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Arizona churches honor ‘people of the land,’ add Indigenous Peoples Day to diocese’s calendar

Fri, 11/01/2019 - 3:47pm

Native American church leaders offer a traditional blessing during the consecration of Arizona Bishop Jennifer Reddall on March 12. Photo: David Schacher, via Diocese of Arizona

[Episcopal News Service] The Diocese of Arizona is stepping up its efforts to give recognition to the “People of the Land,” including by creating an Indigenous Peoples of Arizona Day, which churches in the diocese can celebrate in future years on the second Monday of October – the Columbus Day federal holiday.

The diocese’s 59th convention was held on the weekend after the most recent Columbus Day. An Indigenous Peoples Day was one of two resolutions approved to encourage greater acknowledgement of the 22 federally recognized Native American tribes in the state. The other resolution offered congregations specific language that can be incorporated into their services.

Across the diocese, “we don’t have a church that isn’t directly on or very close to traditional native land,” the Rev. Debbie Royals told Episcopal News Service in an interview. “We are pretty much guests on that land.”

Royals, the diocese’s canon for Native American ministry, is a member of the Pascua Yaqui, whose tribal land is in the Tucson area. She helped draft and submit the two resolutions that were approved Oct. 19, expanding on a commitment the diocese made in 2016 to acknowledge the “traditional custodians” of church land.

Royals’ voice wavered as she grew emotional describing the joy she felt when her diocese wholeheartedly backed both resolutions, signifying what she saw as “a big step” toward increasing the visibility of Native American members and their culture in the church.

“I sat with such a feeling of, for the first time in my life … that I’d been seen, that I was no longer in the shadows,” she said.

The resolution adopting Indigenous Peoples of Arizona Day doesn’t mention Columbus Day specifically, though the date is the same. It will be set aside as “a day of prayer and reflection to understand our shared history and continue along a path or reconciliation.”

Congregations wishing to offer worship services on Indigenous Peoples of Arizona Day are invited to use the resolution’s suggested collect and propers – Isaiah 40:25-31, Psalm 19, Philippians 4:4-9 and John 1:1-18 – which also are the collect and propers used by the Anglican Church of Canada for its Indigenous Peoples Day, celebrated on June 21.

“We wanted to have this as a resource for the diocese,” said the Rev. Ben Garren, the Episcopal chaplain at the University of Arizona in Tucson who drafted the resolution with Royals. Both serve on the diocese’s Council for Native American Ministries.

The resolution invokes the words of the 26th Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who during her 2006-2015 tenure urged the church to take up the work of healing and reconciliation after generations of injustice and oppression toward Native communities.

The Diocese of Arizona, by inviting congregations to commemorate indigenous history and correct the historical narrative, is fulfilling “the work that General Convention already called us to do along these lines,” Garren said, and he would welcome efforts to organize similar commemorations in other dioceses or churchwide. “It is readily transferable to any other diocese.”

Royals on Oct. 30 discussed the two resolutions with The Episcopal Church’s Indigenous Ministries Advisory Council. The Rev. Brad Hauff, the church’s missioner for indigenous ministries, told ENS by email that he found the Diocese of Arizona’s example encouraging.

“We as a church need to do all we can to promote awareness of indigenous people, our presence, our painful history and our hopes for a renewed and empowered future,” said Hauff, who is Lakota. “There are still many people, within the church and the general population of our country, who do not know us other than through the distorted lenses of the Columbus myth and Manifest Destiny, and this needs to change.”

In fact, an increasing number of states, cities and churches in the United States are choosing to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, often in place of Columbus Day as part of a growing re-examination of the legacy of Christopher Columbus’ journeys to North America.

The Italian explorer, hired by the king and queen of Spain in the late 15th century, often receives credit for “discovering” America in 1492, even though he never set foot on mainland North America, and the continent already was home to millions of people whose ancestral history dates back around 15,000 years. Historians also note Columbus’ record of brutal mistreatment and enslavement of many of the land’s indigenous inhabitants.

“Columbus was a hired gun. The Spanish crown needed someone to advance its interests. Like a gun, Columbus, as a representative of power, quickly became an agent of violence,” the Ojibwe author David Treuer writes in “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee,” a history of Native America published earlier this year.

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention at least since the 1970s has expressed support for Native American land claims and human rights, and a resolution in 2009 explicitly repudiated the Colonial-era Doctrine of Discovery, which purported to give Christian explorers the right to claim lands they “discovered” and convert the people they encountered.

Another resolution, from 1997, called on the church to “take such steps as necessary to fully recognize and welcome Native Peoples into congregational life.”

That was the spirit of the other resolution approved at the Diocese of Arizona’s recent convention. It encourages congregations to fulfill a 2016 diocesan measure that urged them to routinely acknowledge their communities’ indigenous people, such as at annual meetings, on websites, in worship bulletins and during worship services.

The new resolution offers language that can be incorporated into the opening of meetings. It also offers suggested insertions for the Prayers of the People written in the styles of Forms I through VI. “Help us to honor the knowledge of our indigenous neighbors, to listen through them to your call to renew the life of the earth and to live together as your people,” reads one of the prayers, for Form IV.

Royals and the Rev. David Benedict Hedges, rector at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Tucson, drafted the prayers with input and feedback from the diocese’s Council on Native American Ministries, whose 30 or so members are a mix of Native American and non-native Episcopalians.

At church meetings, leaders are invited to identify “the traditional custodians of the land” by their tribal name and share brief words of respect. In one of the openings suggested by the resolution, the meeting leader acknowledges the local tribe and says: “They have occupied and cared for this land over countless generations, and I celebrate their continuing contribution to the life of this region.”

Such statements are intended to be spoken by non-native participants. The resolution notes that a tribal member, if present, instead may personally welcome the gathering to the land.

Arizona Bishop Jennifer Reddall took this approach in welcoming her diocese’s convention last month, Royals said, when Reddall recognized the Gila River Indian Community. The convention was held in Phoenix at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel, which is north of the Gila River Indian Reservation.

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

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Orthodox, Anglican churches hold international theological dialogue

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 5:32pm

[World Council of Churches] The International Commission for Anglican Orthodox Theological Dialogue met in Canterbury, England, from Oct. 10-17 to continue consideration of ecology and end-of-life issues.

The group stated that its work was undergirded by daily prayer and worship.

“Visits were made to holy and historic sites, including a tour of St. Augustine’s Abbey and the ancient church of St. Martin, and to the cathedral archives and library, and the Eastbridge Hospital,” the group’s statement said. “One of the highlights of the Commission’s meeting was a meditative candlelit walk of prayer led by the dean around the cathedral, including the site of the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket.”

Read the full article here.

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With Nationals’ World Series victory, Washington National Cathedral wins bet

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 5:19pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Very Rev. Barkley Thompson, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, Texas, did some dressing up on Halloween – but it wasn’t the costume he’d been hoping to wear. That’s because he lost the World Series bet he made with his counterpart at Washington National Cathedral when the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros on Oct. 30 to win the World Series.

According to the terms of the wager Thompson made with the Very Rev. Randy Hollerith, dean of the National Cathedral, whoever’s home team loses the World Series has to wear the winning team’s colors during a Sunday service. So, in a video posted on Oct. 31, Thompson took off his blue-and-orange Astros stole and modeled the Nationals-red one he’ll wear on Sunday.


