Category Archives: The Episcopal Church

A Word to the Church from The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops Gathered in Fairbanks, Alaska, September 21-26, 2017

September 27, 2017

The Episcopal Church House of Bishops, meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska (Diocese of Alaska) approved and presented the following Word to the Church.

A Word to the Church from The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops Gathered in Fairbanks, Alaska, September 21-26, 2017

The bishops of The Episcopal Church came to Alaska to listen to the earth and its peoples as an act of prayer, solidarity and witness. We came because:

  • “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers” (Psalm 24:1-2). God is the Lord of all the earth and of all people; we are one family, the family of God.
  • “You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are … members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). The residents of interior Alaska whom we met are not strangers; they are members of the same household of faith.
  • People have “become hard of hearing, and shut their eyes so that they won’t see with their eyes or hear with their ears or understand with their minds, and change their hearts and lives that I may heal them” (Matthew 13:14-15). We are blind and deaf to the groaning of the earth and its peoples; we are learning the art of prayerful listening.

What does listening to the earth and its people mean? For us bishops, it meant:

  • Getting out and walking the land, standing beside the rivers, sitting beside people whose livelihood depends on that land. We had to slow down and live at the pace of the stories we heard. We had to trust that listening is prayer.
  • Recognizing that struggles for justice are connected. Racism, the economy, violence of every kind, and the environment are interrelated. We have seen this reality not only in the Arctic, but also at Standing Rock in the Dakotas, in the recent hurricanes, in Flint, Michigan, Charlottesville, Virginia, and in the violence perpetuated against people of color and vulnerable populations anywhere.
  • Understanding that listening is deeply connected to healing. In many healing stories in the gospels, Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” That is, he listened first and then acted.

What did we hear?

  • “The weather is really different today,” one leader told us. “Now spring comes earlier, and fall lasts longer. This is threatening our lives because the permafrost is melting and destabilizing the rivers. We depend on the rivers.”
  • The land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge where the caribou birth their calves is called the “sacred place where life begins,” so sacred the Gwich’in People do not set foot there. “Drilling here,” people said, “is like digging beneath the National Cathedral.”
  • After shopping together, a native Episcopalian told one of us how hard it is to even secure food. “We can’t get good food here. We have to drive to Fairbanks. It is a two-hour trip each way.”

What we bishops saw and heard in Alaska is dramatic, but it is not unique. Stories like these can be heard in each of the nations where The Episcopal Church is present. They can be heard in our own communities. We invite you to join us, your bishops, and those people already engaged in this work, in taking time to listen to people in your dioceses and neighborhoods. Look for the connections among race, violence of every kind, economic disparity, and the environment. Then, after reflecting in prayer and engaging with scripture, partner with people in common commitment to the healing of God’s world.

God calls us to listen to each other with increased attention. It is only with unstopped ears and open eyes that our hearts and lives will be changed. It is through the reconciling love of God in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit that we and the earth itself will be healed.

A Prayer for Our Time and for the Earth

Dear God, Creator of the earth, this sacred home we share;

Give us new eyes to see the beauty all around and to protect the wonders of creation.

Give us new arms to embrace the strangers among us and to know them as family.

Give us new ears to hear and understand those who live off the land
and to hear and understand those who extract its resources.

Give us new hearts to recognize the brokenness in our communities and to heal the wounds we have inflicted.

Give us new hands to serve the earth and its people and to shape beloved community.

For you are the One who seeks the lost, binds our wounds and sets us free, and it is in the name of Jesus the Christ we pray.

Amen.

Resources are here

Presiding Bishop, President of House of Deputies on DACA: We stand with the Dreamers and will do all that we can to support them

September 5, 2017

Today our hearts are with those known as the Dreamers—those young women and men who were brought to this country as children, who were raised here and whose primary cultural and country identity is American. We believe that these young people are children of God and deserve a chance to live full lives, free from fear of deportation to countries that they may have never known and whose languages they may not speak. As people of faith, our obligation is first to the most vulnerable, especially to children. In this moment, we are called by God to protect Dreamers from being punished for something they had no agency in doing.

