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Savannah honors Episcopal mayor who led desegregation effort

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 5:04pm

Bishop Scott Benhase poses near the 32nd marker on the state’s Civil Rights Trail with the Rev. Michael White, left, rector of Christ Church and Stephen Williams, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Savannah. Photo: Anna Iredale

[Episcopal Diocese of Georgia] The summer of 1963 was a hot one in Savannah and in the words of one observer, the city could have exploded. Instead, a coalition of the city’s leaders was able to accomplish a peaceful desegregation of Savannah before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Georgia Historical Society recently ecognized one of those leaders, the late Malcolm Maclean, mayor of Savannah from 1960-66 and lifelong Episcopalian, with the dedication of the 32nd marker on the state’s Civil Rights Trail.

Otis Johnson, the mayor of Savannah from 2004-2012, provided an historical context, saying that “In 1963, during a hot summer, the city could have exploded: the first 19 African Americans went to Savannah High School and there were two-a-day demonstrations downtown. Maclean, along with W.W. Law, Eugene Gadsden, Curtis Cooper… the bishop of the Catholic Diocese [the Rev. Thomas J. McDonough] and the Episcopal diocese [the Rev. Albert Stuart], worked to calm things down.”

In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. declared Savannah the most desegregated city south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The marker honors Malcolm Maclean, the mayor of Savannah from 1960-66 and lifelong Episcopalian who help to achieve the largely peaceful desegregation of Savannah. Photo: Anna Iredale

Johnson also quoted King as saying: “Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice. Mayor Malcolm Maclean was a good man who fought to bring a real order of justice to Savannah during a turbulent time in the 60s. I am proud to have known him.”

Current Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach,remembered Maclean as a man who “stood when others did not.”

“Savannah is a better place than it otherwise would be because of Mr. Maclean’s witness,” said Georgia Bishop Scott Benhase. “His commitment to doing what was right, regardless of the political costs, makes him an example to all who hold elective office in our country today. His Christian faith shaped his politics without him needing to trumpet it. His faith was simply who he was.”

Maclean was a lifelong member of Christ Church in  Savannah where his wife Frances still attends services. The marker can be found at the Atlantic Mall, 45th and Atlantic Avenues.

— Anna Iredale is the director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

Freda Marie Brown resigns as executive director of Texas diocese’s St. Vincent’s House

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 3:29pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Texas] Bishop Andy Doyle has announced that he’s received and accepted the resignation of the Rev. Freda Marie Brown, executive director of St. Vincent’s House, a social service agency of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas in Galveston. Her last day will be Dec. 31, 2017.

“Since 2014, Brown has achieved much in a short amount of time, devoting herself to hope and healing, with a mission to the least, the last and the left out in Galveston County. The board of directors of St. Vincent’s House give thanks for Freda Marie’s ministry as she goes on to pursue other opportunities in ordained ministry,” said the Rt. Rev. Jeff W.Fisher, board chair.

Born and raised in the Mississippi Delta, Brown grew up during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s; giving her a unique experience of the under-served and working poor. This led to her passion of helping those who are often times ignored.

“I believe I have accomplished all that was assigned to do when I was called by God in 2014,” Brown said, adding, “It has been a great honor and privilege to see the amazing positive changes that have occurred since that fateful time and I celebrate the grace that has been bestowed upon my ministry in this place.”

Brown’s ministry involved fostering the health and education for all of God’s children who come needing hope and a caring hand.

SVH offers low-cost childcare and pre-school programs, a free clinic, emergency assistance and referrals, a food pantry and many other community outreach programs for the working poor of Galveston.

Closed Episcopal church finds new life as center for farm workers on New York’s Long Island

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:19pm

Members of the Center of Alliance, Solidarity and Accompaniment, or CASA, gather outside Grace Episcopal Church in Riverhead, New York, for a recent celebration of CASA’s use of the church as ministry center through a partnership between the Diocese of Long Island and Rural & Migrant Ministry. Photo: The Rev. Gerardo Romo Garcia

[Episcopal News Service] Grace Episcopal Church in Riverhead, New York, had been a parish in decline for decades, according to its last priest-in-charge, the Rev. Mary Garde. Its deep roots on the East End of Long Island, dating to the mid-19th century, weren’t enough to stem the gradual erosion in membership that ended early this year in the church’s closure.

Garde called it “the usual story when you have an aging congregation,” but the church’s closing also has paved the way for its rebirth as a center for the region’s farm laborers, a big step forward in the ongoing support they have received from the Diocese of Long Island.

