Episcopal News Service

Subscribe to Episcopal News Service feed
The official news service of the Episcopal Church.
Updated: 5 min 55 sec ago

El Obispo Primado y la Iglesia responden a nuevas reducciones al programa de reasentamiento de refugiados de EE.UU.

Fri, 09/21/2018 - 9:28am

A principios de marzo de 2015, la Iglesia Episcopal dirigió una peregrinación a la región de los Grandes Lagos de África y visitó el campamento de refugiados de Gihembe, en Ruanda, para imponerse de la situación de los refugiados congoleses y del Programa de Admisiones de Refugiados de Estados Unidos. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS.

[Episcopal News Service] Estados Unidos era líder mundial en reasentamiento de refugiados hace apenas dos años, cuando más de 80.000 refugiados ingresaron en el país con la aguda de nueve agencias con contratos federales para llevar a cabo esa labor, entre ellas el Ministerio Episcopal de Migración. Esa cifra ha disminuido durante el gobierno de Trump, el cual anunció el 17 de septiembre que reduciría aun más el número de reasentamientos, a sólo 30.000 al año.

La Iglesia Episcopal tiene una larga historia de defensa de los refugiados, personas que huyen de la violencia, la guerra y la persecución religiosa, y el 18 de septiembre la Iglesia expresó su inconformidad con la reducción en el límite del número de refugiados.

“Como seguidores de Jesucristo, nos entristece esta decisión”, dijo el obispo primado Michael B. Curry en una declaración escrita. “Nuestros corazones y nuestras oraciones están con esos miles de refugiados que, debido a esta decisión, no podrán encontrar una nueva vida en Estados Unidos. Esta decisión del gobierno no refleja el cuidado y la compasión de los estadounidenses que todos los días acogen a refugiados en sus comunidades. Nuestra fe nos llama a amar a Dios y a amar a nuestro prójimo, de manera que estemos prestos a ayudar a todos los que podamos de cualquier manera que podamos”.

El límite actual para el asentamiento de refugiados es de 45.000 para el año fiscal que termina el 30 de septiembre, pero hasta ahora, menos de la mitad de esa cifra, sólo 20.918, han sido admitidos. El Departamento de Estado de EE.UU. anunció el 17 de septiembre que Estados Unidos reduciría la cifra límite a 30.000 para el año fiscal que comienza el 1 de octubre, el nivel más bajo desde que se creara el programa en los años 80 del pasado siglo.

“Es una semana desalentadora en la vida de nuestro país. El anuncio del gobierno de que sólo recibiremos 30.000 refugiados, de los 85.000 de hace sólo dos años, es particularmente triste, dado que los refugiados es el grupo de personas más investigado de nuestro país y, en consecuencia, presenta muy poca amenaza a nuestra seguridad y nuestro modo de vida”, dijo el Rdo. Charles Robertson, canónigo del Obispo Primado para el ministerio fuera de la Iglesia Episcopal, quien supervisa el Ministerio Episcopal de Migración.

“Incluso esta cifra de 30.000 es un límite, no una meta”, dijo Robertson.

En la actualidad, hay 25,4 millones de refugiados en todo el mundo, según Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (UNHCR por su sigla en inglés) cuyo mandato consiste en brindarles protección internacional a los refugiados.

La tarea principal del UNHCR es la repatriación, o el retorno seguro a los países de origen. Cuando eso no es posible, la agencia ayuda a los refugiados a buscar ciudadanía o residencia legal en el país de acogida. La tercera opción es el reasentamiento en uno de lo más de 40 países en todo el mundo que aceptan refugiados. Mundialmente, menos de un 1 por ciento de los refugiados  obtiene reasentamiento. Históricamente, Estados Unidos ha estado a la cabeza de los países que acogen refugiados.

La participación de la Iglesia Episcopal en el reasentamiento de refugiados se remonta por lo menos a la segunda guerra mundial, cuando las iglesias patrocinaron a refugiados que huían de la opresión nazi. Empezando por el Fondo del Obispo Primado para Ayuda Mundial (ahora la Agencia Episcopal de Ayuda y Desarrollo) y asociándose posteriormente con el Servicio Mundial de Iglesias, la Iglesia Episcopal estableció el Ministerio Episcopal de Migración en 1988.

Estados Unidos formalizó su programa de reasentamiento de refugiados con la Ley para los Refugiados de 1980 en respuesta al creciente número de refugiados que huía del comunismo en Asia Sudoriental. Hasta entonces, las iglesias auspiciaban visas de refugiados; pero, para mediados de la década del 70, ese proceso resultó insuficiente para responder a las necesidades.

El EMM ha reasentado más de 90.000 refugiados a lo largo de los últimos 30 años. Anteriormente, el EMM había manejado 31 filiales de reasentamiento en 26 diócesis, proporcionándoles ayuda directa a los recién llegados. Más recientemente, el número ha descendido a 14 filiales en 12 diócesis, aunque el EMM aún se propone reasentar 1.527 individuos en el actual año fiscal.

El objetivo de programa de reasentamiento de EE.UU. es ayudar a refugiados a establecer nuevas vidas y a convertirse en autosuficientes. Con vistas a ese objetivo, el EMM se asocia con afiliados, iglesias y gobierno y organizaciones no gubernamentales para brindarles servicios a familias de refugiados desde su llegada a Estados Unidos. Esos servicios vitales incluyen clases de idioma inglés y de orientación cultural, servicios de empleo, matrícula escolar y ayuda inicial con vivienda y transporte.

El EMM es una de nueve agencias asociadas con el Departamento de Estado de EE.UU. para acoger y reasentar refugiados. Seis de las asociadas del gobierno en los reasentamientos son [organizaciones] de carácter religioso; el programa ha disfrutado históricamente de apoyo bipartidario la mayor parte de las veces.

“Mientras el EMM siga siendo un asociado del gobierno, seguiremos reasentando refugiados y, en cualquier caso, continuaremos brindándoles servicios a los refugiados”, dijo Robertson.

La Constitución de EE.UU. garantiza libertad de cultos y el reasentamiento de refugiados les permite a los que vienen a EE.UU. vivir en seguridad y practicar su religión sin persecución, dijo Rebecca Linder Blachly, directora de la Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales de la Iglesia Episcopal con sede en Washington, D.C.

“Como Iglesia, tenemos particular interés en garantizar la libertad de cultos para todas las personas en todo el mundo. Este gobierno ha hablado en repetidas ocasiones de la importancia de la libertad de cultos, pero estamos viéndolo retraerse de uno de las maneras más efectivas en que podemos proteger a los que son perseguidos o amenazados por cuenta de sus creencias religiosas”, dijo Blachly. “Como nación, hemos ofrecido históricamente protección a los que no están seguros en sus países de origen. Esta drástica reducción en el número de refugiados —y el sistemático desmantelamiento de este exitoso programa— tendrá graves consecuencias humanitarias”.

El presidente Donald Trumpm hizo de la reducción de la inmigración una pieza central de su campaña electoral, y las reducciones de su gobierno al programa de reasentamiento de refugiados muestran un interés en limitar más que la inmigración ilegal. El Presidente determina el número de refugiados que pueden entrar en Estados Unidos; y, durante meses, funcionarios de la administración han presionado por reducir aún más el número de refugiados admitidos.

“Reducir el número de admisiones para reasentamiento de refugiados a una cifra históricamente baja se vincula a los empeños de este gobierno de frenar la inmigración ilegal”, dijo Lacy Browmel, asesora de política migratoria y de refugiados de la Iglesia. “Este empeño está teniendo graves repercusiones en las familias y en las personas vulnerables. Instamos a los miembros del Congreso a hacer todo lo que esté a su alcance para mantener el sistema de reasentamiento, las protecciones para los solicitantes de asilo y soluciones compasivas para todos los inmigrantes”.

