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African Anglicans host discussion on how to support bishops in their ministry

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:22pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] How can the church offer support and training to bishops as they both enter into and develop in their ministry? That was the question being discussed at a round-table meeting organized in Nairobi, Kenya, by the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa and the Anglican mission agency USPG. The discussion arose from an impact report on work undertaken by USPG in its Episcopal Accompaniment program, which found that being a bishop can often be lonely and challenging.

Read the full article here.

Anglican priest leads local earthquake relief efforts in Mexico after losing her home

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 1:14pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglicans in Mexico are continuing to support the victims of September’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake. And in the Morelos-State town of Jojutla, parish priest the Rev. Ericka Fierro is spearheading the support, even though she lost her house in the quake and was advised to leave the town and take shelter in the diocesan office. Fierro rejected the offer of sanctuary and stayed behind with her 8-year-old daughter, Kissel. 370 people were killed in the earthquake – 228 of them in Mexico City.

Read the full article here.

Brian Lee Cole ordained and consecrated as fifth bishop of East Tennessee

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:28am

Bishops lay hands on the Rt. Rev. Brian Cole to ordain and consecrate him Dec. 2 as the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee Brian Lee Cole during his Dec. 2 ordination and consecration service at Church of the Ascension in Knoxville, Tenn. Photo: Ed Barels

[Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee] The Rt. Rev. Brian Lee Cole was ordained and consecrated as the fifth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee on Dec. 2 at Church of the Ascension in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Three former bishops of the diocese participated in the service: the Rt. Rev. William E. Sanders, first and founding bishop; the Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg, third bishop; and the Rt. Rev. George D. Young, fourth bishop. The Rt. Rev. Robert Gould Tharp, second bishop of the diocese died in 2003.

During the course of the service,  Cole received gifts from friends, churches at which he previously served, and the Very Rev. John Ross, dean of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Knoxville, Tennessee. The gifts included a pectoral cross, bishop’s ring, mitre and crozier. The bishop’s family participated in the service. Son, Jess Cole, served as a lector, and Cole’s wife, Susan Weatherford, played the recorder during communion.

Around 1,000 people attended the ordination and consecration service, and more than 6,700 participated by live stream. The entire service may be viewed on the diocesan website here.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, led the service as chief consecrator. The Rev. Dr. Lauren Winner, author, and associate professor of Christian Spirituality at Duke Divinity School, was the preacher.

Cole was seated in the cathedra, or bishop’s chair symbolic of the bishop’s office, in a service at St. John’s Cathedral in Knoxville on Dec. 3.

He was elected July 28 on the fifth ballot out of a field of four nominees. He succeeds Young, who served the diocese from 2011 to 2017. Cole served as the rector at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Lexington, Kentucky, from 2012 until his election as bishop.

Previously, he served as sub-dean at the Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville for seven years, and as vicar at Church of the Advocate, a worshiping community for homeless in downtown Asheville, for 3 years. He received a Master of Divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with additional studies in Anglican church history in 2001. His Bachelor of Science is in Business Administration, received in 1989 from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky.

Cole has served on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, and has five times been a featured preacher on the popular multi-denominational Day 1 weekly podcast/radio broadcast. Cole taught in the religion department at Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, North Carolina, Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston Salem, North Carolina,, and Luther Seminary, St, Paul., Minnesota. He served on the program staff of the Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center (AMERC) in Berea, Kentucky, for seven years before his ordination as a priest.

The Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee is approximately 14,350 square miles in area, comprising 34 counties in East Tennessee and three counties in North Georgia with the Cumberland Plateau as the western border. There are 50 congregations and worshiping communities servicing nearly 16,000 active members. The population of the diocese is concentrated in the major metropolitan areas: Chattanooga, Knoxville and the Tri-Cities area, which includes Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City, areas totaling more than 2.4 million people according to Tennessee state government statistics.

