< Episcopal News and Current Events -- News About ECUSA: September 2006 Episcopal News and Current Events -- News About ECUSA: September 2006
Today's Quote

A Prayer For This Web Site
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices; Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"For those who Influence Public Opinion,"
Book of Common Prayer, page 827

In our church, neither a person's gender nor their sexual orientation matter; what does matter is how they serve Jesus Christ as Lord.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Invitation to the National Cathedral

Cathedral requires advance free passes to Presiding Bishop seating liturgy

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Washington National Cathedral

[Episcopal News Service] The seating of the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, will take place at the 11:00 a.m. All Saints service on November 5, at Washington National Cathedral, the day after her investiture.
The service is open to the public but passes will be required. This is a recent change in the cathedral's policy about this service.

To request passes, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:

Installation 2006
Washington National Cathedral
Massachusetts & Wisconsin Avenues NW
Washington, DC 20016

Please include the number of passes you are requesting (limit of two per request). No group requests will be honored; no e-mail or faxed requests will be honored. Passes will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Instructions for accessing the cathedral will be mailed with the passes.

Jefferts Schori will preside and preach at the service, which will include formally seating her in the Presiding Bishop's official chair.

General-admission tickets to the November 4 investiture are due to be sent out from the Episcopal Church Center later this week or early next week.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Episcopal Migration Ministries

Share the Journey

Because there are between 11 and 14 million refugees in the world today and millions more internally displaced persons; because immigrants and newcomers within our borders are increasingly denied basic civil and human rights, and because the plight of refugees and immigrants is too often ignored or not fully understood, Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) continues to carry out the ministry to the uprooted it began over 60 years ago to resettle refugees, advocate with and for immigrants, and raise awareness of the plight of the uprooted in our church. The Gospel mandate to extend hospitality to strangers and our Baptismal covenant to seek and serve Christ in all persons calls us to this ministry.

Our network of 33 affiliate offices in 27 dioceses of the Episcopal Church, numerous parishes, and countless volunteers sustain this ministry of hospitality. As long as the crisis persists for refugees and immigrants, EMM will pursue its mission and mandate to welcome the stranger. You are invited to share the journey with all who seek safety and security within our borders and throughout the world.

EMM carries out, with other faith-based and secular agencies, a national program of refugee resettlement through a public-private partnership with the U.S. government. Resettlement is the most tangible and central component of our ministries. EMM affiliate offices and parishes in one third of the dioceses of the Episcopal Church participate in our resettlement work. Refugees are received from all parts of the world and sponsorship is offered to refugees without regard to national origin, race or religion. Click here to learn more about our resettlement program

EMM takes seriously the call to accompany the least of our brothers and sisters, serving them as companions and advocating for their protection and welfare. EMM is the voice of the Episcopal Church speaking on behalf of refugees and other vulnerable immigrant groups, advocating for legislation and public policies, consistent with the resolutions of the Episcopal Church, which enhance the protection and well being of refugees and at-risk immigrants such as migrants and those seeking asylum in the U.S. Click here to learn more about our advocacy work.

Though EMM’s mandate is principally to serve refugees and immigrants, sharing news about our mission and ministry with Episcopal congregations and providing Episcopalians with an opportunity to reach out to these strangers in our midst is also vital to our work. We educate churches on the plight of refugees and immigrants, make resources about the uprooted available for use in worship services, and provide the means for parishes to become involved in both our advocacy and resettlement ministries.

Read more about Episcopal Migration Ministries here.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Remembering Rita, A Year Later; Episcopalians Continue to Help

By: Mary Frances Schjonberg
Posted: Thursday, September 21, 2006

A year ago this week, the Gulf Coast of the United States received the second of the 2005 hurricane season's two-fisted punch.
Coming less than a month after Hurricane Katrina, Rita grazed the Florida Keys and Cuba as a category 2 hurricane on September 21 and made landfall between Sabine Pass, Texas, and Johnson's Bayou, Louisiana, on September 24 as a category 3 hurricane with winds clocked at 115 mph.

More than 100 people were killed by Rita and the storm's aftermath.

The storm destroyed homes, businesses, and the economy of several coastal communities in Louisiana, including those in the areas of Vermilion, Creole, Cameron, and Port Lafourche. Thousands of houses were swept away and local industries, especially shrimping and oyster farming, were devastated. The hurricane destroyed the town of Cameron and destroyed or damaged many homes beyond repair in Abbeville and Sulphur. It is estimated that Rita's assault resulted in 8.7 million cubic yards of debris.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Rita's storm surge reached 15 feet at the Cameron Parish shoreline and up to 12 feet at the Vermilion Parish coastline and at St. Mary Parish near Louisa, along the southwestern Louisiana coastline. The surge also swamped areas of the southeastern coastline that had been devastated by Katrina.

