San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral will host virtual interfaith service for world AIDS conference

by emillard |

Sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt hang in the nave of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California. Photo: Grace Cathedral

[Episcopal News Service] Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, the seat of the Diocese of California, will host an online interfaith service as part of AIDS 2020, the 23rd International AIDS Conference. The livestream event will include prayers and addresses from figures including California Bishop Marc Andrus, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, archbishop of Cape Town and primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The conference, which was originally scheduled to be held in San Francisco, is taking place online July 6-10, and the interfaith service will begin at 9 a.m. Pacific time on July 7. The service is being co-hosted by the Diocese of California, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance of the World Council of Churches, the San Francisco Interfaith Council and the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University.

“The Life of Christ,” a triptych altarpiece by New York pop artist Keith Haring, is displayed in the AIDS Interfaith Memorial Chapel at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California. Completed in 1990, it was Haring’s last work before he died of AIDS. Photo: Grace Cathedral

Andrus will begin and end the service live in the cathedral’s AIDS Interfaith Memorial Chapel, which features artwork by Keith Haring and was dedicated in 2000. The service – focusing on the themes of lament, resilience, hope and renewal – will feature prayers, music and contributions from leaders representing Christian, Muslim and Jewish groups, as well as Pelosi.

Pelosi, who lives in San Francisco, will offer welcoming remarks and also a more personal contribution. Susan Roggio, who was a flower girl at Pelosi’s wedding, died of AIDS in 1986, and Pelosi sewed a panel in her memory for the AIDS Memorial Quilt. That panel will be on display at the cathedral.

The cathedral played a major role in The Episcopal Church’s response to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and ‘90s, welcoming HIV-positive people into the church at a time when they faced stigma and discrimination. It offered funerals for anyone who had died of AIDS, whether they were a member of the congregation or not. The cathedral was burying up to 35 people a week at the height of the crisis in the early ‘90s, according to the diocese, and many of the first panels of what became the AIDS Memorial Quilt were sewn there.

AIDS 2020, the world’s largest conference on HIV and AIDS, will offer more than 600 virtual sessions and events. This year’s theme is resilience, drawing attention to the work that remains to be done despite decades of dramatic progress. The effort to end AIDS, organizers say, has entered a “new phase” in which the challenges are less centered around research and treatment and more about “a deteriorating human rights climate, repressive and punitive national laws in many countries across the globe, increasing xenophobia and social exclusion, and the widening gap between those with and without access to health services.”

The interfaith service is open to all; any wishing to attend can RSVP on Facebook or Eventbrite.

– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at emillard@episcopalchurch.org.

Episcopal Church deepens engagement with Poor People’s Campaign, racial justice work

by dpaulsen |

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry gives recorded remarks June 20 as part of the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington.

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s support of the Poor People’s Campaign hasn’t wavered since the ecumenical initiative was launched in 2018 to rally Americans behind the moral cause of fighting poverty – 50 years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made an appeal for economic security in the original Poor People’s Campaign.

This year, with Americans’ attention newly focused both on the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic and the pervasiveness of systemic racism – the systems, structures and procedures designed to disadvantage African Americans – the church is deepening its engagement with the Poor People’s Campaign, through in-person calls to action and online organizing. In one recent example, nearly 500 people gathered online June 10 for an inaugural Episcopal Justice Assembly organized by the church’s Department of Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care.

And on June 20, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was one of the national faith leaders who offered prerecorded remarks for the virtual gathering of the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington. The Poor People’s Campaign reported more than 2.5 million views of the livestream and various broadcasts of the event.

“We lament because we love. We prophesy and stand for prophetic witness because we love. We advocate for justice because we love,” Curry said in a 60-second video that was featured toward the beginning of the virtual gathering. “We speak painful truth because we love. … And because we love, we must stand up for what is right.”

The Poor People’s Campaign advocates a “revolution of values” and government policy changes that will counter “systemic racism, poverty, militarism and a war economy, ecological devastation and a distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.” Organizers see those as the five injustices underlying American political and economic systems.