The diocese has long partnered with Rural & Migrant Ministry, a nonprofit agency that works around New York State to give voice to the concerns of farm laborers, many of them Latinos. The agency and the diocese now are working with other faith-based partners, including the Presbytery of Long Island, to develop the Center of Alliance, Solidarity and Accompaniment, or CASA, at Grace Episcopal Church.

The church already has become a regular meeting place for a “consejo,” or council, of farm workers who are helping to develop plans for the diocesan property in Riverhead, which includes the church, a rectory and a parish hall. Leadership counseling, vocational training and English-as-a-second-language classes are among the possible future uses.

“There are so many possibilities,” said the Rev. Gerardo Romo Garcia, who leads the diocese’s Latino outreach on Long Island’s East End. He emphasized that by reaching out to the community of laborers, church leaders hope to “empower the workers and teach them how to empower themselves.”

Garde, who retired and moved to Kansas after Grace Episcopal closed, said she was pleased the church is being put to new use.

“It’s a wonderful program, and I think it will do good things for the community,” she said, and she was pleased that the church would be put to ministry use rather than sitting vacant or being sold.

Rural & Migrant Ministry, founded by the Diocese of New York in the early 1980s, is based in Poughkeepsie. In recent years, it has assigned a staff member to Long Island in office space provided by the Diocese of Long Island in its Garden City headquarters, and the addition of a mission center follows the model of two centers the agency already operates in Upstate New York.

“It became clear that it would be really beneficial to have a center at the end of Long Island that could be an education center for nurturing leaders,” said the Rev. Richard Witt, Rural & Migrant Ministry’s executive director and an Episcopal priest.

About a year ago, as the agency was looking for a location for a new center, it had become clear the congregation at Grace Episcopal was not sustainable, said Mary Beth Welsh, executive director of Episcopal Ministries of Long Island, which provides fundraising and ministry-building support to the diocese and its congregations. But the property still was “a great space for us to serve and engage the communities of the East End of the island.”

While a school and day care continued to operate on the Grace Episcopal Church grounds, the diocese decided to turn the other church facilities into a ministry center, including for use by Rural & Migrant Ministry and the people it serves.

The focus on outreach to immigrant laborers on the East End is part of Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano’s effort to bring the church to a community that had been mostly overlooked by the diocese in the past.

“It’s very clear that this is where our focus needs to be,” Provenzano told Episcopal News Service. “This is our call to minister to this group of people who have been in our midst as an almost invisible population.”

The Diocese of Long Island is anchored on the west by the densely populated New York City boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, while to the east, the suburban counties of Nassau and Suffolk are nearly as populous and also home to 659 farms covering about 39,000 acres of farmland, according to a 2015 report by the Office of the State Comptroller. Suffolk, with Riverhead as its county seat, is the fourth largest county by population and ranks third in the state in overall agricultural sales.

Rural & Migrant Ministries was created to improve conditions for farm workers like those serving the agriculture industry in Suffolk County. They often work long hours without overtime or paid days off.

Last year, Rural & Migrant Ministries led a March for Farmworker Justice from Suffolk County to the state capital, Albany, to advocate for farm laborers’ rights. Members of the newly formed CASA council hope their voices will be heard even louder now that they have a permanent gathering place in Riverhead.

“We were looking for a place where we could form a community, not based on religion, but a place where people’s voices can be heard, where we can get educated, learn about our rights and responsibilities and to find our identities as rural workers living on the East End,” Ananias Canel, a CASA member, told Riverhead Local.

Episcopal Ministries of Long Island is coordinating the partnership at the new center in Riverhead. The agency, is serving as a leadership resource to the CASA members as they chart a path forward.

“The Diocese of Long Island has really thrown themselves into this,” Witt said. The people his agency serves “are used to being told they don’t belong somewhere, and so here’s a place where not only are they told they belong but they’re being invited to help run it.”

That mission aligns with the Episcopal Church’s outreach to people who live on the margins of society. Immigrants who work on the farms of Long Island often get overlooked, Episcopal Ministries’ Welsh said.

“As a church, we should be standing with the folks who have been sort of pushed aside,” she said.

