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‘We are the Jesus Movement’ – TEC Presiding Bishop-elect

Posted on: July 6th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

‘We are the Jesus Movement’ – TEC Presiding Bishop-elect

Posted on: July 6, 2015 10:28 AM

North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry preaching during the TEC 78th General Convention Eucharist.
Photo Credit: ENS
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[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] “Now I’ve got one word for you,” the Rt Revd Michael Curry of North Carolina, Presiding Bishop-Elect, told the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in his sermon on 3 July. “If you don’t remember anything else I say this morning, it’s the first word in the Great Commission: GO!” The following is the text of the sermon:

GO! We are the Jesus Movement

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Before I say anything, I must again say thank you to you, Almighty God, for the privilege and the possibility of serving as Presiding Bishop-Elect. I love this Church, I love our Lord, and God is not finished with us yet.

To our Presiding Bishop, who has been an incredible leader—

We go back 15 years. We were ordained bishops in the same year, and this is a woman of God. She has led the people of God with courage, passion—

Now her passion is a little different than mine. I told the bishops, I want to get a little bit of cool from her.

She has been an incredible God-sent and God-inspired leader.

And I so look forward to working together with President Jennings. We’ve known each other off and on over the years and—

I’m older than she is, I’ll say it that way.

I’m probably not.

I really do look forward to working together with her. Leadership is not easy, and she has exercised it here at this convention with grace and clarity. I look forward to working with you, my sister.

And then lastly—I know they didn’t move the service up to 8:30 so I had more time to preach—but I must offer a word of disclaimer before getting into the sermon. I didn’t know what the text was going to be for today; I had no idea that it would be the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” And when I saw what the text was, all I could do was say, “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place.”

Matthew ends his Gospel telling the story and compiling the teachings of Jesus with Jesus sending his disciples out into the world with these words: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have taught you.” And remember, I am with you in the first century and in the 21st. “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”

I am more and more convinced that God came among us in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth to show us the way to be reconciled with the God who deeply and passionately loves each and every one of us, to be reconciled and right with that God and to be reconciled and right with each other as the children of that one God who created us all. He came to show us how to get right and how to get reconciled. He came to show us therefore how to become more than simply the human race – that’s not good enough – came to show us how to be more than a collection of individualized self-interests, came to show us how to become more than a human race.

He came to show us how to become the human family of God. And in that, my friends, is our hope and our salvation, now and unto the day of eternity.

Or to say it another way.

Max Lucado who’s a Christian writer says “God loves you just the way you are, but he [doesn’t intend] to leave you that way.”

Jesus came to change the world and to change us from the nightmare that life can often be to the dream that God has intended from before the earth and world was ever made.

Julia Ward Howe said it this way, during America’s Civil War, an apocalyptic moment in the history of this nation if ever there was one:

In the beauty of the lilies

Christ was born across the sea.

With a glory in his bosom

That transfigured you and me.

As he died to make [folk] holy

Let us live to set them free

While God is marching on.

Glory, glory hallelujah

God’s truth is marching on.

Now I’ve got one word for you. If you don’t remember anything else I say this morning, it’s the first word in the Great Commission: GO!

Don’t do it yet, but go!

And the reason I lift up that word “go” is because we are the Jesus Movement.

Go!

Let me tell you, I began to realize something—I stumbled into it a few months ago— while I was getting ready for Advent and I was reading the Gospel Advent messages for the three-year cycle.

I noticed something I hadn’t seen before.

I noticed that all four of the Gospels preface the ministry of Jesus not only by invoking John the Baptist, but they preface the ministry of Jesus by quoting Isaiah chapter 40: “Prepare the way of the Lord, / make straight [ ] a highway for our God”

And if you look back, go back to Isaiah 40, Isaiah says:

Prepare the way of the Lord,

For every valley shall be exalted,

Every mountain and hill made low,

The crooked straight and the rough places a plain,

And in this the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,

And all flesh shall see it together.

The Bible’s trying to tell us something about Jesus. This brother didn’t come into the world to leave it the way he found it. He came to change it until valleys are lifted up and mountains are brought down, until the world is righted the way god dreamed it. The landscape of our reality and lives is changing.

The story behind Isaiah 40—and I won’t get into all the details—is that the people of God found themselves free one day and in slavery the next. This time it was not a slavery of Pharaoh’s Egypt; this time it was the slavery of exile in Babylon.

For indeed in the year 586 BCE, the armies of Babylon began a prodigious March of conquest throughout the Middle East. Eventually they came to Palestine. They razed the countryside, moved toward and fought their way to Jerusalem, breached the walls of the Holy City, entered the city and burned much of it, and killed people. They entered the Sacred Temple that Solomon had built and desecrated it. And then they took many of the leading citizens and they carted them off to Babylon where they made virtual slaves of them.

It was a nightmare.

In Babylon they sang, as old slaves used to sing, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long, long way from home.”

In Babylon one of their poets wrote:

By the waters of Babylon,

we sat down and wept,

When we remembered thee, O Zion.

When we remembered what it was like to be home.

How shall we sing the Lord’s song

In a strange land?

And then it happened, almost as swiftly as they had been enslaved by the nightmare of the world, they were set free by the treaty of God.

See the Babylonians who had conquered were conquered themselves. Have you ever played that game King of the Mountain? Somebody’s gonna knock you off.

Or as that great philosopher Frank Sinatra said, “You can be riding high in April and shot down in May.”

And so an emperor named Cyrus came to the throne in Persia. He conquered the Babylonians and as a kind of “in your face” to the Babylonians, everyone the Babylonians had enslaved, Cyrus set free. He issued an edict of religious toleration. We thought pluralism and multiculturalism was new. Cyrus did that a long time ago.

He issued an edict of religious toleration, the Jewish people were set free, they went home, and as they were on their way going home, one of their poets said: Prepare the way of the Lord, for everybody shall be exalted, every mountain made low, the crooked straight.

And we’re going home!

The nightmare has ended, and God has changed the landscape of reality, His dream has broken out!

My friends, all four Gospels preface the story of Jesus by pointing us back to that story in Isaiah. Jesus came to show us the way, to change the landscape of reality, from the nightmare it often is into the dream that God intends and we, my friends, are part of the Jesus movement.

So go!

Now if you still don’t believe me, go see the movie.

Now I’m not commending the movie I’m about to mention because I actually haven’t seen the movie itself, but it’s the movie Son of God. It came out about a year ago if I remember correctly, and it kind of got eclipsed because Noah with Russell Crowe came out at the same time.

Everybody knows that would certainly have told the story accurately.

Anyway, the movie Son of God—again I’m not commending it because I haven’t seen it.

But the trailer is really good.

And in the trailer there’s this one scene, where Hollywood conflated several biblical versions, of the story of Jesus calling Simon Peter.

And Peter is fishing in the Sea of Galilee and Jesus comes along. Peter’s not catching any fish—and you can see he’s frustrated—and Jesus comes along and says something like, “What’re you doing, brother?”

Sometimes when you read the Bible, you gotta read between the lines and imagine what the expressions were like.

When Jesus says, “Well, what are you doing?,” Simon Peter says, “I’m obviously fishing.” And then Jesus says, “Well why don’t you put your net on the other side of the boat?” And you know Peter’s been there all day, and you can assume he probably did know something about Jesus, and knew the brother was a carpenter, not a fisherman.

