Episcopal News Service

Subscribe to Episcopal News Service feed
The news service of the Episcopal Church
Updated: 35 min 57 sec ago

Anglican secretary general briefs Bishops of Pakistan during retreat in England

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 2:35pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has told the Church of Pakistan it has something to offer to the Communion because of its experience of being a minority church in a Muslim Country. The eight Bishops of Pakistan, during a three-day retreat in England, were questioning how their Church and the Anglican Communion could cooperate.

Full article.

Saint Augustine’s president, with deep ties to university’s past, looks to future

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 12:53pm

Everett Ward became the 11th president of Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina, in April 2015. Photo: Saint Augustine’s University

[Episcopal News Service] Generations of Everett Ward’s family preceded him in graduating from Saint Augustine’s University, a historically black college in Raleigh, North Carolina, so he was no stranger to the campus in 2014 when he took over as interim president.

He was named to that role permanently in April 2015, becoming the school’s 11th president.

Q&A: Everett Ward

Age: 58

Home: Raleigh, North Carolina

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Saint Augustine’s; master’s degree, North Carolina State University; doctorate, North Carolina A&T State University

Job: President of Saint Augustine’s University

Family: He married his college sweetheart after graduating from Saint Augustine’s in 1982. Cassandra Lloyd Ward, a longtime educator and civic leader, died in 2011 of breast cancer. “When I walk this campus every day, her spirit walks with me, because we held hands and walked this campus together for four years,” Ward said.

Before that, his professional experience included serving as executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party and as the director of a state Department of Transportation program focused on transportation curriculum, research and student development at historically black colleges and universities.

Saint Augustine’s was created in 1867 by the Episcopal Church and opened its doors the following January; one of many schools that formed in the wake of the Civil War to educate black students barred by segregation from attending white institutions.

About 100 such schools are still open today, accepting students of all races and interests. Dozens of presidents of historically black colleges and universities, including Ward, traveled to Washington, D.C., at the end of February to meet with elected officials and make their case for increased federal funding to support the schools’ mission. During their visit, President Donald Trump signed an executive order moving an executive branch initiative on historically black colleges from the Department of Education into the White House, signaling the removal of a bureaucratic barrier.

Your ties to Saint Augustine’s university go far back, even back to your birth.

That is correct. My father attended Saint Augustine’s and all my relatives for several generations. And I was born here on the campus at St. Agnes Hospital, which was operated by the university as the only African-American teaching hospital between here and Atlanta, Georgia. On Nov. 6, 1958, I was honored to be born in a building that a great uncle of mine helped construct when he was a student here.

Were you raised as an Episcopalian?

No, I was raised as a Presbyterian and I am still a Presbyterian, but was educated both in Catholic schools and public schools, as well as the Episcopal school here at St. Augustine’s. So, church-affiliated education was not new to me or my sister.

Was your family particularly religious growing up?

My family’s faith was very strong, and faith was a central part of our upbringing as a family. My parents were very active at Davie Street Presbyterian Church, which is our home church and has been the church of our ancestors for several generations.

Has Saint Augustine’s connection with the Episcopal Church set it apart in any ways from other historically black colleges or other American colleges in general?

For many years, even from our founding, Saint Augustine’s was focused primarily on male students going into the priesthood. Therefore Saint Augustine’s had earned a reputation as the preeminent institution that produced African-American male graduates who would leave Saint Augustine’s and move on to seminary and become Episcopal priests. And women students were dedicated to becoming educators and teachers. So, we have long had a strong reputation of producing men and women who, at that period of time, were focused in education and service to the church. But that has evolved over the year as more opportunities have become available to young people, so now we have graduates in a host of professions throughout the world.

In Saint Augustine’s mission statement, it says the school prepares students “academically, socially and spiritually.” Do you see those three goals as equal priorities, and how does Saint Augustine provide spiritual preparation?

We have a strong religious studies program and we continue to have spirituality as a focus in our activities on the campus. Our freshmen, for example, attend chapel. We open all our events with prayer and close with prayer. Our university chaplain, who’s also chair of our religious studies program, is very active with student life on the campus. We as an institution take great pride in our affiliation with the church and the importance of spirituality for our students as well.

Pew Research Center reported last month less than 9 percent of black students attended a historically black college in 2015, down from 17 percent in 1980.  Over the same period, historically black colleges and universities have become more racially diverse, enrolling more students who aren’t black, from 13 to 17 percent. Do you see that the role of institutions like your own and other historically black colleges has changed for this generation?

We certainly have a much more diverse society in America now. We have students of Latino descent, Asian descent – we have a very diverse student body. But I do think that the relevancy of any intellectual community has got to be that you grow and advance with the changing society, because we’re producing the leaders of society here at St. Augustine’s and subsequently you have to embrace diversity.

You were part of a group of presidents of historically black colleges and universities to visit the White House recently and even meet with President Trump.

At his request, we were invited for a brief meeting over in the Oval Office, but the primary meeting took place under the leadership of U.S. Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina) and North Carolina Congressman Mark Walker.

What are your thoughts on those meetings and experience?

