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Canada: Next Anglican-Lutheran Joint Assembly postponed to 2022

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 4:53am

[Anglican Journal] The Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) have decided to postpone the date of their next Joint Assembly to 2022.

When the national governing bodies of both churches met together for the first time in 2013, they agreed in principle to hold a second Joint Assembly in 2019. In a joint statement released Feb. 2, ELCIC national bishop Susan Johnson and Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, say organizers from both churches have been working to put the plan in place, with Vancouver chosen as host city.

Full article.

Tom Callard named dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Springfield, Massachusetts

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 4:45am

The Rev. Tom Callard (left) and Western Massachusetts Bishop Doug Fisher.

[Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts] The Chapter of Christ Church Cathedral, Springfield, MA, has voted to call the Rev. Tom Callard to serve as the eighth dean of Christ Church Cathedral effective Feb. 2. Callard has served as priest-in-charge since the Very Rev. James G Munroe retired in the summer of 2015.

Callard came to the Diocese of Western Massachusetts in 2013 to serve as canon at the cathedral and diocesan missioner for Latino/Hispanic ministry. Prior to that he served as rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, Los Angeles, and as vicar of St. Luke Parish in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

In his announcement Western Massachusetts Bishop Doug Fisher said: “The cathedral community has been enriched by Tom’s leadership. He has a heart for the poor, a passion for justice and a commitment to ecumenical and interfaith work. In the last 18 months, Tom has directed the ministry of our cathedral in bold and creative directions. I am convinced that Tom will lead the cathedral into God’s future of mercy, compassion and hope.”

Callard’s installation will take place May 19.

Episcopal Church expands its stand with refugees, immigrants and the undocumented

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 4:29pm

Trinity Episcopal Church and Igelsia Episcopal de la Trinidad of Los Angeles pose with signs to show their support for immigrants and refugees. Their signs read “Stand with Refugees. #GreaterAs1.” Photo: Trinity Episcopal Church via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] Even before President Donald Trump upended a major part of U.S. immigration policy, many Episcopalians were recommitting to support refugees and finding new ways to extend their advocacy. And those efforts are expanding.

The Diocese of Los Angeles overwhelmingly approved sanctuary status in early December after an impassioned plea by the Rev. Nancy Frausto.

“At 8 years old, I crossed the border with my mother and brother. I have stayed in this country, living in the shadows for most of my life,” said Frausto, a priest who serves both Trinity and St. Mary’s churches in Los Angeles.

“It was the church (that) gave me hope,” she said. “I am one of over 700,000 DACA  (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients. It is such a scary position to be in right now. I could lose my work permit and be deported back to a country I do not know.”

The Rev. Francisco Garcia, rector of Holy Faith Church in Inglewood, said that at least 50 congregations have expressed interest in and requested information about a sanctuary designation or how to support the vulnerable.

During a Jan. 18 webinar, Garcia, who co-chairs the sanctuary task force Episcopal Sacred Resistance – Los Angeles, said the effort comes straight out of the baptismal promise to resist evil – in all forms including racism, sexism, homophobism, Islamophobia and any institutionalized structures targeting the vulnerable.

Holy Faith Episcopal Church in the Los Angeles-area community of Inglewood has long been involved in immigrant justice work. Photo: Diocese of Los Angeles via Facebook

Garcia was joined by the Rev. Canon Jaime Edwards-Acton, rector of St. Stephen’s Church in Hollywood and task force co-chair, and United Church of Christ pastor Noel Andersen, grassroots coordinator for immigrants’ rights with Church World Service. Andersen said the number of sanctuary congregations, representing a broad range of faith traditions, has nearly doubled nationally, to about 800, in recent months.

Acton said sacred resistance can take many forms, depending on local context. “There is no cookie cutter model. … Sanctuary will be different for different congregations.”

Garcia said that the work of sanctuary extends “to stand with anyone who is under attack” to be aligned with the Baptismal Covenant to persevere in resisting evil … and “all systemic evils that oppress others.”

Andersen said that in other instances, activists have trained as rapid-response volunteers in a kind of “Sanctuary on the Streets” preparation to respond immediately when notified of a deportation raid, often in the middle of the night. “In Philadelphia, it’s been very successful.”

“We have seen when allies show up to a raid, it can deter” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from proceeding with the deportation process, he said. “They don’t want to be seen deporting people.”

