The Crisis Continues for Puerto Rico, and So Do Efforts Toward Relief, and Then, Recovery

Episcopal clergy and congregation members are resuming church services and school classes when they can and how they can, despite the vast devastation in Puerto Rico almost a month after Hurricane Maria swept through Sept. 20.

It was the strongest storm the island has faced since before the Great Depression, a Category 4 hurricane that spewed up to 40 inches of rain in some places in one day, whereas Houston, Texas, saw 32 inches in three days from Hurricane Harvey in late August, according to the Weather Channel and the National Hurricane Center.

Almost a month after Maria, Puerto Ricans are still in crisis mode.

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What Would Happen if Episcopalians and Their Church Put Jesus at the Center – Really?

It would seem obvious that Episcopalians have Jesus at the center of their lives and that the Episcopal Church centers on Jesus. Yet, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry challenged the church’s Executive Council Oct. 18 to deeply reflect on whether the church and its members are truly answering the call of Christ during these times of challenges from outside and inside the church.

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Episcopal Churches Help Communities Grapple with the Opioid Crisis

If someone with diabetes starts shaking and seizing with insulin shock, would you try to help? What about if someone was grimacing in pain from a heart attack right before your eyes — would you call 911?

Of course, you would, says Donna Barten, 56, a recently retired research neuroscientist on the outreach committee of Christ Church Cathedral in Springfield in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts.

That’s why Barten organized a Narcan training event at her church in September. Narcan is the brand name for a nasal-spray variety of naloxone, which revives people after they’ve stopped breathing from an opioid overdose. It’s simple and safe to administer, she says. One of Barten’s goals is to enable most of the churches in her diocese, as well as the area’s synagogues and mosques, to have Narcan and know how to use it.

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Episcopalians Flee Northern California Fires – and Help Their Neighbors

The Rev. Karen King woke up to flames in the middle of the night Oct. 8 in her Oakmont Village home east of Santa Rosa, California.

“We could see the flames jumping on the top of the ridges of Annadel [State Park] that separate us from Kenwood,” said King, who is the interim priest at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Kenwood. “We could see the fires all around us. And we left, thinking we could go home in the morning, and we’ve never been home.”

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Trump’s Refugee Limit ‘Runs Counter to the Reality’ of Crisis, Episcopal Migration Ministries Says

Episcopal Migration Ministries’ director released a statement Sept. 28 saying the Trump administration’s reduced cap on admitting refugees runs “counter to the reality of an ever-growing worldwide crisis.”

“We are thankful, however, that we are now one step closer to fully resuming a program of welcoming refugees to the safety and hope of this land,” the Rev. E. Mark Stevenson of Episcopal Migration Ministries, or EMM, says in the statement.

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Global Issues Dominate Primates Meeting, as Marriage Equality Still Challenges Communion

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is joining most of his fellow Anglican primates – or senior church leaders – in Canterbury this week for a five-day meeting that focuses primarily on global issues of peace and justice, refugees, and environmental concerns. But the issue of marriage equality has taken up a significant portion of the opening two days.

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This New York Priest Is on a Mission to Help Children Trapped in Sex Trafficking at Hotels

She strode through midtown Manhattan with purpose, her black tote bag held close as she dropped a dollar into the jangling coffee can of a street person stationed on a corner.

Weaving around the city sidewalks in her flowered pencil skirt, black flats and black tank with a clerical collar, the Rev. Adrian Dannhauser had four destinations on her list that evening — all upscale hotels where she hopes her efforts make a dent in revealing the horrific secret right under everyone’s noses.

Child sex trafficking happens at pretty much every hotel, whether it’s glitzy or seedy, Dannhauser and survivors say. The average age a child is forced into prostitution is 13. Human trafficking, for labor or sex, is the second-leading crime in the world, including the United States, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). And one in three children is solicited for sex within 48 hours of running away or becoming homeless.

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Alaska Native Villages Struggling to Preserve Way of Life Offer Warm Welcome to Episcopal Bishops

Sunrise in Fairbanks was 7:40 a.m. on Sept. 23, but Diocese of Alaska Bishop Mark Lattime had an unnegotiable command for his fellow bishops: Don’t be late.