I thought clearly that there was strong articulation with regard to support of historically black colleges and universities and the enormous contributions that our institutions contribute to American society. It was, in all of those settings, a central theme. There was an appreciation from this administration that historically black colleges would be a part of the continuous growth of American society and beyond. I think now, with the signing of the executive order by the president, we now have to wait and see how those priorities that were articulated with regard to historically black colleges are represented in the budget that will be presented, and passed by both the House and the Senate.

(Editor’s note: After this interview was conducted, President Trump on March 16 released a budget proposal that, Inside Higher Ed reports, maintains funding for historically black colleges and universities but reduces spending on programs that support many students of those schools, such as work-study programs and a grant program for low-income students.)

There also was some backlash to the meeting. Students at Howard University protested their president’s participation, and Morehouse College President John Wilson Jr. put out a statement calling the meetings “troubling.” Do you share some of the concerns?

Well, I think anytime you can assemble together and have dialog about the future of the institutions that you manage on a day-to-day basis, it’s always productive. I think at this point, as I said earlier, we’re waiting to see what the budgetary priorities will reflect. So, we’re looking forward to that.

There also was criticism of comments Education Secretary Betty DeVos made that historically black colleges were “real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” rather than formed out of necessity because of segregation. Did you have any reaction to those comments?

No. I think sometimes not understanding history and not understanding the context for which these universities were founded, people can make sometimes misleading statements. So, I didn’t have any comment on that at all.

Racial reconciliation has been a prominent issue in the Episcopal Church in recent years as it faces its own historical complicity with slavery and racism. Do you see Saint Augustine’s playing a role in the church’s reconciliation efforts?

Oh, yes, we are as a university in full support of the presiding bishop’s priority around racial reconciliation and the Jesus Movement. And we are amenable in a way that Saint Augustine’s University can be a part of serving as a catalyst or platform where dialog can take place and intellectual exchange can happen to advance stronger race relations in the nation. We are in full support of that, and I commend the church for its efforts to have an open dialog about the future.

Saint Augustine’s is turning 150 years old. Any thoughts on what the university will look like in another 150 years?

Another 150 years, we see a very active academic and intellectual community with innovative programs. You know, everything is moving to distance learning now. We see expanding, of course, distance learning and adding graduate programs. We certainly see an expansion on our original founding with regard to religious studies, making sure that we continue to introduce young scholars who are interested in the Episcopal Church to prepare themselves here and then move on to seminary. And Saint Augustine’s is currently in a food desert, so building on the legacy of St. Agnes Hospital we see ourselves as a health catalyst to provide training and opportunities around health disparities and issues regarding health as well.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org. This interview was lightly edited for clarity and condensed.

Chaplaincy in UAE marks Christ Church’s 15th anniversary with road trip

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 1:54pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] To celebrate 15 years since the consecration of Christ Church in Jebel Ali, to the southwest of Dubai, the Rev. Tim Heaney and chaplaincy staff made a 150-mile round trip, visiting several other Anglican churches.

Heaney is responsible for a chaplaincy that covers six of the seven Emirates in the United Arab Emirates. (Abu Dhabi in the south is a separate Chaplaincy).

Full article.

Anglican leaders in Ireland react to death of Irish politician Martin McGuinness

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 1:51pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican leaders of the Church in Ireland have issued statements on the death of Martin McGuinness, the ex-IRA leader-turned-politician who has died aged 66. McGuinness worked at the heart of the power-sharing government following the 1998 peace settlement.

Full article.

Anglican Church in Canada challenges senator’s comments on residential schools

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 1:48pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church in Canada has sent a strongly worded open letter, expressing dismay over a Conservative senator’s recent defense of the Indian Residential Schools system. Earlier this month, Sen. Lynn Beyak criticized the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for letting the negative aspects of the schools system overshadow the “good deeds” of “well-intentioned” teachers.

Full article.

St. Jame’s in Austin informs, empowers Hispanic community

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 12:55pm

[Diocese of Texas] Lawyer Jim Harrington doesn’t mince words as he assists a family comprised of legal and undocumented immigrants in filling out power of attorney and caregiver affidavits.

“These forms need to be clear and correct, or they’ll find any reason to separate you from your children,” said Harrington, founder Proyecto Santiago, a community outreach program that meets at St. James’ Episcopal Church to inform families on issues facing the Hispanic community.

These communities must find some way to live and exist in a post-election, Donald Trump presidency. President Trump’s hardline campaign promises on immigration have come to fruition in the form of illegal and documented immigrants alike finding their lives thrown into upheaval by ICE, or the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency

The effects of this agency’s work are being felt all around Austin. The Austin American-Statesman reported on Feb. 22 that federal documents obtained by the newspaper revealed U.S. immigration agents arrest a higher number of people in Austin without prior criminal convictions than in any other region of the country. This news preceded the results of a national operation in the city where more than 51 people were arrested in an ICE operation known as Cross Check. Among the 51 arrested, only 23 possessed criminal convictions or violent offenses.

Harrington’s mission in the area has always centered on helping those whose rights are being infringed upon. He began the Texas Civil Rights Project in 1990 and has worked as a human rights lawyer for more than 40 years. He’s now using that experience to educate and inform the Hispanic community of St James, having formed Proyecto Santiago almost a year ago. The goal was to inform bilingual and Spanish-speaking members of the congregation alike on consumer information, how to interact with the police and government agencies, and addressing community problems.

