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Anglican school in Iraq opens next to St. George’s Church in Baghdad

Tue, 10/02/2018 - 5:10pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Cardinal-Patriarch Louis-Raphael I Sako, Patriarch of Babylon, joined other ecumenical guests and VIPs at the official opening of a new Anglican school in Baghdad. The Anglican School of the Redeemer – al-Fadi – was officially opened on Sept. 29 by Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf Michael Lewis. The bishop also opened a newly re-sited and refurbished Hope Resource Centre.

Read the full article here.

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Anglican Church in Sulawesi on standby to assist in recovery from earthquake, tsunami

Tue, 10/02/2018 - 5:08pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi is preparing to respond to recovery efforts following the devastating tsunami and earthquakes that began on Sept. 28. Providence Anglican Church is located in Manado in North Sulawesi, an area unaffected by the earthquake. It is “ready to take a lead in relief work once everything in Palu has been stabilized,” Anglican Church in Indonesia Dean Timothy Chong told the Anglican Communion News Service.

Read the full article here.

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Iglesia Anglicana de Chile confirmed as 40th Province of the Anglican Communion

Tue, 10/02/2018 - 5:05pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Iglesia Anglicana de Chile, currently a diocese of the Anglican Church of South America, will become the 40th province of the Anglican Communion. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will travel to Santiago next month to formally inaugurate the new province, after both the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and a majority of Anglican Communion Primates confirmed that the diocese should be given provincial status.

Read the full article here.

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Episcopal congregation creates film team, shares story of cancer and faith in ‘This Day Forward’

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 4:44pm

[Episcopal News Service] It may be coming soon to a theater or church near you. “This Day Forward,” which tells the story of an Iowa family’s struggles with cancer and faith, is the first feature-length movie produced by a filmmaking team formed by All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills, California.

The movie was filmed in Waverly, Iowa, home of the real-life characters, Mike and Jen Jensen and their three daughters. Mike Jensen, a music professor at Wartburg College, began suffering from seizures in 2012, leading doctors to diagnose his brain cancer and sparking the family’s quest to find a successful treatment.

“This Day Forward” was produced by a filmmaking crew from All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills, California.

The filmmakers launched a two-month, cross-country tour of screenings on Sept. 15, starting in Waverly. “The response has been exactly what we prayed for when we made the film in the first place,” director Brian Ide said. During Q&A sessions after the screenings, with Jen Jensen participating, many audience members felt comfortable enough to share raw stories of their own fears and faith challenges.

The project started about three years ago when parish leaders at All Saints’ were discussing what new ministries the congregation could take on based on the skill sets its parishioners had to offer. Several were involved in the film industry, including Ide, who serves on the vestry, so they formed a group to work on a faith-based short film. With that experience under the team’s belt, it turned its focus to a feature film.

“We knew that we wanted it to be about faith journeys that were complicated and challenging,” Ide said, adding that those aren’t always the kinds of stories told in faith-based films.

Ide had attended Wartburg College with the Jensens and was aware of Mike Jensen’s cancer struggles. After his diagnosis, Jensen continued to serve as a worship leader in the family’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of America congregation, but his ability to work was severely curtailed after he suffered a stroke in 2016 related to his treatment.

Mike Jensen, focus of “This Day Forward,” plays guitar and sings with backing by Randy Coleman, the actor who plays him in the movie. Photo courtesy of Brian Ide

Jensen now needs 24-hour care but remains in good spirits, his wife said. The family embraced the chance to tell his story with the help of Ide’s team.

“He’s still so powerful with his worship and everything about him,” Jen Jensen said. “He has trouble talking. He hates that he’s not on tour with us.”

She and Ide were in Columbus, Nebraska, on Oct. 1 for the latest in the series of screenings of “This Day Forward.” Next stops include theaters and churches in Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri and Wisconsin over the next two weeks. The schedule also includes screenings on Oct. 24 at St. James Episcopal Church in New York and Oct. 26 at Virginia Theological Seminary in suburban Washington, D.C.

Despite the project’s roots in an Episcopal congregation’s ministry, its growth has been marked by its ecumenical approach, from the variety of churches hosting screenings to the film’s depiction of faith in a way that transcends an Episcopal or even a Christian perspective.

