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Los datos de los Informes parroquiales de 2017 ya están disponibles

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 9:24am

El Rev. canónigo Dr. Michael Barlowe, oficial ejecutivo de la Convención General, ha anunciado que los datos de los Informes parroquiales de 2017 de la Iglesia Episcopal ya están disponibles en inglés y español aquí.

El canónigo Barlowe observó que los datos de 2017 “continúan las tendencias recientes, con una disminución en las cifras claves de membresía y asistencia”, aunque “el ingreso congregacional a través de las promesas y otras ofertas ha aumentado”, incluso a pesar de que el número general de congregantes ha disminuido.

El Informe parroquial es la recopilación de datos más antigua y continua de la Iglesia Episcopal. Por tradición y regla, los requisitos de presentación de informes son desarrollados por el Comité de la Cámara de Diputados sobre el estado de la Iglesia, utilizando un formulario aprobado por el Consejo Ejecutivo de la Iglesia. Supervisado por el Oficial Ejecutivo de la Convención General, el Informe parroquial toca a todas las congregaciones de la iglesia. Junto con otros datos, incluido el de Registrador de ordenaciones y el Registro de la Convención General, el Informe parroquial proporciona una visión interna del estado de la iglesia.

Los documentos recientemente publicados incluyen:

•           Datos Domésticos Rápidos Episcopales y Tendencias de Datos Domésticos

Rápidos Episcopales 2013-2017

•           Miembros bautizados por provincia y diócesis 2007-2017

•           Asistencia promedio del domingo por provincia y diócesis 2007-2017

•           Totales estadísticos para la Iglesia Episcopal por provincia 2016-2017

•           Totales estadísticos para la Iglesia Episcopal por Provincia y Diócesis 2016-2017

•           Ingresos de bandeja nacional y de la promesa de donación 2012-2017

•           Promesa de donación promedio por provincia y diócesis 2012-2017

•           Totales financieros y ASA por diócesis 2017

Los informes se pueden encontrar en el sitio web de la Convención General en http://www.generalconvention.org/research-and-statistics/#PR-Results.

Para obtener más información, comuníquese con la oficina de la Convención General a gcoffice@episcopalchurch.org o pr@dfms.org.

Bishops of Iowa, Swaziland to attend consecration in Scotland

Fri, 08/24/2018 - 2:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Alan Scarfe of Iowa and Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland will be taking part the consecration Aug. 25 of the Very Rev. Andrew Swift as new bishop of Brechin of the Scottish Episcopal Church. The service will take place at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Dundee and will be presided over by Scottish Episcopal Church Primus Mark Strange. The Dioceses of Iowa, Swaziland and Brechin have been a three-way companion link for the past 30 years.

Read the full article here.

Unity and reconciliation in Democratic Republic of Congo

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 12:12pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Young people from the Democratic Republic of Congo are rising up as reconcilers in their communities. At the Diocese of Goma’s second annual youth conference, teenagers and young adults from across the diocese spent four days praying, worshiping, and playing football together, creating friendships that cross tribal lines. The conference, which began on Aug. 16, was titled “Whole Life Discipleship,” with a focus on unity and reconciliation.

Read the full article here.

El Tribunal de Revisión de la II Provincia emite un Informe de resultados

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 10:32am

[23 de agosto de 2018] El Tribunal de Revisión de la II Provincia dio a conocer su Informe de Resultados respecto a la impugnación de la elección del obispo coadjutor de la Diócesis de Haití.

Luego de la elección, el 2 de junio, del Ven. Joseph Kerwin Délicat como obispo coadjutor de la Diócesis de Haití, un grupo de delegados laicos y clericales a la Convención Electoral presentaron por escrito objeciones al proceso de la elección. El Canon III.11.8 (a) describe los pasos a seguir para impugnar el proceso de una elección.

Tal como lo estipula el Título III.8, el Obispo Primado remitió el asunto al Tribunal de Revisión de la II Provincia para que investigara la denuncia (la Diócesis de Haití es parte de la II Provincia). El Informe de Resultados se encuentra aquí. Copias del informe se les distribuirán a los obispos con jurisdicción y a todos los comités permanentes diocesanos como parte del proceso de consentimiento de la elección.