Trump sharply reduces size of Bears Ears National Monument despite interfaith opposition

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 6:11pm

An interfaith delegation gathers in November at Bears Ears National Monument to call on the Trump administration to maintain the more than a million protected acres. Photo: The Rev. Andrew Block, via New Mexico Wildlife Federation

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians are standing firm alongside an interfaith community of activists to defend land in Utah considered sacred by Native American tribes as President Donald Trump on Dec. 4 announced he would dramatically reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument.

Some of those activists have rallied in recent days in Salt Lake City, where Trump traveled to make his announcement. Others have offered their support from across the country and now are condemning the president’s decision.

“It demonstrates a clear lack of understanding on his part for what the land means to indigenous people and the relationship that we have with the land,” the Rev. Brad Hauff, Episcopal Church missioner for indigenous ministries, told Episcopal News Service after Trump’s action. “When you take away the land or you damage the land, you’re assaulting the indigenous people’s identity.”

The fate of Bears Ears has been a regular topic of discussion among members of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Mission in Bluff, Utah, directly south of Bears Ears.

“People are not happy about it,” the Rev. Kay Rohde, priest-in-charge at St. Christopher’s, told ENS. “It’s just beautiful country, and to see oil rigs doting the landscape is not exactly what I think this place could be.”

Bears Ears is 1.35 million acres of federal land in southeast Utah that was designated as a national monument in December 2016 by President Barack Obama as one of his final acts as president. In a statement announcing the creation of Bears Ears and Gold Butte National Monument in southern Nevada, Obama said his goal was “to protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archeological sites, and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes.”

The designation barred new natural resource extraction on the land, a move that was cheered by Native tribes in the region and conservationists but opposed by state lawmakers, who accused Obama of overreach.

Trump took office vowing to undo much of his predecessor’s legacy, and in April he ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review 27 national monuments and recommend changes. Zinke’s recommendations included reducing the size of at least four national monuments, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, another vast national monument in Utah that was created by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

In response to looming threats to the monuments, Episcopal leaders have joined a chorus of faith leaders this year in speaking out. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was one of five heads of Christian denominations who signed a letter to Zinke in July opposing changes to Bears Ears.

“As Christian leaders, we are committed to taking an active role in the work of remembering, repenting, healing from, and never repeating historic racial injustices,” the letter said. “Collectively, we are deeply concerned about the proposed action to reduce the size of the Bears Ears monument and the process being utilized.”

Last month, dozens of interfaith clergy members, including a representative of the Episcopal Church’s Navajoland Mission, traveled to Bears Ears to show solidarity with the cause of the five tribes, including the Navajo Nation, that have fought to protect the land.

Much of the interfaith activism on Bears Ears has been led by the group Creation Justice, which gathered hundreds of supporters’ signatures on a letter to Trump dated Dec. 1 with a final plea that he preserve the “spiritual riches we have been blessed to inherit from past generations.” (The Episcopal Church is a member of Creation Justice.)

“The church believes in the stewardship of creation and the stewardship of resources for the benefit of all rather than the benefit of a few,” the Rev. Vanessa Cato told ENS. Cato, priest-in-charge of Episcopal Church of the Good Shephard in Ogden, Utah, was among those who signed the letter. Some of her congregation’s members participated in the rallies in Salt Lake City supporting preservation of the national monuments.

By rejecting their pleas, the president has opened the door to renewed commercial activity in Bears Ears, a possibility he alluded to in his remarks Dec. 4.

“Some people think that the natural resources should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington,” he said. “And guess what, they’re wrong.”

Trump removed more than 1.1 million acres from Bears Ears National Monument and nearly 862,000 acres from Grand Staircase-Escalante. The president’s move, however, likely will face legal cases challenging his authority to reduce federal protected land on such a scale.

“We expect to see the issue thoroughly discussed,” said Mark Maryboy, a member of St. Christopher’s in Bluff. “I think we’ll have opportunity to sit at the table and explain exactly why we want the land protected.”