Para obtener más información sobre la participación de la Iglesia en el reasentamiento de refugiados o para apoyar al EMM, hacer clic aquí.

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

The post El Obispo Primado y la Iglesia responden a nuevas reducciones al programa de reasentamiento de refugiados de EE.UU. appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Declaración del Obispo Presidente Michael Curry sobre la cuota máxima de refugiados fijada por el gobierno para 2019

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 11:40am

La Iglesia Episcopal está profundamente decepcionada por el anuncio del Secretario de Estado Mike Pompeo el día de ayer de que la administración ha establecido la cuota máxima de admisiones de refugiados para el próximo año en 30.000. Este es el límite más bajo en la historia de nuestro país y constituye otro esfuerzo más para alejar a los Estados Unidos de nuestro liderazgo para enfrentar las crisis humanitarias. Además, esta marcha atrás en el reasentamiento de refugiados va en contra de la historia de nuestra nación de ser un lugar de refugio para los perseguidos. La Iglesia Episcopal, a través de los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración (EMM), se compromete a dar la bienvenida a todos.

“Como seguidores de Jesucristo, estamos tristes por esta decisión.” dijo el obispo primado Michael B. Curry. “Nuestros corazones y nuestras oraciones están con todos aquellos miles de refugiados que, debido a esta disposición, no podrán encontrar una nueva vida en Estados Unidos. Esta decisión del gobierno no refleja el cuidado y la compasión de los estadounidenses que acogen a los refugiados en sus comunidades todos los días. Nuestra fe nos llama a amar a Dios y amar al prójimo, por lo cual estamos dispuestos a ayudar a todos los que podamos de cualquier manera que podamos”.

Los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración, que han reasentado a más de 90.000 refugiados desde la década de los 80, son la respuesta primordial de la Iglesia Episcopal a las crisis de los refugiados. Trabajando en asociación con oficinas y grupos dentro de la Iglesia, así como con gobiernos y organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG), los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración proporcionan servicios vitales a miles de familias de refugiados a su llegada a los Estados Unidos: clases de inglés y de orientación cultural; servicios de empleo; inscripción escolar; y asistencia inicial con alojamiento y transporte. El objetivo es la autosuficiencia y la autodeterminación para cada familia. Después de años de vivir en una situación incierta, los refugiados tienen la oportunidad de comenzar de nuevo sobre una base sólida que honre sus historias y su dignidad, gracias a Los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración. Apoye a los EMM mientras continuamos dando la bienvenida a los refugiados recién llegados y apoyando a las familias que ya están aquí.

The post Declaración del Obispo Presidente Michael Curry sobre la cuota máxima de refugiados fijada por el gobierno para 2019 appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Se aceptan solicitudes para delegados episcopales a la Comisión de las Naciones Unidas sobre la Condición Jurídica y Social de la Mujer a llevarse

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 10:34am
Se aceptan solicitudes para que los delegados episcopales representen al Obispo Primado de la Iglesia Episcopal en la Sesión 63.º de la Comisión de las Naciones Unidas sobre la Condición Juridica y Social de la Mujer (UNCSW, por su sigla en inglés) en la ciudad de Nueva York, del 11 al 22 de marzo de 2019. El tema prioritario para esta reunión es: Sistemas de protección social, acceso a servicios públicos e infraestructura sostenible para la igualdad de género y el empoderamiento de mujeres y niñas.

La delegación episcopal estará compuesta por un delegado por cada provincia de la Iglesia Episcopal y un delegado de la Convocación de Iglesias Episcopales en Europa. La intención es hacer que la delegación como un todo refleje la diversidad de la Iglesia Episcopal, dando prioridad a aquellos cuyas experiencias de vida y activismo social están directamente relacionados con el tema.

Durante su visita a Nueva York, los delegados episcopales observarán las reuniones oficiales de la UNCSW en la sede de las Naciones Unidas y representarán al Obispo Presidente de la Iglesia Episcopal a través de la promoción y defensa en las Naciones Unidas. Se espera que participen en conferencias telefónicas antes de la reunión y evaluaciones de la UNCSW, realizar reportes y acciones complementarias una vez que estén de regreso a sus lugares de origen.

Los delegados pueden ser de cualquier género y deben tener al menos 19 años de edad. Deben poder hablar sobre el tema prioritario y estar dispuestos a participar en la promoción y defensa en UNCSW. Cualquiera que esté considerando postularse debe tener un rol relevante a nivel parroquial, diocesano y/o provincial, rendir cuentas ante una autoridad diocesana o provincial, y tener un proceso para informar a la comunidad local después de participar en UNCSW.

Los jóvenes (de 15 a 18 años) también pueden presentar una solicitud. Cada joven debe estar acompañado por un adulto, preferiblemente uno de sus padres, o tutor.

Se espera que los delegados estén en la ciudad de Nueva York del 8 al 22 de marzo para la reunión de UNCSW o lo más cerca posible de la estadía completa. Los delegados son responsables de sus gastos de viaje, alojamiento, y demás gastos relacionados con el programa y la recaudación de fondos. Una cantidad limitada de fondos de becas puede estar disponible para apoyar a los candidatos que de otro modo no podrían asistir debido a limitaciones económicas.

Luego de una revisión de las solicitudes, el obispo primado Michael Curry elegirá a los delegados. Todos los solicitantes serán notificados a finales de noviembre.

La solicitud en inglés está disponible aquí y en español aquí. La fecha límite para solicitar es el 26 de octubre.

Para obtener más información, comuníquese con Lynnaia Main, representante de la Iglesia Episcopal ante las Naciones Unidas, lmain@episcopalchurch.org.

UNCSW 63: http://www.unwomen.org/es/csw/csw63-2019

ONU Mujeres: www.unwomen.org/es

La Iglesia Episcopal y las Naciones Unidas: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/episcopal-church-and-united-nations

Representación de la Comunión Anglicana en las Naciones Unidas http://www.aco.org/mission/at-the-un.aspx

Asociaciones globales: www.episcopalchurch.org/global-partnerships

La Iglesia Episcopal: www.episcopalchurch.org

The post Se aceptan solicitudes para delegados episcopales a la Comisión de las Naciones Unidas sobre la Condición Jurídica y Social de la Mujer a llevarse appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Declaración del obispo primado Michael Curry sobre la cuota máxima de refugiados fijada por el gobierno para 2019

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 8:33am

La Iglesia Episcopal está profundamente decepcionada por el anuncio del Secretario de Estado Mike Pompeo el día de ayer de que la administración ha establecido la cuota máxima de admisiones de refugiados para el próximo año en 30.000. Este es el límite más bajo en la historia de nuestro país y constituye otro esfuerzo más para alejar a los Estados Unidos de nuestro liderazgo para enfrentar las crisis humanitarias. Además, esta marcha atrás en el reasentamiento de refugiados va en contra de la historia de nuestra nación de ser un lugar de refugio para los perseguidos. La Iglesia Episcopal, a través de los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración (EMM), se compromete a dar la bienvenida a todos.

“Como seguidores de Jesucristo, estamos tristes por esta decisión.” dijo el obispo primado Michael B. Curry. “Nuestros corazones y nuestras oraciones están con todos aquellos miles de refugiados que, debido a esta disposición, no podrán encontrar una nueva vida en Estados Unidos. Esta decisión del gobierno no refleja el cuidado y la compasión de los estadounidenses que acogen a los refugiados en sus comunidades todos los días. Nuestra fe nos llama a amar a Dios y amar al prójimo, por lo cual estamos dispuestos a ayudar a todos los que podamos de cualquier manera que podamos”.

