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Appalachian Trail inspires Episcopalians to embark on weeklong ‘Camino’ trek in Pennsylvania

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 3:08pm

About 3,000 people each year attempt to hike all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine, including this segment in North Carolina. Photo courtesy of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy

[Episcopal News Service] The United States may lack a pilgrimage path quite like Spain’s centuries-old Camino de Santiago, which draws hundreds of thousands of foot-powered Christian pilgrims each year, but American hikers have a worthy alternative: the Appalachian Trail.

Central Pennsylvania Bishop Audrey Scanlan’s diocese is leading a group hike on part of Pennsylvania’s segment of the Appalachian Trail June 23-28. Photo courtesy of Audrey Scanlan

At 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. It crosses peaks, dips into valleys and passes through or near communities along the way, step by step revealing the natural beauty of the Appalachian mountain range.

About 3,000 people attempt to hike the trail’s full length each year. The Rev. Dan Morrow is not one of them. Instead, Morrow and his wife set out on a day hike in spring 2018 on the part of the trail that passes a couple miles from their home in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and by the time they returned, Morrow had found inspiration.

“I thought, how cool would it be to have a pilgrimage on the trail, like the Camino in Spain?” Morrow, the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania’s canon for congregational life and mission, told Episcopal News Service. “If we truly believe that God is active here in our communities, then Central Pennsylvania is holy ground, too.”

That inspiration was the spark behind Appalachian Camino, a weeklong group hike organized by the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania that will cover most of the trail segment through the diocese starting June 23. Participants will begin and end each day in worship, with churches near the route offering the hikers a place to camp for the night.

The Rev. Justin Cannon presides at Holy Eucharist during one of the Holy Hikes outings of the original chapter in the San Francisco area. Photo: Holy Hikes

Morrow and other organizers of Appalachian Camino are following in the footsteps of nature-minded Episcopalians who have launched numerous outdoor pilgrimages and ministries in recent years. Holy Hikes, which originated in California’s San Francisco Bay area in 2010, has grown to more than a dozen chapters across the country that organize day hikes incorporating Holy Eucharist and creation care themes. And in New England, the region’s Episcopal dioceses have collaborated on an annual paddling pilgrimage called River of Life that, since 2017, has turned the Connecticut River into a place of prayerful meditation and communion.

The River of Life pilgrimage influenced the planning for Appalachian Camino. Central Pennsylvania Bishop Audrey Scanlan, before becoming bishop in 2015, had served in the Diocese of Connecticut, and after welcoming Morrow’s idea for a hike, she conferred with Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas about how he and his fellow paddlers approached their journey. The Connecticut River pilgrims, for example, typically start their mornings in silence to open their senses to the world around them.

Pilgrims launch from a dock in Essex, Connecticut, on July 9, 2017, the final day of the River of Life pilgrimage. Photo: Kairos Earth, via Facebook

“I’ve wondered what that would be like for us to begin our hike each morning with some great silence of our own,” Scanlan said in an interview with ENS.

One of Scanlan’s goals as bishop has been to bring her diocesan staff members into the diocese’s communities so they can foster deeper relationships with Episcopalians on their home turf. She saw Morrow’s idea as a unique opportunity to further that mission.

“It’s connections between ourselves, among people of our diocese, as we continue to try to build unity across the diocese,” Scanlan said of Appalachian Camino’s purpose. “It’s connections with the Earth and initiatives around creation care, and actually being in creation and spending time appreciating and walking through God’s place. It is gorgeous here.

“The other piece is getting out and being among other fellow pilgrims who are hiking and being the church in the world.”

Those “fellow pilgrims” are not just the 25 or so Episcopalians who signed up for Appalachian Camino. “Thru-hikers” who started in Georgia and plan to go all the way to Maine should be passing through Pennsylvania this month, Scanlan said, offering the possibility for trailside fellowship.

Scanlan isn’t the only Episcopal bishop with an eye for ministry and mission possibilities on the Appalachian Trail. Western Massachusetts Bishop Douglas Fisher leads a diocese that includes the trail’s full 91-mile Massachusetts segment, and when the Rev. Erik Karas took over as rector of Christ Trinity Church in Sheffield two years ago, Fisher suggested he consider a trail-based ministry.

Christ Trinity Church, a joint Episcopal and Lutheran congregation, is just a few miles from a point where the Appalachian Trail crosses a sunny field. Karas hatched a plan to create “a corner of kindness” in the field for passing hikers.

Hikers on the Appalachian Trail pause for a break at the rest stop maintained last July by Christ Trinity Church in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Photo: Erik Karas

His congregation bought shade canopies, chairs with backs, a grill and a table and stocked the makeshift oasis with high-calorie snacks and lunches. Church volunteers staffed the rest stop midday on Wednesdays and Saturdays last July, when the thru-hikers were most likely to pass by.

“The hikers call it trail magic, and the people who give that kind of hospitality they call angels,” Karas said. His parishioners benefited from the experience, too.

“It’s an opportunity for the people in my church to practice hospitality and kindness to strangers,” he said. “It sort of embodies that gospel, that grace moment, unexpected and abundant.”

They are planning to bring the ministry back to the Appalachian Trail this July and to expand the number of days if more churches sign on to help.

Episcopalians in Central Pennsylvania have a long history of trail magic along their stretch of the Appalachian Trail. Bishop James Henry Darlington, the diocese’s first bishop in the early 20th century, is remembered as an early booster for conservation efforts and trail development in the region. Darlington Shelter, named in his honor, is one of the landmarks the Appalachian Camino hikers will pass.

The Appalachian Trail covers 229 miles in Pennsylvania, though only part of that segment passes through the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. The group hike will kick off June 23 near the Maryland state line at Calvary Episcopal Chapel in Beartown, Pennsylvania, and it is scheduled to conclude on June 28 with an end-of-hike celebration at St. Andrew’s in the Valley Episcopal Church in Harrisburg.

About 15 people have signed up to hike the full six days, Morrow said. Others will join the hike for a day at a time. A support van will shadow the group along the route, lightening the hikers’ load while they’re on the trail and transporting them to and from the trailhead at the start and end of each day.

“It’s not going to be overly programmed, but there will be some opportunities for reflection and silence and, I’m sure, some singing as well,” he said.

This stretch of the Appalachian Trail is known as “Rocksylvania” because it crosses some rough terrain, though much of it remains relatively flat, Morrow said. A mix of clergy and laity, as well as some young children, have signed up. The group will hike 13 to 20 miles a day, with options for shorter day hikes.

Each evening, the group will leave the trail and join a local congregation for dinner, worship and fellowship – and, in some cases, access to showers. These overnight stops will offer additional opportunities to make connections with Episcopalians in communities near the trail.

“Most of the churches along the route are smaller rural churches,” Morrow said. “We’re hoping that they just want to come out and hang out with us.”

The churches will have space, such as in parish halls, for the hikers to roll out their sleeping bags for the night, though certain hikers might prefer the church lawn.

“Some of us, like me – I would rather put my tent up and sleep outside,” Scanlan said.

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

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Episcopal Church in South Carolina outlines plans for bishop transition

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 2:47pm

[Episcopal Church in South Carolina] The Standing Committee of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina on June 11 issued a letter to the people of the diocese regarding transition plans for episcopal leadership. A copy of the letter can be viewed here, and the text of the letter follows.