Maryboy, 61, is a leader of the conservation group Utah Dine Bikeyah that first began advocating for creation of the Bears Ears National Monument. This week, while some fellow activists, including his brother, traveled to the state capital to protest Trump’s decision, he has remained back home near Bears Ears, fielding interview requests from national and international news outlets.

Utahns #StandWithBearsEars! "More than 5,000 people rallied on the steps of the Utah State Capitol on Saturday afternoon to protest U.S. President @realDonaldTrump's expected shrinking of two national monument areas in the state." https://t.co/P4PVQqkDHu #MonumentsForAll pic.twitter.com/n5bCtD0psn

— Protect Bears Ears (@savebearsears) December 3, 2017

In Native American spirituality, church isn’t just a place to visit once a week on Sundays, he said. It is visited daily in the mountains, rocks, streams and wildlife of sacred places like Bears Ears. The fight to protect such places is far from over, he said.

“We believe that we will prevail,” he said.

The Rev. Mary June Nestler, canon to the ordinary of the Diocese of Utah, noted that the Episcopal Church’s outreach to Native Americans in the region dates back more than a hundred years, and its support for Native heritage continues today.

“We wish that sustained, substantive dialogue had been undertaken with Utah Native Americans, people of faith communities, and other constituents who do not want to see these precious monuments despoiled to enrich the few, to desecrate sacred places, to further the fossil fuel industry, and to subject these beautiful and lands to commercial degradation,” Nestler said in an emailed statement.

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

Savannah honors Episcopal mayor who led desegregation effort

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:04pm

Bishop Scott Benhase poses near the 32nd marker on the state’s Civil Rights Trail with the Rev. Michael White, left, rector of Christ Church and Stephen Williams, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Savannah. Photo: Anna Iredale

[Episcopal Diocese of Georgia] The summer of 1963 was a hot one in Savannah and in the words of one observer, the city could have exploded. Instead, a coalition of the city’s leaders was able to accomplish a peaceful desegregation of Savannah before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Georgia Historical Society recently ecognized one of those leaders, the late Malcolm Maclean, mayor of Savannah from 1960-66 and lifelong Episcopalian, with the dedication of the 32nd marker on the state’s Civil Rights Trail.

Otis Johnson, the mayor of Savannah from 2004-2012, provided an historical context, saying that “In 1963, during a hot summer, the city could have exploded: the first 19 African Americans went to Savannah High School and there were two-a-day demonstrations downtown. Maclean, along with W.W. Law, Eugene Gadsden, Curtis Cooper… the bishop of the Catholic Diocese [the Rev. Thomas J. McDonough] and the Episcopal diocese [the Rev. Albert Stuart], worked to calm things down.”

In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. declared Savannah the most desegregated city south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The marker honors Malcolm Maclean, the mayor of Savannah from 1960-66 and lifelong Episcopalian who help to achieve the largely peaceful desegregation of Savannah. Photo: Anna Iredale

Johnson also quoted King as saying: “Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice. Mayor Malcolm Maclean was a good man who fought to bring a real order of justice to Savannah during a turbulent time in the 60s. I am proud to have known him.”

Current Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach,remembered Maclean as a man who “stood when others did not.”

“Savannah is a better place than it otherwise would be because of Mr. Maclean’s witness,” said Georgia Bishop Scott Benhase. “His commitment to doing what was right, regardless of the political costs, makes him an example to all who hold elective office in our country today. His Christian faith shaped his politics without him needing to trumpet it. His faith was simply who he was.”

Maclean was a lifelong member of Christ Church in  Savannah where his wife Frances still attends services. The marker can be found at the Atlantic Mall, 45th and Atlantic Avenues.

