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‘In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form and void’

3 hours 36 min ago

[Episcopal News Service – Washington, D.C.] In the heyday of America’s space program, the Apollo 8 mission that went aloft 50 years ago this month was a first in all of human exploration, not just that of space.

Humans left Earth’s orbit for the first time and headed to the moon nearly a quarter million miles away. Just shy of three days later, on Christmas Eve 1968, William A. Anders, Frank Borman and James A. Lovell Jr. put their spacecraft into lunar orbit and became the first people to see the far side of the moon. Later that day, they became the first to see the Earth rise over the lunar horizon.

“Look at that picture over there! Here’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty!” astronaut William Anders said on Dec. 24, 1968, as he, Frank Borman and James A. Lovell Jr. rode the Apollo 8 space capsule through their fourth orbit of the moon. “The hair kind of went up on the back of my neck,” he later recalled. Anders grabbed a Hasselblad camera and snapped one of the most iconic images of the space age. As Anders saw it, the Earth “rose” from the moon’s side, not over the top as usually depicted. Photo: NASA

The astronauts did not keep secret their discoveries. They conveyed them from space to the people on Earth who were following their mission, and changed the way humans viewed their place in the universe.

As they came around the moon, the astronauts had a new vision of Earth, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry told a large crowd gathered at Washington National Cathedral on the evening of Dec. 11.  “I wonder if, at some level, God whispered in their ears and said, ‘Behold. Behold the world of which you are a part. Look at it. Look at its symmetry, look at its beauty. Look at its wonder. Look at it. Behold your world.”

In addition to Curry, “The Spirit of Apollo” program at the cathedral featured Lovell, who also flew on Apollo 13, Gemini 7 and Gemini 12; Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator; Ellen R. Stofan, the director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and the Very Rev. Randy Hollerith, dean of the cathedral. The five were invited to explore the spiritual meaning of exploration and the unity created by the mission’s Christmas Eve broadcast and the iconic “Earthrise” photo taken by one of the astronauts.

The program at the cathedral is one of a series of “Apollo 50” events leading up to a five-day celebration, July 16–20, 2019, at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and on the National Mall to commemorate Apollo 11 and the first moon landing. The museum received $2 million from the Boeing Corp. to help pay for the cathedral event and all of the commemorations.

A view from the Apollo 8 spacecraft showing nearly the entire Western Hemisphere, from the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, including nearby Newfoundland, extending to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. Central America is clearly outlined. Nearly all of South America is covered by clouds, except the high Andes Mountain chain along the west coast. A small portion of the bulge of West Africa shows as well. Photo: NASA

Hollerith suggested that Apollo 8 was “a holy journey not only for what it accomplished, but for what it revealed to us about our place in God’s grand creation.”

Curry said that “some have said that that moment changed human consciousness forever,” adding that the view of Earth from space showed “that we are a part of it, not the sum total of it.”

Lovell agreed, describing how he realized that his thumb could cover up the entire Earth as he saw it through the space capsule’s window. “In this cathedral, my world exists within these walls, but seeing the Earth at 240,000 miles, my world suddenly expanded to infinity,” he said.

“Just think: over three billion people, mountains, oceans, deserts, everything I ever knew was behind my thumb,” he said. “As I observed the Earth, I realized my home was a small planet. It is just a mere speck in our Milky Way galaxy and lost to oblivion in the universe.”

Lovell, who had received sustained applause and a standing ovation as he approached the lectern to begin his remarks, said he began to question his own existence, asking “how do I fit into what I see?”

Apollo 8 astronaut Jim Lovell: “To me this would be a mini Lewis & Clark expedition; exploring new territory on the Moon’s far side.” #SpiritofApollo pic.twitter.com/0rzGMnbK6z

— National Air and Space Museum (@airandspace) December 12, 2018

As a near-capacity crowd gathered in the cathedral, the same waxing crescent moon hung in the sky that people on Earth saw on that Christmas Eve, and the International Space Station passed overhead during the Dec. 11 event, Stofan noted.

Images from space transform the exterior of Washington National Cathedral the night of Dec. 11 while, inside, hundreds of people gathered to honor the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

On Christmas Eve 1968, the crew spoke to Earth’s inhabitants in what was then the most watched TV broadcast. Anders began by describing the moon as “a rather foreboding horizon, a rather dark and unappetizing-looking place…

“We are now approaching lunar sunrise,” he then said. “And, for all the people back on earth, the crew of Apollo 8 have a message that we would like to send to you.

Anders began to read the biblical story of creation. After he recited verses 1-4 of the first chapter of Genesis, using the King James Version, Lovell read verses 5-8 and Borman read verses 9-10.

“And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close, with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good earth,” Borman concluded the broadcast. It lasted just more than three minutes and was heard by an estimated 1 billion people around the world.

The mission commander, Borman, had been scheduled as a lector for the Christmas Day service at his parish, St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in League City, Texas, until NASA moved up the launch date. “We kidded Frank about going to such lengths — all the way to the moon — to get out of … services,” the Rev. James Buckner told NBC News in 1999.

“Apollo 8 was full of surprises. We knew we were going to the moon. But hearing the story of creation beaming down to us on Christmas Eve, even the steely-eyed flight directors in Mission Control wept,” said Stofan. “Some of our bravest pilots and sailors, riding atop repurposed weapons of war, delivered a message of peace for all humankind. That was the spirt of Apollo.”

The nave of Washington National Cathedral was was bathed in blue light and stars on the night of Dec. 11. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

During the cathedral program, images of stars were projected on the vaulted ceiling of the nave and celestial images covered the building’s exterior. The Cathedral Choir performed “The Firmament,” which matched singing with a recording of the historic broadcast.

The iconic photo was a scramble to capture

“Earthrise” has been credited for inspiring the beginning of the environmental movement. It was included in Life Magazine’s 100 Photographs that Changed the World issue. Anders once told NASA that the crew was just starting to go behind the moon when he looked out of his window and, “saw all these stars, more stars than you could pick out constellations from.” Suddenly “I don’t know who said it, maybe all of us said, ‘Oh my God. Look at that!'” as they saw the Earth rise.

The vision set off a scramble to record the scene as the astronauts searched for a color film camera for Anders. The transcript relays the fear of any photographer of missing the shot.

“We came all this way to explore the Moon,” Anders once said, “and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.”

Curry mused on God’s reaction to Apollo 8. “I wonder if when they saw it, and then later we saw it, and when they read from Genesis, if God kind of gave a cosmic smile,” he said. “And I wonder if God said, ‘Now y’all see what I see.’ God says ‘y’all.’ It’s in the King James version of the Bible.”

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on Apollo 8’s Earthrise photograph: “Some have said that was a moment that changed human consciousness forever.” #SpiritofApollo pic.twitter.com/ErHl6edScH

— National Air and Space Museum (@airandspace) December 12, 2018

Curry urged those gathered to rededicate themselves to exploration, and to the preservation of Earth.

“My brothers, my sisters, my siblings, may this commemoration be a moment of re-consecration and dedication to mount on eagles’ wings and fly, to explore new worlds, to seek out vast knowledge and then to mobilize the great knowledge of science and technology, and the wisdom of humans to save this oasis, our island home,” he said.

Curry then began to sing “He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands,” the song that had been his refrain during his remarks. The Cathedral Choir slowly joined in and, at his urging, many in the gathering began to softly sing along.

The Apollo 8 mission had many dimensions

The mission and the Christmas Eve broadcast came at the end of a very trying year for a country that was “shaken by division and civil unrest,” in Stofan’s words.

The Tet Offensive in Vietnam at the end of January had shown the falsity of official claims that the war’s end was in sight. In April, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and riots broke out in more than 100 U.S. cities. Robert Kennedy was murdered in June after a presidential campaign appearance. Anti-war protests also roiled cities and college campuses.

Officially, the mission was designed to test the Apollo command module systems and evaluate crew performance on a lunar orbiting mission. The crew photographed the lunar surface, both far side and near side, obtaining information on topography and landmarks, as well as other scientific information necessary for future Apollo landings.

The three Apollo 8 astronauts, left to right, James A. Lovell Jr., command module pilot; William A. Anders, lunar module pilot, and Frank Borman, commander, pose Nov. 13, 1968, beside the Apollo Mission Simulator at the Kennedy Space Center. Photo: NASA

It also aimed to give the United States a huge lead in the space race with the Soviet Union. The desire to beat the Soviets to the moon was precisely what made NASA decide, based on intelligence it received in mid-1968, that the U.S.S.R. might be able to send astronauts to orbit the moon by the end of that year. In August, NASA turned Apollo 8 from an Earth-orbit test flight into a lunar mission. It was dangerous, and the three astronauts were, among other things, “Cold War warriors,” Bridenstine said in a press briefing before the event.

“Their Christmas Eve broadcast reached not just almost all of America, but tens of millions of people behind the Iron Curtain where Christmas was still illegal — and they reached them with a Christmas message,” he said during the program. “That is an amazing tool of national power, of soft power. The idea that we can change the perception of people all around the world towards the United States with space exploration and discovery and science, and that’s what NASA did in the Christmas of 1968.”

The NASA administrator said the cathedral program was also about the future of America’s role in space exploration. He noted that President Donald Trump has told the country it is going back to the moon. “I want to be clear,” Bridenstine said. “We’re going forward to the moon. We’re doing it in a way that has never been done before. This time when we go, we’re going to stay.”

He described “sustainable, reusable architecture” that will utilize the resources present on the moon, including “hundreds of billions of tons of water ice at the poles of the moon.” Astronauts will repeatedly go to the moon with commercial and international partners, he predicted, because that water can sustain them, and be used to produce the rocket fuel needed to get home.