Dear Faithful People of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina,

“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:11-13

In January of this year, your Standing Committee began exploring options for the future of the Episcopacy in our diocese. Over the course of these past several months we have discerned that our diocese is ready for the next faithful step as we continue to “grow into the full stature of Christ.”

In our meeting on May 23, the Standing Committee voted unanimously to initiate a process that will lead to our calling for the election of a full-time Bishop Diocesan. With that goal in mind, the Standing Committee is working to find a full-time Bishop Provisional who can provide episcopal leadership during the transition period ahead.

As you are aware, Bishop Skip Adams has been our Bishop Provisional for nearly three years and plans to conclude his time with us by the end of 2019, or as soon as a successor is in place. Bishop Adams has been working on a part-time basis for these three years, and both he and the Standing Committee are convinced that our next bishop needs to be full-time to meet the needs of this growing Diocese.

Therefore, the Standing Committee continues to work in consultation with the Right Rev. Todd Ousley of the Episcopal Church’s Office for Pastoral Development on two fronts: First, to identify persons for the Standing Committee to consider for the role of full-time bishop to serve our diocese in the interim, and second, to prepare for an official call to election for a full-time Bishop Diocesan.

As you may know, electing a bishop is to engage in a significant process of discernment. From the time such a call is issued until a new bishop is ordained and consecrated typically takes 18 months to 2 years. The Standing Committee will oversee that process, which typically includes the formation of search and transition committees, the creation of a diocesan profile, and a period of nominations before the slate is announced. An electing convention would be called. The election then must receive consent from a majority of the House of Bishops and a majority of the Standing Committees of the 110 other dioceses of The Episcopal Church. Upon the successful completion of the canonical consent process, the bishop-elect can be ordained and consecrated.

We are developing a plan and timeline for this process in consultation with Bishop Ousley and will be able to announce more details in the weeks ahead. Please know the Standing Committee is committed to keep everyone informed along the way and to be as clear and transparent as possible throughout the process.

Please remember that we are at the very beginning of what we believe to be a major step forward in “building up the body of Christ” in The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. We will continue to update you on the next steps as they unfold.

Your Standing Committee asks that prayers begin for all involved in this process. Pray for +Skip, our bishop, the councils and committees of our diocese; for all diocesan leadership and all who might be called upon to serve in this process. Most of all, we ask your prayers for those persons whom the Holy Spirit will call forward to provide episcopal leadership for our Diocese.


The Standing Committee of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina

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Council is ‘leading from the future as it emerges,’ mutual ministry review shows

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 5:37pm

Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Suffragan Anne Hodges-Copple, an Executive Council member, breaks the bread during the Eucharist. The Rev. Lillian Davis-Wilson, a deacon and council member from Western New York, served with Hodges-Copple. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Linthicum Heights, Maryland] The Executive Council is starting to lead The Episcopal Church toward the future using what is currently happening in the church and in the world, according to a recently completed mutual ministry review.

General Convention in 2015 called (via Resolution A004) for a cross section of council members to do such reviews on a regular basis. The reviews are not meant to be performance evaluations. Instead, they are designed for groups to reflect on their ministry together. A group of 12 council members, including the officers and the six people who formed a transitional executive committee of council between the 2015-2018 triennium and the current 2019-2021 triennium participated in the reviews in late 2016 and 2018.

The reviews are aimed at “looking at the present from the standpoint of the future,” said Matthew Sheep, who teaches management, organizational behavior and leadership at Illinois State University. Sheep, who facilitated both of the reviews, told the council during the opening session of its June 10-13 meeting here that the participants in the most recent review that begin in November 2018 were open to considering a number of “possible futures.”

The 2018 review found that the participants felt there is a “rebuilt trust” among council members, officers and the church-wide staff. All have a sense that people assume the best intentions on the part of others, rather than assuming that others are only looking out for their own interests. They also appreciated, according to Sheep, what they saw as a clarity and strength of the organization’s mission and vision, impactful leadership and council’s decision in October to reduce and restructure its committees.

Episcopal Church Executive Council member Julia Ayala Harris of the Diocese of Oklahoma preaches June 10 during a Eucharist that opened the council’s June 10-13 meeting at the Maritime Institute Conference Center (http://www.ccmit.org/) in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, outside Baltimore. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

The council has an “improved organizational climate,” Sheep said.

The participants are also concerned about sustaining those improvements, regardless of any changes that might happen in the leadership. For instance, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president, will complete her third and final term at the end of the 2021 meeting of General Convention and leave the council.

Among the areas that need improvement, the review said, were the financial cost of governance, further clarification of roles and responsibilities, how to bring the Way of Love to all levels of the church and how to deal with tensions as they arise. Sheep encouraged the council’s willingness to look at “possible futures,” envisioning what it might look like to improve these areas “and where it might lead.”

Earlier in the meeting Presiding Bishop Michael Curry told the council during his opening remarks that the relationship between the council and the church-wide staff is “growing and developing in healthy and positive ways.”

At a June 3-5 gathering, the staff spent time considering how each person’s work advances the church’s priorities of evangelism, reconciliation and care of creation. Sometimes, that work is obvious, Curry said, but sometimes the relationship of work such as making sure the boiler is working and the checks are written on time to those priorities is not so clear.

Evoking Ephesians 4:11-12, Curry said his job, and that of both the staff and the council, is to “equip the church to be the Jesus Movement in the world, witnessing and walking the Way of Love.”

In @PB_Curry's opening remarks to #excoun, he gives a shoutout to the staff of @iamepiscopalian. They convened last week for their regular in-house meeting. He described them as remarkable and hardworking as well as lots of other accolades.

— Andrea McKellar (@AMcKellar17) June 10, 2019

Jennings agreed with Curry’s idea of looking at staff and council effectiveness by how they equip the church for mission. And, she added a caution. In her opening remarks, she noted that many people want to say that the world is in a “post-institutional age.”

Even in The Episcopal Church, she said, people “seek to flatten structures and decentralize power.”

“Every three years, we go to General Convention to debate the budget, and we hear about how we should be funding mission, not governance and institutional structures. As though the mission happens by magic,” Jennings said.

If the church wants to be the Jesus Movement “we have to focus on how we are actually going to move,” she said. “We have to remember that governance is mission, just the same as programs that more commonly get defined that way. General Convention’s commitments to creation care and to racial reconciliation and to evangelism would mean very little without the governing structures of the church that help make them happen.”

If we are going to be the Jesus Movement, and we do, we need to figure out how to move. Our work as Executive Council makes mission happen. President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings #excoun @gaycjen pic.twitter.com/MjBkvext6i

— Frank Logue (@franklogue) June 10, 2019

Also during the meeting’s first day, the council

* heard a report from Treasurer Kurt Barnes that showed the 2019 part of the church’s 2019-2021 budget is on track. Barnes also noted that the Episcopal Church Center in New York is fully leased. The two newest tenants are a True Value Hardware store, which has taken over the former bookstore space on the street level, and a physical therapy practice.

