From Episcopal News Service: Olympia diocese welcomes refugees, sues to keep resettlement efforts alive
[Episcopal News Service] The federal appeals court ruling Feb. 9 that blocked reinstatement of the Trump administration’s temporary ban on refugee admissions was welcomed by Episcopal Church leaders in Washington, where the Diocese of Olympia is pursuing a separate lawsuit against the president’s executive order.
The diocese helps coordinate the resettlement of 190 refugees each year. Of the refugees now preparing to arrive in the Seattle area, about 90 percent are expected to come from one of the seven Muslim-majority countries singled out in President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 order, which also banned visitors and visa holders from those nations. A federal judge in Seattle temporarily blocked his ban on Feb. 6. It was that ruling that the three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, upheld on Feb. 9
To read the full article, click here
From our friends at the Progressive Clergy Network of Montana. Interfaith Advocacy March 24th and Human Rights Advocacy Day Feb. 20th
Happy second day in February. This month, we celebrate Black History and the long arc of the moral universe that, we pray, bends toward justice.
I keep returning to the new hymn by Mark A. Miller from his collection Roll on Justice!, a setting of Eric Garner's last words, "I can't breathe." Miller then asks, "how long? How much longer must we wait?" May we continue to work in that impatient urgency for real, enduring justice.
In that spirit, we have a wide variety of opportunities for advocacy and legislative action. I also welcome YOUR input for other issues, actions, or campaigns you'd like to see us take on:
Mark Your Calendars: Interfaith Day of Advocacy on March 24th
We invite you to participate in a reception, interfaith prayer service, and day of advocacy on Friday, March 24th, in Helena with other progressive clergy! Details forthcoming, but please save the date!
You're Invited: Montana Human Rights Network Advocacy Day on Feb 20th
MHRN will host an LGBTQ Lobby Day on Monday, February 20th, including a teach-in and workshops. It's a great way to show clergy solidarity with Montana's LGBTQ community—come if you're able!
Raise Your Voice: Upcoming Issues
Jules sent this a few days ago, but here is a reminder that a few critical pieces of legislation are coming up in our state. Consider testifying, writing a letter, or calling your Senator or Representative. Please let Jules (firstname.lastname@example.org) know if you'd like to raise your voice on any of these, and she'll be in touch.
1) Paid Leave: Currently, there are no protections for employees in the instance of extended illness, caregiving for parents, childbirth, or bereavement. The United States remains the only industrialized economy in the world that does not guarantee paid leave for new mothers or a paid sick leave standard, and one of a handful that does not guarantee leave for new fathers. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides job security but does not allow employees to receive any portion of their pay. This bill would create a pool similar to Unemployment Insurance, that asks for shared contribution from employer and employee. For someone making $40,000/yr, shared contribution would be $7.65. The definition of family is kept intentionally broad to make sure LGBTQ families are included.
Hearing Date: Tentatively Thursday, Feb 9th in the morning
Bill #: LC350
Bill language: http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/lchtml/LC0350.htm
More Info: http://www.montanabudget.org/helping-people-balance-work-and-family/
2) Montana Human Rights Act: Would add "sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression" to the Montana Human Rights Act to protect from discrimination.
Hearing Date: potentially third week of February
Bill #: LC1152
Bill language: http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/lchtml/LC1152.htm
More Info: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Montana-ND-March-2015.pdf
Thanks, all. I will send out regular legislative updates as they surface! The leadership team has a few updates soon, as well, so please look for another e-mail to come!
Called to Common Mission: 15 years of Episcopal-Lutheran partnership
By Richelle Thompson | December 12, 2016 2 Comments |Editor’s Note: On Jan. 6, 2001, after 30 years of dialogue, the Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, while maintaining their autonomy, agreed to come together to work for joint mission in the world and to allow clergy to move freely between the two churches. This week, ENS is running a “Called to Common Mission” series celebrating 15 years of Episcopal-Lutheran full communion.
[Episcopal News Service] Most of the time, the Rev. Miriam Schmidt doesn’t think about the differences in her union congregation of Episcopalians and Lutherans. Members of both denominations – and others in the small community of Big Sky, Montana – work together for common cause, sharing worship, meals and ministries.
But there are some challenges, Schmidt concedes. Among them: picking out beloved hymns – and with the same text and tune – for both constituents.