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What a game, and what a series! While the Houston Astros vs Washington Nationals MLB World Series didn’t go the way we hoped here at Christ Church Cathedral, we still have so much to be thankful for. Dean Barkley Thompson’s wager with Dean Randy Hollerith and the Washington National Cathedral has demonstrated how friends can disagree with respect and love. We couldn’t have asked for more fun and gracious opponents. And now…. go Nats?!? #wscathedralchallenge #cccathedraltx

A post shared by Christ Church Cathedral (@cccathedraltx) on Oct 31, 2019 at 8:12am PDT

“It was a spectacular and hard-fought seven-game World Series,” Thompson said, “and unbelievably, it did not turn out as we in Houston and at Christ Church Cathedral had hoped.”

With an expression of anguish on his face, he spoke the words he never expected would leave his lips: “Go Nationals.”

The National Cathedral, meanwhile, was going all out in its celebration of the home team, projecting the Nationals logo onto the façade, inviting mascots up to the pulpit and ringing the bells for a full hour.

We don’t give thanks for winning a ball game; we give thanks for the @Nationals bringing joy and unity to a city in desperate need of both. #babyshark #natitude #wonthefight pic.twitter.com/YbhWk0ZktK

— Washington National Cathedral (@WNCathedral) October 31, 2019

We’re pretty sure that’s what they mean by Bully Pulpit.

Go @Nationals! #FINISHTHEFIGHT #Natitude #Teddy pic.twitter.com/BTK1s4zITw

— Washington National Cathedral (@WNCathedral) October 29, 2019

But of course, at the end of the day, it wasn’t a real rivalry at all. Instead, as Thompson said, it was “a friendly wager … that demonstrated to the world how friends can disagree with respect and in love.”

“We don’t give thanks for winning a ball game,” the National Cathedral tweeted. “We give thanks for the Nationals bringing joy and unity to a city in desperate need of both.”

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

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Churches invited to support the media in prayer

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 12:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Christians are being urged to make Sunday, Nov. 3 a day of prayer for the media.

The Churches Media Trust has developed a resource guide for churches to help inspire prayer for all members of the media and is encouraging everyone to make it a special focus on Sunday, Nov. 3.

An animated video on the Trust’s website states: “In an era of fake news, distrust and cynicism, it’s never been more important for us to pray for the media industry, as well as those who work in and with it.”

Read the full article here.

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Youth in Pakistan and Kenya lead by example on care for the environment

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 12:02pm

In the Anglican Church of Kenya, young people worked with the Green Anglicans Movement to clean up trash in the spirit of inspiring care for creation. Photo: Anglican Church of Kenya via ACNS

[Anglican Communion News Service] Young people in Pakistan and Kenya are leading the way on care of the environment by taking practical steps to look after their communities and inspire green action.

Youth leaders from Pakistan gave a practical example on environmental responsibility when they joined in a rubbish clean-up at the end of their interfaith camp.

Some 55 participants from Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Shia, Ahmadi, Baha’i, Ismaili and Christian communities came together for a camp focused on interfaith issues organized by the events coordinator from the Diocese of Peshawar in the Church of Pakistan.

Read the full article here.

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Faith leaders protest immigration enforcement policies outside building named for Minnesota bishop

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 2:49pm

An ecumenical group of worshipers celebrate the Eucharist Oct. 29 during a demonstration outside the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Lauren Smythe

[Episcopal Church in Minnesota] As the dawn sky turned pink over the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building in Minneapolis on Oct. 29, the faithful of Minnesota bundled up against the first frozen morning of the season to hold vigil, to protest, and to make their voices heard. Their demand: Evict ICE, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, from the building named for Minnesota’s first bishop, or remove his name from the building.

“What is happening to immigrants in the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building is in direct opposition to the values, theology and policy of The Episcopal Church,” the Rev. Devon Anderson, rector at Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, said during a press conference held outside the building. “To us, it is an intolerable irony to have the name of the first Episcopal bishop of Minnesota, an icon of human rights and compassion, on the front of this building in which so much injustice and cruelty occurs on a daily basis.”

Nearly 300 participated in the gathering, which included a celebration of the Eucharist. Episcopal clergy and laypeople joined with members of the Minnesota Council of Churches and the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration in a busy parking lot between a high-traffic commuter rail line and the imposing federal building.

Before worship began, Minnesota Bishop Brian N. Prior acknowledged and invoked the site’s proximity to Bdote, the “Eden” of the Dakota people, who consider it their most holy place. “The Whipple Building lies just a stone’s throw from where the Dakota believe all of creation began and where Bishop Whipple walked among a beloved Dakota community,” Prior said. “We denounce the oppression that took place against Dakota people then and the oppression that is being perpetuated against immigrants today.”

About 300 people, including clergy and laypeople from the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, joined the vigil and demonstration Oct. 29 outside the Bishop Henry Whipple Building in Minneapolis, Minnesota, known as a five-state hub for federal immigration enforcement. Photo: Lauren Smythe

Opponents of ICE’s enforcement operations in the region see the Whipple building as a microcosm of the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration violations, which The Episcopal Church has criticized for upending lives, separating families and disrupting communities. Minnesota’s Twin Cities are known as a hub for federal immigration enforcement across five states – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota – and at the center of that hub is the Whipple building, which houses an immigration court.

“The activities that go on this building are a violation, not only of the spirit of this sacred land, but a violation of that name, Bishop Whipple, that stands on this building,” said the Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs, representing the Minnesota Council of Churches.

Bishop Henry Whipple led The Episcopal Church in Minnesota from 1859 until his death in 1901. Photo: Minnesota Historical Society

Whipple, consecrated as bishop in 1859, spent more than four decades establishing The Episcopal Church’s roots in the newly founded state while leading missionary work among the American Indian tribes of Minnesota, and in 1862, he successfully lobbied President Abraham Lincoln to spare most of the 303 Dakota warriors who had been sentenced to death for an uprising that year.

Whipple died in 1901, and the federal building in Minneapolis was named in his honor soon after its dedication in 1969.

Now, 50 years later, immigrant detainees are brought to the Whipple building by van wearing orange jumpsuits and shackled at the wrists and ankles, said the Rev. Letha Wilson-Barnard, rector at Holy Apostles Episcopal Church in St. Paul. “These are our neighbors, our friends, our family, our co-workers, who themselves came here to seek a better life,” Wilson-Barnard said. “Many leave through this gate immediately to the airport for deportation, not even able to say goodbye to their families.”

After the Eucharist was shared among the protesters, a coalition of clergy and others attempted to enter the sally port of the Whipple building, where detainees are held, in order to offer both detainees and officers a chance to receive the Eucharist.

The group was immediately stopped by an officer pulling his vehicle across the drive, while informing them that if they kept walking, they would be arrested. For 15 minutes, the group asked to be allowed to see the detainees, to offer solace to those detained and to the guards, and were denied.

“For us, you are our brother, and all the people in this building are our brothers and sisters,” the Rev. Lisa Wiens Heinsohn, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, said to the officer. “That is why we are here.”

At the conclusion of the Eucharist, the group moved to the front of the federal building for the press conference. In addition to calling for a change in name or use of the building, the group expressed support for legislation to make Minnesota a sanctuary state, meaning state agencies would be barred from devoting resources to federal immigration enforcement activities.

The Rev. Sherry Prestimon, conference minister of the United Church of Christ, concluded the event with an invitation: “My invitation to all of us today is to go further […] I am announcing this morning the creation of the Minnesota Sanctuary State Coalition. The first meeting of this new coalition will convene next month to begin this work to make Minnesota the 10th sanctuary state in the nation.”

