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Updated: 2 hours 56 min ago

US churches raise money to buy ambulance, save Anglican hospital in West Bank city

5 hours 12 min ago

St. Luke’s Hospital is a charity hospital in Nablus, West Bank, run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. Photo: AFEDJ, from video

[Episcopal News Service] An Episcopal congregation in the Diocese of Washington is rallying its parishioners and other churches behind an Anglican hospital thousands of miles away in the West Bank city of Nablus, where the loss of an ambulance could cost the charity hospital its accreditation, forcing it to close its doors.

St. John’s Episcopal Church, Norwood Parish, took a leading role last fall in raising money for St. Luke’s Hospital, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, and by the end of the year, donors had pledged enough to pay for a new ambulance.

The Rev. Sari Ateek is rector of St. John’s Norwood in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Photo: St. John’s Norwood.

“The exiting thing wasn’t so much how much money. It was more the enthusiasm of the response from people around this,” said the Rev. Sari Ateek, rector at St. John’s Norwood in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Ateek, a Palestinian Christian and son of an Episcopal priest, grew up in Jerusalem and moved to the United States at age 19 to attend college. He doesn’t return often to his native land, though in 2014, he led his congregation on its first Holy Land pilgrimage. Afterward, St. John’s Norwood began supporting the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem though contributions to American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, or AFEDJ, and the congregation now pays part of a nurse’s salary at St. Luke’s.

Last year, St. Luke’s was in a bind after the breakdown of its 15-year-old ambulance, which had been making more than 2,000 emergency trips a year. Not only did it lose use of the vehicle, but the Palestinian Ministry of Health said at least one working ambulance was required to maintain the hospital’s accreditation. The Ministry of Health gave the hospital a February deadline to comply, and the hospital estimated it would cost $110,000 for a new ambulance, equipment, licensing and insurance.

“At first I was amazed that the hospital only had one ambulance,” Ateek said. “It just became very clear that this was something we needed to do.”

After AFEDJ launched a fundraising campaign, Ateek wrote a letter in late November in his church’s newsletter detailing the hospital’s plight. He refrained from making a direct appeal to his parishioners for money, but several came forward with large donations, including one of $20,000. Those, combined with smaller donations, brought the total from St. John’s Norwood to $37,000.

Ateek obtained a list of churches of all denominations in the Washington, D.C.-area that had given to AFEDJ in the past. He went down that list and reached out by email with personalized messages asking for contributions to pay for the ambulance. Among them, Washington National Cathedral pledged $10,000, and Grace Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Virginia, raised $13,000, bringing the total from Ateek’s ecumenical efforts to about $75,000.

With an additional $27,000 from the U.K.-based Anglican Communion Fund, AFEDJ had nearly met its goal for the ambulance campaign.

“People are hungry to do good work like this,” said the Rev. Anne Derse, a deacon at St. John’s Norwood, who served for six years as a U.S. ambassador, first to Azerbaijan and then to Lithuania.

Derse participated in the church’s 2014 Holy Land pilgrimage, a “life-changing experience” that prompted the congregation to form a Holy Land Committee. Part of the committee’s mission is to support humanitarian work that helps the neediest and most vulnerable residents of Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories.

The hospital in Nablus and Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza are just two of many such humanitarian ministries led by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

“Those projects are wonderful Christian witness in the Holy Land, because they’re open to anyone,” Derse said.

Her congregation has followed up with Holy Land pilgrimages every two years, and on the 2018 pilgrimage, participants visited St. Luke’s Hospital for the first time. That fueled the interest in paying for part of a nurse’s salary, and it later provided additional grounding for Ateek’s attempt to raise money for the ambulance.

“Honestly, the need speaks for itself,” Ateek said. “You have this hospital that we want to continue to serve the population, and we can solve this. … And we did, which is super exciting.”

Even with a new ambulance, AFEDJ underscores that financial struggles are an ongoing challenge at the Diocese of Jerusalem’s medial facilities, which face uphill battles to remain open for everyone who needs care, regardless of their ability to pay for that care.

Those struggles were underscored in December when a building collapsed at a surgical outpatient clinic on the campus of Al Ahli Arab Hospital. The 120-year-old building apparently was empty that afternoon at the time of the collapse, and no one was injured.

An engineer and construction team have surveyed the damage and recommended about $150,000 in reconstruction work, the diocese said. Jerusalem Archbishop Suheil Dawani has launched an appeal for donations to rebuild the clinic.

St. Luke’s Hospital in Nablus, West Bank, is one of two run by the Diocese of Jerusalem. The other is in Gaza. Photo: AFEDJ, via video.

“In Nablus City we have five different hospitals. St. Luke’s Hospital is the only charitable hospital and the only church hospital in the West Bank,” Dr. Walid Kerry, executive director of St. Luke’s, said in a video produced by AFEDJ. “We are happy to give the medical care and surgery to everyone who asks for it, especially the needy and poor patients.”

The Episcopal Church has supported and remains closely engaged with the Anglican diocese’s work in Israel and the Palestinian territories for many years. The diocese is among the recipients of grants from the Episcopal Church’s Good Friday Offering, which collected a record $414,310 in 2017 to support ministries in the Middle East.

AFEDJ, an independent and nonpartisan nonprofit, is the recommend partner organization for Americans interested in supporting the work of the Diocese of Jerusalem, which covers Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Donations can be made at afedj.org/give.

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

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Anglican Communion secretary general honored for Nigerian reconciliation ministry

5 hours 21 min ago

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican Communion Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon has received the inaugural Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation 2019 Merit Award for Excellence in Promoting Religious Tolerance and Peace Building in Northern Nigeria, an award created to honor the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, KBE, the Sardauna of Sokoto and premier of the former Northern Region.

Read the full article here.

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Terror attack in Kenya leaves ‘trail of pain and untold suffering,’ church says

5 hours 24 min ago

[Anglican Communion News Service] This week’s terror attack in Nairobi has “left behind a trail of pain and untold suffering among innocent and hardworking citizens,” the Anglican Church of Kenya said in a written statement. At least 21 people are known to have been killed after militants from al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based al Qaeda affiliate, attacked the DusitD2 hotel and business complex in Nairobi on Jan. 15. A further 19 people are still unaccounted for.

Read the full article here.

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Bishop of Zululand, Monument Makhanya, steps down after sexual misconduct allegation

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 11:30am

[Anglican Communion News Service] A bishop in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has stepped down after being accused of sexual misconduct. The Sunday Times newspaper in Johannesburg reported at the weekend that Bishop Monument Makhanya has decided to stand down at the end of this month after a former deacon in the diocese lodged a complaint of sexual misconduct against him. Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba told the Anglican Communion News Service that he would seek the input of the province’s Synod of Bishops in response to the resignation.

Read the entire article here.

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Zimbabwean Anglicans launch football team for new diocesan university

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 11:19am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The 2019 football season in Zimbabwe will see a new team in the Mashonaland East Division Two: Anglican Saints, owned by the local Anglican diocese of Harare. Anglican Saints will eventually be part of the new diocesan university being built in Mashonaland East, but until that is built, it will use the Greendale Sports Club as its home ground. The team will be managed by Lawrence Nyarumwe, a former assistant coach with Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League side Shabanie Mine, assisted by Basil Makoni. The team aims to climb the leagues to play in the top division within two years.

Read the entire article here.

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Episcopales de todo el país responden al impacto del cierre federal

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 4:15pm

[Episcopal News Service] Mientras los efectos del cierre más largo del gobierno federal se replican a través del país, muchos episcopales sienten por igual la necesidad económica mientras otros tratan de ayudar a sus prójimos a hacerle frente.

“Entiendo lo que está en juego. Entiendo que es más grande que mi mero salario”, dijo el episcopal Christopher Dwyer, veterano que trabaja para el Departamento de Vivienda y Desarrollo Urbano, a Lester Holt de NBC News el 10 de enero.

Dwyer, que es miembro de la  iglesia de Cristo [Christ Church] en Bloomfield Glen Ridge y seminarista de la Escuela Teológica de Drew en Madison, Nueva Jersey, le dijo a Holt que él pronto tendría que encontrar otro trabajo, afirmando que su seguro de desempleo finalmente se acabará. (Si bien las reglas varían de un estado a otro, los beneficios de desempleo por lo general pagan un porcentaje del salario del beneficiario y los empleados federales se dice que tendrán que reembolsar sus beneficios si reciben pagos retroactivos).

De aplazamiento de matrículas escolares a leña gratuita y grupos de apoyo para [combatir] la ansiedad, las respuestas recorren toda la gama en los barrios de Washington, D.C., las reservas nativoamericanas y las comunidades costeras.

Las reservas están entre las más afectadas debido a su dependencia de toda clase de ayuda federal. Esa dependencia quedó consagrada hace siglos en tratados entre las tribus y el gobierno de EE.UU., en los cuales las tribus cedieron enormes territorios a cambio de muchas garantías, incluido dinero para servicios como atención sanitaria y educación.  La Oficina de Asuntos Indios ofrece esos servicios, ya sea directamente o a través de subvenciones a 567 tribus reconocidas federalmente. Es decir, aproximadamente 1,9 millones de indios americanos y de nativos alasqueños se ven afectados.

Rodney Bordeaux, presidente de la tribu de los Sioux Rosebud  ha dicho que el 74 por ciento de los ingresos del presupuesto de la tribu es dinero federal. Bordeaux y otros líderes tribales se proponen ir a Washington esta semana para reunirse con legisladores.

La Rda. Lauren R. Stanley, presbítera superintendente de la misión episcopal Rosebud (Oeste) in Dakota del Sur, y el Rdo. John Floberg, sacerdote a cargo de la parte de Dakota del Norte en la misión episcopal de Standing Rock, le dijeron a Episcopal News Service  que los gobiernos tribales están considerando cerrar parte de sus operaciones por carecer del dinero de las subvenciones federales.

Stanley dijo que está recibiendo llamadas en que le piden ayuda para pagar facturas de electricidad y gas propano. La cooperativa eléctrica está colaborando con los trabajadores federales suspendidos temporalmente, pero otros residentes de la reserva se están desesperando, señaló ella. Es ahí donde interviene el programa  “Leña para los Mayores”de la misión. Stanley dijo que las temperaturas en Dakota del Sur han estado “bien”; a 3º.C en la tarde del 14 de enero, pero hay pronóstico de nieve para el 18 de enero y se espera una temperatura máxima de -8º.C.  Stanley explicó que el programa está proporcionándole leña no sólo a los miembros más viejos de la tribu, sino a cualquier familia afectada por el cierre [del gobierno] y a los trabajadores suspendidos.