All Saints is among about 65 worshiping communities across the country engaged in Episcopal-Lutheran partnerships. These congregations and campus ministries are living into Called to Common Mission, an agreement between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to be in full communion, able to share clergy leadership and operate as blended congregations.
Nearly all of the more than 20 people interviewed for a series of stories commemorating this year’s 15th anniversary of Called to Common Mission lauded the benefits of working together – from sharing resources, especially in small places, to being a model for unity and collaboration. Merging congregations in Baltimore has created a dynamic, vibrant ministry of “Lutherpalians” intent on serving the neighborhood. A college chaplaincy program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a place of sanctuary and community for students. And in Alaska, a union congregation (they call themselves Lutepiscs) is the only mainline Protestant presence for more than 200 miles.
All Saints in Big Sky is growing in numbers, said longtime member Laura T. Sacchi, and more importantly the people are growing spiritually as they learn about different traditions.
They had to work together to figure out how to compromise and sacrifice, “how to make everybody feel welcomed and included.” Those good habits have carried over and shaped a church committed to hospitality and to welcoming the stranger and neighbor alike.
This sense of welcome is echoed at Epiphany Lutheran-Episcopal Church in Alaska, where they don’t lock the doors. They want the building to be open to any one, a stranger in need, another denomination in search of a worship space, a visitor looking for a faith home.
“We’ve always been known as the church in town where everyone was welcome to come and worship,” said the Rev. Christian Mauntel, a Lutheran pastor at Epiphany. Her church was ahead of the curve, coming together as a joint ministry in the late 1970s. Called to Common Mission confirmed what the congregants have believed all along: that they are better together.
“What was ‘we-have-to’ has now become a point of pride,” said Mauntel. She believes the small congregation is a living example of what many churches will look like in the future: strong lay leaders and collaborative ministry with other traditions.
“We try to make people feel the love of God when they come in the door. We don’t ask who they know or how long they’ve been here or which denomination they are. We treat everyone who comes here as beloved children of God.”
In the history of Christendom and the rise of denominations, sometimes people and churches lost sight of what binds them, says the Rev. Margaret Rose, deputy for ecumenical and interreligious relations for the Episcopal Church.
“Our divisions – not our differences – are part of the polarizing nature of today’s culture. They prevent us from working together for a better world,” said Rose. “I’m very clear that our differences are part of the unique richness that allows us to understand ‘the other’ and ourselves.”
Our work as Christians, said Rose, is “to reveal the unity of the church that is already there.” This requires forging relationships with people who have different faith traditions, “getting to know one another at the deepest levels of who we are and to be transformed by that.”
On a practical level, this commitment to unity takes shape in the form of sharing space, worship, ministry and mission. “It’s a big, chaotic and wonderful mess,” said Rose.
Local iterations of partnerships between Lutherans and Episcopalians take all forms: from union congregations and merged ones to two separate legal entities committed to working as one. Some congregations have vestries and councils and are under the jurisdiction of both an Episcopal bishop and a Lutheran one. Others fall under the episcopal authority of one denomination but work closely with the other.
On a church-wide level, Called to Common Mission has prompted increased collaboration and discussion. The ecumenical officers often work together to find common interests and ways to amplify each other’s ministry. For instance, Rose’s office will soon be sending out to dioceses “Discover Islam,” a set of DVDs and curriculum developed by the ELCA and the Islamic Society of North America. The Episcopal Church and ELCA share one full-time employee in the Office of Government Relations. That office also developed and produced, with their counterparts in Canada, a free Advent devotional this year.
The two denominations collaborate and coordinate on social issues, said Kathyrn Johnson, director for ecumenical and inter-religious relations for the ELCA.
Lutheran Immigration Services is working with the Episcopal Church, she said. And the ELCA is “grateful for the Episcopal Church’s longer attention to some of the questions of justice for Native people. We have really appreciated the leadership from the Episcopal Church in Standing Rock (the controversial proposal to build a pipeline through sacred land).”
Even with the progress of the past 15 years, there is still tremendous work to be done. Some is structural. The ministries in Alaska, Montana, Maryland and Massachusetts all talked about challenges in governance. Epiphany in Alaska still doesn’t have a constitution and bylaws because of conflicting demands by the denominational structures. In Maryland, they are trying to navigate insurance: One denomination won’t extend insurance coverage to the other’s leadership group. Programming provided by a diocese or synod has to be adapted for a multi-denominational audience at MIT. And in Montana, Schmidt is always weighing how to promote church-wide activities.