“This Day Forward” is not about idealized faith, Los Angeles Bishop John Taylor said in an online video expressing his support for the movie. “This film expresses a solid mature faith that people can use as they seek to understand and grapple with suffering.”

Cast members pose for a photo at a screening of “This Day Forward.” Photo courtesy of Brian Ide

The movie was backed financially by donations, which means Ide and his team do not need to repay investors and can use all proceeds to support the project’s charitable goals. One of those goals is to enable All Saints’ to develop and promote more movies like “This Day Forward,” and a portion of proceeds will help the Jensens cover the cost of Mike’s treatment.

“Mike’s mission in ministry is far from being done,” Jen Jensen said. “His body has seriously failed him, but he’s still doing God’s work.”

The film’s screening tour aims to hit 60 cities in 60 days, and the filmmakers are still finalizing the schedule for the first two weeks of November in the South and West. To host a screening, either during the current tour or at a later date, click here.

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

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Archbishop of York John Sentamu to retire in 2020

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 4:21pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of York John Sentamu will retire on June 7, 2020, three days ahead of his 71st birthday, it was announced Oct. 1. Church of England clergy are required to retire at 70, but the queen, as supreme governor of the Church of England, has the power in her discretion to extend that for up to one year.

Read the full article here.

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Primate calls for prayer for victims of Indonesia earthquake, tsunami

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 4:17pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop Moon Hing of West Malaysia, the primate of the Anglican Church of South East Asia, has appealed for prayer for victims of an earthquake and tsunami in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The death toll on Oct. 1 rose to 1,203, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, with officials warning that this is expected to rise sharply.

Read the full article here.

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Becas disponibles para los Ministerios de Adultos Jóvenes y Universitarios

Mon, 10/01/2018 - 5:54am

Se invita a los ministerios episcopales (o ministerios ecuménicos con participación episcopal) con aspiraciones de lanzar un ministerio o programa para adultos jóvenes a que soliciten una beca episcopal para un ministerio de adultos jóvenes o un ministerio universitario. Son elegibles para esta solicitud las diócesis, las congregaciones, o los ministerios en centros de estudios superiores o universidades que estén actualmente comprometidos o estén fomentando nuevas vinculaciones con adultos jóvenes dentro y fuera del ambiente universitario. La información y el formulario de solicitud para las becas está disponible en internet.

En 2018 se otorgaron becas a una amplia gama de proyectos. La diócesis episcopal correspondiente a la Zona de misión de Navajolandia recibió una beca para cubrir la compra de equipo técnico para su innovador programa de capacitación de jóvenes adultos en desarrollo de páginas web y tecnología de redes. En la diócesis episcopal de Rochester, los ministerios universitarios en la Universidad de Rochester, el Instituto Tecnológico de Rochester y el Instituto Técnico Nacional para Sordos están creando ministerios universitarios accesibles que ofrecen servicios de culto, desarrollo espiritual, formación, estudios bíblicos y fraternización para responder a las necesidades de las personas que son sordas o que tienen limitaciones auditivas en estos centros de educación.

Otras becas para el año 2018 para los Ministerios de Adultos Jóvenes y Universitarios financiaron iniciativas que ofrecen fomento del liderazgo, capacitación y programas para adultos jóvenes en las áreas de reconciliación racial, discernimiento, justicia medioambiental, apostolado entre los mismos jóvenes y justicia social.

“Estas becas ayudan a la Iglesia Episcopal a una comprensión más amplia de lo que significa el ministerio de los adultos jóvenes dentro y fuera del ambiente universitario” dijo la Rda. Shannon Kelly, oficial encargada de los Ministerios de Adultos Jóvenes y Universitarios. “Este es un ministerio en crecimiento que enseña a la Iglesia cómo ejercer la misión y el Movimiento de Jesús de maneras nuevas e innovadoras”.

Los cuatro tipos de becas son:

1) Beca de liderazgo: para establecer un nuevo ministerio de campus, restaurar uno inactivo o para revitalizar uno que ya existe. La beca oscilará entre los 20.000 a 30.000 dólares, que pueden ser utilizados dentro de un periodo de dos años.