Las diócesis tienen 120 días después que se hayan enviado las solicitudes de consentimiento para dar o retirar su consentimiento a la elección diocesana.

Court of Review of Province II issues report of findings on Haiti bishop election

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 10:31am

[Episcopal News Service] The Province II Court of Review has released its Report of Findings regarding the contestation of the election of the bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Haiti.

Following the June 2 election of the Ven. Joseph Kerwin Delicat as bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Haiti, a group of lay and clergy delegates to the Electing Convention filed written objections to the election process. Canon III.11.8 (a) outlines the process for contesting the election process.

As required by Title III.8, the presiding bishop referred the matter to the Province II Court of Review for investigation of the complaint. (Province II includes the Diocese of Haiti.) The Court’s Report of Findings is here. Copies of the report will be distributed to bishops with jurisdiction and all Diocesan Standing Committees as part of the election consent process.

Dioceses have 120 days after requests for consents are sent out to give or withhold their consent to a diocesan election.

Read more on this story here.

Diocese of Newark notified of successful canonical consent process for bishop-elect

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 5:05pm

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Diocese of Newark has received notification from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Michael Barlowe, registrar of General Convention, that Bishop-Elect Carlye J. Hughes has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process detailed in Canon III.11.3.

In giving consent to her ordination and consecration, standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction attest to knowing of “no impediment on account of which” Bishop-Elect Hughes ought to be ordained to the office of bishop and believing that her election was conducted in accordance with the Canons.

The Rev. Carlye J. Hughes was elected the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Newark during a special convention on May 19, 2018, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, New Jersey. Photo: Nina Nicholson/Diocese of Newark

The Rev. Hughes was chosen 11th bishop of the Diocese of Newark during a special convention on May 19 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, New Jersey. The presiding bishop will officiate at her September 22 ordination and consecration service.

The first woman and first African-American to be elected bishop in the Diocese of Newark, Hughes, 59, is currently rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, Texas, in the Diocese of Fort Worth, and was one of three nominees.

Hughes was ordained a priest in 2005 after graduating from Virginia Theological Seminary, and has served as rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in the continuing Diocese of Fort Worth since 2012. No stranger to the Northeast, her first call was to St. James’ Church on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Before ordination, she worked as a corporate trainer. She is married to David Smedley.

Therapy dogs are soothing ambassadors for Massachusetts church’s pet ministry

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 4:05pm

Some of Perfect Paws Pet Ministry’s therapy dogs and their owners pose for a photo in Danvers, Massachusetts. Photo: Fran Weil

[Episcopal News Service] Paxton may not understand the full significance of his calling, but the 10-year-old Westie is one of All Saints Episcopal Church’s most dedicated ministers serving as Jesus’ paws in the world.

As a therapy dog dispatched by Perfect Paws Pet Ministry at All Saints in Danvers, Massachusetts, Paxton and his human, Fran Weil, have brought the soothing presence of a canine companion to students of all ages, nursing home residents, hospital patients and recovering addicts in drug rehabilitation centers. Weil is always amazed by the sense of calm that can be conveyed from simply patting her dog’s head.

“As terrific as the response is to our dogs wherever we go, it’s so rewarding for us,” Weil said. “It is really God’s work, and we are so blessed to use one of God’s creatures to do this amazing outreach.”

Weil, the therapy dog coordinator for the church, is one of several parishioners with dogs certified to do this work, along with the other 600 active members of Dog B.O.N.E.S. Therapy Dogs of Massachusetts. Some of these therapy dogs were called on to provide comfort to victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Others regularly serve as captive listeners for elementary schoolers learning to read.

In another case a while back, Perfect Paws dispatched one of its therapy dogs to provide “a little comfort time” for the family and friends of a 10-year-old who was hit and killed by a train, Weil said. It offered “a wonderful diversion” from the pain of loss.

Episcopal churches across the country are engaged in pet ministries of one kind or another. One of the most common are the annual services offering pet blessings, typically held in early October around the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals.

The Episcopal Church Asset Map, though not a comprehensive listing, shows at least a dozen congregations that take their pet outreach a step further, from pet supply collections to fundraisers benefiting the local no-kill animal shelter.