Exploring next steps to protect refugees, undocumented persons

While protestors were gathering at airports Jan. 28, including nearby Newark International Airport, Diocese of Newark convention delegates overwhelmingly supported a plea from a group of 24 laity and clergy for the diocese to study the sanctuary church movement. The group called for Newark Episcopalians to explore what others are doing and to begin to engage in immigrant justice as a diocese, as congregations and as individuals.

Membership in local churches includes both immigrants and the undocumented who are at increased risk of deportation, the Rev. J. Brent Bates, rector of Grace Church, Newark, told the convention. “It doesn’t matter who we voted for,” Bates said. “We believe the Holy Scriptures tell us we are to respect and to treat with respect the alien, because we too were once aliens in a foreign land.”

Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith applauded the effort. “This has been framed as a political issue,” he said. “I don’t see it that way at all. It is a moral issue and we need to be a moral voice in the world.”

 

Among Episcopal congregations reacting to the changes in U.S. immigration policies is St. Mark’s Church in New Canaan, Connecticut. On Jan. 29 it helped launch a community-wide refugee resettlement program through “neighbor-to-neighbor work and community gathering,” according to the church website. St. Mark’s is the first sponsor of the program that began with more than 100 local mothers organizing on Facebook.

Next steps: education, discernment, local connection

Lacy Broemel, a refugee and immigration policy analyst with the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations in Washington, D.C., said that becoming a sanctuary diocese or congregation involves legal, theological and material consideration as well as individual discernment.

For example, Broemel said hosting an undocumented person to protect them from deportation in a parish building would require such considerations as: “Does your church have a shower, a bed, a way to provide them food and clothing during the time they will be in sanctuary?”

“If your congregation cannot provide physical protection to have someone living in the parish, there are other ways to stand with the undocumented,” she said.

Members of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles proclaim their solidarity with Muslim immigrants. Photo: Diocese of Los Angeles via Facebook

A church could offer legal clinics, ‘know your rights’ workshops, advocacy training or language classes, said Broemel, whose office is offering webinars on advocacy.

UCC Pastor Andersen agreed. He said food, clothing, legal fees and other kinds of support are always needed, especially in fighting deportation cases.

An estimated 11 million undocumented persons live in the United States. During a Nov. 13 “60 Minutes” interview, Trump vowed to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and to immediately deport or incarcerate some 2 to 3 million undocumented persons he called criminals. These vows have prompted activists to intensify organizing efforts, Andersen said.

In some cases, Broemel said, advocacy could include simply talking about concerns for the undocumented with local, state and federal governmental officials, and neighbors and friends, holding vigils, and registering for legislative and policy updates from the Episcopal Public Policy Network.

EPPN on Jan. 31 announced a “2×4 Fight for Refugees” campaign, challenging Episcopalians to call national, state and local elected officials at least four times in the next two months to voice opposition to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

A resource for congregations interested in providing sanctuary is Sanctuary Not Deportation.

The local connection is vital, Andersen said. Congregations need to become aware, educated and discern how they may participate.

“It’s always transformational for the church and the families” impacted, he said. “The family is astounded by the love and welcome they are given. It is something formational for person going into sanctuary.”

With so much uncertainty, activists must be fully prepared, he said.

Speaking out against Trump’s actions

Bishops, clergy and laity are urging reconsideration of Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order, which halts refugee resettlement for 120 days and bars Syrians from being resettled in the United States for an unspecified amount of time.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on Jan. 25 urged Trump to reconsider his then-anticipated order on immigration, calling refugee resettlement “God’s work.”

Curry added: “We ask that we continue to accept as many refugees as we have in the past, recognizing the need is greater than ever. We ask that refugees from all countries receive consideration to come to the U.S. and not to ban those who come from countries most in need of our assistance.”

House of Deputies President Gay Jennings said Jan. 31 that she was “particularly horrified by the ban on refugees signed by President Trump on Friday evening.”

“It is quite simply an act of malice, particularly toward our Muslim sisters and brothers, and Christians must oppose it loudly and with strength. Many of you are doing so, and I am grateful for the statements and sermons I have seen and the photos in my Facebook feed of Episcopalians gathered at airports and other protest sites to express our church’s commitment to welcoming the stranger.”

The Rev. Canon Mark Stevenson, director of Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), has said that the rationale given for taking the action was “to make us safe. Yet, isolating ourselves from the world does not make us safer, it only isolates us. Being afraid of those who differ from us does not make us wise, or even prudent; it only traps us in an echo chamber of suspicion and anger, and stops us cold from loving as Christ loved.”

