parishioner in Santa Barbara had some extra space where the couple and their school-age daughter could stay. Friends from the parish and school community also provided a crib and other baby supplies, so when the boy was born Jan. 16 at the hospital in Santa Barbara, a comfortable home awaited him.

“It’s been astounding to see the way the community has come together around this,” Eyer-Delevett said. “They were able to benefit from the generosity and hospitality of the parish and the parish school. … It’s been humbling and encouraging to see the way that people who have not experienced this trauma directly, but indirectly, have been able to pour out such assistance.”

No one from All Saints, either parish members or school families, was killed in the mudslides, though many parishioners know people who died or who lost everything in the disaster. Some also have harrowing stories to tell about surviving the overnight floods.

“There won’t be ‘going back to normal’ after this,” said the Rev. Melissa McCarthy, the Diocese of Los Angeles canon to the ordinary. “The emotional trauma of being asleep in your bed and hearing a big bang and all of a sudden being swept away by mud pouring through your bedroom, that’s the stuff of nightmares.”

Members of All Saints gather to worship Jan. 14 in a house church in Carpinteria after their church was evacuated in the aftermath of mudslides in Montecito. Photo: Diana Andonian

Members of the congregation who live east and south of Montecito or fled south down Highway 101 have worshiped at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Ventura or at services held in a house in Carpinteria. The majority, though, either lives west and north of the mudslides or fled that direction when the evacuation was ordered. Those parishioners were invited to worship at Trinity in Santa Barbara.

“What we’ve done is basically welcome them into our services and let them use our building for any meetings and programs during the week,” Hall, the priest at Trinity, said. “They’ve got a lot of work do, and we want to support them any way we can.”

Days run together, Eyer-Delevett said, while she keeps most of her focus on providing pastoral care to those in need. She and her wife are staying in Santa Barbara, and when she attends worship at Trinity, she sits in the pews with the other parishioners, leaving it to the Trinity team to lead the service.

“It’s been wonderful to be welcomed with such gracious hospitality,” she said.

Nancy Doane Babbott, left, and Sylvia Weller from All Saints enjoy slices of pizza and post-worship conversation Jan. 14 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara. Photo: Sheri Benninghoven

On Jan. 14, after the first joint worship service, the Trinity congregation ordered 46 pizzas – “pizza is the universal comfort food,” Hall explained – and served 300 people in the parish hall, a blending of All Saints parishioners and their host congregation. The conversation lasted hours as some people lingered there well into the afternoon.

“Every moment that we get to spend together is cherished,” Eyer-Delevett said.

As for the parish school, it was offered a temporary location by St. Mark United Methodist Church, which operates a preschool in Santa Barbara. All Saints’ classes resumed Jan. 22 in makeshift classrooms set up in St. Mark meeting rooms. School administrators were able to return to All Saints, escorted by emergency personnel, to retrieve items necessary to teach in the new location. Eyer-Delevett isn’t sure when the parish school will return to its permanent location because the water there still isn’t safe to drink.

The diocese, meanwhile, has helped raise $40,000 from parishioners’ donations and grants from Episcopal Relief & Development to support those across the region affected by the fires and mudslides, McCarthy said. Diocesan leaders also have checked in with Eyer-Delevett and other priests and deacons in the affected area to see if they need anything, and sometimes just to talk.

McCarthy will be joined by Los Angeles Bishops John Taylor, coadjutor, and Diane Jardine Bruce, suffragan, and others from the diocese at the evening worship service Jan. 26 in Santa Barbara, “to be a witness to what they’ve experienced.” The diocese also has scheduled a gathering for clergy and lay leaders in late February, described as day of reflection and healing in the aftermath of the disasters.

With authorities beginning to allow repopulation of the neighborhood around All Saints this week, Eyer-Delevett hopes to be ready to resume Sunday services in the church on Feb. 4. The church is still decorated for Christmas, with poinsettia petals and Christmas tree needles “mingled with the mud on the rugs of the sanctuary floor.”

“Time has stood still in many ways, and yet life goes on around us,” she said.

Plenty of work remains, from cleaning up the facilities to catching up on business that has been delayed by disaster: vestry nominations, financial documentation, budget approvals, all in addition to serving a community still reeling from the events of the past several weeks.

“The landscape has been redrawn and we’re going to have to figure out how we recover as a community, not only as a community of faith, but the whole village of Montecito,” she said. “But this tragedy has already strengthened the bonds within our community, and we will find our way together, one step, one breath, one act of human kindness at a time.”

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

Church of Ireland archbishops join ecumenical delegation to Irish government

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 1:26pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican leaders have taken part in an ecumenical meeting with Irish government ministers to discuss a number of “pressing social and ethical matters.” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar invited senior clergy and lay representatives from the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland to the meeting in Dublin.

Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clarke, the primate of Ireland, led the Anglican delegation, which also included Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson and two secretaries of the General Synod: Gillian Wharton and Ken Gibson.

Read the full article here.

Christians worldwide invited to pray for evangelism in Thy Kingdom Come initiative

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 1:21pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Tens of thousands of Christians from churches around the world are expected to take part once again in a global wave of prayer for evangelism between Ascension and Pentecost. Thy Kingdom Come began two years ago as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the parishes of the Church of England. But from the start it was adopted by Christian leaders from different denominations and from Anglican primates around the world. This year, Thy Kingdom Come runs from May 10 to 20.

People can pledge to take part in this year’s Thy Kingdom Come wave of prayer online, at thykingdomcome.global. The website contains a range of resources for individuals, groups and churches as well as in interactive map with lights indicating where people have pledged to pray.

Read the full article here.

Archbishop of Cape Town’s tribute to anti-apartheid hero and trumpeter Hugh Masekela

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 3:57pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, has paid tribute to the legendary trumpeter and anti-apartheid campaigner Hugh Masekela, who died Tuesday. He was 78. Masekela was described in one obituary as “one of the world’s finest and most distinctive horn players, whose performing on trumpet and flugelhorn mixed jazz with South African styles and music from across the African continent and diaspora.” But he will also be remembered for his 30-year campaign against apartheid during his exile from South Africa.

Read the entire article here.

Council proposes balanced draft budget with $133.7 million price tag for next three years

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 3:50pm

The Rev. Mally Lloyd, right, the committee member who lead Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission budget work, presents the 2019-2021 draft budget to council with Tess Judge, FFM chair. Photo: Shannon Ferguson Kelly

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council on Jan. 24 approved a $133.7 million draft budget for the 2019-2021 triennium that is based on requiring Episcopal Church dioceses to contribute annually 15 percent of their operating income.

The budget, which is essentially balanced, with a small surplus of just $2,654, is far from final. It must eventually be approved by General Convention when it meets in Austin, Texas, July 5-13. It will no doubt undergo some changes between now and then.

The budget is based on an anticipated $133.7 million in revenue to pay for an equal amount in expenses. The triennial budget is up about $8.7 million from that approved by the 2015 meeting of General Convention for the current 2016-2018 triennium.