Since 2012, individuals who are undocumented and who were brought to the U.S. as children have benefitted from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Through this program, those eligible have the opportunity to obtain a work permit and can secure protection from deportation. The nearly 800,000 recipients of DACA have proven that when given the opportunity, they succeed and contribute positively to our country. Without the protection afforded by DACA or a legislative solution, these young people will live in fear of arrest, detention, and deportation to countries they may not remember. In six months those fears may become reality, so we must use that time wisely to advocate for their protection.

The Episcopal Church supports these undocumented youth as part of our decades-long commitment to walking with immigrants and refugees. Out of that commitment, we call on our nation to live up to its highest ideals and most deeply held values, and we call on Congress to take action to protect these young people and to formulate a comprehensive immigration policy that is moral and consistent and that allows immigrants who want to contribute to this country the chance to do so while keeping our borders secure from those whose business is in drugs, human trafficking or terror. We are committed to working actively toward both the passage of a bipartisan Dream Act by Congress and comprehensive immigration reform, and we will provide resources for Episcopalians who want to participate in this work.

For those of us who follow Jesus Christ, our Christian values are at stake. Humane and loving care for the stranger, the alien, and the foreigner is considered a sacred duty and moral value for those who would follow the way of God. In his parable of the last judgment, Jesus commended those who welcomed the stranger and condemned those who did not (Matthew 25:35 & 25:43). This teaching of Jesus was based on the law of Moses that tells the people of God: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-35).

We stand with the Dreamers and will do all that we can to support them while we also work for the kind of immigration reform that truly reflects the best of our spiritual and moral values as people of faith and as citizens of the United States.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry                The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
Presiding Bishop and Primate                   President, House of Deputies

On the Episcopal Church Website

Interested in more information on DACA?  Contact the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations at eppn@episcopalchurch.org; 202.547.7300. Info here

A Message to the Church from the Presiding Bishop—Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?

In this moment – when the stain of bigotry has once again covered our land, and when hope, frankly, sometimes seems far away, when we must now remember new martyrs of the way of love like young Heather Heyer – it may help to remember the deep wisdom of the martyrs who have gone before.

The year was 1967. It was a time not unlike this one in America. Then there were riots in our streets, poverty and unbridled racism in our midst, and a war far away tearing us apart at home. In that moment, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a book, his last one, with a message that rings poignant today. It was titled, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”

One of his insights then was that a moment of crisis is always a moment of decision. It was true then and is true now. Where do we go from here? Chaos? Indifference? Avoidance? Business as usual? Or Beloved Community?

I’m a follower of Jesus of Nazareth because I believe the teachings, the Spirit, the Person, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus have shown us the way through the chaos to true community as God has intended from the beginning.

Through the way of love, he has shown us the way to be right and reconciled with the God and Creator of us all. Through his way of love, he has shown us the way to be right and reconciled with each other as children of God, and as brothers and sisters. In so doing, Jesus has shown us the way to become the Beloved Community of God. St. Paul said it this way: “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself” and now he has entrusted us with “the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

I know too well that talk of Beloved Community, which Jesus was describing when he spoke of the kingdom of God in our midst, can be dismissed as nice but naive, idealistic yet unrealistic. I know that.

But I also know this. The way of Beloved Community is our only hope. In this most recent unveiling of hatred, bigotry, and cruelty, as Neo-Nazis marched and chanted, “The Jews will not replace us,” we have seen the alternative to God’s Beloved Community. And that alternative is simply unthinkable. It is nothing short of the nightmare of human self-destruction and the destruction of God’s creation. And that is unthinkable, too.

We who follow Jesus have made a choice to walk a different way: the way of disciplined, intentional, passionate, compassionate, mobilized, organized love intent on creating God’s Beloved Community on earth.

Maybe it is not an accident that the Bible readings for the Holy Eucharist this Sunday (Genesis 45:1-15; Isaiah 56:1,6-8; Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; and Matthew 15:21-28) all point toward and bear a message of God’s passionate desire and dream to create the Beloved Community in the human family and all of the creation.

This Sunday and in the days and weeks to come, as we gather in community to worship God and then move about in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, social circles and more, we will be faced with a choice. I ask and invite us as congregations and individuals who are together the Episcopal Church of the Jesus Movement to intentionally, purposely, and liturgically rededicate ourselves to the way of Jesus, the work of racial reconciliation, the work of healing and dismantling everything that wounds and divides us, the work of becoming God’s Beloved Community. Resources that can assist us in doing this work are included with this message, including an adapted version of the Becoming Beloved Community vision that our church’s key leaders shared this spring. I urge you to spend time reflecting with them individually and in your churches.