And therefore, he was probably thinking, you don’t know a thing about this, but what I’ve been doing all day isn’t working

Which is a parable for the church today, but I’ll leave that alone.

Jesus said if it’s not working for you, put the net on the other side and go where the fish are, don’t wait for them to come to you—

That’s another message for the church.

So anyway, Peter takes the net and casts it on the other side of the boat and then the next scene—now this is in the trailer, I haven’t seen the movie—the next scene is under the water and the camera is looking up.

Now this is clearly Hollywood, and you can see Jesus’ image kind of refracted through the water. You can tell it’s Jesus because he has a beard.

And then he takes his finger, and he touches the water, and the water starts to quiver and shake like the old song, “Wade in the Water.”

“God’s gonna trouble the water.”

That’s Hollywood. That wasn’t in the Bible, but neither was Cecil B. DeMille, and I actually like his version of The Ten Commandments.

So anyway, the water is quivering. And then the next scene goes up on top, and you see Peter, and probably Andrew and John, they’re hauling all of the fish. They’ve got so many, the net is breaking.

Notice they listened to Jesus, and caught more fish than they did when they were doing it on their own.

That’s another lesson, but we’ll talk about that later.

Anyway they’re trying to pull up all these fish, and then Jesus comes along and says, “Peter, now come and follow me.”

Now again, imagine what was going through Peter’s mind: I’m finally catching some fish, and you want me to follow you?

And Jesus says, “Come on and follow me,” and Peter says “Where are we going ?!”

Jesus says, “To Change the world.”

God came among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth to change the world, to change it from the nightmare it often can be into the dream that God intends. He came to change the world, and we have been baptized into the Triune God and summoned to be disciples and followers of this Jesus and to participate in God’s work, God’s mission of changing and transforming this world. We are the Jesus Movement now.

And his way can change the world. The Diocese of Ohio has popularized a way of capturing Jesus’ summary of the law: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. On these two hang all the law and the prophets.

It’s all about that love.

Duke Ellington said, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”

It’s all about that love!

The Diocese of Ohio says it this way:  “Love God, love your neighbor and change the world.”

With this I’ll sit down.

I will.

In May of 1961, now-Congressman John Lewis, one of the Freedom Riders, was a young man. He together with other young men and women, black and white, were Freedom Riders who dared to trust the recent Supreme Court decision with regard to interstate transportation, seeking to end and eradicate Jim Crow in our land. They were on a Greyhound bus, 13 of them, headed from Washington through Virginia and North Carolina, through South Carolina and heading onto New Orleans, Louisiana. When they stopped in Rock Hill, South Carolina, just to fill up the tank, go to the bathroom, get something to eat, they were met there by hooded night riders. They were met there by those who would burn a cross for hatred instead of the reason behind the cross: love.

And they were beaten, many of them nearly beaten to death.

John Lewis was beaten not only there but also on that Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. He bears on his body the marks of Jesus, and so do so many others.

Now fast forward, 48 years later. John Lewis is a Congressman from Georgia. One of his aides tells him there’s a man named Edwin Wilson, who wants to meet him.

Mr. Wilson came in, he met John Lewis, and he said “I’m one of the men who beat you and the other Freedom Riders in Rock Hill in 1961, and I’ve come to apologize and to ask you to forgive me.” Lewis forgave him. He said in the book where he told the story, “I accepted the apology of this man, who physically and verbally assaulted, but this is the testimony of the power of love, the power that can overcome hatred.”

This is what Jesus taught us to do.

God came among us in the person of Jesus to reconcile us with each other and in so doing to change the world. We’ve got a day of crisis before us in this country.

We’ve got a day of crisis before us in this global community.

We have enormous challenges before us as Church and followers of Jesus.

But as St. Paul said in Romans, “With God before us, who can be against us?”

Or as Bishop Barbara Harris said—

How do you like that, Paul and Barbara Harris?

As Bishop Barbara Harris said, “The God who is behind us is greater than any problem that is ahead of us.”

We are part of the Jesus Movement, and that movement cannot be stopped because we follow a Lord who defeated death and follow a Lord who lives.

We are part of the Jesus Movement, and he has summoned us to make disciples and followers of all nations and transform this world by the power of the Good News, the gospel of Jesus.

And look at us: We’re incredible!

Have you seen all the babies crawling around this convention? They’re all over the place!

Some of us are babies!

Some of us are children. The children are right here. You can’t see them—

Hey, guys! Hey!—They’re waving—How are you?

Some of us are children!

Some of us are young people. They’ve been here.

Some of us are young adults, and they’ve been here, and they’re gonna change the world!

Some of us have got  AARP [American Association of Retired Persons] cards.

I do!

And some of us—help me, Jesus—some of us are Republicans. And some of us are Democrats.

But if you’ve been baptized into the Triune God, you are a disciple of Jesus, and we are all in the Jesus Movement.

What God has brought together, let no one tear asunder.

Some of us are labelled traditionalists—Help me, Jesus!

Ready? And some of us are labelled progressive.

I don’t care whether your label is traditionalist or progressive, if you’ve been baptized into the Triune God, you’re in the Jesus Movement.

See, we are all different. Some of us are black and some of us are white, some of us are brown.

But I like that old song that said:

Jesus loves the little children,

All the children of the world.

Red and yellow black and white,

They are precious in his sight.

Jesus love the little children of the world.

I don’t care who you are, how the Lord has made you, what the world has to say about you, if you’ve been baptized into Jesus you’re in the Jesus Movement and your God’s.

Therein may be the Gospel message of hope for the world. There’s plenty of good room.

Plenty good room.

Plenty good room for all God’s children.

For in the beauty of the lilies—Christ was the one who taught us this.

With a glory in his bosom

That transfigured you and me.

As he died to make [folk] holy

Let us live to set them free

While God is marching on.

Glory.

Glory, hallelujah.

God’s truth is marching on.

Now go.

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Anglican Communion News Service, ACNS Today’s top stories, July 06, 2015

C. Andrew Doyle: Imagining the church of the future

Posted on: June 24th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features
Andy Doyle

Photos courtesy of Episcopal Diocese of Texas

In this Q&A, the Episcopal bishop of Texas talks about his new book, which he hopes will encourage Christians to imagine a vital church that’s part of God’s work in the world.

The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle is excited about the future of the church.

In an atmosphere in which church leaders may feel overwhelmed by bad news, Doyle, the ninth Episcopal bishop of Texas (link is external), is brimming with enthusiasm and excitement.

“God is out there, reconciliation is happening out there, salvation is happening out there, and we are invited as church to be a part of that work with God,” he said.

Cover of the book "Church" be C. Andrew DoyleInfluenced by his training as a painter and by economists, theologians and organizational experts, Doyle has written “Church: A Generous Community Amplified for the Future,” (link is external) a book that he hopes will invite people to imagine the church of the future.

Doyle spoke to Faith & Leadership about his thoughts on the future of the church. The following is an edited transcript.

Q: What do you want people who read your book to take away from it?

The goal of the book is to create safe space for conversation about the future church, and to begin to imagine a hope-filled, vital, living, missionary church at work in the world around us — and to do that, not only from a framework of history, but also in conversation with futurists about what’s actually shaping the culture that we’re in.