“Do I advocate for Lutheran Relief or Episcopal Relief & Development? How do I choose?” she asked. “I want to retain our denominational ties, but there’s also only so much energy a congregation has for mission and outreach.”
Johnson said that she hopes more work can be done in formation, particularly with seminaries. “We should be teaching about one another’s traditions,” she said. “In this time of great challenge for the viability of seminary institutions, we haven’t looked at this issue with as much intention as I wish we had.”
The Rev. Tom Ferguson, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Sandwich, Massachusetts, recalls the early days of the agreement. He joined the staff of the Episcopal Church just a few months after Called to Common Mission officially came into effect on Jan. 1, 2001. There were two challenges in the early years: the practical one of figuring out policy and the more ambiguous one of healing rifts and finding ways to bring everyone onboard, even those who had vigorously opposed the agreement.
Today, most people agree in theory about the importance of common mission, but many of the structural changes are unresolved, Ferguson said.
Now that the agreement has been in place for 15 years, it’s probably time to reevaluate and reinvent it, he said. The church has changed from what it was then. As both denominations continue to decline in numbers – as have most mainline traditions – it’s apparent that churchwide structures need to change, he said.
“Maybe the purpose of the agreement was to get us where we need to be in the coming years,” Ferguson said. “Now is the time to live into the incredible vision and freedom that the original agreement gave. We should be asking the questions: What other ecumenical partnerships can we pursue? What do we need to be doing our work together?”
Jesus came to establish the kingdom of heaven, not denominations, Ferguson said. “I’ve served in a Lutheran congregation, and I’ve served in an Episcopal church, and I’ve preached the same gospel in both places. I’m way more interested in the way to be a Christian and to find our common ground.”
– Richelle Thompson is deputy director and managing editor of Forward Movement.
Statement from ELCA Presiding Bishop Eaton on Standing Rock
When we come together for worship, we often begin with confession and forgiveness using these words: "We confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves." Lutherans acknowledge that this is a broken world and, as part of it, even our best wisdom and efforts fall short. Very often we face issues of extraordinary complexity in which all sides make reasoned arguments for their reality. The current situation at Standing Rock in North Dakota is just such a case.
The route of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) runs through contested land, which the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sees as their homeland and sacred places, including burial grounds. Proponents of the DAPL sees it as a combination of public and private property. The pipeline will run under Lake Oahe, the primary water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. What we see is the tension between two peoples trying to share one land. We can also see the tension between our dependence on fossil fuels and the commitment this church has made to care for creation.
This past August, the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly passed a resolution repudiating the doctrine of discovery. In it we pledged "to practice accompaniment with Native peoples." The doctrine declared that indigenous land was "unoccupied" as long as Christians were not present. Land deemed "unoccupied" was, therefore, "discovered," as if it had been previously unknown to humankind. This doctrine was used as justification for European monarchies, and later the U.S. government, to take land from Native people. Many of us in this church who are immigrants have benefitted from the injustices done to the original inhabitants of this land where we now live and worship. Our church also includes American Indian and Alaskan Native people, who have been on the receiving end of the injustices done. When we repudiated the doctrine of discovery, we Lutherans pledged to do better together in the future than we have in the past.
Acknowledging the complexity of this issue and the limitations sin places on human decisions, I believe that we are called as a church to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: to stand with the Tribe as they seek justice, to encourage our congregations to pray for them and to offer material support, and to examine the racism inherent in our system that contributes to the current crisis. As promised in our resolution repudiating the doctrine of discovery, we will listen to tribal leaders and respect their wisdom.
We will lend our presence when invited, our advocacy when requested, the resources of our people when asked, and our prayers, friendship and repentance at all times.
Your sister in Christ,
Elizabeth A. Eaton
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
November 9, 2016
Comments after the Election
We have just finishing a bruising and difficult election, one which has left many worried, fearful, and angry, and injured. I myself have never seen our country as divided and frustrated as it is at this moment.
This situation calls us to be aware especially of our identity and mission as the church. By virtue of Baptism we all are ambassadors of Jesus, and our mission to serve as agents of his resurrection and reconciliation.
