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At UN climate conference, Episcopal delegation urges nations to act swiftly and justly

Episcopal News Service - qua, 04/12/2019 - 19:23

Lynnaia Main, The Episcopal Church’s representative to the United Nations (left), Ruth Ivory-Moore, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s director for environment and corporate social responsibility (center) and the Rev. Melanie Mullen, The Episcopal Church’s director of reconciliation, justice and creation care (right) at the United Nations Climate Conference COP 25 in Madrid, Spain, on Dec. 4, 2019. Photo courtesy of Lynnaia Main

[Episcopal News Service] As the impacts of the climate crisis become more dire with each passing year and the catastrophic future scientists predicted decades ago inches closer to reality, governments have still not taken the actions necessary to protect humanity. Instead of declining, emissions of greenhouse gases have been increasing. And while nations are being warned that the commitments they have already made – such as the Paris Accord – are not enough to ensure a livable future and must do more, the Trump administration has chosen to abandon that agreement.

It is a bleak backdrop for the United Nations Climate Conference, known as COP 25, being held Dec. 2-13 in Madrid, Spain. But a delegation of Episcopalians representing Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is bringing a Christian perspective to the summit, grounded in hope yet committed to substantive action. They are in Spain to share the church’s views on the sanctity of creation and humanity’s moral duty to care for it, as well as the dangers facing the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

The delegation’s objective is “to build relationships – and to do lots of listening, praying and meeting with global leaders because of our commitment to God’s justice and sustained vision for the earth,” said the Rev. Melanie Mullen, the church’s director of reconciliation, justice and creation care. “We are not alone as religious bodies in this forum – along with ecumenical partners, Episcopalians are expressing our commitment to living a public faith and witness in the world.”

COP 25, or the 25th Conference of the Parties, is critically important because it is seen by many as the last chance to amend the current insufficient emissions commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The U.N. has established that benchmark as the recommended limit, beyond which humanity runs the risk of inflicting “increasingly severe and expensive impacts” on itself. Based on today’s commitments, emissions will be twice what they should be by 2030, missing the 1.5-degree target. Because so little action has been taken, emissions must now drop 7.6 percent every year between 2020 and 2030 in order to reach the target, which the U.N. says is “ambitious but still possible.”

“The overarching theme, which continues to remain uppermost on the agenda, is the need to ramp up ambition significantly, not only by member states but by all parties, including private sector, civil society and individuals,” Lynnaia Main, the church’s representative to the United Nations, told Episcopal News Service.

The presiding bishop has sent a delegation to each COP conference since COP 21 in 2015. This year, the delegation is headed by California Bishop Marc Andrus, an outspoken climate action advocate. Andrus suffered a stroke in October and is participating remotely from California. The team in Madrid consists of Main, Mullen and Jack Cobb, senior policy adviser in The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations.

So far, the delegation has been busy forging new partnerships, Main told ENS, especially with ACT Alliance – a coalition of 156 churches and adjacent organizations working on humanitarian goals around the world.

“The Episcopal Church delegation has spent the past few days focusing on developing new partnerships and advocacy strategies with Anglican Alliance partners who are here – Archbishop Julio Murray and Dr. Elizabeth Perry – and for the first time has joined up with ACT Alliance’s ecumenical delegation which also includes the World Council of Churches and Lutheran World Federation. The Anglican Alliance also has been working with us on this partnership,” Main said by email.

“As a delegation, we are advocating for several priorities that link to our 2018 General Convention resolutions. Among these are accelerating ambition, increasing support for loss and damage, protecting human rights in addressing adaptation and mitigation and boosting financial resources and mechanisms. These priorities connect to our overarching goal of ensuring climate justice for the most vulnerable. After all, Jesus calls us most especially to care for the marginalized, and in U.N. terms there is a parallel principle at work: We speak of ‘leaving no one behind’ and ‘reaching the furthest behind first.’”

The delegation is not only urging political leaders to strengthen their policies. It is sharing the ways that The Episcopal Church has already acted to reduce its impact.

“We continue to be surprised and encouraged as national delegations at COP look to faith bodies as the place civil society nurtures hope and progress,” Mullen told ENS. “[The Episcopal Church] is already doing many kinds of important local climate work. For instance, the General Convention mandates funding creation care ministries are exactly what government negotiators mean when they talk about local-level ‘ambition’ and climate ‘mitigation efforts.’”

And joining forces with other faith organizations has strengthened the impact of The Episcopal Church’s efforts. On Dec. 2, the delegation and its ecumenical allies held a prayer service on the theme of “Praying For Climate Justice”:

Partnerships like these, Mullen said, magnify the powerful message The Episcopal Church has to offer: that “a life-giving, liberating and loving vision for the world matters in addressing climate change.”

– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at

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Pittsburgh Bishop Dorsey McConnell announces retirement date

Episcopal News Service - qua, 04/12/2019 - 18:03

[Diocese of Pittsburgh] Pittsburgh Bishop Dorsey W.M. McConnell announced Dec. 4 that he plans to retire in the spring of 2021.

McConnell has led the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh since 2012.  He was elected by diocesan lay leaders and clergy in April of that year and was consecrated and installed in the following October.

“We have been through so much and accomplished so much, in what seems to me the twinkling of an eye,” the bishop wrote in a letter announcing his plans to the diocese, which currently numbers slightly more than 8,600 members among 36 participating congregations.

McConnell said he would remain in charge until he hands over his crozier, the symbol of a bishop’s authority, to a successor on April 24, 2021, which will occur nearly nine years to the day that he was chosen as Pittsburgh’s bishop.

When he was installed, McConnell became the first permanent bishop after a period of division and rebuilding that began when a former bishop, many clergy and their congregations left the diocese and The Episcopal Church.

During McConnell’s tenure, most of the outstanding legal disputes with the former members were resolved. A settlement concerning property use was hailed locally and nationally for the way it recognized the validity of each others’ claims and set a structure for building new relationships.

On social issues, McConnell placed an emphasis on racial reconciliation. His “Church Without Walls” launched a series of grassroots interactions between members of predominantly white congregations and those of historic African American heritage.

He has been active in civic engagement, developing relationships with elected officials and being equally comfortable working with corporate directors and walking alongside union protesters.

Within the church locally, the bishop has sought to strengthen the preparation for ministry for both clergy and the laity, principally by helping shape the first-of-its-kind Anglican-Episcopal Studies track at the Presbyterian-affiliated Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, where he serves as a member of the Board of Trustees, and also through the diocese’s Love+Teach+Heal Academy, an ongoing program of lay formation.

Given the size of the Pittsburgh diocese, McConnell was able to spend time with each congregation every year, and he worked toward building trust among clergy and congregations that span a wide variety of sizes, geographical settings and theological perspectives.

