Episcopal News Service
Nuevo recurso litúrgico: El Libro de servicios ocasionales 2018 Descarga disponible en inglés y español.
[9 de abril, 2019] La Comisión Permanente de Liturgia y Música (SCLM) se complace en anunciar la publicación del Libro de servicios ocasionales 2018. La disponibilidad de este recurso litúrgico es el resultado de las medidas adoptadas en la 79ª Convención General de La Iglesia Episcopal del verano pasado.
El Libro de servicios ocasionales 2018, un volumen que acompaña al Libro de Oración Común, es una colección de recursos litúrgicos relacionados con ocasiones que no ocurren, con la frecuencia suficiente, para justificar su inclusión en el Libro de Oración Común. Diseñado para brindar a las congregaciones los recursos que forman a nuestros miembros en la fe episcopal, los ritos y ceremonias contenidos en este libro deben ser entendidos, interpretados y utilizados a la luz de la teología, estructura y direcciones del Libro de Oración Común.
El material incluido en esta colección proviene de una variedad de fuentes, que generalmente surgen del uso específico de las comunidades de culto involucradas en el proceso de crear respuestas litúrgicas en ocasiones particulares en la vida de la Iglesia. Se incluyen las bendiciones de animales del día de San Francisco y los ritos para el 12 de diciembre, día de la Virgen de Guadalupe.
Donde sea apropiado, en lugar de los ritos completos, el Libro de servicios ocasionales 2018 incluye párrafos de los principios y pautas establecidos para elaborar liturgias en contextos particulares. Por ejemplo, los recursos para el Día de Muertos se ofrecen en forma de esquema. Una parte del formato del esquema es un deseo expresado de que aquellas congregaciones que quieran desarrollar y utilizar el rito, lo hagan en colaboración con las comunidades para quienes la celebración ya es un evento culturalmente importante, creando oportunidades para un aprecio más profundo y amor en las congregaciones.
Este material incluido en el Libro de servicios ocasionales 2018 está autorizado por la Convención General para su uso en toda La Iglesia Episcopal.
El Libro de servicios ocasionales 2018, que se ofrece en inglés y en español, está disponible como descarga gratuita en la página de publicaciones del sitio web de la Convención General, en https://www.generalconvention.org/publications#liturgy.
[11 de abril de 2019] La Diócesis Episcopal de Maine recibió una notificación del Obispo Presidente y Primado Michael B. Curry y del Registrador de la Convención General, el Reverendo Canónigo Michael Barlowe, de que el obispo electo Thomas James Brown ha recibido la mayoría requerida de consentimientos en el proceso de consentimiento canónico detallado en Canon III.11.3.
Al dar consentimiento a su ordenación y consagración, los Comités Permanentes y los obispos con jurisdicción dan fe de que “no hay impedimento debido al cual” el obispo electo Brown no debe ser ordenado como obispo, y que su elección se llevó a cabo de acuerdo con los cánones.
El Reverendo Thomas James Brown fue elegido obispo el 9 de febrero. El Obispo Presidente Curry oficiará en su ordenación y servicio de consagración el 22 de junio.
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[12 de abril de 2019] La Diócesis Episcopal de San Diego recibió una notificación del Obispo Presidente y Primado Michael B. Curry y del registrador de la Convención General, el Reverendo Canónigo Michael Barlowe, de que la obispa electa Susan Brown Snook ha recibido la mayoría requerida de consentimientos en el proceso de consentimiento canónico detallado en Canon III.11.3.
Al dar consentimiento a su ordenación y consagración, los Comités Permanentes y los obispos con jurisdicción dan fe de que “no hay impedimento debido al cual” la obispa electa Snook no debe ser ordenada como obispa, y que su elección se llevó a cabo de acuerdo con los cánones.
La Reverenda Canóniga Susan Brown Snook fue elegida obispa el 2 de febrero. La Rvma. Katharine Jefferts Schori oficiará en su ordenación y servicio de consagración el 15 de junio. fue elegida obispa el 2 de febrero. El Obispo Presidente Curry oficiará en su ordenación y servicio de consagración el 15 de junio.
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[Episcopal News Service] Communion at 901 Courtney Road in Arbutus, Maryland, looks a bit different from Communion at most Episcopal congregations. Worshipers choose between wine and grape juice, with the option of drinking out of small individual cups instead of the common cup.
