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Millions of Christians around world pray for South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo

Fri, 02/23/2018 - 1:01pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Christians across the world from many denominations are praying today (Friday) for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo following an invitation from Pope Francis, supported by Anglican and other Christian leaders. The need for prayer was highlighted by investigators from the UN’s Human Rights Council, who said today that they had “identified more than 40 senior military officials who may bear individual responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity in South Sudan.”

Read the full article here.

Theology professors press Sewanee to revoke Charlie Rose’s honorary degree over scandal

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 5:01pm

[Episcopal News Service] Theology professors at Sewanee: The University of the South are joining a chorus of voices calling for the Tennessee university to revoke an honorary degree given to Charlie Rose because of sexual harassment allegations against the broadcast journalist.

The letter, dated Feb. 19, is addressed to top Sewanee administrators and the university’s Board of Regents and is signed by eight professors – a majority of the faculty members in the School of Theology. They seek to frame their response “within the larger, theologically grounded tradition of pastoral response to sin and forgiveness” and dispute some of the theological justifications the school has made in resisting calls to revoke Rose’s honorary degree.

The letter also invokes a recent message on sexual harassment issued by the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop and House of Deputies president.

“We pray that this university will have the courage to respond to this call, and that it will seek to demonstrate in symbol and in substance that it respects the dignity of every human being, and demands similar respect be shown by all whom it honors,” the professors say in their letter, posted online by the Sewanee Purple, a student-run news publication.

Sewanee’s Episcopal roots date to its founding in 1857 by clergy and lay leaders from dioceses across the south. It continues to be owned and governed by 28 Episcopal dioceses and offers a full range of degrees, in addition to training future church leaders in its seminary.

Rose was a top name in TV journalism through his “Charlie Rose” interview show on PBS and Bloomberg and his co-anchor role on CBS’ “This Morning” when harassment allegations surfaced in November. Eight women told the Washington Post that Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd comments, groping and walking around naked in their presence.

Rose issued an apology for his “inappropriate behavior” and admitted he had “behaved insensitively at times,” though he also disputed the accuracy of some of the allegations. He was promptly fired by PBS, Bloomberg and CBS.

Charlie Rose delivers the commencement address in May 2016 at Sewanee: The University of the South. Photo: Sewanee

Sewanee presented Rose with an honorary degree in spring 2016, when he delivered the university’s commencement address. “Fame is way overrated unless you do something good with it,” CBS News quoted Rose as saying in his speech to graduates.

Rose was one of a series of prominent men from the world of entertainment, media and politics to suddenly fall from grace last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct, prompting women everywhere to share their own stories of harassment and abuse in what has been called the #MeToo movement. Some universities have responded by taking back past honors bestowed on Rose, including Arizona State University, Fordham University and State University of New York-Oswego.

The Bairnwick Women’s Center at Sewanee started an online petition in December calling for Sewanee to revoke Rose’s honorary degree, the Sewanee Purple reported, and early this month, two of the university’s student trustees, Claire Brickson and Mary Margaret Murdock, spoke to the Board of Regents recommending the board take that step.

“Revoking Charlie Rose’s degree sends a clear statement to those 17 individuals who reported rapes on campus in 2016, that we support their decision to come forward,” Brickson and Murdock told the Board of Regents, according to the Sewanee Purple.

Four Episcopal bishops and three Episcopal priests sit on the 20-member Board of Regents, including Florida Bishop Samuel Howard, who serves as an ex officio board member because of his position as Sewanee chancellor. The regents responded last week in a letter to Brickson and Murdock saying they decided, after “vigorous discussion,” that Rose should keep his honorary degree.

“We want to be clear that we have stood, and always will stand, against sexual harassment of women or men,” the board said. “At the same time, we do not believe it is our place to condemn the individual. In fact, we think there is grave danger were we to go down that path. We impose a penalty where appropriate, but we also offer forgiveness.”

The Board of Regents also asserted “condemnation has no place here” before elaborating on its “ecclesiastical considerations” in the matter.

“Clarification comes in the question ‘Is there a hierarchy of sin?’ Quickly followed by ‘Are we all not sinners?’ Therein lies the ecumenical rub,” the board’s said. “If we condemn a person then who among us sinners should not also be condemned?”

Episcopal News Service sought comment Feb. 21 from the four bishops on the Board of Regents and was referred instead to Sewanee administrators. A spokeswoman said the university had no additional statement on the issue, though one may be issued later this week.

The regents’ reasoning drew a direct rebuttal from the School of Theology professors in their letter.

“Respectfully, we must insist that there is a hierarchy of sin, long recognized in the tradition,” the professors say. “In the gospels, Jesus himself makes such distinctions, and he forcefully censures those who place a ‘stumbling block’ before others – that is, create scandal that impedes faith.”

The professors also cite the disciplinary rubric in the Book of Common Prayer that says clergy should prevent from taking communion those who are “living a notoriously evil life” and those “who have done wrong to their neighbors and are a scandal.”

“Public scandal is, in the tradition, regarded as a reason to send a message,” the professors say. “One struggles to think of a case of public scandal more obvious than the behavior of Mr. Rose.”

The professors also acknowledge the revoking Rose’s honorary degree is a mere symbolic act, though no more symbolic than granting him the degree in the first place.

And they point for context to the Jan. 22 letter to the Episcopal Church from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies. Curry and Jennings called on Episcopalians to take the coming of Ash Wednesday and Lent as a time to meditate “on the ways in which we in the church have failed to stand with women and other victims of abuse and harassment and to consider, as part of our Lenten disciplines, how we can redouble our work to be communities of safety that stand against the spiritual and physical violence of sexual exploitation and abuse.”

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

Anglican leaders pay tribute to iconic evangelist Billy Graham

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 1:19pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has led tributes from Anglican leaders to the iconic United States evangelist Billy Graham, who died Feb. 21 at his home in North Carolina. “When it comes to a living and lasting influence upon the worldwide church he can have few equals: for he introduced person after person to Jesus Christ,” Welby said of  Gramham, who was 99.

Read the entire article here.

Editor’s note: Presiding Bishop Michael Curry remembers Graham as “truly a man of God, a follower of Jesus, and a witness that there really is a more excellent way for the human family.”

Archbishop-elect Maimbo Mndolwa’s 2020 vision for reviving God’s work in Tanzania

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 12:01pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The next primate of the Anglican Church of Tanzania, Archbishop-elect Maimbo Mndolwa, is to consult widely with the bishops and lay leaders of the province as it prepares for its half-century anniversary in 2020. The province was created in 1970, when the then-province of East Africa gave birth to the provinces of Kenya and Tanzania. After he takes his seat on May 20, Maimbo will visit the bishops and diocesan leaders as he prepares a new strategy to “revive God’s work” in Tanzania.

