Episcopal News Service

Subscribe to Episcopal News Service feed
The official news service of the Episcopal Church.
Updated: 1 hour 39 min ago

Anglican bishops in New Zealand speak out against moves to legalize euthanasia

Wed, 02/28/2018 - 1:12pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Eight Anglican bishops have called for a halt to the End of Life Choice Bill, which proposes legalizing medically-assisted suicide and euthanasia in Aotearoa New Zealand. In their submission to the Justice Select Committee on the End of Life Choice Bill this week, the bishops recommended no change to existing laws, and called for more funding of palliative care and counseling support for patients and their families.

Read the full article here.

The Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche joins Church Investment Group Board of Trustees

Wed, 02/28/2018 - 1:01pm

[Church Investment Group] The Church Investment Group welcomes the Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, Episcopal Diocese of New York, to its Board of Directors. An advocate for addressing climate change as well as ethical investing, Bishop Dietsche joined the board to help further its mission of encouraging environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing so that Episcopal organizations can join together in shared faith and values while realizing the benefits of scale in investing.

Speaking about the Episcopal Diocese of New York’s, as well as his own, commitment to taking action related to climate change, Bishop Dietsche said, “We are confident that if we don’t take active steps in this area, the time will arrive when young people seeking to come to know God and to know God more fully will no longer see our churches as sacred spaces. We are equally adamant that they must and are to that end determined to make our churches places that are unmistakable marks of our commitment to rejoining the world in a more sustainable way.”

Bishop Dietsche was one of the 17 Anglican bishops from across the world who issued a “Call to Urgent Action for Climate Change” at The World is Our Host conference in South Africa in 2015. The bishops wrote that “the climate change crisis is the most urgent moral issue of our day.” In November of that year, the Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of New York urged the fiduciary bodies of all Episcopal institutions in the Diocese to consider adopting or strengthening ethical investment guidelines and divesting from fossil fuel companies, especially coal companies. In response, the Investment Committee of the Diocese of New York, working in conjunction with the Church Investment Group and ratified by the Trustees, decided to minimize the diocesan portfolio’s exposure to the equity and fixed-income securities of fossil fuel companies.

The resulting diocesan portfolio, using ESG approaches to its equity and fixed-income holdings, minimizes exposure to energy companies.

“A company’s behavior impacts the real world and they are a critical component in the solution,” says JoAnn Hanson, Church Investment Group president and chief executive officer. “ESG investment approaches identify those companies which have proactive strategies relating to climate change, as well as other important social and governance matters. Investors, in turn, can profitably invest with proactive companies and influence the behavior of the corporate world.”

“Fossil fuel-free investing is gathering momentum,” Hanson added, “and it has given us an opportunity to introduce the church to ESG principles. Episcopal organizations can help to finance positive change while earning a good return on their investments.

The group uses the investment firm Hirtle Callaghan as its chief investment officer. “Our relationship with Hirtle Callaghan allows us bring the strength of multi-billion-dollar purchasing power and investment experience to work for church organizations,” noted Hanson.

Episcopal organizations interested in ESG and fossil fuel-free investing should contact Hanson at jhanson@churchinvestment.org`

The Church Investment Group is a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity working exclusively for the Episcopal Church.  CIG has been designed to allow Episcopal organizations to invest in the same fashion as the largest endowments or pension plans through management by full time professionals who employ a consistent, value-oriented investment philosophy.

New dean appointed to lead Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Paul in downtown Boston

Wed, 02/28/2018 - 12:59pm

[Diocese of Massachusetts] The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, has appointed the Rev. Amy Ebeling McCreath as the new dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in downtown Boston.

McCreath will be the ninth dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, which was established as the cathedral church of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in 1912.  She succeeds former dean John P. Streit Jr. who retired last February after a 21-year tenure.  McCreath is the first woman to serve as cathedral dean in the Diocese of Massachusetts.  She begins in her new position on Sunday, April 22.

The Rev. Amy Ebeling McCreath

“Amy has exceptional gifts as a leader, with a demonstrated capacity to reimagine congregational identity, build partnerships in the wider community, draw others into shared ministry and navigate institutional systems with the personal heart of a pastor.  She is already regarded with esteem by colleagues throughout our diocese.  We look forward to welcoming her in this vital role,” Gates said.

McCreath is the rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Watertown, Mass., where she has served for eight years.  Prior to her call to Watertown, McCreath was, for nine years, co-chaplain of the Lutheran Episcopal Ministry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and was coordinator of the Technology and Culture Forum there.

“I am honored to be called to serve as dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul and look forward to working with the bishops, the staff and all those serving at and served by the cathedral to amplify the mission of the diocese.  At this time of deep moral and political strain in the life of our nation and uncertainty in the lives of God’s people, the mission strategy to which God calls us is urgent.  I believe the cathedral can be a great resource to move that mission forward and bring hope and joy to many lives,” McCreath said.

McCreath grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and holds a bachelor’s degree in politics, with a certificate in Russian studies, from Princeton University and a master’s degree in American history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She was a high school history teacher before attending seminary at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary.  She graduated with a Master of Divinity degree in 1998 and was ordained a priest that same year in the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee.  She served for three years at St. Christopher’s Church in River Hills, Wisc., first as assistant rector and then as priest-in-charge.

In the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, she has been a member of the diocesan Standing Committee (an elected council of advice to the bishop) and a co-convener of the 16 Episcopal churches that comprise the diocese’s Alewife Deanery.  She is a member of the Council of Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission and has served the wider Episcopal Church on subcommittees of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, the planning team for the 2013 GenX clergy gathering and as coordinator for ministry in higher education for the Episcopal Church’s New England dioceses.  She has been a supervisor to many seminary field education students and interns and recently served as director of contextual education at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., for two and a half years.  She and her husband, Brian McCreath, are the parents of twins.

The Cathedral Church of St. Paul, located at 138 Tremont Street in downtown Boston, is the symbol and center of the pastoral, liturgical and teaching ministry of the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.  The cathedral church welcomes all, seeking to fulfill its mission as a house of prayer for all people.  In addition to Sunday morning services in English and bilingual Spanish-English services on Wednesday afternoons, its ministries include The Crossing, an emergent church community of young adults that gathers on Thursday evenings; the Episcopal Chinese Boston Ministry; a Monday lunch program and MANNA, a ministry with the homeless community in downtown Boston.  The Cathedral Church of St. Paul also offers hospitality to its Muslim neighbors who gather weekly there for Friday prayers.

