Archive for the ‘General’ Category

‘In remembrance of me’

Posted on: September 10th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Fred Hiltz

 

This column first appeared in the September issue of the Anglican Journal.

This summer I had some extraordinary experiences of eucharist in stately cathedral churches, in a teepee set up in a gymnasium in Kingfisher Lake, Ont., and several lovely old parish churches celebrating milestone anniversaries in the service of the gospel.

One celebration I’ll never forget was in the outdoor chapel of St. Francis at the Sorrento Centre on the shores of beautiful Lake Shuswap in the interior of British Columbia.

It was Friday of the third week of programming. Our work, our learnings and our prayers were to be offered up at this eucharist. As everyone gathered, there was an air of anticipation.

Just before the celebration began, the chair of the board of the Sorrento Centre broke the news that its much-loved executive director, Christopher Lind, had died earlier in the day. Many were moved to tears. Chris had helped the centre renew its mission as “a place of transformation—a place for learning, healing and belonging” and had launched a capital campaign with an eye to “The Next Fifty Years.” 

I was invited to lead the congregation in prayers and when I finished, the beautiful “Pie Jesu” from Fauré’s Requiem was sung. The Liturgy of the Word and a reflection concluded with everyone singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

At the offertory, a blanket was spread on the ground in front of the altar and the children were invited to come forward and sit. As they came, the priest gave them either a plate of bread or a cup of wine. Kneeling on the blanket with them, he was barely visible, but we could hear him praying the Great Thanksgiving. As he came to the words of institution, Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, we could see a host of little arms holding up the gifts. As he prayed for the Spirit’s blessing that the bread and wine become for us the body and blood of Christ, the children, with great reverence, elevated the gifts. 

When the prayer was finished they returned to their families, beaming!  After all, they had helped us recall the love of Jesus laid down for all.

Styled as a picnic eucharist, this liturgy had all the flow of good order and every space for the Spirit’s whispering and hovering over bread and wine. It had all the grace of a place for everyone at this sacred meal and all the truth about Jesus’ love for children and their delight in the wonders of God’s love.

Having received holy communion that day, I was moved to ponder afresh how great a mystery it is, and cherish anew this food so awesome and so sweet.

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Anglican Journal News, September 5, 2014

Bugandan P.M. visits Canadian church

Posted on: August 31st, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

By Leigh Anne Williams

 

Prime Minister Charles Peter Mayiga of the Kingdom of Buganda in Uganda with Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa, Africa relations co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Canada at the church’s national offices in Toronto. Photo: Leigh Anne Williams


The prime minister and a delegation of officials from the Kingdom of Buganda in Uganda visited the national offices of the Anglican Church of Canada in Toronto today, as a part of the Canadian leg of an international tour to the U.K., Sweden, Canada and the U.S.

Prime Minister Charles Peter Mayiga told the Anglican Journal that the tour is part of an effort by the kingdom to connect with the Bugandan diaspora and build support for various projects. He explained that the Kingdom of Buganda is a legal entity, recognized in the constitution. “Under [Ugandan] law, we can extend social services such as education and health, but we do not participate directly in politics,” he said.

Mayiga said that Bugandans are “keen believers” and the support of the churches is essential. “If in my position, I don’t get the backing of the religious groups, then I may not make a lot of progress.” The kingdom is “deeply involved” with Anglican, Catholic and Pentecostal churches and the Islamic faith, he added. “They make my work a lot easier to be honest with you.” He said churches own the largest and best schools and hospitals. “But there is still much more need,” he said.

Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa, Africa relations co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Canada, guided the prime minister and his delegation around the Toronto offices of the national church. “He’s a son of the soil as we say back home, so when we interface with him, indirectly we are reaching out to so many other people,” said Mayiga.

The Kingdom of Buganda is going through “a period of rejuvenation and reconstruction,” said Mayiga. He noted that the kingdoms were abolished in 1966 and not restored until 1993. Historical sites, such as the tombs of kings, were destroyed during wars. The kingdom is now focusing on reconstructing the site and raised about US$2 million through domestic contributions to do it and now hopes that people outside the country will contribute.

Much of the kingdom’s funding comes from the land it owns, he said. “We raise some money from the land — through rentals and premiums and ground rents and also we have started some projects that generate some income.”

Aside from the historical reconstruction, priorities for the kingdom include health services, vocational education, and promoting the production of coffee and staple foods. “Prosperity comes with productivity really, and people must have an income,” he said. Mayiga noted that 85% of the population is in rural areas and are farmers. “You’ve got to help them market the produce and get good money for what they do. You must ensure that they’ve got food. You must ensure they get some skills—vocational education— and they are in good health to do all these things,” he said.

“That’s why we visited [Toronto’s] Sick Kids Hospital, to learn from them,” he added. “Of course, they are big, but what is important for us is to start. Once you start you shall get there in good time.”

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Anglican Journal News, August 29, 2014

 

 

 

 

Justice Camp 2014

Posted on: August 25th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

By Henriette Thompson

1097231_402060129914683_474365982_oJustice Camp 2014 has ended. As I write, a few final good-byes are being said.