Los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración, que han reasentado a más de 90.000 refugiados desde la década de los 80, son la respuesta primordial de la Iglesia Episcopal a las crisis de los refugiados. Trabajando en asociación con oficinas y grupos dentro de la Iglesia, así como con gobiernos y organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG), los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración proporcionan servicios vitales a miles de familias de refugiados a su llegada a los Estados Unidos: clases de inglés y de orientación cultural; servicios de empleo; inscripción escolar; y asistencia inicial con alojamiento y transporte. El objetivo es la autosuficiencia y la autodeterminación para cada familia. Después de años de vivir en una situación incierta, los refugiados tienen la oportunidad de comenzar de nuevo sobre una base sólida que honre sus historias y su dignidad, gracias a Los Ministerios Episcopales de Migración. Apoye a los EMM mientras continuamos dando la bienvenida a los refugiados recién llegados y apoyando a las familias que ya están aquí:  www.episcopalmigrationministries.org/give.

The post Declaración del obispo primado Michael Curry sobre la cuota máxima de refugiados fijada por el gobierno para 2019 appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Presiding Bishop, church respond to further cuts to the US refugee resettlement program

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 5:03pm

In early March 2018, the Episcopal Church led a pilgrimage to Africa’s Great Lakes region and visited the Gihembe Refugee Camp in Rwanda to learn about the plight of Congolese refugees and the United States Refugee Admissions Program. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The United States was a worldwide leader in refugee resettlement just two years ago, when more than 80,000 refugees were welcomed into the country with help from the nine agencies with federal contracts to do that work, including Episcopal Migration Ministries. That number has dwindled under the Trump administration, which announced Sept. 17 it would reduce resettlement further, to just 30,000 a year.

The Episcopal Church has a long history of standing with refugees, people who are fleeing violence, war and political and religious persecution, and on Sept. 18 the church expressed its disappointment at the reduced cap on the number of refugees.

“As followers of Jesus Christ, we are saddened by this decision,” Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, said in a written statement. “Our hearts and our prayers are with those thousands of refugees who, due to this decision, will not be able to find new life in the United States. This decision by the government does not reflect the care and compassion of Americans who welcome refugees in their communities every day. Our faith calls us to love God and love our neighbor, so we stand ready to help all those we can in any way we can.”

The current ceiling for refugee resettlement is 45,000 for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, but so far, fewer than half that number, just 20,918, have been admitted. The U.S. Department of State announced Sept. 17 that the United States would reduce the ceiling to 30,000 for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, the lowest level since the resettlement program was created in the 1980s.

“It’s a disheartening week in the life of our country. The administration’s announcement that we will only be receiving up to 30,000, down from 85,000 just two years ago, refugees is particularly sad given that refugees are indeed the most highly vetted group of people in our country and, therefore, pose little threat to our security and our way of life,” said the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church, who oversees Episcopal Migration Ministries.

“Even this 30,000 number is a ceiling, not a target. Refugees are indeed the most highly vetted group of people in our country and, therefore, pose little threat to our security and our way of life.”

Today, there are 25.4 million refugees worldwide, according to UNHCR, whose mandate is to provide international protection for refugees.

UNHCR’s primary focus is on repatriation, or safe return home. When that is not possible, the agency helps refugees pursue citizenship or legal residency in the host country. The third option is resettlement to one of the more than 40 countries worldwide that accept refugees. Globally, less than 1 percent of refugees receive resettlement. Historically, the United States had led the world in welcoming refugees.

The United States formalized its refugee-resettlement program with the Refugee Act of 1980 in response to the increased numbers of refugees fleeing communism in Southeast Asia. Until then, churches sponsored refugees’ visas; but by the mid-1970s, that process was insufficient to meet the need.

The Episcopal Church’s involvement in refugee resettlement dates back at least to World War II, when churches sponsored refugees fleeing Nazi oppression. Beginning with the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief (now Episcopal Relief & Development) and later partnering with Church World Service, the Episcopal Church established Episcopal Migration Ministries in 1988.

EMM has resettled more than 90,000 refugees over the last 30 years. Previously, EMM had operated 31 resettlement affiliates in 26 dioceses, providing direct assistance to recent arrivals. More recently, the number has decreased to 14 affiliates in 12 dioceses, though EMM still plans to resettle 1,527 individuals in the current fiscal year.

The U.S. resettlement program’s goal is to help refugees establish new lives and become self-sufficient. Toward that goal, EMM partners affiliates, churches, government and nongovernmental organizations to provide services to refugee families upon their arrival in the United States. Such vital services include: English language and cultural orientation classes, employment services, school enrollment and initial assistance with housing and transportation.

EMM is one of nine agencies partnered with the U.S. State Department to welcome and resettle refugees. Six of the government’s resettlement partners are faith-based; the program has historically, for the most part, enjoyed bipartisan support.

“As long as the EMM remains a government partner, we will continue to resettle refugees, and, in any case, we will continue to provide services to refugees,” said Robertson.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees religious freedom, and refugee resettlement allows those who would come to the U.S. to live in safety and to practice their religion without persecution, said Rebecca Linder Blachly, director of the Episcopal Church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations.

“As a church, we have a particular interest in ensuring the freedom of religion for all people worldwide. This administration has spoken repeatedly about the importance of religious freedom, but we are seeing them step back from one of the most powerful ways that we can protect those who are persecuted or threatened because of their religious beliefs,” said Blachly. “As a nation, we have historically offered protection to those who are not safe in their countries. This dramatic reduction in the number of refugees – and systematic dismantlement of this successful program – will have grave humanitarian consequences.”

President Donald Trump made curbing immigration a centerpiece of his election campaign, and his White House’s reductions to the nation’s refugee resettlement program show an interest in limiting more than just illegal immigration. The president determines the number of refugees allowed entry into the United States; for months administration officials have pushed for further decreasing the number of refugees admitted.

“Slashing the refugee resettlement admissions number to a historic low is tied to this administration’s efforts to clamp down on legal immigration,” said Lacy Broemel, the church’s refugee and immigration policy adviser. “This effort is having grave impacts on families and vulnerable persons. We urge members of Congress to do all they can to maintain or resettlement system, protections for asylum seekers, and compassionate solutions for all immigrants.”

To learn more about the church’s involvement in refugee resettlement or to support EMM, click here.

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

The post Presiding Bishop, church respond to further cuts to the US refugee resettlement program appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

New Zealanders celebrate 150 years of ‘glad tidings of great joy’ – the Bible in Maori

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 3:01pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The 150th anniversary of the first printed edition of Te Paipera Tapu – the Bible in the Maori language – is being celebrated in New Zealand. The work that led to the Maori language Bible began years beforehand, when Anglican priest Samuel Marsden, working as a Church Missionary Society worker in Sydney, Australia, was given permission to establish a mission in New Zealand. He preached at New Zealand’s first Church service on Christmas Day in 1814, introducing 300 Maori to the Gospel, using as his theme Luke 2:10 – “Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy.”

Read the full article here.

The post New Zealanders celebrate 150 years of ‘glad tidings of great joy’ – the Bible in Maori appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Anglican primates respond to Archbishop of Canterbury’s request on Letters for Creation

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 2:58pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Leaders of some of the Anglican Communion’s 39 provinces have responded to the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s invitation to write Letters for Creation. To help promote the Season of Creation, which runs from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4, Welby asked his fellow primates to set out what “the care for God’s creation” means in their Province; and what they wanted to say to the wider Anglican Communion about “the care for our common home”. The responses have now been published by the Church of England’s environment program.