Episcopal News Service has posted a number of responses here.

Stevenson said that EMM will continue to minister to those who have fled their homes because of persecution, violence, or war. “Through our network of affiliates across this country, and with the help of the wider Episcopal Church, we will welcome these men, women and children who did not choose to become refugees. In partnership with the other resettlement agencies, we will work with our government and local communities to provide a place of welcome.

“We can make a difference in these days. We can save lives. We can answer the cry of the persecuted, and the call of God.”

– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. 

Archbishop of Canterbury sets out vision for 2017 primates meeting

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 11:31am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written to every primate in the Anglican Communion to set out his hopes for the next Primates’ Meeting, which will take place in Canterbury in Oct. 2-6.

In the letter, Welby sets out his vision for the meeting in Canterbury as an opportunity for relaxed fellowship and mutual consultation. He invites the primates to submit items for the agenda and says he’s aware of the pressures under which many of them live.

Full article.

Gay Jennings: Stand with Refugees

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 1:49pm

[House of Deputies] The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the Episcopal Church House of Deputies, wrote to deputies Jan. 31 about how and why the Church ought to continue its support of refugees.

Dear Deputies:

Like many of you, in the last week I have watched the news from Washington D.C. unfold with increasing disbelief and growing fear for the most vulnerable among us. The new administration’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a suitable replacement, silence journalists and advocates, and distort our national conversation with lies disturb me as an American and a person of faith. I intend to resist.

I am particularly horrified by the ban on refugees signed by President Trump on Friday evening. It is quite simply an act of malice, particularly toward our Muslim sisters and brothers, and Christians must oppose it loudly and with strength. Many of you are doing so, and I am grateful for the statements and sermons I have seen and the photos in my Facebook feed of Episcopalians gathered at airports and other protest sites to express our church’s commitment to welcoming the stranger. You can find that commitment articulated in actions of General Convention dating back to 1979 (the earliest date at which the archive is digitized) on the website of the Archives of the Episcopal Church.

Right now, more than 65 million people are currently displaced by war, conflict and persecution–the largest number in recorded history. We have an urgent moral responsibility to receive refugees and asylum seekers who are in dire need.

As Christians, we should be particularly worried that the refugee ban targets people from seven majority-Muslim countries. God’s command to welcome the stranger and care for aliens is a mandate to welcome all people, regardless of their faiths. Just as God in the Hebrew Bible commanded the Jews to welcome non-Jewish strangers, we are commanded to welcome people who practice different faiths. A refugee ban that specifically targets Muslim people, or that gives Christians special priority for resettlement above other persecuted people simply because they are Christian, is fundamentally un-Christian.

Such a ban is also unnecessary. The United States has the most rigorous refugee screening process in the world, involving the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and National Counter Terrorism Center. The process includes biometric checks, medical screenings, forensic testing of documents, DNA testing for family reunification cases, and in-person interviews with highly trained homeland security officials.

As Episcopalians, we can take particular pride in our long history of refugee resettlement. Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) is one of nine refugee resettlement agencies in the United States, and since 1988, working under both Republican and Democratic administrations, we have welcomed more than 50,000 refugees in partnership with dioceses, congregations, community organizations and volunteers across the country. In 2015 alone, EMM helped resettle nearly 5,000 refugees in 30 communities by working with local partner agencies in 26 dioceses and 22 states.

Over the weekend, I spoke with the Rev. Canon Mark Stevenson, EMM’s director, and assured him of my prayers and assistance as he and his team navigate these extraordinarily difficult times. Please remember the people of Episcopal Migration Ministries and the refugees they assist in your own prayers, and take this opportunity to learn more about this vital ministry of the Episcopal Church.

Today Rebecca Blachly, the director of the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations, and her team launched a new advocacy initiative called the 2×4 Fight for Refugees Campaign. I am going to participate, and I hope you will join me. When we join the campaign, we will commit to calling our national, state, and local elected officials four times during the next two months on behalf of refugees. You can learn more about the campaign and find advocacy materials online, and sign up for more advocacy alerts on this and other issues by joining the Episcopal Public Policy Network.

I suspect that in the coming months, we will be in touch with one another often as we learn new ways to advocate for the policies of General Convention and the witness of the Episcopal Church in the world. I look forward to working together and to being with all of you at General Convention in 2018.

