Episcopal News Service

Subscribe to Episcopal News Service feed
The official news service of the Episcopal Church.
Updated: 1 hour 8 min ago

Task force proposes plans to meet ministerial needs in small congregations

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 11:59am

[Episcopal News Service] Although capacious churches, glorious choirs, multiple clergy and the smells and bells of Holy Day services may capture the imagination of Episcopalians, the reality is that the majority of congregations in the Episcopal Church tend toward the smaller size with often dramatically different backdrops and ministerial needs than large churches.

In fact, according to data presented by the Task Force on Clergy Leadership Formation in Small Congregations, 69 percent of Episcopal congregations have an average Sunday attendance of less than 100, placing them in the category of “small congregation.”  To take this even further, bishops surveyed by the task force reported that a “substantial minority” of their congregations number less than 20 on an average Sunday.

Recognizing their unique needs and issues, the 78th General Convention three years ago asked for a task force to “develop a plan for quality formation for clergy in small congregations that is affordable, theologically reflective and innovative.”

In other words, the task force was charged with recommending steps to provide the “resources to help God’s mission go forward” in small congregations, the Rev.  Susanna Singer said in a telephone interview.  And unless more and different resources are provided, she added, the traditional model of seminary trained clerics serving small congregations cannot be sustained.

Singer serves as chair of the task force and is also associate professor of ministry development at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California.

Among the issues facing small congregations is that many are located in rural communities and often remote locales that may not appeal to clergy, especially those fresh out of seminary, she said.  Since most seminaries are in cities, Singer said seminarians tend to remain in urban areas

“The pool of people who are discerning ministries are not in rural areas,” she said. “Persuading traditionally formed clergy to move to rural areas is difficult for small congregations.”

Another headwind that small congregations confront is their inability to pay a full-time rector or compete financially with what large, urban congregations can offer.  Consequently, small congregations may need to rely on clergy who serve with little or no pay or have vocations in addition to the ministry.

“The findings of the task force indicate that in the future, an increasing number of ordained ministers in the Episcopal Church will be non-stipendiary or bi-vocational,” the task force’s report concluded. “The data also shows that small congregations will depend more heavily on these clergy.

To confront these challenges, the task force will propose a pair of resolutions to present to the General Convention next month in Austin aimed at improving clergy and licensed lay leadership formation in small congregations and to provide funding for theological education and formation for those wishing to serve small congregations through non-traditional pathways.

“To meet the need of small congregations for clergy and to avoid burdening these clergy with substantial debt, new strategies to provide funding for their theological education are needed,” the report said.

To prepare its recommendations, the task force first identified specific areas to concentrate its focus. These include the capacities and skills considered most necessary for clergy and lay leaders in small congregations, ways to financially support those seeking ordination to serve in small congregations, how to encourage more under-represented populations to serve as lay leaders and ordained ministers, and how to better share and make available formation, theological and educational resources.

The task force also conducted a survey of bishops, canons and chairs of commissions on ministry to obtain their input.  Although lay members of small congregations were not specifically included in the survey, a number of those surveyed had experience in these settings.  The task force considered surveying small and rural congregations but concluded it was not feasible to obtain a representative and valid sampling.

Based on its work, the task force concluded that there is “already a wealth of resources available for leadership formation” from many different cultural and theological orientations.  The problem, however, is the lack of awareness of the existence of the resources, the lack of staff to access them and a “siloing” effect that hinders the sharing of resources throughout the Episcopal Church.

“Small dioceses don’t have the kind of staffing to find the resources,” Singer said.  “People only know about a narrow sliver of what’s out there.”

Another area of identified needs was “for robust discernment and formation for clergy and lay leadership so that small congregations…may be most effectively served,” the task force said.

Availability of “appropriate and culturally-sensitive vocational discernment and formation materials and strategies for clergy leaders called from ethnic minority communities” was also found to be lacking. And “there is also a clear need for greater availability of suitable resources in Spanish.”

When the task force submitted its report for the General Convention’s Blue Book, it requested $900,000 in Resolution A022 to create a “Formation Networking Team” to serve as a referral hub for existing and specially developed resources for the discernment of clergy and lay vocations, formation and training.

The task force met the early deadline requirements for submissions to the convention’s reports but has done “substantial work” and interviews after its initial report was submitted, Singer said.

Based on its subsequent work and interviews, the task force intends to submit a substitute resolution that combines its proposed Resolutions A022 through A026. The substitute resolution will reduce its budget request to $300,000 by relying more on part-time team members with minimal stipends “just so we have a chance” to get its funding approved, Singer said.

Another significant change planned for the substitute resolution concerns renaming the proposed Formation Networking Team name as the Theological Education Networking Team (TENT) to make it “more indicative” of its purpose and goal, she said.

The task force also submitted Resolution A027 which would direct the Executive Council to establish a committee to “develop and implement a plan to provide need-based central scholarship funding to individuals pursuing theological education to serve as priests or deacons” in small congregations on a non-stipendiary positions or in bi-vocational basis.

Singer said the task force was presented with an “enormous task” but focused its work on generating a plan that is doable and a start, not the “do all, end all. It’s very concrete and specific and will probably open the doors for other developments.  It provides a stepping stone.”

— Mike Patterson is a San Antonio-based freelance writer and correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. He is a member of ENS General Convention reporting team and can be reached at rmp231@gmail.com

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry meets backstage with U2, Bono to talk about Reclaiming Jesus

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 10:51am

This photo released by U2 shows Presiding Bishop Michael Curry posing with band members, from left, Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton backstage at Madison Square Garden on June 25.

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry met backstage this week with U2 and front man Bono at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where the Episcopal Church leader and the globally renowned rockers discussed Curry’s Reclaiming Jesus initiative.

The meeting happened in the evening June 25 just before the first of a series of U2 concerts in New York on the band’s Experience + Innocence tour. A photo released by the band shows the foursome posing with Curry.

“I know of no other group that has sung and witnessed more powerfully to the way of love than U2,” Curry said June 27 in a written statement to Episcopal News Service. “It was a real blessing to sit with them to talk about Jesus, the way of love, and changing our lives and the world. They are an extraordinary community gift to us all.”

U2, which formed in the late 1970s, has been one of the most popular rock bands in the world for more than 30 years, and Bono – among that rarefied group of musicians known globally by a single name – makes headlines these days as much for his support for humanitarian causes as for his music.

Curry, too, has become something of a minor global celebrity since his sermon on the power of love at the royal wedding on May 19. After the wedding, he was invited to discuss the sermon on a dizzying variety of media outlets, from the BBC to celebrity gossip site TMZ. Curry told ENS last month that he sees the sudden attention as a unique opportunity for evangelism, as he tries in interviews to bring the conversation around to what he often calls the “Jesus Movement.”

Reclaiming Jesus is a new initiative he spearheaded this year with the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners to address “a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches” and to affirm what it means to be followers of Jesus in today’s world.

U2 and Bono have not yet commented publicly on Reclaiming Jesus, though Curry said he spoke with them about its origins and intention.

“I shared with them our commitment to reclaim Jesus of Nazareth as the center of Christian  faith and life,” Curry said in his statement to ENS. “And this means a way of faith with love of God and Love of neighbor at the core. A love that is not sentimental but a disciplined commitment and spiritual practice infusing every aspect of life, personally, intra personally and politically.”

It’s a beautiful day.

Episcopales participan en concentración y marcha de la Campaña de los Pobres en Washington

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 7:36am

Miembros de la Catedral Nacional de Washington asistieron el 23 de junio a la concentración de la Campaña de los Pobres en el Paseo Nacional. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service – Washington, D.C.] Hace cincuenta años, el Rdo. Martin Luther King Jr. encabezó una Campaña de los Pobres. Como parte de esa campaña, durante un viaje a Memphis, Tennessee, en abril de 1968, en apoyo de obreros sanitarios afroamericanos que se encontraban en huelga en demanda de mejores salarios, King fue asesinado. Hoy, una nueva Campaña de los Pobres está en marcha y hay episcopales participando en ella.

“Hoy, ustedes son los miembros fundadores de la Campaña de los Pobres del siglo XXI: un llamado nacional al avivamiento moral’ Nos reunimos hoy para un llamado a la acción. Nos reunimos aquí para declarar que es el momento de un alzamiento moral en todos los Estados Unidos’, dijo el Rdo. William Barber el 23 de junio. El copreside la Campaña de los Pobres: Un llamado al avivamiento moral, junto con la Rda. Liz Theoharis.

“Esto no es la conmemoración de lo que sucedió hace 50 años, esto es la reconstrucción, y la reinauguración. Porque ustedes no conmemoran a profetas ni a movimientos proféticos. Ustedes van a la sangre donde ellos cayeron y recogen y asumen el relevo y lo llevan por la próxima milla. Durante tres años hemos estado echando los cimientos de abajo hacia arriba, no de arriba abajo”.

King y la Conferencia de Líderes Cristianos del Sur organizaron la original Campaña de los Pobres en que exigían derechos económicos y humanos para los pobres en Estados Unidos.

El Rdo. William Barber y la Rda. Liz Theoharis copresiden la Campaña de los Pobres. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Barber, ministro y activista, dirigió la campaña de los Lunes Morales [Moral Mondays] en Carolina del Norte y es el presidente de Reparadores de la Brecha [Repairers of the Breach] una organización sin fines de lucro que procura crear una agenda moral y redimir el corazón y el alma de Estados Unidos. Theoharis, ministra presbiteriana, y fundadora y codirectora del Centro Kairos para las Religiones, los Derechos y la Justicia Social y coordinadora de la Iniciativa de la Pobreza en el Seminario Teológico Unión.

Miles de personas, entre ellas al menos 100 episcopales, de todas partes del país en representación de organizaciones de justicia social, iglesias e iniciativas de carácter religioso, se reunieron el 23 de junio en Washington, D.C. para una manifestación y marcha de la Campaña de los Pobres. Durante tres horas y media en el Paseo Nacional, los oradores, la mayoría de ellos viviendo en los lindes de la pobreza, compartieron sus historias personales respecto al racismo sistémico, la degradación medioambiental y otros indicadores de pobreza. Luego de la manifestación, los asistentes se fueron a la calle y desfilaron hasta el edificio del Capitolio, coreando consignas como “A esto se parece la democracia” y “El pueblo unido no será dividido”.

La concentración y la marcha en Washington fue el resultado de 40 días de acción a nivel estatal organizada en torno a seis temas: racismo sistémico, pobreza y desigualdad, devastación ecológica, economía de guerra y militarismo y ética nacional.

La concentración y la marcha también siguieron a una semana intensa de cobertura noticiosa sobre las normas migratorias de EE.UU. La política migratoria de “tolerancia cero” del gobierno de Trump que desde principios de abril ha estado separando a los niños de sus padres en la frontera entre México y Estados Unidos. La política de separación familiar de la Administración y la crisis humanitaria que se desarrolla en la frontera ha suscitado la condena internacional y ha afectado la reputación de Estados Unidos en el extranjero.

“Estados Unidos es grande porque es bueno”, dijo el obispo primado Michael Curry, citando a Alexis de Tocqueville en una alocución videográfica transmitida en una gran pantalla a la multitud reunida en el paseo.

“Debemos hacer a Estados Unidos grande otra vez, no por la fuerza, no por el poder, no por mi poderío, sino por la bondad. Hacer a Estados Unidos grande por la justicia, hacer a Estados Unidos grande por la libertad, hacer a Estados Unidos grande por la igualdad. La Campaña de los Pobres no está simplemente conmemorando el pasado, no obstante recuerda el pasado, recuerda el valor del Dr. King y de otros que llevaron adelante la primera Campaña de los Pobres”, dijo Curry.