There are huge cultural trends that are at work right now, and we can see those out in advance of us. We need to imagine the world in which we want to be doing ministry.

God is out there, reconciliation is happening out there, salvation is happening out there, and we are invited as church to be a part of that work with God.

Q: In your book, you say that one problem is that, on the one hand, we can see that our organization does not work, yet on the other hand, we are invested in how it works now. How do church leaders get people beyond that?

A big piece of it has to be to grab hold of a vision and understanding about what the future looks like. That’s the point I’m driving — to recognize that.

But let’s imagine: Do you imagine a living church? Yes. OK, so we imagine a living church. What does that church look like? Well, we think it’s going to be adaptive. OK, so that means it has to be light; it has to be structurally flexible. OK, good.

So how, based upon the economic future, are we going to empower this mission, when actually we see a scarcity of resources?

We have huge assets. The reality is we haven’t been courageous or visionary enough to see how the assets that we have can be used.

Well, we begin to understand that we can unlock the power of people and their free time to undertake this ministry; it doesn’t all have to be paid.

So you can begin to imagine the future and begin to make decisions about it, but you can only have that conversation once you do that.

If you are focused on now, then you simply are imagining, “How am I going to get people to read the lessons next Sunday?”

What does it mean to then say, “I imagine this thing, this vision of what church is,” and to begin to spend our time on that?

So if you can’t see or imagine the future, if you can’t hear the beckoning voice of God desperately in need of help out in the world, of course you’re going to be really focused on getting the leaflet done for Sunday or whatever it is that you are taking up your time with.

The other piece about this — this is so essential — is leadership formation is based upon leadership needed. So most of the way in which we think about forming leaders today has to do with how we are using leaders today.

So for us as denominations and Christian leaders, what we really have to do is imagine the tasks and the work and the ministry of the future church in order to raise up people, so that by the time we arrive there, we have them. Because right now what we’re doing is we’re always 10 to 20 years behind the curve.

Q: How do you do it differently? Futurism is a difficult art, as anyone who has wished for a personal jetpack to get to work knows.

I keep waiting.

Q: So how do you get those leaders trained now?

First off, the majority of the predictions that are in the book are from people who already see this stuff taking shape. They’re really not that much in the future.

But that being said, I think that the first piece is that leaders have to give space for people to begin to imagine that they already are equipped to lead.

We completely bind up the leadership of the church by telling them they’re not ready yet. And what we know is that creativity, innovation, adaptability are all characteristics that come out of actually doing work, trying new things, being placed in circumstances that demand people’s best efforts.

So the first thing that we can actually do is start allowing space where people could fail generously and not get persecuted for it.

And I think that as we do that, we actually begin to be more on top of the leadership that we need now. We also begin to understand better the challenges of our future context, and I think we start looking for people differently.

So as judicatory heads or diocesan ministers, we have to cast a vision for the things that we think are needed for the future clergy, which is a capacity to fail and pick themselves up and do the work, the ability to be adaptive in circumstances, the ability to preach, to talk to and captivate people.

We need vision people; we need people who can communicate well; we need people who are using social media and are digital immigrants at the very least, and are digital natives at the very best.

And that’s the kind of work that you communicate out to your leaders now. But you have to begin to drive the vision of where we’re going.

Q: You emphasize the importance of thinking of organizations as organisms, rather than in mechanistic terms. What does that mean for leadership?

We have been looking predominantly at our organizations as linear cause-and-effect models: you plug in the right stuff on one end, and you get the best correct answers on the back end of things.

And what we know about organizational theory today is that every organization has a system of causes and effects that are constantly and randomly occurring within the system, which the organization or organism is constantly at work integrating.

What we have to understand is that the culture and context in which we live is an organically connected system, and that the success of any part of our organization is deeply rooted in all of those ties and connections to the context.

The organization itself is an organism — not unlike the image and parable of the vine — growing, expanding, sending out branches. And so beginning to do that work is much more [productive] if we can talk about how we’re all responsible for it, we’re all connected to it and there are many ways we can do it.

At the same time, we know the vine is a particular kind of vine; it’s supposed to bear fruit. So our part of the world, as organic and connected and interconnected as the [larger] system, is going to look Episcopal, it’s going to have an Episcopalian DNA to it.

Q: How are you helping the congregations, seminaries, laypeople and all the leaders in your sphere of influence imagine themselves and their roles differently?

Part of it has to be beginning to change what we value. How do I begin to model that?

For example, I can tell you that average Sunday attendance and budget are huge predictors of what your congregation’s probably like. But that may not be helpful in actually unlocking the needed energy for a mission that you have.

So maybe we should measure some different things. How are you in contact with your community over the week? How many telephone calls with members of your community?

I’m just asking questions; I don’t have a lot of the answers. I’m just wondering, and we’re wondering together, about what those new things look like.

I think it means sitting down and listening to what’s going on. So we’re trying to figure out these new Christian community models that are emerging, these missional communities, or what I call in the book “small batch” communities.

I’ve been collecting stories: What are they reading? What are they looking toward? Who do they talk to?

And so for me, the work really is coaching and sharing and connecting people. It’s making myself available so that I can create some safe space for people, and say as a bishop of the church, “I’m interested in this.” And that has power to shape conversation — to value things that maybe haven’t been valued.

And then I think another big piece is to constantly be on guard that I don’t set up some kind of policy that I think is going to solve something [but] that inadvertently shuts the thing down.

Q: So people who might otherwise do some really creative things are afraid?

Or they leave and go do it for somebody else or on their own.

You know, it’s not so much that all of a sudden there are people out there who don’t believe in God or aren’t on a spiritual journey; they just don’t want to do it the way we’re doing it.

And so whose fault is that? The reality is a lot of people are on their spiritual walk alone, because we didn’t go with them.

Q: How does the book fit into this?

This book, “Church: A Generous Community Amplified for the Future,” is the thought-leader book. It’s the book packed with ideas.

In October, a second book is coming out, called “A Generous Community: Being the Church in a new Missionary Age.” (link is external) It has a video series, curriculum and resources for further reading to help leaders engage the people in their communities.

What I’m most hopeful for is putting resources in the hands of our leaders to hold conversations with their people to imagine and take on the work of the future church.

Q: You read widely, and I wonder what you’ve learned from folks such as Daniel Kahneman (link is external) and Nassim Taleb (link is external) that influences your leadership.

Robert Bellah really believed that the churches in the modern era removed themselves from the conversation around science and culture and society. What that meant was we resigned ourselves to a very small part of the culture and the cultural conversation.

And then on top of that, when we did engage with the culture, it was typically to shake our fingers at the culture and tell them how they were wrong.

Then you have somebody like a Daniel Kahneman, who is this world-renowned economist researching how things work and how people make decisions, who is not able to be translated into our church context.

So we’re missing out on some of the best organizational thinking; we’re missing out on some of the best economic thinking; we’re missing out on the best missional thinking.

What does it say that Apple actually has an evangelist and understands that it has a mission, and yet we [the church] don’t want to talk about it?

That’s a weird world. That is a strange situation, when the church abandons the language of mission and evangelists but Apple doesn’t.

So it’s not that people don’t like the term; they don’t like what we did with it. So how do we reclaim that? How do we have those conversations? How do we benefit from conversations that we’re not a part of?

