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Charlottesville’s Confederate statues in limbo, with Episcopal clergy hopeful for their removal

Episcopal News Service - qui, 02/07/2020 - 16:38

A sign reading “Hate Has No Home Here” hangs by the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2018. Photo: Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] A month of nationwide protests against systemic racism and violence against African Americans has added urgency to efforts to remove Confederate imagery and symbols from public display. In Virginia, a law took effect July 1 lifting a key legal barrier to the removal of Confederate statues. But in Charlottesville, the wait continues.

Three years ago, Charlottesville was the epicenter of a renewed national debate over the legacy of slavery and the Confederacy after a white supremacist rally in August 2017 ended in clashes and violence, including the killing of a counterprotester. The hate groups said they chose Charlottesville in opposition to the city’s plan to remove its statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Episcopalians joined others in the community in disavowing white supremacy, demonstrating alongside the counterprotesters. A month later, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry traveled to Charlottesville for a pastoral visit that emphasized the racial healing efforts of the three Episcopal churches in the city.

Charlottesville’s Confederate statues remain in place for now, however, because of a court injunction against their removal. The one depicting Lee astride his horse is impossible for the Rev. Paul Walker to ignore. As rector of Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Charlottesville, Walker’s office overlooks Emancipation Park, home to the Lee statue.

“I’m looking at it right now,” Walker told Episcopal News Service by phone on July 1. He’s encouraged by the recent momentum against Confederate symbols, but time will tell whether it leads to the removal of Charlottesville’s statues of Lee and Stonewall Jackson, another Confederate general.

“There’s been so much back and forth with it, I don’t put a whole lot of stock in anything until it actually happens,” Walker said.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, left, stands at the foot of the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Sept. 7, 2017, with the Rev. Paul Walker, rector of the nearby Christ Episcopal Church. The statue had been wrapped in plastic while the city fought a legal challenge to the monument’s removal. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Protests against racial injustice have been widespread in cities across the United States, including Charlottesville, since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In addition to bolstering the push for criminal justice reforms, the deaths of Floyd and other recent Black victims of police brutality and white vigilantism have prompted cities and states to reconsider the appropriateness of Confederate imagery in public spaces.

Mississippi bowed to renewed pressure last month and agreed to retire its state flag, which featured a depiction of the Confederate battle flag. And in Richmond, Virginia, Mayor Levar Stoney vowed to get rid of the city’s prominent Confederate statues on Monument Avenue. Protesters in Richmond toppled a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis on June 10, and on July 1, the city, once the capital of the Confederacy, began removing other statues, starting with Stonewall Jackson.

Today, Mayor @LevarStoney, using his emergency powers, ordered the immediate removal of multiple monuments in the city, including Confederate statues. Watch this video to learn more. Read the release here: https://t.co/QjnAB1gZM8 https://t.co/stmK3eePVs

— City of Richmond, VA (@CityRichmondVA) July 1, 2020

“It’s time to move beyond the lost cause and embrace the righteous cause,” Stoney told NPR. “We can be more than just the capital of the Confederacy. It’s time for us to be the capital of compassion.”

The law that took effect July 1 initiated a process for Virginia communities to collect public input on their Confederate monuments and then potentially remove them. A previous state law barred removal or changes to war monuments or memorials, even when such actions had majority support.

In February 2017, the Charlottesville City Council approved the removal of the Lee statue. Later that year, after hate groups converged on the city Aug. 11 and 12, the City Council voted unanimously to remove the Jackson statue as well.

But the statues’ removal never occurred because a preservationist group calling itself the Monument Fund sued the city, saying the plan violated the state law protecting war memorials. In April 2019, a Virginia judge agreed, blocking the city from removing the statues.

Then this year, Virginia’s General Assembly passed legislation easing those restrictions on cities. Gov. Ralph Northam signed the bill into law on April 11, though it didn’t take effect until this month.

The Southern Poverty Law Center estimated in 2019 that more than 1,700 Confederate symbols remained on public display around the country, including more than 100 monuments in Virginia, despite increased efforts to have them removed. Most of the tributes to Confederate history were erected decades after the end of the Civil War, at a time when proponents of the Lost Cause myth sought to portray the Confederacy as a failed but noble campaign, downplaying its roots in defending slavery.

Charlottesville’s statues remain in limbo, still bound by the judge’s injunction, but on June 5, the Monument Fund essentially ceded defeat. It filed a motion acknowledging the change in law and asking that the injunction be modified accordingly.

“We’re not looking to drag this out any further; the Monument Fund’s argument has always been that the City Council’s actions did not comply with the law,” spokesman Charles Weber told the Daily Progress. “The law has changed and now there’s a clear process for removal that respects both sides of the issue.”

The city has appealed the case to the Virginia Supreme Court seeking final clearance to remove the statues.

Protests in Charlottesville after Floyd’s killing have included specific calls for the statues’ removal, including a recent march from downtown to the University of Virginia, said Walker, the Christ Church rector. The fate of the statues and related issues of racial injustice are “particularly raw for us in Charlottesville” because of what happened in August 2017, he said.

“I have found the protests heartening, because it seems to have coalesced a large group of people around the issues of police violence and equitable policy,” said Walker, whose mostly white congregation dates to 1820.

At Trinity Episcopal Church, a historically Black congregation northwest of downtown that now includes a multicultural mix of parishioners, some members of the congregation are active in the recent protests, according to the Rev. Cass Bailey, Trinity’s vicar.

“I think people are cautiously optimistic,” Bailey told ENS. “There seems to be broader momentum around addressing some of these issues.”

The church, founded in 1919, has long been involved in social justice advocacy work, he said, so “it’s not new to us.” But he senses other congregations now are willing to take up that work as well. On a recent Zoom meeting with diocesan clergy leaders, planning church responses to systemic racism dominated the conversation.

“I think it’s still very much a prominent issue for members of the congregation, as well as people in the city of Charlottesville,” Bailey said. As long as the statues remain standing, he said, they will remain powerful symbols of white supremacy.

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

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San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral will host virtual interfaith service for world AIDS conference

Episcopal News Service - qui, 02/07/2020 - 10:23

Sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt hang in the nave of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California. Photo: Grace Cathedral

[Episcopal News Service] Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, the seat of the Diocese of California, will host an online interfaith service as part of AIDS 2020, the 23rd International AIDS Conference. The livestream event will include prayers and addresses from figures including California Bishop Marc Andrus; the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, archbishop of Cape Town and primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa; and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The conference, which was originally scheduled to be held in San Francisco, is taking place online July 6-10, and the interfaith service will begin at 9 a.m. Pacific time on July 7. The service is being co-hosted by the Diocese of California, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance of the World Council of Churches, the San Francisco Interfaith Council and Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.

“The Life of Christ,” a triptych altarpiece by New York pop artist Keith Haring, is displayed in the AIDS Interfaith Memorial Chapel at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California. Completed in 1990, it was Haring’s last work before he died of AIDS. Photo: Grace Cathedral

Andrus will begin and end the service live in the cathedral’s AIDS Interfaith Memorial Chapel, which features artwork by Keith Haring and was dedicated in 2000. The service – focusing on the themes of lament, resilience, hope and renewal – will feature prayers, music and contributions from leaders representing Christian, Muslim and Jewish groups, as well as Pelosi.

Pelosi, who lives in San Francisco, will offer welcoming remarks and also a more personal contribution. Susan Roggio, who was a flower girl at Pelosi’s wedding, died of AIDS in 1986, and Pelosi sewed a panel in her memory for the AIDS Memorial Quilt. That panel will be on display at the cathedral.

For ⁦@SpeakerPelosi⁩, the @AIDSQuilt is personal: She tears up at the ⁦@librarycongress⁩ when she mentions the panel behind her remembering Susan Piracci Roggio, who had been the flower girl at her wedding. pic.twitter.com/73bopVqBi6

— Susan Page (@SusanPage) November 20, 2019

The cathedral played a major role in The Episcopal Church’s response to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and ’90s, welcoming HIV-positive people into the church at a time when they faced stigma and discrimination. It offered funerals for anyone who had died of AIDS, whether the person was a member of the congregation or not. The cathedral was burying up to 35 people a week at the height of the crisis in the early ’90s, according to the diocese, and many of the first panels of what became the AIDS Memorial Quilt were sewn there.

AIDS 2020, the world’s largest conference on HIV and AIDS, will offer more than 600 virtual sessions and events. This year’s theme is resilience, drawing attention to the work that remains to be done despite decades of dramatic progress. The effort to end AIDS, organizers say, has entered a “new phase” in which the challenges are less centered around research and treatment and more about “a deteriorating human rights climate, repressive and punitive national laws in many countries across the globe, increasing xenophobia and social exclusion, and the widening gap between those with and without access to health services.”

The interfaith service is open to all; any wishing to attend can RSVP on Facebook or Eventbrite.

– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at emillard@episcopalchurch.org.

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Episcopal Church deepens engagement with Poor People’s Campaign, racial justice work

Episcopal News Service - qua, 01/07/2020 - 17:56

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry gives recorded remarks June 20 as part of the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington.

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s support of the Poor People’s Campaign hasn’t wavered since the ecumenical initiative was launched in 2018 to rally Americans behind the moral cause of fighting poverty – 50 years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made an appeal for economic security in the original Poor People’s Campaign.

This year, with Americans’ attention newly focused both on the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic and the pervasiveness of systemic racism – the systems, structures and procedures designed to disadvantage African Americans – the church is deepening its engagement with the Poor People’s Campaign, through in-person calls to action and online organizing. In one recent example, nearly 500 people gathered online June 10 for an inaugural Episcopal Justice Assembly organized by the church’s Department of Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care.

And on June 20, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was one of the national faith leaders who offered prerecorded remarks for the virtual gathering of the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington. The Poor People’s Campaign reported more than 2.5 million views of the livestream and various broadcasts of the event.

“We lament because we love. We prophesy and stand for prophetic witness because we love. We advocate for justice because we love,” Curry said in a 60-second video that was featured toward the beginning of the virtual gathering. “We speak painful truth because we love. … And because we love, we must stand up for what is right.”

The Poor People’s Campaign advocates a “revolution of values” and government policy changes that will counter “systemic racism, poverty, militarism and a war economy, ecological devastation and a distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.” Organizers see those as the five injustices underlying American political and economic systems.

Bishop William Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and president of the nonprofit advocacy organization Repairers of the Breach, has joined with Episcopal leaders in other recent public appearances. Barber, a Disciples of Christ pastor from North Carolina, also was a leader of the Moral Mondays protests that began in North Carolina in 2013. He preached for more than 40 minutes during Washington National Cathedral’s June 14 online worship service. The sermon has been viewed 160,000 times on the cathedral’s YouTube channel.