More than 365,000 Louisiana households and businesses registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for help as a result of Hurricane Rita. More than 110,000 registered in Calcasieu Parish and nearly 18,000 in Vermilion Parish. The combination of Katrina and Rita prompted what some called the largest national housing crisis since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

The Episcopal Church has been deeply involved in the work of the past year as the Gulf Coast began to recover from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In states that were reeling from the devastation caused about a month earlier by Hurricane Katrina, evacuations were ordered and Episcopal Relief Development (ERD) prepared to assist the areas likely to be damaged by Rita's force before the storm hit.

In the very early days of the aftermath, ERD partnered with the Diocese of Western Louisiana to assist parishes reaching out to displaced people in the region, to supply food and shelter, and to prepare for involvement in programs for trauma counseling, psychosocial care, and help with the unmet needs of vulnerable populations.

ERD also assisted with evacuation and relocation expenses, and helped in coordinating the diocese's disaster recovery activities and work with a coordinator to organize collection and relief points in the Lake Charles and Acadiana convocations, which includes the Vermilion parish and the area near Abbeville and Sulphur.

ERD pledged early on to work with diocesan partners to develop a long-term, comprehensive rehabilitation program to help communities affected by both hurricanes.

More information about the work of ERD and Episcopal Migration Ministries is available at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_77345_ENG_HTM.htm, http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_69050_ENG_HTM.htm, http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_69050_ENG_HTM.htm, http://www.er-d.org/newsroom_64626_ENG_HTM.htm

On September 22, 2005, the bishop and several staff members of the Diocese of Texas evacuated their homes and offices in Houston in advance of Rita's landfall and relocated to Camp Allen, the diocesan conference center in Navasota, Texas. Camp Allen also housed residents of the diocesan nursing home and another nursing home, and many others took refuge there as well.

Then archdeacon, now Bishop Suffragan-elect Dena Harrison relocated to Austin with backup files for the diocesan office. The diocesan offices told congregations to do the same: secure their documents and historic valuables and follow local authorities' evacuation instructions.

All roads leading out of Houston became snarled with evacuees, some of whom had to abandon cars that had run out of gas. Carol Barnwell, diocesan communication director, reported that it took three-and-a-half hours to travel 26 miles. The usual four-hour drive to Dallas was more than 10 hours, Barnwell said.

The neighboring diocese of West Texas offered to house evacuees in the face of Rita's approach.

Forty-eight hours after Rita hit, Diocese of Western Louisiana Bishop Bruce MacPherson wrote to the diocese praising the "witness of Christian care and concern, and for the outpouring of support across the diocese as people from within the Diocese of Western Louisiana came north seeking a place to stay, and in their midst, Katrina evacuees that had begun to go home, found themselves returning to the many places of shelter being provided to those who came from the Dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi."

"A major difference in our ability to care for all who came this time, was the fact that we ourselves had been struck and our infrastructure wounded," he wrote. "Power resources failed along with telephone systems across the affected areas, which were almost statewide now as a result of the two storms. This was further complicated by the failure of our water systems across the central part of the diocese, an area that has literally housed thousands of evacuees."

MacPherson spent two days trying to contact the diocese's clergy, and reported locating them all. "As I made contact with the last person this day, and having found him two states east of here, I stated I truly understood Jesus' parable about the lost coin, for he and his family were my lost coin," he wrote.

In Rita's aftermath, the Diocese of Texas began working with outreach coordinators around the diocese to get help to where it was needed. In one instance, Harrison drove in the middle of the night to meet the senior warden of a parish to deliver a check. They met at an abandoned gas station several miles outside of town since there was no way to drive into town.

Help came for individual parishes as well. For instance, St. Martin's Episcopal Church in suburban Houston raised more than $300,000 for hurricane relief in the days after Katrina and Rita, according to Sally Harvin, the parish's volunteer outreach coordinator.

The parish was immediately able to help ten families get back on their feet by helping them find work, pay bills and purchase cars. A number of parishioners "adopted" family members last Christmas and gave them gifts, Harvin said.

In the midst of St. Martin's initial work, a container of supplies arrived from the Seattle Supersonics and the WNBA Seattle Storm. The two professional basketball franchises had donated money and supplies, and coordinated donations from their fans. Harvin said she was never quite sure how the parish was chosen to receive one of the five containers the teams shipped to the Gulf Coast, but outreach volunteers put the supplies to good use. At one point, Harvin loaded up her SUV and headed to St. John's in Silsbee, in hard-hit southeast Texas, near Beaumont, where she dropped off cleaning supplies and other necessities.