The reason? This congregation is a little bit Episcopal and a little bit Lutheran.
The Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles hasn’t quite merged with St. Stephen Lutheran Church, but on March 3, through a cost-saving partnership between the two struggling congregations, they began worshipping together in the same building and sharing the leadership of the Rev. Jim Perra, an Episcopal priest who now serves as both rector of Holy Apostles and pastor of St. Stephen.
“It shows the faithfulness of the people in these two congregations that they had less interest in a comfortable death … than they did in doing hard and sacrificial things,” Perra told Episcopal News Service by phone. His expanded congregation now calls itself the Churches of the Holy Apostles & St. Stephen.
With The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, or ELCA, in full communion with each other since 2001, these kinds of partnerships, though still rare, are growing more common around the country for a variety of reasons, including in places like Arbutus where two congregations see sharing worship space and clergy as a difficult but fruitful path to continued viability.
“There’s no one way this happens,” said the Rev. Margaret Rose, ecumenical and interreligious deputy to The Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop, and she added that these partnerships aren’t solely motivated by an interest in financial survival.
“That’s, I really think, the important thing,” Rose told ENS. “It’s about uncovering or revealing the unity of the church.”
Rose referenced part of the Book of Common Prayer’s Eucharistic Prayer D: “Remember, Lord, your one holy catholic and apostolic Church, redeemed by the blood of your Christ. Reveal its unity, guard its faith, and preserve it in peace.”
“What Maryland has discovered is how joyful that is,” Rose said, “much to their surprise.”
The Churches of the Holy Apostles & St. Stephen benefited from a successful “Lutherpalian” model close by, in Baltimore, where the Church of the Nativity and Holy Comforter has nurtured the two Christian traditions under one roof since 2015. At Nativity and Holy Comforter, the two congregations took their partnership a step further and formerly merged into one, overcoming an array of logistical challenges.
The Rev. Stewart Lucas, the Episcopal priest who leads Nativity and Holy Comforter, said his congregation decided early on that it didn’t want administrative duplication – the committees, the bank accounts, the insurance policies, the tax IDs – to hinder the congregation’s higher focus on mission and ministry. And the congregation chose not to split its Sunday Eucharist into distinctly Episcopal and Lutheran services. They preferred worshiping together.
“We want to sing with a hundred instead of 50 people,” Lucas said.
He now offers guidance to other congregations considering similar partnerships, and he advised Perra on the process at Holy Apostles & St. Stephen. “We’re kind of cheerleaders for them, because we think the church is about people and not the buildings,” Lucas said.
Those sentiments were echoed by Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton. “The church is not distinct along congregational and denominational lines,” Sutton said in an emailed statement. “We’re all in this together. All of us. Visionary leadership such as that demonstrated by Jim Perra and Stewart Lucas leads the way for the people of the congregation to see the possibilities, praise, joy and happiness inherent in partnering.”
The Maryland congregations are just two of about 65 Episcopal-Lutheran partnerships of various kinds across the country, such as Epiphany Lutheran-Episcopal Church in Valdez, Alaska, and All Saints in Big Sky, Montana, both of which ENS profiled in 2016 for a series on the 15th anniversary of Called to Common Mission.
That 2001 full communion agreement between The Episcopal Church and the ECLA, which allowed Episcopal clergy to preside at Lutheran services and Lutheran clergy at Episcopal services, acknowledged the theological common ground between two denominations and their shared Christian roots. It also opened the door for Episcopal and Lutheran congregations to pursue blended worshiping communities.
Ecumenism “is about revealing that unity God intended from the very beginning,” Rose said, but it doesn’t require elimination of differences. “Our unity is not about uniformity.”
That spirit guides the partnership at Holy Apostles & St. Stephen in Arbutus. “Who knows what the future will hold, but we’re interested in what it would mean to have an Episcopal and Lutheran church that celebrates the two traditions with a degree of specificity,” Perra said.
Before the partnership, Holy Apostles’ Sunday services were only drawing about 50 people, Perra said. The numbers were about the same at St. Stephen. Each congregation began taking a sobering look at the future, and each concluded it could not survive for long with revenue failing to match expenses.
