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Updated: 35 min 32 sec ago

Lutheran bishop receives Japanese peace prize for Holy Land interreligious work

2 hours 3 min ago

[The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land] In a ceremony in Tokyo, Japan, among his professional peers, longtime friends, and his wife, the Right Rev. Munib Younan received the Niwano Peace Prize on July 27 for his work toward interreligious dialogue among Christians, Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem and worldwide. Younan is the 34th recipient of the distinguished Niwano Peace Prize.

Full article.

Donkeys help Connecticut retreat center celebrate its rebirth after 5 years closed

2 hours 32 min ago

Joseph Rose, one of the directors of Trinity Retreat Center in West Cornwall, Connecticut, holds the baby donkey, Lisa, born July 25 at the center. Photo: Trinity Retreat Center

[Episcopal News Service] Trinity Retreat Center has 55 acres in rural northwest Connecticut, a history that dates back more than 100 years, ties to a prominent New York City congregation and plans to reopen after closing five years ago.

And it has donkeys – five of them, going on six.

The retreat center’s directors, working with a rescue group, purchased four donkeys in January to help protect the center’s chickens from the foxes and coyotes that had been thinning the free-range flock. On July 25, one of the donkeys gave birth to a newborn, generating, even more, buzz for the center as it prepares to host a preview picnic on July 29 for the community in West Cornwall.

“Since they’ve come here, they do far more than protect the chickens. They’ve’ become part of the personality and energy of the place,” Joseph Rose, one of the directors, told Episcopal News Service.

Trinity Retreat Center, a mission property of Manhattan’s Trinity Church Wall Street, was happy to be able to rescue at least two donkeys that likely would have been sold for their hides. The plight of the donkey is being compared to that of the elephant and the rhino, animals slaughtered around the world to feed the appetite of a black-market industry. In the case of donkeys, they are threatened because their skin is coveted for its use in a Chinese medicine known as “ejiao.”

The retreat center paid $300 each for its donkeys. Then the directors learned two more donkeys were available and needed a home.

“It was kind of a quick decision, and we wound up bringing in four. And two of those donkeys we found later were pregnant,” Rose said.

He and his wife, Heidi Rose, the retreat center’s executive director, and their daughters are fans of Fox’s “The Simpsons,” so they named two of donkeys after characters on the show: Marge and Maggie. Marge is the donkey who just gave birth, and they named the newborn Lisa, after another character from the show.

The other two donkeys are Fern and Francine. Marge is thought to be the oldest of the group at about 4 years old. They arrived malnourished and showing signs of abuse, but they gradually warmed to the staff at Trinity Retreat Center.

Donkeys are known by farmers to be useful in the fight against predators, but there is even deeper significance in their presence here at the retreat center.

For starters, there are the biblical references to donkeys. In the Old Testament, a talking donkey appears in Numbers, and a donkey carries Jesus to Jerusalem in the Gospels. There also is a legend that the Gospel references are the reason the symbol of the cross can be found in the fur on donkeys’ backs.

Donkeys are significant locally, too. A previous director at Trinity Retreat Center kept donkeys on the grounds, along with other farm animals, in the 1980s, when the facility was used as a youth camp. Part of the barn is still set up to accommodate donkeys.

Trinity Retreat Center on the Housatonic River in West Cornwall, Connecticut, is reopening this fall after five years closed. Photo: Trinity Retreat Center, via Facebook

By the end of the 1980s, the facility had ended its use as a camp and transitioned solely to a conference center. It continued for two more decades to host groups from Trinity Wall Street, as well as local parish groups and nonprofits looking for a place to gather in a natural setting.

Trinity Wall Street chose to close the center in 2012 partly because of the expense of maintaining it, said the Rev. Daniel Simons. Over the years, it also had lost a clearly defined mission.

Simons, as one of the centers present directors, is working with the Roses to rejuvenate the center as a place where visitors can reconnect with God’s creation. And under its current rector, the Rev. William Lupfer, Trinity Wall Street is newly committed to supporting the retreat center as one of its mission property, Simons said.

“These are properties that are central to our mission. They cost a lot to maintain, and we gladly assume that cost because we have a compelling mission for all those properties,” Simons said.

The donkeys at Trinity Retreat Center don’t cost much to care for. Hay is a staple of their diet, though they also enjoy watermelon as a special treat. Photo: Joseph Rose

The retreat has begun taking reservations, starting this fall. By then, there’s a good chance the sixth donkey will have been born, but the exact date is anyone’s guess.

“It’s a healing place, it’s a place of prayer and reflection, but it’s also a place where we want to have a sense of fun,” Joseph Rose said.

The donkeys embody that spirit, he said, adding that he thinks the animals have earned an unfair reputation for being dumb, stubborn and mean. Rose has found them to be very friendly animals and hard workers.