All Saints appears to be the only Episcopal church so fully engaged with a therapy dog ministry, thanks largely to the work of Weil, 71. She describes herself as a longtime lapsed Catholic who began attending Episcopal services late in life and “had never experienced such welcome ever.” She has worshipped at All Saints since 2001.

Her role with Perfect Paws is negotiable: founder, lead volunteer, honorary pet chaplain. Each title might be appropriate, she said. She also sometimes serves as a pet bereavement counselor, and she accompanies pet owners on trips to the veterinarian when tough decisions need to be made about life and death.

Weil is a natural for that kind of work because her love of animals is nearly universal.

“I love any animal. I’ve never met an animal I haven’t liked,” she said. “Well, I haven’t met a tarantula. I might be a little reluctant.”

All Saints launched Perfect Paws Pet Ministry in May 2010 with a monthly evening Eucharist for pet owners and their pets, all pets – rabbits, birds, cats, but mostly dogs. A story about the service got picked up by the Associated Press and drew national and even international attention to the ministry, Weil said, but the outreach has remained local.

“We started this because we realized that people find God in different ways, and so often it’s through their animals,” she said. “We often say it’s not an accident that ‘God’ spelled backward is ‘dog.’”

The services draw about 30 to 50 people, some of whom have been attending since the beginning, even those whose pets have since died.

The Rev. Marya DeCarlen, rector at All Saints, said only a handful of the pet service regulars are also All Saints parishioners. Perfect Paws, then, has become a distinct worship community centered around pet ownership.

“It is a place for humans and their pets to share life transitions, so a lot of grief work happens in these services,” DeCarlen said. “And a lot of joy and appreciation is lifted up in these services,” such as new adoptions.

“It parallels our own lives when we join a community. This community is really more than Eucharist. It is the body of Christ sharing life transitions with each other.”

The Perfect Paws Pet Ministry at All Saints Episcopal Church in Danvers, Massachusetts, hosted a meeting of the West Highland White Terrier Club in September.

DeCarlen began serving at All Saints a little over four years ago and initially found the pet services to be a bit overwhelming, but she quickly warmed to the ministry and asked parishioners to suggest ways of expanding it beyond the monthly services.

All Saints now collects pet food to donate to the local food pantry, and members minister to police and military K-9 handlers who have lost their dogs. About five times a year, the church hosts therapy dog workshops in the parish hall led by Weil and another parishioner.

Most dogs, regardless of breed, can serve as therapy dogs as long as they aren’t skittish, can handle unfamiliar environments and can be trained to follow basic commands and negotiate around objects, such as a wheelchair or walker. The bond between dog and owner is the most important factor, Weil said.

“Nobody knows the dog better than the owner,” she said. “It’s always good to know that the person has a good relationship with the dog.”

Any organization can contact Perfect Paws or Dog B.O.N.E.S. and request a free visit from a therapy dog. Most of Perfect Paws’ therapy dogs spend time in schools, whether easing high school students’ stress before and during exams or helping younger students learn to read.

For the younger students, they are encouraged to read directly to the dog, an experience shown to have measurable benefits in improving reading skills.

The Rev. Marya DeCarlen and her dog, Blue, meet with a group at the library in Danvers, Massachusetts.

“They feel inhibited when reading in front of peers … but they don’t in front of the dog,” said DeCarlen, whose 13-year-old Labrador, Blue, is often on the receiving end of those children’s readings.

“That has been a wonderful experience, to see children not only read but to use expressions. They want the dog to have a reaction when they read,” DeCarlen said. As for Blue, “he just loves to be doted upon.”

Dogs are known for giving unconditional love, and Weil said that is one reason why reading to dogs is so beneficial. “The dog’s never going to say, ‘That’s the wrong word. You didn’t pronounce it right.’”

It’s like a theatrical performance, she added, with the children suspending their disbelief and reading as if the dog is really understanding the story.

The parishioners from All Saints who participate in the therapy dog ministry have become like a family, and they have supported each other in times of grief, particularly over the past year, during which four of the dogs died, Weil said.

That grief mirrors what many pet owners feel at the loss of longtime companions who, too, felt like part of the family, and this has been another motivation for All Saints to step up its outreach and its message of welcome.

