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Updated: 2 hours 51 min ago

Wales ordains first female bishop

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 12:28pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The first woman to be ordained as a bishop by the Church in Wales has described her consecration at the weekend as “awe-inspiring.”

The Rt. Rev. Joanna Penberthy, former rector of the Benefice of Glan Ithon in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, said: “I didn’t think at the beginning of my ministry that I would ever see women in the episcopate but you had to keep believing. What was important was living out the calling that we had at that time and by doing so, opening people’s eyes to the fact that God doesn’t just call men, God calls all of us to his ministry in a way which fits our own particular gifts and talents.”

Full article.

After presidential power shifts, Episcopalians ask: How should we pray?

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 10:14am

The Book of Common Prayer calls for Episcopalians to pray for the nation and those in authority (page 359). Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] When Bishop Jeff Lee wrote to Episcopalians in the Diocese of Chicago after the November election, he asked that they pray for Donald Trump, as well as all elected officials and for the church.

One recipient asked him to stop telling people to admire the president-elect. Such admiration was not what Lee was after, but only prayer, he told the recipient. Yet, he said in an interview with Episcopal News Service, the person’s reaction gave him a clue about the intensity of the reactions to Trump’s election.

The dialogue between Lee and a member of his diocese is not an isolated incident. Since Trump’s election in November, many Episcopalians have asked what it means to pray for the 45th U.S. president during public worship, how to do it, and, for some, even whether to offer such prayers at all.

For some Episcopalians, there is no debate: they will pray for Trump whether they are happy to have him as president or not. While some congregations that are in the habit of praying for the president by name might end that practice; for others, it is a foregone conclusion that such specificity will continue.

In social media and congregational discussions, other Episcopalians make the distinction between praying for the office of the president, not the individual. Some say that they cannot abide Trump being named in the liturgy because hearing his name triggers trauma for some congregants considering his past sexual, misogynist and racial comments, and general behavior during the campaign and since. Still others say that one cannot separate praying for the office and the officeholder; they know who is in that office whether or not they name him.

Does praying for the president imply blessing, commending or accepting that person’s behavior or politics, others wonder. Or is praying for God to guide this incoming president or any president exactly what Christians ought to be doing?

What the Book of Common Prayer and the Bible say

The Book of Common Prayer is clear, in as far as it goes. The second of the six rubrics that standardize the Prayers of the People in the Rite II Eucharistic liturgy (page 359) requires petitions forthe Nation and all in authority.” The rubrics do not require leaders to be prayed for by name.

Of the six suggested Rite II forms for those prayers, only a bidding in Form I makes specific mention of “our President.” Form V is the only one that gives an option of praying for “those in positions of public trust” by name.

Holy Eucharist Rite I’s single Prayers of the People form gives the option of praying by name for “those who bear the authority of government.”

Presumably, congregations that adapt the prayer book’s forms or use other forms for the Prayers of the People follow the categories listed in the prayer book rubrics.

The Book of Common Prayer also contains prayers for use in any liturgy or for private prayer, including nine “Prayers for National Life” (pages 821-823) and two “Thanksgivings for National Life” (pages 838-839).

The first of the six forms of the Prayers of the People in Rite II’s Eucharistic liturgy includes a petition for the president (page 384). Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Many Episcopalians root their Prayers of the People decisions in Scripture. They reference Matthew 5:43-48 in which Jesus tells his followers to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

They also cite Paul’s admonition to the Romans not to be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21), as well as the next verse (Romans 13:1) in which Paul says Christians should obey “the governing authorities.” Some point to 1 Timothy 2:1-4 in which the author calls on Christians to pray for “kings and all who are in high positions.”

Is this a test?

A thread running through many of these discussions is whether this prayer debate is a test of Episcopalians’ faithfulness to the Gospel.

“This is when religion gets real,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry told Episcopal News Service in a recent interview. When facing questions such as this, Curry said Christians must confront their understanding of their identity in Christ.

“If we are living into being a part of the movement of Jesus of Nazareth, following his footsteps and his spirit, his way; if that’s who we are; and, if that’s what baptism is about, then I’ve got to be better than myself even when I don’t want to be,” he said, including honoring the scriptural imperative to pray for those who have wronged you, or worse.

“When we are praying for Donald or Barack … we’re praying for their well-being, to be sure as people, but we’re praying for their leadership; that they will lead in justice, that they will lead in goodness,” he said.

The fifth of the six forms of the Rite II Prayers of the People includes an option to name “those in positions of public trust” (page 390). Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Devon Anderson, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, Minnesota, told ENS that the debate over the Prayers of the People also goes to the heart of Anglican/Episcopal theology about corporate prayer.

“When we come to the altar to pray on Sunday morning, we pray with one voice. We pray the same words, we sing the same hymns, we cup our hands and receive the same bread. Most importantly, we pray for justice,” Anderson said. “Even the prayers that pray for our elected leaders by name have within them prayers for justice.”

Those prayers call upon elected officials to work for the common good with an eye toward justice and a preference for the poor, she said. “All leaders – no matter their platform, fallibilities, exploits, abuses or policies – are in need of those prayers,” Anderson added.

Praying or protesting?

Curry told ENS that praying for leaders and challenging them to change are not mutually exclusive. “I grew up having to pray for leaders that were encouraging Jim Crow segregation and I was the one being segregated, but we did it anyway,” he said.

During the civil rights movement, Curry said, people “prayed and protested at the same time.”

“We got on our knees in church and prayed for them, and then we got up off our knees and we marched on Washington,” he said.

Jack Douglas said he has prayed daily for previous presidents and he will pray for Trump. “This does not mean that I won’t criticize,” wrote Douglas, who lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas. “I’ll always criticize, but I’ll also pray.”

Anderson, who also chairs the Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, believes “church communities must model the kind of justice and engagement we are demanding of our elected leaders,” starting “with corporate prayer which inspires prophetic witness and ministry in our communities on behalf of marginalized people.”

While she understands the impulse of a faith community that is unified in its political ideology to refuse to pray for the president by name, Anderson said she serves “a politically diverse congregation that is not of one mind politically.” It also has a 28-year refugee resettlement ministry, a long-standing partnership with indigenous communities and a commitment to racial reconciliation.

“We have to be very careful to continue to offer corporate worship that unifies us rather than divides. We will continue to pray for our elected leaders (by name) when the Book of Common Prayer calls for it,” she said. “To me, that is an act of resistance against division.”

Trinity also will redouble its outreach efforts in the coming days and years “because the Gospel calls us to those ministries,” she said.

The traditionally worded Rite I Eucharistic liturgy gives the option of praying by name for those “who bear the authority of government” (page 329). Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

For Anderson, the question “is way deeper than proper names in Prayers of the People.”

“The question is: How far are we willing to go to help bring about what we are praying for? How much of our hearts (and our time and our resources) are set on the real work and engagement it will take to set things that are wrong in our country, right again?” she told ENS.

What’s in a name?

The Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton, a longtime activist inside and outside the Episcopal Church who works as a hospice nurse in Delaware, cannot countenance praying for Trump by name during the liturgy. Praying for Trump by name is different than publicly praying for Barack Obama or George W. Bush, she told ENS.

“He has said things that are at odds with the founding principles of this nation: freedom and justice for all. He does not ascribe to that,” Kaeton said, adding that she sees no evidence that Trump respects the dignity of every human being or seeks to serve Christ in all people as the Baptismal Covenant calls for.

“How do we as a corporate body pray for someone who is antithetical to our country and our Christian beliefs without at least having a conversation about what that means?” she asked.

A recent discussion on ENS’ Facebook page exemplified the division this question raises. For example, Judy Schroder Niederman wrote that, because of how she said Trump “ridicules and bullies others, how he lies, how he threatens,” she “cannot and will not utter that man’s name. Not yet emotionally able to pray for him. I will pray for the office of the presidency.”

Alynn Beimford replied, saying for eight years she could not invoke Barack Obama’s name during worship but will “joyfully” use Trump’s.

The Rev. Mike Kinman, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, cited the reaction that Trump’s name stirs in some people in his decision to have the parish stop praying for the president by name.

“We are rightly charged with praying for our leaders,” Kinman wrote. “But we are also charged with keeping the worshipping community, while certainly not challenge-free, a place of safety from harm.”

Kinman likened praying for Trump to requiring an abused woman to pray by name for the person who abused her. “It’s not that the abuser doesn’t need prayer – certainly the opposite – but prayer should never be a trauma-causing act,” he said.

He pledged to listen to the congregation and pray about his decision.

Kaeton said she hopes this debate “opens up a discussion in congregations as well as nationally about prayer, about the efficacy and the purpose of prayer, and the difference between private prayer and public prayer.”

“I hope it gets congregations looking at what they’re doing in their liturgy, and how they’re praying the Prayers of the People and who decides that. Are we just acquiescing to what clergy say?”

The Great Litany (page 148), which many Episcopal congregations will use on the First Sunday in Lent, includes a petition for the U.S. president and is specific about the prayer’s intention. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Michael Arase-Barham, vicar of Holy Family Episcopal Church in Half Moon Bay, California, and Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in nearby Belmont, agreed such a discussion is necessary.

“My immediate instinct is to say I am fascinated that we are talking about whether or not we should be praying instead of praying together,” he told ENS. “However, part of the problem is that, perhaps, we haven’t talked enough about how to pray for our enemies. It’s harder to start praying for your enemies when you have them and it is no longer theoretical.”