On Wednesday, newly returned from an immersion visit of 14 people to the oil/tar sands of northern Alberta, I was bereft of words when asked, “How did the immersion go?” Today, I have begun to find some words to reflect in a small way on a 3-day immersion in complexity.

Scriptural exegesis led by Justice Camp theologians, Stephen Martin and Sylvia Keesmaat illuminated land as a living creation with all its God-given agency. The land generates and yields its fruit, it suffers violence, and it praises God through its vast creaturely choir. Land, people, and God are constantly referenced to each other throughout the biblical narrative.

Several days ago, while peering into and across the hollowed out Earth from a platform inside the operations of Syncrude where for miles around the top soil and overburden have been removed so that the bitumen could be extracted, the Earth lay exposed. There was no sign of life 360 degrees around from where we stood. I felt a growing pit in my stomach. A visit to a reclamation area where the top soil, plants and trees had been replanted didn’t diminish my unease.

We met with staff members at the Mikisew Cree consultation office and, later, with elders and staff at Fort McKay First Nation on Treaty 8 lands. They described, with feeling, the enormous tension between the disappearance of traditional land and way of life and the opportunities for young people to get skilled jobs in the energy sector, and for communities to increase their standard of living.

Meanwhile, the Cree and Dene of these communities in northern Alberta express fear of their own extinguishment in the land, and are consigned to a postage stamp area of land surrounded by sections marked for further development. Communities living downstream from tailings ponds are recording higher rates of certain kinds of cancers and health effects of poor air quality. A sense of anomie and displacement prevails in the stories of elders and youth. “I am homesick for home,” said one young woman who lives and works in her community.

“Placelessness” is a symptom of our time, says writer and farmer, Wendell Berry. In the Athabasca region, place as a “load and go”, profit-driven enterprise has served as the pretext for industrializing top grade farmland and removing oxygen-producing boreal forests to extract bitumen. In other places such as Halton Hills (Credit River watershed) where I live, placelessness serves to encourage ongoing (sub)urban sprawl, the loss of agricultural land and local species.

To take on these issues globally is overwhelming. One growing response to these complex issues is to care for one of the “millions of small pieces and parcels of land, each one of which is in some precious way different from all the others.” Who else, but the Cree and Dene of the Athabasca River watershed will know the value and uses of varieties of medicinal rat root in the boreal forest of northern Alberta? Gaining ground since the 1980s is a tradition called “bioregionalism.” It refers to “a place defined by its life forms, its topography, and its biota, rather than by human dictates…” More recently, American theologian Ched Myers has promoted the practice of watershed discipleship which, in turn, is gaining support through KAIROS and its member churches and agencies in Canada. Myers quotes an 1860s definition of watershed by John Wesley Powell as “that area of land, bounded by a hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course, and where, as humans settled…they become part of the community.” A watershed discipleship approach to the Athabasca River watershed, a basin within which the oil/tar sands reside, is nothing new to the Cree, Dene, and indeed the Mi’kmaq, the Maliseet and other nations whose lives have always reflected the deep integration of Creator, people and land. This makes effective consultation with extraction companies and government even more critical from the outset. While early consultation with affected First Nations is improving, there is still a way to go. And overall, the call for no new approvals of mining operations goes unheeded. God meets us in the wilderness of our times, and tests and teaches us. What I have been reminded of in a deeper way with my companions in the past week is that God’s story is good and hopeful. My own consumption of the Earth’s resources needs to be re-examined in light of how it increases demand fossil fuels. Anglicans can join an active and growing movement to rein in our dependence on fossil fuels and continue to green our sacred spaces and gatherings. We need to grow our understanding of and support for treaty rights. And, as people of faith we are called to a radical new obedience to care for the Earth in the smaller precious places within the larger world.

Henriette Thompson

About Henriette Thompson

Henriette Thompson serves as Director of Public Witness for Social and Ecological Justice for the Anglican Church of Canada.

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Weekly update from The Community, August 25, 2014

NMC Summer School 2014 – Its A Wrap!

Posted on: August 24th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

NMC SUMMER SCHOOL 2014 – IT’S A WRAP!

80 students, faculty and tutors gathered for the 29th annual Native Ministries Consortium summer school July 7–18 this year. The unanimous NMC decision to hold summer school regardless of the VST temporary relocation to interim space in Epiphany Chapel and St. Andrew’s Hall proved to be a wise one. It provided a sense of continuity to have this unbroken tradition of culturally appropriate training for Indigenous lay and ordained students taking place as usual at VST. 

Classes in 21st Century Theology, Christology, Indigenous Ways of Knowing, Reconciliation Inside and Out, Christian Ethics, Cultural Interpretation of the Bible and two courses in Christian Education provided MDiv and other credits for over fifty students, fourteen of whom are in the Master of Divinity degree by extension which VST has delivered for almost thirty years. 

Public events included a concert by noted Indigenous Christian singer-songwriter Cheryl Bear Barnetson and lectures by Indigenous Governance Professor Jeff Corntassel and Lakota Studies Professor Clifford Canku. The ability to share meals together, especially the NMC salmon barbecue and the University Hill United Church dinner, was an important element of a successful summer school. Three special guests also participated: Melissa Skelton, Bishop of New Westminster, Mark Manterfield from the Fellowship of the Maple Leaf in the UK and Greg Rickel, Bishop of our neighboring Episcopal Diocese of Olympia.