Las personas están preocupadas por el Programa Asistencial de Nutrición Suplementaria del Departamento de Agricultura de EE.UU., SNAP o EBT como se le conoce en la Reserva Rosebud. Los beneficios de enero estaban disponibles el 10 de enero, y se anunció que el dinero de febrero será depositado en las cuentas de las personas el 20 de enero. Stanley dijo que ella teme que algunas personas no podrán presupuestar ese dinero para que les dure hasta fines de febrero.

Si bien el Departamento de Agricultura (USDA por su sigla en inglés) ha dicho que su Programa Suplementario de Alimentos hará las entregas planeadas en febrero, Stanley dijo que muchos alimentos no están llegando y que los beneficiarios están recibiendo cheques de emergencia para redimirlos cuando lleguen.

“La misión episcopal Rosebud está comprometida a ayudar a los más necesitados”, dijo Stanley a ENS.

Y personas a través del país han estado preguntándole cómo pueden ayudar, ofreciendo donaciones de bienes materiales, dinero y tarjetas de regalo. Stanley le dice a la gente que el dinero y las tarjetas de regalo son mejores porque cada familia tiene diferentes necesidades.

El cierre parcial del gobierno entró en su 24º. día el 14 de enero, convirtiéndose en el más largo en la historia de EE.UU., mientras el Congreso y el presidente Donald Trump siguen enfrentados por su demanda de miles de millones de dólares para la construcción de un muro en la frontera sur. En este día que sienta récord, Trump rechazó una sugerencia de que permitiera que el gobierno reabriera temporalmente mientras continuaban las negociaciones en torno a la seguridad en la frontera.

Alrededor de 800.000 empleados federales, más de la mitad de los cuales aún continuaba trabajando, no habían recibido paga el 11 de enero. El Congreso le ha enviado a Trump un proyecto de ley para darle a esos trabajadores paga retroactiva  una vez que el cierre concluya. El Presidente ha dicho que la firmaría.

Tales promesas, sin embargo, no ayudan al flujo de efectivo de los trabajadores afectados, de ahí que los episcopales intervengan. Por ejemplo, la escuela diurna episcopal de San Patricio, [St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School] en Washington, D.C., le dijo a los padres el 7 de enero, el día que la escuela reanudó clases luego de las vacaciones de Navidad, que los padres que fueran empleados o contratistas federales y tuvieran dificultades para pagar matrícula y costes pueden diferir esos pagos sin cargos adicionales. Tendrán que estructurar un plan de reembolso más adelante.

El director de la escuela,  Peter A. Barrett, le dijo a ENS el 14 de enero que muchas escuelas episcopales no hay duda de que se encuentran en situaciones semejantes, especialmente en el área de Washington.

Para algunos empleados federales, las necesidades son más básicas. En la Despensa del Señor [Lord’s Pantry] un ministerio de la iglesia episcopal de San Jacobo [St. James Episcopal Church] en New London, Connecticut, Eleanor Godfrey le dijo a un noticiero de televisión local que la despensa está a la espera de ayudar.

“Este es probablemente el mejor lugar para venir a obtener alimentos. Ciertamente espero que las personas que se vean afectadas por el cierre no tengan pena [en venir] porque en San Jacobo estamos aquí para ustedes y queremos que vengan”, dijo Godfrey, la directora de la despensa.

Más de 7.000 empleados federales  trabajan en Connecticut y el gobierno federal es un importante empleador en la parte sureste del estado donde se encuentra New London sobre el estrecho de Long Island. New London es la sede de la Academia de la Guardia Costera. Los empleados de la Guardia Costera han quedado sin paga porque son parte del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, uno de los departamentos afectados por el cierre parcial.

La despensa también está propagando la voz a través de las redes sociales.

El comedor de beneficencia comunitario de la iglesia episcopal de Cristo  [Christ Church] en New Haven, Connecticut, está diciéndole a los trabajadores que han quedado sin paga que son bienvenidos. “San Pablo nos dice en la Escritura que el obrero merece su salario. Y esperamos que el gobierno reabra y les paguen a los obreros que están trabajando”, dijo el Rdo. Stephen Holton a una estación local de televisión de NBC. “Todo el mundo merece una comida, y este es un lugar donde puedes recibirla. Ven y come. Ven y comemos juntos”, dijo.

En Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Jackson Cupboard, una despensa de alimentos de iglesia episcopal de San Juan [St. John’s Episcopal Church] está asociándose con el Banco de Alimentos de las Rocosas en Wyoming [Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies] para organizar una despensa móvil el 15 de enero.

Cuando la Despensa Episcopal 4Santos  [4Saints Episcopal Food Pantry] publicó su anuncio, lo compartieron 25 veces, una cantidad inusual para la despensa, lo cual llevó a la directora. Judy Cariker. A pensar en la existencia de una necesidad.

Entre tanto, allá en Georgia, el Muy Rdo. Alexis Chase, vicario de la iglesia episcopal del Santo Consolador [Holy Comforter] en Atlanta, acudió a Facebook el 14 de enero para ofrecer a “amigos cesantes” la oportunidad  de algún consuelo.

El “Estudio Bíblico del Cesante“ [Furlough Bible Study] es sólo una de las maneras en que la iglesia episcopal de San Columba  [St. Columba’s Episcopal Church] en el noroeste de Washington, D. C., está tratando de ayudar. El estudio bíblico para “aquellos con un tiempo inesperado en su jornada y un deseo de reunirse con otros visitantes”comienza el 16 de enero. El Grupo de la Madre [Mothers Group] en San Columba coordinará un conversatorio dirigido profesionalmente con consejos prácticos acerca de cómo controlar la ansiedad y sus efectos.

“Algunos de ustedes me han dicho que, aunque han vivido otros cierres del gobierno en el pasado, esta vez parece particularmente alarmante”,  dijo el Rdo. Ledlie Laughlin, rector de San Columba, a su congregación el 9 de enero. “Otros me han dicho que están haciendo malabares para resolver sus finanzas, calculando el costo sobre sus ahorros en ausencia de un salario. Este es un tiempo para juntarnos, para cuidar los unos de los otros, y para ocuparnos de nuestros prójimos”.

Laughlin dijo que la oración debe ser la primera respuesta de los episcopales. San Columba está incluyendo a todos los afectados por el cierre en su oraciones dominicales y diarias.

(La II Provincia de la Iglesia Episcopal ha ofrecido “Una letanía por los afectados por el cierre del gobierno”que puede encontrarse aquí.)

San Columba también está “reuniendo e identificando recursos”para personas que pueden estar enfrentando dificultades por primera vez y no saben donde encontrar ayuda para alimentos y otras necesidad, explicó él.

Y Laughlin instó a los feligreses que necesiten ayuda económica a dirigirse a él y también les pidió a los “que tienen suficiente para ayudar a alguien más” a ponerse en contacto con él.

La Iglesia Episcopal también está respondiendo con acción social en Washington. Su Oficina de Relaciones Gubernamentales ha pedido un fin del cierre, diciendo que “cerrar nuestro gobierno es un fracaso del liderazgo y del reconocimiento de la responsabilidad que conlleva el ser un funcionario electo”.

“El cierre del gobierno tiene grandes implicaciones para nuestro país en la medida en que afecta la subsistencia de empleados federales y sus familias; así como de aquellos que dependen del apoyo federal para alimento, vivienda, servicios médicos, y más; y a los servicios vitales del gobierno, tales como seguridad aeroportuaria, proceso de hipotecas y de préstamos estudiantiles, y una amplia gama de servicios que el gobierno federal es responsable de prestar a las comunidades nativoamericanas”, dijo la oficina en un comunicado del 9 de enero.

Basando sus comentarios en la política de la Iglesia tal como ha sido establecida por la Convención General, la ORG dijo que el Congreso y el Ejecutivo deben trabajar juntos para abordar las legítimas necesidades de seguridad, garantizar la responsabilidad legal del gobierno de procesar a los solicitantes de asilo, tratar a todos los migrantes con humanidad y respeto y promulgar políticas que aborden las causas raigales y ayuden a aliviar las condiciones que motivan la migración forzada en Centro y Sudamérica.

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

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First couple to marry under Church of South India’s ‘Green Wedding’ protocol

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 2:23pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] When Anjay and Nisha, a young couple from Kerala, were married at St Thomas’ Church in Punnackadu, last month, they planted saplings as part of the Church of South India’s new “Green Wedding” protocol. The couple were the first to be married in the CSI since the Green Protocol for Green Discipleship policy, which includes weddings, was agreed by the CSI synod in December. In addition to the planting of saplings instead of the traditional lighting of a lamp; couples are encouraged to avoid plastic bottles at their reception by serving water in glasses.

Read the entire article here.

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Interim director of the Anglican Centre in Rome rebuffs ‘resurrection’ criticism

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 2:20pm

[Anglican Communion News Service]  A retired Anglican priest from Australia who has been chosen to lead the Anglican Centre in Rome on an interim basis has sought to rebuff criticism about his beliefs in the resurrection. The former dean of St George’s Cathedral in Perth, Western Australia, John Shepherd, was appointed as interim director last week following the resignation of Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi.

Read the entire article here.

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‘The church will be there,’ Presiding Bishop tells Florida hurricane survivors on long path to recovery

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 6:25pm

Judy Hughes, head of school, leads Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on a tour of Holy Nativity Episcopal School in Panama City on Jan. 12. The school is undergoing extensive repairs after being damaged in Hurricane Michael. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service.

[Episcopal News Service – Panama City, Florida] A current of human electricity ran through the large crowd that had filled the sanctuary at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church. Post-hurricane emotional fatigue gave way to an undeniable, positive energy. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry could feel it.

“I have to admit, I wish it had been a different name than Michael,” Curry said, opening with a joke that generated a hearty laugh from the room of Hurricane Michael survivors, easily 300 strong.

When the rapidly intensifying storm made landfall near here on Oct. 10 with an estimated windspeed of 155 mph, some of these residents of Florida’s Panhandle lost everything or nearly everything. Even those who fared better than most awoke to a landscape forever altered and daily life upended – trees gone, homes damaged or destroyed, businesses darkened, schools closed, jobs up in the air and a coastal region facing the uneasy question of how many of their neighbors would be coming back.

Curry spent last weekend in and around Panama City on a pastoral visit to these communities three months after the storm, encouraging them to share their stories of recovery and assuring them that The Episcopal Church has not forgotten or given up on them.