2) Becas para Ministerio de Universitarios: proveen un capital inicial para ayudar en la puesta en marcha de ministerios universitarios nuevos e innovadores o para mejorar un ministerio existente. Las becas oscilarán entre los 3.000 a 5.000 dólares.

3) Becas para Ministerio de Adultos Jóvenes: proveen capital inicial para asistir en el inicio de nuevos e innovadores ministerios de adultos jóvenes o para mejorar un ministerio existente. Las becas oscilarán entre los 3.000 a 5.000 dólares.

4) Becas para proyectos: proveen fondos para un proyecto único que aumentará el impacto del ministerio de adultos jóvenes y el ministerio universitario. Las becas van de los 100 a los 1.000 dólares.

Un total de 133.000 dólares está disponible para este ciclo, de un total de 400.000 dólares disponibles para este trienio. Estas becas son para el año académico 2019-2020.

“El ministerio de adultos jóvenes dentro y fuera de los recintos universitarios es una manera como la Iglesia desarrolla los líderes de hoy y mañana”, añadió Kelly; “es un honor y un privilegio avanzar junto con estos ministerios en su búsqueda de maneras únicas de establecer nexos en sus comunidades”.

Los ministerios episcopales (o ministerios ecuménicos con participación episcopal) que en la actualidad estén comprometidos o estén fomentando una nueva vinculación con adultos jóvenes dentro y fuera del ambiente universitario están invitados a presentar su solicitud. La información sobre el proceso de solicitud, las directrices y el formulario de solicitud están disponibles aquí. A partir del jueves 1 de noviembre puede presentar su solicitud debidamente diligenciada. La fecha límite para este trámite es el lunes 19 de noviembre de 2018 a las 10 de la noche, hora del este [de Estados Unidos].

Si tiene más preguntas, por favor comuníquese con la Rda. Shannon Kelly, oficial  encargada de los Ministerios de Adultos Jóvenes y Universitarios en skelly@episcopalchurch.org o con Valerie Harris, colaboradora de Formación en vharris@episcopalchurch.org.

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Asiamerica Ministries national consultation underway in Honolulu

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 9:00pm

The Rev. Winfred Vergara, the Episcopal Church’s Asiamerica missioner; the Rt. Rev. Allen K. Shin, bishop suffragan in the Diocese of New York; the Rev. Randolph Albano, vicar of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Honolulu; and Rosa Galanto, a member of St. Paul’s, pose for a selfie before the Sept. 27 opening Eucharist of the Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries National Consultation. The consultation in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, continues through Oct. 1. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Honolulu, Hawai’i] The Asian diaspora isn’t easily defined; “Asia” can mean anything from Chinese to South Korean to Filipino to Indian. Each ethnicity has its own rich cultural identity, with many having diverse dialects and cultures within that identity.

As evidenced by opening Eucharist of the Sept. 27-Oct. 1 Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries National Consultation, many of those cultures and identities are present in the Episcopal and Anglican Churches.

“There are almost three hundred people coming here from various Asian constituencies, not only in the United States, but we have representatives from Vancouver [British Columbia] who are inspired by the work of Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries,” said the Rev. Winfred Vergara, the Episcopal Church’s Asiamerica missioner and the consultation’s co-dean.  “We have formed an ACAM, Anglican Canadian Asian Ministries, and there’s a representative from the Church of England and they want also to have a similar organization like we do in England. So, I’m really hopeful and excited about this.

The Rev. Winfred Vergara, the Episcopal Church’s Asiamerica missioner and Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries National Consultation co-dean, addresses the packed crowd gathered at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

“Our theme is ‘Piko,’ the Hawaiian word for ‘navel’ or ‘bellybutton,’ which represents our interconnectivity with one another — Christ, Creation and Community,” said Vergara. In a literal sense, he said, piko describes the belief that “creation started from the center of the earth and worked its way in all directions.”

Registration topped 267 participants representing Asians from the United States, Canada, England, South Korea and the Philippines. During opening Eucharist, the Prayers of the People were offered in nine languages – Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Karen, Tongan, Hmong and English – a representation of the diverse ethnicities present.