Following the conversations on social media, Arase-Barham said he has been struck by “how easily we can look down our noses at each other about this. It seems me that prayer ought to be making all of us a little more humble and open towards one another. In some ways, we’re making enemies of our friends on Facebook.”

“How can we pray from Trump if we can’t discuss this civilly and spiritually?” he asked.

The mysteriously transforming power of prayer

Arase-Barham suggested congregations ought to talk about the reality that the petitions in the Prayers of the People leave enough room for an individual’s intentions to join with other voices in the praying body. For instance, he said, he focused on different things while praying for George W. Bush or Barack Obama during the liturgy.

“The spirit is still able to work in each person in that room praying that prayer, and God is able to work in spite of our desired outcomes through us and through that prayer,” Arase-Barham said.

Curry told ENS “to pray for those who are in leadership is to actually unleash energy that absolutely has its source in God and that may touch the human spirit in some way.”

The prayer is “not avoiding the reality” for the issues involved but, he said, “it’s actually going deeper; it has a way of freeing the person who is praying from the destructive power of a destructive relationship.”

An optional version of the Great Litany found in the authorized “Enriching Our Worship” series includes petitions for all three branches of the U.S. government, and calls for naming the president. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Kim Hobby, pastor of Christ Church Episcopal in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, was among those commenting on the ENS website about the nature of prayer. “Prayer changes things, and the first thing it changes is the one who prays,” she wrote. “True prayer changes our hearts of fear and hatred to hearts of courage and love, despite our human instincts. I pray that the hearts of all our leaders, including the president-elect, will be opened to see, hear, and respond compassionately and respectfully to all people at all times and in all places.”

Lee, the bishop of Chicago, would agree. “Prayer is, first and foremost, not about asking God to rearrange the universe according to my specifications, but asking God to rearrange me,” he told ENS.

In an interview with ENS, the Very Rev. Randolph Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral, said Episcopalians “don’t look at prayer as magic.”

“Our prayers are our way of trying to align ourselves to God and to focus ourselves a little bit more into what God may want for us,” he said. “If I believe that God loves every human being to their core; that God loves every human being infinitely, then how can I just pray for those people I agree with when I know that God loves that person I disagree with to a depth I can’t even understand?”

Read more about it

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

Egyptian Anglicans in peace building partnership with Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 8:39am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Episcopal Diocese of Egypt has announced a landmark partnership with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria Library) to advance cooperation in art, science, culture, peace-building, dialogue and the combating of extremism. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a modern organization designed to “recapture the spirit” of the ancient library of Alexandria, one of the world’s earliest such institutions.

Full article.

Trump inaugural events end in prayer at National Cathedral

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 1:30pm

[The families of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence take their seats at the 1 hour 53 minute mark of this video, followed by Trump and his wife Melania. The service begins shortly thereafter.]

[Episcopal News Service] The morning after Donald Trump became the 45th president, Washington National Cathedral performed one of its traditional roles in U.S. life by offering the new president and the nation a chance to come together in prayer.

A representative of the presiding bishop, the bishop of Washington and the dean of the cathedral led 26 representatives of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Baha’ism and Buddhism in the service. Many of the participants read, chanted and prayed in the language of their faith traditions and in English. Some 1,275 invited guests attended. The cathedral can seat 2,500.

Prior to the service, the cathedral noted on its website that the liturgy was an “interfaith service of prayer, music and Scripture readings, designed to reflect the diversity of our nation and to remind the president that he is called to lead all of us, not just a narrow few.”

The service went on while thousands of people flooded Washington for the Women’s March, including many Episcopalians. Companion marches occurred across the country and in other parts of the world. (Episcopal News Service plans coverage of the marches.)

Trump and his party were nearly 35 minutes late for the service, leaving the cathedral musicians to fill the time with music.

President Donald Trump and his party were nearly 35 minutes late Jan. 21 for the 58th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service at Washington National Cathedral. Photo: John B. Johnson IV via Facebook

After Trump arrived, former Arizona State Senator Carlyle Begay, a Navajo who is a member of Trump’s inauguration committee, began the service chanting the Navajo Way Prayer and Blessing as he walked up the center aisle.

The procession followed, during which the congregation sang “My country, ‘tis of thee.” Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde then welcomed the congregation “to this house of prayer for all people” and “to this hour of prayer for our nation, its leaders and all those who call this land their home.”

“As we mark this moment of political transition, let us all draw strength and courage from the sacred texts and songs and petitions, from the many traditions of our land, and may they inspire us always to seek divine assistance, care for another and live according to the highest aspirations to which God calls us as individuals and as a nation,” she said.

Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries James “Jay” Magness led the opening acclamation. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry asked Magness to represent him at the prayer service because the presiding bishop will be leading a pilgrimage of reconciliation to Ghana, a commitment he made more than a year ago.

The Very Rev. Randolph “Randy” Hollerith, dean of the cathedral, then used the Book of Common Prayer’s “Prayer for the Human Family” (page 815) for the opening prayer.

The readings included 1 Kings 3:5–12 (read mostly in Hebrew), Romans 5:1-5 and Matthew 5:1-10 as well as the first seven verses of the Quran, known as the Surah Fatiha. The 1 Kings reading was introduced with a Jewish call to prayer; the two New Testament readings by a Christian call to prayer (a sung Kyrie Eleison) and the reading from the Quran followed a Muslim call to prayer.

President Donald Trump, his wife Melania, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen since the National Anthem during the 58th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service. Photo: Danielle E. Thomas, Washington National Cathedral

Prayers and music were interspersed among the readings. The prayers included for those who govern, for civil leaders, for those who serve others, for peace and for the country, as well as a form of the Prayers of the People. Many of the prayers had multiple biddings with responses echoing prayers for Morning and Evening Prayer, and the Prayers of the People in the Book of Common Prayer.

Among participants offering those prayers were Elder D. Todd Christofferson, member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Evangelist Alveda King, Priests for Life director of civil rights for the unborn and Martin Luther King’s niece; Narayanachar Digalakote, senior priest, Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, Lanham, Maryland; His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Jesse Singh, chairman, Sikhs of America; Anthony Vance, director of public affairs, United States Baha’i Community; Cissie Graham Lynch, Samaritan’s Purse and granddaughter of Billy Graham; and His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington.

The Rev. Rosemarie Logan Duncan, cathedral canon for worship, chants the Kyrie Eleison as the Christian call to prayer from the cathedral’s pulpit. Photo: John B. Johnson IV via Facebook

In addition to the processional hymn, the congregation sang “Great is thy faithfulness,” as well as the national anthem, and joined the cathedral choir and U.S. Navy Band Chief Musician Antje A. Farmer in singing the final verse of “America the Beautiful.”

Blind Christian singer Marlana VanHoose, who had sung at the Republican National Convention, sang “How great thou art” and the United States Navy Sea Chanters sang “Let there be peace on earth.” The Liberty University Praise gospel choir from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University sang “We’ve come this far by faith.” The gospel choir also sang during the choral prelude, as did the Sea Chanters and the choir from Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Roman Catholic Church on Capitol Hill.

Trump asked that there be no sermon, Budde told the Washington Post earlier this month. Budde said in a later blog post the choice of a preacher for the service and even whether to have a sermon traditionally belonged to the president. She acknowledged that some people felt agreeing to Trump’s request seemed “as if the church had surrendered its responsibility to preach truth to power.”

Budde had told the Post that the service was “not the occasion that we will use to address particular issues of policy or concerns we might have about the direction he’s taking the country.”

Cathedral Dean Randolph “Randy” Hollerith, left, Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde and Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries James “Jay” Magness helped lead the 58th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service. Photo: Danielle E. Thomas, Washington National Cathedral

Magness closed the service with a prayer used at the 2013 service for former President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, asking God to look graciously upon the country. “Where it is in pride, subdue it. Where it is in need, supply it. Where it is in error, rectify it. Where it is in default, restore it. And where it holds to that which is just and compassionate, support it,” he prayed.

Budde blessed the congregation, telling them to “go forth into the world in peace.”

“Be of good courage. Hold fast to that which is good. Render to no one evil for evil. As far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all, but make no peace with oppression,” she said. “Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, help the afflicted, honor all people, love and serve your God whose spirit working in you can do infinitely more than you can ask for or imagine. And may the blessing of God Almighty, our creator, sustainer and giver of life be with you and remain with you this day and forevermore. Amen.”

The Rev. Darrell Scott, senior pastor of New Spirit Revival Center, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, a Trump campaign supporter and prosperity gospel preacher, gave the dismissal. “Go forth from this place in peace. Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous and strong,” he told the congregation. “Let all that you do be done in love.”

As the altar party recessed, Trump shook hands with many participants, including Budde.

The order of service is here.

To participate or not

Not everyone invited to participate in the service accepted and some of those who did faced criticism.

Rabbi Ari Plost of Congregation B’nai Abraham in Hagerstown, Maryland, wrote in the Washington Post that he declined because it would appear “callous” after he had spent 2016 helping congregants and others who were “overwhelmed and in tears from the constant rhetoric of antagonism and derision” of the campaign.