The draft budget increases the money allocated for evangelism over that which was included in the most recent iteration because, in the words of House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, council heard a “clarion call” from the church to do so. Evangelism is one of the three priorities General Convention set for the church at its last meeting in 2015. The final version of council’s draft budget also includes increases in the other two priorities of racial justice and reconciliation, and creation care.

Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission, which crafted the budget, “focused on looking at every line in this budget because it’s not only important that we talk the Jesus Movement but that we walk the Jesus Movement,” said its chair, Tess Judge.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry thanks Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission members for their “hard and faithful work, and careful listening” during the committee’s preparation of council’s 2019-2021 draft budget. Photo: Shannon Ferguson Kelly

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said during a post-meeting news conference that the budget process “reflects a community coming together, doing the hard work, seeking to keep Christ at the center.” FFM listened “deeply and seriously” to the rest of council, to the more than 200 people who responded to a survey on the budget and to the churchwide staff, he said.

In the end, he said, work involved finding ways “to fund the work in the direction we believe and pray that the church is and ought to be going.” Curry said the budget reflects “a church moving forward” into the vision of the Jesus Movement that he and General Convention began articulating in 2015.

“It’s a holistic vision of the church being the church, proclaiming the good news of Jesus, bearing witness to him in new ways but continuing in old ways,” he said. “It is the church being the church of Jesus Christ in the world for today. And, that is the Jesus Movement.”

Jennings said during the news conference that the budget work was an effort to reflect “who we believe we are as a church and who we believe God is calling us to be as church.”

The Rev. Susan Brown Snook, the council member who chairs its Joint Standing Committee on Local Ministry and Mission, which shepherds the church’s evangelism work, thanked FFM members for listening to council members and others in the church and adjusting evangelism funding.

Very grateful and pleased that #ExCoun just approved a proposed budget that includes good evangelism, church planting, and congregational redevelopment funding.

— Susan Brown Snook (@susansnook) January 24, 2018

The Episcopal Church’s three-year budgets are funded primarily by pledges from the church’s 109 dioceses and three regional areas. Each year’s annual giving in the three-year budget is based on a diocese’s income two years earlier. In the current budget, dioceses can exempt the first $150,000 of income. Council’s draft budget drops that exemption to $140,000. The exemption was $120,000 during the 2012-2015 triennium.

Not all dioceses pay the full asking for a variety of reasons. Diocesan commitments for 2016 and 2017 are here.

At the 2015 meeting of General Convention, bishops and deputies turned the current voluntary diocesan budgetary asking system into a mandatory assessment, beginning with the 2019-21 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 get grants or loans from the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business, and carries out mission.)

Council’s draft states that the budget would have $89.5 million in diocesan revenue if all of the church’s dioceses fully make their mandatory assessment payments. However, FFM anticipates that up to 20 dioceses will get full or partial waivers of those payments under a system that will go into effect in the 2019-2021 triennium, up to $5.9 million, according to the Rev. Mally Lloyd, the member of Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission who led its budget work. Thus, the likely total diocesan contribution is pegged at $83.6 million.

Council’s Assessment Review Committee has begun talking to dioceses that do not currently pay the full amount of the assessment or who anticipate asking for a partial or full waiver in 2019.

Lloyd told council that FFM reduced the amount of anticipated assessment waivers by $1.3 million from the version of the budget it began working on at the start of this Jan. 22-24 meeting. FFM decided to reserve less than the full amount accounted for in the anticipated waivers “so that we have an impetus to push dioceses further along” by not starting from the assumption that all of the waiver would be granted at the amounts requested, she said.

Other major sources of anticipated income include $31.7 million from a 5 percent draw on the interest earned by the church’s investments and $10.2 million in rental income at the Episcopal Church Center in Manhattan. A planned annual appeal for contributions to the churchwide budget from Episcopalians is projected to raise $1 million over the three years of the budget.

FFM applied the additional income it found to the budget’s expenses lines. Among the larger additions to its previous version of the draft budget is $1.86 million into the line items for evangelism, including money for a new staff position. Committee members also removed an earlier request that staffers working in evangelism cut $400,000 from their 2019-2021 budget.

Money was also budgeted for a new staff member each for the church’s racial justice and reconciliation work and creation care work.

The budget also includes money for paying a full-time salary and benefits to the president of the House of Deputies. That position, which is filled by election during each meeting of convention, has always been unpaid. The president has a travel budget and a paid assistant.

The Rev. Michael Barlowe, the secretary of General Convention, said during a post-meeting news conference that the office of House of Deputies president has evolved in recent decades along with the office of the presiding bishop. The issue of compensating that officeholder has been discussed for decades, he added, and the Task Force to Study Church Leadership and Compensation has concluded that being the president of the House of Deputies is now a full-time job. Supporters of the change say making the office a paid job would broaden the pool of people able to consider running for election.

Next steps in the budget process

According to the joint rules of General Convention (II.10.c.ii on page 227 here), council must give its draft budget to General Convention’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) no less than four months before the start of General Convention (essentially by February of convention year). PB&F will meet next from Feb. 5-7 to begin work on that draft budget.

  • PB&F uses the draft budget and any legislation passed by or being considered by General Convention to create a final budget proposal. Convention legislative committees and PB&F will begin meeting in Austin, Texas, on July 3, 2018, ahead of the July 5-13 meeting of convention in the Texas capital city. There will be at least one open hearing, currently set for the evening of July 5.
  • PB&F’s budget must be presented to a joint session of the houses of Bishops and Deputies no later than the third day before convention’s scheduled adjournment. According to the draft convention schedule, that presentation is set to take place at 10:30 p.m. CDT on July 11.
  • The two houses then debate and vote on the budget separately. Both houses must approve the same version of the budget, which takes effect at the beginning of 2019.
  • Executive Council crafts annual budgets out of the spending plan that General Convention passes as the triennial budget. Typically, council adjusts each of the three annual budgets based on changing income and expenses.

Summaries of all the resolutions council passed at this meeting are here.

Some council members tweeted from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The Jan 22-24 meeting took place at the Maritime Institute Conference Center in suburban Baltimore, Maryland.

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 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons, and 12 lay people) are 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.

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

A summary of Executive Council resolutions

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 3:49pm

[Episcopal News Service] During its Jan. 22-24 meeting at the Maritime Institute Conference Center outside Baltimore, Maryland, the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council adopted multiple resolutions that are summarized below.

Advocacy and Networking for Mission

Acknowledge 2018 as the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign in this country called by the Rev. Martin Luther King and the leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; acknowledge the unfinished work of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, celebrate the revival of the movement as the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival; that Executive Council, under the guidance and direction of the presiding bishop, lead our church into action, ministry and official relationship with the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival in an effort to allow the Episcopal Church “to act faithfully on its long history of honorable General Convention and Executive Council intentions but imperfect and fragmentary practical actions in matters of poverty, racism, sexism, and economic justice”; recognize issues of poverty and justice severely affects domestic and global brothers and sisters and commit to ministry of active engagement, advocacy and support throughout the Episcopal Church (AN035).