“To hear what you have done and are doing, therein is hope and grace and the power of love,” Curry said Jan. 12 at Holy Nativity during the first of two listening sessions organized by the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. With the crowd filling every pew and spilling over to folding chairs on the sides and a standing area in the back, he praised them for their perseverance in the face of disaster.

Episcopalians here gave Curry a warm welcome literally from the moment he stepped off the plane at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. The airport manager is a parishioner at Holy Nativity and greeted Curry at the gate.

Holy Nativity Episcopal School’s campus has been closed since Hurricane Michael, though classes are being held in portable classrooms nearby. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Curry’s first stop Jan. 12 was Holy Nativity Episcopal School, a few blocks from the church of the same name in The Cove, a beach-side neighborhood filled with modest houses and stunning oak trees. Because Hurricane Michael passed just east of Panama City, the powerful Category 4 winds were aimed out to sea, sparing the city a devastating storm surge, but at that strength the wind did plenty of damage on its own, including to the school.

One of the trees felled by the storm landed on the school’s roof, creating a gaping hole over the school’s lobby and one of its classrooms, but as the presiding bishop arrived accompanied by Bishop Russell Kendrick, the progress on repairs was remarkable. A new roof was in place and renovations were well underway inside.

“Holy cow, they’ve gotten a lot done,” Kendrick said.

Judy Hughes, Holy Nativity’s head of school, welcomed them into the lobby and kicked off her tour with a short video about the storm damage and repairs. A projector and screen were set up on floors still stripped to the base boards, and the group watched the video standing under exposed rafters.

Hughes’ goal is for her students to return to this school building by the fall, but their temporary accommodations are themselves quite an achievement. “We were the first school in Bay County to open,” Hughes said proudly. Classes resumed Oct. 29 in the hallways, courtyard and any other available spaces at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, and additional space provided for by St. Thomas by the Sea Episcopal Church in Panama City Beach.

Teachers and students have since moved into 15 portable classrooms set up like a makeshift educational village on vacant land behind the Holy Nativity church, and spirits are running high again, Hughes said. The school, which teaches preschool to eighth grade, had about 285 students enrolled this year, and only about 20 have yet to return after the hurricane.

Curry thanked Hughes for the tour. His goal in scheduling this visit months after the storm was “to remind the church you’re still here.”

“The church will be there 10 years from now,” Curry said later, during the short drive from the school to the church. The vehicle passed a man jogging through The Cove. “We’re long-distance runners. We’re not sprinters.”

Panama City was spared a storm surge during Hurricane Michael, but with windspeed reaching an estimated 155 mph, damage in the city was widespread. Debris piles still are a common site. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Communities still in the thick of recovery

If storm recovery is a marathon, these coastal communities are in the early miles of the race.

Some properties have been cleared of downed trees and storm-tossed vegetation, while others appear untouched and frozen in a state of disarray. The smell of cut wood emanates from certain parts of Panama City, especially near lots that have been converted to mulching grounds.

Residents say in the initial aftermath of the hurricane a massive amount of household debris was hauled to the curbs. Walls of junk rose along the sides of residential streets broken only by the gaps left for driveways. Now neighborhoods are beginning to look like neighborhoods again, with debris heaps still scattered here and there, some towering taller than houses – furniture, bricks, drywall, large appliances, siding, anything that might have broken free or been damaged during the storm.

Some gas stations have reopened despite missing the roofs over their pumps. Many other businesses appear closed, either temporarily or for good. Those that have reopened struggle to get that message across with signs that say, “Yes We Are Open.” Business signs that have yet to be repaired speak in a kind of post-hurricane dialect. “SEAFOOD MARKET” becomes “EAF ARKE,” and “MARINE SERVICE” is now “MARI E ERVICE.”

More than $5 billion in losses have been reported in insurance claims from Hurricane Michael in Florida. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The ubiquity of roof damage has launched thousands of homeowners on simultaneous searches for available roofers, creating a service backlog. Blue tarps are the most common stopgap until repairs can be made. Some roofs no longer exist to be repaired, either blown away or collapsed into the building, and occasionally there is no building left either, just a pile of rubble waiting to be cleared.

More than $5 billion in losses have been reported in insurance claims in Florida, according to the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation, with most of the claims coming from Panama City, Mexico Beach and other communities in Bay County.

The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, with financial and logistical assistance from Episcopal Relief & Development, has worked closely with the eight Episcopal churches that sustained significant damage during Hurricane Michael, though all were able to resume Sunday services within two weeks of the storm.

On the day of Curry’s listening session at Holy Nativity, the roof was still clad in blue tarp and other protective materials. The session inside was a mix of laughter and tears, applause and “amens,” as about two dozen Episcopalians from across the region rose to speak to Curry about their experiences during and after the hurricane.

They shared stories of first responders’ heroic work, of one congregation’s homeless parishioners camping out in the parish hall, of neighbors sharing information over downed fences, of students glad to return to school to see their friends, of residents chipping in any way they could to help each other and of a shared desire to return to daily life.

Curry thanked them for their stories, saying they echoed what he had heard from Episcopalians during his visit last month to the Diocese of East Carolina, which is recovering from its own disaster after Hurricane Florence.

“They started asking, who is our neighbor?” Curry said. “Who may be worse off than we are? … We’re kind of all in it together.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Steve Bates listen to Episcopalians share their stories of Hurricane Michael at a listening session Jan. 12 at Bates’ Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Panama City. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Anna Eberhard said afterward that the presiding bishop’s visit was a tremendous personal boost for her and her family. Eberhard, a teacher at Holy Nativity Episcopal School and a member of the church, was displaced after the storm, forced to move more than hour away in Walton County until their house is repaired.

She and her two daughters still make the trip back each weekday for school, but by the weekend, they are too tired of traveling to attend Sunday services. “I’m without my church home,” she told Episcopal News Service, so returning to the church and her congregation for this session with Curry gave her “the feeling of the Holy Spirit.”

‘Serve each other in his spirit’

Curry’s second listening session was held at St. James Episcopal Church in Port St. Joe, a smaller coastal community east of Panama City. On the drive to Port St. Joe, the presiding bishop passed through Mexico Beach, the small community that was hit hardest by Hurricane Michael. This region felt the brunt of Michael’s powerful storm surge, which virtually wiped out Mexico Beach.

The community of Mexico Beach was virtually wiped out by the storm surge from Hurricane Michael. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

What is left of the community looked like a war zone, with buildings reduced to scrap or badly damaged. Roofs, if not missing altogether, were patched with blue tarp. The main road through town was dotted on the roadside by pile after pile of debris, and part of the road was down to one lane where roadway was eroded by the storm and had yet to be restored.

The scene in Port St. Joe was nearly as bleak, though the neighborhood around St. James is farther inland and was mostly spared the worst of the waves.

A crowd of about 125 people filled the church for Curry’s listening session. The tone was more subdued than in the morning session, but nearly 20 people stood to share their stories from Hurricane Michael.

Melina Elum, a member of St. James, told of hunkering down in her Port St. Joe home with her husband during the storm, “wondering if we were going to live.”

Elum said she prayed to God out loud and made a lot of promises while asking for protection. When the ordeal of the storm was over, “it was a relief, but it was also a responsibility when I realized what I promised,” she said. “I have more to do now because of that.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Tommy Dwyer listen to residents share their hurricane stories at Dwyer’s St. James Episcopal Church in Port St. Joe, Florida, on Jan. 12. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Anna Connell, who moved to Mexico Beach with her three children about three years ago, worked a nurse at Bay Medical Sacred Heart Hospital in Panama City. When the storm hit, the family fled, and when they returned their house was gone. Connell also was left without a job because part of the hospital was destroyed.

Connell struggled to hold back tears as she told Curry about a phone conversation she had with her father after the hurricane. He told her to pray, so she did.

“It was the first time in my life that I ever completely gave myself to God. It was very humbling,” she said. “I still don’t have a plan, but I have peace.”

Curry thanked her and gave her a hug.

“The truth is, none of us has the strength to do it by ourselves,” he told the crowd. “Together we can.”

The next morning, Curry concluded his visit to the diocese by participating in Eucharist at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Panama City. During the hurricane, trees fell onto the administrative building at St. Andrew’s, crushing part of the roof, but the roof had been rebuilt by the time of Curry’s visit.

The church itself sustained only minor damage, so on the first Sunday after the storm, the congregation was able to return and worship there. That day, the Rev. Margaret Shepard, rector at St. Andrew’s, invited parishioners to write on poster-size paper their emotions on the theme “What Has Made You Sad/Angry” in the hurricane’s aftermath, a coping exercise recommended by an Episcopal Relief & Development official.

Among the responses: “So much loss and destruction.” “It made my aunt go away.” “Nothing is the same.” “Fear of starting over.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaches Jan. 13 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Panama City, Florida. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The parishioners’ words were still on display as the sanctuary filled with more than 200 people for the service Jan. 13.

“Y’all got to listen. This Jesus has something to say,” Curry urged the congregation in his half-hour sermon. “He knows the way of life. … Follow him, love him and serve each other in his spirit.”

For a community that may be experiencing a collective fear of starting over, the call to serve each other echoed some of the responses that parishioners had added to a second sheet of paper hanging in the sanctuary, which asked “What Bright Spot Have You Found?”

“Neighbors sharing and getting to know one another.”

“The deep goodness of people.”

“Coming to church!”

“God’s comforting presence.”

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

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Episcopalians across the country respond to federal shutdown’s impact

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 6:16pm

[Episcopal News Service] As the effects of the longest federal government shutdown in United States history ripple across the country, many Episcopalians are feeling the economic pinch even as others try to help their neighbors cope.

“I understand what’s at stake. I understand that it is bigger than just my paycheck but, it is my paycheck,” Episcopalian Christopher Dwyer, a veteran who works for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, told NBC News’ Lester Holt on Jan. 10.

Dwyer, who is a member of Christ Church Bloomfield Glen Ridge and a seminarian at Drew Theological School in Madison, New Jersey, told Holt that he soon might have to find other work, saying his unemployment insurance will eventually run out. (While rules vary by state, unemployment benefits generally pay a percentage of the recipient’s salary and federal workers will reportedly have to repay their benefits if they receive back pay.)

From school tuition deferrals to free firewood to anxiety support groups, the responses run the gamut in Washington, D.C., neighborhoods, on Native American reservations and in seaside communities.

The reservations are among the hardest-hit because of their dependence on federal aid of all sorts. That dependence was enshrined centuries ago in treaties between tribes and the U.S. government in which the tribes gave up huge territories for many guarantees, including money for services like health care and education. The Bureau of Indian Affairs provides those services, either directly or through grants to 567 federally recognized tribes. All told, about 1.9 million American Indian and Alaska Natives are impacted.