Bishop William Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and president of the nonprofit advocacy organization Repairers of the Breach, has joined with Episcopal leaders in other recent public appearances. Barber, a Disciples of Christ pastor from North Carolina, also was a leader of the Moral Mondays protests that began in North Carolina in 2013. He preached for more than 40 minutes during Washington National Cathedral’s June 14 online worship service. The sermon has been viewed 160,000 times on the cathedral’s YouTube channel.

“We must turn away from death and towards life. In every aspect of our life together, we must recognize that death is no longer an option,” Barber said. “We need real reconstructing of society rooted in the deep moral values of our faith.”

Hours after preaching at the cathedral, Barber joined Washington Bishop Mariann Budde and other religious leaders in a rally outside St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, across from the White House.

“We are here to pray, we are here to protest and we are here to commit ourselves yet again to the long march that is before us,” Budde said in video of the rally, which has been viewed more than 12,000 times on Repairers of the Breach’s Facebook page.

Barber, in a written statement to ENS, commended The Episcopal Church for its early endorsement of the Poor People’s Campaign and its continued involvement this year. He also thanked Curry for helping to “frame the moral choice before us as a nation.”

“Will America continue to ignore the pain and leadership of poor people? Or will we finally listen to their cries and re-make an America that works for all of us,” Barber said. “With The Episcopal Church in this struggle for the long haul, along with over 20 other denominations and faith bodies, and the hundreds of partners joining in poor people’s struggles across the country, we believe it’s time to believe again.”

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council formalized the church’s support for the Poor People’s Campaign in a resolution passed in January 2018, “acknowledging the unfinished work of the 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign, celebrate the revival of the movement.” The original Poor People’s Campaign was the last justice initiative led by King before his April 1968 assassination.

In June 2018, Episcopalians joined the thousands of people from across the country who gathered in Washington for a three-and-a-half-hour Poor People’s Campaign rally on the National Mall. Organizers paired the rally with a 40-day mobilization of state-level advocacy on poverty and related issues.

More than 38 million Americans lived in poverty in 2018, according to the Census Bureau’s most recent report. The poverty rate, at 11.8% percent, had been declining in recent years, though this year, the coronavirus pandemic ignited a sudden economic downturn that, by May 2020, had left at least 21 million workers jobless, according to the latest monthly data.

In early May, with the economic landscape darkening and the Poor People’s Campaign rally approaching, the Rev. Melanie Mullen, the church’s director of reconciliation, justice and creation care, helped convene a Justice Wisdom Circle to gather input from church leaders who have long been working on justice issues. They discussed ways of expanding that work while acknowledging the church’s commitment to the Poor People’s Campaign.

Among those who participated were the Rev. Glenna Huber, rector of Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C.; Byron Rushing, vice president of the House of Deputies; Aaron Scott, the Diocese of Olympia’s anti-poverty missioner; the Rev. Carolyn Foster, a deacon from the Diocese of Alabama and co-chair of the diocese’s racial reconciliation commission; and the Rev. Mike Kinman, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California.

They discussed the historic and ongoing racial injustices in the United States, systemic problems that later were underscored and brought to the forefront of public debate by the May 25 killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, while being detained by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“This is a moment and an opportunity to come together,” Mullen told ENS. The Justice Wisdom Circle’s conclusion, she said, was that The Episcopal Church still is called to engage in justice work – and it could be doing more.

One result was the Episcopal Justice Assembly, a video conference on June 10, and participation exceeded expectations, Mullen said. Meeting virtually rather than in person facilitated wider participation across geographic regions. The 480 people who joined the Zoom meeting also were able to participate in small group discussions through 50 breakout rooms.

They learned about the church’s history of advocacy, shared their own experiences, and discussed ongoing ministries around the church addressing poverty and homelessness. And they committed to spreading the word about the Poor People’s Campaign’s Moral March on Washington.

The church’s Justice Wisdom Circle, now looking to harness this recent momentum, has planned another organizing meeting for next week, and a second Episcopal Justice Assembly is in the works, possibly toward the end of summer. Anyone interested in receiving email updates on those plans are invited to complete the sign up form.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

Diocese of South Carolina files motion in circuit court

Motion questions judge's authority to side with previous lower court ruling already reversed by the state's Supreme Court

by lwilson |

[Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina] On Monday, June 29, attorneys for the (Episcopal) Diocese of South Carolina and The Episcopal Church filed a Motion for Reconsideration and to Alter or Amend in the Court of Common Pleas for the First Judicial Circuit. This legal action is in response to the recent Order issued by South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edgar Dickson that seemed to overturn the South Carolina Supreme Court final judgement from August 2017 which ruled that the diocesan property and 29 parishes should be returned to the parties affiliated with The Episcopal Church. This Supreme Court judgement in 2017 marked a reversal of the lower court decision.