They weren’t. Beating the sun by 10 minutes, they boarded the bus for the airport at 7:30 a.m. sharp, bringing with them their rochets and chimeres, their boxes of food to give to the villagers they were to meet and their personal expectations for what awaited them in Alaska’s northern Interior.

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Volunteers Pitch in to Clean Up Georgia’s Honey Creek Retreat Center

Some 1,300 people were scheduled to arrive on Honey Creek Retreat Center’s grounds on Sept. 17 for a revival featuring Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Instead, 30 volunteers from the Diocese of Georgia spent the weekend clearing debris left by Hurricane Irma.

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Episcopal Racial Reconciliation Event Draws Large Crowd in Lexington, Virginia

More than 150 community members crowded a middle school cafeteria in Lexington, Virginia, Sept. 13 to hear a lecture on race and civil discourse presented by Wornie Reed, director of the Race and Social Policy Research Center at Virginia Tech and professor of sociology and Africana studies there.

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Time Includes Katharine Jefferts Schori in Series on Women Changing the World

Time magazine’s new multimedia project, Firsts: Women Who Are Changing the World, features the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, 26th presiding bishop, as one of 46 profiled women.

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Irma’s Destruction Forces Postponement of Georgia Revival

A planned Sept. 17 Episcopal revival in the Diocese of Georgia, featuring Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, has been postponed in the wake of Hurricane Irma’s sweep over that state.

Fearless Faith, Boundless Love,” planned as old-fashioned Sunday afternoon tent meeting at the diocese’s Honey Creek Retreat Center, is now set for Jan. 20 at the same venue. About 1,300 people were expected to attend.

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Episcopalians Say Trump’s DACA Decision is Not the Last Word

Many Episcopalians vowed to fight to preserve the federal immigration policy known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and to support the 800,000 “Dreamers” it impacts, after the Trump administration announced Sept. 5 an end to the program.

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‘All Saints’ Movie Details How Refugees Saved Struggling Episcopal Church

After a split over theology in the 1990s, there were only 12 members of the congregation left at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee, a suburb south of Nashville. The church couldn’t pay its mortgage. By 2007, the church was in danger of closing.

Today, 130 to 150 parishioners attend Sunday services. Many worshipers filling those pews – barefoot after leaving their flip-flops at the door – are Karen refugees, an ethnic minority from Burma (called Myanmar by its military government). The church’s mortgage is paid off. It even has a community farm now.

At All Saints’, it was the refugees who saved the Americans.

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Episcopalians Face into ‘Catastrophic and Life-Threatening’ Hurricane Harvey

As Hurricane Harvey stalled over the Houston area causing catastrophic and deadly flooding, Episcopalians across south Texas are assessing the unprecedented storm’s damage while finding ways to help their neighbors.

Episcopal Relief & Development staff is coordinating with the dioceses of Texas, West Texas and Western Louisiana on potential assessment and response efforts.

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Episcopal-Supported Intentional Community in Charlottesville Embodies Radical Discipleship — and Permaculture

Cofounded in 2015 by Episcopal youth leader Grace Aheron and the Rev. Neal Halvorson-Taylor of Grace Church, Red Hill, the Charis Community is a gathering of people living together under the shared values of simplicity, prayer and hospitality. This intentional Christian community is housed at an unused Episcopal Church property. The eight acres owned by the Diocese of Virginia include a small cobblestone church, a ranch-style house, a food garden and a forest of tulip poplars and dogwoods. The Charis Community is a partnership with Grace Church, a nearby mission parish. This Charis mission is supported by the church’s vestry, and members keep in contact with Halvorson-Taylor weekly on an informal basis.

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Pressure Mounts to Remove Confederate Symbols from Episcopal Institutions

Parishioners who attended Sunday worship at Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Aug. 20 should not have been surprised that Dean Gail Greenwell’s sermon addressed the issue of racism, given the national outcry over a large white supremacist rally in Virginia the weekend before.

Those hate groups had gathered in defense of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville. What may have surprised some Cincinnati parishioners is the Confederate symbols in their own cathedral.

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Eclipse-Watching Episcopalians See a Glimpse of the Holy in Celestial Display

The Rev. Ken Brannon chose to close St. Thomas Episcopal Church for the morning on Aug. 21, because when you live in Sun Valley, Idaho, or any other point along the path of a total solar eclipse, no one wants to spend peak viewing hours indoors.

