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Welby’s Lambeth invite apology smooths way for Anglican Consultative Council to walk together

Sat, 05/04/2019 - 11:55am

Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny is embraced May 4 by Burundian Bishop Eraste Bigirimana, right, and Diocese of Nairobi Bishop Joel Waweru, both of whom opposed a resolution he proposed. Both participated in crafting a compromise that the Anglican Consultative Council unanimously passed. Photo: Paul Feheley/Anglican Communion News Service

[Episcopal News Service — Hong Kong] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, working with others, preserved the unity of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council on May 4 by apologizing for his 2020 Lambeth Conference decisions about bishops in same-sex relationships and agreeing to renew the communion’s 21-year-old promise to listen to the experiences of LGBTQ people.

“I ask your forgiveness where I made mistakes,” Welby said.

The April 28-May 5 meeting came close to breaking down during the afternoon of its last business day, not over the Lambeth Conference, but over the larger issue of how much the council ought to say about the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of the church.

The conflict arose via Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny’s resolution calling on the communion’s Standing Committee to gather information about the provinces’ efforts to listen to people “who have been marginalized due to their human sexuality within the church, society and their respective cultures.”

Full ENS coverage of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council is available here.

The members did not object to that work. However, a number of them refused to accept the resolution’s preamble, which would have reaffirmed “the respect and dignity of persons as Children of God who have been marginalized due to their human sexuality” and state that “they should be fully included in the life of the Anglican Communion.”

The frank but polite debate over the resolution, the intense negotiations that took place during breaks in that debate and the ensuing completely rewritten resolution proved that “in the end, the love of Christ showed through,” Konieczny told Episcopal News Service after the meeting. “We showed that we’re able to have conversation and we’re able to understand one another and that we’re able to compromise.”

“Maybe what little bit of what we did here can be an example for the larger communion and, for those who chose to stay away, that maybe in some way this will help them at least think about coming back.”

Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda did not send members to the ACC-17 meeting. Some bishops have said they will not attend the Lambeth Conference because they object to the theological stances of other bishops and provinces.

The Rev. Michael Barlowe, The Episcopal Church’s clergy member on ACC, called Konieczny’s weeklong effort “courageous.” The Episcopal Church, he said after the meeting, was served well by Konieczny “graciously trying to engage a very controversial subject.”

The entire ACC was gracious during the nearly three hours of debate and negotiation, said Rosalie Ballentine of the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, The Episcopal Church’s lay member.

“It does show that we can disagree in a loving way,” she said. “Some of us in The Episcopal Church sometimes need to learn to step back and realize that it’s really supposed to be about Jesus, about God, about how we walk in faith, as opposed to getting our way. A lot of that was demonstrated today.”

Debating ‘included’ versus ‘welcomed’

The language in the resolution’s preamble touched all the rifts in the communion over sexuality and went too far for some. It got no better when an amendment proposed changing the last clause “they should be fully included in the life of the Anglican Communion” to “they are fully welcomed in the life of the Anglican Communion.”

The members debated the nuances of being “included” or “welcomed,” and whether the understanding of either word changed when translated into other languages.

Konieczny accepted the amendment to move the resolution forward and it passed 38-20, with 17 abstentions.

During the ensuing debate on the resolution, Sudanese Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo said that in his majority-Muslim country “tomorrow the church will be closed” if the ACC agreed to the resolution. “If we pass this resolution, we are sending a very wrong signal” to the church and the world, he said.

Bishop Eraste Bigirimana, from the Burundian Diocese of Bujumbura, said the communion has been divided since Anglicans formally began talking about sexuality at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. The division, he said, comes because not all believe that “the Bible is very clear: fornication is a sin, adultery is a sin, homosexuality is a sin for the Christian.” Bigirimana said “the Bible has to be our reference.”

Diocese of Nairobi Bishop Joel Waweru opposed the resolution because it “sets doctrine,” something the ACC does not do. He said ACC members “have not had any time to discuss issues of human sexuality,” but were now being asked to vote on a resolution about it. And, Waweru argued, the resolution ought to be expanded to include people who have suffered discrimination for any reason.

“As one coming from the global south,” the bishop said he agreed with others who worried that passing the resolution would give fodder to conservative Anglicans, prompting even more of them to boycott the 2020 Lambeth Conference.

Canadian Diocese of Edmonton Bishop Jane Alexander told her colleagues that the ACC resolution simply reminded the church about the yet-unfulfilled commitment the 1998 Lambeth Conference made via Resolution 1.10 to listen to LGBTQ people.

If the ACC cannot reaffirm the respect and dignity of those who have been marginalized due to their human sexuality, she said, “then my heart is broken and we’ve broken our Baptismal Covenant,” and “we didn’t mean a word” of a Code of Conduct, which members passed at the start of the meeting that contains a similar statement.

Near the end of nearly 45-minute debate, Konieczny said he would not support a proposal that was made to delete the entire preamble. He said he worked on the resolution all week and accepted “multiple revisions” because he was conscious of the differences that ACC members represent.

“I’m distressed. My heart is broken. My faith is challenged that” the council cannot affirm the statement made in the week-old Code of Conduct and “that we want to send a message to the world that we will respect you at a distance, but you’re not welcome. This is not the body of Christ in which I belong.”