He said he planned to pray with his congregation on the Sabbath that day. “Each of us, in our own way, should use the occasion of this inauguration to rededicate ourselves to compassion and cohesion in our communities, lifted up by our creed of religious inclusivity and liberty,” he wrote.

Mohamed Magid, a Sudanese-American imam known for his interfaith work and who leads a network of 11 mosques in Northern Virginia known as the All-Dulles Area Muslim Society, faced critics on social media for agreeing to issue the Muslim call to prayer during the service.

Calling Washington National Cathedral “a modern day icon of unity and peace-building for our nation,” Magid said in a Facebook post that it is also “an institution that welcomes diverse representations of faith as a statement of our nation’s belief in the freedom of religious expression.

Tickets were required to attend the 58th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service. Photo: John B. Johnson IV via Facebook

“As we enter a new chapter for our country, faith leaders must seek out opportunities to elevate our shared principles, champion freedom, and promote civil rights for all Americans,” he said. “In doing so, we will demonstrate to all who witness this service that our nation is strengthened by our diversity, enriched by our common humanity, and sustained by our belief in God Almighty.”

The prayer service is a tradition dating back to the inauguration of George Washington and is considered the conclusion of the official inaugural events. A congressional resolution that relied heavily on the English coronation ceremony largely shaped Washington’s first inauguration in 1789 in New York City, according to information on the cathedral’s website. The resolution required that, following the oath of office in front of Federal Hall on Wall Street, the Senate and House walk a short distance to St. Paul’s Chapel on Broadway to hear “divine service” by the chaplain of Congress, Episcopal Bishop Samuel Provoost. He acted in a role similar to that of the archbishop of Canterbury at English coronation services.

Beginning with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inauguration in 1933, presidential inaugural prayer services have taken place at the cathedral, which calls itself a “house of prayer for all people.” That tradition has been more recently consistent since President Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985. The exception was President Bill Clinton, who chose Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, the historic black church in downtown Washington, for both of his inaugural prayer services. Washington National Cathedral has also been the location of funeral and memorial services for nearly all the 21 U.S. presidents who have died since the cathedral’s founding.

Prayer surrounded the 2017 Inauguration Day events

Trump, his wife Melania and about 300 people attended a private church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church near Lafayette Square across from the White House the morning of the inauguration. The parish has traditionally offered that opportunity to incoming presidents.Trump’s was the 12th such service.

Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, preached the sermon at Trump’s request. The controversial preacher has spoken derisively of Muslims, Mormons, Roman Catholics and LGBTQI people in the past.

The Rev. Luis León, rector of St. John’s, told CNN that he was involved in logistical planning of the event but not the choice of speakers.

Jeffress used the story of Nehemiah to show why God blesses leaders. The text of his sermon is here.

Seven religious leaders participated in the inauguration ceremony later that morning. The program for that event is here.

The chaplains of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate prayed during the luncheon that followed.

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

Episcopalians approach Donald Trump’s inauguration with prayer

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 1:51pm

The sign outside Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Hilltown, Pennsylvania, invites people to stop in for prayer on Inauguration Day. Photo: Good Shepherd Episcopal Church via Facebook

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal congregations are planning to mark with prayer the events surrounding Donald Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration as the 45th president of the United States.

Many congregations have announced that they will be open for prayer during the inauguration events. Some will also offer special services that day. Among the many are St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Kansas City, Missouri; Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Hilltown, Pennsylvania; St. John’s Episcopal Church in Huntington, West Virginia and Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri.

“We welcome parishioners and community residents to drop in for any part of that time. There will be no service, just the opportunity to join with others to pray in the silence of God’s presence,” Good Shepherd said on its Facebook page. “We Episcopalians call ourselves people of common prayer, and that usually means worshiping together using the words of the Book of Common Prayer. But, shared silence can also be a form of common prayer, too. Please join us in lifting our hopes and fears to God in prayer, whether or not you can be with us at church.”

Among other events around the Episcopal Church are these:

Diocese of New Jersey plans weekend of prayer

“With the beginning of a new Congress and the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, our nation enters a new chapter in its history,” New Jersey Bishop Williams “Chip” Stokes wrote to the diocese, calling for a weekend of prayer to begin at noon on Jan. 21.

“Praying together, though in different locations, joins us as a diocese with the Episcopal Church and the wider community of faith as the 58th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service at the National Cathedral finishes,” Stokes wrote. “Collectively we remind ourselves that God is ultimately in charge and we appeal to him for the best for our nation.”

A special Office of Noonday Prayer at Trinity Cathedral in Trenton is the formal start to the New Jersey effort. Stokes asked congregations to host similar services, and those unable to attend, he said, ought to pause at noon that day for a period of personal prayer. The bishop also urged congregations to “incorporate prayers for our nation in each of their liturgies during the weekend.”

The diocese has posted a toolkit for those prayers and liturgies here.

‘A Weekend of Prayer and Resistance’

All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, plans to spend Jan. 20-22 working “with our interfaith allies and community partners to continue to be the change we want to see in our nation and our world,” according to an announcement on its website. Events include an “interfaith inauguration viewing” party Jan. 20, healing prayer all that day and a noon Eucharist, and participation in the Jan. 21 Los Angeles Women’s March (one of many satellite marches planned around the country in conjunction with the main march in Washington, D.C.). The parish plans a forum on Jan. 22 titled “Intersectional Resistance: Part 1 – Reproductive Justice & LGBTQ Equality,” described as “a conversation focused on organizing to protect our rights, our safety, our health, and our families.” There will be additional liturgies at All Saints and participation in a Muslim prayer service and Shabbat services elsewhere.

Open for prayer

The Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, New York, on Long Island will be open for prayer from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Inauguration Day. It will also offer its normal weekday Morning Prayer service at 8:45 a.m. and Eucharist at 12:15 p.m. The Very Rev. Michael Sniffen, cathedral dean, and the Rev. Michael F. Delany, canon pastor, plan to attend Ghostlight at Adelphi University in Garden City Jan. 19. Ghostlight is an inauguration eve vigil being held by the theater community at 728 theaters across the country. Sniffen and several parishioners are traveling with Trinity Wall Street to Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March.

Pray in place prayer vigil

Washington National Cathedral’s Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage is coordinating a Pray in Place Prayer Vigil from 6 a.m. Jan. 20 through midnight on Jan. 21.

“No matter where you are or what you are doing, take time to add your voice to the voice of others as we pray throughout the days surrounding the inauguration,” the announcement said.  The center will offer prayers for “wisdom for our leaders, justice for our communities and peace for our world” at the top of every hour via the center’s Facebook page. Those prayers will also be available to those who follow the center on Twitter here.

Peaceful protest

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship plans to join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House and others in a vigil on Jan. 21, during the National Prayer Service at Washington National Cathedral. “We will vigil outside the cathedral’s west doors on the plaza praying for the poor, immigrants, refugees, women, and for an end to war, gun violence and nuclear weapons,” the group said on its Facebook page.

All faiths inauguration vigil

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Omaha, Nebraska, plans a morning vigil to coincide with the inauguration. Open to all faiths, the time will open with Morning Prayer and end with Eucharist at noon.

“This is an opportunity to quiet ourselves and to offer our hearts and minds a chance to rest from the tension and noise of this uniquely difficult time in our nation’s history,” the Very Rev. Craig Loya, dean of the cathedral, told the Omaha World-Herald.

‘The Inauguration of Hope’

Actor, writer and director Ethan Hawke; actress and singer Karen Akers; musician Paul Winter; Cathedral of St. John the Divine poet-in-residence Marilyn Nelson and many other noteworthy musicians, performers, and poets will stage a gathering Jan. 23 at the cathedral in Manhattan to reaffirm “what we’re for, not what we’re against” and to “recommit to the values we hold in common.”  Cathedral friend and Episcopalian actor Anthony Newfield will be the master of ceremonies. More information is available here.

 

Archbishops call on Christians to repent of differences

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 1:44pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have called on Christians to repent of the divisions between churches. In a joint statement issued to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the two primates of the Church of England, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, reflect on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. They say that while it directly contributed to “great blessings” felt by many Christians, it also caused “lasting damage . . . to the unity of the Church, in defiance of the clear command of Jesus Christ to unity in love.”

Full article.

Anglicans, Lutherans, Buddhists forge links at Myanmar gathering

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 1:37pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Representatives from more than six Asian countries have gathered in Myanmar to try to develop stronger ties between Anglicans, Lutherans and Buddhists. The consultation has brought people together from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, India and Sri Lanka. One of the key short-term aims is to work towards a publication which could serve as a guidebook for developing Buddhist-Christian relations. Longer term, it’s hoped the gathering will encourage the Anglican Consultative Council, the Lutheran World Federation and other institutions to support growing positive relations with Buddhists across the world.

Full article.

West Baltimore urban missioner named

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 1:30pm

[Diocese of Maryland] The Rev. Ramelle McCall has been appointed the new diocesan urban missioner for West Baltimore and priest-in-charge at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. The joint announcement was made by the Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of Maryland, and the vestry of Holy Trinity Church.

“We are delighted to partner with the parish of Holy Trinity in this new ministry in that community and surrounding areas,” said Sutton. “The Rev. McCall is a native of the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood in West Baltimore and I know he’s passionate about our Church’s voice and mission there,” the bishop said.  The Sandtown-Winchester community was the focal point of the Baltimore uprising in April 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. 