“We must turn away from death and towards life. In every aspect of our life together, we must recognize that death is no longer an option,” Barber said. “We need real reconstructing of society rooted in the deep moral values of our faith.”

Hours after preaching at the cathedral, Barber joined Washington Bishop Mariann Budde and other religious leaders in a rally outside St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, across from the White House.

“We are here to pray, we are here to protest and we are here to commit ourselves yet again to the long march that is before us,” Budde said in video of the rally, which has been viewed more than 12,000 times on Repairers of the Breach’s Facebook page.

Barber, in a written statement to ENS, commended The Episcopal Church for its early endorsement of the Poor People’s Campaign and its continued involvement this year. He also thanked Curry for helping to “frame the moral choice before us as a nation.”

“Will America continue to ignore the pain and leadership of poor people? Or will we finally listen to their cries and re-make an America that works for all of us,” Barber said. “With The Episcopal Church in this struggle for the long haul, along with over 20 other denominations and faith bodies, and the hundreds of partners joining in poor people’s struggles across the country, we believe it’s time to believe again.”

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council formalized the church’s support for the Poor People’s Campaign in a resolution passed in January 2018, “acknowledging the unfinished work of the 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign, celebrate the revival of the movement.” The original Poor People’s Campaign was the last justice initiative led by King before his April 1968 assassination.

In June 2018, Episcopalians joined the thousands of people from across the country who gathered in Washington for a three-and-a-half-hour Poor People’s Campaign rally on the National Mall. Organizers paired the rally with a 40-day mobilization of state-level advocacy on poverty and related issues.

More than 38 million Americans lived in poverty in 2018, according to the Census Bureau’s most recent report. The poverty rate, at 11.8% percent, had been declining in recent years, though this year, the coronavirus pandemic ignited a sudden economic downturn that, by May 2020, had left at least 21 million workers jobless, according to the latest monthly data.

In early May, with the economic landscape darkening and the Poor People’s Campaign rally approaching, the Rev. Melanie Mullen, the church’s director of reconciliation, justice and creation care, helped convene a Justice Wisdom Circle to gather input from church leaders who have long been working on justice issues. They discussed ways of expanding that work while acknowledging the church’s commitment to the Poor People’s Campaign.

Among those who participated were the Rev. Glenna Huber, rector of Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C.; Byron Rushing, vice president of the House of Deputies; Aaron Scott, the Diocese of Olympia’s anti-poverty missioner; the Rev. Carolyn Foster, a deacon from the Diocese of Alabama and co-chair of the diocese’s racial reconciliation commission; and the Rev. Mike Kinman, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California.

They discussed the historic and ongoing racial injustices in the United States, systemic problems that later were underscored and brought to the forefront of public debate by the May 25 killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, while being detained by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“This is a moment and an opportunity to come together,” Mullen told ENS. The Justice Wisdom Circle’s conclusion, she said, was that The Episcopal Church still is called to engage in justice work – and it could be doing more.

One result was the Episcopal Justice Assembly, a video conference on June 10, and participation exceeded expectations, Mullen said. Meeting virtually rather than in person facilitated wider participation across geographic regions. The 480 people who joined the Zoom meeting also were able to participate in small group discussions through 50 breakout rooms.

They learned about the church’s history of advocacy, shared their own experiences, and discussed ongoing ministries around the church addressing poverty and homelessness. And they committed to spreading the word about the Poor People’s Campaign’s Moral March on Washington.

The church’s Justice Wisdom Circle, now looking to harness this recent momentum, has planned another organizing meeting for next week, and a second Episcopal Justice Assembly is in the works, possibly toward the end of summer. Anyone interested in receiving email updates on those plans are invited to complete the sign up form.

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

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Diocese of South Carolina files motion in circuit court

Episcopal News Service - qua, 01/07/2020 - 14:57

[Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina] On Monday, June 29, attorneys for the (Episcopal) Diocese of South Carolina and The Episcopal Church filed a Motion for Reconsideration and to Alter or Amend in the Court of Common Pleas for the First Judicial Circuit. This legal action is in response to the recent Order issued by South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edgar Dickson that seemed to overturn the South Carolina Supreme Court final judgement from August 2017 which ruled that the diocesan property and 29 parishes should be returned to the parties affiliated with The Episcopal Church. This Supreme Court judgement in 2017 marked a reversal of the lower court decision.

The motion requests that the Court “should reconsider the Order and alter or amend it to conform to the Supreme Court’s holding that the property of the twenty-nine churches is held in trust for Defendants and that the Defendant diocese is the beneficiary of the trust that owns legal title to the Diocesan Property.” The motion also asks “the Court to discharge its job of enforcing the final judgment of the South Carolina Supreme Court.”

Throughout the 20-page document, attorneys for the Diocese and The Episcopal Church offer the following six reasons to reconsider the Order as they were outlined on page 3 (each were explained and supported in full in the text of the motion):

  1. This Court lacked the authority to issue the Order.
  2. Even if this Court had the authority to construe the Supreme Court’s decision, the Order misinterprets and contradicts that decision.
  3. Even if this Court somehow had the authority to relitigate the issues upon which the Supreme Court previously ruled, the Order incorrectly analyzes the facts and improperly applies the law.
  4. The Order incorrectly finds Plaintiffs were denied due process.
  5. Because of its rulings, the Court erred in denying Defendants’ requested relief.
  6. The Order fails to rule on all issues raised by Defendants

As noted on page 18 of the motion: “After eight years of the adversarial process, for the Circuit Court to take away legally recognized rights at this time – based on the identical record that led to the Supreme Court’s reversal of Judge Goodstein – is nothing short of arbitrary and capricious.”

Judge Edgar Dickson, a circuit court judge representing the First Judicial Circuit of South Carolina, was assigned this case in November 2017 when the South Carolina Supreme Court (SCSC) denied a Petition for Rehearing filed by the disassociated diocese. At that time, the SCSC issued a remittitur for the lower court to enforce the final judgement as decided by a 3-2 majority of the Court, which reversed the decision of the trial court.

About The Diocese of South Carolina

The historic Diocese of South Carolina (DSC) also known as The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) is the local diocese in the eastern half of South Carolina part of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. For more information, view A Historical Timeline of the Diocese of South Carolina and the Frequently Asked Questions. For the latest on DSC, visit episcopalchurchsc.org or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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Lambeth Award recognizes CARAVAN president for interreligious peacebuilding

Episcopal News Service - ter, 30/06/2020 - 14:15

The Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler, an Episcopal Church mission partner serving as senior Anglican priest of the Church of the Epiphany and the Anglican Centre in Doha, Qatar.

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler, an Episcopal Church mission partner serving in Qatar, is among this year’s recipients of the prestigious Lambeth Awards for outstanding contributions to the church and wider society.

The Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation was awarded to Chandler “for his distinct and exceptional contribution in using the arts for interreligious peacebuilding around the world,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in announcing a total of 32 awards recognizing significant contributions in fields such as evangelism, safeguarding, ecumenism, theology and interfaith relations.

Chandler is the founder and president of CARAVAN, a nonprofit initiative affiliated with The Episcopal Church that uses the arts to build bridges between different cultures and religions around the world. The initiative is now in its 11th year of touring the world with peacebuilding exhibitions that showcase art.

Chandler “has spent his life focusing strategically on the role of the arts in the context of interfaith peacebuilding, toward building bridges of understanding, respect and friendship between the Abrahamic faiths,” the Lambeth Awards citation noted.

Currently serving as senior Anglican priest of the Church of the Epiphany and the Anglican Centre in Doha, Qatar, Chandler told ENS that he is “deeply honored to receive this award which seeks to inspire us to realize what is possible, and how we can each play an important role in shaping our world into one where understanding, respect and compassion are valued above all – regardless of faith, cultural, or ethnic backgrounds.”

The Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation.

The award is named after Hubert Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1193 to 1205, who had dialogue with non-Christians at a time of interfaith conflict. He accompanied King Richard on the third crusade, was involved in negotiations with Saladin over access for Christian clergy to the Holy Places in and around Jerusalem, and helped raise the ransom to get the king released from incarceration in Germany when he was captured on his return from the Holy Land.

“This is the fifth year of the Lambeth Awards, and I am constantly impressed and humbled by the work that recipients have accomplished, sometimes in the most challenging circumstances,” Welby said. “Not all are followers of Jesus Christ, but all contribute through their faith to the mutual respect and maintenance of human dignity which are so vital to spiritual and social health.”

The Lambeth Awards are usually presented at a ceremony at Lambeth Palace in London. This year, the event has been canceled due to COVID-19.

A full list of the recipients, together with brief citations describing their achievements, is available here.

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Glenda Curry consecrated bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Alabama

Episcopal News Service - seg, 29/06/2020 - 19:15

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Glenda S. Curry was ordained and consecrated to serve as bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Alabama on June 27 at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham.

[Diocese of Alabama] The Rt. Rev. Glenda S. Curry was ordained and consecrated to serve as bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Alabama on June 27 at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham. She is the first woman to serve as bishop in the Diocese of Alabama.

The Rt. Rev. Scott Benhase, the 10th bishop of Georgia, served as the chief consecrator. He was joined by the Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf, bishop of West Tennessee; the Rt. Rev. John McKee Sloan, bishop of Alabama, and the Rt. Rev. Brian Seage, bishop of Mississippi. The Rev. Becca Stevens, founder and president of Thistle Farms in Nashville, Tennessee, was the preacher.

For health concerns, in-person attendance was limited to those with participating roles in the service and the bishop’s family. The service was livestreamed through the diocesan Facebook page and website. The livestream itself was a combination of pre-recorded videos and a live-feed of the service.

Curry has served as a priest in The Episcopal Church since 2002, most recently as rector of All Saints in Birmingham. Before becoming a priest, she served as the president of Troy State University in Montgomery and was the first woman to lead a four-year university in Alabama.

In reflecting on her new role, Curry said, “It is a challenging time right now to be moving into a bigger leadership role in the church. At the same time, the world needs the church; the world needs Jesus now more than ever. You can see it. You can feel it. You can’t turn on the television or go on the internet and not see signs of hatred and difficulty around us. The answer is not more darkness: it’s more love.” she continued, citing former dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California, the  Very Rev. Alan Jones. “The church is the ‘school of love’ and I really believe that’s true. I am excited to be in the place that God is calling me.”

Curry will serve as bishop coadjutor in the Diocese of Alabama until Sloan’s retirement at the end of 2020. She will be invested as the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Alabama on January 9, 2021, at the Cathedral Church of the Advent.