Well, part of their reputation might be justified.

“They can be a little stubborn sometimes,” he said.

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

Anglicans in South Sudan enthrone first archbishop of internal provinces

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 5:50pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican church in South Sudan has enthroned its first Archbishop for one of its eight internal provinces created in November 2013, in a service that was attended by the vice president of the republic of South Sudan, James Wani Igga, as well as overseas visitors, including the Rev. Bill Atwood, the diocesan bishop of the international diocese in the Anglican church of North America, who jointly gave praise for the development of the Anglican church in the country.

Full article.

Union of Black Episcopalians look to church’s future

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 2:35pm

The Rt. Rev. Carl Wright, Episcopal Church bishop suffragan for the armed forces and federal ministries, blesses Bert Gibson of New York. The blessing happened during a July 26 Eucharist and healing service that included recognition of Gibson and all UBE members who had served in the military. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Cherry Hill, New Jersey] African-Americans in both the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America were called this week to help build the future of their churches by working hard in the present.

The call to action came during the Union of Black Episcopalians’ 49th annual conference, held July 23-26 at a hotel here in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The UBE met jointly for the first time with the African Descent Lutheran Association.

“Right now, the church is not leading the conversation about justice,” Brittney Cooper, assistant professor of women’s, gender and Africana studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said during a July 25 presentation.

“We’re not leading the conversation about truth, and we should be. Instead, we have some perversion – some version – of the church that I don’t recognize, which we call the religious right.”

That version, said Cooper, who was raised Baptist and continues to attend church, has “hijacked the conversation about what truth is and what truth we should be telling.”

Cooper contended that society now has more access to information, both factual and false, than at any point in history “and we still can’t make sense of any of it.”

Rutgers University Assistant Professor Brittany Cooper says church folks need to shift their theologies to focus on social justice, not rules. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

“We’re in a moment when too many black churches are still obsessed with individual sin,” she said. “We don’t talk about social sin.”

Moreover, too many black churches have “capitulated to the conservative, evangelical party line of assimilation into the American project,” she said. Cooper argued that “racism, sexism, capitalism, homophobia and transphobia are eating up black folks.”

“All we do is tell people that God cares about saving individual souls,” she said. “I wonder if our theology needs a shift and what God is calling us to do is to get our own stuff together so that we can do this work of justice.”

“You don’t really know Jesus if you don’t think your theology should inform your politics,” Cooper said.

It is not surprising that young people, who are rightly skeptical about all institutions, are not in church, Cooper said. They are not going to come to church simply because older people tell them to – older people who have a lot of rules to which they require churchgoers to conform.

Instead, she said, the church must remember that Jesus told his followers that “rules and regulations won’t save you.”

“That is why young people are not hearing us because what we offer to them far too often is more rules and regulations about how they should dress and how they should talk and what it means to be respectable,” she said. “Instead, we’re supposed to be the people who are like Jesus who looked at an empire and said this is evil and there’s another way to live.”

“Maybe millennials’ disinterest in church isn’t a judgment,” Copper suggested. “Maybe it’s an invitation” to the church to change its theology and its approach.

Later that day, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry concentrated on the church’s ministry to and with young people in his sermon at African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia during a Eucharist commemorating the 225th anniversary of the black presence in the Episcopal Church.

Absalom Jones, the church’s first black priest, founded St. Thomas in 1792. It was the first black Episcopal church.

The conference honored both Absalom Jones and Jehu Jones Jr., a Lutheran minister who founded one of the first African-American Lutheran congregations in the 1830s, also in Philadelphia. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton presided at the three-hour Eucharist.

Curry reminded the congregation of the Hebrew midwives who organized to defy pharaoh’s order that all Hebrew baby boys were to be killed at birth because he feared the Hebrews’ power. One of the babies they saved was Moses, who grew up to lead his people to freedom.

Then, in Jesus’ time, Herod followed “the pattern that we see of tyrants throughout history and to this very day” who seek to destroy some of society’s children. Today, Curry said, those tyrants would take away their public education opportunities and their health care

“Destroy the children and you destroy a nation,” he said.

“Our children, whether they are black white, red, yellow – no matter who they are – are being left on the garbage heap of America,” Curry said.

“If you want to make America great, Mr. Trump? Save the children,” he said, pacing St. Thomas’ aisle.

The congregation jumped to its feet, roaring approval.

“The child you save today may save you tomorrow,” was Curry’s refrain.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton go over the order of service with the Rev. Deon Johnson before a July 25 Eucharist at African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The service commemorated the 225th anniversary of the black presence in the Episcopal Church. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

He urged Episcopalians and Lutherans to adopt schools in their neighborhoods, do more for children in the summer, open their buildings to children at times other than Sunday mornings and develop programs for children.