Read the entire article here.

Congregation prays for safety of stranded youths who set fire in South Dakota church building

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 4:14pm

The floor will need to be repaired and reinforced where a fire was set in the St. Thomas’ church hall on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. Photo: Margaret Watson

[Episcopal News Service] An Episcopal mission church building in South Dakota was damaged recently by a fire set by stranded youths seeking warmth and shelter from the cold. The congregation, while lamenting the damage to its guild hall, also has responded with compassion and forgiveness for those who caused the damage.

“Fortunately, it seems the stranded young folk survived, and so did the church hall,” the Rev. Margaret Watson said in a Facebook post after learning Feb. 9 about the damage to St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in On the Tree. “We will need a new floor and paint job on the inside – but, considering the other alternatives, this is good news.”

Watson, a priest who serves 11 congregations on and near the Cheyenne River Reservation, told Episcopal News Service the intruders broke into the guild hall and started a fire in the middle of the floor, using hymnals as kindling and burning chairs and a table that had been used as a backup altar. The temperature outside at the time of the break-in was below zero, Watson said.

One of the church members, Ina Blue Coat, was among the first to survey the damage and was quoted by Watson as offering this response: “I pray who did this did find refuge in the building, and found their way to safety. I know that with this cold weather and someone is stranded in the rural areas, survival is crucial.”

Many years ago, the church was usually left unlocked, Blue Coat said, but the congregation began locking the doors to stop thefts from the church.

On the Tree is a sparsely populated area of South Dakota north of Eagle Butte in the north-central part of the state. The church is down a dirt and gravel road, and it sits opposite the meandering Moreau River.

A year ago, the church was used as a staging ground for search parties looking for two young people who were missing and later found dead from the cold, Watson said.

That tragedy might have been repeated if the three young people stranded outside this month hadn’t found the guild hall at St. Thomas’. Watson said she not learned the identities or ages of those three but heard that they were discovered by a rancher who was driving by the church and stopped at the sight of the fire.

The youths ran out of the guild hall to ask the rancher for help, saying they had been abandoned at the side of the road by a friend, Watson said.

“The road is quite remote,” she said, adding it “goes from nowhere to nowhere.”

Damaged furniture is seen outside St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in South Dakota. It was removed fromt the guild hall after a rancher found three youths burning the furniture for warmth inside the hall. Photo: Margaret Watson

The rancher drove them into town after putting out what remained of the fire. He notified Watson, who emphasized the sense of relief she and the congregation feels.

“We sincerely thank God that they are alive and that they made it out,” she said.

The last service held at St. Thomas’ was on Christmas Eve. Watson and a curate try to offer Eucharist at each mission church at least once a month, though in the winter months, the St. Thomas’ congregation sometimes gathers instead in Eagle Butte at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which has central heat. When services are held at St. Thomas’ in the winter, the congregation of a few dozen typically gathers in the smaller, better-insulated guild hall, warmed by a kerosene heater.

The damage to the guild hall from the fire was “nothing that cannot be repaired,” though Watson doesn’t expect to be able to worship there again until Easter at the earliest.

The congregation also will need to raise money for the repairs, and to buy new hymnals.

“This is a congregation that loves to sing, and all of our hymnals, which are in Lakota, were burned,” Watson said. “That one hits close to the heart.”

The arson comes about a month after a historic bell was discovered stolen from another mission church in South Dakota. That church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, is just north of Norris and part of the Rosebud Episcopal Mission.

The Rev. Lauren Stanley, the mission priest serving the congregations on and around the Rosebud Indian Reservation told Episcopal News Service last month that if the thieves bring the bell back, she’ll offer them forgiveness in return – and maybe even take them out for a meal.

Stanley had contacted scrap metal dealers from Rosebud to Rapid City asking them to let her know if someone tries selling the bell, though she doesn’t think it’s worth more than $10 melted down. A promising tip, alerting her to a bell that had turned up 25 miles away, was investigated and revealed to be not the church’s bell but rather one that had been used by a ranch to summon ranch hands.

As of last week, there still was no break in the case.

“I wish I had any news, but nothing yet,” Stanley said.

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

Dublin’s ‘Sanctuary Cathedral’ provides new home for asylum seekers’ food campaign

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 12:40pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] An organization that campaigns for an end to rules that prevent asylum seekers in Ireland from cooking their own food has found a new home in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral. Christ Church was been designated as Ireland’s first “Cathedral of Sanctuary” at a launch dinner on Feb. 16, to mark Our Table’s new home. Under Ireland’s direct provision system, asylum seekers are not allowed to work or cook and are forced to “eat food prepared at set times on an industrial scale by companies profiting from the system,” Our Table said. An Our Table café will operate at the cathedral every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Read the entire article here.

Global response to pope’s call to pray for South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 12:34pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican provinces around the world have responded positively to Pope Francis’ call for an ecumenical day of prayer and fasting for peace, with a particular focus on South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The pope made his call during his traditional Angelus address to crowds in Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican Feb. 4. The call was endorsed that week by a number of senior Anglicans, including the acting primate of the Anglican Church of South Sudan, chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion and the deputy director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Read the entire article here.

Church leaders express grief, call for action after Florida high school mass shooting

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 2:27pm

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal bishops are arranging for services of lamentation at churches around the country in the wake of the shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 students and faculty members dead, and the bishops and other church leaders are calling for political action against gun violence to end “these lethal spasm of violence in our country.”

“The heart of our nation has been broken yet again by another mass shooting at an American school,” Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a coalition of more than 70 Episcopal bishops, said in a statement released Feb. 16 following the Ash Wednesday massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

A former student, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, has been charged with 17 counts of murder after authorities say he opened fire with an AR-15 rifle in hallways and classrooms before ditching his gun and ammunition and blending in with students to escape. He was found and arrested on a city street later in the day.

Fourteen of the fatal victims were students. A football coach, athletic director and geography teacher also were killed.

Bishops United offered condolences to the families, singling out by name Carmen Schentrup, a 16-year-old student who was a youth group leader at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs.

The Coral Springs church posted news of Schentrup’s death Feb. 15 on Facebook.

“Please keep our entire church family in your prayers,” the Facebook post said while asking the public to respect the family’s privacy.

The Diocese of Southeast Florida, which includes Parkland and Coral Springs, released a statement Feb. 15 expressing grief at the “horrific massacre of innocents.”