Barnes said the first of three mailings soliciting donations to the church’s Annual Appeal from 38,000 constituents has raised $90,000 towards the $250,000 goal. In addition, the church’s effort to raise money to provide future retirement benefits for current and retired clergy in the Episcopal Church in Cuba has raised $730,000 through the end of May. Additional unconfirmed pledges could take the total over the $800,000 goal, he said.

* spent time with Ursuline Bankhead, a New York psychologist who led the members in implicit bias awareness training. Implicit bias, Bankhead explained, is an automatic preference for certain groups over others. It operates below the consciousness, is culture-bound, pervasive, evoked by group membership and is taught by parents and other elders. Implicit bias is normal but also malleable, she added. “We can change it. This is the beauty of bias; it is not stuck,” Bankhead said.

Curry had said during his opening remarks that racial reconciliation in the United States is “the gateway to all the ways we are broken and fragmented and separated from each other so, it’s the entrance not the end.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s opening remarks to the #Episcopal Church Executive Council reports on a recent staff meeting discussing their work of equipping the saints for ministry. #excoun @PB_Curry pic.twitter.com/EpyATs5TgK

— Frank Logue (@franklogue) June 10, 2019

* learned that the Rev. Jabriel Ballentine from the Diocese of Central Florida had resigned his seat. The council will elect a person to serve the remainder of his term, which runs through General Convention in 2021. The Rev. Michael Barlowe, the church’s executive officer, told the council that its executive committee will develop a list of nominees. He said he and others were considering the propriety of council to hold a special electronic meeting for the election so that the person could begin serving at the next meeting in October. Information on the solicitation for nominations will be released soon.

The rest of the meeting

Council will spend most of June 11 and 12 meeting in its four committees.  On June 13, the chairs of those committees will each report to the full body, proposing resolutions for the council to consider.

The Executive Council carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention, according to Canon I.4 (1). The council comprises 38 members – 20 (four bishops, four priests or deacons and 12 lay people) elected by General Convention and 18 (one clergy and one lay) by the nine provincial synods for six-year terms – plus the presiding bishop and the president of the House of Deputies. In addition, the vice president of the House of Deputies, secretary, chief operating officer, treasurer and chief financial officer have seat and voice but no vote.

Some council members are tweeting from the meeting using #ExCoun.

The June 10-13 meeting is taking place at the Maritime Institute Conference Center outside Baltimore.

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


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Episcopal Church joins efforts to mark 400 years since enslaved Africans’ arrival in North America

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 3:16pm

[Episcopal News Service] A historically black Episcopal church in Washington, D.C., hosted a service June 9 marking 400 years since enslaved Africans first landed in North America at Jamestown in what is now Virginia.

The event at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, one of seven participating capital-area churches that were founded by slaves or former slaves, was led by Bread for the World’s Pan African Young Adult Network, and it kicked off this week’s annual Bread for the World Advocacy Summit, a large, ecumenical gathering of anti-hunger advocates.

The kickoff service at St. Luke’s was framed as a time both of lament for past injustices against African Americans and of hope for a better future, Bread for the World’s Angelique Walker-Smith told Episcopal News Service. She said the commemoration also was a fitting start to this week’s advocacy on Capitol Hill on issues related to food.

“We’re bringing historic roots and historic lens to our legislative agenda,” Walker-Smith said. Four hundred years ago, “people of African descent were basically fed the crumbs off the table.”

The calendar this year is filled with services and events marking the first transatlantic voyage of Africans in 1619 to the land that would become the United States, and The Episcopal Church is in the middle of planning its own commemorations. The church is coordinating with the Diocese of Southern Virginia, which includes Jamestown.

“Staff of the presiding bishop’s office are co-laboring with the people and staff of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia to plan a meaningful commemoration of the arrival of enslaved Africans to Jamestown,” the Rev. Charles Wynder Jr., staff officer for social justice and engagement, said by email. “The commemoration will afford The Episcopal Church a space, time and place to tell the truth and grapple deeply with the implications of its role in the transatlantic and domestic slave trade in North America.

“It will be a significant offering to the church and the world alongside numerous ecumenical, regional and national commemorations.”

Racial reconciliation was identified by The Episcopal Church’s General Convention in 2015 as one of three priorities for the 2016-18 triennium and beyond, along with evangelism and care of creation. Resolutions dating back decades have helped guide the church as it responds to racism and atones for its own complicity in racial injustice and support for racist systems.

A 2006 resolution specifically apologized for the church’s complicity, acknowledging that “The Episcopal Church lent the institution of slavery its support and justification based on Scripture.” Three years later, General Convention voted to encourage each diocese to research the church’s role in enabling or resisting slavery and segregation, as well as “the economic benefits derived by The Episcopal Church from the transatlantic slave trade and the institution of slavery.”

The Episcopal Church also regularly partners with ecumenical organizations like Bread for the World in advocacy on Capitol Hill. Bread for the World, for example, led planning for the “For Such a Time as This” fasting campaign, which The Episcopal Church supported, and its Advocacy Summit was expected to bring hundreds of participants to Washington this week.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington is serving as home base for much of Bread for the World’s two-day Advocacy Summit. The congregation, near Capitol Hill, will host a breakfast and worship service June 11 before participants leave for their rounds at Senate and House office buildings to meet with lawmakers and their staffs in support of legislation that would prioritize global nutrition efforts.

Setting the stage for those meetings, the sanctuary at St. Luke’s was filled with song and prayer on June 9 as a modest crowd gathered for a service based on a yearlong devotional that Bread for the World developed to commemorate the quad-centennial of Africans arriving in North America.

Among the highlights was a rousing rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a hymn penned by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson in 1900 for Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and now known as the black national anthem.

“Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.”

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

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Brazil archbishop highlights justice, peace in Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Fri, 06/07/2019 - 5:31pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] As Christians in the Southern hemisphere celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this week in the days running up to Pentecost, the Primate of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Archbishop Naudal Gomes, has highlighted the struggle for justice alongside peaceful dialogue. In an open letter, Gomes writes: “It is impossible to be a Christian without being open to dialogue, partnership, the common walk.”

Read the full article here.

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Young people at the heart of new international Finland-Wales ecumenical partnership

Fri, 06/07/2019 - 3:17pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Finnish and Welsh young people will be at the heart of a new partnership between their country’s church leaders, officially sanctioned this week.

A group of young people from Wales will travel to Finland for a program this month, and in October, a group of their Finnish peers will be immersed in Welsh culture during a visit to North Wales. Plans are also in place for the Diocese of St. Asaph to run a Confirmation Camp for older teenagers in Finland next year.

Read the full article here.

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United Nations hears of Anglican Communion churches’ active role in tackling climate change

Fri, 06/07/2019 - 3:14pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The vital role of the church and faith communities in tackling climate change was highlighted during a televised discussion broadcast live June 6 from the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Jillian Abballe, advocacy officer and head of New York office for the Anglican Communion, was one of six panelists taking part in the discussion of the role of faith communities in planting and nurturing the seed of climate responsibility. Abballe shared stories of how members of the Anglican Communion are having an impact through influence, and earth stewardship and in modeling responsibility towards the environment.

Read the full article here.

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Covenant for Christian unity to breathe new life into Canadian churches in Regina

Fri, 06/07/2019 - 12:32pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A renewed relationship between four different churches in Canada, including the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle, was celebrated at a covenant service at St. Athanasius Ukrainian Catholic Church in Regina last month.