Faithfully,

Gay Clark Jennings

President

Public Policy Network announces refugee advocacy campaign

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 1:36pm

[Episcopal Public Policy Network] The Episcopal Public Policy Network is launching a nationwide advocacy campaign in support of refugees. Over the next two months, we’re challenging Episcopalians to call their national, state, and local elected officials at least four times. Now, more than ever, people of faith must make their voices heard. We have created a 2×4 Fight for Refugees Campaign page with numbers to dial and a sample script on our website.

JOIN THE 2×4 FIGHT FOR REFUGEES CAMPAIGN

On January 27, President Trump signed an executive order that halted the refugee resettlement program for 120 days, significantly lowered the number of refugees admitted to the U.S., and barred Syrian refugees from being resettled to the U.S. We recognize the need for our nation to be secure, but we believe that the thorough and often multi-year vetting process eliminates those with violent extremist ideologies and those who seek to harm our country. We believe our current policies balance humanitarian needs with security priorities. This pause in the program and the orders to bar entry to certain individuals will have devastating effects on the lives of refugees waiting for protection through resettlement.

The Episcopal Church, through Episcopal Migration Ministries, is one of the nine refugee resettlement agencies in the U.S. refugee resettlement is a life-saving ministry. Episcopalians around the country engage in the work of welcome every day. We have seen that refugees, once welcomed to our communities, become integral parts of our neighborhoods as friends, business owners, students, doctors, and more.

We urge you to join the 2×4 Fight for Refugees Campaign to let your elected officials know that you welcome refugees.

In the bleak midwinter, Standing Rock Episcopal ministry is changing

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 8:48am

An Episcopal Church flag has flown at Oceti Sakowin Camp for months. Photo: Oceti Sakowin via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians in and around the Standing Rock Sioux Nation Reservation are seeing their ministry change as the camps formed by water protectors along the Missouri River protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline are slowly closing.

The temperature in the area may have climbed to 40 degrees on Jan. 30 but it is still the bleak midwinter in North Dakota and March can be the state’s snowiest month, according to the National Weather Service. Tribal officials have said that the harshness of the winter is making the camps unsafe and they are worried about the protectors’ safety when spring melts the snow and the Missouri runs high.

The effort to close the camps began before Jan. 24 when Donald Trump called for the rapid approval of the pipeline’s final phase. The Cannon Ball tribal district Jan. 19 asked the protectors to leave and the entire tribal council supported that move the next day. However, tribal leaders also point to the president’s efforts in urging their supporters to redirect their advocacy.

“We understand and acknowledge the power of the camps in bringing us this far in our fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline,” the tribe said Jan. 26 on its Facebook page. “We maintain, however, that given current conditions, both physical and political, the focus must shift from maintaining camps to being at the political and legal forefront. The new regime will not respond to the camps with moderate actions; the tribe is not willing to place its citizens nor its battle against DAPL in jeopardy where so much that has been accomplished can be lost.”

The tribe’s statement acknowledged that many people want to return to the camps because of Trump’s Jan. 24 actions. “We stress, however, that further actions at the camp and at the bridge and drill pad are not where we will find success in this struggle moving forward,” the tribe said. “We need to be able to focus our energy on the intense government-to-government political situation and not the camps. Please do not return, but instead put your heart and effort into supporting the battle for clean water from your various homes around the globe.”

The bridge referred to in the statement is the closed Backwater Bridge on North Dakota Highway 1806. It has been both a focus of protests and a symbol of the disruption caused by the monthlong encampments. The remaining work on the pipeline would push the pipeline under Lake Oahe on the Missouri River just north of the Standing Rock Reservation. The pipeline company has set up a drill pad very near the proposed crossing point, which is upstream from the tribe’s reservation boundaries, and the tribe has water, treaty fishing and hunting rights in the lake.

The 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline is poised to carry up to 570,000 gallons of oil a day from the Bakken oil field in northwestern North Dakota – through South Dakota and Iowa – to Illinois where it will be shipped to refineries. The pipeline was to pass within one-half mile of the Standing Rock Reservation and Sioux tribal leaders repeatedly expressed concerns over the potential for an oil spill that would damage the reservation’s water supply, and the threat the pipeline posed to sacred sites and treaty rights. The company developing the pipeline, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, says it will be safe.

The closure of the Backwater Bridge on North Dakota Highway 1806 had become a point of contention between water protectors and local residents. Photo: Oceti Sakowin via Facebook

“The tribe is not expelling people,” the Rev. John Floberg, priest-in-charge of Episcopal Church congregations on the North Dakota side of Standing Rock, agreed.