Holy Trinity was seeking clergy leadership with the retirement of the Rev. Eddie Blue. He served as rector for 32 years.

“I am blessed and grateful to the Holy Trinity vestry and Bishop Sutton for this opportunity,” said McCall. “We have a wonderful opportunity to work within our neighborhood and the wider community,” he said.  In his role as urban missioner, he will work to bridge area churches, social non-profit organizations, community groups and diocesan resources to address issues of poverty, violence and racism in West Baltimore.

McCall was awarded a Master of Divinity degree from Wake Forest University and did his Anglican studies at Virginia Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 2011. He served St. Michael and All Angels, Baltimore, as rector and chaplain to the Maryland Institute College of Art. He begins his new work Feb. 13. Holy Trinity was founded in 1953. It’s located at 2300 West Lafayette Ave.

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland consists of more than 100 worshiping communities in ten counties and Baltimore City. It is part of The Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Presiding Bishop to lead reconciliation pilgrimage to Ghana

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 11:10am

The ocean-facing courtyard of Cape Coast Slave Castle. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will lead a weeklong Episcopal Relief & Development pilgrimage focused on reconciliation to Ghana Jan. 20-28, visiting cities and sites critical to understanding the trans-Atlantic slave trade and Episcopal Relief & Development partners and programs working to improve Ghanaians’ lives.

“At General Convention in 2015, we promised to address systemic, structural racism as a church. One of the first steps is learning the stories: how our church supported and prospered because of slavery and oppression, how black people have related to one another, how Ghanaian communities bear huge gifts and wisdom into the world today. That’s what this pilgrimage is all about,” said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation.

An estimated 12 to 25 million Africans passed through Ghana’s ports to be sold as slaves in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. Pilgrims will visit Cape Coast Castle, the W.E.B. DuBois Center, Elmina Castle and Pikworo Slave Camp for a historical perspective on the slave trade. They will also have an opportunity to meet Episcopal Relief & Development’s partners, including the Anglican Diocesan Development and Relief Organization in the Anglican Diocese of Tamale, and to witness its asset-based community development work.

“Episcopal Relief & Development is honored that the presiding bishop is leading this pilgrimage of brother and sister bishops along with current and former members of our board,” said Rob Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief & Development. “Our Ghanaian church partners and my colleagues look forward to sharing our asset-based community development work with the pilgrims in the northern part of the country, and later traveling to the Cape Coast to pray and reflect on the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the work of reconciliation required of all of us as followers of Jesus.”

Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807; the U.S. President Thomas Jefferson signed a law prohibiting the importation of slaves. The Episcopal Church and individual Episcopalians benefited from the slave trade. The 75th General Convention sought to address the church’s role in slavery.

Pilgrims will share photos, thoughts and videos of on a designated Facebook page, where Episcopalians and others can follow their journey. Episcopal News Service coverage and a video will follow the pilgrimage.

“We hope people everywhere will pray and join our reconciliation witness on Facebook. Most of us will never make the trip to Ghana. We’ll never see the camps where enslaved Africans were herded before being torn from the Mother Land, or see the Anglican church that rises like a blessing behind the main slave castle. So, we will go, and we will reflect and film and return to help our whole church to keep reckoning and changing,” said Spellers.

— Lynette Wilson in an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service.

New moderator chosen for Church of South India

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 12:26pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The bishop of Madhya Kerala, Thomas Oommen, has been chosen to be the new moderator of the Church of South India. He was elected by an overwhelming majority at the CSI Synod meeting at Kottayam in the state of Kerala. Thomas had been the deputy moderator. He succeeds Bishop Govada Dyvasiryvadam who is stepping down after three years in office.

Full article.

Christians worldwide celebrate unity by praying for one another

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 10:29am

[Episcopal News Service] What began as a small gathering with a big dream has transformed into a commitment by millions of Christians around the world to pray for one another.

First begun in 1908, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity runs Jan.18-25 with hundreds of celebrations and gatherings: from Houston to Boston; Waterloo, Belgium, to the Vatican; in Episcopal and Roman Catholic cathedrals and churches; with United Methodists and Lutherans and scores of other denominations.

“The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity reminds us every year that it is Jesus’ prayer for us all to be one,” said the Rev. David Simmons, rector of St. Matthias Episcopal Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and president of the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers Association. “The idea of Roman Catholics and Protestants sitting down and praying together 150 years ago was almost unthinkable. Today, so much has changed. It’s a time to celebrate how far we’ve come, and a time to look at the long road ahead of us.”

The 2017 Week of Prayer poster. The image this year reminds the viewer of the universe that is seeking to join together in the unity of Christ’s love and is being compelled by Christ to be reconciled. Created by the Reliance Graphic Design of Canon, Georgia.

Although it’s difficult to determine exactly how many Episcopal congregations are participating in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, numerous services are planned across the country and around the world. In Wisconsin, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and United Methodists will come together to host a Taizé service on Jan. 25. All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Waterloo, Belgium, will offer an ecumenical worship service on Jan. 18, with a forum led by an Anglican scholar and religion historian.

Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, Texas, opens its doors for a Unity Service on Jan. 18. Although this is the fourth year for the Concert of Praise and Ecumenical Prayer Service in Houston, it’s the first time that the Episcopal cathedral is hosting.

The cathedral considers the opportunity an honor and privilege, said the Rev. Art Callaham, canon vicar. Generally, the Houston community uses the liturgy prepared and offered by the international Week of Prayer for Christian Unity organizers. But the music is reflective of particular traditions. This year, the service will offer the liturgical experience of choral evensong – a deeply Anglican tradition.

“There was a lot of head-scratching and wondering when we first mentioned this idea,” admitted Callaham. “It’s not common in a lot of the Christian traditions. But the service not only gives us this unified experience of worshiping and praying together, but we have an opportunity to share what makes and keeps our traditions unique.”

Callaham recalls the words of St. Paul that each gives according to ability. “This applies at both the individual level but also the congregational and denominational level,” he said. “We have a variety of gifts. … When we see these all knit together, it is a beautiful thing. We are not trying to rub out what makes us different to create some homogenous whole, but rather when we act of our giftedness, we bring together our differences into something that none of can create or support individually.”

Indeed, for the Rev. Margaret Rose, deputy for ecumenical and interreligious relations for the Episcopal Church, this understanding of ecumenism is a guiding principle.

“Ecumenical work is not so much about creating something that has not been before, but about revealing what God created in the beginning,” she said. “We find ways to explore our unity, not conformity.”

The theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity builds upon that concept: It honors the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Reformation. “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us,” calls on Christians to examine the concerns that sparked the Reformation and to acknowledge the pain caused by deep divisions among Christians.

The Rev. Paul James Francis Wattson, SA, was the founder of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which traces its history to 1908.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity traces its history to 1908, when the Rev. Paul James Francis Wattson, then an Episcopal priest, initiated the Church Unity Octave. Wattson founded a religious order, the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement at Graymoor in Garrison, New York, in the late 1800s. Committed to a reconciliation between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, he believed that “a time set aside for prayers and seminars would hasten Christian unity,” according to the Graymoor Ecumenical Interreligious Institute. Wattson was joined by the Rev. Spencer Jones, an Anglican priest serving in England, in promoting and advocating for the week of prayer.

Wattson ultimately was ordained into the Roman Catholic tradition, but his commitment to ecumenism continued. The founders decided to settle the event between the feast of St. Peter on Jan. 18 and the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on Jan. 25.

“It was such a breakthrough when these prayers for unity first started,” said Richard Mammana, secretary of the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Association. “There was a lot of hesitation about Christians even praying together, let alone collaborating on projects. … But from the very beginning, Paul Wattson said, ‘We can do this very basic thing. We can pray together.’ ”

This devoted time to praying together has begun to break down barriers, said Mammana. “We begin to see we have more in common across denominations than we imagined.”

Over the years, Rose has seen the rise and wane of interest in ecumenism and participation in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

“We’re back on the rise,” said Rose. “We understand the need for conversation. We are in a very divisive time, and the need for Christians to find a way to have a common voice, especially in prayer, is critical. We are in deep need of reconciliation.”

Further, said Simmons, many denominations are shrinking in size and influence in this post-Christian age.

“The reality of this time is forcing us to work together,” said Simmons. “In small-town Wisconsin, we used to have the luxury of each denomination having its own congregation and pastor. That’s no longer the case.”

Regardless of what is prompting an ecumenical revival, Simmons is excited about the opportunities to collaborate with other denominations on issues of poverty and hunger, the status of women, and other areas of advocacy.

“The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a way for us to liturgically remember the reality of what we’re trying to live into. The real work of ecumenism is what happens day-to-day among churches in communities,” said Simmons. “It’s not an end in itself. It’s supposed to lead us into greater conversation. But it’s a good place to start.”

– Richelle Thompson is deputy director and managing editor of Forward Movement.

Jeremy Tackett named Episcopal Church digital evangelist

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 10:22am

Episcopal Church Digital Evangelist Jeremy Tackett

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Jeremy Tackett has been named the Episcopal Church digital evangelist, a member of the presiding bishop’s staff.

In this new full-time position, Tackett’s duties will include strategizing efforts for the building of relationships, creating community and fostering an aspirational online social presence by managing and implementing the Episcopal Church’s growing digital evangelism ministry.