The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts comprises 180 congregations in cities and towns throughout eastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the islands.  The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts is part of the wider Episcopal Church, which in turn is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Sewanee administrators, faculty urge regents to rescind Charlie Rose’s honorary degree

Tue, 02/27/2018 - 5:38pm

[Episcopal News Service] Top administrators and faculty members at Sewanee: The University of the South are recommending that the university rescind journalist Charlie Rose’s honorary degree in the aftermath of a sexual harassment scandal, and they are pushing for new procedures to guide reconsideration of such degrees after they have been awarded.

The University Senate – which includes the vice-chancellor, provost, chaplain, deans and all full professors – voted unanimously Feb. 26 to approve an advisory motion asking Sewanee’s Board of Regents to revoke Rose’s honorary degree. The regents had decided earlier this month to let Rose keep the degree.

No official statement was immediately available from the Board of Regents. A university spokeswoman said the regents may be called together at any time by the chair to consider the Senate’s motion.

Complaints about the regents’ inaction escalated into a protest on campus Feb. 22 that reportedly drew more than 200 people. On Feb. 27, Vice-chancellor John McCardell Jr., in announcing the Senate’s actions, affirmed the university’s stance “against sexual misconduct of any sort on campus and in the workplace,” and he alluded to the growing controversy over the university’s lack of action against Rose.

“This past week has made us all painfully aware of both our institutional aspirations and the ways in which we still fall short of meeting them,” he said in a letter addressed to the university community. “I pledge my own continued involvement and energy in articulating and advancing those aspirations, civilly and respectfully, and those many things we need yet to do to bring us closer to their attainment.”

Rose, known for his work as host of “Charlie Rose” on PBS and Bloomberg and co-anchor on CBS’ “This Morning,” was dropped in November by all three broadcasters after the Washington Post reported on eight women’s allegations that Rose had made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd comments, groping and walking around naked in their presence.

Rose issued an apology for his “inappropriate behavior” and admitted he had “behaved insensitively at times,” though he also disputed the accuracy of some of the allegations. He was one of a series of prominent men from the world of entertainment, media and politics to suddenly fall from grace last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

My statement in full. pic.twitter.com/3kvFrqF2dT

— Charlie Rose (@charlierose) November 20, 2017

Sewanee, which is owned and governed by 28 Episcopal dioceses, presented Rose with an honorary degree when he delivered the university’s commencement address in spring 2016. After his career was derailed by scandal, pressure mounted at Sewanee to revoke the degree. Two student trustees wrote to the Board of Regents earlier this month recommending that action, but the regents rebuffed such calls, saying, “we do not believe it is our place to condemn the individual.”

Charlie Rose delivers the commencement address in May 2016 at Sewanee: The University of the South. Photo: Sewanee

The regents also defended their decision by saying it was in keeping with a spirit of Christian forgiveness. Those arguments prompted a rebuttal from eight professors in the School of Theology, who released a letter Feb. 19 calling for the university to take the degree back “to demonstrate in symbol and in substance that it respects the dignity of every human being.”

A complication in the debate, as McCardell noted in his statement, is that the university doesn’t have a clear process for reconsidering an honorary degree. The University Senate, which has the power to recommend individuals to be honored, also voted on Feb. 26 to instruct its Honorary Degree Committee to draft procedures that can be discussed and acted upon.

“As a result, there will be a process, where none had existed, for the orderly review of an honorary degree once awarded,” McCardell said. That process, too, will need to be approved by the Board of Regents before taking effect

Four Episcopal bishops and three Episcopal priests sit on the 20-member Board of Regents, including Florida Bishop Samuel Howard, who serves as an ex officio board member because of his position as Sewanee chancellor.

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

Episcopalians confront hard truths about Episcopal Church’s role in slavery, black history

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 4:19pm

Vivian Evans, center, shares her thoughts after “The Birth of a Nation” film screening at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan Feb. 22. The Diocese of New York designated 2018 as “The Year of Lamentation” for its role in slavery — one Episcopal effort among many across the United States. Photo: Amy Sowder/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Brutal scenes of physical and psychological violence in the 2016 film “The Birth of a Nation” flashed across a screen set up inside a small chamber at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine.  A few viewers turned away, while some gasped and others watched steadily.

The film is based on the true story of Nat Turner, a slave preacher who led a rebellion in 1831.

Vivian Evans, 82, didn’t turn away.

“When I was 10 years old, I interviewed friends of my grandmother’s in Mississippi who had been slaves. She had me pick cotton to see what it was like, and I pricked my fingers just like they did in the movie,” Evans,  a member of Trinity St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in New Rochelle, New York, told the others during a discussion after the film.

“The Birth of a Nation” is a 2016 film inspired by the true story of Nat Turner, a lay preacher slave who led a rebellion in 1831. Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Episcopal Diocese of New York Reparations Committee on Slavery organized the film screening and discussion as part of its Year of Lamentation to examine the diocese’s role in slavery. It’s one of a growing number of events across the United States as the Episcopal Church seeks racial reconciliation and healing among its congregations and wider communities.

“Lamentation is actually an opportunity; it’s beginning to open our eyes to what actions are possible for us. We can’t do that until we’ve owned our beginnings more fully,” said the Rev. Richard Witt, executive director of the statewide nonprofit Rural & Migrant Ministry and member of the Episcopal diocese’s reparations committee.

Black history in the Episcopal Church

Although much has been done at more recent General Conventions and throughout the church, this New York committee was created 12 years ago in response to three 2006 General Convention resolutions. One resolution asked the church to study its complicity and economic benefits from the slave trade. A second resolution said to “engage the people of the Episcopal Church in storytelling about historical and present-day privilege and under-privilege as well as discernment towards restorative justice and the call to fully live into our baptismal covenant.” The last resolution called for the church to support legislation for reparations for slavery.

In 2014, the New York diocese created a three-part video examining slavery available on YouTube. The committee has since established a prayer blog and is asking priests to integrate these messages into their sermons. The Year of Lamentation includes a schedule of community events, from book and film discussions to walking tours, pilgrimages and forums. Organizers said they are especially proud of the theatrical presentation, “New York Lamentation,” featuring figures in the history of the diocese, from clergy to slaves and lay people, revealing how a number of churches were built by slaves. The show premiered in Staten Island Jan. 21, and continues in Poughkeepsie March 4, in Manhattan Sept. 23, and in White Plains Oct. 14.