McConnell’s latest initiative involves a multiyear process aimed at restructuring diocesan governance and encouraging parishes in their efforts in communication, new lay-led ministries and in knowing the needs of their local communities. The bishop said these initiatives will continue.

“I assure you that I will be completely engaged in the life of the diocese until the moment I am no longer your bishop,” he wrote in his Dec. 4 letter.

Next steps in succession plan

 The Pittsburgh diocese will soon begin a discernment and search process in which Episcopal priests from around the country will be invited to consider a call to be the next bishop. A local search committee, composed of laity and clergy, will narrow the field to a select group of finalists. Those nominees will be publicly identified by late summer or mid-autumn of 2020.

The new bishop will be chosen by the clergy and lay representatives of each parish at a special diocesan electing convention, scheduled for Nov. 21, 2020.

He or she will be consecrated by the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, on April 24, 2021.

Following his retirement, McConnell and his wife, Betsy, plan to reside in New Hampshire. 

About the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh:

Bishop McConnell’s retirement letter:

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Episcopal leaders join celebrations of Church of England’s first black female bishop

Episcopal News Service - qua, 04/12/2019 - 15:30

Dover Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin and Reading Bishop Olivia Graham are consecrated Nov. 19 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Photo: St. Paul’s Cathedral

[Episcopal News Service] Last month’s consecration and installation of the first black female bishop in the Church of England were celebrated by a wide array of Anglican Communion leaders, including numerous leaders from The Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, The Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies president, was joined by West Tennessee Bishop Phoebe Roaf and Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, among others, in attendance at the Nov. 19 consecrations of Dover Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin and Reading Bishop Olivia Graham at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. A reception followed at Lambeth Palace, hosted by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

The Church of England has its first black female bishop.

Rose Hudson-Wilkin consecrated as Bishop of Dover and Olivia Graham as Bishop of Reading at St Paul's Cathedral today.

Ceremony also featured first female Bishop of London, in background.

— Kaya Burgess (@kayaburgess) November 19, 2019

View this post on Instagram

Blessed to be at the ordination of the Rt. Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin as Bishop of Dover, C of E. #ecct

A post shared by Ian T. Douglas (@ctbishopian) on Nov 20, 2019 at 12:44am PST

Jennings and Douglas served with Hudson-Wilkin on the Anglican Consultative Council, most recently in 2016, according to a Facebook post by Jennings.

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care, and the Rev. Ronald Byrd, The Episcopal Church’s missioner for black ministries, were among the church leaders who attended Hudson-Wilkin’s installation Nov. 30 at Canterbury Cathedral.

Hudson-Wilkin, a native of Jamaica, previously served as chaplain to members of the British Parliament and as priest-in-charge of St. Mary-at-Hill Church in London. Her appointment to succeed Bishop Trevor Willmott was announced in June.

The bishop of Dover is technically a suffragan role in the Diocese of Canterbury, though it effectively entails oversight of the diocese, freeing the archbishop of Canterbury to focus on his responsibilities with the Anglican Communion and as head of the Church of England, according to the Anglican Communion News Service.

The trailblazer and history maker, Dr. Hudson-Wilkin, was born in Jamaica and ordained a priest in 1994, the first year the Church of England allowed female clergy.

I wish Dr. Rose Hudson-Wilkin all the best on her new groundbreaking and historic appointment.

— Andrew Holness (@AndrewHolnessJM) November 21, 2019

“I’m excited, I’ve got lots of new people to meet, to get to know, and that fills me with joy,” Hudson-Wilkin said after her consecration, according to the BBC. “Beginning this new ministry, there is a sense of awe in it all. But also something refreshing about being open to the new things that God has in store, not just for me as a person taking on this new leadership role, but for our diocese as a whole.”

Hudson-Wilkin led prayers during the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, a ceremony in which Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached.

Graham, the bishop of Reading who was consecrated with Hudson-Wilkin, is the first female bishop in the Diocese of Oxford. She now oversees 170 churches in the Reading area.

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

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Church of England’s cathedrals continue to attract increasing numbers

Episcopal News Service - ter, 03/12/2019 - 16:40

Durham Cathedral in England. Photo: ACNS

[Anglican Communion News Service] As Church of England cathedrals report a large increase in visitors, they have been hailed as places “for all, and for fresh encounters.”

In the report, published in late November, cathedrals reported nearly 10 million visitors in 2018, an increase of over 10 percent on the previous year. There were also over 1 million visitors to Westminster Abbey.

The major Christian festivals also grew, with 58,000 people attending a cathedral at Easter and 95,000 during Holy Week – the highest numbers recorded for a decade.

Read the full article here.

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Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Australia will resign

Episcopal News Service - ter, 03/12/2019 - 16:26

Archbishop Philip Freier, primate of the Anglican Church of Australia. Photo: Diocese of Melbourne

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, has announced he will be resigning as primate of the Anglican Church of Australia in March, after almost six years in the role. Freier will remain archbishop of Melbourne, a post he took up in December 2006.

The announcement from the primate’s office on Nov. 25 said Freier will step down on March 31, 2020, before his term was due to expire, and will not seek re-election.

Read the full article here.

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RIP: Louie Crew Clay, Integrity founder and champion of LGBTQ inclusion, dies at 82

Episcopal News Service - seg, 02/12/2019 - 19:34

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings and Louie Crew Clay at the Integrity Eucharist during the 2015 General Convention. Photo: Cynthia Black

[Episcopal News Service] Louie Crew Clay, a longtime advocate for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in The Episcopal Church, the founder of Integrity and a former member of the House of Deputies, died on Nov. 27 at age 82 with his husband by his side, according to the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton, a close friend.

Known commonly as Louie Crew, he is remembered across The Episcopal Church as a tireless trailblazer for sexual minorities and outcasts, a prolific author and a devoted husband and friend.

Crew was born Erman Louie Crew Jr. in Anniston, Alabama, on Dec. 9, 1936. Having earned a doctorate in English, he taught at preparatory schools and universities in the United States, England, Hong Kong and China throughout his career, most recently at Rutgers University until his retirement in 2002. In 1974, he married Ernest Clay, though the marriage was not legally recognized until 2013.

Also in 1974, while teaching in San Francisco, he called Grace Cathedral to ask if they could help him connect with other gay Episcopalians and heard “derisive laughter” in response. Determined to change the church’s attitude, in November of that year, he published the first edition of a newsletter called Integrity, a forum for gay and lesbian Episcopalians to connect, organize, express themselves and support each other.

“The Christian Gospel is for all persons,” he wrote in the first issue. “For too long has our beloved church neglected its historic mission to bring the Gospel to gay people. Instead, we have typically been treated as the lowest of God’s creation, too vile even to be mentionable. The hour has come for us gays to recognize that the only gift that our church has to offer us is the all-precious grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The newsletter rapidly grew into a national nonprofit organization dedicated to full inclusion of LGBTQ people in The Episcopal Church, with an official presence at every General Convention since 1977. Though it has experienced organizational turmoil in recent months, Integrity’s advocacy efforts are credited with securing the most significant victories for LGBTQ Episcopalians, including official support for their access to the sacraments of holy orders and marriage.