The presiding bishop preached to a packed crowd during the consultation’s opening Eucharist held Sept. 27 here at the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew. The Rt. Rev. Allen K. Shin, bishop suffragan in the Diocese of New York, presided. The offering went to the Philippine Episcopal Church’s response to aid those impacted by Typhoon Mangkhut, a massive storm that brought torrential rain and 165 mph winds to the island of Luzon on Sept. 15, 2018, killing upwards of 100 people and displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

“I really do believe that what you are doing that this ministry … gathering the Asian-American community wherever you may be, gathering together as part of the Episcopal-Anglican way of being Christian – that this gathering together has more significance than just coming to a church meeting,” said Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, during his sermon at the opening Eucharist.

“We are about the business … of real evangelism. That is not sectarianism; real evangelism is not about making a bigger church. Real evangelism is about being a better world. Real evangelism is about what our slave ancestors were talking about when they used to sing, ‘Oh there’s plenty good room, plenty good room, plenty good room in the flawless kingdom.’

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached during the Sept. 27 opening Eucharist of the Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries National Consultation in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Photo: Christopher Sikkema

“Plenty good room for all God’s children. Real evangelism is about changing this world from the nightmare it often is into the dream that God intended from the time God first said let there be anything at all,” he said.

Curry referenced June’s royal wedding, where he preached about Jesus’s love for the world, and how the love of two people brought together an audience of two billion people to witness that love.

During the service, the ANDREWS program and its first group of mentors were introduced.

ANDREWS, an acronym for Asiamerica Network of Disciples, Revivalists, Evangelists, Witnesses and Servant Leaders, is a mentoring program of the Asiamerica Ministries Office in Partnership with Episcopal Asiamerica Ministry Council and the “Thriving Ministry Project” of Virginia Theological Seminary.

ANDREWS’ goal is to develop a network of well-trained mentors and disciple-makers from among the EAM ethnic convocations – Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander. “Rice and Sing,” an anthology of diverse, Asian-cultural hymns and spiritual songs; in-person training; and a virtual classroom are in development.

“We have big plans for the mentoring program, we want to develop 70 well-trained Asian-American-Episcopalians to do evangelism, church planting,” and revival of churches, said Vergara – topics that were explored through the lens of the Jesus Movement and the Way of Love on Sept. 28 during the opening plenary session.

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation, talked about her own journey to reclaiming Christianity, a path that took her into eastern religious philosophy before she returned to Christianity and reclaimed Jesus; something the Episcopal Church is now doing, she said.

Growing up she didn’t want to have much relationship to Jesus or Christ, Spellers said. “Christianity was exclusive and filled with doctrines, rules, rigid belief systems and Jesus was sort of the king and judge lording over all of that,” said Spellers. “There was no other way of presenting it.”

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and stewardship of creation, center, talks during a Sept. 28 plenary session about her own journey to reclaiming Christianity. Photo: Lynette Wilson/Episcopal News Service

Then she ended up studying in the religious department at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, a Southern Baptist school. Her studies started her on a different spiritual path, one focused on practice and a way of being and living. Eventually, after going deeper into eastern traditions, she came back to Christianity after a Buddhist nun in San Francisco, California, told her to reclaim Christianity.

“It feels like that’s what we are doing as an Episcopal church right now. We are reclaiming Christianity not as only a rigid belief system, a set of doctrines and dos and don’ts; we are certainly reclaiming Christianity as a community that raises all the people, not just some of the people, but I think what we are doing especially today is we’re reclaiming the way of being Christian as being a follower of Jesus in a way, on a path. And that’s the understanding … I have of what is the Jesus Movement.

“And actually, the Jesus Movement is simply the community of people who say ‘I’m following Jesus, I’m following on his path. I’m following his way.’ He has shown us a way; a way of love and I want that way to be my way. And I want to change, I want to see my own life changed, and then I want to be a part of changing this world because of that way.”

The consultation includes two days of workshops, which were livestreamed and can be viewed on demand here.