Rosebud Sioux Tribe Chairman Rodney Bordeaux has said that 74 percent of the tribe’s budget revenue is federal money. Bordeaux and other tribal leaders plan to go to Washington this week to meet with lawmakers.

The Rev. Lauren R. Stanley, superintending presbyter of the Rosebud Episcopal Mission (West) in South Dakota and the Rev. John Floberg, priest-in-charge on the North Dakota side of the Standing Rock Episcopal Mission, both told Episcopal News Service that the tribal governments are considering shutting down parts of their operations because they lack federal grant money.

Stanley said she is getting calls asking for help with electric bills and for propane. The local electric co-op is working with furloughed federal workers, but other reservation residents are getting desperate, she said. That is where the mission’s Firewood for the Elders program comes in. Stanley said South Dakota temperatures have been “okay”; it was 38 degrees the afternoon of Jan. 14, but snow is forecast for Jan. 18 with an expected high of 17. Stanley said the program is giving out wood not just to older tribal members but to any families affected by the shutdown and to furloughed workers.

People are worried about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP or EBT as it is known on the Rosebud Reservation. Recipients’ January benefits were available on Jan. 10 and it has been announced that February money will be put in people’s accounts on Jan. 20. Stanley said she worries that some people will not budget out that money to last through the end of February.

While the USDA has said its Commodity Supplemental Food Program will make its planned February deliveries, Stanley said a lot of the food isn’t arriving and recipients are getting rainchecks to redeem when it does arrive.

“The Rosebud Episcopal Mission is committed to helping those most in need,” Stanley told ENS.

And, people across the country have been asking her how they can help, offering donations of material goods, money and gifts cards. Stanley is telling people that money and gift cards are best because each family has different needs.

The partial government shutdown entered its 24th day on Jan. 14, making it the longest in U. S. history, as Congress and President Donald Trump remain at a loggerheads over his demands for billions of dollars for a wall on the southern border. On this record-setting day, Trump rejected a suggestion that he allow the government to temporarily reopen while negotiations continued about border security.

About 800,000 federal employees, more than half of whom are still working, did not get paid on Jan. 11. Congress has sent Trump a bill to give those workers back pay once the shutdown ends. The president has said he would sign it.

Such promises, however, do not help furloughed workers’ cash flow now and so Episcopalians are stepping up. For example, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School in Washington, D.C., told parents on Jan. 7, the day that school resumed after the Christmas holidays, that parents who are federal employees or contractors and having difficulty paying tuition and fees can defer those payments without late fees. They will have to set up a repayment plan later.

Head of School Peter A. Barrett told ENS Jan. 14 that many Episcopal schools are no doubt finding themselves in similar situations, especially in the Washington area.

For some federal employees, the needs are more basic. Lord’s Pantry, a ministry of St. James Episcopal Church in New London, Connecticut, Eleanor Godfrey told a local television news station that the pantry was waiting to help.

“This is probably the best place to come to get food. I certainly hope the people who are involved in this shutdown don’t become prideful because St. James we’re here for you and we want you to come down here,” said Godfrey, the pantry’s manager.

Above 7,000 federal employees work in Connecticut and the federal government is a major employer in the southeastern part of the state where New London is located on Long Island Sound. New London is home to the Coast Guard Academy. Coast Guard employees are furloughed because they are part of the Department of Homeland Security, one of the departments effected by the partial shutdown.

The pantry is getting the word out via social media as well.

The Community Soup Kitchen at Christ Church Episcopal in New Haven, Connecticut, is telling furloughed workers they are welcome. “St. Paul tells us in scripture that the laborer deserves to be paid. And we hope that the government will reopen and workers who are working will be paid,” the Rev. Stephen Holton told a local NBC television station. “Everyone deserves a meal, and this is a place where you can receive it. Come and come and be fed. Come and be fed together,” he said.

In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Jackson Cupboard, a food pantry at St. John’s Episcopal Church is partnering with Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies to host a special mobile food pantry on Jan. 15.

When 4Saints Episcopal Food Pantry posted the announcement below, it was shared 25 times, an unusual amount for the pantry, leading Director Judy Cariker to think there’s a need out there.

Meanwhile, down in Georgia, the Very Rev. Alexis Chase, vicar of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Atlanta, took to Facebook Jan. 14 to offer “furloughed friends” the chance for some comfort.

“Furlough Bible Study” is just one of the ways that St. Columba’s Episcopal Church in northwest Washington, D.C., is trying to help. The Bible study for

“those with unexpected time in your day and a desire to gather with fellow sojourners” begins Jan. 16. On that same day, St. Columba’s Mother’s Group will host a professionally led conversation with practical advice about how to manage anxiety and its impact.

“Some of you have told me that, even though you’ve lived through government shutdowns in the past, this time feels particularly scary,” the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, St. Columba’s rector, told the congregation on Jan. 9. “Others have told me that you’re scrambling to figure out your finances, calculating the toll on your savings in the absence of a paycheck. This is a time to come together, to take care of one another, and to take care of our neighbors.”

Laughlin said prayer ought to be Episcopalians’ first response. St. Columba’s is including all affected by the shutdown in its Sunday and daily prayers.

(Province II of The Episcopal Church has offered “A Litany for those affected by the government shutdown” here. http://www.province2.org/litany—shutdown.html)

St. Columba’s is also “crowdsourcing and identifying resources” for people who may be facing hardship for the first time and do not know where assistance is available for food or other necessities, he said.

And, Laughlin urged parishioners who need financial help to contact him and he also asked those who “have enough to help someone else” to be in touch with him.

The Episcopal Church is also responding with advocacy in Washington. Its Office of Government Relations has called for an end to the shutdown, saying that “shutting down our government is a failure of leadership and recognition of the responsibility that comes with being an elected official.”

“The government shutdown has far-reaching implications for our country as it impacts the livelihoods of federal employees and their families; as well as of those relying on federal support for food, housing, medical services, and more; and, the vital government services such as airport security, mortgage and student loan processing, and a wide suite of services the federal government is responsible for delivering in Native American communities,” the office said in a Jan. 9 statement.

Basing its comments on church policy as set by General Convention, OGR said Congress and the Administration need to work together to address legitimate security needs, to ensure the government’s legal responsibility to process asylum seekers, treat all migrants with humanity and respect, and enact policies to address root causes and help alleviate the conditions that drive forced migration in Central and South America.

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

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Queen Elizabeth honors former Mothers’ Union Worldwide President Lynne Tembey

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 3:03pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The former worldwide president of the Mothers’ Union, Lynne Tembey, is to be awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE). The award is part of Britain’s system of honours and is presented by the Queen or a senior member of the royal family acting in her place. The announcement of the award was one of a number made as part of the annual New Year’s Honous list published by the United Kingdom government. Last year, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby honored Tembey with the Cross of St Augustine, ahead of her retirement at the end of 2018.

Read the entire article here.

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Archbishop of Canterbury cautions against political mood over UK’s Brexit debate

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 3:01pm

[Anglican Communion News Service]  Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has spoken out against an increase in personal attacks and threats in the midst of the United Kingdom’s debate about its withdrawal from the European Union (EU). Speaking in the House of Lords – the upper house of the UK Parliament – this week, Welby said that “the most serious and visible aspect is the personalised nature of the threats outside the House against Members of the [House of Commons] especially, whether personally, online or by other means.”

Read the entire article here.

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Respuesta del Obispo Primado a la Carta Pastoral y Directriz del obispo William Love del 10 de noviembre de 2018

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 11:51am

Después de amplia consulta con el liderazgo de la Iglesia Episcopal y continuas discusiones tanto con el Rvdmo. William Love de la Diócesis Episcopal de Albany como con el Comité Permanente de la Diócesis Episcopal de Albany, el obispo primado Michael Curry ha dictado la siguiente Restricción sobre el Ministerio del obispo Love:

Oficina del Obispo Primado

Restricción parcial sobre el ministerio de un obispo
El Rvdmo. William H. Love, Obispo de Albany

En las últimas semanas, he sabido de —y he analizado— una Carta Pastoral y una Directriz Pastoral a su diócesis emitida por el obispo Love de la Diócesis de Albany el 10 de noviembre de 2018, respecto a la continua aceptación de la Iglesia del uso de un rito experimental para la celebración de matrimonios de parejas del mismo sexo en la Iglesia en conformidad con la Resolución B012 de la Convención General en 2018. Copias de la declaración del obispo Love y de la Resolución B012 pueden encontrarse aquí y aquí. En esa declaración, el obispo Love expresa su creencia de que el matrimonio de parejas del mismo sexo es contrario a la Escritura y a la “enseñanza oficial” de esta Iglesia y en consecuencia instruye que los matrimonios de parejas del mismo sexo no pueden ser celebrados por ningún clérigo que resida canónicamente en su diócesis o que tenga licencia [para ejercer en ella], y exige pleno acatamiento al Canon XVI de la Diócesis de Albany que prohíbe al mismo clero de “oficiar en”, “facilitar” o “participar en” tales matrimonios; prohíbe el reconocimiento de tales matrimonios en esa diócesis y prohíbe el uso de la propiedad de la Iglesia como el sitio de tales matrimonios.

Luego de sostener discusiones con el obispo Love,  emití un comunicado en respuesta parcial el 12 de noviembre de 2018, una copia del cual se encuentra aquí. Representantes de mi oficina se han reunido desde entonces con miembros del Comité Permanente y con el Canciller de la Diócesis de Albany.

Estos documentos y discusiones constituyen la base de la decisión temporal que ahora tomo respecto al ministerio del obispo Love como Obispo de Albany. Si bien estoy persuadido de la sinceridad y buena voluntad del obispo Love en estas difíciles circunstancias, estoy convencido de que la intención de la Convención General fue que la Resolución B012 fuese obligatoria y vinculante para todas nuestras diócesis, particularmente a la luz de su disposición de que un obispo diocesano “que sostenga una posición teológica que no acepte el matrimonio para [tales] parejas” y confrontado por el deseo de una pareja del mismo sexo de casarse en la diócesis de ese obispo, “invitará, según sea necesario, a otro obispo de esta Iglesia a brindarle apoyo pastoral a la pareja, al miembro del clero que participe y a la congregación o comunidad de culto a fin de cumplir con la intención de esta resolución de que todas las parejas tengan un conveniente y razonable acceso congregacional local a estos ritos”. Estoy por tanto persuadido de que, como Obispo Primado estoy llamado a tomar medidas para garantizar que el matrimonio de parejas del mismo sexo en la Iglesia Episcopal está a disposición de todas las personas en la misma capacidad y bajo las mismas condiciones en todas las diócesis de la Iglesia donde el matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo es legal conforme al derecho civil.