“This is not about trying to lay guilt on people. It’s about what we’ve done institutionally and systemically. The notion of white supremacy is woven into the fabric of this country,” historian Cynthia Copeland told Episcopal News Service. She’s co-chairwoman of the reparations committee and member of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery in Manhattan. “If you take time to remove yourself personally and detach, it may be a little bit more palatable to take off those defenses and listen, instead of hanging onto those myths established in our society.”

“We’re asking people to think more critically of where we’re heading,” Copeland said. “This is not a one-time, check-it-off-your-list thing. It is about really internalizing this and making a lifelong work of questioning, having discussions, listening.”

Church practices have treated African-Americans as “other,” dependents in need of charity similar to those in mission fields abroad, rather than as equal citizens, according to a St. Mark’s timeline on events of African Americans’ struggle for recognition in the Episcopal Church.

February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by African-Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of blacks in U.S. history. On Feb. 13, Episcopalians often commemorate the Rev. Absalom Jones, the first African American priest ordained in the Episcopal Church. While that history includes notable achievements, it’s mired in oppression and inhumane treatment, which is also woven throughout Episcopal history — whether or not churchgoers talk about it, Copeland said.

The Rev. Absalom Jones, the first African American priest ordained by the Episcopal Church.

But Episcopalians must talk about the horrors of the past and the inequalities of today, as well as do something to change the present and future — not just in February, or this year, but indefinitely, said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop on evangelism, reconciliation and creation care.

Becoming Beloved Community is a four-part vision

To help dioceses and congregations take on this lifelong mission, in the spring of 2017, the Episcopal Church released its “Becoming Beloved Community” vision for racial reconciliation efforts. General Convention in 2015 allotted $2 million to this work.

The release followed a year of listening, consulting and reflection by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings and the other officers of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies. They invited Episcopalians to study and commit to this mission.

The vision is four-fold, and more like a lifelong labyrinth rather than a chronological to-do list. The first part though, must be done before the others are possible, however, Spellers and other racial healing activists say.

Telling the truth: “Who are we? What things have we done and left undone regarding racial justice and healing?” Church-wide initiatives include a census of the church and an audit of racial justice in Episcopal structures and systems.

Proclaiming the dream: How can we publicly acknowledge things done and left undone? What does Beloved Community look like in this place? What behaviors and commitments will foster reconciliation, justice, and healing? Initiatives include holding regional, public sacred listening and learning engagements, launching a story-sharing campaign and allocating the budget for lifelong formation of transformation.

Repairing the breach: What institutions and systems are broken? How will we participate in repair, restoration, and healing of people, institutions, anod systems? Initiatives focus on justice reform, re-entry collaboratives with formerly incarcerated people returning to community and partnership with Episcopal Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

Practicing the way: How will we grow as reconcilers, healers and justice-bearers? How will we actively grow relationship across dividing walls and seek Christ in the other? This also involves the Becoming Beloved Community story-sharing campaign, as well as reconciliation and justice pilgrimages; multi-lingual formation and training; and liturgical resources for healing, reconciliation and justice.

And in the past year, leaders nationwide have made a great start, Spellers said.

“What the presiding bishop and the officers hoped for was to offer up a framework, not necessarily a program, for racial reconciliation,” Spellers told Episcopal News Service. “Do your discernment. What does it look like to tell the truth about your church, who we are and who we have not welcomed over the year? Do your discernment over what it looks like to practice love, to be reconcilers and healers, what you need to do to repair the breach.”

The Episcopal Diocese of Iowa hosted a community conversation to address racial equity gaps in education in the Iowa City school district on Jan. 22. Photo: the Rev. Meg Wagner/Diocese of Iowa

What other churches and dioceses are doing

“While I’m proud of what they’re doing here in New York, this diocese is by no means the first to grab this and run,” Spellers said.

Washington National Cathedral was one of the first to sign on, doing conversations on the church’s legacy of slavery, including their windows, which depicted the Confederate flag and Civil War. Cathedral leaders continue to host public programs, which are live-streamed for the rest of the Episcopal Church to participate. The Episcopal Church is a co-sponsor of this, which is a strong example of the second part of the labyrinth,  Spellers said.

Based in Seattle, Washington, Heidi Kim, staff officer for racial reconciliation, justice and creation care for the Episcopal Church, recently talked with Episcopalians in Massachusetts, where they’re doing an audit of the ordination process, studying the people who’ve dropped out and looking at patterns of exclusion that people of color, women and LGBTQ might be experiencing.

Kim has visited Southern dioceses with historically black and historically white parishes in small towns where they can no longer afford to operate as separate congregations and need to merge.

Often, separate parishes exist because the black church members weren’t allowed to go to the white church. The black churches are smaller and in need of more repairs compared to the white churches, she said. They need to engage in story-sharing, discuss what to celebrate and what they will lose when they merge, she said.

“This is not just about getting stuck in the guilt, but remembering those difficult dark moments of the past, not to shame and blame people, but so that we don’t make those same mistakes again,” Kim told Episcopal News Service. “This is part of our baptismal covenant, to repent and turn to a new way. People of good will and intentions allowed some pretty terrible things to happen. And it’s easy to do if we’re not intentional and creating beloved spaces for everyone.”

The Episcopal Church has partnered with the Diocese of Atlanta’s Beloved Community Commission on Dismantling Racism, putting $50,000 into the efforts, said author and activist Catherine Meeks, the commission’s chairwoman.

Meeks is also founding executive director of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing, which opened in October in Atlanta for the benefit of not just Georgia, but the wider church.

As part of this effort, the diocese organized a Province IV conversation, which drew representatives of 20 dioceses, as a pilot for a wider conversation scheduled for Feb. 28-March 1, drawing representatives from at least 28 dioceses, from Minnesota to Missouri. It’s for Episcopalians involved in racial healing work to share what they’re doing and how they want the center to be involved in what they do going forward. Meeks is trying to create a better communications system so that people don’t feel alone in their work.

But this work isn’t just for church leaders, Meeks emphasizes. Nor is it only for churches with diverse congregations.