Pets have “taken on a bigger importance in people’s lives, and when that happens you bring what’s important to you to church, whether it’s in your mind or heart or spirit,” DeCarlen said. To be a member of the body of Christ, she said, is to embrace a sense of purpose in those relationships while spreading compassion to others, whether they walk on two feet or four paws.

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

RIP: Chairperson of China’s National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 3:36pm

Elder Fu Xianwei, chair of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China, addresses Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and his staff during a Feb. 22 meeting at the National Office of China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement in Shanghai, China. To Fu’s left are Gu Mengfei, TSPM’s associate secretary general and director of the CCC’s research department, and Elder Ou Enlin, director of overseas relations for the CCC/TSPM. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Elder Fu Xianwei, chairperson of the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Church in China and board chairperson of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, passed away in Shanghai, China, on Aug. 20, aged 74.

Fu’s deep conviction and productive service to the Lord was a powerful encouragement to Christians in China. His immensely hardworking for the cause of the Church in China with consistent adherence to the Three-Self principle was a role model and support for his fellow colleagues. The ardent love and care for the state and the church over the decades of his leadership has been exemplified through his commitment to the reconstruction of theological thinking and the advocacy of the indigenization and contextualization of the Church in China.

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (REVELATION 14:13)

The Episcopal Church’s and the Chinese church’s relationship started with Bishop K.H. Ting, who trained in the Anglican tradition at Union Theological Seminary in New York, served as long-time principal of the board of directors of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, and in 1955 became the bishop of Zhejiang until the Cultural Revolution.

The funeral in remembrance of Elder Fu Xianwei will be hosted at Shanghai Longhua Funeral Parlor (No. 210 Caoxi Road, Shanghai) at 9 a.m. on Sept. 5.

The memorial service is to be held at Muen Church (No. 316 Middle Xizang Road, Shanghai) at 9:30am on Sept. 6.

South Sudanese bishop speaks out against corruption

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 11:03am

[Anglican Communion News Service] Diocese of Malek Bishop Peter Jon Mayom has written an open letter to church and government leaders, calling for an end to bribery and violence. In the letter, Mayom, condemns corruption and calls for all Christians, particularly leaders, to set examples of holiness.

Read the full article.

Diocese of Virginia to replace Bishop Johnston with provisional bishop for three years

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 5:31pm

Helen K. Spence, president of the Diocese of Virginia’s standing committee, sent a letter to the diocese on Aug. 20 announcing the committee’s decision to seek a provisional bishop for three years after Bishop Shannon Johnston steps down in November. Election of the provision bishop would take place at the diocese’s convention in November. The following is the test of Spence’s letter.

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Bishop Shannon Johnston has announced that he will resign as our Bishop Diocesan during our Annual Convention in November 2018, and he will fully retire on June 30, 2019. In his letter of August 3, Bishop Shannon called for “new vision and new energy for the church in our Diocese.” To create the best opportunity for that vision and energy, the Standing Committee is seeking a Bishop Provisional for election at the November convention, per General Convention Title III.13.1. We want to make all of you aware of the steps involved in this process, as we work for the good of our Diocese.

As stated in Bishop Shannon’s letter, we have been in communication with the Presiding Bishop’s Office to ensure a smooth transition. The process the Standing Committee will follow will be similar to what happens in a parish when a rector leaves, and an interim rector is appointed by the Vestry. In this case, the Standing Committee is working with the Presiding Bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development to identify individuals who would be willing to serve as our Bishop Provisional for approximately three years, with extensions to that time frame, if needed, to be voted on at Diocesan Convention. As with any process like this, confidentiality will be kept to preserve the privacy of all involved.

This month, we are working to prepare questions to ask of the prospective candidates. We have sought input from Diocesan staff, current and former Bishops, leadership of Diocesan bodies, and the Regional Deans and Presidents to help us formulate these questions. We are also reviewing documents on file at the diocesan offices, to assist in preparing for these interviews, which we plan to hold in September. Once we have completed interviews, and a review of all paperwork, we will present the name of one candidate for the Diocese to elect in November, similar to the way a Vestry would for a parish.

This election will be the final act of our Annual Convention. The Bishop Provisional will be an experienced Bishop who will have the canonical authority of a Bishop Diocesan, and who will partner with us in a thorough diocesan review to enable us to prepare for a healthy call for our next Bishop Diocesan.