Workshop topics include: Issues in Hawai’ian Sovereignty, Identity and Reconciliation, Living into a Healed Community Through Hawai’ian Dance, Anti-Human Trafficking (Mission to End Modern Day Slavery), Evangelism in the New Community and Toward Peace in Community. The two additional plenary sessions topics are: Becoming Beloved Community and Caring for the Earth and All Creation. The consultation continues through Oct. 1, when Vergara will preach at the closing Eucharist.

–Lynette Wilson is a reporter and managing editor of the Episcopal News Service.

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African bishops call for ecological justice to top agenda at Lambeth Conference

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 5:54pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] A number of African Anglican bishops have said that “Good News for creation and ecological justice” should be placed at the top of the agenda for the Lambeth Conference in 2020. The bishops also say that it should be addressed by dioceses, provinces, and the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa.

Read the full article here.

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New members of Lambeth monastic community take vow for ‘year in God’s time’

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 5:52pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The latest members of the St. Anselm’s community at Lambeth Palace have been commissioned by the archbishop of Canterbury. Nineteen members – from various Church traditions – took their vows in a service at the palace’s chapel Sept. 28, an occasion Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby described as one of the high points of his year.

St. Anselm’s provides an opportunity for young people aged 20 to 35 to “spend a year in God’s time” in new-monastic community with a shared Rule of Life focused on prayer, study and service to the most vulnerable in society.

Read the full article here.

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Theologically themed comic convention aims to examine intersection of faith, pop culture

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 4:14pm

[Episcopal News Service] Many years before he would become the presiding bishop’s canon for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Charles Robertson was a comic book fan.

“I learned how to read on comic books,” Robertson said. The first he remembers reading was “Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes,” a futuristic and optimistic fantasy in which the forces of good fight the forces of evil.

Superhero conventions might not seem an obvious place to discuss Jesus and the Gospel, but fans of comic books and the Good Book will take center stage Sept. 29 as Virginia Theological Seminary hosts ΘeoCon – pronounced “theo-con,” for theological convention. Its tagline is “where theology meets pop culture,” and Robertson is on the list of presenters and panelists.

The Rev. Charles Robertson, the presiding bishop’s canon for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church, is seen in a promotional graphic for ΘeoCon, in which he is participating on Sept. 29.

“I jumped at this for a couple reasons,” Robertson said. “Pop culture is so much a part of our culture now, and yet I think that we in the church often are slow to engage with things that are current.” He also sees fertile theological ground in discussions of the myth-creation at the core of comic books and science fiction.

Comic-cons have become big events across the country and big business, with the comic and film industry rolling out samples of their upcoming content for a hungry fan base.

There’s the New York Comic-Con next month, with panelists including “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson. San Diego Comic-Con is said to be the largest in the country and regularly features big-name Hollywood franchises. And this weekend’s Baltimore Comic-Con, which bills itself as “American’s Greatest Comic Book Convention,” coincides with the one-day ΘeoCon at the opposite end of the Washington, D.C., metro area.

At Virginia Theological Seminary, in Alexandria, the fun kicks off at 9 a.m. Sept. 29. In addition to Robertson, participants will include the Rev. Judy Fentress-Williams, an Old Testament professor at the seminary; the Rev. Patricia Lyons, the Diocese of Washington’s missioner for evangelism and community engagement; and the Rev. Wesley Sun, an American Baptist Churches minister who produces graphic novels through Sun Bros Studios.

“We are a collective of geeks, nerds, enthusiasts, clergy, laity and just plain downright awesome people who share the love of pop culture and the power of myth as seen in many sacred adventures,” the convention’s website explains. “ΘeoCon welcomes you to the place where theology and morality meet pop culture and where faith meets fiction.”

The event was created by Shayna Watson, who earned her Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary and an Anglican Studies diploma from Virginia Theological Seminary. She is now curate at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

On the convention website, she calls pop culture “our common ground and language,” which offers opportunities to reach “populations of people whom the church misses.”

“There are undeniable themes of theology and morality throughout pop culture,” she writes. “Good versus evil or the rise of the underdog are too often seen as secular themes rather than as part of God’s story.”

Superman is a notable example: a boy from a dying planet is sent here to save our planet. “Star Wars” is another science fiction fable with parallels to the story of Christ, featuring a swashbuckling savior figure mastering the Force to defeat the Dark Side.