Where do we go from here? Maybe the venerable slave songs from our American past can help us. In the midst of their suffering, they used to sing …

Walk together children

And don’t you get weary.

Cause there’s a great camp meeting

In the promised land.

We will walk there … together. We will make this soil on which we live more and more like God’s own Promised Land. So God love you. God bless you. And let’s all keep the faith.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church


A video of this message is available here as are resources on Racial Reconciliation and Becoming the Beloved Community.


 

Presiding Bishop Responds to Trump’s Decision to Pull U.S. Out of Worldwide Climate Accord

[June 1, 2017, Episcopal News Service]

President Donald Trump announced June 1 that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, a 2015 pledge to limit climate change signed by 196 nations.

The agreement includes a plan to decrease carbon emissions and limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, and a commitment from wealthier nations to provide $100 billion in aid to developing countries. The agreement is the first-ever binding, international treaty in 20 years of United Nations climate talks.

The presiding bishop’s statement follows.


With the announcement by President Donald Trump of his decision to withdraw the commitment made by the United States to the Paris Climate Accord, I am reminded of the words of the old spiritual which speaks of God and God’s creation in these words, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” The whole world belongs to God, as Psalm 24 teaches us. God’s eye is ever on even the tiny sparrow, as Jesus taught and the song says (Luke 12:6). And we human beings have been charged with being trustees, caretakers, stewards of God’s creation (Genesis 1:26-31).

The United States has been a global leader in caring for God’s creation through efforts over the years on climate change. President Trump’s announcement changes the U.S.’s leadership role in the international sphere. Despite this announcement, many U.S. businesses, states, cities, regions, nongovernmental organizations and faith bodies like the Episcopal Church can continue to take bold action to address the climate crisis.  The phrase, “Were still in,” became a statement of commitment for many of us who regardless of this decision by our President are still committed to the principles of the Paris Agreement.

Faith bodies like the Episcopal Church occupy a unique space in the worldwide climate movement. In the context of the United Nations, the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, we are an international body representing 17 countries in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia and the Pacific. We also are a provisionally admitted observer organization to the UNFCCC process, empowered to bring accredited observers to the UN climate change meetings. Furthermore, the Episcopal Church is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the third-largest Christian tradition, and we remain committed to ensuring that Anglicans everywhere are empowered to undertake bold action on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

We know that caring for God’s creation by engaging climate change is not only good for the environment but also good for the health and welfare of our people. The U.S. is currently creating more clean jobs faster than job creation in nearly every other sector of the economy, and unprecedented acceleration in the clean energy sector is also evident in many other major economies.

My prayer is that we in the Episcopal Church will, in this and all things, follow the way, the teachings and the Spirit of Jesus by cultivating a loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God, all others in the human family, and with all of God’s good creation.

In spite of hardships and setbacks, the work goes on. This is God’s world.  And we are all his children. And, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Webinar & Resources for ‘Becoming Beloved Community’

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Following a year of listening, consulting and reflection, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings and officers of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies are inviting Episcopalians to study and commit to using “Becoming Beloved Community: The Episcopal Church’s Long-term Commitment to Racial Healing, Reconciliation, and Justice.”

The full document is available here. 

“You’re not looking at a set of programs,” Presiding Bishop Curry explained. “You’re looking at a path for how we, as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, can more fully and prayerfully embody the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus in our relationships with each other. Look at the scriptures, at Christian history. There is no doubt that Beloved Community, healing, justice, and reconciliation are at the heart of Jesus’ movement in this world.”

 The “Becoming Beloved Community” vision emerges as a direct response to General Convention Resolution C019 (“Establish Response to Systemic Injustice”). The comprehensive commitment – which the Church’s top leaders crafted in partnership with the Presiding Bishop’s staff, key leaders, networks and organizations dedicated to racial reconciliation – links new initiatives with existing, ongoing work and seeks to support and amplify local, regional, provincial and churchwide network efforts. 