“La Campaña de los Pobres se congrega a fin de ayudar a esta nación a vivir a la altura de sus verdaderos valores: su decencia moral, su humana compasión, su sentido de la justicia y de la equidad. Queremos que esta nación sea una nación donde haya libertad y justicia para todos. Queremos que ésta sea una nación donde el racismo no mancille nuestro carácter moral, donde el prejuicio no se oiga ni se vea nunca más en nuestra patria. Donde las injusticias del pasado se corrijan construyendo un futuro nuevo. Ese es el Estados Unidos que buscamos. Por eso es que ustedes se han reunido, por eso es que marchan. Por eso es que juntos buscamos ponerle fin a la pobreza humana en esta tierra de abundancia. Debemos hacer posible el día en que ningún niño se acueste con hambre en este país nunca más”.

En Estados Unidos de hoy día, 43,1 millones de personas, o el 12,7 por ciento de la población, vive en la pobreza. Las estadísticas se equiparan con el porcentaje de personas pobres en 1968, cuando la población era de 200 millones, en comparación con los 327 millones de hoy.

La Rda. Melanie Mullen, directora de reconciliación, justicia y cuidado de la creación de la Iglesia Episcopal, y el Rdo. Stan Runnels, rector de la iglesia episcopal de San Pablo en Kansas City, Misurí, y miembro del Consejo Ejecutivo, se disponen a marchar hacia el edificio del Capitolio el 23 de junio. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

“La Iglesia Episcopal fue la segunda denominación que firmó oficialmente como coauspiciadora de la Campaña de los Pobres y esta es probablemente la primera vez que nuestra denominación ha hecho eso. Se produjo mediante el decreto del Consejo Ejecutivo en que quedaba definido que el liderazgo de la Iglesia la conduciría en esta asociación deliberada y productiva no sólo nominalmente, sino que llevaría a personas al movimiento y reintroduciría los temas en la Iglesia”, dijo la Rda. Melanie Mullen, directora de reconciliación, justicia y cuidado de la creación de la Iglesia.

Episcopales, laicos y ordenados, han participado en la acción directa en sus capitales estatales a lo largo de los 40 días que ha durado esta actividad, pero la Campaña de los Pobres, trasciende eso.

“Esto no se trata sólo de unos 40 días y se acabó. Queremos ser capaces de alentar y educar a nuestros laicos, a nuestra gente en las congregaciones, de cómo vivir la fe en la vida pública”, dijo Mullen. “también queremos crear una nuevo paradigma de lo que significa ser un clérigo; es seguro y aceptable dar público testimonio de fe y aprender de los ejemplos los unos de los otros, la manera de enseñar, de predicar, de dirigir al pueblo en las calles. Estamos haciendo algo nuevo y ojalá que, avanzando con el apoyo del Consejo Ejecutivo, podamos ayudar a hacer un cambio cultural en nuestra Iglesia que ayudara a cambiar el país”.

Hace cincuenta años, cuando King lanzó la primera Campaña de los Pobres, la Iglesia Episcopal y las otras principales denominaciones blancas, rehusaron amablemente participar, dijo el Rdo. Stan Runnels, rector de la iglesia episcopal de San Pablo [St. Paul’s ] en Kansas City, Misurí, y miembro del Consejo Ejecutivo.

El Rdo. Stan Runnels, rector de la iglesia episcopal de San Pablo en Kansas City, Misurí, y miembro del Consejo Ejecutivo, la Rda. Hershey Mallett Stephens, coordinadora de proyectos del Departamento de Reconciliación, Justicia y Cuidado de la Creación del Centro Denominacional de la Iglesia y Katelyn Kenney, una pasante de la Ofrenda Unida de Gracias, marchan hacia el Capitolio el 23 de junio como parte de la Campaña de los Pobres. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

“Lo importante acerca de esto, cuando el Rdo. Dr. Barber lo reconsideró en el 50ª. Aniversario, para mí y para muchos, es que la Iglesia Episcopal no cometió el mismo error de hace muchos años”, dijo Runnels, en una entrevista con Episcopal News Service luego de la Oración Matutina en la iglesia de la Epifanía [Church of the Epiphany].

A lo largo de los años, la Iglesia Episcopal ha sido estupenda respecto a “decir lo que corresponde”, pero ha rehusado encarnar el llamado moral y a ser un testigo encarnado, dijo Runnels. “Así como el obispo Curry habla de la rama episcopal del Movimiento de Jesús, también tiene que ser el movimiento de la justicia”.

Al crear una estrategia para una nueva Campaña de los Pobres, Barber y otros líderes reconocieron que los problemas de justicia sólo se han expandido y se han empeorado desde 1968, afirmó él.

“Con un importante granito de valor y previsión, el liderazgo de la nueva Campaña de los Pobres ha expandido el alcance de los problemas que aborda… se ha convertido en una especie de expresión holística de todos los problemas que afectan a la gente, cada uno de los cuales de una manera u otra se conectan con el problema subyacente de la pobreza”, dijo Runnels.

“Donde en el 68 resultaba claro que el racismo se traducía en pobreza para un componente de la población, el componente afroamericano, en 2018 los problemas de la pobreza afectan una sección representativa mucho más amplia y se manifiestan de muchas maneras diferentes. Lo emocionante respecto a esta campaña es su naturaleza polimórfica, se relaciona con muchos problemas diferentes”.

Los episcopales se reunieron no lejos de la Casa Blanca a las 8:30 AM del 23 de junio en la iglesia de la Epifanía para la Oración Matutina y para compartir sus ideas y experiencias acumuladas en los 40 días de acción previos a la concentración y a la marcha.

“Este movimiento es una campaña a largo plazo, no algo de una sola vez”, dijo la Rda. Glenna J. Huber, rectora de la Epifanía, durante la Oración Matutina. “No es para los débiles ni los pusilánimes, no todos somos llamados a ser arrestados o a actuar, pero todos somos llamados a orar, y todos somos llamados a testificar”.

-Lynette Wilson es reportera y jefa de redacción de Episcopal News Service. Traducción de Vicente Echerri.

Voces interreligiosas que exigen cambios en la política migratoria marcan la pauta en Washington

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 7:31am

Familias migrantes de México, que huyen de la violencia, escuchan a agentes del Servicio de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza antes de entrar en Estados Unidos para solicitar asilo por el Puente la frontera internacional de Paso del Norte en Ciudad Juárez, México, el 20 de junio. Foto de José Luis González/REUTERS.

[Episcopal News Service – Washington, D.C.] Los legisladores cuentan que los teléfonos de sus oficinas en el Capitolio federal no cesan de sonar con las llamadas de estadounidenses exigiendo que los niños migrantes se reúnan con sus padres, y que le pongan fin a la política migratoria del gobierno de Trump de separar a las familias en la frontera sudoccidental.

El representante Jim McGovern, demócrata de Massachusetts. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

“Las llamadas al Capitolio han alcanzado un máximo histórico, de demócratas y republicanos, de la comunidad empresarial”, dijo el representante Jim McGovern, demócrata y catolicorromano de Massachusetts, a los reunidos el 21 de junio en una vigilia de más de 12 horas de oración por la unidad de la familia en la capilla en memoria [del obispo metodista] Simpson en la vecindad del Capitolio.

“Esta [separación de familias] no puede ser el rostro de quienes somos, luego, agradezco que estén aquí, agradezco vuestras oraciones, agradezco vuestro activismo”, dijo McGovern. “Siempre he creído que la fe es más que un mero ritual, es acción; y todos ustedes tienen poderosas voces, y esta es la ocasión de usarlas por amor a estos niños, por amor a estos padres y por amor a este país”.

La Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia Episcopal, con sede en Washington, D.C., organizó la vigilia de oración en la capilla del edificio de la Iglesia Metodista Unida de la avenida Maryland N.E. De los miembros del Congreso invitados —el senador Tom Carper, presbiteriano y demócrata por Delaware; McGovern y otros dos demócratas: los representantes Jim Clyburn, metodista de Carolina del Sur; y Dwight Evans, bautista de Pensilvania— todos se presentaron e hicieron sus comentarios. La vigilia en la capilla comenzó con una Oración Matutina a las 8:00 AM y concluyó con el rito de Completas.

William Franklin, obispo de Nueva York Occidental, predicó, durante la Oración Matutina, acerca del papel del primer obispo primado William White, el primer capellán del Congreso Continental, quien veía dos autoridades para los cristianos: la Biblia y la razón.

“Somos llamados por la Escritura a ser compasivos, y la razón nos compele a ver que las políticas del gobierno no nos brindan una mayor seguridad, y que es posible tener un política migratoria justa y humana”, dijo Rebecca Linder Blachly, directora de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales.

Al menos 150 personas asistieron a la vigilia en Washington y otras 20.000 la sintonizaron en directo por Facebook.

El senador federal Tom Carper, demócrata de Delaware, el obispo de Nueva York Occidental William Franklin y Rebecca Linder Blachly, directora de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia Episcopal, durante una vigilia de más de 12 horas que tuvo lugar en la capilla Simpson el 21 de junio. Foto de Alan Yarborough.

“Estamos conmovidos y energizados por la pasión y la compasión que estamos viendo. Estamos comprometidos a orar y a actuar y a ponerle fin a este atropello”, dijo Blachly. “Desde un punto de vista político, hemos visto que políticos de ambos partidos se han pronunciado contra esta crueldad —sabemos que el trauma infligido a los niños se extenderá a la próxima generación”.

El representante Dwight Evans, demócrata por Pensilvania. Foto de Alan Yarborough.

En tanto personas de todas las creencias, entraban y salían de la capilla donde habían acudido en busca de oraciones, historias, testimonio, himnos y fraternidad, la Cámara de Representantes se reunía en la acera de enfrente para votar sobre dos proyectos de ley sobre la inmigración.

“Desafortunadamente, vamos a votar hoy lo que yo llamo ‘leyes de deportación’, no ‘leyes de inmigración’, y eso no resuelve el problema”, dijo Evans de Pensilvania, quien acudió [a la capilla] después de la primera votación.

“[La legislación] no hace nada respecto al problema inmediato de la separación de los niños y las familias a que el Presidente se refirió ayer, sin contar que no hace nada acerca de la ciudadanía a largo plazo de los “soñadores” [dreamers]”, expresó Evans en una entrevista con Episcopal News Service fuera de la capilla.

Dos proyectos de ley se pusieron a votación en la Cámara de Representantes el 21 de junio. El primero, un proyecto de ley de línea dura, no se aprobó. Los republicanos de la Cámara retrasaron la votación sobre un proyecto de ley de concertación que le brindaría a jóvenes inmigrantes indocumentados, a quienes se les conoce como “Dreamers” una vía para acceder a la ciudadanía y les permitiría a las familias estar detenidas juntas.

Sin embargo, el proyecto de ley de concertación no le brinda un arreglo permanente a por los menos 3,6 millones de estos “soñadores”, o inmigrantes indocumentados que fueron traídos ilegalmente a Estados Unidos como menores y que están protegidos de deportación por la norma migratoria de 2012 Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia.

“Sin embargo, el camino a la ciudadanía en el proyecto de ley de concertación está asociado a la financiación de la seguridad fronteriza y de la construcción del muro. Si un Congreso futuro revoca los fondos asignados a la frontera en esa ley, el camino a la ciudadanía sería revocado”, dijo Lacy Browmel, asesor de política migratoria y de refugiados de la Iglesia.