As an artist, I was trained in postmodernism, which means of course not just the deconstruction of things, but it really is an integration, a re-integration, of disparate parts of things.

So you’re always putting things into juxtaposition with something else to create art.

That’s something I find interesting. Kahneman, Taleb, the maker movement (link is external), Johansen, all of those people, Margaret Wheatley — these are huge thought leaders in our community that inspire me to understand how those things that seem to be not connected actually are intimately connected.

And they bring the tradition and our opportunities for leadership into the present context in a very living way for me.

And so consequently, work around community-based research, community organizing, the health care conversation that’s going on — those conversations really impact the way we think about how we do mission. How do we serve our neighbors?

A lot of the way we serve our neighbors is either through charity models that are outdated or 1930s food-pantry models.

So the church is going to have to look at the forefront of work in poverty and health and education, and it has to step into that. It’s going to have to step into the venue. So we’d better come ready to talk and ready to listen and ready to use new forms that are leading the future of education, health care and neighborhood planning.

Q: That’s a lot of ideas.

Yeah. But we have thousands of people. My diocese alone has 70,000 people. Think of all of the Christians in the Methodist Church; think about all of the Christians, and think of the CEOs.

Imagine a CEO or a chief financial officer that is no longer only going to participate in your congregation by serving on the vestry or at the altar in some way but that actually is unleashed to use these gifts and talents that they bring to their corporate life, and to use those out in the world on behalf of the church.

So we have huge assets. The reality is we haven’t been courageous or visionary enough to see how the assets that we have can be used.

This isn’t about the church becoming what Andy Doyle thinks; this is about us together praying and opening our eyes and our hearts to what God would have us be doing with God in the world around us. And so that’s what I’m excited about.

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Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, Faith & Leadership, June 16, 2015

Richness and refugees in Port Colborne

Posted on: June 24th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

Churchwarden John Butt (L) presents Bishop Michael Bird with a cheque for $33,725 towards refugee sponsorship while the Rev. Bill Mous and the Rev. Robert Hurkmans look on. Photo: André Forget


It all started with a series of sermons.

Initially, the Rev. Rob Hurkmans, incumbent at St. James and St. Brendan Anglican Church in the small Lake Erie city of Port Colborne, Ont., just wanted to challenge his congregation to think differently about what it means to be rich. He never expected his discussion of 1 Timothy 6:17—in which Paul commands “those who are rich in this present world” to be “rich in good deeds” —to result in a campaign of giving that would raise over $33,000 toward sponsoring a refugee family to come to Canada.

“I think the beginning of the first session we did, the goal was to get people to understand that, yes, we are the rich ones, so when we come across pieces of scripture like that addressing rich people, it’s talking about us, so we need to take it seriously,” he said. “We always think that rich is somebody else, rich is always more than what we currently have.”

Hurkmans spoke to the Anglican Journal in the backyard of one of his churchwardens, John Butt, following a June 14 fish fry to celebrate the presentation of a cheque for $33,725 to Bishop Michael Bird of the Hamilton, Ont.–based diocese of Niagara.

Looking out at clouds rolling in over the lake, Hurkmans explained that he had not originally intended the sermon series to lead to a fundraiser. “I kept saying that this wasn’t about asking for money,” he said with a laugh, “but actually as we got to the end of those four weeks, people were emailing me about it. I think the spirit was really convicting people to say ‘Rob, we need to do something.’”

The church decided to try to raise $25,000—enough to settle a refugee family of four to Canada and support them for a year—in four weeks. But by the end of the four-week period, the parish had overshot its goal by more than $8,000, and money was still coming in.

Butt was quite surprised by the upward trajectory of the giving. “You usually receive your funding in the first week, and after a week, we’re all pumped and ready to go, and we all think about it when we get home, and it [gets] harder to part with your money,” he said.

“But instead, it grew,” said Wilhelmina Lange, a parishioner at the church. “It was like everybody was just catching the flame…It’s like God hears us, sees us, says yes to what we’d like to do, and just lit everybody up to do it.”

Unlike many other fundraising projects that churches undertake, the St. James and St. Brendan’s campaign did not entail events such as bake sales or dinners to bring in more funds. All of the money raised was money given.

Curiously enough, Butt, Lange and Hurkmans all said that there had not been a great deal of interest in refugee issues before the current fundraising project. It was the diocese of Niagara’s decision to celebrate its 140th anniversary by attempting to sponsor 50 refugees that led the congregation to put their money toward this cause.

“Like a lot of clergy, stuff like this comes across my desk all the time,” said Hurkmans, “but I think it was just a case of timing…we were at a clergy day, and the bishop got up and spoke passionately about this appeal for the 140th anniversary of the diocese, [that] they wanted to sponsor up to 50 refugees. Probably he’d said it before, but for the first time I think I was ready to hear it.”

Hurkmans also feels there is something about the personal nature of the project that makes it appealing to his parishioners. “I think there’s a real desire for people to have a personal element to their giving as well. I think they want to know that there is a person at the other end of this,” he said.

A growing awareness of the people left homeless by the civil war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State has helped draw attention to the need to for refugee sponsorship. “Everybody knows about the plight of the people in Syria,” said Lange, “and they’re trying to escape from ISIS, and they’re living in conditions that we don’t even camp in.”

In the ceremony after the fish fry, Bill Mous, the director of justice, community and global ministries at the diocese of Niagara, praised the parish’s generosity, noting that the need for refugee sponsorship has “never been so great since World War II,” and promising to try to help the family settle near Port Colborne.

Bishop Bird was also generous in his praise for the parish’s fundraising work. “I just have this vision of a family in Syria or Palestine or Afghanistan, and they are saying their prayers and they have no idea that a miracle is about to happen to them because of the way that you have responded to that challenge to join with God in remaking the world in love,” he said. “I’m absolutely overwhelmed by what you have done, and I wanted to be here to say that to you in person.”

While refugee issues have been a priority for Niagara for some years, this is the first time any group in the diocese has attempted such a large-scale sponsorship project. Mous said that the diocese of Niagara has an agreement with the government to undertake the project, and plans on beginning the application process in the fall. The refugee families are expected to arrive at some point in 2016.

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Anglican Journal News, June 24, 2015

Archbishop of Canterbury and Ecumenical Patriarch make joint call for action on climate change

Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

Archbishop Justin and Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul, January 2014.
Photo Credit: Lambeth Palace
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[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop Justin Welby and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew have written in the New York Times about our moral responsibility to act now on climate change.

Read the full article:

On June 23rd, the Lancet Medical Journal and University College London will publish a landmark report, highlighting the inalienable and undeniable link between climate change and human health. We warmly welcome the report’s message of hope, which confirms the fact that climate change is more than just a technical or financial challenge and confirms the voice of health in the discussion on climate change. Indeed, the central premise of the Commission’s work is that tackling climate change could be the single greatest “health opportunity of the 21st century.”

It is no surprise that climate change has the potential to dismantle decades of health developments, while also threatening the wellbeing of future generations through ongoing detrimental impact on air and water pollution, as well as food security and malnutrition. Those with little or no access to healthcare – both children and the elderly in particular – are more vulnerable to such predicaments.