Crew also served six terms in the House of Deputies, representing the Diocese of Newark, and one term on Executive Council. He was a pioneer in using the internet to spread information throughout the church and beyond.

“Louie was social media before there was social media,” the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, said at Integrity’s 40th anniversary celebration during the 2015 General Convention.

Participants in the Integrity Eucharist at the 2015 General Convention included, from left, House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Jennings; the Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Church in Pasadena, California; retired New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson; Integrity founder Louie Crew Clay and his husband Ernest Clay. Photo: Sharon Sheridan/Episcopal News Service

Crew served on numerous boards, committees and task forces, including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, General Convention’s Committee on Social and Urban Affairs and Standing Commission on Health and Human Affairs, and the Diocese of Newark’s Standing Committee.

A prolific essayist and poet, Crew documented over 2,600 publications of his work, including the 2015 anthology “Letters From Samaria: The Prose & Poetry of Louie Crew Clay.”

On social media, Crew was remembered as “a holy troublemaker,” “a great light,” “giant of justice” and a “gift to the church.”

“Louie changed the face of the church with his gentle spirit and fierce convictions,” Jennings wrote on Facebook. “He loved the Episcopal Church too much to let us stay the way we were. Thanks to his resilient witness, we are more just, more faithful and look more like the kingdom of God. On behalf of the House of Deputies, I extend my heartfelt condolences to Louie’s husband, Ernest, and to all who mourn.”

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at

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Community Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s in West Texas draws crowd, for some a homecoming

Episcopal News Service - seg, 02/12/2019 - 18:59

Community and St. Paul’s Church members bring a dish or two to share at the annual Thanksgiving celebration. Photo: Sarah M. Vasquez for Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Marfa, Texas] St. Paul’s Church’s community-wide Thanksgiving dinner began in the 1970s when Allison Scott’s family and another family, totaling 11 children and four adults, wanted to use St. Paul’s parish hall for a joint family dinner.

Once it was agreed to, Scott’s mother, Dorothy, suggested inviting widows from the community who might not otherwise have a place to go, and from there, Thanksgiving dinner grew and a St. Paul’s tradition emerged.

This year, on Nov. 28, more than 200 people – parishioners, locals, tourists, part-time residents and others – filed through the serving line at St. Paul’s in Marfa, a small West Texas town of 1,800 people. They dined together at tables in the parish hall and outside on pews moved to the lawn to handle the overflow.

For Chelsea Rios, a native of Marfa who grew up across the street from the church, the annual Thanksgiving dinner at St. Paul’s is a chance to reconnect to people in the community. It’s also something Rios, who’s a park ranger at the Fort Davis National Historic Site 22 miles north via Highway 17, promotes to out-of-towners looking for a place to share a meal. Such was the case with Houstonian Renee Harris, her husband and their three children, who met Rios the previous day while hiking in the Davis Mountains.

“We were going to wing it,” said Harris, as she waited for her family to gather in the parish hall.

The Harris family worships at a Roman Catholic church at home in Houston but joined with more than 80 others in St. Paul’s sanctuary for the 11 a.m. Eucharist that preceded dinner.

Gretel Enck, left, and her sister, Melody Crenshaw, prepare one of the dishes at Enck’s home for the Thanksgiving feast at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Photo: Sarah M. Vasquez for Episcopal News Service

As worshippers filled the pews, volunteers, including Gretel Enck who the day before cooked one of the dinner’s five turkeys, put on their aprons and took their places in the kitchen. By the end of the church service, these parishioners and community members were delivering a steady flow of ham, brisket, side dishes and desserts.

Dedie Taylor, one of the dinner’s lead organizers, and Enck worked in the kitchen, while Enck’s mother, Mary Drachler, played the organ. Drachler was visiting from Bainbridge, New York, where she’s a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

“I just think the whole thing is so special, and it gets me out of cooking,” said Drachler, who for the fourth time attended St. Paul’s Thanksgiving dinner, along with another daughter and a son-in-law who were also in town visiting Enck.

Dedie Taylor greets people waiting in line for the Thanksgiving meal. Taylor is one of the meal’s lead organizers. Photo: Sarah M. Vasquez for Episcopal News Service

Coordinating and sharing big dinners is something Taylor has been doing for a long time. Orphaned at 16, Taylor decided early on that she’d make her own Thanksgivings, Christmases and Easters. In fact, it was while prepping for a Thanksgiving dinner she was hosting for 30 people in her 984-square-foot apartment in Washington, D.C., that she first met her future husband, Lonn Taylor, who died earlier this year.

“I lived on the top floor and he lived on the fourth floor, and I was going down to 7-Eleven to get something last minute, cream or something, and he got on the elevator,” said Taylor.

She suspected he was new to the building and asked him if he had dinner plans, which he did, so she invited him to come by for dessert since her dinner was starting later than his.

He showed up for dessert, and after that, they shared dinner together “at least once a week for 18 months,” before dating formally and eventually marrying. They moved to Fort Davis, Texas, in 2002 and began attending St. Paul’s and volunteering on Thanksgiving.

In 2009, Lonn Taylor wrote a parish history dating back to the 1930s. In some early records, the town’s Methodists were referred to as the “Shouting Methodists” because of their enthusiasm for worship, the Baptists as the “Dunking Baptists” for their total-immersion baptisms, and the Episcopalians as, fittingly, the “Eating Episcopalians” because they hosted frequent “church suppers” and invited the community to dine for the cost of a dime.

The sign in front of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church invites everyone to the annual Thanksgiving feast. Photo: Sarah M. Vasquez for Episcopal News Service

Located on a high plateau in the Chihuahuan Desert 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, Marfa is a 200-mile drive from the nearest airport – El Paso or Midland – and 26 miles from the nearest hospital. In the early 1970s, artist Donald Judd began buying property in downtown Marfa and ranchland on the periphery. Judd later established the Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum named for the Chinati Mountain Range, putting Marfa on the map and earning it worldwide recognition in art circles and beyond.

The Rev. Mike Wallens, St. Paul’s vicar, rings the church bell before the Eucharist on Thanksgiving Day. Photo: Sarah M. Vasquez for Episcopal News Service

During his sermon before the meal, the Rev. Mike Wallens, St. Paul’s vicar, traced the complicated origins of Thanksgiving, beginning in 1621 up until President Abraham Lincoln declared it a federal holiday in November 1863, when the nation was in turmoil and in the middle of the Civil War.