Most recently, Tackett was director of communications at Christ Episcopal Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Prior to that, he was coordinator of publications at the University of Pikeville, in Kentucky.

Tackett boasts an extensive background in digital and social media platforms, web data analytics (Google Analytics, strategic email marketing, social media engagement) and web engagement. He holds inbound and email marketing certifications from Hubspot and is a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

Tackett holds a Bachelor of Science degrees in communication from the University of Kentucky.

Additionally, he has more than 10 years of experience in ministry and church leadership, in a variety of church settings and roles as both a professional and volunteer.

A member of the Office of Communications, Tackett will be based in Raleigh, North Carolina, and will report to the presiding bishop’s canon for ministry within the Episcopal Church

Tackett will begin his new position on Feb. 1.  At that time he will be available at jtackett@episcopalchurch.org.

At Episcopal-Lutheran King celebration in Los Angeles, Presiding Bishop says: ‘stick together and hold hands’

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 2:12pm

Hundreds of worshippers packed the Westchester Lutheran Church in Los Angeles to celebrate King’s birthday. Photo: Robert Howe.

[Episcopal News Service – Los Angeles] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry invoked the prophet Isaiah and Robert Fulghum’s, “Everything I Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten,” charming and challenging a packed Jan. 15 celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday in Los Angeles, to move forward in tough times is by seeking “ancient wisdom … tried and true and tested.”

Curry spurred hundreds of Episcopalians and Lutherans at the historic joint celebration to laughter, applause, cheers and a standing ovation. He echoed Isaiah’s theme “Look to the rock” (51:1-2) with his characteristic energetic, extemporaneous and whooping preaching style, attributed to the influence of his grandmother, “a dyed-in-the-wool, rock-rib Baptist.”

He recalled the dispersal of Israelites during the Babylonian exile. “This is what the prophet said: ‘Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and you who seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham, your father and to Sarah, who bore you.’ Look to the rock.”

While acknowledging current political uncertainty and ambiguity, Curry emphasized themes of unity, love and building relationship: “It is fitting that we should be observing the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King at this moment and this time. We need him seriously now.”

Bishop Guy Erwin of the Southwest Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America called the joint gathering “historic” and welcomed worshippers, including Curry and other Episcopalians, as well as ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and representatives of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Erwin also thanked Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles for the “great joy” of the close working relationship that allowed the two churches to collaborate on the King celebration. Later, at a panel discussion, he also heralded a joint collaborative anti-gun violence task force.

Bruce conveyed greetings from Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno, who was unable to attend after a minor slip and fall on ice during a visit to Oregon. “This is our first real joint multicultural Martin Luther King service between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church, and I hope it’s not the last. We can top anything,” Bruce said.

Worshippers packed the multi-lingual celebration, held at Westchester Lutheran Church, near downtown Los Angeles. It featured the rousing music of Canon Chas Cheatham and the Episcopal Chorale Society, and Lutheran choirs. The service, at times both poignant and humorous, may be viewed here.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry served as guest preacher at the historic joint Episcopal-Lutheran celebration and participated in a panel discussion afterward. Photo: Robert Howe.

Amongst applause, Curry told the mayor, who also addressed the gathering, “We need political leaders like you. We need you.”

Garcetti told worshippers the diversity and purpose of the gathering “reminds us of what is possible. I feel at home here, the product of a Catholic father and Jewish mother who compromised and sent me to an Episcopal school,” he said amid laughter.

Acknowledging the current tense political climate, he echoed King’s edict to “stand in someone else’s shoes … and let their stories open our hearts and souls.” Especially those who are vulnerable, like “students (who) will go to school this week in our city wondering if their parents will be home when they get home as the administration changes.

“Students who will be making decisions whether to drop out of school because they won’t have hope or a job. When we see people returning from prison wondering will I have another pathway when I get back.”

Now is the time for both prophets and pastors, Garcetti said. “We must chart, as Dr. King did, where we need to go, but we also need to put out our hand to our neighbor and make sure we take them with us.”

Paraphrasing former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, he said human rights “begin in places so small, they’re not found on any human map: the places we work, the places we live, the places we worship.”

Noting that King’s dream encompassed both racial and economic equality, he challenged worshippers to use “the power that we have” by standing together. That power, he said, enabled Los Angelenos recently to increase the minimum wage to $10.50, compared to a $7.25 federal minimum wage, and also to pass a homeless housing initiative.

“Know that what we feel in our hearts, what we think in our heads and what we must move forward with in our guts in these coming days, is that Dr. King would expect us not just to sit here and complain but to go out there and do something.”

Curry’s sermon evoked the image of the “Sankofa” bird, a Ghanaian symbol “that reminded people that the way into an uncertain future is by knowing how to look back and to glean wisdom from the past and strength from the ancestors so that you can go forward in uncertain and ambiguous times.”

He recalled the 1991 discovery of a colonial-era slave and free African burial ground in lower Manhattan, now a national monument. Etched into one of the surviving wooden caskets, workers discovered that symbol, of the Sankofa, which translated to English means roughly “go back and get it.”

“The Hebrew prophet understood this,” Curry said, referring to Isaiah, who preached during the Jewish dispersion. “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness … in a time of real polarity and uncertainty and profound division…. Listen to me, you who seek the Lord. Look to the rock … to the ancient wisdom. Listen to the old, tried and true and tested ways.”

“The prophet (Isaiah) knew it … he was doing Sankofa. Look back to the wisdom of the past. Bring it into the present to go into the future. This was at a time when Jewish people found their world disrupted. Their world had been one way, one day, and the next, a nightmare.

“These were days when as James Weldon Johnson (“Lift Every Voice and Sing”) says, these were the days when hope unborn had died … and it is in this context that the Hebrew prophet spoke to his people. Listen to me, you who seek God’s dream in the midst of a nightmare … you who believe in love.

“Look to the rock whence you were hewn and the quarry whence you were dug. Look to Abraham. Look to Sarah. Look to Martin. Or, better yet, look to Jesus. The truth is … we ignore the wisdom of the past at our peril.”

Citing the lessons in Fulghum’s book, such as sharing your things and playing fair, Curry sparked laughter by asking: “Can you imagine Congress with this?”

Returning to the “deep roots of who we are” by honoring the nation’s foundational principles of inalienable rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Curry said “there, we will find our way forward as a nation.”

“But,” he added that, “for us who are Christian, who follow in the way of Jesus, these are going to be some tough times. Because there will be times when we will feel like we must react to hatred and bigotry and wrong with more hatred and bigotry and wrong. There will be times when we are so hurt and angry that we want to respond in anger.”

He cited the “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” a turning point in the civil rights movement, in which King instructed activists to meditate on the life and teachings of Jesus as they prepared to march. “Remember the nonviolent movement seeks justice and ultimately reconciliation; never victory,” King wrote.

In a message echoing the tenets of Jesus they were also instructed to live in love “so that all God’s children may one day be free.”

Not, said Curry, “because it’s easy, but because love is the only way.”

He added: Fashion a world “that treats everybody like a child of God … then America will truly be America and then when we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday, what a great day it will be. We’ll be able to say Free at Last, Happy Birthday Martin King.”

Curry joined a panel discussion after the service. Panelists said the church can most effectively begin to live out King’s dream by building relationships in their communities.

The ELCA’s Eaton said a pastor formed a relationship with local police in the wake of the 1999 Bronx, New York, killing of  Amadou Diallo. Diallo was a 22-year-old West African man shot more than 40 times by police who mistakenly thought he was carrying a gun.

Rather than adopting an “us-versus-them mentality,” that pastor adhered to King’s vision of “us together,” she said.

Commander Phil Tingirides of the Los Angeles Police Department’s South Bureau, said the police partner with churches regularly because “there is an expectation you are leaders within the community, a place where people come to hear how to be good people, to hear how to reach out to people in need.”

“The vast majority of people involved in crime are people in need” who have issues with love, anger management, and issues economically and mentally, he said.

“This service we went to today to me was amazing; you had people from so many diverse backgrounds, different religions, differing beliefs and that’s how we are going to solve a lot of the race issues,” he said. “By getting to know each other, by reaching out and understanding each other. Churches are a place for that. You have a huge role. It’s not one that ends on Sunday when the doors close.”

Los Angeles Episcopal Bishop Coadjutor-elect John Taylor said that, while the early years of the civil rights movement were about changing discriminatory laws, in later years King spoke out against the Vietnam War and “called for a true revolution of values, to try to think of a way for society to overcome structural and economic inequities and move forward together.”

Curry agreed that churches can be “bridge communities bringing together people … that we might not be in relationship with. That, in itself, is part of the knitting together of the fabric of the social contract that we need in this country that’s the basis for any democracy to be able to work.”

To an 18-year-old who pondered how young people might help make a difference, Curry said: “You have to be wise, be smart. Pay attention to yourself. Don’t be afraid to stand for what’s right and to help somebody who doesn’t have anybody to help them.

“The truth is, there are more good people out there, there are far more good people out there … but a lot of times they get scared off by the loudest people around. And if somebody stands up and brings the good together, the truth is you can win the day.

“You can, but it’s tough. But don’t give up.”