However, health is symptomatic of a larger problem, which undermines and fragments our broader worldview. In addition to highlighting the effects of climate change, we must address the root of the problem. In so doing, we will discover how the benefits of assuming moral responsibility and taking immediate action – not just on matters related to health, but also economy and policy – far outweigh the cost of remaining indifferent and passive.

It is this vital link that the Lancet Commission’s Report on Health and Climate Change conclusively and authoritatively demonstrates. In short, it proves that our response to climate change – both in terms of mitigation and adaptation – will reduce human suffering, while preserving the diversity and beauty of God’s creation for our children. God’s generous and plentiful creation, which we so often take for granted, is a free gift to all living creatures and all living things. We must, therefore, ensure that the resources of our planet are – and continue to be – enough for all to live abundant lives.

The report could not appear at a more significant and sensitive time in history. This year, as all eyes look ahead to the Paris climate negotiations and as governments prepare to sign a universal commitment to limit global temperature rises, we have reached a critical turning point. We are now – like never before – in a position to choose charity over greed, and frugality over wastefulness in order to affirm our moral commitment to our neighbour and our respect toward the earth. Basic human rights – such as access to safe water, clean air and sufficient food – should be available to everyone without distinction or discrimination.

Our faith is in God as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Our mission is from Christ’s invitation to discern the presence of God in – and do justice by – human beings and created nature. Our obligation is to work together for a better world, one in which all human beings can flourish; our Christian vocation is to proclaim the Gospel inclusively and comprehensively.

To this purpose, as early as the mid-1980s, when creation care was neither political nor fashionable, the Ecumenical Patriarchate initiated pioneering environmental initiatives. In 1989, it established a day of prayer for the protection of the natural environment and, from 1991 to this day, instigated a series of symposia and summits on an international, interfaith and inter-disciplinary basis. Its ecumenical and ecological vision has been embraced in parishes and communities throughout the world.

In 1984 the Anglican Consultative Council adopted the Five Marks of Mission. The fifth of these is: “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” In 2006 the Church of England launched its national environment campaign,Shrinking the Footprint to enable the whole Church to address – in faith, practice and mission – the issue of climate change. In 2015 a clear direction has been set for the Church of England’s National Investing Bodies in support of the transition to a low carbon economy that brings its investments into line with the Church’s witness.

As representatives of two major Christian communions, we appeal to the world’s governments to act decisively and conscientiously by signing an ambitious and hopeful agreement in Paris during COP 21 at the end of this year. We hope and pray that this covenant will contain a clear and convincing long-term goal that will chart the course of de-carbonization in the coming years. Only in this way can we reduce the inequality that flows directly from climate injustice within and between countries.

The Lancet Report is further proof that all of us must act with generosity and compassion towards our fellow human beings by acting on climate change now. This is a shared moral responsibility and urgent requirement. Civil society, governmental authorities and religious leaders have an opportunity to make a difference in a way that bridges our diverse opinions and nationalities.

 

Bartholomew, 270th Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch

Justin Welby, 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan

 

This article was published on the New York Times website on 19 June 2015.

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Anglican Communion News Service, ACNS Today’s top stories, June 22, 2015

Bishops apologize for Japanese-Canadian priest’s abuse

Posted on: June 17th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

 

Mary Kitigawa (left) accepted the apology document from Bishop Greg Kerr-Wilson (right) and Bishop Melissa Skelton. Photo: Randy Murray


For more than 50 years, the late Goichi Gordon Nakayama served as an Anglican priest in the dioceses of Calgary and New Westminster. But the outwardly affable Japanese-born canon was an abusive priest, who preyed sexually on young boys in his spiritual care.

On June 15 in Vancouver, survivors of Nakayama’s misconduct received a formal apology from the two dioceses.

In 1994, Nakayama, father of the poet and novelist Joy Kogawa, admitted his history of abuse, and shortly before his death in 1995 he signed a written confession of his misconduct to the archbishop of Calgary. “I made mistake. My moral life with my sexual bad behaviour. I sincerely sorry what I did to so many people,” he wrote. Charged with immorality by the archbishop, he never again exercised ministry. It is not known how many minors were molested, and no known complaints were reported during Nakayama’s ministry.

Kogawa’s 1995 novel The Rain Ascends chronicles a woman’s painful struggle to come to terms with the moral turpitude of her priest-father.

In the context of today’s zero tolerance it may be hard to understand, but the climate of silence around sexual abuse in Nakayama’s day allowed the canon to continue for decades on his destructive path, then quietly resign from the priesthood. The abuse was not made public until this year, after members of the Japanese-Canadian community had begun to come forward.

It has taken 20 years for the elderly survivors of that abuse and their families to receive formal apologies from the diocese of Calgary’s Bishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson and the diocese of New Westminster’s Bishop Melissa Skelton. On June 15, about 60 stakeholders, including representatives from the diocese and the Japanese Canadian Working Group (JCWG)—formed to address the abuse issue—gathered at the Vancouver Japanese Language School for the bishops’ formal apology.

Lorene Oikawa, the June 15 event’s MC and a JCWG organizer, tells the Anglican Journal: “The Japanese Canadian Working Group came together when members of the community started asking questions. We began to look for answers and how to support survivors and their families.”

In a spirit of contrition and reconciliation, the two bishops took the stand to read out the 12 points of the apology, tracing the history and circumstances of Nakayama’s ministry, confession, charging and resignation, and outlining the church’s current strong position on sexual misconduct.

“We deeply regret that Mr. Nakayama while a priest committed these acts of immoral sexual behaviour,” the apology stated. “…We deeply regret this Apology was not delivered to the Japanese Canadian Community at the time of Mr. Nakayama’s confession, the charge of immorality, and his subsequent resignation from the exercise of priestly ministry.”

Expressing support for the survivors and their families, the bishops added their hope that the apology would encourage healing and wellness for all those affected by Nakayama’s actions. They committed to participation in a healing and reconciliation process. “And we assure you that the Anglican Church takes these matters seriously, and takes steps to prevent this type of behaviour,” the apology concluded.

The church’s current no-tolerance policy requires all in the church to immediately report any knowledge or suspicion of sexual abuse of minors to appropriate authorities.

“I am grateful to have had this experience, offering the Apology with Bishop Greg Kerr-Wilson and knowing that the words were heard,” Bishop Skelton tells the Anglican Journal. “This is only a first step, and now the journey of healing begins.”

Mary Kitagawa, 80, whose uncles were among Nakayama’s victims, received the signed apology. While accepting the document as a good start, she expressed uncertainty about how survivors would interpret its words as well as hope that the church’s acknowledgment would bring comfort to the elderly survivors still reliving the experiences. They suffered in silence, she said, “…isolated…they were unable to share their experiences with their parents, they were and are very angry, filled with pain and frustration.”

Kitigawa also asked why the archbishop did not report Nakayama to the authorities and why it took so long for the truth to emerge. Until recently, however, clergy and lay leaders of Japanese-Anglican churches had reportedly asked church officials not to make the abuse public. It is only in the past 18 months that clergy, lay leaders and the Japanese-Canadian community have asked the church to make public Nakayama’s misconduct and formally apologize. Church officials worked co-operatively with the JCWG on the timing and wording of the apology, which will be distributed to the national Japanese-Canadian community.