Affirm the following new Jubilee Ministries: St. Luke’s Jubilee Center, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Stephensville, Texas (first Jubilee Ministry designation in the reorganized Diocese of Fort Worth); St. Peter’s Jubilee Ministries, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Medford, New Jersey; St. Martin’s Jubilee Center, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, Bridgewater, New Jersey (AN036).

Declare as “reprehensible the widespread racist and unjust treatment of immigrants that has become a convenient theme of current political discourse”; affirm a series of propositions regarding immigrants in the United States: deplore any action by the U.S. government which “unduly emphasizes militarization of the border between the United States and Mexico, as the primary response to immigrants entering the United States to work”; support the goals of expanded immigration relief for youth as outlined in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); advocate through education, communication and representation before legislative authorities the continuation of Temporary Protective Status for all persons fleeing to or currently resident in the U.S. seeking refuge from violence, environmental disaster, economic devastation, or cultural abuse or other forms of abuse; advocate for congressional consideration and implementation of comprehensive immigration reform, which will allow millions of undocumented immigrants who have established roots in the United States and are often parents and spouses of U.S. citizens to have a pathway to legalization and to full social and economic integration into the United States (AN037).

Finances for Mission

Establish Trust Funds 1163-1171 as investment accounts for the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota (FFM095).

Establish Trust Fund 1172 as an investment account for Friends of St. Alban’s (Tokyo) Foundation Trust Fund (FFM096).

Establish Trust Fund 1173 as the Joan Grimm Fraser Legacy Fund to support a delegate from the Episcopal Church to the Anglican delegation to meetings of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women; awardee shall be determined by appropriate senior staff in consultation with the presiding bishop and the treasurer; any balance not awarded be used for the general purposes of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) to support programs for women (FFM097).

Designate portions of the total compensation paid to each Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) clergy employee for calendar year 2018 as a housing allowance pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 107 and Internal Revenue Service Regulations S1.107 (FFM098).

Establish Trust Fund 1174, Episcopal Diocese of Lexington Cassidy Trust Retained Equity Fund, as an investment account for the Diocese of Lexington in Kentucky (FFM099).

Extend thanks to those who have included the Episcopal Church in their wills and recognize the generosity of all those who endow the Episcopal Church and thus support its ministries (FFM100).

Authorize withdrawal of $310,000 from three designated trust funds for the Episcopal Church of Liberia (ECL), as requested through a resolution of the Cuttington University College Board of Trustees on Dec. 21, 2017, for improvements and renovations at the college campus (FFM101).

Establish Trust Fund 1175 as an investment account for St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Newcastle, Maine (FFM102).

Accept the 2019-2021 draft budget (FFM103).

Commit to supporting the Episcopal Church’s upcoming 2018 annual appeal (FFM104).

Governance and Administration for Mission

Approve the revised Memorandum of Understanding between the United Thank Offering board and DFMS (GAM014).

Local Mission and Ministry

Approve grants recommended by the Evangelism Grants Committee (LMM013).

Approve grants recommended by the D005 Advisory Group on Church Planting (LLM014).

Approve grants recommended by the Executive Council Constable Grant Review Committee (LMM015).

World Mission

Express appreciation for the following Young Adult Service Corps appointments made on behalf of the presiding bishop in recent months: Sarah Caroline Anderson (Diocese of Mississippi), assigned to the Diocese of Rift Valley, Anglican Church of Tanzania, Oct. 10, 2017; Elizabeth Grace Bleynat (Diocese of Western North Carolina), assigned as chaplaincy assistant, Mission to Seafarers, Diocese of Western Kowloon, Hong Kong, July 31, 2017; Amelia Bjelland Brown (Diocese of Albany), assigned to the Anglican Communion Office, Sept. 18, 2017; Eleanor Duncan Campbell (Diocese of Virginia), assigned to the Diocese of Costa Rica, Sept. 5, 2017; Adrienne Davis (Diocese of Southern Virginia) second year extension with the Helpers for Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong, Aug. 20, 2017; Alexandria Fields (Diocese of Florida) second year extension in the Diocese of Costa Rica, Dec. 12, 2017; Aspen Gomez (Diocese of Texas), assigned to the Diocese of Costa Rica, Sept. 5, 2017; Benjamin Hansknecht (Diocese of Central New York), assigned to the Visayas Area Mission, Church in the Philippines, Sept. 5, 2017; Zachary Jeffers (Diocese of Upper South Carolina), second year extension in the Diocese of Wellington, Anglican Church in New Zealand, start to be determined when visa is granted; Emily Kirk (Diocese of East Tennessee), second year extension in the Diocese of Liverpool, June 28, 2017; Kellan Lyman (Diocese of Atlanta), second year extension in the Church in the Philippines, start date to be determined; EmmaLee Rachael Schauf (Diocese of Pittsburgh), assigned to the Diocese of Liverpool, Church of England, Aug. 28, 2017; Caroline Whitley Sprinkle (Diocese of North Carolina), assigned to the Diocese of Northern Luzon, Episcopal Church in the Philippines, Sept. 5, 2017 (WM029).

Express appreciation for the following mission companions who faithfully completed their terms of service: Jere Skipper (Diocese of Washington), canon for mission with the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, Oct. 16, 2004-Jan. 31, 2017; Perry Alan Yarborough (Dioceses of Western North Carolina and Upper South Carolina) intern with the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations and Virginia Theological Seminary Center for Anglican Communion Studies, Sept. 1, 2016-Dec. 31, 2016 (WM030).

Express appreciation for the following Young Adult Service Corps volunteer companions who faithfully completed their term of service: Naomi Zoe Cunningham (Diocese of Kansas), assigned to the American Cathedral, in the Convocation of Churches in Europe, Aug. 25, 2015-July 31, 2017; Alexa Henault (Diocese of Rhode Island), assigned to the Diocese of Costa Rica, Sept. 19, 2016-Sept. 19, 2017; Tristan Jacob Nicholas Holmberg (Diocese of Kansas), assigned to the Church of the Philippines, Sept. 24, 2015-Oct. 30, 2017; Mitchell Honan (Diocese of Connecticut) assigned to the CASB Project in Cap-Haitien, Diocese of Haiti, July 7, 2016-July 6, 2017; Katherine Jewett-Williams (Diocese of Dallas), assigned to the Diocese of Liverpool, Anglican Church of England, Sept. 11, 2016-Sept. 10, 2017; Elijah Lewis (Diocese of Upper South Carolina), assigned to the CASB Project in Cap-Haitien, Diocese of Haiti, July 7, 2016-July 5, 2017; Rachel McDaniel (Diocese of West Tennessee), assigned as a UTO-YASC intern in the Diocese of North Dakota, Sept. 1, 2016-Aug. 31, 2017; Charles Merchant (Diocese of South Carolina), assigned to the Order of the Holy Cross Monastery, Diocese of Grahamstown, Church of the Province of South Africa, Feb.16, 2017-Dec. 15, 2017; Wilmot Merchant (Diocese of South Carolina), assigned to the Asian Rural Institute (ARI), Nippon Sei Ko Kai and the Church in the Philippines, Nov. 13, 2016-Nov. 12, 2017; Brooklyn Payne (Diocese of Missouri), assigned to the Diocese of Panama, Sept.1, 2016-June 5, 2017; James Isaac Rose (Diocese of Southwestern Virginia), assigned to the Mission to Seafarers, Nippon Sei Ko Kai, Japan, Sep. 7, 2015-Aug. 4, 2017; Tristan Tucker (Diocese of Springfield), assigned to the Church in the Philippines, Sept.1, 2016-April 10, 2017; Bryan Alexis Velez Garcia (Diocese of Puerto Rico), second year extension in the Diocese of Rio de Janeiro, Anglican Church of Brazil, Dec. 19, 2015-Oct. 11, 2016 (WM031).