Desde el verano de 2014, cuando menores solos comenzaron a llegar a la frontera en números sin precedentes, cada verano trae otra crisis humanitaria. “Este verano es una situación desastrosa que ocurre porque están separando los niños de sus padres”, dijo Eva María Torres, presidente de Madres de los Soñadores [Dreamers Moms] de Virginia, que vino a Estados Unidos de México en 2006.

Todos los días, Torres, que fue la última persona que habló en la capilla, dijo que oía historias de madres separadas de sus hijos, ya fuera porque se quedan detrás con la familia en Honduras, El Salvador o Guatemala, tres de los países más violentos del mundo, de manera que ellos [los hijos] pudieran enviar dinero a casa. Ella también oye [los testimonios| de madres indocumentadas que temen la deportación y el separarse de sus hijos nacidos en EE.UU. Ahora, los relatos, las imágenes y llantos de niños y madres al ser separados en la frontera como resultado de la política de cero tolerancia de la Administración ha creado nuevos temores y ansiedades, dijo Torres.

Las mujeres corren riesgos y enfrentan peligros para proteger a sus hijos y están siendo separadas de aquellos de los que ellas vienen a proteger, afirmó. “Las imágenes me han hecho reflexionar: ¿cuánto más vamos a permitir que suceda… como comunidad de fe que cree en Dios y conoce y cuenta con la protección de Dios? Yo me preguntaba, ¿qué acciones Dios pide de nosotros? Ahora es el momento de actuar”, afirmó Torres. “La comunidad inmigrante está corriendo muchísimos riesgos, pero no sólo los latinos —son inmigrantes de todas las nacionalidades”.

Torres imploró que los ciudadanos estadounidenses se pronuncien.

“Ustedes, los que son ciudadanos, ustedes tiene el poder de producir un cambio y de hacer algo”, dijo ella. “Seamos proactivos de manera que no nos arrepintamos más tarde de la situación o las acciones que han tenido lugar. El apoyo que se necesita no es una limosna; eso no es lo que la comunidad necesita hoy. Como ciudadanos, yo les pediría que se preparen para hablar con los que están en el poder”.

No son sólo los migrantes que huyen de América Central: en el mundo entero, una población sin precedentes de 68,5 millones se ha visto obligada a desplazarse de sus hogares, 24,5 millones de ellos son refugiados y la mitad son menores de 18 años. Durante más de un siglo, la Iglesia Episcopal ha acogido refugiados y ha abogado por políticas migratorias que protejan a las familias, ofrezcan un vía para acceder a la ciudadanía y respeten la dignidad de todo ser humano. Parte de esta labor tiene lugar tras bambalinas; otras veces tiene lugar en declaraciones públicas, en acciones de defensa social y en testimonios públicos.

Los legisladores están de acuerdo en que las llamadas telefónicas, las cartas y los correos electrónicos fueron los que forzaron a que el Presidente cambiara de actitud, no algo que sucediera en los pasillos del Congreso,

Bajo intensa presión pública, el presidente Donald Trump cambió el rumbo el 20 de junio y firmó un decreto ejecutivo para que los hijos y los padres [de inmigrantes ilegales] se mantengan juntos por un período de detención indefinido. Sin embargo, no resulta claro cómo el gobierno va a poner en práctica la normativa, y el decreto dice que más de 2.000 niños que ya han sido separados de sus padres no serían “apadrinados”, creando confusión en la capital y en la frontera.

El representante Jim Clyburn, demócrata de Carolina del Sur. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

Más tarde esa noche en una concentración en Duluth, Minnesota, el presidente retornó a su retórica basada en el miedo, insistiendo en su prohibición de viajes y en su plan de construir un muro a lo largo de la frontera entre EE.UU. y México.

Para Clyburn, de Carolina del Sur, ver las noticias en la televisión y en los periódicos lo ha llevado a pensar en la época cuando el historiador francés Alexis de Tocqueville viajó a través de Estados Unidos, primero para estudiar sus prisiones, pero finalmente en busca de la grandeza de la nación. De Tocqueville indagó en los recintos del gobierno y en las zonas rurales, y finalmente la encontró en las iglesias, durante la época de la esclavitud, nada menos, dijo Clyburn.

“Él vio en las personas religiosas una cierta cantidad de bondad, y dijo al hablar acerca de esa experiencia que ‘Estados Unidos es grande por que Estados Unidos es bueno’, y si Estados Unidos alguna vez dejara de ser bueno, cesaría de ser grande’. Lo que estamos viendo hoy es una política desacertada, no una ley, sino una política. Es una pérdida, si alguna vez existió, de la bondad. No podemos, como pueblo de fe sentarnos pasivamente e ignorar esto”, afirmó Clyburn.

Desde octubre de 2017 hasta fines de mayo, los agentes del Servicio de Aduanas y Protección de la Frontera han detenido a más de 252.000 personas —32.371 menores no acompañados y 59.113 familias. A principios de abril, el gobierno de Trump puso en vigor su política migratoria de “tolerancia cero”, encaminada a procesar a los migrantes que crucen ilegalmente la frontera y a separarlos de sus hijos; 2.322 niños han sido separados de sus padres, según el Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanitarios. La normativa tenía por objeto desalentar a otras familias —muchas de las cuales huyen de la violencia en América Central— de intentar solicitar asilo en la frontera entre EE.UU. y México.

Nunca en las peores pesadillas del Rdo. Grey Maggiano, rector de la iglesia episcopal Memorial en Baltimore, Maryland, y ex empleado del Departamento de Estado que trabajó en la reforma carcelaria en Afganistán, pensó que vería a madres e hijos en centros de detención en Estados Unidos. No era inusual en Afganistán ver a muchachos que huían de la violencia sexual, niñas que buscaban protección de un matrimonio infantil y madres que escapaban de violencia doméstica y a sus hijos en centros de detención para su protección, pero aun eso estaba sujeto a horribles circunstancias y tenía efectos traumáticos para todos.

“Es como una pesadilla … ver todas las cosas que uno nunca pensó que ocurrirían aquí, ver que es posible que en nuestro país sucedan en tiempo real”, dijo Maggiano, fuera de la capilla después de dirigirse a los presentes.

Cuando Carper, el senador por Delaware, habló más temprano ese día, se refirió a la violencia en el triángulo norte de América Central y contó la historia de un hermano y una hermana. Al hermano lo obligaron a unirse a una pandilla y su iniciación incluyó la violación de su hermana. En lugar de permitir que eso ocurriera, sus padres los ayudaron a salir y ellos terminaron en Delaware.

“Hay esperanza en Honduras, Guatemala y El Salvador; hay esperanza en esos países del Triángulo Norte, pero hay muchísima miseria, y nosotros somos cómplices de su miseria”, dijo él refiriéndose a la apetencia de los estadounidenses por las drogas.

La crisis humanitaria de la frontera suroeste ha provocada la condena internacional, críticas bipartidistas e indignación de parte de ciudadanos y líderes religiosos estadounidenses, en particular después de que el secretario de Justicia Jeff Sessions y otros miembros del gobierno de Trump se valieran de la Escritura para defender la política de la separación de familias.

“Me siento profundamente desencantado con este gobierno, y estoy profundamente desencantado, no sólo con el Presidente, sino con mis colegas que apoyan esto”, dijo McGovern. “Yo sencillamente no sé cómo la gente puede hacer esto. Me preocupa que estemos perdiendo nuestra humanidad, y cuando oímos que se invocan versículos bíblicos para justificar esto, saben, seré sincero con ustedes, quiero dar gritos. Seguiremos diciendo que esto no representa quienes somos; vamos a lograr demostrarlo”.

Trump hizo de la reducción de la inmigración un eje central de su campaña y su administración. A los pocos días de asumir su cargo, Trump firmó tres decretos ejecutivos por el que reducía la financiación federal de las llamadas ciudades santuario, solicitaba la erección de un muro a lo largo de la frontera entre EE. UU. y México y suspendía el ingreso de inmigrantes provenientes de siete países de mayoría musulmana. Trump también hizo una reducción significativa del programa de reasentamiento de refugiados de la nación, al fijar el número de refugiados que pueden ingresar en el país en 2018 en 45.000, menos de la mitad de los 110.000 admitidos en 2017.

“Nuestro país ha estado en medio de un debate moral grande y profundo respecto a mantener a las familias juntas”, dijo el obispo primado Michael Curry en un vídeo en el que promovía la vigilia del 21 de junio. “Si los niños deben separarse de sus madres y de sus familias, si bien parece que hubiera alguna lógica de resolución acerca de ese problema inmediato, se mantiene la preocupación más general respecto a la detención de las familias. Las formas en que implementamos nuestros intereses migratorios, las formas en que aseguramos nuestras fronteras, no deben separarse de nuestra compasión y de nuestra decencia humana”.

Para más información sobre este tema en Episcopal News Service, haga clic aquí. Para sumarse a la Red Episcopal de Política Pública, haga clic aquí, y para emprender alguna acción, haga clic aquí.

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

Three Cantors reunion brings relief to Canadian town suffering ‘pastoral emergency’

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 4:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The trio of singing clergy known as The Three Cantors bought joy wherever they performed. But the consecration of group member William Cliff as bishop of Brandon in 2016 put an end to their exploits.

But, in response to a “pastoral emergency” in Churchill, Manitoba, the group reformed for a special concert in front of around 70 of the town’s 900 residents. The town of Churchill has suffered from the closure of its two major employers. Flooding has forced the closure of the rail lines, and the only way in and out of Churchill is by plane.

Read the full article here.

Lambeth-based monastic order of young people concludes ‘year in God’s time’

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 4:05pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The third group of young people to spend “a year in God’s time” as members of the Community of St. Anselm – the new monastic order based at Lambeth Palace, have been commissioned to “be Jesus to the world” at the end of their year. Lambeth Palace is the official London residence and offices of the Archbishops of Canterbury. The Community was started by Archbishop Justin Welby, who serves as Abbot of the community, as part of his priority of renewing prayer and spiritual life.

Read the full article here.

Convention to face ‘tough societal questions’ confronting the Episcopal Church

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 9:48am

[Episcopal News Service] When the 79th General Convention considers the resolutions proposed by the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church, it will confront “tough questions” facing the Episcopal Church in the current social environment.

House of Deputies President, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, asked the 2016-2018 Committee State of the Church to to focus on social justice and advocacy ministries, multicultural and ethnic ministries, and the Church Pension Group. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

The pressing areas of social justice, multiculturalism and ethnic ministries were all examined during the committee’s three-year study for how the Episcopal Church can better equip itself and minister effectively in multiple social contexts in “these deeply troubled and divisive times,” the committee’s report stated.

If there is an overarching takeaway the committee’s chair, the Rev. Winnie S. Varghese, the Diocese of New York, hopes deputies glean from the report, it’s that “we need to find more ways to release the gifts of the church from communities that we tend to position as ‘being served’ by the church,” she said in an email in response to questions submitted by the Episcopal News Service.

“There is very creative work being done in local ministries that could be used as resources for the whole church, and that a staff empowered to work across areas in ethnic and multicultural work at the churchwide level would be a great gift for us,” she said.

While the committee is mandated to provide the House of Deputies a report on the state of the church, it received the special charge from the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, deputies’ president, at the beginning of this triennium to focus on social justice and advocacy ministries, multicultural and ethnic ministries, and the Church Pension Group.

Recommending changes to the parochial report also falls under the committee’s purview. Since data gathering is a component of the parochial report, Varghese assumes this is why the State of the Church committee was assigned the task of exploring the rapidly changing context of the Episcopal Church.