“The country [was] literally falling apart” and Lincoln’s political career was in question, said Wallens, which he followed up by asking, “What was this man who apparently had little to be thankful for – what was he thinking?”

As the nation again finds itself in turmoil, citing disagreements over how to handle immigration, endless wars, self-serving leadership, “we are here to give thanks, and by giving thanks, we are reminded of how blessed we are,” said Wallens, who asked those present to reflect on what they’re thankful for.

Following the service, Shere Whitley, a member of St. Paul’s who moved to Marfa from Houston in the late 1990s, expressed gratitude for her two sons “who are healthy and happy” and live nearby.

St. Paul’s vicar, the Rev. Mike Wallens, far right, and his son, Josh Wallens, carry a pew outside to provide more seating for Thanksgiving dinner after the parish hall reached seating capacity. Photo: Sarah M. Vasquez for Episcopal News Service

Teenager Ella Wonsowski, who serves as an acolyte at St. Paul’s and lives in Alpine, 26 miles east along Highway 90, gave thanks for St. Paul’s congregation, saying, “The people are just really nice, and you don’t find a lot of people this caring.”

“I’m thankful for family, of course, but also those who keep the doors open, and Mike Wallens, who has brought St. Paul’s to the community,” said Scott, when asked what she was thankful for. Wallens, she said, is very involved, reading to elementary school children and attending city council meetings, for example. “To me, he has this way of, ‘here I am, I am God’s hands and feet, and I am here to serve you.’”

People gather in St. Paul’s parish hall for the Thanksgiving meal. Photo: Sarah M. Vasquez for Episcopal News Service

Marfa has one blinking red traffic light at the intersection of Highland and Highway 90. The majority of residents are Hispanic, plus a mix of artists and cattle ranchers, many of them descendants of the town’s settlers. There are nine churches, ranging from Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, United Methodist and a Spanish-language Baptist church to the nondenominational Faith Alive Cowboy Church, in addition to St. Paul’s, which attracts parishioners from Presidio, Jeff Davis and Brewster counties.

Chicago-born Wallens, who has served in urban parishes, is grateful to live in the Big Bend region, the name given to the area in West Texas north of the Rio Grande.

“I’m thankful for this place, for this whole area. I mean, the Big Bend, and this church in particular, and the people here, they’re just lovely and giving and kind, and I just love it,” he said. “And we don’t have traffic. … The big traffic jam is when there are five cars at the four-way stop.”

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

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Diocese of Alabama announces three candidates for bishop

Episcopal News Service - seg, 02/12/2019 - 18:43

[Diocese of Alabama] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama on Dec. 2 announced the slate of candidates for the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Alabama. Following a period of listening and discernment led by the Search Committee, the candidates selected are the Rev. Glenda Curry, the Rev. Evan D. Garner, and the Rev. Allison Sandlin Liles.

Curry is the rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Garner is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Liles is the priest-in-charge at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Hurst, Texas.

The candidates will participate in a walkabout for diocesan clergy and delegates on Jan. 4, 2020. The election will be held on Jan. 18 at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, and the bishop consecration will be on June 27.

In February 2019, the Rt. Rev. John McKee Sloan, bishop of the Diocese of Alabama, announced his intention to retire at the end of 2020. Sloan was elected bishop suffragran in 2008 and then was elected bishop diocesan in 2011.

To find more information on the candidates, including videos, essays and resumes, please visit the diocesan bishop search website at

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Integrity president resigns amid mounting criticism

Episcopal News Service - ter, 26/11/2019 - 19:52

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Gwen Fry resigned Nov. 25 as president of Integrity USA – the nonprofit organization dedicated to LGBTQ advocacy within The Episcopal Church – as the organization’s volunteer board faces members’ accusations of mismanagement and lack of transparency.

The Rev. Gwen Fry at the 2015 General Convention. Photo: Integrity via Facebook

Fry, in a letter posted on Integrity’s new website, cited “a great deal of change in my personal life,” including severe medical issues in her family and a cross-country move. Fry was elected to a three-year term in June 2018, but late that year she went on medical leave, which Integrity didn’t announce until July 2019. She did not return to her work as president until September 2019.

“As you can imagine, it has been a stressful time,” Fry wrote. “None of this was happening, or even a remote possibility, when my name was put forward for nomination to be elected president of Integrity USA. After prayerfully discerning where I am in life, I have decided that it is important to focus on my family, which is why I’m resigning as president of Integrity USA.”

In an interview with Episcopal News Service, Fry said her resignation had nothing to do with the criticism she and the board have faced in recent months.

“Family is the most important, and if I’m spending so much time focusing on that, it really wouldn’t be fair to the Integrity organization moving forward,” Fry said. “So it was a very difficult decision to make. But I have all the faith in the world in the current new board that’s in place, and I look forward to great things coming out of that.”

Fry’s term has been marked by a string of board resignations, most recently secretary Lindsey Harts on Oct. 20, and the board has filled all those vacancies with appointees who will serve until the next regular election in 2021, in accordance with Integrity’s bylaws. Fry’s departure leaves Kay Smith Riggle, vice president for local affairs, as the only remaining elected board member.

The process for electing a new president highlights some of the arguments over the interpretation and application of Integrity’s bylaws that have played out on its Facebook group. The bylaws specify that if the presidency becomes vacant, a new president is elected to serve until the next regular election by the Stakeholders’ Council, which is composed of provincial coordinators, past presidents, members of the board, representatives of organizations designated by the board as “allied organizations,” and the executive director, if there is one.

Under the bylaws, the Stakeholders’ Council “shall meet at least once each calendar year” and its members must elect a chair and a vice chair. However, neither of those has happened under the current administration. Instead, on Nov. 15, Fry announced on Facebook that the board had appointed Bruce Garner, a former two-term president, as “interim Stakeholders’ Council chairperson.” The validity of that appointment has been disputed by some Integrity members, who have pointed out that the bylaws do not allow the board to make an appointment to fill a vacancy in that position. That responsibility falls to the vice chair of the Stakeholders’ Council, which is vacant because those elections were never held.

In a post on Integrity’s website, Garner outlined the process for electing a new president of Integrity. The Stakeholders’ Council is accepting nominations through the end of this year; nominators and nominees must be Integrity members in good standing. A list of candidates will be released by Jan. 3, 2020, and Integrity will then host a videoconference town-hall meeting with the candidates. Ballots will be issued in late January, and the new president will take office Feb. 1.

The board is currently reaching out to the members of the Stakeholders’ Council, said the Rev. Frederick Clarkson, treasurer of Integrity.

Clarkson told ENS he is “sorry to see Gwen resign” but understands her decision, and he stressed the importance of showing respect in difficult circumstances. “Each person is made in the image of God and is of infinite value. We have a tendency to forget that, and we get caught up in distractions that will ultimately come to nothing.”