Reconozco que la conducta del obispo Love a este respecto puede constituir un delito canónico conforme al Canon IV.4(1)(c) (“cumplir con las promesas y votos hechos durante la ordenación”) y al Canon IV.4(1)(h)(9) (“cualquier conducta impropia de un clérigo”), y que [pruebas de] esa conducta se le ha[n] remitido al Rvdmo. Todd Ousley, Obispo para el Desarrollo Pastoral and Gestor para asuntos disciplinarios concerniente a los obispos. En consecuencia, a fin de proteger la integridad de la norma y el proceso disciplinario de la Iglesia y, por ende, el buen estado y bienestar de la Iglesia, y en conformidad con  los Cánones IV.7(3), (4), y IV.17(2), impongo por la presente la siguiente restricción parcial al ejercicio del ministerio del obispo Love:

Durante el período de esta restricción, al obispo Love, actuando individualmente,
o como obispo diocesano, o en cualquier otra función, le está prohibido
participar en manera alguna en el proceso disciplinario de la Iglesia en la
Diócesis de Albany en cualquier asunto tocante a cualquier miembro del clero
que implique la cuestión del matrimonio de parejas del mismo sexo.

Ni participará en ningún otro asunto que tenga o pueda tener el efecto de penar
de alguna manera a cualquier miembro del clero o del laicado o a una
congregación de culto de su diócesis por su participación en las disposiciones o
participación en un matrimonio de personas del mismo sexo en su diócesis o en
cualquier otra parte.

Esta restricción entra en vigor inmediatamente y se mantendrá hasta que se resuelva cualquier asunto del Título IV pendiente contra el obispo Love. En el ínterin, yo o quien me suceda, de extenderse este asunto después de mi mandato, revisaremos periódicamente la continua necesidad de esta restricción y la enmendaremos o levantaremos según proceda.

Este documento se le presentará al obispo Love en el día de hoy y por la presente se le informa de su derecho a presentar cualesquier objeciones a esta restricción en conformidad con el Canon IV.7.

(Rvdmo.) Michael Bruce Curry
XXVII Obispo Primado de la Iglesia Episcopal

Fechada:  11 de enero de 2019

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Albany bishop is barred from punishing priests for same-sex marriages, faces disciplinary review

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 10:33am

Bishop William Love of the Diocese of Albany tells General Convention on July 11 during the House of Bishops debate on liturgical marriage-equality Resolution B012 that passing the measure would force him to violate his ordination vows. Photo: Episcopal Church video

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has temporarily restricted a portion of Diocese of Albany Bishop William Love’s ministry because of Love’s refusal to allow same-sex marriages even after General Convention mandated liturgical marriage equality in the church’s U.S. dioceses.

Love is forbidden from punishing “in any matter regarding any member of the clergy that involves the issue of same-sex marriage,” Curry said in a document released Jan. 11. The restriction pertains to both The Episcopal Church’s formal Title IV disciplinary process and to any action “that has or may have the effect of penalizing in any way any member of the clergy or laity or worshipping congregation of his diocese for their participation in the arrangements for or participation in a same-sex marriage in his diocese or elsewhere.”

The restriction appears to enable Episcopal Church clergy in the upstate New York diocese to solemnize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples, something Love steadfastly refused to allow.

Curry also said Love’s conduct surrounding the issue “may constitute a canonical offense,” namely for violating his ordination vows and for conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy. The presiding bishop has referred Love’s refusal to obey convention’s Resolution 2018-B012 to the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, the church’s bishop for pastoral development and intake officer for disciplinary matters involving bishops. In the church’s Title IV disciplinary process an intake officer’s role is to obtain as much information as possible about the alleged misconduct, short of a full investigation. His or her key goal is to decide whether or not the facts presented, if any were true, would constitute an “offense” under the canons.

Bishop William Love has led the Diocese of Albany for 12 years. Photo: Diocese of Albany

The restriction on Love will remain in effect until any Title IV process pending against him is resolved, Curry said. The presiding bishop added that he, or the next presiding bishop if the process extends beyond the November 2024 end of his term, will “review the continued necessity of this restriction from time to time and amend or lift it as appropriate.”

“While I am persuaded of the sincerity and good will of Bishop Love in these difficult circumstances, I am convinced that Resolution B012 was intended by the Convention to be mandatory and binding upon all our Dioceses,” Curry wrote.

He said that, as presiding bishop, “I am called upon to take steps to ensure that same-sex marriage in The Episcopal Church is available to all persons to the same extent and under the same conditions in all dioceses of the Church where same-sex marriage is civilly legal.”

Love was out of the office conducting a funeral service on Jan. 11 and not immediately available to comment for this story, diocesan communications officer Meaghan Keegan told Episcopal News Service by email. “He will be issuing a statement in the coming days.”

The dispute arose when Love said Nov. 10 that he would not allow same-sex couples to be married by priests in that diocese. He acknowledged that he could face disciplinary proceedings by the church for refusing to obey convention’s requirement.

Shortly after Love released his pastoral letter Curry affirmed General Convention’s authority, saying that “those of us who have taken vows to obey the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church must act in ways that reflect and uphold the discernment and decisions of the General Convention of the church.” Curry said in his Jan. 11 statement that he spoke with Love and consulted with a broad range of Episcopal Church leaders before reaching his decision.

How the actions of General Convention led to this decision
General Convention in 2015 authorized two marriage rites for trial use (via Resolution A054) by both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The bishops and deputies also made the canonical definition (via Resolution A036) of marriage gender-neutral.

A054 said that the bishops of the church’s domestic dioceses needed to give their permission for the rites to be used. (The Episcopal Church includes a small number of dioceses outside the United States in civil jurisdictions that do not allow marriage for same-sex couples.) Even if they opposed same-sex marriage, A054 said that all bishops “will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies.”

There was widespread acceptance of the rites across the church. However, eight diocesan bishops in the 101 domestic dioceses did not authorized their use. They were Love, Central Florida Bishop Greg Brewer, Dallas Bishop George Sumner, Florida Bishop John Howard, North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith, Springfield Bishop Dan Martins, Tennessee Bishop John Bauerschmidt and Virgin Islands Bishop Ambrose Gumbs.

The eight required couples wanting to use the rites to be married outside their dioceses and away from their home churches. Some bishops, including Love, refused to allow priests in their diocese to use the rites anywhere.

Last July, convention attempted to remedy to the situation by passing the the often-rewritten and often-amended Resolution B012, which went into effect on the First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2, Bishops and deputies moved the authority for deciding to use the rites from the diocesan bishop to parish priests. B012 said diocesan bishops who do not agree with same-sex marriage “shall invite, as necessary,” another Episcopal Church bishop to provide “pastoral support” to the couple, the clergy member involved and the congregation. Some of the eight bishops have interpreted B012 as requiring – or allowing them to require – the involvement of another bishop.

Love, who has refused to honor B012 at all, made his opposition to it clear during General Convention. In a House of Bishops debate on July 11 Love spoke for nearly 10 minutes, despite being told that he was exceeding the agreed-to two-minute individual limit. He said the passage of B012 would put him in the awkward position of violating of his ordination vows because its intent goes against the word of God found in Scripture, which ordained Episcopalians vow to uphold.“There has been a lot of discussion as we have struggled with this issue over the past several years on whether or not sexual intimacy within that of a same-sex couple was appropriate,” he said.

“There are many in this church who have proclaimed that it is and that this is a new thing that the Holy Spirit is revealing and that the Episcopal Church is being prophetic in putting this forward, and ultimately the rest of the body of Christ will come to understand that.”

He said he did not believe “that that’s necessarily true.”

Love added that the church has listened to people’s personal experiences and to their “feelings, their emotions, but we have not had an honest look at what God has said about this issue and how best to help people who find themselves in same-sex relationships.”

Love argued in his eight-page pastoral letter that obeying B012 would cause him to destroy rather than “guard the faith, unity and discipline of the church,” as he and all bishops vow to do during their ordination and consecration. In addition to that vow, all ordained Episcopalians pledge to “conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.”

Love said that while he respects the authority of General Convention “as an institutional body,” his “ultimate loyalty as a bishop in God’s holy Church is to God.”

He also argued that obeying Resolution B012 would require him to violate his vow to uphold the Albany canons, one of which (Canon XVI here) forbids diocesan clergy from officiating, participating or facilitating same-sex marriages in public or in private. “Unions other than those of one man and one woman in Holy Matrimony, even if they be recognized in other jurisdictions, shall be neither recognized nor blessed in this Diocese,” the canon says.

At the end of his letter he said that “until further notice” the trial rites authorized by Resolution B012 “shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy (canonically resident or licensed).”

As the diocese awaited the presiding bishop’s decision, Love brought the controversy into his Christmas message, likening his journey to the unanswered questions that Mary and Joseph faced when they responded to God’s call. “Are we, like Mary and Joseph, willing to risk our reputations, our relationships, our jobs and livelihood?” he asked in part.

Meanwhile in the other seven dioceses
Love is the only one of the church’s 101 domestic diocesan bishops who is flatly refusing to conform to B012. Gumbs is the only one of the eight who previously refused to allow use of the rites has told his clergy to offer them without further obstacles.

Central Florida and Dallas have canons that restrict marriage to heterosexual couples, in addition to Albany. Brewer in Central Florida and Sumner in Dallas have turned over to another bishop part of all of their pastoral oversight of any congregation that wishes to provide the rites, as has North Dakota’s Smith. Martins in Springfield has said he plans to do the same.

Florida’s Howard has said he would do the same, however some in that diocese have told ENS they are confused and worried about his process to accomplish that delegation.

Tennessee Bishop John Bauerschmidt has yet to articulate his policy, although he had pledged to have a process for enacting B012 sometime this month.

Read more about it

  • The presiding bishop said Love’s disciplinary process will center on two sections of Title IV: Canon IV.4(1)(c) (“abide by the promises and vows made when ordained”) and Canon IV.4(1)(h)(9) (“any Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Clergy”). Those part of canons can be found on pages 206 and 207 here. The canons define conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy as “any disorder or neglect that prejudices the reputation, good order and discipline of the Church, or any conduct of a nature to bring material discredit upon the church or the holy orders conferred by the church.”
  • The text of Curry’s restriction on Love is here.
  • More information about how Title IV proceedings cane be found on this interactive website.