This particular meeting on March 4 was to assist with filling out legal documents for family members, such as special power of attorney forms, but also having personal information organized and a plan in motion for when detainment is imminent.

The room was filled with about 30 members of the Hispanic congregation—making up about seven families—each a mix of those who spoke English were undocumented, or legal citizens of the United States. A low hum of anxiety and fear hovered over the community hall for the three-hour meeting, but Harrington finds hope in the response and turnout.

“There’s a lot of worry about what’s going to happen in the future,” Harrington said. “Still, nobody tonight was afraid to ask questions. I asked everyone where they were from, and the response was forthcoming.”

The community views the church as a safe place, which is something that the church as a whole has done well with to this point, according to Harrington. He thinks the key to helping protect and inform the Hispanic community around Austin is to organize the congregation as a whole, but also to ask questions and be empathic towards the plight of our immigrant neighbors.

When asked what those who wish to help can do, Harrington thinks the key is understanding. “In this immigration story, we talk about what happens north of the border. We never talk about the story from the border down and the violence and suffering that drives people to the United States.”

For Harrington, helping is as simple as showing that you care. “What we did today is easy to replicate, and left these people feeling empowered to help others. They wouldn’t have gotten that feeling from just going to a lawyer. Now, these same people tell me ‘I’m going to bring more people next time.’”

For more information on Proyecto Santiago, visit StJamesAustin.Org.

— Paulette Martin is the Diocese of Texas’ Hispanic communications specialist. 

Anglican Church of Australia makes twin track Easter appeal

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 5:18pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Board of Mission, which is the national mission agency of the Anglican Church of Australia, has called on Anglicans to support partners in Jerusalem and Australia to give the gifts of health and education this Easter.

Full article.

Australian primate issues statement on Royal Commission

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:19am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, has issued a statement as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse begins its final hearing with the Anglican Church in Sydney.

Full article.

Former Burundi Archbishop Ntahoturi to head Anglican Centre in Rome

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:18am

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, left, and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Photo: Lambeth Palace

[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome have announced the appointment of Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate of the Anglican Church of Burundi from 2005 until 2016 as the representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See and director of the Anglican Centre.He succeeds Archbishop David Moxon who retires in June.

He succeeds Archbishop David Moxon who retires in June.

Born in 1948, Ntahoturi grew up in a small village in Matana, Southern Burundi, the son of a poor farming family.  After training at Bishop Tucker Theological College in Mukono, Uganda, he was ordained in 1973. He came to England to further his theological training at Ridley Hall and St John’s in Cambridge, where he is now an honorary fellow, and then at Lincoln College, Oxford. After his studies, he returned to  Burundi where he joined the civil service,  becoming chief of staff to President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza.  After the overthrowing of Bagaza in 1987 in a military coup, he was jailed from 1987 to 1990. In 1992, he became provincial secretary of the Anglican Church of Burundi until 1997.
when he was consecrated bishop of Matana Diocese. He became archbishop primate of the Province of the Anglican Church of Burundi in 2005.

Ntahoturi has served as chair of the Council of Anglican provinces in Africa from 2011-2016, and as a member of the Anglican Consultative Council Standing Committee from ACC  9-ACC 11 (1993-2012).

He has extensive ecumenical experience, having served as a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches since 1998, and co-moderator of the Permanent Committee on Collaboration and Consensus which brings together representatives of the Orthodox, Anglicans and Reformed Churches. He has also served on the Executive Committee of ACT (Action of Churches Together) International and participated in the creation of the new ACT Alliance which is the ecumenical branch of the WCC for Relief and Development.

Ntahoturi has been active in seeking peace in war-torn Burundi and the great Lakes region of Africa, and has represented the protestant churches of Burundi during the peace and reconciliation negotiations in Tanzania, which were instrumental in bringing peace to Burundi.  He is vice chair of the Burundi Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and Chair of the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) as well as being a serving bishop in Burundi.Archbishop Ntahouri already speaks French, English, Kirundi and Swahili and is looking forward to learning Italian!   He will take over from Archbishop Moxon in September 2017.

He speaks French, English, Kirundi and Swahili. He will take over from Moxon in September.

“I am personally delighted that Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi has agreed to take up the joint post of Archbishop’s Representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome,” Welby said. “The appointment of a former Primate to this post for the second time running demonstrates the importance I attach to developing the increasingly close relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. Archbishop Bernard has played an immensely valuable role in the life of the Anglican Communion for many years both as a bishop and more recently as a Primate.  He also brings extensive ecumenical experience in Burundi, in the Anglican Communion and in the life of the World Council of Churches.  I wish him every blessing in his new role.”

Ntahoturi said he is “honored delighted to be chosen for this role, and am looking forward to continuing the work of the dedicated men who have held this post before me.”

“I would like to strengthen those areas, especially in peace building, where the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church can work together for a common witness so that the world may believe and God glorified.”