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El cambio virtual de Nuevo Amanecer en medio de la pandemia del COVID-19 refleja el cambio y el crecimiento en los Ministerios Latino/Hispanos

Episcopal News Service - seg, 29/06/2020 - 13:36

El COVID-19 forzó que la conferencia bienal de Nuevo Amanecer se ofreciera en línea, un giro que ha aumentado el alcance global de la popular conferencia de los Ministerios Latino/Hispanos. Imagen de: Millard Cook

Read this article in English here

[Servicio Episcopal de Noticias] Cuando la pandemia del coronavirus obligó a los organizadores de Nuevo Amanecer a ofrecer la popular conferencia bienal de los Ministerios Latino/Hispanos en línea, no esperaban atraer la participación mundial.

Históricamente, la mayoría de los asistentes a la conferencia han venido de Estados Unidos, ya que las restricciones de visado y los costos de viaje prohíben una participación más amplia de América Latina y más allá. Pero al adaptar rápidamente la conferencia de tres días en persona a un formato en línea celebrado un sábado al mes durante seis meses, Nuevo Amanecer casi ha duplicado su participación y ampliado su audiencia.

Sorprendentemente, los organizadores descubrieron que el 49% de los participantes fue de América Latina y el Caribe, Europa y África y se unieron a la conferencia virtual mediante computadoras, teléfonos inteligentes y tabletas. Alrededor de 700 personas se han registrado para la conferencia virtual 2020, en comparación con 462 participantes en persona en 2018.
“Hemos aprendido que tenemos un alcance más amplio virtualmente”, dijo Luis Enrique Hernández Rivas, co-coordinador de Nuevo Amanecer. “Es increíble cómo funciona el espíritu”.

Ahora en su octavo año, Nuevo Amanecer, celebra y ayuda a los Ministerios Latino/Hispanos  de toda la Iglesia Episcopal al brindarles a los participantes oportunidades para establecer contactos y crecer juntos en el discipulado. Se han realizado conferencias previas en Kanuga, un campamento y centro de conferencias en Hendersonville, Carolina del Norte.

La conferencia de seis sesiones se organiza en torno al tema: “He aquí que hago nuevas todas las cosas” (Apocalipsis 21: 5), que pide a los latinos episcopales y a los involucrados en el ministerio latino a pensar en cómo construir una nueva Iglesia en los tiempos modernos. Cada sesión sucesiva se centra en un tema más pequeño.

“Este Nuevo Amanecer virtual realmente está tratando el tema de la Revelación”, dijo al Servicio Episcopal de Noticias el reverendo Juan Sandoval, archidiácono en la Diócesis de Atlanta y diácono para los ministerios hispanos y la atención pastoral en la catedral de San Felipe. “¿Quién iba a saber que iba a ocurrir la pandemia del COVID-19 y que realmente teníamos que hacer que todo fuera nuevo?”

La primera sesión de la conferencia, celebrada en mayo, se centró en el COVID-19, mientras que la sesión de junio lo hizo sobre la evangelización digital. La tercera sesión, programada para el 11 de julio a la una de la tarde, tiempo del este, se centrará en el liderazgo de las mujeres en la Iglesia y presentará a la Muy Reverenda Miguelina Howell, decana de la catedral Christ Church en Hartford, Connecticut, como la oradora principal. Howell es la primera decana latina de una catedral en la Iglesia Episcopal. The Episcopal Church.

Los temas de las tres sesiones restantes cubrirán la inclusión de latinos en la Iglesia y una celebración del 50 aniversario de los Ministerios Latino /Hispanos, coincidiendo con el Mes de la Herencia Hispana, Hispanic Heritage Month, que se celebra del 15 de septiembre al 15 de octubre.

El equipo de planificación de Nuevo Amanecer había considerado cancelar o posponer la conferencia 2020, pero decidió hacerla virtual para que los participantes registrados y todos los demás interesados ​​pudieran participar en la formación y el compañerismo.

“[El] coronavirus nos llegó bastante rápido esta primavera, y tuvimos que decidir en un corto período de tiempo cómo íbamos a mantener Nuevo Amanecer”, dijo el reverendo Anthony Guillén, misionero de los Ministerios Latino /Hispanos de la Iglesia Episcopal y director de ministerios étnicos. “¿Lo cancelamos? ¿Esperamos dos años más o hacemos algo virtualmente?”

Los Ministerios Latino /Hispanos de la Iglesia Episcopal brindan orientación para fortalecer y apoyar a las comunidades de habla hispana en la tradición anglicana. Los esfuerzos incluyen ayudar en la plantación de iglesias, proporcionar recursos bilingües para individuos y congregaciones, y ofrecer oportunidades educativas para que los miembros de la Iglesia sirvan a sus comunidades latinas locales.

Los ministerios parroquiales individuales varían. Por ejemplo, los esfuerzos pueden incluir cultivar jardines comunitarios, dar dinero y detergente para ayudar a los feligreses a lavar la ropa, servir comidas a los hambrientos, abogar por una reforma migratoria integral, ofrecer refugio a los inmigrantes indocumentados y ayudar a los trabajadores agrícolas, farmworkers.

“El ministerio latino es el ministerio de la Iglesia”, dijo Rivas. “La conferencia ciertamente se enfoca en el ministerio entre los latinos, pero no solo las personas de América Latina hacen el ministerio latino. Todos están invitados y pueden sentirse capacitados a través de esta conferencia. … Estas oportunidades benefician por igual a latinos y no latinos”.

Nuevo Amanecer no es exclusivo para latinos e hispanohablantes. Pueden participar personas de todas las razas y etnias. Para los que no pueden asistir a las sesiones en vivo, las grabaciones están disponibles en la página de Facebook de los Ministerios Latino /Hispanos de la Iglesia Episcopal y en  latinosepiscopales.org.

“Para mí, Nuevo Amanecer significa una oportunidad de aprender más sobre lo que otros ministros e iglesias están haciendo, cómo adoran y quizás nuevas oraciones, nuevos servicios y nuevas caras”, dijo Sandoval. “La creación de redes es mi parte favorita de Nuevo Amanecer, y siempre me doy cuenta que puedo reunirme con conocidos anteriores y [hacer] otros nuevos”.

Esto ayuda a mantener frescos los ministerios y las amistades para latinos y no latinos. Nuevo Amanecer también ayuda a los no latinos que sirven en estos ministerios a comprender mejor las culturas latinas y a aprender cómo adaptar la adoración a diferentes circunstancias.

“Una de las cosas que más nos preocupaba era: ¿Cómo fomentamos virtualmente el sentido de comunidad y nuevas relaciones e incluso ofrecer reuniones plenarias, adoración y talleres?” le dijo Guillén al Servicio Episcopal de Noticias. “Algunas personas dicen que Nuevo Amanecer es como una gran reunión familiar. Es un momento para que las personas en el ministerio se reúnan, establezcan contactos, establezcan conexiones y aprendan unos de otros”.

La sesión virtual de junio, que Guillén organizó, celebrada el 13, comenzó con la bienvenida y la adoración, seguida de una sesión plenaria, titulada “Evangelismo digital y el futuro de la Iglesia”. Luego, los participantes hicieron la transición a cuatro talleres separados de su

elección: “Haciendo ´cosas nuevas´ en la Iglesia”, “Tecnología a su alcance”, “Cómo evangelizar en YouTube” y “Cómo transmitir eventos en vivo”. La mitad de los talleres se ofrecieron en español y la otra mitad en inglés.

Durante la parte del taller, los asistentes se dividieron brevemente en salas de trabajo para colaborar en una lista de soluciones a los problemas que abordaron los líderes de su taller. Después de otro breve descanso de transición, los participantes colaboraron en una hora de café virtual para establecer contactos y compartir lo que aprendieron. La sesión mensual total duró tres horas. Las sesiones futuras se estructurarán de manera similar.

Nuevo Amanecer también ofrece a los niños una lista de reproducción de actividades tradicionales de la escuela dominical antes de comenzar para que puedan participar mientras sus padres asisten a la conferencia.

Adialyn Milien, líder del equipo de comunicación y redes sociales de Nuevo Amanecer, dijo que espera con más interés la sesión final de octubre porque la oradora principal será Ana Victoria Lantigua Zaya, una mujer de la República Dominicana de unos 20 años que sirvió en el equipo de planificación de la Juventud Episcopal en 2019. Episcopal Youth Planning Team in 2019

“Ella terminará la serie porque queremos que la gente entienda que hay espacio para todos en la Iglesia Episcopal; todos son bienvenidos y pueden desempeñar un papel en la Iglesia”, dijo Milien. “En su mayoría tenemos viejos blancos en posiciones de poder, por lo que le estamos diciendo a la gente que el futuro de la Iglesia está en nuestras manos, especialmente en la comunidad latina”.

Una vez que termine la pandemia del COVID-19, las conferencias de Nuevo Amanecer volverán a Kanuga, pero también habrá un componente virtual disponible para los que no puedan asistir en persona.

“Algún día volveremos a los edificios de la Iglesia, y muchos querrán hacerlo, pero no creo que sea lo mismo”, dijo Rivas. “Hemos abierto las puertas de la Iglesia a muchas personas nuevas en todo el mundo, y ahora son parte de nuestra familia”.

– Shireen Korkzan es reportera independiente con sede en el Medio Oeste que escribe principalmente sobre temas de religión, raza, etnia y justicia social. Síguela en Twitter e Instagram @ smkrm5.

The post El cambio virtual de Nuevo Amanecer en medio de la pandemia del COVID-19 refleja el cambio y el crecimiento en los Ministerios Latino/Hispanos appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria inaugurated as Anglican Communion’s 41st province

Episcopal News Service - seg, 29/06/2020 - 07:28

[Anglican Communion News Service] The former Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa has completed its transition into an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. The approval for the move was given by the primates of the Anglican Communion when they met in Jordan in January. The Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council had already given the new province the go-ahead.

The General Synod of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East approved the request from the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa to secede from its province. Under its constitution, the diocese fell under the temporary metropolitical authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who signed a Dead of Relinquishment legally inaugurating the new Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria.

The Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria will serve 10 countries as the official Anglican Communion presence: Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Chad, Mauritania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. It is named after the north Egyptian city which was home to one of the earliest branches of the Christian Church.

Announcing the development, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, said: “In recent years we have seen enormous growth in what was the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, particularly – but not only – in the Gambella region of Ethiopia. It was one of the largest and most diverse dioceses in the Anglican Communion and also one of the fastest growing regions.

“It is great credit to Archbishop Mouneer [Anis] and the clergy and people of the diocese that this growth occurred in spite of the great cultural diversity and complex political situations in the region it serves.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said that he was “absolutely delighted” to welcome the inauguration of the new Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria as the 41st province of the Anglican Communion. “Of course it has been part of the Anglican Communion for very many years, going right back into the past,” he said. “It has been part of the Episcopal Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East but now with growth and development and the planting of churches in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere; with its service to its community regardless of ethnicity or of religion, it has grown to the point where it is now becoming an independent province.