The motion requests that the Court “should reconsider the Order and alter or amend it to conform to the Supreme Court’s holding that the property of the twenty-nine churches is held in trust for Defendants and that the Defendant diocese is the beneficiary of the trust that owns legal title to the Diocesan Property.” The motion also asks “the Court to discharge its job of enforcing the final judgment of the South Carolina Supreme Court.”

Throughout the 20-page document, attorneys for the Diocese and The Episcopal Church offer the following six reasons to reconsider the Order as they were outlined on page 3 (each were explained and supported in full in the text of the motion):

  1. This Court lacked the authority to issue the Order.
  2. Even if this Court had the authority to construe the Supreme Court’s decision, the Order misinterprets and contradicts that decision.
  3. Even if this Court somehow had the authority to relitigate the issues upon which the Supreme Court previously ruled, the Order incorrectly analyzes the facts and improperly applies the law.
  4. The Order incorrectly finds Plaintiffs were denied due process.
  5. Because of its rulings, the Court erred in denying Defendants’ requested relief.
  6. The Order fails to rule on all issues raised by Defendants

As noted on page 18 of the motion: “After eight years of the adversarial process, for the Circuit Court to take away legally recognized rights at this time – based on the identical record that led to the Supreme Court’s reversal of Judge Goodstein – is nothing short of arbitrary and capricious.”

Judge Edgar Dickson, a circuit court judge representing the First Judicial Circuit of South Carolina, was assigned this case in November 2017 when the South Carolina Supreme Court (SCSC) denied a Petition for Rehearing filed by the disassociated diocese. At that time, the SCSC issued a remittitur for the lower court to enforce the final judgement as decided by a 3-2 majority of the Court, which reversed the decision of the trial court.

About The Diocese of South Carolina

The historic Diocese of South Carolina (DSC) also known as The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) is the local diocese in the eastern half of South Carolina part of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. For more information, view A Historical Timeline of the Diocese of South Carolina and the Frequently Asked Questions. For the latest on DSC, visit episcopalchurchsc.org or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Lambeth Award recognizes CARAVAN president for interreligious peacebuilding

by mdavies |

The Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler, an Episcopal Church mission partner serving as senior Anglican priest of the Church of the Epiphany and the Anglican Centre in Doha, Qatar.

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler, an Episcopal Church mission partner serving in Qatar, is among this year’s recipients of the prestigious Lambeth Awards for outstanding contributions to the church and wider society.

The Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation was awarded to Chandler “for his distinct and exceptional contribution in using the arts for interreligious peacebuilding around the world,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in announcing a total of 32 awards recognizing significant contributions in fields such as evangelism, safeguarding, ecumenism, theology and interfaith relations.

Chandler is the founder and president of CARAVAN, a nonprofit initiative affiliated with The Episcopal Church that uses the arts to build bridges between different cultures and religions around the world. The initiative is now in its 11th year of touring the world with peacebuilding exhibitions that showcase art.

Chandler “has spent his life focusing strategically on the role of the arts in the context of interfaith peacebuilding, toward building bridges of understanding, respect and friendship between the Abrahamic faiths,” the Lambeth Awards citation noted.

Currently serving as senior Anglican priest of the Church of the Epiphany and the Anglican Centre in Doha, Qatar, Chandler told ENS that he is “deeply honored to receive this award which seeks to inspire us to realize what is possible, and how we can each play an important role in shaping our world into one where understanding, respect and compassion are valued above all – regardless of faith, cultural, or ethnic backgrounds.”

The Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation.

The award is named after Hubert Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1193 to 1205, who had dialogue with non-Christians at a time of interfaith conflict. He accompanied King Richard on the third crusade, was involved in negotiations with Saladin over access for Christian clergy to the Holy Places in and around Jerusalem, and helped raise the ransom to get the king released from incarceration in Germany when he was captured on his return from the Holy Land.