Leaders say “Becoming Beloved Community” is designed as a strategic path through distinct phases that lead to personal and structural transformation:

  1. Telling the Truth about the Church and Race, via a census to determine church demographics and a Racial Justice Audit to study the impact of racism on the Church’s leadership, organizations and bodies.
  2. Proclaiming the Dream of Beloved Community, via a series of regional public listening and learning engagements, starting with a partnership at Washington National Cathedral.
  3. Practicing the Way of Love, via a churchwide Beloved Community story-sharing campaign, multilingual and multigenerational formation and training, pilgrimages and liturgical resources.
  4. Repairing the Breach in Institutions and Society, via advocacy for criminal justice reform, re-entry collaboratives shaped by people moving from prison back to community, and partnership with Saint Augustine’s University and Voorhees College (the historically black university and college associated with the Episcopal Church).

May 16 webinar to discuss Becoming Beloved Community

Presiding Bishop Curry and President Jennings will host a free webinar to discuss the Church’s long-term commitment on May 16 from 3 to 3:45 p.m. ET (or at 2 p.m. CT/1 p.m. MT/noon PT/11 a.m. in Alaska/10 a.m. in Hawaii). 

Additional webinars and conversations with specific constituencies will be held in the coming months. Several working groups will be formed to identify and make use of gifts and expertise across the Church. 

No registration is necessary. Additional discussions with different constituencies, including Spanish-speakers, will be held on later dates.

To join the webinar

There is no registration required in order to attend and view the webinar.

Setup for Use of Zoom

Unless you have used Zoom before, it is suggested that you prepare for the webinar beforehand by executing a first-time setup of Zoom software on the device that you will be using, as explained below.

Zoom will require you to enter an email address and to have the Zoom browser plug-in (on a computer) or the Zoom application (on a mobile device) installed.   If you do not have the plug-in/application already installed, please do one of the following at any time before the webinar begins:

  • Click on the link above, and follow the sequence of prompts.
  • In your browser, access  https://zoom.us/, click on Join a Meeting, enter the Meeting ID 956 329 163, and follow the sequence of prompts.
  • When you click on the link above to join the webinar on Tuesday, you will be connected without any further preparation.

Submitting Questions

When the webinar is running, the panelists will endeavor to respond to questions.  In the Zoom view that you will have as an Attendee, please refrain from using the Chat and Raise Hand functions, as neither can be monitored effectively. Instead, use the Q&A window to submit your questions, or send them via Email to webinar@episcopalchurch.org.

The webinar will be available on-demand shortly after the webinar.

Resources

More Info

For more information contact

“In the end, love wins.” Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry Offers Affirmation and Encouragement to Small Indiana Parish Targeted with Hate Crime

Nearly six months after the congregation of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Bean Blossom, Indiana, was shocked by a graffiti hate crime, they received an enormous injection of support and enthusiasm from the top leader of their denomination.

The Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, made a Sunday morning visit to the church in rural Brown County, Indiana. The congregation typically has about 50 at its primary Sunday service but extra chairs were brought in to accommodate those throughout central and southern Indiana and beyond who wanted to hear the Presiding Bishop and share communion with him.

Bishop Curry quickly acknowledged what the congregation had experienced back in November and affirmed the way they comported themselves and shared a witness with the country and the world.

“In the end, love wins,” he said. Bishop Curry said he hasn’t visited a church since November, either in the U.S. or abroad, that hasn’t experienced some type of hate crime. He focused much of his sermon on his theme of the “Jesus movement.”

“Jesus started a movement of God’s unconditional love,” he said.

Speaking of St. David’s church, he said, “You hurt. You invited the community here to come together. People of decency and good will came together, he said.”

The Jesus movement, he said, means sharing the love of God, sending people out, proclaiming God’s love through word and reconciling acts.

“You were here where we needed God’s unconditional love,” he said, speaking of how the Bean Blossom hate crime and the parish’s loving response touched people all across the church.

“My friends, we have a world that is trying to tear itself apart, ” he said. “We have to love it back together.”

He urged holding fast to what is good and not returning evil for evil.

“When we love, God shows up, he said.

Video to Come Soon

Remember the Refugees and Migrants

Migrant and Refugee, word cloud concept on black background.

Ash Wednesday message offered by heads of Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

[March 1, 2017] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry joined the leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in issuing an Ash Wednesday message. The message was issued by

  • The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, the Episcopal Church
  • The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada
  • The Rev. Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

The text of the message can be read on the Episcopalian Church website.

Presiding Bishop: “I ask President Trump to continue the powerful work of our refugee resettlement program without interruption’

January 25, 2017

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has released the following statement.