“We need a Sunday school movement that doesn’t just meet on Sunday,” he said. “We need churches filled with children and I don’t care how much noise they make.”

This generation of children needs to hear the real story of Jesus, not what Curry said was the “fake news” about Jesus.

“There’s a lot of fake faith out there that masquerades as Christianity and looks like Christianity but it doesn’t have a thing to do with Jesus,” he said, criticizing preachers of the prosperity gospel.

When the message is about wealth and not about service and Jesus, it is a “perversion of the gospel and I don’t care how mega the church is, how big it is, that is wrong.”

“It is false, it is fake and our children are falling prey to it,” he said.

The St. Thomas Gospel Choir raised the roof of their African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas July 25 during a Eucharist that was part of the joint meeting of the Union of Black Episcopalians and the African Descent Lutheran Association. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/ Episcopal News Service

Curry warned that prosperity gospel preaching ranges all over Africa and Central and South America, and is spreading elsewhere. “And it is making some people rich by preying on the poor and that is not the gospel,” he said.

He warned against forms of Christianity in the United States that put down immigrants, poor people and “cozy up to power.”

“And, if you listen, they never talk about Jesus,” he said.

The West, Curry proclaimed, needs to be re-evangelized by a Jesus Movement that preaches and lives a Christianity looks and sounds like Jesus.

He warned that such a movement is not always an easy one to follow. “If you love God, you have to love who and what God loves,” he said, no matter their religious, ethnic, political or ideological affiliations.

“It doesn’t mean you have to let them get away with everything, but you have got to love them,” he said.

“My brothers and sisters, we’ve got work to do. Don’t leave this place just feeling good. Don’t leave this place just shouting,” he said. “You’ve got to leave this place ready to change this world.”

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

Maryland Diocese’s summer scholars program teaches life skills

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 1:40pm

Baltimore children get a taste of water navigation on the Potomac River, putting in at Brunswick, Maryland. It was part of the Sutton Scholars program teaching life skills. Photos: Dan Webster/Diocese of Maryland

[Diocese of Maryland – Adamstown, Maryland] “I’m not doing that.” The soon-to-be high school sophomore voiced his reluctance to go canoeing or kayaking on the Potomac River. But it’s amazing what positive peer pressure, and a little nudge from a camp counselor, can do for a city kid taking on something new.

The Sutton Scholars High School Enrichment Program is finishing its second year of offering a four-week summer session, most of it on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore. There are 54 rising ninth- and 10th-graders learning “soft” and other life skills in order to help them succeed in high school and be better equipped for college and work environments.

The scholars spent some of the time at the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland’s Claggett Center in Frederick County. They tackled the ropes course and zip line, learned to tie-dye T-shirts and put into the Upper Potomac in watercraft that requires teamwork.

River guide Bill Kasten explains to Morgan State’s Kea Smith, left, and to the scholars about some of the native plants they’ll see on the river. Here he holds a branch of chicory, which is plentiful along the river. Photo: Dan Webster/Diocese of Maryland

Mentors and instructors lead the scholars in the development of critical thinking, emotional intelligence, financial awareness, work ethic and communication skills. One-on-one mentorship continues throughout the year, between each summer session, to help scholars continue to integrate learned skills into schoolwork, family life and relationships, and work settings.

The program is a unique partnership between Morgan State University and the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, as well as corporate and private foundations. The Rev. Neva Brown, Episcopal/Anglican chaplain at Morgan State, is program director. Morgan State’s Ms. Kea Smith is the academic director. Returning scholars were joined by new students recruited from Baltimore middle schools who will be in ninth grade this fall. By year four, up to 120 students will be enrolled.

“I am afraid it is a fact that we are failing our children,” Tom Geddes, CEO of Plank Industries, told a recent fundraising reception. “This is why Kevin Plank (founder of Under Armour) and our team and I believe in the Sutton Scholars program. We know that talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. Programs like this work to change that fact, and will help to shine a light on the talents of the young people in our city, and give them the pathway to opportunity that they so fully deserve.”

The Sutton Scholars is also a YouthWorks site. Employment opportunities dovetail with instructional topics to offer real-life applications. While the classroom portion ends the summer before the scholars’ senior year YouthWorks employment may continue the summer after graduation.

“The Episcopal Diocese has a commitment to public education,” says the Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. “This non-sectarian effort is an important skills-building program designed to help young people in our community navigate high school, secondary education, work, and life in general.”

— The Rev. Dan Webster is a priest in the Diocese of Maryland.

EPPN: Call your senators to protect health care for all

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 1:26pm

[Episcopal Public Policy Network policy alert] The United States Senate is now considering a series of measures that would radically remake the way health care is provided in this country, and dramatically change who has access to care. A partial, or “skinny,” repeal of the Affordable Care Act would likely remove the patient protections that the ACA has made mandatory, create de facto high-risk pools by eliminating the individual mandate, and risk further de-stabilization of the health insurance market.