“Circumstances mean that I have not been able to go and join them as I would have liked to have done; but that makes no difference, for God is with them. In Jesus Christ they are full of life and hope; by the power of the Spirit they are continuing to serve and love amidst challenges that every church faces.

“Although I will not be there physically, I will be there to pray for them Spiritually, alongside them, rejoicing with them. And I ask the whole Anglican Communion to join in thanks, in joy, in celebration and in intercession, for this new 41st Province, for Archbishop Mouneer, for all its clergy and people, for the whole range of this Province of Alexandria – such a historic name in such a historic area. May it draw on the history of the saints and their inspiration; and may it proclaim the Gospel afresh in this generation. Amen!”

The first Episcopal/Anglican Archbishop of Alexandria, Mouneer Anis, said: “All my colleagues and I thank God for His goodness. He fulfilled our dreams. We are also grateful for all the support we receive from Archbishop Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury; Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion; all the primates of the Anglican Communion, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and our colleagues at the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace for their hard work.

“We are aware that many brothers and sisters, who served before us, have sown many seeds and now we are harvesting. May the Lord keep us faithful to Him and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

He added: “The early church in Alexandria has shaped the Christian thought of the whole world during the first millennium. It is our prayers that the new Province of Alexandria would do the same during the third millennium.

“As a new member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Province of Alexandria, commit ourselves afresh to our Triune God and His mission. We also pray so that the Lord may use us to bring peace and reconciliation in our region.”

Archbishop Michael Lewis, primate of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East and the bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, sent his “heartfelt prayers and good wishes to our brothers and sisters in the existing Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.”

He added: “They have for many years been an integral and valued part of our Province. Now we bless them on their way towards being inaugurated as the new Province of Alexandria. As in the past, so in the future, they will live out the unchanging worldwide Anglican calling of faithful worship, loving service, and welcome to all.

“A new phase in the life of Anglican presence and engagement in north-east Africa is beginning. From Algeria through Egypt to Ethiopia and in all neighboring nations they will by God’s grace be a blessing to their communities and peoples.”

Other Anglican leaders also welcomed the new Province. The Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council Primate of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, Archbishop Paul Kwong, described the territory of the new Province as being “lands full of rich, diverse and historic civilizations, cultures, religions and socio-politics.”

He said: “The Province named after Alexandria, the famous ancient home to a lighthouse ranking among the seven wonders of the world, a storied library and a seat of learning, will have a lot to offer equally and significantly to the Anglican Communion today. I am convinced that the new Province will play a much larger role in Inter-faith dialogue and involve more actively in health care ministry than the former diocese once committed. “I look forward to serving with Archbishop Mouneer in the Communion.”

The new Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria is a member of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA). Its chair, the primate of Central Africa and Bishop of Northern Zambia, Archbishop Albert Chama, said: “We as CAPA on the continent of Africa welcome the formation of the Episcopal/Anglican Province of Egypt.

“Egypt has been a very important and strategic diocese for the Church in North and the Horn of Africa. The formation of the new Province of Egypt certainly will open a new chapter in the life of the Anglican Communion on the continent of Africa, and also this will stimulate the growth of the Anglican Church in North and the Horn of Africa itself.

“The former diocese of Egypt has played a vital role in inter-faith dialogue given the environment in which the Church operates. The new province will certainly be a big player in fostering peace and reconciliation in the region. Already the former diocese has been helping the refugees from South Sudan and other countries along it borders…

“The new province is very strategic for the growth of Church. The critical role she is expected to play is that of interfaith dialogue, as a means of encouraging people of different faiths to live together as they have done before, though this chapter will provide them with more influence as they act as one of the provinces in the Anglican Communion worldwide.”

The general secretary of CAPA, J W Kofi deGraft-Johnson, added his congratulations, saying: “We are delighted to read of the birthing of the new Province of Alexandria to consolidate the long history of Anglicanism and the work of Anglicans in Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

“Alexandria, could not have been a better name considering its place in church history and as a seat of knowledge both for the church and ancient civilization.

“The birthing of the Province of Alexandria therefore provides greater opportunity for the Anglican Communion in Africa for fuller continental expression. This will enhance the role of the former Diocese of Egypt in building on the social transformation and inter-faith ministries within the North Africa region, across the continent and within the wider Anglican Communion in general.

“It is indeed a most welcome news to the Anglican Communion in Africa and a celebration of the contribution of the former Diocese of Egypt to the ongoing work of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA).”

An international service of thanksgiving to celebrate the inauguration of the new Province will be held in Cairo at a later date, once global travel restrictions have been eased. The Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria have been allocated Sunday 2 August in this year’s Anglican Cycle of prayer – a date which had been allocated to the now-postponed Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops.

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As COVID-19 cases surge in the US, Episcopal churches continue individual approach to online worship, fellowship

Episcopal News Service - sex, 26/06/2020 - 18:42

An “isolation group” of clergy and lay leaders livestream a Sunday worship service from Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church in Valrico, Florida. Photo: Bryan O’Carroll

[Episcopal News Service] More than three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, with cases surging in some parts of the United States, Episcopal churches continue to take different approaches to in-person parish activities based on the number of cases in their communities and the guidance of local, state and federal health officials.

In the U.S., COVID-19 cases have topped 2.4 million and more than 124,000 people have died since the first positive case was diagnosed in Washington state on Jan. 20. Globally, positive COVID-19 cases have surpassed 9.6 million and more than 488,000 have died of the disease.

Most Episcopal churches nationwide began shifting to online worship services and fellowship in mid-March, when COVID-19 cases surged on the East Coast, in Southeast Michigan and around Seattle, Washington. Over the past two weeks, though, states in the South and Southwest, Oklahoma, Florida and California have reported the highest number of new cases.

California saw its worst day for new reported cases – over 7,000 – on June 24. New cases there have increased 18% since June 19.

In the Diocese of San Diego, which covers the southernmost part of California and southwestern Arizona, Bishop Susan Brown Snook allowed churches to resume in-person worship starting on June 21 in accordance with state regulations (which set a 25% capacity limit) and any additional local measures, as well as diocesan guidelines. Everyone must stand at least six feet apart, and choir and congregational singing is not allowed. Masks must be worn at all times, except when reading or preaching. The Eucharist may be celebrated, but only bread can be offered. The few churches that have submitted plans for reopening say they will also screen parishioners with touchless thermometers as they arrive.

However, San Diego County renewed its stay-at-home order on June 19. Although houses of worship are exempt, Snook urged churches in that county to only hold services outdoors. Snook also instructed churches in Imperial County and Arizona not to meet in person at all, due to high levels of transmission there.

Arizona is currently on the worst trajectory of any state, with a 42% increase in new reported cases since June 19. The state, which reopened for business on May 16, now has more documented cases per capita than hard-hit countries like Italy, Spain and Brazil. Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is recording over 2,000 new cases a day, worse than New York City on its worst days.

The Diocese of Arizona is still in phase one of its COVID-19 plan, meaning there are no in-person worship services or gatherings.

“Our Arizona churches are still in the early stages of our journey with COVID-19,” Bishop Jennifer Reddall wrote in a letter to the diocese. “We are not ‘there’ yet — and we are not going to be getting ‘there’ any time soon. This journey is not going to be a matter of weeks, but months or years.”

The Navajo Nation, which is served by the Episcopal Church in Navajoland, is one of the hardest-hit areas in the U.S., with more reported cases per capita than any state. Weekend lockdowns are being reinstated on the reservation. Navajoland’s churches remain closed for in-person worship until further notice.

Cases in Texas have increased 28% since June 19. Gov. Greg Abbott has reinstated some restrictions but is allowing businesses to remain open for the most part, and churches have been allowed to hold in-person services since early April under state law. Hospitals in Houston and Austin are preparing to expand capacity to address the surge.

Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, part of the Diocese of Texas, resumed in-person worship on June 21, with up to 60 people allowed in. Parishioners were required to register to attend, and to wear masks. Communion was celebrated with bread alone, and there was no congregational singing.

However, on the 25th, the dean of the cathedral announced that in-person worship was canceled for the 28th, citing the “startling” data coming out of the area’s hospitals.

“All but one of the criteria that push Houston’s COVID crisis meter into the red zone have now been surpassed: a 7-day average of greater than 100 new COVID cases, 7-day increasing trend in daily hospital population, and more than three days of greater than 15 percent ICU usage by COVID patients,” the Very Rev. Barkley Thompson wrote. Online worship will continue.

Florida, which began reopening on May 4, reported nearly 9,000 new cases on June 26 (as of the early afternoon). Reported cases there have increased 37% since June 19 – and 526% since Memorial Day. Gov. Ron DeSantis closed bars on June 26, but churches – which were never closed by a state order – can remain open.

The Diocese of Southeast Florida, which contains Miami, is still in phase one of its COVID-19 plan – meaning churches must remain closed for in-person worship, except for some feeding ministries and day care programs – until at least June 30.

“I am deeply aware that we are entering a time when congregational leadership will be coming under increasing pressure,” Bishop Peter Eaton wrote to the diocese when extending his initial closure order in late May. “I am also aware that the matter of re-entry and re-gathering in places of worship has become politicized, and this only adds to the complexity of discerning wise and prudent timing. … The leadership of the diocese is motivated solely by our shared discernment of the moral imperative of the well-being of those who constitute our communities.”

In the Diocese of Southwest Florida, churches have been allowed to open for in-person worship since May 31, with attendance limited to 25% of the church’s maximum occupancy. Masks are “highly recommended” and parishioners are instructed to stay six feet apart. Communion may be offered as bread only.

In a letter to the diocese on June 23, Bishop Dabney Smith said he was concerned about the increasing spread of COVID-19 in the diocese but that diocesan policies remain the same.

“It is our role to take care of our people; again I remind you this care includes some of our at-risk clergy,” Dabney wrote, encouraging congregations to carefully consider their own practices.

Meanwhile, in the Northeast, governors in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on June 24 announced that travelers arriving from hotspots outside the tri-state area would be required to quarantine for 14 days.

In the Diocese of Newark, where the governor has set the limit for indoor gatherings at 100 people or 25% of maximum capacity and at 250 people for outdoor gatherings, Bishop Carlye J. Hughes issued a 36-page document on June 23 containing guidelines for in-person worship.

In the Diocese of New York, which includes parts of New York City and stretches north into the Hudson Valley, in-person worship remains suspended through July 1.

