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Arizona churches honor ‘people of the land,’ add Indigenous Peoples Day to diocese’s calendar

Fri, 11/01/2019 - 3:47pm

Native American church leaders offer a traditional blessing during the consecration of Arizona Bishop Jennifer Reddall on March 12. Photo: David Schacher, via Diocese of Arizona

[Episcopal News Service] The Diocese of Arizona is stepping up its efforts to give recognition to the “People of the Land,” including by creating an Indigenous Peoples of Arizona Day, which churches in the diocese can celebrate in future years on the second Monday of October – the Columbus Day federal holiday.

The diocese’s 59th convention was held on the weekend after the most recent Columbus Day. An Indigenous Peoples Day was one of two resolutions approved to encourage greater acknowledgement of the 22 federally recognized Native American tribes in the state. The other resolution offered congregations specific language that can be incorporated into their services.

Across the diocese, “we don’t have a church that isn’t directly on or very close to traditional native land,” the Rev. Debbie Royals told Episcopal News Service in an interview. “We are pretty much guests on that land.”

Royals, the diocese’s canon for Native American ministry, is a member of the Pascua Yaqui, whose tribal land is in the Tucson area. She helped draft and submit the two resolutions that were approved Oct. 19, expanding on a commitment the diocese made in 2016 to acknowledge the “traditional custodians” of church land.

Royals’ voice wavered as she grew emotional describing the joy she felt when her diocese wholeheartedly backed both resolutions, signifying what she saw as “a big step” toward increasing the visibility of Native American members and their culture in the church.

“I sat with such a feeling of, for the first time in my life … that I’d been seen, that I was no longer in the shadows,” she said.

The resolution adopting Indigenous Peoples of Arizona Day doesn’t mention Columbus Day specifically, though the date is the same. It will be set aside as “a day of prayer and reflection to understand our shared history and continue along a path or reconciliation.”

Congregations wishing to offer worship services on Indigenous Peoples of Arizona Day are invited to use the resolution’s suggested collect and propers – Isaiah 40:25-31, Psalm 19, Philippians 4:4-9 and John 1:1-18 – which also are the collect and propers used by the Anglican Church of Canada for its Indigenous Peoples Day, celebrated on June 21.

“We wanted to have this as a resource for the diocese,” said the Rev. Ben Garren, the Episcopal chaplain at the University of Arizona in Tucson who drafted the resolution with Royals. Both serve on the diocese’s Council for Native American Ministries.

The resolution invokes the words of the 26th Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who during her 2006-2015 tenure urged the church to take up the work of healing and reconciliation after generations of injustice and oppression toward Native communities.

The Diocese of Arizona, by inviting congregations to commemorate indigenous history and correct the historical narrative, is fulfilling “the work that General Convention already called us to do along these lines,” Garren said, and he would welcome efforts to organize similar commemorations in other dioceses or churchwide. “It is readily transferable to any other diocese.”

Royals on Oct. 30 discussed the two resolutions with The Episcopal Church’s Indigenous Ministries Advisory Council. The Rev. Brad Hauff, the church’s missioner for indigenous ministries, told ENS by email that he found the Diocese of Arizona’s example encouraging.

“We as a church need to do all we can to promote awareness of indigenous people, our presence, our painful history and our hopes for a renewed and empowered future,” said Hauff, who is Lakota. “There are still many people, within the church and the general population of our country, who do not know us other than through the distorted lenses of the Columbus myth and Manifest Destiny, and this needs to change.”

In fact, an increasing number of states, cities and churches in the United States are choosing to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, often in place of Columbus Day as part of a growing re-examination of the legacy of Christopher Columbus’ journeys to North America.

The Italian explorer, hired by the king and queen of Spain in the late 15th century, often receives credit for “discovering” America in 1492, even though he never set foot on mainland North America, and the continent already was home to millions of people whose ancestral history dates back around 15,000 years. Historians also note Columbus’ record of brutal mistreatment and enslavement of many of the land’s indigenous inhabitants.

“Columbus was a hired gun. The Spanish crown needed someone to advance its interests. Like a gun, Columbus, as a representative of power, quickly became an agent of violence,” the Ojibwe author David Treuer writes in “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee,” a history of Native America published earlier this year.