As Episcopalians, we are reminded of and called by a Christ who says, “As you have done to the least of these you have done to me.” We must remind our elected leaders of that Christ-like love for neighbor and protection of the most vulnerable and least served among us.

We recognize the need for health care reform, and we believe that the starting point for reform efforts should be the assurance that no one loses their existing health insurance. We believe Congress can find creative solutions to reduce costs, lower premiums, and ensure that the most vulnerable among us have access to life-saving care. As a sector, health care represents nearly 1/5th of our economy, according to a study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and so we must call on our elected officials to carefully consider and rigorously test any sweeping changes to existing health care laws.

Call to urge an open, sensible, and compassionate process for this crucial legislation. Call to protect care for all people, and for stronger protections for middle-income Americans.

Call to urge your Senators to vote No on the final passage of any ACA repeal!.

Video: Presiding Bishop preaches during Union of Black Episcopalians Eucharist

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 3:27pm

[Episcopal News Service – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached at African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas during a July 25 Eucharist commemorating the 225th anniversary of the black presence in the Episcopal Church.

“The child you save today may save you tomorrow,” was Curry’s refrain during the sermon. He called on people of faith and politicians, including President Donald Trump, to ensure a safe and secure future for all children.

The service was part of the Union of Black Episcopalians’ 49th annual conference, held at a nearby Cherry Hill, New Jersey, hotel. The UBE met jointly for the first time with the African Descent Lutheran Association and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton presided at the Eucharist.

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

Canadian primate praises Lutherans for interfaith relations work

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 10:43am

[Anglican Journal] In an address to the 16th  Biennial Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada held in early July in Winnipeg, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, celebrated the full-communion relationship between the two churches, and praised the Lutheran Church for providing leadership on interfaith relations.

Full article.

Longtime Anglican Communion executive officer retires

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 10:40am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Tributes have been flowing in to the Anglican Communion Office in London for Christine Codner, who has retired as executive officer after more than three decades. Christine joined in 1983 and certainly didn’t think it was going to end up being a job for life: ”I still remember at my job interview how alarmed I was when it was implied I was to stay on for the next Lambeth Conference  – which was five years later!” she said.

Full article.

Young women spend months living monastic life with Canadian nuns

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 10:23am

[Anglican Communion News Service] More than 10 months after a group of young women began living with members of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine in Toronto, Candada the inaugural Companions on the Way program is drawing to a close.

The sisters officially commissioned five companions in September 2016, though three were unable to stay for the entire duration of the program. The companions joined in living the monastic lifestyle of the sisters, devoting their days to work, study, prayer and spiritual contemplation.

Full article.

Anglican primate joins Christian leaders in Jerusalem in calling for calm at holy site

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 2:55pm

[Episcopal News Service] Leaders of the Christian churches in Jerusalem, including the Anglican primate, have called for peace and reconciliation amid tensions at a shared holy site in the city, as the Israel government backs down from a standoff over stricter security measures there.

Archbishop Suheil Dawani, primate of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, joined 12 other patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem in issuing a statement last week to “express our serious concern regarding recent escalation in violent developments around Haram ash-Sharif and our grief for the loss of human life, and strongly condemn any act of violence.”

The statement also affirms the church leaders’ support for existing agreements between Israel and Jordan to jointly maintain holy sites that are revered and frequented by both Jews and Muslims.

“We renew our call that the historical status quo governing these sites be fully respected, for the sake of peace and reconciliation to the whole community, and we pray for a just and lasting peace in the whole region and all its peoples,” the statement concludes.

The site is known by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount. Recent tensions have focused on access to the al-Aqsa Mosque, where on July 14, three Arab-Israeli gunmen opened fire, killing two Israeli policemen before being shot down themselves. The mosque was closed for Friday prayers for the first time in 17 years.

Before reopening the compound, Israel installed metal detectors at entrances to the mosque, a move that drew objections from Palestinians who said it limited their access to the holy site.

When Israel initially refused to remove the scanners, the protests escalated, and on July 23, a Jordanian of Palestinian descent was reported to have used a screwdriver to stab an Israeli security guard, who shot and killed the attacker along with another Jordanian.

Then on July 24, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after conferring by phone with King Abdullah II of Jordan, announced Israel would remove the metal detectors, The Washington Post reported. The removal began on July 25.

It remains to be seen whether the move will calm all tensions over the site. In removing the scanners, Israel is replacing them with more sophisticated surveillance cameras, which also have prompted objections from Palestinians.

The Palestinian official who oversees the al-Aqsa Mosque said the arrangement will remain unacceptable “unless everything that was added after July 14 was removed,” Al Jazeera reported.