“I write to you one week before the July 1 date at which limited resumption of public worship will be permitted in the Diocese of New York. I want to say at the start that I have no expectation that churches will resume public worship at this time. A significant number of our churches and clergy are telling me that they do not intend to reintroduce worship inside their churches until September or the end of the year. I completely respect those decisions,” wrote New York Bishop Andrew Dietsche in a June 24 letter to the diocese, asking that churches continue virtual worship.

“From the start we have said that this is permission, not requirement. COVID is a very dangerous disease – fatal for too many – and a whole lot of our people, and our clergy, are high risk due to their age or underlying health conditions. Safety must be our first concern. We have learned how to have effective, enriching worship and a robust community life, even while distanced, over the last three months. Continuing those distanced practices and relationships until we see that it is safe to come physically together is a decision which is faithful and sensible. We are seeing that in other parts of our country which have ‘reopened’ early, churches are already being revealed to be centers of new infections. We cannot let that happen in our churches, and that means observing strict disciplines in our practices,” Dietsche said.

In a June 19 letter to clergy and wardens in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, where the state is in the process of reopening, Bishop Ian T. Douglas and Bishop Suffragan Laura J. Ahrens urged people in at-risk categories and people age 65 and older “to stay home and stay safe,” and for those parishes considering in-person worship to consider holding services outdoors.

“This is not a time to go rushing back to in-person worship as we have known it in the past,” the bishops wrote. “We recognize that many parishes are beginning to resume in-person worship and are using the ‘Living with COVID-19’ protocols and directions that we have promulgated as guidelines. We appreciate the deliberate, careful and collaborative way that you, the clergy and lay leaders in ECCT, are considering what is best for your parishes in this new phase. Thank you for your ongoing faithful and inspiring leadership.”

Massachusetts, initially one of the hardest-hit states, now has the lowest rate of positive COVID-19 tests in the nation, with a seven-day positive test rate average of 1.9% as of June 25. The Diocese of Massachusetts suspended in-person worship in late March, and the bishops’ directive was extended until July 1. On June 15, the bishops told the diocese that congregations may reopen for in-person worship starting July 1, but strongly encouraged them not to. Parishes that wish to resume in-person worship must confirm that they will be able to meet state and diocesan criteria.

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Western New York deanery initiative seeks to keep small, rural churches alive

Episcopal News Service - sex, 26/06/2020 - 17:42

[Diocese of Western New York]The Genesee Deanery of the Diocese of Western New York is made up of small towns and small churches that are struggling to survive. Only one of the nine churches in the three-county region between Buffalo and Rochester has an average Sunday attendance of more than 40. Five have an average attendance of 15 or below. But in this collection of rural communities and former canal towns, an experiment is underway that could suggest a path forward for small churches and rural communities across The Episcopal Church.

The Genesee Deanery initiative was first conceived by the Rev. Colleen O’Connor, who, until the end of last year, had been the part-time priest at both St. Mark’s Church in LeRoy and St. Paul’s Church in Stafford. It imagines a deanery team of two or three priests and a deacon who would rotate among six of the eight parishes in the deanery that do not have full-time clergy. The plan would make it possible for all six to celebrate a Eucharist or communion service at least three times each month, in addition to having a steady pastoral presence, and a priest available for emergencies.

“My goal is that these parishes would also participate in congregational development projects, and that the lay leadership can think about how to reach out to the community, about who they are and who God is calling them to be,” O’Connor said. “If survival is not an issue, how do we spread the gospel to our communities? We are not going for megachurches, but to have a vibrant healthy church active in our communities.”

The participating parishes are Christ Church, Albion; St. Luke’s, Attica; St. Paul’s, Holley; St. Mark’s, LeRoy; Holy Apostles, Perry and St. Paul’s, Stafford.

Of the three remaining churches, St. James, Batavia, by far the largest church in the deanery, has a full-time rector. It has committed to collaborating with other parishes, but is still considering how fully it will participate.

“I am excited about this plan because it takes into account the culture of the region and the character and charisms of each of the individual congregations,” said Bishop Sean Rowe. “It allows people to collaborate in a way that really brings a balance to lay and clergy leadership.”

The deanery has been losing population for more than two decades and suffering economic setbacks as well. A Fisher-Price plant in Medina closed in 1995, a Champion sportswear plant in Perry closed in 1998 and the massive Diaz Chemical plant in Holley closed in 2003, leaving behind a Superfund site. The region today is sparsely populated, but close-knit.

“It’s a lot of small towns spread apart,” said the Rev. Bonnie Morris, rector at St. James. “There is a lot of countryside. People live in their communities a long time. They know each other from way back, and they have very definite ties to their community.”

Rowe says preserving those ties is at the core of the deanery initiative. “We are saying that just because these churches are a small presence, that doesn’t mean they aren’t critical to their communities,” he said. “You have to believe it matters that The Episcopal Church is present in these tiny communities, because otherwise you follow the way of thinking that says, ‘Why don’t you close all of these places?’ That’s what you do if you want the church to be an urban-suburban phenomenon, and that’s the way the church is heading. I am saying these places are critical, but this is not just about keeping them open, it’s about making them present in their communities.”

In 2017, the deanery received a grant from Diocese of Western New York to explore the benefits and challenges of sharing clergy. On the first Sunday of each month, O’Connor, then the priest at St. Mark’s and St. Paul’s, would lead worship at St. Luke’s, Attica and attend its vestry meeting. St. Luke’s would pay the deanery for a supply priest, and the deanery would contract with a supply priest to lead worship at St. Mark’s and St. Paul’s.

On the third Sunday of the month, Morris would lead worship at St. Luke’s before returning to her own parish. St. Luke’s would again pay the deanery for a supply priest, and the deanery would compensate Morris.

“If St. Mark’s and St. Paul’s (Stafford) weren’t willing to go along, it wouldn’t have worked,” O’Connor said, joking that after listening to her preach for 15 years, “they were really excited to hear someone else for a change!”

The feedback from participating parishes was positive, and after the Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania began their partnership, O’Connor brought the proposal to Rowe seeking further support.

“The reality out here is that even if we put all of our resources together, they wouldn’t be able to afford enough bodies to make that work,” she says.

Rowe, an advocate of collaboration among dioceses as well as among congregations, was impressed by the plan and its architect. “She really has a missionary heart,” he said of O’Connor, who supplements her income by helping seniors choose Medicare insurance plans. “The church doesn’t value this kind of work enough.”

The initiative moved forward on June 25 when Western New York’s Diocesan Council approved a three-year $20,000 transition ministry grant, creating a full-time position, for O’Connor as deanery priest.

Although several details remain to be worked out, including the nature of St. James’ involvement, the benefits of collaboration in the deanery are already manifesting themselves. “What we get out of it is a feeling of Episcopal community that goes beyond our parish,” Morris said. “We are the minority in the Christian community, especially in this area, and this is giving us the chance to share some initiatives, like gathering more people for a Bible study or a ministry effort.”

Earlier this year two members of St. Luke’s participated in the confirmation class at St. James and were confirmed during Rowe’s visitation to Batavia. Two members of Christ Church, Albion were received into the Episcopal Church at St. James during that same visit.

Jim Isaac, who was president of the Western New York Standing Committee when that diocese and the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania signed their partnership agreement, is part of the committee developing the initiative. A member of St. Mark’s, LeRoy, he said the deanery initiative is emblematic of Rowe’s approach to fostering vitality through reorganization.

“His attitude is, ‘Okay, we got this to work once when we brought two dioceses with a lot of talented people together. What’s next?’ This deanery project kind of fits into his focus. The parishes put in some money, the dioceses put in a little.

“Okay, let’s make this work.”

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A chaplain to the dying in a season of pandemic

Episcopal News Service - sex, 26/06/2020 - 17:34

[Episcopal Church in Vermont] It’s not as though the Rev. Ann Hockridge didn’t know there was a pandemic on.

By March 15, she had already suspended the in-person worship service she leads for two yoked congregations in the United Church of Christ, as well as the one at Convivia/StJ, the Episcopal community she co-pastors in St. Johnsbury. But the arrival in northern Vermont of the virus that causes COVID-19 had not affected her work as a hospice chaplain for Caledonia Home Health Care and Hospice.

Then, one day, her director came into Hockridge’s office just as she was leaving to visit a woman who, in the parlance of hospice workers, was “actively dying.”

The health system had just classified chaplains as non-essential workers, the director said.

Hockridge got permission for her impending visit, but nothing after that.

People who minister to the dying are practiced in keeping track of their own feelings, lest other people’s grief pull them under, and Hockridge recognized in herself a mixture of resentment and understanding. “To put it bluntly, my feelings were hurt,” she said. “It was like middle school, and I had been booted out of the cool kid lunch table.” At the same time, she realized that personal protective equipment (PPE) was in short supply.

“There was a sense for me that if I used that mask or that gown or that face shield, I was taking it away from a teammate, and potentially taking it away from a family that may need important nursing care,” she said. “Also, I recognized I needed to do my part to minimize contact with our families in order to minimize the potential for spreading the virus to our patients and their families.”

Hockridge set off as she had numerous times since the pandemic began, but this visit was different.

“I realized that despite my hurt feelings about being named non-essential, something had really shifted for me,” she said. “It was not just the risk I posed to someone else, but the risk I was facing.” And that anxiety was exacerbated by the possibility that she would bring the disease home to her partner, who is in a high-risk category for the virus, and their two teenage children.

In the three months since that visit, the virus has transformed everything about the way she and other hospice chaplains do their work, requiring deeper levels of attentiveness, adaptability and self-awareness.

Hockridge said she is fortunate to have visited most of those she currently counsels before the pandemic began. “We’ve had real life physical contact, so that helps me because I can say, ‘Oh I recognize the living room where they are sitting,’ she said. “Or maybe I know that a certain expression on their face is accompanied by a slight slump of their shoulders. I am having to listen very carefully and watch very carefully and try to use the hints I am getting over the screen to evoke the full person.”

She says part-time positions at various churches have taught her that even when pastoral care must be given in less time than she would like, it can still be effective. “We are going through a similar process now as chaplains in recognizing that, yes, the Zoom or the telephone call is not ideal, but it can be enough,” she said.

Not long after the restrictions on home visits were instituted, Hockridge had an experience that brought this point home.

“Someone I was close to, in a family I was close to, died,” she said. “Normally I would have been in that family’s living room visiting with them and reminiscing. If the family had invited me, I would have gone to the funeral home with them.

“When they called to say she had died, I had conversations sequentially with the adult children, and we did the same things we would have done if I were there. They asked if I would call in when they went to the funeral home. I called in, and we did what we would have done in the living room on the phone. We were telling stories, talking about this person’s legacy, what we loved about her, what drove all of us crazy.