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention at least since the 1970s has expressed support for Native American land claims and human rights, and a resolution in 2009 explicitly repudiated the Colonial-era Doctrine of Discovery, which purported to give Christian explorers the right to claim lands they “discovered” and convert the people they encountered.

Another resolution, from 1997, called on the church to “take such steps as necessary to fully recognize and welcome Native Peoples into congregational life.”

That was the spirit of the other resolution approved at the Diocese of Arizona’s recent convention. It encourages congregations to fulfill a 2016 diocesan measure that urged them to routinely acknowledge their communities’ indigenous people, such as at annual meetings, on websites, in worship bulletins and during worship services.

The new resolution offers language that can be incorporated into the opening of meetings. It also offers suggested insertions for the Prayers of the People written in the styles of Forms I through VI. “Help us to honor the knowledge of our indigenous neighbors, to listen through them to your call to renew the life of the earth and to live together as your people,” reads one of the prayers, for Form IV.

Royals and the Rev. David Benedict Hedges, rector at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Tucson, drafted the prayers with input and feedback from the diocese’s Council on Native American Ministries, whose 30 or so members are a mix of Native American and non-native Episcopalians.

At church meetings, leaders are invited to identify “the traditional custodians of the land” by their tribal name and share brief words of respect. In one of the openings suggested by the resolution, the meeting leader acknowledges the local tribe and says: “They have occupied and cared for this land over countless generations, and I celebrate their continuing contribution to the life of this region.”

Such statements are intended to be spoken by non-native participants. The resolution notes that a tribal member, if present, instead may personally welcome the gathering to the land.

Arizona Bishop Jennifer Reddall took this approach in welcoming her diocese’s convention last month, Royals said, when Reddall recognized the Gila River Indian Community. The convention was held in Phoenix at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel, which is north of the Gila River Indian Reservation.

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

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Orthodox, Anglican churches hold international theological dialogue

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 5:32pm

[World Council of Churches] The International Commission for Anglican Orthodox Theological Dialogue met in Canterbury, England, from Oct. 10-17 to continue consideration of ecology and end-of-life issues.

The group stated that its work was undergirded by daily prayer and worship.

“Visits were made to holy and historic sites, including a tour of St. Augustine’s Abbey and the ancient church of St. Martin, and to the cathedral archives and library, and the Eastbridge Hospital,” the group’s statement said. “One of the highlights of the Commission’s meeting was a meditative candlelit walk of prayer led by the dean around the cathedral, including the site of the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket.”

Read the full article here.

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With Nationals’ World Series victory, Washington National Cathedral wins bet

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 5:19pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Very Rev. Barkley Thompson, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, Texas, did some dressing up on Halloween – but it wasn’t the costume he’d been hoping to wear. That’s because he lost the World Series bet he made with his counterpart at Washington National Cathedral when the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros on Oct. 30 to win the World Series.

According to the terms of the wager Thompson made with the Very Rev. Randy Hollerith, dean of the National Cathedral, whoever’s home team loses the World Series has to wear the winning team’s colors during a Sunday service. So, in a video posted on Oct. 31, Thompson took off his blue-and-orange Astros stole and modeled the Nationals-red one he’ll wear on Sunday.


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What a game, and what a series! While the Houston Astros vs Washington Nationals MLB World Series didn’t go the way we hoped here at Christ Church Cathedral, we still have so much to be thankful for. Dean Barkley Thompson’s wager with Dean Randy Hollerith and the Washington National Cathedral has demonstrated how friends can disagree with respect and love. We couldn’t have asked for more fun and gracious opponents. And now…. go Nats?!? #wscathedralchallenge #cccathedraltx

A post shared by Christ Church Cathedral (@cccathedraltx) on Oct 31, 2019 at 8:12am PDT

“It was a spectacular and hard-fought seven-game World Series,” Thompson said, “and unbelievably, it did not turn out as we in Houston and at Christ Church Cathedral had hoped.”

With an expression of anguish on his face, he spoke the words he never expected would leave his lips: “Go Nationals.”

The National Cathedral, meanwhile, was going all out in its celebration of the home team, projecting the Nationals logo onto the façade, inviting mascots up to the pulpit and ringing the bells for a full hour.

We don’t give thanks for winning a ball game; we give thanks for the @Nationals bringing joy and unity to a city in desperate need of both. #babyshark #natitude #wonthefight pic.twitter.com/YbhWk0ZktK

— Washington National Cathedral (@WNCathedral) October 31, 2019

We’re pretty sure that’s what they mean by Bully Pulpit.