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

Churches challenged to ‘rehabilitate and refresh’ how they explain the Gospel

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:16pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The new Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, has said churches are “not always seen for the good which we do, or for the just causes which we support or further, or for the justice and truth for which we call.” He called on churches to “rehabilitate and refresh” how they explain the Gospel message, particularly to young people who, he said, would high-five the prophet Job and queue for selfies with Jesus – if they properly understood Christianity. Davies made the comments as he was enthroned as the 13th archbishop of Wales during a service in Brecon Cathedral on Dec. 2.

Read the full article here.

Paper-based social-media campaign links Anglicans against gender-based violence

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service]  Anglicans around the world are marking the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in a simple social media campaign – that is based on paper. They are taking photos holding a poster with a simple pledge: “because we are precious in God’s eyes, I will not keep silent on sexual & gender-based violence.” The photos are being uploaded to Facebook and Twitter. They are being shared by a dedicated Twitter account: @AnglicansEndGBV.

Read the full article here.

New prior announced as Community of St Anselm opens applications for 2018

Mon, 12/04/2017 - 12:06pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The monastic community for young people based at Lambeth Palace, the office and official residence in London of the archbishop of Canterbury, has a new prior. The Community of St Anselm invites young Christians, aged 20-35 from around the world, to spend one year “in a radical Jesus-centred community of prayer, study and serving local communities.” It has just opened applications for next year’s intake. The Rev. Rosalyn Murphy, currently vicar of St Thomas’ Church in Blackpool, a resort town in the north-west of England, will take up the role of prior from April next year.

Read the full article here.

2017 Advent Devotional from the Diocese of Virginia and Forma

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 3:24pm

[Episopal Diocese of Virginia] The Diocese of Virginia and Forma have partnered to offer a simple Advent devotional for households. There is a brief overview of the scriptural themes for each week, ideas to try in the home to deepen the experience of Advent, and some short prayers and rituals to make the Advent experience complete.

Download or print the 2017 Advent Devotional: 

Anglican Communion secretary general ‘excited’ by his new peace role in Nigeria

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 1:46pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has spoken of his excitement at being appointed to lead a peace commission in the northern Nigeria state of Kaduna. The state, where dowu-Fearon previously served as bishop, has been wracked by violence between rival groups for decades.

He insisted that he would be able to fulfil his new role alongside his responsibilities with the Anglican Communion. And he added that he had the backing of the archbishop of Canterbury and also his successor as bishop in Kaduna in his new position.

Read the full article here.

Mexican churches work with United Nations to implement Sustainable Development Goals

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 1:43pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Churches in Mexico have met members of the United Nations Development Program to discuss the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 goals were agreed by the UN in September 2015 and welcomed by church leaders around the world. They are a follow-on to the Millennium Development Goals which were introduced in 1999.  This week, members of La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico (IAM) – the Anglican Church of Mexico – together with Christians from other denominations and ecumenical groups, met to discuss their role in implementing the SDGs.

Read the full article here.

Advent on Instagram: see the Anglican world celebrate and join in!

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 1:38pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Communion News Service is launching a new feature on social media – and giving Anglicans around the world the chance to share their experience of Advent and Christmas.

The new Instagram feed will begin life on Sunday, Dec. 3. It will carry images and videos of how Anglicans are marking these seasons. ACNS is hopping to show how different traditions within the Communion celebrate – so why not take some photos or do some filming and send us the material?

The feed can be followed here @anglicannews. Readers can send photos and videos showing how theiur church, parish or diocese is celebrating Advent and Christmas.

Email news@aco.org with INSTAGRAM in the subject heading. In the New Year, ACNS will continue to use its Instagram account to mark other seasons and events in the Church calendar.

Not on Instagram?

Social media can feel a bit daunting. But Instagram is very straightforward. It is all about sharing images and videos via desktop, laptop or smartphone. Participants need to download the app for their cell phones, or visit instagram.com if they are using their desktop or laptop.

For more information, visit help.instagram.com.

Le Magazine Anglican : Lafayette nous voici !

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 7:07am

Pour écouter l’émission cliquer sur : http://frequenceprotestante.com/emission/magazine-anglican

116 500 américains ont été tués lors de la Première Guerre Mondiale. À la Cathédrale américaine de Paris, avenue George V,  a été inauguré dès 1923, un mur mémorial sur lequel sont apposées des plaques commémoratives.

Ces plaques portent les insignes des différentes unités militaires qui ont servi en Europe de 1917 à 1918 avec les pertes pour chaque unité. Mais on peut aussi y voir des plaques aux noms d’unités civiles volontaires dont certaines sont venues en aide à la France dès 1914.