For the ACC to debate whether anyone was a child of God and welcome in the church “is beyond my understanding,” he said, adding that 50 percent of the geographical areas of the member churches “disenfranchise, incarcerate and execute people who differ in their human sexuality, yet we say nothing.’

“Instead, we’re worried about the politics instead of the people.”

After the members paused to pray, ACC Vice Chair Margaret Swinson ruled that the proposal to delete the preamble “destroys the spirit in which this motion was offered too much” for her to exercise her discretion to allow it to come to a vote.

During the afternoon tea break, an increasingly large group of ACC members gathered around the Archbishop of Canterbury and Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny as they stood below the dais in the council’s meeting room, searching for compromise. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

Welby suggested that the council pause for table group discussion. That pause led into what became a nearly 50-minute “tea break” during which various combinations of members and staff huddled, sometimes joined by Konieczny, trying to craft a compromise. Welby was often at the center. Waweru and Konieczny worked together at one point, Waweru with his hand on Konieczny’s back as he sat and read the final proposal.

With that draft in hand, Swinson asked the members to listen to Welby and decide if they could accept it as a compromise. He reminded the members that the Anglican Communion has fiercely disagreed in the past about contraception, divorce and women’s ordination. “So, we must not panic” about the current chapter in the communion’s the nearly 30-year-old debate about sexual identity.

The archbishop of Canterbury is known as the “focus of unity” for the ACC, Lambeth Conference and the Primates Meeting. In that spirit, Welby said it is his “fault and my responsibility” that certain people are upset because some people were invited to the 2020 Lambeth Conference and others were not.

“It may be that at the end of time, I will understand that I got that wrong, and I will answer for it in one respect or another on the day of judgement,” he said. “Where I handled it badly, which I am sure I did, for one group or another, I want to apologize to you because I have not helped the communion, either for those who are concerned by who was invited or those who are concerned by who was not invited.

“I ask your forgiveness where I made mistakes.”

Diocese of Nairobi Bishop Joel Waweru, standing at left, keeps his hand on Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny’s shoulder as the latter reads the language of a possible compromise that threatened to derail the last business session of ACC-17. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby stands reading at Konieczny’s left, Bishop of Lambeth Tim Thorton is at his right and next to Thornton is Lambeth Palace Assistant Chief of Staff Stephen Knott. ACC Vice Chair Margaret Swinson, at right, talks with ACC legal advisor Darren Oliver while Bishop Anthony Poggo leans over the table. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

The compromise wording, which came to the council as an amendment by Waweru, notes “with concern the pattern of invitations to the Lambeth Conference 2020” and asks Welby to put in place a listening process “with supportive and independent facilitation in order to hear the concerns and voices of people especially those who have felt themselves marginalized with regard to their sexuality.”

Welby must also organize the collection of the work already done in the communion since Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 called for such a process. He is to report to the Standing Committee and ACC-18 in 2022. Lastly, the resolution asks him to report to both groups about “all issues of discrimination” across the communion.

After his apology and explanation of Waweru’s amendment, Welby apologized in French and translated the amendment into French. He asked Diocese of Northern Argentina Nick Drayson to translate both into Spanish and Diocese of Central Tanganyika Bishop Dickson Chilongani to do the same in Swahili. Members for whom English is not their first language have struggled throughout the meeting from the lack of any formal interpretation or translation services.

“Out of respect and love and affection for our archbishop and out of love and affection for our member churches, and especially for my brothers in the global south, and for the unity of the church,” Konieczny said that he was “willing to accept this amendment from my brother, Joel.”

Struggling to speak, he said he wanted his “brother bishops in the south” to know that “we are willing to talk, and walk in unity and love together, and encourage them to come and meet with us.”

Waweru’s amendment passed 83-0 with three abstentions in a straw poll meant to test its strength. Waweru, Chilongani and Bigirimana came to Konieczny to hug him. Konieczny kissed Waweru’s hand as the members began to sing “Bless the Lord, my soul.”

The council formally convened and passed the amended resolution “by general consent.”

The resolution, titled “The dignity of human beings,” says

”The Anglican Consultative Council

  1. notes with concern the pattern of invitations to the Lambeth Conference 2020 and requests that the Archbishop of Canterbury as a focus of unity ensures that a listening process is put in place with supportive and independent facilitation in order to hear the concerns and voices of people especially those who have felt themselves marginalized with regard to sexuality. The Archbishop of Canterbury will also be responsible for compiling all the work done in this area across the Anglican Communion since Lambeth 1998 and reporting to the Standing Committee [of the ACC] and ACC18.
  2. requests the Archbishop of Canterbury to look at all issues of discrimination across the Anglican Communion and make recommendations to the Standing Committee and to report back to ACC18.”

The council later rejected a previously filed resolution that would have asked Welby to consider establishing a theological task group to clarify the core identity and boundaries of the Anglican Communion in the 21st century. Konieczny said he feared the resolution’s actual intent was to create a body with the power to declare “who’s in and who’s out in the Anglican Communion.”