Many have asked about the role of Bishop Susan Goff in the Diocese as we move forward. In the same way that an associate or assistant rector is not eligible to serve as interim of a parish after the rector leaves, we have discerned, in close consultation with Bishop Goff, the Presiding Bishop and a variety of wise advisors, that our Bishop Suffragan will serve the Diocese best by remaining our Suffragan. She will be an integral part of the new team of leadership of our Diocese and we are grateful for the gifts she will continue to bring.

We ask for your prayers, for this process and for all the individuals involved, as we undertake this work. The best interests of this Diocese are at the center of all we do.

In Christ’s Love,

Helen K. Spence, President
Standing Committee
Diocese of Virginia

Church of South India responds to flooding in Kerala

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 2:22pm

Editor’s note: The Diocese of New York has long-standing and strong ties to the Church of South India, and to the Christian community in India, and has launched a relief appeal

[Anglican Communion News Service] Members of the  Church of South India have been at the heart of the relief efforts after flooding devastated swathes of the south western state of Kerala. The dioceses of East Kerala and Malabar, in the eastern hilly areas of south India, along with parts of the Cochin diocese, remain affected. 

So far, about 350 have died in the floods, and more the 700,000 are displaced and living in relief camps around the region. The crisis began with a wave of monsoons, leading to swollen rivers. Eventually 35 of the 36 dams in the region broke, releasing nearly 700,000 liters of water per second, causing landslides, flooding homes and blocking roads.

Read the full article here.


Episcopalians to join 40-mile Solidarity Walk to immigrant detention facility in New Hampshire

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 11:53am

A few dozen people gather outside the Norris Cotton Federal Building in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Aug. 7 for one of the regular prayer vigils for immigrants checking in with federal authorities. Photo: New Hampshire Council of Churches

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians will join others in the New Hampshire faith community this month for a four-day Solidarity Walk for Immigrant Justice, tracing detained immigrants’ path from federal immigration enforcement offices in Manchester to a jail in Dover to raise awareness of immigrants’ plight and voice their support.

“We’re following on foot the path that people who are detained and taken to jail are themselves traveling,” said the Rev. Jason Wells, an Episcopal priest who serves as executive director of New Hampshire Council of Churches, one of the Solidarity Walk organizers.

This pilgrimage will begin Aug. 22 with a short prayer service at St. Anne-St. Augustin Catholic Church in Manchester, and the walk will kick off from the Norris Cotton Federal Building, where offices of U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement, or ICE, are located. The building also has been the site of regular prayer vigils scheduled for days when immigrants are known to be checking in with ICE, some fearing they will be detained or deported.

The Episcopal Church’s support for immigrants, including those facing deportation, was underscored last month by the 79th General Convention, which passed multiple resolutions on immigration issues after hundreds of bishops and deputies gathered for their own prayer service outside an immigration detention facility near Austin, Texas.

Organizers of the Solidary Walk in New Hampshire have invoked that example as they plan to gather at the end of their 40-mile journey outside the Stratford County jail, which has a contract with the federal government to hold immigration detainees.

“I think that the Gospel imperative is to work for the poor, the marginalized, to really point out injustice and work for justice,” said the Rev. Sarah Rockwell, a part-time priest at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Manchester and president of Granite State Organizing Project. “I see this as very much a part of living out a life of faith, and our faith should be consequential.”

Although Rockwell will not be available to participate in the Solidary Walk, others at Granite State Organizing Project have been involved in planning the walk. Theirs is an interreligious organization devoted to grassroots community advocacy, and it is one of several groups contributing to next week’s walk, including American Friends Service Committee.

At the frequent prayer vigils organized by the same groups, about 50 or so people gather outside the federal building in Manchester. They embark on a Jericho walk  – seven times around the building, often in silent prayer. More prayers and songs follow, as well as readings from various faith traditions’ scriptures.

During the vigils, some clergy offer to wait with the families of noncitizen immigrants who are checking in. The families typically don’t know if these will be routine visits to provide updates to authorities or if their loved ones suddenly will be told to return by a certain date with a plane ticket back to their native country, Wells said. Some have been taken straight to jail.