“There are no words that can adequately give voice to the madness and the violence done to those gunned down, and to their families and friends so cruelly robbed of those they loved,” the statement says. “There are no words to describe the pain of loss and grief, of shock and horror, of outrage and anger, only the anguished cries that well up from the very depths of our being. There are no words to make sense of what makes no sense, and in the face of such senseless killing we are numbed and rendered speechless.”

Bishop Peter Eaton followed up Feb. 16 by saying Christians’ faith will help guide their response to this tragedy, and “we bring more than our prayers.”

“We bring our longings and convictions for a different future,” he said in his written statement on the shooting. “What happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is not the world as it ought to be, or as it needs to be, and we who follow Jesus accept the responsibility for being partners with God to bridge that gap between what is and what could and ought to be.”

Also Feb. 15, Washington National Cathedral Dean Randy Hollerith released a written prayer asking God to comfort those affected by the shooting spree while alluding to the political debates that typically are ignited by such killings.

“Forgive us, Lord, when our leaders fail to take action to protect the most vulnerable from the dangers of gun violence,” Hollerith says. “Forgive us, Lord, for the times when we lack the courage and political will to work together. Open our eyes and our hearts to work across our divisions to end the plague of gun violence.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Bishops United Against Gun Violence.

“We must reflect on and acknowledge our own complicity in the unjust systems that facilitate so many deaths, and, in accordance with the keeping of a holy Lent, repent and make reparations,” Bishops United’s statement says before calling for political engagement by Episcopalians.

The bishops specifically call for legislation banning the AR-15 and similar weapons, as well as high-capacity magazines and so-called “bump stocks,” the device used by the shooter who killed 58 people at an outdoor music concert in Las Vegas in October.

“We understand that mass shootings account for a small percentage of the victims of gun violence; that far more people are killed by handguns than by any kind of rifle; that poverty, misogyny and racism contribute mightily to the violence in our society and that soaring rates of suicide remain a great unaddressed social challenge,” Bishops United’s statement says.

“And yet, the problem of gun violence is complex, and we must sometimes address it in small pieces if it is not to overwhelm us. So, please, call your members of Congress and insist that your voice be heard above those of the National Rifle Association’s lobbyists.”

The group of bishops also plans to announce a schedule of services of lamentation, with details to be released on its Facebook page.

And Bishops United invited Episcopalians to join in a period of discernment, including in July at General Convention in Austin, where the bishops will gather for prayer outside the convention hall each morning.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence was formed as a response to an earlier school shooting, the December 2012 slaughter of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Since then, Bishops United has released statements with increased frequency responding to deadly mass shootings, including the Oct. 1 massacre of 58 people in Las Vegas and the Nov. 5 shooting that left 26 dead at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

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

Archbishop of Canterbury: Anglican Communion is in a better place than five years ago

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 12:49pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] In a wide-ranging interview with the Church Times to mark five years in office, the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said that the Anglican Communion is in “a better place” than it was five years ago. He described the question as “a hostage to fortune,” but said that the improvements in the communion were “building on what was already happening.” He said: “I’m not taking credit for it in any way.”

Read the entire article here.

New Anglican Inter Faith Commission begins work with meeting in Cairo

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 12:42pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Members of the Anglican Communion’s new Inter Faith Commission will gather for their first meeting next week in Cairo, Egypt. The AIFC was requested by the Anglican Consultative Council when they met in Lusaka in 2016, and launched at the Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury last October. Its purpose is to “bring mutual understanding and build trust where there is ignorance, fear and hostility” between different faith groups.

Read the entire article here.


Northern boating enthusiasts help Florida Keys floating neighborhood damaged by Hurricane Irma

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 11:05am

Contractors hoist a vessel displaced by Hurricane Irma at Boot Key Harbor City Marina in Marathon, Florida, Oct. 11. Response crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency have managed vessel removal operations with a priority placed on vessels leaking fuel or hazardous materials. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class David Weydert

[Episcopal News Service] When your only home is a boat, chances are good you’re in trouble during a hurricane.

Before Hurricane Irma’s September wrath, Christle Tallant, a single mother with two jobs, moored her 40-foot 1987 trawler in Boot Key Harbor in the city of Marathon in the middle of the Florida Keys. She and two of her three daughters fled their boat home to seek safety at a hotel in Orlando.

When she returned, her home was smashed up against other boats in the marina canal with large holes and missing windows starboard, and small holes on the port side with deep gouges near the water line. The bow’s walkway was damaged, along with the stanchions and anchor roller, and the stern suffered damaged fiberglass, swim platform and trim tabs.

Tallant has done some repairs herself, but she can’t do it all.

“I’ve been reading on how to repair everything … I’m like, how do I even do this? I don’t know. It’s a little overwhelming,” Tallant told Episcopal News Service more than five months later. They’re still living on the boat.

Boot Key Harbor resident Christle Tallant’s 40-foot trawler, where she lives with two of her three daughters, is in need of serious repairs. Photo courtesy of Christle Tallant and Boot Key Harbor city marina

Geoffrey Smith, chief operating officer of the Episcopal Church, heard the harrowing stories from a few Keys boat residents like Tallant when he accompanied Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on a post-hurricane pastoral visit to the islands in January.

A former deacon in Maine and a lifelong boating enthusiast, Smith thought he could use his connections in the northern boating industry and church friends to help. He also used to work as a risk manager for Brunswick Corp., a large boat builder.

“I thought this might be a way I could help,” Smith said.

So, Smith wrote an email to the Rt. Rev. Stephen Lane, bishop of the Diocese of Maine, and Lane passed the word to parishioners, clergy and people in the boating industry around Maine.

“It’s just a good example of how sometimes, we can serve as connective tissue. We have boat builders in our community, and some of our parishioners are boat builders,” Lane told ENS.

The Rev. Nina Pooley, rector of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Yarmouth, Maine, took the lead. Based on the responses from the community, she organized the volunteers into two groups: boating experts who can travel to the Keys to help with repairs and people with connections to large companies in the boating industry.

“Geof was right. We have these ties, the capacity and the will,” Pooley told ENS.