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Vancouver School of Theology e-newsletter, At A Glance, July 2014

Primate pays tribute to deacons

Posted on: August 24th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

By Cydney Proctor

 


Deacons are “the feet, the hands, the heart, the voice of Jesus…you are that salt, that flavours for good, ” Archbishop Fred Hiltz told members of the Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada, which met recently in Halifax. Photo: Cydney Proctor


 

The Association of Anglican Deacons in Canada (AADC) doesn’t meet very often—not since 2011, in fact, but that changed in August. A group of about 55 deacons from a dozen dioceses from all across Canada met in Halifax August 14 to 16 to examine what their vocation means and to support each other in that ministry.

In the Anglican Church of Canada, there are about 340 ordained vocational deacons who work in the parish context and do not draw a salary. In the ordination process, the bishop sums up the role and duties of a deacon by saying, “God now calls you to a special ministry of servanthood…You are to study the Holy Scriptures, to seek nourishment from them, and to model your life upon them.”

The association was formed in 2003 after the need for a community of Canadian deacons became clear a few years prior to the 1999 meeting of the North American Association of the Diaconate (NAAD). It has since hosted five conferences across the country and its membership has grown to 77. Members of the AADC can also become members of its sister organization, the Association of Episcopal Deacons (AED), formerly part of NAAD. Five members of the EDC have joined the AADC to support their Canadian counterparts.

The 2014 conference, Servants by the Sea, opened with an address from the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, who spoke passionately about what deacons are called to do, including to struggle against poverty and inequality. “What I want to dwell on is your ministry in the name of the compassionate Christ,” said Hiltz. “In all you do, to those you tend, you are the feet, the hands, the heart, the voice of Jesus…you are that salt, that flavours for good. Thank you for all you do.”

Through a series of workshops, deacons spoke about the different facets and challenges of their vocation. In Faith and Christian Belief in a Public Forum, a workshop given by the Honourable Mayann Francis, former lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia, participants discussed the difficulties and joys of living out their diaconal ministries in their jobs and non-church lives. This includes the challenge of telling co-workers about their Christian beliefs and calling. For Francis, it all came down to saying, “I could not be a servant without God.”

The Rev. Peter Armstrong spoke about team ministry and the challenges that priests may find working with deacons, and vice versa. There was discussion on how different kinds of vocation might beautifully complement each other but also generate friction. There were also workshops about the rosary, the spirituality of art, deacons in the liturgy and missions to seafarers.

“Fellowship and connection with other deacons is so necessary, almost crucial to stay inspired and motivated to do our work in the world,” said the Rev. Kate Ann Follwell, Christ Church, Belleville, in an interview. “I was inspired by the diversity of callings, motivations and time spent in so many different and unique areas of need covered by the deacons across Canada.”

A couple of archdeacons also attended the event: the Ven. John Struthers from the diocese of New Westminster and the Ven. Christine Ross from the diocese of Kootenay, who are two of the founding members of the association and the only two deacons who are also archdeacons in the Anglican Church of Canada. Struthers has been a deacon for 18 years and an archdeacon for 13. Ross is celebrating her 30th anniversary as an ordained deacon and has been archdeacon for two months. Struthers and Ross are directors of deacons in their dioceses and are responsible for everything from discernment to the diaconate to policy and discipline. Both are retired from their full-time secular jobs and work as archdeacons alongside their regular parish ministries. Ross said that the appointment of a second diaconal archdeacon and the rise in the number of deacons in Canada show that deacons are “coming into their own.”

And coming into their own they are. As the church focuses on “mission” and becoming a “missional church,” it relies on deacons to do much of the heavy lifting. “It’s no longer oddballs on the fringes using this language of mission…Working on really getting the ministry of deacons is the single most important thing we can do for a re-formation of the church, for the sake of God’s mission, and the call to get on with God’ mission in the world,” said Eileen Scully, director of faith, worship and ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada, who spoke at the plenary.

At the plenary, Hiltz asked deacons in the room if they had been ordained for five years or less, and a majority of hands shot up. That, said Hiltz, “is a clear sign of the restoration of the diaconate.”

Meanwhile, the conference also honoured The Rev. (Deacon) Alice Beaumont, of St. Mary’s, diocese of British Columbia, with the Maylanne Maybee Award. The award, which is given to one deacon at the triennial conference of the association, recognizes deacons who “carry our Christ’s work in our midst” and how represent the  ministry of deacons “at its best.”

Cydney Proctor is a freelance journalist based in Halifax.

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Anglican Journal News, August 22, 2014

Youth discover that ministry is ‘worth it’

Posted on: August 20th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Andrew Stephens-Rennie

 

At CLAY 2014, Anglican and Lutheran youth gathered for worship, for opportunities to explore different areas of ministry and to discuss issues such as faith and social media, right to water, and being church in today’s world. Photo: CLAY2014

 


 

About 600 Anglican and Lutheran youth from across the country gathered in Kamloops, B.C. August 14 to 17 for the third bi-annual Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth Gathering (CLAY).