Most immigrants who the New Hampshire Council of Churches are supporting have been required to check in with ICE about once a month, a frequency that has increased since President Donald Trump took office, Wells said. Previously the check-ins may have happened only about once a year.

The Stratford County jail, one of six facilities in New England that hold immigration detainees for the federal government, also has seen an uptick in immigrant detainees in recent years to about 115 a day in 2018, according to the Concord Monitor.

Some of these immigrants came to the United States on work visas that have since expired, so they are trying to gain permanent residency status, Wells said. Others are asylum seekers or refugees or have temporary protected status because the federal government at some point determined it was unsafe for them to return to their home country.

Organizers of the Solidarity Walk say one goal is to draw attention to the prevalence of such immigration cases in upper New England.

“Many [Americans] do not understand the forces that drive people to flee their homelands, the complexities of the immigration system or the hardships faced by migrants,” Eva Castillo, vice president of the Granite State Organizing Project, said in an online announcement of the Solidarity Walk. “We hope to have positive and productive conversations with Granite Stators of all political persuasions along our journey.”

This is doubly important in a northern state that doesn’t normally get associated with immigration issues, Wells said.

“Among all of us there is a desire to keep this awareness in front of New Hampshire,” Wells said. “A lot of the news on immigration tends to focus on the border with Mexico, and we lose sight of the fact that these are New Hampshire families.”

The walk will be broken into segments of about three hours each, with the morning and afternoon segments totaling about 10 miles each day. About 50 people have signed up so far to walk at least one of the segments, and other volunteers will drive the same route in support vehicles.

The Solidarity Walk will conclude each days’ segments with events in towns along the way – Candia, Raymond and Lee – with walkers invited to camp overnight at churches that have volunteered their space.

In addition to raising awareness, participants in the walk want to bring detainees a direct message of support. Organizers are working on how to communicate that support to those inside the county jail as they plan a prayer vigil outside on Aug. 25.

Wells said he and others felt inspired by stories of the Episcopalians who on July 8 shouted, “Te vemos – we see you,” to the immigrant women being held at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas.

If he has the opportunity, he hopes to offer similar words of support to the immigrants being held in the jail in Dover.

“That we see you, we see your humanity, we see that you are made in God’s image,” Wells said. “And even though you are in the jail, you are loved by God, you are loved by us – that we are here, that we have not forgotten you.”

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

Austin Ford, founder of Atlanta’s Emmaus House, dead at 89

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 10:46am

[Diocese of Atlanta] The Rev. Austin Ford, who lived and ministered in one of the city’s most deprived communities, died Saturday at his Grant Park, Georgia, home.

Ford, who was the founding rector of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Decatur, left the security of the fast-growing suburban Episcopal parish in 1967 to start Emmaus House, in Atlanta’s Peoplestown community.

Moving into a dilapidated clapboard house, Ford took his time getting to know the community.  He carefully listened to area residents and responded to their goals – growing the ministry to include an after-school program, once-a-month transportation to the state prison for families of inmates, chapel services, hot meals, and a poverty rights office.

Over three decades at Emmaus House Ford was a consistent and strident voice for welfare rights, neighborhood empowerment and racial justice.

The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, said Ford was a priest who modeled Jesus’ preference for the poor and disenfranchised.

“Austin Ford was someone who believed and lived his faith shoulder to shoulder with people from all situations and circumstances,” Wright said. “He was a man and a priest who understood that Jesus wants His followers with the poor. His shoes will be hard to fill. His example changed minds, hearts and lives.”

Ford will be cremated. A time for a memorial service is yet to be determined. A.S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory in Decatur is in charge of arrangements.

Anglicans join other Christians in Assisi for two-day Ecumenical Prayer for Creation

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 12:09pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Christians from different denominations will take part in a pilgrimage from Assisi to the COP24 U.N. climate change conference in Poland, after a two-day ecumenical prayer event. The Season of Creation began as an initiative from the Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios in 1989. It has since been endorsed and recommended to the Anglican Communion by the Anglican Consultative Council; and by Pope Francis for the Roman Catholic Church. It runs from the World Day of Prayer for Creation on Sept. 1 to the feast of St Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4.