“I was struck by the suffering that has gone on for so long,” says Bishop Kerr-Wilson. “And by the little bit of hopefulness that the apology represents an open invitation so that some survivors will be able to come forward and perhaps find some peace.”

“We are very grateful to the church for working on this with us and accepting responsibility,” says Oikawa, noting that the JCWG will hold another meeting in July. “The apology event concluded June 15, but it is not the end. It is the beginning of a healing process.”

 

With files from Randy Murray, director of communications for the diocese of New Westminster

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Anglican Journal News, June 17, 2015

In a league of their own

Posted on: June 17th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

The Church Boys’ League teaches lessons in survival, self-actualization, manners and co-operation.
Photo: Contributed


In the diminutive maritime town of Mahone Bay, N.S. (pop. 1,000), a youth tradition begun in 1960 is still going strong: the Church Boys League (CBL), headquartered at the picturesque, red-and-white Anglican church of St. James. And while there used to be a number of such Anglican-affiliated leagues across Canada, the St. James CBL may be the last of its kind.

Each week, some 35 boys, ages five to 14, proudly don blue shirts with white heraldic logos and gather at the seaside church in Lunenburg County for activities encompassing sports, pet care, the environment, first aid, boating skills, canoemanship and churchmanship. Over the decades, the CBL has taught many a youth life-lessons in survival, self-actualization, manners and social co-operation.

It was started by St. James’s rector at the time, the Rev. Henry Corbin, and his wife, Barbara, and welcomed boys of any or no religious background. The group wrote its own unique handbook. “We based our book partly on the Boy Scouts and partly on the 4H Club, and we expanded it and revised it a couple of times,” says Tom Ernst, one of the CBL’s prime movers since its second meeting 55 years ago.

As Ernst explains, the CBL has an incentive system of more than 20 badges, each with a bronze, silver and gold stage, as well as six crests with 10 tests apiece. “It’s very motivating for the boys,” says Ernst.

“At one time, the CBL ran the entire youth hockey in Mahone Bay and raised all the money for it,” Ernst adds. “A lot of the boys came into the league for the hockey.” It also had a boxing program. No longer involved in those sports, the CBL concentrates on other outdoor activities such as “coasting” (tobogganing), hiking and snowmobiling.

Apart from these, the league provides a comfortable social setting. “I just like to go and hang out,” says Grade 8 student Curtis Raymond, 13, who also enjoys the challenge of working progressively toward the badges. “I joined up in grade primary [senior kindergarten], and I’ve been going every week ever since.”

According to Blane Knickle, another CBL leader who has been involved for several decades, the league used to have upwards of 100 boys. “But the population of Mahone Bay has shrunk a bit. It’s mainly a retirement community now and doesn’t have so many young people,” he says.

Not to neglect the distaff side, about 10 years ago, St. James established the Church Girls League (CGL). Every Tuesday evening, about 30 participants—ages five to 15, wearing purple-crested pink shirts—meet for an hour at the church. “The girl’s group was loosely based on an earlier group called the junior auxiliary, which kind of went dry quite a few years ago,” says Christine Wissler, one of three girl’s league leaders and wife of the Rev. Ian Wissler, rector of St. James.

Each session has a religious component, and opens and closes with a prayer. In between, the girls may engage in co-operative physical activities such as relays and parachute games or have a cooking lesson in the church kitchen. They also do seasonal arts and crafts, and sometimes they’re treated to a special talk or demonstration. “We had a gentleman come in and show the girls how to do knot tying,” says Wissler.

Like the boys, the girls follow a course of acquiring badges and crests, earning points for attendance, wearing their league shirts, bringing along their CGL book and attending church.

A large element is community service. On Earth Day, the girls help with community garbage cleanup, and the older ones help serve at community teas. “This year, the Quilters’ Guild of Mahone Bay has asked them to serve at its annual dessert party,” says Wissler. Perhaps most important are the several visits the girls make each year to a local nursing home. “The seniors just love them,” Wissler says.

 

Diana Swift is a regular contributor to the Anglican Journal.

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Anglican Journal News, June 17, 2015

I am because we are and, since we are, therefore I am

Posted on: June 14th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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I am because we are and, since we are, therefore I am

By Bishop Francis Loyo

Bishop Francis Loyo from the Diocese of Rokon, South Sudan shares his personal journey through hardships of civil war in Sudan, reunification with his family after six years and strength of his personal faith and service which got him elected as a bishop even without knowing it.

I was born premature, weak and almost dying. My mother was ill and without milk. This was the beginning of my journey to life. I was breast fed by different mothers in the village and so I believed I am their son.

After one year my father died leaving me in the care of my mother and my elder sister. Six years later my mother also passed away.

When my mother was dying she spoke to my sister who has just got married telling her: ‘Take him and care for him as your eldest child’.

I became elder sister’s first child and she took me to the village school. I was keen to learn and listened carefully since I knew my parents were not there anymore.

I did not have much demands I only relied on good will mothers and fathers who were kind to me.

What helped me was the African philosophy by Dr John Mbiti: “I am because we are and, since we are, therefore I am.” We share and we are concerned for one another in times of hardships and happiness.

‘I began learning and working hard’

My elder brother was involved in the second liberation of South Sudan. He took me to a church mission school in Juba. I went to the middle school in Juba and was cared for by uncles while my eldest brother went to fight in the bush.

My mother’s words still spoke to me as she used to take me to the Church. I remembered God is the only one and Christ is the saviour to us all and particularly to me as a person.

I enrolled in a British Tutorial College and did a correspondence [distance learning] course; I was awarded a Diploma in English and became a teacher in a secondary school.

In 1985 I was detained for 7 months without a charge and kept by the security forces as being a supporter of the Liberation movement. Later on I was released after the overthrow of the Sudanese president. I was given an amnesty and went back to teach.

After my release I received a letter from our Episcopal Church office that I won a scholarship for further studies at the Trinity College in Ghana.

I had already six children with my lovely wife Linda Loyo. I resigned from teaching and left for Ghana in 1986. I went with the civil war ongoing. My wife told me that God would care for them even if I was absent.

‘We all burst into tears and thanked God’

The six years of separation with my wife was not easy. I passed exams with the support from God himself because my mind was divided as I missed my young children.

My wife suffered running away from the enemies, facing hunger and lack of clean water and hiding in the bushes because of the war. I had lost contact with my family, and did not know their whereabouts.

“What a terrible calling of God? Why? What have I done? I thought I have escaped my challenges during my childhood but they were still following me”, I would often say to myself.

My prayer kept me alive and strong. If God has indeed called me, he should use me to the maximum and show me the right path.

In 1990 I won a scholarship again from the Christian Council of Ghana to go to Nairobi, Kenya for another three years. This time I decided to venture through Uganda and the South Sudan border where I had to pass the rebel controlled area to try to find my family.

When I entered the South Sudan territory I was met by the Sudan’s People Liberation Army/Movement and they thought I might have come to join them. I told them that I was here looking for my wife and children whom I left in Rokon.

They supported me by sending eight soldiers to go and search for my family. They reached the Rokon area and found my wife Linda and the children safe but in difficulty.

The soldiers brought them walking for 21 days to reach the border of Uganda where I met them. We all burst in tears and thanked God for His mercy and His kindness. We will always serve our God wherever He my want us to.