Designed for youth between the ages of 14 to 19, the event provided participants with an opportunity for Christian leadership development, varied worship experiences, and to connect faith to daily life.

This year’s theme, “Worth It,” was intended “to inspire a diversity of meaning rich in faith” and to apply the question of worth to participants’ relationship with God, with the church, with their friends and their interaction with the wider world, according to organizers.

These topics were explored through six large group gatherings with keynote speaker Scott Evans through worship, drama and the arts. Participants had the opportunity to put what they learned into action through a servant event, and the two-part “ministry projects” section of the program.

The Rev. Canon David Burrows, rector of the Parish of the Ascension in Mount Pearl, Nfld., created ministry projects, a new element of the gathering, to provide a forum for young people to discuss big issues such as mining and human rights, right to water, and being church in today’s world. It was also designed for participants learn something new and to have fun.

“Ministry Projects provide CLAY participants with the opportunity to explore different areas of ministry,” said Burrows. “They’ll be given the opportunity to present new knowledge at the final large group gatherings, and young people and their leaders will be empowered and encouraged to put [what they learned] into practice within their own ministry context and faith community.”

And put the lessons into practice, they did. After hearing a presentation on the global impact of mining, participants turned off their phones for an hour to symbolize their support for mining justice. “Before they did, everyone sent off a final tweet, launching #miningjustice and #clay2014 into the top ten trending topics on Twitter in Canada!,” organizers reported on Facebook.

One project, Where the Waters Meet: The National Youth Project, explored the rich biblical imagery of water and its connection to water as a basic human right, and was led by Devon Goldie (PWRDF youth council member) and the Rev. Paul Gehrs (Assistant to ELCIC Bishop Susan Johnson). It also highlighted the gathering’s four-year commitment to engage water issues through education, reflection and practical response.

“The Right to Water was an aspect at the Joint Assembly [of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada] last July,” said Gehrs. “The Joint Assembly Declaration commits Lutherans and Anglicans to working on the issues of responsible resource extraction and of homelessness and affordable housing.” Joint Assembly delegates participated in a liturgy on Parliament Hill praying for those affected by the scarcity of clean water in Canada and throughout the world.

“The Right to Water is a youth expression of these commitments, because potable water is an aspect of affordable housing, and resource extraction can affect water quality and availability,” added Gehrs.

Where the Waters Meet is about more than providing young people with information about water security. Its two 90-minute sessions also engaged participants in creative problem solving, and provided them with tools to take back to their communities.

Goldie, who studies theatre at the University of Victoria, used an approach inspired by Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed.

“I love using theatre for teaching because it provides a whole new kinetic and visual way of approaching the topic,” she said. The group created a tableau depicting a community suffering a water-related injustice. They soon had a house, community members, an outhouse and a poisoned well.

With Goldie’s guidance, the group stopped to take a look at the image they’d created in order to identify what was wrong in that situation.

“Having an image in front of them helped them to identify a whole new set of problems,” said Goldie. Those who weren’t yet a part of the tableau were asked to join the others and help fix the picture in a way that was both relational and intentional.

“Slowly, we were able to turn the picture into a just model. Afterwards we discussed how they could use those same techniques when they went back home to engage their community,” said Goldie.

Each night, participants also had opportunities to just “hang out, have fun and get to know each other” through Late Night Spots, a combination of high-energy and low-energy activities that included dance, open mic nights with the Ascension Lutheran Band, worship, games, movies and conversations about common concerns around transitioning to university or the work force and life in general.

Summing up his thoughts on the Ministry Projects, Burrows said, “It’s about integrating ideas and actions to help participants discover that ministry is worth it – in numerous ways – both at the gathering, and back at home.”

The next CLAY Gathering will take place in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in August 2016.

Check out CLAY 2014’s Facebook page and photos on Flickr

 

- Andrew Stephens-Rennie is a member of the national youth initiatives team of the Anglican Church of Canada. 

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Anglican Journal News, August 18, 2014

 

Living Partnerships, Living Peace: Padi Rex visits Canada

Posted on: August 20th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

 

For Rev. Rex Reyes, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines—or simply Padi Rex, as he is better known—partnership characterizes all that he is and all that he does. It is his celebration of peace and justice, which takes on myriad forms.

From filming food security messages with Archbishop Fred Hiltz, to sitting with the United Church of Canada Partner Council, to ecumenical preaching gigs, to working with the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund strategic planning working group, Padi Rex finds his home in the church through local, regional, and international partnerships.

In Canada for a three-week visit, the Igorot priest from the Cordilleran mountains exudes impressive energy for social justice rooted in his Christian faith. Human rights, resource extraction, education, food security, gender justice, national and international politics, all find a home on Padi Rex’s theological radar. He is as well versed in Canadian federal politics as he is on youth engagement in the Episcopal Church in the Philippines.

At a gathering with Church House staff in early August, he stressed the importance of finding the distinctiveness of our Christian identity in service and prophetic action. “We are not just development workers, we are Christian development workers.” This, for Padi Rex, means reclaiming the language of the faith and the church long appropriated by secular and corporate voices. It also means constantly recalling the Gospel imperative to feed the hungry, offer water to the thirsty, and meet strangers and the imprisoned as Christ.