“I was able to lead them in prayer at the end of that. I got off the phone, and I fully expected that I would feel miserable, that this was completely inadequate, that this was second rate, that I was just going through the motions. But I got off the phone and realized that we had been able to do what we would have done in person, and that it had been enough.

“And I was shocked by that, but I think it helped me to approach new situations as they were coming up with some level of trust that we could make it enough.”

That isn’t always possible, she acknowledged. “The hardest piece for me is our patients who are in nursing homes. Contacts with them have basically ceased. Connecting over phone or via Zoom isn’t possible or practical because nursing homes having to prioritize contact with family,” she said.

But family visits have been quite limited in some instances, or simply prohibited in others, leading many people to experience an even deeper sadness at the moment of a loved one’s death, Hockridge said.

“I think one thing many people are struggling with is the fact that their loved ones may be dying alone in a nursing home or a hospital because of the restrictions around visitors,” she said. “And I think one of the things that many of us in hospice come to is, there is a difference between dying alone and dying lonely.

“I don’t say that in a Pollyanna way. I don’t mean that it’s fine that people have been dying without loved ones at their bedside. But there are people we see in hospice who chose to die alone, and it happens so frequently that we feel it can’t be a coincidence. That moment comes when family who have been very attentive or present or even hovering are called away, and in that moment their loved one dies. And I think some people choose the privacy of that moment to spare their loved ones seeing them taking their last breath.

“I guess I hold that up in these days. It’s mysterious and I don’t have easy answers about it, but I think it is something that is worth thinking about for all of us.”

As the pandemic has worn on, Hockridge has encountered other changes in the nature of her work. Hospice chaplains are typically available for bereavement support with those who have lost a loved one. Before the pandemic, only about a quarter of the people whom she called to offer such a service returned the call. During the pandemic, almost everybody calls back.

“We are experiencing a profound sense of collective grief, so people’s personal grief has been really escalated,” Hockridge said. “Also, the isolation has escalated people’s symptoms of grief.”

Working with people experiencing such profound sadness requires a particular kind of self-awareness.

“One of the things that has shifted is my own need for self-care,” Hockridge said. “In what we think of as a more typical time, there might have been a patient or a situation that really pressed on my own sense of sadness, or my own history, and in those situations, I’d need good peer support or good clinical supervision. It was always very clear cut.

“In this time, I am living with the same fear, the same uncertainty, the same exhaustion, some of the same isolation that is impacting all of my parishioners and all of our hospice patients, and all of our staff, and so it has been incredibly important for me to be talking about my confusion, my worry, my exhaustion with other chaplains and other clergy, so that I am not spilling out.”

For all of the hardships of the pandemic, Hockridge has had moments of deep gladness, particularly when she is able to touch not only the dying, but those who care for them.

“I am struck by the ways I have had to deputize—It’s not the right word, but it is what comes to mind—medical staff over the phone,” she said. “In one situation, someone was actively dying and wanted a prayer and an anointing, but they were adamant that they didn’t want anyone else in the home because of the risk of the virus.

“So I talked the nurse through how she could do the anointing as I said the prayer over speakerphone. Later, she said to me, ‘Nursing is my calling. I have no question about my sense of call. But I have never really felt like I was a minister, or that there really is a priesthood of all believers. But you trusting me to do that work and giving me the work to do made me realize I do have a ministry. I am part of the priesthood.’”

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Amid continued vandalism, St. John’s Church in Washington erects security fencing

Episcopal News Service - sex, 26/06/2020 - 13:04

Police stand outside St. John’s Episcopal Church while protesters take part in an anti-police brutality march in Washington, D.C., on June 25, 2020. Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] The church that has been seen around the world as the backdrop for the ongoing unrest over systemic racism and police brutality in America has reluctantly decided to put up security fencing to protect the building after repeated acts of vandalism.

St. John’s Episcopal Church, the “church of presidents” across from the White House in Washington, D.C., told parishioners in an email on June 25 that the parish had accepted the city’s offer to put up fencing around the property, which has been tagged with graffiti and damaged by fire since protests flared nationwide in response to the police killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“We as a parish support the protesters’ fight for an end to systemic racism. As is often the case in these situations, we have also been faced with significant challenges,” the Rev. Robert Fisher, rector, and the parish wardens wrote. “While we hate both the fencing and the boarded-up windows, one of our main responsibilities as rector and wardens is to protect the buildings. Our hope is to remove both the fencing and plywood as soon as practicable.”

Church leaders also expressed concern over the unsafe activities of people camping near the church.

People “have built encampments on the church grounds, pitching tents, cooking on open fires in close proximity to the buildings, and relieving themselves in inappropriate places, resulting in a risk to the health and safety of protesters and others. At times, our staff have not felt safe traveling to and from work, or in their offices,” the church leaders wrote.

St. John’s has been used as a symbol by people on disparate sides of the conflict over racism and policing in America, which has simmered since the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin and escalated since Floyd’s killing. On June 1, police violently forced peaceful protesters and clergy out of the area in front of St. John’s so that Trump could pose for photos holding a Bible in front of the church, an action harshly condemned by Episcopal leaders. The church has since been the site of further protests and prayer vigils focusing on racial justice. In the latest incident of vandalism, the church’s columns were tagged with “BHAZ,” an acronym apparently associated with an attempt to create an “autonomous zone” near the White House.

Fisher and the wardens said that the vestry had met last week to discuss “the tension between support of the Black Lives Matter movement and keeping our staff and property safe,” and then met with city officials to form a plan to “peacefully relocate” the people camping on the property. That plan was not enacted because police began clearing the area on June 22.

“We have much work to do. In the coming weeks we must return our attention to regathering and reengaging our congregation, while continuing the conversation on racial healing that we started the past two Sundays,” the church leaders wrote.

– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at emillard@episcopalchurch.org.

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Nuevo Amanecer’s virtual switch amid COVID-19 pandemic reflects change and growth in Latino/Hispanic ministries

Episcopal News Service - qui, 25/06/2020 - 17:03

COVID-19 forced the biennial Nuevo Amanecer conference online, a twist that has increased the popular Latino/Hispanic Ministry conference’s global reach. Screenshot: Millard Cook

Leer este artículo en español aquí

[Episcopal News Service] When the coronavirus pandemic forced Nuevo Amanecer organizers to take the popular biennial Latino and Hispanic ministries conference online, they didn’t expect to attract global participation.

Historically, most of the conference’s attendees have come from the United States, as travel visa restrictions and costs prohibit wider participation from Latin America and beyond. But by quickly adapting the three-day in-person conference to an online format held one Saturday a month over six months, Nuevo Amanecer has nearly doubled its participation and expanded its audience.

Surprisingly, organizers found that 49% of participants joined the virtual conference by computers, smartphones and tablets from Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. About 700 people have registered for the 2020 virtual conference, up from 462 in-person participants in 2018.

“We’ve learned that we have a wider reach virtually,” said Luis Enrique Hernandez Rivas, co-coordinator of Nuevo Amanecer. “It’s amazing how the spirit works.”

Now in its eighth year, Nuevo Amanecer, which in Spanish means “new dawn,” celebrates and supports Latino/Hispanic ministries across The Episcopal Church by providing participants opportunities to network and grow together in discipleship. Previous conferences have taken place at Kanuga, a camp and conference center in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

The six-session conference is organized around the theme: “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5), which calls for Episcopal Latinos and those involved in Latino ministry to think about how to build a new church in modern times. Each successive session focuses on a smaller theme.

“This virtual Nuevo Amanecer is really going in with the Revelation theme,” the Rev. Juan Sandoval, an archdeacon in the Diocese of Atlanta and deacon for Hispanic ministries and pastoral care at the Cathedral of St. Philip, told Episcopal News Service. “Who was to know that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to happen and we really did have to make all things new?”

The conference’s first session, held in May, focused on COVID-19, while June’s session focused on digital evangelization. The third session, scheduled for July 11 at 1 p.m. EDT, will center on women’s leadership in the church and feature the Very Rev. Miguelina Howell, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut, as the keynote speaker. Howell is the first Latina dean of a cathedral in The Episcopal Church.

The remaining three sessions’ themes will cover inclusion of Latinos in the church and a celebration of Latino/Hispanic ministries’ 50th anniversary, coinciding with Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15–Oct. 15.

Nuevo Amanecer’s planning team had considered canceling or postponing the 2020 conference but decided to make it virtual so that registered participants and all others interested could engage in formation and fellowship.

“[The] coronavirus came to us fairly quickly this spring, and we had to decide how we were going to hold Nuevo Amanecer in a short amount of time,” said the Rev. Anthony Guillén, The Episcopal Church’s Latino/Hispanic ministries missioner and director of ethnic ministries. “Do we cancel it? Do we wait two more years, or do we do something virtually?”

The Episcopal Church’s Latino/Hispanic ministries provide guidance to strengthen and support Spanish-speaking communities in the Anglican tradition. Efforts include assisting with church planting, providing bilingual resources for individuals and congregations, and offering educational opportunities for church members to serve their local Latino communities.

Individual parish ministries vary. For example, efforts may include growing community gardens, giving money and detergent to help parishioners do laundry, serving meals to the hungry, advocating for comprehensive immigration reform, offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants and aiding farmworkers.

“Latino ministry is the church’s ministry,” Rivas said. “The conference certainly is focused on ministry among Latin people, but not only people from Latin America do Latino ministry. All are invited to and can feel empowered through this conference. … These opportunities benefit Latinos and non-Latinos alike.”

Nuevo Amanecer is not exclusive to Latinos and Spanish speakers. People of all races and ethnicities are welcome to participate. For those who cannot attend the live sessions, recordings are available on The Episcopal Church’s Latino/Hispanic ministries’ Facebook page and at latinosepiscopales.org.

“For me, Nuevo Amanecer means an opportunity to learn more about what other ministers and churches are doing, how they worship and perhaps new prayers, new services and new faces,” Sandoval said. “Networking is always my favorite part of Nuevo Amanecer, and each time I find I get to reunite with previous acquaintances and [make] new ones.”

This helps keep ministries and friendships fresh for Latinos and non-Latinos. Nuevo Amanecer also helps non-Latinos who serve Latino ministries understand their cultures better and learn how to adapt worship for different circumstances.

“One of the things that was foremost on our minds: How do we foster the sense of community and new relationships virtually and still provide plenaries, worship and workshops?” Guillén told Episcopal News Service. “Some people say that Nuevo Amanecer is like a big family reunion. It’s a time for people in the ministry to come together, to network, to make connections and to learn from each other.”

June’s virtual session, held on the 13th, started with welcome and worship, followed by a plenary, titled “Digital Evangelism and the Future of the Church,” which Guillén hosted. Participants then transitioned into four separate workshops of their choice: “Making ‘New Things’ in the Church,” “Technology at Your Fingertips,” “How to YouTube Evangelize” and “How to Livestream Events.” Half of the workshops were offered in Spanish and the other half in English.