The live-aboard boating aid project is in early stages, and there is so much work to be done.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission had removed more than 1,100 unsafe vessels from the Florida Keys waterways by Oct. 31. The Weather Channel reported that by late November, the U.S. Coast Guard recovered nearly 1,500 boats that were damaged or destroyed.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Kenneth Freeman prepares a tracking sticker for a displaced vessel at Vaca Marina in Marathon, Florida, Sept. 27. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission members are collaborating to assess and report the pollution potential of vessels displaced or sunken as a result of Hurricane Irma. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Rene Pena

That work continues, as there are so many more damaged boats than these numbers suggest. Geof needed a way to narrow down the project to some of the most desperate cases. They were the working-class families whose boats are their only homes — boats that weren’t destroyed, but were damaged enough to need expert help with repairs.

Smith turned to the Rev. Debra Maconaughey, rector of St. Columba Episcopal Church in Marathon, which has taken a lead in local hurricane relief and recovery.

“I asked Debra, ‘We can’t address all the thousands of boats damaged, but what can we do?’ She identified 16 boats, and we’re working to find help for those,” Smith said.

Maconaughey talked with the harbor master at Boot Key Harbor city marina, who had his assistant make rounds and identify those 16 live-aboard boaters, compiling their stories and boat photos so that those who want to help in Maine will know what’s needed.

“We already had money set aside to help with boats, but this was a way to partner with people to do way more than we could alone. This is exciting. We’re ready. It’s an unusual project but it’s great project. And it’s needed,” Maconaughey said.

Christle Tallant acquired a floating dock to hold a generator so she can do post-hurricane repairs to her 40-foot trawler, where she lives with two of her three daughters in Boot Key Harbor in the city of Marathon in the Florida Keys. Episcopal volunteers in Maine want to help. Photo courtesy of Christle Tallant and Boot Key Harbor city marina

“There’s so much need, we don’t have enough people down here to do the repairs,”Maconaughey continued. “To have an experienced group of people down here who know about boats that would go a long way.”

Take Mike Funkhauser and Antoinette Smith have a 3-month-old baby girl named Bay and live aboard a 43-foot 1977 Formosa. At the last minute, a then very pregnant Smith, Funkhauser and five birds evacuated in a church van as Irma barreled toward them. Funkhauser insists their boat isn’t bad at all compared to the wreckage they witnessed when they returned home after the storm. But there are serious issues.

Funkhauser, who repairs boats for a living himself, is encountering repairs that are beyond his expertise, he said. He was able to fix their main mast, but the wooden mizzenmast has two cracks and is a few inches from their electrical system which powers everything in their home. As time goes on, he keeps finding more problems.

“I’m really concerned, and it’s out of my pay grade. I can’t get it wrong. I have a baby to think of,” Funkhauser said. “This is just — oy — it turned into a lot of stuff.”

Mike Funkhauser and Antoinette Smith live with their newborn daughter, Bay, on this 43-foot Formosa in the city of Marathon in the Florida Keys. Their boat needs repairs, and Episcopalians in Maine want to help. Photo courtesy of Mike Funkhauser and Boot Key Harbor city marina

Pooley said that while New England boaters have a reputation for being affluent, many of those in Maine’s boating community are working-class boating people, like the many year-round people in the Keys, just with a different climate. They understand, and they want to help.

And, as the families in the Keys continue in their long-term recovery, they say they are looking forward to that help.

“Any little bit of help is appreciated,” Tallant said. “I don’t expect them to fix everything, but just to guide me in how to go about it would be a big help.”

— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn. She can be reached at amysowderepiscopalnews@gmail.com.

Appel à l’Offrande du Vendredi Saint de l’Évêque Primat Michael Curry pour le soutien au ministère de la Province anglicane de Jérusalem et du Moyen-Orient

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 11:04am

« L’Offrande du Vendredi Saint est un moyen pour l’Église épiscopale de soutenir le ministère continu d’amour et compassion que nos sœurs et frères anglicans mènent à bien dans toute la Province de Jérusalem et du Moyen-Orient », a écrit l’Évêque Primat Michael Curry aux évêques et au clergé de l’Église épiscopale. « Que ce soit pour financer une clinique ophtalmologique à Aden, des programmes pour les femmes, des écoles et des services médicaux en Cisjordanie, l’Offrande du Vendredi Saint améliore la vie de tant de gens ».

L’Évêque Primat Curry a adressé la lettre annuelle du Vendredi Saint à tous les évêques et congrégations leur demandant d’envisager d’apporter leur soutien à la Province de Jérusalem et du Moyen-Orient.

« Je pense que notre partenariat avec ceux qui gardent vivante la foi de Jésus dans la région où notre Seigneur a marché et initié son mouvement est un aspect important de notre action dans le cadre de l’église universelle », a-t-il écrit.

Des informations, y compris des premières pages et encarts pour les bulletins, pour l’Offrande du Vendredi Saint sont disponibles à l’adresse suivante :

Pour plus amples informations, veuillez contacter le révérend chanoine Robert Edmunds, responsable du Partenariat Moyen-Orient de l’Église épiscopale, à l’adresse suivante : redmunds@episcopalchurch.org

Veuillez trouver ci-après la lettre de l’Évêque Primat :

Mes chers frères et sœurs,

Je vous salue au nom de notre Seigneur et Sauveur Jésus-Christ.

Je vous écris en préparation de la Semaine Sainte et l’accent mis lors de cette semaine sur l’offrande sacrificielle, par amour, de notre Seigneur sur la croix.

L’Offrande du Vendredi Saint est pour nous dans l’Église épiscopale un moyen d’aider le ministère d’amour et compassion que nos sœurs et frères anglicans mènent à bien dans toute la Province de Jérusalem et du Moyen-Orient.

Que ce soit pour financer une clinique ophtalmologique à Aden, des programmes pour les femmes, des écoles et des services médicaux en Cisjordanie, l’Offrande du Vendredi Saint améliore la vie de tant de gens. Je pense que notre partenariat avec ceux qui gardent vivante la foi de Jésus dans la région où notre Seigneur a marché et initié son mouvement est un aspect important de notre action dans le cadre de l’église universelle.