Padi Rex is among the most senior clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines. Though his current ministry as the first Anglican General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines is ecumenical by definition, his earliest experiences of Christianity were far less so. He laughs when he recalls his shock in discovering churches outside the Anglican tradition when he moved to Manila as a young man.

On his way to the top post at the NCCP, Padi Rex served the Anglican church in an array of ministries. He was an alter boy as a child, and later an ecumenical officer and provincial secretary. He even church planted a congregation within a poor urban community—Fairview Episcopal Resurrection Church—that still thrives as a hub for young Christians.

Seven years into his time as General Secretary, Padi Rex is increasingly grateful for inheriting a council with strong commitments to human rights, peace, and justice grounded in global partnerships. He names PWRDF and the United Church of Canada as two of the earliest and strongest relationships with the church and people of the Philippines.

The Philippines and Canada, he reflects, are bonded in a struggle for the conservation of the Earth, especially in the presence of Canadian mining companies on Philippine land. In these trans-Pacific connections, the Spirit moves, “We are in this together. In partnership we realize our common humanity and our dependence on God.”

Back at his desk in Quezon City, Padi Rex has a powerful reminder that partnership—and solidarity and sacrifice—must transcend what we can accomplish in this time and place.

In the shape of a simple cross, he has assembled the names and death dates of the 196 activist victims of extra judicial killings since the current government came to power. At the centre of this montage sits a candle to illuminate the witnesses to all conversations that take place in this space. “They will listen to us and convey to us their unfinished hopes,” Padi Rex reflects. With that closing thought, he returns his focus to Canada and is off to meet our co-ordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations—always forging new pathways for new partnerships.

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, August 11, 2014

 

Council works for social justice in Philippines

Posted on: August 20th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Diana Swift

 

  

Fr. Rex Reyes, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines; Adele Finney, PWRDF executive director and Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. Photo: Diana Swift

 


 

In a passionate talk at the national office of the Anglican Church of Canada in Toronto, Fr. Rex Reyes updated staff on Christian development efforts in the earthquake—and the typhoon-prone Philippines. Reyes, a senior Episcopal priest in the diocese of Central Philippines, is also serving his second term as general secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), a partner of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF).

“One thing that makes us unique is that we are not just development workers but Christian development workers,” Reyes said. That entails working prophetically but riskily, especially with a government that has tendencies toward McCarthyism, he said. “If you become prophetic in your work in Canada, you risk being defunded,” he added. “If you become prophetic in my country, you run the risk of being called a terrorist, anti-government, a Communist or a leftist.” The Aquino government has been known to harass, if not intimidate, Christian humanitarian workers, he said, citing one incident in which soldiers invaded a communal meal and started taking photos.

There is plenty of God’s work to be done in this land of 100 million people (85 per cent Roman Catholic), which has been identified as one of the three countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change, said Reyes. Food is a major concern. While governments talk about food production, Christians talk about sharing food, Reyes said. “We advocate that eating is a right. That implies that someone somewhere is not eating and someone is denying food…That is an unnatural and anti-Christian thing…It transcends colour, race and creed.”

Reyes outlined the work of his church and the NCCP in terms of a five-letter paradigm—the acronym APSES: advocacy, partnership, service, ecumenical education and sustainability. Its broad front of advocacy includes human rights, aboriginal and land rights, education, food and the right to live in peace—issues that he has taken several times to the United Nations Human Rights Council. “Unlike the government, as church people we don’t measure our progress in terms of GDP. We measure it in terms of how many children are sent to school, how many have free medical care, how many mothers don’t die [in childbirth], how many children don’t die.” The NCCP is now part of an ecumenical platform mobilizing congregations to pressure the government and the communist National Democratic Front-Philippines to resume peace negotiations and begin dialogue on such issues as social and economic justice and the rising tide of human trafficking.

Reyes reminded Christian workers that in pursuing their advocacy, they have an advocate of their own. “Jesus Christ is our advocate, the sum total of God’s justice and God’s peace,” he said. “In the Philippines, there is no other alternative but to follow the example of Christ.”

Reyes acknowledged that the NCCP has learned much from its partnership with the PWRDF and hopes the learning is mutual. “What we celebrate most in our partnership is that we realize our common humanity and dependence on God.” In this context, resources become secondary: “It’s not so much about which partner has the most resources…but about celebrating God’s justice and creating his peace.” The PWDF’s partnership with the NCCP has been in place for at least 25 years.

In addition to its established women’s and youth programs, the NCCP is launching a new program in HIV/AIDS, which is rapidly gaining ground in the Philippines. “What is Christianity’s response to young people infected with HIV/AIDS?” asked Reyes, adding that in his country many Christians still view this scourge as punishment for a sinful lifestyle.

On the education front, Reyes cited the danger of churches turning inward on themselves and losing the hard-won, often Anglican-led legacy of ecumenism. The antidote may lie in effective youth training programs, he said. “Young people are more engaged than their elders and have a wider world than their parents…When they are committed, they are unstoppable.” The NCCP runs an ecumenical theatre program in which young members (50 per cent Anglican) participate in drama, song and other arts.