Commends the United Thank Offering Board for its extraordinary effort to encourage, equip and support members of the Episcopal Church, especially the 110 diocesan coordinators, and to promote the daily discipline of thanking God for blessings received and challenges offered to strengthen our efforts to become The Beloved Community; recognize the efforts of diocesan coordinators for equipping the worshipers in congregations, encouraging the spiritual discipline of giving thanks to God daily, offering alms to pay those thanksgivings forward, developing grants to innovative start-up programs, aiding and support communities in need (WM032).

Approve the United Thank Offering Young Adult and Seminarian grants for 2018 (WM033).

Join with Christians around the world in observing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan. 18-25); give thanks for the life and ministry of the Rev. Paul Wattson who initiated the Octave of Christian Unity in 1908 which subsequently became the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity; encourage all Episcopalians to remember Wattson in prayer on Feb. 8 (the anniversary of his death in 1940), encourage the bishop of New York to convey Council’s greetings to Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York and to request any further news of the cause for canonization of Wattson; encourage the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to recommend to the General Convention that Wattson, who was ordained deacon in the Diocese of Easton in 1885 and priest in the Diocese of New York in 1886, be added to the calendar of commemorations of the Episcopal Church (WM034).

Quebec Anglicans remember victims of city mosque shooting on first anniversary of attack

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 12:41pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Quebec City’s Anglican community will be one of six spiritual groups gathering to offer reflective song and prayer to the public Jan. 28, at a commemoration of the mass shooting at the city’s Grand Mosque a year ago. Meanwhile, Anglicans in the city have been supporting efforts to provide a new home for a member of the mosque, whose heroic actions during the attack left him paralyzed from the chest down. Six men were killed and 19 others wounded when a gunman opened fire on worshippers at the mosque as they prayed shortly before 8 p.m. on January 29, 2017. Alexandre Bissonnette, a university student, has been charged with first-degree murder in relation to the attack.

Read the entire article here.

Brazil takes ‘decisive steps towards gender equality’ with election of its first female bishop

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 12:17pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil – the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil – has elected its first female bishop, some 34 years after the province first paved the way for women to serve in all three orders of ministry. The Rev. Canon Marinez Santos Bassotto was elected Jan. 20 as the next bishop of the Amazon during a meeting at Belém, in the northern Brazilian state of Pará. She will succeed Bishop Saulo Mauricio de Barros, who retired in November. The province was one of the first in the Anglican Communion to official open the episcopate to women in 1983. Its first female deacons were ordained in 1984, and its first female priests in 1985.

Read the entire article here.

Este artigo também está disponível em português / This article is also available in Portuguese.

Nombrado el Equipo de Planificación para el Festival de Jóvenes Adultos en la Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal 2018

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 11:26am

Se ha anunciado el equipo de planificación de seis miembros para el Festival de Jóvenes Adultos de la Convención General en la 79ª Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal.

Los nombrados para el Equipo de Planificación del Festival de Jóvenes  Adultos son:
• Christina Donovan – Diócesis de Long Island
• Nic Mather – Diócesis de Spokane
• Marvin McLennon – Diócesis de Arkansas
• Eva Ortéz – Diócesis del Sudeste de Florida
• Marcia Quintanilla – Diócesis de Texas
• Sarah Syer – Diócesis de Nevada

La 79ª Convención General tendrá lugar del jueves 5 de julio al viernes 13 de julio en el Centro de Convenciones de Austin, Austin, Texas (Diócesis de Texas).

“El equipo de planificación trabajará en conjunto para crear un marco para que los jóvenes adultos de toda la Iglesia experimenten la Convención General”, explicó la Reverenda Shannon Kelly, Oficial de la Iglesia Episcopal para los Ministerios de Jóvenes Adultos y Campus. “Con el culto, los talleres, la creación de redes y la convivencia, el Festival de Jóvenes Adultos hace que la Convención General sea accesible y agradable para novatos, defensores y líderes por igual”.

Se recibieron más de 40 aplicaciones.

Para obtener más información, comuníquese con Wendy Johnson en wjohnson@episcopalchurch.org.

Convención General
La Convención General de la Iglesia Episcopal se celebra cada tres años para considerar los asuntos legislativos de la Iglesia. La Convención General es el cuerpo gobernante bicameral de la Iglesia, compuesto por la Cámara de los Obispos, con más de 200 obispos activos y jubilados, y la Cámara de los Diputados, con clérigos y diputados elegidos de las 109 diócesis y tres áreas regionales de la Iglesia, a más de 800 miembros. Entre las convenciones, la Convención General continúa trabajando mediante sus comités y comisiones. El Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia Episcopal lleva a cabo los programas y políticas adoptados por la Convención General.

Nigerian bishops speak out against increasing attacks by Fulani herdsmen

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 4:11pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria has criticized the country’s government for failing to act against Fulani herdsmen who have carried out a series of fatal attacks. The anti-persecution charity International Christian Concern says that 80 people in Benue state have been killed in attacks by Fulani militants this year.

Read the full article here.

South Carolina church finds ‘natural connection’ with middle school in push for education equity

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 3:04pm

Patti Trotter, right, leads the cooking club in a cookie baking activity. Trotter and other volunteers from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral lead after-school activities on Thursdays at W.A. Perry Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Columbia, South Carolina] The students of W.A Perry Middle School know it’s 4 p.m. when the speakers begin blaring end-of-day announcements – information about the upcoming Sweetheart Ball, encouragement to “read, read, read your way to new heights.” And on this afternoon, a reminder: “Club Thursday.”

“All after-school students should report to the cafeteria and sit in your assigned sections,” the announcement blared.

Students who spend their early evenings at W.A. Perry known the routine by now. They know Club Thursdays mean an hour of cooking, sewing, tennis or golf. They know school social worker Marilyn Doucet will be checking to make sure they get to their assigned clubs. And they know the activities will be led not by school personnel but by a small, dedicated band community volunteers.

The volunteers come from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Columbia, a detail of only passing importance to the students’ comprehension of the activities, yet underlying these experiences are a 16-year relationship between the cathedral and W.A. Perry. The cathedral’s lasting commitment of support is renewed every Thursday with each cookie baked and each needle threaded.