However, he said in a Jan. 30 interview with Episcopal News Service, the tribe is telling people that the winter has been so harsh that remaining in the camps can be fatal in a land where wind chills have reached as low as -60 degrees. The tribe also wants debris in the camp removed. People took good care of the camps, Floberg said, but a Dec. 5 blizzard inundated the area, collapsing and burying tents and other flimsy structures – debris that the tribe wants to ensure that spring floods do not sweep into the river.

Many residents say they are tired of the Backwater Bridge being closed because it is their primary route to work and hospital services. The Cannon Ball community gym, used for sports, meetings and funerals, is in need of cleaning and repairs due to serving as an emergency shelter for protesters, some of whom continue to stay there, according to Floberg and the Bismarck Tribune newspaper.

There has been some division in the loosely led Oceti Sakowin camp about whether to stay or leave, Floberg said, adding that from what he can tell the majority agrees with the tribe and is working to shut down the camp. Some campers have moved off the bottomland near the river to the top of so-called Facebook Hill. Some water protectors in the Rosebud Camp asked Floberg for his help in shutting down their camp but the Sacred Stone Camp, which is on privately owned land, is still welcoming people, he said.

Oceti Sakowin organizers have said in an undated posting on the camp’s website that “the sacred fire of the Seven Councils has been put to sleep” but that the fire “can be lit in our hearts internally and spirituality forever.” The webpage asks occupants “to evacuate as soon as possible for safety reasons.”

While the tribe had originally set a Jan. 30 deadline, it now seems that protectors have until Feb. 19. Floberg said he understands that as of that day tribal leaders will no longer use its “political weight” to stand as a buffer between a camp on the north side of the Cannonball River and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, other federal officials and the state of North Dakota.

Floberg and local Episcopalians have been practicing a ministry of presence in the camps and in their local churches since the summer. They have funneled some donations to the Sioux Tribe to help cover the costs of dumpsters and portable toilets. An Episcopal area at Oceti Sakowin has been a gathering point for those efforts. Episcopal chaplains were there when the Dec. 5 storm hit.

Oceti Sakowin camp spreads out along land near where the Missouri River meets the Cannonball River. North Dakota Highway 1806 runs across the top of the photo. Photo: Oceti Sakowin via Facebook

These days, the ministry is changing. Floberg and some members of St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, the closest town to the camps, recently discovered a military-style tent in Oceti Sakowin filled with what he estimated is 100,000 pounds of food. It is mostly flour, beans and macaroni, which Floberg said can be salvaged. However, they also found canned vegetables that most likely have frozen and may not be usable. The food cache grew over the months as people coming to the camps brought food donations, Floberg said. The salvageable food is being donated to people living on Standing Rock and on the nearby Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

“Our glamorous work of being protestors is now about moving flour bags,” Floberg said with a chuckle.

Episcopalians could see what sort of work was going to be needed at the camps and positioned themselves to do that work, he said. That planning included using some of the money donated to the Diocese of North Dakota to buy a skip steer loader, a small, engine-powered machine with lift arms that a person can drive and use to move heavy loads and perform other tasks. Donations also covered the cost of a large covered trailer for hauling the food away and storing it.

Local Episcopalians are grateful for those donations and “we’re still making use of them in the best ways that we know at any given a time and will continue to do that,” Floberg said.

The changes in their ministry has been guided by listening to what the tribal council is saying and what Chairman Dave Archambault II is saying, and then trying to figure out how Episcopalians can assist. “It’s when the tribe is engaged outside of itself that we step in to stand with Standing Rock and make clear our position of support for what they have decided to do,” he said.

“When it comes to internal decisions being made within the tribe, the Church doesn’t weigh in on whether the tribe should do this or that,” Floberg said. Episcopalians who are tribal members will weigh in on those issues and “we expect their good conscience to guide them.”

A line of water protectors face law enforcement officials at the drill pad set up for the final phase of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux have asked that such protests end and water protectors leave. Photo: Oceti Sakowin via Facebook

Floberg and others are staunch in their desire to support the tribe’s decisions. However, Floberg said, it is difficult to serve all of the community when some members are frustrated with the camps, others are frustrated with tribal decisions and others are frustrated by those who are frustrated.

For instance, can people in the camps still come to St. James in Cannon Ball to fill their water cans if the church supports the tribe’s decision that the camps should close?

“Is that supporting the camp to remain open when the tribe has asked it to close or is it simply responding to basic human need? After all, we’ve heard it: Water is life,” Floberg explained.