“People in predominately white congregations think there is nothing they can do because there aren’t any other kinds of people there, but connect with someone you don’t normally talk to. Try to build a bridge with anyone you see as ‘other’ in any way, like politically, or economically,” Meeks told Episcopal News Service.

“Racism is one kind of oppression, but there are many other kinds of oppression we live by. Any time you make an effort to be more open and caring and courageous, that will spill out into all the rest of your life. There is always some ‘other,’ alien-ness.”

People have to find what resonates with them, she said, encouraging Episcopalians to start book studies or something as simple as inviting someone unfamiliar out for coffee. “You do have to do something. You don’t get to just sit around and think about it for the rest of your life,” Meeks said.

Letting a person of color, or anyone who feels oppressed, share her or his experience, without interrupting, judging, correcting or editing it, is key, Meeks said.

Churchwide organizations, provinces and dioceses are joining the effort

Criminal-justice reform and helping previously incarcerated people re-enter the community was the focus of a Province 8 fall conference, which includes Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Navajoland, California, Idaho and the Pacific Northwest.

The United Thank Offering ministry identified Becoming Beloved Community as its 2018 grant theme, asking grant applicants to show how they would put the vision into action. “That’s going to spark all kinds of engagement, because once you have the money, you can take your idea and execute it,” Spellers said.

Bishops from the Diocese of Indianapolis, Northern Indiana and the Lutheran Indiana-Kentucky Synod meet regularly to plan how engage in the Becoming Beloved Communion vision, releasing a video to encourage story-sharing.

Telling the truth, proclaiming the dream, repairing the breach and practicing the way are the four parts of the Episcopal Church’s Becoming Beloved Community vision, which the Diocese of Iowa is interpreting locally to meet community needs. On Feb. 10, there was a church leader training. Photo: the Rev. Meg Wagner/Diocese of Iowa

The Diocese of Iowa is creating a new Racial Justice Center in the heart of Iowa City, using the church’s Becoming Beloved Community guide as its framework. “Those people are on fire. They’re amazing,” said Spellers, who was the keynote speaker for the annual diocesan conference in October. “They want the rest of the heartland to follow.”

The diocese received a Mission Enterprise Zone grant of $75,000 for the center and its work.

The area has struggled with its changing demographics, said the Rev. Meg Wagner, the diocese’s missioner for communication and reconciliation. “We’ve heard things like ‘I don’t see color,’ that we don’t have a race problem because we’re mostly white, or because we’re surrounded by mostly white people, we don’t know how to talk about race and deal with our white guilt,” she said. “There’s a recognized need for more understanding of our history of race and oppression.”

There will be community discussions on equity gaps in education; pilgrimages following the underground railroad; an urban retreat with meditation; Freedom School curriculum, founded during the 1960s Civil Rights era to empower black Americans; a summit for women and girls of color; and a summer tour to prepare young black students for college.

“We want this to be about empowering people to be nonviolent agents for change in the world,” Wagner said.

This church-wide effort is by no means a straight, clear path, leaders say. That’s why Becoming Beloved Community is a labyrinth, she said.

“You just have to keep walking this path; it’s going to last a lifetime,” she said. “And just like a labyrinth, you’re never finished. But standing still is not an option for us anymore, as far as we’re concerned.”

— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn. She can be reached at amysowderepiscopalnews@gmail.com

Episcopal Diocese of Lexington selects new bishop provisional

Mon, 02/26/2018 - 10:32am

[Episcopal Diocese of Lexington] The Rt. Rev. Mark Van Koevering has been selected as the new bishop provisional for the Diocese of Lexington in eastern Kentucky. After learning of the Rt. Rev. Bruce Caldwell’s intent to resign, the standing committee entered into a process of discernment with the Office of Pastoral Development for the Episcopal Church and other leaders within the diocese.

This led to a motion, made by the Rev. Matthew Young, president of standing committee, at the 122nd annual diocesan convention on Feb. 24, inviting the diocese to place itself under the provisional charge and authority of Van Koevering.

“What impresses me the most about Bishop Van Koevering is his ability to articulate how important his relationship with Jesus Christ truly is and, based on that, how he lives with an expectation of God to act,” Young said. “The Diocese of Lexington should very much benefit from Bishop Van Koevering’s honesty, integrity and maturity.”

Van Koevering

The motion passed with an overwhelming positive response from deputies of convention. Van Koevering’s ecclesiastical authority begins immediately at the close of convention, and he will take up residence in the diocese at the beginning of April.

Van Koevering and his wife, the Rev. Helen Van Koevering, spent 13 years in the Anglican Diocese of Niassa in Mozambique, where he served as the bishop. He resigned that position to return to the United States and serve as assisting bishop in West Virginia.Van Koevering brings gifts for ministry and experience that will benefit some particularities in the Lexington diocese, especially ministry in Appalachia and on behalf of small congregations.

He is pleased to be able to join the diocese in mission and ministry: “After meeting with the standing committee, the Episcopal election planning committee, the diocesan staff and most of the clergy of the diocese, I have grown increasingly encouraged by what I have heard and seen. God is at work among you,” Van Koevering said.

“I want to thank you for your trust and confidence. It is a precious gift and a solemn responsibility that you offer, and I look forward to working with you as together we join God’s mission adventure.”

Millions of Christians around world pray for South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo

Fri, 02/23/2018 - 1:01pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Christians across the world from many denominations are praying today (Friday) for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo following an invitation from Pope Francis, supported by Anglican and other Christian leaders. The need for prayer was highlighted by investigators from the UN’s Human Rights Council, who said today that they had “identified more than 40 senior military officials who may bear individual responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity in South Sudan.”

Read the full article here.

Theology professors press Sewanee to revoke Charlie Rose’s honorary degree over scandal

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 5:01pm

[Episcopal News Service] Theology professors at Sewanee: The University of the South are joining a chorus of voices calling for the Tennessee university to revoke an honorary degree given to Charlie Rose because of sexual harassment allegations against the broadcast journalist.

The letter, dated Feb. 19, is addressed to top Sewanee administrators and the university’s Board of Regents and is signed by eight professors – a majority of the faculty members in the School of Theology. They seek to frame their response “within the larger, theologically grounded tradition of pastoral response to sin and forgiveness” and dispute some of the theological justifications the school has made in resisting calls to revoke Rose’s honorary degree.