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

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Episcopal delegation represents the church at UN meeting on indigenous issues

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 1:26pm

Lynnaia Main, far right, the Episcopal Church’s representative to the United Nations, poses for a photo with the four-member Episcopal delegation to the 18th United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: from left, Melissa Skinner, Ron Braman, the Rev. Cornelia Eaton and the Rev. Bradley Hauff, Episcopal Church missioner for indigenous ministries. Photo courtesy of Lynnaia Main

[Episcopal News Service] An Episcopal delegation is wrapping up its participation in the annual two-week meeting of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, where for the first time an Episcopal delegate was able to speak on the floor of the main gathering.

Ron Braman from the Diocese of Idaho, one of four Episcopalians representing Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at U.N. headquarters in New York, read a statement May 1 that he had drafted with the Rev. Bradley Hauff, Episcopal Church missioner for indigenous ministries, and the rest of the delegation.

“The Episcopal Church counts among its 2 million members many indigenous people from over 50 tribal nations in the United States, Honduras, Ecuador and Colombia,” Braman said in his three-minute speech. He also said The Episcopal Church has been at the forefront of efforts to repudiate the centuries-old Doctrine of Discovery that once was used to oppress indigenous people in the name of spreading Christianity.

“The Episcopal Church is engaged in works of reconciliation with indigenous peoples in the United States and throughout the world,” Braman said, and he noted the growing number of Native-language translations of the Book of Common Prayer.

The purpose of the Permanent Forum is to allow indigenous people to provide expert advice to global leaders through the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council, or ECOSOC, and to inform U.N. agencies working on a variety of international issues, from human rights to the environment.

This year, the 18th meeting of the Permanent Forum was held April 22 to May 3. The theme was “Traditional knowledge: Generation, transmission and protection.”

The Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer translations are part of global efforts to preserve Native languages, which factor significantly in promotion of traditional knowledge and sustainability of indigenous cultures.

“Words can create and transform reality. Therefore, languages are much more than communication tools; they are tools to transmit culture and history,” U.N. General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés said in her speech on April 22, the Permanent Forum’s opening day. “The indigenous languages are unique knowledge systems to understand the world.”

Lynnaia Main, the Episcopal Church’s representative to the United Nations, called Braman’s speech this week a “historic moment” for The Episcopal Church. As an ECOSOC-accredited nongovernmental organization, the church has submitted statements to the Permanent Forum in 2015, 2016 and 2017, but until now, the Episcopal delegation had not been high enough on the speaker’s list to read its statement directly to the U.N. body.

Ron Braman of the Diocese of Idaho attended nearly the full two weeks of the 18th United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Photo: The Episcopal Church, via Facebook

Hauff, who is Lakota, and Braman, of the Eastern Shoshone tribe, were joined by the Rev. Cornelia Eaton of The Episcopal Church in Navajoland and Melissa Skinner, who is Dakota and an Episcopalian from the Diocese of South Dakota.

Main told the Episcopal News Service in an email that the delegates had a productive time “deepening their knowledge of the interaction between indigenous peoples and the U.N. system” and delving into “the role The Episcopal Church has been playing there since 2012, and brainstorming about various means of representation and advocacy for this year’s forum and beyond.”

Highlights for Skinner included several side events on topics ranging from language revitalization and sacred site desecration to the effects of deforestation and water pollution on indigenous people.

“One of the most interesting sessions was a group from California, how they felt they were losing their language but worked or are working together to bring it back,” Skinner said by email. “They shared that it’s beneficial [and] important to start with our children, our babies, as they’re not only our future but they learn quickly, and it’s easier than adults learning what could be a second language.” It reminded her of a school in South Dakota where 3-year-olds are taught the Lakota language.

The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was formed by U.N. resolution in 2000 to focus on indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. Its first meeting was held in 2002.

The Episcopal Church has made a deliberate effort in recent decades to welcome Native Episcopalians into fuller participation in the church and to atone for its role in past injustices. In the 1800s, Episcopal missionaries ministered to American Indian tribes, but conversion to Christianity typically required leaving Native spirituality behind.

General Convention resolutions starting at least as far back as the 1970s sought to support Native American land claims and human rights. A 1997 resolution specifically called on the church to “take such steps as necessary to fully recognize and welcome Native Peoples into congregational life.”

And in 2009, General Convention repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, rooted in a 1493 document that purported to give Christian explorers the right to claim lands they “discovered” and convert the people they encountered.

Today, the church works to “promote love, liberation and the giving of life, as experienced within the Jesus Movement, to the indigenous people of the world,” Hauff said in an emailed statement. “This involves acknowledging, repudiating and taking responsibility for the tragic effects of the Doctrine of Discovery on indigenous people. It entails standing with them in their struggle for justice and including them and hearing their voices in the corridors of influence within the church and the world.

“Our work at the United Nations, particularly at the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, is a necessary and important part of that.”

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

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Anglican Consultative Council Digest: May 2 and 3

Fri, 05/03/2019 - 11:12am

Members of the Anglican Consultative Council posed May 2 outside their meeting room in the Gold Coast Hotel for a group photo. The ACC is composed of bishops, clergy and laypeople, making it the communion’s most representative body. The Episcopal Church’s ACC members are Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny, the Rev. Michael Barlowe and Rosalie Ballentine of the Diocese of the Virgin Islands. (Clicking on the photo will enlarge the view.) Of the 99 members present at the 17th meeting of the ACC, 69 are male and 30 are female. More than half are new members. Fifty-six are ordained and 43 are lay. Of the 56 ordained members, nine are women. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] During the Anglican Consultative Council’s 17th meeting here, a number of things happen. In addition to Episcopal News Service’s other coverage, here are some additional highlights from May 2 and 3.