C’est l’histoire de ces unités que relate dans le Magazine Anglican, Ellen Hampton, historienne et écrivaine, membre de la Cathédrale.

À l’appel des gouverneurs de l’hôpital américain de Paris (situé à Neuilly), un corps d’étudiants américains de l’École des Beaux-Arts a transformé un lycée en hôpital. À l’issue de cette transformation, réalisée en trois semaines, l’hôpital pouvait, dès septembre 1914, offrir 175 lits aux blessés de la bataille de la Marne.

En janvier 1915 est arrivée la première équipe médicale des États-Unis, en provenance de l’hôpital de Cleveland. Suivront d’autres équipes et d’éminents praticiens dont George Crile, Harvey Cushing et Mary Merritt Crawford, l’une des premières femmes chirurgiens de l’hôpital de Brooklyn.

Mais Neuilly était bien loin du front et ce fut le début de la grande aventure des ambulanciers américains sur le front. Avec quelques centaines de voitures, on estime qu’ils ont transporté plus de 400 000 blessés.

Les ambulanciers transportaient les blessés du front à un hôpital de campagne ou à un train sanitaire. Un travail très dangereux, au cours duquel au moins 155 ont perdu la vie sur les routes boueuses de l’Est de la France.

Nombre de ces ambulanciers s’engageront dans l’Escadrille Lafayette, un corps de pilotes volontaires qui ont appris à voler dans le Sud de la France. 67 d’entre eux, tués au combat, sont enterrés à Marnes-la-Coquette près de Paris.

Le nom de l’escadrille avait été choisi en hommage à Lafayette et à l’aide apportée par la France aux insurgés de la guerre d’indépendance américaine.

Au moment de l’arrivée du corps expéditionnaire américain en 1917, le général Pershing s’est rendu au cimetière de Picpus sur la tombe de Lafayette. L’histoire lui prête cette phrase historique : Lafayette, nous voici !

Pour écouter l’émission et les enregistrements d’époque des chansons populaires, choisies par Mark Caroll, paroissien de la Cathédrale américaine, cliquer sur : http://frequenceprotestante.com/emission/magazine-anglican

Le Magazine Anglican est diffusé, le 4e samedi du mois, à l’antenne parisienne de Fréquence Protestante. Via la radio numérique, chaque émission est accessible pendant six mois, aux auditeurs francophones d’Europe, d’Amérique, d’Afrique et d’Océanie.

Animé depuis 2012, par Laurence Moachon, paroissienne de la Cathédrale de la Sainte Trinité à Paris, le Magazine Anglican a pour objectif de mieux faire connaître la tradition anglicane / épiscopale

Archbishop of Canterbury intervenes in Anglo-American diplomatic Twitter row

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 2:19pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] In a rare political intervention, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has explicitly criticized the U.S. President Donald Trump for retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by a British far-right extremist group. Welby said “it is deeply disturbing that the President of the United States has chosen to amplify the voice of far-right extremists.” The U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May also criticised the U.S. president, but was slapped down by Mr. Trump, who told her to “focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism.”

Read the full article here.

First Persian woman to be ordained to the episcopate consecrated in Canterbury Cathedral

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 2:16pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The first Persian woman to become a bishop was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury Nov. 30 during a service in Canterbury Cathedral. Guli Francis-Dehqani, the daughter of the former bishop of Iran, Hassan Dehqani-Tafti, will serve as the first suffragan bishop of Loughborough in the Church of England’s Diocese of Leicester. Her family were forced into exile after a botched assassination attempt on her father – who was also the first president bishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. Her mother was injured in that attack. Her brother, Bahram, stayed behind in Iran. He was murdered in 1980 and is commemorated in Canterbury Cathedral’s Chapel of Saints and Martyrs.

Read the full article here.

Lusophone Network works toward annual Anglican Communion-wide day of prayer

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 2:13pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Delegates at the Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) Network meeting in Porto have set out plans to focus on four key areas as they seek to develop the group. And they want to create a Lusophone Network Day of Prayer across the Communion – on the last Sunday of the Church year, the Feast of Christ the King. The network is to concentrate on strengthening its work in theological education; development/care for creation; work with women and young people and communication.

Read the full article here.

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Chicago’s St. James Episcopal Cathedral appoints Dent Davidson missioner for music and liturgy

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 3:25pm

[St. James Cathedral, Chicago] St. James Cathedral announced today the appointment of Dent Davidson as half-time missioner for music and liturgy, effective January 1, 2018. Davidson will serve St. James alongside his ministry for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago as associate for liturgy and the arts. Davidson also serves as music chaplain to the Episcopal Church House of Bishops.

