Nairobi, Kenya, August 11 (ENInews)--Religious leaders say they are exploring short and long term strategies for communities to end reliance on food aid in Africa, as relief organizations continue to minister to thousands suffering from drought and famine in the Horn of Africa.
The worst drought in 60 years is affecting more than 12 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Its epicentre is Somalia, where tens of thousands are fleeing to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.
"We would not only want to work on the immediate needs, but we are thinking, because this is becoming a chronic problem, we have got to see the root causes and fight it," Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean Province and the chairman of the Council of Anglican Province of Africa told a news conference on 10 August in Nairobi after a meeting of Anglican archbishops.
As he spoke, an average of 1,300 Somali migrants fleeing both civil unrest and famine daily continued to arrive at the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya, which has become the world's largest camp -- a small city of tents in a dusty desert. The camp holds more than 400,000 migrants, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with new arrivals being settled in rows of identical white tents, portable latrines and mobile health clinics.
Planning goes into everything, from vacation Bible school to replacing church doors in the Dominican Republic.
Church and school construction and vacation Bible school were the focus of two mission teams sent from All Saints Episcopal Church on Hilton Head Island to the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic in Barahona.
Sun City resident Fred Finn served as the mission leader for a construction team, which also included Arthur McVitty of Hilton Head and Michael Wolstencroft, also of Sun City. The trio assisted with the installation of doors at La Redención School, part of a new church complex that the members of All Saints and the Clearwater Deanery from Florida are helping to construct in the city of Barahona within the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic.
For decades, the "Black Babe Ruth" lay in an unmarked hillside grave at Allegheny Cemetery.
Josh Gibson's friend and former Negro League teammate Theodore Roosevelt "Ted" Page made it his mission to install the red granite headstone that reads "Josh Gibson, 1911-1947, Legendary Baseball Player." Yet, when Page died in 1984, no one made sure he was buried in a marked grave in the Lawrenceville cemetery.
A group of historians wants to change that. The Negro League Baseball Grave Marker Project would memorialize all Negro League players, including Page and others with the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays.
"I know we will take care of Ted Page's grave here in the next year," said project founder Jeremy Krock, 53, an anesthesiologist from Peoria, Ill. He needs to raise $1,500 to cover the expense of moving Page's cremated remains from a community vault to a grave with a headstone.
Krock will visit Pittsburgh on Saturday for the Josh Gibson Centennial Negro League Celebration to receive the 2011 G.I.B.S.O.N. Award for community service.
"I think what he is doing is phenomenal," said Sean Gibson, 41, the baseball legend's great-grandson who heads the Josh Gibson Foundation in the Hill District.
A beleaguered 11th-century church in England is losing its worshippers and has been forced to suspend services indefinitely because of bats in its belfry.
Bats are a protected species in Britain, and the Anglican St. Hilda's Church in Ellerburn, North Yorkshire, is trying -- so far with no luck -- to get a license to get rid of its share of them.
Church Warden Liz Cowley said the bats have taken up residence in the church's upper regions and are making a mess of the place.
"The walls and floors are covered with bat droppings," Cowley told the BBC. "We have tried to keep the church clean, but we have lost the battle."
She added that "services have had to be canceled, and we cannot realistically open the church."
Ashley Burgess, a member of the local parish church council, said the congregation has raised 10,000 pounds (about U.S. $16,000) to build new roosts for the bats away from the main building, but they remain stubbornly entrenched in the church's upstairs.
"The financial cost has been huge," Burgess added. "Nobody wants to sit in a bat-stained church, and our congregation has dwindled as a result."
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu has issued the following statement on the recent riots in England:
"Like everyone else, I am shocked and appalled by the behaviour of individuals this week who simply have no care and respect for other people.
We need to send a message to those who rioted and looted, committed crimes of arson, burglary, theft and violent acts against people and property; that not only was their behaviour mindless and destructive, but has a massive human cost. These vile and evil acts can never be justified.
We cannot simply measure the damage in pounds and pence. It is not just about the rebuilding of shops and homes set on fire. It is not about the cost of repairing windows and walls. It is about the communities that have been torn apart by a selfish underclass that has little respect for hard work and decency. An underclass laid bare in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and the Damilola Taylor Murder Review reports.
To this end, I want to raise two areas of great importance.