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

Long Island names Pat Mitchell canon for pastoral care

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 1:09pm

[Episcopal Diocese of Long Island] Bishop Larry Provenzano announced July 24 the appointment of the Rev. Patricia S. Mitchell as canon for pastoral care of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island.

Mitchell will support and provide resources to clergy and lay leadership, support and supervise vocational deacons on behalf of the diocesan bishop, and provide direct pastoral support for retired clergy and their families. Additionally, she will serve as the diocesan intake officer for any Title IV allegations.

Provenzano said, “”I’m looking forward to working with Canon Mitchell. She brings a wealth of personal, professional and church organization experience to this new position among us.”

Most recently, Mitchell served as canon missioner for the Mount Vernon, New York, Episcopal Ministry. She has also served as canon for Christian formation in the Diocese of New York and was an associate rector at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan.

Mitchell, who grew up in Queens and was a member of Grace Episcopal Church in Jamaica, is a graduate of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and was ordained in 2002. She is also a graduate of Columbia University with master’s degrees in psychology and clinical psychology and has worked in mental health and special education fields in university and hospital settings.

Draft order calls for Bruno to be suspended from ministry for three years

Mon, 07/24/2017 - 3:54pm

Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno spent nearly seven hours March 29 and 30 talking to the Hearing Panel considering the disciplinary action against him. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] The hearing panel considering disciplinary action against Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno has drafted an order calling for his suspension from ordained ministry for three years because of misconduct.

The five-member panel concluded in a 4-1 decision that “the scope and severity of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct … have unjustly and unnecessarily disturbed the ministry of a mission of the Church.”

The 91-page draft order specifically rejects calls for Bruno to be deposed, or removed, from ordained ministry. It says that during the three-year suspension Bruno could not exercise any authority over “the real or personal property or temporal affairs of the Church.” A three-year suspension would take Bruno beyond his mandatory retirement date in November 2018, when he turns 72.

The draft order, which is not final, also urges the diocese to let the members of St. James the Great return to their Newport Beach, California, building.

Bruno locked out the congregation nearly two years ago after the members objected to his unsuccessful 2015 attempt to sell the St. James property to a condominium developer for $15 million in cash. The congregation has been worshipping in a meeting room at the Newport Beach City Hall. Its canonical status with the diocese is in limbo.

The attempted sale occurred less than 18 months after Bruno reopened St. James in late 2013, after recovering the property via a lawsuit prompted by a split in the congregation. Three other congregations in the diocese also split in disputes about the Episcopal Church’s full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of the church.

The subsequent effort to sell St. James to a developer prompted congregation members to bring misconduct allegations against Bruno, claiming he violated Episcopal Church law. A hearing on those allegations was held in March.

Bruno continued to try to sell the property even after that hearing. Those efforts, which the bishop tried to conceal, earned him a rebuke from the hearing panel in June. The panel said Bruno had to stop trying to sell the property during the disciplinary process. If he did try, or succeeded, before the panel decided the original case against him, that behavior would be “disruptive, dilatory and otherwise contrary to the integrity of this proceeding,” the panel said at the time. The same is true of his failure to give the panel the information it asked for about the accusations, the notice said. Such behavior violates the portion of canon law that governs the behavior of clerics who face disciplinary actions (Canon IV.13.9(a) page 151 here).

A few days later, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry partially restricted Bruno’s ministry, specifically his ability to sell the church property.

Bruno’s appeal of the panel’s sanctions failed.

Acknowledging its inability to assess whether St. James could have survived had it been able to stay in its building, the hearing panel says in the draft order that “there is ample evidence of its viability and promise to convince the hearing panel that St. James the Great was robbed of a reasonable chance to succeed as a sustainable community of faith.” The congregation, the order says, “is a casualty of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct.”

Calling it “a matter of justice,” the panel recommends that the diocese immediately suspend its efforts to sell the St. James property, that it restore the congregation and vicar to the church building and that it reassign St. James the Great the appropriate mission status.

The draft order says that although Canon IV.14.6 would allow the panel to act to help St. James the Great, it declines to do so. “Title IV disciplinary actions are not designed to address the complexities of the specific diocesan property issues that are before it,” the order says. “The hearing panel believes that bishops do and should have authority over mission property and that standing committee review and approval is a crucial part of the fabric and polity of the Church.”

The draft also says that the panel members believe the Diocese of Los Angeles has work to do to reach the goals of justice, healing, restitution and reconciliation upon which the Title IV disciplinary process is based. “The hearing panel is convinced that the Diocese of Los Angeles, particularly its Standing Committee with the supportive leadership of its newly ordained coadjutor, must consciously choose to take part in a process of self-examination and truth telling around these unfortunate and tragic events,” the order says.

Without that work, the panel says, those goals will not be achieved “from the outside by force of canon.”