The post Anglican primates respond to Archbishop of Canterbury’s request on Letters for Creation appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Anglicans respond to typhoon in the Philippines

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 2:55pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Officials in the Philippines said Sept. 18 that the death toll from Typhoon Mangkhut has risen to 74 – but they warn that the final figure could be much higher. 

Read the full article here.

The post Anglicans respond to typhoon in the Philippines appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Episcopal churches in the Carolinas assess damage, offer help after Hurricane Florence

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 3:11pm

[Episcopal News Service] The storm has moved on, but the impact from Hurricane Florence still is being felt by the dioceses, congregations and Episcopalians in the Carolinas as they deal with power outages, downed trees, flooded neighborhoods and impassable roads.

The bishops of the five Episcopal dioceses in North and South Carolina issued a joint statement Sept. 15 pledging their support for those affected by the storm and asking for Episcopalians everywhere to help by giving to Episcopal Relief & Development.

“We are assessing the damage to our communities, which as you will know from news reports, varies widely. Conditions will continue to change for days due to rising rivers,” the bishops said. “We are blessed by your prayers and assurances of support and give thanks to God for you. As the Body of Christ, you give us tremendous strength and encouragement.”

At least 23 people have died in North and South Carolina due to the storm, which brought hurricane-force winds as it made landfall early Sept. 15 near Wilmington, North Carolina. The storm weakened as it continued west, but flooding remains a threat even days later. Hundreds of roads were still closed Sept. 17, including parts of Interstate 40 and Interstate 95.

Each Episcopal diocese has been in regular contact with Episcopal Relief & Development while coordinating pastoral response with clergy members. The storm forced many congregations to cancel Sunday services on Sept. 16, and lists of closures are being updated day to day.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, which encompasses the coastal half of the state, reported that at least 15 of its congregations had canceled services. Bishop Skip Adams postponed a visit to St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Kingstree “due to the likelihood that the road near the church may not be passable on Sunday.”

The Diocese of East Carolina is updating its “hurricane hub” webpage with the latest information about the storm’s aftermath, including the continued closure of the Diocesan House in Kinston. On its Facebook page, the diocese is sharing highlights of the post-Florence experience of its congregations, located in North Carolina’s coastal region.

One photo shows a large tree that split and toppled on church property at St. James Episcopal Church in Wilmington. The tree did not appear to have hit the church building.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Currituck, North Carolina, posted a photo of the message that now is displayed on its sign: “Welcome back. We made it out fine. Pray for the rest of N.C.”

Trinity Episcopal Church in Chocowinity, North Carolina, shared a photo of its Sunday service on Sept. 16, attended by about a half dozen members who were able to make it to the church safely.

“In spite of no electricity, our small family was able to Worship God and pray for all of those less fortunate. We continue to keep our Trinity Family in our prayers as well as all who are affected by the hurricane,” the Facebook post said.

Members of Church of the Servant in Wilmington worked last week to secure the church building and to wrap furniture in plastic before Hurricane Florence hit. The Rev. Jody Greenwood, the church’s rector, reported Sept. 17 that the property appeared to be in good shape after the storm.

“I stopped by the church this morning and we do have power. Tree debris and some fence panels are down, but nothing major in the yard,” she said on Facebook.

The Diocese of North Carolina, which includes the central third of the state, sent an email newsletter to its members on Sept. 17 noting that the scope of the disaster is still being assessed. So far, its congregations have reported no major damage from the storm.

It also will be working with clergy members to plan relief efforts. Volunteers will be needed, the diocese said, but it asked members not to go to the affected areas on their own until the precise needs are confirmed. In the meantime, donations are welcome.

Episcopal Relief & Development said before Florence made landfall that it was working with 11 dioceses on response plans. During the disaster recovery, it will work “to equip congregational and diocesan leadership with critical tools and resources as they prepare to serve the most vulnerable communities impacted by the storm.”

Some of the worst flooding from the storm happened in the city of New Bern, North Carolina, which is northeast of Wilmington and sits on the Neuse River near where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. More than 4,300 homes in the city and more than 300 business reportedly were damaged.

Christ Church, the Episcopal congregation in New Bern, reported that the church property made it through the storm without sustaining serious damage, but it called members of the congregation together Sept. 17 for an afternoon Eucharist and cleanup. It also is working to match resources to needs in the community and has asked anyone interested in helping to consider buying items for the local shelter or donating money to support the church’s efforts.

“I know more than a few of our Christ Church family will need immediate help in getting their homes and yards cleaned up. Thank you to those who have offered your labor, and please do not be shy about asking for help,” the Rev. Paul Canady, rector at Christ Church, said in a Facebook post.

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

The post Episcopal churches in the Carolinas assess damage, offer help after Hurricane Florence appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Church of England appoints independent Chair for National Safeguarding Panel

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 2:59pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The first independent chair of the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Panel, former government minister Meg Munn, was installed today. Munn, a former Labour Party Member of Parliament for a constituency in the south Yorkshire city of Sheffield, takes over as chair of the panel from Bishop of Bath and Wells Peter Hancock who continues in his role as the church’s lead bishop for safeguarding.

Read the full article here.

The post Church of England appoints independent Chair for National Safeguarding Panel appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Brazil’s Anglican Church issues guidance ahead of Presidential and parliamentary elections

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 2:55pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil – the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil – has published guidance to help Anglicans in the country prepare for next month’s presidential election. The material has been published “to support reflection at this election time to help people to discern the words and attitudes of people who present themselves as candidates for the various levels of government,” the church said, adding that it was also “a contribution” by the church “to better equip Christian people in political participation that builds an authentic democracy, in which political participation is an instrument of service that promotes deliverance.”

Read the full article here.

The post Brazil’s Anglican Church issues guidance ahead of Presidential and parliamentary elections appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Suffragan bishop of Northern Argentina dies after illness

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 5:35pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Urbano Duarte, an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Northern Argentina, died in a hospital this week after a short illness. Almost 1,000 people gathered for his funeral and burial in his home town of Potrillo on Sept. 11, the day after the 67-year-old bishop’s death.

Read the full article here.

The post Suffragan bishop of Northern Argentina dies after illness appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Zimbabwean churches are urged to join fight against Cholera pandemic

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 5:33pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Churches in Zimbabwe have been urged to take steps to help curb the country’s cholera outbreak, which has claimed 25 lives and is spreading rapidly in the capital Harare.

“Churches are faced with a special challenge, because they gather thousands of people every week and it is in such gatherings that the spread of the pandemic can be accelerated,” said Kenneth Mtata, general secretary of the national ecumenical group the Zimbabwe Council of Churches. “So the Church is being called to cooperate with the instructions coming from the Ministry of Health and all those who are working to curb the spread of the pandemic.”

Read the full article here.

The post Zimbabwean churches are urged to join fight against Cholera pandemic appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Massachusetts bishops call for offering to support disaster relief after gas explosions

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 5:18pm

[Diocese of Massachusetts] In the aftermath of the natural gas system crisis on Thursday, Sept. 13, that caused explosions, fires and emergency evacuations in the Merrimack Valley, all three Episcopal churches and one Episcopal school in the affected communities — Christ Church in Andover, St. Paul’s Church in North Andover and Grace Church and Esperanza Academy in Lawrence – -report no property damage and no known personal injuries, but at least two church families in Lawrence and one in Andover whose homes were affected by fires.  Many in all three communities, located about 25 miles north of Boston, continue to be affected by the evacuations and ongoing power outages.