First, the difficulties experienced by the police in controlling the riots:-
If the police cannot do it, vigilante groups will. Nature abhors a power-vacuum. For the sake of responsible civil order, the police must be equipped and enabled to keep the peace, which is the first responsibility of government - prior to anything else it may properly undertake. The broader question of the resourcing of the police should not be too glibly tied up with current plans for cuts in public expenditure, but the public does need to be reassured that first things are coming first, and that police resources are not subject to some false principle of equal sharing of burdens among governmental departments.
Deep in America’s heartland, a Reform synagogue, a nondenominational mosque and an Episcopalian church are all putting down roots on a 37-acre tract of land that once belonged to a Jewish country club. A body of water called Hell Creek runs through the development, over which the faith groups plan to build “Heaven’s Bridge.”
Fantastical as it sounds, this interfaith campus is currently in the works in Omaha, Neb. Slated for completion in 2014, the Tri-Faith Initiative is an experiment in religious coexistence in a city better known as a hub of corn-fed conservatism.
“The only other place where such a thing exists is Jerusalem,” said Dr. Syed Mohiuddin, chairman of the Creighton University School of Medicine. Mohiuddin’s organization, the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture, is building a mosque on the campus. “Jerusalem is so important to these three faiths. We are sort of reproducing that model.”
If the experiment works, the city of Omaha — with a metropolitan-area population of about 900,000, including 5,500 Jews, 6,000 Muslims and 4,500 Episcopalians — will become a beacon of cooperation in a world of interreligious strife. But before that can happen, the three groups still need to navigate fears, stereotypes and bureaucratic hang-ups.
So were women named Nancy Johnson, Betty Ellison, Susan Gibson, and Mary Johnson’s daughter, Mary, along with a 9-month-old baby, a 1-year-old child and a 2-year-old.
Although no one knew them personally, 38 slaves and servants of African descent who were buried in the cemetery at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in the 1700s and 1800s, many without their full names being recorded, were remembered Wednesday during a service of repentance and reconciliation at the historic church on Rector Street.
A memorial grave marker honoring them was unveiled in the cemetery. Some are believed to have been buried in a common grave. The name or a description of each person was read by Episcopal church leaders during the evening ceremony.
Pastors and advocates report that a new wave of persecution is washing over the churches of Zimbabwe as the country prepares for a new round of elections called by President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.
Churches are "being targeted and harassed by security agencies and militias which are controlled by ZANU PF," said Marlon Zakeyo, the Zimbabwe advocacy coordinator of the World Student Christian Federation in Geneva. They are "in need of active and practical international solidarity and prayer," he said.
Reports from the Central African nation state that leaders of many of the country's evangelical, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and African Independent Churches—especially the Zion Christian Church and the VaPostori Apostolic sects—are being pressed into service by the regime to cement its hold on power.
While the former Anglican bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, has long used his church to back "Zimbabwe's Moses," ZANU PF is also alleged to have made a concerted effort to bring the Apostolic churches under its control.
St. Andrews Episcopal Church members are asking their friends, neighbors and the Blount County community to support the Community Food Connection food drive Friday through Sunday, Aug. 12-14.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, parish members will be handing out shopping lists at the Food City on Hall Road in Alcoa. Other parish members will pick up the donated food and deliver it to the Community Food Connection, at 311 Whitecrest Drive, Maryville. A third group will be on had at the food connection warehouse to sort the food items once they are delivered.
Windy Markham, St. Andrews Episcopal parish member co-coordinator, has been lining up volunteers for two weeks. The Community Food Connection served 1,073 people each month from April through July. Over the last 43 months, the number of people the Community Food Connection has helped has risen from 5,000 to 6,000 a month.
Many months, say Food Connection organizers, the group purchases $10,000 to $13,000 in groceries that are distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their facility.
Some Alabama churches are opposing a state law set to go into effect next month that is labeled the most stringent illegal immigration law in the nation. Some local ministers oppose it, as well.
Several statewide organizations have filed suit against the state, claiming the immigration law inhibits their right to practice their religion by performing acts of charity for non-citizens.
The Catholic Church and state chapters of the Methodist and Episcopal churches have also signed onto the suit. An Aug. 24 hearing has been set on whether or not to temporarily stop the law from being enforced.
Locally, the Rev. Cindy Howard of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church said the law puts people like her in a bad position.