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Wisconsin Clergy Members Take Corner Prayer Ministry to County Fair

The theme of the Diocese of Milwaukee’s Leadership Days in the spring was trying new things to engage the community. The Rev. Mindy Valentine Davis decided to respond to that call by taking her cue from a Milwaukee ministry called Collars on the Corner.

Along with members of her parish, St. James Episcopal Church in West Bend, Wisconsin, she spent six days at the Washington County Fair at the end of July sitting at a booth inviting people to submit their prayers in prayer boxes.

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Episcopalians Rally Against Hate as White Supremacists Bring Violence to Charlottesville

When white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, sparking violence that left a counter-protester dead and dozens more injured, Episcopalians and other people of faith were among the most visible groups standing in solidarity against hate and bigotry.

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‘Mainstream, Not Extreme’ was Sentiment for Interfaith Advocacy Day at Texas Capitol

A broad coalition of mainstream Texas religious leaders spoke out Aug.1 against Senate Bill 3 and other so-called “bathrooms bills” that would discriminate against transgender youths and adults.

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‘Sanctuary’ Defines San Francisco Congregation’s Sense of Mission on More than Immigration

The small Episcopal congregation of St. John the Evangelist in San Francisco, California, has embraced its role as a “sanctuary” church in ways that go well beyond the current political debate over federal immigration policy.

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Donkeys Help Connecticut Retreat Center Celebrate its Rebirth After 5 Years Closed

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

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

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Houston Soccer Team Brings Identity and Community to Young Refugees

Brazilian playwright and journalist Nelson Falcão Rodrigues once said, “In football (soccer), the worst blindness is only seeing the ball,” a sentiment with which Houston: reVision CEO Charles Rotramel would probably agree.

On a mildly hot Saturday in Spring, Texas, Rotramel stands next to the soccer field watching the reVision FC soccer team warm up with a ground passing game. He sees a team that has faced more adversity in their young lives than most of us will in a lifetime. The ball glides across the ground as the team of mostly African high school students comes to life.

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Curry, Jennings Urge Texas House Leader to Continue Opposition to Texas ‘Bathroom Bill’ Noting General Convention Planned 2018 Meeting in Austin

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

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Virginia Interfaith Clergy Demonstrate in Opposition to the KKK

Over 1,000 counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia, neutralized a rally of some 30 Ku Klux Klan members in Justice Park on July 8. The counter-demonstrators’ chanting, horn-blowing and screaming rendered the words of the Klan inaudible more than a couple of feet away. A newly formed interfaith group, the Charlottesville Clergy Collective, was among the leading organizers of the counter-demonstration.

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Priest Declares ‘Last Howlelujah Tour’ with Ailing Dog a Barking Success

The priestly pup Nawiliwili “Wili” Nelson has become quite the celebrity from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Las Vegas, Nevada, and he concluded his road trip with the Rev. Bill Miller on July 16 by topping $10,000 raised for animal wellness charities along the route of their “Last Howlelujah Tour.”

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Episcopal Faith is Common Ground for Kansas Lawmakers on Opposite Sides of Political Aisle

Kansas state Reps. Brandon Whipple and Lonnie Clark would seem at first glance to have little in common. Whipple is a young Kansas transplant with a growing young family, and Clark is a retiree who grew up in the state.

Their differing backgrounds extend to their politics: Whipple is a Democrat and Clark is a Republican. But the two men have a faith connection. Both are Episcopalians and are thought to be the only two in the part-time Kansas Legislature.

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Haiti Partnership Committee Offers Report, Looks to the Future

At its recent meeting in June in Port-au-Prince, the Haiti Partnership Committee took steps that enable progress on three projects: Holy Trinity Cathedral Complex, St. Barnabas Agricultural College and St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children. 

The Haiti Partnership Committee was established in 2016 through a memorandum of understanding between the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Haiti, and is charged with assisting in the three projects. The group first met in February 2017. The Haiti Partnership Committee is comprised of a team of four members appointed by the Diocesan Bishop of Haiti and four members appointed by the Presiding Bishop. The work of the Haiti Partnership Committee continues as the diocese prepares to call its next bishop.

