August 20, 2017
Pastor Mark Bradshaw
“It is not fair to take from the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”
I think we can safely assume that our Lord is tired.
John had lost his head, and now Jesus has lost his cool.
And who can blame him, everytime he tries to get away for some quiet someone sees him, and before long there is a crowd pressing in.
The people are desperate and in need and Jesus is full of compassion and God has made it evident that through Jesus healing flows. Then one day Jesus decides he needs to get up and go, head to the coast and outside of the borders of Israel where he can enjoy that sweet Mediterranean breeze, put his feet in the sand and watch the sunset. Perhaps Jesus was feeling overwhelmed, weary under the weight of it all. The more people he healed the more aware he became of how many were still in need. For every lost sheep that our Good Shepherd carried back into the fold there seemed to be two new wolves, ready to devour. And so Jesus, feeling hemmed in, goes on a retreat. Jesus decides to practice a little self care, hoping for a certain level of anonymity. Yet, and notice this, whereas Jesus was seeking to find refreshment and renewal outside of his borders geographically, God sends someone to Jesus who is outside of his ethnic and social borders in order to get him back on track. To put it bluntly, God sends his Son a woman to set him straight… to expand his borders… to increase his imagination… to broaden his perspective.
In the television industry, it really has become a type of art to recap the previous episodes of a season, often in only 1-2 minutes, as a means of bringing the viewer up to speed. The current episode plays a specific role within the overall story and the reason for the opening recap is to refresh the audience’s memory as to how it relates to a few specific strands within the overall story line.
Now, at first glance it is surprising that this morning’s Gospel made it past the final edits. Any of you wish this was a deleted scene, clearly out of character for Jesus? And yet, as we may be standing here scratching our heads the observant disciple will discover that there is a trail of breadcrumbs that has been left for us to follow.
So here it is, our opening recap:
Jesus appointed how many disciples?
The women with the bleeding infirmary, who reached out and touched the hems of Jesus’ robe and was healed – how many years had she been sick?
That happened while Jesus was on his way to heal a young girl who was how many years old?
Okay, are you picking up what Matthew is shoveling? So, why 12?
- 12 tribes of Israel.
So, in our Gospel this morning we heard Jesus’ words, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
And right after Jesus learns of John’s death he goes away to try and be alone and the crowds follow, he teaches them and then does not want to send them away hungry. With five loaves and two fishes how many people are fed? And here is the bonus question – how many basketfuls are left over?
Are we getting the point yet with 12?
Now, perhaps it is not too much of a stretch to think of the 12 basketfuls of broken pieces as the crumbs that were leftover, one for each tribe. I am picking up on a theme of abundance.
Okay, one last theme in our episode intro, this would have been our Gospel reading from last week – and I don’t know about you but I was more than happy to have Abbey veer off from the lectionary and give us her message! Yet, in the story of Jesus walking on water, summoning Peter to come and walk with him, I would have the cameras zoom in on Peter sinking as Jesus extends a hand and says, my paraphrase, “Man, you have such little faith!”
Okay, who is still with me? Did I lose anyone?
Jesus sets off for the coast, outside of Israel, he is tired and I imagine the Pharisees have really gotten under his skin, and then she shows up. A Canaanite, that godless group of people who inhabited the land before Israel came in and conquered it. A Canaanite woman, nonetheless, and she is desperate. Her daughter is tormented by a demon and she begins crying out for Jesus’ attention. “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. Jesus just ignores her. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” Lord, just send her away.
Last week Abbey shared with us a profound poem by the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray. Much of what I am about to share I gleaned from an article in the New Yorker written in April of this year. Pauli Murray, born in 1910, was ahead of her time. She sat in the wrong seat on the bus, participated in nonviolent demonstrations, and advocated for the equal treatment of all persons several decades before the civil rights movement. She began her life as an orphan and culminated it by becoming the first African American woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest. In high school, she was the only black among 4,000 students. She applied to the University of North Carolina and was denied admission because she had the wrong color of skin. Later she was denied admission to Harvard Law because she had the wrong gender.
While studying at Howard University Pauli was no longer excluded for the color of her skin but rather due to the fact that she had the unfortunate condition of being born a woman. She was the only woman among faculty and students and on the first day of class her professor was all too eager to humiliate her by remarking that he could think of no reason why a woman would desire to attend Law school. Thus, not only did Pauli resolve to become the top student in her class, which she was, but she also grew in her determination to end what she termed Jane Crow.
While at Howard a class discussion arose on how to best end Jim Crow. Plessy vs. Ferguson, the case that upheld segregation, used the phrase “separate but equal.” The class conversation was focused on the term “equal” and the men scoffed when Pauli dared to question the term “separate.” She proceeded to bet her professor $10 that within 25 years Plessy vs. Ferguson would be overturned, Pauli was right. But her law-school professor, Spottswood Robinson, would come to owe Pauli much more than $10. Pauli would go on to argue in her final law school paper that segregation violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. Years later Spottswood Robinson remembered Pauli’s paper and presented it to Thurgood Marshall and the remainder of his colleagues, the same group who successfully argued Brown vs. the Board of Education.
Now, I would like to propose that Spottswood Robinson and Jesus of Nazareth both share something revolutionary in common. It is not that they both devoted themselves to the cause of justice, nor that they both were committed to advocating for those who society had discounted. Rather, what was revolutionary about these men, and worthy of emulation, is that they both were willing to eat crow. They both were willing to not only admit, but seemingly revel in the fact that a woman had set them straight.
Stepping back into our Gospel, up until this point we have grown accustomed to Jesus being the one who stumps the religious leaders, but in our Gospel this morning it this unnamed Canaanite woman who stumps Jesus. “It is not fair to take from the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” “Yes Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table.” She does not play the victim, she does not need to make Jesus into the villain. Rather, she takes what Jesus gives her and uses it to stump him. She gets creative. – Jesus, isn’t it God’s table, and isn’t God a God of abundance? Jesus, your reference point is this group of children and you are wondering if there is going to be enough for them. My reference point is the merciful God who created us all, and all I need is a crumb from God’s table and my daughter will be made well. Jesus, isn’t your God bigger than that? And, move over Peter, Jesus looks at this woman and says, “Wow, how great is your faith.”
Back in that classroom at Howard University, as those young black men were debating what it means to be treated as equals, the one thing seemingly all men in power held in common, black and white, was that women were not equals. And if it has become hauntingly clear in the recent weeks that we have so much more to overcome for racial equality, let us equally remember how much more we must overcome for gender equality.
And just how many people were fed? Was it 5,000? Matthew makes a point of saying “5,000 besides women and children.” So, who was it that decided the women and the children did not count? If 15-20,000 children of God ate and were filled on that afternoon, who decided it was only the men who count? It wasn’t God.
God counts those the world counts out.
God counts those who men discount.
We can count on that.