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

Scottish Episcopal Church ‘distressed’ at Quran offense, says primus

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 5:25am

[Anglican Communion News Service] The head of the Scottish Episcopal Church says the Church is “deeply distressed” at the offense caused by the reading of a passage from the Quran in a Glasgow cathedral. The primus, the Most Rev. David Chillingworth, also condemned a subsequent wave of abuse received by St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral. Police have confirmed they are investigating offensive online messages received by the cathedral.

Members of the city’s Muslim community had been invited to join the congregation at an Epiphany service as a way of promoting understanding between the two faiths. The passage that was read out, sparking criticism, related to the Virgin Birth.

In an online post, the primus said: “The decisions which have led to the situation in St. Mary’s Cathedral are a matter for the provost and the cathedral community but the Scottish Episcopal Church is deeply distressed at the widespread offense which has been caused.  We also deeply regret the widespread abuse which has been received by the cathedral community.”

He pledged to bring those involved in developing interfaith relations together: “Those who seek to work in the area of interfaith relationships must weigh carefully whether the choices which they make are appropriate or otherwise. In today’s world, those judgements must give careful consideration to good relationships which have been carefully nurtured over many years in a local context. They must also weigh carefully the way in which national and international issues shape perceptions of what is appropriate or inappropriate.”

He added: “Our intention will be as a church to explore how, particularly in the area of worship, this work can be carried forward in ways which will command respect. Our desire is that this should be a worthy expression of the reconciliation to which all Christians are called.”

Responding to the furore, the Cathedral’s provost, the Very Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth, in his sermon on Sunday, Jan. 15, said the Epiphany service was aimed at promoting understanding between the two faiths – but said he had witnessed a “storm of abuse” from “10,000 ‘Christian’ voices claiming to know what happened here that night.”

“I would not have wished the week that I have had on anyone,” he went on. “The international hue and cry about our Epiphany service was not something anyone here was seeking. Our aim and the aim of all involved was to bring God’s people together and learn from one another – something that did, beneath the waves of the storm happen, and continues to happen. Nobody at that service that night could be in any doubt that we proclaimed the divinity of Christ and preached the Gospel of God’s love.”

Restructuration du diocèse de Fort Worth : une « résurrection »

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 5:33am

[Episcopal News Service – Fort Worth (Texas)] Aux épiscopaliens qui considèrent « l’église » comme un lieu où l’on va plutôt que ce que l’on est, le Diocèse de Fort Worth a de quoi raconter.

Son histoire va bien au-delà de la restructuration – voire même de la réanimation – d’une structure diocésaine et congrégationnelle après le vote en novembre 2008 par une majorité d’anciens membres du clergé et leaders laïcs de quitter l’Église épiscopale. C’est une histoire de résurrection – celle d’épiscopaliens réinventant leur église et, ce faisant, eux-mêmes.

« Nous n’essayons pas de reconstruire une vieille église », déclare J. Scott Mayer, l’évêque provisoire de Fort Worth, qui est également l’évêque du Diocèse du Nord-Ouest du Texas. « Nous essayons de prendre part à la résurrection pour devenir un nouveau corps ».

Ces épiscopaliens ont établi de nouveaux ministères et, ce faisant, développent de nouvelles manières d’être une église dans leur façon de servir leurs communautés.

Et lorsqu’ils « vont à l’église », certains épiscopaliens de Fort Worth se réunissent dans des espaces atypiques comme un théâtre ou un centre commercial. Les Wise County Episcopalians (épiscopaliens du comté de Wise) ont par exemple leur lieu de culte dans un bâtiment qui était à l’origine celui de l’Episcopal Mission of the Ascension (mission épiscopale de l’Ascension) en 1889, puis est ensuite devenu une fabrique de matelas et, plus récemment, une chapelle pour les mariages.

Même le poste d’évêque est différent. Bien que la formule d’évêque provisoire soit utilisée ailleurs dans l’église épiscopale, c’est tout de même quelque chose de relativement rare qui, selon Scott Mayer, illustre la façon dont les diocèses pourraient mettre en commun leurs ressources.

Il fait remarquer que l’évêque Sean Rowe du diocèse du Nord-Ouest de la Pennsylvanie (qui est également évêque provisoire du Diocèse de Bethlehem dans la partie Est de l’État), souligne que dans les années 1960 l’Église épiscopale avait un moindre nombre de diocèses mais que maintenant elle a un plus grand nombre de diocèses et un moindre nombre de fidèles.

« Il se pourrait bien que ce ne soit pas un modèle durable pour nous tous », poursuit Scott Mayer, ajoutant qu’il ne préconise pas nécessairement d’associer des diocèses mais que l’Église va probablement devoir trouver de nouveaux moyens de partager les ressources diocésaines.

« Et, dans ce cas, la ressource à partager ce serait l’évêque », conclut-il.

Scott Mayer est le quatrième évêque provisoire de Fort Worth. Le premier était Edwin F. « Ted » Gulick Jr., alors évêque du Kentucky, suivi de C. Wallis Ohl Jr. évêque retraité du Nord-Ouest du Texas puis de Rayford B. High Jr., évêque suffragant retraité.

Forth Worth compte dix-sept congrégations dont une congrégation luthérienne ayant comme pasteur un prêtre épiscopalien. Depuis la scission, le diocèse a connu une augmentation de 19,3 % de ses membres pratiquants et une augmentation de 11,9 % de son revenu d’exploitation. Depuis sa restructuration en 2009, Fort Worth a chaque année versé l’intégralité du montant demandé par l’Église épiscopale pour soutenir le budget triennal de toute l’église. Il est le seul des six diocèses de l’État du Texas à l’avoir fait.

Katie Sherrod, directrice des communications à Forth Worth a déclaré à Episcopal News Service qu’au sortir de la restructuration de 2009, toute l’administration était totalement désorganisée car l’ancien évêque occupait les bureaux diocésains et d’autres biens appartenant à l’Église épiscopale. « Nous avons passé 2009 et 2010 à localiser les épiscopaliens, reconstruire les congrégations, trouver le clergé et localiser des lieux de culte. En 2011/2012, nous avons finalement eu une évaluation réaliste du nombre de membres dans les congrégations du diocèse », explique-t-elle. « C’est sur la base de ces chiffres qu’est faite l’évaluation de notre croissance ».

Transformer la manière dont l’Église épiscopale gère les vingt-quatre comtés du Centre-Nord du Texas vient en partie de la nécessité en tant qu’Église épiscopale et que diocèse de chercher à récupérer les biens immeubles et autres actifs encore contrôlés par ceux qui ont quitté l’église. La Cour d’appel du Texas étudie l’affaire après avoir entendu les plaidoiries orales, lors de l’audience du 19 avril 2016.

« On prévoit, cependant, que la décision de la Cour d’appel soit portée en appel devant la Cour suprême du Texas par la partie à l’encontre de qui la Cour d’appel aura tranché », explique Katie Sherrod.

L’Église épiscopale dans son ensemble a soutenu la réinvention du diocèse. Le Conseil exécutif, qui s’est réuni dans le diocèse deux fois depuis la scission, a en juin offert une aide sous la double forme d’une subvention directe prise sur le budget global de l’église – de l’argent recueilli par le Bureau du développement de l’Église et l’Évêque Primat – et de subventions pour l’implantation d’églises et le développement de missions locales par le biais de la résolution 2015-D005 du processus d’implantation d’églises.

Le financement, assuré conjointement par le diocèse et ses congrégations, aide à soutenir le clergé en charge des communautés de foi à croissance rapide.

Le projet « 4 Saints Food Pantry » (aide alimentaire des quatre saints) qui vise à répondre aux besoins et établir des relations avec des personnes qui souffrent de la faim dans le désert alimentaire de la partie Est de Fort Worth, a reçu une subvention de 20 000 dollars au titre de la « Mission Enterprise Zone ». Le ministère emploiera l’argent pour commencer à acheter de l’équipement nécessaire pour une banque alimentaire homologuée. La banque alimentaire aura ses activités à St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church (Fort Worth). Ultérieurement, elle établira un partenariat officiel avec la Tarrant Area Food Bank. St. Luke, St. Martin (Keller-Southlake), St. Stephen (Hurst) et St. Alban (culte au Théâtre Arlington) sont les quatre « saints » associés à ce ministère.

En vue d’obtenir des fonds supplémentaires liés à la résolution D005, d’autres demandes de subventions sont en cours, dont une pour l’implantation dune église dans la partie Ouest de Fort Worth à croissance rapide, ajoute Katie Sherrod.

Episcopal leaders address church’s part in Trump’s inauguration

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 7:15pm

Clergy lay hands and pray over President-elect Donald J. Trump Sept. 21, 2016, at the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/ REUTERS

[Episcopal News Service] The involvement of Washington National Cathedral and one of its choirs in the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump has stirred concern in parts of the Episcopal Church.

The Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys accepted an invitation to perform during the musical prelude to the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony. That prelude begins at 9:30 a.m. EST. The actual ceremony is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. The program is here.

The cathedral confirmed three weeks ago that it would once again play out one of its traditional roles in U.S. life by offering Trump and the nation a chance to come together in prayer. The invitation-only 58th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service will take place at 10 a.m. Jan. 21, the day after Trump is sworn in as the 45th president.

After news of the choir’s participation prompted a deluge of comments on social media as well as emails to officials involved, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Budde and Cathedral Dean Randolph Hollerith all issued statements on Jan. 12 addressing those concerns.