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Bishop of Iowa announces plans to retire, calls for the election of successor in spring 2021

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 12:51pm

[Diocese of Iowa] At the 167th Convention of the Diocese of Iowa, Bishop Alan Scarfe announced his intention to retire in September 2021 and called for the election of his successor in the spring of 2021.

In his letter to the diocese, Scarfe said, “Your gracious, patient and generous spirit has made me your bishop, always humbled and proud to be ‘the bishop of Iowa’ and never merely ‘from Iowa.’ To stand before General Convention in 2018 and describe your revivals was one of the greatest honors of my life. God only knows the sparks we have set alight through that witness. I am sure that some are saying, ‘Well, if Iowa can do it, so can we.’”

Iowa Bishop Alan Scarfe. Photo: Diocese of Iowa

The bishop also announced that Bishop Todd Ousley, who leads The Episcopal Church’s Office for Pastoral Development, will be present at the November retreat of the board and he will advise on the schedule for the search, election and transition periods. The Standing Committee and members of the diocesan staff will also be present at the gathering.

Scarfe was elected ninth bishop of the Diocese of Iowa at a special diocesan convention in November 2002. He was ordained in Des Moines on Saturday, April 5, 2003 and seated at St. Paul’s Cathedral the following day. The diocese had sought a “shared ministry” bishop, and Scarfe’s ministry in the diocese has included a focus on being “in mission with Christ, through each and all.”

He has been active in social justice issues through his involvement with Bishops United Against Gun Violence, support for the LGBTQ+ community and encouraging the development of the Becoming Beloved Community initiative. In his time in the diocese he has been an advocate for youth and young adult ministry and the development of new worshipping communities. In the last several years he has gathered the diocese in over 40 revivals across the state and encouraged and supported congregations through Growing Iowa Leaders and Engaging All Disciples.

He says in his letter, “We have been called, fed and sent through revival and the subsequent years of growing Iowa leaders, and engaging each other in discipleship. My prayer is to leave you walking your neighborhoods and building relationships of love with all around you, satisfied more to fulfill the actions of Christ, rather than settle with mere Christ-like thoughts and feelings.”

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Northern California congregations coordinate response to evacuations from fast-moving fire

Tue, 10/29/2019 - 5:45pm

A firefighter gives orders as he battles the wind-driven Kincade fire in Windsor, California. Photo: Reuters.

[Episcopal News Service] When the initial evacuation order came at 10 a.m. Oct. 26, the Rev. Sally Hubbell started calling around to her parishioners at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Healdsburg, just a few miles south of the increasingly ominous Kincade fire in Northern California’s Sonoma County. Hubbell, the rector, wanted to confirm they had places to stay even as she was making plans to close the church and rectory and flee with her own family.

The Rev. Christy Laborda Harris felt a similar sense of urgency at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church father south in Sebastopol. Though not part of the original evacuation zone, the Sebastopol area had been warned it might need to evacuate soon and could face a precautionary power outage. Harris and her family chose to leave voluntarily for Santa Rosa, the county seat to the east, though she clung to the hope she could “keep things simple” for worship and still offer her congregation a single Sunday service the next morning.

Those plans changed in an instant overnight.

At 4 a.m., state authorities dramatically expanded the evacuation zone to include Sebastopol and even much of Santa Rosa, where Hubbell was staying with a parishioner. Her congregation had planned to attend Sunday worship with Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation, but that congregation decided to cancel its services as well.

“The wind was howling, and the smell of smoke was everywhere and sirens going off in all corners,” Hubbell told Episcopal News Service by phone. Her family, like many others, fled for the second time in 24 hours.

The evacuations displaced nearly all of St. Paul’s 150 members, most of St. Stephen’s 120 members and about half of Incarnation’s 700 members. The congregations’ clergy leaders remain hopeful that they will be able to resume services at their home churches on Nov. 3 for the feast of All Saints, while the Kincade fire, after burning more than 75,000 acres, was reported to be only 15 percent contained as of early Oct. 29.

Their more pressing priority has been to account for all of their parishioners, through phone calls, texts, email messages and social media posts. They have received prayers and offers of support from around the Diocese of Northern California and from the dioceses to the south while also offering mutual support to the Diocese of Los Angeles as it responds to its own menacing fire.

Wildfires have become increasingly common across California after years of drought, and as the state’s annual wildfire season expands outside of its normal months, the fires grow hotter and larger. The Getty fire on the north side of Los Angeles has consumed more than 650 acres so far, and authorities are worried it will intensify and grow with the powerful wind gusts expected this week in Southern California.

“It only takes one ember to blow downwind and start another fire,” Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said Oct. 29 at a news conference.

Northern California will use $6,000 from a diocesan disaster fund to buy gift cards to help families get by while they wait to return to their homes, and Episcopal Relief & Development awarded the diocese $10,000 to bolster those efforts.

Diocesan leaders have kept in constant contact with local priests since the Kincade fire ignited on Oct. 23 to help coordinate a regional response, including through clergy conference calls. Bishop Megan Traquair told ENS that on one of the conference calls, the group paused to pray, a moment that seemed to have a unifying and healing effect. “I felt that I could hear the Holy Spirit knitting us together in the process of that joint prayer,” she said.

The diocese’s practical response has included a joint effort with the neighboring Diocese of California to find Episcopalians living outside the evacuation zone who are willing to house those who had to flee. Kati Braak, Northern California’s director of operations, said the diocese’s approach is to empower local leaders by providing the resources they need to respond in their communities.

“Our role here is really to provide the pastoral response to our clergy,” Braak said.

And while most of those affected by the evacuations have chosen to stay with relatives or friends, diocesan leaders said it was encouraging to see so many Episcopalians willing to help.

“It’s been incredible, the number of people who have stepped up to offer their homes and space in their homes for their siblings in the north … who need assistance,” the Rev. Abbott Bailey, the Diocese of California’s canon to the ordinary, told ENS.

The Diocese of California, which encompasses the San Francisco Bay Area, has not been seriously threatened by fire, but many residents there have been affected by the rolling power outages that the utility company has implemented to minimize risk of new fires. A broken wire on a transmission tower is suspected of causing the Kincade fire.

Bailey also noted in an email to her diocese that two diocesan properties, the Bishop’s Ranch and St. Dorothy’s Rest, are in Sonoma County and had been included in the evacuation orders there.

“This emergency is indeed at our doorstep,” she said.

Church of the Incarnation is in a part of Santa Rosa that never faced an evacuation order, and as of late Oct. 26, the Rev. Stephen Shaver thought his church would be able to open for worship the next day. But early Oct. 27, with residents around the city heeding the expanded evacuation, he decided he needed to focus on securing the church and ensuring his parishioners got out safely.

“That was too close for us to feel responsible to have people to try to come to church on Sunday,” he said in an interview.

Shaver and his wife left town to stay with parishioners living farther south, in Rohnert Park, and from there, he invited his congregation to join him for a virtual Morning Prayer that was streamed on the church’s Facebook page. He led another short Facebook service on Oct. 28 for the feast day of St. Simon and St. Jude.

“That for me was very important. This is what we do. We are the body of Christ, and even to gather in a virtual way when we can’t gather in person, it helps,” Shaver said.

Hubbell’s staying for now in a guest apartment at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. She worked with a St. Paul’s staff member to coordinate the response and contact everyone in the church’s directory.

Harris, now staying in Monterrey, and a deacon from St. Stephen’s have been contacting their parishioners, too, and for those they haven’t been able to reach, Harris said they’ve asked law enforcement officers to check on them.