Bishop Stephen Platten, chair of the Anglican Centre, said Ntahoturi “brings wide ecumenical and international experience and as an Anglican Primate in a predominantly Roman Catholic country. He follows directors from Eurasia, the Americas and Australasia and so broadens the base of the Centre in completing our continental spread. It is excellent that, like his predecessor, he is a former primate and serving archbishop.”

Bishop of Newcastle in Australia announces resignation

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:16am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson of the Diocese of Newcastle, in Australia, has announced his resignation. Bishop Thompson served the diocese for three years and has been a strong advocate for survivors of child abuse during his tenure.

Full article.

Closing the loop on racial reconciliation

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 1:22pm

[Episcopal News Service] He felt attacked, and says so, specifically choosing the word to convey his strength of emotion. Yes, he felt personally attacked. But A.W. “Buster” Lewis also felt that R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington, Virginia–his parish–“as I knew it, was being attacked and that we needed to do something about it.”

Lewis’s feelings first welled up in the summer of 2015, when the vestry of R.E. Lee Memorial decided to explore the idea of changing its name of 114 years. The decision came in the wake of the June 2015 shooting at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left three wounded and nine dead. Quick on the heels of the shooting, the Episcopal Church passed a resolution at its 78th General Convention urging “…all persons, along with public, governmental, and religious institutions, to discontinue the display of the Confederate Battle Flag.”

A drawing of R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington, Virginia.

Confederate flags were not the issue in question at R. E. Lee, a reasonably large parish of 465 members in a small town of some 7,200 residents. Lexington is home to Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University. Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson are buried there, and the Appalachian Trail wends its way north just a few miles away. This university town’s rural surroundings and deep historical roots blend into its own ecosystem—one that feeds R.E. Lee.

“[Our parish is] a rather diverse community on the conservative-liberal spectrum,” says the Rev. Tom Crittenden, rector of R.E. Lee Memorial.

In that diverse setting, with the Charleston massacre looming large in the country’s conscience, a parishioner had written a letter to the vestry about the church’s name. The parishioner “just wanted to go on record that the name was not helpful to the mission of the church, and asked the vestry to consider changing the name,” says Crittenden. Given “the context of those killings and the Confederate memorabilia,” Crittenden says, “when [the vestry] received the letter, there was a general awareness that the name was on some level problematic.’’ With that awareness and with the letter as a catalyst, a discussion of its name opened up among R.E. Lee Memorial’s 465 members.

That same summer, just 138 miles to the east at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, the Rev. Wallace Adams-Riley spoke from the pulpit about the Confederate symbols in his church, long known as “the Cathedral of the Confederacy.” During the Civil War, Richmond was the capitol of the Confederate States of America. Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, worshipped at St. Paul’s and Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States of America, was a member.

When Adams-Riley preached 11 days after the Charleston shooting, he spoke about the church’s visible, tactile links to the Confederacy. St. Paul’s vestry member Linda Armstrong remembers hearing that “it’s time for us to look at what message that sends to others.” The rector also spoke on “hate, white supremacy and white privilege,” she says. “It did make people think—people go to church and don’t really look around.”

With that, Adams-Riley had set St. Paul’s on its own path to discerning how the parish’s past and its adornments square up with its current identity and values.

A Sunday morning worship service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. Photo: Gail Goldsmith

From Washington National Cathedral to the Diocese of Maryland, discussions linking history with the national conversation about race have sprung up across the Episcopal Church. Still, those conversations often feel stilted, defensive, too shallow or well-meaning—and consequently, miss the point.

For racial reconciliation efforts to hit their stride, the conversations must transcend the dynamics of a typical daily exchange.  Meaningful racial reconciliation means digging deep on an emotional level, says Heidi Kim, the Episcopal Church’s staff officer for racial reconciliation.

“Part of why we cannot have open and vulnerable conversations about racism is because there has been so much shame and blame around racism,” Kim says. People of color are shamed for who they are, while white people are blamed for racism. “We have to do better [than that],” she says.

Lewis didn’t feel good about the conversation at R.E. Lee Memorial from the get-go. “The vestry, in my point of view, mishandled the whole issue,” he says. The governing body decided to consider the name change when many parishioners were out of town for summer vacation, and Lewis felt a lack of transparency starting with those first meetings.

Moreover, “I felt that the members for generations really, literally, had lived with this name almost as a source of pride,” he says. Since joining the church in 1972, Lewis says he had only heard one person question the name until the issue surfaced in 2015.

Crittenden describes a different experience. “I came here nine years ago and the name of the church was a topic of random conversation,” he says. The rector points out that his church was founded in 1840, more than a generation before the Civil War. Originally founded as Latimer Parish, it became Grace Episcopal Church in 1842. Robert E. Lee worshipped there after the war, while president of Washington College (today’s Washington and Lee University). The church became R.E. Lee Memorial in 1903, 33 years after the Confederate general’s death. “The church was not founded in honor of Lee,” Crittenden says.

The parish considered its name for four months with various activities, including town hall-style forums, small group discussions and a congregational survey. A deep divide quickly emerged between members who saw the name as “anachronistic” and out of sync with the parish’s mission, and those for whom the name expresses a “deeper history of the church within the community and Lee’s role at the church,” Crittenden explains.