New ACC youth members pose questions to three bishops

Canadian Diocese of Edmonton Bishop Jane Alexander answers a question May 2 from two of the new youth members of the Anglican Consultative Council while Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Southern Africa Archbishop Thabo Makgoba listen. Youth members Isaac Beach of New Zealand, far left, and Basetsana Makena of South Africa, second from left, posed the questions. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

For the first time this ACC meeting includes eight youth members from five regions across the Anglican Communion. The communion’s standing committee agreed to a request from ACC-16 to allow such membership.

On May 2, youth members Isaac Beach of New Zealand and Basetsana Makena of South Africa conducted a panel discussion with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Southern Africa Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and Canadian Diocese of Edmonton Bishop Jane Alexander, posing questions the two said they distilled from conversations with their other youth colleagues.

Makena led off the session asking if the three were satisfied with the fact that the youth members plus three other young people who serve as province-specific members make up 14 percent of the council.

“We’re a work in progress,” Makgoba said, adding that the church needs to diversify its leadership structure to include more youth and women as well as other minorities and races. Alexander said that, while she was not satisfied with the percentage, “it’s amazing to see the youth delegates participating fully in the life of the ACC … but in terms of us really hearing that voice and that passion, I don’t think we’re there yet.”

Welby cautioned that in the Church of England, and probably elsewhere in the communion, “we think youth involvement in the church means sitting on committees,” while true involvement in the church is about “people going out and changing the world.” He said he is wary of “ending up with a series of quotas which would mean that we have identity politics,” but when the effort to change the world only “looks like we’re going out as a bunch of middle-aged white men, then we need to ask ourselves some serious questions about why we’re neglecting the vast majority of the church.”

However, Welby said, “simply putting people on more committees is necessarily not a good answer to the problem.” What empowers young people is “the liberation of people of all ages in ministry and witness and transformation and activism in the right sense, that is being active in the service of Christ, and of deepening religious life.”

ACC-17 members continue their work on resolutions

Council members passed eight resolutions on May 3 from a current list of 24 resolutions.

The council is not actually voting on resolutions, rather they assent. “Are you content to give your general assent to this resolution?” the chair of each session asks the members and does not ask for dissenting voices.

Those attending ACC-17 were encouraged to wear black on May 2. The Anglican Communion supports the World Council of Churches’ Thursdays in Black campaign. https://www.oikoumene.org/en/get-involved/thursdays-in-black The effort urges people “to declare you are part of the global movement resisting attitudes and practices that permit rape and violence.” The organization notes that “often black has been used with negative racial connotations. In this campaign black is used as a color of resistance and resilience.” Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The nine resolutions agreed to on May 3 were ones:

* calling for continued support of the colleges and universities of the Anglican Communion;

* encouraging networks to improve theological education in the Anglican Communion;

* affirming support of the International Anglican Women’s Network and women’s ministries;

* recognizing that there is a global climate emergency, encouraging member churches to make the Fifth Mark of Mission (To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth) “a living testament to our faith” and encouraging the Lambeth Conference 2020 to be as environmentally sustainable as possible;

* calling for work to develop an Anglican Health Network;

* affirming the work of the Anglican Alliance and encouraging provinces to support it;

* commending the emphasis on intentional discipleship and disciple-making in the Anglican Communion Office’s strategic plan and asking the Mission Department to develop a resource hub “to support and equip the culture change in the communion towards intentional sharing and living a Jesus-shaped life; and

* encouraging member churches to invest in pathways to education and employment for young lay people.

ACC members passed five resolutions on May 1, four dealing with welcoming and commending for study statements from some of the communion’s ecumenical dialogues and one concerning safe-church practices. The actions on May 1 and May 3 leave 11 resolutions for May 4, the last day of business sessions for ACC-17. The meeting ends with local parish visits during the morning of May 5 and a joint closing Eucharist that afternoon.

ACC members pray over ‘public statements’ of concern

On May 3, council members also prayed about each of six so-called “public statements” and then spent time in group prayer for the six together. The statements, which could be submitted by any member, are in Archbishop of Hong Kong and ACC Chair Paul Kwong’s words, “expressions of solidarity for particularly concerning or troubling situations around our communion.” They are not the same as formal resolutions.

Full ENS coverage of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council is available here.

They included ones which:

* express sorrow for and support of Sri Lankans following the Easter terrorist attacks, and calls on the government, civil society and people of faith to work together to counter any escalating tensions and promote the safety of all citizens of and visitors to Sri Lanka;

* encourage Anglicans to pray for the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution on the Conflict in South Sudan; for forgiveness, reconciliation and peaceful co-existence among the South Sudanese people, and for support for relief and rehabilitation for internally displaced persons and refugees;

* declares solidarity with the Sudanese people, calls for a peaceful transition to civilian democratic government and the protection of religious freedom especially for the Christian community, urges the international community to support refugees and internally displaced people and their communities, and asks Anglicans to pray for peace and the empowerment of the vulnerable;

* support peace on the Korean peninsula;

* laments continuing tensions between Pakistan and India, gives thanks that hostilities between the countries were de-escalated in February, implores all of both nations to pursue peace and encourages the growth of mutuality and trust in the body of Christ for the Christian churches in each country; and

* laments the natural and humanitarian disaster caused by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, calls Anglicans to send messages of solidarity to the people of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe and to offer practical support through the appropriate relief agencies.