Reactions to Fry’s resignation among those associated with Integrity have been mixed. The Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton, a former board member, told ENS she wished “to congratulate Gwen for making the courageous decision to step down” but added that “the leadership of the remaining board does not enjoy the confidence of the majority of the members.”

The Rev. Susan Russell, a former president of Integrity, said the organization “has been struggling to find its voice in a new paradigm of advocacy for LGTBQ Episcopalians.”

“The institutional structure that served its work in the past is not designed to meet the challenges of either the present or the future. And so it’s time for new vision and new leadership,” Russell told ENS.

Fry told ENS that she and the volunteer board “did the best we could” in responding to members’ concerns.

“With me and anybody in a leadership position, they’re the lightning rod for the organization. So it stands to reason that those issues would be directed my way,” she said.

Despite the questions raised by members about how Integrity should – or even whether it can – continue, Fry said she believes it is still needed and must go on.

“Unless and until every parish in The Episcopal Church is open and affirming to the LGBTQIA community, there’s always work to do,” Fry said.

– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at

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Border Ministries Summit calls Christians serving migrants to common mission

Episcopal News Service - ter, 26/11/2019 - 15:24

A section of the border wall cuts a line between Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Tucson, Arizona] The steel border fence separating Nogales, Arizona, from Nogales, Mexico, follows a rolling hill, and depending on the slope, residents can sit on their porches and watch life unfold on either side.

It was the mayor of Nogales, Mexico, who in 1918 initiated a 6-foot wire fence separating the two cities, and countries, in a transborder “good fences make good neighbors” cooperative spirit.

A hundred years of history ensued, families living on either side crossing over: adults to work and shop, children to attend school. Up until a few years ago when the United States installed steel mesh between the slats, families would gather at tables set on either side and share meals, passing homemade foods through the fence.

Not anymore, though. A teenager’s death precipitated further separation.

A mural of 16-year-old José Rodríguez memorializes him in Nogales, Mexico. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

In October 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agent Lonnie Swartz fatally shot 16-year-old José Rodríguez through the fence, the Rev. Rodger Babnew said as he pointed to a single-story concrete building on the Mexico side that features a mural memorializing the teen.

Babnew, a deacon serving St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Nogales, Arizona, is also a co-convener of Cruzando Fronteras, a Diocese of Arizona border ministry that, along with ecumenical partners, provides shelter, food, medical care and other assistance to migrants and asylum-seekers on the Mexico side of the border.

On Nov. 21, opening day of the second annual Border Ministries Summit, Babnew and a caravan of Episcopalians and other Christians drove 70 miles along Interstate 19 from Tucson to Nogales to see the border wall firsthand. In all, 200 Christians from across the United States had gathered at Saint Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church in north Tucson’s Catalina foothills for the summit held Nov. 21-23.

Summit participants learned about the 1,954-mile U.S.-Mexico border and its history, the U.S. immigration system, the impact of U.S. foreign and trade policy on societies and economies in Mexico and Central America, and the various ministries carried out by dioceses and churches along the border.

Plans are underway for a third annual Border Ministries Summit to be held in San Diego, California, in 2020.

From Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego, California, Episcopalians are providing humanitarian aid to migrants and asylum-seekers and, where possible, support to law enforcement officers in their parishes and communities.

Historically, adult males made most of the attempts to cross the border, but in the last five or six years, families, women and unaccompanied minors – many fleeing violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala – have begun making the journey.

It’s not uncommon to see the border wall, which in most places is vertical steel slats, cutting a line through cities and small towns along the border. The border region extends 60 miles north of the wall into the United States where border agents make random stops at checkpoints along interstates and highways. Most migrants and asylum-seekers entering the United States make their way to destinations further beyond the border, reuniting with family and friends in other parts of the country.

From left, the Rev. David Chavez, Diocese of Arizona missioner for border ministries; Western Mexico Bishop Ricardo Gómez Osnaya; and El Salvador Bishop Juan David Alvarado walk along the border wall in Nogales, Arizona. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“We’re inviting folks to recognize that the migrant journey just doesn’t stop at the border; it continues as people step into our immigration process. We are called to continue to walk with, serve and be transformed by migrants as they journey through the process,” the Rev. David Chavez, Diocese of Arizona missioner for border ministries and a summit convener, said in a conversation with Episcopal News Service.

“I think the message is clear that the notion of ‘border’ is really fluid in this sense that a border is a horizon that we encounter whenever we encounter the other,” Chavez said. “It calls on us to find ways to go beyond our small communities, our zones of comfort, and maybe begin to bridge-build into communities of people who are radically different from us, and who may actually share the same mission that we share: to reach out, to be present, to walk with and to serve the stranger in our midst.”

Anglican and Episcopal bishops gathered at the conference issued a statement at the summit’s end recognizing the Americas’ shared history and the human desire for a safe, violence-free, economically viable life.

“We … acknowledge that North and Central America have a long history which we share, before the current nations existed. We have been bound together by shared cultures, languages and economies. We are in this situation together and we have been for centuries,” the statement read.

“To the migrants we want to say we gathered here with you in our hearts. We see you, we hear you, and we wish to stand with you in our common search for security, dignity, justice, and community.

“We also acknowledge that we are all seeking safety from violence and a peaceful way of life for our families. We stand against all criminal activity, the drugs which addict and enslave people, and those who would prey upon others through sex trafficking, kidnapping, and other forms of oppression.”

Arizona Bishop Jennifer Reddall welcomes 200 Episcopalians and ecumenical partners to the second annual Border Ministries Summit at St. Philip’s in the Hills in Tucson, Arizona. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

The bishops representing the dioceses of Texas, Arizona, Rio Grande, Los Angeles and San Diego, recognizing the diversity of political ideologies among Episcopalians, stressed that Matthew 25 calls Christians to welcome the stranger.

The first border summit took place in November 2018 in El Paso, Texas, at a time when migrant caravans from Central America arrived regularly at the U.S.-Mexico border in what became an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

Earlier this year, detention centers at the U.S. border were over capacity as a steady stream of migrants, many of them from Central America, but some from as far away as China, India, Eritrea and Angola, plus others fleeing Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil, continued to arrive. In April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection detained 109,144 migrants, the highest number since 2007, at the southwestern border.

During a border summit session on Nov. 22, U.S. Border Patrol Tucson Sector Chief Roy Villareal, who joined the Tucson sector last March, acknowledged that the federal agency didn’t have the capacity in its detention centers and was not equipped to handle the humanitarian crisis at the border.

In Arizona, Sarah Eary, who coordinates the asylum program for Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, has been trying to get chaplains placed in migrant detention centers.

“We want chaplains in all of them because we believe that the chaplaincy is there to provide the spiritual and emotional care that migrants need. … Our presence will not only care for the migrants, but will inhibit bad behavior from happening,” Eary told ENS.