When the issue came to a vote in November 2015, the vestry decided that the name change needed a supermajority to pass. It failed by one vote. The congregation has yet to recover.

This kind of outcome wouldn’t surprise Kim. “There’s no magic bullet” for success with racial reconciliation, she says—the process hinges on how people approach the work, and each other. Talking about race, even in a veiled way, requires a willingness to value everyone as the expert on their own life experience, rather than elevating a select few as experts, she says. From start to finish, “being in right relationship has to be more important than being right,” Kim adds.

A similar sentiment guides Don Edwards, founder of Justice and Sustainability Associates, a for-profit management consulting firm that facilitates “just and sustainable agreements around land use.” With years of land-use experience under its belt, JSA accepted its first racial reconciliation project about 10 years ago. As well as navigating the intersection of land and race, they have also worked with a handful of churches, including St. Paul’s. “Contextually, this is an area that is expanding,” Edwards says. “The Episcopal Church in the South is a particular portal” for such discussions about race.

Relics of the past, whether a name, plaques or needlepoint kneelers, ignited the conversations at both parishes. And through them, long-dead congregants live on, as they do through their descendants, some of whom attend the same churches that their families did generations ago.

“There is an element that we want to introduce that makes it as safe as possible for people to talk about their [ancestors] without having to take ownership of the choices their relations made,” Edwards says. In practice, this means understanding the range of views in a congregation, organizing small group discussions, fostering mutual respect, training facilitators and keeping a watchful eye on participants during emotional discussions

Adams-Riley credits Edwards with cultivating “a sense of welcoming one another and a sense of people being invited to share from the heart; a sense of honoring one another” at St. Paul’s. About 100 people attended the parish’s two prayerful conversations in August 2015.

Armstrong remembers well the conversations she attended as a member of St. Paul’s. When congregants had settled into groups of eight to 10 people, someone said that African-Americans find the Confederate battle flag offensive. “I don’t know that that had ever been spoken in a group, and I think people heard it,” she says.

With Edwards’s task completed, St. Paul’s moved forward. Confederate flag images inside the church were removed. Other items connected to the Confederacy remained—and their meaning is currently being reframed. And the History and Reconciliation Initiative formed. Armstrong chairs the group, which includes a history working group, another on liturgy and music and a third known as the memorial working group.

Working with a four-year plan, the history working group has dug into church archives and found other ways to understand St. Paul’s history. Once that process has wrapped up, the music and liturgy working group will figure out how those elements lend themselves to racial reconciliation.

Ultimately, the group aims to memorialize its past, keeping in mind “that part of our history is oppressive and it’s brutal,” Armstrong says. In the meantime, the congregation’s “prayerful conversations” continue, in the form of potluck discussions.  At the next potluck, in April, congregants will watch and discuss the documentary “Traces of the Trade.” The film’s director and producer, Katrina Brown, will be on hand for the event.

“We want to tell a whole and honest history [of St. Paul’s],” says the Rev. Melanie Mullen, Episcopal Church director of reconciliation, justice and creation care. Until March 1, Mullen worked as downtown missioner at St. Paul’s.

That desire holds the congregation together, Armstrong says. The process hasn’t been seamless, or easy. “It’s complicated…just the chatter was emotional for people,” she adds. While not everyone has gotten involved, most of the parish’s 450 active members have. “People have a sense, really, of being energized by this,” says Adams-Riley.

Armstrong expounds upon this sentiment. Although the word reconciliation implies an external reckoning or an apology, she expects an internal shift. The parish’s truth-seeking process “should transform not just who we’re seen as, but who we really are,” she says. As parishioners transform, they hope that St. Paul’s reputation as the “Cathedral of the Confederacy,” too, will metamorphose into the “Cathedral of Reconciliation.”

And, although, racial reconciliation is a ministry of the Episcopal Church, “Not everyone will feel called to this ministry,” Kim says, “and that’s okay.” She discourages congregations considering racial reconciliation just because “it’s the right thing to do,” or the ministry du jour.

About 10 people who favored the name change at R.E. Lee Memorial, including two families with children, left in the wake of the vote according to parishioner Lacey Lynch. Lynch also rooted for the name change but wasn’t surprised when it didn’t pass. For now, Lynch and her family have stayed. With the vote behind them, though, fewer parishioners participate in church life. While the post-vote exodus was small, the tone of parish life feels dramatically different.  Lynch points to an “underlying tension; it’s hard to describe it.”

Like Lynch, Lewis has stuck with his parish, despite feeling attacked.  He thinks—and hopes—that the name change question has been put firmly behind them. For her part, Lynch articulates a different wish.  “I hope that there can be further discussion on [the name change],” she says, “because I don’t see it as politically correct, I see it as addressing what the history of the Confederacy means.”

R.E. Lee Memorial did not hire a consultant when considering its name, but the parish has done so to help in healing its resulting rifts.“I think the discussion and then the vote was a wake-up call,” Crittenden says.  “It revealed differences in the congregation that “mirror[ed] the divisions that were in our country in the last election.”

Guided by the consulting firm, the parish is “discerning how we more fully move to unity as a congregation, as a church family, and focus on our call to serve,” Crittenden explains.  The process, Lewis says, is going well. Nothing is more important to the R.E. Lee community right now than seeing it through, Crittenden says.