Lutherans and Ukrainian Catholics joined the annual celebration of the Anglican and Roman Catholic ecumenical covenant, which began in 2011 between the Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina.

Read the full article here.

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Priests give voice to victims stories eight years after Fukushima nuclear disaster

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 3:28pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Japanese parish priests shared stories of suffering from victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster at an International Forum for a Nuclear-Free World held in Sendai, Japan, last week. A joint statement from the forum, due out next month, is expected to strengthen the call for a worldwide ban on nuclear energy and encourage churches to join in the campaign.

The forum, organized by the Nippon Sei Ko Kai – the Anglican Communion in Japan – follows a General Synod resolution in 2012 calling for an end to nuclear power plants and activities to help the world go nuclear free. The disaster in 2011 followed a massive earthquake and tsunami which caused a number of explosions in the town’s coastal nuclear power station and led to widespread radioactive contamination and serious health and environmental effects.

Read the full article here.

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Anglican Communion Environmental Network encourages churches to tackle air pollution

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 3:22pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Churches were encouraged to support a call to action to tackle air pollution – the focus for World Environment Day on June 5.

Air pollution has been described as one of the greatest environmental challenges of modern times by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network. The campaign #BeatAirPollution encourages faith-based organizations to lead the fight for cleaner air and a better environment.

Read the full article here.

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Delaware church helps high school turn students’ college dreams into reality

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 3:19pm

Students at Seaford High School in Seaford, Delaware, meet with volunteers from St. Luke’s Church to work together on scholarship applications. Photo: Episcopal Church in Delaware

In 2016, when Terry Carson, then principal of Seaford High School, asked St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Seaford, Delaware, for volunteers, no one could predict the profound results. From a lay-led parish with Sunday attendance averaging 35, six parishioners stepped up to help high school seniors with their scholarship applications and have been supporting students every year since.

With 750 students, Seaford High School is a Title 1 school, with 60% minority enrollment and more than 45% of students coming from low-income families. That the school now has so many graduates going on to higher education because of scholarships is a kind of miracle.

School counselors provide incoming seniors with an extensive folder of material: an overview of possible career and educational paths, a timeline for navigating senior year, a checklist, templates of resumes and letters and resources for SAT and ACT preparation. A vital component of the folder is a chronology of more than 250 scholarship opportunities open to Delaware students, ranging from $250 to $31,500.

Under the guidance of the school counselors, the St. Luke’s volunteers mentor the students twice weekly from mid-February through early April to meet the scholarships’ spring deadlines. The volunteers review the students’ scholarship cover letters, personal resumes, supporting essays and the applications themselves.

The diverse group of retiree volunteers includes a former engineer, English teacher, social worker with legal experience, two nurses and a lifelong hospital volunteer. In the first year of the program, the students called the St. Luke’s volunteers the Council of Elders. This name, a sign of respect, has stuck.

The “elders” believe in the students, share their own life experiences with them and commit to helping them succeed. The students believe in the elders, and many of them return for additional help that they may not be getting elsewhere. In spring 2018, the church volunteers met with 59 students. Each student met with them up to six times, with an average of eight seniors per session.

During one of their mentoring sessions this year, the volunteers prepared in a designated room for the influx of seniors. As they arrived, the students sat down and, each with a laptop, immediately began to work one-on-one with the volunteers. Conversations ranged from how best to answer a specific application question to the most effective way to phrase a resume statement; the requirements of a specific scholarship opportunity to the punctuation of an essay.

Volunteer Bonnie Getz said the punctuation of an essay is one of the major things they work on with students. The school has many students originally from Haiti and Central America for whom English is not their first language, and the church volunteers’ support is especially helpful for these students.

Getz explained that the volunteers really enjoy doing this. “When we found out just before Christmas that we were invited back again this year, it was like an early Christmas gift to me. We really look forward to it.” She went on to say, “we learn a lot from our students, just by listening to them. We don’t quiz them but we learn from them because they share a lot with us.” Of her personal experience, she stated, “it’s witnessing to these students that we believe in them.”

The students value and appreciate the elders. “I can’t thank them enough,” student Trevor Holmes said who received assistance from Bill Hubbard. “Mr. Hubbard helped me out on the first day, and I got six or seven scholarship applications done with him.”

Holmes said he was profoundly grateful for the assistance. “You guys are the reason all of us are going to college,” he said. “We’re the future, and you guys are helping prepare for the future.”

Working that day with volunteer Deb Spandikow, student Caden Dickerson said he’d received help ranging from developing essays to filling out applications. Parents and teachers may not have time to give extra assistance.

“It’s like a third party to step in and help, especially at this time of year,” Dickerson said. “It always lifts some pressure off our shoulders when we have someone there who listens, talks with us, and gives some advice.”

“It’s good for us, too,” Spandikow responded, “to get excited for you and say, ‘Wow, you’re doing great!’ We get to see the wonderful things that students are doing.”

Several of this year’s high school seniors have faced and overcome daunting challenges. One student is fighting cancer, while another is wheelchair-bound. Another, who arrived in this country from Haiti two years ago not fluent in English, is graduating as an honors student.

Clarence Giles, associate principal, appreciates the volunteers’ support of the students.

“This is an avenue for someone to come in that the students don’t see on a daily basis, to help them with their applications,” Giles said. “I think the elders get back more than they give. Obviously, our students are getting the assistance they need for college scholarships. It’s an unintended positive thing that they’re giving back to the Council of Elders.”

That reciprocity is key, Giles said. “This is an opportunity for school and community to meet, and that’s what the ultimate goal is — for school and community to have that connection. This is an excellent vehicle to make that happen.”

Each year since this effort started, there has been an increase in scholarship money awarded to graduating seniors. Giles said that in 2018, Seaford High School’s graduating class of 163 students received almost $4 million in scholarships. This has enabled more students to afford a post-secondary education. He thinks this can be attributed to the attention to detail encouraged by the volunteers from St. Luke’s.

At the end of the academic year, the volunteers were invited to attend the honors and awards ceremony for graduating seniors, family and friends. They joined the students at their senior breakfast and were recognized with gratitude at commencement.

Since its founding in 1835, St. Luke’s has had a rich history of vital parish ministry and mission. As this year draws to a close, with another group of students having successfully secured scholarships, St. Luke’s is grateful to the Seaford School District for the opportunity to be of service to its community and remains committed to this outreach.

Having no children or grandchildren, volunteer Hubbard initially felt unsure about working with teenagers. Now, “I see this as an opportunity to recognize young people as young adults, having motivation and a desire, already knowing what they want to do with their lives, and making a plan to get it done,” Hubbard said. “Now, they are my grandchildren, and I am so very proud of them!”

Lola Michael Russell is a regular contributor to the Delaware Communion Magazine and the editorial assistant for the Episcopal Church in Delaware.


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National Cathedral to renovate, transform former College for Preachers with $22 million in gifts

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 3:13pm

The Gothic structure that once housed Washington National Cathedral’s College for Preachers has sat vacant since 2008. Photo: National Cathedral

[Episcopal News Service] Washington National Cathedral announced June 6 its plans to renovate a building that once housed its College for Preachers and reopen it as a hub of faith programming and spiritual formation with help from two gifts totaling $22 million.