The draft order meticulously recounts the testimony and evidence the panel reviewed. It essentially upholds the St. James complainants’ allegations that Bruno violated church canons because he:

  • failed to get the consent of the diocesan standing committee before entering into a contract to sell the property;
  • misrepresented his intention for the property to the members, the clergy and the local community at large;
  • misrepresented that St. James the Great was not a sustainable congregation;
  • misrepresented that the Rev. Cindy Evans Voorhees, St. James’ vicar, had resigned;
  • misrepresented to some St. James members that he would lease the property back to them for a number of months and that the diocese would financially aid the church; and
  • engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy by “misleading and deceiving” the clergy and people of St. James, as well as the local community, about his plans for the property and for taking possession of the property and locking out the congregation.

Diocese of Southern Virginia Bishop Herman Hollerith IV is president of the hearing panel considering the case against Bruno. The panel, appointed by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops from among its members, includes Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely, North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith, the Rev. Erik Larsen of Rhode Island and Deborah Stokes of Southern Ohio.

Smith dissented from the draft order. He said none of the parties should have taken their disputes to the secular courts, including the one with the members of the four split congregations. He cited 1 Corinthians 6:1,7-8 admonishing Christians against filing lawsuits. Smith also said that property disputes should not be adjudicated in the Episcopal Church’s disciplinary process.

And he suggested that St. James was too focused on a particular piece of property. “In this season of the Church’s life, many congregations are learning to become communities of faith outside ‘the four walls of the church building,’” he wrote.

The hearing panel did not publically release its draft order. It apparently gave the draft to the complainants and the presiding bishop for comment. Title IV.14.7 (page 153 here) calls for those parties “to be heard on the proposed terms of the order.” Comments to the hearing panel are due by July 26.

Bruno is not allowed to comment on the draft to the hearing panel. The diocese released a statement July 21 saying in part that no one from the diocese would make any public statement on the draft, “continuing their commitment to respect the integrity of the Title IV process, a priority that Bishop Bruno has upheld through the duration of the two-year proceedings.”

Neva Rae Fox, Episcopal Church public affairs officer, said the church would not comment while the Title IV process continues.

Roger Bloom, a communications consultant working for St. James, released the draft late July 21, reportedly after consulting a lawyer who told him Episcopal Church canons did not prevent its release.

Forty days after the final order is issued, the Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick, president of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, has 20 days to sentence Bruno. He can appeal that sentence and, if he does, the sentence is not imposed while the appeal proceeds. Meanwhile, however, the draft order is clear that Curry’s partial restriction on Bruno remains in force.

Bruno turns 72, the Episcopal Church’s mandatory retirement age, in late 2018. His successor, Bishop Coadjutor John Taylor, was ordained and consecrated July 8 in Los Angeles.

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

New bishop of Llandaff Diocese enthroned in Wales

Mon, 07/24/2017 - 12:55pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] More than 500 people packed into Llandaff Cathedral in Wales at the weekend to welcome their new bishop at her enthronement service. Bishop June Osborne, the 72nd bishop of Llandaff, spoke of her passion for pastoral ministry within a local context, as she delivered the sermon in one of her first duties as bishop after taking her seat – or “throne” at Llandaff Cathedral.  She told the packed congregation that most of her strategies would be to “empower and strengthen the impact of the local church.”

Full article.

Cambridge Dean to lead USPG

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 5:05pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Rev. Duncan Dormor, dean of St John’s College, Cambridge, has been appointed as the next CEO (General Secretary) of USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel). He succeeds Janette O’Neill, who retires after six years in post, taking the helm of a mission agency that has played a transforming role in global Anglicanism for well over 300 years.

Full article.

Vail, Colorado, congregation hires Rebecca Cotton as youth minister

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 10:29am

[Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration] The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration announced this morning that Rebecca Cotton joined its staff as youth minister.

Rebecca Cotton

Cotton will craft, lead and oversee a total ministry program for the Church’s youth in middle and high school, as well as serving students beyond its own congregation. “We are blessed to have such a talented young woman join our team,” stated the Rev. Brooks Keith, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration. “In her first few weeks, Rebecca has already taken the program to a higher level.”

Cotton was born and raised in Edwards and is a life-long member of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration. She served as a veteran sacristan, acolyte trainer, lay eucharistic minister and Sunday School teacher at Transfiguration before her graduation from Battle Mountain High School with highest honors in 2013.  She chose Transfiguration as her career semester internship site, learning valuable lessons in professional ministry before graduating high school.

A recent graduate with honors from the College of Literature, Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan, Cotton earned a Bachelor of Science degree in ecology and evolutionary biology with a minor in mathematics. She completed an independent research project focused on global warming to earn her honors designation. Cotton also served on a small group leadership team in her college congregation throughout her college career. She is the first scientist to serve on the church’s staff.