“This is not unlike the bill in Arizona, which has been criticized,” she said. “For me, I believe I am to show God’s love to all people. Does this mean that if someone comes in and wants to take communion and they are not legal, am I going to be in violation of the law? Does it put me in violation if I show God’s love?”
Sara Tracey, an intern at the Albany Times Union, writes about Joseph Eppink and Ralph Panelli, who plan to avail themselves of New York’s new law on same-sex marriage:
Both men are religious — Eppink is Episcopalian, Panelli is Roman Catholic — so a church wedding was necessary for them.
The couple booked the First Lutheran Church in Albany, Babcock’s place of worship. They said they would have loved to have the ceremony in Eppink’s church, but Bishop William Love of the Albany Episcopal Diocese has barred priests from participating in same-sex marriage ceremonies.
Bishop Love issued a pastoral letter June 30 that reminded the diocese of two canons regarding marriage, which Albany’s diocesan convention adopted in 2008.
He wrote in the same pastoral letter:
I am very aware that while the overwhelming majority of the people and clergy of the Diocese of Albany do not and cannot support the new marriage legislation. There are some very well meaning people in the Diocese who are sympathetic to and support the legalization of same-gender marriages and the blessing of such unions. We all know this has been and is a very emotional and highly charged issue.
Our Church has a long-standing commitment to acknowledge homosexual persons as loved by God, and as recipients of pastoral care within the Church. It is my hope and prayer that every parish in the Diocese of Albany will welcome and share God’s love with anyone who is seeking a deeper relationship with and desiring to worship and serve our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN) is meeting here from Aug. 4-10 in a conference on environmental ministry that also includes Roman Catholic and ecumenical partners.
Hosted by Bishop Bill Godfrey of the Diocese of Peru, representatives from Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Fiji, Canada, Melanesia, Brazil, Madagascar, Tanzania and Mexico are reporting on environmental work in their respective jurisdictions, according to a news release from the Anglican Communion News Service.
The partners are creating an action plan which will become a template for provincial, diocesan and parish-based ministry, the news service said. The plan is intended to connect with environmental ministry at the United Nations and in relation to the 17th meeting of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (known as COP 17) in Durban, South Africa in December 2011.
Participants are learning of climate-justice initiatives occurring between provinces and regions within the communion and are learning of life in the Peruvian church. The Anglican Church of Peru is a missionary diocese with growing churches in South America's third-largest country. Half of Peru's population live in poverty, making it one of the poorest countries in Latin America. The Anglican Diocese of Peru is responding with initiatives that make a practical difference to people’s lives, reaching over 2,000 people each week.
When evangelical activist Brad Phillips told senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa about what he had seen and heard during a recent trip to South Kordofan, Sudan, they called an emergency hearing.
The stories of atrocities carried out by Sudanese forces and allied militia have riveted world media attention since mass killings began in early June: house-to-house searches, summary executions, collection of bodies like trash loaded on trucks in bags, the digging and filling of mass graves, bombing of farms and villages, and chasing Nubans with attack helicopters into the Nuba mountains.
Fresh, firsthand accounts are the stuff of which great committee hearings are made.
But as compelling as the testimony was, the hearing made clear that there is no apparent solution. The hearing also brought into sharp focus the religious identities of both the perpetrators and the victims, as well as those of some of the participants in the hearing, and shed light on how those identities informed their perspectives.
David B. Barrett, founding editor of the World Christian Encyclopedia, a former research consultant with the then-Foreign Mission Board, and a pioneer advocate for people groups still unreached with the Gospel, died Aug. 4 in Richmond, Va., after a brief illness. He was 83.
Barrett, a mathematician who began his career researching aircraft flight design at Britain's Royal Aircraft Establishment in 1948, began training for the priesthood in the Church of England after the RAE reassigned him to missile and bomb design, according to an obituary posted by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He was appointed to Kenya by the Anglican Church Missionary Society in 1956. After post-graduate studies at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University (1963-65), Barrett returned to Kenya and oversaw research for the Church of England in Eastern Africa for 20 years.
Barrett spent more than 10 years compiling and serving as editor of the World Christian Encyclopedia, which was published in 1982. In 1985, Keith Parks, president of the Southern Baptist Foreign (now International) Mission Board, engaged Barrett as a research consultant on the global status of Christianity. When that relationship concluded in 1993, Barrett continued to conduct research on global Christianity through the World Evangelization Research Center, which he had founded in 1965, and its successor the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (established 2003), according to the Gordon-Conwell obituary.