Mark 12:31: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Leviticus 19:34: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Numbers 15:15:  One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord.”

Deuteronomy 10:19: “Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

On Saturday, the Washington National Cathedral hosted the National Prayer Service for the President, Vice-President, their families, and those who will be taking on the grave responsibility nominated to cabinet posts. Religious leaders from many traditions joined their voices in prayer and song, and while we shared our most sacred scriptures, we prayed for wisdom for all those who serve our nation. I affirm those prayers, and ask that our leaders listen to the powerful call to serve those who are most vulnerable in continuing to welcome refugees from around the world.

As Christians, we are asked to pray: for our leaders, for our loved ones, for our enemies, and for those who are suffering. Our work does not end with prayer: we also offer assistance to those who are fleeing persecution. We find homes for those who have been forced out of their homes. We feed those who are hungry. The refugees who enter the United States do so after experiencing violence and persecution undeserved of any human being, and they come to the U.S. with hopes to build new lives.

Refugee resettlement is a form of ministry, and one that we, and many other churches and faith-based organizations, cherish. The work of Episcopal Migration Ministries is God’s work, and we show the face of God through the care and compassion in that work. I ask President Trump to continue the powerful work of our refugee resettlement program without interruption, recognizing the long wait and screening process that means refugees wait months and sometimes years to enter the country. We ask that we continue to accept as many refugees as we have in the past, recognizing the need is greater than ever. We ask that refugees from all countries receive consideration to come to the U.S. and not to ban those who come from countries most in need of our assistance.

Our Book of Common Prayer asks for God to “look with compassion on the whole human family;” to “break down the walls that separate us and unite us in bonds of love.” On Saturday, we prayed for God our Father to look with compassion upon the widowed and orphans, outcasts and refugees, prisoners, and all who are in danger. We pray to love one another as God loves us. I echo that prayer now and ask that we may work together to build a more grace and compassion-filled world.

See Also: Presiding Bishop, other Episcopal leaders call on Trump to maintain refugee resettlement efforts

Presiding Bishop Curry’s Statement on the News about Standing Rock

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release Dec. 5, 2016] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry has issued the following statement on the news concerning the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation:

This morning, the sun ascended over the Great Plains of our nation, and hope truly dawned anew.

After months of courageously and peacefully working to prevent the laying of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which posed a potential danger to the water supply of the people of the Sioux Nation and transgressed their sacred burial grounds, the water protectors on Standing Rock have won a notable victory. Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced their decision to deny an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction across the sacred land and water of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and this long-awaited announcement is cause for joyful celebration and thanks.

On behalf of the Episcopal Church, I offer my gratitude to President Barack Obama and his Administration for championing the rights of the indigenous peoples of the United States. We applaud the decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny the pipeline permit under Lake Oahe. I personally offer thanks to all those who have worked to amplify the voices of the people at Standing Rock, calling our attention to historic wrongs and injustices, and urging us all to consider a new vision for how we might love God, love each other and love creation.

I am grateful and humbled by the water protectors of Standing Rock, whose faithful witness, serves as an example of moral courage, spiritual integrity, and genuine concern for the entire human family and God’s creation. I am equally appreciative of the sacrifice and example of the military veterans, interfaith clergy and trauma chaplains who accompanied the Water Protectors during critical moments of the struggle.

Our whole church should offer special thanksgiving to Father John Floberg of the Diocese of North Dakota for effectively organizing Episcopalians and other people of faith in this effort, and to clergy and lay people who committed themselves to standing with the water protectors – both physically and in spirit.

Even as our Church celebrates this historic announcement, we must also look to the mighty tasks that lay ahead. In the next eighteen months, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct an Environmental Impact Statement to explore alternative routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline. We ask that the assessment involve extensive consultation with affected populations, and that any plan going forward honor treaty obligations with the Standing Rock Sioux. We will also continue to urge the current and incoming presidential administration to launch a thorough Department of Justice investigation into the use of brutal force by law enforcement on Standing Rock. Our work is not over, and the Episcopal Church has a critical role to play in ensuring a just and humane outcome is fully realized.

We recognize that this struggle for the protection of water and of the basic human rights of indigenous people is one moment in a wider movement for social and environmental justice. May we in this way bear true witness to the words of the holy prophet Micah, who said:

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church