The U.S. Border Patrol Tucson Sector covers 262 miles of border, which is patrolled by 3,900 agents. On Nov. 22, Homeland Security announced it would expand the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols program to the Tucson sector. The MPP, commonly called “Remain in Mexico,” requires asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico, some in shelters, some on the streets, while U.S. officials process their cases.

The effects of the Remain in Mexico program are visible in cities along the border. For instance, across the downtown bridge connecting Brownsville, Texas, to Matamoros, Mexico, the tent city that housed 20 or so families in May has grown to more than 200 tents, said Tatiana Hoecker, who volunteers with migrants in the Diocese of West Texas.

President Donald Trump campaigned on anti-immigrant rhetoric and, since taking office, has banned immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, gutted the federal refugee resettlement program, implemented policies separating families at the southern border, cut aid to Central America and imposed the Remain in Mexico restrictions.

“The Trump administration’s policies are focused not only on curbing undocumented immigration, but also on substantially reducing legal immigration. From increasing bureaucracy, sending asylum-seekers back to Mexico and attempting to expand the ‘public charge’ provision, this administration’s aim is clear: They want fewer foreigners living in the United States, regardless of their immigration status,” said Rushad Thomas, policy adviser in the church’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations.

“The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations works every day to fulfill our mandate from General Convention, to advocate for a more just and humane immigration system,” wrote Thomas in an email to ENS. “That includes standing up for the rights of asylum-seekers at the southern border. In collaboration with our partners in the immigration advocacy community, we have actively pushed back against the Migrant Protection Protocols (Remain in Mexico Policy). This policy has been detrimental to the safety of asylum-seekers. MPP flouts America’s moral obligation to provide a safe haven for individuals fleeing violence and persecution in their homelands.

“OGR has also called upon lawmakers to provide humanitarian resources and real protection to our suffering sisters and brothers at the border,” he said.

The Rev. Rodger Babnew, a deacon serving St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Nogales, Arizona, and a co-convener of Cruzando Fronteras, a Diocese of Arizona border ministry, led summit attendees on a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Thirty-one percent of Arizona’s 7 million residents identify as Hispanic. Arizona was part of Mexico until 1848 and was the last territory in the lower 48 states admitted as a state in 1912, and it has 22 federally recognized Native American tribes.

Connecting to one’s own story of migration and immigration can lead to compassion for others making the journey today, said Arizona Bishop Jennifer Reddall in a sermon preached during the summit’s Nov. 22 evening Eucharist.

Reddall shared that, in the 1880s during the time of the German unification wars, one of her “great-great-great-great-great grandparents” sent their two boys, ages 12 and 14, to the United States from Germany.

“I can’t imagine how much fear they must have had to set those two boys alone on a boat to a place they’d never been. They didn’t even go to family. They went to Chicago; they got with friends,” said Reddall. “Our family doesn’t think they were literate because there are no letters, no letters back and forth. And I wonder if that mother put those boys on that boat and never heard another word.”

“I wonder if she lived with that doubt and that fear for her entire life. Think of so many mothers, so many fathers today who are having exactly the same conversation, exactly the same fear as my family did 140 years ago, and are making that same choice, that however bad that journey might be, however frightening the journey might be and however many perils may be on that journey, staying is worse,” she said.

On Nov. 22, during the morning session, bishops and clergy serving in El Salvador and Mexico outlined the dangers their citizens face: the high rates of violence, death, femicide, gangs and cartels controlling territories and the governments’ failure to protect citizens.

It’s critical that churches in the United States and churches in Central America and Mexico make connections and work together, said Western Mexico Bishop Ricardo Gómez Osnaya, during a presentation describing the violence in Mexico and shifting migration routes.

“The church cannot give up its prophetic voice. … The church needs to be a change agent in this type of work,” said Gómez in Spanish as interpreted in English. “This type of work can be lonely.”

Gómez attended last year’s summit along with 60 other people. The threefold increase in attendance this time indicates the level of interest people have in learning about the issues and partnering, he said.

“The more we understand, the more we can respond. But we can’t forget we are the church, and we must care for each other,” Gómez said.

Twenty of the Diocese of Arizona’s churches, including Grace St. Paul’s in Tucson, which is involved in the sanctuary movement, have ministries serving migrants. Back in Nogales, Cruzando Fronteras has the capacity to serve 200 asylum-seekers in two shelters. It also offers opportunities for people to visit the border, which Anthony Suggs, the Diocese of Colorado’s missioner for advocacy and social justice did in early November when he spent six days alongside Babnew experiencing the border from different angles.

“We were able to cross the border three times to spend time with the families staying at El Torres, one of Cruzando Fronteras’ shelters, hearing their stories and learning from their experiences. One resident, Eduardo, said over and over again, ‘I only need one chance. I only need one chance to make sure my family has la buena vida (the good life),’” said Suggs.

During his visit to Nogales, Suggs heard from border patrol agents who expressed opposition to expanding the border wall, and they asserted that it’s Congress’s job to fix the broken immigration system, not theirs, he said.

“We also had the opportunity to hike through the desert with the [Tucson] Samaritans, placing water along known migrant trails. All along the way, we saw sun-bleached scraps of clothing, remnants of the many journeys that had taken place there,” he told ENS. “Finally, we bore witness to a streamlined hearing at the federal courthouse in Tucson where, in a mere 90 minutes, 75 people were found guilty of illegally crossing the border and sentenced to deportation. A little less than one person a minute.”

His experience in Nogales and his attendance at the border ministries summit allowed him not only to learn, but to make connections with others engaged in serving migrants, asylum-seekers and immigrants across the church.

“Learning from bishops south and north of the border, a clear message emerged: We must act together, and we must act now,” Suggs said. “I have family members and loved ones who have been or are at risk for deportation. I’m not interested in waiting around while their lives in this country are at risk.”

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

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Primates of British Anglican churches call for ‘truth and respect’ in run-up to general election

Episcopal News Service - seg, 25/11/2019 - 14:54

Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson (left) is seeking to retain his position as prime minister over a challenge by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (right) and others. Photo: Alban Geller/U.K. Government Cabinet Office and Chris McAndrew/U.K. Parliament

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican leaders in England, Scotland and Wales have issued appeals to voters and politicians during the campaign leading up to the U.K.’s general election on Dec. 12. In a pastoral letter to churches this week, the archbishops of Canterbury and York encouraged people to “stand up for truth and challenge falsehoods.” They said: “We call on all standing for election to reject the language of prejudice and not to stoke stigma or hatred towards people on the grounds of their religion, culture, origin, identity or belief.”

The Primate of the Church in Wales, Archbishop John Davies, also issued a statement saying Wales faces many needs and challenges and calling for politicians to give proper time, attention and debate to improving the lives of people suffering increasing despair.

Read the full article here.