As of Friday afternoon, diocesan personnel were in the process of reaching out to the Brooks School in North Andover and the Episcopal chaplain at Phillips Academy in Andover.

The cause of the crisis is still under investigation by federal and state officials.  News media report one Lawrence teenager killed and at least 20 injured in Thursday’s disaster, which caused at least 60 separate fires and the evacuation of thousands of people from their homes.  Many schools and businesses remained closed and some 18,000 electric company customers were without power on Friday, according to news reports.

“The prayers and concern of our entire diocesan family are with those in the Merrimack Valley communities affected by this disaster,” Bishop Alan M. Gates said Sept. 14. “Bishop Gayle Harris and I, together with regional canon Martha Hubbard, have been directly in contact with the clergy of our parishes in those communities and our colleagues at Esperanza Academy. A number of their families have been directly affected, together with countless others who will need our support in the weeks ahead. I invite from all corners of the diocese your continuing prayers and contributions toward relief efforts.”

To that end, the bishops ask all congregations in the diocese to consider designating or collecting an offering in support of a diocesan relief response. Those offerings should be made payable to the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and marked “Merrimack Valley Disaster Relief.” Contributions may be sent to the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, Attn: Lauren Zook, 138 Tremont Street, Boston MA 02111.

As the situation unfolds, the bishops, together with local clergy and disaster response contacts, Deacon Jay Jordan, Episcopal Relief & Development disaster preparedness coordinator in the Diocese of Massachusetts, and Canon to the Ordinary Bill Parnell, Episcopal Relief & Development disaster response coordinator for the diocese, will continue to be in conversation to determine what longer-term response might be needed.

In a conference call on Sept. 14, Episcopal clergy in the affected communities expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of prayers, concern and support they’ve already received. One of the ways people can be of help to them, they said, is to be patient as they prioritize the immediate care of their communities and families and take time to determine what will be needed in the days ahead.

Prayer and liturgy resources for use in times of disaster are available from Episcopal Relief & Development here.

The post Massachusetts bishops call for offering to support disaster relief after gas explosions appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Proving ownership of inherited property is a problem on St. Croix

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 4:44pm

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories on hurricane recovery in the Virgin Islands. Click here to read more and here for a photo gallery.

[Episcopal News Service – St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands] It’s not uncommon in the Virgin Islands for homes to be handed down from one generation to another. It’s also not uncommon for a deceased person to have his or her name on the deed, which is a problem when it comes to applying for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as many people found.

Across St. Croix and the other islands, there are stories of people living in damaged houses without electricity – people ineligible for funds to repair their homes because they don’t “own” the property.

“One of the difficulties is finding out who is the owner,” said Angelica Schuster, a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, which has assisted community members in assembling the paperwork needed to file FEMA applications.

FEMA used St. Peter’s parish hall as a disaster center for three and a half months after the storm. A hundred people would come daily to submit applications. When FEMA couldn’t help, residents turned to the Small Business Administration, which also set up offices in the parish hall.

Frustration with insurance companies saying homeowners are uninsured or underinsured has led some people to say their insurance is “in God we trust,” said Gloria Euzebe, St. Peter’s senior warden. They’re setting aside repair money in a separate account rather than pay insurance premiums, she said.

Even when homeowners settle insurance claims, it’s difficult to find the construction materials and the labor to make the repairs. The same holds true for church properties, some of which are still waiting to settle claims a year later.

“We haven’t really done much because of the insurance delay, with a disaster of that magnitude,” said Schuster of St. Peter’s, who serves as Holy Cross’ senior warden.

Church Insurance, which falls under the umbrella of the Church Pension Group, insures church properties. For the past several months, they have been busy, said C. Curtis Ritter, senior vice president and head of corporate communications for CPG, in an email to Episcopal News Service.

“We try to respond to claims as quickly as possible. With so many disasters occurring back-to-back, it was hard to keep up the pace, but we did it,” he said, adding that employees travel tens of thousands of miles a year meeting with clients and responding to emergencies.

Last year, Hurricane Irma crossed the Virgin Islands as a Category 5 storm on Sept. 6, 2017, causing extensive damage. Two weeks later, on Sept. 20, Hurricane Maria passed over the islands as a Category 5 storm before making landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane. The two hurricanes led to thousands of deaths and more than $102 billion in damages. Damage to church-owned properties is $7 million, according to Church Insurance.

The Diocese of the Virgin Islands consists of 14 congregations spread over five islands: three islands – St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix – are under U.S. jurisdiction, and two – Tortola and Virgin Gorda – are under British rule. Residents living in the U.S. Virgin Islands are U.S. citizens; residents of the British Virgin Islands are British Overseas Territories citizens. Prior to becoming a territory, the U.S. Virgin Islands belonged to Denmark.

St. Croix covers 84 square miles, and unlike St. Thomas and St. John, is flat. Agriculture, once big on the island, is making a comeback. In partnership with Jacksonville, Florida-based Fresh Ministries, the diocese is becoming part of the agriculture movement.

St. Croix is also home two to historic churches. The Church of England established St. John’s in Christiansted in 1760 and St. Paul’s in Frederiksted was built in 1812. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. St. Paul’s suffered some damage in the storm and workers made emergency repairs to the rectory. St. John’s fared better in the hurricanes, but needs restoration.

The church that housed San Francisco Mission, the diocese’s only Spanish-language congregation, suffered significant structural damage and cannot be repaired. Puerto Ricans from Culebra and Vieques migrated to St. Croix in the 1930s and ‘40s to cut sugarcane.

For now, the congregation, or what’s left of it after the storm, is meeting in members’ homes, said the Rev. Aida Nieves, a deacon, who serves San Francisco mission.

Post-hurricanes, Nieves has been working with community members, many of whom don’t have government identification, to get IDs. She’s also working with a woman who lives in the home of her deceased partner, whose name is on the deed, to make repairs.

St. Croix is home to five of the diocese’s 14 congregations.

Holy Cross also suffered significant damage when the hurricane lifted the roof before setting it back in place.

“The whole roof needs to be replaced,” said the Rev. Amonteen Doward, priest-in-charge at Holy Cross and St. Paul’s supply priest. “Birds are coming in through the open windows.”

Danish volunteers put the blue tarpaulin on Holy Cross’ roof, which saved the parish $15,000, Doward said. The foundation shifted under an addition to the parish hall. The mahogany pews need to be refinished.

For the time being, the congregation is meeting at St. Luke AME Church.

“We’re really homeless in the true sense of the word,” said Doward.

A former public health official, Doward provides pastoral care to community members and also directs them to social services if they have needs.

Across the island people, many people need assistance, said Yvette Ross Edwards, lay dean of St. Croix.

And following hurricanes, she said, the churches need to rebuild their missions. “Our missions haven’t died, but people have been consumed with other things,” she said.

“We have to go into the community and reach out to them,” said Edwards.

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

The post Proving ownership of inherited property is a problem on St. Croix appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

‘Connecting the dots’ between faith and climate change

Fri, 09/14/2018 - 10:26am

[Religion News Service] Tackling issues like climate change or protecting the environment often requires a lot of boring, behind-the-scenes work, far from the spotlight.

But sometimes you have to let your light shine, said the Rev. Susan Hendershot Guy, president of Interfaith Power & Light.

For California faith communities, that means taking a public role in the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco this week (Sept. 12-14), offering an interfaith service and faith-based workshops among other events.