“This is the fifth year of the Lambeth Awards, and I am constantly impressed and humbled by the work that recipients have accomplished, sometimes in the most challenging circumstances,” Welby said. “Not all are followers of Jesus Christ, but all contribute through their faith to the mutual respect and maintenance of human dignity which are so vital to spiritual and social health.”

The Lambeth Awards are usually presented at a ceremony at Lambeth Palace in London. This year, the event has been canceled due to COVID-19.

A full list of the recipients, together with brief citations describing their achievements, is available here.

Glenda Curry consecrated bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Alabama

by lwilson |

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Glenda S. Curry was ordained and consecrated to serve as bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Alabama on June 27 at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham.

[Diocese of Alabama] The Rt. Rev. Glenda S. Curry was ordained and consecrated to serve as bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Alabama on June 27 at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham. She is the first woman to serve as bishop in the Diocese of Alabama.

The Rt. Rev. Scott Benhase, the 10th bishop of Georgia, served as the chief consecrator. He was joined by the Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf, bishop of West Tennessee; the Rt. Rev. John McKee Sloan, bishop of Alabama, and the Rt. Rev. Brian Seage, bishop of Mississippi. The Rev. Becca Stevens, founder and president of Thistle Farms in Nashville, Tennessee, was the preacher.

For health concerns, in-person attendance was limited to those with participating roles in the service and the bishop’s family. The service was livestreamed through the diocesan Facebook page and website. The livestream itself was a combination of pre-recorded videos and a live-feed of the service.

Curry has served as a priest in The Episcopal Church since 2002, most recently as rector of All Saints in Birmingham. Before becoming a priest, she served as the president of Troy State University in Montgomery and was the first woman to lead a four-year university in Alabama.

In reflecting on her new role, Curry said, “It is a challenging time right now to be moving into a bigger leadership role in the church. At the same time, the world needs the church; the world needs Jesus now more than ever. You can see it. You can feel it. You can’t turn on the television or go on the internet and not see signs of hatred and difficulty around us. The answer is not more darkness: it’s more love.” she continued, citing former dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California, the  Very Rev. Alan Jones. “The church is the ‘school of love’ and I really believe that’s true. I am excited to be in the place that God is calling me.”

Curry will serve as bishop coadjutor in the Diocese of Alabama until Sloan’s retirement at the end of 2020. She will be invested as the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Alabama on January 9, 2021, at the Cathedral Church of the Advent.

El cambio virtual de Nuevo Amanecer en medio de la pandemia del COVID-19 refleja el cambio y el crecimiento en los Ministerios Latino/Hispanos

by lwilson |

El COVID-19 forzó que la conferencia bienal de Nuevo Amanecer se ofreciera en línea, un giro que ha aumentado el alcance global de la popular conferencia de los Ministerios Latino/Hispanos. Imagen de: Millard Cook

Read this article in English here

[Servicio Episcopal de Noticias] Cuando la pandemia del coronavirus obligó a los organizadores de Nuevo Amanecer a ofrecer la popular conferencia bienal de los Ministerios Latino/Hispanos en línea, no esperaban atraer la participación mundial.

Históricamente, la mayoría de los asistentes a la conferencia han venido de Estados Unidos, ya que las restricciones de visado y los costos de viaje prohíben una participación más amplia de América Latina y más allá. Pero al adaptar rápidamente la conferencia de tres días en persona a un formato en línea celebrado un sábado al mes durante seis meses, Nuevo Amanecer casi ha duplicado su participación y ampliado su audiencia.

Sorprendentemente, los organizadores descubrieron que el 49% de los participantes fue de América Latina y el Caribe, Europa y África y se unieron a la conferencia virtual mediante computadoras, teléfonos inteligentes y tabletas. Alrededor de 700 personas se han registrado para la conferencia virtual 2020, en comparación con 462 participantes en persona en 2018.
“Hemos aprendido que tenemos un alcance más amplio virtualmente”, dijo Luis Enrique Hernández Rivas, co-coordinador de Nuevo Amanecer. “Es increíble cómo funciona el espíritu”.