“I’m very thankful to have this opportunity to serve our community’s youth, both within Transfiguration and throughout the Vail Valley,” said Cotton. “Our youth program will include small groups, fun activities, mission trips, volunteer opportunities and mentorship for our youth as they move through middle and high school into adulthood. I am excited and honored to build and direct this ministry, and to have the privilege of working with the youth in this valley.”

“We are excited to re-build a premier congregational youth ministry featuring personal pastoral care, substantive spiritual formation, fun gatherings, mission and outreach activities, and transformational Christian worship for our young people,” said Keith. “Rebecca’s leadership will help us fulfill our shared mission, to know Jesus Christ and make Him known, with our youth.”

St. Mary’s Sewanee hires Andy Anderson as executive director

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 10:18am

[St. Mary’s Sewanee] St. Mary’s Sewanee: The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development is pleased to announce the appointment of the Rev. E. Lucius “Andy” Anderson III as its fourth executive director effective in early September.  Anderson joins St. Mary’s Sewanee to continue building upon St. Mary’s Sewanee’s vision, expanding reach and facilities development that have marked its growth over the last decade.

Andy Anderson

Anderson most recently has served as the rector of the Church of the Nativity in Huntsville, Alabama, since 2003. Anderson brought stability and growth in ministries to the 1800-member parish, initially leading the parish through a long-range visioning process that resulted in master planning and a $4.2 million successful capital campaign to renovate the 1859 National Historic Landmark church and eliminate the parish’s debt to acquire adjacent property in downtown Huntsville. After physically “building the church,” Anderson spent his energy and leadership “building the church spiritually in formation, mission, and ministry,” embracing the Catechumenate for new member incorporation, RenewalWorks Spiritual Development Ministries of Forward Movement, and expanding the parish’s outreach efforts including establishing one of the South’s premier local grower’s and artisan markets, The Greene Street Market at Nativity. Nativity has a long tradition of supporting Centering Prayer, and Anderson is in the process of becoming a certified Centering Prayer workshop facilitator through contemplative outreach.

Before his tenure at Nativity, Anderson served as rector of Grace Church in Anderson, S.C., where he led the parish through extensive strategic planning and a capital campaign to renovate and expand the historic church. Anderson initially served in ordained ministry at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, Georgia, as canon educator for children, youth and family ministries, embracing and leading a vision for ministry that saw tremendous growth.

Dale Grimes, president of the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s Sewanee, said, “The Board of Trustees is thrilled to welcome Andy as the new executive director of St. Mary’s Sewanee. Andy is absolutely the right person to take on these duties at this time. He brings to St. Mary’s Sewanee his extensive experience in spiritual development programming and activities, service to and leadership in the Episcopal Church, financial and administrative acumen and significant and proven fundraising ability. We are excited about the possibilities for our future with Andy as our executive director as we enter a new phase of growth in programming and campus development.”

In recent years, St. Mary’s Sewanee has accomplished a number of goals in the plans envisioned by the board. The Anna House, completed four years ago as the Center’s newest lodging facility, has been fully brought on line, providing more hospitality options for its guests by allowing accommodation of larger groups as well as simultaneous use by multiple groups. The quality and number of its programs have increased, including a new relationship with the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, which has commenced a four-part program, the Soul of Leadership, at St. Mary’s Sewanee. Many other programs offered by long-time St. Mary’s Sewanee presenters have been able to make use of the Center’s new and upgraded facilities on a year-round basis.

Andy Anderson returns to the Mountain with the enthusiasm and skills to lead St. Mary’s Sewanee forward in this ongoing expansion of facilities and programs. “I first experienced St. Mary’s as a thin holy place of spiritual connection to God on an Advent Quiet Day my first year at the School of Theology in 1991. I returned to St. Mary’s many times during seminary years to know the quiet and refreshment from the beauty of holiness St. Mary’s offers,” Anderson remarks.  “After beginning a Centering Prayer practice in the late 1990s, I began attending retreats and other events at St. Mary’s. It’s a part of my spiritual DNA and has continued to enrich and enliven my life and ministry. I have been nurtured by St. Mary’s mission and its heart of prayerfulness and it will be a privilege to give back to this sacred and beautiful place that has given so much to me and to others. I am excited to continue my journey in the capacity as Executive Director and look forward to the great work of building upon what John Runkle and the fine staff and St. Mary’s Board have launched. I believe in our mission, having served with fundraising efforts to help get us where we are today. I look forward to leading the efforts to allow others to be a part of contributing to St. Mary’s mission with their time, talent, and financial resources.”

A native of Statesboro, Georgia, Anderson holds a Doctor of Ministry and a Master of Divinity honoris causa from The School of Theology at Sewanee, a Master of Business Administration in finance from Georgia State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Georgia. Prior to ordination in 1994, Anderson had a successful career in corporate banking with the SunTrust Banks.  He has served the wider church and Sewanee in many capacities and looks forward to strengthening St. Mary’s connections to the wider church as well as in interfaith collaborations.  He and his wife Tippy (the former Tippen Harvey of Rome, Georgia)  have been married for almost 36 years and have two adult children, Case and Sally, who like Andy and Tippy, consider Sewanee home.