Shaver recruited a team of parishioners to check on everyone in his congregation’s directory. He created a Google spreadsheet, and each volunteer made call from wherever they were, logging the results on the spreadsheet.

“I’m really proud of the way our folks mobilized and came together,” he said.

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

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Mississippians teach Hondurans glass art trade as dioceses deepen longtime partnership

Mon, 10/28/2019 - 4:30pm

Artists show off their work at Roatan Glass Art, a workshop operated at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Roatan, Honduras, with help from a mission team from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Photo: John DeLancey

[Episcopal News Service] John DeLancey serves as a missionary in Honduras but describes himself more precisely as a project manager. From Mississippi, DeLancey is a glassblower by trade and now a teacher, and his ultimate goal is to make his assistance to fellow Episcopalians in the Diocese of Honduras obsolete.

“It’s all about teaching them how to do it for themselves,” DeLancey said, describing the growing micro-industries that he is supporting in Honduras as part of that diocese’s self-sustainability plan. He spoke recently with Episcopal News Service by Facebook Messenger video chat from his workshop at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in the island community of Roatan, Honduras.

His home congregation, Trinity Episcopal Church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi,  has been involved in this work for more than a decade, training parishioners in glass fusing and sending them to Honduras to share what they’ve learned. The program is called Teach Them to Fish, and DeLancey now is coordinating it full-time from Roatan with the help of a $36,000 grant from The Episcopal Church’s United Thank Offering program, or UTO.

John DeLancey of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is serving at project manager for Teach Them to Fish mission in Roatan, Honduras. The Rev. Kara Mejia, a priest at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Roatan, is translator for the mission team. Photo courtesy of John DeLancey

Teach Them to Fish grew out of an even older partnership between the Diocese of Mississippi and the Diocese of Honduras. Every year since 1982, Mississippi has sent volunteers to Honduras to staff five-day medical clinics, during which several thousand patients receive checkups, medications, dental and eye exams and even veterinary care for their pets.

Individual Mississippi congregations sponsor the Honduras medical mission for two years at a time, and Trinity Episcopal Church took its turn in 2006 and 2007. It was during that period that Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen met DeLancey at his glass art studio in Hattiesburg.

Allen mentioned that he was in the market for new stained-glass windows for some of the churches in Honduras, but stained glass can be expensive. He wondered if DeLancey would consider taking on the work.

DeLancey suggested instead that he teach Allen’s parishioners how to make their own stained glass. From there, the Teach Them to Fish mission team was born.

The team from Trinity decided to focus on fused glass art, which can be produced with skills easily taught by DeLancey and mission volunteers. Every Wednesday, the Trinity volunteers met to learn those skills themselves. They produced glass artworks that were sold in Mississippi to pay for their supplies and their travel to Honduras. Then, on their mission trips, they taught what they had learned to Hondurans.

“I really fell in love with the place,” DeLancey said, and he was happy share the skills of his trade with residents of the Central American country.

About 20 parishioners from Trinity and a nearby congregation, Church of the Ascension, have participated over the years, and some still gather every Wednesday in Hattiesburg to work on glass art to support the mission. DeLancey estimates Teach Them to Fish has organized about two dozen mission trips to Honduras, about once or twice a year.

The glass art is produced at several congregations in Honduras and sold to tourists visiting the island resort community of Roatan. Photo: John DeLancey

They initially focused primarily on training parishioners at Iglesia Episcopal Christo Redentor in the capital of Tegucigalpa, so that congregation could serve as a kind of micro-industries incubator, “to teach more skills and kind of use them as a teaching center and building a team to be able to travel the country,” DeLancey said.

Teach Them to Fish has since expanded its trainings to six congregations on the mainland and Roatan, and DeLancey has been living in Honduras since August 2018 to accelerate that growth.

The congregations in Mississippi and Honduras have built a warm and lasting friendship through the years,” the Rev. Marian Dunaney Fortner told ENS by email. She is Trinity’s former rector and now serves as interim rector at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Jackson, Mississippi. “We are hopeful that John will be able to launch a more sustainable framework by his presence in Honduras.

Such diocesan micro-industries, which also have include jewelry making, offer Hondurans a potential livelihood and sense of pride in their work while also supporting the diocese’s long-term goal of self-sufficiency, Allen told ENS.

“What I’ve been trying to do with the diocese is walk the diocese away from a legacy of dependence,” Allen said in an interview in Montgomery, Alabama, while he was attending Executive Council earlier this month.

Honduras and the six other dioceses in The Episcopal Church’s Province IX, which covers parts of Central and South America and the Caribbean, have been exploring ways of achieving financial autonomy since 2011. Each diocese adopted that as a goal in 2012, and they soon began working with churchwide leaders on plans to shift away from Province IX’s historic reliance on subsidies from the church’s block grant program.

Those efforts have included identifying available resources, promoting local development and strengthening ties to companion dioceses and congregations. The Episcopal Church’s General Convention expressed its support for such work in 2015.

Province IX received nearly $3.6 million in block grants during the 2016-2018 triennium, including $550,000 specifically to support the Diocese of the Dominican Republic’s self-sustainability plan. Funding for the province in the current triennium, 2019-2021, was reduced to about $2.9 million.

After the Dioceses of Honduras received a little more than $1 million in block grants during the previous triennium, General Convention set aside just $580,000 for Honduras in the current three-year period.

Allen, who has been bishop of Honduras since 2001, said his diocese’s recent emphasis on self-sustainability has not been embraced wholeheartedly by all Episcopalians there, but he thinks ministries like the one DeLancey is leading are helping to change the mindset across the diocese’s 130 congregations, 14 of which he said have reached their own benchmarks of sustainability.

“It’s a slow process,” Allen said, noting the various challenges facing Hondurans today, including lack of resources and the disruptions to daily life caused by violent drug cartels and gangs.

Those challenges are acutely felt on the mainland, but Roatan, as a popular island stop for tourists, is an ideal site for marketing the products generated by the diocesan micro-industries. Cruise ships regularly bring several thousand American visitors at a time to the island, DeLancey said, and they now are the prime customers for the congregations he and his team have trained.

Now as in-country project manager, the scope of DeLancey’s work has expanded. In addition to sharing his trade, he is teaching Hondurans management skills and computer technology so they can maintain their own businesses. And as more mainland congregations are trained in fused glass, DeLancey will ensure there is an efficient process to get their products to market on Roatan.

The UTO grant is paying DeLancey’s living expenses for a year, but he expects he will continue his work in Roatan well beyond that period.

“It feels like home, so I’m staying,” DeLancey said. “It’s paradise, man.”

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

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RIP: Bishop James Montgomery, ninth bishop of Chicago, dies at 98

Fri, 10/25/2019 - 4:25pm

The Rt. Rev. James Montgomery, ninth bishop of Chicago. Photo: Diocese of Chicago

[Diocese of Chicago] The Rt. Rev. James Montgomery, ninth bishop of Chicago, died on Oct. 23 at home after a short illness. He was 98 years old. Montgomery served as bishop diocesan from 1971 to 1987, during a period of intense change in the diocese and the entire church.

Montgomery was born in Chicago on May 29, 1921 to James Edward Montgomery and Evelyn Winchester Montgomery, the daughter of the Rt. Rev. James Winchester, bishop of Arkansas from 1911 to 1931. He grew up in Rogers Park and attended Sullivan High School and Northwestern University. After service as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he entered the General Theological Seminary and was ordained priest and deacon by Bishop Wallace E. Conkling, seventh bishop of Chicago, in 1949.