Ahora en su octavo año, Nuevo Amanecer, celebra y ayuda a los Ministerios Latino/Hispanos  de toda la Iglesia Episcopal al brindarles a los participantes oportunidades para establecer contactos y crecer juntos en el discipulado. Se han realizado conferencias previas en Kanuga, un campamento y centro de conferencias en Hendersonville, Carolina del Norte.

La conferencia de seis sesiones se organiza en torno al tema: “He aquí que hago nuevas todas las cosas” (Apocalipsis 21: 5), que pide a los latinos episcopales y a los involucrados en el ministerio latino a pensar en cómo construir una nueva Iglesia en los tiempos modernos. Cada sesión sucesiva se centra en un tema más pequeño.

“Este Nuevo Amanecer virtual realmente está tratando el tema de la Revelación”, dijo al Servicio Episcopal de Noticias el reverendo Juan Sandoval, archidiácono en la Diócesis de Atlanta y diácono para los ministerios hispanos y la atención pastoral en la catedral de San Felipe. “¿Quién iba a saber que iba a ocurrir la pandemia del COVID-19 y que realmente teníamos que hacer que todo fuera nuevo?”

La primera sesión de la conferencia, celebrada en mayo, se centró en el COVID-19, mientras que la sesión de junio lo hizo sobre la evangelización digital. La tercera sesión, programada para el 11 de julio a la una de la tarde, tiempo del este, se centrará en el liderazgo de las mujeres en la Iglesia y presentará a la Muy Reverenda Miguelina Howell, decana de la catedral Christ Church en Hartford, Connecticut, como la oradora principal. Howell es la primera decana latina de una catedral en la Iglesia Episcopal. The Episcopal Church.

Los temas de las tres sesiones restantes cubrirán la inclusión de latinos en la Iglesia y una celebración del 50 aniversario de los Ministerios Latino /Hispanos, coincidiendo con el Mes de la Herencia Hispana, Hispanic Heritage Month, que se celebra del 15 de septiembre al 15 de octubre.

El equipo de planificación de Nuevo Amanecer había considerado cancelar o posponer la conferencia 2020, pero decidió hacerla virtual para que los participantes registrados y todos los demás interesados ​​pudieran participar en la formación y el compañerismo.

“[El] coronavirus nos llegó bastante rápido esta primavera, y tuvimos que decidir en un corto período de tiempo cómo íbamos a mantener Nuevo Amanecer”, dijo el reverendo Anthony Guillén, misionero de los Ministerios Latino /Hispanos de la Iglesia Episcopal y director de ministerios étnicos. “¿Lo cancelamos? ¿Esperamos dos años más o hacemos algo virtualmente?”

Los Ministerios Latino /Hispanos de la Iglesia Episcopal brindan orientación para fortalecer y apoyar a las comunidades de habla hispana en la tradición anglicana. Los esfuerzos incluyen ayudar en la plantación de iglesias, proporcionar recursos bilingües para individuos y congregaciones, y ofrecer oportunidades educativas para que los miembros de la Iglesia sirvan a sus comunidades latinas locales.

Los ministerios parroquiales individuales varían. Por ejemplo, los esfuerzos pueden incluir cultivar jardines comunitarios, dar dinero y detergente para ayudar a los feligreses a lavar la ropa, servir comidas a los hambrientos, abogar por una reforma migratoria integral, ofrecer refugio a los inmigrantes indocumentados y ayudar a los trabajadores agrícolas, farmworkers.

“El ministerio latino es el ministerio de la Iglesia”, dijo Rivas. “La conferencia ciertamente se enfoca en el ministerio entre los latinos, pero no solo las personas de América Latina hacen el ministerio latino. Todos están invitados y pueden sentirse capacitados a través de esta conferencia. … Estas oportunidades benefician por igual a latinos y no latinos”.

Nuevo Amanecer no es exclusivo para latinos e hispanohablantes. Pueden participar personas de todas las razas y etnias. Para los que no pueden asistir a las sesiones en vivo, las grabaciones están disponibles en la página de Facebook de los Ministerios Latino /Hispanos de la Iglesia Episcopal y en  latinosepiscopales.org.

“Para mí, Nuevo Amanecer significa una oportunidad de aprender más sobre lo que otros ministros e iglesias están haciendo, cómo adoran y quizás nuevas oraciones, nuevos servicios y nuevas caras”, dijo Sandoval. “La creación de redes es mi parte favorita de Nuevo Amanecer, y siempre me doy cuenta que puedo reunirme con conocidos anteriores y [hacer] otros nuevos”.