“I found the charge from the president of the House of Deputies to the committee challenging and insightful about areas of the church that are high priorities and areas of some interest, concern, maybe confusion,” Varghese said.  “I agree with her that engaging the tough questions is a good use of the wisdom of the broader church.”

To prepare its report, the committee conducted surveys, interviews and reviews of church membership, stewardship and average Sunday attendance and found changes that reflect “modest decline in relation to the recent past,” “radical decline” compared to the 1950s and early 1960s and “a profound and shocking decline when compared to the growth in population of the United States.”

Census data also revealed that while births are barely outpacing deaths in the United State, immigration is fueling the fastest growth in the U.S. population, which in turn has implications for the context of the entire Episcopal Church.

“As a church, more and more of our congregations are visibly diverse, and we must equip ourselves to minister effectively in contexts in which there are multiple social norms, and the weight of discrimination and privilege in society present themselves to us in our congregations,” the committee’s report states.

The committee examined how each of the Ethnic and Multicultural Ministries, which include Latino/Hispanic Ministries, Asian Ministries, Black Ministries and Native American Ministries, began in official roles out of the Episcopal Church Center, recent and current dynamics and strategies of the ministries, and an understanding of the current direction of church leadership with respect to these ministries.

Among its findings is that “racism is active within the structures of the Episcopal Church.”

“Clearly our church has been a prophetic voice in calling out the sin of racism in our society,” the report said, but “little is heard when it comes to exploring the realities within our own church.”

For example, Episcopal churches fail to reflect the diversity of their local communities; clergy from non-dominant cultures face unequal access to theological education, unequal compensation and unequal training and continuing education; and the mutuality of the exchange of gifts, skills, grants, financial gifts and “the way we tend to tell our stories” assumes a flow from the dominant to the “ethnic” minorities rather than sharing with each other or the rest of the church, the report said.

“In the presiding bishop’s ‘The Beloved Community’ plan, we see progress toward understanding the complexity and the need for mutuality in Ethnic and Multicultural Ministries,” the report continued.  “By asking the question, ‘Where is Jesus in this community?’ we shift from the assumption that we are bringing Jesus to the assumption that Jesus is already there with and in the people.”

During interviews with the Church Center’s multicultural missioners, the committee learned that missioners are themselves ministering to diverse communities, nationalities and cultures.  “The result has been the development of strong skills of how to successfully deal with a pluralistic community,” the committee said.  “This is a skill set greatly needed by the church as a whole.”

The committee concluded that the church has “hidden the light of these communities instead of bringing them to the center of church life.”

The committee has proposed resolutions “as practical and doable steps of commitment on a long journey that has already been undertaken and will go on for a long time, a journey that can begin to help us open the deep gifts of developing bridges and mutual accountability and communication.”

Resolution A054 requests $15,000 for multicultural ministers and linguists to create “a small book of prayer, liturgy and music” in recognition of the presence of Christ in all church communities. Resolution A055 invites multicultural ministers to develop ways for sharing the gifts of their ministry with the wider church.

Taking up its charge to explore the work of social justice and advocacy ministries, the committee concluded that while the church is “doing many different types of work, social justice work is not robust across the church.”

Most especially, the committee discovered that the understanding of “social justice” varies broadly and that activities across the church tend to fall more “into the realm of alleviation of suffering and the work of charity than the work of justice.”

To clarify misunderstandings, the committee defined social justice work as “acts to address and heal the root cause of the injustice which prompted our need for charity in the first place.”

Committee research did uncover some “anxiety from the grassroots of the church” over whether “social justice preaching” should advocate a particular view on reform or that “emphasis should be on ‘outreach ministry’ but not social justice.”

Respondents to a survey conducted for the committee were eager for resources, suggestions and people to reach for help and “almost all who responded acknowledged a need for this work and many a desire to do it.  They wanted to connect with others doing this work but did not know how to find them.”

The committee is proposing resolutions to help address these concerns. Resolution A056 proposes a task force to study how the Episcopal Church “currently fosters theological understanding and leadership for social justice, and recommend ways to foster theological and practical conversation across the church on this topic.”

Resolution A057 supports strengthening churchwide resources and collaboration to support the grassroots work of the Episcopal Church in the areas of social justice advocacy and ethnic and multicultural ministry.

Faced with the rapidly changing context of the church, the committee also proposed Resolution A053. This requests that a new parochial report be developed that is “appropriate to the current context of the Episcopal Church including but not exclusive to multicultural congregations; aging populations; outposts of ministry in challenging economic contexts; and creative use of space and local engagement, to be administered and shared in networked, visible tools such as the Episcopal Asset Map.”\

“We decide what we measure and what we measure tends to form what we value,” Varghese said in her email.

“For the sake of data, it is good to measure a few vital things consistently for a long time, but the sake of our formation, and our self-understanding of what makes a great congregation, the committee believes it is important for the church to revisit the entire form to align with what we say today are the characteristics that we value in a church, and make it fully and more robustly electronic, synced with the ways we would record such data, and appropriately shareable through the asset map or a resource like it that helps us to identify and develop networks of mutual support,” she added.

Finally, the committee reviewed how the “traditional” model of clergy employment has changed. For example, more females are clergy and many clerics continue to work after their retirement. The committee asked, in Resolution A060 that a task force be created to study the work on the Church Pension Fund. (See the ENS story  “Ahead of General Convention, Episcopalians consider Church Pension Fund’s service to a changing church” here.)

Mike Patterson is a San Antonio-based freelance writer and correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. He is a member of ENS General Convention reporting team and can be reached at rmp231@gmail.com.

Warriors of the Dream uses African drumming, scripture reflection to build community

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 9:41am

Warriors of the Dream, an Episcopal Church Mission Enterprise Zone grant recipient, hosts a gathering based in Episcopal liturgy and using African drums both at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Harlem and elsewhere in the neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Warriors of the Dream

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series profiling the Episcopal Church’s recent work planting new churches and other faith communities. Other stories about recipients of grants from the Episcopal Church’s Genesis Advisory Group on Church Planting can be found here.

[Episcopal News Service] Sometimes you hear a phrase and it just sticks with you. You ponder its meaning, knowing at some level that there is a message in it for you.

For the Rev. Steve Holton an experience he had in 1995 has been “a blessing and a guide” to what is now Warriors of the Dream, an innovative program of community building and leadership training with people on the economic and social margins of their neighborhood based at St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church in the heart of Harlem and supported in part by two Episcopal Church Mission Enterprise Zone grants.

Back in 1995, Holton was the rector of St. Paul’s on-the-Hill Episcopal Church in Ossining, New York, about three miles from Sing Sing prison. He heard African-American actor and activist Ossie Davis speak at the first graduation ceremony for the Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison. Davis marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and was the emcee for the 1963 March on Washington when King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Davis, Holton said, often visited the 20 inmates in the program as a kind of  “elder.”

“He leaned over the podium and said, ‘You are my sons, you are my warriors of the dream,’” Holton recalled in an interview with Episcopal News Service. “And, of course, he was referring to Martin’s dream of the Beloved Community.” That sort of community, Davis knew as an actor, is built through what Holton calls “creative community.”

The Rev. Steve Holton says the idea for Warriors of the Dream began to take shape more than 25 years ago. Photo courtesy of Steve Holton

Fast-forward to 2013, as Holton was about to earn a second theology degree to follow the Master of Divinity degree he received from The General Theological Seminary in 1988. The question he explored was, “what is it about the Episcopal Church that lends itself to community ministry with everybody who’s there.” Holton studied the Anglican monastic tradition’s elements of “food, music and sacred speech.”

As he was thinking about the music part of a potential ministry, a friend told Holton that he had 12 African drums that needed a home. “I said, I’ll take them,” Holton said.

Warriors began at St. Philip’s because its now-deceased rector, the Rev. Keith Johnson, was “open to hosting us so that we could work in the neighborhood,” Holton said. Johnson’s goal was ministry to the neighborhood and “not specifically church growth.” Johnson wanted to explore how to connect the church to the people who live around it.

Holton’s recollection of Ossie Davis’ elder role came to the foreground. “Being an elder has been a theme of Warriors and, in terms of the larger macro goal, is to teach adults how to be elders, because one thing I’ve learned in my discussions with neighborhood leaders both in Westchester and Harlem is what makes neighborhood a neighborhood is elders,” he said. “What makes children think is elders, not just learning stuff, but kind of being in the shelter of elders.”

Holton formed two important partnerships. Jeannine Otis, the director of music at St. Mark’s Church In-The-Bowery, joined him, following, he said, Jesus’ command to go out to minister two by two. “As a twosome you model and experience community,” Holton said. Moreover, when a white man and a black woman create that sort of community “you expand community beyond the borders people usually draw around themselves and you automatically become available to a whole lot of information you never grew up with,” he added.

Holton and Otis then connected with Akil Rose, “the kind of neighborhood leader who never darkens the door of the church,” who Holton said is interested in African religions as well as Islam and “the mutual nourishment of all religions.”

They initially thought Warriors of the Dream ought to try reach children “who are at risk because they don’t join things” like church. However, early Warriors gatherings attracted people who worked with at-risk kids and “needed a place of nourishment themselves.” Warriors also began to attract formerly incarcerated neighbors who felt their families and churches didn’t welcome their return. Moreover, folks whom Holton called “church folk who are on the edges of their churches” for a variety of reasons began coming.

“In a world that is wrestling over the right doctrine, whether it’s one extreme or the other, having a group of people that says it’s all about fellowship and the ancient prayers and making music together, that’s serious antidote,” he said.

The antidote was to create a time for, as the Warriors of the Dream brochure calls it, “a sanctuary for the dreams and hopes of many, and neighborhood transformation.”

The gatherings, which began on All Saints Sunday in 2013, have a simple structure. They begin with a breathing meditation and drumming, which Holton describes as “the best of who we are, that’s mysticism.” He uses the example in Genesis 14 in which Melchizedek’s “open offer of hospitality… and giving his best to this stranger” Abraham who has been wandering in the wildernesses, getting caught up in tribal warfare.

Otis shares a scripture passage and people discuss what those verses mean in their lives, “and we rapidly go deep.” Holton listens for a theme around which he crafts into a “final message.” A “drum blessing” follows, and people disperse.

New people come to the gathering and “rapidly go to the same deep level we’ve all been because, as you know as an Episcopalian, the liturgy has that effect of opening that doorway in time into the heart of God, and you’re just there and feel it and you realize you were there, and then you leave and go back out on the street,” Holton said.

He has always been convinced that “it’s our liturgy that converts people,” in part because that is how he became an Episcopalian and was baptized as an adult.

Holton “showed that you can gather people with drum circles, you can adapt Episcopal liturgies to people who have no interest in becoming Episcopalians. They just want to follow Jesus or even follow the Spirit,” the Rev. Tom Brackett, the Episcopal Church’s manager for church planting and mission development, told ENS.

“Steve invited us to learn with him that following Jesus into the neighborhood asks us to serve people, to serve our brothers and sisters in ways that bless them. And the byproduct of that, many times, is that it also blesses the church at large, sometimes with new members and new pledges and a worshipping community, but not always.”

Warriors of the Dream received one of the 30 first $20,000 Episcopal Church Mission Enterprise Zone grants awarded in December 2013. Mission Enterprise Zones are designated geographic areas, congregations or dioceses with a mission focused on serving under-represented groups, such as young people, poor and less-educated people, people of color and those who never, or hardly ever, attend church.

Warriors then received a renewal grant in October 2016, one of three such grants for Mission Enterprise Zones originally funded in the 2013-15 triennium.