— Anna Iredale is the director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

Freda Marie Brown resigns as executive director of Texas diocese’s St. Vincent’s House

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 3:29pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Texas] Bishop Andy Doyle has announced that he’s received and accepted the resignation of the Rev. Freda Marie Brown, executive director of St. Vincent’s House, a social service agency of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas in Galveston. Her last day will be Dec. 31, 2017.

“Since 2014, Brown has achieved much in a short amount of time, devoting herself to hope and healing, with a mission to the least, the last and the left out in Galveston County. The board of directors of St. Vincent’s House give thanks for Freda Marie’s ministry as she goes on to pursue other opportunities in ordained ministry,” said the Rt. Rev. Jeff W.Fisher, board chair.

Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Brown grew up during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s; giving her a unique experience of the under-served and working poor. This led to her passion of helping those who are often times ignored.

“I believe I have accomplished all that was assigned to do when I was called by God in 2014,” Brown said, adding, “It has been a great honor and privilege to see the amazing positive changes that have occurred since that fateful time and I celebrate the grace that has been bestowed upon my ministry in this place.”

Brown’s ministry involved fostering the health and education for all of God’s children who come needing hope and a caring hand.

SVH offers low-cost childcare and pre-school programs, a free clinic, emergency assistance and referrals, a food pantry and many other community outreach programs for the working poor of Galveston.

Closed Episcopal church finds new life as center for farm workers on New York’s Long Island

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:19pm

Members of the Center of Alliance, Solidarity and Accompaniment, or CASA, gather outside Grace Episcopal Church in Riverhead, New York, for a recent celebration of CASA’s use of the church as ministry center through a partnership between the Diocese of Long Island and Rural & Migrant Ministry. Photo: The Rev. Gerardo Romo Garcia

[Episcopal News Service] Grace Episcopal Church in Riverhead, New York, had been a parish in decline for decades, according to its last priest-in-charge, the Rev. Mary Garde. Its deep roots on the East End of Long Island, dating to the mid-19th century, weren’t enough to stem the gradual erosion in membership that ended early this year in the church’s closure.

Garde called it “the usual story when you have an aging congregation,” but the church’s closing also has paved the way for its rebirth as a center for the region’s farm laborers, a big step forward in the ongoing support they have received from the Diocese of Long Island.

The diocese has long partnered with Rural & Migrant Ministry, a nonprofit agency that works around New York State to give voice to the concerns of farm laborers, many of them Latinos. The agency and the diocese now are working with other faith-based partners, including the Presbytery of Long Island, to develop the Center of Alliance, Solidarity and Accompaniment, or CASA, at Grace Episcopal Church.

The church already has become a regular meeting place for a “consejo,” or council, of farm workers who are helping to develop plans for the diocesan property in Riverhead, which includes the church, a rectory and a parish hall. Leadership counseling, vocational training and English-as-a-second-language classes are among the possible future uses.

“There are so many possibilities,” said the Rev. Gerardo Romo Garcia, who leads the diocese’s Latino outreach on Long Island’s East End. He emphasized that by reaching out to the community of laborers, church leaders hope to “empower the workers and teach them how to empower themselves.”

Garde, who retired and moved to Kansas after Grace Episcopal closed, said she was pleased the church is being put to new use.

“It’s a wonderful program, and I think it will do good things for the community,” she said, and she was pleased that the church would be put to ministry use rather than sitting vacant or being sold.

Rural & Migrant Ministry, founded by the Diocese of New York in the early 1980s, is based in Poughkeepsie. In recent years, it has assigned a staff member to Long Island in office space provided by the Diocese of Long Island in its Garden City headquarters, and the addition of a mission center follows the model of two centers the agency already operates in Upstate New York.

“It became clear that it would be really beneficial to have a center at the end of Long Island that could be an education center for nurturing leaders,” said the Rev. Richard Witt, Rural & Migrant Ministry’s executive director and an Episcopal priest.