Esto ayuda a mantener frescos los ministerios y las amistades para latinos y no latinos. Nuevo Amanecer también ayuda a los no latinos que sirven en estos ministerios a comprender mejor las culturas latinas y a aprender cómo adaptar la adoración a diferentes circunstancias.

“Una de las cosas que más nos preocupaba era: ¿Cómo fomentamos virtualmente el sentido de comunidad y nuevas relaciones e incluso ofrecer reuniones plenarias, adoración y talleres?” le dijo Guillén al Servicio Episcopal de Noticias. “Algunas personas dicen que Nuevo Amanecer es como una gran reunión familiar. Es un momento para que las personas en el ministerio se reúnan, establezcan contactos, establezcan conexiones y aprendan unos de otros”.

La sesión virtual de junio, que Guillén organizó, celebrada el 13, comenzó con la bienvenida y la adoración, seguida de una sesión plenaria, titulada “Evangelismo digital y el futuro de la Iglesia”. Luego, los participantes hicieron la transición a cuatro talleres separados de su

elección: “Haciendo ´cosas nuevas´ en la Iglesia”, “Tecnología a su alcance”, “Cómo evangelizar en YouTube” y “Cómo transmitir eventos en vivo”. La mitad de los talleres se ofrecieron en español y la otra mitad en inglés.

Durante la parte del taller, los asistentes se dividieron brevemente en salas de trabajo para colaborar en una lista de soluciones a los problemas que abordaron los líderes de su taller. Después de otro breve descanso de transición, los participantes colaboraron en una hora de café virtual para establecer contactos y compartir lo que aprendieron. La sesión mensual total duró tres horas. Las sesiones futuras se estructurarán de manera similar.

Nuevo Amanecer también ofrece a los niños una lista de reproducción de actividades tradicionales de la escuela dominical antes de comenzar para que puedan participar mientras sus padres asisten a la conferencia.

Adialyn Milien, líder del equipo de comunicación y redes sociales de Nuevo Amanecer, dijo que espera con más interés la sesión final de octubre porque la oradora principal será Ana Victoria Lantigua Zaya, una mujer de la República Dominicana de unos 20 años que sirvió en el equipo de planificación de la Juventud Episcopal en 2019. Episcopal Youth Planning Team in 2019

“Ella terminará la serie porque queremos que la gente entienda que hay espacio para todos en la Iglesia Episcopal; todos son bienvenidos y pueden desempeñar un papel en la Iglesia”, dijo Milien. “En su mayoría tenemos viejos blancos en posiciones de poder, por lo que le estamos diciendo a la gente que el futuro de la Iglesia está en nuestras manos, especialmente en la comunidad latina”.

Una vez que termine la pandemia del COVID-19, las conferencias de Nuevo Amanecer volverán a Kanuga, pero también habrá un componente virtual disponible para los que no puedan asistir en persona.

“Algún día volveremos a los edificios de la Iglesia, y muchos querrán hacerlo, pero no creo que sea lo mismo”, dijo Rivas. “Hemos abierto las puertas de la Iglesia a muchas personas nuevas en todo el mundo, y ahora son parte de nuestra familia”.

– Shireen Korkzan es reportera independiente con sede en el Medio Oeste que escribe principalmente sobre temas de religión, raza, etnia y justicia social. Síguela en Twitter e Instagram @ smkrm5.

Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria inaugurated as Anglican Communion’s 41st province

by mdavies |

[Anglican Communion News Service] The former Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa has completed its transition into an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. The approval for the move was given by the primates of the Anglican Communion when they met in Jordan in January. The Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council had already given the new province the go-ahead.

The General Synod of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East approved the request from the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa to secede from its province. Under its constitution, the diocese fell under the temporary metropolitical authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who signed a Dead of Relinquishment legally inaugurating the new Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria.

The Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria will serve 10 countries as the official Anglican Communion presence: Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Chad, Mauritania, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. It is named after the north Egyptian city which was home to one of the earliest branches of the Christian Church.