The three-day summit, co-chaired by Gov. Jerry Brown and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has drawn international and local government, business, science and nonprofit leaders. Hendershot Guy said it is important for the faith community to show up as well.

“Every major faith tradition calls us to care for the Earth,” she said. “And every major faith tradition calls us to care for our neighbors and those who are most vulnerable. And climate change impacts both of those.”

The summit has been a chance for these congregations to raise the profile of their faith efforts.

“There are a lot of people beginning to connect the dots between faith, the environment, climate change,” said the Rev. Ambrose Carroll, co-founder of Green the Church, a campaign to motivate environmental action in the African-American church community.

For many congregations, the environmental focus is nothing new. Many local houses of worship have community gardens or encourage members to write letters to the editor of their local newspaper. An Interfaith Power & Light program called Cool Congregations helps congregations reduce their carbon footprint while saving money.

Some faith leaders have taken time to call or meet with local policy makers — an important step, said Hendershot Guy. “We can all change a light bulb,” she said. “But at the end of the day we need the right policies in place in order to get where we need to go as quickly as we need to get there.”

Recently a number of faith-based organizations backed a new California law, signed by Brown this week, that requires the state to get all its power from renewable sources by 2045.

Bishop Marc Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California said his denomination has been working on corporate and individual action. The Episcopal Church remains committed to the Paris climate accord, even though President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement. The denomination has also passed a number of resolutions focused on creation care.

The resolutions include encouraging churches to serve and promote locally grown food, promoting energy and water efficiency and advocating for ocean health through public policy advocacy.

Keeping those resolutions, Andrus said, is easier said than done, which is why the church is helping create an app to assist people with keeping their commitments.

The app, Sustaining Earth, Our Island Home, will help people make five changes in their life and then tracks their progress. The app is expected to go live in January.

Kristin Barker, co-founder of One Earth Sangha, which brings practices from the Buddhist tradition to ecological issues, said it’s important to personally commit to the Paris agreement and not wait for the government to enforce regulations.

But she also acknowledges the difficulties of living a sustainable life and wants others to feel they can acknowledge it too.

“This is hard. It takes me longer to get to work when I have to take a bus. Or, I really miss eating hamburgers,” she said.

Andrus said many faith-based groups are working on sustainability and environmental justice is very large. But they seem to be flying under the radar.

“Many of them don’t know about each other,” Andrus said. “And the larger body of the church and the general public don’t know about them either.”

Both Andrus and Hendershot Guy are working to organize and support these communities through interfaith events at the summit.

“It’s one planet and it’s one people,” Andrus said. “We inspire each other, we learn from each other.”

Lately some faith groups in California have found themselves at odds when it comes to environmental issues.

A local environmental coalition called STAND-LA — which includes faith-based groups — is working to shut down the the Murphy oil drilling site in Los Angeles, arguing that its wells pose a danger to the community. It is one of two such sites located on property owned by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“We stand with the archdiocese when it comes to immigration reform. We stand with the archdiocese on several other social issues,” said the Rev. Kelvin Sauls, faith community organizer for STAND-LA. “On some we disagree.”

The land was donated to the archdiocese in the 1950s by descendants of Edward L. Doheny, one of Los Angeles’ early oil barons, according to the Los Angeles Times. AllenCo Energy bought the oil production facility on the site in 2009.

AllenCo voluntarily suspended oil production in 2013 after public opposition. An investigation led to more than $99,000 in fines, according to the Times.

The site has remained closed. But AllenCo officials have discussed reopening it.

STAND-LA and other south LA residents want the diocese to help shut the site down permanently. Last year, Sauls sent a letter to Archbishop José H. Gomez asking for a meeting. The letter cited Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology.

“We also see it as a tremendous opportunity to transition to a more sustainable economy that will create jobs for local residents, income for local institutions, and ensure a healthy community for our children and future generations,” the letter read. “We believe the Los Angeles Archdiocese can play a transformational and catalytic role in this transition.”

Gabriela Garcia, who lives near the AllenCo drilling site, has been part of grassroots efforts for several years. She said the efforts came together when neighbors started asking one another about strange odors and whether their children were also getting nosebleeds.

She also spoke during a rally at the Murphy site on Saturday (Sept. 8). Acknowledging that the issue is complex, Garcia said nonetheless that the archdiocese has a responsibility to shut down the site.

“We know that that would be the best outcome for our community and for the health of our community,” Garcia said.

In an email statement, the archdiocese told Religion News Service that it “does not have the right to shut down the site.”

“That said we are working with the City and AllenCo to find an alternative use for the site that is in the best interest of the community, royalty holders and all other stake-holders,” the statement continued.

The rally also promoted legislation for a 2,500-foot buffer between extraction sites and homes, said Niki Wong, director of policy and organizing at Redeemer Community Partnership, a local faith group.

Wong knows these rallies can make a difference.

In August, the faith-based group learned the owners of a drill site on Jefferson Boulevard would be shutting that facility down in the face of neighborhood opposition.

Now the nonprofit is working to make sure the closure and cleanup are done in a timely manner and that it isn’t left as an “orphan well,” abandoned by the company.

Then, she said, it’ll be up to the community to decide what to do with the land next. She’s heard people talking about a skate park, library or park.

“Right now this site is awful. It’s a facility that repels people from their homes,” Wong said. “It’d be so beautiful to see it transform into a park that gathers people together.”

The post ‘Connecting the dots’ between faith and climate change appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Dioceses initiate disaster response as Episcopalians in Carolinas, Virginia brace for Hurricane Florence

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 4:41pm

This map produced by the National Hurricane Center shows Hurricane Florence’s projected path as of 2 p.m. ET Sept. 13.

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal dioceses and congregations along the Carolina coast and further inland are offering guidance, resources and prayers to Episcopalians in the line of Hurricane Florence, which is expected to make landfall late Sept. 13 or early Sept. 14 and bring destructive winds, waves and rain.

The eye of Florence is on track to pass over or near Wilmington, North Carolina, with hurricane-force sustained winds before making its way across South Carolina and weakening over the next few days, according to the National Hurricane Center forecast. Authorities warn the worst damage could be from storm surge on the coast and steady rain, which have the potential to cause dangerous flooding.

“Hurricane Florence is an uninvited guest, but she is just about here anyway,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday morning, according to the Wilmington Star News. “My message today: Don’t relax. Don’t become complacent. This is a powerful storm that can kill. Today, the threat becomes a reality.”

Episcopalians are taking that threat seriously. Services and church activities have been canceled from the Episcopal Church in Okatie, South Carolina, near the Georgia state line to St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, North Carolina. Diocesan officials have been in contact with Episcopal Relief & Development and are communicating emergency info to their church members. And many Episcopalians on the coast have heeded evacuation orders or else are hunkering down as the storm approaches.

“There seems little doubt that Hurricane Florence is going to have a tremendous impact across the communities of our diocese, and many are projecting that it will be the most devastating storm that our state has experienced in decades,” East Carolina Bishop Robert Skirving said Sept. 12 in a letter to the diocese, which includes coastal North Carolina.

His diocese has created a “hurricane hub” on its website to provide residents with the latest storm updates and links to other information and resources. The website also invites those interested in helping to donate to the diocese’s relief fund or to Episcopal Relief & Development.

The National Hurricane Center warns that Florence is poised to bring “life-threatening storm surge and rainfall.” The storm’s wind speed has decreased in recent days, but it has grown wider and is expected to produce storm surges of up to 13 feet and up to 30 inches of rain for coastal North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina. Up to a foot of rain could fall on the rest of the Carolinas and Virginia.