Read the full article here.

Prayers offered for victims, rescuers following Italy bridge collapse

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 12:06pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Holy Ghost Anglican Church in Genoa, Italy, says that its members living near the site of a collapsed motorway bridge have all been reported safe. But it says that “there is a concern for all who are bereaved, injured or missing.” At least 39 people were killed when a section of the Ponte Morandi collapsed. Around 20 people are still thought to be missing as rescuers continue to search the Polcevera river, the Genoa to Turin and Milan railway lines, and the Ansaldo Energia industrial area below the bridge.

Read the full article here.

New Zealand cathedral praised for its earthquake strengthening proposals

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 12:27pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Moves to re-open St. Mary’s Cathedral in Taranaki on New Zealand’s North Island have moved a step closer after receiving local approval for structural improvements that have been described as a best-practice blueprint that could be applied to other heritage buildings.

The cathedral has been closed since February 2016 after a structural survey showed that it was rated at below 15 percent of the national building standards. In addition to earthquake strengthening, the cathedral will undergo a number of additional developments and refurbishment.

Read the full article here.

With two dioceses under one bishop, first-of-its-kind experiment to emphasize collaboration

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 10:55am

[Episcopal News Service] The “least likely” friendship in the House of Bishops between the Episcopal Church’s oldest active diocesan bishop and its youngest has fostered a first-of-its-kind collaborative experiment that could point to the future shape and feel of dioceses.

Western New York Bishop William Franklin, 71, recently told the House of Bishops that he and Northwestern Pennsylvania Bishop Sean Rowe were the “least likely of friends.” He called himself “an Anglo-Catholic church historian.” He holds a doctorate in church history from Harvard University and was dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University when he was elected. He has served the diocese for seven years. Rowe, 43, has been bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania for 11 years. He holds a doctorate in organizational development from Gannon University. Franklin called him a “very low church expert in adaptive change.”

However, Rowe said, they “took an idea that came out of friendship” and a common concern for the mission of the church and have been collaborating in new ways. When Franklin and Rowe explained their experiment to the House of Bishops on July 13, General Convention’s closing day, Rowe said that the Great Lakes region is in “an adaptive moment” and that the church ought to be part of that moment by trying a new model that could free up more resources for ministry by eliminating duplication in administrative costs.

For the past five years, Episcopalians in the Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania have been sharing certain operations. They have a joint formation process for deacons, a shared board of examining chaplains for the ordination process and have held some joint clergy conferences. The dioceses have just started sharing transition ministry functions, and a Northwestern Pennsylvania diocesan staff member is now the intake officer for disciplinary matters in Western New York.

The next step will come Oct. 26-27 when the two dioceses hold a joint convention in Niagara Falls, New York. At that gathering, Western New York will vote on whether to make Rowe its bishop provisional for five years. Rowe served as bishop provisional of the Diocese of Bethlehem in Pennsylvania from August 2014 until August 2017 while the diocese had what the standing committee called “a healthy, productive period of reflection and discernment about the mission to which God is calling us” after the retirement of Bishop Paul V. Marshall. Franklin is due to retire April 2, 2019, a milestone that had a lot to do with the proposal.

How the two dioceses got to this point

In April 2017, when he announced his retirement, Franklin asked his diocesan standing committee to consider calling Rowe as provisional bishop. After talking to both bishops, the standing committees of both dioceses agreed to consider the prospect.

The bishops presented the idea to a joint clergy conference in September 2017 when, Rowe told Episcopal News Service, it initially “played to mixed reviews.” Clergy wondered about hidden agendas, and some wished the plan was more fleshed out. Rowe and Franklin told them the agenda consisted of putting the idea to them and “honestly let people be part of planning it.” There was enough of a consensus to have a small group of people from both dioceses meet to think the idea all the way through.

The results of that process went to both diocesan conventions last October and both agreed to keep moving forward. More than 500 people in both dioceses came to eight listening sessions last winter to discuss the proposal with its pledge to enhance the collaboration between the two dioceses. In May, the standing committees of the two dioceses unanimously voted to support the idea.

If the Western New York convention elects Rowe on Oct. 26, the collaboration would be just that and not a merger of dioceses. A merger would require the consent of General Convention, and right now neither diocese wants to lose its identity, the two bishops told ENS.