‘Am I the right person to lead as I am still on a long journey?’

I do not think that we have the straight answers, but God Himself knew exactly what to do with us.

After my theological training in 1993 I decided to go to the war torn areas around Rokon which was occupied by the Islamic forces of the north Sudan government

I worked with NGOs to help me to travel to the areas where most population were displaced and ran into the bushes. It was not easy going without food, water and shelter and the risk of meeting the Sudanese army.

The first time I reached Rokon area, I was in tears but not hungry. People lived as animals – no food or soap, no clothes or blankets, even no tools for cultivation. I decided to return to Nairobi and look for any organization that could support me with the items people needed.

The diocese was declared vacant because my bishop passed away in Juba in 1994, then I was made a deacon and later a priest. After six months I was elected as a bishop in a different cathedral Church in the Diocese of Maridi, Western Equatoria state.

I was in Kenya when I was elected and many people did not know me. I was not aware that I would become one of the bishops. I was not sure whether know whether I was the right person to lead as I was still on a long journey.

It is important that we can learn to be the disciples of Christ in the difficult times. Out of our hardship we bear fruits of Christ and peace to the people we serve. Humility must cover us wherever the challenges may be.

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Anglican Communion News Service, ACNS Daily Summary, June 08, 2015

Desmond Tutu: “God Is Not A Christian. Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu…”

Posted on: June 14th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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desmond-tutu

In this exclusive interview with Real Leaders, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and social rights activist Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says he is not threatened by the beliefs of others. He believes the world should become more aware of our shared humanity to avoid future conflicts.

You represent a very specific world view, Christianity, yet have managed to mediate between opposing belief systems and make people aware of their common humanity. How have you managed this?

It doesn’t matter where we worship or what we call God; there is only one, inter-dependent human family. We are born for goodness, to love – free of prejudice. All of us, without exception. There is greater commonality in our belief systems than we tend to credit, a golden thread expressed in the maxim that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. I don’t believe in the notion of “opposing belief systems.” It would be more accurate to say that human beings have a long history of rationalizing acts of inhumanity on the basis of their own interpretations of the will of God.

In your view, what does the world need more of in order to become more peaceful?

Our failure to recognize the humanity in others lays the foundations for selfishness rather than selflessness. It leads to gross inequity and hideous disparities in qualities of life – and, often, the degradation of environments in which relatively poor people live. A world that recognizes the equal worth and vulnerabilities of all its people will be a much more peaceful place.

Has the role of religion changed over the last 10 years?

Peoples’ interpretation of religion can change, but I don’t believe the role of religion is changeable. Religion does not just concern one’s personal relationship with God; it’s more about the manner in which we interact with others – about our broader responsibilities to the human family and the earth we share.

Figures suggest many young people are turning away from the church. Is it possible to be a good human being without being religious? 

Much as I’d love to see all the world’s churches, mosques, synagogues and temples overflowing with humanity, how good we are is not measured by the number of times we attend formal religious ceremonies. Among the most heartening trends I have noticed on my travels over the past dozen or so years has been the spiritual strength of young people. They don’t necessarily occupy the front pews on Sunday, but they seem to have been born with an enhanced sense of tolerance and a deep understanding of our inter-dependence, on each other and a functional world.

The phrase “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist” has been used by various people and political groups across the world to justify their actions. How do you reconcile such opposing viewpoints in people who are all convinced they are fighting for freedom?

Many have argued that people committing acts of violence in pursuit of just objectives should be regarded as freedom fighters, not terrorists. Nelson Mandela is a leading recent example of this dual identity. He was undoubtedly a freedom fighter who, at a particular stage in the struggle against apartheid, concluded that non-violent means of struggle were failing to achieve democracy and convinced his organization to take up arms. Although the resistance army that he commanded initially targeted infrastructure, rather than people – and was ultimately of significantly greater symbolic than military value to the liberation cause – Mandela and his comrades were branded terrorists at home and abroad. I don’t believe there is ever a valid justification for violence, it only begets more violence. Where people are not free they should struggle for their freedom through non-violent means. In the 1970s and 1980s, with the help of our friends abroad, South Africans developed a non-violent toolbox of boycott, sanctions and divestment. Together with mass resistance – people swimming together in pursuit of a righteous cause are unstoppable – we brought the apartheid state to its knees.

What role should business be playing in solving serious social issues?  

Corporations have wider responsibilities than enriching their shareholders; the pursuit of profits “at any cost” to people and the environment is morally bankrupt and destroying the earth. By considering the effect of their enterprise on others, and embracing a sustainable and more equitable future, corporations become active agents for social change, for societal good. It is not charity or philanthropy that I’m speaking about, and it goes beyond corporate social investment. It’s about the necessity of developing a world in which all feel valued, in which the dignity of all is taken into account. It’s the new way of thinking: Practice it at home and unleash it in your communities, your organizations, associations and boardrooms. Consider it in your negotiations and your contracts. Consider the effects on others. This consideration will not just benefit others’ (though there’d be nothing wrong with that!). It will benefit all in the village. Conducting business ethically need not equate to a reduction in profits.

Was there a personal “aha” moment growing up, when you realized that you wanted to make a positive difference in the world?

The closest I can think of to an “aha” moment occurred in my childhood, when a white priest greeted my mother politely in the street. The same priest, Father Trevor Huddleston, later visited me regularly when I nearly succumbed to tuberculosis. He taught me invaluable lessons about the human family; that it doesn’t matter how we look or where we come from, we are made for each other, for compassion, for support and for love. I called my son Trevor, and Bishop Huddleston, as he later became known, went on to lead the International Anti-Apartheid Movement.

What makes you the most frustrated and angry? 

I get frustrated when people fail to achieve their potential, or get in the away of others reaching for their dreams.

What makes a good leader?  

In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela told of the lessons about leadership learned in his youth from the acting King of the Thembu people, who was his guardian following the death of his father. He described how King Jongintaba would always listen to the views of everyone else present before speaking himself. Mandela compared good leaders to shepherds walking behind their flock. The sheep think they are following the one in front of them, when, in fact, they’re being directed from behind. But there were times that required the shepherd to walk out in front. His secret decision to initiate talks with the apartheid government was such a time, he wrote. Mandela’s lessons about leadership are applicable to all spheres of life. They are based on a consideration of the views and dignity of others.

What is the key to overcoming future conflicts?

The key to overcoming conflict is to treat others as we would have them treat us. Or, conversely, not to treat anyone as we would, ourselves, not wish to be treated.

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Anglican Communion News Service, ACNS Daily Summary, June 08, 2015

A school that’s ‘like a home’

Posted on: June 13th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Theresa Walker spent most of her life hosting vacationers on a ranch in the B.C. interior—now, at 84, she is hoping to finish her Grade 12. Photo: André Forget


In the basement of St. George’s Anglican Church in Kamloops, B.C., Theresa Walker, a parishioner at St. Paul’s Cathedral, is studying math. As she looks over the exercise sheet in front of her, she explains that she’s working toward her high school diploma.

“I’d like to get my Grade 12, if I can do the math,” she says, smiling. “So far it’s been okay, but we’ll see.”