Montgomery served his entire ordained ministry in the Diocese of Chicago. After two years as curate at St. Luke’s in Evanston, he served 11 years as rector of St. John the Evangelist in Flossmoor, during which time he was dean of the Chicago-South deanery and served at various times on Diocesan Council, the Cathedral Chapter and the Standing Committee. In 1962, he was elected bishop suffragan, and in 1965, was elected bishop coadjutor. He became the ninth bishop of Chicago on Oct. 2, 1971.

As a priest and a bishop, Montgomery’s service to the wider church was exemplary. He was a deputy to two General Conventions and a trustee of the General Theological Seminary, Nashotah House and Seabury-Western Seminary — all of which awarded him honorary doctorates — as well as the Church Pension Fund, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital and many other community institutions and organizations.

His résumé could rival that of any bishop of the church, but those who knew Montgomery will remember best his deep faith and commitment to the sacramental life and his clear-eyed love for the people of his diocese in the face of sweeping social change. Bishop Frank Griswold, his successor, told the Chicago Tribune in 1987 that Montgomery had led the diocese through “probably its most difficult period in the history of The Episcopal Church — the ordination of women and the drastic revision in the liturgy … He was able by the sheer force of his personality to keep the diocese very much together.” He did so not by evading difficult issues, but by facing them with generosity and a deep pastoral heart. “Never be so concerned with institutional success or economic security that you lose sight of the world in which we live,” he once wrote.

Just before his retirement in 1987, Montgomery wrote, “On the day of my election in 1962, I promised that I would do my best, with God’s help, to be faithful to the task He gave me to do, and I asked for your prayers. I hope that I have tried to do my best, but I know that you have held me in your prayers. These have not been easy years. Often we have had disagreements in the household of God over various issues. But I always knew that our love for the Lord Jesus Christ was the bond that united us, and in the end would transcend our differences.”

Arrangements for Bishop James Montgomery

Nov. 3, 4 to 7 p.m.
Church of the Atonement
5749 N. Kenmore Ave.
Chicago, IL 60660

Nov. 4, 11 a.m.
Eucharist for the Burial of the Dead
Bishop Jeffrey Lee, presiding
St. James Cathedral
65 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611

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Queer hymn collection offers ‘much-needed’ resource for LGBTQ+ Anglicans and allies

Fri, 10/25/2019 - 3:15pm

Le Chœur gai de Montreal (Montreal Gay Men’s Chorus) sings at the annual pride mass at Christ Church Cathedral in the Anglican Church of Canada’s Diocese of Montreal. Photo: Janet Best/Anglican Journal

[Anglican Journal] Music played a healing role for many Anglicans after an amendment to the marriage canon that would have recognized same-sex marriage failed to pass at the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod 2019. 

After the vote in Vancouver, queer youth delegates sang a round affirming the need to “love each other, love yourself and love your God” and were joined in song by many supporters. The next day, they sang the same round in protest outside Christ Church Cathedral, where the primatial election took place. 

Now a new resource offers further potential for music as a source of affirmation and inclusion. On July 16, three days after the vote at General Synod, the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada released a new hymn collection, “Songs for the Holy Other: Hymns Affirming the LGBTQIA2S+ Community.”

Read the full article here.

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Churches in Bahamas feed hundreds daily in aftermath of Hurricane Dorian

Fri, 10/25/2019 - 3:13pm

The Bahamas was devastated by Hurricane Dorian in August 2019. Photo: Diocese of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands via ACNS

[Anglican Communion News Service] Churches in the Bahamas are helping feed hundreds of people left with nothing after their homes were swept away last month in Hurricane Dorian.

A report from the bishop of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, Laish Boyd, has cataloged the damage to churches, church properties and their members and also reveals how many churches are continuing to provide a lifeline to communities.

Shortly after the hurricane struck, the bishop encouraged his clergy and congregations to reach out to those in need around them.

Read the full article here.

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Church trains thousands of Burundi’s youth in peacebuilding

Fri, 10/25/2019 - 3:06pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] As Burundi gears up for elections next year and the threat of further unrest, the Anglican Church has been helping prepare its young people to promote peace and reconciliation.

Young people under 15 make up almost half of Burundi’s total population, and with high unemployment they are viewed as vulnerable to all sorts of manipulation in a volatile political situation.

The Anglican Church of Burundi aims to address some of the social issues and challenges they face by helping empower young people through training. Some 15,000 young people are being trained by the church to act as educators in their communities.

Read the full article here.

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Boston cathedral’s call to be a ‘house of prayer’ extends to Muslims’ Friday prayers

Fri, 10/25/2019 - 2:46pm

Between 300 and 350 Muslims gather in the Cathedral Church of St. Paul’s sanctuary for Friday prayers. The cathedral has offered the Muslim community a convenient downtown location to pray since August 2000. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Boston, Massachusetts] Ayman Bassyouni arrives early at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul around noon each Friday to lay 15 rows of silk prayer rugs end-to-end on the sanctuary’s floor.

An Egyptian, Bassyouni is one of a few hundred men – and a handful of women – who regularly attend jumah, or Friday prayer, at the Episcopal cathedral; a congregation of mostly immigrants from North Africa, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans who pray together.

In Islam, Friday is considered the sacred day of worship; ordinarily, Muslims pray five times a day, but on Friday, males are obliged to pray in congregation at midday.

The cathedral’s longstanding welcome of the Muslim community is one way it lives into its mission to be “a house of prayer for all people.” In the United States, where religious literacy is in decline but religion plays an increasing role in the cultural narrative, interfaith relationships build tolerance.

Beginning on Sunday, in a partnership with Boston’s Jewish and Muslim communities, St. Paul’s will host “ABRAHAM: Out of One, Many.” Presented by CARAVAN, the Oct. 27-Dec. 6. exhibit explores living harmoniously through artists’ paintings interpreting Abraham’s life and faith journey.

“Many people struggle to really understand their own tradition, let alone other people’s tradition; and my experience has been that when you’re in conversation with people of a different tradition, it causes you to learn more about your own tradition too,” said the Very Rev. Amy McCreath, dean of the cathedral, about the exhibit in a parish newsletter. “It feels to me really, really important right now that we understand our tradition and how it’s connected both to Judaism and Islam, and that we counter that sectarianism and that violence, both intellectually by knowing the history, [as well as through] building relationships with real people in real time.

“Our hope is that parishes will bring a group to come and tour the exhibit, but even more we would hope that they would call the temple down the road and bring an interfaith group to come and experience it and talk about what they see together.”

Ayman Bassyouni, an Egyptian who arrived in the United States three years ago, arrives early each Friday to lay silk prayer rugs on the floor in the sanctuary of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

The three major monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, trace their origins to Abraham — Islam through Abraham and Hagar’s son, Ishmael, and Judaism through Abraham and Sarah’s son, Isaac. And with God’s revelation of the Quran through his messenger, the Prophet Muhammad, the Arabians who eventually became Muslims also became “people of the book.” Still, the commonalities extend further, with all three religions rooted in popular movements against social inequality and the elite’s abuses of power.

An estimated 3.45 million () Muslims – 1.1. percent of the population – live in the United States; a population expected to double in number by 2050. As a comparison, Jews make up 1.8 percent and Christians an estimated 79.5 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center.

The cathedral’s location on Tremont Street across from Boston Common – America’s oldest park, founded in 1634 – and down the hill from the Massachusetts State House gives it a particular “proclamational kerygma,” said Bishop Alan M. Gates, who became bishop of Massachusetts five years ago.