Rather than the “contest of ideas” that marked the first race to the moon, Bridenstine said this future effort’s technology will be open-sourced and available to any nation, as well as a company or private individual “that also want to plug into that architecture in a commercial way.” He also predicted that the moon effort would be replicated “in our journey to Mars.”

Artist Rodney Winfield of St. Louis, Missouri, created the design for the cathedral’s Space Window to symbolize the macrocosm and microcosm of space, and to show the minuteness of humanity in God’s universe. It is the only stained glass window in the cathedral that incorporates all three lancets into a single image. The night of the Apollo 8 celebration, the window was illuminated by three spotlights mounted on tall scaffolding outside the south side of the cathedral. Photo: Washington National Cathedral

National Cathedral has a cosmic connection

The cathedral has long honored space travel. Its so-called “Space Window” contains a 7.18-gram basalt lunar rock from the Sea of Tranquility, donated to the cathedral by the crew of Apollo 11 (Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins). The window was dedicated on the fifth anniversary of Armstrong’s and Aldrin’s lunar landing, July 21, 1974.

Hollerith, during his opening remarks, said the cathedral is “blessed to be stewards” of the 3.6-billion-year-old rock.

In January 1986, hundreds of mourners spontaneously came to the cathedral and laid wreaths of flowers beneath the window as a memorial to the scientists and technicians that it was designed to honor after the space shuttle Challenger exploded on liftoff. Then, 17 years later the cathedral hosted the national memorial service for the seven-member crew of space shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated upon re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere on Feb. 1, 2003.

Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon, was honored after his death in 2012 at a public service in the cathedral.

In a more prosaic vein, since 1986 a Darth Vader gargoyle, also known as a grotesque, has reigned over the dark, north side of the cathedral from its perch high on the northwest tower.

Apollo 8 headed home with big news

Shortly past midnight on Christmas morning, after just more than 20 hours and 10 orbits of the moon, the crew made history again when it ignited an engine burn to leave lunar orbit and start for home. Again, that firing had to take place on the moon’s far side, out of radio contact with mission control. People there listened anxiously for confirmation that the burn had powered Apollo 8 out of lunar orbit and toward Earth

“Roger, please be informed there is a Santa Claus,” Lovell radioed.

Read and see more about it

The on-demand broadcast can be viewed here.

The booklet for the Dec. 11 program is here.

The museum’s Apollo 50 page is here.

A NASA gallery of images from the Apollo 8 mission is here.

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

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St. Jude’s known as ‘the little church with the big heart’ in rural Ka’u

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 4:09pm

Bishop’s warden Cordelia Burt opens the door to one of Shiela’s Showers at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Ocean View, Hawai’i. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Ocean View, Hawai’i] The lay leadership at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church here in Ocean View has turned the small church in the rural, underserved district of Ka’u on the Big Island into a beacon of light and hope; it lives up to its reputation as “the little church with the big heart.”

Under the dedicated leadership of bishop’s warden Cordelia Burt and a small group of lay members serving on the bishop’s committee, St. Jude’s is more than a congregation. It’s a family, they say, attracting people from all walks of life, from the richest to the poorest, from those living on estates to those living in tents.

From left, Cindy Cutts, Cordelia Burt and Karen Pucci are three of St. Jude’s lay leaders. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“Everybody comes in, everybody comes in. Until you do something completely stupid, you are in,” said Karen Pucci, a member of St. Jude’s.

“And there are those that do stupid things,” said Cindy Cutts, who handles the congregation’s communications.

“But it takes quite a bit,” added Pucci, the women bursting into laughter. “You really do need to get the red flag out there and chase the bull.”

“Me being the bull,” said Burt.

Hawai’i’s Big Island covers just more than 5,000 square miles and is home to some 200,000 people, many of them veterans and many of them living well below the poverty line, according to U.S. census data. The island is home to full- and part-time residents, and others living off the grid in substandard housing or even tents, St. Jude’s leaders said.

It’s the off-the-grid folks and the hungry, homeless, technologically underserved, lost, lonely and forgotten who’ve inspired much of the congregation’s social outreach, including its shower ministry, named for a now-deceased transsexual member of the parish, Shiela, who suddenly stopped attending Sunday services.

The rules and regulations for Shiela’s Showers are posted outside of St. Jude’s. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“She wasn’t coming to church for a while and we knew she was sick, and her partner said she’s not coming to church because she doesn’t have any way to take a shower,” said Burt. “We’d been looking into building showers and doing this, and so I found out that they [Shiela and her partner] had no way of getting water. Their landlord didn’t give them a hose. The landlord said if they didn’t buy cigarettes, they’d have enough money for a hose.

“Long story short, when we learned that Shiela wasn’t coming to church because she couldn’t take a shower, we went and bought a hose, and I took a bar of soap over and gave it to them. And for as long as Shiela could make it, she came to church every Sunday, and the sad part of the story is we didn’t get the shower up and running until after Shiela died.”

“We decided that we would name the showers ‘Shiela’s Showers’ because she would have loved to have had hot water,” added Cutts.

Here’s how it works. On Saturday mornings, volunteers arrive at 8 a.m. and put on the coffee and the soup. At 9 a.m., shower patrons beginning signing up to use one of the two showers. Sign-up ends at 12:30 p.m., and the volunteers stay until the last patron showers. Before St. Jude’s installed a second shower, it might be 4 p.m. by the time the last patron showered. Now, with two showers, it’s more like 12:30 or 1 p.m., the leaders said.

“One of our first patrons that used the showers, when she came out of the shower, we have two people — male and female — sitting out there dispensing the shampoo, the conditioner, the body wash, fresh towels, we supply all of that, and she was crying and Beverly [the volunteer] thought, ‘Oh my God, was the water too hot?’ And she said, ‘No, this is the first time in six months that I’ve had hot water on my head.’”

Additional social services St. Jude’s provides to the community include hosting the county’s senior nutrition program, a food pantry, free veterinary services, free Wi-Fi and electronics charging stations, a computer lab, and space for 12-step addiction recovery programs and for community organizations.

St. Jude’s is one of five Episcopal parishes on the Big Island, the youngest, largest and easternmost of the archipelago’s eight main islands. In May, Kilauea volcano’s eruption and the lava river that followed destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced many other families on the Big Island. Holy Apostles in Hilo, the island’s largest and only incorporated city, continues its long-term response to the eruption.

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

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Episcopal delegation steps up church’s advocacy for climate action at COP24 in Poland

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 2:56pm

California Bishop Marc Andrus, center, is leading an Episcopal delegation to the United Nations’ COP24 climate conference in Katowice, Poland. The delegation also has included Alan Yarborough, left, Office of Government Relations communications officer, and the Rev. Rev. Lester Mackenzie, right of Andrus. Photo: Lynnaia Main

[Episcopal News Service] An Episcopal delegation in Poland is past the halfway mark of its advocacy on behalf of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the United Nations climate conference known as COP24, including meetings with representatives from member nations to share details of the church’s positions as set by General Convention.

COP24, known officially as the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is following a range of “work streams” related to climate change: loss and damage, mitigation, adaptation, finance and ambition.

“Our hope is to not only learn about these important areas, but to help the church connect with them,” California Bishop Marc Andrus, who is leading the Episcopal delegation, told Episcopal News Service in a written summary of his team’s activities. He added that the Episcopal team members will produce reports on those activities afterward that will be shared with the wider church.

COP24 kicked off Dec. 2 in Katowice, Poland, and runs through Dec. 14, and one of its top goals is to hammer out a framework for implementing the Paris Agreement, which was reached in 2015 at the 21st conference.

The Episcopal Church began attending the conference that year, making this the fourth Episcopal delegation. Joining Andrus for both weeks is Lynnaia Main, the Episcopal Church’s representative to the United Nations, and Andrus’ wife, Sheila Andrus, an ecological entomologist representing the Diocese of California.

The rest of the delegation is split between the conference’s two weeks, with the first week including the Rev. Lester Mackenzie of Laguna Beach, California; Alan Yarborough, Office of Government Relations communications officer, and the Rev. Melanie Mullen, Episcopal Church’s director of reconciliation, evangelism and creation care. For the second week, they have handed off to Andrew Thompson, an environmental ethicist at Sewanee: University of the South, and Jack Cobb, the Office of Government Relations’ domestic and environmental policy adviser.

Each member of the Episcopal delegation is tracking one of the COP24 work streams as the team promotes keeping global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius, a more ambitious target than the Paris Agreement’s 2 degrees Celsius, which scientists predict would be necessary to prevent a spiraling catastrophe of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and related weather extremes.

“We delegates carry in our hearts the many ways that Episcopalians are already suffering from the early effects of climate change and feel the responsibility to represent those most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters,” Andrus said.

In addition to making that case directly to member nations, the Episcopalians at COP24 are participating in panel discussions, conferring with ecumenical partners and joining worship and prayer services.

California Bishop Marc Andrus, right, participates in a panel discussion Dec. 7 at the United States Climate Action Center during COP24 in Poland. Photo: Lynnaia Main

On Dec. 7, Andrus served on a panel discussion of the We Are Still In movement. “I was able to talk about our historic commitments around climate and environment at the 79th General Convention, and our movement to reduce the carbon footprint of the Episcopal Church by supporting individual and community sustainability choices,” Andrus said.

Environmental justice is one of the church’s three main priorities, along with racial reconciliation and evangelism. Over the years, General Convention has passed numerous resolutions on the issue, whether supporting federal climate action or pledging to mitigate the church’s own impact on the environment.