In a lot of ways, Walker is like the others who gather in the basement of St. George’s throughout the week to attend Street School, a nine-year-old program designed to help adults finish high school or upgrade their skills; but there is one way in which she is quite different: she will soon be celebrating her 85th birthday.

“The most important thing to me is the opportunity to learn,” says Walker, who left school as a child and spent most of her life running a bed and breakfast on a ranch in the B.C. interior and raising four children. “I was sitting in the apartment, and there didn’t seem to be much purpose in life, and to be able to come here and all of a sudden you’re learning? It’s just incredible.”

The program, started by teacher and literacy activist Pete Grinberg, has been renting space from St. George’s since 2007, although the church is not directly involved in running the program. From nine students and one graduate in its first year, Street School has grown to involve close to 450 students a year, with around 50 graduating.

Erika Dabner has been teaching at Street School for five years, and says she much prefers it to traditional high school teaching. “In a high school setting, students don’t always want to be there,” she says. “Here we have the luxury of people who are coming to us because they need courses, they need to graduate—whatever their need is, we’re in a position where we can hopefully help.”

One of the things that makes Street School unique among adult education programs, Dabner adds, is its employment of a full-time outreach worker, Tonia Gillespie, who “supports our students in any way that they ask that will then help them to come to school.”

While Walker returned to school late in life out of a desire to learn, many of the students are at Street School because they were unable to succeed in the mainstream education system.

Gillespie, who has been in the role for eight years, stresses that academic success hinges on a number of factors. “I came in a year after the program initially started, because it was seen quite quickly that with a marginalized population, there’s usually a lot more coming in the door with them, and reasons why they haven’t finished school in the first place,” she says. “[We’re] looking at all of those different types of barriers and how we can support them in learning and increasing their literary skills.”

That morning, for example, Gillespie had been working with a student who was recently released from Kamloops Regional Corrections Centre and had just found out that his teenage girlfriend was pregnant. Gillespie was trying to connect him and his girlfriend to community services that would help support both of them as they prepare for their child’s arrival.

Other students deal with mobility issues, or are kept from regular attendance by work, or are out on probation and in need of food and shelter.

Because of Gillespie’s work, Street School has become a haven for students like this—young women and men for whom education is just one part of building a stable and happy life.

“In high school, the classes are crowded, there’s no one-on-one. I see the young people here, and it makes a difference that you come in, the teachers sit with them, they can have a meal, they can have a cup of coffee or tea, which helps them relax,” she says. “It’s like a home.”

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Anglican Journal News, June 12, 2015

Ashcroft lay ministry turns to early church for inspiration

Posted on: May 30th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Lois Hill, Martina Duncan, David Durksen, Sylvia Strathearn and Karyn Bryson of St. Alban’s Anglican Church discuss shared ministry over brunch at the Blue Sage Bed and Breakfast in Ashcroft. Photo: André Forget


Soft morning light streams into the second-floor windows of the Blue Sage Bed and Breakfast in Ashcroft, B.C.

Sitting around a table laden with fruit, biscuits, jam and fresh coffee, Karyn Bryson, Lois Hill, Sylvia Strathearn, David Durksen and Martina Duncan discuss the collaborative approach to ministry they have been pioneering over the past few years at St. Alban’s Anglican Church, a stone’s throw to the south.

“Do you remember the days when we used to suffer through sermons?” Bryson asks, to general laughter.

“And you’d walk out after and wonder what was the subject of the sermon? I don’t remember anything…” adds Hill. “It’s not like that anymore.”

Why not? In another setting, one might assume it had something to do with flashier tech, louder music, perhaps a big-name, blue-jeans-wearing preacher video streamed in from a Toronto mega church. But this seems unlikely in Ashcroft, where the churches are small and the faded heritage of the old west is everywhere.

No, Bryson and Hill are talking about something both more prosaic and more profound: a return to a practice of church that is rooted in a rich theological understanding of what the church is for.

“In the first-century church, everybody that did ministry was recognized by the congregation,” Durksen explains. “So if you wanted prayers for healing or you needed to learn about the gospel, or whatever, everybody would go to [the individual] who could do that. And if that person wasn’t there, there was somebody else who would do that. And that first-century approach is really what’s here—lay gifts and the recognition of lay gifts.”

Inspired by this approach, St. Alban’s has turned their sermons into opportunities for people to learn and be engaged by the teaching that is happening from the pulpit—after the sermon (or “reflection,” as they prefer to call it) is given, the entire congregation responds with their thoughts and insights.

“I think some of the formation for our congregation really happens in the reflection time, because it doesn’t matter which one of us is up there—there’s learning going on, and we’re being fed by what we’re learning,” said Duncan, who is currently undergoing postulancy towards ordination with another St. Alban’s parishioner, Angus Muir.

But lay leadership is not just about the services themselves; it is about the general attitude the church has toward its place in the community.

“The wonderful thing to me about St. Alban’s is that they are a group of people who really want to worship together,” says Durksen. “But they’re not only committed to worship, but to service. So everyone is doing something outside as well as inside.”

The example everyone at the table mentions first is Soup’s On, a lunch program they offer every Friday. While soup kitchens are a common way for churches to meet the needs of their communities, Soup’s On is a little different. Not only does it bring in volunteers from across the community, it is also open to everyone, regardless of need.

Hill, who moved to Ashcroft from Dawson Creek with her husband, Ken, several years ago, said this confused her a fair bit at first. “When we first came here and somebody who I know has no financial need invited me to Soup’s On, I thought, ‘you’re taking food away from the needy!’ I didn’t realize it was a community event,” she chuckled.

“It’s a community connections program,” Duncan explained. “So people who are new to the community come there and they get to meet other people.”

But as Durksen pointed out, it isn’t just newcomers who participate. “The village workers, when they’re having a union meeting, will most often have it at noon on a Friday, and they have it at the soup kitchen…It bridges all the strata of the community for a couple of hours once a week.”

St. Alban’s did not, however, always enjoy such strong lay leadership and participation. Like many other small-town churches, it had suffered a decline in population over the past few decades, but this had been exacerbated by an abuse scandal involving a former priest. By the mid-2000s, St. Alban’s had only seven regular worshippers.

“We had dwindled and we were hanging on by the skin of our teeth,” Martina said.

Things began to change when the Rev. Dan Hines arrived in 2007 and started encouraging the community to think differently about what it meant to be a church, and to see themselves as partners in leadership. With an influx of a few more couples dedicated to keeping the church alive, St. Alban’s began to grow again. It now has a regular worshipping congregation of 27, seven of whom are lay ministers of word and sacrament.

Hines left in 2014, but the spirit of his work and teaching is palpable in the conversation over brunch.

“For me, [the change] really crystallized around something Dan Hines said,” Durksen says at one point. “If you look at the ministry of Jesus, you’re looking at a ministry of radical oneness…how do we give expression and give life to that oneness, and let go of the duality that exists all around us? [Hines] led us into that, and I think we’re really starting to move along that path strongly now.”

It is a path on which Duncan and Muir are hoping to continue once they have completed their postulancy.

“That leadership won’t change once Angus and I are ordained,” she said, explaining that even though they will be present every Sunday, “there will be Sundays where we’re not presiding at the service, so then we’ll be using reserved sacrament.”

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Angus Muir as Martina Duncan’s husband. 

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Anglican Journal News, May 29, 2015