“Right now, until Feb. 19, our position can be rather clear. If water is needed and we have that resource available, we’ll make it available to those who need water. … We believe we can be faithful to standing with Standing Rock while at the same time wanting the tribe to understand the Church always will respond to humanitarian need.”

When that Feb. 19 deadline comes around Floberg and others “will have to listen again” to what tribal leaders are saying to determine how to support that tribe from that point.

The Episcopal Church has been standing with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s position on the pipeline since summer 2016. Local Episcopalians have also provided a ministry of presence in and around Cannon Ball, North Dakota, which has been the focal point for the groups of water protectors that gathered near the proposed crossing. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry visited the area in September and many Episcopalians, both lay and ordained, answered Floberg’s call to stand in witness with the water protectors in November.

Previous ENS coverage of the Episcopal Church’s work with Standing Rock is here.

Floberg said he thinks the pipeline protests galvanized people for other actions. Some marched in the various Women’s Marches on Jan. 21 and he told Episcopal News Service Jan. 30 that he knows some water protectors who were among the people who went to the San Francisco airport Jan. 28 and 29 to protest Trump’s refugee ban.

“It awoke our Church to getting engaged and so a lot of our members have,” he said.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Canada: Christian leaders express solidarity with Muslims following Quebec attack

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 4:50am

[Anglican Journal] Anglicans and other Christian leaders have expressed their “sympathy and solidarity” with Muslims following a deadly attack Sunday night on a mosque in the Ste-Foy neighborhood of Quebec City.

The attack, which left six people dead and 19 others wounded, occurred just before 8 p.m., Jan.29, when a gunman opened fire while evening prayers were underway at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec.  Alexandre Bissonnette is being detained as a suspect in the case.

In a January 30 statement, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said his heart “goes out to all Muslims across Canada as they struggle with this terrible attack,” and that the church holds in its prayers the victims of the attack, their families and their imams. Hiltz also led national office staff in a 15-minute candlelight service at the Chapel of the Holy Apostles in Toronto to pray for the victims, their families, the Muslim community, the people of Quebec and Canada.

Full article.

Diocese of Texas releases Spanish resource to help newcomer ministries

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 4:38am

[Diocese of Texas] The Episcopal Diocese of Texas has announced the release of Juntos en Mision: Invitación, Bienvenida y Conexión, a digital training series for Spanish-speaking congregations. Juntos en Mision was developed to help parishioners learn to invite, welcome and connect visitors and new members as well as strengthen their existing ministries. The five-part video series, redeveloped by the diocese’s Commission on Hispanic Ministry from the popular Invite Welcome Connect program, is available for online viewing or download with accompanying checklists and resource lists at no charge.

Juntos en Mision is meant to support newcomer ministries in congregational development, help to build relationships with new and existing parishioners and encourage members to be proactive about including others into their communities in the church’s ministry and life of faith. No training is necessary to facilitate the program.

“I am grateful to our Commission on Hispanic Ministry for the work they did in preparing the scripts for this valuable training,” said Texas Bishop Andy Doyle. “We know how important it is to welcome new people in a manner that invites them to return as part of our community of faith, and this training provides the first step in that effort.”

Cost of producing the video series was underwritten by the diocese and is available to any Spanish-speaking congregation in the U.S. or abroad. “The series will be online so anyone for whom it might be valuable will be able to access it,” Doyle said.

In 2015, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas did a marketing study on ministry to the Spanish-speaking community, gathering data from numerous focus groups. Feedback from Hispanic non-members revealed there was little or no knowledge of the Episcopal Church, although the worship service and ethos of the Episcopal Church appealed to them, once informed. Active church members revealed a need for resources to help them reach into their communities.

The Commission developed the line: “God’s love has no boundaries” (Dios no tiene fronteras) as a unified statement to reflect the diocesan efforts to help Spanish-speaking congregations reach their broader communities. The Diocese also built a dozen mobile-friendly websites for Latino congregations, anchored by www.iglesiaepiscopaltx.com, developed informational cards about the Episcopal Church in Spanish and helped to train local parishioners in social media over the last year. Juntos en Mision is the latest resource to be completed. A new digital newsletter to help the Latino congregations connected and share information will launch this spring.

For more information on Juntos en Mision: Invitación, Bienvenida y Conexión please contact ­­­Paulette Martin, pmartin@epicenter.org or call 713-520-6444 or visit www.epicenter.org/juntos-en-mision.

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