Robertson said he was struck by a more recent example, a scene from the first “Avengers” movie from 2012, in which the hero asks if the stars and stripes on his Captain America uniform would be a little “old fashioned.”

“With everything that’s happening, the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old fashioned,” replies the character Phil Coulson of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agency.

Not everything “old” is praiseworthy, Robertson cautioned, but he thinks the Episcopal Church offers a connection to “something very profound that folks are looking for.”

One thing he thinks people are seeking is “heroic” stories. “One time our kids knew the stories of Biblical heroes,” he said, and the “new myth-making” underway in sci-fi fiction and comics comes at a time when many people have grown cynical about our real-life leaders.

At ΘeoCon, Robertson said, “I welcome the chance for us to be able to engage on how our faith and our ministry intersects with the revitalization of myth through comics.”

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

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Students, clergy gather in Dallas to consider ordained ministry at Radical Vocation Conference

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 3:24pm

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby addresses the Radical Vocation Conference for young people considering ordained ministry in Anglican and Episcopal churches.

The Radical Vocation Conference at Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, Texas, Sept. 20-22 drew an international crowd of young adults as well as other interested clergy and laity for three days of reflection on the priesthood. The group was given a unique opportunity to hear from top leaders in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion about vocations in the ordained ministry.

Speakers included Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Bishop N.T. Wright, Stanley Hauerwas, Ephraim Radner and Oliver O’Donovan. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council, were also in attendance. The conference, which was sponsored by the Communion Partner Bishops, the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas and Church of the Incarnation, attracted 400 people.

Bishop George Sumner of the Diocese of Dallas welcomed the guests during a solemn evensong service. “We who are longer in the tooth hope this weekend will be a powerful moment of encouragement and discernment for a new generation of leadership in our church,” he said. “Be assured you are daily in our prayers that in the words of St. Paul, ‘you might continue to be ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through you – be reconciled to God.’”

Welby delivered an eloquent sermon creating a mood of prayerful discernment and encouragement when he said that priests are “called to be children of light” to the world. He told the crowd of young discerners that they should be radical, the extremists of love who turn the whole world upside down.

He also spoke about the importance of vocation because of a declining number of faithful in the western world. Welby said the priesthood is radical “because we follow the revolutionary Christ,” and “confront the darkness at every point which causes trouble.”

Attendees prayed, worshiped, and listened to lectures and panel discussions as they studied how they were being called to serve the kingdom of God. Hauerwas, a professor emeritus of divinity and law at Duke Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina, spoke about the church and pastoral care and how it is not only the work of the ordained. The care that Christians give one another stems from the reality and realization that Jesus is Lord, he said.

A breakout speaker, Elisabeth Kincaid, who teaches moral theology and Christian ethics at Notre Dame University, spoke about virtuous leadership and the priesthood. The goal, she said, is to become the kind of person who makes appropriate decisions naturally, and to use reason to determine how to live in the community harmoniously. Virtues needed for this, she said, are temperance, modesty, humility, prudence and courage.

Church of England priest and ethicist Oliver O’Donovan’s humor and frankness during his session were hugely popular. “His lecture on the importance of good preaching was just excellent,” said Ben Davis, an attendee from Kansas.

O’Donovan advised against starting a sermon with a personal anecdote, entertaining story or news item. Instead, the preacher should make the connection between the church and the text of scripture; to search and discover what the congregation needs to hear. He said the scriptural text can be challenging: “[t]he passage you are given from an Epistle may begin with ‘Therefore,’ so be sure to explore the context in which the passage is given.” He noted that it takes about six hours of preparation for a 20-minute sermon. “The scattered contents of your mind need to be cleared away to discover that golden thread God has given you,” he said. “Let the text speak to you as though you have never read it before.”

New Testament scholar and retired Bishop N.T. Wright spoke about the sacramental ministry of the priest and how that means standing at the fault line between heaven and earth and “knowing the dangerous joy of sacramental life.” Wright was emphatic that one can’t divorce the sacraments or sacramental life from the biblical story. “If you take the symbol out of the story…the whole thing falls apart,” he said. The priest needs to remember with every gesture that “you are playing music written in heaven… and (God) wants his song to be sung well.”