“We’ve never used the word merger,” Franklin said in an interview. “It’s a proposal to have one bishop for two dioceses, and for five years have a provisional bishop.”

Rowe said the experiment “is being driven by a real call to mission and being a missional church and to try to experiment.”

“The only way we’re going to know if these models work is to try them so, it’s a risk. This is not being driven by finances or trying to drive success” he said. “This is us asking, what do we think is the next best step, given where we are, and we’re going to experiment with it. There’s too much conversation about these things in the church and not enough implementation and this is a big step. We don’t know if it will work.”

James Isaac, chair of the Western New York Standing Committee, told ENS that his attitude is: “why not give it a try.”

“The pooled energy of ministry of both the clergy between Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania, and the strength of the laity has huge potential,” he said.

Rowe and Franklin met at Kangua Camp and Conference Center in 2015. “We realized that we had a very similar vision of the church,” Franklin said. “Even though I’m a historian, I’m pretty radical about wanting to do different things.”

Just don’t call it the Rust Belt

What they have in common is a love of their neighboring dioceses, which are in a part of the United States that has undergone a massive economic downturn. Lake Erie forms the dioceses’ eastern boundaries. Western New York, with headquarters in suburban Buffalo, comprises 57 parishes between Pennsylvania and Canada. Northwestern Pennsylvania, with headquarters in Erie, is composed of 33 congregations.

[The maps above of the two dioceses come from the Episcopal Asset Map. The unnumbered markers point to congregations while the number ones point to clusters of congregations.]

The presence of coal, inland waterways and a ready labor force once made the area a manufacturing center with steel mills at its core. But those mills eventually became outdated, and as the American automobile industry declined jobs were lost. Wages stagnated. People left.

The area became known as the Rust Belt, but that moniker is not a happy one for many of its residents. When the two bishops and others set up a website for their effort and called it “Rust Belt Episcopal,” they got a lot of pushback.

“It makes my people angry,” Franklin said.

However, redevelopment is happening in some the cities of both dioceses. “Both areas have seen the worst, and they’re coming back in a different form,” Isaac said, adding that it is not outlandish to use the word “resurrected” when talking about Buffalo and Erie.

“We’re trying to do church in a way that allows the Episcopal Church to survive and flourish in an area where we’ve had challenges, demographic and cultural challenges,” Franklin said.

Rowe agrees. “This is not a move to save an institution. This is not about diocesan viability. In fact, I don’t like that word,” he told the House of Bishops. “Even the smallest of places might be viable. What this is about is what’s best for the mission of the church in our region and the mission of God.”

Rowe told ENS that he and Franklin talked often about the long-term future of the church in a region like theirs. “We put everything on the table and we said we want a missional church and we want what’s best for the mission of the Gospel,” he said. “What is the best way to do that?”

Woirking out the details will take time

Eventually, there will be one staff for two dioceses. Rowe will have offices in both Buffalo and Erie, which are about 90 minutes apart, and make visitations in both dioceses. Elected leaders in both dioceses will exercise their canonical functions and each diocese will maintain its cathedral.

During the first three years of Rowe’s tenure as bishop provisional, the two dioceses plan to explore more deeply their relationship and “develop shared mission priorities,” to a set of frequently asked questions here.

“If it’s a complete disaster, we could end it at any time,” Rowe said, but he’s asked people to commit to five years “so that we have a long enough time to try this.”

Both bishops and Isaac, the Western New York Standing Committee chair, point to the possible financial efficiencies that could free up more money for mission. There is the possibility, in Rowe’s words, for “a pile of savings.” First off, a bishop search can cost upwards of $200,000, according to those FAQs.

Combining diocesan staffs will “increase the staff capacity for the same number of dollars” by allowing for more specialized staff, Rowe said. He doubts any staff members will lose jobs because both staffs anticipate retirements and other pending departures.

If some people do lose their jobs, Rowe said, “we’re going to treat people like a church does, we’re going to be good to people, and fair and help people find the next thing.”

Franklin, acknowledging that he will be removed from the equation once he retires, hopes that the two dioceses “learn to be a missional church above all; that we cannot do business as usual and that we have to do new things.”

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