All told, the parish was able to help 145 household consisting of about 400 people, she said.

While St. Martin's parishioners did much for the victims of Katrina and Rita, Harvin said they also had some experiences that will further the church's mission in the future. "We raised up a lot of new volunteers," she said. Those volunteers and the work they have done were recognized during worship services on September 17.

Some of those volunteers are now trained as case managers who are forming what the parish is calling the Community of Compassion.

"It has definitely made our members more sensitive to help in times of need," she said. "It's hard to say just where it's going, but it's still going."

© 2004, The Episcopal Church, USA. Episcopal News Service content may be reprinted without permission as long as credit is given to ENS.

IRS Goes After Liberal California Church

PlanetOut Network

SUMMARY: All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, famous for championing gay rights and opposing the Iraq war, is in danger of losing its tax-exempt status.

With the campaign season in full swing, a liberal Pasadena, Calif., church is locked an escalating dispute with the IRS over an anti-war sermon -- delivered two days before the 2004 presidential election -- that could cost the congregation its tax-exempt status.

Religious leaders on both the right and left are watching closely, afraid the confrontation at All Saints Church in this Los Angeles suburb will compromise their ability to speak out on issues of moral importance such as abortion and same-sex marriage during the midterm elections.

Under federal tax law, church officials can legally discuss politics, but to retain tax-exempt status, they cannot endorse candidates or parties. Most who do so receive a warning.

According to the IRS, the only church ever to be stripped of its tax-exempt status for partisan politicking was the Church at Pierce Creek near Binghamton, N.Y., which was penalized in 1995 after running full-page newspaper ads against Bill Clinton during the 1992 election season.

Before this fall's congressional races, the IRS warned that it would be scrutinizing churches and charities -- important platforms, particularly for Republicans -- for unlawful political activity.

All Saints is an Episcopalian church of about 3,500 -- the largest west of the Mississippi -- and has long had a reputation for liberal social activism among its largely affluent, Democratic-leaning membership.

During World War II, its rector spoke out against the internment of Japanese-Americans. The Rev. George Regas, who headed the church for 28 years before retiring in 1995, was well-known for opposing the Vietnam War, championing female clergy and supporting gays in the church.

The dispute centers on a sermon titled "If Jesus Debated Sen. Kerry and President Bush'' that Regas delivered as a guest pastor. Though he did not endorse a candidate, he said Jesus would condemn the Iraq war and Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive war.

"I believe Jesus would say to Bush and Kerry: 'War is itself the most extreme form of terrorism. President Bush, you have not made dramatically clear what have been the human consequences of the war in Iraq,' " Regas said, according to a transcript.

The IRS reprimanded the church in June 2005 and asked that it promise to be more careful. Church officials refused.

Last week, the IRS demanded documents and an interview with the rector by the end of the month. Church officials will probably fight the action, said the rector, the Rev. Ed Bacon. That would mean the IRS would have to ask for a hearing before a judge.

"You can't talk about the love of the neighbor without talking about public policy," Bacon said.

Pastors elsewhere echoed those sentiments.

In South Dakota, where citizens in November will vote on the nation's most restrictive abortion law, preachers have taken classes to avoid breaking federal law.

"I would think that that speech should not be censored and neither should ours," said the Rev. Ron Traub of the Pasadena case.

Traub, senior pastor at the First Assembly of God in Sioux Falls, S.D., said he never mentions candidates by name but tells his congregation to vote for the abortion ban and for politicians who espouse the church's values.

"When the IRS comes into my pulpit and tells me I cannot speak on issues, on spiritual and moral issues, I believe my congregation will be willing to stand with me and say, 'If you want to take away our IRS status, go ahead, "' he said. "The only approval that we need is the approval of God."

Steve Miller, commissioner of the IRS tax-exempt and government entities division, would not comment on the specifics of the investigation but denied the agency had any partisan agenda.

"It's a delicate area, there's no question," Miller said. "But we are not trying to curtail people's right to speak."

Miller said the agency completed investigations of 90 tax-exempt churches and charities in 2004 and found wrongdoing in 70 percent of the cases. Four -- none of them churches -- lost their tax-exempt status. In 2005, the agency began audits of 70 churches and charities and has 40 cases pending so far this year.

Earlier this year, IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson promised more robust enforcement.

In recent years, Republicans in particular have teamed with conservative evangelical leaders to motivate would-be voters, a strategy credited with helping President Bush win re-election. Intensified IRS enforcement could erode the relationship between religious and political leaders, according to some political strategists.

"The IRS action will hinder the ability of some of the churches to make their lists available, to make their pulpits available, to make their sanctuaries available," said Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

Others say the All Saints case will barely affect politicians' use of churches.