“The Cathedral Chapter is enormously excited at being able to call Dent Davidson to work with us as we expand our liturgical offerings,” said Dean Dominic Barrington. “I have been inspired by Dent’s vision for music and liturgy since I arrived in Chicago, and it is a source of joy for me that we will be able to bring his gifts to the cathedral community.”

Cathedral Director of Music Stephen Buzard concurred. “I am thrilled to welcome Dent Davidson to St. James’ music team. Our collaborations on diocesan liturgies have given me a glimpse of what we can achieve through an ongoing partnership. I look forward to our building upon the firm foundation of our musical heritage to reach a wider audience of potential seekers,” Buzard said.

Davidson said of the appointment: “Over the last decade my vocation has focused on developing the gift of song as a component of congregational vitality. It’s all about transforming lives and changing hearts. I’m delighted to join with Stephen and Dominic and the rest of the cathedral team, to enhance the scope of St. James’ ministry throughout the diocese and its outreach to the wider church.”

A professional church musician since his teens, Davidson’s prior responsibilities include leading music ministry at St. Paul and the Redeemer Episcopal Church, Chicago; St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Medina, Wash.; and St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle. Davidson earned a degree in music composition and vocal jazz at Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle.

St. James Cathedral is a vibrant and historic Episcopal church in the heart of Chicago. The congregation draws members from our downtown neighborhood, across the city, and from the Chicago suburbs. Our diversity also extends to our worship, which balances traditional liturgy with progressive, theologically grounded preaching which fully embraces all people into the body of Christ regardless of age, ethnicity, expression, orientation, or background. We seek to engage with our communities by listening to our neighbors, serving those in need, and asking challenging and culturally relevant questions about faith, identity, and experience. As the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, St. James is the site of diocesan-wide events and celebrations.

Anglican conference center opens in heart of Cairo

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 1:35pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A new conference center in Cairo has been opened by the Diocese of Egypt. The All Saints’ Garden Conference Center is in Zamalek – an island within the Nile River. Situated in the diocesan office complex, the conference centre’s 16 deluxe rooms can accommodate up to 44 guests; while the conference rooms can cater for up to 100 people. Additional guests can be accommodated in a separate guest house across the road.

Read the full article here.

Episcopalians help boost Affordable Care Act sign-up numbers in uphill battle under Trump

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 3:45pm

[Episcopal News Service] Reports of Obamacare’s death may have been greatly exaggerated.

Millions of Americans this month have signed up for health insurance on HealthCare.Gov, the website established by the Affordable Care Act, despite the Trump administration cutting spending on advertising and assistance, and declaring President Barack Obama’s signature law “dead” and “gone.”  The administration also cut the sign-up period in half, so with a window of only 45 days, Episcopalians have joined with activists and organizations around the country to get the word out.

So far, those efforts appear to have succeeded in a big way as the Dec. 15 deadline approaches.

Be on the lookout! Open Enrollment for 2018 coverage ends on December 15. https://t.co/rxEC3NkHV4 pic.twitter.com/ofEmHUfnhh

— HealthCare.gov (@HealthCareGov) November 27, 2017

“This has been fun. This has been an underdog story,” Ariel Miller, an Episcopalian from Cincinnati, Ohio, told Episcopal News Service. She has worked at the grassroots level to spread the word on social media and to invite local media coverage of the sign-up period. “We’re just trying to make people aware that all the resources are still there.”

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations has encouraged dioceses and congregations to help promote the sign-up period however they can. Often that advocacy has simply meant distributing key information about the process. The Diocese of Southern Ohio invited Miller, the diocese’s former Episcopal Community Services executive director, to write an article for the diocesan digital newsletter.

On Dec. 2, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., St. John’s Episcopal Church in Sylva, North Carolina will host Legal Aid of North Carolina, a group that is providing guidance to state residents looking to sign up for health insurance on the federal marketplace.

“I was happy to open up the church for something like this,” said the Rev. Pattie Curtis, rector at St. John’s. “I believe that people ought to have access to affordable health care.”

The Office of Government Relations, though not involved in the sign-up process, has links on its website to resources that can assist people looking to sign up for health insurance or those who want to help get the word out.