About a year ago, as the agency was looking for a location for a new center, it had become clear the congregation at Grace Episcopal was not sustainable, said Mary Beth Welsh, executive director of Episcopal Ministries of Long Island, which provides fundraising and ministry-building support to the diocese and its congregations. But the property still was “a great space for us to serve and engage the communities of the East End of the island.”

While a school and day care continued to operate on the Grace Episcopal Church grounds, the diocese decided to turn the other church facilities into a ministry center, including for use by Rural & Migrant Ministry and the people it serves.

The focus on outreach to immigrant laborers on the East End is part of Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano’s effort to bring the church to a community that had been mostly overlooked by the diocese in the past.

“It’s very clear that this is where our focus needs to be,” Provenzano told Episcopal News Service. “This is our call to minister to this group of people who have been in our midst as an almost invisible population.”

The Diocese of Long Island is anchored on the west by the densely populated New York City boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, while to the east, the suburban counties of Nassau and Suffolk are nearly as populous and also home to 659 farms covering about 39,000 acres of farmland, according to a 2015 report by the Office of the State Comptroller. Suffolk, with Riverhead as its county seat, is the fourth largest county by population and ranks third in the state in overall agricultural sales.

Rural & Migrant Ministries was created to improve conditions for farm workers like those serving the agriculture industry in Suffolk County. They often work long hours without overtime or paid days off.

Last year, Rural & Migrant Ministries led a March for Farmworker Justice from Suffolk County to the state capital, Albany, to advocate for farm laborers’ rights. Members of the newly formed CASA council hope their voices will be heard even louder now that they have a permanent gathering place in Riverhead.

“We were looking for a place where we could form a community, not based on religion, but a place where people’s voices can be heard, where we can get educated, learn about our rights and responsibilities and to find our identities as rural workers living on the East End,” Ananias Canel, a CASA member, told Riverhead Local.

Episcopal Ministries of Long Island is coordinating the partnership at the new center in Riverhead. The agency, is serving as a leadership resource to the CASA members as they chart a path forward.

“The Diocese of Long Island has really thrown themselves into this,” Witt said. The people his agency serves “are used to being told they don’t belong somewhere, and so here’s a place where not only are they told they belong but they’re being invited to help run it.”

That mission aligns with the Episcopal Church’s outreach to people who live on the margins of society. Immigrants who work on the farms of Long Island often get overlooked, Episcopal Ministries’ Welsh said.

“As a church, we should be standing with the folks who have been sort of pushed aside,” she said.

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

Churches challenged to ‘rehabilitate and refresh’ how they explain the Gospel

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:16pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The new Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, has said churches are “not always seen for the good which we do, or for the just causes which we support or further, or for the justice and truth for which we call.” He called on churches to “rehabilitate and refresh” how they explain the Gospel message, particularly to young people who, he said, would high-five the prophet Job and queue for selfies with Jesus – if they properly understood Christianity. Davies made the comments as he was enthroned as the 13th archbishop of Wales during a service in Brecon Cathedral on Dec. 2.

Read the full article here.

Paper-based social-media campaign links Anglicans against gender-based violence

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service]  Anglicans around the world are marking the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in a simple social media campaign – that is based on paper. They are taking photos holding a poster with a simple pledge: “because we are precious in God’s eyes, I will not keep silent on sexual & gender-based violence.” The photos are being uploaded to Facebook and Twitter. They are being shared by a dedicated Twitter account: @AnglicansEndGBV.

Read the full article here.

New prior announced as Community of St Anselm opens applications for 2018

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:06pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The monastic community for young people based at Lambeth Palace, the office and official residence in London of the archbishop of Canterbury, has a new prior. The Community of St Anselm invites young Christians, aged 20-35 from around the world, to spend one year “in a radical Jesus-centred community of prayer, study and serving local communities.” It has just opened applications for next year’s intake. The Rev. Rosalyn Murphy, currently vicar of St Thomas’ Church in Blackpool, a resort town in the north-west of England, will take up the role of prior from April next year.

Read the full article here.