Advocates articulate solid reasons for choosing the path of racial reconciliation, from repentance to creating a more just world. Edwards, the consultant, an Episcopalian who grew up attending a black Episcopal church, adds another: With dwindling attendance at Episcopal churches, “you should think about the fact that where demand decreases, supply contracts.” A racially reconciled church opens its doors to a broader spectrum of humanity and is less likely to die out.

When you see any white Episcopal church, you have to ask, “What black church spun off from this church?” Edwards says. Reuniting predominantly white churches with black churches founded by white Episcopalians just makes sense, he says—and can only happen when congregants actually talk about race and their past. That reunion, “the closing of the loop,” as Edwards calls it; “there’s a kind of elegance to that and that motivates me because these people all share a religion, they all share a belief in God—one God.”

— Heather Beasley Doyle is a freelance journalist based in Massachusetts.

Canada: Faith groups stand together against politics of hate and fear sparked by US administration

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 12:09pm

[Anglican Journal] People of many faiths met twice early in March in Vancouver to show support for one another at two well-attended public meetings that celebrated diversity and took a stand against acts of hatred.

Both gatherings were in reaction to concerns about an upsurge in anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of social conflict that seem to have accompanied the inauguration of the new administration in the United States.

Full article.

Canada: Discernment for priests needs to be ‘tweaked,’ says bishop

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 12:05pm

[Anglican Journal] The Anglican Church of Canada should “re-tool” its methods for assessing candidates for the priesthood to make the process more sensitive to context, says Bishop Bill Cliff, of the diocese of Brandon. 

Full article.

South Sudanese women play vital role in peacebuilding

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 12:01pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Key Anglican campaigners for peace and justice in war-torn South Sudan have told a meeting at the United Nations in New York about the vital role women and the church have been playing in peace building and supporting the victims of conflict.

Full article.

Church of Ireland Refugee Working Groups launch resource on supporting asylum seekers and refugees

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 11:57am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of Ireland’s Refugee Working Groups have launched a new resource on supporting asylum seekers and refugees in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The 14-page document summarizes how the Church of Ireland has supported asylum seekers and refugees in recent years and highlights opportunities for members of the Church to become more involved in this area of ministry and service.

Full article.

Episcopal bishops make three-day journey into diversity and inclusion

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 2:58pm



[Episcopal News Service – Hendersonville, North Carolina] In March 2015 in the aftermath of the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops decided it was time to write a new letter to Episcopalians about racism. Then, some of the bishops had a realization.

“The first thing that we said was: ‘We don’t need to write a letter. We need to deal with these issues ourselves: power, privilege and race,’” said Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith, describing a late-night meeting of bishops who had volunteered to write such a letter that took place in Salt Lake City during General Convention in 2015.

The letter would have followed on one adopted by the house in April 1994 and another one issued March 22, 2006. However, Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas said, it was clear that many of the things talked about in those letters “were still in front us.”

In the 1994 letter, the bishops concluded that all Christians were called to work for reconciliation and unity. “Central to this mission is the intentional transformation of all structures, systems and practices in the church and elsewhere that perpetuate the evil of racism,” the bishops wrote.

Douglas said “it was also clear that there were lots feelings amongst us that we were going to need to work on. So, if we didn’t do our work first, we didn’t feel like we were in a position to tell the wider church what to do.”

Beckwith and Douglas spoke to Episcopal News Service at Kangua Camp and Conference Center after they and their colleagues completed three days of intensive work on diversity and inclusion conducted by Valerie Batts and Bill Kondrath of Visions Inc. Those three days constituted the beginning of the bishops’ March 10-14 meeting.

A small group of bishops who were part of the Salt Lake City meeting worked in December 2015 with Visions, a non-profit group that says it helps people and groups thrive in a diverse world. 

Beckwith said that work deepened the bishops’ desire to bring the process to the entire house. The bishops did some preliminary work during their March 2016 retreat meeting, making it the second meeting in a row during which bishops discussed racism

Diocese of Western New York Bishop William Franklin watches March 11 as Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas pastes sticky notes of comments from one of his table’s discussions during the House of Bishops meeting at Kanuga Camp and Conference Center outside Hendersonville, North Carolina. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Heading into this meeting there was, Douglas said, “an appropriate reticence to come and do another ‘anti-racism training.’” Nevertheless, the large-group presentations and the time bishops spent discussing the material at their tables gave the bishops “some tools to recognize, understand, appreciate and utilize differences” to help the world move closer to the reign of God, he said.

The goals set out for the three days were to build a case for the church to engage in racial justice and reconciliation; establish common language for discussing that work, especially as part of spiritual formation; deepen the investment the house and the church have already made in such work; grow as a house in trust, vulnerability and community; and develop the capacity and skill for leading dioceses in such work.

Among the tools that Visions introduced to the bishops were guidelines for effective cross-cultural dialogue, learning about how societies can move from monoculturalism to pluralism and how many stories make up a community’s story, how oppression and change happen at various levels of a culture, exploring how various types of feedback are given and received, experiencing how feelings impact behaviors, discussing how to recognize “modern isms” as opposed to classic “isms” and how historically excluded and included groups approach those “isms.”