During the workshop portion, attendees briefly split into breakout rooms to collaborate on listing solutions to issues their workshop leaders addressed. After another short transitional break, participants engaged in a virtual coffee hour to network and share what they have learned. The total monthly session lasted three hours. Future sessions will be similarly structured.

Nuevo Amanecer is also offering a playlist of traditional Sunday school activities for children before it starts so that they can be engaged while their parents are attending the conference.

Adialyn Milien, Nuevo Amanecer’s communications and social media team leader, said she’s most looking forward to the final session in October because the keynote speaker will be Ana Victoria Lantigua Zaya, a woman from the Dominican Republic in her early 20s who served on the Episcopal Youth Planning Team in 2019.

“She will be ending the series because we want people to understand that there’s room for everybody in The Episcopal Church; everyone is welcome and can play a role in the church,” Milien said. “We mostly have old white men in positions of power, and so we are telling people that the future of the church is in our hands, especially in the Latino community.”

Once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Nuevo Amanecer conferences will return to Kanuga, but a virtual component will also be available for those who cannot attend in person.

“Someday we will return to the church buildings, and many will want to, but I don’t think it will be the same,” Rivas said. “We have opened the church doors to many new people around the world, and now they are a part of our family.”

– Shireen Korkzan is a Midwest-based freelance reporter who primarily writes about religion, race, ethnicity and social justice issues. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @smkrm5.

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What will summer be like without the usual VBS, camps and youth mission trips?

Episcopal News Service - qua, 24/06/2020 - 11:12

Campers and counselors during camp in 2019. Photo courtesy of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota via Faith & Leadership

[Faith & Leadership] Nine-year-old Caleb Barnett of Edina, Minnesota, wasn’t the only one getting a bit teary in May when he reluctantly reached for his 2020 calendar and crossed off Christian camp, canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. His mother, Sarah, was as sad as he was. She runs camps for the Episcopal Church in Minnesota and knew he’d be missing a fun learning experience.

But she began to see raw material for Caleb’s ongoing spiritual formation in the community that started showing up on their doorstep. Every day at noon, a group of his bike-riding friends — no longer tightly scheduled with organized activities — would swing by to get him and cruise the neighborhood.

Having gotten to know their parents, she decided to invite the families over every Friday for a socially distant backyard camp that’s largely about Christian hospitality — and they’ve been coming. There are even matching T-shirts for all the kids.

“I’ve actually thought of that as how I could empower my camp families to be that kind of local presence in their neighborhoods this summer,” said Barnett, the missioner for children, youth, camp and young adults at the diocese. “Maybe they just do a little picnic every Friday, invite their kids’ friends’ families and do this kind of relational ministry that Jesus was all about, even if it’s not vacation Bible school format.”

As the strange summer of 2020 arrives, families are finding that they can’t count on the usual seasonal programming to help kids keep making progress in spiritual formation. Short-term mission trips are canceled. Christian camps and vacation Bible schools are taking the season off or pivoting temporarily to new models that can be administered at home, in small, socially distanced groups or online.

Read the entire article here.

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St. John’s Church in Washington vandalized again

Episcopal News Service - ter, 23/06/2020 - 14:16

Protesters stand with their hands up on Black Lives Matter Plaza in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., on June 22, 2020. Photo: Tom Brenner/Reuters

[Episcopal News Service] St. John’s Episcopal Church, the “church of presidents” in Washington, D.C., that has become a major flashpoint during weeks of unrest related to systemic racism and police brutality, was vandalized again on June 22 during another night of clashes between police and protesters in front of the White House.

“BHAZ” was spray-painted on the 204-year-old church’s columns, The Washington Post reported. The acronym was also spray-painted on a piece of plywood nearby, accompanied by “Black House Autonomous Zone,” an apparent take on the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, Washington. That area, also called the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, is comprised of several blocks that were taken over by protesters and abandoned by police on June 8. One person was killed and two were injured in shootings there this past weekend.

BHAZ — Black House Autonomous Zone — has been spray painted on the columns of the historic St. John’s church outside the White House. pic.twitter.com/or2C2myVSX

— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) June 23, 2020

In a series of tweets, President Donald Trump lashed out at the spray-painted messages outside the White House and another incident the same evening when protesters tried to take down a statue of Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. president and a slave owner, in Lafayette Square, where St. John’s is located.

Numerous people arrested in D.C. for the disgraceful vandalism, in Lafayette Park, of the magnificent Statue of Andrew Jackson, in addition to the exterior defacing of St. John’s Church across the street. 10 years in prison under the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act. Beware!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020

Police responded to that incident by sending over 150 officers and a low-flying helicopter into the area and spraying protesters with pepper spray as they forced them back, The Post reported.

Apparently referring to the graffiti at St. John’s, Trump said any attempt to establish a Seattle-style “autonomous zone” near the White House would be stopped.

There will never be an “Autonomous Zone” in Washington, D.C., as long as I’m your President. If they try they will be met with serious force!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020

St. John’s, a national historic landmark where one of the pews is reserved for the president, has taken on a new symbolic status in recent weeks, becoming the backdrop for escalating conflicts in American society. During riots that followed peaceful protests against racial violence and police brutality on the night of May 31, someone set a fire in the basement of the parish hall, destroying one room but leaving the rest of the property unharmed, except for some graffiti.

The next day, police violently forced peaceful protesters and clergy out of the area in front of St. John’s so that Trump could pose for photos holding a Bible in front of the church, an action harshly condemned by Episcopal leaders.

The church has since been the site of further protests and prayer vigils focusing on racial justice.

Leaders from St. John’s could not immediately be reached for comment on the new graffiti.

– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at emillard@episcopalchurch.org.

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Ministerio episcopal de obreros agrícolas responde a necesidades durante la pandemia del COVID-19

Episcopal News Service - ter, 23/06/2020 - 12:33

Obreros agrícolas en Carolina del Norte usan pantalones, camisas de manga larga y guantes para trabajar en los campos, en parte para protegerse de la exposición a pesticidas. Foto de Lynette Wilson/ENS

[Episcopal News Service] Ana se despierta a las 4:45 A.M. seis días a la semana para trabajar en una inmensa granja en Oxnard, California. Cuando llega, se lava bien las manos antes de ponerse un par de guantes y una máscara facial. Luego pasa unos minutos haciendo ejercicio a fin de preparar su cuerpo para otra larga jornada de trabajo físico. A las 6:30, está ágil y lista para pasar las próximas 10 horas deteniéndose a recoger fresas en el campo.

Ana —a petición suya no revelamos su apellido— dice que sus supervisores siempre han sido estrictos respecto al saneamiento y la seguridad de los obreros agrícolas, pero se han establecido restricciones adicionales para evitar la propagación del COVID-19. Antes de la pandemia, usar máscaras faciales para minimizar la exposición a pesticidas mientras se trabajaba era opcional. Ahora es obligatorio, y cada trabajador agrícola recibe una nueva máscara facial desechable al comienzo de cada jornada laboral.

“Ahora, debido al coronavirus, no se nos permite tocar nuestros teléfonos celulares mientras recolectamos cultivos para no tocar las frutas a mano limpia”, dijo Ana a Episcopal News Service a través de su intérprete, el Rdo. Anthony Guillén, quien también presta servicios como misionero del Ministerio Latino/Hispano y es director de los Ministerios Étnicos de la Iglesia Episcopal. Ana se unió a la iglesia episcopal de San Andrés [St. Andrew’s] en Ojai, California, a principios de este año, donde Guillén ayuda con el ministerio latino.

“Siento que el supervisor y los administradores en donde trabajo han estado muy atentos a la situación desde el principio”, dijo Ana. “También nos dan actualizaciones periódicas sobre el COVID-19. Gracias a Dios, todavía no conozco a nadie que haya contraído el virus”.

Desde enero, más de 1,8 millones de estadounidenses han sido diagnosticados con el COVID-19, y más de 106.700 han fallecido. Para frenar la propagación del COVID-19, los estados comenzaron a emitir órdenes, en marzo, de quedarse en casa, lo que condujo a un cierre de la economía de EE. UU. y a más de 40 millones de reclamos de desempleo.

Entre tanto, los obreros agrícolas —en su mayoría trabajadores migrantes y temporeros, tanto documentados como indocumentados— que trabajan en gran medida en la sombra, se han unido a las filas de los trabajadores de la salud y los socorristas como personal esencial para mantener funcionando al país. En respuesta, los ministerios episcopales regionales que sirven y abogan por ellos han intensificado sus esfuerzos.

“No creo que la gente realmente aprecie todo el arduo trabajo que hacen los obreros agrícolas”, dijo Guillén. “Escuchamos muchas cosas en las noticias sobre enfermeras y médicos y socorristas y policías y camioneros. Todos están a la vanguardia, pero también los obreros agrícolas. No creo que la gente realmente se detenga a pensar en ellos”.

Aunque los obreros agrícolas son esenciales, tradicionalmente los han tratado como prescindibles. La pandemia del COVID-19 no ha sido una excepción.

“[Los obreros agrícolas] están haciendo un trabajo que pone su vida en peligro, y lo están haciendo por sus familias y sus sueños”, dijo el Rdo. Daniel Darío Robayo Hidalgo, misionero del Ministerio Latino/Hispano de la Diócesis de Carolina del Norte. “Todavía hay alimentos disponibles durante esta crisis. ¿Por qué? Porque estas personas nos siguen proporcionando la comida. Deberíamos tratarlos como se debe”.

Robayo es miembro de la junta del Ministerio Episcopal de Obreros Agrícolas, una organización sin fines de lucro que trabaja para proporcionarles —a los obreros agrícolas en Carolina del Norte— alimentos, medicinas y equipo de protección personal. A pesar de sus esfuerzos, el ministerio se ha empeñado en ayudar a muchas personas necesitadas durante la crisis del COVID-19.

“Nos apena muchísimo que no podamos proporcionar desinfectante de manos o máscaras”, dijo Robayo. “Duele. Puede hacer mucho calor aquí en Carolina del Norte, y aún no hemos hablado de la temporada de huracanes en medio de esta pandemia. Señor ten piedad”.

Robayo le dijo a ENS que muchos empleadores en Carolina del Norte no brindan atención médica o equipo de protección personal a los obreros agrícolas. No solo eso, los obreros agrícolas del estado dijeron recientemente en una conferencia de prensa vía Zoom que todavía tienen que trabajar hombro con hombro a ritmo acelerado sin guantes ni mascarillas. Además, la mayoría de los obreros agrícolas comparten pequeños espacios de convivencia y viajan juntos para ir a trabajar y hacer mandados.