Council voting on standing committee members

The primates on the communion’s Standing Committee are, left to right, Archbishop Philip Freier (The Anglican Church of Australia), Archbishop Paul Kwong (ACC chair, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui), Archbishop Thabo Makgoba (The Anglican Church of Southern Africa), Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Archbishop Julio Murray Thompson (The Anglican Church in Central America), Archbishop Suheil Dawani (The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & The Middle East) and Archbishop Richard Clarke (The Church of Ireland). Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The ACC voted May 3 from among seven nominees for three open seats on the communion’s 15-member Standing Committee.

The council used a secret ballot ranked-voting method in which each member ranked the candidates in order of choice. The nominees were the Rev. Inamar Correa de Souza (The Episcopal Church of Brazil), Joyce Haji Liundi (The Anglican Church of Tanzania), Basetsana Makena (The Anglican Church of South Africa), the Very Rev. Hosam Naoum (The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East), Carlos Romero (Anglican Church of Chile), the Archbishop Prem Chand Singh (The Church of North India) and Fe’iloakitau Kaho Tevi (The Anglican Church Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia).

As the voting process was about to be explained, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby raised a point of order, noting that the fact that materials about the nominees, the process and the ballot were in English, thus “insisting that [members] use English when either they may not read or understand English, or it’s their second or third or even fourth language.”

“Thank you, Your Grace,” responded Darren Oliver, the ACC’s legal adviser, suggesting that the council pause after his explanation of the process so that those who need it can have a “more detailed explanation or translation, if necessary.”

There are no official interpreters at the meeting, which is being conducted in English. Earlier in the week, Chief Operating Officer David White acknowledged that “for a very large number of people here, English is not your first language.” Most documents are available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, something that was not true at ACC meetings in the past.

However, White said, it would have cost the communion office $10,000-15,000 per person to provide interpretation services to those who need it. “We wanted to be able to offer translation service for everybody who needed a certain language translation in order to better understand our business,” he said. “The reality is there are so relatively few of you who have told us that you are not able to follow the meeting that that became financially impossible.”

White said those members were asked to “bring somebody with you and we will deal with translations that way.”

The election results will be announced the morning of May 4, ACC-17’s last business day.

The current ACC members on the Standing Committee are Archbishop Paul Kwong (ACC chair, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui), Maggie Swinson (ACC vice chair, The Church of England), Bishop Jane Alexander (Anglican Church of Canada), Alistair Dinnie (The Scottish Episcopal Church), Jeroham Melendez (The Anglican Church in Central America) and Bishop Joel Waweru (The Anglican Church of Kenya).

Five primates are elected by their peers to sit on the Standing Committee: Archbishop Richard Clarke (The Church of Ireland), Archbishop Suheil Dawani (The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & The Middle East) Archbishop Philip Freier (The Anglican Church of Australia), Archbishop Thabo Makgoba (The Anglican Church of Southern Africa) and Archbishop Julio Murray Thompson (Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America). Welby is also a member.

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

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Q &A with Justin Welby: Trump, Brexit, China, colonialism, prayer

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 6:43pm

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spent about 70 minutes the evening of May 1, the fourth day of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Hong Kong, answering questions from ACC members and staff. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Hong Kong] During an evening Q&A session here May 1, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby gave his thoughts on a wide range of issues, including President Donald Trump, Brexit, the Anglican church’s colonial legacy, the efficacy of being a leader of the United Kingdom’s established church, the future of the church, his recent visit to China and his prayer life.

He also addressed his decision to exclude the same-sex spouses of bishops invited to the 2020 Lambeth Conference, the second time he has done so since arriving here for the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. Episcopal News Service’s coverage of that part of the session is here.

The 70-minute session was on the record. However, reporters were prohibited from attributing questions to the askers. What follows is an edited collection of Welby’s replies to some of those questions.

Question: How can President Donald Trump enforce a harsh immigration policy and then go to St John’s Lafayette Square, an Episcopal church near the White House, and “we welcome him as if nothing has happened?”

“I’m very careful about trespassing on other countries, but I think as Christians we have an absolute obligation to speak for justice, but we also have an obligation to speak for justice in a way that people can hear. And that is much more complicated.”

Welby said he knows that often at St. John’s “the priests are very direct in their preaching because there’s been comment on it.”

“Jesus came to bring sinners to repentance and there’s not one of us that isn’t a sinner, all of us. I do things as the archbishop of Canterbury that I wake up in the middle of the night doubled up in pain at the thought that I did that thing because I’m so ashamed.”

“I don’t know President Trump at all. I know he’s the president of the United States of America and because I respect the United States of America, I respect the presidency. If I were to say anything [to him], which I will never have the opportunity to do, I would say it to his face, not behind his back.”

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation, and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry belt out the Lord’s Prayer in front of the White House on May 24, 2018. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Welby said he knows that The Episcopal Church has spoken strongly and frequently about the administration’s policies. He was “hugely impressed” by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s participation in a vigil outside the White House in May 2018 just a few days after he preached at the royal wedding (where, Welby noted, Curry’s “incredible sermon” ran 13 minutes and 10 seconds, “which I understand is seven Curry minutes”).