“We could count the death of both congregations within a decade,” said Perra, who joined Holy Apostles as rector in 2014.
Perra’s counterpart at St. Stephen, the Rev. John Sabatelli, was looking to retire as pastor, but his Lutheran congregation hadn’t found a pastor to replace him. After discussions between the two congregations, church leaders proposed giving Perra the dual role of rector and pastor, and the blended congregation would worship at the St. Stephen church.
That plan, with the approval and support of both churches’ bishops, gained momentum last summer with a trial clergy swap: When Perra went on vacation, Sabatelli presided that Sunday at Holy Apostles – and took his Lutheran congregation with him to worship at the Episcopal church. And Perra took his congregation with him to worship at St. Stephen when he covered for Sabatelli’s vacation.
From there, the partnership came together rather quickly, “by the standards of two mainline Protestant traditions, where things move at a glacial pace,” Perra said.
On March 3, to celebrate finalizing the partnership, the two congregations began their Sunday worship service at Holy Apostles. After Communion, they said a prayer of thanks for that church space. They collected items from Holy Apostles and carried them in a procession of about a mile to the worship space at St. Stephen. There, they dressed the altar and concluded the service.
That has been home base ever since.
“This is not something I’d ever thought I’d be party to,” Perra said, but he sees a newfound energy in his combined worshiping community as it commits itself to thriving, not just surviving.
The blended congregation will keep both church properties, since the former Holy Apostles facility remains an active site for community meetings, and several Burmese congregations rent the former Episcopal church for their worship services.
With Holy Apostles & St. Stephen’s typical Sunday attendance now reaching about 100, the two congregations haven’t really lost any members in the transition, Perra said, though some might feel more comfortable taking a Sunday off now and then because they don’t fear their church is at the verge of folding in their absence.
As for denominational distinctions, Episcopalians still can attend a spoken service from the Book of Common Prayer at 8 a.m., but few of them do. Most parishioners attend a hybrid service with singing at 10 a.m., which Perra calls “the big show.”
Both traditions are reflected at the Churches of the Holy Apostles & St. Stephen, though Perra admits his Episcopal training still leaves him with a learning curve as a new Lutheran pastor. “I’m in the process of being Lutheran enough for my Lutherans,” he said.
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] La Diócesis Episcopal de Northern California recibió una notificación del Obispo Presidente y Primado Michael B. Curry y del registrador de la Convención General, el Reverendo Canónigo Michael Barlowe, de que la obispa electa Megan Traquair ha recibido la mayoría requerida de consentimientos en el proceso de consentimiento canónico detallado en Canon III.11.3.
Al dar consentimiento a su ordenación y consagración, los Comités Permanentes y los obispos con jurisdicción dan fe de que “no hay impedimento debido al cual” la obispa electa Traquair no debe ser ordenada como obispa, y que su elección se llevó a cabo de acuerdo con los cánones.
La Reverenda Canóniga Megan Traquair fue elegida obispa el 9 de febrero. El Obispo Presidente Curry oficiará en su ordenación y servicio de consagración el 29 de junio.
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Heidi J. Kim, Episcopal Church staff officer for racial reconciliation, accepts position with the Breck School in Minnesota
[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Peace Fellowship, in collaboration with Bishops United Against Gun Violence and more than a dozen other groups, is planning a series of anti-gun violence events this month to remember the victims of the Columbine school shooting 20 years ago and to renew advocates’ commitment to preventing future massacres.
The “Remember and Renew Weekend,” described as an anti-violence pilgrimage to Columbine, will be held April 26 to 28 in and around Littleton, Colorado, where on April 20, 1999, two students opened fire at Columbine High School killing 12 fellow students and one teacher before the pair shot and killed themselves. The violence at Columbine shocked the nation, with its tragic distinction as the United States’ deadliest school shooting, but that attack has since been eclipsed by even deadlier horrors at schools, from Newtown, Connecticut, to Parkland, Florida.
Bishop Mark Beckwith, the former diocesan bishop in Newark, New Jersey, remembers being a parish priest in Worcester, Massachusetts, and in the middle of a vestry meeting when the news about Columbine broke.
“It sank everybody’s stomach down to the floor, and we stopped the meeting and we prayed. It’s important to do that,” Beckwith told Episcopal News Service. “What we’re learning in Bishops United Against Gun Violence is thoughts and prayers are essential, but if we stop there, we’re involuntarily allowing this epidemic to continue.”