“We all know this election has been contentious and there are deep feelings being felt by Episcopalians on all sides of the issues,” Curry said in his statement. “We recognize that this election has been contentious, and the Episcopal Church, like our nation, has expressed a diversity of views, some of which have been born in deep pain.”

Acknowledging that there has been “much discussion, and some controversy” about the appropriateness of the cathedral hosting the traditional prayer service, and of one of its choirs singing at the inauguration, Curry said that those issues raise “some basic Christian questions about prayer.”

“When I pray for our leaders, why am I doing so? Should I pray for a leader I disagree with? When I pray, what do I think I am accomplishing?” is how Curry described the questions.

The presiding bishop said the practice of prayer for leaders is “deep in our biblical and Anglican/Episcopalian traditions.”

Curry said that tradition of prayer means Episcopalians are praying that “their leadership will truly serve not partisan interest, but the common good.”

“We can and, indeed, I believe we must pray for all who lead in our civic order, nationally and internationally. I pray for the president in part because Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord,” he said. “If Jesus is my Lord and the model and guide for my life, his way must be my way, however difficult. And the way of prayer for others is a part of how I follow the way of Jesus.”

Construction on the 58th Presidential Inaugural Platform continued Jan. 4 on the west front of the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies via Facebook

Prayer is both “contemplative and active,” Curry said, adding that people who pray should both listen to God, and serve and witness to the world in the name of Jesus.

“We participate as followers of Jesus in the life of our government and society, caring for each other and others, and working for policies and laws that reflect the values and teachings of Jesus, to ‘love your neighbor,’ to ‘do unto others as you who have them do unto you,’ to fashion a civic order that reflects the goodness, the justice, the compassion that we see in the face of Jesus, that we know to reflect the very heart and dream of God for all of God’s children and God’s creation,” he said.

Hollerith replied to questions about the choir’s participation in his statement.

“Our choir is singing at the inauguration to honor the peaceful transition of power that is at the heart of our democratic government,” he said. “Let me be clear: We do not pray or sing to bless a political ideology or partisan agenda, regardless of the man (or woman) taking that sacred oath of office. We sing to honor the nation.”

The dean said choir members are not required to participate in what he called “part of our call to serve as a spiritual home for the nation.”

“In our bruised and polarized country, we hope the gift of our music can help remind us of our highest ideals and aspirations as one nation under God,” he said.

Budde said that “while I do not ask you to agree, I simply ask you to consider that we, too, acted on spiritual principles.

“Those principles, while they may seem to conflict with yours, are also essential for the work that lies ahead.”

The first principle, she said, is that Episcopal churches “welcome all people into our houses of prayer.”

“Welcoming does not mean condoning offensive speech or behavior; it does not mean that we agree with or seek to legitimize,” she said. “We simply welcome all into this house of prayer, in full acknowledgment that every one of us stands in need of prayer.”

The second principle, Budde said, is that “in times of national division, the Episcopal Church is called to be a place where those who disagree can gather for prayer and learning and to work for the good of all.”

Saying she is “alarmed by some of Mr. Trump’s words and deeds and by those who now feel emboldened to speak and act in hateful ways,” Budde said. “I believe in the power of God to work for good, and the capacity of our nation to rise to our highest ideals.”

Episcopalians and others have also questioned whether the cathedral ought to host the customary prayer service for the incoming president on the day after the inauguration.

Beginning with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inauguration in 1933, presidential inaugural prayer services have taken place at Washington National Cathedral, which calls itself a “house of prayer for all people.” That tradition has been more recently consistent since President Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985. The exception was President Bill Clinton, who chose Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, the historic black church in downtown Washington, for both of his inaugural prayer services. The cathedral has also been the location of funeral and memorial services for nearly all the 21 U.S. presidents who have died since the cathedral’s founding.

“At a time when emotions are raw, we hope to offer a few moments of spiritual solace and the healing gift of transcendent beauty,” Budde said. “We also want the nation to know that we are still here, as people of hope. While the inauguration is a civic rather than a religious ceremony, it is also an occasion for prayer and an opportunity to offer the balm of beauty.”

Budde previously said she would participate in that service, as is traditional for the bishop of Washington which includes the District of Columbia and four neighboring counties in Maryland.

Curry has asked Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries James “Jay” Magness to represent him at the prayer service because the presiding bishop will be leading a pilgrimage of reconciliation to Ghana, a commitment he made more than a year ago.

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

Church in India responds to devastating cyclone Vardah

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 4:32pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Church leaders from the Diocese of Madras in India distributed food parcels and other aid to some of the thousands of people displaced by Cyclone Vardah. The cyclone hit Chennai on Dec. 12, 2016, killing 10 people. It was the strongest storm in the region for two decades. Trees were uprooted, cattle killed and buildings damaged. Even modern buildings like the Hyatt Regency hotel were severely affected – with many windows blown out of the structure. Many huts and asbestos homes lived in by poorer people were destroyed.

Full article.

Documentary traces tribal artifacts’ return to Wind River Reservation

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 4:21pm

Jordan Dresser holds a photograph of Edith May Adams, a deacon who lived on the Wind River Reservation decades ago. Adams bought and bartered for cultural objects from Indians who needed food and other necessities. She later provided for the Diocese of Wyoming to hold her collection in safekeeping for the reservation’s tribes. Screenshot: What Was Ours

[Episcopal News Service] Part of the legacy of the Episcopal Church’s history on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming intersects with the issue of ownership of tribal cultural artifacts as portrayed in a new documentary.

“What Was Ours,” follows the journey of Jordan Dresser, a young Northern Arapaho journalist who returned to the reservation southeast of Yellowstone National Park after graduating college. Dresser got a job at the Wind River Casino where he was asked to establish a tribal museum. However, he found that the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribal members no longer possessed many sacred objects from their pasts.

The documentary, directed by Mat Hames, will premiere on PBS’ Independent Lens Jan. 16 from 10 to 11 p.m. Eastern (check local listings).

Philbert McLeod, an Eastern Shoshone elder, smells the hide of a drum at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. Screenshot: What Was Ours

Mikala SunRhodes, a Northern Arapaho high-school student and powwow princess, and Philbert McLeod, an Eastern Shoshone elder whose last trip off the reservation was when he left to fight in Vietnam, travel with Dresser literally and figuratively as they search for their cultural artifacts.

The object of the project was, in Dresser’s words, “to be able to tell our story in the way we want to tell it.”

Part of their journey took them 150 miles off the reservation to the Diocese of Wyoming’s offices in Casper where they viewed artifacts that form the Edith May Adams Collection.

Workers in the Experience Room at the Wind River Casino unpack a dress from the Diocese of Wyoming’s Edith May Adams Collection. Screenshot: What Was Ours

Adams, a deacon of the church, lived on the Wind River Reservation decades ago and purchased items from tribal members in need of cash. She specified in her will that the artifacts be turned over to the church for safekeeping for the tribes. She supplied a substantial amount of money for the maintenance of the nearly 200 objects at the direction of the diocesan bishop.

The fact that she wanted to make the objects accessible to the tribes is “such a simple thing, but it is such a strong thing,” Dresser says. Adams may not have known who to go to or where to go to accomplish her goals, he adds, “so she went with the organization she trusted; that was her Episcopal faith.”

“In a way, I am grateful for her to do that because who knows where they could have ended up.”

Two parfleches from the Diocese of Wyoming’s Edith May Adams Collection sit for display at the Winder River Casino. Screenshot: What Was Ours

Using a casino to achieve that accessibility was not a clear choice. Wyoming Bishop John Smylie says in the film that at first, he was hesitant to loan objects for the project. Admitting that his first reaction “was not hugely positive.” He says he thought there were “moral and ethical issues” about displaying the objects in a place where people might be coping with gambling addictions. “I wanted to be sure we were doing the right thing,” he said.

Smylie was not the only one. The bishop came to St. Michael’s Episcopal Mission in Ethete on the Wind River Reservation and said he would not lend the casino any of the objects without the Northern Arapaho congregation’s blessing. “The first reaction on the artifacts going to the casino was ‘no’,” says Aaron Friday, a St. Michael’s member. “The older ones told us ‘No, we don’t want them there. They don’t belong there.’”

Members of both tribes had qualms – some of them cultural – about displaying such objects anywhere. They were concerned about the objects’ power and whether some had come from burial sites or simply that they once belonged to people who are now dead.

“You have to go through all sorts of rituals for them things before you can even touch them,” one Shoshone woman, a tribal elder, warns during a discussion about the proposed display. “Otherwise the tribe could be hurt.”

After such soul-searching, the diocese agreed to loan objects from the collection to be displayed at the Experience Room at the Wind River Casino in Fort Washakie on the Shoshone side of the reservation. The casino is one of four on the reservation and the four are the only casinos in Wyoming.

The decision to approach the diocese was partially expedient and partially strategic. The collection was close by, Dresser says, and forging an agreement might show large museums elsewhere that the tribes could care for the artifacts.

The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, was one such museum. Dresser, McLeod, SunRhodes and other tribal members traveled there after learning that the museum contains many cultural artifacts of the two tribes, purchased from tribal members in the early 20th century.

Although a museum official offers in the film to help the tribes open discussions about repatriating the object, Dresser says the visit was bittersweet. “We went there to view pieces of ourselves but we had to leave them there,” he says.