“It’s been a great partnership with Trinity. What they do for us is priceless,” Doucet said Jan. 18 during Episcopal News Service’s visit to the after-school program.

Church-school partnerships like this one in South Carolina’s capital city engage Episcopalians in the Episcopal Church’s call to address education inequity. It is a call taken up most prominently by the All Our Children network, which held a conference in Columbia last week that drew more than 100 educators, advocates and church leaders from multiple denominations.

All Our Children is an ecumenical network with roots in the Episcopal Church. It was backed in 2015 by a General Convention resolution that identified church-school partnerships as “a path for following Jesus into the neighborhood, addressing educational inequity, and rejuvenating congregations.”

South Carolina has been fertile ground for such partnerships thanks to the Bishops’ Public Education Initiative, which involves the state’s Episcopal, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, United Methodist, African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion and Christian Methodist Episcopal churches.

Diocese of Upper South Carolina Bishop Andrew Waldo, left, speaks Jan. 17 about an education initiative involving several Christian denominations in the state. Waldo was part of a panel discussion during the All Our Children conference held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

“God is calling us to raise up the gifts of every child that was put on this planet,” Diocese of Upper South Carolina Bishop Andrew Waldo said Jan. 17 at the All Our Children conference during a panel discussion about the Bishop’s Initiative.

Waldo’s implication was one that reverberated across the three-day conference held at the cathedral: American children, though “created equal” in the eyes of Jeffersonian democracy, are not always treated equitably by their public education system, but instead find the scales tipped according to race, language, family income and even the street where they live.

All Our Children seeks to balance those scales, and a common refrain at the conference was the need to develop meaningful relationships across racial, cultural and social divides. Anyone searching for examples could begin with the divide between the mostly white, affluent congregation at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and the mostly black, low-income student body at W.A. Perry about a 10-minute drive to the north.

“It’s good to see y’all here,” volunteer Patti Trotter said as the Club Thursdays cooking class got underway. The 16 students, broken into four groups, sat at tables in a classroom equipped with ovens and furnished with cookware and utensils.

Of the few dozen students in Club Thursdays, each identifies preferred activities at the start of the academic year and is assigned by the school to two of them, one club in the fall and the second club starting in January. This was the first club meeting of the new year, so Trotter and other volunteers from the cathedral helped the cooking students make an easy inaugural treat, cookies from prepackaged cookie dough.

Trinity volunteer Beth Yon shows a W.A. Perry student some of the finer points of sewing a hem during one of the four Club Thursdays activities at the school. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

In the next room, fellow volunteer Beth Yon showed about a half dozen students how to sew a hem. Tie a big knot, she advised, so it will anchor the thread.

The students will progress over the coming weeks to sewing a button, operating a sewing machine and eventually working on a final project, such as a pillow or a bag, Doucet said.

The volunteers are called to this work by their faith, but religion isn’t discussed with the students. And despite the classroom setting, these lessons are not academic in a traditional sense. Their value is in the interaction between adult and child.

“That’s very good,” Yon said to one girl, who was scrutinizing her stiches. “I’ll show you a trick,” Yon continued, and then imparted a nugget of needle-earned wisdom.

Bridging divides in the push for education equity

For each Club Thursday activity, the cathedral sends three to six volunteers to help. The activities are chosen to give the students opportunities to try new experiences, and the volunteers also gain new experiences, spending time in a school and a neighborhood removed from their daily lives, said the Rev. Patsy Malanuk, Trinity’s canon for mission and outreach.

“We’ve made deep relationships with the people at W.A. Perry,” Malanuk said, adding that the interactions with school officials and students have expanded her own “depth of experience.”

School buses wait for students just before the end of classes at W.A. Perry Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

W.A. Perry, one of nine middle schools in the Richland 1 School District, was chosen by Trinity for outreach partly because the cathedral already had been involved in the neighborhood, through a homeless ministry called St. Lawrence Place.

Perry also is known as a Title 1 school, a federal classification indicating its students come predominantly from low-income families. Of its 375 students, 98 percent are from families with incomes low enough to qualify for free or reduced lunches. (Because of low family incomes district-wide, all students in the district now can receive free lunches.)

The schools in South Carolina receiving federal Title 1 assistance make up a long list, but education equity advocates say some of the greatest need is found many miles from Columbia in the poor, rural school districts along the state’s Interstate 95 corridor. Crumbling facilities are common, resources are scarce and students are deprived of even a “minimally adequate education,” according to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which ruled in 2014 that the state had failed to meet its obligation to 30 school districts in that region.

The court ordered the Legislature to develop a funding plan to correct that injustice, but after turnover on the bench, the Supreme Court effectively reversed itself in November 2017, concluding it was up to legislators, not judges, to decide proper funding levels for education.

Much of the public’s awareness of the rural schools’ plight was generated by the 2005 documentary “Corridor of Shame,” which depicted conditions in six of the districts included in the lawsuit. The film was directed by Bud Ferillo, a South Carolina native and former political aide to some of the state’s top elected officials.

Bud Ferillo, interviewed in Columbia, directed the documentary “Corridor of Shame.” Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Despite the attention his film brought to the issue of education equity, Ferillo thinks progress has been uneven at best. Some districts and schools may have improved, he said, but not through any concerted effort by lawmakers.

“The state has not taken any definitive action to address the problems that were brought up in the suit,” Ferillo told Episcopal News Service in an interview near his home in Columbia.

The South Carolina churches, on the other hand, have provided a model for pushing progressive stances on the issue, he said. Such broad coalitions of action put pressure on the state to adequately fund public education.

Ferillo also doesn’t see equity as a rural vs. urban issue. The funding reforms sought by the rural districts’ lawsuit would benefit poor districts in cities like Columbia as well.

“Any decent remedy, we’ve always said, would not just be restricted to plaintiff districts,” he said. “It would be to any district similarly situated, with the same kinds of statistics – low-achievement schools with overwhelming minority enrollment and underpaid staff.”

Malanuk acknowledge the range of need in South Carolina and in her city. “There’s still some schools around here that may be in deeper need,” she said, but the cathedral remains committed to the students at W.A. Perry.

‘Natural connection’ bonds church, school for 16 years

W.A. Perry Middle School, likewise, is glad to have Trinity as a partner.

Marilyn Doucet, left, is the W.A. Perry Middle School social worker, and Robin Coletrain is the school’s principal. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

“It’s been just a very great relationship,” Robin Coletrain, Perry’s principal, said. “They do so much for us, and you just see the compassion and love in everything they do.”

Coletrain has worked as a teacher and administrator in the Richland 1 district for 17 years. This is her second year at W.A. Perry.

“Our kids come from some difficult home situations,” Coletrain said. Some live in single-parent homes or have parents working two or three jobs to get by. Some students are staying with their families at the temporary housing provided by St. Lawrence Place.

Whatever challenges the school faces, it offers a warm and welcoming environment for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. As important as the facility, Coletrain said, are the experiences the school offers the students, from field trips to see “The Nutcracker” to the activities after school.