The Church of the Servant in Wilmington isn’t taking any chances.

“Thank you to those who were able to come help us get COS ready for hurricane Florence,” the congregation’s rector, the Rev. Jody Greenwood, said Sept. 13 in a Facebook post showing a virtually empty church. “Consider hatches battened-down.”

When reached by phone, Greenwood told Episcopal News Service she and her wife left their home in downtown Wilmington to staying with other members of the congregation in a home more securely located away from the ocean. She brought her bicycle, to have another way to get back to the church if driving lanes aren’t passable after the storm.

The parish, with an average Sunday attendance of about 150, has an emergency plan that involves checking on each parishioner before the storm hits. Greenwood estimates half of them fled, and the other half are staying in Wilmington.

She hopes to let them know in the next day or so whether Sunday services will resume on Sept. 16. The services necessarily would be simple. No bulletins were printed before the storm. The congregation’s organist is staying in Alabama.

“If we have services, it’s going to be mostly to give people something to do and be in community with each other,” Greenwood said.

Across the city, fellow Wilmington congregation St. Andrew’s On-the-Sound Episcopal Church had closed as well, with all but its 11:15 a.m. Sunday service canceled for the week.

“Please, as always, pay attention to bulletins and warnings from local government,” the Rev. Richard Elliott, rector, said on the church’s Facebook page. “Err on the side of caution. Exercise common sense. If you are in a safe place and it is not safe on the roads, stay in the safe place. We will have church services another time. … Let us hold one another close in our hearts.”

Grace Cathedral in Charleston, South Carolina, noted it was under a mandatory evacuation and had canceled many of the congregation’s regularly scheduled activities for the week, though Sunday services are still on for now.

“We pray for our community, for all travelers, and all those affected by this coming storm,” the cathedral said in a post about the storm on its website. “We pray for the safety and security of all. We ask for God’s guiding Hand upon all first responders and all agencies that provide relief in the days ahead.”

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, which includes Charleston and the state’s coastal congregations, has been working with Episcopal Relief & Development since Sept. 10 to plan for the storm, according to a post on its website. Sunday services are canceled for at least 12 congregations in the diocese.

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting 11 dioceses in the path of the storm, which has prompted evacuation orders affecting more than 1.5 million people.

“Leaders throughout this region have extensive experience preparing for and responding to disasters and have powerful networks of relationships and ministries in their communities,” Katie Mears, senior director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s U.S. Disaster Program, said in a press release. “This wealth of experience and deep community connections will allow diocesan leaders to effectively serve those most in need.”

And although the communities along the Carolina coast are expected to be hit hardest by Hurricane Florence, churches further inland are taking the storm just as seriously.

Western North Carolina Bishop José McLoughlin sent a letter to his diocese Sept. 12 noting that he and the rest of the Carolinas and Virginia bishops have been on daily conference calls to coordinate church response, including through use of an emergency alert system.

“We are doing everything in our power to ensure that we all stay connected during the upcoming natural disaster,” McLoughlin said. “Please keep the other dioceses that are in the path of Hurricane Florence, as well as all first responders, in your prayers.”

The Diocese of North Carolina, which encompasses the middle third of the state, issued a notice Sept. 13 saying diocesan offices would be closed for the day and on Sept. 14. It also offered assistance for congregations that sustain damage to their churches and to clergy needing pastoral support.

Episcopal leaders in the region have been busy all week with preparations, North Carolina Bishop Suffragan Anne Hodges-Copple told Episcopal News Service by phone. By Sept. 13, with plans in place, it fell like the “calm before the storm,” she said, but behind the scenes communications continue among all affected dioceses.

“There is a huge collaboration going on,” Hodges-Copple said.

The Episcopal Church is familiar with this kind of response because of the expertise provided by Episcopal Relief & Response but also because of the frequency of similar disasters in recent years.

The eye of Florence is on track to pass over or near Wilmington, North Carolina, with hurricane-force sustained winds before making its way across South Carolina and weakening over the next few days, according to the National Hurricane Center forecast. Photo: NOAA

This month marks a year since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and Louisiana hard, prompting the mobilization of the dioceses there to help with relief efforts. Later in September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated much of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and the Episcopal dioceses there still are working with residents to bounce back. Irma also hit the mainland United States, and Episcopal dioceses from Southwest Florida to South Carolina helped their congregations prepare for the storm and deal with the aftermath.

Hodges-Copple referenced storms from even farther back – Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Fran in 1996 – that hit the East Coast, including the Carolinas. Not everyone in her diocese today may remember those storms, but emergency communications have improved since then as technology has evolved. Even in remote, rural areas, the church is working to make sure no residents are forgotten during and after a major storm like Florence.

And often, the most immediate relief priests and deacons can offer their parishioners is a calming presence in the face of calamity.

“There’s going to be times when all we can do is be still and be prayerful,” she said.

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

The post Dioceses initiate disaster response as Episcopalians in Carolinas, Virginia brace for Hurricane Florence appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

On Tortola, mission church prays for children sent to school off island

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 3:33pm

St. Paul’s Episcopal Mission in Sea Cow’s Bay – named for the manatees that used to swim in the bay – on Tortola. It was destroyed in a hurricane in 1916 and rebuilt in 1939. Hurricane Irma blew in the doors; a pew landed on and destroyed the organ. The congregation worshipped in the parish hall until the first Sunday in Advent. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Tortola, Virgin Islands] St. Paul’s Mission parishioners pray by name for the children who went off-island to attend school in the aftermath of two hurricanes that devastated the Virgin Islands last September. A year later, many of them haven’t returned.

When Humberta Hamlet, the church’s junior warden called the Rev. Sandra Malone, St. Paul’s vicar, after the storm to tell her that her sister’s company was airlifting them out and that they were taking the children away, Malone sat on her bed and cried.

Of church’s 12 children, a small but active group, two have returned.

“I think that impacted the church a lot,” said Malone; even more so given parishioners were not given an opportunity to say goodbye and offer a proper send-off to one family that moved permanently to another island.

Most of St. Paul’s parishioners are related and children breathe life into the community, which like most Episcopal churches serves an older population. Children leaving to study abroad is a reality of island life, but it’s usually delayed until college. Irma and Maria changed that.

Angelica Pini, 15, a secondary student at St. George’s Episcopal School, was sent to live with relatives in Forli, Italy. She didn’t have contact with her friends back on the island.

“It hurt me. I missed my family and friends,” she said.

At first, adjusting to the education system in Italy was difficult, and, at the time, even though she spoke Italian (her father is Italian), she didn’t read or write the language. But the worst part, she said, was when she arrived at her aunt’s house, the vibration from a nearby train station gave her flashbacks to the vibration she felt during the hurricane.

“I woke up at 12 a.m. and thought this is another hurricane,” said Pini. “I thought, I have to tell my aunt because if I stay here every night, I’m going to be traumatized.”

Many of Pini’s classmates left too, at least in the hurricanes’ immediate aftermath.

Eleventh grader Aniyah Wilkinson, 15, and her family evacuated to Puerto Rico after Irma only to get caught in Hurricane Maria’s path 16 days later.

“It was horrible, people were scavenging for food and water,” she said.

On Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma ripped through the Virgin Islands as a Category 5 storm, stripping the islands of vegetation and damaging or destroying the majority of homes and buildings.

The classrooms at St. George’s Primary School on Tortola remain damaged, which is starting to get on parents’ nerves, said Cherilyn Anderson, the school’s principal.

Both St. George’s secondary and primary schools suffered significant damage and remained closed until October. And both schools were chosen to participate in a UNICEF program designed to help children process stress and trauma following a disaster.