We Are Still In brings together the Episcopal Church and many of its faith partners, as well as governments, nongovernmental organizations and companies, in committing to uphold the Paris Agreement despite the Trump administration’s vow to withdraw the United States. One of the Episcopal delegation’s tasks at COP24 has been to draft a response to the U.S. delegation’s effort to block “welcoming” a report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In 2016, the Episcopal Church was granted U.N. observer status, which allows members of the delegation to brief U.N. representatives on the Episcopal Church’s General Convention climate resolutions and to attend meetings in the official zone.

On Dec. 8, the Episcopal delegation participated in a prayer vigil in support of the Gwich’in, indigenous people in Alaska whose traditional way of life faces threats from oil exploration and rising temperatures in the Arctic. The Episcopal Church has rallied behind the cause of the Gwich’in, first through its House of Bishops and then at General Convention in July, when Gwich’in activist Bernadette Demientieff spoke at a joint session on care of creation.

Andrus and his COP24 team also attended an ecumenical worship service on Dec. 9 in the Roman Catholic cathedral in Katowice, and the first week included a reception hosted by the Brahma Kumaris Hindu order and an interfaith Talanoa Dialog, a tradition that originates in Pacific island nations.

The Episcopal delegation’s second-week team has hit the ground running, Andrus said, with plans to host an event Dec. 12 to show video of a sermon that Curry is scheduled to give Dec. 11 at Washington National Cathedral commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 space flight.

“After watching the video, we will be discussing what it means to see the Earth as a whole from outside of itself,” Andrus said. “I feel that those splendid, tender images have changed our minds and souls and contributed to our sense that life is deeply interconnected, and that all of life is mutually responsible.”

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

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Malawi’s president praises Anglican social ministry on hospital’s 120th anniversary

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 4:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The president of Malawi, Peter Mutharika, has praised the Anglican Church in the country, commending it “for the social services you provide to Malawians” as it marks the 120th anniversary of St. Martin’s Anglican hospital in the Mangochi district of southern Malawi. St. Martin’s was founded in 1898 as a single-nurse facility, providing basic medical care for missionaries and their families. Within five years it had developed and was providing care for 350 patients a month. It has continued to grow, and today, it serves a population of around 40,000 people at its site and through a mobile medical unit.

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English church receives outpouring of support after arson attack forces cancelation of services

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 4:00pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A Church of England parish church in Hertfordshire was forced to cancel services Dec. 10 after arsonists caused significant damage to the building. Neighboring churches offered to assist – including the independent Trinity Life Church, which invited St. John’s congregation to use its Town Hall base as a venue for tea and coffee. Trinity Life also invited congregation members to join them for their 10:30 a.m. service, as did Melbourn Baptist Church. Neighboring Church of England parishes have also offered support.

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Presiding Bishop prepares for pastoral visits to East Carolina, Central Gulf Coast after hurricanes

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 5:16pm

The 175-year-old chapel at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Southport, North Carolina, was one of three of the congregation’s buildings severely damaged by Hurricane Florence in September. The congregation is worshipping at a local Moose Lodge until repairs are completed. Photo: St. Philip’s Episcopal Church

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will travel this weekend to the Diocese of East Carolina for a pastoral visit focused on hearing the stories of Episcopalians recovering from two hurricanes that hit the Southeast in September and October.

Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wilmington, North Carolina, on Sept. 14 with 90 mph winds. A month later, Hurricane Michael also passed through North Carolina, though the worst damage from that storm occurred on and near the Florida Panhandle, where Michael made landfall Oct. 10 as a major hurricane with 155 mph winds.

After visiting East Carolina, Curry has scheduled a pastoral visit to the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast to meet with Episcopalians in the Panhandle on Jan. 12 and 13.

“We’re very grateful that he’s coming to East Carolina to see firsthand and just to be with us,” said the Rev. Paul Canady, rector of Christ Episcopal Church in New Bern, North Carolina, one of the communities hit hard by Florence.

Although Canady’s church wasn’t badly damaged in the storm, 31 families in the congregation were displaced, and some still are waiting nearly three months later for completion of repairs that will let them return to their homes.

Southwest of Wilmington, the congregation of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Southport has been worshiping in a meeting hall of the local Moose Lodge while repairs are underway to the congregation’s sanctuary, chapel and administrative buildings. All three buildings were severely battered by Florence and will require new shingle roofs and replacement of flood-damaged walls and floors.

Some members of the congregation were hoping to return to worshiping in the St. Philip’s sanctuary by Christmas. The Rev. Jim Hanisian, priest-in-charge, said Easter would be a more likely timeline, but even that is uncertain.

For now, every Sunday the congregation will travel seven miles away to their temporary home, where a giant moose head on the wall is waiting to greet them. Once inside, a left turn will take you to the Moose Lodge bar, so parishioners instead take the right turn into a bingo hall that the congregation coverts once a week into a makeshift worship space for the 8 and 10:30 a.m. services.

“It’s kind of an adventure,” Hanisian said, telling the story of someone accidentally turning on the disco ball in the hall and initially struggling to figure out how to turn it off.

“It’s been really interesting,” he said. “We expected that we’d have a pretty big decrease in attendance, and in fact it’s not. It’s been growing.”

Florence and Michael were the two most devastating storms in a particularly active hurricane season, with Florence blamed for the deaths of 50 people. Michael, said to be the third-strongest hurricane to hit mainland United States, killed at least 40 people.

The two storms brought intense wind, rain and flooding that left a path of destruction from the Gulf Coast to coastal Virginia. Episcopal dioceses across the region coordinated their emergency response and relief efforts before, during and immediately after the storms with help from Episcopal Relief & Development.

The Diocese of East Carolina, which covers the coastal third of North Carolina, received a $20,000 emergency grant from Episcopal Relief & Development, and the money was distributed through micro-grants to 13 different ministries in the diocese.

“Some used their micro-grants to purchase gift cards, which were handed out and enabled families in their communities to buy groceries and fill their cars with gas,” East Carolina Communications Coordinator Lindsey Harts said in an email. “Others used their grant money to rent U-Hauls so they could more easily distribute food, cleaning products, and other necessities to those in need.”

Christ Church in New Bern was among the micro-grant recipients, using $2,500 to help some residents meet emergency housing needs in the days and weeks after Florence, Canady said. The church used a second micro-grant to host a children’s program similar to a vacation Bible school for students initially unable to return to classes while their schools were closed.

The diocese also has received an outpouring of support from Episcopalians across the country.

“As we continue to do the work of relief and recovery in our communities, we are grateful for the generosity of our siblings in Christ across the Episcopal Church who have interceded on our behalf, sent kind letters, and donated monetarily,” Harts said. “We ask for your continued support, as this process of reorienting ourselves, picking up the pieces, and rebuilding our communities will be a part of our story for not just weeks or months, but years.”

The diocese maintained an online Hurricane Hub with emergency information during the storm, and it continues to update its relief and recovery page. Bishop Robert Skirving sent a letter to the diocese on Oct. 4 applauding the work of neighbors helping neighbors and urging church members to continue supporting all those affected by Florence.

“Alone, each of us could easily become overwhelmed by the challenges we face in so much of eastern North Carolina,” Skirving said. “But in Christ, and together with one another, we have been given by God every good gift that we will need.”

The letter also noted at that time 24 parishes in the diocese had filed insurance claims due to damage on church properties.

Among the damaged properties was Trinity Center, the diocese’s retreat center on the coastal Outer Banks. Many of the center’s buildings had to be repaired, renovated or rebuilt, and the center began slowly reopening to groups in late October.

“We still have a long road ahead of us as we continue to prioritize projects, but our friends and supporters have made that road seem much shorter,” the center said on its website.

Other churches were mostly spared by the storm and able to assist their communities in the aftermath. St. James Parish, Wilmington’s oldest church, sustained only a downed tree and was able to open its doors quickly after the storm to house relief workers needing a place to stay.

St. James, along with St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Jacksonville, will host Curry’s two main public gatherings during his visit to the diocese. The event at St. Anne’s will be at 4 p.m. Dec. 8, and St. James will welcome Curry at 2 p.m. Dec. 9.

“Each of these gatherings will provide an opportunity for those who have been doing the work of relief and recovery to share their stories and to allow Bishop Curry to respond pastorally,” the diocese said in an email to its members.

St. Philip’s isn’t on Curry’s itinerary of public events, but the presiding bishop is scheduled to join the congregation Dec. 9 for a tour of its damaged buildings and then a 10 a.m. Eucharist.

“It’s a shot in the arm to the congregation,” Hanisian said. “They’re so excited, it’s ridiculous.”

Some members of St. Philip’s have dealt with damaged roofs, broken windows and downed trees from Hurricane Florence, but luckily, Hanisian said, no family has been left homeless – only the congregation. So, instead of celebrating Eucharist with Curry in the damaged sanctuary or chapel, they will invite him to join them for one of their Moose Lodge services.

“The big question now is whether we’re going to turn on the disco ball when he’s preaching,” Hanisian said, at least half jokingly.

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

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Chilton Knudsen appointed assisting bishop in Washington

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 11:13am

[Diocese of Washington] Bishop of Washington Mariann Edgar Budde announced in a Dec. 7 letter the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen as assisting bishop in the Diocese of Washington. Read the full letter below.  To read Knudsen’s farewell to the Diocese of Maryland, where she’s served for three years as assistant bishop, click here

Dear Friends of the Diocese of Washington,

I am thrilled to announce that Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen will join the Diocese of Washington as Assisting Bishop, effective February 20, 2019. Bishop Knudsen served as Bishop of Maine for a decade (1997-2008) and has since served a missionary in Haiti and as an assistant bishop in four dioceses. She will complete her ministry in the Diocese of Maryland at the end of 2018.