J’espère que vous participerez à cette action. Des premières pages et encarts pour les bulletins et informations sont disponibles à l’adresse suivante :https://www.episcopalchurch.org/good-friday-offering Veuillez adresser toute question sur ce programme au révérend chanoine Robert Edmunds, notre responsable du Partenariat Moyen-Orient, que l’on peut joindre à l’adresse suivante : redmunds@episcopalchurch.org

Merci de prendre en considération cette importante contribution à l’amour de Jésus dans toute notre Église et en Terre Sainte. Que Dieu vous bénisse et vous garde toujours. Je demeure

Votre frère en Christ,

Msg. Michael Curry
Évêque Primat de l’Église épiscopale

El Obispo Presidente Michael Curry llama a respaldar la Ofrenda de Viernes Santo que apoya al ministerio en la Provincia Anglicana de Jerusalén y Oriente Medio

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 11:02am

La Ofrenda del Viernes Santo es una manera en que nosotros en la Iglesia Episcopal apoyamos la continuidad del ministerio de amor y compasión que llevan a cabo nuestros hermanos y hermanas anglicanos a lo largo de la Provincia de Jerusalén y el Oriente Medio”, escribió el Obispo Presidente y Primado, Michael Curry, escribió a los obispos y los clérigos de la Iglesia Episcopal. “Ya sea proporcionando fondos para una clínica oftalmológica en Adén, o un programa para mujeres, o escuelas, o servicios médicos en Cisjordania, la Ofrenda del Viernes Santo influye de manera positiva en la vida de muchos.

En ocasión de su carta anual por Viernes Santo a los obispos y congregaciones, el Obispo Presidente Curry pidió que consideraran proporcionar asistencia a la provincia de Jerusalén y Oriente Medio.

“Creo que nuestra asociación con aquellos que mantienen la fe de Jesús viva en la región donde nuestro Señor caminó y comenzó su movimiento es una parte importante de nuestra labor como parte de la iglesia católica’, escribió.

La información que incluye portadas de boletín y los encartes para los boletines sobre la Ofrenda de Viernes Santo está disponible aquí.

Para más información diríjase al Rdo. canónigo Robert Edmunds, funcionario de asociaciones de Oriente Medio de la Iglesia Episcopal a redmunds@episcopalchurch.org.

A continuación, la carta del Obispo Presidente: 
Queridos hermanos y hermanas:

Los saludo en el nombre de Jesucristo nuestro Señor y Salvador.

Les escribo en preparación de la Semana Santa cuyo mensaje se centra en el sacrificio de amor en la cruz de nuestro Señor en la cruz.

La Ofrenda del Viernes Santo es una manera en la que nosotros en la Iglesia Episcopal apoyamos la continuidad del ministerio de amor y compasión que llevan a cabo nuestros hermanos y hermanas anglicanos a lo largo de la Provincia de Jerusalén y el Oriente Medio.

La Ofrenda del Viernes Santo influye de manera positiva en la vida de muchos, ya sea proporcionando fondos para una clínica oftalmológica en Adén, o un programa para mujeres, o escuelas, o servicios médicos en Cisjordania. Creo que nuestra asociación con aquellos que mantienen la fe de Jesús viva en la región donde nuestro Señor caminó y comenzó su movimiento es una parte importante de nuestra labor como parte de la iglesia católica.

Espero que participen en esta obra. La información está disponible en la página webhttps://www.episcopalchurch.org/good-friday-offering la que ofrece portadas de boletín, encartes para boletín y otra información útil. Si tiene preguntas sobre este programa diríjase al Rdo. canónigo Robert Edmunds, nuestro funcionario de asociaciones de Oriente Medio. Pueden contactarlo en redmunds@episcopalchurch.org.

Gracias por su consideración a este importante testimonio del amor de Jesús a toda nuestra iglesia y la Tierra Santa. Que Dios los bendiga y mantenga siempre. Quedo de ustedes.

Su hermano en Cristo,

Reverendísimo Michael B. Curry
Obispo Presidente y Primado de
La Iglesia Episcopal

Church leaders reaffirm need for mental-health crisis training after NYPD officer acquitted in killing of Episcopalian

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 6:16pm

Deborah Danner, a lifelong Episcopalian, died in a police shooting in October 2016. Photo courtesy of Church of the Heavenly Rest

[Episcopal News Service] A judge ruled Feb. 15 that New York Police Department Sgt. Hugh Barry was not guilty of all charges related to the death of Deborah Danner, a lifelong Episcopalian.

Barry shot and killed a bat-wielding Danner, who has a long history of mental illness, in her Bronx, New York, apartment in October 2016. His three-week bench trial at Bronx Criminal Court was on charges of murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

Danner, 66, attended several Episcopal churches throughout Manhattan over the years. She suffered from diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia for decades with repeat hospitalizations, and was having an episode that prompted security guards to call the police.

At the time of the shooting, she was holding a baseball bat, and Barry testified Feb. 13 that he feared for his life. “I just see the bat swinging and that’s when I fired,” he said, according to the New York Times. Then he added: “I’m looking at this bat that can crack me in the head and kill me.”

Prosecutors had argued that she was not enough of a threat, and Barry did not follow police procedure. On cross examination, the Times said, lead prosecutor, Wanda Perez-Maldonado, elicited that Barry had not followed his training and appeared to ignore many of the department’s protocols. For instance, he left a shield and restraining straps for dealing with disturbed people in his car. She suggested that Barry had rushed to subdue Danner instead of isolating her and waiting her out.

Justice Robert A. Neary of State Supreme Court said that the prosecution failed to prove that Barry was “not justified in the use of deadly physical force,” the Times reported.

Since the trial began Jan. 30, Episcopalians, those who knew Danner and those who did not, have been attending the trial and focusing on what they can do to help change police procedures and training for handling people with mental illness.

Lucas Pershing, program manager for action and advocacy at Trinity Church Wall Street, one of the churches Danner attended, was one of the leaders in the effort to show support for Danner and anyone who has mental illness. Members of Church of the Heavenly Rest and St. Mary’s in Harlem were among the churches who had representatives. This is not only a New York issue, but an issue for Episcopalians across all of the communities in the United States and beyond, church leaders said.

Rt. Rev. Andrew Dietsche, bishop of the Diocese of New York, other Episcopalians and supporters attended the Bronx criminal trial of St. Hugh Barry, who was acquitted Feb. 15, 2018, on all charges in the October 2016 death of Deborah Danner, a lifelong Episcopalian. Photo courtesy of Trinity Church Wall Street

Trinity Church’s Chapel of All Saints planned a Service of Comfort Feb. 15, regardless of the verdict. The service was to provide a moment to remember Danner and pray for everyone involved in this tragedy: “her family and friends, the officers, emergency medical technicians, attorneys, court personnel and the judge,” according to an announcement on Trinity’s website.

On Feb. 9, Diocese of New York Bishop Andrew Dietsche met with the New York City’s Mayor’s Office to formally request Crisis Intervention Team training for all NYPD officers by the end of 2018, according to a story on the Trinity website.

“We have asked Mayor de Blasio to implement crisis intervention training for all New York City Police Department officers. We believe that if the officers who engaged Deborah fifteen months ago had received this training, Deborah might have been spared, and the officer himself, now facing charges of murder, might have been spared,” Dietsche said in the story.