The letter also invokes a recent message on sexual harassment issued by the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop and House of Deputies president.

“We pray that this university will have the courage to respond to this call, and that it will seek to demonstrate in symbol and in substance that it respects the dignity of every human being, and demands similar respect be shown by all whom it honors,” the professors say in their letter, posted online by the Sewanee Purple, a student-run news publication.

Sewanee’s Episcopal roots date to its founding in 1857 by clergy and lay leaders from dioceses across the south. It continues to be owned and governed by 28 Episcopal dioceses and offers a full range of degrees, in addition to training future church leaders in its seminary.

Rose was a top name in TV journalism through his “Charlie Rose” interview show on PBS and Bloomberg and his co-anchor role on CBS’ “This Morning” when harassment allegations surfaced in November. Eight women told the Washington Post that Rose made unwanted sexual advances toward them, including lewd comments, groping and walking around naked in their presence.

Rose issued an apology for his “inappropriate behavior” and admitted he had “behaved insensitively at times,” though he also disputed the accuracy of some of the allegations. He was promptly fired by PBS, Bloomberg and CBS.

Charlie Rose delivers the commencement address in May 2016 at Sewanee: The University of the South. Photo: Sewanee

Sewanee presented Rose with an honorary degree in spring 2016, when he delivered the university’s commencement address. “Fame is way overrated unless you do something good with it,” CBS News quoted Rose as saying in his speech to graduates.

Rose was one of a series of prominent men from the world of entertainment, media and politics to suddenly fall from grace last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct, prompting women everywhere to share their own stories of harassment and abuse in what has been called the #MeToo movement. Some universities have responded by taking back past honors bestowed on Rose, including Arizona State University, Fordham University and State University of New York-Oswego.

The Bairnwick Women’s Center at Sewanee started an online petition in December calling for Sewanee to revoke Rose’s honorary degree, the Sewanee Purple reported, and early this month, two of the university’s student trustees, Claire Brickson and Mary Margaret Murdock, spoke to the Board of Regents recommending the board take that step.

“Revoking Charlie Rose’s degree sends a clear statement to those 17 individuals who reported rapes on campus in 2016, that we support their decision to come forward,” Brickson and Murdock told the Board of Regents, according to the Sewanee Purple.

Four Episcopal bishops and three Episcopal priests sit on the 20-member Board of Regents, including Florida Bishop Samuel Howard, who serves as an ex officio board member because of his position as Sewanee chancellor. The regents responded last week in a letter to Brickson and Murdock saying they decided, after “vigorous discussion,” that Rose should keep his honorary degree.

“We want to be clear that we have stood, and always will stand, against sexual harassment of women or men,” the board said. “At the same time, we do not believe it is our place to condemn the individual. In fact, we think there is grave danger were we to go down that path. We impose a penalty where appropriate, but we also offer forgiveness.”

The Board of Regents also asserted “condemnation has no place here” before elaborating on its “ecclesiastical considerations” in the matter.

“Clarification comes in the question ‘Is there a hierarchy of sin?’ Quickly followed by ‘Are we all not sinners?’ Therein lies the ecumenical rub,” the board’s said. “If we condemn a person then who among us sinners should not also be condemned?”

Episcopal News Service sought comment Feb. 21 from the four bishops on the Board of Regents and was referred instead to Sewanee administrators. A spokeswoman said the university had no additional statement on the issue, though one may be issued later this week.

The regents’ reasoning drew a direct rebuttal from the School of Theology professors in their letter.

“Respectfully, we must insist that there is a hierarchy of sin, long recognized in the tradition,” the professors say. “In the gospels, Jesus himself makes such distinctions, and he forcefully censures those who place a ‘stumbling block’ before others – that is, create scandal that impedes faith.”

The professors also cite the disciplinary rubric in the Book of Common Prayer that says clergy should prevent from taking communion those who are “living a notoriously evil life” and those “who have done wrong to their neighbors and are a scandal.”

“Public scandal is, in the tradition, regarded as a reason to send a message,” the professors say. “One struggles to think of a case of public scandal more obvious than the behavior of Mr. Rose.”

The professors also acknowledge the revoking Rose’s honorary degree is a mere symbolic act, though no more symbolic than granting him the degree in the first place.

And they point for context to the Jan. 22 letter to the Episcopal Church from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies. Curry and Jennings called on Episcopalians to take the coming of Ash Wednesday and Lent as a time to meditate “on the ways in which we in the church have failed to stand with women and other victims of abuse and harassment and to consider, as part of our Lenten disciplines, how we can redouble our work to be communities of safety that stand against the spiritual and physical violence of sexual exploitation and abuse.”

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

Anglican leaders pay tribute to iconic evangelist Billy Graham

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 1:19pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has led tributes from Anglican leaders to the iconic United States evangelist Billy Graham, who died Feb. 21 at his home in North Carolina. “When it comes to a living and lasting influence upon the worldwide church he can have few equals: for he introduced person after person to Jesus Christ,” Welby said of  Gramham, who was 99.

Read the entire article here.

Editor’s note: Presiding Bishop Michael Curry remembers Graham as “truly a man of God, a follower of Jesus, and a witness that there really is a more excellent way for the human family.”

Archbishop-elect Maimbo Mndolwa’s 2020 vision for reviving God’s work in Tanzania

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 12:01pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] The next primate of the Anglican Church of Tanzania, Archbishop-elect Maimbo Mndolwa, is to consult widely with the bishops and lay leaders of the province as it prepares for its half-century anniversary in 2020. The province was created in 1970, when the then-province of East Africa gave birth to the provinces of Kenya and Tanzania. After he takes his seat on May 20, Maimbo will visit the bishops and diocesan leaders as he prepares a new strategy to “revive God’s work” in Tanzania.

Read the entire article here.

Congregation prays for safety of stranded youths who set fire in South Dakota church building

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 4:14pm

The floor will need to be repaired and reinforced where a fire was set in the St. Thomas’ church hall on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. Photo: Margaret Watson

[Episcopal News Service] An Episcopal mission church building in South Dakota was damaged recently by a fire set by stranded youths seeking warmth and shelter from the cold. The congregation, while lamenting the damage to its guild hall, also has responded with compassion and forgiveness for those who caused the damage.