The last letter in the APSES paradigm refers to sustainability and stewarding the resources to continue God’s work in austere times. The hard-pressed NCCP has not been able to raise wages in the past five years, but staff has united under the banner of Christian service. “Wages and the workplace environment are important, but God’s work is far more important and we need to unite on that,” he said.

For countries with major investments in resource extraction—like Canada—he had a strong message of accountability: “We are destroying the mountains…the stairway to heaven. We need to be advocating with our governments to be more sensitive to future generations,” he said. “We need to strike a balance between the economic needs of Canadians and the indigenous people in the Philippines and elsewhere whose lives will be severely affected by resource extraction.”

On the matter of resource-based profits, he urged Christians to ask, “When is enough? I think that among the many organizations anywhere, the churches are in the best position to say enough is enough!”

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Anglican Journal News, August 8, 2014

 

40 years of women’s priestly ministry in the US

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Mary Frances Schjonberg

 

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori with some of those involved with the Philadelphia 11 ordinations
Photo Credit: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

 

[Episcopal News Service – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] A joyous celebration of the 40th anniversary of women’s priestly ordination on July 26 here included calls for people to realize that the dream of a more egalitarian and less patriarchal Episcopal Church – and society – that was embodied by the Philadelphia 11′s ordinations requires much more work.

“I wonder why we cannot speed up the work of gender justice and aligned oppressions in the days and years ahead,” Fredrica Thompsett Harris, Mary Wolfe Professor Emerita of Historical Theology at Episcopal Divinity School, asked during her keynote address to a symposium that kicked off a day meant to celebrate the July 29, 1974, ordinations of 11 women deacons at Church of the Advocate here. “This would be one way to honor our courageous sisters and those who stood with them.”

The Rev. Merrill Bittner, the Rev. Alison Cheek, the Rev. Alla Bozarth, the Rev. Emily C. Hewitt, the Rev. Carter Heyward, the Rev. Suzanne R. Hiatt, the Rev. Marie Moorefield, the Rev. Jeanette Piccard, the Rev. Betty Bone Schiess, the Rev. Katrina Welles Swanson and the Rev. Nancy Hatch Wittig were ordained on that day in 1974, slightly more than two years before the General Convention of the Episcopal Church gave its explicit permission for women to become priests.

Retired Colorado Bishop Suffragan Daniel Corrigan, retired Pennsylvania Bishop Robert L. DeWitt and retired West Missouri Bishop Edward R. Welles II (Katrina Wells Swanson’s father) were the ordaining bishops. They were joined by Costa Rica Bishop Antonio Ramos, the only one of the four who then was exercising jurisdiction in the church. Ramos did not participate in the actual ordination, but joined in the laying on of hands.

The group “40 Years Ordained – 2,000 Years in Ministry”, organized by the Diocese of Pennsylvania in conjunction with others throughout the church, designed the July 26 celebration not just to mark the Philadelphia 11’s ordinations – and those of the Washington Four on Sept. 7, 1975, at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. – but also to celebrate the ministry of all women, lay and ordained, in the past, present and future. The gathering included Holy Eucharist at Church of the Advocate, followed by a reception amid displays of various ministries in which women are engaged.

Speeding up the progress towards gender justice and eliminating other interlocking oppressions would be a good way to honor the first women ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church, says Fredrica Thompsett Harris, Mary Wolfe Professor Emerita of Historical Theology at Episcopal Divinity School, during her July 26 keynote address. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Speeding up the progress towards gender justice and eliminating other interlocking oppressions would be a good way to honor the first women ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church, says Fredrica Thompsett Harris, Mary Wolfe Professor Emerita of Historical Theology at Episcopal Divinity School, during her July 26 keynote address. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

“This celebration must not be honored by excluding others,” Harris Thompsett said during her keynote address. “It should not be sentimentalized by Hallmark [greeting] card theology, or trivialized by invoking a too-small God, a non-controversial, semi-engaged complacent divinity.”

She gave three challenges to the approximately 230 women and men who attended the symposium. The first was to honor the first ordinations of women by becoming “much more insistent advocates for baptism as being chief among Holy Orders,” warning against what she called “creepy theology out there in everyday use” which assumes that deacons, priests and bishops are somehow more connected to God and called to be more prophetic than lay people.

The second challenge was to live truly into the “embodied nature of Anglican theology” that emphasizes the goodness of all creation and the dwelling of the incarnate Christ in us and us in him. All people, she said, must claim their bodies “as sacred vehicles of spiritual authority.”

Harris Thompsett’s third challenge was very specific, calling for making the House of Bishops 30 percent female in the next 10 years. That would mean electing about 50 or more “highly and diversely qualified women bishops,” she said. To do so would require more attention being paid to discrimination and tokenism in all search processes, including those for the episcopate, she added.

The symposium at Temple University also featured a panel of lay and ordained women who responded to Harris Thompsett’s speech. Participants included Bishop Carol Gallagher, the Rev. Miguelina Howell, the Rev. Pamela Nesbit, the Rev. Sandye Wilson and educator and social worker Nokomis Wood. The panel was moderated by the Very Rev. Katherine H. Ragsdale, EDS dean and president. Philadelphia 11 member Wittig closed the symposium with a meditation.