You are hereby formally, officially and cordially invited to please join us during this our centennial year and beyond (in-person, online, offline and/or Pastoral Care), on our continuing journey of Love, Saint Barnabas Style 🖤
Remembering 40 years of AIDS ministry, Southland Episcopalians share in rededication of L.A. monument
[The Episcopal News] When Canon Randy Kimmler, a founder of AIDS ministries in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, remembers friends whose lives have been claimed by the deadly virus first identified 40 years ago, he consults a list more than 100 names long.
“Through the worst years of the crisis, every two weeks I was going to a funeral,” Kimmler, 73, said following a Dec. 1 World AIDS Day candlelight commemoration during which many of the departed – for whom he continues to pray at a meditation altar in his Silver Lake home – “came into my mind in waves. I cried three or four times, remembering people I knew and loved, and mindful that this level of loss is not unique to me but is the experience of many around the world.”
The evening gathering marked the rededication of The Wall/Las Memorias monument in East L.A.’s Lincoln Park, a program that Bishop John Harvey Taylor opened with an invocation delivered in both English and Spanish. “God of love and ultimate healing, Dios omnipotente, we gather in the midst of pandemic and recall our pandemic of fear, bigotry, and neglect 40 years ago. The Wall Las Memorias AIDS Monument bears more names of your precious children than it should…. May this monument be an enduring reminder of everyone we lost to HIV-AIDS as well as everything we learned. By your grace, whenever our neighbor is sick or in need, we will resolve to listen rather than lecture, help rather than judge, and act always in the name of your justice, mercy, and love.” (See full text of prayer below.)
Emceed by veteran Southland Fox 11 news anchor Laura Diaz, the observance also brought to the stage County Supervisor Hilda Solis, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Councilmember Gil Cedillo, and USC President Carol Folt, with California state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo among attendees joining host Richard Zaldivar, founding executive director of the monument and its related full complement of health and wellness services assisting “Latino, LGBT and other underserved populations through advocacy, education and building the next generation of leadership.” Read more here.
The first publicly funded HIV-AIDS memorial, The Wall Las Memorias was recently refurbished after receiving $850,000 in county and city funding. The monument first opened in 2004 after Zaldivar overcame a decade of opposition to the project he first conceptualized in 1993 after losing a close friend to AIDS.
Speakers included Commander Michelle Sandoval-Rosario of the office of the U.S. deputy secretary for health, who emphasized the importance of continuing to lower the HIV-AIDS infection rate particularly among underserved communities of color, currently a matter of fighting two pandemics: HIV-AIDS within the current context of COVID-19. Sandoval-Rosario joined fellow presenters in citing statistics: In 2020, an estimated 37 million people worldwide were living with HIV-AIDS, which claimed 680,000 lives globally that year. Approximately 50,000 live with HIV-AIDS in Los Angeles County.
Sandoval-Rosario is among organizers of an L.A. County forum of faith-based leaders working to prevent new infections of HIV-AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in underserved communities. The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has been represented in this effort and in a Nov. 9 public-engagement symposium.
A longtime ally with The Wall Las Memorias remains Lincoln Heights’ nearby historic Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, where Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta spoke frequently amid the organizing of the Farmworkers and Chicano movements. Epiphany’s current vicar, the Very Rev. Tom Carey, also dean of the diocese’s central Deanery 4, joined interfaith leaders offering prayers at The Wall Las Memorias rededication.
Joining Carey were retired United Methodist Bishop Mary Ann Swenson; the Rev. Kathy Cooper Ledesma, pastor of Hollywood United Methodist Church with its bell tower displaying an iconic large red ribbon on bell tower; Rabbi Stephen Einstein; and Ali Tweini of the Islamic Center of Southern California.
Diocesan AIDS ministries span decades
Among the hundreds of names etched into the granite panels of The Wall Las Memorias is that of the Rev. Robert Kettlehack, who died in 1989 and was the first priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles to succumb to AIDS. His ashes are interred at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Hollywood where he assisted in ministry with the late Rev. Carroll Barbour, rector, well known for his extensive pastoral care to those living with HIV/AIDS. St. Thomas’ Church is also home to St. Damien’s Chapel, which contains the diocesan Book of Remembrance of several thousand names of those who died with HIV/AIDS.
Kettlehack’s late life partner, Canon Jack Plimpton – a former Los Angeles Unified School District administrator whom Bishop Frederick H. Borsch named executive director of diocesan HIV/AIDS ministries in 1989 – was compelled by his experience with Kettlehack’s care to devote the rest of his working years to serving those living with the virus, and to assist their caregivers.
One of the major initiatives that Plimpton launched and coordinated was the construction of 165 units of affordable housing for those living with HIV/AIDS. Organized as a separate non-profit known as Project New Hope, the nonsectarian network of seven apartment complexes continues today in San Pedro, Santa Monica, Palos Verdes, and districts of Los Angeles including Silver Lake and Mid-City.
Key project managers in the development of these complexes included April Grayson Talton, wife of retired Bishop Suffragan Chet Talton. In a recent interview with The News, she underscored the importance of Plimpton’s role in the challenging work building the residences that faced significant public opposition. “What Jack did is really, really important,” Talton said. “He saw the need for housing and made it happen. He was the heart and soul of Project New Hope and its mission.”
Talton recalled one of her most memorable moments in building – from the ground up – a 25-unit mid-city Project New Hope residence for individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS. “I watched that project grow from a vacant lot to a completed structure, and I actually got to hand the keys out to each of the new tenants. I still remember the look on their faces walking into their new homes after not having a place to live for some time. It was powerful.”
Looking back, “it was a completely different time,” she added. “First and foremost, there was such a stigma attached to AIDS, and Project New Hope was doing something that other organizations were not, saying that people have options and supportive services, especially after they returned from extended hospitalizations, being laid off from jobs, and losing their homes. Project New Hope helped them in the practical ways they most needed.”
Kimmler – whom the late Rt. Rev. Oliver B. Garver Jr. in 1986 named the first chairperson of the Bishop’s Commission on AIDS Ministries in the Diocese of Los Angeles – agrees about the intensity of prejudice at the time.
“It was bad enough being queer,” he recalled, “but then it was doubly intense for those carrying the disease and being blamed for its transmission. Right-wing Christians were so virulent in their opposition and fear that they wanted those living with HIV/AIDS to be isolated in internment camps such as those of World War II. I was a horrible time, with injustices made plain by ACT UP and other advocacy groups.”
Consciousness-raising was a priority for the Bishop’s Commission, Kimmler said, pointing to the invaluable role of the annual diocesan AIDS Masses hosted by different congregations across the Southland. St. Augustine’s by-the-Sea in Santa Monica offered the first AIDS Mass, held in 1985 with guiding participation by the late Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd, who at the time was the parish’s writer/poet-in-residence in tandem with his well known advocacy for the wider LGBTQ community.