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

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Episcopalians in Florida Panhandle prepare to welcome Presiding Bishop on post-hurricane visit

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 5:46pm

Damage from Hurricane Michael is still visible in late October at Holy Nativity Episcopal School in Panama City, Florida, as teachers and staff pack up items to take to temporary classrooms until the school can reopen. Photo: Holy Nativity Episcopal School, via Facebook.

[Episcopal News Service] The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast will welcome Presiding Bishop Michael Curry this weekend as he visits some of the Florida Panhandle congregations that still are rebounding from damage sustained by Hurricane Michael in October.

Curry’s pastoral visit to the diocese will focus on congregations in and around Panama City, near where Michael made landfall Oct. 10 as a devastating Category 4 hurricane. At 155 mph, it was said to be one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the mainland United States. The diocese says eight churches were damaged by the storm, as well as one Episcopal school that still has not yet been able to return to its own classrooms.

“The presiding bishop’s visit with us this weekend will be a powerful reminder of the best of bonds between us, and that bond is love,” Bishop Russell Kendrick said in an emailed statement. “Together we are stronger, and we will continue to find new life.”

A man walk past buildings damaged by Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida, on Oct. 11. Photo: Reuters

The scene on the ground looked bleak immediately after the storm, but three months later, the diocese expects to present Curry with stories of resilience and mutual support. Diocesan leaders paired unaffected congregations that had extra resources with those struggling the most during the recovery phase.

“The churches themselves, our congregations, are past the initial stages, whether it’s shock or just disbelief that it happened. They are building back their lives together,” Chris Heaney, the diocese’s emergency response coordinator, told Episcopal News Service by phone. “They certainly inspire me because they’re very much relying on each other.”

Hiring Heaney was one of the Kendrick’s first responses to the hurricane, just days after Michael struck, as he coordinated the diocese’s efforts with help from Episcopal Relief & Development and local clergy who had lived through previous hurricanes. Heaney, senior warden at Christ Episcopal Church in Pensacola, to the west of Panama City, is a retired naval officer who was available to work full-time on a six-month assignment for the diocese.

The diocese identified eight churches with properties that were significantly damaged by the storm: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Holy Nativity Episcopal Church and St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Panama City; Grace Episcopal Church and St. Thomas by the Sea Episcopal Church in Panama City Beach; St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Marianna; St. James Episcopal Church in Port St. Joe, and St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Wewahitchka.

Heaney said the storm’s track spared most of those communities the severe flooding that hurricanes often bring, but the winds were intense, leaving roofs tattered, walls battered and trees down.

Sixteen congregations that weren’t affected by the storm were paired with the eight congregations expressing the greatest need for money, supplies, administrative support or volunteer labor. Heaney’s own Christ Episcopal Church and St. James Episcopal Church in Fairhope, Alabama, were assigned to support Holy Nativity.

“It can’t be easy, and every time I talk to them, they’re in good spirits dealing with hard things,” Heaney said.

The storm initially disrupted worship schedules, but none of the damage to the church buildings was severe enough to prevent any of the congregations from resuming services within two Sundays of Hurricane Michael’s landfall. They now are in the process of following up with insurance claims to complete repairs.

A more disheartening scene was found at Holy Nativity Episcopal School, which Heaney said was the property in the diocese in the worst shape after the hurricane. The wind was particularly destructive to the school’s second floor, severely damaging the walls, roof and a bell tower.

Students aren’t expected to return to the school any sooner than this fall, Heaney said, but their education is proceeding. St. Thomas by the Sea in Panama City offered space at the church to the students for classes until they moved into temporary classrooms set up on the grounds of Holy Nativity Episcopal Church.

The school is one of the first stops on Curry’s two-day visit to the area. He will inspect the damaged school building Jan. 12 before making his way to two listening sessions with hurricane victims, one at the Holy Nativity church at 10 a.m. and the other at St. James in Port St. Joe at 3 p.m. He also is scheduled to preach Jan. 13 at St. Andrew’s in Panama City.

The pastoral visit comes just a month after Curry made a similar trip to the Diocese of East Carolina, which was hit hard by Hurricane Florence in September. He heard stories from Episcopalians of neighbors helping neighbors, and the stories of surviving natural disaster will continue this weekend in Florida.

“One thing that it seems that everyone in the area needs is the ability to just talk about what happened,” Heaney 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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‘Clergy in Cars’ shows feature Episcopal priests taking their faith talk on the road in Texas

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 5:35pm

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry appears last fall in an episode of “Clergy in Cars” with the Rev. Paul Klitzke in this screengrab. The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal News Service’s senior report, is expected to appear on an upcoming episode.

[Episcopal News Service] Texas is a big state with many miles of roads, so it need not be surprising that Episcopal clergy from at least two different Lone Star congregations – could there be others? – have produced separate online video series featuring priests talking in cars while driving places, sometimes to get coffee.

Think Jerry Seinfeld, but with clerical collars and no cursing.

Both video series have been modeled loosely after Seinfeld’s accurately named “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” In the Diocese of Dallas, the Rev. Paul Klitze’s “Clergy in Cars” series features a rotating cast of guest priests and bishops, including one episode featuring Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. In the Diocese of Texas, the Rev. Daryl Hay and the Rev. Matt Stone give their own faith-based takes on popular culture in “Clergy in Cars Getting Coffee,” which also made a special appearance in July at General Convention in Austin.

“For me, what has been important is experiencing and creating these moments when people get to see clergy and priests are real people … the foibles and the humanity,” said Stone, curate at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Bryan, Texas. Hay is the congregation’s rector.

On Klitzke’s series, those “real people” moments have included Curry talking in October about how his iPhone serves as a spiritual aid, for scheduling Bible readings and reminding him of his monthly fasts.

“Anything can be used for good or ill, so our job as the people of God is to take it and let it be used for good,” Curry told Klitzke, rector at Episcopal Church of the Ascension.

The same principle could be applied to social media. Texas Bishop Andrew Doyle “encourages us to go into the spaces where people gather, and Facebook is one of the places where people gather,” Hay said. He and Stone spoke to Episcopal News Service by phone – the same phone Stone uses to film the duo’s videos.

“It’s, like, an iPhone 5,” Stone said of his older-model device. “It’s definitely a priest’s phone.”

The idea for the video series had been bumping around in Hay’s head for a while, but “it was something I would never have done if Matt hadn’t been here. He made me do it.”

“He shared the idea. And I said, great, when do we do it?” Stone recalled.

Stone, ordained as a priest a year ago, was a deacon when he joined St. Andrew’s in summer 2017. That September, he and Hay pushed “record” on their first Facebook Live video on the congregation’s Facebook page. The live viewership of that inaugural “Clergy in Cars” was tiny, but they were amazed when, over time, it amassed more than 4,000 replay views.

The congregation’s Facebook page also has increased its “likes” by about 25 percent over that period, another triumph that Hay attributes to the videos. (Those likes now are nearing 450, though the priests have since spun off the video series into its own Facebook page with nearly 300 likes.)

Though Hay and Stone sometimes invite guests along for the ride, including for special episodes of “Clergy Carpool Karaoke,” most videos are 10 to 15 minutes of the pair’s own priestly banter as they drive to Sweet Eugene’s, a coffee shop in College Station, Texas. Stone generally handles the technical side of things, with his iPhone stuck to the windshield, while Hay drives.

“For us, it’s been a way to engage popular culture and build some bridges,” Stone said. An early episode referenced movies, from “Star Wars” to “Love Actually.” “We want to help people build bridges between their faith and their everyday life.”

Facebook Live offers the added benefit of allowing real-time engagement, Stone said, and they invite viewers to join them at the coffee shop when the camera stops recording, creating an opportunity for real-world connections.

There is no regular schedule for the videos at this point, though at minimum they are seasonal, with an episode last month for Advent and another planned around Ash Wednesday for Lent. One of Stone’s favorite moments, though, wasn’t gabbing in a car but rather interviewing Doyle at General Convention and getting the bishop’s impression of Big Tex, a 50-foot statue and icon of the State Fair of Texas.

“It was just wonderful,” Stone said. “Getting behind the curtain with a bishop, for me that was something really unique and special. We’re letting people see something they might not otherwise.”

Klitzke shares his cross-Texas counterparts’ interest in social media experimentation as a tool for spiritual enrichment and evangelism, though he also sees his video series in Dallas as window into what clergy talk about when they talk with each other.

In cars. And clergy in Texas spend a lot of time in cars.

Klitzke and the Rev. Rebecca Tankersly, associate rector at Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas, were driving back from a preaching conference when their discussion turned to the topic of what makes for a typical clergy-to-clergy discussion.

“We were having these great theological conversations … everything from serious theology down to fun whatever,” Klitzke recalled. That’s when he first hatched the idea for “Clergy in Cars.” “Why not try to capture what this looks like? And my hope was it would make the whole church more accessible to people.”

After launching the series in August with the Rev. Leslie Stewart of Resurrection Episcopal Church in Plano, Texas, as his first guest passenger, Klitzke scheduled about one episode a week, posting every Tuesday to YouTube and Facebook and each about 15 minutes. More recently he has been averaging about one new episode a month.

With a few hundred people viewing most of the videos, sometimes a thousand, the episode featuring the presiding bishop went “viral” and topped 20,000 views. Interviewing Curry was “a joy,” Klitzke said, but he also clearly had fun asking Dallas Bishop George Sumner in the show’s second episode whether the bishop preferred tacos or BBQ after three years in Dallas.

“I really, really like the tacos,” Sumner said. “However, after three years, I’ve liked them too much, and I am on my low-carb phase. … It’s all brisket right now.”

After that light-hearted opening, Klitzke and Sumner shifted away from the culinary and got deeper into to the theological, a format that the show has repeated with fellow Episcopal priests and a diverse lineup of clergy from other faith traditions.

One question Klitzke tries to ask all his guests is what they see as the pre-eminent social issue facing people of faith today.

“It was something I had been wrestling with,” he said. “I have found the variety of answers to be really meaningful.”

Unlike Hay and Stone, Klitzke prerecords his videos rather than stream them live. His gear is just a windshield-mounted GoPro camera. After some complaints about the audio quality, he also invested in a better microphone.

The equipment isn’t as important as the content of the conversation, though Sumner’s answer to Klitzke’s question about social issues took on the spiritual cost of technology.

“I think that one of the great issues of our time is the way in which technology continues to mean that machines intervene between us as we try to relate to one another as humans,” Sumner said. “These machines will actually change our brains, but I think they also affect our souls.”

The fact that such dialogue happened in a car instead of a church may be irrelevant to the clergy on camera, but by sharing with his audience, Klitzke hopes to breathe new life into “the way we do formation.” He and his guest are modeling theological reflection, in a way, for those who may be interested in doing the same.