Curry, Jennings urge Texas House leader to continue opposition to Texas ‘bathroom bill’ noting General Convention planned 2018 meeting in Austin

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 2:38pm

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings have written a second letter to Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus urging him to stand firm in his opposition to that state legislature’s effort to pass a “bathroom bill” during the current special session.

The Episcopal Church is scheduled to meet July 5-13, 2018, in Austin, Texas, and Jennings told the Executive Council in June that, “we are watching the situation closely with an eye to ensuring the safety and dignity of everyone traveling to General Convention next summer.”

Curry and Jennings wrote to Straus in February, thanking him or his stand against the bill. However, the letter notes that the church moved General Convention from Houston to Honolulu in 1955 because the Texas city could not offer sufficient guarantees of desegregated housing for its delegates.

“We would be deeply grieved if Senate Bill 6 presented us with the same difficult choice that church leaders faced more than 60 years ago,” Curry and Jennings wrote.

Texas Senate Bill 6 would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on what the bill calls their “biological sex” as stated on their birth certificate. The bill would also overturn local nondiscrimination ordinances in cities like Austin, Dallas and San Antonio.

The state Senate has passed the bill but the House has not acted. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called the Legislature back for the special session that began July 18 and said that he wants legislators to pass the bill.

In March, Curry and Jennings were the lead signers on an amicus brief filed by 1,800 clergy and religious leaders in a U.S. Supreme Court case involving transgender-bathroom use policies.

Jennings told council that she, Curry and others are also watching the legal challenges to Texas Senate Bill 4, which threatens law enforcement officials with stiff penalties if they fail to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The bill also allows police officers to question people about their immigration status during arrests or traffic stops.

The text of the most recent letter follows.

July 19, 2017

The Honorable Joe Straus
Speaker of the House
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, Texas 78768

Dear Speaker Straus:

Since we wrote to you in February expressing our concern about Senate Bill 6, we have watched with gratitude as you have resisted efforts to enshrine discrimination against our transgender sisters and brothers into Texas law. We write now to urge you to remain steadfast in your opposition during the legislature’s current special session.

As the presiding officers of the Episcopal Church, we are firmly opposed to “bathroom bills” and particularly reject the idea that women and children are protected by them. As clergy who remember racist Jim Crow bathroom laws that purported to protect white people, we know the kind of hatred and fear that discriminatory laws can perpetuate.

We are especially thankful for your recent remarks acknowledging the acute emotional and spiritual damage that discrimination does to transgender people. In May, a review of more than forty studies conducted over nearly two decades found that transgender people attempt suicide 22 times more often than the general public. Your opposition to bathroom bills is one important way that you are helping to prevent tragedies in Texan families, and we are grateful for your moral courage and your leadership.

As you know, the Episcopal Church supports local, state and federal laws that prevent discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression and opposes any legislation that seeks to deny the dignity, equality, and civil rights of transgender people. Because we are currently scheduled to hold our triennial General Convention—a nine-day event that includes as many as 10,000 people—in Austin in July 2018, we are paying especially close attention to the news emerging from your special session.

We want very much to hold our convention in Texas. However, as we wrote to you in February, we must be able to ensure that all Episcopalians and visitors to our convention, including transgender people, are treated with respect, kept safe, and provided appropriate public accommodation consistent with their gender identities.

In 1955, we were forced to move a General Convention from Houston to another state because Texas laws prohibited black and white Episcopalians from being treated equally. We would not stand then for Episcopalians to be discriminated against, and we cannot countenance it now. It would be especially unfortunate if this special session of the Texas legislature presented us with the same difficult choice that church leaders faced more than sixty years ago.

We urge you to remain steadfast in your opposition to any bathroom bills introduced in the special session, and we thank you for your continued commitment to keeping Texas a welcoming state for all of God’s children.

Faithfully,

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President, House of Deputies

Jewish, Muslim and Christian students learn interfaith peace building

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 12:46pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Students attending a three week course at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute near Geneva have learned about communication and peace building, with the hope of serving as peacemakers in their own contexts.  Young Jewish, Muslim and Christian students attended a workshop led by Marianne Ejdersten, director of Communication at the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Full article.

Pastors, young people attend ecumenical meeting in Egypt

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 12:28pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Pastors and young people in Egypt have held an unprecedented meeting to exchange ideas. A spokesperson for the Diocese in Egypt said: “The day aimed for youth to speak about their honest opinion of the church and the liturgy in order to reduce the gap between the youth and the church.”

Full article.

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