Other congregations played key roles, including St. Athanasius in Echo Park, where the late J. Jon Bruno was rector before being elected bishop diocesan. Bruno’s wife, Mary, a human resources specialist, joined in providing data-entry job opportunities among pastoral care and other services provided by the parish. Nearby, Trinity Church Melrose was the site of Trinity Learning Center, which provided job training in computer skills as a program of Project New Hope. Trinity’s rector at the time, the Rev. Mac Thigpen, was then named by the late Rt. Rev. Frederick Borsch to serve as first chairperson of the Bishop’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Ministries, now known as GLEAM. Another Los Angeles parish, All Saints in Highland Park, also provided strong support of persons living with HIV/AIDS and their caregivers in ministries led by then-rector Bill Leeson.
In Pasadena, the All Saints AIDS Service Center was launched as a major ministry of All Saints Church. Led by board members including Canon Jim White and with the Rev. Albert Ogle as executive director, the center grew to provide a wide range of health care and counseling services. Its annual Pasadena Posada candlelight walk was a significant fundraiser and source of hope and comfort for participants. The center’s publication, Asklepios (named for the Greek god of medicine), was an important journal of record and encouragement within the ministries.
On the Westside, All Saints Parish in Beverly Hills also provided substantial support to parish and diocesan HIV/AIDS ministries, which were outlined in a presentation to Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey during his 1996 visit to the church. Among ministries shared by numerous congregations was the weekly lunch program through which volunteers prepared and served sandwiches to patients receiving treatments at L.A. County-USC Medical Center, and to their accompanying caregivers.
Concurrently, Orange County congregations of St. Mary’s in Laguna Beach and Messiah in Santa Ana also played key roles in organizing local and regional response, with members helping to form and support the nonsectarian AIDS Services Foundation in 1985.
[Editor’s note: If any parish or diocesan ministries have been inadvertently omitted from this coverage, please email email@example.com for their inclusion here.]
Diocese shares in national, international ministries
Kimmler also underscores the role the Diocese of Los Angeles played in partnership with the wider Episcopal Church during the height of the AIDS crisis. One such achievement was the diocese’s partnering with the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief (now Episcopal Relief and Development) to provide the then-fledgling AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) with one of the first program grants that enabled the agency to advance significantly in subsequent fundraising. “That was a big deal, and I was so proud of our church,” Kimmler recalled.
Kimmler was also an early member of the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition (NEAC). “Los Angeles joined New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. in providing leadership models not only for other metropolitan dioceses, but also for local congregations, including those which were experiencing opposition to these ministries,” Kimmler said.
Encouraged by then-Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning and his famous theme, “There shall be no outcasts in this church,” NEAC members partnered with the denomination-wide Executive Council to make “listening visits” across the church, “both learning what people were doing and also encouraging what was possible to add,” Kimmler said. “This was especially important for priests asking what to do in situations where bishops and other leaders were against or fearful of AIDS/HIV ministries. From Puerto Rico to Seattle and on Native American grounds in the Tetons, we listened and we learned. It was a profound experience to find out what the church was doing and what the congregations needed.”
Kimmler noted that among the two-year NEAC and Executive Council listening project participants was the Rev. Jerry Anderson, who retired in 2016 after 13 years as director of pastoral care at L.A.’s Good Samaritan Hospital, now PIH Good Samaritan. Anderson is the author of the 2019 book Ordained by Angels: A Memoir of an AIDS Chaplain, which captures the intensity and depth of experiences during the pandemic.
In the Southland, “one of the priorities of the Bishop’s Commission was creating systems in congregations so that they could take care of people in their areas,” Kimmler said. Local resources were also made available through annual LGBTQ pride events among other venues.
Kimmler’s leadership on the commission was carried forward by skilled succeeding chairpersons, including Marsha Van Valkenburg of St. Andrew and St. Charles, Granada Hills; the Rev. Canon Jamesetta Hammons, then active as a chaplain at L.A.’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Hospital and in ministry at St. Barnabas, Pasadena; and Joyce Swaving, lay leader at St. George’s, Laguna Hills. Other key ministry partners were the leaders of Episcopal Chaplaincies at Los Angeles County Facilities, including senior chaplains the Rev. Canon Patricia O’Reilly and the Rev. Ellen Wekall.
Reflecting again on The Wall Las Memorias commemoration, Kimmler said he appreciates the interest that younger generations have taken in learning about and empathizing with the crisis that was “before their time, rather like learning about World War II without living through it. In retrospect, during the height of the AIDS crisis, we did not have time to fully engage the emotions we felt. That came later. At the time, we were busy trying to make a difference for those so desperately in need of support, trying to be as strong as we possibly could.”
Full text of invocation offered by Bishop John Harvey Taylor:
“God of love and ultimate healing, Dios omnipotente, we gather in the midst of pandemic and recall our pandemic of fear, bigotry, and neglect 40 years ago. The Wall Las Memorias AIDS Monument bears more names of your precious children than it should. In the early years of the HIV-AIDS emergency, vital time was wasted by faith institutions, governments, and opinion leaders who were more interested in identifying scapegoats than finding treatments and cures.
“En los primeros años de la crisis del SIDA, muchos en el poder dedicaron su tiempo a culpar a las víctimas en lugar de buscar una cura. Como en la pandemia de hoy, la gente murió porque nuestros líderes nacionales fallaron.
“May this monument be an enduring reminder of everyone we lost to HIV-AIDS as well as everything we learned. By your grace, whenever our neighbor is sick or in need, we will resolve to listen rather than lecture, help rather than judge, and act always in the name of your justice, mercy, and love.
En nuestro tiempo, la pandemia también lastimó a algunas personas más que a otras, y nuevamente puso al descubierto injusticias profundamente arraigadas.
“Your people give you their thanks tonight for the blessings of learning from our mistakes – of better mediating your justice – of more reliably acting in the name of your love for all your people. Continue to bless Richard Zaldivar, founder and executive director, and all who helped give dimension to his powerful vision of this sacred place. Oremos en tu nombre. We pray in Christ’s name, Amen.”
— Robert Williams serves the diocese as canon for common life and as historian-archivist. He also is a member of City of Los Angeles Commission on Disability, which takes a role in monitoring the provision of local HIV/AIDS services.
Trinity Church Wall Street Announces More Than $9 Million in Grants for Faith Communities in the U.S., Africa, and Central America
Trinity Church Wall Street has awarded more than $9 million in grants to faith communities throughout the U.S. and the world.
These grants provide funding for projects that will provide financial support for ministries to serve their communities, as well as providing funding for leadership development and training within the Anglican Communion.
“Trinity understands our family goes beyond the borders of New York,” said the Rev. Phillip A. Jackson, Priest-in-charge of Trinity Church Wall Street. “Part of our mission is to ensure that our brothers and sisters around the world can invest in people and places as they lead and serve their communities.”
Trinity’s Mission Real Estate Development initiative works with churches around the world to help them build sustainable resources for ministry, resulting in $3.9 million in grants. These grants focus on expanding projects meeting missional needs related to the COVID-19 health crisis, completing projects that will support hard-hit rural communities, and facilitating access to affordable project financing.
The Diocese of Costa Rica was awarded $190,000 to redevelop a diocesan building into student housing. The money earned from this project will not only support ministry but will help vulnerable families in the community.