“Fortunately, it seems the stranded young folk survived, and so did the church hall,” the Rev. Margaret Watson said in a Facebook post after learning Feb. 9 about the damage to St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in On the Tree. “We will need a new floor and paint job on the inside – but, considering the other alternatives, this is good news.”

Watson, a priest who serves 11 congregations on and near the Cheyenne River Reservation, told Episcopal News Service the intruders broke into the guild hall and started a fire in the middle of the floor, using hymnals as kindling and burning chairs and a table that had been used as a backup altar. The temperature outside at the time of the break-in was below zero, Watson said.

One of the church members, Ina Blue Coat, was among the first to survey the damage and was quoted by Watson as offering this response: “I pray who did this did find refuge in the building, and found their way to safety. I know that with this cold weather and someone is stranded in the rural areas, survival is crucial.”

Many years ago, the church was usually left unlocked, Blue Coat said, but the congregation began locking the doors to stop thefts from the church.

On the Tree is a sparsely populated area of South Dakota north of Eagle Butte in the north-central part of the state. The church is down a dirt and gravel road, and it sits opposite the meandering Moreau River.

A year ago, the church was used as a staging ground for search parties looking for two young people who were missing and later found dead from the cold, Watson said.

That tragedy might have been repeated if the three young people stranded outside this month hadn’t found the guild hall at St. Thomas’. Watson said she not learned the identities or ages of those three but heard that they were discovered by a rancher who was driving by the church and stopped at the sight of the fire.

The youths ran out of the guild hall to ask the rancher for help, saying they had been abandoned at the side of the road by a friend, Watson said.

“The road is quite remote,” she said, adding it “goes from nowhere to nowhere.”

Damaged furniture is seen outside St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in South Dakota. It was removed fromt the guild hall after a rancher found three youths burning the furniture for warmth inside the hall. Photo: Margaret Watson

The rancher drove them into town after putting out what remained of the fire. He notified Watson, who emphasized the sense of relief she and the congregation feels.

“We sincerely thank God that they are alive and that they made it out,” she said.

The last service held at St. Thomas’ was on Christmas Eve. Watson and a curate try to offer Eucharist at each mission church at least once a month, though in the winter months, the St. Thomas’ congregation sometimes gathers instead in Eagle Butte at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which has central heat. When services are held at St. Thomas’ in the winter, the congregation of a few dozen typically gathers in the smaller, better-insulated guild hall, warmed by a kerosene heater.

The damage to the guild hall from the fire was “nothing that cannot be repaired,” though Watson doesn’t expect to be able to worship there again until Easter at the earliest.

The congregation also will need to raise money for the repairs, and to buy new hymnals.

“This is a congregation that loves to sing, and all of our hymnals, which are in Lakota, were burned,” Watson said. “That one hits close to the heart.”

The arson comes about a month after a historic bell was discovered stolen from another mission church in South Dakota. That church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, is just north of Norris and part of the Rosebud Episcopal Mission.

The Rev. Lauren Stanley, the mission priest serving the congregations on and around the Rosebud Indian Reservation told Episcopal News Service last month that if the thieves bring the bell back, she’ll offer them forgiveness in return – and maybe even take them out for a meal.

Stanley had contacted scrap metal dealers from Rosebud to Rapid City asking them to let her know if someone tries selling the bell, though she doesn’t think it’s worth more than $10 melted down. A promising tip, alerting her to a bell that had turned up 25 miles away, was investigated and revealed to be not the church’s bell but rather one that had been used by a ranch to summon ranch hands.

As of last week, there still was no break in the case.

“I wish I had any news, but nothing yet,” Stanley said.

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

Dublin’s ‘Sanctuary Cathedral’ provides new home for asylum seekers’ food campaign

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 12:40pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] An organization that campaigns for an end to rules that prevent asylum seekers in Ireland from cooking their own food has found a new home in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral. Christ Church was been designated as Ireland’s first “Cathedral of Sanctuary” at a launch dinner on Feb. 16, to mark Our Table’s new home. Under Ireland’s direct provision system, asylum seekers are not allowed to work or cook and are forced to “eat food prepared at set times on an industrial scale by companies profiting from the system,” Our Table said. An Our Table café will operate at the cathedral every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Read the entire article here.

Global response to pope’s call to pray for South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 12:34pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican provinces around the world have responded positively to Pope Francis’ call for an ecumenical day of prayer and fasting for peace, with a particular focus on South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The pope made his call during his traditional Angelus address to crowds in Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican Feb. 4. The call was endorsed that week by a number of senior Anglicans, including the acting primate of the Anglican Church of South Sudan, chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion and the deputy director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Read the entire article here.

Appel à l’Offrande du Vendredi Saint de l’Évêque Primat Michael Curry pour le soutien au ministère de la Province anglicane de Jérusalem et du Moyen-Orient

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 11:04am

« L’Offrande du Vendredi Saint est un moyen pour l’Église épiscopale de soutenir le ministère continu d’amour et compassion que nos sœurs et frères anglicans mènent à bien dans toute la Province de Jérusalem et du Moyen-Orient », a écrit l’Évêque Primat Michael Curry aux évêques et au clergé de l’Église épiscopale. « Que ce soit pour financer une clinique ophtalmologique à Aden, des programmes pour les femmes, des écoles et des services médicaux en Cisjordanie, l’Offrande du Vendredi Saint améliore la vie de tant de gens ».

L’Évêque Primat Curry a adressé la lettre annuelle du Vendredi Saint à tous les évêques et congrégations leur demandant d’envisager d’apporter leur soutien à la Province de Jérusalem et du Moyen-Orient.

« Je pense que notre partenariat avec ceux qui gardent vivante la foi de Jésus dans la région où notre Seigneur a marché et initié son mouvement est un aspect important de notre action dans le cadre de l’église universelle », a-t-il écrit.

Des informations, y compris des premières pages et encarts pour les bulletins, pour l’Offrande du Vendredi Saint sont disponibles à l’adresse suivante :

Pour plus amples informations, veuillez contacter le révérend chanoine Robert Edmunds, responsable du Partenariat Moyen-Orient de l’Église épiscopale, à l’adresse suivante : redmunds@episcopalchurch.org

Veuillez trouver ci-après la lettre de l’Évêque Primat :
_______________________________________________________

Mes chers frères et sœurs,

Je vous salue au nom de notre Seigneur et Sauveur Jésus-Christ.