Go @Nationals! #FINISHTHEFIGHT #Natitude #Teddy pic.twitter.com/BTK1s4zITw

— Washington National Cathedral (@WNCathedral) October 29, 2019

But of course, at the end of the day, it wasn’t a real rivalry at all. Instead, as Thompson said, it was “a friendly wager … that demonstrated to the world how friends can disagree with respect and in love.”

“We don’t give thanks for winning a ball game,” the National Cathedral tweeted. “We give thanks for the Nationals bringing joy and unity to a city in desperate need of both.”

– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at emillard@episcopalchurch.org.

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Churches invited to support the media in prayer

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 12:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Christians are being urged to make Sunday, Nov. 3 a day of prayer for the media.

The Churches Media Trust has developed a resource guide for churches to help inspire prayer for all members of the media and is encouraging everyone to make it a special focus on Sunday, Nov. 3.

An animated video on the Trust’s website states: “In an era of fake news, distrust and cynicism, it’s never been more important for us to pray for the media industry, as well as those who work in and with it.”

Read the full article here.

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Youth in Pakistan and Kenya lead by example on care for the environment

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 12:02pm

In the Anglican Church of Kenya, young people worked with the Green Anglicans Movement to clean up trash in the spirit of inspiring care for creation. Photo: Anglican Church of Kenya via ACNS

[Anglican Communion News Service] Young people in Pakistan and Kenya are leading the way on care of the environment by taking practical steps to look after their communities and inspire green action.

Youth leaders from Pakistan gave a practical example on environmental responsibility when they joined in a rubbish clean-up at the end of their interfaith camp.

Some 55 participants from Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Shia, Ahmadi, Baha’i, Ismaili and Christian communities came together for a camp focused on interfaith issues organized by the events coordinator from the Diocese of Peshawar in the Church of Pakistan.

Read the full article here.

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Faith leaders protest immigration enforcement policies outside building named for Minnesota bishop

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 2:49pm

An ecumenical group of worshipers celebrate Eucharist Oct. 29 during a demonstration outside the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Lauren Smythe

[Episcopal Church in Minnesota] As the dawn sky turned pink over the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building in Minneapolis on Oct. 29, the faithful of Minnesota bundled up against the first frozen morning of the season to hold vigil, to protest, and to make their voices heard. Their demand: Evict ICE, the Bureau of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, from the building named for Minnesota’s first bishop, or remove his name from the building.

“What is happening to immigrants in the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building is in direct opposition to the values, theology and policy of The Episcopal Church,” the Rev. Devon Anderson, rector at Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, said during a press conference held outside the building. “To us, it is in an intolerable irony to have the name of the first Episcopal bishop of Minnesota, an icon of human rights and compassion, on the front of this building in which so much injustice and cruelty occurs on a daily basis.”

Nearly 300 participated in the gathering, which included Eucharist. Episcopal clergy and laypeople joined with members of the Minnesota Council of Churches and the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration in a busy parking lot between a high-traffic commuter rail line and the imposing federal building.

Before worship began, Minnesota Bishop Brian N. Prior acknowledged and invoked the site’s proximity to Bdote, the “Eden” of the Dakota people, who consider it their most holy place. “The Whipple Building lies just a stone’s throw from where the Dakota believe all of creation began and where Bishop Whipple walked among a beloved Dakota community,” Prior said. “We denounce the oppression that took place against Dakota people then and the oppression that is being perpetuated against immigrants today.”

About 300 people, including clergy and laypeople from the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, joined the vigil and demonstration Oct. 29 outside the Bishop Henry Whipple Building in Minneapolis, Minnesota, known as a five-state hub for federal immigration enforcement. Photo: Lauren Smythe

Opponents of ICE’s enforcement operations in the region see the Whipple building a microcosm of the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration violations, which The Episcopal Church has criticized for upending lives, separating families and disrupting communities. Minnesota’s Twin Cities are known as a hub for federal immigration enforcement across five states – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota – and at the center of that hub is the Whipple building, which houses an immigration court.

“The activities that go on this building are a violation, not only of the spirit of this sacred land, but a violation of that name, Bishop Whipple, that stands on this building,” said Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs, representing the Minnesota Council of Churches.