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Pakistan bishop continues to fight government takeover of Anglican college

Episcopal News Service - seg, 25/11/2019 - 14:46

[Anglican Communion News Service] A battle over control of an Anglican college in Pakistan is continuing this month after new legal moves by the Pakistan government to implement its nationalization of schools and colleges. The Primate of the united Church of Pakistan and Bishop of Peshawar, Humphrey Peters, said recent court action by the governor of Peshawar over Edwardes College last month had set aside previous rulings maintaining its independence and diocesan control.

The bishop said: “Our provincial government going into the court against the High Court’s order of 2016 is a clear indication that it does not want to see the church control over the college. The government’s initiation of going into the Court against the decision in favor of the Pakistani Church is also a violation of Pakistan’s Constitution.”

Read the full article here.

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Anglican network calls for Communion-wide support for indigenous people’s rights

Episcopal News Service - seg, 25/11/2019 - 14:42

Members of the Anglican Indigenous Network gather after a Eucharist at Epiphany Church in Kaimuki, Hawaii. Photo: Bruce Hanohano/Diocese of Hawaii

[Anglican Communion News Service] A gathering of the Anglican Indigenous Network (AIN) in Hawaii has led to a call for a greater voice for indigenous Anglicans in the work of the Anglican Consultative Council and its partner organisations.

Representatives from 10 Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa (Maori dioceses in New Zealand) joined with Anglicans from Australia, the U.S. and Canada for a week-long program at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Kaimuki, which was chaired by Bishop of Tai Tokerau Te Kitohi Pikaahu.

Read the full article here.

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Missouri elects Deon K. Johnson as 11th bishop

Episcopal News Service - seg, 25/11/2019 - 08:05

[Episcopal Diocese of Missouri] The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri elected the Rev. Deon K. Johnson as its 11th diocesan bishop Nov. 23 at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis. He was elected on the first ballot during an election that involved 164 voting delegates. He received 71 votes from lay delegates and 42 votes from clergy.

A veteran Episcopal priest with deep experience in social justice issues and ministry to gay and lesbian communities, Johnson, who lives in Michigan with his husband and two children, has been rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brighton, MI, since 2006.

Johnson was elected to lead a community of more than 10,000 worshipers in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. Church delegates and clergy members chose their 11th bishop on during the 180th diocesan convention.

“I am overwhelmed with joy, humility, and gratitude,” said Bishop-elect Johnson from his home in Michigan to the people of the Diocese of Missouri. “The Holy Spirit has brought us to this day, for such a time as this. I am looking forward to walking with you as we share the liberating love of Jesus. My husband and our family are looking forward to being with you in the new year.”

Johnson will assume the post upon the retirement of the 10th bishop of Missouri, the Right Rev. George Wayne Smith, who has shepherded the diocese since 2002. Smith announced his retirement, effective with the ordination of the new bishop, in April 2018. Johnson was elected by a majority of both lay and ordained delegates to the annual diocesan convention, according to the rules of the convention.

The Rev. Dawn-Victoria Mitchell, president of the standing committee, expressed her joy at the election results. “It’s a very, very exciting day for the diocese. We’ve only had 10 bishops in our 178-year history. And to have this done on the first ballot was really exceptional.”

A veteran Episcopal priest with deep experience in social justice issues and ministry to gay and lesbian communities, Johnson is a native of Barbados who immigrated to the United States at age 14 and found his call to ministry nurtured by parishioners at a church near Case Western University in Cleveland, where he earned his undergraduate degree.

Others on the ballot for the election were the Rev. Stacey Fussell, rector at Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Bradford, PA; and the Rev. George D. Smith, rector at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Glen Ellyn, IL.

The historic election will be submitted to bishops and diocesan standing committees for their ratification. Once those consents are received, the service of ordination, by which Johnson becomes a bishop and assumes responsibility for the pastoral and administrative work of the diocese, will take place on Saturday, April 25, at St. Stanislaus Polish Catholic Church in St. Louis. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will be the chief consecrator at the service. A reception will follow at the Polish Heritage Center on St. Stanislaus’ grounds. Media are welcome.

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Slate of candidates for 10th bishop of Episcopal Church in Minnesota announced

Episcopal News Service - sex, 22/11/2019 - 16:17

[Episcopal Church in Minnesota] The Standing Committee announces the slate of candidates who will appear on the ballot for the tenth bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota on January 25, 2020.

The candidates are (alphabetical order):

  • The Rev. Abbott Bailey, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of California.
  • The Very Rev. Craig Loya, dean, Trinity Cathedral, Omaha, Diocese of Nebraska.

On Nov. 9, members of the Search Committee presented these candidates to the Standing Committee. In a closed session, the Standing Committee further discerned and voted on each candidate, unanimously approving each of the candidates listed above.

The Rev. Deborah Brown, president of the Standing Committee, said in a statement released on Friday, “We believe their manner of life, experiences, gifts and sense of call to this sacred responsibility are well-suited to the bold and creative call expressed in the ECMN profile.”

The Rev. Susan Moss, chair of the Search Committee, put it this way: “Over the past 10 months, with great care, the Search Committee reviewed many qualified applicants in a rigorous and Spirit-led discernment process. These two candidates soared to the top. It is with great confidence and excitement that we present Canon Bailey and Dean Loya.”

Nov. 22 marks the opening of a petition period, with any petitions due by Dec. 2, 2019, at 5 p.m. CST. A final slate, including any approved petition candidates, will be published by Jan. 6.

A special electing convention is scheduled for Jan. 25. A service of ordination and consecration is expected to take place on June 6 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The full announcement can be found on the Bishop Search website.

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Settlement agreement closes Barbara Harris Center embezzlement case

Episcopal News Service - qui, 21/11/2019 - 17:50

[Diocese of Massachusetts] The Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center in Greenfield, New Hampshire, will receive a little over $300,000 under an Oct. 30 settlement agreement, bringing to a close the embezzlement case involving the center’s former bookkeeper, Beverly Morello, which has been in progress for nearly two years.

The settlement money is to be paid over an eight-year period at five percent interest.

The settlement is in addition to the restitution that the Hillsborough County Superior Court ordered in May, in the amount of $650,000, along with a one-year jail sentence for Morello and eight years of probation.

While the settlement does not restore the full amount stolen from the center over a period of approximately seven years, the Executive Committee of the center’s Board of Directors, its legal counsel and the Charitable Division of the New Hampshire Office of the Attorney General believe it to be the best possible and most realistic outcome.

“We believe that we have done our best possible diligence toward recovery of funds, and we are confident that, with this settlement agreement in place, the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center can now move forward and flourish in its ministry of hospitality, recreation, spiritual refreshment and Christian formation, which touches and transforms lives throughout our New England Episcopal Church and beyond,” the president of the center’s Board of Directors, the Rev. Natasha Stewart, said.