The documentary also addresses why Adams and the Field’s curators could acquire such artifacts. Dresser says the late 1800s and early 1900s were hard times for Indians. “Selling objects was a way for them to eat, a way for them to live,” he says. Smylie agrees, saying some tribal members bartered for food and other necessities with the objects.

“These were people who needed those cash funds,” says Jonathan Haas, a Field Museum curator emeritus. “Their traditional culture had been removed from them and they were forced to participate in an economy what wasn’t theirs.”

Smylie says in the documentary that it takes a long time to heal from the kind of trauma and abuse that the Wind River members suffered, but that building relationships is one way to help heal those wounds. The decision to loan some of the Adams collection’s objects to the reservation means “we can open up the collection more than we were ever able to over the last 50 years.”

The bishop adds that the new relationships that formed during the decision-making process were a test. “It was a test for them. It was a test for us. It was a test for the tribes,” he says.

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

God provides refuge in face of persecution, Nigerian Archbishop says

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 3:01pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Archbishop of Jos in the Anglican Church of Nigeria has spoken about how Christians are finding refuge in God “in the face of turbulence, persecution and wickedness” in the north of the country. Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi made the comments at the opening service at the annual retreat of Anglican bishops in the province, which is being held at St. Peters Chapel at the IBRU International Ecumenical Centre in Agbarha-Otor. He said that the “forces of evil are still at work but Jesus has already defeated powers of hell, of darkness of wickedness and of evil.”

Full article.

Les leaders de l’Église épiscopale s’expliquent sur la participation de l’église à l’inauguration de Donald Trump

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 10:27am

[Episcopal News Service] La participation de la Cathédrale nationale de Washington et de sa chorale à l’investiture prochaine du Président élu Donald J. Trump suscite l’inquiétude d’une certaine partie de l’Église épiscopale.

La chorale de la cathédrale a accepté l’invitation à se produire lors du prélude musical de la cérémonie d’investiture du 20 janvier. Ce prélude commence à 9h30, heure de Washington. Le début de la cérémonie elle-même est prévu à 11h30. Le programme se trouve ici.

La cathédrale a confirmé il y a trois semaines qu’elle remplirait à nouveau l’un de ses rôles traditionnels dans la vie américaine en offrant à Donald Trump et à la nation une occasion de se rassembler dans la prière. Le 58e service de prière pour l’investiture présidentielle aura lieu, sur invitation uniquement, à 10h le 21 janvier, le lendemain de la prestation de serment de Donald Trump en tant que 45e président.

Après que la nouvelle de la participation de la chorale a déchainé un déluge de commentaires sur les médias sociaux ainsi que des messages électroniques adressés aux dirigeants concernés, l’Évêque Primat Michael Curry, Mariann Budde, évêque du Diocèse de Washington et Randolph Hollerith, doyen de la Cathédrale ont tous publié le 12 janvier des déclarations en réponse à ces inquiétudes.

« Nous savons tous que cette élection est controversée et que des épiscopaliens de tous bords se sentent profondément concernés », a dit Michael Curry dans sa déclaration. « Nous reconnaissons que cette élection est controversée et que l’Église épiscopale, tout comme notre nation, a exprimé une diversité de points de vue dont certains sont l’expression d’une douleur profonde ».

Reconnaissant qu’il y a « beaucoup de discussions et certaines controverses » sur le bien-fondé de l’organisation par la cathédrale du service traditionnel de prière et sur le fait que l’une de ses chorales se produise à l’investiture, Michael Curry explique que cela pose « certaines questions chrétiennes fondamentales au sujet de la prière ».

« Lorsque je prie pour nos dirigeants, pour quelle raison le fais-je ? Dois-je prier pour un dirigeant avec qui je suis en désaccord ? Lorsque je prie, qu’est-ce que je pense faire ? » : telles sont les questions évoquées par Michael Curry.

L’évêque primat explique que la pratique de la prière pour les dirigeants est « profondément ancrée dans nos traditions bibliques et anglicanes/ épiscopaliennes ».

Selon lui, la tradition de la prière signifie que les épiscopaliens prient pour que « leurs dirigeants soient véritablement au service, non pas d’intérêts partisans mais du bien commun ».

« Nous pouvons et, quant à moi, je crois que nous devons prier pour tous ceux qui nous dirigent dans la société civile au plan national et international. Je prie pour le président en partie parce que Jésus Christ est mon Sauveur et Seigneur », poursuit-il. « Si Jésus est mon Seigneur et qu’il est le modèle et le guide de ma vie, sa voie doit être ma voie, quelle qu’en soit la difficulté. Et la voie de la prière pour les autres fait partie de la façon dont je suis la voie de Jésus ».

La prière est à la fois « contemplative et active », explique Michael Curry, ajoutant que ceux qui prient doivent à la foi écouter Dieu et servir et témoigner dans le monde au nom de Jésus.

« Nous participons en tant que disciples de Jésus à la vie de notre gouvernement et de notre société, en veillant au bien-être de chacun d’entre nous et des autres et en œuvrant pour des politiques et des lois qui reflètent les valeurs et les enseignements de Jésus d’« aimer son prochain », d’« agir envers les autres comme vous voudriez qu’ils agissent envers vous », de façonner un ordre civil qui reflète la bonté, la justice, la compassion que nous voyons sur le visage de Jésus qui, nous le savons reflète le cœur et le rêve de Dieu pour tous les enfants de Dieu et la création de Dieu », explique-t-il.

Randolph Hollerith a répondu aux questions relatives à la participation de la chorale dans sa déclaration.

« Notre chorale va chanter à l’investiture pour honorer la transition pacifique du pouvoir qui est au cœur de notre gouvernement démocratique », déclare-t-il. « Que ce soit bien clair : nous ne prions pas et ne chantons pas pour bénir une idéologie politique ou un programme partisan, quel que soit l’homme (ou la femme) qui prête ce serment sacré pour la fonction. Nous chantons pour honorer la nation ».

Le doyen a expliqué que les membres de la chorale ne sont pas obligés de participer à ce qu’il appelle la « partie de notre appel à servir de maison spirituelle pour la nation ».

« Dans notre pays meurtri et divisé, nous espérons que le don de notre musique puisse aider à nous rappeler nos idéaux et nos aspirations les plus élevés en tant qu’une seule nation en Dieu », explique-t-il.

Mariann Budde a déclaré : « je ne vous demande pas d’être d’accord, je vous demande simplement de considérer que nous avons, nous aussi, agi suivant des principes spirituels.

« Ces principes qui peuvent sembler s’opposer aux vôtres, sont aussi essentiels pour le travail qui nous attend ».

Le premier principe, explique-t-elle, est que les églises épiscopales « accueillent tout un chacun dans nos maisons de prière ».

« Accueillir ne veut pas dire cautionner un discours ou un comportement blessant, cela ne veut pas dire que nous sommes d’accord ou que nous cherchons à le légitimer », poursuit-elle. « C’est simplement que nous faisons bon accueil à tous dans cette maison de prière, en reconnaissant pleinement que chacun d’entre nous a besoin de prière ».

Le deuxième principe, explique Mariann Budde, est que « dans les moments de division nationale, l’Église épiscopale est appelée à être le lieu où ceux qui sont en désaccord peuvent se rassembler pour prier, apprendre et œuvrer pour le bien de tous ».

Disant être « préoccupée par certaines paroles et certains actes de M. Trump et par ceux qui se sentent maintenant encouragés à parler et agir de manière haineuse », Marian Budde déclare : « je crois au pouvoir de Dieu de faire le bien et en la capacité de notre nation à être à la hauteur de nos plus grands idéaux ».

Les épiscopaliens et d’autres se sont également posé la question de savoir si la cathédrale devait organiser le service traditionnel de prière pour le nouveau président le jour suivant son investiture.

Depuis la première investiture du Président Franklin Delano Roosevelt en 1933, les services de prière pour l’investiture présidentielle se sont déroulés à la Cathédrale nationale de Washington, qui se nomme elle-même la « maison de prière pour tous ». Cette tradition a, de nos jours, été ininterrompue depuis la deuxième investiture du Président Ronald Reagan en 1985, exception faite du Président Bill Clinton, qui a choisi pour les services de prière de ses deux investitures la Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, l’église historique noire du centre-ville de Washington. La cathédrale a été également le lieu des services funèbres et commémoratifs de quasiment tous les vingt-et-un présidents des États-Unis qui sont morts depuis la fondation de la cathédrale.

« Dans un moment où les émotions sont vives, nous espérons offrir quelques instants de réconfort spirituel et le don de guérison de la beauté transcendante », explique Mariann Budde. « Nous voulons également que la nation sache que nous, nous sommes toujours là, animés par l’espoir. Bien que l’investiture soit une cérémonie civile plutôt que religieuse, c’est également une occasion de prier et d’offre du baume de beauté ».

Mariann Budde a précédemment déclaré qu’elle participerait au service, comme c’est la tradition pour l’évêque de Washington, évêché qui comprend le District de Columbia et les quatre comtés voisins du Maryland.

Michael Curry qui doit conduire un pèlerinage de réconciliation au Ghana, engagement pris il y a plus d’un an, a demandé à James « Jay » Magness, évêque suffragant pour les forces armées et les ministères fédéraux, de le représenter au service de prière.

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