This just in from Anglican Communion News Service:
"Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians are being asked to join
in the World Day of Prayer for Creation on September 1 and to use the
following month, leading up to the feast of St Francis of Assisi on
October 4, as a Season of Creation."
and http://seasonofcreation.org and share as you think appropriate.
Richard J. Mammana
Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers | Secretary
New Haven, Connecticut USA
From the Episcopal Church
Election Toolkit provides resources for congregations, individuals * Presiding Bishop’s message text in English, Spanish with video subtitled August 22, 2016
“Voting and participation in our government is a way of participating in our common life,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry said in a video election message. “And that is a Christian obligation. Indeed, we who follow in the Way of Jesus of Nazareth are summoned to participate actively as reflections of our faith in the civil process.”
The Presiding Bishop’s video election message is here. The video is closed-captioned and is subtitled in Spanish. The text of the Presiding Bishop’s message in English and Spanish is located at the end of this note.
The video is ideal for conversation, adult forums and group gatherings, Sunday School, youth groups, conventions, and meetings, etc.
Election Toolkit and resources
By Titus Presler
[Episcopal News Service] “Terrorism has no religion,” read a placard at a demonstration in New York. The slogan expressed a wish, but the evidence indicates otherwise.
Terrorism often does have a religion. It may be Islam, as in the San Bernardino, Paris and Orlando mass killings and the atrocities of ISIS. It may be Christianity, as in the Colorado Springs killing and the much older church-sanctioned lynchings of African Americans in the American South. It may be Judaism, as in killings by settlers on the West Bank. It may be Hinduism, as in the Gujarat riots of 2002. It may be Sikhism, as in the insurgency in Indian Punjab in the 1980s. It may even be Buddhism, as religious minorities in Myanmar and Sri Lanka have now experienced.
So is religion inherently pernicious? No, for not only are most people in the world religious but the religious practice of most people grounds them spiritually and nurtures wisdom, compassion and communal commitment.
In a 21st century marked by religiously motivated violence, the duty of responsible religious people is to acknowledge that all our religions have elements that twisted minds will twist. And we must actively oppose the movements within our religions that veer toward conflict and violence. This requires honesty about our scriptures, all of which contain elements that can be used to justify violence. It requires analysis of our theological traditions, careful formation of religious leaders, and lots of advocacy – in print, in person, and online.
But a couple of reflexive responses to religious violence simply deny reality, and this blocks constructive approaches.
The first denial reflex insists that perpetrators of violence are not, in fact, Muslims, or Christians, Hindus or whatever, but just claiming to be such, because, so the arguments go, “Islam is a religion of peace,” or “Jesus taught non-violence,” or “Hinduism would never condone killing,” and so on. This response is a well-meaning attempt to shield faithful religionists from a horrified but misinformed public equating this or that religion – most acutely Islam at the moment – with the violence perpetrated by some of its adherents.
But asserting that violent killers are are not members of the religion they profess does not fit facts. Robert Dear, the Colorado Springs shooter, had idiosyncratic views of Christianity that were probably affected by mental illness, but his statements indicate that he was in the orbit of Christian fundamentalism. Not only were the San Bernardino killers apparently inspired by ISIS, but Syed Farook attended mosque regularly and Tashfeen Malik was known to be devout.
Denying that religious killers are genuinely religious forecloses the one most promising means of countering religious extremism in our time, and that is for all religious communities to take responsibility for their fundamentalists, extremists and militants.
Instead of saying they are not “real” or “true” Muslims or Christians or Hindus, we need to acknowledge that, although horrifically mistaken in their religious interpretations, they are part of our respective communities. Such acceptance can energize us to transform the understandings and contexts in which fundamentalist militancy takes root by addressing the scriptural, theological and communal issues involved.
The only effective counter to Muslim terrorism – in France, Pakistan or the USA – is teaching and persuasion by other Muslims. The only effective counter to Christian terrorism – in the USA, Nigeria or Sudan – is teaching and persuasion by other Christians. And so on. But if we in the religions wash our hands of our militants, the future holds only more bloodshed, not the hoped-for day of tolerance and peace. Since religion is part of the problem in religious violence, religion must be part of the solution.
A second common denial reflex is to say that what appears to be religiously motivated violence is really economic, ethnic or political and that religion is only being used as a pretext. This analysis recycles the secularization hypothesis of the 20th century, which supposed that the decline of religion in Europe and North America heralded an inevitable decline of religion throughout the world. Religion was marginal in human motivation and would only become more so. That prediction turned out to be just another ethnocentric projection by the west onto the rest of the world. Not only is the 21st century proving to be indelibly religious, but conflict involving religion is intensifying – and now in the west as well as the rest.
Any social phenomenon is complex and cannot be reduced to one factor. So it’s not that “religious conflict” and “religious terrorism” are only religious. Cultural, economic, ethnic and political factors are at work, but religion is also a factor through tradition, worldview and motivation. It makes no more sense to ignore the religious dimension than it does to ignore any of the other dimensions. Dismissing religion when it’s staring us in the face cripples our ability to address the totality of the phenomenon of violence that involves religion.