All Saints has been known as "a headquarters for political activity'' since the 1970s, said Steve Frank, a GOP consultant who organizes churches for political campaigns. The IRS is probably using the sermon as an excuse to investigate the church's expenditures, Frank said.

"It's not a question of the IRS going after one ideology. They're going after anybody that violates the law," he said. "The reality is it doesn't stop a minister from teaching . . . what they believe is the truth within the Bible."(Gillian Flaccus, AP)

Copyright 2006 Associated Press.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Story of Kevin

This report comes to us from Sorrels DeWoody, a long-time member of Epiphany Church (and my ride home most Sundays after the coffee hour). Thank you, Sorrels, for this great contribution. PAT

Don't start reading this one until you've got more than 3 or 4 minutes to just "scan" over it. It deserves some time for reflection.

I envy Kevin. My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night.

He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, "Are you there, God?" he said. "Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed..."

I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in. He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult. He easons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different.

Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life?

Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed.

The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.

He does not seem dissatisfied.

He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work.

He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.

And Saturdays-oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside.

"That one's goin' to Chi-car-go!" Kevin shouts as he claps his hands.

His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.

And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips.

He doesn't know what it means to be discontent.

His life is simple.

He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.

His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working.

When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it.

He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax.

He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure.

He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue.

Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God.

Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an "educated" person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.

In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.

It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am.
My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care.

Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he hasspent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God.

And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.

Kevin won't be surprised at all!

When you receive this, say a prayer. That's all you have to do. There is nothing attached. This is powerful.


"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." (Eleanor Roosevelt)

"When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen: there will be something solid for you to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly." (Patrick Overton)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Changing Times Doom Historic Anglican Parish

Changing times doom historic parish

Dave Rogers
The Ottawa Citizen

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

With only eight parishioners remaining, St. James Anglican Church may have outlived its viability, church officials fear. The region's oldest Anglican church is likely to be put up for sale, along with its cemetery, resting place of many of Ottawa's founders.

With attendance in the region's oldest Anglican church down to eight parishioners, the diocese is contemplating putting the building and land up for sale, along with the cemetery where many of Ottawa's founding fathers are buried.

The last service in St. James Anglican Church, which seats 250 people, was held on Aug. 27 and there will be no more services until the diocese makes its decision later this month.

The stone church on Promenade du Portage was completed a year after the Great Fire of 1900 destroyed Hull and much of Ottawa. But the cemetery dates back to 1801 and was taken over by St. James in 1823. Among those buried there are Philemon Wright, the founder of Wrightville, which became Hull, and Nicholas Sparks, who once owned much of downtown Ottawa.

"This is the oldest Anglican parish in the region," said Anglican Bishop Peter Coffin. "Even the Anglican Cathedral at the end of Sparks Street was a mission of St. James Hull before it was a cathedral because Hull had more people than Ottawa during the early 1800s."

Bishop Coffin, who was the rector of the church from 1976 to 1984, said the exodus of Anglicans from West Quebec during the past 30 years has prompted the need to consider selling. Three of the eight people who attend the church are from Ottawa, one is from Wakefield and four are from the Hull sector of Gatineau.

The first St. James Church opened in 1824 on a lot on Leduc Street donated by Philemon Wright.

The original church was destroyed by fire in 1865 and rebuilt in 1901 at Main and St. James streets, now Promenade du Portage and Rue St-Jacques.

The church includes an altar that marked Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

St. James is not a heritage building, but it can't be changed for two or three more years because the Quebec government has contributed to its preservation.

The church is in a prime downtown location, but Bishop Coffin said the land may be worth more than the building. The church is expensive to heat, the boiler needs to be replaced and the bathrooms are in poor condition.

He said the diocese can't afford to keep the church if only a handful of people use it and even the cost of heating the building is more than the congregation can afford.

"I don't think that there is any other option but to close the church. It is an old stone building and the few elderly people who attend can't afford to maintain it. It is particularly sad for me because I was their parish priest for nine years and the church was my first parish."

Bishop Coffin said he tried to revitalize the church by attracting new members, but that was difficult because the Parti Quebecois had just been elected and anglophones were leaving Quebec.

Rev. Charles Boole, a retired Anglican priest assigned by Bishop Coffin to interview parishioners about the possible closing of the church, said most parishioners had expected it for years.

St. Bernard de Clairvaux, the French-speaking Anglican church that shares the building, will move to a new location because it can't afford to maintain the church by itself.

Rev. Boole said there used to be more people living close to the church, but the city core is now mostly office towers, hotels and restaurants.

"There is a shift in the way society looks at religion nowadays," Father Boole said. "We live in a multicultural, multinational and multiracial society.