Announcing the development, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, said: “In recent years we have seen enormous growth in what was the Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, particularly – but not only – in the Gambella region of Ethiopia. It was one of the largest and most diverse dioceses in the Anglican Communion and also one of the fastest growing regions.

“It is great credit to Archbishop Mouneer [Anis] and the clergy and people of the diocese that this growth occurred in spite of the great cultural diversity and complex political situations in the region it serves.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said that he was “absolutely delighted” to welcome the inauguration of the new Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria as the 41st province of the Anglican Communion. “Of course it has been part of the Anglican Communion for very many years, going right back into the past,” he said. “It has been part of the Episcopal Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East but now with growth and development and the planting of churches in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere; with its service to its community regardless of ethnicity or of religion, it has grown to the point where it is now becoming an independent province.

“Circumstances mean that I have not been able to go and join them as I would have liked to have done; but that makes no difference, for God is with them. In Jesus Christ they are full of life and hope; by the power of the Spirit they are continuing to serve and love amidst challenges that every church faces.

“Although I will not be there physically, I will be there to pray for them Spiritually, alongside them, rejoicing with them. And I ask the whole Anglican Communion to join in thanks, in joy, in celebration and in intercession, for this new 41st Province, for Archbishop Mouneer, for all its clergy and people, for the whole range of this Province of Alexandria – such a historic name in such a historic area. May it draw on the history of the saints and their inspiration; and may it proclaim the Gospel afresh in this generation. Amen!”

The first Episcopal/Anglican Archbishop of Alexandria, Mouneer Anis, said: “All my colleagues and I thank God for His goodness. He fulfilled our dreams. We are also grateful for all the support we receive from Archbishop Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury; Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion; all the primates of the Anglican Communion, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and our colleagues at the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace for their hard work.

“We are aware that many brothers and sisters, who served before us, have sown many seeds and now we are harvesting. May the Lord keep us faithful to Him and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

He added: “The early church in Alexandria has shaped the Christian thought of the whole world during the first millennium. It is our prayers that the new Province of Alexandria would do the same during the third millennium.

“As a new member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Province of Alexandria, commit ourselves afresh to our Triune God and His mission. We also pray so that the Lord may use us to bring peace and reconciliation in our region.”

Archbishop Michael Lewis, primate of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East and the bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, sent his “heartfelt prayers and good wishes to our brothers and sisters in the existing Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.”

He added: “They have for many years been an integral and valued part of our Province. Now we bless them on their way towards being inaugurated as the new Province of Alexandria. As in the past, so in the future, they will live out the unchanging worldwide Anglican calling of faithful worship, loving service, and welcome to all.

“A new phase in the life of Anglican presence and engagement in north-east Africa is beginning. From Algeria through Egypt to Ethiopia and in all neighboring nations they will by God’s grace be a blessing to their communities and peoples.”

Other Anglican leaders also welcomed the new Province. The Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council Primate of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, Archbishop Paul Kwong, described the territory of the new Province as being “lands full of rich, diverse and historic civilizations, cultures, religions and socio-politics.”

He said: “The Province named after Alexandria, the famous ancient home to a lighthouse ranking among the seven wonders of the world, a storied library and a seat of learning, will have a lot to offer equally and significantly to the Anglican Communion today. I am convinced that the new Province will play a much larger role in Inter-faith dialogue and involve more actively in health care ministry than the former diocese once committed. “I look forward to serving with Archbishop Mouneer in the Communion.”

The new Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria is a member of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA). Its chair, the primate of Central Africa and Bishop of Northern Zambia, Archbishop Albert Chama, said: “We as CAPA on the continent of Africa welcome the formation of the Episcopal/Anglican Province of Egypt.

“Egypt has been a very important and strategic diocese for the Church in North and the Horn of Africa. The formation of the new Province of Egypt certainly will open a new chapter in the life of the Anglican Communion on the continent of Africa, and also this will stimulate the growth of the Anglican Church in North and the Horn of Africa itself.

“The former diocese of Egypt has played a vital role in inter-faith dialogue given the environment in which the Church operates. The new province will certainly be a big player in fostering peace and reconciliation in the region. Already the former diocese has been helping the refugees from South Sudan and other countries along it borders…

“The new province is very strategic for the growth of Church. The critical role she is expected to play is that of interfaith dialogue, as a means of encouraging people of different faiths to live together as they have done before, though this chapter will provide them with more influence as they act as one of the provinces in the Anglican Communion worldwide.”