The after-school programs are partly funded by a federal grant, but Club Thursdays wouldn’t be the same without the volunteers from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. Some of those volunteers spent the afternoon Jan. 18 coaching students on proper tennis technique on the courts outside the school, while others accompanied some students to a golf center a short distance away.

Inside the school, the cooking club’s first session was wrapping up.

“I’m so glad all of y’all are here,” Trotter said. “You did great on your cookies. You did great on your cleaning. We appreciate it.”

Eighth-grader Caliyah Thompson, 13, was all smiles, joking with a classmate about some of the food she has made at home. Pasta, for starters. And a cake.

“Two-layer cake,” she said, with a glint of pride.

She and the other club members will learn table manners and a bit of floral arranging in the coming weeks before building up to a final entrée, such as lasagna.

Doucet has been involved with the school’s partnership with Trinity from the beginning. She has worked at W.A. Perry for 18 years, long enough to see two generations of neighborhood families pass through the school’s doors.

Through Club Thursdays, some of those students receive “experiences they wouldn’t get to have,” Doucet said, because of the work of people like Betty Gregory, one of the original volunteers from Trinity.

Betty Gregory helps students cut cookie dough onto sheets for their after-school cooking activity at W.A. Perry. Gregory was among the volunteers from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral who 16 years ago helped start this church-school partnership, which Gregory called a “natural connection.” Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

At 5:10 p.m., with the school’s kitchen tidied up after the cooking club, Gregory and Doucet chatted about how the partnership formed and how far it has come.

The cathedral had parishioners who wanted to serve the community, and the school had needs to be met, Gregory said, but she and other volunteers didn’t go to the school with their own proposals. They started by asking school officials what they needed and then listening.

Administrators said they needed more books, so the cathedral donated books. Then the volunteers asked what else was needed. More service projects followed.

Eventually, school officials explained that they were running out of ideas for after-school enrichment activities. Trinity’s volunteers had some suggestions based on their individual interests.

“Within six weeks, we had a program up and going,” Gregory said, calling it a ministry of presence.

Now 16 years later, she sees the relationship between the cathedral and the school as something “intangible,” even “magical.”

“It’s sort of like this natural connection,” Gregory said. “There was just something about Perry and Trinity coming together that was God-inspired.”

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

Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny elected to Anglican Consultative Council

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 11:26am

Diocese of Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny has been bishop in Oklahoma since 2007. Photo: Diocese of OPklahoma

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council Jan. 23 elected one of its members, Diocese of Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny, as the church’s bishop member of the Anglican Consultative Council.

Konieczny, who has been bishop in Oklahoma since 2007,  succeeds Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas whose three-meeting term ended after the last meeting of the ACC in Lusaka, Zambia, in April 2016.

He joins lay member Rosalie Ballentine, a deputy from the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, who is the Episcopal Church clergy member.

Diocese of Texas Bishop Andy Doyle and Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe Bishop Suffragan Pierre Whalon also stood for election.

The election took place on the second day of council’s three-day gathering at the Martime Institute Conference Center outside Baltimore, Maryland.

he ACC’s objective, according to its constitution, is to “advance the Christian religion and in particular to promote the unity and purposes of the Churches of the Anglican Communion, in mission, evangelism, ecumenical relations, communication, administration and finance.” And, among the ACC’s powers listed in the constitution, is one that says it should “develop as far as possible agreed Anglican policies in the world mission of the church” and encourage the provinces to share their resources to work to accomplish those policies.

The ACC is one of three Instruments of Communion, the others being the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops and the Primates Meeting. The archbishop of Canterbury (who is president of the ACC) is seen as is the “Focus for Unity” for the three instruments.

Formed in 1969, the ACC includes clergy and lay people, as well as bishops, among its delegates. The membership includes from one to three persons from each of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces, depending on the numerical size of each province. Where there are three members, there is a bishop, a priest and a lay person. Where fewer members are appointed, preference is given to lay membership.

The ACC meets every three or four years, and the Lusaka meeting was the council’s 16th session. The first meeting was held in Limuru, Kenya, in 1971. It will next convene in 2019. Sao Paulo, Brazil, was due to host that meeting until the ACC Standing Committee said in September that concerns were raised about Brazil’s political and economic instability as well as the church’s discussions on human sexuality and marriage, which will take place at its 2018 provincial synod.

The Anglican Communion News Service reported at the time that it was felt that, given this combination of issues, “the leadership of the church would need time to deal with pastoral issues arising from the discussions.”

Hong Kong, the province of ACC Chair Archbishop Paul Kwong, might step in to host ACC-17.

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

Atlanta bishop named to GA Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 5:52am

[Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta] Episcopal Bishop Robert Wright has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia’s Committee on Justice For Children.

Wright, bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta, is the only faith leader on the 29-member committee charged with improving justice for children and families involved in Georgia’s juvenile courts.

Formed in 1995 to apply data-based improvements to Georgia’s child dependency cases, the Justice for Children (J4C) committee expanded its scope of work in 2017 to include the full spectrum of juvenile court cases.

The J4C lists its top priorities as: 1. implementing nationally recognized best practices; 2. providing child safety, permanent placement, and judicial process measurements to juvenile courts; 3. improving foster care placement stability and decreasing the time children spend in foster care; 4. improving outcomes for children in delinquency and status -offense cases; 5. advocating for improvements in juvenile law and policy; and 6. ensuring compliance with federal grant requirements.

“The list is long, but the work is vital,” Wright said, following his appointment to J4C. “I’m committed to leveraging my experience and perspective as an adopted child, the parent of an adopted child and chief pastor to thousands of families facing the crisis of broken ties in my work on the committee.”

Wright was appointed to the J4C with two other new members; Virginia Pryor, the interim director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services and Georgia Appleseed Center for Law & Justice Executive Director Talley Wells.

Georgia Supreme Court Associate Justice David Nahmias, who chairs the committee, said he was impressed by Wright’s real-world experience and leadership qualities.

“Bishop Wright is a passionate and eloquent advocate for children, and for the special needs of foster children in particular,” Nahmias said. “We look forward to the experiences, ideas, and contacts he will bring to the Supreme Court’s Justice for Children Committee as we seek to improve the justice system for Georgia’s children.”

Wright was born in a Roman Catholic orphanage in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was adopted at 9 months of age. After graduating high school, he served five years in the U.S. Navy as a helicopter crew chief and search and rescue diver.

While attending Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he earned degrees in history and political science, Wright worked as a child advocate for two mayors and for the Children’s Defense Fund.

Wright earned an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary, and has been awarded honorary doctor of divinity degrees by the Virginia seminary and Sewanee: The University of the South.

Prior to being elected in 2012 as the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta, Wright served as rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta.  Previously, he was Canon Pastor and Vicar of the Congregation of St. Saviour at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and as chaplain of the Cathedral School.

Since becoming bishop of the diocese, which includes 114 worshiping communities in the northern half of Georgia, Wright has been a vocal advocate for improving the lives of children, prisoners, immigrants and military members and their families.