Dietsche attended the trial along with more than a dozen other Episcopalians. Black Lives Matters activists attended too.

After the verdict, Dietsche wrote that Danner’s tragic case has raised significant and troubling questions of how the city and its institutions deals with people who have a mental illness, especially in times of emotional and mental crisis.

Barry’s acquittal should not be taken as a vindication of his actions, the bishop wrote in a statement. “Again, and with urgency, we ask that every officer be trained and ready to engage the mentally ill with compassion, patience and understanding when our police engage our most troubled people in the highly charged moments of a police call,” he said. “The mentally ill cannot be expected to act in reasonable or rational ways in those conflicted encounters, so the police must be.”

The Rev. Winnie Varghese, Trinity’s director of justice and reconciliation, wrote a Feb. 7 letter to Trinity’s staff and congregation about the trial and how people could be involved.

“Our attendance is prayerful and a witness to the humanity of Deborah. She was a 66-year-old black woman who was sick. The call that resulted in her death was a call for health care, not to report a crime,” Varghese wrote. Her letter ended with: “Mental illness touches all of our lives, and we know we can be a better support to our neighbors in crisis.”

Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said in an email to the police department that the verdict does not “make Deborah Danner’s life any less tragic.” The Sergeants Benevolent Association posted the statement on its Twitter feed.

The department and officers individually must be held accountable for their actions, he wrote. And, the department is responsible for training and equipping its offers to handle these kinds of challenges in a measured and appropriate way.

“The NYPD’s disciplinary review of the tactical and supervisory decisions leading to the discharge of a firearm in this case will now proceed,” O’Neill said.

— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn. She can be reached at amysowderepiscopalnews@gmail.com

‘Welcome to the Circle’

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 3:36pm

Ciara Lillie, site manager, right, and Kathy Bogie, executive director, sit on the front porch swing at Magdalene House Kerrville, a two-year residential post-incarceration aftercare program for women who have been victimized by human trafficking, prostitution, addiction and/or abuse. Photo: Laura Shaver, Diocese of West Texas

[Episcopal Diocese of West Texas] As Kathy Bogie started to ponder how she could best serve God in her retirement, Bishop David Reed, then bishop suffragan of the Diocese of West Texas, announced that an engaging speaker was coming to Diocesan Council 2014 who works with women. “I knew I would be going to council, and I was hoping I would get something – some inspiration – while I was there,” said Bogie.

What she received was the personal story of the Rev. Becca Stevens and her founding of the Magdalene program in Nashville, Tennessee, which serves women survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction, and empowers and employs them with the social enterprise, Thistle Farms.

“That’s it,” said Bogie in 2014 with her heart full of service and tears in her eyes. Almost four years later, Magdalene House Kerrville, in Kerrville, Texas, a sister organization of Stevens’ original program, opened in December 2017 and welcomed its first resident on Dec. 28.

“Magdalene House Kerrville is evidence-based and community-informed,” said Bogie. In her work as a nurse practitioner, Bogie saw several women that would come in for a very quick women’s medical exam and to be tested for sexually transmitted infections. “They were homeless women who had been employed as housekeepers for a low-end motel at the time. The motel manager gave them a place to live and expected them to prostitute. If they didn’t follow his demands, according to the women, he would hurt them,” said Bogie.

Desiring more education to build a sustainable program for Kerrville, Bogie returned to school and earned her doctorate in nursing practice. “I knew I needed more education to put together our program. To really transform women’s lives, this had to be research based and what the community said would work.”

With an established board of directors for Magdalene House Kerrville, Bogie studied the literature, conducted research throughout the city and developed the two-year program.

Both of the two bedrooms in the Magdalene House Kerrville have been furnished by various churches and organizations around the Kerrville, Texas, community. Photo: Laura Shaver/Diocese of West Texas

Magdalene House Kerrville is to serve as a two-year residential post-incarceration aftercare program for women who have been victimized by human trafficking, prostitution, addiction and/or abuse. The program is based on the concept of caring, and the first priority is incorporating scripture and Jesus’ command to “take care of my sheep” (John 21).

Bogie said, “Caring is an attitude experienced in action when acceptance toward others is evolving through relationships.”

In her research, 100 percent of the women she studied had experienced trauma by age six. “So they never developed in a trusting, healthy way; some couldn’t even remember their trauma because it was so severe.”

The Magdalene House Kerrville Healthy and Whole Model of Care incorporates wellness – attending to the resident’s medical needs after acceptance into the program; followed by health education; trauma-specific care – an evidence-based psycho-educational program; healing through the arts – finding one’s voice again; peer support; and education and employment training.

“I remember hearing Becca Stevens say it takes some women three to four months just to get settled in the Magdalene home,” said Bogie. “I just couldn’t fathom that because there was so much work to get started. But we have found it’s so true. They are absolutely physically exhausted from all they have been through.”

Carolyn, Magdalene House Kerrville’s first resident, is still in phase one of her care. She is attending 12-Step meetings, working to quit smoking and is resting.

The Magdalene Pathway begins with “Welcome to the Circle,” which lasts three to six months. Every morning, Carolyn sits with Bogie and Ciara Lillie, site manager, at the kitchen table and they pray and reflect together, read scripture from the Live Recovery Bible, and work through a book entitled “Shadows of the Neanderthal,” a book to change mental models.

Kodak, the Magdalene House Kerrville therapy dog, stands in front of the laundry facility that sits just behind the house on the Magdalene House property. Photo: Laura Shaver/Diocese of West Texas

During her days, Carolyn may enjoy a walk through a local park with the home’s therapy dog, Kodak, a 90-pound American bull dog with a heart full of love and a paw always ready to shake. She has also enjoyed outings with Bogie to pick up their orders from the San Antonio Food Bank.

The pathway at Magdalene House Kerrville continues with Blossoming Wisdom (six – 12 months); Flourishing Independence (12-18 months); The Unbroken Circle (18-24 months); and Sisterhood for Life.

While in the two-year program a resident is not allowed to have visitors until they have completed Blossoming Wisdom. This is to protect the resident and so that Bogie and Lillie can learn who the resident’s “safe” people are, such as Carolyn’s mother, with whom she shares a brief phone call every evening.

Bogie has secured partnerships across the community of Kerrville for Magdalene House, including with the Christian Women’s Job Corps, which provides employment training and job security. The organization has also partnered with free health clinics and denominational thrift stores. Numerous church relationships supply endless donations and in-kind gifts.  “If we didn’t have these partnerships and had to pay for all of their services, we wouldn’t be open today,” said Bogie.