The College for Preachers opened in 1929 but the building has been vacant and deteriorating since 2008, when it closed amid the Great Recession. It is scheduled to reopen in 2020 as the Virginia Mae Center, according to an article in the cathedral’s summer issue of its Cathedral Age magazine that was posted online.

The center will provide space for the cathedral’s new programing arm, the Cathedral College of Faith and Culture. Programing will include conferences, forums, retreats and pilgrimages.

“The College of Faith and Culture is the lynchpin for so much of what we hope to do at the Cathedral over the next five to 10 years,” the Very Rev. Randy Hollerith, the cathedral’s death, said in Cathedral Age. “A renewed college will position the cathedral for a new century of ministry.”

Plans for the 27,000-square-foot Gothic structure that was home to the College for Preachers across eight decades also were detailed in a Washington Post article that coincided with the cathedral’s announcement.

The project is made possible by a $17 million gift from Virginia Cretella Mars, married to an heir of the Mars candy fortune, and her children, as well as a $5 million gift from Andrew Florance and his wife, Heather. Florance founded the CoStar Group and also chairs the Cathedral’s board.

Mars, a longtime parishioner at the cathedral, expressed excitement over the project.

“For years, I have loved the building that we all know as ‘The College,’ and the new Cathedral College of Faith and Culture will create space for us to deepen the ties between one another and to come together to find new, better paths forward,” Mars said in a cathedral news release. “In these divided and polarized times, we need the convening power of this cathedral to call us to our highest ideals and aspirations as a nation, and I’m thrilled that this building will be able to bring people together once more.”

The Virginia Mae Center, adjacent to the cathedral on the northeast side, will be able to house up to 40 people in 30 guests suites, for short stays and long-term residencies. The Cathedral College of Faith of Culture will be made up of three institutes: the Institute for Music, Liturgy and the Arts, the Institute for Ethics and Public Engagement and the Institute for Spirituality and Leadership.

“Consistent with the work we’ve done over the past four years to balance our budget, this project will be supported by an endowment, ensuring that we will be able to continue investing in our congregation, our city, the Cathedral building restoration, and our ongoing national events and programming,” Hollerith said in the cathedral news release.

The cathedral, meanwhile, continues to raise money for repairs to its main structure after it sustained considerable damage in the 2011 earthquake that hit the capital area. Those repairs are being done in phases as money is raised, with the cathedral about halfway toward covering the estimated $34 million cost. Its latest fundraiser offers the public the opportunity to help build a large scale model of the cathedral out of Lego bricks.

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

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After building an inviting new parish hall, an Ohio church asks the community to make it their own

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 4:50am

The completed campus of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lakewood, Ohio. Photo: Barrett T. Newman / St. Peter’s Episcopal Church

[Episcopal News Service] If you’d walked by the corner of Detroit Avenue and West Clifton Boulevard in downtown Lakewood, Ohio, a year ago, you would have seen an impressive but imposing neo-Gothic church attached to a drab brick building with air conditioners sprouting from rusted window frames. It might’ve been hard to tell whether anything was happening at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, with its fortress-like stone walls and dark wooden doors. Though its stained-glass windows are dazzling from the inside, you would have seen nothing but opaque black glass.

Walk past the same corner in this cheerful Cleveland suburb today and you’ll see the same church, but the adjoining building has been replaced by a modern addition that curves out toward the street. Through its floor-to-ceiling glass windows, you might see a choir rehearsal, a Bible study, a piano recital, or even a yoga class. As striking as the new building is, your eye would be drawn to the people inside.

That transformation is the basis for a new mission at St. Peter’s. What started as a project to rebuild the aging parish hall became an opportunity to make the parish more accessible and invite the larger community in. Rather than limiting the new building to church-related usage and income-generating space rentals, St. Peter’s is inviting its neighbors to approach the building with their own ideas – and on their own terms.

“The whole building is designed to invite people in,” said the Rev. Keith Owen II, rector of St. Peter’s. “And we’re basically saying to the community, ‘Come and look at this building and help us imagine what we can do in here.’”

The $3.5 million project originated a decade ago, when parish leaders realized that the 1950s parish hall – which housed the parish offices, several classrooms and the church’s long-running day care center – had reached the end of its useful life and was beyond repair.

“The old building was obsolete, falling down and inhospitable,” Owen told Episcopal News Service. “It was hopelessly out of compliance with all current building codes. If we even tried to rehabilitate any part of that building, all of the current building codes would have come into effect, which would have effectively shut down our day care center.”

And the building was a nightmare for elderly or handicapped parishioners.

“If you were mobility-impaired, it was flat-out impossible for you to meet with the rector in his office. You just couldn’t get there. There were eight or nine different levels” between the church and the parish hall, said parishioner Fred Purdy.

“So, for all those reasons, we decided we needed to do a complete tear-down and build a new one,” Owen said.

The new building solves the access problems with an elevator and a hallway that gently slopes from the entrance up to the narthex, where it connects to the church without any steps. But it presented an opportunity to make the parish more accessible in other ways, too. As beautiful as the 1920s church building is, you can’t see in or out. The old parish hall suffered from similar visibility issues.

“The building could be full of people and, from the outside, you’d never know it,” said Owen.

“We wanted to make sure the community could see in,” echoed parishioner Lorna Jordan. “Nobody knows what’s going on inside.”

The architectural solution, of course, was glass – so much glass that Owen is convening a “Squeegee Squad” of parish volunteers to clean it all on a regular basis. From the parish offices to the lounge to the day care center, the building is flooded with natural light. A courtyard with a small prayer garden sits in the center of the new church complex. But the focal point of the project is the section closest to the street: a multipurpose space called the Chapel of the Confession of St. Peter.

To highlight its flexibility, the chapel is decidedly minimalist, with plain white walls, large windows and no fixed pews. There will be one major decorative element, though: a specially commissioned icon of the biblical scene the chapel is named for, in which Jesus asks His apostles who they believe He is, and Peter replies that He is the son of God.

The chapel will be used for smaller services, choir practices and parish group meetings, but it also represents a new outreach opportunity for the church. Along with the other mission projects that currently operate on the property – such as the affordable day care center and a free meal program – this multipurpose space is intended as a gift to the community, an open invitation to the people of Lakewood to decide how they want to use it.

“Our function as a parish truly resides in the community at large,” said Purdy. “It’s our intention that it be utilized as the community finds to its benefit.”

“We’re kind of putting our feelers out in the community,” said Jordan. The parish will celebrate the grand opening of the new building on Sunday, June 9, with Lakewood’s mayor and the bishop of Ohio in attendance, and Jordan hopes that will encourage people to reach out with their ideas for how to use the space.

Potential uses suggested by Owen and parishioners include concerts, crafting, tai chi, dance classes, town hall meetings, lectures, meals, art shows, and an emergency homeless shelter on dangerously cold winter nights. Currently, there are no plans to charge rental fees for nonprofit events. Owen said the parish has offered the space to Beck Center for the Arts – a performing arts theater two blocks away – as they undergo a building project of their own.

“We basically said to them, ‘Here’s this beautiful, acoustically alive room, and you’re getting ready to tear your building down and rebuild it, so use it! Here it is! Use it!’ And they were kind of like, ‘What? Really? For free?’ And we said, ‘Yeah, for free!’”