Representatives of seminaries and divinity schools also attended the conference in hopes of attracting students. “People are interested in our master of divinity program,” said Barbara Jenkins from Wycliffe College in Toronto. “We also have a lot of students and alumni here, so it’s good to reconnect.” Dallas Theological Seminary let folks know about a new Anglican/Episcopal track, and Oklahoma Christian University set up a table to tell about their online MA in Christianity and Culture. Bishop Jim Mathes from Virginia Theological Seminary said he enjoyed talking to people about their vocations and noted the diversity of attendees. “The mix is, not surprisingly, eclectic when you put the words “Radical Vocation” in the program.”

The conference was a huge success, said the Rev. Jeremy Bergstrom, canon for vocations in the Diocese of Dallas. “I couldn’t be more grateful that work done by our diocese could point so many to Jesus Christ, and encourage them to ask the question, ‘Is the priesthood for me?’ Please pray that Christ would use this to persuade many to enter into discernment for the renewal of our church.”

Prior to the conference, Welby and Curry participated in a question-and-answer session at St. Michael and All Angels Church, an event sponsored by the Anglican Centre in Rome. The two were reunited just a few months after serving in the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and joked like old friends; at one point, Curry quipped that he was Welby’s “sidekick.” The two talked about Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding and how it made worldwide news.

“On the way to Windsor Palace the archbishop told me, ‘Don’t hold back,’” Curry said.

“I wanted Michael to get out of the way,” he added. “This was God’s moment. That’s what I prayed for.”

Welby spoke about the Anglican Centre in Rome and how the Anglican Church and Roman Catholic Church need to work together for the common good. It’s the outpouring of love that brings the churches together, he said. Welby noted that reconciliation is an Anglican strength and spoke about how the lack of a central authority, like a pope, is a blessing for Christian relationships. “We have to come to our agreements [ourselves] and not by someone saying ‘this is what we are doing.’”

Overall, the three days brought serious thought and discussion about the ordained life. Sumner summed up the Radical Vocation Conference when he told the group, “My hope for each person attending is that you will hear the Gospel afresh, learn more about the apostolic tradition conveying it, of which the Anglican way is a part, and consider anew the call of the ordained and their life in the service of both.”

–Kimberly Durnan is director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas.

The post Students, clergy gather in Dallas to consider ordained ministry at Radical Vocation Conference appeared first on Episcopal News Service.

Pumpkin patch leads to much more than pies

Fri, 09/28/2018 - 2:39pm

The Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch is open seven days a week throughout October or until the pumpkins sell out. Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest days, and sales always pick up the closer it gets to Halloween. Photo: Randy Cockrill

If you drive down SE Main Street in Simpsonville, South Carolina, during October you can’t miss the Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch. Piles and piles of pumpkins – thousands of them – in all shapes and sizes are for sale. But these pumpkins do far more than just decorate homes or get turned into jack-o-lanterns.

It all began 13 years ago, when Holy Cross Episcopal Church faced a budget crisis. The congregation was part of the Golden Strip Church Coalition, an alliance of local churches that had agreed to combine their time, talent and treasure annually to build one house for Habitat for Humanity. But with the church’s budget stretched thin, it appeared Holy Cross would fall short of its financial commitment to the coalition.

A small committee met to discuss the problem. Folks were feeling pretty low. Where could they possibly get the dollars needed?

That’s when Ennis Whiddon piped up. “I’ve got this idea. How about we sell pumpkins?” he said.

Whiddon went on to explain how selling $6,000 worth of pumpkins would result in $1,000 profit to go towards the Habitat build.

It’s all hands on deck when a tractor trailer shipment of 3,000 pumpkins and gourds arrives. Photo: Randy Cockrill

The room grew quiet. People shuffled in their seats. The idea of selling thousands of dollars worth of pumpkins sounded a little crazy.

Whiddon pressed on. He explained that Holy Cross could order pumpkins from Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers, which ran a farm in Farmington, New Mexico. The pumpkins would be trucked to Simpsonville in a semi.