"Immigration now comes from the East and no longer from Europe, so there are few Anglicans coming into the area. It's a shame this had to happen, but this kind of thing has been going on in churches over the centuries which end up being in places where the population has moved away."

End Is Near for Area's Oldest Anglican Church

© The Ottawa Citizen 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Rally to Save Social Services Building in Wichita

Kansas Episcopalians Rally to Save Social Services Building

It is wrong for the government to take property without just compensation, according to the Rt. Rev. Dean Wolfe, Bishop of Kansas. He urged a Sept. 9 rally of some 300 supporters of Episcopal Social Services to persist until the Sedgwick County Commission makes adequate provision for the relocation of the agency based in downtown Wichita.

Last year Episcopal Social Services (ESS) served more than 7,000 people during 19,000 visits. The agency operates a variety of programs, including help with employment, education and counseling. In addition, it provides more than 19,000 free hot lunches a year and emergency food assistance. In preparation for construction of a downtown sports arena, the county recently offered ESS $500,000 for its building, but Sandra Lyon, executive director of ESS, said the agency will need at least $1.3 million to purchase and refurbish a new building that meets its needs.

Finding a new facility for the agency is a challenge, given the shortage of suitable buildings in the area. ESS wants to remain downtown, she said, because that is where most of its clients live. It also needs ready access to the bus transit system, since so many clients don’t own cars, and they need a parking lot big enough to accommodate the nearly 100 volunteers who serve there.

There are 26 pieces of property slated for demolition, according to Ms. Lyon, and the county has settled with only three of them to date. One of those, a bar across the street from ESS with a history of police calls for drug and alcohol violations, was offered $915,000 for its building. Ms. Lyon said the county told her it had to factor in the bar’s potential lost revenue but couldn’t do that for a not-for-profit agency like ESS. “We asked them to consider the value of what we do, and there is a dollar value to it, but they said it wasn’t possible to do that,” she said.

The Rev. Steven Mues, rector of the Combined Ministry of St. Alban’s and St. Stephen’s in Wichita, fired up the crowd when he chastised the county for comparing the ESS building to a warehouse in its appraisal process. “This is not a warehouse,” he said. “It is a recycling center, a recycling center for human beings, providing the resources so those who have been cast aside and scratched and damaged and hurt by life can find resources to help them reclaim life and become new beings.”

ESS was founded in 1988 by the congregations of the greater Wichita area with money raised in the Venture in Mission capital campaign. The agency’s building ever since has been known as “Venture House.”

Because ESS did not accept the county’s offer, the agency has been sued to put the matter before a judge for final resolution. Word of that action came the day before the rally.

Melodie Woerman

Saturday, September 09, 2006

300 Attend Rally With Bishop Wolfe in Wichita to Save ESS

300 attend rally for Episcopal Social Services
About 300 people who rallied today outside the Episcopal Social Services building were urged by the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas to continue expressing support for the imperiled charity.

Bishop Dean E. Wolfe asked those in attendance to voice their support to Sedgwick County officials who have moved to condemn building at 233 S. St. Francis to make way for a new downtown arena.

Agency officials said the $500,000 the county has offered for the building is well short of the what would be needed to buy comparable space downtown to continue their work helping the poor and the disabled.

"It is wrong; it is just plain wrong not to care for people who are important to us," Wolfe told the group.

For more on this story, see Sunday's Eagle.

As The World Turns

As the World Turns

If we could shrink the earth's population to village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following.

There would be:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 From the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
8 would be Africans

52 would be female
48 would be male

70 would be non-white
30 would be white

70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian

89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual

6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all
6 would be from the United States.

80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition

(ONE) 1 would be near death;

(ONE) 1 would be near birth;

(ONE) 1(yes, only 1) would have a college education;

(ONE) 1 (yes, only 1) would own computer.

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.

And, therefore:

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed that three billion people in the world.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If your parents are still alive and still married, you are very rare, even in the United States.

If you can hold someone's hand, hug them, or even touch them on the shoulder, you are blessed because you can offer healing touch.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can read this message, you have just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you, and furthermore, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

As you read this and reminded how life is in the rest of the world, remember just how blessed you really are! Attending a diversity circle made me question my own perceptions and those of others, with the result that I now have a more open view of the world. And, I now consider myself an active participant in diversity, instead of an abstract figure or number.

Anoush Greylord
Fond du Lac Diversity Circles Participant

Friday, September 08, 2006

Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold Speaks About 9-11 Fifth Anniversary

Presiding Bishop's message for the fifth anniversary of 9/11.
As the fifth anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11 approaches, Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold calls on all people to commit to "a future in which the events of that day will not be repeated." He also upholds the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals as giving the governments of the world a clear and workable plan for addressing "the vast disparity between the wealth of nations ... and the extreme poverty of nearly half of the world's people."