Wilson, the rector of St. Andrew and Holy Communion in South Orange, New Jersey, echoed comments made by her fellow panelists and Harris Thompsett about interlocking oppressions. For years black women were invisible in the Episcopal Church, she said.

“When they spoke of women, they spoke of white women, and when they spoke of black, they spoke of black men,” she said, adding that “we have to name these things because if we don’t name them, we’re subject to repeat them.”

Wilson, who was the fourth African-American woman ordained in the Episcopal Church, said “we need to be sure that we are radically welcoming everyone and that no one is left out or left behind, that the table is set for everyone and that no one on a committee has to advocate for one group or another.”

Ragsdale told the symposium that she heard a recurring theme about the “celebration of diversity along with the painful and … grief-giving and infuriating reality of how far we have yet to go in the church and the world to really celebrate that diversity” and the justice that ought to come with it.

She added that she also heard a call for people to value all four orders of ministry and to recognize that those in ordained orders must listen to the stories of the work done by lay people outside the doors of the church and empower those ministers to carry on.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori during her sermon at Church of the Advocate uses a pair of red high heels to illustrate the expectations set upon ordained women. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori during her sermon at Church of the Advocate uses a pair of red high heels to illustrate the expectations set upon ordained women. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, preaching and presiding at the celebratory Eucharist later in the day, said the entire Episcopal Church gives thanks that women now serve in all orders of ministry. As the congregation of about 600 roared its approval, she turned in the Advocate’s ornate pulpit and bowed to the five members of the Philadelphia 11 and one of the Washington Four who participated in the Eucharist.

Jefferts Schori reminded the congregation that women priests have been told that they should not wear high heels or dangly earrings in the pulpit or at the altar. After brandishing a pair of red high heels, she said “Women in all orders of ministry – baptized, deacons, priests, and bishops – can walk proudly today, in whatever kind of shoes they want to wear, because of what happened here 40 years ago.”

“We can walk proudly, even if not yet in full equality, knowing that the ranks of those who walk in solidarity are expanding,” she continued.

“Try to walk in the shoes of abused and trafficked women. Walk on to Zion carrying the children who are born and suffer in the midst of war,” the presiding bishop said. “Gather up the girls married before they are grown, gather up the schoolgirls still missing in Nigeria, and gather up all those lives wasted in war and prison. March boldly, proclaiming good news to all who have been pushed aside, and call them to the table of God, to Wisdom’s feast.”

Video and text of the presiding bishop’s sermon is here.

Attending the celebration from among the 11 members of the 1974 ordinations were the Rev. Alison Cheek, the Rev. Carter Heyward, the Rev. Merrill Bittner, the Rev. Marie Moorefield Fleischer and the Rev. Nancy Wittig.

Retired Bishop of Costa Rica Antonio Ramos, who assisted at the Philadelphia ordinations but did not participate in the laying on of hands that day, processed with the women, as did the Rev. Betty Powell, one of the Washington Four, and retired Massachusetts Bishop Suffragan Barbara Harris, who this year is celebrating her 25th anniversary of being the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion.

Speaking during the announcement time, Ramos told the congregation that on July 26, 1974, “we decided to disobey the order of the church for the sake of the orders of the church.”

“We decided to end a discriminatory set of canons to make all the orders of the church both equally inclusive for men and women,” he said.

Pennsylvania Bishop Provisional Clifton “Dan” Daniel had been a priest for a year when he decided to participate in the Philadelphia ordinations (priests are often invited to join the ordaining bishop or bishops in the laying on of hands). He reminded the gathering that while the ordinations changed the history of the Episcopal Church, it was also a very personal event for the 11 ordinands.

“At the time I think we had a very different sense of what was at stake for us and of how much we had to gain or lose,” Heyward told ENS in an interview. “I just knew it was an important step to take given where the church was and given where I was in my life.”

In the same interview, Cheek said her already-raised consciousness “got raised a lot higher after her ordination. “It was a real big turning point in my life and I think that that was because quite a few oppressed groups of folk then reached out to us and wanted us to come celebrate for them,” she said.

The Rev. Merrill Bittner, one of the Philadelphia 11 who was honored at the 40th anniversary celebration July 26, distributes communion at the Eucharist. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Merrill Bittner, one of the Philadelphia 11 who was honored at the 40th anniversary celebration July 26, distributes communion at the Eucharist. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

In addition to experiencing the typical feelings of a person preparing for and then being ordained, before and after, the women were barraged with criticism that veered into outright threats. Called unprintable names, their appearances and their voices were examined and found wanting as were their personalities and intellects. Some were told they would be good for the church because it would be better to see them in the pulpit than ugly, old male rectors. They were accused of being immoral and self-indulgent. One received a length of fish cord with the suggestion that she use it to hang herself, according Darlene O’Dell in her new book “The Story of the Philadelphia Eleven.”