“If we don’t sell them, we owe nothing,” Whiddon explained.

“Ennis had a get-it-done attitude,” recalls the Rev. Michael Flanagan, rector of Holy Cross. “He was kind of like a dog with a bone. When he got an idea, he didn’t let go of it easily.”

With no money down and no contract to sign, the idea seemed too good to be true. Ennis urged Holy Cross to take a leap of faith. The Vaughn family, members of the church and owners of Vaughn’s Country Store, provided a prime location in the heart of Simpsonville, thus assuring the sale good visibility. The church ordered one quarter of a tractor trailer load of pumpkins and gourds to be delivered at the start of October.

When the pumpkins arrived and folks saw just how high those pumpkins piled, many a parishioner began praying that they would manage to sell them all sell by month’s end. Their apprehensions were soon allayed. The first shipment sold out so quickly that another semi was dispatched to deliver more.

In one month, Holy Cross sold $17,000 worth of pumpkins, gourds and ornamental corn. In doing so, they raised $5,500 for Habitat for Humanity. The Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch became an annual event.

The Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch offers the best assortment of pumpkins and gourds in the Simpsonville area. Their prices are the lowest, but 100% of profits are donated to Upstate charities. Donations last year totaled $26,325.

What it takes

The first 2018 organizing meeting took place in May. A second was held late in August, but by then some

behind the scenes work had already begun. Promotion within the church and volunteer sign-up started right after Labor Day. Actual setup will begin the weekend before opening day.

Early in the morning on October 6, the first semi full of pumpkins will be unloaded by volunteers from Holy Cross. The patch will open for business later that morning and the fun will begin.

To staff the patch seven days per week for 26 days, volunteers must cover 248 two-hour shifts. These shifts are covered primarily by folks from Holy Cross, a congregation of 500 adult members. Volunteers from other churches and community organizations also pitch in. In addition, daily opening and closing work is required.

To receive this year’s total order of 9,000 pumpkins, two additional tractor trailers will arrive at later dates. These will be unloaded by volunteers from some of the charities the Holy Cross Pumpkin Patch helps to support.

Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers grows the pumpkins in cooperation with the Navajo Nation. Their 1,200 acre farm employs more than 700 Native Americans during September and October, as well as a full time off-season staff comprised entirely of Native Americans. In a region where unemployment exceeds 40%, jobs at this farm are highly prized.

Carts make shopping easy for all ages, and all ages love the pumpkin patch. Many people return year after year. Photo: Randy Cockrill

What the patch gives

“Our charter dictates that 100% of our proceeds must be donated to 501C3 non-profits that support people in our own area of upstate South Carolina,” says Randy Cockrill, who has served as St. Cross’ lead pumpkin patch organizer for the past six years.

“The Pumpkin Patch enables our congregation to make a big positive impact,” he said. “This year we’ll be giving funds to Habitat for Humanity, as well as seven other ministry partners.”

In 12 years’ time, Holy Cross has donated $239,666 to charities that provide food, shelter, clothing, adult ESL classes, employment services and more to neighbors in need – all thanks to the pumpkin patch.

The church invites each ministry partner to make a presentation at Holy Cross. Plus, each partner is visited by a member of the church during the course of the year.

“In 2017 we helped to support ten ministry partners,” says Cockrill. “This year we selected just eight so that we can provide more significant amounts to each one.”

Local animal shelters also benefit. Soft or damaged pumpkins are culled from the patch and donated to them to help feed the animals in their care.

Members of Holy Cross and others who volunteer at the patch develop connections that continue long after the last pumpkin is sold each year.

Ennis Whiddon, who died in 2015, had foreseen the pumpkin patch as a fundraiser and a community builder. What the patch has grown to be, however, exceeds his vision.

Through working together, the members of Holy Cross achieve something they would be unable to achieve individually.

You might say they turn piles of pumpkins into gold for their community.

For more: Facebook @PumpkinPatchSimpsonvilleSC or follow HolyCrossPumpkinPatch on Instagram.

–Laurie Wozniak, a member of St. Cross Church, recently relocated to South Carolina from the Buffalo, New York, area.

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