Whatever activities the community brings to the new space in the years to come, the project has already changed the dynamic between the parish and the surrounding neighborhood. With so much glass, it feels like the space doesn’t really have walls at all. The distinction between inside and outside – or secular and religious – seems to fade.

“Now, nothing can go on in that building that cannot be seen from outside,” Owen said. “People can see in and we see out, so there’s a kind of communication going on between the community and the congregation that never went on before.”

And if you happen to walk past at a time when there are no events in the building, there will still be something inside the new chapel that catches your eye: that one-of-a-kind icon. At five feet by four feet, it will be “unavoidably visible from the street,” said Owen, who spoke to ENS while driving back to Ohio after picking up the icon in Florida.

“[That was] something we didn’t really plan,” he said. “It just kind of happened.

“And it asks the question of us at St. Peter’s and it asks the question of people stopped at the stoplight at the intersection of Detroit and West Clifton and people walking by on the sidewalk, ‘Who do you say that I am?’”

-Egan Millard is a freelance reporter based in the Boston area and is a member of the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts.

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Mission church’s healthy meals served with loving nod to ‘First Nations’ cuisine, culture

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 1:52pm

Volunteers help prepare the weekly Sunday meal for First Nations Kitchen, a ministry of All Saints Indian Mission in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: First Nations Kitchen

[Episcopal News Service] If you’re trying to differentiate First Nations Kitchen from other Episcopal feeding ministries, look no further than the menu. What other weekly church meal regularly has buffalo instead of beef, turkey instead of chicken, walleye instead of pork?

Some of those entrees can be expensive, said the Rev. Robert Two Bulls Jr., vicar at All Saints Indian Mission in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but his goal in starting First Nations Kitchen more than a decade ago wasn’t to offer hungry neighbors an extravagant meal. Instead, he seeks out these food items because they long have been part of indigenous cuisine and culture. All Saints’ Sunday night meals cater to local Native Americans who struggle at the margins of society, Two Bulls said.

It’s also about serving good people a good, healthy dinner. “Everybody deserves a good meal,” Two Bulls told Episcopal News Service in a phone interview. “You’re dealing with people who are living far out on the fringe, even farther than most native peoples.”

For a congregation that may only get 15 people on a Sunday morning at its worship service, All Saints’ extended family sometimes swells to more than 100 people when Sunday night dinner is served. Many of the guests live nearby at Little Earth, an affordable housing development serving the local American Indian community. Turnout at First Nations Kitchen’s meals is even larger if you count the many volunteers who come from around Minnesota’s Twin Cities region, including from other Episcopal churches.

“It’s very much community- and relationship-based,” said Karen Evans, who coordinates a volunteer group from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. She also appreciates the emphasis on healthy food. “It’s not about doing things quickly and cheaply.”

Nan Zosel has similar reasons for her support of First Nations Kitchen. She works as a chaplain at Breck Episcopal School in the suburb of Golden Valley, and she brings a group of about 20 students and parents once a year to volunteer. She said her experience working with All Saints has been much more spiritually fulfilling than her past volunteer work at other soup kitchens, which she described as impersonal, dreary and lacking healthy food options.

“I just didn’t think the food ministries I had encountered up to that point had done a good job of feeding either the soul or the body,” Zosel told ENS. First Nations Kitchen felt like a faith-based volunteer’s dream come true, she said.

First Nations Kitchen emphasizes health, organic food, especial longtime-staples of indigenous diets, such as wild rice and bison. Photo: First Nations Kitchen

Two Bulls starts by leading the volunteers in prayer while acknowledging that the land on which they are gathered once belonged to the native peoples of North America. He also explains the ministry’s goal of providing healthy, indigenous food with a sense of welcome to all who come.

“The hospitality is really stunning,” Zosel said. “Rather than people lining up and getting plates of food, they come in and they’re invited to sit down, and people come take their orders.”

Two Bulls prefers helping with the cooking rather than the cleanup, so right after Sunday worship he starts prepping the food. Kale, mixed greens, all organic. Wild rice is a typical grain. Most of the bread and vegetables are donated by grocers or restaurants, and the various protein sources are purchased from regional farms. The walleye is from a fishery run by the Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, Two Bulls said.

One big reason he accepted the call here 12 years ago was the opportunity to create a ministry like First Nations Kitchen. All Saints previously had attempted to grow a feeding ministry, even installing commercial-grade equipment, but it had struggled to get it off the ground. Two Bulls was assured he would have his new congregation’s support to try again.

“That was the hook, because I’ve lived all over the States, East Coast, West Coast, and have volunteered in soup kitchens and been to many of them and just helped out whenever I was able to,” he said. “I just like that kind of ministry, and it’s real Gospel-based, simple as you can get.”

Two Bulls, who is Lakota and originally from South Dakota, also serves as missioner for the Episcopal Church in Minnesota’s Department of Indian Work and Multicultural Ministries. He said it took a couple of years to build up a solid base of volunteers, donations and word of mouth for First Nations Kitchen. About a half dozen people now form the ministry’s core, including Two Bulls’ wife, Ritchie Two Bulls, and a ministry coordinator.

The ministry hasn’t been able to rely on its congregation for sustaining financial support, because many members are retired or living paycheck to paycheck, Two Bulls said.

“I’m not expecting them to give it their all. They’ve got bills and everything else, so we find the money to keep it open,” he said. Fundraisers help maintain First Nations Kitchen.

The ministry also brings the congregation to life once a week in ways that go beyond the modestly attended Sunday Eucharist. “Really, the kitchen is what’s keeping the place rolling,” he said.

He has a rotation of about five cooks who take turns drafting menus and coordinating the meals. Unless Two Bulls has other commitments, he is at the church Sunday evening helping out, and even when he can’t make it, the team at All Saints makes sure that First Nations Kitchen opens its doors once a week, every week.

“Never missed a Sunday yet,” Two Bulls said. “I always tell people: Snowstorms, Easter, Christmas if it falls on a Sunday, New Year’s and the high holy American holiday Super Bowl Sunday, we serve.”

Zosel’s group from Breck Episcopal School makes it their annual ritual to claim the volunteer roles every Super Bowl Sunday – or Soup-er Bowl Sunday, as she calls it.

“Any folks who are not into football, they’re like, ‘Yeah, I can do that,’” Zosel said. Later this year, she hopes to add a second Sunday to the school’s annual support of First Nations Kitchen, and one of the high school seniors at Breck chose to spend two weeks last month helping First Nations’ coordinators as part of the school’s May Program internships.

The group from St. Mary’s helps with the meals at First Nations Kitchen about every four to six weeks. Up to 10 church volunteers are split into two shifts. One in the afternoon helps with food prep, such as chopping vegetables and filling baskets of bread for guests to take home after the meal.

“The sustainability piece of it has grown a lot over the years,” said Evans, who has volunteered since Two Bulls started First Nations Kitchen. In addition to using high-quality, organic ingredients, the scraps are composted whenever possible. “We’re just kind of here taking our turns as stewards of the Earth.”

The second shift is responsible for serving the food, and when possible, the volunteers sit at the tables to share conversation with the guests.

“It’s not like a food line where you go in and you’re just dumping food on a plate,” she said. “It’s a community.”