“It’s a really profound witness … and interfaith witness, peace witness, hospitality witness in the deepest sense of the word,” he said, during an interview with Episcopal News Service in his office, overlooking Boston Common.

St. Paul’s underwent a $10 million renovation in 2014 and as part of that renovation installed a footbath in the undercroft. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Five years ago, St. Paul’s underwent a $10 million renovation. The pews were removed from the sanctuary; skylights were installed, brightening and opening the space to multiple uses; glass doors exposed the cathedral to the street; renovations to the undercroft were done to facilitate meetings and events; and a foot-washing station, where Muslims wash their feet in a ritual ablution before formal prayer, was installed.

St. Paul’s first welcomed the Muslim community as a convenient location for Friday prayer in August 2000 after the congregation outgrew its space in another downtown church. For the first 15 years, Muslims gathered in the undercroft and eventually added a second shift as more men came before moving upstairs into the sanctuary, which invited greater visibility. As fear of the other dominates in politics and the media, the longstanding relationship sends a message.

“In this day and age, in particular post-9/11, right in the midst of a season in our political life when we are being encouraged to be wary of people of different faiths, especially immigrants, especially Muslims, we are a testament to the lie of that,” said McCreath, in an interview with ENS in the cathedral’s glass-walled chapel.

Founded as a church in 1818 by wealthy, influential Boston patriots who sought to establish a uniquely “American Episcopal parish” and the first example of Greek Revival architecture in Boston, St. Paul’s became a cathedral in 1912. The seventh bishop of Massachusetts, the Rt. Rev. William Lawrence, conceived of a cathedral aligned with the last line of Isaiah 56:7: “… for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Greater Boston, an area including 127 cities and towns, has a population exceeding 8 million people and is increasingly diverse; the region is an academic and medical research hub.

The Muslim community gathering for Friday prayer on Boston Common began in the 1990s when Mahmood Rahman’s father taught at Suffolk University, a private research university around the corner from the statehouse on Beacon Hill.

“My dad was a professor at the business school over there, and, like anything else, the genesis for this came about because there was a need,” said Rahman, one of the Friday prayers’ primary organizers, whose parents emigrated from Bangladesh to the United States. “Being a Muslim, the Friday noon prayer is our required congregational prayer … it’s obligatory for men to come, listen to a sermon and have our prayer. All the other prayers you can do at home; you don’t have to go to the mosque. After the first couple of years being a professor at the business school, he realized he was missing obligatory Friday prayers, and this gnawed at and weighed heavily on him.”

The father realized the closest mosque was a 20-minute subway ride away, neither convenient nor practical alongside his teaching schedule. And at the time, Suffolk didn’t have a Muslim student association, so the father asked the administration if he could use a room. The university consented and the prayers started with him and a couple of students; as word spread, 20 to 30 people not affiliated with the university began attending, and finally, for liability reasons, the congregation needed to find another space, which it did in a nearby church. After two or three years, the congregation attracted 100 people and “was bursting at the seams,” said Rahman.

Given the growth and timing — the host church was preparing for a major renovation — it made sense for the Muslim congregation to find another space. By then, one of its members, Ibrahim Ibrahim, the owner of the café next door to St. Paul’s, had become acquainted with the then-dean, the Very Rev. John “Jep” Streit Jr.

Streit took Ibrahim on a tour of the undercroft, a place large enough to store prayer rugs and shoe racks. The two agreed it would work “and so they started praying on Fridays almost right away,” said Streit, who served as St. Paul’s dean from 1995 to 2017.

Streit says in hindsight he should have consulted then Massachusetts Bishop Tom Shaw, who was away at the time. When Shaw returned, he was giving a potential donor a tour of the cathedral when, to his surprise, they happened upon Muslims praying in the basement. The person said, “who are these people? What are they doing here?” And the bishop didn’t know.

Later, Shaw, clearly angry, approached Streit in his office and asked what Muslims were doing praying in the basement, to which he responded: “Well, we claim to be a house of prayer for all people. It’s either true or it isn’t.”

And he looked at me and said, ‘Okay. Just checking.’ He was fine with it; he was just embarrassed he didn’t know.”

A year later, in a taxi to the airport, Shaw learned his driver prayed at St. Paul’s.

“He [Shaw] always used to engage people and he asked this guy, ‘Are you religious?’ And the guy said he was Muslim and he said, ‘Oh, where do you pray?’ and he said ‘Oh, there’s a church in Boston, it’s so wonderful; they let us pray in their church, and it’s so great.’ And Tom said, ‘That’s my church. I’m the bishop at that church.’”

The taxi driver stopped the car, got out, hugged Shaw and said: “Wow, you have no idea what it means to us.”

-Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of Episcopal News Service. She can be reached at lwilson@episcopalchurch.org.

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Former priest pleads guilty to child sexual abuse spanning decades in North Carolina

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 4:39pm

[Episcopal News Service] Howard White Jr., a former Episcopal priest who was previously convicted of molesting a student during his time as a chaplain at a Rhode Island boarding school, pleaded guilty on Oct. 21 to 15 charges of child sexual abuse in North Carolina.

White, 78, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the assaults that took place from 1984 to 2004, while he was rector of Grace Church in the Mountains in Waynesville, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Allegations of sexual misconduct against White stretch all the way back to 1967, the Citizen-Times reported, and cover multiple states. During his extensive career serving in schools and parishes, White worked in West Virginia, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

White was first charged with sexual abuse in 2016, after the Rhode Island State Police investigated reports of abuse at St. George’s School, an Episcopal boarding school in Middletown, Rhode Island, from the 1970s. Among them were allegations that White, then the school’s associate chaplain, assaulted a student during trips to Boston in 1973. White was charged in Massachusetts and pleaded guilty in December 2016, receiving an 18-month prison sentence.

In 2007, White had retired and moved to Bedford, Pennsylvania, where he was serving as a supply priest, according to the Providence Journal. When the St. George’s School allegations became public, Central Pennsylvania Bishop Audrey Cady Scanlan placed him on leave, and she deposed him – permanently removing him from the priesthood – in October 2016.

While White was still under investigation in the St. George’s School case, a woman in Waynesville contacted the Diocese of Western North Carolina to report that he had abused her in the mid-1980s in the rectory of Grace Church in the Mountains. A police investigation followed, revealing more victims, and White was charged in North Carolina while serving his prison sentence in Massachusetts.

White has also been accused of sexual abuse dating back to his time in West Virginia and at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.

“I’m relieved that the survivors of Howard White’s crimes are being given some measure of justice in this sentencing,” Bishop W. Nicholas Knisely of Rhode Island wrote in a statement to the Episcopal News Service. “I’m sorry that it has taken this long for it to arrive, and I’m sorry that the church did not live up to its responsibility over the years.”

Bishop José McLoughlin of Western North Carolina told ENS his diocese “embraced the need for a full and accurate understanding of any wrongs committed by Mr. White during his time in the diocese.”

“While Mr. White was removed from the priesthood almost three years ago in accordance with the rules of The Episcopal Church concerning misconduct, it was especially important that he also be investigated under our criminal justice system,” McLoughlin wrote in his statement. “We are grateful for the work of those in law enforcement and the district attorney’s office for investigating the claims and now securing a conviction to hold Mr. White accountable for those matters to which he has confessed responsibility.”

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

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Diocese of Missouri prepares for bishop election

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 3:46pm

[Diocese of Missouri] The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri is pleased to announce a slate of three nominees to become its 11th bishop:

A committee made up of lay and clergy members from throughout the diocese conducted a search and discernment process lasting nearly a year. Their slate was presented and was approved by the Standing Committee on Sept. 26.