Warriors of the Dream hit a rough patch earlier this year. “We were having a lot of trouble just getting people [to come] and also running low on funding,” Holton said. He was discerning if the project “had lived its natural life” and along the way had taught him things that he is using in his ministry in North Salem, New York, where he is the interim rector of St. James Episcopal Church. He is using the same ideas from Harlem for gathering people who live near St. James and are outside the church.

However, Holton began looking at who was still coming to the Warriors gathering to see where the Holy Spirit might be pointing. What he saw was many of the newer people were former educators “who had real heart for reaching out to those young kids that we had tried to get back in the beginning, but we just grew in a different direction.”

One of those folks, who was also getting nourished by the gatherings, said she wanted to work with a local Roman Catholic deacon at the Lt. Joseph P. Kenney Community Center near Harlem Hospital. The center, Holton said, is a magnet for mothers looking for good places for their children to hang out. He hopes the work that is beginning there can be “the doorway into the larger Warriors experience.”

In addition, Holton said his St. James congregation, which he says is both wealthy and politically conservative in the classic definition of that stance, is happy to have the connections that Holton brings from Harlem to northern Westchester County. His parishioners have become interested in ministry with incarcerated people. They are eager to learn and to minster to and with them, Holton said.

The Warriors musicians are being asked to lead religious services of all kinds. They will continue to be open to those sorts of calls, he said.

All the while, Holton said, he operates from a stance that he wishes more Episcopalians would take. “We should own our identity as radical liturgists,” he said, stressing again that “it’s that the liturgy is profoundly formational.”

Episcopalians need to “believe again in the heart of our faith and in the heart of God incarnate and present in the world and then come out of those walls as Melchizedek did. Don’t just do it inside the church building,” he said. “Think of ways to get it out beyond the doors.”

“This is not really the continuation of church by other means. It is really Mother Church midwifing the next generation, and the next generation will be something new,” he said. “It will have a whole lot, biologically, in common with the last generation but will be a part of the new spirit, just as Mary gave birth to Jesus. The church is always Mary and the new ministry is always Jesus, and she is going to be worried sick about him. But, it is going to go on to new stuff and appeal to a whole bunch of people who never would have made it in the door. That’s where we are now.”

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

Episcopalians join the Poor People’s Campaign rally, march on Washington

Mon, 06/25/2018 - 4:06pm

Members of Washington National Cathedral attended the June 23 Poor People’s Campaign rally at the National Mall. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Washington, D.C.] Fifty years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a Poor People’s Campaign. As part of that campaign, during an April 1968 trip to Memphis, Tennessee, in support of African-American sanitation workers striking for higher wages, King was shot dead. Today, a new Poor People’s Campaign is under way and Episcopalians are getting involved.

“Today you are the founding members of the 21st century’s ‘Poor People’s Campaign:  A National Call for Moral Revival.’ We gather today for a call to action. We gather here declaring it’s time for a moral uprising all across America,” said the Rev. William Barber on June 23. He co-chairs the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, along with the Rev. Liz Theoharis.

“This is not the commemoration of what happened 50 years ago, this the reenactment and the re-inauguration. Because you do not commemorate prophets and prophetic movements. You go in the blood where they fell and reach down and pick up the baton and carry it the next mile of the way. For three years we’ve been laying a foundation from the bottom up, not the top down.”

King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference organized the original Poor People’s Campaign demanding economic and human rights for poor people across America. He was shot dead in Memphis on April 4, 1968 while attempting to organized sanitation workers.

The Rev. William Barber and the Rev. Liz Theoharis co-chair the Poor People’s Campaign. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Barber, a minister and an activist, led the Moral Mondays campaign in North Carolina and is the president of Repairers of the Breach, a nonprofit that seeks to build a moral agenda and redeem the heart and soul of the United States. Theoharis, a Presbyterian minister, and founder and co-director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice and coordinator of the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary.

Thousands of people, including at least 100 Episcopalians, from across the country representing social justice organizations, churches and faith-based initiatives, gathered on June 23 in Washington, D.C. for Poor People’s Campaign rally and march. For three-and-a-half hours on the National Mall, speakers, the majority of them living on the frontlines of poverty, shared their personal stories relating to systemic racism, environmental degradation and other poverty indicators. Following the rally, attendees took to the street and marched to the Capitol Building, chanting slogans like, “This is What Democracy Looks Like” and “The People United Will Not be Divided.”

The rally and march in Washington followed 40 days of state-level action organized around six themes: systemic racism, poverty and inequality, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism and national morality.

The rally and march also followed an intense week of news coverage about U.S. immigration policy.  The Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that has since early April has been separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. The administration’s family separation policy and the humanitarian crisis unfolding at the border has drawn international condemnation and has further tarnished the United States’ reputation abroad.

“America is great because she is good,” said Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, referencing Alexis de Tocqueville the in a video address broadcast on the big screen to the crowd gathered on the mall.

“We must make America great again, not by force, not by power, not by my might, but by goodness. Make America great by justice, make America great by freedom, make America great by equality. The Poor People’s Campaign doesn’t simply celebrate the past, though, it remembers the past, it remembers the courage of Dr. King and others who carried on the first Poor People’s Campaign,” said Curry.

“The Poor People’s Campaign gathers in order to help this nation live out its true values. Its moral decency, its human compassion, its sense of justice and right. We want this nation to be a nation where there is liberty and justice for all. We want this to be a nation where racism does not stain our moral character, where bigotry is not heard of seen any more in our land. Where injustices of the past are righted by making a new future. That is the America that we seek. That is why you gather, that is why you march. That is why we together seek to bring an end to human poverty in this the land of plenty. We must make possible the day that will come when no child will go to bed hungry in this land ever again.”

In today’s America, 43.1 million people, or 12.7 percent, of the population lives in poverty. That statistic matches with the percentage of impoverished people in 1968, when the population was 200 million, compared to 327 million today.

The Rev. Melanie Mullen, the Episcopal Church’s director of reconciliation, justice and creation care, and the Rev. Stan Runnels, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri, and an Executive Council member, prepare to march to the Capitol Building on June 23. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“The Episcopal Church was the second denomination to officially sign on as co-sponsors of the Poor People’s Campaign and this is probably the first time our denomination has done that. It came through the act of Executive Council written in that the church leadership would lead the church in this deliberate and productive partnership so not just in name only, but we would bring people to the movement and we’d bring the issues back into the church,” said the Rev. Melanie Mullen, the church’s director of reconciliation, justice and creation care.

Episcopalians, lay and ordained, engaged in direct action in their state capitals throughout the 40 days of action, but the Poor People’s Campaign goes beyond that.

“This is not just about 40 days and it’s over. We want to be able to encourage and educate our lay people, our people in the pews, on how to live faith in public life,” said Mullen. “We also want to create a new paradigm for what it means to be clergy; that it’s safe and acceptable to do public faith and to learn from each other’s examples, how to teach, how to preach, lead people in the streets. We’re doing something new and hopefully with the support of Executive Council going forward we can help do culture change in our church that will help change the country.”

Fifty years ago, when King launched the original Poor People’s Campaign, the Episcopal Church and the other white mainline denominations politely declined participation, said the Rev. Stan Runnels, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri, and an Executive Council member.

The Rev. Stan Runnels, rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri, and an Executive Council member, the Rev. Hershey Mallett Stephens, project coordinator for the Church Center’s Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care department, and Katelyn Kenney, an United Thank Offering intern, march to the Capitol Building June 23 as part of the Poor People’s Campaign. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“The important thing about this, when the Rev. Dr. Barber revisited this on the 50th anniversary, to me and many, is that the Episcopal Church not make the same mistake it made many years ago,” said Runnels, in an interview with Episcopal News Service following Morning Prayer at Church of the Epiphany.

Over the years, the Episcopal Church has been great about “talking the talk,” but has failed to incarnate the moral calling and to be an incarnate witness, said Runnels. “As Bishop Curry talks about the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, it also has to be the justice movement.”

In creating a strategy for a new Poor People’s Campaign, Barber and other leaders recognized that justice issues have only expanded and gotten worse since 1968, he said.

“With a great bit of courage and foresight, the leadership of this new Poor People’s Campaign has broadened the scope of issues addressed … it’s become sort of a holistic expression of all the issues that affect people, each of which in one way or the other, connects to the underlying problem of poverty,” said Runnels.

“Where in ’68 it was clear that racism translated into poverty for one component of the population, the African-American component, in 2018 the issues of poverty are impacting a much broader cross-section and are manifested in many, many different ways. The exciting thing about this campaign is its polymorphic nature, it’s engaging so many different issues.”

Episcopalians gathered not far from the White House at 8:30 a.m. on June 23 at the Church of the Epiphany, for Morning Prayer and to share their thoughts and experiences from the 40 days of action in advance of the rally and march.

“This movement is a long-term campaign, not a one and done,” said the Rev. Glenna J. Huber, Epiphany’s rector, during the Morning Prayer. “It’s not for the weak or the faint hearted, not all are called to be arrested or take action, but all are called to pray, and all are called to witness.”

-Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of Episcopal News Service.

GAFCON urges restrictions on Lambeth Conference invites

Mon, 06/25/2018 - 3:35pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Delegates at the third Global Anglican Future Conference, or GAFCON, which met in Jerusalem last week, endorsed a communiqué on their final day that called on the Archbishop of Canterbury not to invite to the Lambeth Conference in 2020 bishops from provinces that have endorsed “sexual practices which are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture.”

The communiqué said that unless that happened, and unless bishops from independent breakaway churches that are not in the Anglican Communion – the Anglican Church of North America and the Anglican Church of Brazil – were invited too, it would “urge GAFCON members to decline the invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of Communion.”

But ahead of the meeting, a significant number of primates associated with the GAFCON movement made clear their intention to attend.

Read the full article here.

Interfaith voices demanding changes to immigration policy make a difference in Washington

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 12:58pm

Migrant families from Mexico, fleeing from violence, listen to officers of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection before entering the United States to apply for asylum at Paso del Norte international border crossing bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on June 20. Photo: Jose Luis Gonzalez/REUTERS

[Episcopal News Service – Washington, D.C.] Phones are ringing off the hook at congressional offices on Capitol Hill with Americans demanding migrant children be reunited with their parents, and for an end to the Trump administration’s immigration policy of separating families at the Southwest border, according to legislators.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“Calls coming in to Capitol Hill are at an all-time high from Democrats and Republicans, the business community,” U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat and Roman Catholic from Massachusetts, told those gathered June 21 at a 12-plus-hour prayer vigil for family unity at the Simpson Memorial Chapel on Capitol Hill.

“This [family separation] can’t be the face of who we are, so I appreciate you being here, I appreciate your prayers, I appreciate your activism,” McGovern said. “I’ve always felt that faith is more than just ritual, it’s action; and you all have powerful voices, and this is a time to use them for the sake of these kids, for the sake of these parents and for the sake of this country.”

The Episcopal Church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations hosted the prayer vigil in United Methodist Building’s chapel, where its office is on Maryland Avenue N.E. Of the Congressmen invited, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, a Presbyterian and a Democrat from Delaware; McGovern and two other Democrats, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Methodist from South Carolina, and U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, a Baptist from Pennsylvania, all dropped in and offered comments. The day began with a bipartisan 8 a.m. Morning Prayer in the Capitol Building, a monthly event hosted by the Office of Government Relations. The vigil ended with Compline in Simpson Chapel.