Bishop Knudsen is a good friend to many in the Diocese of Washington, and she is known for her pastoral warmth, skill in conflict resolution, congregational development, and issues related to addiction and recovery. A person of great spiritual maturity and love for the gospel, she is excited to serve Christ among us. We will be richly blessed by her ministry.

As Assisting Bishop, a half-time position, Bishop Knudsen will help with parish visitations (two per month), ordinations, confirmations, and other events where a bishop is needed. She will work alongside Archdeacon L. Sue von Rautenkranz in the Deacon’s School. Already known and admired among EDOW congregations in southern Maryland, Bishop Knudsen will devote much of her energies among the clergy and lay leaders there, and, in particular, support the strategic planning process in their context. She feels a special call to congregations on the geographic borders of a diocese and thus will also develop pastoral relationships in our northernmost regions.

Bishop Knudsen and I have been in conversation about this possibility for half a year. In consulting members of the Diocesan Council, the Standing Committee and other diocesan leaders, I have received enthusiastic and unanimous encouragement to invite Bishop Knudsen to serve here.  I look forward to her collegial support and sharing the ministry of this wonderful diocese with her.

You should know that Bishop Knudsen’s ministry is her gift to us. She will receive only modest reimbursement for her work-related expenses and travel to gatherings of the House of Bishops and the consecration of bishops she has mentored. As Assisting Bishop, she will work on a 12-month, renewable letter of agreement.

Please join me in praying for Bishop Knudsen and all in the Diocese of Maryland as they mark the end of her ministry there. We can look forward to welcoming her among us in February.

Faithfully in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde
Bishop of Washington

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La nación despide a George H. W. Bush en la Catedral nacional de Washington

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 8:59am

El Obispo primado Michael Curry, al centro; el deán de la Catedral Nacional de Washington Randy Hollerith, a la izquierda; y el Rdo. Russell Levenson Jr., rector de la congregación de Houston a que pertenecía George H. W. Bush pronuncian la comendatoria al final del oficio fúnebre de Bush el 5 de diciembre. La Rda. Rosemarie Logan Duncan, canóniga de la catedral para el culto, de pie a la derecha, sostiene el báculo de la obispa de Washington Mariann Budde, que no se distingue entre Hollerith y Curry. El Rdo. Charles Robertson, canónigo del Obispo Primado para el Ministerio fuera de la Iglesia Episcopal, de pie entre Curry y Levenson, sostiene el báculo primacial del Obispo Primado. Foto de Danielle E. Thomas/Catedral Nacional de Washington.

[Episcopal News Service] Combinando la precisión militar, la liturgia de la Iglesia Episcopal y las amables y por momentos cómicos recuerdos de sus familiares y amigos, Estados Unidos despidió formalmente al ex presidente George H. W. Bush.

“Cuando llega la muerte, como nos llega a todos, la vida cambia, no termina”, dijo el Rdo. Russell Levenson Jr., rector de la congregación a que Bush asistía en Houston, durante el sermón en su funeral de Estado. “La manera en que vivimos nuestras vidas, las decisiones que tomamos, el servicio que prestamos importan. Les importan a nuestros semejantes, a este mundo que Dios nos ha dado y le importan a Dios. Pocas personas han entendido esto tan bien o han vivido sus vidas tan en consonancia con esto como el presidente George Herbert Walker Bush.

“Ahora bien, oigan lo que dije: vivido. No lo ganó ni se esforzó para lograrlo. Fue algo tan natural para él como respirar para cada uno de nosotros”.

Recordando el frecuente comentario que le hacía Barbara Bush de “buen sermón, demasiado largo”, Levenson predicó por poco más de 12 minutos durante el oficio en la Catedral Nacional de Washington, el cual duró cerca de dos horas y media.

El oficio, que puede verse aquí, contó con un aforo de casi 3.000 personas por exclusiva invitación, entre ellos los miembros de la familia, los cinco presidentes de EE.UU. que viven, senadores, representantes, magistrados del Tribunal Supremo, funcionarios del gobierno de Trump y dignatarios extranjeros, entre ellos la canciller alemana Angela Merkel y el príncipe Carlos de Gran Bretaña.

El féretro del presidente George H. W. Bush se levanta en el crucero de la Catedral Nacional de Washington durante su oficio fúnebre del 5 de diciembre. Foto del Distrito Militar de Washington del Ejército de EE.UU.

Fue el cuarto funeral presidencial celebrado en la catedral. Los tres anteriores funerales de Estado en la catedral fueron los del presidente Dwight Eisenhower en 1969, el del presidente Ronald Reagan en 2004 y el del presidente Gerald Ford en 2007. Bush hizo panegíricos en los funerales de Reagan y de Ford en la catedral. El presiente Woodrow Wilson está enterrado en la Catedral, pero su oficio de entierro en 1924 no fue un funeral de Estado.

El último funeral en la Catedral Nacional de Washington que se acercó a esa categoría fue el oficio por el senador John McCain el 1 de septiembre. Pero un funeral de Estado es un honor reservado a los presidentes, parte de la serie de tributos coordinados por el Distrito Militar de Washington del Ejército de EE.UU.

El ataúd de Bush llegó a la catedral en un coche fúnebre un momento antes de las 11:00 A.M., acompañado por la familia Bush. El obispo primado Michael Curry, la obispa de Washington Mariann Budde, el deán de la catedral Randy Hollerith y Levenson, de la iglesia episcopal de San Martín [St. Martin] en Houston, esperaban en las gradas de la catedral con la Rda. Rosemarie Logan Duncan, canóniga de la catedral para el culto.

Los portadores militares lenta y precisamente subieron las gradas con el ataúd hasta donde se encontraban Curry y Budde que recitaron las oraciones tradicionales de la “recepción del cuerpo”. “Con fe en Jesucristo, recibimos el cuerpo de nuestro hermano George para su entierro”, dijo Curry a la puerta.

La familia Bush fue escoltada al interior de la iglesia hasta la primera fila, el hijo del Presidente, el ex presidente George W. Bush, saludó al presidente Donald Trump y a los ex presidentes Barack Obama, Bill Clinton y Jimmy Carter, y a sus esposas, quienes se sentaron juntos en la primera fila del otro lado del pasillo de la familia Bush.

Luego, el bordón de la catedral comenzó a doblar 41 veces para marcar el número de Bush padre entre los presidentes de EE.UU., mientras los acólitos y el clero, entre ellos algunos de otras denominaciones, conducían lentamente a los portadores  que llevaban el ataúd por el largo pasillo central de la catedral. Hollerith y Levenson recitaron las antífonas del Rito de Entierro del Libro de Oración Común. El orden del rito se encuentra aquí.

Miembros de las fuerzas armadas de EE.UU. se alejan del crucero luego de haber llevado el ataúd del presidente George H. W. Bush al interior de la catedral. Foto de Danielle E. Thomas/Catedral Nacional de Washington.

Durante el oficio, cuatro panegiristas, George W. Bush, el ex primer ministro canadiense Brian Mulroney (cuyo período de gobierno coincidió con el Bush), el ex senador de EE.UU. Alan Simpson, de Wyoming, y el biógrafo de Bush Jon Meacham, recordaron al  viejo Bush.

Meacham comenzó los tributos, diciéndole a la congregación que Bush fue “un hombre imperfecto” que “nos dejó una unión más perfecta”. Bush, dijo Meacham, sabía que la política no podía ser completamente pura si uno quería ganar, y uno tenía que ganar si quería dirigir.

Meacham afirmó que Bush creía que hubo una razón por la cual se había librado de la muerte en el curso de una incursión de bombardeo aéreo en el Pacífico durante la segunda guerra mundial, en la cual sus compañeros tripulantes murieron, y él pasó los próximos 74 años al servicio de esa creencia.

“Su corazón era firme. Su código de vida, como él decía, consistía en ‘Decir la verdad. No culpar a los demás. Hacer lo mejor que se pueda. Esforzarse. Perdonar. Mantener el rumbo’”, recordó Meacham. “Ese fue y es el más norteamericano de los credos”.

Meacham dijo que la frase de Bush de “Mil puntos de luz” de la que a veces se habían mofado y el llamado de Lincoln a los “mejores ángeles de nuestra naturaleza”son “versos compañeros en el himno nacional de Estados Unidos”.

Ambos presidentes, afirmó Meacham, llamaron a los estadounidenses a “a elegir lo justo sobre lo conveniente, la esperanza en lugar del temor y atender no a nuestros peores impulsos sino a nuestros mejores instintos”.

Mulroney, de pie en el podio muy cerca de Trump, encomió los empeños de Bush para preservar y fortalecer la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte luego de la desintegración de la Unión Soviética y del Telón de Hierro. Él también elogió la labor de Bush para lograr el acuerdo del NAFTA original, que dijo que había sido “modernizado y mejorado por gobiernos recientes”. Trump ha sido crítico tanto de la NATO como del NAFTA y recientemente anunció que se retiraría de este último, en un esfuerzo, al parecer, de obligar al Congreso a aprobar una nueva versión del pacto comercial con Canadá y México.

“De aquí a 50 o a 100 años, cuando los historiadores revisen los logros y el contexto de todos los que han servido como presidentes, creo que se dirá que en la vida de este país, los Estados Unidos —que es, a mi juicio, la mayor república democrática que Dios jamás haya puesto sobre la faz de la tierra— creo que se dirá que ningún ocupante de la Oficina Oval fue más valiente, más centrado en principios y más honorable que George Herbert Walker Bush”, afirmó Mulroney.