Welby recalled an interview in which Curry said of Trump, “He’s my president and I pray for him every day.”

“That’s what I would say: pray, respect the office and be clear about the nature of what is justice. Let’s not descend into ad hominem, personalized attacks. I think that’s where it goes wrong because we demean them, but we don’t like to be demeaned ourselves. ”

Question: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an established church? Do you see a time when the Church of England will be disestablished?

“I am not a politician, but I am enough of a politician to know that you never say never.”

“What are the advantages? I think we would notice it if we weren’t established in terms of less ability to speak clearly in the public square. We do have a huge right to speak in the public square in the U.K.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion

The disadvantage is “we have duties and obligations. We’re seen as the umbrella for all churches and all faiths, in other words, we’re expected to speak for those of faith, as well as those of Christian faith, and that’s sometimes complicated. It sometimes constrains us, but I think it constrains us very helpfully because it calls us to think very, very hard.”

“It’s not that it constrains us to be pro-government,” Welby said, noting that the bishops who sit in the House of Lords, which includes himself, tend to “vote three times against the government for every time they vote for it.”

“We are people through whom things are done. We educate a million children in state-run schools that are operated by the church under the local parish. I think the balance is that it’s good for us and I really think that it’s very good for the country because it says human beings are more than merely material. It says that the constitution recognizes that we are under God.

“The first thing that the queen did at her coronation in 1952 was walk straight past her throne up to the high altar of Westminster Abbey, kneel and pray silently. Then she went back to the throne, sat down and received homage from the political leaders of the country. She paid her homage to God and then people paid homage to her.”

Question: Can you share with us your role and your vision about the indigenous church and the legacy of colonialism?

“There is a very long history of colonialism” in his family, Welby said, explaining that on his mother’s side, he was the first to be born in the England rather than India since the end of the 18th century. He was raised by his grandmother, who was born in India in 1906 and who “shaped my vision.” She favored India’s independence and she told him she was the only English woman willing to nurse Indian troops with dysentery on the Burma Front during World War II.

Full ENS coverage of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council is available here.

“I was brought up with this attitude that colonialism was bad. That although there were good people in the empire who sought to serve … the principle of imperialism, of colonialism, was deeply wicked. When you come to the Anglican Communion, it seems to me that we have to recognize that it is inherited from the colonial legacy.

“That is why I am so keen on saying we are a family of churches and the archbishop of Canterbury  is the first among equals – among equals. I would hope that sooner rather than later it is possible for people outside the British Isles to be archbishop of Canterbury. It’s a long and complicated process and there’s no point in rushing these things. It’s very dangerous to do that.

“My vision is that, more and more, we become an effective, equal family of churches in which the imperial legacy is only history and a sad history at that.”

Question: What are your thoughts about Brexit?

“Is the press listening? Are you kidding me?” Welby began.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion

He is “ashamed” that he “didn’t listen well enough” and so assumed the vote would go the other way. “We didn’t listen carefully enough,” he said. “So, I’ve become much more cautious in trying to listen harder to the cries of pain from the poor and marginalized, and those shut out.”

“The vote has been taken and I think we have to listen to the vote,” but the issue of establishing a hard border between the Republic of Ireland, which was not part of the vote, and Northern Ireland, which was but did not favor exiting the European Union must be addressed.

“We have to have reconciliation … and that’s going to be unbelievable difficult. How as yet, I don’t think anyone knows. I sit in Parliament and I listen to MPs (members of Parliament) at all levels. I find members of Parliament in the most profound emotional distress. We’re asking them to make the most difficult decision that any British Parliament has had to make since probably during [the Great Labor Unrest of 1910-1914 ]. We need to pray for them and love them and support them because a lot of them are being pushed to the very of endurance.

“I’m not naïve [about the Ireland border issue] and I don’t see a way forward at the moment but in a sense, it’s not my job. Our job is to be those who make peace.”

Question: What is your personal discipline of prayer?

“I got into trouble the last time I answered that,” Welby replied, referring to an interview he gave in January in which he said he prayed in tongues every day.

Sister Patricia Sibusisiwe, of the ACC-17 Chaplain Team and a member of the Community of the Holy Name in South Africa, asks Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby a question during the May 1 session. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

“I’m an early riser and I spend it with Scriptures, and in meditative prayer with the Scriptures. I work though the Bible steadily and systematically, always with an up-to-date commentary, often with one I disagree with because it really matters that it provokes you into thinking.”

“Then I go for a run and I use that for a very systematic time of intercession,” beginning with confession and then prayer for family, colleagues at Lambeth Palace, the Church of England, the upcoming Lambeth Conference, those who lead the congregations and diocese he used to lead, and the five people he has committed to pray for via the Thy Kingdom Come effort.

“I intersperse each section with praise because my spiritual director taught me to do that, expressions of love and praise for God.”

“And then finally I pray for myself. I spend time in between each section telling Jesus, ‘Thank you and I love you.’ And sometimes it goes well and sometimes it goes badly, but it’s what I do.”

He attends both Morning Prayer, daily Eucharist and Evening Prayer. He also tries to have 45 minutes of “silent prayer before the Sacrament” and often prays Compline.