Western New York Bishop William Franklin preached during Morning Prayer about the role of the first Presiding Bishop William White, the first chaplain to the continental Congress. He saw two authorities for Christians – the Bible and belief in scripture, and reason.

“We are called by scripture to be compassionate, and reason compels us to see that the administration’s policies do not make us safer or more secure, and that it is possible to have a just and humane immigration policy,” said Rebecca Linder Blachly, director of the Office of Government Relations.

At least 150 people attended the vigil in Washington and 20,000 people tuned in on Facebook Live.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, Western New York Bishop William Franklin and Rebecca Linder Blachly, director of the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations, during a 12-hour-plus vigil held at the Simpson Memorial Chapel on June 21. Photo: Alan Yarborough

“We are moved and energized by the passion and the compassion we are seeing. We are committed to praying and to acting and to stopping this outrage,” said Blachly. “From a political standpoint, we have seen that politicians from both parties have spoken out against this cruelty – we know that the trauma inflicted on children spans to the next generation.”

While people of all faiths dropped in and out of the chapel for prayers, stories, testimony, hymns and fellowship, the House of Representatives convened across the street to vote on two immigration bills.

U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, a Democrat from Pennsylvania. Photo: Alan Yarborough

“Unfortunately, we are voting on what I call ‘deportation bills’ not ‘immigration bills.’ today and it still doesn’t solve the problem,” said Evans of Pennsylvania, who came by after the first vote.

“It [the legislation] doesn’t do anything about the immediate problem in terms of the separation of the children and families that the president talked about yesterday, let alone it doesn’t do anything about the DREAMers’ long-term citizenship,” said Evans, in an interview with Episcopal News Service outside the chapel.

Two bills came up for vote in the House on June 21. The first, a hard-line bill, failed. House Republicans delayed the vote on a compromise bill that would provide young, undocumented immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” a path to citizenship; and allow families to be detained together.

Still, the compromise bill doesn’t provide a permanent fix for the at least 3.6 million Dreamers, or undocumented immigrants who were brought illegally to the United States as minors and who are protected from deportation the 2012 immigration policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“The pathway to citizenship in the compromise bill, however, is tied to the funding for border enforcement and the wall. If a future Congress revokes the border funding appropriated in the bill, the pathway to citizenship would be revoked,” said Lacy Broemel, the church’s refugee and immigration policy advisor.

Since the summer of 2014 when unaccompanied minors began arriving at the border in unprecedented numbers, every summer brings another humanitarian crisis. “This summer it is a disastrous situation that is happening because they are separating children from their parents,” said Eva Maria Torres, president of Dreamers’ Moms of Virginia, who came to the United States from Mexico in 2006.

Every day, Torres, who was the last to speak at the chapel, said, she hears stories from mothers separated from their children, either because they left them behind with family in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, three of the most violent countries on earth, so they could send money back home. She also hears the anxieties of undocumented mothers who fear deportation and being separated from their U.S.-born children; and, now the stories, images and cries of children and mothers being separated at the border.

The administration’s zero-tolerance policy and the stories, images and cries of children and mothers being separated at the border, have created new fears and anxieties.

The women take risks and face danger to protect their children and are being separated from those they came to protect, she said: “The images have made me reflect, how much more are we going to allow to happen … as a faith community that believes in God, and know and count on God’s protection, I find myself asking what actions is God asking of us, calling us to do? Now is the time to take action. The immigrant community is taking a lot of risks but not just Latinos its immigrants of all nationalities.”

Torres implored American citizens to speak up.

“You, those who are citizens, you have the power to make a change and do something,” she said.
“Let’s be proactive so that we don’t repent later the situation or actions that have taken place. The support that is needed is not a handout, that’s not what the community needs today. As citizens I’d ask you to be empowered to talk to those in power.”

It’s not just migrants on the move fleeing Central America, worldwide an unprecedented 68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes; 24.5 million of them are refugees, half younger than 18. For more than a century, the Episcopal Church has welcomed refugees and advocated for immigration policies that protect families, offer a path to citizenship and respect the dignity of every human being. Some of this work happens behind the scenes; other times, it is carried out in public statements, advocacy and public witness.

It was the phone calls, letters and emails that forced the president’s hand, not anything that happened in the halls of Congress, the legislators agreed.

Under intense public pressure, President Donald J. Trump on June 20 reversed course and signed an executive order meant to keep children and parents together for an indefinite detention period. Still, it’s unclear how the administration would implement the policy and it said the more than 2,000 children already separated from their parents would not be “grandfathered in.” The president’s executive order created confusion in the capital and at the border.

Later that evening in a Duluth, Minnesota-rally, the president had returned to his fear-based rhetoric, doubling down on his travel ban and his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

For Clyburn, of South Carolina, watching the news unfold on television and in newspapers has made him think back to the time when French historian Alexis de Tocqueville traveled across the United States first to study its prisons but eventually in search of America’s greatness. De Tocqueville searched the halls of government and the countryside, and eventually found it in the churches, during the time of slavery, no less, he said.

“He saw in the people he worshipped with a certain amount of goodness and he said in talking about that experience that ‘America is great because America is good.’ And if America ever ceased ‘to be good, America will cease to be great,’” said Clyburn. “What we are seeing today is ill-advised policy, not law, but policy. It’s a loss, if it ever existed, of goodness. We cannot as people of faith sit idly by and ignore this.”

Since October 2017 through the end of May, Customs and Border Control agents have detained more than 252,000 people – 32,371 unaccompanied minors and 59,113 families. In early April, the Trump administration implemented it’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy aimed at prosecuting migrants crossing the border illegally and separating them from their children; 2,322 children have been taken from their parents, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The policy was meant to deter other families – many fleeing violence in Central America – from attempting to request asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Never in his wildest dreams did the Rev. Grey Maggiano, rector of Memorial Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland, and a former State Department employee who worked on prison reform in Afghanistan, think he’d see mothers and children kept in detention centers in the United States. It wasn’t unusual in Afghanistan to see boys fleeing sexual violence, girls seeking protection from child marriage and mothers escaping domestic violence and their children held in detention centers for their protection, but still it was under horrible circumstances and had a traumatizing effect on everyone.

“It’s like a bad dream … seeing all the things you never thought would happen here,” said Maggiano, outside the chapel after addressing those present. “Seeing what’s possible in our country coming to fruition in real time.”

When Carper, the senator from Delaware spoke earlier in the day, he talked about the violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle and a brother and sister’s story. The brother was forced to join a gang and his initiation included raping his sister. Rather than let that happen, their parents helped them leave and they landed in Delaware.

“There is hope in Honduras, Guatemala El Salvador, there’s hope in those countries in the Northern Triangle, but there’s a lot of misery and we are complicit in their misery,” he said, referring to Americans’ appetite for drugs.

The humanitarian crisis at the Southwest border has drawn international condemnation, bipartisan criticism and outrage from American citizens and religious leaders, particularly following Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ and other members of the Trump administration’s use of scripture to defend its family separation policy.

“I’m just so profoundly disappointed with this government and I’m so profoundly disappointed, not only with the president, but with my colleagues who are going along with this,” said McGovern. “I just don’t know how people can do this. I worry we are losing our humanity and when we hear biblical versus being invoked to justify this, you know, I’ll be honest with you, I just want to scream. We keep on saying this is not who we are, we’ve got to prove it.”

Trump made curbing immigration a centerpiece of his campaign and his administration. Within days of taking office, Trump signed three executive orders cutting funding to so-called sanctuary cities, calling for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and suspending the entry of immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries. Trump also made a significant reduction to the nation’s refugee resettlement program; setting the number of refugees allowed to enter the country in 2018 at 45,000; less than half the 110,000 admitted in 2017.

“… our country has been in the midst of a great, profound moral debate over keeping families together. Whether children should be separated from their mothers and from their families while there appears to be some sense of resolution about that immediate issue, the broader concerns about detaining families continue. The ways that we implement our immigration concerns, the ways that we secure our borders, need not be separated from our compassion and our human decency,” said Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in a video promoting the June 21 vigil.

For more on this issue from Episcopal News Service, click here. To join the Episcopal Public Policy Network click here and to Take Action, click here.

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

Justice Select Committee hears New Zealand bishops’ concern over proposed euthanasia law

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 11:41am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishops in New Zealand opposed to the legalization of medically assisted suicide and euthanasia have cited examples from Europe to warn that “safeguards” imposed when the law is first changed could later be loosened. The seven diocesan bishops in New Zealand are all opposed to the End of Life Choice Bill, which has been introduced by parliamentarian David Seymour. This week, Bishop Richard Randerson made an oral submission to the Parliament’s justice select committee on behalf of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia’s Tikanga Pakeha.

Read the entire article here.

Archbishop of York lays foundation stone for new priory at Whitby

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 11:24am

[Anglican Communion News Service] There has been a monastic community in the North Yorkshire coastal town of Whitby since at least AD 657. The monastery is famous as the venue of the crucial Synod that bought together the different strands of Christianity in the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria to agree the date of Easter, amongst other things. The decision to adopt the Roman calculation over the Celtic formula was eventually adopted across Britain. The original monastery now lies in ruins, but this week Archbishop of York John Sentamu laid the foundation stone for a new priory in the town.

Read the entire article here.

Diocese of Kansas announces candidates for bishop

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 10:15am

[Episcopal Diocese  of Kansas] The Council of Trustees, acting as the canonical Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, presents to the diocese two priests as candidates for the 10th bishop of the diocese:

  • The Rev. Martha N. Macgill, Diocese of Maryland
  • The Rev. Helen Svoboda-Barber, Diocese of North Carolina

Nominees may be added by a petition process that closes at 5 p.m. CDT on June 30, 2018.

Members of the diocese will have the chance to meet the candidates in walkabouts scheduled in the diocese for Oct. 2-5; the schedule of events is online.

The election of the next bishop will take place on the first day of Diocesan Convention, Oct. 19, at Grace Cathedral in Topeka. The Service of Ordination and Consecration is scheduled for March 2, 2019, at the cathedral, with Presiding Bishop Michael Bruce Curry officiating.

Here are brief introductions to the candidates; more information about them is on the bishop search website.

The Rev. Martha N. Macgill

Rector, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Cumberland, Maryland

The Rev. Martha N. Macgill was baptized and confirmed at Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia, where she sang for several years in the junior choir. She attended St. Agnes Episcopal School in Alexandria for 12 years, where she graduated in 1976 as valedictorian.

She attended Davidson College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude. After attending University of Virginia Law School and New York University Law School, she practiced law in Connecticut and as a clerk at the United States Tax Court in Washington, D.C.

Martha entered the ordination process in the Diocese of Virginia from St. Paul’s, Alexandria, in 1990. She attended Virginia Theological Seminary, where she graduated with honors in 1995. She was ordained to the diaconate in June 1995 by the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee at All Saints, Richmond.

She served as an assistant rector at St. Stephen’s, Richmond, where she was ordained to the priesthood in January 1996.

In 1997, she and her family moved to the Diocese of Christ the King, South Africa, where she became priest-in-charge of St. Francis, Walkerville. In August 2000, she returned to the United States to become rector of Memorial Church in Baltimore, Maryland., until May of 2014.

In the Diocese of Maryland, she has served as chair of the Commission on Ministry. She was a mentor to the new Episcopal Service Corps of young adults and served as a deputy to General Convention in Indianapolis in 2012. Martha now serves as rector of Emmanuel Parish in Cumberland, Maryland.

Martha is married to Bryan Kelleher. Martha and Bryan have two children: Jack, age 29, and Anna, age 26. Martha’s interests include swimming, tennis, golf, gardening and reading.