As bishop, Wright has addressed the Georgia legislature, urging passage of sensible gun safety laws, spoken up for Medicaid expansion and has been a vocal and active opponent of the death penalty in Georgia.  His pastoral examples include marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King by praying with City of Atlanta sanitation crews before taking an early morning shift on the back of a city garbage truck. In 2015, Wright was named among the 100 Most Influential Georgians by GeorgiaTrend magazine.

The Atlanta diocese was carved from the Diocese of Georgia in 1907, and includes 75 ½ counties stretching from south Columbus and Macon to the state’s borders with South and North Carolina and Tennessee.

The Diocese of Atlanta is the ninth largest of the 109 dioceses of the Episcopal Church in 17 countries. By its membership in The Episcopal Church, The Diocese of Atlanta is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion of 70 million people in 38 provinces. The Diocese of Atlanta has active companion diocese relationships with several dioceses in Africa and South America.

Carta del Obispo Presidente, Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 5:25am

“Nuestra iglesia tiene que examinar su historia y llegar a un entendimiento más amplio de la manera en que manejó o manejó mal los casos de acoso sexual, explotación y abuso a través de los años”.

Estimado Pueblo de Dios en la Iglesia Episcopal:

En las últimas semanas, el testimonio convincente de mujeres víctimas de acoso sexual y ataques por hombres poderosos, nos trae a la mente un pasaje particularmente difícil de las Sagradas Escrituras:  la historia de la violación de la hija del Rey David, Tamar, por su medio hermano Amnón (2 Samuel 13:  1-22). En este pasaje, una conspiración de hombres trama la explotación y violación de una mujer joven. Ella fue despojada del poder de hablar y actuar, su padre ignora el crimen, y el destino del violador, no el de la víctima, se lamenta. Es una historia bíblica desprovista de justicia.

Por más de dos décadas, las mujeres africanas de comunidades marginadas han estudiado este pasaje de las escrituras utilizando un método llamado estudio bíblico contextual para explorar y hablar sobre el trauma de la violencia sexual en sus propias vidas. Utilizando un manual publicado por la Campaña Tamar (the Tamar Campaign), las mujeres preguntan, “Qué puede hacer la Iglesia para romper el silencio contra la violencia de género”?

Es, según los predicadores de antaño, una pregunta convincente. A medida que nuestras sociedades han sido obligados a reconocer nuevamente que las mujeres de todos ámbitos han sufrido trauma tácito a manos de agresores y acosadores masculinos, nos hemos convencido de que la Iglesia Episcopal debe trabajar aún más para crear una iglesia que no sea solo segura, sino también sagrada, humanitaria y digna. Tenemos que comprometernos a tratar a cada persona como un hijo de Dios, que merece dignidad y respeto. También debemos comprometernos a poner fin al sexismo sistémico, la misoginia, y el abuso de poder que afectan a la iglesia, así como corrompen nuestra cultura, instituciones y gobiernos.

Igual que nuestras hermanas africanas en fe, debemos crear contextos en cuales las mujeres puedan hablar sobre su trauma tácito, tanto si lo sufrió dentro de la iglesia o en otro lugar. Y debemos hacer más.

Nuestra iglesia tiene que examinar su historia y llegar a un entendimiento más amplio de la manera en que manejó o manejó mal los casos de acoso sexual, explotación y abuso a través de los años. Cuando los hechos lo dictan, debemos confesarnos y arrepentirnos de las instancias en que la iglesia, sus ministros o miembros han sido antagónicos o insensibles a las personas—mujeres, niños y hombres—que han sido víctimas de explotación o abuso sexual. Y hay que reconocer que en nuestra iglesia y en nuestra cultura, la explotación sexual de las mujeres es parte del mismo sistema injusto que también causa brechas de género en la remuneración, los ascensos, la salud y el empoderamiento.

Creemos que cada uno de nosotros tiene un papel en nuestro arrepentimiento colectivo. Entonces, hoy, les invitamos a unirnos en un Día de Oración el 14 de febrero Miércoles de Ceniza dedicado a meditar en las maneras en que nosotros en la iglesia no hemos apoyado a las mujeres y otras víctimas de abuso y acoso y a considerar, como parte de nuestras disciplinas cuaresmales, cómo podemos redoblar nuestro trabajo para ser comunidades de seguridad que se opongan a la violencia espiritual y física de la explotación y el abuso sexual.

Ninguno de nosotros pretende tener toda la sabiduría necesaria para cambiar la cultura de nuestra iglesia y la sociedad en que ministra, y en la Convención General de este verano, queremos escuchar la voz amplia de la iglesia mientras definimos cómo proceder tanto en expiar por el pasado de la iglesia y formar un futuro más justo. Que encontremos en nuestras deliberaciones oportunidades para escucharnos unos a otros, para ser honestos acerca de nuestros propios fracasos y quebrantamientos, y de discernir devotamente las maneras que Dios nos llama a estar con Tamar en todos los lugares donde la encontramos—tanto dentro de la iglesia como más allá de nuestras puertas, las cuales hemos usado con demasiada frecuencia para excluirla.

Fielmente,

Rvdmo. Michael B. Curry
Obispo Primado

Rda. Gay Clark Jennings
Presidente de la Cámara de Diputados

Episcopal Church challenged to repent for when it failed to protect victims of sexual exploitation, abuse

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 3:54pm

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, issued a call Jan. 22 for the Episcopal Church to spend Lent and beyond examining its history and how it has handled or mishandled cases of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse.

The two say in a letter to the church that recent “compelling testimony from women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted by powerful men has turned our minds to a particularly difficult passage of holy scripture.” The story of the rape of King David’s daughter Tamar by her half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-22), they said, “is a passage in which a conspiracy of men plots the exploitation and rape of a young woman. She is stripped of the power to speak or act, her father ignores the crime, and the fate of the rapist, not the victim, is mourned.

“It is a Bible story devoid of justice.”

Jennings announced the letter during the opening session of the winter meeting of the church’s Executive Council at the Maritime Institute Conference Center outside Baltimore.

She and Curry call in their letter for an Ash Wednesday Day of Prayer on Feb.14, during which Episcopalians should meditate on how the church has “failed to stand with women and other victims of abuse and harassment.”

“We believe that each of us has a role to play in our collective repentance,” they wrote.

They added that a Lenten discipline for the church would be to “consider how to redouble the church’s effort build “communities of safety that stand against the spiritual and physical violence of sexual exploitation and abuse.”

Curry and Jennings said: “As our societies have been forced into fresh recognition that women in all walks of life have suffered unspoken trauma at the hands of male aggressors and harassers, we have become convinced that the Episcopal Church must work even harder to create a church that is not simply safe, but holy, humane and decent.”

The two presiding officers also want to have General Convention discuss these issues because they “want to hear the voice of the wider church as we determine how to proceed in both atoning for the church’s past and shaping a more just future.”