Beckwith and Bishop Dan Edwards, the former Nevada bishop, will be in Colorado this month to attend the Remember and Renew Weekend as part of their involvement with Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a network of 80 bishops that formed in the wake of the 2014 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown that killed 26 students and educators.
Advocates for gun safety reforms face an uphill battle despite the continued frequency of mass shootings, but Beckwith and others involved with the Columbine pilgrimage expressed cautious optimism for the future. “It seems that the landscape is changing with respect to gun violence prevention,” Beckwith said.
That new landscape has a lot to do with the advocacy of young people, particularly after the February 2018 shooting in Parkland at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 14 students and three teachers were killed. Survivors of the Parkland shooting responded by fueling a grassroots movement, March for Our Lives, that supporters say has the potential to shake up the political status quo.
“They refused to simply accept our thoughts and prayers and demanded ‘never again,’” said Bob Lotz, an Episcopalian from Lexington, Michigan, who leads the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s gun violence prevention action group. Lotz will moderate a discussion April 26 after a viewing of the Michael Moore documentary “Bowling for Columbine” at Iliff School of Theology in Denver.
Also that day at the seminary, Colorado Bishop-elect Kym Lucas will participate in a panel discussion on the culture of violence in the United States from an African American perspective. Lucas told ENS in an emailed statement that violence, such as the horrors of Columbine in 1999, is enabled by a “culture of contempt and resentment.”
“The Christian faith is a faith that affirms life and love,” Lucas said. “Those who follow Jesus must speak and live those values. … We have chosen to let love, not contempt, define us. We know violence is not the answer and we will be that witness now and in the future.”
The weekend series was scheduled a week after the Columbine anniversary partly to avoid overlapping with Holy Week observances – April 20 falls on Holy Saturday this year.
The community of Littleton has scheduled its own events to remember the victims of the massacre 20 years ago. Those events include a memorial service at a Littleton church on April 18, a community vigil at the Columbine Memorial on April 19 and a remembrance service in a Littleton park on April 20.
The subsequent Remember and Renew Weekend to be convened by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship is part of the organization’s 80th anniversary Year of Action, which started last year with a pilgrimage to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Standing Rock’s opposition to an oil pipeline project, seen as a threat to the reservation’s drinking water, generated support from across The Episcopal Church.
By remembering the victims of Columbine as part of Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Year of Action, organizers are emphasizing ways that participants and Episcopalians back home can get involved in the fight against gun violence. “We want to empower the people who come to the pilgrimage to do something about it,” Episcopal Peace Fellowship Executive Director Melanie Atha told ENS.
Events on April 27 have been planned with that goal in mind. St. John’s Cathedral in Denver will host a morning session on advocacy called “Finding Your Voice.” Then St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Centennial will host a networking lunch followed by educational and policy workshops. The day will conclude with a vigil at the Columbine Memorial followed by a dinner and reflection at Columbine Unitarian Universalist Church.
The events on April 28 will include a worship service at St. Timothy’s in the morning and an interfaith service in the evening at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch.
Faith groups have been active in collaborating on this weekend of events, but the list of supporters also includes a range of Colorado nonprofits and advocacy groups that aren’t tied to faith traditions, such as Colorado Ceasefire and Colorado Healing Fund.
“We’re looking forward to ongoing collaboration between the organizations into the next year,” said the Rev. Bob Davidson, national chair of Episcopal Peace Fellowship and an associate rector at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Estes Park, Colorado. “I hope that there’s a legacy of commitment to not have an incident like Columbine happen in our community again.”
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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[Anglican Communion News Service] Political and Christian leaders from South Sudan will gather in the Vatican this week for an unprecedented spiritual retreat led by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis. The retreat was described by Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti as a “propitious occasion for reflection and prayer, as well as an occasion for encounter and reconciliation, in a spirit of respect and trust, to those who in this moment have the mission and the responsibility to work for a future of peace and prosperity for the South Sudanese people.”
Read the entire article here.