The Rev. Helen Svoboda-Barber

Rector, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Durham, North Carolina

The Rev. Helen Svoboda-Barber grew up in Chapman, Kansas, and graduated with degrees in psychology and human development from the University of Kansas. Her Masters of Divinity degree is from the Seminary of the Southwest, and her Doctor of Ministry degree is from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, both in Austin, Texas.

Before going to seminary, Helen was a researcher at the Center for the Influences of Television on Children and was a registered representative at Twentieth Century Mutual Funds (now American Century).

Helen spent three years as curate and then canon at Grace Cathedral, Topeka; three years as assistant pastor at Holy Cross ELCA in Overland Park; 10 years as rector of Harcourt Parish in Gambier, Ohio; and has been rector of St. Luke’s in Durham, North Carolina, since 2014.

She is active in all levels of the church, including as convocation president (Kansas), diocesan Christian Education Chair (Ohio), Credentials Committee (North Carolina), Council of Advice for the President of the House of Deputies, and several-time deputy to General Convention.

She has been on the Executive Committees of the Topeka Center for Peace and Justice (Kansas), Interchurch Social Services (Ohio) and Latino Education Achievement Program (North Carolina).

She and her husband, Shawn, are parents to Charlie, 14, and Luke, 11. Helen enjoys board games, reading, weaving and needlework, and she loves time spent with her family.  

Prayer service set at Texas detention center during General Convention

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 6:40pm

[House of Deputies] Responding to calls from Episcopalians across the church to act on behalf of families seeking asylum at the southern U. S. border, a team of concerned leaders heading to General Convention has planned a prayer service outside the T. Don Hutto Residential Detention Center in Taylor, Texas, at about noon on Sunday, July 8.

The planning team, led by alternate Deputy Megan Castellan, rector of St. John’s Church in Ithaca, New York, is working with Grassroots Leadership — a local community organizing group in Texas that has held numerous gatherings at the Hutto Residential Center. Deputy Winnie Varghese, director of justice and reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street, is helping to arrange buses to the event.

“What is happening to those at our borders is monstrous,” Castellan said. “My bishop, DeDe Duncan-Probe [of Central New York] and I were discussing how we, as a church, could respond on Saturday morning. By evening, and with the help of enthusiastic Episcopalians across the church, the idea had taken shape and was moving forward.”

The detention center at 1001 Welch St. in Taylor is operated for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by CoreCivic, formerly the Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison company, and is about a 40-minute drive from the Austin Convention Center where General Convention is being held.

Varghese says Trinity Wall Street hopes to provide buses for the event that would depart from the convention center at 10:45 a.m. Organizers say participants may also drive to the detention center. Parking is available nearby.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, have arranged for a one-hour delay in Sunday’s legislative calendar to facilitate participation by bishops and deputies. The legislative session will begin at 3:15 CDT.

The event, which Curry and Jennings will attend, is open to all who are committed to praying for an end to the inhumane treatment of those seeking asylum in the United States. It has been planned not to conflict with the Bishops United Against Gun Violence event at 9:30 a.m. in Brush Square Park, near the convention center.

A former medium-security prison, the Hutto center has been the target of frequent lawsuits over issues including harsh conditions, poor food and sexually abusive guards. Originally a family detention center, the facility, since 2009, has housed only female immigrants and asylum seekers.

The planning team, which includes several clergy and parishioners of the Diocese of Texas and the Association of Episcopal Deacons, is considering follow-up advocacy activities.

La Convención General prosigue su ‘tendencia digital’ de funcionar sin papeles

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 2:53pm

Los Rdos. Joseph Harmon y John Mennell, diputados de la Diócesis de Newark, muestran sus iPads asignados en préstamo a todos los diputados y obispos para la reunión de la Convención General en Salt Lake City en 2015. Los mismas contienen una “carpeta virtual” que reemplaza electrónicamente a la mayoría de los sistemas de la Convención, hasta entonces impresos. Foto de Nina Nicholson/Diócesis de Newark.

[Episcopal News Service] Lo usual era que la Convención General llevara a cabo todas sus funciones legislativas en papel —aproximadamente 1,2 millones de hojas de papel. Ya no más.

Por segunda convención consecutiva, cuando cada diputado, diputado suplente y obispo llegue a Austin, Texas, para la 79ª. Convención General, recibirá en préstamo un iPad para usarlo como su “carpeta virtual”. Los iPads que se usarán durante la reunión del 5 al 13 de julio son más nuevos y veloces que los que la Convención General alquiló en 2015.

La última vez que los obispos y diputados usaron carpetas físicas para seguir el proceso legislativo de la Convención General fue en 2012 para la 77ª. reunión de la Convención. Foto de Julie Murray/Diócesis de Ohio Sur.

Reemplazar cada carpeta física con el sistema digital ahorrara el costo aproximado de 2.400 resmas de papel, las cuales ascienden a unas seis toneladas, más los gastos de copias. Los veteranos de la Convención recuerdan una carpeta que gradualmente se iba llenando con sus copias según progresaba la reunión, con frecuencia hasta el punto de que algunos usaban bolsas con ruedas para transportar sus carpetas. Se reservaba un tiempo en cada cámara para que los obispos y diputados actualizaran sus carpetas. Seguir el progreso de las resoluciones resultaba imposible para las personas que no asistían a la Convención. Ya no más.

Además, no sólo las funciones de la carpeta virtual se han mejorado y expandido para brindar un mayor acceso a través de la Iglesia, el sistema ha convertido a la Iglesia Episcopal y a la Convención General en un líder innovador en el terreno de monitorear legislación. Existe también la posibilidad de compartir y facilitar la arquitectura básica del sistema a otros grupos.

La carpeta virtual es una aplicación [app] que funciona en los iPads de obispos y diputados, y a la cual se puede tener acceso vía Internet. Los que carecen de un iPad de la Convención General pueden tener acceso a la versión online aquí. Esa última versión reproduce la app que funciona en los iPads y cambia junto con ella en tiempo real.

No importa cómo se accede a ella, la edición de 2015 de la Carpeta Virtual le permite a los usuarios  rastrear el desarrollo de las resoluciones de la Convención. Incluye también las agendas diarias de cada cámara, los calendarios para cada día y los diarios (una lista de mensajes intercamerales en que informan a la otra parte de las decisiones que se toman), calendarios e informes de comités . Contiene fichas para verificar las actividades actuales y las enmiendas del pleno en cada cámara.

La carpeta virtual para la 79ª. reunión de la Convención General incluye nuevas posibilidades de indagación y medios para seguir la legislación en ambas cámaras. Para pasar de una cámara a otra, o [del inglés] al español, basta hacer clic en el icono que aparece en la parte superior derecha. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS

Resumiendo, “esto es exactamente lo que los obispos y diputados están viendo en sus iPads”, dijo Twila Ríos —directora de los sistemas de información digital en la oficina de la Convención— a Episcopal News Service. Se replica en tiempo real, lo cual significa que hay una diferencia de nanosegundos entre lo que sale allí y lo que entra aquí —algo que los seres humanos no pueden registrar”.

“Lo más importante es que dentro de las restricciones presupuestarias, que es con lo que todo el mundo en la Iglesia tiene que operar, los nuevos dispositivos responden absolutamente a las interrogantes y las reacciones que hemos recibido después de la última Convención General”, dijo el Rdo. Michael Barlowe, director ejecutivo de la Convención General en una entrevista con ENS.

La edición de 2018 de la carpeta incluye estos importantes cambios:

  • Una función expandida de búsqueda de una resolución también le dará a los usuarios más información acerca del estatus de la resolución. Estarán disponibles informes sobres las decisiones respecto a cada resolución, así como información de cuando un comité o una cámara ha de considerar una resolución. Los textos de las resoluciones se actualizarán en la medida en que los comités o las cámaras les hagan cambios.
  • La única manera de saber lo que un comité legislativo estaba haciendo, consistía en encontrar el gran atril en un pasillo de la convención en el cual se anunciaba la agenda diaria de cada comité. Ese puesto seguirá funcionando en Austin, pero ahora esa información podrá buscarse en la carpeta virtual por comité, fecha o/y número de resolución. “Esperamos que funcionará muchísimo mejor que la última vez”, dijo Ríos. “También es dinámica”, añadió, explicando que cuando el presidente de un comité le informa a la Oficina de la Convención General acerca de una reunión que [el comité] quiere programar, uno de los muchos voluntarios ingresa la información en el sistema y la misma aparece inmediatamente en la carpeta virtual. Esos voluntarios también procesarán los cambios de las resoluciones en tiempo real.
  • Las comunicaciones de una cámara a la otra también se publicarán el la carpeta virtual. Además, los documentos basados en textos (diferentes de los PDFs) que se usen durante el debate o los anuncios en forma textual estarán disponibles en la carpeta.
  • La Constitución y los Cánones de la Iglesia también se incluirán en la carpeta. Los obispos y diputados con frecuencia necesitan hacer referencia a esas reglas y “es más fácil tenerlas allí mismo” que en un libro aparte o mediante el acceso a Internet, apuntó Ríos.

Versiones actuales de todas las resoluciones sometidas a la consideración de la Convención General se pueden consultar a través de la carpeta virtual. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

La carpeta virtual es la porción de cara al público de un sistema de múltiples faces conocido como el Sistema Online del Proceso Legislativo que la Oficina de la Convención General creó con la ayuda de E-accent , una empresa programadora, según explicó Ríos.

“No hay muchos programas legislativos. Existe una serie limitada de proveedores y un número limitado de clientes”, dijo ella, explicando que las entidades gubernamentales con los principales usuarios.

“Cuando saltamos a esto para 2015, no había mucho”.

La Oficina de la Convención General asumió “un gran riesgo que se vio recompensado” de hacer el cambio a los sistemas digitales en el período previo a la convención de 2015, dijo Barlowe. “Realmente inventamos esto. Nadie ha hecho nada semejante a esto en el mundo legislativo”.

E-accent “tomó nuestras ideas y creó esta cosa”, precisó él, llamando a su personal los arquitectos y a los que desarrollaron el programa los ingenieros.

La carpeta virtual y todos los otros sistemas que se combinan para hacer que la Convención funcione sin problemas exige muchísimo de ancho de banda y Barlowe dijo que el director de tecnología de la información de la Iglesia Episcopal, Darvin Darling, y su personal han ayudado a su oficina con algunos “medios innovadores [de manera] que podemos hacer más dentro del mismo ancho de banda”.

Tanto en Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, donde se reunió la Convención en 2015, como ahora en el Centro de Convenciones de Austin, el personal de apoyo técnico del edificio, dijo él “se fascinó también con lo que estábamos haciendo”.

“Es realmente un reconocimiento a la Iglesia Episcopal y a la Oficina de la Convención General que incluso en un lugar como Austin, el cual es tecnológicamente muy avanzado, los apasionados de la computación se han interesado en lo que hacemos”, dijo Barlowe, refiriéndose al evento anual de Austin South by Southwest .

La aplicación de la agenda virtual y sus sistemas conectados son también lo que Barlowe describió como un ejercicio en “programación ética”. Sus creadores no explotan a sus trabajadores y la Convención General cumple o incluso sobrepasa las reglas de privacidad estadounidenses y europeas.

“Es parte de nuestro trabajo pensar en estas cosas y actuar como uno esperaría que funcione una Iglesia, no sólo con las mínimas normas éticas, sino maximizando la manera en que manipulamos los datos  y la manera en que organizamos las cosas y el modo en que funcionamos digitalmente”, señaló.