“To me, it’s an extension of preaching and teaching,” he said.

And if anyone thinks the resemblance to Seinfeld’s much-more-polished Netflix production might be a coincidence, Klitzke has no problem setting the record straight.

“It’s a complete knockoff,” Klitzke said, with at least one obvious exception. “I tell people, I can afford a cup of coffee, but I can’t afford a film crew.”

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

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Western Kansas bishop embraces rare dual role that includes maintaining parish priest duties

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 10:52am

Western Kansas Bishop Mark Cowell is ordained Dec. 1 at Christ Episcopal Cathedral in Salinas, Kansas. Photo: Diocese of Western Kansas, via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] Western Kansas Bishop Mark Cowell had not yet been ordained a full month when he made his first official visit to a congregation in the diocese that he was newly entrusted to lead. St. Mary & St. Martha of Bethany Episcopal Church in Larned, Kansas, was an easy choice to kick off a rotation of first-Sunday visits to congregations in the rural, sparsely populated western half of the state.

In a unique twist found only in the Diocese of Western Kansas, Cowell “visited” his own congregation. Cowell was vicar of St. Mary & St. Martha when he was elected bishop on May 5, and he remained in both roles for his Christmas Eve visit.

A bishop who also serves as parish priest? That’s just how they do it in Western Kansas, and Cowell’s multitasking doesn’t end there. He also leads a second congregation, Holy Nativity Episcopal Church in Kinsley, and his list of additional part-time jobs includes municipal prosecutor in Dodge City and county attorney for Hodgeman County.

“It works for me. It just fits the way my brain works,” Cowell said in an interview with Episcopal News Service. “Bouncing around from topic to topic and bouncing around from one job to another just seems to suit me.”

Part-time bishops aren’t unusual, but Cowell is thought to be the only dual-role bishop who also serves a congregation. His predecessor, Bishop Mike Milliken, also served a parish for most of his episcopacy. There are no other bishops currently dividing their time in the same way, according to Bishop Todd Ousley, who assists dioceses with bishop searches as head of the Episcopal Church’s Office of Pastoral Development.

Milliken told ENS he often was asked how he divided his time between bishop duties and his rector role at Grace Church in Hutchinson, whether he devoted his mornings to one and his afternoons to the other.

“It really doesn’t work that way. It’s more like having children,” he said. “You deal with the one who needs your attention at that point, realizing that it takes some organizational skills and some planning and keeping a handle on your calendar.”

It helps that everyone in Western Kansas chips in and looks out for each other. Being bishop is “not a Lone Ranger type of show,” Milliken said. “It takes a lot of people working together on this.”

The diocese has fewer than 30 congregations, some of which only worship together once a month, and though Cowell has plenty of work to do, administrative tasks aren’t high on his list of priorities. “This is not a diocese where you need to spend a lot of time in the office,” Cowell said, and he enjoys meeting with local parishioners, whether he’s on an official visit or just stopping by to say hello and to help out.

“Quite frankly, we don’t do anything that formally out here,” Cowell said. “It gives me an opportunity to see my friends who happen to be going to church at all these different churches.”

Bishops and clergy gather in Salinas, Kansas, on Dec. 1 for the consecration of Western Kansas Bishop Mark Cowell, center. Photo: Diocese of Western Kansas

Rethinking the role of bishop

Financial constraints and the limited number of priests in Western Kansas are among the reasons the diocese has opted for a part-time bishop who shares congregational duties. Though it may be the only diocese with that arrangement, it isn’t the only one responding to such challenges by rethinking the role of the bishop.

The Diocese of Vermont is in the middle of its search to replace outgoing Bishop Thomas Ely, and its Bishop Discernment and Nominating Committee chose to seek candidates interested in approaching the role from a “bishop in partnership” perspective. That doesn’t mean the new bishop will be taking on congregational roles, but the diocese emphasizes collaboration.

“We seek a bishop who will partner with Episcopalians in Vermont to recognize, affirm, and raise up mutual ministry models in our congregations and in our larger diocesan life, as all ministry springs from the common call of our baptism,” the candidate profile says.

Diocese of Eastern Oregon Bishop Patrick Bell has maintained a primary residence in Idaho, outside the diocese, since he became bishop in 2016. He commutes to Eastern Oregon, spending most of his time as bishop traveling the diocese to visit congregations. His position is part-time, as it was for his predecessor, Bishop Nedi Rivera.

Bishop Jay Lambert also serves part time in the Diocese of Eau Claire, which covers the less-populated northwest third of Wisconsin. In an email to ENS, Lambert called himself and Bell unique in that they become diocesan bishops after retiring as priests.

In other dioceses, bishops’ decisions to take on additional roles could be described as situational. North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith assumed leadership of Gethsemane Cathedral in Fargo in 2011 when the cathedral’s dean stepped down, but Gethsemane is now led by the Very Rev. Mark Strobel, installed in 2015.

Northern Michigan Bishop Rayford Ray, though not a dual-role bishop, worked with some of the congregations in his diocese as a ministry developer for the first two years of his episcopacy, beginning in 2011. He has since overseen the development of mission support teams in congregations across the diocese, freeing him to focus on his core bishop duties full time.

Ray told ENS that he still works with congregations, as all bishops do. The nature of a bishop’s relationship with congregations, he said, depends to varying degrees on the diocese’s size, context and culture.

Life ‘a little closer to the surface’ in Western Kansas

Western Kansas, in addition to resembling some of those other smaller dioceses in membership, is located in a region that has a way of life that sets it apart even from the lifestyle of fellow Kansas on the more-populated eastern half of the state, Cowell said, and that local culture helps makes a dual-role bishop possible.

“You have a great sense of community in the small towns,” Cowell said. “Everyone takes care of each other.”

He clarified that residents in his diocese don’t idly stick their noses in other people’s business, but they share the challenges and potential danger that come from unpredictable weather, manual labor on farms and ranches and the great distances between points of civilization. “There are certain realities of life that are just a little closer to the surface,” Cowell said.

Cowell was born in Washington, D.C., and later lived in Virginia, Pennsylvania and eventually New Jersey, where he graduated from high school and then college. He attended law school in New York City but soon decided the metropolis was “too vertical” for him. He craved a wide-open life out West, inspired partly by pop culture depictions of the region, like “Dances With Wolves.”

He and his first wife decided to move to her native Kansas, gravitating first to the cities and suburbs on the east side of the state. In 1995, he moved farther west to Dodge City, and he’s lived in that area ever since, working alternately as a prosecutor and defense attorney. Along the way, his first marriage ended, and he remarried, settling for good in Larned, about 60 miles east of Dodge City.

Cowell said he first felt called to the priesthood in college, at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Drew has a seminary and he sought advice from some of the seminary faculty.

“I said, I think I’m called as a priest. But I don’t want to do that,” Cowell recalled. Their advice was to continue on his path toward becoming a lawyer, and he could find other ways to serve God. That’s what he did, “but the call [to the priesthood] never went away.”

In Larned, he began pursuing that call directly and was ordained in 2003. As a parish priest, he served a number of churches in the diocese, including as part of a supply priest rotation at some of the smaller congregations. Only two church in the diocese have full-time priests, Christ Cathedral in Salinas and Grace Church in Hutchinson.

“We don’t have in this area the resources to have full-time clergy, so we’ve bounced around and covered where we can,” Cowell said. He acknowledged full-time clergy in every town would be preferred, “but that’s not the way we’re getting things done at this point.”

The same goes for the bishop role. Cowell was on the diocese’s Standing Committee when the Diocese of Western Kansas was searching for someone to take over when Bishop James Adams stepped down in 2010. Cowell said he raised the idea of a dual-role bishop in conversation with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jeffers Schori, who told him it was a model that, though out of fashion, had precedent in the early church.

The diocese determined it was last tried 150 years earlier, in Philadelphia, so the Western Kansas Standing Committee agreed to give it a try again, ordaining Milliken as bishop while letting him keep his parish at Grace Church. Milliken stepped down as rector two years ago to focus on the transition to a new bishop. He still plans to assist Cowell as needed.

Western Kansas’ model certainly isn’t for every diocese – arguably, not most dioceses – but Cowell said he hopes that this example might offer lessons that other dioceses can apply to their own contexts. One, he suggested, is the importance of inspiring lay people to play a greater role in the life and future of their congregations.

“I don’t think we could do what we’re doing any other way,” he said. “But I also think that’s what we should be doing, continuing to teach and empower the laity to take over our churches.”

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

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Celebrations planned, tension lingers a month after marriage equality resolution takes effect

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 3:44pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s five-week-old plan to give same-sex couples unfettered access to marriage in all of its domestic dioceses is still clouded by requirements not envisioned by the enabling resolution and has broken the relationships of some congregations with their bishops.

Yet, in the midst of what more than one person has called “heartbreak,” there soon will be celebrations in some of those places. A parish in the Diocese of Central Florida is planning in February to witness the marriage of two men who have been partners for 30 years.

And two of the three congregations in the Diocese of Dallas whose pastoral relationships with their bishop have changed because of their support of same-sex marriage are planning services the weekend of Jan. 19-20 to bless couples who had to leave the diocese to get married in the last three years.

Eight bishops in the church’s 101 domestic dioceses previously had blocked access to the rites.  Then in July, the 79th General Convention passed the often-rewritten and often-amended Resolution B012. Reactions among the eight bishops have run the gamut, from one outright refusing to comply to one making an about-face on the issue. The six other bishops are at various points in between.

Bishop William Love of the Diocese of Albany has said he will not allow same-sex couples to be married by priests in that diocese. He acknowledged that he could face disciplinary proceedings by the church for refusing to obey the resolution’s requirements.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has affirmed General Convention’s authority, saying that “those of us who have taken vows to obey the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church must act in ways that reflect and uphold the discernment and decisions of the General Convention of the church.” He and other church leaders, he said in mid-November, were “assessing the implications of [Love’s] statement and will make determinations about appropriate actions soon.”

Of the eight bishops, only Diocese of the Virgin Islands Bishop Ambrose Gumbs has told his clergy to offer the rites without further obstacles. Gumbs previously had blocked use of the rites, which General Convention approved in 2015 (via Resolution A054).

“The clergy are aware that if a same-sex couple presents themselves for pastoral care leading to marriage they are obligated to accommodate the request,” Gumbs said in an email to Episcopal News Service just after B012 took effect on the first Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2. If a priest refuses to officiate at such a wedding, the priest must “provide another priest to facilitate the process.”