Je vous écris en préparation de la Semaine Sainte et l’accent mis lors de cette semaine sur l’offrande sacrificielle, par amour, de notre Seigneur sur la croix.

L’Offrande du Vendredi Saint est pour nous dans l’Église épiscopale un moyen d’aider le ministère d’amour et compassion que nos sœurs et frères anglicans mènent à bien dans toute la Province de Jérusalem et du Moyen-Orient.

Que ce soit pour financer une clinique ophtalmologique à Aden, des programmes pour les femmes, des écoles et des services médicaux en Cisjordanie, l’Offrande du Vendredi Saint améliore la vie de tant de gens. Je pense que notre partenariat avec ceux qui gardent vivante la foi de Jésus dans la région où notre Seigneur a marché et initié son mouvement est un aspect important de notre action dans le cadre de l’église universelle.

J’espère que vous participerez à cette action. Des premières pages et encarts pour les bulletins et informations sont disponibles à l’adresse suivante :https://www.episcopalchurch.org/good-friday-offering Veuillez adresser toute question sur ce programme au révérend chanoine Robert Edmunds, notre responsable du Partenariat Moyen-Orient, que l’on peut joindre à l’adresse suivante : redmunds@episcopalchurch.org

Merci de prendre en considération cette importante contribution à l’amour de Jésus dans toute notre Église et en Terre Sainte. Que Dieu vous bénisse et vous garde toujours. Je demeure

Votre frère en Christ,

Msg. Michael Curry
Évêque Primat de l’Église épiscopale

Church leaders express grief, call for action after Florida high school mass shooting

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 2:27pm

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal bishops are arranging for services of lamentation at churches around the country in the wake of the shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 students and faculty members dead, and the bishops and other church leaders are calling for political action against gun violence to end “these lethal spasm of violence in our country.”

“The heart of our nation has been broken yet again by another mass shooting at an American school,” Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a coalition of more than 70 Episcopal bishops, said in a statement released Feb. 16 following the Ash Wednesday massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

A former student, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, has been charged with 17 counts of murder after authorities say he opened fire with an AR-15 rifle in hallways and classrooms before ditching his gun and ammunition and blending in with students to escape. He was found and arrested on a city street later in the day.

Fourteen of the fatal victims were students. A football coach, athletic director and geography teacher also were killed.

Bishops United offered condolences to the families, singling out by name Carmen Schentrup, a 16-year-old student who was a youth group leader at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs.

The Coral Springs church posted news of Schentrup’s death Feb. 15 on Facebook.

“Please keep our entire church family in your prayers,” the Facebook post said while asking the public to respect the family’s privacy.

The Diocese of Southeast Florida, which includes Parkland and Coral Springs, released a statement Feb. 15 expressing grief at the “horrific massacre of innocents.”

“There are no words that can adequately give voice to the madness and the violence done to those gunned down, and to their families and friends so cruelly robbed of those they loved,” the statement says. “There are no words to describe the pain of loss and grief, of shock and horror, of outrage and anger, only the anguished cries that well up from the very depths of our being. There are no words to make sense of what makes no sense, and in the face of such senseless killing we are numbed and rendered speechless.”

The statement, signed by Canon to the Ordinary John Tidy and Standing Committee President Todd Cederberg, said they were writing in the absence of Bishop Peter Eaton, who has been in communication with diocesan staff and is expected to write to the diocese soon.

“Let us stand in solidarity with our people and proclaim our confidence and hope in the steadfast love of the God who weeps with us and in whose love is the power to redeem and make us whole,” Tidy and Cederberg say in their statement.

Also Feb. 15, Washington National Cathedral Dean Randy Hollerith released a written prayer asking God to comfort those affected by the shooting spree while alluding to the political debates that typically are ignited by such killings.

“Forgive us, Lord, when our leaders fail to take action to protect the most vulnerable from the dangers of gun violence,” Hollerith says. “Forgive us, Lord, for the times when we lack the courage and political will to work together. Open our eyes and our hearts to work across our divisions to end the plague of gun violence.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Bishops United Against Gun Violence.

“We must reflect on and acknowledge our own complicity in the unjust systems that facilitate so many deaths, and, in accordance with the keeping of a holy Lent, repent and make reparations,” Bishops United’s statement says before calling for political engagement by Episcopalians.

The bishops specifically call for legislation banning the AR-15 and similar weapons, as well as high-capacity magazines and so-called “bump stocks,” the device used by the shooter who killed 58 people at an outdoor music concert in Las Vegas in October.

“We understand that mass shootings account for a small percentage of the victims of gun violence; that far more people are killed by handguns than by any kind of rifle; that poverty, misogyny and racism contribute mightily to the violence in our society and that soaring rates of suicide remain a great unaddressed social challenge,” Bishops United’s statement says.

“And yet, the problem of gun violence is complex, and we must sometimes address it in small pieces if it is not to overwhelm us. So, please, call your members of Congress and insist that your voice be heard above those of the National Rifle Association’s lobbyists.”

The group of bishops also plans to announce a schedule of services of lamentation, with details to be released on its Facebook page.

And Bishops United invited Episcopalians to join in a period of discernment, including in July at General Convention in Austin, where the bishops will gather for prayer outside the convention hall each morning.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence was formed as a response to an earlier school shooting, the December 2012 slaughter of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Since then, Bishops United has released statements with increased frequency responding to deadly mass shootings, including the Oct. 1 massacre of 58 people in Las Vegas and the Nov. 5 shooting that left 26 dead at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

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

Archbishop of Canterbury: Anglican Communion is in a better place than five years ago

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 12:49pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] In a wide-ranging interview with the Church Times to mark five years in office, the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said that the Anglican Communion is in “a better place” than it was five years ago. He described the question as “a hostage to fortune,” but said that the improvements in the communion were “building on what was already happening.” He said: “I’m not taking credit for it in any way.”

Read the entire article here.

New Anglican Inter Faith Commission begins work with meeting in Cairo

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 12:42pm

[Anglican Communion News Service] Members of the Anglican Communion’s new Inter Faith Commission will gather for their first meeting next week in Cairo, Egypt. The AIFC was requested by the Anglican Consultative Council when they met in Lusaka in 2016, and launched at the Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury last October. Its purpose is to “bring mutual understanding and build trust where there is ignorance, fear and hostility” between different faith groups.