Durante el panegírico campechano y humorístico de Simpson, él recordó un momento cuando dijo que había caído de la lista A de Washington a lo que él llamó la lista Z debido a sus opciones políticas. Bush lo invitó a él y a su esposa a pasar con ellos [los Bush] un fin de semana. Los cuatro tuvieron una despedida muy ostensible en la Casa Blanca. Simpson recordó que Bush le dijo que su equipo le había dicho que no cursara la invitación, pero que él no había atendido el consejo, citando que la amistad está por encima de la política.

Bush nunca odió a nadie, dijo Simpson, recordando que ambos hombres tuvieron  madres de carácter firme que les enseñaron que “el odio corroe al recipiente que lo contiene”.

Bush entendió las decisiones que los líderes tienen que tomar, dijo el ex senador. A Bush le presentaron una vez un proyecto de ley bipartidario sobre el proceso del presupuesto, la atención sanitaria, la solvencia de la Seguridad Social y otros asuntos políticos. Para financiar el proyecto de ley tendrían que aumentarse los impuestos y eso exigiría que el Presidente fuera en contra de su conocida promesa de: “Escúchenme bien: no habrá nuevos impuestos”. El proyecto de ley fue aprobado en el Senado, pero los compañeros republicanos de Bush lo derrotaron en la Cámara de Representantes y, Simpson sugirió, su disposición a quebrantar su promesa de no aumentar los impuestos en pro de este proyecto de ley fue responsable de que no resultara reelecto.

Simpson afirmó que Bush le dijo que cuando se enfrentaba con opciones difíciles, él elegía “el país por el que había combatido”  en lugar de optar por su partido o su legado.

“A los que viajan por la calzada de la humildad en Washington, D.C.,  no les preocupa la intensidad del tránsito”.

En su encomio, George W. Bush dijo que se padre estuvo a punto de morir de una infección de estafilococos en su adolescencia. Eso y su experiencia en la segunda guerra mundial “le hicieron disfrutar del don de la vida, y él se juró vivir todos los días a plenitud”, dijo el 43er. presidente de su padre, el 41ro.

“Hasta sus últimos días, la vida de Papá fue instructiva”, dijo Bush. “En la medida en que envejecía, él nos enseñaba a madurar con dignidad, con humor y bondad, y cuando el buen Señor finalmente lo llamó, a encontrarse con él con valor y con el gozo de la promesa del porvenir”.

Bush dijo que su padre “nos enseñó que el servicio público es noble y necesario, que uno puede servir con integridad y siendo fiel a los valores importantes, como la fe y la familia.

“Él creyó firmemente que era importante retribuir a la comunidad y al país en el que uno vivía. Reconoció que servir a otros enriquecía el alma del dador”.

Bush añadió que él supo años después como la fe de sus padres les había sostenido cuando su hermana, Robin, estaba muriéndose de leucemia a los tres años. “Papá siempre creyó que un día él abrazaría a su adorada Robin otra vez”.

Bush comenzó a llorar al finalizar su reflexión, diciendo: “Y en nuestra aflicción, sonriamos, sabiendo que Papá está abrazando a Robin y sosteniendo de nuevo la mano de Mamá”.

Durante su sermón, Levenson dijo que la vida de Bush mostraba que “la fe significa algo más que palabras”, añadiendo que la fe de Bush era “una fe profunda, una fe generosa y una fe sencilla en el mejor sentido de la palabra.

Él conoció y vivió los dos grandes mandamientos de Jesús, amar a Dios y amar a tu prójimo”, afirmó Levenson. “El Presidente no sólo sirvió a algunos, sino a todos los que Dios puso en su camino”.

El día en que Bush murió a los 94, Levenson dijo que James Baker,  el amigo del Presidente, estuvo junto a la cama de Bush, frotándole los pies durante unos 30 minutos, y haciéndole sonreír. Levenson dijo que él había percibido [en ese gesto] el sentido del servicio de Jesús, el Jueves Santo, cuando lavó los pies de sus amigos.

Luego, todos los que estaban con Bush se arrodillaron y pusieron sus manos sobre el Presidente y oraron “y luego hubo silencio por un buen rato mientras el hombre que cambio todas nuestras vidas, que cambió nuestra nación, que cambió nuestro mundo, partía de esta vida para la otra”, afirmó él.

“Fue un hermoso final; fue un hermoso comienzo”.

El funeral continúo luego con la estructura tradicional del Rito de Entierro y, luego que Curry, Budde, Hollerith y Levenson pronunciaron la comendatoria, volvió de nuevo la pompa militar. Los portadores  se acercaron al lugar y levantaron el ataúd de Bush mientras el órgano comenzó a tocar el himno “Hoy, por los santos que descansan ya”[For All the Saints]. Los nítidos sonidos de las voces de mando militares podían oírse por encima de la música mientras el clero acompañaba el ataúd hacia el exterior de la iglesia.

El obispo primado Michael Curry, visible en primer plano a la derecha de la bandera, y el Rdo. Russell Levenson Jr., rector de la congregación de Houston donde asistía el presidente George H. W. Bush, a la izquierda de la bandera, se encontraban entre los que condujeron el ataúd del presidente Bush hacia el exterior de la Catedral Nacional de Washington después del oficio de honras fúnebres del 5 de diciembre. Foto ENS, captura de pantalla.

Allí aguardaron junto al coche fúnebre estacionado frente a la catedral mientras montaban el ataúd para el viaje a la Base Conjunta Andrews donde el Avión Presidencial esperaba para llevar a la familia Bush de regreso a Houston. El cadáver del ex presidente reposará en la iglesia episcopal de San Martín hasta las 6 A.M. del 6 de diciembre, donde se celebrará otro oficio conmemorativo más adelante esa mañana.

Después, el cadáver de Bush será llevado por tren hasta College Station, Texas, donde, en una comitiva de vehículos, será conducido hasta la Biblioteca Presidencial George H. W. Bush [situada en esa ciudad universitaria] donde será enterrado junto a su esposa, que falleció en abril, y a Robin, la hija de ambos.

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

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Bishop of St. Helena is first to be consecrated on remote South Atlantic island

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 4:59pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Dale Bowers, the new bishop of St. Helena, has become the first to be consecrated on the remote island in the South Atlantic. The island has played an important part in the history of Anglicanism in the area now covered by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. It is the first part of the province to experience Anglican ministry and is home to the oldest surviving Anglican church in the Southern Hemisphere.

Read the full article here.

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Bishop turnover puts dioceses in transition mode, fueling talk of ‘unprecedented’ challenges

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 4:11pm

The Rt. Rev. Mark M. Beckwith passes the diocesan crozier to the Rt. Rev. Carlye J. Hughes, newly consecrated Bishop of Newark, in front of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on Sept. 22. Hughes is one of six women to join the House of Bishops or to be elected bishop since July. Photo: Cynthia Black/Diocese of Newark

[Episcopal News Service] A lot can happen in just one month when Episcopal dioceses are recruiting bishops. The nearly constant state of transition in the church’s episcopacy generates a nearly constant flow of news and updates.

November offered a telling snapshot of that process in stages:

The flurry of activity has continued into December, with Western Kansas consecrating a new bishop and Northern California releasing its slate of nominees. With dozens of dioceses embarking on or completing bishop transitions over the past 18 months, the frequency of searches has raised concerns that a limited pool of candidates is being depleted. Diocesan search committees tend to dismiss suggestions that they are competing with each other for applicants, though some dioceses have been open in pointing to what they said is a challenging landscape for bishop searches.

The Diocese of Nevada’s Standing Committee announced in October it was postponing its bishop’s election, calling the search process “challenging in several respects. One is that there were an unprecedented number of bishop searches in process, resulting in a limited applicant pool.”

The Diocese of San Diego made a similar claim after its search committee returned just one finalist, prompting the diocese to extend the deadline for nominees by petition. After a slate of nominees has been announced, search committees typically allow diocesan members to petition to add other nominees. Those nominees go through the same vetting process as those on the original slate.

“This is a time in the wider church when more than 20 dioceses are seeking bishops, and that has presented challenges,” said Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Episcopal Church’s previous presiding bishop who now serves San Diego as assisting bishop.

Do such developments point to a moment of crisis for the Episcopal Church?

Bishop Todd Ousley. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

In general, no. Each diocese searching for a new bishop faces a unique set of circumstances, and “the pool of candidates really is a function of the vision and mission of that diocese,” said Bishop Todd Ousley, who assists dioceses with bishop searches as head of the church’s Office of Pastoral Development. He downplayed the bishop turnover rate as a barrier to successful searches.

“There’s an ebb and a flow that is really, I think, a factor of the average [bishop] tenure, which is eight and a half years,” Ousley said. At that rate, bishop seats would open up in a dozen of the church’s 110 dioceses each year, so he doesn’t think the recent trend is unusual.

And while some dioceses struggle to find available bishop candidates who are the right fit, the churchwide turnover has boosted the gender and racial diversity in the House of Bishops. Six female bishops have been added to the house’s roster or elected by their dioceses since July, including three African-American women.

Tracking bishop turnover by several measurements

Quantifying the turnover trend can be tricky. By one of the broadest measurements, the volume of leadership changes recently has been staggering, with Episcopal News Service counting at least 35 dioceses, or nearly a third, that have been in some stage of bishop transition since June 2017.