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

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Lucinda Ashby elected next bishop of El Camino Real

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 11:03am

The Rev. Lucinda Ashby

[Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real] The Rev. Lucinda Ashby, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Idaho, was elected June 1 to be the fourth bishop of the San Jose, California-based Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real.

The election at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Saratoga was framed within the liturgy of the Eucharist and attended by 350 people. She received the required number of votes in the third ballot of voting.

“I can hear you!” said Ashby as she appeared by video feed and was greeted with enthusiastic applause. “I am honored. I am humbled. I am very grateful that you’ve called me to become the fourth bishop of El Camino Real. I’m humbled that the Holy Spirit has moved us toward this outcome … and because I really can’t believe it!”

“There was so much more I wanted to say,’ she added, speaking about the walkabout sessions in early May. “Do you know that feeling where you wish you’d said something better? I wanted to give better answers to your questions, delve deeper into the aspirational topics you raised … and now I have that chance.”

“I’m grateful that so many people were fully engaged in the discernment process for our next bishop,” said diocesan Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves following the election. “The votes show that people recognized the gifts of all of our candidates. As a lead candidate began to emerge, everyone was willing to move with the energy as it was manifesting before us. It was exciting and beautiful to experience.”

Ashby has been the canon to the ordinary in Idaho since 2011. She was ordained in 2004 in the Diocese of Northern California, where she served as assistant rector at St. Martin’s in Davis and then rector at St. Matthew’s in Sacramento. In addition, she taught at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley. Before ordination Lucinda taught Spanish and music in grades 7-12 and was head of school for a private school in Sacramento. She also founded and built a school for Native Americans in Capay Valley, California.

While in the Diocese of Northern California, Ashby served as president of the Standing Committee, member of the Hispanic commission, chair of the liturgy committee, and numerous other positions. She grew up in Perú and speaks Spanish fluently.  She and her husband, Bob, currently live in Boise, Idaho; they share three grown children who reside in California with their spouses.

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Kathryn McCrossen Ryan consecrated as bishop suffragan of Diocese of Texas

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 10:20am

[Diocese of Texas] Kathryn McCrossen Ryan, former canon to the ordinary for the Diocese of Texas, was consecrated bishop suffragan in Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin on June 1, 2019. Ryan was elected at the 170th Diocesan Council at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott on Feb. 22.

Kathryn McCrossen Ryan was consecrated bishop suffragan of
the western region of the Diocese of Texas on June 1. Photo: Diocese of Texas

She will have oversight of congregations in the western region of the diocese, with an office in Austin. A bishop suffragan is an assisting bishop and serves under the direction of the diocesan bishop, in this case, the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, bishop of Texas. In addition to her Episcopal visitations (and confirmations), Ryan also will serve as the chair of the Austin-area institutions: the Seminary of the Southwest, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School and El Buen Samaritano.

The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church was the chief consecrator, joined by Doyle, Bishop Suffragan Jeff W. Fisher, Bishop Assistant Hector Monterroso and other bishops across the country to ordain Ryan. Doyle was the preacher during the service.

“Kai, you are meant to sing to those who are far off and those who are near. To those who have found their way within God’s garden walls and those who do not yet know the gospel. All people need to be reminded of God’s song,” said Doyle during his sermon.

Ryan, a native of Raton, New Mexico, graduated from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and received her Master of Divinity from Seminary of the Southwest in 1992 where she currently serves on the Board of Trustees. Ryan served at All Saints, Austin, and in Mobile, Alabama, before moving to Dallas where she was called as rector of Ascension, Dallas, in 1999. She is married to Timothy Ryan, an attorney, and they have two children, Ned, 18, a freshman at Goucher College in Baltimore, and Eleanor, 12.

Ryan’s breadth of experience in four dioceses, Provincial Synod and General Convention, her participation in the national Gathering of Leaders for young clergy and nearly 15 years in a culturally diverse parish as rector stand her in good stead for the ministry of bishop suffragan.

Ryan has a history of cross-cultural ministry with which she hopes to enhance the diversity within the clergy of the Diocese of Texas.

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Diocese of Michigan elects Bonnie A. Perry as 11th bishop

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 9:41am

[Diocese of Michigan] The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan announced June 1 the election of the Rev. Bonnie A. Perry, rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Chicago as its 11th bishop diocesan.

The Rev. Bonnie A. Perry

Perry is the first woman and first openly gay priest to be elected bishop since the diocese was formed in 1836. This also marked the first time in the history of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan that the slate of candidates was comprised entirely of women.

Perry was elected on the fifth ballot of the Special Electing Convention held June1 in Detroit. She received 64 clergy votes and 118 lay votes. A minimum of 55 clergy votes and 94 lay votes were necessary for election on that ballot.

The other nominees were:

  • The Rev. Grace Burton-Edwards, rector, St. Thomas, Columbus, Georgia.
  • The Rev. Paula Clark, canon to the ordinary and canon for clergy development, multicultural ministries and justice, Diocese of Washington.
  • The Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Colorado.

“I am in awe of the trust you have placed in me, and I will, with God’s help, do all I can to live up to this trust and this honor,” Perry said following her election. “I am so excited about the ministry we are going to do together. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Perry holds a holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Chicago and a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She was ordained deacon and priest in 1990 in the Diocese of Newark. Perry and her spouse currently live in Chicago and will relocate to Michigan this year.

Pending the consent of a majority of the bishops with jurisdiction and a majority of the diocesan standing committees, Perry will be ordained and consecrated on Feb. 8, 2020, in the Diocese of Michigan. The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop and primate of The Episcopal Church, will serve as the chief consecrator.

Perry will succeed the Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs Jr., who has served as bishop since 2000 and will retire in at the end of 2019.

The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan is comprised of 75 congregations and over 16,000 baptized members.

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Criminals impersonate Anglican Communion secretary general in gift card fraud

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 3:01pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Scam emails designed to look as though they have been sent by Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Josiah Idowu-Fearon have been used to acquire iTunes gift cards from unsuspecting recipients.

At least one recipient of the emails was taken in by the fraudsters and ended up £200 out of pocket. The scammers used a Gmail account. The victim who fell for the scam was targeted mere hours after the Anglican Communion Office informed Google that the email account was being used to commit fraud.

Read the full article here.

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South Sudanese in diaspora and in Africa garner renewed Episcopal Church attention

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 2:46pm

The Very Rev. Patrick Augustine soon will retire from Christ Episcopal Church in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and become a South Sudanese bishop. Photo: Christ Episcopal Church via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church is paying renewed attention to Sudanese Episcopalians in two ways, one conventional and one unique in the Anglican Communion.

The Task Force on Dialogue with South Sudanese Diaspora, created by the General Convention in 2018 (via Resolution D088), is the conventional way, working to “establish an official conversation for the purpose of developing a statement of understanding of the relationship with the South Sudanese American Anglican diaspora living in this country and The Episcopal Church.”

The unconventional approach will begin June 2 when the Very Rev. Patrick Augustine retires as the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and a week later becomes an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Bor, part of the Anglican Communion Province of the Episcopal Church in South Sudan.

He will divide his time between Bor and the United States, where, in the words of a March letter from Jonglei Archbishop Ruben Akurdid Ngong, Augustine will be “our voice to represent us in North America and in the Anglican Communion … to seek help in the continuing work of peace and resources for development to empower our people to live in harmony” after years of civil war.