Faith leaders, politicians and youth workers in Tottenham, north London, on 8 August were planning a united response to a weekend of riots that left two dozen families homeless, 35 policemen injured and dozens of businesses destroyed.
A street march called "Vigil of Hope" was scheduled for the evening of Aug.8, but there was some question as to whether police would allow it to take place. Police said that 170 people have been arrested after two nights of unrest that saw stores looted, buildings and cars burned and confrontations with riot police.
The rioting first erupted on Aug.6, after a peaceful demonstration had taken place to protest the killing by police of a local man named Mark Duggan last week. Scotland Yard has said Duggan was the target of a "pre-planned operation" and officers have been quoted as saying they came under fire in the incident. On Aug. 7, there were further outbreaks of crowd violence and vandalism in central and south London. On Aug.8, there were more incidents reported in Tottenham, nearby Hackney and other parts of London.
The needs of area homeless families and the needs of St. John's Episcopal Church in Marysville may wind up with a common denominator.
The Rev. Phil Reinheimer, a part-time pastor at the historic church on D Street, is hoping to find out on Thursday.
Reinheimer and Sacramento consultant Scott Thurmond will hold an informational meeting to discuss the possibility of refurbishing unused space at the church through grant money, and then finding a way to convert it to an emergency homeless shelter.
"St. John's has a very large facility that includes several classrooms, a great hall, commercial kitchen, bathrooms and other space, much of which has been unused," reads a letter Reinheimer sent to public officials, church leaders, and non-profit groups in Marysville and Yuba County.
For anyone curious about what Jim McGreevey is up to seven years after coming out of the closet to become the first openly gay governor and resigning over an affair with a male staffer, his simple answer is this: "Having lunch at Hudson County Correctional Center."
But the story of McGreevey's nationally televised fall from grace on Aug. 12, 2004, and subsequent search for a more authentic life is much more nuanced than that. His journey finds him, on weekdays anyway, inside one of New Jersey's largest jails.
McGreevey, 54, is the spiritual counselor to 40 female inmates who have been locked up for crimes ranging from manslaughter and gun possession to drug dealing. Almost all have addiction problems and pasts stained with sexual violence.
The women McGreevey counsels — he affectionately refers to them as "my ladies" — are enrolled in a pilot program aimed at reducing recidivism by addressing the problems that keep them coming back to jail: drug dependence, difficulty finding jobs, lack of decent housing, absence of psychological counseling.
"Prison ministry is something that spoke very deeply to me — allowing women and men to reclaim their lives, to go beyond our personal circumstances," says McGreevey, who was introduced to jailhouse mentoring after enrolling in an Episcopal seminary in 2007. Following the 12-step treatment model made famous by Alcoholic Anonymous, he encourages the women to find and embrace a higher power.
Witnesses told a House of Representatives subcommittee on Aug. 4 that the Sudanese border state of South Kordofan is descending into racial and religious violence, as the world looks on.
“The Nuba people fear that we will be forgotten, that the world will stand idly by while mass killings continue without redress,” said Anglican bishop Reverend Andudu Adam Elnail, of Sudan's Episcopal Diocese of Kadulgi, in his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights.
“Our hope,” Rev. Elnail said, “is that the United States will lead the international community in taking prompt, effective action to protect tens of thousands of displaced people, including an untold number of civilians being killed house-to-house and bombed by their own government.”
South Kordofan lies just north of the partially undefined border between Sudan and the newly-established Republic of South Sudan, which became independent on July 9. In recent months, a 2005 plan for South Kordofan's self-determination has given way to violence that some observers say is meant to “Arabize” the region, by terrorizing its Black African population.
Seven-year-old Pranesh Sopkota's big brown eyes light up when he spots his teacher's iPad. Ritha Fellerman sees this and immediately touches the screen and pulls up a story. Sitting side by side, Pranesh begins to read.
The trust between them has grown during an eight-week summer English-language program at St. Francis Episcopal Church created for refugee children such as him.
They are from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and their families have been relocated to the far Northwest Side, most after experiencing war and bloodshed.
Over the past seven weeks, Pranesh has attended a series of Saturday workshops that combine language skills with visual and performing arts.
The children have built kites and learned to express themselves through dance. They've made puppets and learned to look through a lens and compose a portrait. What Pranesh most liked were the snacks.