That number, however, includes dioceses that for a variety of reasons aren’t actively searching for new bishops. The dioceses of Los Angeles and Dominican Republic, for example, previously named bishops coadjutor who later took over when their bishops diocesan retired, extending the full transition periods well beyond the end of the bishop searches. The dioceses of Lexington and Eastern Michigan chose to appoint provisional bishops, essentially postponing their searches.

And in October, the Diocese of Western New York finalized a plan for retiring Bishop William Franklin’s role to be filled by Diocese of Northwest Pennsylvania Bishop Sean Rowe as provisional bishop for five years through a unique partnership between the two dioceses.

Another way of measuring the churchwide bishop turnover is the number of search processes underway. In mid-October, Ousley provided ENS with a list of 16 dioceses that then were searching for new bishops and looking ahead to elections. Since then, more bishops have announced retirements, and when including those and other elections back to April 2018, the list grows to 24 dioceses.

Nevada Bishop Dan Edwards had informed his diocese he intended to retire at the end of this year. A slate of three candidates for bishop was recommended by the diocese’s bishop search committee, but the Standing Committee decided to postpone the election of Edwards’ successor and start next year developing a new crop of nominees. The Standing Committee said a need to reassess its search process was one reason for the postponement, in addition to a sense that the churchwide conditions for recruitment put some dioceses at a disadvantage.

“We know of multiple really fine candidates who were interested in our diocese but who chose to participate in other bishop elections instead, so they did not apply here in 2018,” Edwards told ENS, citing “an unprecedented number of bishop elections this past year.”

In San Diego, the diocese’s Standing Committee announced in October it had approved just one candidate, the Rev. Susan Snook, as nominee to replace Bishop James Mathes, who left the diocese in 2017 for a dean position at Virginia Theological Seminary. Jefferts Schori, in her letter to the diocese, explained the Standing Committee’s decision to extend the petition period, with hopes that additional viable nominees would be identified. Single-candidate slates are rare, though not unprecedented, she added.

“While I believe that people called to the ministry of a bishop are called into a particular diocesan context, it has nevertheless been a challenge across the Episcopal Church when 20-plus dioceses are each seeking 20-plus candidates for the episcopate,” she said.

A letter from Bishop Katharine about the bishop search announcement https://t.co/GX1TRqkBdX pic.twitter.com/pGrGPVLGWQ

— Episcopal Diocese SD (@diosandiego) October 25, 2018

The petition process generated several more potential candidates for the Diocese of San Diego, the Rev. Gwynn Lynch, Standing Committee president, told ENS by email last week, and “we will be making an announcement of the final slate by the end of December.”

Edwards acknowledged his diocesan context is unique as well. The pool of candidates interested in serving as bishop of a large diocese like Los Angeles or Massachusetts may be very different from those interested in serving a more sparsely populated diocese like Nevada or Maine. But Edwards still thinks the number of active searches churchwide has an effect locally.

Newly ordained and consecrated Diocese of Delaware Bishop Kevin Brown listens to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on December 9, 2017. Photo: Diocese of Delaware

“I don’t think the dioceses are consciously competing with each other,” Edwards said. “It’s just that the openings are there, and the prospective candidates are there, and the ratio of prospective candidates to openings was very different this year.”

Even so, with most dioceses producing slates of at least three candidates, Delaware Bishop Kevin Brown was elected in July 2017 from a slate of five. East Tennessee Bishop Brian Cole was elected the same month, also one of five nominees.

The Diocese of Maine indicated it had no trouble finding bishop candidates in announcing its own five-person slate.

“The Discernment Committee was pleased with the wide interest expressed from around the country in being the next bishop of Maine,” the Rev. John Balicki, the committee chair and rector of St. Mark’s Church in Waterville, said in a news release. “We have significant diversity in age, gender and geography, and we hope that everyone in the state of Maine will enjoy getting to know these candidates as well as we have.”

Diocesan spokesman John Hennessy called it “an amazing turnout” in an interview with the Portland Press Herald, which reported 27 people had applied or been nominated. “A lot of baby-boomer bishops are retiring, and those positions have typically drawn eight to 10 nominations or applications.”

It is with great joy and gratitude that the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Maine announces a preliminary slate of candidates who will stand for election as 10th Bishop of Maine. https://t.co/wCSQdYb7ji#bishopquestmaine #episcopalmaine #jesusmovement #wayoflove pic.twitter.com/4rtQR9Vopv

— episcopalmaine (@episcopalmaine) November 8, 2018

The Diocese of Vermont has not yet released its bishop election slate, and Maggie Thompson, chair of the Bishop Discernment and Nominating Committee, declined to say how many applications the diocese received. But she told ENS the committee was “very pleased with the response.”

Thompson attributes much of that positive response to Vermont’s well-developed search profile, which welcomed applicants who are interested in pursuing a “bishop in partnership” model that encourages collaboration with congregations, priests and laypeople at the local level.

“Vermont isn’t for everyone,” Thompson said. The largest city, Burlington, has only 42,000 residents. But while the diocese lacks metropolitan vitality, it is an attractive destination because of a “distinct personality” developed under Bishop Thomas Ely and his predecessors.

“We’ve kind of gotten the reputation of being pretty innovative and progressive,” Thompson said.

Single-year drop in ordinations, but diversity increases

By two narrower measurements, elections and ordinations, this year’s rate of bishop turnover should hardly seem daunting for diocesan recruiters. Only 10 bishops have been elected in 2018, half in the spring and the other half this fall, putting the year in the average range identified by Ousley.

The discrepancy between number of active searches and number of annual elections stems from the great span of time for most bishop transitions. Outgoing bishops often announce retirement plans two years or more in advance, so the number of searches underway doesn’t mean that number of seats will be vacated in the same year. The consent process, in which the bishop-elect must gain the approval of a majority of the church’s Standing Committees and its bishops with jurisdiction, also adds 120 days to the time before a bishop-elect is ordained.

Bishops also tend to group themselves in “classes” based on the calendar year in which they became bishops, and class size can fluctuate dramatically year to year.

The Class of 2018 is rather small. When Western Kansas Bishop Mark Cowell was consecrated on Dec. 1, he became only the fourth new Episcopal bishop of the year, equal to the four new bishops in 2015 but down from the 10 in 2017.

Bishops and clergy gathered in Salinas, Kansas, on Dec. 1 for the consecration of Western Kansas Bishop Mark Cowell. Photo: Diocese of Western Kansas

The Episcopal Church had a particularly active year in 2010, when 15 bishops were consecrated. And with diocesan bishops averaging eight and a half years, the Class of 2010 may be ripe for retirements. Benhase is among them, as is Minnesota Bishop Brian Prior, who announced in September his plan to hand his diocese over to a new bishop by 2020.

The relative lull in 2018 likely won’t last. Looking ahead to the Class of 2019, at least 10 bishop ordinations are scheduled, according to Ousley, with additional ordinations possible.

One of the few certainties in the House of Bishops, then, is an endless stream of new members, and recent additions have shown how turnover can improve diversity.

Indianapolis Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows greets the congregation at her consecration. Photo: Meghan McConnell

Indianapolis Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows became the first African-American woman to lead an Episcopal diocese when she was consecrated in 2017. Since then, she has been joined by Newark Bishop Carlye Hughes, consecrated in September. This fall, Colorado and West Tennessee also elected African-American women as bishops.

They and other newly elected bishops also are adding to the gender diversity of the House of Bishops. When bishops and deputies gathered in July in Austin, Texas, for the 79th General Convention, advocates for breaking the “stained-glass ceiling” lamented that only 24 of the bishops were women, or less than 10 percent of the full house, which includes retired bishops, and they organized a Purple Scarf Day on July 9 to draw attention to the issue.

Since then, six more female bishops have joined the House of Bishops or been elected, starting with Cuba Bishop Griselda Delgado Del Carpio when General Convention voted to welcome the Diocese of Cuba back into the Episcopal Church.

On Oct. 19, the Diocese of Kansas became the first diocese to elect its bishop from an all-woman slate, choosing Cathleen Chittenden Bascom. The next day, Arizona elected Jennifer Anne Reddall as bishop. Kym Lucas was elected Oct. 27 in Colorado on a two-woman slate, after the diocese dropped a third male candidate from consideration. And the Diocese of West Tennessee put forth its own three-woman slate for bishop, electing Roaf on Nov. 17.

The Rev. Casey Rohleder, co-chair of the Kansas search committee, said the committee “had no agenda” other than finding the best person to lead the diocese. “We all believed that God had already called the next bishop of the Diocese of Kansas,” she said, so the work of the committee was to identify that person.

The Rev. Cathleen Chittenden Bascom. Photo: Diocese of Kansas

The committee put forward two qualified candidates, and the Council of Trustees added Bascom as a third after a petition period. Rohleder, rector at St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Wamego, expects Bascom to bring “energy and perspective” to the diocese, and not just because she is a woman.

Rohleder also pointed out that 44 percent of priests and 42 percent of deacons in the diocese are women. “We tend to elect people, for better or worse, who look like us,” she said. “So, it doesn’t seem unusual to elect a woman. … It would be my hope that the House of Bishops more broadly reflects the people in the pews and the clergy in our dioceses.”

The House of Bishops is expected to welcome at least one more new female bishop next year, with the Diocese of Texas announcing last week a three-woman slate of nominees for bishop suffragan.

“It’s actually rare to see a ballot today that’s all men,” Ousley said. That partly is due to deliberate efforts by diocesan leaders to broaden the pool of candidates, though it also requires diocesan conventions to broaden their views on what a bishop looks like.