Trinity also awarded $280,000 to the Diocese of Kericho, Kenya to complete a tented safari camp in the remote region the Maasai Mara to provide access to electricity, sewers and water. This project will create jobs, and profits will be used for community development programs such as establishing a church, hospital, and school in the area of the camp.
A $2.3 million grant to the Church Commissioners for Kenya will establish a low-interest loan fund to support financing of local mission real estate development projects. As loans are repaid the funds would be re-loaned to new projects creating a perpetual resource for building financial capacity and missional impact.
More than $5 million in grants will equip faith-inspired leaders, clergy, and laypeople with the practical leadership and management skills they need to connect their congregations and communities.
Sojourners will use a $200,000 grant to expand a certificate program for Black and Latinx faith leaders to be the first responders for racial equity.
A grant of $113,000 was awarded to the Episcopal Diocese of Montana The money will support two conferences scheduled for 2022 and 2023 that will offer formation, education, and community for 100 women seeking to prepare for executive leadership positions in The Episcopal Church.
The “Leading Women” project has established a track record of success in forming and mentoring dynamic, innovative women leaders for faith communities, and we are pleased to support their next step in identifying and preparing a diverse cohort of women leaders for a rapidly changing Church.
Trinity is also awarding more than $10.4 million in grants to nonprofits in New York City.
“As Trinity provides funding towards a more just and inclusive community in our own neighborhood and city, we also support the capacity of other churches to do so in their communities,” said Neill Coleman, Executive Director of Trinity Church Wall Street Philanthropies. “We are proud to support and walk alongside nearly one hundred grantees who are on the frontlines of advancing social justice and building thriving communities across the globe.”
The November grantees are:
Saint Augustine University $175,000
College of the Transfiguration $150,000
Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest $120,000
The Episcopal Church, Office of Indigenous Ministries $200,000
The Episcopal Church, Office of Hispanic Ministries $300,000
Bexley Seabury Seminary $200,000
Duke University, Ormond Center $150,000
African Leadership Transformation Foundation $50,000
Codrington College $100,000
Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, Digital Literacies for Ministry $100,000
Episcopal Diocese of Montana, Leading Women $113,000
ISAAC, Innovative Space for Asian American Christianity $110,000
Emory University $225,000
Diocese of New York $200,000
Diocese of Los Angeles $300,000
Ashoka, Faith-Inspired Changemakers $1,200,000
Luther Seminary $450,000
Episcopal Preaching Foundation $300,000
Rural & Migrant Ministry $150,000
Faith in New York $100,000The Carver Project $100,000
Gathering of Leaders $200,000
The Church Commissioners for Kenya $2,300,000
Diocese of Cape Town, South Africa $160,000
Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, Brownsburg, Indiana, Diocese of Indianapolis $150,000
Diocese of Bondo, Kenya $282,000
Diocese of Kericho, Kenya $280,000
Diocese of Rumonge, Burundi $200,000
Diocese of Northern Malawi $155,000
Diocese of Niassa, Mozambique $123,000
Diocese of Costa Rica, Central America $190,000
About Trinity Church Wall Street
Now in its fourth century, Trinity Church Wall Street is a growing and inclusive Episcopal parish of more than 1,200 members that seeks to serve and heal the world by building neighborhoods that live Gospel truths, generations of faithful leaders, and sustainable communities. The parish is guided by its core values: faith, integrity, inclusiveness, compassion, social justice, and stewardship. Members come from the five boroughs of New York City and surrounding areas to form a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse congregation. More than 20 worship services are offered every week online and at its historic sanctuaries, Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel, the cornerstones of the parish’s community life, worship, and mission, and online at trinitywallstreet.org.
The Work of Your Church: A Conversation with the Presiding Bishop and His Canons
When does it start?
12/09/2021 @ 6 p.m. ET
Event Host and/or Location
The Episcopal Church
What kind of event is it?
Join us as Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry discusses the year ahead for The Episcopal Church with:
- The Rev. Cn. C. K. Robertson, Ph.D., Canon for Ministry Beyond The Episcopal Church
- The Rev. Cn. Stephanie Spellers, Canon for Evangelism, Reconciliation and Creation Care
- The Rev. Cn. E. Mark Stevenson, Canon for Ministry Within the Episcopal Church
The conversation will be moderated by The Rev. Winnie Varghese, Rector of St. Luke’s Atlanta, Georgia.
[Episcopal News Service] An Oregon parish that has been providing critical services to homeless people despite opposition from neighbors is now taking a stand against new restrictions on its feeding ministry imposed by city officials in Brookings, on the coast near the California state line.
“There’s no question in my mind that it’s directed at us,” said the Rev. Bernie Lindley, vicar at St. Timothy’s. The congregation will continue feeding homeless and hungry people four times a week in defiance of the ordinance with the support of the Diocese of Oregon, which is prepared to defend the parish in court if necessary.
St. Timothy’s fills a social service void in an area where there are many unhoused and transient residents but few resources available to them. A recent count found 121 homeless people living in the ZIP code that covers Brookings, Lindley said, but the small city doesn’t provide homelessness services and there are no homeless shelters in the county. For years, the parish has provided a variety of services for homeless people, including its soup kitchen and pantry, showers and restrooms, COVID-19 vaccine clinics and an advocacy team that helps homeless people sign up for affordable housing wait lists, get identification cards and obtain benefits.
But Brookings has recently seen a backlash against the homeless and those who care for them, including St. Timothy’s. In June, 29 residents petitioned the city to stop St. Timothy’s homeless ministries, citing dangerous and disruptive behavior by people staying in the parish’s parking lot. The mayor and members of the city council have been critical of providing services to homeless people, saying it attracts them – and problems associated with them – to the area.
Lindley spoke to Episcopal News Service by phone while working his other job: unloading a catch of crab from his commercial fishing boat. He explained that the city council claims that St. Timothy’s is operating a restaurant in a residential area, which is banned under local zoning laws. Lindley said the city told him that the only way St. Timothy’s soup kitchen could continue operating legally would be to get a conditional use permit, but that would only allow meal service twice a week.
“If we applied, we’d have to stop feeding two days a week, and we’re not going to do that,” Lindley told ENS. “So if we applied, it would be disingenuous of us to do so. There’s no way we’re going to apply.”
By continuing its regular meal service, St. Timothy’s risks legal action from the city, including possible fines. But if it comes to that, Lindley is confident that the church can win in court, especially because St. Timothy’s has the Diocese of Oregon on its side. Bishop Diana Akiyama and diocesan chancellor Emily Karr “are in regular conversation” with Lindley, said Alli Gannett, the diocese’s director of communications.
“The diocese fully supports St. Timothy’s and Father Bernie, and [we] are here to work with the city of Brookings,” Gannett told ENS. “If there were to be any fines or anything, I know that our diocese is willing and able to fight those.”
Lindley described the city’s actions as an affront to the religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution that would not stand up in court.
“The founding fathers did not want [the government] to prevent homeless people from being fed,” he said.