Two things set Father Bryce McProud apart from most newly ordained Roman Catholic priests: He once tried out for the Metropolitan Opera and placed highly enough to consider it a career option. And he’s married.
The opera part is easy to understand. About 40 years ago, about the same time he was considering a calling to the ministry, he “sang quite a lot,” and apparently very well. “At that point, I had to choose between opera and the church,” McProud said. “I prayed about it a lot and decided to go with the church.”
As for being married, McProud, a longtime minister in the Episcopal church and now parochial vicar at St. Mary Catholic Church in Eugene, received a dispensation from Pope Benedict XVI that allowed him to make the switch and, as an already married priest, to bring his wife along.
Since July 1, after a few weeks of volunteering in local parishes following his ordination on June 4, he has been a full-time member of the St. Mary clergy, celebrating Mass, officiating at funerals and hearing confessions of parishioners in the old brick church at 11th Avenue and Charnelton Street.
He and his wife, Deanna McProud, have been married “almost 41 years,” he said. “We have a son, and we have two wonderful grandchildren.”
Upward of 100 Episcopal priests in the United States have sought to become Catholic in recent years, reflecting schisms that have arisen within their ranks — originally an offshoot of the Church of England — over issues) such as same-sex marriage, ordination of women, abortion rights and updating of the Book of Common Prayer, the Episcopal church’s equivalent of the Catholic missal.
Between the heat from the stove and the steam from the dishwasher at the Community Soup Kitchen, head cook Sherry Williams has learned to endure.
"It gets pretty hot," said Williams, 33, near the end of her shift just before noon on a recent summer weekday.
She said she deals with it by splashing herself with cold water and essentially exercising mind over matter. "As long as you don't keep saying, 'It's hot. It's hot,' it kind of works out for you," Williams said as a floor fan groaned in the background and pushed around the hot air.
By September, Williams and the rest of the kitchen staff are hoping for some relief as the soup kitchen kicks off an upgrade of the heart of that facility — the kitchen — much of which hasn't been touched since it was installed in the 1960s in the building owned by Christ Church Episcopal.
Williams, a volunteer before she was hired, will benefit from the generosity of another volunteer, who loved nothing better than to show up with his tool belt and fix whatever odd jobs needed to be done.
Now retired from a job where he oversaw construction work, the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has provided a check for $54,000 to help with the project, as well as a $20,000 matching grant.
Some national church denominations have changed their standards in recent years – stirring debate among congregations about whether to stay or find a new path.
In the central San Joaquin Valley, some congregations have chosen to leave their denominations because, they say, it doesn't represent their traditional values. The goodbyes have worked out for the churches, but they have been difficult.
The trend has reached three major denominations – the U.S. Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA) and most recently the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Immanuel Lutheran Church in Easton is the latest church to disassociate with the ELCA, citing differences in doctrine. The Easton church follows similar pullouts by other small Lutheran churches in Kingsburg, Madera, Auberry and Tulare.
"All across the country, people get to a point where they are deciding what is most important to them – and they are going out and doing it," says the Rev. Gary Gould, a visiting pastor at Immanuel Lutheran Church, which is without a full-time pastor. Gould retired as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Madera, which voted three months ago to leave the ELCA over differences in hiring Gould's replacement.
Alex Rhodes uses his love for the outdoors to help with the lawn care at his church, Christ Episcopal Church in Cape Girardeau. The son of Joel and Jeanie Rhodes, Alex will be a junior this year at Cape Girardeau Central High School. He participates in pole vaulting, wrestling and cross country. He also enjoys hunting and hanging out with friends. Here he shares about how he lives his faith through works of service.
How long have you been involved in Christ Episcopal Church?
Since I was 7.
What do you like most about your church?
It's a small church, so you get to know everybody there, and you know everybody's name. It's like a family.
How are you involved in your church?
I help out with the lawn care, mowing the lawn, with the food pantry, and I help with the Sunday free meal for the community. If it's snowy, I shovel the snow and stuff like that.
How did you get involved in your church?
When my parents got divorced, my mom married my stepdad and that's when we started going to Christ Episcopal Church. When I was 9, I became an altar boy and would help carry the cross and help with the sermon, and I still do that today. Then three years ago I started mowing the lawn and helping with most of the other lawn care at church. I try to do jobs as they need me to.