Looking at the House of Bishops, it may take more than one year to notice the change, but by three to five years, bishop turnover has a remarkable effect, Ousley said. “You look, and really this is a very different place than it was five years ago.”

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

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El Obispo Primado aplaza la ordenación y consagración ya programada en la Diócesis de Haití

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 5:40am
El obispo primado de la Iglesia Episcopal Michael Curry ha emitido la siguiente declaración:

Hasta esta fecha,  5 de diciembre de 2018, la mayoría de los obispos con jurisdicción en la Iglesia Episcopal no han consentido aún en la ordenación y consagración del venerable Joseph Kerwin Delicat como Obispo Coadjutor de Haití.  A fin de colaborar con los que, provenientes de toda la Iglesia, se disponen a viajar o hacen otros planes [para esta ocasión], les hago saber que  estoy aplazando la ya programada ordenación y consagración a una fecha aún por determinar. El proceso de consentimiento concluye el 3 de enero de 2019.

Ruego continúen orando por todos nuestros hermanos y hermanas de la Diócesis de Haití.

Rvdmo. Michael B. Curry
Obispo Presidente y Primado
de la Iglesia Episcopal

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Country says farewell to George H.W. Bush at Washington National Cathedral

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 5:31pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, center; Washington National Cathedral Dean Randy Hollerith, left; and the Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., right, rector of President George H.W. Bush’s Houston congregation, perform the commendation near the end of Bush’s Dec. 5 funeral. The Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan, the cathedral’s canon for worship, stands at left holding the crozier for Washington Bishop Mariann Budde, who cannot be seen between Hollerith and Curry. The Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church, stands between Curry and Levenson holding the presiding bishop’s primatial staff. Photo: Danielle E. Thomas/Washington National Cathedral

[Episcopal News Service] With a combination of military precision, Episcopal Church liturgy and fond, sometimes humorous, remembrances from his family and friends, the United States on Dec. 5 formally bid farewell to former President George H.W. Bush.

“When death comes, as it does to us all, life is changed, not ended,” the Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., rector of Bush’s Houston congregation, said during his state funeral sermon. “The way we live our lives, the decisions we make, the service we render matter. They matter to our fellow human beings, to this world that God has given us and they matter to God. Few people had understood this as well or lived their lives as accordingly as President George Herbert Walker Bush.

“Now hear what I said: lived it. Not earned it or strived to achieve it. It was as natural to him as breathing is to each of us.”

Recalling Barbara Bush’s frequent comment to him of “good sermon, too long,” Levenson preached for just more than 12 minutes during the service at Washington Nation Cathedral, which ran nearly two and a half hours.

The service, which can be viewed here, drew a capacity, invitation-only crowd of nearly 3,000 people, including family members, all five living U.S. presidents, senators, representatives, Supreme Court justices, Trump administration officials, diplomats and foreign dignitaries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Britain’s Prince Charles.

President George H.W. Bush’s casket stands in the crossing of Washington National Cathedral during his Dec. 5 funeral. Photo: US Army Military District of Washington

It was the fourth presidential funeral held at the cathedral. The previous three state funerals at the cathedral were President Dwight Eisenhower in 1969, President Ronald Reagan in 2004 and President Gerald Ford in 2007. Bush gave eulogies at Reagan’s and Ford’s funerals at the cathedral. President Woodrow Wilson is entombed at the cathedral, but his 1924 burial service was not a state funeral.

The last funeral at Washington National Cathedral to approach such significance was the service for U.S. Sen. John McCain on Sept. 1. But a state funeral is an honor reserved for presidents, part of the series of tributes coordinated by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington.

Bush’s casket arrived by hearse at the cathedral just before 11 a.m., accompanied by the Bush family. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Washington Bishop Mariann Budde, the cathedral’s Dean Randy Hollerith and Levenson, of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, waited on the cathedral’s steps with the Rev. Rosemarie Logan Duncan, the cathedral’s canon for worship.

The military pallbearers slowly and precisely carried the casket up the steps to where Curry and Budde recited the traditional “reception of the body” prayers. “With faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the body of our brother George for burial,” Curry said at the door.

The Bush family was escorted into the church and, at the front pew, the president’s son, former President George W. Bush, greeted President Donald Trump and former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and their wives, who sat together in the front pew across the aisle from the Bush family.

A sweet moment on a sad day.

Slate of candidates for the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Northern California announced

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 1:49pm

[Diocese of Northern California] The Standing Committee announces the slate of candidates who will appear on the ballot for the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California on Feb. 9, 2019.

The candidates are (alphabetical order):

The Rev. Matthew D. Cowden, rector of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, South Bend, Indiana

The Rev. Christopher Brooke Craun, rector of St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, Portland, Oregon

The Rev. Canon Megan Traquair, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona

The Rev. Randall R. Warren, D.Min., rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan

On Saturday, Dec. 1, members of the Search Committee presented these candidates to the Standing Committee. In a closed session, the Standing Committee further discerned and voted on each candidate, unanimously approving each of the candidates listed above.

Dec. 5, 2018, marks the opening of a petition period, with any petitions due by Dec.  12, 2018. A final slate, including any approved petition candidates, will be published by mid-January 2019.

A special electing convention is scheduled for Feb.9, 2019. A service of ordination and consecration is expected to take place on June 29, 2019, in Davis, California.

The full announcement can be found on the Bishop Search website.

The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California encompasses all of Northern California from Sacramento north, except for the five counties of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Anglican Church of New Zealand apologizes for Colonial-era Maori land grab

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 4:36pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Philip Richardson, senior bishop of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, has apologized to the Maori people of Lake Tauranga for an 1866 decision that saw them dispossessed of their lands. Since 1975, the government has issued several apologies for the actions of colonial and post-colonial governments, which stripped the first people of the islands of their inherited land. On Dec. 1, the church issued its open apology for playing a role in that dispossession.

Read the full article here.

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Washington National Cathedral prepares to host state funeral for George H.W. Bush

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 3:46pm

President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush attend a dedication ceremony at Washington National Cathedral on Sept. 29, 1990, when the last stone was raised and set on the Saint Paul Tower. Photo: Associated Press

[Episcopal News Service] President George H.W. Bush, a lifelong Episcopalian who credited his faith with shaping his public life, will be memorialized Dec. 5 at a state funeral held at Washington National Cathedral, the Episcopal Church’s and the nation’s most prominent house of worship.

Bush, who died Nov. 30 at age 94, had a long, respected career in Washington, D.C., including as vice president from 1981 to 1989 and president from 1989 to 1993. During his 12 years in the White House, he engaged often with Episcopal Church leaders, conferring with presiding bishops on the issues of the day and even once speaking at General Convention.

He also developed a friendship with former Washington Bishop John Walker, and as president, Bush and first lady Barbara Bush attended the 1990 ceremony marking completion of the cathedral after 83 years of construction. Today, two of his children are members of the cathedral congregation.

The 11 a.m. service Dec. 5 with be the fourth presidential funeral held at the cathedral. The family selected as officiants Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Washington Bishop Mariann Budde, the cathedral’s Dean Randy Hollerith, and the Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., rector of Bush’s Houston congregation. Levenson also will preach at the service.

“Beyond the political achievements and historic accolades, President Bush was committed most to his family and his faith. He and his beloved Barbara poured their love into their children and raised them in faith,” Budde and Hollerith said in a joint statement. “George and Barbara Bush’s example of mutual devotion, fidelity, and commitment is inspiring, and it should give everyone great joy to know that Mr. and Mrs. Bush’s love continues into eternity.”

The president’s son, former President George W. Bush, will be among the eulogists at the funeral. The others will be former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson and Bush biographer Jon Meacham, according to the order of service.

In addition to the late president’s son, Presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are due to attend the funeral, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, CNN reported.

The service is expected to draw a capacity, invitation-only crowd of up to 3,000 people, including family members, senators, representatives, Supreme Court justices, Trump administration officials, diplomats and foreign dignitaries, with U.S. Secret Service establishing security protocols, cathedral spokesman Kevin Eckstrom told Episcopal News Service.

“Easter and Christmas, as complicated as they can be, feel pretty routine compared to something like this,” Eckstrom said.

The last funeral at Washington National Cathedral to approach such significance was the service for U.S. Sen. John McCain on Sept. 1. But a state funeral is an honor reserved for presidents, part of a series of tributes coordinated by the U.S. Department of Defense as a final sendoff for the former commander-in-chief.

“We, the men and women of the Department of Defense, are honored and proud to support the Bush family and will do so with the utmost respect,” Major Gen. Michael L. Howard, the commanding general of the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region, said in a written statement. “This state funeral is a culmination of years of planning and rehearsal to ensure the support the military renders President Bush is nothing less than a first-class tribute.”

Former President George H.W. Bush gives a eulogy at President Ronald Reagan’s state funeral June 11, 2004, at Washington National Cathedral. Photo: White House archives

The previous three state funerals at the cathedral were President Dwight Eisenhower in 1969, President Ronald Reagan in 2004 and President Gerald Ford in 2007. Bush gave eulogies at Reagan’s and Ford’s funerals at the cathedral. President Woodrow Wilson is entombed at the cathedral, but his 1924 burial service was not a state funeral.

“It is a sacred rite. It is a church service, and it has to be a good experience for everybody inside the building, but particularly the family,” Eckstrom said. “At the same time, this is also a global news event, so everything is done with an eye to what it is going to look like on TV.”

ABC has long been the TV network designated to provide the pool feed for high-profile events like this at the cathedral, and by Dec. 3, the network had three tractor-trailers filled with equipment on the grounds in preparation.