So how can religious communities counter extremism in our midst in the age of internet radicalization? A way forward for Islam is being charted by Nahdlatul Ulama, the Indonesian Muslim movement that is undertaking a global campaign to oppose the rhetoric of the Islamic State and other jihadi groups with online and conference presentations that reject exclusivism and violence and offer a version of Islam that stresses tolerance and non-violence. The premise of Nahdlatul Ulama’s campaign is not that ISIS jihadis are not Muslims but that they are mistaken Muslims who are distorting the faith. This kind of effort is imperative not only in Islam, but also in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism.
The prominence of religion on the world stage today is something no one expected 50 years ago. All of us, religious and secular alike, need to recognize the power that religion is wielding. Those of us within the religions must dig deeply into our traditions and offer up resources for transformation and reconciliation.
— The Rev. Titus Presler is a priest and theologian of the Episcopal Church. He was president of the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, and is principal-in-exile of Edwardes College in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Words From the Bishop Jessica Crist - Deepen Faith and Witness: Social Statement on the Death Penalty
"Social statements of our church do not intend to end such diversity by 'binding' members to a particular position. Social statements acknowledge diversity and address members in their Christian freedom."
In 1991, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly approved a social statement on The Death Penalty, amidst significant discussion. In 1972 the US Supreme Court put a moratorium on capital punishment, saying that the state laws regarding the death penalty were inconsistent and potentially discriminatory. Over the years a number of states re-instated the death penalty with laws that were consistent with the Supreme Court's ruling. In 1991, 36 states had the death penalty. In 2016, 31 states have the death penalty in some form or other. Both Montana and Wyoming have the death penalty.
While acknowledging that other opinions exist among our people, the statement strongly opposes the death penalty. The statement lists 3 broad reasons that the church opposed the death penalty.
1 " It is because of this church's ministry with and to people affected by violent crime that we oppose the death penalty." In this section of the statement, it is pointed out that executions focus on the convicted felon, not on the families of victims or anyone else touched by the crime. "Capital punishment focuses on retribution, sometimes reflecting a spirit of vengeance. Executions do not restore broken society and can actually work to counter restoration." The statement goes on to suggest that the death penalty by its very nature perpetuates cycles of violence.
2 "It is because of this church's commitment to justice that we oppose the death penalty."Using language from a predecessor church body's statement, the statement calls for "an assault of the root causes of violent crime," (There is some internal inconsistency here, using violent language to oppose violence.) The statement notes that many nations across the globe have abolished capital punishment, and that we would do well to join them. The statement points out that innocent people have been executed and that the death penalty, once implemented, is irreversible. It also states that race, gender, mental capacity, age and affluence of the accused have a significant role in whether the death penalty is imposed.
3 "It is because of this church's concern regarding the actual use of the death penalty that we oppose its imposition." The statement says: " The practice of the death penalty undermines any possible moral message we might want to 'send.' It is not fair and fails to make society better or safer. The message conveyed by an execution, reflected in the attention it receives from the public, is one of brutality and violence."
The statement ends with some commitments of the ELCA: "As a community gathered in faith, as a community dispersed in daily life, as a community of moral deliberation, and as a church body organized for mission, this church directs its attention to violent crime and the people whose lives have been touched by it." The statement goes on to elaborate each part of that sentence, suggesting action for individuals, congregations and the wider church.
Since this statement was adopted in 1991, the church adopted another social statement on Criminal Justice. You can find all of the social statements at www.elca.org/socialstatements.
In recent years both the Wyoming Association of Churches and the Montana Association of Christians have worked for abolition of the death penalty in our respective states.
If you are interested in having further conversation about this statement on the death penalty, perhaps in preparation for an adult forum, youth conversation or council study, the following colleagues have offered to make themselves available for consultation:
Pastor Peter Erickson, Pastor of Our Savior's, Columbia Falls and former MAC President
Pastor Julie Long, Pastor of Our Savior's, Broadus and former Crime Lab employee
Pastor Rob Nedbalek, Pastor of Freedom in Christ at the Montana State Prison
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
By Tali Folkins | July 14, 2016 [Originally in the Anglican Journal]
Since last September, when the world first saw the body of the little Syrian refugee, Alan Kurdi, washed up on a shore in Turkey, Anglicans in 14 dioceses across Canada have sponsored and resettled 1,750 refugees, members of General Synod heard Tuesday, July 12.
In all, $20 million was raised to support refugee resettlement and sponsorship, William Postma,recently appointed director of The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) said in a presentation to synod, in its last day of meetings here in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
It’s evidence, Postma said, of how the Anglican Church of Canada “punches above its weight” when it comes to refugee work.
“This deserves more than an acknowledgment, but a celebration,” he said.
It was one of many of PWRDF’s accomplishments that had impressed him since assuming his role June 13, Postma said.
“The results of some of our programs are truly astounding,” he said. For example, in three African countries—Burundi, Mozambique and Tanzania—where they run vaccination programs, PWRDF partners have vaccinated 410,000 children under the age of five in three years, he said—an especially high number considering the programs are run in far-flung rural areas, Postma added. In Mozambique, child mortality rates during the same three years decreased from 26% to 5%.