In the past, the assignment of a bishop from one province of the communion to function in another province has been met with skepticism or outright objection. In the 2000s, so-called “cross-border interventions” involved bishops from conservative Anglican provinces and dioceses entering other provinces with the goal of ministering to those who objected to their church’s theological stance on the roles of LGBTQ people in those churches. In 2004, the communion imposed a moratorium on such interventions while also banning same-gender relationship blessings and the ordination and consecration of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate.

Augustine and his current bishop, Diocese of Eau Claire Bishop Jay Lambert, told Episcopal News Service that word of Augustine’s appointment came last August via an unexpected letter to Augustine from Akurdid. They consulted with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, initiating a long series of conversations, email exchanges and discernment. That months-long process ended with the presiding bishop, Lambert and Augustine concluding that the archbishop’s offer was workable and was a recognition of Augustine’s nearly 30-year history of ministering with and to Sudanese Anglican leaders and their people during the decades of conflict in the African nation.

A delegation from The Episcopal Church presents gifts at a combined worship service in May 1998 at Kakuma Refugee Camp in the Sudan. The Very Rev. Patrick Augustine is at right. Photo: John Bullen/Episcopal News Service

South Sudan became the world’s newest nation in July 2011, when it seceded from the north in a referendum on independence following almost half a century of civil war. But a separate conflict erupted in December 2013 after the South Sudan president accused his former deputy of plotting a coup. The conflict quickly morphed into tribal warfare between the Dinka and the Nuer. A peace deal brokered last year by the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the nation’s churches is fragile.

Augustine, 69, is a Pakistani-born cleric whose orders were transferred from the Anglican Church in Pakistan to The Episcopal Church in 1986. Having recently had two stents put in his heart, he was planning to retire when he turned 70 in 2020. Instead, he said, he has decided that, with Curry’s approval, he could not refuse the South Sudanese’s call to him.

Curry recently told the House of Bishops that Augustine’s impending episcopate is not an end run, reminiscent of those interventions.

“This is not something that’s bad. It’s potentially something that’s good. We’ve never done it before, but we’ve put safeguards in place that all have agreed to,” Curry said, “for the furtherance of God’s kingdom.”

Those safeguards include requiring Augustine to have a diocesan bishop’s permission before he can enter a diocese to work with any South Sudanese Episcopalians whom the bishop has determined would benefit from Augustine’s pastoral presence, the presiding bishop wrote in a letter to him.

Augustine will be expected communicate and collaborate with the church’s Global Partnerships Office, the Rev. Charles Robertson (Curry’s canon for ministry beyond The Episcopal Church) and church-related organizations such as the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan.

Curry also said that he will continue to talk to the South Sudanese primate about how the arrangement is working. Either one can end it if they feel people are confused about Augustine’s role.

In addition, Augustine will not be a member of The Episcopal Church House of Bishops, Curry said.

The presiding bishop told the bishops that he had talked with Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, the South Sudanese primate, and told the archbishop of Canterbury’s staff about the their conversations.

Curry wrote, in a letter to Akurdid that Lambert is carrying to Juba, South Sudan, that he hopes “the careful instructions” he gave to Augustine and shared with the primate “will offer the clarity needed to strengthen the bonds of faith and love that hold us together as fellow Anglican Christians.”

Relations between The Episcopal Church and Sudanese Anglicans have been rocky in the past because of General Convention’s decisions to fully include LGBTQ people in the life of The Episcopal Church. Augustine told ENS that he supports convention’s actions. “We do it in the name of compassion and justice. They disagree with us on conservative theological grounds,” he said.

Augustine insists, “I have no other agenda” other than to “be a bridge to being reconciliation” between South Sudan and the United States, all the while bringing the hope of the Gospel to the poor and war-torn country whose people “have been on the run for 40 years and are now beginning to come back” to the newly independent nation.

“The agenda of Jesus is to work for the poor, to open the eyes of the blind and bring peace and comfort,” he said.

Akurdid, who is also the bishop of Bor, told Augustine in outlining his appointment that the diocese and country need the world “to stand in solidarity with us to help God’s children who are suffering” because of war and internal conflicts and a lack of resources. “Our people are hungry, suffering from diseases and many are living in refugee camps in diaspora,” he wrote.

The archbishop also said he wants Augustine to help with theological education of both clergy and laity, including members of the Mothers Union.

“The needs are enormous” in Bor, Augustine said. He will not be paid, relying instead on his Church Pension Fund benefit that he earned serving churches in the dioceses of Virginia, Chicago and Eau Claire. He is setting up a nonprofit organization for his currently nonexistent budget. Augustine has already received some donations for his work in South Sudan, including $1,000 from Bishop William Patrick Callahan, leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of La Crosse.

Lambert said he supports Augustine in his new ministry as long as he stays within Curry’s guardrails.

“I’m very excited for him. It’s amazing how God works. And, it’s amazing how people have embraced this for him,” Lambert said. “I think it’s a wonderful story. It’s like anything else that’s new: it presents danger and it presents opportunity. I want to see the opportunity. I believe that will happen.”

Lambert said the arrangement could be “a marvelous model” that can be a factor in “building up our church.”

Augustine will begin “to try and build bridges to work together” with the convention task force and the American Friends of the Episcopal Church in Sudan, or AFRECS, Lambert said, adding that he is helping Augustine in that effort.

“I don’t want a diffused perspective because if they all care about each other they can be more effective in unity,” he said.

Richard Parkins, the executive director of AFRECS, told ENS that he has not yet talked with Augustine, whom he has known since they worked together in Sudan in the late 1990s. The group has had no involvement in the formation Augustine’s new ministry. However, he said, AFRECS has always worked towards the same goal of peace-making and reconciliation.

AFRECS does that work both independently and, at times, with the help of the church’s Global Partnerships Office. In addition, Episcopal Relief & Development has worked in the area for years.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, the six-person Task Force on Dialogue with South Sudanese Anglican Diaspora was “struggling to get our hands and heads wrapped around the scope of this conversation because we don’t know where all the South Sudanese communities are,” Diocese of West Missouri Bishop Martin Field told the House of Bishops in March. He and Diocese of Iowa Bishop Alan Scarfe, who are both on the task force, asked their colleagues to fill out a survey to help them find those congregations.

Field noted that many of the South Sudanese immigrants are now U.S. citizens who are building families. However, “first- and second-generation and beyond still identify very strongly to their cultural roots in Sudan,” he said.

The Rev. Ranjit Matthews, rector of St. James Episcopal Church in New London, Connecticut, chairs the group. He told ENS that the survey uncovered nearly 40 South Sudanese faith communities spread across The Episcopal Church. In some cases there are parishes where the majority of the members are South Sudanese. Other groups are not so formally organized.

Regardless of their structure, Matthews said, The Episcopal Church “could be doing a better job” of listening to South Sudanese who are in the United States to learn how the church can support them in their ministries and in their life now.

“The whole point is to help the South Sudanese realize that we want to be their church and try to meet their spiritual needs in a way that is authentic, and not something that we’re asking that they do for us but [asking] how can we be in real relationship,” said Matthews, who worked as The Episcopal Church’s Africa officer before coming to New London.

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

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