I am convinced that we must dedicate ourselves anew to the ministry of prayer for our country and our leaders. In prayer we open ourselves to the transformative power of our Lord as we minister in our individual lives, in our churches, in our communities, and in our beloved country.
I am convinced that in our discussions with others, particularly those whose views differ from our own, we should treat them according to the command of Jesus, namely, that we love each other as he has loved us. This involves respectful and patient listening as well as charitable and sensitive expression of our ideas.
I am convinced that this election calls us to look deeply into ourselves and our congregations so that we become aware of the anger, self-interest, and racism that we harbor within and among ourselves. And then we can begin the difficult yet necessary spiritual discipline of rooting them out.
I am convinced that that we need to lift up the virtue of the common good. Our current political process has encouraged us to make public decisions on the basis of what we individually will receive. But as Christians we know that caring about the welfare of the whole community, including refugees, is part of our vocation as Christ’s people. Justice, community, and peace flow from a commitment to the common good of all who have been created by God and for whom Christ became incarnate among us.
I pray for Christ’s blessing on our country in the difficult days ahead.
C. Franklin Brookhart
Bishop of Montana
[ACNS] Delegations of Shia and Sunni Islam, the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican / Episcopal leaders are gathering in the Iranian capital Tehran for the fourth Christian-Muslim Summit of Religious Leaders. The interfaith dialogue brings together international leaders to reflect and share ideas around the theme of Respect for human dignity: the foundation for peace and security. “Given the rise of violence throughout the world by those who claim to be acting in the name of religion, this theme is particularly important,” a member of the Anglican delegation said.
The summits began in 2007 when former Iranian President Muhammad Khatami spoke at Washington National Cathedral in the US. He called for a gathering of religious and cultural leaders from eastern and western perspectives. The first summit took place at Washington National Cathedral in 2010 and subsequent summits were held in Beirut in 2012 and in Rome in 2014.
At this final summit, delegates will create a call to action around the theme of respect for human dignity and will also consider how the rich dialogue that has been the centrepiece of these summits can be continued.
The Anglican / Episcopal delegation is led by the former Bishop of Washington, John Chane, who now serves as the senior advisor for interreligious dialogue for Washington National Cathedral. Other members of the delegation include the Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion; Archbishop Paul Kwong, the Primate of Hong Kong and chair of the Anglican Consultative Council; the Revd Chloe Breyer, executive director of the Interfaith Centre of New York; and Ms Ruth Frey, the senior program officer for Justice and Reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York.
The Revd Canon John Peterson, director of the Centre for Global Justice and Reconciliation at Washington National Cathedral, serves as co-coordinator for the Christian-Muslim Summits.
This week’s summit, which began yesterday (Sunday) will conclude on Wednesday (9 November). Afterwards, delegates will visit the pilgrimage cities of Qom and Isfahan.
Dear brothers and sisters of the Mountain Sky Area,
At the conclusion of a contentious election process, we are left with a country that is more divided than ever before. As we look at the challenges facing us as a nation, the deep divisions that are fracturing us, I call on the clergy and laity of the Mountain Sky Area to be in prayer together, as we seek the healing of our nation. We who follow Jesus are called to offer our neighbors the love of God in all we do. In our words and actions, we need to offer hope to those who feel despair and healing for those who feel broken.
Yet, Jesus calls us to do much more. The love we are to share as disciples of Christ is transformative, changing individuals, families, communities, and yes, even the entire world.
I believe in the power of love. And whether today we are lamenting or celebrating the election, here is what I know to be true: the love we as Christians are called to live out cannot be legislated. It is not controlled by politics. It is to be lived out, not talked about or debated. This love is realized when we stand with the poor and marginalized. It is embodied when we seek justice for the oppressed.
This love is the heartbeat of humanity that cannot be stopped by hatred or fear. It is the recognition of our brother and sister in those whose names we don’t know, whose dignity we will honor and respect.
This is the love God calls us to, which always and forever moves us all towards Beloved Community.
So, today and in the days to come, may we get on our knees to pray for our nation and the world’s peoples. And then, let us rise from our knees to love our brothers and sisters, the leaders of the world, including President-elect Donald Trump, the earth, and all living beings. As followers of Jesus, we can do no other.
Blessings and peace,
Bishop Karen P. Oliveto
Deepen Faith and Witness-
Letters & Publications from Faith Leaders Across the State & Region that coincide with MAC's Mission & Work.