Bishop Henry Whipple led The Episcopal Church in Minnesota from 1859 until his death in 1901. Photo: Minnesota Historical Society

Whipple, consecrated as bishop in 1859, spent more than four decades establishing The Episcopal Church’s roots in the newly founded state while leading missionary work among the American Indian tribes of Minnesota, and in 1862, he successfully lobbied President Abraham Lincoln to spare most of the 303 Dakota warriors who had been sentenced to death for an uprising that year.

Whipple died in 1901, and the federal building in Minneapolis was named in his honor soon after its dedication in 1969.

Now 50 years later, immigrant detainees are brought to the Whipple building by van wearing orange jumpsuits and shackled at the wrists and ankles, said the Rev. Letha Wilson-Barnard, rector at Holy Apostles Episcopal Church in St. Paul, “These are our neighbors, our friends, our family, our co-workers, who themselves came here to seek a better life,” Wilson-Barnard said. “Many leave through this gate immediately to the airport for deportation, not even able to say goodbye to their families.”

After Eucharist was shared among the protestors, a coalition of clergy and others attempted to enter the sally port of the Whipple building, where detainees are held, in order to offer both detainees and officers a chance to take Eucharist.

The group was immediately stopped by an officer pulling his vehicle across the drive, while informing them that if they kept walking, they would be arrested. For 15 minutes, the group asked to be allowed to see the detainees, to offer solace to those detained and to guards alike, and were denied.

“For us, you are our brother, and all the people in this building are our brothers and sisters,” the Rev. Lisa Wiens Heinsohn, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, said to the officer. “That is why we are here.”

At the conclusion of the Eucharist, the group moved to the front of the federal building for the press conference. In addition to calling for a change in name or use of the building, the group expressed support for legislation to make Minnesota a sanctuary state, meaning state agencies would be barred from devoting resources to federal immigration enforcement activities.

The Rev. Sherry Prestimon, conference minister of the United Church of Christ, concluded the event with an invitation: “My invitation to all of us today is to go further […] I am announcing this morning the creation of the Minnesota Sanctuary State Coalition. The first meeting of this new coalition will convene next month to begin this work to make Minnesota the 10th sanctuary state in the nation.”

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Bishop of Iowa announces plans to retire, calls for the election of successor in spring 2021

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 12:51pm

[Diocese of Iowa] At the 167th Convention of the Diocese of Iowa, Bishop Alan Scarfe announced his intention to retire in September 2021 and called for the election of his successor in the spring of 2021.

In his letter to the diocese, Scarfe said, “Your gracious, patient and generous spirit has made me your bishop, always humbled and proud to be ‘the bishop of Iowa’ and never merely ‘from Iowa.’ To stand before General Convention in 2018 and describe your revivals was one of the greatest honors of my life. God only knows the sparks we have set alight through that witness. I am sure that some are saying, ‘Well, if Iowa can do it, so can we.’”

Iowa Bishop Alan Scarfe. Photo: Diocese of Iowa

The bishop also announced that Bishop Todd Ousley, who leads The Episcopal Church’s Office for Pastoral Development, will be present at the November retreat of the board and he will advise on the schedule for the search, election and transition periods. The Standing Committee and members of the diocesan staff will also be present at the gathering.

Scarfe was elected ninth bishop of the Diocese of Iowa at a special diocesan convention in November 2002. He was ordained in Des Moines on Saturday, April 5, 2003 and seated at St. Paul’s Cathedral the following day. The diocese had sought a “shared ministry” bishop, and Scarfe’s ministry in the diocese has included a focus on being “in mission with Christ, through each and all.”

He has been active in social justice issues through his involvement with Bishops United Against Gun Violence, support for the LGBTQ+ community and encouraging the development of the Becoming Beloved Community initiative. In his time in the diocese he has been an advocate for youth and young adult ministry and the development of new worshipping communities. In the last several years he has gathered the diocese in over 40 revivals across the state and encouraged and supported congregations through Growing Iowa Leaders and Engaging All Disciples.

He says in his letter, “We have been called, fed and sent through revival and the subsequent years of growing Iowa leaders, and engaging each other in discipleship. My prayer is to leave you walking your neighborhoods and building relationships of love with all around you, satisfied more to fulfill the actions of Christ, rather than settle with mere Christ-like thoughts and feelings.”

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