Listen/View his message here or read the full text in English below:

On a brilliantly clear Tuesday morning five years ago the peace and security many of us took for granted were suddenly shattered. Even as the tragic events of September 11, 2001 ended the way we had looked at the world, they challenged us to see ourselves in a new way.

That afternoon, as streams of stunned New Yorkers made their way uptown past the Church Center heading north, and as far away as they could walk from the devastation, I sat at my desk and wrote a word to the church. I said our responsibility was to "engage with all our hearts and minds and strength in God's project of transforming the world into a place of peace – where swords can become plowshares and spears are changed into pruning hooks."

I said that our challenge was to claim our participation in the Risen Christ's work of casting out fear, and proclaiming to all people the peace that the world cannot give.

Now, five difficult years have passed, and our nation and our world are beset by fear and wracked by violence of almost unimaginable proportions. The war in Iraq is well into its third year and a peaceful resolution seems more distant than ever. Over the past two months violence in the Middle East has escalated. A growing divide separates rich from poor, both within this nation and in the nations of the world, a dynamic that breeds further conflict and instability.
We remain threatened – as last month's foiled airline plot reminded us – by a well-organized and unpredictable network of human beings whose goal is to inflict slaughter and destruction.
And, very sadly: religion is being used not to reconcile, but to divide.

I can think of no better way to observe the passage of five years since the horrific events of September 11, 2001 than to commit ourselves, individually, as a church and as a nation to looking for new ways to pursue healing and restoration in the world God so loves. I can think of no better way to honor the memory of those who died on September 11 five years ago than by committing ourselves to working for a future in which the events of that day will not be repeated.

What, specifically, does this mean for the United States today?

I continue to be guided by the words of our House of Bishops in the weeks following 9/11. Challenging us to "wage reconciliation" in the world, the bishops urged us to "bear one another's burdens across the divides of culture, religion, and differing views of the world."

To accomplish this, I believe our nation first must reclaim its historic identity as a champion of peace in the world. At the present moment, this is nowhere more necessary than in the Middle East. Our nation must play the role not just of a superpower but also of a super-servant – willing to work in a sustained and focused way for lasting peace. This means examining our own nation's relationship to the Muslim world as recommended by the 9/11 Commission. It means understanding how the U.S. is perceived abroad. It means and working to foster mutual understanding – within our own nation and between nations – among all who share a common heritage as the children of Abraham.

Second, I believe it is more urgent than ever that the United States address the vast disparity between the wealth of nations such as our own and the extreme poverty of nearly half of the world's people. The United Nations' Millennium Development Goals give to the governments of the world a clear and workable plan for how this can be achieved. I could not be more gratified that the Episcopal Church's recent General Convention identified the Millennium Development Goals as a mission priority. Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and I will soon be releasing a joint pastoral letter on the MDGs that describes how individual Christians can work for United States leadership in the fight against poverty.

Finally, I believe this nation must walk humbly before our God. As the House of Bishops observed in September 2001, such willingness to change course "opens our hearts and gives room to God's compassion as it seeks to bind up, to heal, and to make all things new and whole."
Particularly in working for resolution to the war in Iraq, I pray that hubris not provoke our nation to stay a course that does not appear to be working, and that pride not blind our eyes to alternative strategies. I pray that in the Middle East we will be willing to try – knowing in all humility how great the task – to bring the parties together to find the peace that has so long eluded the suffering people of Israel and Palestine.

Though the challenges facing our world seem even more daunting than they did five years ago, we can place our faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to draw us always into God's work of reconciling the world to himself "by making peace through the blood of the cross." For me, the power of the Cross was never more evident than when I stood at Ground Zero on September 14, 2001. It was the Feast of the Holy Cross, and I had just presided at the Eucharist at the Seaman's Church Institute, which had already begun the task of giving respite to rescue workers and volunteers.

As I was returning from the site of the fallen World Trade Center, I entered a deserted and silent St. Paul's Chapel, an Episcopal Church where George Washington, our nation's first President once prayed.

Though the chapel is just next to Ground Zero, in eerie contrast to the chaos and devastation outside the door, everything was in its place and looked just as it should – except for a fine gray dust which lay everywhere like a blanket. As I stood there, trying to let the experiences and sights of the morning settle within me, I looked toward the altar and my eyes came to rest upon the brass crucifix that hung above it.

Suddenly Jesus' words from the gospel I had just proclaimed at the Eucharist came to me: "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all people – all things – to myself." In that moment I knew with the full force of my being that the tiny brass arms of the crucifix could contain in their embrace all the horror and destruction and grief and rage occasioned by what had happened.