The office also has advocated in Washington, D.C., for policies that would fulfill multiple General Convention resolutions calling for universal health care or steps in that direction, most notably in a series of resolutions passed in 2009. One of those resolutions cited “the Gospel message of concern for others which extends to concern for their physical health as well as spiritual well-being.”

That message has inspired Miller’s work in Ohio.

“I think that Jesus spent a tremendous amount of time listening to and responding to people that were sick and helping them overcome their illness,” she said.

Sara Lilja, director of Lutheran Episcopal Advocacy Ministry of New Jersey, sees similar inspiration for her agency’s work in helping people enroll for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

“Jesus over and over again in the text promotes healing and intends for all of God’s children to be well both physically and spiritually,” Lilja said.

Her agency, a partnership of the state’s two Episcopal dioceses and the New Jersey synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has sought to connect more people with insurance coverage during the federal sign-up period by providing information directly to clergy serving groups more likely to struggle with obtaining coverage and navigating the process, such as seniors, the poor and immigrants.

The agency also emails a weekly newsletter to its subscribers that ties each Sunday’s liturgical readings to current events and policy matters. Health care has been a top focus since the federal enrollment began Nov. 1, especially with federal and state cuts to promotion and enrollment assistance.

“We’re trying to plug the holes with our community partners and trusted organizations around the state,” Lilja said. “It’s absolutely a spiritual issue, it’s a faith issue and it’s also a public policy issue. And at the end of the day, it’s an economic issue.”

The open enrollment deadline on HealthCare.Gov is Dec. 15. Photo illustration by Episcopal News Service

Nearly 800,000 people enrolled for health insurance coverage on HealthCare.gov in the week ending Nov. 18, pushing the cumulative total to almost 2.3 million, according to the most recent weekly update from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Sign-ups in these early weeks of enrollment have outpaced the results seen in past years to this point. It remains to be seen if the shorter enrollment period will have a negative effect on the final total, and there are other threats to the federal marketplace sustainability, such as the loss of some insurance providers. But supporters of the Affordable Care Act say the strong sign-up response so far flies in the face of the dire assessments of President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans.

“It’s the biggest start to open enrollment ever,” Lori Lodes, a former Obama administration official, told the New York Times after the first week’s totals were released. Lodes is a founder of Get America Covered, a nonprofit that helps spread information on health insurance options. “It shows that people really want to get health insurance and value it.”

HealthCare.gov is the enrollment site for residents in the 39 states that opted out of setting up their own insurance marketplaces. Last year, 9.2 million people signed up through the federal marketplace during an enrollment period that lasted until the end of January.

This year, Florida had the most number of sign-ups as of Nov. 18 with nearly 500,000, followed by Texas with 272,000.

Texas is ranked last in the country in access to health care, Episcopal Health Foundation’s Brian Sasser said, so the sign-up numbers are cause for hope.

“That’s the easiest way now for folks to get health insurance, and we believe access to care is a key reason many people don’t get preventive care and care that they need,” said Sasser, communication director for the Houston-based foundation, which serves the Diocese of Texas. “If you give access to care, it makes a community healthier all around.”

This year, the foundation awarded $92,000 to a group called Young Invincibles to help promote the sign-up period to young adults in Texas.

The foundation also conducts research on the problem of the uninsured in Texas and the impact the Affordable Care Act has had on increasing the rate of coverage. Sasser said the goal of the research is to help improve health care access for all Texans: “What’s keeping people from having access to care, and what can we learn from what’s going right and what’s going wrong to increase that?”

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

Bishop of Belize: ‘Children are an important part of who we are’

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 1:06pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The bishop of Belize, Philip Wright, has spoken of the importance of children during an interview conducted by a student of Belize High School. The interview was conducted by 13-year-old Aajalee Turton as part of a project organized by the Special Envoy for Children and Women in Belize, for International Children’s Day last week. It was one of a number of interviews carried out by children  as part of the project.

Read the entire article here.

Archbishop of Cape Town calls on churches to pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 12:58pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, has asked churches in his province to take part in next year’s “Thy Kingdom Come” global prayer initiative. “Thy Kingdom Come” began in 2016 as an invitation from the archbishops of Canterbury and York to the clergy in the Church of England to pray for mission and evangelism during the 10 days between Ascension Day and Pentecost. It was picked up by other Christian churches in England and around the world and is now an annual global prayer movement. This year, churches in 85 different countries took part. In 2018, the initiative will run May 10 to 20.

Read the entire article here.

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