On the day of the ordinations, buckets were lined up along the church’s wall in case of bombs or fire, plain-clothed police officers were among the 2,000 congregants, a busload of police were stationed down the street and the congregation included a group of radical lesbians, some trained in crowd control and karate, O’Dell wrote.

The path to the Church of the Advocate and beyond

When, after years of struggle and rejection, the Philadelphia 11 broke the traditional prohibition against the ordination of women to the priesthood of the Episcopal and Anglican Churches they entered a sort of limbo. There was no canon in church law that specifically forbade women from being priests and there was no canon that said only men could become priests.

However, the canons did and do still outline a process leading to ordination first to the transitional diaconate and then to the priesthood. The final step of that process before priestly ordination is the approval by one’s standing committee. For women, that never happened.

While all 11 had been through the canonical process for ordination to the diaconate (which had been open to women only since 1970), just one of them had received the necessary Standing Committee approval for priestly ordination. Her bishop refused to ordain her. Another’s bishop said he would ordain her if the Standing Committee approved. It did not.

None of the eight bishops who had authority over the 11 agreed to the ordinations and the bishop of Pennsylvania objected to the ordinations taking place in that diocese. Bishops in the Episcopal Church are required to ordain only those people who have gone through the ordination process in their dioceses, or they must have the permission of the bishop who supervised that process. Thus, the Philadelphia 11′s ordaining bishops were seen to have violated church law as well as tradition.

Charles V. Willie, who preached at the Philadelphia 11 ordinations, is greeted during the peace by the Rev. Renee McKenzie, vicar and chaplain of Church of the Advocate. Willie was vice president of the House of Deputies and a member of the Episcopal Church Executive Council at the time of the ordinations but he resigned both positions in protest when, three weeks later, the House of Bishops invalidated the ordinations. Willie read one of the readings during the July 26 Eucharist. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Charles V. Willie, who preached at the Philadelphia 11 ordinations, is greeted during the peace by the Rev. Renee McKenzie, vicar and chaplain of Church of the Advocate. Willie was vice president of the House of Deputies and a member of the Episcopal Church Executive Council at the time of the ordinations but he resigned both positions in protest when, three weeks later, the House of Bishops invalidated the ordinations. Willie read one of the readings during the July 26 Eucharist. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

On Aug. 15, 1974, the House of Bishops, called to an emergency meeting that reportedly was by turns rancorous and confused,denounced the ordinations and declared that “the necessary conditions for valid ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church were not fulfilled.” In effect, the bishops said, nothing had happened at the Church of the Advocate and the 11 were still deacons – to whom they offered pastoral care.

Charges were filed against the ordaining bishops and attempts, ecclesial and otherwise, were made to prevent the women from exercising their priestly ministries.

Still, women’s ordination movement continued. Resigned Rochester Bishop George W. Barrett ordained four women deacons on Sept. 7, 1975, at the Church of St. Stephen and the Incarnation in Washington, D.C., despite Washington Bishop William F. Creighton’s refusal to allow the action. About 1,200, including 50 priests, attended. The Rev. Lee McGee, the Rev. Alison Palmer, the Rev. Betty Powell, all of Washington, D.C., and the Rev. Diane Tickell of Anchorage, Alaska, became known as the Washington Four.

In September 1976, the General Convention approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate by adding a new section to the church’s ordination canons that read: “The provisions of these canons for the admission of Candidates, and for the Ordination to the three Orders: Bishops, Priests and Deacons shall be equally applicable to men and women.”

The House of Bishops, during the 1976 convention, at first ruled that the Philadelphia 11 and the Washington Four would have to be re-ordained, calling the first actions “conditional ordinations” similar to the conditional baptism allowed in emergency situations when one is not sure if a person was baptized. The women said they would refuse to be re-ordained and, the next day, the bishops voted unanimously for a “completion” ceremony that would avoid the laying on of hands.

The Rev. Betty Powell, one of the Washington Four who were ordained in September 1975 and who was honored during the 40th anniversary celebration July 26, asperges the congregation during the Eucharist that emphasized the ministry of all the baptized. All six of the first women who attended the service sprinkled the congregation members with water from the baptismal font. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Betty Powell, one of the Washington Four who were ordained in September 1975 and who was honored during the 40th anniversary celebration July 26, asperges the congregation during the Eucharist that emphasized the ministry of all the baptized. All six of the first women who attended the service sprinkled the congregation members with water from the baptismal font. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The story was not yet over. In October 1977, the House of Bishops adopted “A Statement of Conscience” that assured that “No Bishop, Priest, or Lay Person should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities as a result of his or her conscientious objection to or support of the sixty-fifth General Convention’s actions with regard to the ordination of women to the priesthood or episcopate.”

The statement arose out of a meeting that began with Presiding Bishop John Allin saying he did not think “that women can be priests any more than they can become fathers or husbands,” and offering to resign as presiding bishop. The House of Bishops affirmed Allin’s leadership and adopted the “conscience clause” contained in a pastoral letter issued after the meeting.

Since the clause was never adopted by the House of Deputies, it had no canonical authority but a handful of bishops and their dioceses used it to bar women from the priesthood for 33 more years.

A more complete timeline of the history of women’s ordination in the Anglican Communion is here.

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Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), July 29, 2014