Strong winds or rain evoked students’ fears in the storm’s aftermath, said Dana Lewis Ambrose, principal of St. George’s Secondary School.

The school held group therapy and art therapy workshops to help students process their memories and emotions. UNICEF also trained teachers in how to identify trauma.

In early September, as the Atlantic hurricane season approached its peak and three storms had formed off Africa’s west coast, students were on edge.

“What I’m hearing now is that some are thinking that the same thing is going to happen,” said Odalys Gonzalez, a Spanish teacher.

St. George’s Primary School reopened on Oct. 2, 2017with 126 students, down from 216 before the storm. Many of the students went abroad, but they’ve returned this year and enrollment has reached 238 with St. George’s enrolling students from other schools, said Cherilyn Anderson, she school’s principal.

The primary school introduced its own coping program, SMILE, which stood for Share, Manage, Interact, Love and Embrace, devoting the last 30 minutes of each day to helping students cope with life after the hurricanes. It also used the UNICEF curriculum.

“Coming from St. Lucia, I’ve seen lots of floods and hurricanes, and I know students need to cope,” said Anderson. “I just knew they would need something because as an adult I was feeling that I had to cope.”

Irma was the first hurricane many of the students had ever experienced.

Some of Tortola’s public elementary school students are attending school in tents provided by UNICEF. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“They couldn’t stop talking … who had to go into the refrigerator, who had to hide in the cupboard,” she said. “You’re kind of happy they are children because they don’t make so much of it … living with others, living without electricity and water.

“Their first sense of normalcy was returning to school and they were happy to be here.”

After the hurricanes, Anderson and the school’s teachers began cleaning the school, which suffered serious damage, of debris. Many of the teachers came to help clean the school even before they cleaned their own homes.

“That’s why we were one of the first schools to open,” she said.

When school started, Anderson brought in an iron, so teachers could iron their clothes, which they’d had to hand wash and wring out. At home, she cut the cord off an old iron and warmed it on the stove. The school had power three weeks after the storm, but Anderson didn’t get power at home until February. Each night she’d read herself to sleep with a flashlight balanced on her shoulder.

The Rev. Sandra Malone, vicar at St. Paul’s Mission, and her family sheltered in this walk-in closet during Hurricane Irma. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

St. Paul’s and St. George’s Anglican Church are the two Episcopal-Anglican churches on Tortola, which is part of the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands. The diocese covers five islands, connected by ferries and small planes. Three of the islands – St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, are U.S. territories. Tortola and Virgin Gorda are British territories. A hurricane in 1916 destroyed St. Paul’s Church. The Rev. Ralph Perry-Gore, who is buried in the parish cemetery, restored it in 1937.

Tortola is the largest of the British Virgin Islands. Its hills, where the people live, are steep. In the 27 years that Malone has lived there, she’s witnessed the temperature rise It’s generally hotter, she said, and it’s harder to identify the rainy season. Those are changes she attributes to climate change.

“The seasons are shifting and not so easily identifiable,” she said. “We live pretty close to the ground and can see what’s happening. At the sea, you can see the erosion and the coral dying. When you live it, it’s hard to deny it.”

Malone, her husband, Meade, and their 16-year-old son, Timothy, spent five or six hours riding out the storm in a third-floor walk-in closet, all the while Meade holding the door closed as the wind threatened to open it. Most all of St. Paul’s parishioners tell similar stories of sheltering in bathrooms and closets for hours and struggling to hold shut the door. Felicito Moses and a friend sheltered in a closet while two feet of water rose around them.

The Rev. Sandra Malone, vicar at St. Paul’s Mission on Tortola, and Huberta Hamlet, St. Paul’s junior warden, look out over Long Bay. Long Bay? Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Parishioner Judith Charles sheltered from the storm in her cousin’s house, her own house completely destroyed. As Irma approached, she watched the wind dance the water left and right. When the storm passed, and she saw her home “ripped to shreds” she didn’t cry a tear. “It was done. What could I do … in the aftermath it was like an apocalypse. It looked like Beirut, bombed out; people looked bombed out and sad.”

At times, said Malone, winds gusted up to 235 mph. “How do you prepare for something like that? The only thing you can do is what you know.” It was a different kind of hurricane that also brought tornadoes. “Reports say it measured on the seismic scale,” she said.

Standing in long lines for hours under the hot sun for food and water that may run out before they get to the front of the line, the lack of construction materials and a shortage of craftsmen to make repairs make an already bad situation worse. “It’s dehumanizing,” said Beryl Smith, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Women’s president.

This year, for some whose homes have been prepared, the tropical rains from an Aug. 30 storm increased anxiety. “A lot of people found the work was not done right,” she said.

Housing is tight. Before the hurricanes a two-bedroom, furnished apartment rented for $1,000 a month. Now a two-bedroom, unfurnished apartment rents for $1,600.

In Irma’s aftermath, St. Paul’s became a supply distribution center and later served as in immunization clinic. The congregation received help from companion parishes in the Diocese of Alabama, and it continues to serve the community, providing food and schools supplies to families in need.

A parishioner gifted St. Paul’s a vicarage, an apartment in Long Bay, which the congregation had used as a retreat center but recently planned to rent as an income-generating property. Irma, however, destroyed its interior and the apartment requires a complete renovation. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

The congregation moved back into church on the first Sunday of Advent. On the first anniversary of Irma, Malone brought in a psychologist to talk to the community and performed a litany of remembrance.

On the Sunday after the storm, Malone made her way to the church, which is on Sea Cow’s Bay, named for the manatees that used to swim in its waters. With the devastation, it took her some time to find her way because nothing looked the same.

“It’s very surreal, you’re walking around shell shocked,” said Malone.

When Malone arrived at the church, she found Beverly Hodge Smith, then senior warden, already there cleaning the parish hall and she began to help. Then, they got word to Realdis Todman, who’d been there earlier in the day. Together they carried the altar out of the church, set it up in the parish hall and held services.

From there, “everyone just helped each other out,” she said.

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

The post On Tortola, mission church prays for children sent to school off island appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Notifican a la diócesis de Rio Grande de exitoso proceso de consentimiento canónigo

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 2:57pm

El obispo presidente y primado Michael B. Curry y el registrador de la Convención General, Rdo. canónigo Michael Barlowe, han notificado a la Diócesis Episcopal de Río Grande que el obispo electo Michael Buerkel Hunn ha obtenido la aprobación de la mayoría en el proceso de consentimiento canónigo descrito en el Cánon III.11.3.

Al dar su consentimiento para su ordenación y consagración, los comités permanentes y los obispos con jurisdicción dan fe de no conocer “ningún impedimento a causa del cual” el obispo electo Hunn no pueda ser ordenado al oficio de obispo y creen que su elección se llevó a cabo en conformidad con los cánones.

El Rdo. canónigo Michael Buerkel Hunn fue electo obispo el 5 de mayo. El obispo primado Curry oficiará en su servicio de ordenación y consagración el 3 de noviembre.

The post Notifican a la diócesis de Rio Grande de exitoso proceso de consentimiento canónigo appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Mothers’ Union delivers food, water to flood-stranded families in Myanmar

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 2:23pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Members of the Mothers’ Union in The Church of the Province of Myanmar are helping alleviate suffering caused by flooding in the country. According to Reuters’ Relief Net, almost 79,000 people from four townships in the country’s Bago Region had to flee their homes after the Swar Chaung dam was breached at the end of August.

Read the full article here.

The post Mothers’ Union delivers food, water to flood-stranded families in Myanmar appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Pages