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[Anglican Communion News Service] The “gentle and soft spoken” bursar of the Anglican Diocese of Akure in Nigeria’s Ondo State, Gabriel Abiodun, has been shot and killed by robbers who escaped with ₦500,000 Naira (approximately $1,300). The incident happened April 4 at 8:30 a.m. Abiodun had returned to the diocesan offices from the bank, where he had just withdrew the money, when the gunmen struck.
Read the entire article here.
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[Anglican Communion News Service] The archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, have invited Christians around the world to pray for more people to know Christ. The invitation comes in the run-up to the now-annual Thy Kingdom Come global wave of prayer, which runs from Ascension to Pentecost. The invitation was initially given to clergy of the Church of England in 2016, but was quickly adopted by Christian leaders of different denominations in the UK and around the world.
Read the entire article here.
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[Anglican Communion News Service] The editor of the Anglican Communion News Service, Gavin Drake, is to be the next director for communications for the Anglican Communion. Drake, who has a long track record as a respected journalist, also has extensive experience in communications and public relations, having previously worked as senior communications officer for the Evangelical Alliance in the UK and director of communications for the Church of England’s Diocese of Lichfield. He will succeed Adrian Butcher when he stands down next month.
Read the entire article here.
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[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican Communion Director for Women in Church and Society the Rev. Terrie Robinson is to step down at the end of May. Robinson joined the staff of the Anglican Communion Office more than 16 years ago to support ecumenical and intra-Anglican dialogues. Within a few years she was asked to take on a role supporting the official Anglican Communion Networks and was asked to create a women’s desk.
Read the entire article here.
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[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York John Sentamu have invited Christians around the world to pray for more people to know Christ. The invitation comes in the run-up to the annual Thy Kingdom Come global wave of prayer, which runs from Ascension to Pentecost. The invitation was initially given to clergy of the Church of England in 2016, but was quickly adopted by Christian leaders of different denominations in the U.K. and around the world.
Read the full article here.
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Mark Edington ordained and consecrated as 26th bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe
[Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe] The Rt. Rev. Mark D. W. Edington became the 26th bishop in charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe on April 6 at the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity in Paris.
Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry led the ordination and consecration and investiture.
Six bishops acted as co-consecrators: retiring Bishop in Charge of the Convocation Pierre Whalon, Massachusetts Bishop Alan Gates, Massachusetts Bishop Gayle Harris, Western Massachusetts Bishop Doug Fisher, Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas and the Archbishop of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands Joris Vercammen.
The preacher was the Very Rev. Andrew B. McGowan, dean, president and McFadden Professor of Pastoral Theology and Anglican Studies at the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.
Edington is the second elected bishop in charge, succeeding Whalon, who completes 17 ½ years in the post. Edington was elected on the eighth ballot on October 20, 2018. The election took place during the annual convention of the convocation in All Saints Church in Waterloo, Belgium. Edington was rector of Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Newtonville, Massachusetts, and director of the Amherst College Press.
The celebration began on Friday evening, with a farewell and welcome event that can easily be described as a gala. Multiple exchanges of gifts were a feature of the evening, from a Gertrude Stein libretto composed in 1929 (for Whalon) to a black Convocation T-shirt (for Edington). Speeches lauding and ribbing both men competed with a lavish spread of food, much of it carried to Paris from the Convention’s nine churches and 11 missions spread across France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy. The Nelson Three, a band composed of three young parishioners from Wiesbaden, offered musical interludes culminating in sporadic dancing toward the end of the evening, especially during the rendition of the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love.”
The order of service on Saturday morning opened with a musical mini-feast: five preludes—two by Durufle, and one each by de Victoria, Mendelssohn and Dvorak—sung by the American Cathedral choir under the direction of Canon for Music Zachery Ullery. Andrew Dewar, organist of the Cathedral, then performed an organ piece by Bach.
The service differed in one notable respect from what Episcopalians in the U.S. are accustomed to. The Litany for Ordinations was sung by the cantor in English and then in the four other languages of the Convocation—French, German, Italian and Spanish. (A Spanish-language mission operates from the Church of St. Paul-Within-the-Walls in Rome.) A bagpiper had the last notes, providing the musical accompaniment to the recessional. Some of the clerics in the recession were seen skipping to the beat.