The nominees are scheduled to visit the diocese Nov. 4-7 for a series of four “walkabouts.” These meet-and-greet sessions will give members an opportunity to ask questions of the nominees, as well as provide time for the candidates to learn more about the diocese.

The bishop election will be held Nov. 23 at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis. The new bishop will be consecrated on April 25, 2020.

The Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith, the 10th bishop of Missouri, announced his retirement last year. The diocese will celebrate his leadership and ministry at a special event March 28, 2020.

To learn more about the diocese, the bishop nominees and the bishop election, visit the diocesan website at diocesemo.org.

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RIP: Ron Miller, priest who worked for social justice and racial reconciliation

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 3:40pm

Ron and Mary Miller pictured with Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton.

[Diocese of Maryland] The Rev. Ronald Miller died Sept. 30, 2019, after a life of service to the church. Miller’s wife, Mary, died just a year before in September 2018. Miller served congregations in Baltimore including St. Mary the Virgin, Walbrook; Church of the Advent, Federal Hill; St. James’, Lafayette Square; and St. Bartholomew’s, Ten Hills. He also served for a period on the diocesan staff, and more recently sang in the choir at the Cathedral of the Incarnation. His ordained ministry spanned more than 55 years in the dioceses of Washington, Pittsburgh and Maryland.

Thursday, Oct. 17 marked not only the celebration of and thanksgiving for Miller’s life, but the celebration of this couple’s being reunited in God. The Millers were known and loved across Baltimore, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and across The Episcopal Church. They fought tirelessly all their adult lives, he as an Episcopal priest, she as a layperson, for issues of social justice, peace, racial reconciliation, LGBTQ+ rights, marriage equality. Those that knew them attest to their strength as a couple, as true partners, each using their gifts to work together to bring God’s dream to this world. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached at the Oct. 17 service to celebrate Miller’s life, or “as someone referred to him, the other half of the power couple,” Curry said.

Miller served as associate and assistant rector at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Baltimore for most of Curry’s 12 years as rector there. After retiring and doing some interim work, Miller began attending the Cathedral of the Incarnation to keep healthy boundaries with his former congregation. Mary Miller continued to worship and be heavily involved at St. James’, the first Episcopal African American congregation south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Ahead of their time, the Millers fought for racial reconciliation, Mary was involved in the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity, founded in 1957, which sought to rise beyond “separate but equal” races in the church and is what Curry believes to be the first whole church effort toward racial reconciliation. As Curry described at Mary Miller’s celebration of life last year, she really saw God’s dream and did everything she could to make that dream a reality on earth. “Mary had a way of nudging rectors in the direction of God’s dream… Mary had ways she would work with – and she was good – and I know from first experience… “She’d do it with rectors and, I became a bishop, and she was doing it with me as a bishop…,” he said.

Mary Miller was known throughout the church, especially for her work as executive director of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. The Rev. Annette Chappell, interim rector of Holy Trinity, Essex, in the Diocese of Maryland remarked that she knew Miller’s name before she even realized Mary Miller was in her own diocese. Mary Miller was outspoken, direct – a true warrior in the best, non-violent sense of the word – for peace. Ron Miller served more quietly, through his pastoral ministry and advocacy work across the church. He was a former Marine who worked for peace in a gentle way and who accepted his wife’s commitment “to refuse to participate in or give moral support to any war” through the EPF. They both served on the forefront of the Episcopal Urban Caucus.

In an interview last week, the Rt. Rev. Robert W. Ihloff, 13th bishop of Maryland remarked that, “Ron and Mary lived the gospel of social justice, believing it with their whole being. They exuded that in their priorities, what they spent their money on, what they did. When they were relocating they chose a poor neighborhood to live in, indicative of their commitment to Baltimore.” Ihloff commented that he found it a powerful coincidence that on the day we realized U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings had died, we celebrated the life of another great Maryland voice for social justice. The Millers understood that “a disproportionate amount of Jesus’ time was spent with the poor and marginalized,” Ihloff said.

Nancy Ihloff, the bishop’s wife, who has attended the Cathedral of the Incarnation for many years, commented that Ron Miller had no other shirts but his clergy shirts and that he always wore his collar, to the end of his ability to go to church and even when singing in the choir. Bishop Ihloff remarked that Ron Miller was making a statement of his calling by wearing his collar, not being wrapped up in it as his whole identity. “He was mindful of the Biblical passage [Psalm 110:4] that ‘you are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’ His was not a churchy priesthood, it was a down and dirty priesthood. They [Ron and Mary] were modest and models of Christian living in so many ways,” he said.

The presiding bishop commented that the Millers were always his teachers and that their families spent time together annually during the holidays. “Every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Curry preached last year, “I would sit at Mary’s feet.”

On Oct. 17, Curry preached on Ron Miller’s deep faithfulness, his punctuality and how he gave his heart and his life to the God he loved and trusted. According to Chappell, Miller remained involved in a Bible study he began more than 20 years ago until he moved into a retirement home last year. Curry commented in his sermon that every sermon Miller ever preached was about love. He would faithfully go through the scripture, “first the Old Testament reading … then the New Testament and the Gospel…” each sermon a “meditation on how God’s love tried to work through human life.” And he faithfully attended church until he could no longer get there.

The presiding bishop’s sermons at both celebrations of life were powerful, delightful and filled with humor. You can view Curry’s sermon, “There’s Something About Mary” from Mary Miller’s celebration of life Oct. 3, 2018, in which he takes the concept of “Mary-ness” through scripture up to Mary Miller, here. You can view Curry’s sermon at Ron Miller’s celebration of life Oct. 17, 2019, on the Cathedral of the Incarnation’s YouTube channel here.

— Carrie Graves is canon for communications in the Diocese of Maryland.

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Worshipers separated by culture, language find common ground at Alabama church

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 12:19pm

Gabriel Rosales stands to read one of the scriptural lessons during the Spanish-language service Oct. 20 at All Saints Episcopal Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Montgomery, Alabama] Shirley Fifield, 88, has attended services at All Saints Episcopal Church in Montgomery since 1973. A widow whose family roots are in Wisconsin, she attends the Sunday morning Eucharist at All Saints, and she speaks only English.

Gabriel Rosales, 25, and his wife, Rosalba Barrera, 19, are fluent in three languages, including Spanish and an indigenous Mexican language known as Mixtec. They began attending the Sunday afternoon Spanish-language service at All Saints about six months ago and since then have had two of their children baptized here.

All Saints has “gone through lots of transformations” over the years, Fifield said, mentioning long-ago renovations and additions to the modest church building located about 10 minutes west of downtown. The biggest transformation, though, may be the one now underway as two small Episcopal communities, separated by language and culture, find common ground and opportunities to share their faith with each other.

An informal blending of the English-language and Spanish-language communities takes place during the hospitality hour between the two services, and church leaders are discussing ways of encouraging further interaction with help from a $14,450 grant from The Episcopal Church’s United Thank Offering program, or UTO.

The Rev. Pamela Long serves as deacon for Todos Santos, a growing Spanish-language worshiping community that gathers every Sunday afternoon at All Saints Episcopal Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The English-language congregation at All Saints is primarily older adults, and attendance of about 25 is typical at the 10:30 a.m. Sunday services led by the Rev. David Peeples, priest-in-charge. The Spanish-language worshiping community is called Todos Santos, “All Saints” in Spanish, and its 12:30 p.m. Sunday services are led by the Rev. Pamela Long, a Spanish professor at Montgomery’s Auburn University who recently was ordained a deacon. Turnout for a baptism can top 100 people, Long said, but typical attendance usually mirrors the English-language services, about 25.