Five years later, I still know the truth of this. In the power of the Cross lies our hope for today, and tomorrow, and our future. For in baptism Christ's work of reconciliation, achieved upon the Cross, becomes our own. It is costly and demanding work. It is work we cannot carry out on our own. Christ at work in us, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, supplies us with his own strength, endurance and love. And it is Christ who makes it possible for us to withstand the forces of pessimism and despair, and to be ministers of reconciliation and instruments of his peace. My brothers and sisters in Christ: in the days ahead may we be such ministers and instruments.

"Glory to God, whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Join in Lighting a Candle

On the right hand side of this page, midway down, you are invited to click and enter our 'virtual church' and light one of the candles. These 'virtual candles' are intended as a way to light your way to a coversation with God; it can either be a Thank Offering, a prayer of gratitude, to ask God for help, or perhaps you hve reasons of your own and you wish to speak to God privately for a few minutes.

When you light one of these 'virtual candles' it will stay lighted for 48 hours and although there are thousands of candles on display, you will be able to identify yours if you place your initials on it. Follow the examples given in that section. While you are inside our 'virtual church', in addition to lighting a candle, you'll also have a chance to see our artistic representation of angels, listen to bells and chimes, and Gregorian chants. I hope you enjoy this candle-lighting/viewing experience.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bishop Wolfe to Lead Protest Rally in Wichita

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas announced Friday that he will lead a rally next weekend in support of a charity imperiled by Sedgwick County's plan for a new downtown arena.

The county plans to demolish the Episcopal Social Services building to make room for the construction of the $184 million, 15,000-seat sports and entertainment center approved by voters in 2004.

Officials of the charity say the $500,000 the county has offered for their building is not enough to buy comparable space downtown to continue their work helping the poor and the disabled.

'As a result, the people who will suffer are those who always suffer -- the poor, the homeless and those in greatest need,' Bishop Dean E. Wolfe said in a statement e-mailed to The Eagle on Friday.

County officials have moved to condemn the Episcopal Social Services building and say they won't increase their offer.

They said that would be unfair to other property owners in the arena zone and open a floodgate for them to challenge their offers.

'I understand where they're coming from in light of the fact they think the appraisal is unfair,' Commissioner David Unruh said of the Episcopalians.

But he said the county's offer was based on an independent appraisal, as were all the offers for property in the arena zone.

'We haven't deviated from what our plan was at the start of the process,' he said.

Diocese spokeswoman Melodie Woerman said the idea for a rally emerged in recent meetings with priests of the Southeast Kansas Convocation, a group of a dozen Episcopal churches with 3,500 members in Wichita and nearby communities.

Overall, the diocese covers about the eastern 40 percent of Kansas and has 12,000 members in 46 churches, she said.

The rally is scheduled for Sept. 9 in front of the Episcopal Social Services building, 233 S. St. Francis, at 5 p.m.

'This is a pretty dire situation,' Woerman said. 'If we can bring some light to it, it probably would be a good thing.'

Episcopal Social Services is the only building in the arena zone that was not appraised by Grubb & Ellis/Martens Commercial Group, which had a potential business conflict of interest with the charity.

Officials of Martens Group and Hudson Consulting Services, which performed the appraisal, said they are prohibited by their county contract from discussing the case.

Episcopal Social Services provides an array of assistance, including a daily free hot lunch, an employment center, and counseling for troubled teens and their families.

The charity also runs the area's only free, large-scale 'representative payee' program, managing rent and bills for people with mental illness or disabilities.

'It serves the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable citizens, and in return, the city and county need to support those efforts that serve the common good,' Wolfe said. Episcopal Social Services 'has done its part, but the county commissioners haven't done theirs.'

Church and charity officials said they're especially troubled that the county paid $915,000 to acquire a similar-size building that housed a bar less than a block from the center.

'Anyone familiar with the facts of this situation can see clearly the inequity in how ESS's building has been treated,' Wolfe said. 'The only fair thing is for the county to call for additional appraisals.'

Unruh said the charity will get the chance to make that case when the condemnation goes to court.

As part of that process, the county will have to pay for three independent appraisers to re-appraise the property and report their findings to the court, he said.

'The judge will determine what the fair price is at that point,' Unruh said. 'The process allows for exactly what the bishop is asking for.'

Copyright © 2006 The Wichita Eagle, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Our Life and Death is With Our Neighbour

Originally posted on 22 August '06 in Theology and the Spirit.