How the church got to this point

The 2015 resolution said that the bishops of the church’s domestic dioceses needed to give their permission for the rites to be used. They were also told to “make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies” even if they opposed same-sex marriage. (The Episcopal Church includes a small number of dioceses outside the United States in civil jurisdictions that do not allow marriage for same-sex couples.)

The eight bishops did not authorize use of the rites in their dioceses and required couples wanting to use them to be married outside their diocese and away from their home churches. Some refused to allow their priest to use the rites anywhere. This year, Resolution B012 moved the authority for deciding to use the rites from the diocesan bishop to parish priests. It said that diocesan bishops who do not agree with same-sex marriage “shall to invite, as necessary,” another Episcopal Church bishop to provide “pastoral support” to the couple, the clergy member involved and the congregation. Some of the bishops have interpreted B012 as requiring – or allowing them to require – the involvement of another bishop.

Christopher Hayes, who as a deputy from California proposed the amended version that convention passed, told ENS the key phrase is “as necessary.” Hayes thinks some bishops are misinterpreting that to mean necessary by mere fact of the bishops’ disagreement, whereas he understands it to mean pastorally necessary. Such pastoral necessity, he said, would be rare.

“Most of the time, the bishop isn’t involved in giving pastoral support to a couple getting married,” Hayes said, adding that pastoral oversight is a different matter not addressed by the resolution.

However, some of the eight bishops have argued that being involved in the use of the rites is part of their role as the diocese’s chief pastor. Tennessee Bishop John Bauerschmidt put it this way an October essay:

“It is because the bishop is concerned with every marriage as chief pastor of the diocese that his or her explicit permission must be sought in the extraordinary instance of the remarriage of a person with a previous spouse still living.

“Additionally, the little-noticed requirement (Canon I.18.2) that clergy who waive the 30-day notification period before officiating at any marriage must report this waiver to the bishop is a similar reminder of the bishop’s role in the everyday pastoral ministries of clergy.”

B012 specifically notes that the canonical provision about remarriage after divorce that Bauerschmidt cites applies to same-sex couples. Canon I.19.3 (page 60 here) requires priests to show their bishops (or the bishop in the diocese in which the service is planned) that they have verified the annulment or dissolution of a divorced person’s previous marriage, and that they discussed with the couple the need to show “continuing concern” for the well-being of the former spouse, and of any children. The resolution requires a bishop who opposes same-sex marriage to invite another bishop to provide the needed consent to remarry.

Responses across the spectrum

Bauerschmidt said in a July letter to the diocese that B012 sets up “a particular structure that upholds the bishop’s unique role as chief pastor and teacher and presider at the liturgy,” even when the bishop cannot support same-sex marriage.

Bauerschmidt said in July that he “holds the traditional teaching on marriage” so he intended to ask another bishop to provide the “pastoral care” that he said would be necessary to ensure that the trial liturgies will be available in his diocese. He told ENS in an email this week that he would wait until “sometime in January” to announce a specific implementation plan.

Meanwhile, he has issued two “pastoral teaching” essays, one on the bishop’s role and one on the “church’s traditional teaching on marriage.”

Florida Bishop John Howard, despite objecting to B012 at General Convention, told his diocese in August that he intended to implement the resolution.  A subsequent meeting with clergy on the issue left some confusion about what that process would look like.

In a Dec. 4 email to ENS, Emily Stimler, the diocese’s director of communications, said the diocese has established “a process of collaboration and transparency” for implementing the resolution as outlined here. Rectors or priests-in-charge who want to perform same-sex marriages, and their wardens, must first meet with Howard and he will “find a bishop willing to undertake pastoral oversight in accordance with the provisions of B012,” Stimler said. “The oversight would only cover marriage, and the other bishop would not take over all pastoral oversight of the congregation.”

Stimler said one congregation has begun that process, though she didn’t identify the congregation or elaborate on where that process stands.

Hayes told ENS he doesn’t see a need for bishop-to-clergy meetings like the ones Howard is requesting before letting the marriages proceed.

“If the bishop’s theological position is ‘I can’t give support to the couple,’ what’s the purpose of the meeting?” he said.

Breaking relationships over B012

At least three bishops, Greg Brewer in Central Florida, Dan Martins in Springfield and George Sumner in Dallas, appear to be severing their pastoral relationships with clergy and parishes wishing to use the rites by requiring arrangements that resemble Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight, or DEPO, with other Episcopal bishops, even though Resolution B012 specifically eschewed a DEPO mandate in such situations.

The House of Bishops devised DEPO in 2004 for congregations that so severely disagree with their diocesan bishops on human sexuality and other theological matters that their relationships are completely broken. Not all congregations wishing to use the same-sex marriage rites are in that level of conflict with their bishop, some bishops and deputies said during the convention debate.

Sumner announced in November that three congregations intended to perform same-sex marriages: Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration and Episcopal Church of St. Thomas the Apostle. Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith has agreed to be “the visiting bishop” to those congregations.

Sumner said he and Smith “share the hope that the three parishes will continue to invite me annually to come to preach, teach, and share in worship.”

On Jan. 19 Transfiguration plans a service to renew the marriage vows of 14 same-sex couples who had to leave the diocese to get married. Retired New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in The Episcopal Church, will preach. The next day, St. Thomas plans what it calls a “celebration and blessing” of such marriages.

The Rev. Paul Klitzke, rector at Ascension, told ENS that he was pleased to have a path toward offering the rites, though the change in the relationship with Sumner gave the congregation pause.

“There’s some heartbreak, in that this is not normative,” Klitzke said. “It’s not how the Episcopal Church has operated historically.”

Martins invoked the “heartbreak” of such an arrangement in his own message to the Diocese of Springfield in July. He outlined a process in which a congregation’s priest and other leaders will meet with him to discuss their desire to offer the trial rites, and Martins will find another bishop to assume “all the routine components of spiritual, pastoral, and sacramental oversight” for the congregation.

“Because all liturgical and sacramental ministry is an extension of the ministry of the bishop, and implicates the entire diocese in whatever is done, there must be a robust firewall between a community that receives same-sex marriage into its life, along with its clergy, and the rest of the diocese, including and especially the bishop,” Martins said.

Martins offered an update of sorts in December for Living Church, saying one parish in the diocese had asked to use the same-sex marriage rites, “and we are trying to hammer out the details.” The diocese did not return an ENS email seeking more information, including the name of the parish.

In Central Florida, ENS reported in August there was little expectation that congregations would face a DEPO arrangement or disruption of their pastoral relationships with Brewer other than inviting another bishop to provide oversight of same-sex marriage.

However, in December, the Rev. Alison Harrity, rector at St. Richard’s Episcopal Church in Winter Park, told ENS that when she informed Brewer that two men of the parish had asked her to perform their marriage, the bishop told her, “St. Richard’s needs a broader oversight.” Brewer delegated episcopal pastoral oversight to Kentucky Bishop Terry Allen White, Harrity said.

Brewer “didn’t even say ‘let’s have a conversation; he just gave us away,’” Harrity said. However, she added that the DEPO arrangement feels freeing to her and the congregation.

St. Richard’s first same-sex wedding will take place Feb. 16 between Bob Cochrane Felix Rodriguez. Cochrane proposed to his partner of 30 years during Eucharist on All Saints Sunday, after Harrity had blessed some other couples who were celebrating anniversaries.

North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith said just after convention that DEPO will serve as “a roadmap for these matters” in his diocese and he required any rector or priest-in-charge who wanted to use the rites to first contact him for “supplemental episcopal pastoral care.” St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Fargo has had a DEPO arrangement since December 2015 and has been solemnizing same-sex marriages since then. Smith told ENS this week that the church in the eastern part of the diocese is the only one to request such permission.

Meanwhile, uncertainty remains in Albany

Love has refused to allow such marriages even in the three Diocese of Albany parishes that have been in DEPO relationships with neighboring dioceses since 2012.

The Rev. Mary White, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Albany, one of those three, told ENS that the members of her parish and others in the diocese who favor B012 are biding their time waiting to see what Episcopal Church leaders can negotiate with Love. “I think people are trying not to get their hopes up” about whether same-sex marriages will take place in the diocese, she said.

Coincidentally, Love visited St. Andrew’s the Sunday that B012 went into effect for his previously planned routine visit. Love and DEPO bishops all provide such pastoral rites as confirmation, according to White.

 

Love brought the controversy into his Christmas message, likening his journey to the unanswered questions that Mary and Joseph faced when they responded to God’s call. “Are we, like Mary and Joseph, willing to risk our reputations, our relationships, our jobs and livelihood?” he asked in part.

White said St. Andrew’s has always supported the stances of the wider Episcopal Church and “we look forward to the day when we can do that openly.” To have diocesan support in that effort “would be a phenomenal thing, but I don’t know if that would ever happen.” And, she said, it would “be such a gift” if the diocese stood in line with the wider church.

Asked how she would wish the controversy to conclude, White said, “the perfect ending would be if Bishop Love would acquiesce to convention and allow us allow us to marry same-sex couples, but that’s not going to happen, so I don’t know if there’s a perfect ending.

“No matter what happens, it’s going to cause a fair amount turmoil in the diocese.”

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

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Comunicado del Obispo Primado sobre el proceso de consentimiento en la Diócesis Episcopal de Haití

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 8:16am
El obispo primado de la Iglesia Episcopal Michael Curry ha emitido el siguiente comunicado:

Estimados amigos en Cristo Jesús:

El 3 de enero de 2019 se cumplieron los 120 días canónicamente estipulados para la recolección de las pruebas de consentimiento para la ordenación y consagración del Venerable Joseph Kerwin Delicat como el Obispo Coadjutor de Haití. Les escribo para informarles que una mayoría de los obispos con jurisdicción en La Iglesia Episcopal no dio su consentimiento para la ordenación y consagración, ni el Comité Permanente de la Diócesis de Haití proporcionó pruebas de consentimiento de una mayoría de los comités permanentes de las diócesis de La Iglesia Episcopal.

En los próximos días, estaré en consulta con líderes de la Diócesis de Haití,  así como con otros en todo el ámbito de La Iglesia Episcopal, mientras andamos en busca de los más inmediatos y atinados pasos a seguir.

La Diócesis de Haití es una parte importante de La Iglesia Episcopal. Favor de seguir orando por el pueblo, el clero y el Obispo de Haití, en tanto procuramos obedecer al Espíritu del Dios vivo.

Su hermano,

Rvdmo. Michael B. Curry
Obispo Presidente y Primado
de La Iglesia Episcopal

The post Comunicado del Obispo Primado sobre el proceso de consentimiento en la Diócesis Episcopal de Haití appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

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