“It’s pretty undramatic.”

“And I’m learning when I wake in the night, to pray.”

Question: Why did you visit the People’s Republic of China for a second time just before this ACC meeting?

“It’s 1.2 billion people. It’s very soon going to have the world’s largest economy. It’s rapidly becoming one of the world’s great military powers. It is a great civilization with profound intelligence within it and thoughtfulness and creativity, and a million other things that are good. Historically, it has only been for the last 150 years that it has not been the world’s greatest economy.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Photo: Neil Vigers/Anglican Communion

“It has a huge church. The official, registered Protestant church is about 35 million people, according to the [government] minister who I saw last week. The official Catholic Church is, I think about 20 [million people] and there are loads of arguments about the unregistered, the underground church, but from what I hear it could more or less double those figures.”

“Christianity is good for China. It brings stability. It brings harmony, peace, the love of those who are vulnerable, particularly the elderly. And Christianity has to have a Chinese face.”

The Christian church has grown since 1951 when the Protestant churches were officially combined and membership numbered about one million, Welby said. “And they’ve done that through difficulties and the Cultural Revolution [1966-76] and all kinds of things. We have so much to learn. They’re our sisters and brothers in Christ.”

“Don’t just leave it to the big international traders and commerce companies to be interested in China. Of all the dumb things to do, that is about the dumbest thing I can think of. We want to bless China.”

“Let’s work with Chinese Christians to exchange ideas. I think we have some things to contribute in terms of training for clergy and laity… I think we could learn from them this passion for Christ in great simplicity. I think we learn from them how to be a blessing to the country you’re in. I’m utterly gripped and fascinated by that country.”

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

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Archbishop of Canterbury visits social justice ministry while in Hong Kong for ACC-17

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 2:50pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] While in Hong Kong for the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby took a break May 1 to see discipleship in action by meeting with Jackie Pullinger at the Shing Mun Springs Multi-Purpose Rehabilitation Homes.

Pullinger travelled from England to Hong Kong more than 50 years ago and initially began work as a school teacher in the Kowloon Walled City. At that time in the 1960s, it was one of the world’s largest opium-producing centers and was run by criminal triad gangs. In 1967, Jackie founded a youth club to help addicts and others who had been abused find a safe place for them to meet and play. Over many years, it grew it into a major social justice ministry and is overseen by the St. Stephen’s Society.

Read the full article here.

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Alabamians, Episcopalians battle it out over gumbo

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 2:05pm

Toni North and the Birmingham Soul Sisters won the 2018 Chef’s Choice Seafood Award at the 2018 Gumbo Gala, the biggest Episcopal event in Alabama. Photo: Sara Walker

[Episcopal News Service] After Hurricane Katrina disrupted people’s lives across the Gulf Coast, inland cities welcomed the displaced and strangers offered shelter and services. For some evacuees to Birmingham, the hospitality became permanent, and the influx led to a hugely successful Episcopal fundraising event celebrating the distinctive comfort food called gumbo.

At least 3,000 partiers are expected May 4 for the Gumbo Gala, now in its 14th year as the largest Episcopal event in Alabama. The Gumbo Gala annually raises $100,000 for Episcopal Place, which provides 141 units of affordable housing and independent living in Birmingham for seniors and adults with disabilities.

According to Episcopal Place’s history, a “mustard seed” started all this in the 1970s when an elderly Episcopalian wrote to then-Bishop Furman Stough about being no longer able to live by herself and with no place to go. The gumbo competition that started in the wake of Katrina today enables Episcopal Place to care for older adults with fixed or limited incomes who cannot afford rising apartment rents or maintain a home.

Holy Apostles Episcopal Church vied for the Most Divine Gumbo trophy and the Spirit Award at the 2018 Gumbo Gala. Photo: Sara Walker

Get the dog!

In August 2005 as Hurricane Katrina approached the Mississippi coast, Lynnes Thompson told his wife Linda, “Get the dog! We’re gone.” The storm destroyed their home as the couple headed to family in Birmingham, 350 miles northeast of New Orleans.

Because Linda Thompson has chronic health issues, the couple needed somewhere stable near medical facilities, like Episcopal Place. Within a month, they and their dog moved in, as did three other couples from Katrina’s path.

“For these survivors, initially it was about shelter and food, then it was dealing with emotional and mental health issues,” recalled Episcopal Place social worker Shannon Atchenson. “One couple had lost a dog. There was some depression and anxiety. We wanted to give residents a sense of belonging, because when you’ve lost your home, that’s important.”

Residents don’t have to pay for supportive services like transportation, food delivery and pet care; those are covered by donations to the Episcopal Church Foundation and volunteers. With need rising in the hurricane aftermath, Episcopal Place knew “we weren’t going to get support from the government for the Katrina people or for anyone,” Atchenson said.

Meanwhile, as a way of settling in, Lynnes Thompson, a Baptist, began a nondenominational Bible study at Episcopal Place.

“Episcopal Place has done more than their part for all of us,” said Lynnes Thompson, now 78. “It’s quite expensive to operate a place like this that’s so good.”