Estas condiciones facilitan la propagación del virus entre los trabajadores que entran y salen de los campos y las plantas de procesamiento de carne, y algunos obreros agrícolas en Carolina del Norte ya se han infectado.

El Ministerio Episcopal de Obreros agrícolas recaudó recientemente $ 60.000 para continuar ayudando a los obreros agrícolas y sus familias durante la pandemia del COVID-19. El dinero se utilizará para proporcionar un servicio de recogida de alimentos y ayuda económica libre de contacto. El ministerio también ofrece apoyo a distancia de salud mental y ayuda de inmigración, ya que la mayoría de los obreros agrícolas son indocumentados o están en el país como parte del programa de visas H-2A para obreros agrícolas temporales.

Aunque los obreros agrícolas se consideran esenciales durante la pandemia del COVID-19, el gobierno de Trump no ha impuesto las medidas de seguridad recomendadas por el  Centro de Control y Prevención de Enfermedades, lo cual amplía aún más la necesidad de una defensa social de los obreros agrícolas en todo el país.

En el estado de Nueva York, los promotores del Ministerio Rural y Migrante, una organización sin fines de lucro afiliada a la [Iglesia] Episcopal que ha estado ayudando a las comunidades rurales y migrantes desde 1981, se centran en los derechos y la seguridad de los trabajadores.

“Se suponía que los cheques de estímulo beneficiarían a las personas que trabajan en todas las industrias, pero muchos obreros agrícolas se quedaban al margen porque eran indocumentados”, dijo Deirdre Cornell, coordinador de la región del Río Hudson/Catskill del Ministerio Rural y Migrante. “Creo que tal vez esta situación generará conciencia y un nuevo reconocimiento de los inmigrantes y de la clase obrera como trabajadores esenciales. Sus derechos son ignorados, y realmente debería enfatizarse que no existe una red de seguridad para ellos”.

Además de pedir a los legisladores del estado de Nueva York que garanticen la salud y la seguridad de los obreros agrícolas, el Ministerio Rural y Migrante ha estado haciendo acopio de máscaras reutilizables para distribuirlas entre los obreros agrícolas y sus familias. Hasta ahora, el ministerio ha recogido más de 6.000 máscaras.

El Ministerio Rural y Migrante, junto con otras organizaciones sin fines de lucro que sirven directamente a los obreros agrícolas en Nueva York, patrocinará varias caravanas en todo el estado el 31 de mayo para brindar apoyo y solidaridad a los trabajadores de la cadena alimentaria. Se alienta a los cristianos a asistir como una oportunidad para celebrar Pentecostés.

A pesar de la pandemia, los promotores del Ministerio Episcopal de Obreros Agrícolas y del Ministerio Rural y Migrante continúan centrándose en las preocupaciones preexistentes de los obreros agrícolas, entre ellas, la inseguridad alimentaria, el acceso a la atención médica y el cuidado infantil y la reforma migratoria.

“Los obreros agrícolas vienen con ese sueño de poder mejorar sus vidas”, dijo Robayo. “Tienen toda la energía y el entusiasmo de los que están ayudando a sus familias, pero es difícil ganarse la vida adecuadamente. El trabajo agrícola es un permanente ciclo de pobreza”.

Los obreros agrícolas individuales por lo general ganan entre $15.000 y $ 17.499 al año por su trabajo, lo que incluye pasar todo el día, a menudo en condiciones de calor extremo, recogiendo productos para enviar a las tiendas de víveres de todo el país. Muchos obreros agrícolas no pueden darse el lujo de comprar alimentos para ellos y sus familias porque sus salarios los colocan muy por debajo del nivel federal de la pobreza.

El calor extremo es un problema para los obreros agrícolas en el Valle de San Joaquín, California, que ha sufrido una intensa sequía en los últimos años. Muchos obreros agrícolas en la región son víctimas de la trata laboral. La Diócesis de San Joaquín apoyó los empeños a favor de los inmigrantes y en contra de la trata antes del COVID-19, pero ahora está tomando medidas adicionales para incluir a los obreros agrícolas en su labor de defensa social.

“No podemos suponer lo que los obreros agrícolas necesitan, así que ahora vamos a las granjas y preguntamos: ‘¿Cómo podemos ayudarles?’ Algunos trabajadores con los que hablamos dijeron que tienen problemas de acceso a la atención sanitaria y a las pruebas del COVID- 19. No hay sorpresas”, dijo el obispo de San Joaquín David Rice, que ha estado visitando a los obreros agrícolas en la región durante la pandemia junto con el Rdo. Nelson Serrano Poveda, diácono y el misionero latino/hispano de la diócesis.

“No nos hemos comunicado con los obreros agrícolas tanto como debíamos”, dijo Rice. “Tenemos un largo camino por delante”.

Algunas organizaciones sin fines de lucro ayudan a alimentar a los obreros agrícolas y sus familias para minimizar sus gastos diarios. En California, la cooperativa La Mesa Abundante ofrece frutas y verduras orgánicas frescas a los obreros agrícolas con inseguridad alimentaria que viven en la zona. Fundada por un ministerio episcopal y luterano en 2006, la organización sin fines de lucro también dona excedentes de alimentos a bancos locales de alimentos y a organizaciones religiosas.

La inseguridad alimentaria es solo una de varias injusticias con las que los obreros agrícolas en Estados Unidos han estado luchando durante décadas. En 1962, César Chávez y Dolores Huerta fundaron United Farm Workers of America para luchar pacíficamente por los derechos humanos básicos de los obreros agrícolas, incluidos salarios justos y acceso a agua potable, educación, alimentos, atención médica y vivienda. Pero esas victorias obtenidas con tanto esfuerzo aún son pocas y distantes entre sí para la mayoría de los obreros agrícolas, muchos de los cuales permanecen indocumentados.

Ana dijo que, a la luz del COVID-19, ella quiere ayudar a su familia mucho más de lo que ya ha hecho desde que comenzó su carrera como obrera agrícola hace casi 13 años siendo aún menor.

“Me gustaría ayudar más a mi familia, pero no puedo porque no soy ciudadana”, dijo. “Desearía que mi empresa o el gobierno de EE. UU. me ofrecieran algún tipo de estatus laboral legal”.

Shireen Korkzan es una periodista independiente radicada en el Medio Oeste que escribe fundamentalmente sobre temas de religión, raza, etnia y justicia social. Síganla en Twitter e Instagram @ smkrm5.

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Canada: ‘Be strong and bold!’ A message from the primate for 2020 graduates

Episcopal News Service - ter, 23/06/2020 - 09:39

[Anglican Church of Canada] Everyone looks forward to those moments in our lives that mark something significant. We honor our birthday with parties, greetings, birthday cake and gifts. We celebrate marriages with a wedding that includes special clothes and the symbols of rings and vows. And we celebrate the maturing of our youth and their progress with ceremonies of graduation from one stage to the next: kindergarten to Grade 1; Grade 8 to high school; high school to college or university or work; college or university into a vocation. Special clothes; graduation trips; a graduation ceremony with awards and certificates; family, friends and community to share in it; and a party are all part of the experiences of these transitions.

Now most of these experiences have been cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19. For those who do not like pomp and circumstance there may be a sense of relief, while for others there is a deep disappointment in not sharing this moment with friends and family in a public way. Yet human creativity has found new ways to mark and honor these moments. I see signs on many lawns saying “Graduate 2020!”, honoring a family member. Some schools have made enormous efforts to still hold socially distanced, small-group ceremonies for each graduand. Others have held online ceremonies such as one I shared in for Montreal Diocesan College, complete with video clips of degrees being hand delivered in the crook of Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson’s crozier! I think also of the youth leaders in the diocese of New Westminster who delivered special care bags, complete with mini graduate caps. We can and do find ways to say, “Congratulations!” We recognize the hard work of years of schooling and, in some cases, the sacrifices to be able to complete a degree, diploma or certificate.

Of course, graduating means leaving behind the familiar—a school, classmates, a study routine—for the new. It could mean a new school, opportunities to make new friends, different expectations—or maybe freedom from studies or the beginnings of a career. It can be exciting, challenging, and at times, scary.

When I finished university, I was heading to another country to begin a teaching career in another culture, with people I had never met before. I was excited, nervous and a bit scared! A good friend gave me a locket inside of which was a small piece of paper and one verse of scripture. The locket has long since disappeared but that quotation of scripture has stayed with me for my entire life: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) Moses gave those words to Joshua as the Israelites were about to enter the promised land, encouraging him to be “strong and bold” in the face of his enemies: “Have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) That verse has stayed with me, reminding me that I was never alone in the challenges or disappointments, fears or joys that were ahead.

You, the graduates of 2020, have already been tested for resiliency and your ability to face radical change, due to COVID-19. You have adapted to online learning, social distancing and the pain of missing friends. You will be a gift to the world ahead of you—as you continue in school or head into the world to reshape it—for you already know the challenge of uncertainty. And you know you have strength to meet it.

Know that our prayers go with you! Congratulations as you step into the future!! Be strong and bold. Do not fear, for God will never leave you or forsake you!

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England: Church issues statement on reopening of buildings for public worship

Episcopal News Service - ter, 23/06/2020 - 09:31

[Church of England] Following the U.K. Government announcement that church buildings will be able to reopen for public worship from July 4, providing physical distancing remains in place, Bishop of London Sarah Mullally, who leads the Church of England’s Recovery Group, said:

“I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement today that we will soon be able to begin to meet and worship together in our church buildings again. The last three months have been an extraordinary time – the first period without public worship and the sacraments in England in more than 800 years. There will be real joy as we begin to come together again – if even at a physical distance – but I also know that many will be understandably cautious at this news.

“We will not be returning to normality overnight – this is the next step on a journey. We’ve been planning carefully, making detailed advice available for parishes to enable them to prepare to hold services when it is safe and practical to do so. It is important to say that the change in Government guidance is permissive, not prescriptive.

“I would particularly like to thank clergy and lay leaders for all they have done during the time our buildings have been closed. Not all church buildings will be ready to hold regular services from July 4th, but we are providing whatever support we can to enable them.

“There will still be restrictions and we must all still do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus to protect each other, especially the most vulnerable. The online services and dial-in worship offerings we have become used to will continue.

“This has been an incredibly difficult time for the whole country, especially for those who have been ill, who have suffered financial hardship, the loss of livelihoods and indeed, for many, those they love. We know that is not over and the Church has a task ahead to bring consolation and hope.

“Churches and cathedrals have risen to the recent challenges, finding new ways of meeting for worship, of serving our neighbours, and of reaching new people with the love of God. The challenge before us now is to take the next steps carefully and safely, without forgetting all that we’ve discovered about God and ourselves on the way.”

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