As a parishioner of St. Peter’s, Kerrville, Bogie set Magdalene House into motion with the church’s support and resources. Various parishioners serve on the home’s board of directors, and for three years Bogie had her office at St. Peter’s. Board meetings and fundraisers are held at the church, and the St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Women (ECW) has given generous monetary donations to the home. The church also gives to the home as part of its outreach ministry. The Rev. Bert Baetz, rector of St. Peter’s, blessed and dedicated the home on Jan. 13.

“It is so important for us to maintain connections and continue to hope they will increase,” said Bogie. She was delighted to receive in-kind donations from the Diocese of West Texas and the diocesan Commission for Women’s Ministry.

Carolyn is scheduled to start employment training at the Christian Women’s Job Corps this summer, and she is already participating in healing through the arts. “We discovered Carolyn is quite the painter,” said Bogie. “Her work brings tears to my eyes.”

The application process for Magdalene House Kerrville is quite simple. An incarcerated or post-incarceration woman must submit the written application and be available for a personal interview. The acceptance review committee then makes the final decision. Two applicants are scheduled to start in March.

Bogie said she receives two applicants per week, and so the discussion on how to expand in the future is underway. Many inquiry calls are taken each day; some women are just seeking shelter, and so Bogie directs them to other services in town, all based on relationships she has formed in the community.

Lillie, the site manager, lives on the Magdalene House property full-time in a mobile home that was purchased with a grant from the Sisterhood for Good in Kerrville. The Magdalene House home is 80 years old, quaint and simple in décor and welcoming. Bogie’s husband, Art, handcrafted a wooden front door, and he is digging up original stone pavers that lead from the house to the laundry facility.

“He has done so much and continues to do so much. I could not do this work without the support from Art,” said Bogie.

Lillie began full-time at Magdalene House Kerrville after she served as an intern for the non-profit in 2017. “I wanted to be somewhere where people loved me for loving,” she said. And with Kodak by her side, that is exactly what she gets to do.

“This has truly become everything we hoped for,” said Bogie, “an incredible community partnership.”

Ideas are in place for a pet washing micro-business for the women to maintain and promote while staying at Magdalene House Kerrville. The board hopes to initiate the business as one year after opening. “I am just so blessed by all the enthusiasm and support,” said Bogie.

— Laura Shaver is the communications officer for the Diocese of West Texas.

Young Polynesian Anglicans put disaster training into action as Cyclone Gita hit Tonga

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 1:04pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] As Cyclone Gita headed towards Tonga last weekend, a group of young Anglicans gathered at All Saints Church in Fasi, Nuku’alofa, to prepare their response. They had received training in geographic information systems – or GIS – and knew how to use it to carry out Community Integrated Vulnerability Assessments to work out who would be most at risk from the impending winds.

Read the full article here.

South African president’s resignation is ‘opportunity to start anew,’ archbishop says

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 1:02pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The resignation Feb. 14 of President Jacob Zuma provides South Africa with “a golden opportunity to start anew,” Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba said.

“President Zuma’s resignation is an acknowledgement that public power is to be exercised on behalf of and in service to the people of South Africa, rather than for the self-service of the incumbent,” Archbishop Thabo said.

Read the full article here.

Jerusalem’s new municipal tax measures threaten ministries, church leaders say

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 12:59pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Education and health ministries provided by the Diocese of Jerusalem could be at risk if the municipality goes ahead with plans to make churches pay Arnona, or municipal taxes. For centuries, religious bodies in the city have been exempt from such taxes, but the Jerusalem Municipality is now demanding millions of pounds from religious groups as part of an ongoing dispute with Israel’s finance ministry.

Read the full article here.

‘Stations of the Cross’ art exhibition follows Jesus’ path to crucifixion at sites across Manhattan

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 9:57am

The artwork “Stations” is made up of 14 columns of oil barrels painted different shades of red and two metal beams that appear to form a cross. It is on display at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City as part of the “Stations of the Cross” exhibition across Manhattan. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Churches around the world will welcome Christians this Lent as they pray the Way of the Cross, following Jesus’ final path to crucifixion through 14 stations. In New York City, that path of prayer will stretch the full length of Manhattan.

A public art exhibition opened Feb. 14 on Ash Wednesday and will continue through Easter on April 1 that traces the Stations of the Cross from “Jesus Is Condemned” near the northern tip of Manhattan to “Entombment” at the National September 11 Memorial. At each stop, people of all faiths are invited to view works of art chosen to reflect on ways the Passion of Christ speaks to contemporary struggles against injustice.

Trinity Church Wall Street is the 13th station in the “Stations of the Cross” exhibit across Manhattan. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

The exhibition, titled simply “Stations of the Cross,” is sponsored by Trinity Church Wall Street and follows similar exhibitions in London in 2016 and Washington, D.C., in 2017.

New York City is a great place to host this year’s edition, Trinity leaders said, suggesting that the metropolis is a greater hub of religious activity and reflection than it usually gets credit for.

“I think that New York upsets the American religious imagination,” the Rev. John Moody said this week at Trinity. “It makes us search and go deep for meaning that the general culture doesn’t give us.”

Moody, a retired priest who attends Trinity, was co-curator of “Stations of the Cross” with Aaron Rosen, a professor of religious studies at Rocky Mountain College who helped create and assemble this and the two prior versions of “Stations.” Although the subject matter is drawn from Christianity’s most solemn and foundational story, this “Stations of the Cross” is presented as an explicitly interfaith experience.

Could aspects of Jesus’ story also speak to a Muslim or Jew or atheist? “I wanted to explore that sense of friction and tension for myself,” said Rosen, who is Jewish and married to an Episcopal deacon.

To represent each station, Rosen selected from existing artworks, some that were hundreds of years old, while others were commissioned specifically for “Stations of the Cross.” In some cases, works created for the London or Washington exhibitions were brought to New York, with slight modifications.

Curator Aaron Rosen and artist G. Roland Biermann stand in front of Biermann’s work “Stations” at Trinity Church Wall Street. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Trinity, which Rosen called “sort of the radiating center” of the exhibition, was chose for the 13th station, “Jesus Is Taken Down From the Cross.” Just outside the church, next to its renowned cemetery, stand 14 tall columns of stacked oil barrels. The red columns are intersected by two steel beams that, when viewed from a certain angle, form a large cross. The artwork, titled “Stations,” was created by G. Roland Biermann, who painted the barrels in 14 different shades of red, signifying the color of blood.