Bishop Edington is a trustee of his alma mater, Albion College in Adrian, Michigan, where he received an A.B. in philosophy and political science summa cum laude; he graduated from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts and the Harvard Divinity School. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has written frequently on the intersection of diplomacy and religion for such publications as the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Atlantic Monthly and the Huffington Post. His wife Judith is a graduate of Albion College, Boston College and Harvard Law School. She is a tax attorney.
The new bishop’s background in ministry, law and foreign relations seems tailored to the role he is taking on, managing an Episcopal presence in Western Europe, which he calls the most secular place in the world. He has described this mission as “teaching the rest of the church” what it will look like in 40 years. This, in his eyes, makes the Convocation the future of the church.
At a press conference on Friday morning, Edington linked this future challenge to the Jesus Movement, which Presiding Bishop Curry has made a central feature of the Episcopal Church in America. This point came up throughout the weekend. In his sermon on Saturday, Dean McGowan declared that “Christendom is over, and this is not bad news. It’s good news. That’s over but the Jesus Movement isn’t over.” Turning to the new bishop in charge, he said: “So Mark, welcome and go away,” as God calls us to look out and not within, bringing the message of the inclusiveness of love to the unchurched people of Western Europe.
The Presiding Bishop concluded the weekend with a rousing sermon on Sunday morning, challenging the packed cathedral to approach Holy Week as a time to discern love as the secret of life itself. “This love can transform us all,” he said, as if speaking not just to the convocation but to the secular peoples of Europe. It was a dramatic sendoff, a welcome and go away, to the brand new Bishop in Charge.
[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has honored 27 people, including peacemakers, nuns, academics and gardeners in the 2019 Lambeth Awards. Welby launched the non-academic awards in 2016, and each year presentations have been made to “people who have made an extraordinary contribution to the Church and wider society,” Lambeth Palace said in a statement.
Read the full article here.
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[Episcopal News Service] Caring for God’s creation may seem like a daunting task, the Earth being so vast and the threats to the natural world so pervasive, but The Episcopal Church is encouraging Episcopalians during Lent to pledge to take even the smallest of steps, because those steps together can make a difference.
That is the idea behind the church’s Pledge to Care for Creation campaign, which launched on March 29 and runs through Easter, with the goal of collecting at least 1,000 pledges by April 22, Earth Day.
Discussion of these pledges figured prominently at the House of Bishops meeting in March, when a number of bishops committed to spreading the word to their dioceses. Such efforts seem to be having their intended effect: As of this week, more than 300 Episcopalians have gone online and completed the form identifying ways they will be better caretakers of creation.
“We can’t see this as a hobby. We have to see it as a vocation, that we actually are called to care for this Earth,” said Olympia Bishop Greg Rickel, one of the bishops who participated last month in creating this brief video invitation to rest of the church.
Rickel told Episcopal News Service in a phone interview this week that he pledged to “eat lower on the chain,” meaning less meat and more food produced closer to home, which reduces the carbon footprint tied to food transportation. He also is considering switching from a hybrid to an electric car, and he pledged to deepen his diocese’s companion relationship with a diocese in the Philippines that involved a tree-planting ministry.
Kansas Bishop Cathleen Bascom, who serves on General Convention’s Task Force on Care of Creation & Environmental Racism, pledged to build on her long-time involvement in the cause of prairie restoration, and she is reducing her carbon footprint by choosing to live within walking distance of her new office after she was consecrated as bishop on March 2.
Her consecration itself was a conduit for creation care advocacy. Though the consecration occurred before The Episcopal Church launched its online pledge form, the Diocese of Kansas, at Bascom’s direction, distributed pledge forms to the hundreds of people who attended the consecration at Grace Cathedral in Topeka.
Some of those attendees filled out the tear-off slip and turned it in on the same day, and others have been sending them in a steady stream to the diocesan office for the past month.
“People do think about this issue, and I think our particular spirituality has so much richness,” Bascom told ENS. “The Episcopal Church is such fertile ground for this movement.”
General Convention in 2015 identified creation care as one of the church’s three top priorities, along with racial reconciliation and evangelism. In 2018, General Convention passed 19 environmental resolutions, including support for a national carbon tax, carbon offsets for church-related travel, ocean health and Episcopalians’ continued participation in the Paris Agreement.
Under Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the church is emphasizing the church’s role in promoting a “loving, liberating, life-giving relationship with God” through creation care as part of the Jesus Movement.