The local TV station WTOP reported on the clutter of microphones, tripods, TV monitors and wires at the cathedral as a worker was being suspended in the air to hang spotlights overlooking an altar that had been labeled a “stage.”

The cathedral staff is mobilizing to complete its part of this multilayered puzzle of preparations, such as printing about 5,000 leaflets with the order of service and ensuring they are delivered before the Secret Service closes the building for a security sweep.

Read the order of service here.

Eckstrom said the funeral will adhere closely to the Book of Common Prayer, and the hymns will be familiar to anyone who picks up The Hymnal 1982 from the pew in an Episcopal congregation each Sunday.

“This [state funeral] probably has more of an Episcopal flavor to it than some of the others might,” he said, given Bush’s Episcopal faith.

As a child in Connecticut, Bush attended Christ Episcopal Church in Greenwich, and his mother would read to him from the Book of Common Prayer, according to the Washington Post report on his faith.

“He was Episcopalian by tradition. His mother was extremely devout, read all the books. And he loved his mother and so he loved the tradition,” author Doug Wead told the Washington Post, adding that Bush also pointed to his service as a naval aviator in World War II as pivotal to his faith development.

After moving to Texas as an adult, Bush at first attended a Presbyterian church with his wife before the couple settled in Houston and joined St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.

As vice president, Bush met with Episcopal leaders, including Presiding Bishop John Allin, who in February 1982 raised concerns with him about a recent postage rate hike.

“I am grateful for the vice president’s interest,” Allin said in an ENS story. “The postal increase was one of the matters we discussed, and I am grateful that he made the time for the talk available. I am hopeful that something will be done.”

Vice President George Bush speaks to General Convention in 1982. Photo: Episcopal Church archive

Later in 1982, when Bush addressed the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in New Orleans, the speech reportedly proved controversial for its remarks in defense of the Reagan administration’s arms policy.

“Vice President George Bush assured nearly 3,000 of his fellow Episcopalians of governmental desires for peace as he addressed a special session of the 67th General Convention of the Episcopal Church,” the caption said on an archival photo from that speech.

As president, he attended services at St. John’s Episcopal Church, across Lafayette Square from the White House. In December 1990, during the run-up to the Persian Gulf War, he met with then Presiding Bishop Ed Browning, who recommended restraint.

“I really believe in the deepest part of my conviction that God does not desire this kind of destruction,” Browning said, according to an Associated Press report at the time.

Bush countered by presenting an Amnesty International report on atrocities by Iraq against Kuwaitis and asked Browning if doing nothing would be morally worse.

“His own faith was sincere and deep and rooted in the Episcopal Church,” Budde told ENS in an interview. She also referenced correspondence she discovered between Bush and Walker, including letters in which the bishop and the vice president debated the proper way to respond to apartheid in South Africa.

Bush “was a good colleague, I would even say friend, to Bishop John Walker. Their tenures coincided,” Budde said. Walker served the Diocese of Washington until his death in 1989.

Bush will be buried after a private service scheduled for 4:15 p.m. Dec. 6 at the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum in College Station, Texas. Barbara Bush, who died April 17, was buried there earlier this year after a funeral attended by a crowd of mourners at St. Martin’s, the largest congregation in the Episcopal Church. The Bushes were married 73 years.

St. Martin’s also is scheduled to hold a funeral service for the former president at 11 a.m. Dec. 6 after his remains are returned to Texas.

First, he will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol through the day on Dec. 4.

On Dec. 5, the casket will leave the Capitol in time for the funeral at Washington National Cathedral, which will air on all major broadcast TV and cable news networks and will be livestreamed by various websites, including C-SPAN.

“Through his enduring commitment to public service and his steadfast devotion to his family, he lived the way of Jesus through a life shaped by faith, hope and, above all, love,” Curry said in a tribute to Bush issued Dec. 1. “Through his unswerving service to our country and to the human community around the globe, he embodied the noblest ideals of his faith and his country.

“President Bush will be an enduring reminder that virtues like kindness, gentleness and goodness are among the things that truly endure, and that chart the way to our living as the human family of God. In him we have beheld a great soul, and been reminded of the hope that, by God’s grace, we can live likewise.”

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

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Al Ministerio Episcopal de Migración y a otras 8 agencias les otorgaron nuevos contratos para reasentar refugiados

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 9:48am

[Episcopal News Service] El Departamento de Estado, pese a la decisión del gobierno de Trump de reducir drásticamente el número de refugiados autorizados a reasentarse en Estados Unidos, ha renovado los contratos con las nueve agencias que durante mucho tiempo han coordinado el reasentamiento de refugiados, entre ellas el Ministerio Episcopal de Migración, o EMM [por su sigla en inglés].

La decisión, que se les comunicó a las agencias el 30 de noviembre, les permite continuar sus actividades de reasentamiento durante otro año, aunque a una capacidad mucho menor que durante el gobierno de Obama.

“Nos congratulamos de seguir reasentando refugiados en el próximo años”, dijo el 3 de diciembre el Rdo. Charles Robertson, canónigo del Obispo Primado para el Ministerio Fuera de la Iglesia Episcopal en un comunicado de prensa en que anunciaba la decisión del Departamento de Estado. “Aún encaramos el reto de la transición a un programa de reasentamiento mucho más pequeño. Esto sucede en un momento en el que hay más de 25,4 millones de refugiados, más de la mitad de los cuales son niños. Con apoyo de todos, seguiremos recibiendo refugiados en un lugar de seguridad y acogida”.

La refugiada siria Baraa Haj Khalaf, a la izquierda, besa a su padre, Khaled, mientras su madre, Fattoum, llora luego de llegar al Aeropuerto Internacional O’Hare, en Chicago, Illinois, en febrero de 2017. Foto de Reuters.

Robertson también invitó a los episcopales a apoyar económicamente este ministerio haciendo una donación en episcopalmigrationministries.org/give o enviando un texto a “EMM” para 41444.

El Departamento de Estado anunció el 17 de septiembre que, para el año fiscal que comenzó el 1 de octubre, reduciría el límite a 30.000 refugiados, de 85.000 que era hace sólo dos años. Y que 30.000 era el tope. El número real de refugiados a ser recibidos en Estados Unidos podría ser mucho más bajo.

El EMM ha reasentado más de 90.000 refugiados desde los años 80, brindando una amplia gama de servicios a estas familias a su llegada a Estados Unidos, entre ellos clases de inglés y de orientación cultural, servicios de empleo, matrícula escolar y ayuda inicial con vivienda y transporte.

“Reasentamos refugiados para reunir familias, para salvar vidas de personas con graves afecciones de salud y para proteger a los que huyen de la persecución religiosa, entre otras necesidades de protección. Como Iglesia, seguimos abogando por un mayor número de admisiones de refugiados y porque EE.UU. restaure su liderazgo global en la protección y el reasentamiento de refugiados”, dijo Lacy Broemel, asesora de refugiados e inmigración de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia Episcopal con sede en Washington, D.C.

Para los líderes de la Iglesia, el anuncio de última hora del Departamento de Estado de sus renovaciones de contratos —a sólo un mes antes de que caducara el contrato actual—  fue un acontecimiento positivo a corto plazo luego de un período de tensa incertidumbre, pero las renovaciones no mitigan las preocupaciones a largo plazo sobre el futuro del programa de reasentamiento del gobierno.

“Seguimos profundamente preocupados de que la Administración continúe desmantelando el Programa Estadounidense de Admisión de Refugiados —un programa que ha estado en vigor durante décadas apoyo bipartidario , y amplio respaldo público”, dijo Broemel en un email. “Al reducir de manera tan drástica el número de refugiados que serán admitidos en EE.UU. cada año, las agencias de reasentamiento no podrán atender a muchas personas vulnerables, y muchas comunidades de todo el país ya no podrán llevar a cabo la labor vivificadora del ministerio de reasentamiento de refugiados”.

El EMM en un tiempo supervisaba a 31 filiales de reasentamiento en 26 diócesis, pero ese número se ha reducido este año a 14 filiales en 12 diócesis. La extensión de la labor de reasentamiento del EMM durante el año próximo no resulta clara de momento ahora que le acaban de renovar su contrato para el año civil.

La iglesia episcopal de La Trinidad de  Los Ángeles posa con carteles que muestran su apoyo a inmigrantes y refugiados. Los carteles dicen “Apoye a los Refugiados”[con el hashtag] “#GreaterAs1”. Foto de la iglesia episcopal de La Trinidad vía Facebook.

La agencia ha recibido un firme respaldo de toda la Iglesia. El Consejo Ejecutivo aprobó una resolución en octubre en la cual encomiaba al EMM, “cuyo dedicado personal, durante una temporada de fluctuación e incertidumbre, ha trabajado incansable y abnegadamente para apoyar a los refugiados en muchas partes del mundo que buscan reasentarse en Estados Unidos”.

El obispo primado Michael Curry emitió un comunicado en septiembre en que daba a conocer su decepción luego de que el gobierno anunciara los nuevos límites a los reasentamientos.

“Nuestros corazones y nuestras oraciones están con los miles de refugiados que, debido a esta decisión, no podrán encontrar una nueva vida en Estados Unidos”, dijo Curry. “Esta decisión del gobierno no refleja la asistencia y la compasión de los estadounidenses que a diario acogen a refugiados en sus comunidades. Nuestra fe nos llama a amar a Dios y a amar a nuestro prójimo, de manera que estamos prestos a ayudar a todos los que podamos de cualquier manera que podamos”.

– David Paulsen es redactor y reportero de Episcopal News Service. Pueden dirigirse a él en dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

 

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