Standing with Rosen and church leaders in front of his artwork this week, Biermann said he also saw oil as a kind of blood of the Earth, and he noted its connections to the Middle East, the birthplace of Christianity. And oil can be a kind of currency, he said, a connotation that resonates even greater with the artwork planted in the heart of New York’s financial district.

One value of art is to provoke new perspectives on something we think we already know well, said the Rev. Winnie Varghese, Trinity’s director of justice and reconciliation. So, for Christians who are used to praying the Stations of the Cross every Lent, following the path of Jesus through these artworks is an opportunity to re-examine what the gospel story means for their faith and for the world around them.

Varghese also sees something magnificent in turning this faith journey outward, as a public experience that brings people outdoors.

“I love the idea of the city filled with prayer and intention in the way of the stations,” she said, and New York, especially, is suited for such an experience.

“New York is a very religious city,” Varghese said. “We’re so religious, and we’re so diversely religious.”

Rosen and his team found examples of that religious diversity while they were setting up the exhibition. At City College of New York, which is hosting the second station, “Jesus Takes Up the Cross,” the artwork “Hope” by Aithan Shapira features oversized life preservers made of concrete. Immigration is one of the themes of the exhibition, and Rosen saw in this station a connection to the plight of Syrian refugees braving dangerous sea voyages to make it to Greece.

The concrete life preservers also were heavy, about 50 pounds each, and a couple of City College students helped move them into place. Both Muslim, they took a break to pray before finishing the work, Rosen said.

Another highlight is the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at St. Peter’s Church, which is the eighth station, “Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem.” The chapel itself is a work of art, designed by Jewish artist Louise Nevelson in 1977 – another interfaith connection that Rosen hopes will resonate with visitors.

“She could be one of the women of Jerusalem,” Rosen said.

Trinity’s St. Paul’s Chapel, which was unscathed by the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks, served as a respite center for rescue and recovery workers laboring just a five-minute walk away at ground zero, where the September 11 Memorial now is located. The curators, in choosing the memorial as the final station, were sensitive to the complicated and deeply felt emotions still connected to that site more than 16 years after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

“The traditional Stations of the Cross intentionally ends in sorrow,” it said. “It is important to take time to dwell in this moment, not to recoil too quickly from grief. But it is also important to reflect—as a religiously and culturally diverse community—about how to re-enter life, to find meaning again after suffering.”

Set within the footprints of the Twin Towers, the #911Memorial consists of two reflecting pools, each about an acre in size. https://t.co/qEwdJvz7ok pic.twitter.com/0MNb6X6XaM

— 9/11 Memorial (@Sept11Memorial) January 24, 2018

Trinity will host an opening program for the exhibition from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 15, featuring the curators, some of the artists and representatives from some of the locations chosen for the stations.

If you are in Manhattan, you are invited to visit one or all of the 14 stations this Lent, or you can follow a virtual Way of the Cross with a podcast that provides commentary on each stop. To listen to the podcast, download the Alight: Art and the Sacred app for your phone on iTunes or Google Play.

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

U.S. Supreme Court asked to review South Carolina property decision

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 2:16pm

[Episcopal News Service] The leaders of a group that broke away from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina have asked the United States Supreme Court to review a state court ruling that property, assets and most of the diocese’s parishes must remain with the Episcopal Church.

The petition for a writ of certiorari asks the court to consider “whether the ‘neutral principles of law’ approach to resolving church property disputes requires courts to recognize a trust on church property even if the alleged trust does not comply with the state’s ordinary trust and property law.”

The breakaway group said Feb. 13 that the majority of the South Carolina Supreme Court justices “unquestionably did not take this ‘neutral’ approach.” Because, the group said, at least eight states have adopted what it calls “the less than neutral interpretation,” the U.S. Supreme Court ought to consider the case.

The group said it anticipates the court will decide before the end of its current term in June whether to accept the petition for review.

Episcopalians in South Carolina have been reorganizing their common life since late 2012, after then-Bishop Mark Lawrence and a majority of clergy and lay leadership said that the diocese had left the Episcopal Church. They disagreed with the wider Episcopal Church about biblical authority and theology, primarily centered on the full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina noted on its website that the petition had been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court but offered no comment.

A writ of certiorari asks the Supreme Court to review a lower court ruling. Filing a writ does not mean the high court will agree to take the case. The court receives more than 7,000 petitions and accepts between 100 and 150 cases, according to information from the federal court system. The Supreme Court usually agrees to consider cases that could have national significance, might harmonize conflicting decisions in the federal circuit courts and/or could have precedential value.

Litigation surrounding the 2012 break has been multi-leveled and very contentious. The Episcopalians chose to call themselves The Episcopal Church in South Carolina in early 2013 in response to a temporary restraining order that prevented them from using the diocesan seal and the names “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” “The Diocese of South Carolina” and “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.”

That issue has not yet been settled and the breakaway group calls itself the Diocese of South Carolina.

The breakaway group filed suit in January 2013 against the Episcopal Church. The diocese entered the lawsuit later. After a three-week trial in July 2014, Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein ruled in February 2015 that the breakaway group had the right to hold onto the diocesan name and property, including individual church buildings.

The state Supreme Court agreed in April 2015 to consider the case. The remaining Episcopalians offered in June 2015 to let 35 parishes keep their church properties, whether or not they choose to remain part of the Episcopal Church.

In exchange, the proposal required the breakaway group to return the diocesan property, assets and identity of “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina” to the diocese that is still affiliated with the Episcopal Church. The breakaway group rejected the offer the day it was made public.

The court took more than two years to issue its ruling, which came Aug. 2, 2017, and was against most of the breakaway group’s claims. The justices said 29 of the congregations specifically agreed to abide by the Episcopal Church’s “Dennis Canon” (Canon 1.7.4), which states that a parish holds its property in trust for the diocese and the Episcopal Church. That agreement means they cannot retain church property. However, they said that eight congregations had not agreed to the canon and thus could keep those properties.

The diocesan St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center on Seabrook Island must also be returned to the Episcopal Church.

On Nov. 17, 2017, the court denied the breakaway group’s request that it reconsider its ruling. The group said Nov. 21 that it would ask the nation’s highest court to review the state high court’s decision.

That same day, the group also filed a new lawsuit in the same county court in which it began its original lawsuit. The new filing in Dorchester County cites a “betterments statute” to seek compensation from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the Episcopal Church for the cost of improvements made to the properties over the years, according an announcement from The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

The Episcopalians in December asked the state court in Dorchester County to dismiss the new action.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is interim managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.