The online Pledge to Care for Creation features three parts. Participants are asked to submit one example under “Loving” for sharing the love of God’s creation, a second example under “Liberating” for standing with people being harmed by environmental injustice and a final example under “Life-Giving” of individual actions they intend to take. Some examples include changing eating habits, increasing use of renewable energy and sharing related information with one’s congregation.
“We hope people understand this is more than adding your signature to a petition,” the Rev. Melanie Mullen, director of reconciliation, justice and creation care, said in a press release announcing the campaign. “Pray with the pledge and the Reflection Guide during Lent. Think about what you love in God’s Creation, where your heart breaks over environmental injustice, and how you’d like to simplify your life.”
Rickel, Bascom and other bishops also are emphasizing the Carbon Tracker that the Diocese of California is launching to give people a tangible way of measuring individual and cumulative progress toward improving the environment.
California Bishop Marc Andrus, in a prior interview with ENS, described the tacker as functioning similar to how a Fitbit or other fitness watch tracks steps or calories. “This is like that, for carbon and for sustainable lifestyle choices,” Andrus said.
The pledge campaign is “a great way to rally the church,” Rickel said. The news these days on climate change and other environmental issues often highlights the doom and gloom, but with so many Episcopalians taking the Pledge to Care for Creation, Rickel still sees reason for hope.
“I just believe as Christians we have to live in hope,” he said. “To not live in hope is to deny our faith and to deny Jesus.”
San Joaquin Bishop David Rice also is hopeful, because he sees this campaign as a beginning, not as an end in itself.
“This is about behavioral modification,” Rice told ENS. “I think people are becoming increasingly aware of what’s at stake here.”
In his diocese, in California’s central valley, what’s at stake has a lot to do with water, or lack of it. The region has been in and out of a drought for several years, which affects the local agricultural economy.
Rice pledged to bolster his diocese’s water conservation efforts and also work toward eradicating single-use water bottles. He also aims to reduce his personal carbon footprint by riding his bike more and driving less.
His diocese is spreading the word about the Pledge to Care of Creation through numerous videos and promotion on social media, and as he schedules one-on-one meetings with each clergy member in the diocese during Lent, he is bringing up the pledge in every meeting.
Across the diocese, “people are so wonderfully receptive in their responses, and there’s significant conversation being generated here.”
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians and invited guests from across Ecuador and The Episcopal Church gathered March 30 at the Philanthropic Society in Guayaquil to welcome and celebrate the ordination and consecration of the Rt. Rev. Cristóbal León Lozano as the Diocese of Litoral Ecuador’s third bishop.
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, led the ceremony as chief consecrator. Installation followed on March 31 at the Cathedral Church of Christ the King [Cristo Rey] in Guayaquil.
Elected on Aug. 4, León succeeds the Rt. Rev. Alfredo Morante España, who served the diocese for 23 years.
Assisting the presiding bishop as co-consecrators were Morante; the Rt. Rev. Daniel Gutiérrez, bishop of Pennsylvania, the Rt. Rev. Andy Dietsche, bishop of New York, the Rt. Rev. Rafael Morales, bishop of Puerto Rico, the Rt. Rev. Julio Holguin, retired bishop of the Dominican Republic, and the Rt. Rev. Wilfredo Ramos-Orench.
A reception to meet and greet Morante and Curry was held following the ceremony.
León was ordained priest on March 22, 1998 and was the archdeacon of Manabí before becoming bishop. He is married to Chila, and they have three children: Rocío, Jaime and Shirley.
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[Episcopal News Service] Last year, parishioners at Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church in Champaign, Illinois, took stock of the results of a centennial capital campaign. They had a good problem on their hands: Building renovations, funded. Local charities, supported. And they still had a $15,000 surplus.
That $15,000 may not seem like a lot, but with the help of a New York-based charity called RIP Medical Debt, Emmanuel Memorial leveraged the surplus to help wipe away unpaid doctors’ bills for 3,617 cash-strapped households across the Diocese of Springfield.
Total debt forgiven: $4 million.
“The forgiveness of debt is a Gospel thing. It’s throughout the Old Testament. It’s throughout the New Testament,” the Rev. Beth Maynard, Emmanuel Memorial’s rector, said in a phone interview with Episcopal News Service. “This is the season of Lent. We are, all of us, people who have been forgiven by God and whose debts have been forgiven by Christ on the cross.”