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Northern California Youth Trek Centered on Racial Reconciliation, Environmental Justice

A great movement doesn’t always begin with great big steps. And young people in the Diocese of Northern California are discovering that when it comes to racial reconciliation and environmental justice, the small steps they are taking may help others to understand what it takes to break down barriers and truly become the family of God.

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Sioux Episcopalians Celebrate Faith Family, Seek Oneness Through Jesus at Niobrara Convocation

It is a tiny congregation in one of the poorest counties in the United States, but Two Bulls has long dreamed of hosting the Niobrara Convocation, an annual gathering of Sioux Episcopalians. So last week, in an encampment full of welcoming smiles, few smiles were broader than that of Two Bulls as the 145th Niobrara Convocation convened in a big-top tent next to his church.

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Standing with Standing Rock Taught Episcopalians about Solidarity

The Rev. John Floberg has more than 3,000 pounds of flour in his garage. Depending on your point of view, the bags symbolize either the Episcopal Church’s mission and ministry or the law of unintended consequences, or both.

Floberg, priest-in-charge of Episcopal congregations on the North Dakota side of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, salvaged the flour when the Oceti Sakowin Camp of water protectors near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, was disbanded. It’s what is left after he and others distributed hundreds of bags to area food banks.

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Teaching Bishops to be Bishops

How do you learn to be a bishop? For most of the Episcopal Church’s life, new bishops learned on the job with little or no outside help.

It’s only in the last 24 years that the church has had a formal process for such learning. That process, run by the College for Bishops, is about to undergo a major transition.

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Episcopal Migration Ministries Hosts World Refugee Day Interfaith Conversation

Episcopal Migration Ministries hosted a six-person panel during a June 20 interfaith conversation and prayer for World Refugee Day at the Episcopal Church Center in New York. An iftar, the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan, followed the panel conversation. EMM encouraged congregations across the country to host similar interfaith conversations, and the June 20 panel was recorded on video for future use, said moderator Allison Duvall, EMM’s manager for church relations and engagement.

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Collars on the Corner Brings Prayer, Spiritual Connection to Streets of Milwaukee

Luria Sampson had plans Saturday morning, and they didn’t include prayer – not at first.

Driving east down West Center Street in Milwaukee, he was on a course for his daughter’s house, his thoughts focused on her safety in a city suffering through a surge in shooting deaths. But when he slowed for the stoplight at 51st Street, an unexpected sight gently altered his morning travels.

Sampson, 59, stopped his car, and prayer found its way into his plans.

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Goats Hired to Clear Utah Church’s Weedy Lot Become Unexpected Evangelism Tool

The Rev. Mary Janda has new perspective on Matthew 25:33. If God is to separate the righteous from the cursed like sheep from goats, Janda’s recent experience at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in West Valley City, Utah, has gotten her thinking Matthew was a bit unfair to the goats in destining them for eternal punishment.

“I mean, give the goats a break,” said Janda, the vicar at St. Stephen’s.

Janda is not alone in her newfound affection for these biblically maligned animals. She, her congregation and its neighbors spent nine eventful days in May getting to know a flock of 108 goats – give or take a few, due to one death and three births. The goats proved surprisingly useful in taming the church’s field of weeds, when they weren’t escaping and getting into mischief in the neighborhood.

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Wyoming Ordains its First Native American Female Priest

On May 26, the Rev. Roxanne Jimerson-Friday became the first Native American woman from the Wind River Indian Reservation, in the state of Wyoming, ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church. The ceremony took place at Our Father’s House Episcopal Church in Ethete, with the Rt. Rev. John S. Smylie, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming, presiding. The Rev. Tommy Means gave the sermon. Jimerson-Friday is the first woman Shoshone tribal member to be ordained to the Episcopal priesthood.

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Church Pension Fund plans Major Revisions for Greater Flexibility in a Changing Episcopal Church

The biggest changes to the Church Pension Fund in the past 60-some years are due to go into effect next year. They are designed to better serve a changing Episcopal Church and its clergy and lay employees while sustaining the fund and maintaining the value of retirement benefits.

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California Diocese Hosts Eco-Justice Conversation

“The work of saving God’s creation is nothing less than the work of God.” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry spoke these words during a May 19 sermon framing creation care in terms of the Jesus Movement here at Grace Cathedral.

“This is God’s world,” he said, encouraging those present to affirm and to encourage one another in the care of God’s creation.

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