In Canada, PWRDF raised $165,000 in donations for Fort McMurray wildfire relief, he said. The fund has also been placing more importance on support for Indigenous communities, he said—“support that’s respectful, support that’s honourable, support that’s responsive to needs on the ground.”
Among its recent projects for Canadian Indigenous people, he said, is a two-year immersion course in the Mohawk language, in the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, near Montreal.
One thing that’s surprised him since starting at PWRDF, he said, is the enormous network of volunteers it has to draw on—1,600 according to a recent count.
“I have to say, having been with a lot of other organizations, that is a really enviable number,” he said.
General Synod also heard from Zaida Bastos, director of PWRDF’s development partnership program, about its maternal, newborn and child health program. Since the year 2000, she said, there has been a decrease of more than 50% in preventable child death worldwide. However, rates of maternal and child death in sub-Saharan Africa remain very high, Bastos said.
PWRDF’s maternal, newborn and child health program operates, through local community health workers, in 524 villages in five African countries, she said. These community health workers constantly accompany pregnant and new mothers and their children, ensuring they get the medical attention they need to survive and be healthy.
In addition to its actual accomplishments, Postma said he also really liked that PWRDF’s vision is about more than just providing physical aid.
“I’m really excited that PWRDF has that bedrock commitment to rights, human rights…it’s about each and every one of us made in the image of God,” he said.
The Abundant Table is a grassroots, nonprofit organization that seeks to change lives and systems by creating sustainable relationships to the land and local community. Their 5-acre farm in Santa Paula, CA is the land that supports our farm-to-school, agricultural and nutrition education, youth development and faith-rooted initiatives. Proceeds from their community supported agriculture (CSA) vegetable sales support this valued community work. Please look at The Abundant Table’s mission and see how they align with our values here in Montana: to connect land, spirituality and community.
Please visit The Abundant Table's website to watch a short video and learn how this inspiring organization is incorporating their mission based in the Episcopal and Lutheran faiths into every day life on a farm, providing food for people with shortages and school programs. In our agricultural state, perhaps we can find some inspiration to help our fellow Montanans.
To the Leadership of MAC
I just wanted to take a moment today to thank you for such a beautiful, thoughtful op-ed in last week’s paper, which my colleague, Jordan Reeves, shared with me.
The values that you spoke of so eloquently in the op-ed were ones that we had all discussed during the Traditions and Spirituality in a Changing Landscape retreat on Flathead Lake in April, and really resonated with me throughout the op-ed.
My sincere thanks again for making such powerful connections here between faith and stewardship, and I am already looking forward to the next time that our paths cross so that I can learn more about MAC’s priorities and ongoing work.
Anne Carlson, Ph.D.
Climate Adaptation Specialist
The Wilderness Society
(mobile phone) 406.548.7964
We protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places
To read the opinion letter from the Montana Association, continue reading below or click here Christian Group Supports Blackfoot Stewardship Project
Bishop Crist, Montana Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Words From the Bishop - Good is stronger than Evil, Love is Stronger than Hate.
Will the ELCA Bishops make a statement on the Orlando massacre? Yes. We already have. Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre several years ago, the bishops adopted a statement abhorring violence. In the years since then we have experienced more and more mass shootings--in a theater, in a community center, in a church, on campuses. A year ago we watched with horror the race-related Mother Emmanuel shootings. And now Orlando, motivated by hatred of LGBTQ people. We are a society of laws, designed to protect people. We welcome diverse opinions. But we do not tolerate mass murder. As Christians we reject violence and hatred. Please read the words of the ELCA Bishops below:
A Pastoral Letter on Violence adopted by the ELCA
Conference of Bishops, March 4, 2013
"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
Jeremiah 31.15 and Matthew 2: 18
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Every faithful caregiver who sits with victims of violence knows what we know - as God's
church, we are called to reduce violence and should, in most cases, restrain ourselves from using violence. Whether or not statistics show that overall violence has declined in recent years, every person wounded or killed is a precious child of God.
As bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we lament the tragedy of gun violence in our country. We are grieved by the way violence threatens and destroys life. We affirm the current soul searching and shared striving to find a way to a better future.
While the church grapples with this call to reduce violence and make our communities safer, we recognize that before God we are neither more righteous because we have guns nor are we more righteous when we favor significant restrictions. Brokenness and sin are not somehow outside of us. Even the best of us are capable of great evil. As people of God we begin by confessing our own brokenness - revealed in both our actions and our failure to act. We trust that God will set us free and renew us in our life's work to love our neighbors.
In this time of public attention to gun violence, local communities of faith have a unique opportunity to engage this work. As bishops, we were thankful to recognize the many resources our church has already developed (see below). We begin by listening: listening to God, to Scripture, and to each other. Providing a safe place for people to share their own stories, together we discern courses of action. Together we act. And together we return to listening - to assess the effectiveness of our efforts to reduce violence.
Letters & Publications from Faith Leaders Across the State & Region that coincide with MAC's Mission & Work.