This Lent, forgiveness – sealed in bright yellow envelopes – also is arriving in thousands of mailboxes across central and southern Illinois. RIP Medical Debt began sending the envelopes last week to notify recipients that their medical bills have been eliminated thanks to Emmanuel Memorial’s intervention.
RIP Medical Debt uses the money it raises from donors like Emmanuel Memorial to purchase bundled financial portfolios of medical debt, which it then eliminates. The organization’s website describes debt forgiveness as “a collective message of care from and for the communities we serve.”
News outlets in central Illinois have asked anyone receiving one of the envelopes to come forward and share their stories, Maynard said. The church doesn’t have any of the recipients’ names because their identities are shielded by medical privacy protections, but Maynard, too, would love to learn more about the lives affected by the debt forgiveness.
Families struggling under the weight of medical debt “might be facing a crippling situation,” she said, even if they aren’t the usual recipients of the congregation’s typical outreach efforts, which include a sack lunch ministry for homeless people.
“It gave us an opportunity to impact a lot of people who might not necessarily come to our door … or might not necessarily be involved with one of the social service organizations that we partner with,” Maynard said.
She wasn’t able to say how the congregation first learned about RIP Medical Debt, but the seeds of this outreach were planted 100 years ago, when the church was built from a design by Ralph Adams Cram, the renowned Episcopal church architect who died in 1942. Cram churches are more common in the Northeast than the Midwest, Maynard said, so the congregation, with about 200 member households, takes special pride in its historic building. Therefore, they had no problem raising $150,000 for a capital campaign in 2017 and 2018 to celebrate the church’s centennial.
Most of that money went toward minor building repairs and new signs, and the congregation set aside some of the proceeds for the local charities C-U at Home, a homelessness ministry, and Empty Tomb, which connects volunteers with families in need.
With the remaining $15,000, RIP Medical Debt initially estimated that the congregation could help forgive about $1 million in debt, Maynard said. The charity, by negotiating down the price of the debt, estimates that it usually can forgive about $100 in debt for every dollar donated. Think of it as the altruistic cousin of a debt collection agency, tearing up IOUs instead of asking for payment.
On a large scale, eliminating medical debt could have a profound effect on the lives of millions of American families. A recent report in the American Journal of Public Health found that medical expenses were a factor in nearly 60 percent of bankruptcy filings, and RIP Medical Debt estimates more than 43 million Americans have a total of about $75 billion in past-due medical debt. Another report, out April 2, indicates Americans borrowed $88 billion last year to pay for health care.
Emmanuel Memorial’s Mission Leadership Team voted in January to work with RIP Medical Debt to spend the money remaining from the congregation’s capital campaign to eliminate medical bills for households in Champaign County.
The charity quickly identified 201 individual debt accounts in the county and still had plenty of money left over, so the congregation expanded its geographic target to include the whole Diocese of Springfield. By the time Emmanuel Memorial’s donation was exhausted, RIP Medical Debt had purchased $4 million worth of medical debt, and it prepared to fill its bright yellow envelopes with the good news.
Credit agencies were notified that the 3,617 families’ debt had been cleared, and according to RIP Medical Debt, debt forgiveness does not increase the recipients’ taxes or result in any other adverse consequences. There are no strings attached, nothing expected in return.
“I applaud Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church for their dedication in realizing this important campaign,” RIP Medical Debt co-founder Jerry Ashton said in a church news release. “We feel incredibly privileged to work with any faith-based organization committed to relieving the burden of un-payable medical debt in its community.”
Springfield Bishop Dan Martins was at Emmanuel Memorial on March 31 for a previously scheduled visit, and he, too, praised the congregation’s work for residents across the diocese.
“I am overjoyed with the news of Emmanuel’s exemplary stewardship of the resources entrusted to them,” Martins said in the church’s news release. “The knowledge of the concrete impact this will have on families in central and southern Illinois is a sign of the abundant goodness of the God whom we worship.”
Even small donations go a long way, Maynard told ENS, and she encouraged other congregations to consider partnering with RIP Medical Debt.
“You can make a tremendous impact with a very small donation,” she said. “It’s a terrific way to make a difference.”
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