All Saints parishioners welcomed warmly the Todos Santos families.

“They were so excited to have children in the building again,” Long said. “They were just overjoyed.”

Rosales said he and his family felt a connection to the church. “When I come here, I feel like home,” he said. He and Barrera attended the Oct. 20 afternoon service with Rosales’ parents and sisters, all from Mexico.

Long has been involved in this evolving ministry for more than a decade, starting when she was a parishioner at another congregation, Church of the Ascension just south of downtown Montgomery.

In 2006, the diocese’s missioner for Latino outreach, a priest from Colombia, began visiting Ascension once a month to lead an afternoon service in Spanish, and after he left the diocese to return to Colombia, Long filled in as a lay leader for those monthly services.

One Sunday in September 2016 proved to be a turning point. A couple Latino families had asked for their children to be baptized, 12 in all, and the ceremony was scheduled at one of Ascension’s English-language services. About 150 relatives came, Long said, which took the Ascension congregation by surprise.

Many of those Latino families continued to attend Ascension after the baptisms, Long said, but the clash of cultures was too difficult for the congregation there to navigate. She discussed the future of this Latino ministry with Alabama Bishop Kee Sloan, and he connected her with church leaders at All Saints, which had tried unsuccessfully to create its own Latino ministries.

“There is a real need for that, for the church to reach out to Spanish-speaking people,” Sloan told Episcopal News Service during his visit Oct. 18 with The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, which held its fall meeting in Montgomery. He lauded All Saints as “a joyful congregation.”

In January 2019, the Latino families that had attended Ascension joined Long in an inaugural Spanish-language service at All Saints, claiming it as their new spiritual home.

“It came at a time for our parish when we were wondering what does the future hold for us,” said Peeples, who serves All Saints part time and also works as a hospice chaplain. His congregation was not growing on its own, so it was open to trying something new.

Shirley Fifield, right, speaks with a fellow parishioner after the morning service Oct. 20 at All Saints Episcopal Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

All Saints and Todos Santos are separate worshiping communities, but they are finding ways to engage with each other. Fifield, while struggling with the language barrier, said she thinks with time it will become easier for the two groups to communicate. On Oct. 20, she struck up a brief conversation at the hospitality hour with a couple and their daughter who had arrived early for the Spanish-language service.

Peeples and Long also said the two groups came together in a big way for a joint Easter service this year that was followed by an outdoor church picnic. “That was the best Easter ever,” Long said. Another joint service is planned around All Saints Day.

The UTO grant is intended to enhance the worship space during the Todos Santos services and make the church more welcoming for Latino families. The English-language service is typically accompanied by an organist or pianist, and Long would like to purchase other instruments for a Spanish-language praise band. Some of the money also will be used to purchase icons, or paintings of Jesus, Mary and other saints, that can be placed at the altar for the afternoon service and then removed.

“Latinos are very serious about the cloud of witnesses. They want to feel the saints in their worship,” Long said.

After the 10:30 a.m. service on Oct. 20, Gwen Moore, an All Saints vestry member, helped set up treats for the hospitality hour on the table in a gathering area near the church’s entrance. Moore has been attending All Saints about five years. She prefers smaller community churches like this and thinks the addition of Todos Santos has potential to “get the life back” in the church she has grown to love.

“It became a blessing when this door opened for us,” Moore said.

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

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Oklahoma diocese updates bishop election slate

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 5:02pm

[Diocese of Oklahoma] The Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma received notification Oct. 23 from the Rev. Greg Methvin, that he was withdrawing as a nominee for bishop of Oklahoma for personal and professional reasons. The Diocese of Oklahoma expresses its thanks to the Rev. Methvin for his willingness to participate in our election process.

The election of the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Oklahoma will go forward with the two nominees, the Rev. Scott Gunn and the Rev. Poulson Reed. The election is scheduled for Dec. 14 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City. The consecration of the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Oklahoma is scheduled for Saturday, April 18, 2020, at the Oklahoma City University.

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Washington, Houston cathedrals strike up World Series wager in Twitter showdown

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 3:57pm

[Episcopal News Service] It turns out the World Series isn’t just a competition between two baseball teams or two cities. This year, it’s also a battle between two Episcopal cathedrals.

As the Washington Nationals make their first World Series appearance against the 2017 champion Houston Astros, the dean of Houston’s Christ Church Cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of Texas, issued a “friendly wager” to his counterpart at Washington National Cathedral in D.C.

“We think you’re gonna lose the World Series,” the Very Rev. Barkley Thompson said in a Twitter video on Oct. 22. “And here’s the bet: Whoever loses has to wear the other team’s gear at a Sunday morning service in church.”

Dean @BarkleyThompson knows that actions speak louder than words. That’s why he’s challenging Dean @Rhollerith at the @WNCathedral to a friendly wager for the @astros and @Nationals @MLB World Series. Your move, D.C.! pic.twitter.com/AYW5ZwpMVi

— Christ Church (@cccathedraltx) October 22, 2019

The rivalry started when Washington National Cathedral posted photos of its famous gargoyles and statues wearing Nationals hats, using the hashtag #GodHasFavorites:

Everyone at @WNCathedral is root root rooting for the home team! @Nationals #STAYINTHEFIGHT #Natitude #GodHasFavorites pic.twitter.com/uuXDsfhYiH

— Washington National Cathedral (@WNCathedral) October 21, 2019

“To those of us in Texas, those are fighting words,” Thompson said in response, noting that Christ Church Cathedral is five blocks from Minute Maid Park, where the Astros play. “Good luck, Nationals. We think you’ll need it. Go Astros, and play ball!”

The Very Rev. Randy Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral, eagerly accepted the bet.

So @cccathedraltx has a wager that the @astros can beat the @nationals.

Bring it, Houston, says Dean @RHollerith to Dean @BarkleyThompson. #WSCathedralChallenge@AstroDoughnuts pic.twitter.com/25McLzlyqy

— Washington National Cathedral (@WNCathedral) October 23, 2019

“Bring it on, Houston,” Hollerith replied on Twitter on Oct. 23, after the Nationals won the first game of the series.

“Great game last night! We’re off to a good start – at least, that’s how we think here in Washington,” Hollerith said in his own Twitter video.

The National Cathedral has doubled down on its support for its home team, even posting a video of its organists playing “Baby Shark” – the inescapable children’s song that has inexplicably become the unofficial anthem of the Nationals – on the cathedral’s majestic organ:

Everyone at @WNCathedral is rooting for the @Nationals — even all 10.647 pipes of the organ! @88_gparra #Natitude #WorldSeries #babyshark pic.twitter.com/8vgwJtQIoB

— Washington National Cathedral (@WNCathedral) October 22, 2019

The cathedral has previously posted videos of its children’s choir singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”:

.@WNCathedral is officially changing its name to Washington Nationals Cathedral. #Natitude Go @Nationals! pic.twitter.com/RBA5OoV2ar

— Washington National Cathedral (@WNCathedral) October 3, 2019

And the same song being played on its bells:

In Hollerith’s video responding to Thompson’s wager, he opened a box of Astro Doughnuts – a D.C. favorite – to reveal a dozen donuts with baby sharks in the middle.

If God really does have a favorite, perhaps that will become clearer when the teams face off for Game 2 on Oct. 23 in Houston.

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

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