Note to readers:
A guest commentary today from Not Too Much a blog presented by James and Brian, a gay Anglican Christian couple in Canberra, Australia. This blog entry discusses a series of talks given by Rowan Williams entitled "Silence and Honey Cakes; the Wisdom of the Desert". I hope you will enjoy reading it.


I've been studying Rowan Williams' Silence and honey cakes: the wisdom of the desert, a series of talks that draws on the wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers. Perhaps one reason why people are reluctant to be witnesses to the gospel is a perception that they should not impose themselves and their views on others. In Silence and honey cakes, Williams shows that this non-imposing attitude is precisely what is needed to win others to Christ, which is central to our own relationship with Christ.

Indeed, awareness of our fallibility and imperfection is indispensable to getting alongside our neighbours. If church people feel tentative about asserting their beliefs, that is exactly the right attitude to carry into a winning relationship with the neighbour, an attitude of journeying together. Failure will not come from a lack of dogmatism, but it will come if we fail to listen, be with and attend to the neighbour as she or he is.

Here are a few extracts from the first of Williams' talks in his book, called "Life, death and neighbours." Williams quotes a saying of St. Anthony, "Our life and our death is with our neighbour. If we win our brother, we win God. If we cause our brother to stumble, we have sinned against Christ."

(Here to 'win' is not about succeeding so that other people lose, but about succeeding in connecting others with life-giving reality.)
Living in the Christian way with the neighbour, so that the neighbour is 'won' -- that is converted, brought into saving relationship with Jesus Christ -- involves my 'death'. I must die to myself, a self understood as a solid possessor of virtues and gifts, entitled to pronounce on the neighbour's spiritual condition. My own awareness of my failure and weakness is indispensable to my communicating the gospel to my neighbour. I put the neighbour in touch with God by a particular kind of detachment from him or her. And, the desert writers insist, this is absolutely basic to our growth in the life of grace. . . .

Everything begins with this vision and hope of putting the neighbour in touch with God in Christ. On this the rest of our Christian life depends, and it entails facing the death of a particular kind of picture of myself. If I fail to put someone in touch with God, I face another sort of death, the death of my relation with Christ, because failing to win the neighbour is to stand in the way of Christ, to block Christ's urgent will to communicate with all. ...

The desert monastics are keenly interested in diagnosing what sort of things get in the way here, what things count as blocking someone else's relation with Christ. They seem very well aware that one of the great temptations of religious living is the urge to intrude between God and other people. We love to think that we know more of God than others; we find it comfortable and comforting to try and control the access of others to God. Jesus himself speaks bluntly about this when he describes the religious enthusiasts of his day as shutting the door of the kingdom in the face of others: 'You do not enter yourselves, and when others try to enter you stop them.' (Matthew 20: 13) ...

To assume the right to judge, or to assume that you have arrived at a settled spiritual maturity which entitles you to prescribe confidently at a distance or above the sickness is in fact to leave them without the therapy that they need to their souls; it is to cut them off from God, to leave them in their spiritual slavery -- while reinforcing your own slavery. Neither you nor they have access to life. You have shut up heaven for others and for yourself. But the plain acknowledgement of your solidarity in need and failure opens the door: it shows that it's possible to live in the truth and to go forward in hope. It is in such a moment that God gives himself through you, and you become by God's gift a means of connecting another with God. You have done the job you are created to do...

The church is a community that exists because something has happened which makes the entire process of self-justification irrelevant. God's truth and God's mercy have appeared in concrete form in Jesus and, in his death and resurrection, have worked the transformation that only God can perform and told us what only God can tell us: that he has already dealt with the dreaded consequences of our failure, so that we need not labour anxiously to save our souls and put ourselves right with God. The church's aim is to be to be a community that demonstrates this decisive transformation as really experienceable. One of the chief sources of the anxiety from which the gospel delivers us is the need to protect my picture of myself as right and good So one of the most obvious characteristics of the church ought to be a willingness to abandon anything like competitive virtue (or competitive suffering or competitive victimage, competitive tolerance or competitive intolerance or whatever). The church appoints to the all-sufficiency of Christ when it is full of people whose concern is not to separate others from the hope of reconciliation and life by their fears and obsessions. A healthy church is one in which we seek to stay connected with God by seeking to connect others with God; one in which we win God by converting one another, and we convert one another by our truthful awareness of frailty. A church that is living in such a way is the only church that will have anything different to say to the world ...

A Broken Window Has to be Repaired So We Can Peek Through it

A sad event ... one of the better Episcopalian web sites
Peek Through the Window was vandalized not too long ago, and disappeared entirely from the server which was hosting it. Apparently some angry person felt it should be squashed and not available for others. The Webminister is in the process of rebuilding it, page by page, but you might want to look at the repair work going on. Eventually it will all be back together again.