“The diocese is pretty hopeful – also from seeing other churches in other parts of the country face similar issues and the churches have prevailed,” Gannett said.
Akiyama visited St. Timothy’s in October to volunteer at its COVID-19 vaccination and testing clinic, swabbing the noses of those who came to be tested. The Oregon Health Authority designated St. Timothy’s an official clinic in September, granting it $405,000 to continue testing and vaccination.
“The diocese has been focused on supporting St. Timothy’s in their ministry,” Akiyama wrote to the diocese afterward. “It seems that the good work of embodying Christ’s love for the world is threatening to those who do not recognize the compassion that is alive at St. Timothy’s.
“Beyond being highly organized, well-staffed, and attentive to detail, the folks at St. Timothy’s are serving with a heartfelt commitment to those in need,” she continued. “Let’s all remind St. Timothy’s, the city of Brookings, and each other of the wondrous work that is revealed when we awaken to the truth that what we “do to the least of these, you do to me.”
– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and other interfaith leaders highlight the urgency of ongoing support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, noting that COVID-19 has slowed progress against those diseases.
The U.S. will host the Global Fund’s seventh Replenishment Conference in the second half of 2022, convening government and civic leaders, as well as leaders from the private sector and communities affected by the three most devastating infectious diseases. The international Global Fund partnership, founded in 2002, raises and invests more than $4 billion a year to support locally run programs in more than 100 countries. More than 90 percent of Global Fund resources come from government donations.
“Global Fund’s investments around the world have had tremendous impact—by its account, 44 million people are alive today because of the resources it has invested in the fight against malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS,” said the Rev. Chuck Robertson, canon for Ministry Beyond The Episcopal Church.
In the past two decades, the number of lives lost annually to those diseases has been cut nearly in half in countries where the Global Fund operates. But COVID-19’s impact on healthcare access has devastated care responses, forcing progress against the diseases to go backward for the first time in the fund’s history.
“Many of our Episcopal/Anglican partners are at the front lines of this fight as well, and they understand the level of impact Global Fund’s resources bring to bear,” Robertson said. “It is crucial to ensure this work continues, which is why we have joined together to ask President Biden to pledge $2 billion annually for the next three-year replenishment cycle.”
Among Global Fund’s other contributions, the letter notes it is the largest provider of non-vaccine components of the COVID-19 response, including oxygen, personal protective equipment, tests, and therapeutics.
“As a communion of believers, we are grateful for U.S. contributions to the Global Fund over the years and are encouraged by its commitment to this reputable organization as we continue to live in this challenging global health landscape,” Robertson said.
[Episcopal News Service] Three white men on Nov. 24 were found guilty of murder in the February 2020 killing of Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, a case that has been at the center of a broader reckoning with racial injustice in the United States.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Episcopal leaders in Georgia issued statements in response to the verdicts, invoking the church’s ongoing efforts to support racial healing and social justice advocacy.
“Any verdict arrives too late to offer true justice in this case. Ahmaud Arbery is dead, and the court cannot return him to his family. Nonetheless, this moment is an important one,” Georgia Bishop Frank Logue and Atlanta Bishop Rob Wright said in a joint statement released with Bishop Kevin Strickland of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “We hope not just for good to overcome evil, but for God to redeem even the worst tragedies and the gravest injustices. While the court has acted, the work of healing and justice remains.”
Curry echoed those points in his statement after the verdict: “While nothing will return Ahmaud Arbery to his loved ones, our justice system has held three men accountable for hunting down and killing a Black man who did nothing but go for a run in a predominately white neighborhood, and I give thanks for this outcome. My prayers are with Arbery’s family as they continue to grieve his loss.
“Even so, our work as followers of Jesus, as a church, and as a nation, continues.”
Protests erupted nationwide and globally in late May 2020 after the killing of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Those protests also focused on other recent killings of African Americans by police officers and white vigilantes, including Arbery in Glynn County, Georgia, and Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her Louisville, Kentucky, home in March 2020 by police executing a search warrant.
Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, was convicted by a jury on April 20, 2021, on three counts of murder and manslaughter. He was sentenced two months later to 22 1/2 years in prison.
In Louisville, the U.S. Justice Department is investigating the police department’s practices after Taylor’s killing. The department’s internal investigation concluded that the two officers whose gunshots killed Taylor should never have fired their weapons.
On Nov. 24, the Glynn County jury convicted Gregory McMichael; his son, Travis McMichael; and a neighbor, William Bryan, on several counts, including murder, in the death of 25-year-old Arbery. Gregory McMichael, a former investigator for the local prosecutor’s office, told police that they had chased Arbery in a pickup truck and shot him after suspecting him of being tied to recent break-ins in the area.
“We cannot rest until these modern embodiments of terror against any human child of God are no more,” Curry said in his statement. “We must labor on for racial healing and reconciliation in each of our hearts — and in our society. We must reimagine and advocate against systems, laws, and policies that encourage vigilantism and diminish human life, because all people should be treated with the dignity, love, and respect that is due children of God.”
Much of the scrutiny on the Arbery case focused on how long it took authorities to charge the suspects. The three defendants weren’t arrested until early May, more than two months after the killing, when cellphone video surfaced appearing to show Travis McMichael shoot Arbery with a shotgun. Bryan, who had joined the McMichaels in confronting Arbery, recorded the shooting with his phone camera.
“The three men who are now convicted of crimes were initially shielded from facing their accusers in court,” Logue, Wright and Strickland said in their written statement. “Until we can bring equity to the system that initially protected them, the rest of us will not have done what we can to create the just society for which we long.
“Our country has not dealt with the racism built into the system at its founding and perpetuated until this day. Living into our faith means addressing directly any sin we see in our lives and in our communities. Divisions around the human-made concept of race are an offense against our faith which teaches that all people are made in God’s image and likeness. Jesus taught us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Through his parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus made it clear that all are our neighbors. Any racial divide breaks the heart of God.”
Last month, local Episcopal leaders were part of an interfaith group of about 75 clergy members from Glynn County who began regularly appearing outside the courthouse, starting with jury selection on Oct. 18. They continued to gather in small groups outside the building during the trial in a ministry of prayer and to promote peace and unity.
In their post-verdict message, the bishops from Georgia praised the Glynn County clergy members: “Their clarion call for justice after the video surfaced was critical in getting attention to this case. They followed this call by engaging in candid conversations that drew them together even as other forces could have deepened divisions.”
Upon hearing the news Nov. 24 that the verdicts were about to be read, several of those clergy members gathered outside the courthouse to pray, including the Rev. DeWayne Cope, rector of the nearby St. Athanasius’ Episcopal Church in Brunswick. Various groups of people were huddled there around cellphones to watch video of the trial’s outcome.
“You could hear shouting and cheering. They started chanting [Arbery’s] name,” Cope told ENS by phone later in the afternoon. “But there were also tears that were shed as well. People were just thankful a decision was reached, and for those gathered outside the courtroom a majority of those have been in support of Ahmaud Arbery’s family.”
It was a moment of release, Cope said, after weeks of anxiety that had been building during the jury selection and trial.