Batts and Kondrath anchored the three days in creating spaces of “sacred listening” in which the bishops could tell stories of their experiences that related to the learnings. The two consultants asked the bishops to consider their engagement in the world on four levels: personally, in their relationships in their dioceses,  in their role as bishops of the church and in the culture at large.

Douglas and North Carolina Bishop Suffragan Anne Hodges-Copple discussed those levels and all three of the days here.

Bishops participate in an exercise about the power of feelings on March 11 during the House of Bishops meeting at Kanuga Camp and Conference Center outside Hendersonville, North Carolina. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry presented the three days as a way for bishops to begin to exercise their role as reconcilers and to invite others into that role as well.

“This is a time of great chaos and upheaval in the country and the presiding bishop is calling us to the Church’s stance of a beloved and gracious community,” East Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley, chair of the house’s planning committee, said.

Curry also “reminded us that in many ways we have been bystanders and that in this particular moment … we are called to get off the sideline and to engage with something more than words … to not just give lip service to issues of inclusion and diversity, to check off that anti-racism box,” Ousley said.

Bishop Eugene Sutton of the Diocese of Maryland said that the work was leadership training “on how do we tell our stories and deeply listen to others, and how do we invite others into that conversation.”

“I can’t wait to go back and see how we get the whole church involved in this process that we’re doing now,” he said on March 10.

The three-day focus on such work, said Rochester Bishop Prince Singh, “is part of the larger umbrella of themes that we have gotten out of [the 78th] General Convention where evangelism, racial reconciliation and care for creation is a part of what we are doing this whole triennium.”

The bishops met for Eucharist late each afternoon. On March 11, the service focused on healing, including a litany of forgiveness written by Diocese of Albany Bishop Bill Love. The bishop, who also presided, said the service was the first of its kind for the house in at least the past 10 years.

Western New York Bishop William Franklin said on the second day that the work was “transforming our own house. Divisions are being healed, as witnessed by this powerful service that brought our day to an end.”

Alaska Bishop Mark Lattime offers reflections March 12 on his participation in the Native Nations Rise activities in Washington, D.C., March 9-10. Lattime, Diocese of Navajoland Bishop David Bailey, Diocese of Montana Assistant Bishop Carol Gallagher, Diocese of North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith and Diocese of South Dakota Bishop John Tarrant also participated. The one-word signs on the wall behind Lattime were part of a March 11 exercise about the impact of feelings. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Springfield Bishop Dan Martins, who blogged about the meeting, said that the time allotted to conversations at each table allowed those with whom he was seated “to go deeper in some very profound ways than we’ve been able to do in the past.”

Martins, who calls himself “part of a theological minority” in the House of Bishops, told ENS the day after the three-day workshop he thought “a group of Christian bishops ought to be engaged in the subject of racism and racial reconciliation from a much deeper biblical and theological angle than from the behavioral and transactional perspective that we were given.”

Martins doesn’t foresee using any of the tools “in a formal, programmatic way” in his southern Illinois diocese. The most “immediately important” shift his diocese needs, he said, is a move away from an “attractional model” that predicts people will come to a church if they feel welcomed and Sunday worship is a “showpiece.” That is not a strategy for a post-Christian society, he said.

“So, I am trying to help all of us to embrace a strategy that is apostolic where we go to them,” Martins said.

“In the context of doing all that, if we uncovered opportunities for racial reconciliation, then, yes, we will certainly embrace those opportunities but that’s not a starting point; it would be more of a byproduct,” he said.

The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation, and creation, helped the house’s planning committee construct the three days. After they were over, she said, she felt the bishops accomplished the goals. However, she added, the work is not over.

“For Episcopalians, the work will always be inner work and outer work,” she said. “It’s figuring out what are my biases, what are my fears, what line of difference am I most terrified of crossing and how is God growing my heart. I have to be doing that even as I look around at systems and ask the questions about structure or racism, structural discrimination.”

While the House of Bishops has talked about racism for the last three spring meetings, Spellers said, “The conversations this time were not the same as the conversations last time.”

She hopes that the bishops always “go deeper” in the laboratory that is the community of the House of Bishops and that they “will model for the whole church the realization that this is a part of our lifelong spiritual formation.”

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

House of Bishops Spring 2017 meeting: Video Daily Account for March 14

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 12:56pm

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is joined by El Camino Real Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, vice president of the House of Bishops, on the right, and Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce, the house’s secretary, left, to discuss the House of Bishops’ March 10-14 meeting at Kanuga Conference Center in North Carolina.


Episcopal congregation leads effort to ‘green up’ Rust Belt city in western New York

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 3:47pm

James Colby, a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown, New York, speaks March 8 at a presentation by professor Sherri Mason as part of a lecture series sponsored by GreenUp Jamestown. Photo: GreenUp Jamestown, via Facebook.

[Episcopal News Service] Easter comes less than a week before Earth Day this year. That closeness is more than a fact of the calendar for St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown, New York. It’s a double calling to what the Rev. Luke Fodor terms “creation care.”