Jennings told the council that many Christians might think that such exploitation and abuse happen only in Hollywood or in business and industry “but not in the holy work we do.” However, she said, “those problems have been endemic in our culture in the church for far longer than Hollywood, or tech culture, or corporate journalism have existed.”

On the agenda

Executive Council is meeting Jan. 22-24. A major agenda item is finishing work on the canonically required draft of the 2019-2021 churchwide budget. Jennings said the current working version is filled with “big dreams and limited resources.” She told council that the final version of the budget hinges, in part, “on our ability to have holy, respectful, and civil conversations about how we allocate our resources for God’s work in the world.”

According to the joint rules of General Convention (II.10.c.ii on page 227 here), council must give its draft budget to General Convention’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) no less than four months before the start of General Convention (essentially by February of convention year). PB&F will meet next from Feb. 5-7 to begin work on that draft budget.

Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission (FFM) has been crafting the draft budget for much of the current triennium, gathering information and input from committees, the churchwide staff, dioceses and Episcopalians. While council is not required to give PB&F a balanced budget, that is FFM’s goal, the Rev. Mally Lloyd, the committee member leading the budget work, told council Jan. 22.

The committee has eliminated a large gap between anticipated revenue and those big dreams Jennings mentioned. The deficit was just more than $12 million at the start of council’s October meeting and $8 million at the end.

Council then asked the church for input on the budget in November and posted a version showing that FFM had reduced the deficit to $4.5 million.

On Jan. 22, Lloyd and FFM chair Tess Judge showed the council a current working draft that is essentially balanced. Revenue is increased based on the fact that diocesan income was up nearly 3 percent in 2016 over 2015. Based on the formula used to calculated diocesan payments to the churchwide budget, that means $2 million more in the coming triennium.

Tess Judge, chair of the Finances for Mission (FFM) committee, reports on the big work of this #excoun meeting: the draft budget. pic.twitter.com/JLknDFCzj6

— Holli (@BeingHolli) January 22, 2018

What Judge called exceptional investment performance in 2017 of 20 percent added $1 million to the anticipated income for the coming triennium, based on how the draw on investment income is calculated.

In addition, Lloyd said “we adjusted every single expense line a little bit” to trim $1.5 million, thus making up the $4.5 million deficit.

“Brothers and sisters, we still have some work to do,” Judge told council members, explaining that some line items still need to be tweaked after talking with staff.

Judge and Lloyd stressed that it is hard to do a line-by-line comparison of the current budget and the draft of the 2019-2021 plan. The current budget was structured around the Five Marks of Mission while the draft is built on categories of the Jesus Movement. “It’s a lot of new things and a lot of changed things in this budget,” Lloyd said. Council discussed how to note those differences in the document it sends to PB&F.

Council is due to vote on the final version of its draft budget on Jan. 24.

The rest of the meeting

After the opening plenary on Jan. 22, council spent the rest of the day meeting in its five committees. Council will meet again in plenary the morning of Jan. 23. The members will approve its Blue Book report to General Convention and elect the bishop member to its Anglican Consultative Council delegation. On Jan. 24, council committees will each report to the full body, proposing resolutions for the full body to consider.

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

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 of whom (four bishops, four priests or deacons, and 12 lay people) are 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.

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

Letter to the Episcopal Church from Presiding Bishop, President of House of Deputies

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 3:53pm

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings have written the following letter to the Episcopal Church.

January 22, 2018

Dear People of God in the Episcopal Church:

In recent weeks, compelling testimony from women who have been sexually harassed and assaulted by powerful men has turned our minds to a particularly difficult passage of holy scripture:  the story of the rape of King David’s daughter Tamar by her half-brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13: 1-22). It is a passage in which a conspiracy of men plots the exploitation and rape of a young woman. She is stripped of the power to speak or act, her father ignores the crime, and the fate of the rapist, not the victim, is mourned. It is a Bible story devoid of justice.

For more than two decades, African women from marginalized communities have studied this passage of scripture using a method called contextual Bible study to explore and speak about the trauma of sexual assault in their own lives. Using a manual published by the Tamar Campaign, they ask, “What can the Church do to break the silence against gender-based violence?”

It is, as the old-time preachers say, a convicting question. As our societies have been forced into fresh recognition that women in all walks of life have suffered unspoken trauma at the hands of male aggressors and harassers, we have become convinced that the Episcopal Church must work even harder to create a church that is not simply safe, but holy, humane and decent. We must commit to treating every person as a child of God, deserving of dignity and respect. We must also commit to ending the systemic sexism, misogyny and misuse of power that plague the church just as they corrupt our culture, institutions and governments.

Like our African siblings in faith, we must create contexts in which women can speak of their unspoken trauma, whether suffered within the church or elsewhere. And we must do more.

Our church must examine its history and come to a fuller understanding of how it has handled or mishandled cases of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse through the years. When facts dictate, we must confess and repent of those times when the church, its ministers or its members have been antagonistic or unresponsive to people—women, children and men—who have been sexually exploited or abused. And we must acknowledge that in our church and in our culture, the sexual exploitation of women is part of the same unjust system that also causes gender gaps in pay, promotion, health and empowerment.

We believe that each of us has a role to play in our collective repentance. And so, today, we invite you to join us in an Ash Wednesday Day of Prayer on February 14 devoted to meditating on the ways in which we in the church have failed to stand with women and other victims of abuse and harassment and to consider, as part of our Lenten disciplines, how we can redouble our work to be communities of safety that stand against the spiritual and physical violence of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Neither of us professes to have all of the wisdom necessary to change the culture of our church and the society in which it ministers, and at this summer’s General Convention, we want to hear the voice of the wider church as we determine how to proceed in both atoning for the church’s past and shaping a more just future. May we find in our deliberations opportunities to listen to one another, to be honest about our own failings and brokenness, and to discern prayerfully the ways that God is calling us to stand with Tamar in all of the places we find her—both inside the church and beyond our doors, which we have too often used to shut her out.

Faithfully,

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry                            The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
Presiding Bishop                                                   President, House of Deputies

Threat of nuclear war “is a sin,” World Council of Churches’ chief tells economic leaders

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 1:14pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, will take an anti-nuclear message with him when he travels Tuesday to Davos, Switzerland, for a meeting of the World Economic Forum. Writing in advance of the meeting, Tveit says that he “can think of no greater antithesis to this vision of shared life and responsibility, no greater obscenity against it, than the continued existence of and political and social support for nuclear weapons … It is time to say together that this is wrong. It is time to call it a sin, both using and having nuclear weapons.”

Read the entire article here.

Church of England bishops reject plea for service of recognition for transgender people

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 1:10pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of England’s House of Bishops has rejected a request from the province’s General Synod for “nationally commended liturgical materials to mark a person’s gender transition.” The request came in a motion passed by the synod at its meeting in York last July. It called for the bishops to consider such a move in recognition of “the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church.” In a statement today, the Church said that the bishops had “prayerfully considered whether a new nationally commended service might be prepared to mark a gender transition” and had decided against.

Read the entire article here.

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