Read the entire article here.

 

Northern boating enthusiasts help Florida Keys floating neighborhood damaged by Hurricane Irma

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 11:05am

Contractors hoist a vessel displaced by Hurricane Irma at Boot Key Harbor City Marina in Marathon, Florida, Oct. 11. Response crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency have managed vessel removal operations with a priority placed on vessels leaking fuel or hazardous materials. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class David Weydert

[Episcopal News Service] When your only home is a boat, chances are good you’re in trouble during a hurricane.

Before Hurricane Irma’s September wrath, Christle Tallant, a single mother with two jobs, moored her 40-foot 1987 trawler in Boot Key Harbor in the city of Marathon in the middle of the Florida Keys. She and two of her three daughters fled their boat home to seek safety at a hotel in Orlando.

When she returned, her home was smashed up against other boats in the marina canal with large holes and missing windows starboard, and small holes on the port side with deep gouges near the water line. The bow’s walkway was damaged, along with the stanchions and anchor roller, and the stern suffered damaged fiberglass, swim platform and trim tabs.

Tallant has done some repairs herself, but she can’t do it all.

“I’ve been reading on how to repair everything … I’m like, how do I even do this? I don’t know. It’s a little overwhelming,” Tallant told Episcopal News Service more than five months later. They’re still living on the boat.

Boot Key Harbor resident Christle Tallant’s 40-foot trawler, where she lives with two of her three daughters, is in need of serious repairs. Photo courtesy of Christle Tallant and Boot Key Harbor city marina

Geoffrey Smith, chief operating officer of the Episcopal Church, heard the harrowing stories from a few Keys boat residents like Tallant when he accompanied Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on a post-hurricane pastoral visit to the islands in January.

A former deacon in Maine and a lifelong boating enthusiast, Smith thought he could use his connections in the northern boating industry and church friends to help. He also used to work as a risk manager for Brunswick Corp., a large boat builder.

“I thought this might be a way I could help,” Smith said.

So, Smith wrote an email to the Rt. Rev. Stephen Lane, bishop of the Diocese of Maine, and Lane passed the word to parishioners, clergy and people in the boating industry around Maine.

“It’s just a good example of how sometimes, we can serve as connective tissue. We have boat builders in our community, and some of our parishioners are boat builders,” Lane told ENS.

The Rev. Nina Pooley, rector of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Yarmouth, Maine, took the lead. Based on the responses from the community, she organized the volunteers into two groups: boating experts who can travel to the Keys to help with repairs and people with connections to large companies in the boating industry.

“Geof was right. We have these ties, the capacity and the will,” Pooley told ENS.

The live-aboard boating aid project is in early stages, and there is so much work to be done.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission had removed more than 1,100 unsafe vessels from the Florida Keys waterways by Oct. 31. The Weather Channel reported that by late November, the U.S. Coast Guard recovered nearly 1,500 boats that were damaged or destroyed.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Kenneth Freeman prepares a tracking sticker for a displaced vessel at Vaca Marina in Marathon, Florida, Sept. 27. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission members are collaborating to assess and report the pollution potential of vessels displaced or sunken as a result of Hurricane Irma. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Rene Pena

That work continues, as there are so many more damaged boats than these numbers suggest. Geof needed a way to narrow down the project to some of the most desperate cases. They were the working-class families whose boats are their only homes — boats that weren’t destroyed, but were damaged enough to need expert help with repairs.

Smith turned to the Rev. Debra Maconaughey, rector of St. Columba Episcopal Church in Marathon, which has taken a lead in local hurricane relief and recovery.

“I asked Debra, ‘We can’t address all the thousands of boats damaged, but what can we do?’ She identified 16 boats, and we’re working to find help for those,” Smith said.

Maconaughey talked with the harbor master at Boot Key Harbor city marina, who had his assistant make rounds and identify those 16 live-aboard boaters, compiling their stories and boat photos so that those who want to help in Maine will know what’s needed.

“We already had money set aside to help with boats, but this was a way to partner with people to do way more than we could alone. This is exciting. We’re ready. It’s an unusual project but it’s great project. And it’s needed,” Maconaughey said.

Christle Tallant acquired a floating dock to hold a generator so she can do post-hurricane repairs to her 40-foot trawler, where she lives with two of her three daughters in Boot Key Harbor in the city of Marathon in the Florida Keys. Episcopal volunteers in Maine want to help. Photo courtesy of Christle Tallant and Boot Key Harbor city marina

“There’s so much need, we don’t have enough people down here to do the repairs,”Maconaughey continued. “To have an experienced group of people down here who know about boats that would go a long way.”

Take Mike Funkhauser and Antoinette Smith have a 3-month-old baby girl named Bay and live aboard a 43-foot 1977 Formosa. At the last minute, a then very pregnant Smith, Funkhauser and five birds evacuated in a church van as Irma barreled toward them. Funkhauser insists their boat isn’t bad at all compared to the wreckage they witnessed when they returned home after the storm. But there are serious issues.

Funkhauser, who repairs boats for a living himself, is encountering repairs that are beyond his expertise, he said. He was able to fix their main mast, but the wooden mizzenmast has two cracks and is a few inches from their electrical system which powers everything in their home. As time goes on, he keeps finding more problems.

“I’m really concerned, and it’s out of my pay grade. I can’t get it wrong. I have a baby to think of,” Funkhauser said. “This is just — oy — it turned into a lot of stuff.”

Mike Funkhauser and Antoinette Smith live with their newborn daughter, Bay, on this 43-foot Formosa in the city of Marathon in the Florida Keys. Their boat needs repairs, and Episcopalians in Maine want to help. Photo courtesy of Mike Funkhauser and Boot Key Harbor city marina

Pooley said that while New England boaters have a reputation for being affluent, many of those in Maine’s boating community are working-class boating people, like the many year-round people in the Keys, just with a different climate. They understand, and they want to help.

And, as the families in the Keys continue in their long-term recovery, they say they are looking forward to that help.

“Any little bit of help is appreciated,” Tallant said. “I don’t expect them to fix everything, but just to guide me in how to go about it would be a big help.”

— Amy Sowder is a special correspondent for the Episcopal News Service and a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn. She can be reached at amysowderepiscopalnews@gmail.com.

Pages