Food prep at the 2018 Gumbo Gala, the biggest Episcopal event in Alabama. Photo: Sara Walker

Rising water, changing direction

A year before Katrina, Hurricane Ivan had flooded Episcopal Place. Staff sent out an SOS, and Episcopal Place’s activities and volunteer coordinator Amanda Ward recruited her classmate Matt Ennis. The power was out at his corporate job, so he didn’t mind wet vacuuming the flood water at Episcopal Place.

Volunteering that day made him realize that he wanted to work closer with people in need. The next day Ennis quit his job; and was a volunteer supporting Ward’s fundraising efforts at Episcopal Place when Katrina hit.

“Amanda and I had seen how a chili cook-off was a good business model, because you charge people to cook and to eat,” said Ennis, a member of All Saints. “We had these new residents from Hurricane Katrina, so how about gumbo?”

Despite running out of the main attraction, the first Gumbo Gala raised almost $10,000 for Episcopal Place, with jazz and a second line parade that celebrated the Gulf Coast evacuees. Over time, it created even more community pride as Episcopal Place residents competed with their own gumbos, and felt supported by their Birmingham neighbors.

Ennis married Ward in 2007, built a nonprofit fundraising firm and every year gathers their two kids and assorted relatives and friends to compete in the Gumbo Gala. His stinky secret to prize-winning gumbo is the rich seafood broth he prepares in advance with discarded fish scraps from a seafood market.

“Call it a progressive mindset or a sense of social justice, but when Episcopalians get an opportunity like this to help, they just do it,” said Ennis.

The Wednesday Morning Sinners team from All Saints’ Episcopal Church has competed in all 14 years of the Gumbo Gala, the biggest Episcopal event in Alabama. Photo: Sara Walker

Easy to rue/ruin the roux

Early on, St. Luke’s and St. Mary’s were the church teams to beat in the quest for the Most Divine Gumbo, which is determined by the palate of Alabama Bishop Kee Sloan and two local priests. Church of the Ascension called its team the Gumbo Filers, a nod to filé, the powdered sassafras originally used by Native Americans that gives gumbo its flavor. One of the church’s members, Nancy Sharp, lives at Episcopal Place and competes on the team.

The Gumbo Filers twice have won the first-place trophy (an engraved golden stockpot) behind the leadership of professional chef John Wilson, who first tasted gumbo while apprenticing in New Orleans.

“It’s so hard to describe gumbo because it’s an entity unto itself,” he said. “You have to be in the South and taste a lot of gumbo to understand. Everyone makes it their own way and it’s all wildly different. It’s so complex that you need the first few spoonfuls to try to appreciate what’s going on.”

Originally from Boston, Wilson maintains that the heart and soul of any decent gumbo is the roux (pronounced “rue”), a thickener of flour and fat that originated in French cooking. At least one Gumbo Filer will keep a constant eye on the roux. “It needs to be a deep dark color, like roasted chestnuts,” Wilson said. “If you can get it to that point without burning it, you are going to have a good gumbo.”

To the roux, his team will add broth, meat (this year it’s smoked duck) and locally-grown vegetables diced the day before. Their competition entry is 15 to 20 gallons, some of this and some of that, making a sum that is greater than its parts. For Wilson, the multiplying effect (more fish focused, less on loaves) reflects Episcopal outreach.

“Gumbo is typical of what we do and who we are: We help people in need,” Wilson said. “Cooking is what I do, so that’s what I contribute.”

The Rev. Katy Smith Katy Smith (center) volunteers at the 2018 Gumbo Gala, the biggest Episcopal event in Alabama. Photo: Sara Walker

These pit crews tend fires, not change tires 

Competitive cooking for charity draws well in the South, especially in the months between college football seasons. While only the churches compete for the Most Divine Gumbo prize, the Gumbo Gala has divisions for professional chefs, amateur cooks and student teams.

Wilson directs the culinary arts program at nearby Wallace State Community College, which sends a team of chefs-in-training to compete in the Gumbo Gala’s student competition. So will their rival, Jefferson State Community College.

“I think we have an edge on them because I’ve won this a couple of times and know what the judges are looking for,” Wilson said. “It’s about layers of flavor and how you’ve put that together. The judges are pretty experienced professionals with good palates, and they can taste those layers.”

Members of the Dodd Squad Gumbo Cooking Team, representing the Dodd Law Firm, compete in the 2018 Gumbo Gala, the biggest Episcopal event in Alabama. Photo: Sara Walker

This year, 15 churches will compete in a field of 35 to 40 teams. All Saints’ Episcopal Church will send two teams: the Young Adults and the Wednesday Morning Sinners, a team of retired men who have competed in every Gumbo Gala, a 14-year streak. A newcomer in the professional division is Bright Star, in operation since 1907 as Alabama’s oldest restaurant (its seafood gumbo sells for $4.75 a cup and $6.75 a bowl).

“Despite all of the spirited debates and hoopla of which gumbo is best, one thing is for sure: this delicious comfort food that calls Southerners back home is made up of many different ingredients that all arrive from many different places, much like Episcopal Place and the Church,” Whitehurst said.

“Each ingredient is wonderful on its own and when they all come together to make gumbo, something magical happens. In that regard, we are proud Episcopalians who come from many backgrounds, with many ideas and understandings of God’s word. Gumbo Gala started 14 years ago with a mission, much like Episcopal Place. Mission begins with the breath of God, and it is through helping others that we experience his boundless love.”

 — Michelle Hiskey is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and member of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church.

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