“La esperanza a largo plazo” es que la Oficina de la Convención General pueda encontrar medios de compartir los sistemas con [las] diócesis y con otras denominaciones, apuntó Barlowe. Por ejemplo, ya ha habido conversaciones con la Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en América.

Si la Iglesia ha sido innovadora en [materia de] programas, también lleva la delantera en el tipo de equipos que la convención necesita. Cuando Ríos estaba buscando alquilar 1.200 tabletas antes de la convención de 2015 para los miembros de ambas cámaras, además del personal administrativo que las necesitaría, descubrió que era un pedido inusual. También resultó inusual  su solicitud de que los iPads tuviesen una “visualización personalizada” con las aplicaciones de la Convención General.

“Fuimos una novedad para los proveedores”, dijo ella.

En efecto, el proveedor, Meeting Tomorrow, ahora usa la idea de los iPads con “visualización personalizada” como parte de su discurso de venta. Y E-accent, que tendrá personal en la Convención General, usa su trabajo para la Iglesia Episcopal como una exhibición de su negocio.

Los sistemas, dijo Ríos, se están refinando y actualizado constantemente. “Es una labor en progreso”, afirmó.

El objetivo de esa labor es “tratar de perfeccionar los medios en que podemos proporcionar la información,  hacerla más susceptible de consultar”, explicó. “Existen limitaciones y yo siempre estoy intentando sortear las limitaciones y ayudar a hacer esto mejor, de manera que la gente pueda encontrar la información que necesita”.

La aplicación móvil de la Convención General funciona en EventMobi. Foto de Mary Frances Schjonberg/ENS.

Algunas limitaciones son económicas, y algunas son tecnológicas, dijeron ella y Barlowe. Por ejemplo, algunas personas pidieron que obispos y diputados individuales pudieran intercambiarse mensajes desde sus iPads. Añadir la infraestructura para responder a esa solicitud, “estaba más allá de nuestra capacidad económica”,  dijo él.

Otra manera digital de estar al tanto de la Convención

Una aplicación [app] gratuita de la Convención General está al alcance de cualquiera que use un teléfono inteligente o una tableta que incluya Android 4,4 o IOS 8.0 o posterior. La app contiene horarios de la Convención General, mapas, información de proveedores, órdenes de servicios religiosos diarios y otros materiales útiles. (órdenes completos del oficio eucarístico diario también se incluyen en esta app. como en el iPad, eliminando así la necesidad de imprimir diariamente cientos de folletos  para el culto).

Descargue la app. aquí o de la App Store o de Google Play, y luego ingrese el código 79GC cuando se lo pidan. La app también puede usarse en una computadora. Ese enlace se encuentra aquí.

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


Church in Wales wins contract to train British military chaplains

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 2:00pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Chaplains serving U.K. military personnel will continue to be trained by the Church in Wales, after the Anglican province won a contract to provide training for the next five years. Britain’s Ministry of Defense awarded the contract to St. Padarn’s Institute, the Church in Wales’ new training institute. The Church in Wales has been training British military chaplains since 2001 but has to re-bid every five years.

Episcopal Church to host vigil in Washington to condemn Trump’s immigration policies separating families

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 6:54pm

Akemi Vargas, 8, cries as she talks about being separated from her father during an immigration family separation protest in front of the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. District Court building in Phoenix on June 18. Child welfare agencies across America make wrenching decisions every day to separate children from their parents. But those agencies have ways of minimizing the trauma that aren’t being employed by the Trump administration at the Mexican border. Photo: Ross D. Franklin/AP

[Episcopal News Service] The U.S. government is holding the youngest children – babies and toddlers – separated from their families in “tender age” shelters in south Texas. In these shelters, some children are kept in chain-link cages, their screams and cries for their parents a cacophony of terror.

On June 20, under intense political pressure, President Donald J. Trump reversed his stance and signed an order ending family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border. However, the new order will keep families together in federal custody while they await prosecution for illegal border crossings. That might violate court orders baring the government from keeping children in family detention centers for more than 20 days, and saying they must be housed in the least-restrictive setting possible.

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy has separated 2,342 children from 2,206 parents at the US-Mexico border between May 5 and June 9, according to a June 19 report in the online news site Vox. That statistic follows an announcement last week by the Department of Homeland Security that that 1,995 children had been separated from their parents from April 19 to May 31. The policy was meant to deter other families – many fleeing violence in Central America – from attempting to request asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

On June 21, the summer solstice, the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations will hold a 12-hour prayer vigil beginning at 9 a.m. until sunset in its chapel on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to call further attention to the Trump administration’s policy. A virtual vigil will be stream live on Facebook from noon to 1 p.m. Eastern time.

“We are holding this vigil to condemn family separation and to pray for all parents and children who are currently being detained. While tomorrow we will be focused on the recent separations of families at the border, we must also remember the millions of families who have been torn apart by violence and persecution in the global refugee crisis,” said Rebecca Linder Blachly, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations. “We chose to hold this vigil on June 21 – the longest day of the year – because every day that family members are separated is too long. We will join together with interfaith partners to pray together for an end to this crisis, and to ask all governments to develop humane policies towards migrants.

“We continue to encourage Episcopalians and all people of faith to call on the U.S. Congress to end harsh and harmful immigration policies and to pass bipartisan, comprehensive reform that recognizes the dignity of every person.”

To join the Episcopal Public Policy Network, click here.

Trump made curbing immigration a centerpiece of his campaign and his administration. Within days of taking office, Trump signed three executive orders cutting funding to so-called sanctuary cities, calling for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and suspending the entry of immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries.

In defense of his separation policy, in a June 19 speech to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, he said: “When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away.”

In anticipation of the executive order, Bishop of New York Andrew M.L. Dietsche issued the following statement:

“I pray that by the time this letter reaches you the hundreds and hundreds of children, including small babies, who have been taken by force from their parents and are currently detained in this country will be returning to their families. People across the political spectrum and faith communities in America are joining in heartbroken and outraged opposition to what may well be the cruelest and least defensible policy decision by an American president and administration in our memory,” he said.

“The recordings and photographs of the children are almost impossible for any caring person to apprehend. I left New York late last week to baptize my youngest grandchild, and as we watched my daughter’s happy, carefree children in their safe home she turned to me and said, ‘I can’t follow this news story. I can’t even open the articles.’ Because it does violence to our eyes and ears, and assault and battery to our hearts. It strikes terror. And it is racist. And it is systematic child abuse.”

The June 21 vigil follows on the annual international observance of World Refugee Day June 20, which is intended to raise awareness to the violence and persecution of refugees worldwide.

Worldwide, an unprecedented 68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes; 24.5 million of them are refugees, half younger than 18. For more than a century, the Episcopal Church has welcomed refugees and has advocated for immigration policies that protect families, offer a path to citizenship and respect the dignity of every human being. Some of this work happens behind the scenes, other times its done in public statements, advocacy and public witness.

On June 19, Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde joined dozens of other female faith leaders outside of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters to pray together and speak out against the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the borders.

“As women of faith, we speak on behalf of mothers and fathers, men and women. We speak on behalf of all Americans who are horrified at the way that migrant families are being forcibly separated at our borders,” she said. “These adults and children have already been traumatized by life-threatening violence in their own countries, and they have made the dangerous journey to our borders in hope of refuge. Yet then when they arrive to the United States, in our name, they are forced apart–the most devastating trauma imaginable for young children and parents.

“I speak today as a disciple of Jesus Christ, who taught us, by his example, to welcome children when they come to us, to welcome, not detain them. He taught us that however we treat the least among us–those most vulnerable and in need of care–is how we treat Christ himself,” she continued.

“Our nation’s immigration policies have been devastating for children for a very long time. The level of cruelty rises with each new policy, thus far without sufficient outrage among the American people to compel our elected officials to change course.”

Unaccompanied minors and families from Central America began arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in record numbers in 2014. The numbers later dropped off, but there’s a new surge happening now at the Southwest border where Customs and Border Control agents have detained more than 252,000 people – 32,371 unaccompanied minors and 59,113 families – over the last eight months. There are some 11,000 unaccompanied minors in federal custody.

The humanitarian crisis at the Southwest border has drawn international condemnation, bipartisan criticism, outrage from American citizens and religious leaders, particularly following Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ and other members of the Trump administrations’ use of scripture to defend its family separation policy.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry signed onto an interfaith statement calling for an end to the Trump administration’s immigration policies. And the presiding bishop has talked about immigration and Jesus’s call to welcome the stranger in mainstream media, including on MSNBC’s AM Joy and The Last Word and has been interviewed in various newspapers.

Bishops throughout the church have criticized the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

“It’s not being political to say America shouldn’t be in the business of breaking up families, it’s Christian. It’s not being political to say America shouldn’t be putting children in kennel style cages, it’s Christian,” said Atlanta Bishop Robert C. Wright, in a June 19 statement.

“It’s not political to say that causing children’s tears and mothers’ fear is the best use of our nations might, it’s Christian. It’s not being political to remember that both Republican and Democratic Presidents previously chose not to separate families while enforcing immigration policy” he said.

“Not being political to remind the U.S. Attorney General that quoting the Book of Romans is fine but, ‘…as you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.’ is probably a more apt guidance for this situation.”

Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely issued the following statement on June 19.

“The Trump administration’s new policy of separating children from their asylum-seeking parents is morally wrong, not in keeping with the teachings of Christianity or other world religions, and should stop.

“Jesus, reiterating the witness of Hebrew and Christian scriptures, calls on us to treat others as we would want to be treated. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor. Christians are called, with many others, to welcome the stranger in our midst. Jesus tells us in St. Matthew’s Gospel (18:4-6), that whoever welcomes a child, welcomes him. And whoever causes harm to such a one is in grave moral danger.

I join my voice with other faith and community leaders around this state and this country in calling for the current family separation policy to end immediately and for children to be reunited with their parents as their lawful application for asylum proceeds.”

And from Texas.

“Families are the bedrock of American society, and our government has the discretion to ensure that young children are not separated from their mothers and fathers and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Separating babies from their mothers is not only unconscionable, it is immoral,” said Texas Bishop Andrew C. Doyle, in June 14 statement.

“Superior orders will not be an ethical defense for the legacy of pain being inflicted upon these children or the violence to families being woven into the fabric of our future. These actions do irreparable harm, are not proportional to the crime, betray our covenant with God in both the Old and New Testaments, subvert American family values, and are patently inhumane.”

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

Anglicans worldwide work to provide support, care for refugees

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 2:44pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] June 20 is World Refugee Day, when the world is called to remember the millions of individuals fleeing their countries as refugees and the millions more internally displaced people stranded within their country with no home to go to.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby released a statement calling on the church to lift up these millions of people in their prayers, and he reflected on ministry to refugees that he had seen on his travels.

“My heart continues to break for over 68 million men, women and children who have risked their lives to escape conflict, violence and oppression,” he said. “In my prayers I also remember the extraordinary welcome and support for refugees that I have seen during visits to Sudan, Uganda, Jordan and other countries. In your prayers today, please take some time to remember what it means that God came to us in the vulnerability of a child whose life was in danger.”

Read the full article here.

Jerusalem archbishop calls for reconciliation among Anglicans

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 2:35pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani has stressed the need for reconciliation amongst Anglicans. Speaking to delegates at the Global Anglican Future Conference, or GAFCON, being held in the city, Dawani spoke of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s work of reconciliation in the Holy Land and emphasized the importance of the Church being one. This message was featured in a homily delivered at an evensong in St George’s Cathedral on June 17 attended by some 200 of the GAFCON participants.

Read the full article here.