Cope added that he feels mixed emotions now that the trial is over. “There’s a little bit of happiness; for so many seeking justice, that was rendered today, yes.” But faith leaders still face the long-term work of healing a community that “is still fractured,” he said, and “there are other families involved that are still broken”: both the Arbery family and the families of his killers.
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at email@example.com.
[Episcopal News Service] Last year, the Episcopal Church in Navajoland launched an emergency feeding ministry to help families weather the turbulent early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. After a summer 2021 hiatus, the ministry is resuming – just in time for Thanksgiving.
Episcopal leaders serving the Navajo Nation gathered with volunteers Nov. 18 at the mission’s headquarters in Farmington, New Mexico, to sort a final shipment of food items and load them onto trucks to take to Navajoland’s three regions. The food then was divided further into individual portions for distribution to about 300 families last weekend and this week.
Among the items: turkey, potatoes, dressing and pie for the families’ Thanksgiving dinners on Nov. 25.
“This is really about getting the food and resources to those who need the most,” the Rev. Joe Hubbard, vicar at St. Christopher’s Mission in Bluff, Utah, told Episcopal News Service. Elders and families with small children are among the ministry’s priorities. The Thanksgiving week deliveries contain enough food for families to “get them through the holidays, and we’ll have another distribution in December,” in time for Christmas, Hubbard said.
Navajoland leaders had conducted similar monthly food distributions for about a year, starting in May 2020. More than 3,800 boxes of food, as well as clothing, hygiene items and toys, were provided to families in 25 communities, including more than 1,650 children, according to a Navajoland summary. Those deliveries were put on hold in May 2021 “in hopes to save some money to help families during the holiday season,” G.J. Gordy, Navajoland’s communications director, told ENS.
The winter months often are the most economically difficult for Navajo families, Gordy said, because the growing season is over and families face the added cost of buying firewood or propane to heat their homes. With the feeding ministry resuming, “we’re hoping to continue this for the next six months.”
The deliveries this week were made possible in part by donations of nonperishable foods from the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known widely as the Mormon church. Other food was purchased directly from wholesaler Sysco, with help from the monetary donations that Navajoland continues to receive from around The Episcopal Church.
“We have been blessed with just an outflowing of love from the wider church, with donations that have allowed us to purchase the food,” Navajoland Bishop David Bailey told ENS. “There’s not enough words to say thanks.”
That financial support was especially welcome in the months after the March 2020 start of the pandemic, when the rate of COVID-19 transmission on the Navajo Nation reservation was among the highest in the United States. More than 1,500 Navajo Nation residents have died during the pandemic. Daily cases have risen again this fall, though not as high as last winter, and 58% of residents are now vaccinated.
“So many people have lost loved ones and friends and family members to this virus,” Hubbard said. “We’re seeing that this virus is not going away.”
The reservation covers more than 27,000 square miles in the Four Corners region of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. More than 30% of households lack running water, and many of the 175,000 residents live below the poverty line in isolated villages far from the nearest grocery store.
The Episcopal Church created the Navajoland Area Mission in 1978 by carving out sections of the dioceses of Rio Grande, Arizona and Utah, in an effort to unify the language, culture and families of the region. The churchwide triennial budget now includes a $1 million block grant to support Navajoland.
“The Episcopal Church Office of Development continues to partner with the Episcopal Church in Navajoland to support fundraising efforts for core operations and essential ministries,” Cecilia Malm, the office’s associate director, told ENS by email. “Development staff provide professional consultation in areas such as annual giving, major gifts and endowment fundraising and encourage support for Navajoland through social media and other communications channels.”
Episcopalians interested in supporting Navajoland’s ministries can donate online.
For the week of Thanksgiving, the food assembled by Navajoland leaders was divided to feed about 100 families in each of the mission’s regions. All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Farmington was used as the operation’s Nov. 18 staging ground, and food for the San Juan region in New Mexico was distributed from there on Nov. 21. A no-contact process was established, with volunteers placing boxes in the backs of recipients’ vehicles due to the region’s elevated COVID-19 case count.
The boxes included a mix of canned goods and other nonperishable items, as well as fresh produce and meat. “We really wanted to make sure people had turkey and fixings for Thanksgiving,” the Rev. Jack Chase, the priest serving the region, told ENS.
Chase praised Gordy’s work in coordinating the food distribution. “She really is the engine behind it all, the one who makes it happen,” he said.
In Navajoland’s southeast region, based in Fort Defiance, Arizona, the Rev. Leon Sampson and volunteers finished packing and delivering boxes of food to far-flung families on Nov. 22.https://www.facebook.com/v2.3/plugins/post.php?app_id=249643311490&channel=https%3A%2F%2Fstaticxx.facebook.com%2Fx%2Fconnect%2Fxd_arbiter%2F%3Fversion%3D46%23cb%3Df3328b5e03ee548%26domain%3Dwww.episcopalnewsservice.org%26is_canvas%3Dfalse%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.episcopalnewsservice.org%252Ff56ff27b551c98%26relation%3Dparent.parent&container_width=728&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpermalink.php%3Fstory_fbid%3D6453461318061677%26id%3D100001936191757&locale=en_US&sdk=joey&width= https://www.facebook.com/v2.3/plugins/post.php?app_id=249643311490&channel=https%3A%2F%2Fstaticxx.facebook.com%2Fx%2Fconnect%2Fxd_arbiter%2F%3Fversion%3D46%23cb%3Df22b3852db1c234%26domain%3Dwww.episcopalnewsservice.org%26is_canvas%3Dfalse%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.episcopalnewsservice.org%252Ff56ff27b551c98%26relation%3Dparent.parent&container_width=728&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcathlenap%2Fposts%2F10223754083572899&locale=en_US&sdk=joey&width=
“It’s not that we’re expecting them to come to church, to be Episcopalians,” Sampson told ENS. “We’re showing them that God is still in the midst of them.” Sampson also planned to cook turkey dinners for delivery on Thanksgiving to about five families who do not have the means to cook the meals themselves.
Many families in the Utah region, in and around Bluff, lack fresh water plumbing and are receiving gallons of drinking water with their food boxes. Hubbard, church volunteers and a 10-member crew from AmeriCorps worked together to deliver nearly 300 boxes of food, or four boxes per family, on Nov. 19 and 21 to the Utah communities served by St. Mary’s in the Moonlight Church in Oljato and St. John the Baptizer Church in Montezuma Creek. Among the nonperishable items were staples like rice, dried beans, flour and sugar. More boxes are being distributed this week.
Going forward, the distributed boxes will contain about enough food to assist families for two weeks, Gordy said. Navajoland also is raising money to help Navajo Nation families pay to heat their homes during the winter.
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Episcopal News Service] Although there is now a path to marriage for same-sex couples in the Diocese of Albany, some members of the diocese say theological differences, distrust and a sense of disconnect from the larger Episcopal Church linger, and that the diocese still has a long way to go before LGBTQ+ people are fully included.