Questions arose in late October 2017 about some bookkeeping irregularities at the center. An internal investigation led to the discovery of the embezzlement of funds.  The Board of Directors, through its president and Executive Committee, responded immediately to secure all accounts and to report the situation to the appropriate authorities.

“I want to emphasize to all who participate in and support the Barbara C. Harris Center’s ministry, and all who continue to be served by it, that the Board has been working over these many months with the staff to review procedures and to make sure that appropriately stringent financial controls are being implemented,” Stewart said.

The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, has expressed his confidence in the process which has led to the settlement. “I am grateful to our Board members for their diligence, to the professional counsel that has supported them and for all the prayerful support we’ve had along the way,” Gates said. “We emerge from this very challenging situation more committed than ever to the mission of the Barbara C. Harris Center, and all those whose lives are transformed in that remarkable place.”

The Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

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Mississippi churches continue support for families impacted by ICE raids

Episcopal News Service - qui, 21/11/2019 - 14:57

Federal authorities conduct a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement work site enforcement operation in Canton, Mississippi, on Aug. 7. Photo: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

[Episcopal News Service] Almost four months after 680 people were arrested in the United States’ largest immigration raid in at least a decade, churches in central Mississippi are still caring for families who were separated when their loved ones were detained.

In the aftermath of the Aug. 7 Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, Mississippi Bishop Brian Seage joined other religious leaders in condemning the tactics of ICE and the Trump administration, saying the raids caused “unacceptable suffering” to families with children in particular.

The raids took place at seven chicken processing plants in towns around Jackson – the state capital – such as Morton, where about 10 percent of the town was detained or fired as a result. According to the Associated Press, six of those seven plants were “willfully and unlawfully” employing undocumented workers, and managers at two of the plants were actively involved in fraud.

Months later, some of those who were arrested in the raids are still detained, some may have been deported and many are in limbo, unable to work as they await court dates, according to the Rev. Cathy Halford, a deacon at St. Columb’s Episcopal Church in Ridgeland, near some of the towns that experienced raids.

“Families have lost not only family members – detention or possibly deported – but paychecks,” Halford told Episcopal News Service. “This situation is going to be long term. As you probably know, court dates may be six to 12 months in the future.”

In response, Episcopalians are partnering with other denominations to support those families. Five churches – including two Episcopal parishes – have led a sustained effort to help the affected families, Halford said.

Initially, legal assistance was the resource they needed most. But now, with wage-earning parents either detained or unable to work, many of those families simply need food to put on the table. In Canton, one of the towns targeted by the raids, those families can go to a centralized pantry at Sacred Heart Catholic Church that is stocked with contributions of food, diapers and other supplies from area congregations.

“The effort has been very ecumenical, and I think that’s a good thing,” said the Rev. Beth Foose, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Canton. It helped that there was a preexisting relationship between the Episcopal and Catholic churches. Grace had held Good Friday services and Stations of the Cross together with Sacred Heart, which helped solidify its relationship with the Latino community. And Foose herself has been teaching English as a second language classes for almost six years.

Other churches have launched their own efforts, like the Morton United Methodist Church, which has collected over $100,000 to pay bills for people affected by the raid, NPR reported, and a Presbyterian church is collecting Christmas presents for the children.

Foose told ENS she has been collecting and distributing phone cards for detainees so they can talk to their families.

“We’ve also helped with transportation, getting family to appointments with lawyers and things like that,” Foose said.

Halford told ENS she worries about the conditions the detainees are being held in. “This just makes me sick to think about. We have two private prisons in Mississippi and one was about to close. In fact, it did close because the conditions were so deplorable. And guess what? That’s where ICE sent a lot of the detainees.”

Foose acknowledged how difficult the situation is for everyone and stressed that the ICE agents themselves should not be demonized.

“I’ve had quite a few interactions with ICE for various reasons. And I just want to say that to a person, they have been helpful and kind. The inclination sometimes is to want to make them the bad guys, and they’re not. This is a systemic problem, and they are really trying to feed their families,” Foose said.

Halford and Foose said the initial outpouring of support and donations was very helpful, but it could be a challenge to maintain the level of support they’re currently providing. Halford is putting together a grant proposal that could help keep the effort going.

“Something like this comes up and people say, ‘Oh, how can we help?’ And then something else happens, and they move on to something else,” Halford said. “And that’s just the way it is.”

– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at

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Chaplains navigate Canada’s ‘medical assistance in dying’ laws

Episcopal News Service - qui, 21/11/2019 - 13:37

[Anglican Journal] The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2015 that parts of the country’s Criminal Code that prohibited medically assisted deaths were in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Since June 2016, medical assistance in dying (MAiD) has been legal in Canada for adults over the age of 18 with a “grievous and irremediable medical condition.” The government of Canada reported in April 2019 that at least 6,749 Canadians had accessed MAiD since the legislation was enacted, with MAiD deaths accounting for around 1 percent of deaths in Canada during each of the government’s reporting time frames.

Like doctors, nurses and other front-line health care workers, hospital chaplains and spiritual care providers see the system up close — with all its flaws, oversights and messy details, as well as its beauty and hope. Chaplains may be there from the first time a patient considers MAiD to when the family has been led from the room after the procedure.

As MAiD becomes an ever more available option, for many spiritual care practitioners it has become an important and sometimes difficult aspect of ministry.

Read the full article here.

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Georgia bishop commits 3 percent of the diocese’s endowment to racial reconciliation, healing

Episcopal News Service - ter, 19/11/2019 - 18:51

[Diocese of Georgia] In his final address as bishop to the 198th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, the Rt. Rev. Scott Anson Benhase, 10th bishop of Georgia, announced Nov. 15 he is committing 3% of the diocese’s unrestricted endowment to help form the St. Anna Alexander Center for Racial Reconciliation & Healing.

Benhase noted that Virginia Theological Seminary recently committed approximately 1% of its endowment toward racial reparations. Also recently, the Diocese of New York committed 2.5% of its endowment to that goal. In addition, Benhase urged all congregations in the Diocese of Georgia who have endowments to commit their own 3% toward racial reconciliation and healing.

“As I wrote to the diocese last week, every person’s life is an unspoken sermon that is constantly preaching to others. That is true not just of individuals. It is also true for the church as a whole and for a diocese in particular. What we do as a diocese speaks volumes,” said Benhase. “What we are beginning is not reparations. No amount of money can do that. What we are doing is committing significant resources to the long, slow work of racial reconciliation and healing.”

The Diocese of Georgia has formed a Resource Team for Racial Reconciliation and Healing to work through the new St. Anna Alexander Center. Referencing the text for his address: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” – Matthew 9:37,  Benhase said: “Our team leaders are ready and equipped for a very Jesus-like harvest of racial reconciliation and healing.”

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