The congregation at St. Luke’s is at the center of a community project launched this Lent called “GreenUp Jamestown” that mixes Christian spirituality and environmental stewardship. GreenUp’s initial slate of events is filled with eco-themed lectures and panel discussions arranged with the help of several partner organizations in the city. It culminates with an Earth Day program on April 22, though Fodor hopes the scope and support will continue to grow.

“The more we can … connect again with our origins, then we’ll be so much healthier, not just in our bodies but in our spirits,” Fodor said.

That connection is more than theoretical, he said. When a priest on Ash Wednesday says “’we came from dust and to dust we will return,’ that means the Earth,’” he said, adding but much of modern society has become alienated from our dirt-bound biology. Fodor also laments that even though we still celebrate a Christian liturgy with deep agricultural underpinnings, we’ve lost touch with how our food gets to our table.

“People don’t have a real sense of creation care, so we need to do something,” Fodor said.

This type of “doing something” wasn’t at the top of his priorities list when Fodor first moved to western New York three years ago to take over as rector of the Episcopal church in this Rust Belt city known historically for its furniture manufacturing.

Fodor’s longtime passion for the environment already had begun losing its grip on his daily routine. As a younger man in New York City, he had biked everywhere. He was diligent about recycling. When he and his wife became parents, they chose cloth diapers over landfill-clogging disposables.

Some of those habits started changing when Fodor began serving at a church on suburban Long Island, starting with his increased reliance on a car over the bicycle. But in Jamestown he found a city closer to nature and God’s earthly creations than its industrial, manufacturing past may suggest.

Fodor pointed to one of Jamestown’s biggest draws, Chautauqua Lake, a natural jewel on the west side of the city. The region also is a popular bird flyway, and the city is the birthplace of Roger Tory Peterson, the renowned naturalist and bird artist. Jamestown has celebrated Earth Day from the beginning in 1970, when then-Mayor Stan Lundine helped coordinate a stunt involving a public display of several tons of dirt to illustrate how much pollution falls on the city. The stunt drew national attention.

“There’s a real history here of environmentalism,” said James Colby, a member of St. Luke’s who has been working with Fodor on getting GreenUp going.

Colby, 66, is retired after working as curator for the Weeks Gallery at Jamestown Community College, and one of his contributions to GreenUp will be to coordinate a 14-foot art installation at St. Luke’s made of illuminated mason jars. But that is set for next year. In this first year, he and Fodor have aimed primarily to spark greater environmental awareness in the community while enlisting many collaborators, including the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, the Robert H. Jackson Center and Jamestown’s Audubon center.

St. Luke’s, then, is “sort of a center organization with spokes that reach out to people already working with the environment,” Colby said.

James Colby and Sherri Mason pose for a photo at the March 8 event sponsored by GreenUp Jamestown. Photo: GreenUp Jamestown, via Facebook.

The GreenUp lecture series’ kickoff event, held March 8 at the public library in Jamestown, was a presentation by Sherri Mason, a chemistry professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia. Fodor said a crowd of about 90 people came to listen to Mason talk about her research on the Great Lakes and about the environmental legacy of writer Rachel Carson.

The library was chosen as the venue to bring the project into the community, not isolate it in the church. Even so, before attending Mason’s presentation, about 25 parishioners joined Fodor for a brief service in the St. Luke’s chapel in which they prayed for forgiveness for humanity’s past abuse of the environment and vowed to recommit themselves to being Earth stewards.

Fodor will lead the next two programs in the GreenUp series, on March 15 and 22, at St. Luke’s. One will look to the Celtic saints as models for “green spirituality” and the other will mine Genesis for an answer to the question “Did god really propose human domination of creation?”

The president of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute is scheduled to speak March 29 at the church about Jamestown’s “urban nature,” and the Lenten lecture series concludes April 5 with another presentation at the library, this time a panel discussion of Rachel Carson’s “Under the Sea-Wind.”

Other events are scheduled beyond the Lenten series, including an evening of prayer, art and music on Earth Day at St. Luke’s.

In this first year, the diversity of topics and community organizations was by design, Colby said. “What we tried to do this year is to give everyone a piece.” The future of GreenUp Jamestown may entail tackling certain projects and issues more intently, such as supporting cleanup efforts in Chautauqua Lake or promoting solar energy and other renewable sources.

Colby, who has enough solar panels on his home to provide for his own energy needs, calls climate change “the biggest challenge that we’re facing.”

“I think as Christians, it’s an obligation to bring society forward, and clean, renewable energy is one of those areas,” he said.

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

Anglican Evensong celebrated in Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 12:34pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Another milestone in relations between Canterbury and Rome took place in the Vatican on Monday as a traditional Anglican Choral Evensong was celebrated for the first time in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Anglican and Catholic bishops and clergy – including one female chaplain, Rev Dana English from the Anglican Church of All Saints Rome – gathered together at the altar below Bernini’s great bronze sculpture encasing the relics of the Chair of St. Peter.

Full article.

Hopes high as UN conference on women’s economic empowerment begins

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 12:20pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Optimism, enthusiasm and expectation filled the air as Anglican, Episcopal and Women’s Union delegates from more than 20 countries gathered for the opening day of the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York on March 13.

Full article.