The diocese’s standing committee announced on Nov. 1 that it would comply with churchwide marriage canons, ending its distinction as the only remaining U.S. diocese to ban same-sex marriage outright. In the short term, the standing committee brought the diocese into compliance with Resolution B012, the 2018 General Convention compromise measure that allows same-sex couples to marry where it is legal, regardless of the diocese’s or the bishop’s official position. B012 contains a provision for another bishop to provide oversight for same-sex marriages if the diocesan bishop opposes them.
Still, the diocese’s canon forbidding same-sex marriage and a canon requiring priests to be either in a heterosexual marriage or celibate remain on the books for now.
“The standing committee has not opened the door” to marriage equality, said Louis Bannister, a member of the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany who serves as a lay leader on the cathedral’s chapter (similar to a vestry). “They’ve unlocked the door, but they’ve left it closed.”
The diocese had been scheduled to vote on whether to change the marriage and ordination canons at its convention in October. However, delegates voted 126 to 116 for a procedural amendment that said no canonical changes could be made during an online meeting. Four new standing committee members were elected at the meeting.
In its Nov. 1 announcement, the standing committee – which has served as the diocese’s ecclesiastical authority since the resignation of former Bishop William Love – said that “as a body” it is theologically opposed to same-sex marriage, as Love was. Love was the only bishop who refused to implement B012, and a disciplinary panel determined in October 2020 that his refusal violated church canon law and his ordination vows. Love resigned in February of this year rather than face further disciplinary action, and he joined the Anglican Church in North America.
In order to comply with B012 until the election of the next diocesan bishop, the committee directed clergy who plan to celebrate same-sex marriages to consult with Assisting Bishop Michael Smith and work out an arrangement. In August, the committee had called Smith to serve the diocese until Love’s successor is elected.
Smith, previously bishop of the Diocese of North Dakota, was one of eight bishops who refused to allow same-sex couples to marry using trial rites approved in 2015 by the 78th General Convention. In 2018, he agreed to implement B012 in North Dakota by designating pastoral oversight to another bishop. Smith retired as diocesan bishop there in May 2019.
The Albany diocese started its profile and search process for the next diocesan bishop in June, and it is expected to take about 18 months.
It is unclear what prompted the standing committee to issue its Nov. 1 announcement. Smith, the standing committee, and diocesan officers have not answered questions from Episcopal News Service. Members of the diocese whom ENS spoke to said they aren’t clear on how the alternative pastoral oversight process would work – whether Smith would provide the oversight himself or arrange for a bishop outside the diocese to do so, or whether any oversight is necessary, since bishops typically do not intervene in marriages unless either spouse has previously been divorced. The Rev. Glen Michaels, priest-in-charge of five churches known as the Adirondack Mission, said he wrote to Smith asking what the process would be and had not received a response.
Some members of the diocese are frustrated that the standing committee didn’t go further toward full inclusion, while others hope the announcement is a first step toward reconciliation.
“The statement is less than we would have wanted, but nevertheless shows change, I think in the right direction,” said the Rev. Jane Brady-Close, interim rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Albany, which is open about being an LGBTQ-welcoming congregation. She said she was “blindsided” by the announcement. “A lot of these issues that are so significant that they take generations of people working on them. … Moses never entered the promised land.”
“There’s some frustration and there are still some questions about the process,” said Barbara Wisnom, senior warden at St. Andrew’s, which has had pastoral oversight from bishops outside the diocese since 2012, with the understanding that it will still abide by diocesan canons. “Are they trying to make it harder? Do we have to have a bishop come in from outside? … We’re kind of in limbo.”
“There is great distrust for the standing committee. There’s just a lot of distrust, period,” Bannister said.
The next time the diocese will be able to consider the resolutions on marriage and ordination is at its next in-person diocesan convention, scheduled for June. Since the resolutions were tabled and the standing committee’s announcement did not pertain to the ban on ordaining non-celibate gay people, it is still in effect. Churchwide canons prohibit discrimination in access to the discernment process based on sex, marital or family status, sexual orientation and gender identity, among other categories.
“I’m disappointed that the diocese has not taken up the issue of ordination,” Brady-Close said. “How big is your vision of God? And is God not entitled to call whomever God chooses to call? And who are we to interfere with that?”
Wisnom says she and others who have been involved in the long struggle for marriage equality in the diocese will continue to push for equality in ordination. She is an organizer of the informal group Concerned Episcopalians, formerly Albany Via Media, which has advocated for compromise solutions to LGBTQ+ issues since 2003. She said the group has over 20 people representing at least six congregations, and they will advocate for the resolutions at the June convention.
“We’re not protesting. We’re not carrying flags. We’re trying to play by the rules,” Wisnom said.
She and other members of the diocese said they want to see the diocese reengage with The Episcopal Church.
“I don’t want anyone to think that this is all about gay marriage,” Wisnom said. “That’s the presenting issue. The Diocese of Albany has cut themselves off from the national church. We get no information about commissions on race relations, on climate change. Our larger hope is that our next bishop is someone that the conservatives could be OK with and would start to repair relationships or reinitiate relationships with the national church because we really are isolated.”
Keith St. John, a member of the Cathedral of All Saints and of Concerned Episcopalians, said he is uneasy by language in the standing committee’s letter supporting the adoption of the Anglican Communion Covenant, a framework for managing differences within the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church has not taken a position on the covenant, which has been accepted by some churches and rejected by others.
“That said, I’m heartened to see the standing committee finally comport with the actions of the 79th General Convention,” said St. John, who also serves on the profile and search committee for the next diocesan bishop.
No one ENS spoke to was aware of any same-sex couples who were planning to get married in the diocese. Some gay members had already gotten married in other dioceses or in a civil ceremony – or left the diocese altogether.
“My husband and I waited 10 years for things to change and gave up in frustration,” said Roland LaScala, former senior warden at St. Andrew’s, who married his husband in June in a civil ceremony at a farm.
“Many [couples] across the diocese have stopped holding their breath and simply chose to leave the church,” St. John said. “I hope and pray that they will see their way back to the church and find renewed comfort and purpose, even in the Diocese of Albany.”
One couple from the Cathedral of All Saints got married in the Diocese of Vermont, and brought the cathedral’s processional cross and thurible for the ceremony, which a number of parishioners attended, Bannister told ENS.
“We were able to do everything except host the wedding of two of our own people,” he said.
Though gay Episcopalians who have stayed in the diocese are no longer banned from getting married in their own churches, some said it doesn’t erase the pain of exclusion.
“I grew up active in the church. I grew up believing that I was a child of God because that is what the church taught me before I knew what my sexual orientation was going to be,” Bannister said. “My outrage is because, in this diocese, I’m not a child of God; I’m part of a problem.”
When LGBTQ+ parishioners are suffering, the whole parish suffers with them, Brady-Close said – but their endurance is also a source of inspiration.
“It’s been a hardship for St. Andrew’s – for our members as a whole, not merely for our gay and lesbian members, and that we have a significant number testifies to their faith and their spiritual maturity. It would be so easy to just say, ‘I’m out of here.’ … Their tenacity and their humility is just a great inspiration for others.”
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, Barbara Wisnom’s name was misspelled.
– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at email@example.com.
[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. Jim Curry answered his phone Nov. 15 while driving his Toyota Highlander south down Interstate 95 toward Washington, D.C., with two colleagues on board. The vehicle was towing a trailer loaded with their essential cargo: a traditional blacksmithing forge.
Curry, a founding member of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, and his Connecticut-based crew were on their way to appear the next day on Capitol Hill to demonstrate how they melt down guns and turn them into gardening tools. The nonprofit he co-founded in 2017, Swords to Plowshares Northeast, is centered on the process.
The organization takes its name from a passage from Isaiah 2:4 – “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” Swords to Plowshares promotes gun safety with a visual, tangible ministry that Curry says is both practical and symbolic.
“When we started evangelizing and talking to police departments and communities around the country and we could show them the actual transformation, these weapons of death into instruments of life, it’s just been an amazing process,” Curry told Episcopal News Service. “People really get it.”
Curry retired in 2014 as bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Connecticut. He now serves as chief blacksmith for Swords to Plowshares, demonstrating his skills with a hammer and anvil at gun buyback events across the Northeast. He’s helped the nonprofit destroy about 800 guns in four years. More were melted down Nov. 16 when Curry and the blacksmithing crew fired up the forge during the noon hour outside the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, about a block and a half from the U.S. Capitol.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both Democrats from Connecticut, attended the demonstration and participated in part of the process of melting and reshaping the former weapons. Washington Bishop Marianne Budde also joined them.
The organization’s ministry is deeply rooted in Connecticut, where lawmakers and Episcopal leaders were moved to action on gun reforms by the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, which left 20 students and six educators dead. Curry recalls responding to the scene of the shooting that day with Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas and Bishop Suffragan Laura Ahrens.
“Quite frankly, you don’t live through that without your lives changing,” Curry said.
In the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, the Connecticut bishops joined with bishops in other dioceses that were grieving mass shootings and formed Bishops United Against Gun Violence. The network, with more than 100 member bishops, now is a leading churchwide voice of advocacy for gun safety legislation and common sense precautions, like gun locks and safes. The bishops also memorialize the victims of gun violence and offer prayers and pastoral care to survivors.
In Washington, The Episcopal Church’s advocacy is led by the Office of Government Relations, which has pushed this year for passage of legislation that would strengthen and expand background checks for gun purchases. The House passed two such bills this year, but they have since stalled in the Senate. “A majority of Americans recognize the urgent need for gun reform,” the Office of Government Relations said in an action alert to its Episcopal Public Policy Network.
The agency’s advocacy follows Episcopal policy positions established by General Convention in resolutions dating to 1976 that call for legislation to address the problem of gun violence.
Raising awareness of those positions is one goal of Swords to Plowshares, and the demonstration on Nov. 16 in Washington was arranged to draw the attention of lawmakers, news outlets and passersby on Capitol Hill.
“The biblical promise of swords being turned into plowshares was reenacted today. Our hope is that we can all help to build a more peaceful world,” Lindsey Warburton, a policy analyst with the Office of Government Relations, said in an emailed statement to ENS. “We are glad to support Swords to Plowshares, the work of Bishops United against Gun Violence, and advocacy to the U.S. government to ensure our communities do not suffer any more from gun violence.”
The mobile blacksmithing forge that Curry and his team use is fired by propane, and their blacksmithing tools include hammers, tongs, chisels and anvils. They take the barrels of rifles, pistols and shotguns and heat them in the forge and then reshape the malleable metal into hand tools. Trowels, shaped from shotgun barrels, are relatively easy, Curry told ENS. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to get the rough shape. Revolvers and rifles typically are made from heavier metals, which take more time to mold, he said. The blacksmiths then grind the metal to complete the tool.
The idea for Swords to Plowshares was inspired by a Mennonite blacksmithing ministry in Colorado called RAWtools. Its motto: “Disarm hearts. Forge peace. Cultivate justice.” After hearing about RAWtools’ efforts to collect surrendered weapons and melt them down, Curry went to apprentice with them.
Taking what he learned, Curry and the team now partner with police agencies and other local groups to organize gun buybacks, at which guns can be surrendered with no questions asked, in exchange for cash or other compensation. After the weapons are transformed into gardening tools, Swords to Plowshares donates them to community gardens.
The method and the message are closely intertwined, Curry said, and this transformation that ends the guns’ existence can be emotionally powerful for observers. At a recent session in Massachusetts, “as the gardeners saw us making tools and received tools from us, they were just in tears,” Curry said. “The larger message is, as a society we don’t have to be bound by violence.”
Curry acknowledged that the organization can only melt down guns that are surrendered, leaving plenty of guns out of the organization’s reach in a country where 40% of adults live in a household with a gun.
He emphasized that 60% of the 40,000 gun deaths each year in the United States are not homicides but suicides. “Those suicides are because unsecured guns are available to people at moments of crisis. Buybacks get those guns out of homes,” Curry said.
He also lamented the hundreds of people wounded or killed in the U.S. annually in accidental shootings by children; guns also are prime targets for thefts from homes, especially in suburban communities. In response, Swords to Plowshares works with its community partners to encourage gun owners to obtain locks and safes to secure their firearms.
“If people can rethink their need to have unsecured guns in their house, then we’re really changing the understanding of the place of guns in our lives,” he said.
Destroying guns is the most direct way Swords to Plowshares fulfills its mission. The garden tools that were created Nov. 16 on Capitol Hill mostly came from metal obtained in gun buybacks held in the Connecticut communities of New Haven, Guilford and Hamden, Curry said, and they eventually will be put in the hands of gardeners.
That process conveys “a real sense of transformation,” he said. “That’s what gives hope.”
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Episcopal Diocese of Low Angeles] Elections were held at Diocesan Convention 2021, with delegates and clergy voting both in person and via the internet at the Diocese of Los Angeles’ first-ever hybrid convention, meeting on Nov. 13 in Riverside.
Officers elected are:
Director, Canterbury Irvine
Director, Canterbury USC
Commission on Ministry (clergy)
The Rev. Kay Sylvester
Commission on Ministry (lay)
Director, Corporation of the Diocese (clergy)
*The Rev. Michael Corrigan
Director, Corporation of the Diocese (lay)
Member, Diocesan Council (clergy)
The Rev. William Wallace
Member, Diocesan Council (lay)
Trustee, Diocesan Investment Trust
*The Rev. Ed Sniecienski
Board member, Holy Family Services
*The Rev. Nathan Biornstad
Secretary of Convention
*Canon Steven Nishibayashi
Member, Standing Committee (clergy)
The Rev. Lester Mackenzie
Member, Standing Committee (lay)
A full report on Diocesan Convention will be posted on Monday, Nov. 15.
* Candidate ran unopposed and was elected by acclamation. In the case of lay member of the Corporation of the Diocese, two candidates were nominated and two were to be elected.