The general secretary of CAPA, J W Kofi deGraft-Johnson, added his congratulations, saying: “We are delighted to read of the birthing of the new Province of Alexandria to consolidate the long history of Anglicanism and the work of Anglicans in Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

“Alexandria, could not have been a better name considering its place in church history and as a seat of knowledge both for the church and ancient civilization.

“The birthing of the Province of Alexandria therefore provides greater opportunity for the Anglican Communion in Africa for fuller continental expression. This will enhance the role of the former Diocese of Egypt in building on the social transformation and inter-faith ministries within the North Africa region, across the continent and within the wider Anglican Communion in general.

“It is indeed a most welcome news to the Anglican Communion in Africa and a celebration of the contribution of the former Diocese of Egypt to the ongoing work of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA).”

An international service of thanksgiving to celebrate the inauguration of the new Province will be held in Cairo at a later date, once global travel restrictions have been eased. The Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria have been allocated Sunday 2 August in this year’s Anglican Cycle of prayer – a date which had been allocated to the now-postponed Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops.

As COVID-19 cases surge in the US, Episcopal churches continue individual approach to online worship, fellowship

by emillard |

An “isolation group” of clergy and lay leaders livestream a Sunday worship service from Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church in Valrico, Florida. Photo: Bryan O’Carroll

[Episcopal News Service] More than three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, with cases surging in some parts of the United States, Episcopal churches continue to take different approaches to in-person parish activities based on the number of cases in their communities and the guidance of local, state and federal health officials.

In the U.S., COVID-19 cases have topped 2.4 million and more than 124,000 people have died since the first positive case was diagnosed in Washington state on Jan. 20. Globally, positive COVID-19 cases have surpassed 9.6 million and more than 488,000 have died of the disease.

Most Episcopal churches nationwide began shifting to online worship services and fellowship in mid-March, when COVID-19 cases surged on the East Coast, in Southeast Michigan and around Seattle, Washington. Over the past two weeks, though, states in the South and Southwest, Oklahoma, Florida and California have reported the highest number of new cases.

California saw its worst day for new reported cases – over 7,000 – on June 24. New cases there have increased 18% since June 19.

In the Diocese of San Diego, which covers the southernmost part of California and southwestern Arizona, Bishop Susan Brown Snook allowed churches to resume in-person worship starting on June 21 in accordance with state regulations (which set a 25% capacity limit) and any additional local measures, as well as diocesan guidelines. Everyone must stand at least six feet apart, and choir and congregational singing is not allowed. Masks must be worn at all times, except when reading or preaching. The Eucharist may be celebrated, but only bread can be offered. The few churches that have submitted plans for reopening say they will also screen parishioners with touchless thermometers as they arrive.

However, San Diego County renewed its stay-at-home order on June 19. Although houses of worship are exempt, Snook urged churches in that county to only hold services outdoors. Snook also instructed churches in Imperial County and Arizona not to meet in person at all, due to high levels of transmission there.

Arizona is currently on the worst trajectory of any state, with a 42% increase in new reported cases since June 19. The state, which reopened for business on May 16, now has more documented cases per capita than hard-hit countries like Italy, Spain and Brazil. Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is recording over 2,000 new cases a day, worse than New York City on its worst days.

The Diocese of Arizona is still in phase one of its COVID-19 plan, meaning there are no in-person worship services or gatherings.

“Our Arizona churches are still in the early stages of our journey with COVID-19,” Bishop Jennifer Reddall wrote in a letter to the diocese. “We are not ‘there’ yet — and we are not going to be getting ‘there’ any time soon. This journey is not going to be a matter of weeks, but months or years.”

The Navajo Nation, which is served by the Episcopal Church in Navajoland, is one of the hardest-hit areas in the U.S., with more reported cases per capita than any state. Weekend lockdowns are being reinstated on the reservation. Navajoland’s churches remain closed for in-person worship until further notice.

Cases in Texas have increased 28% since June 19. Gov. Greg Abbott has reinstated some restrictions but is allowing businesses to remain open for the most part, and churches have been allowed to hold in-person services since early April under state law. Hospitals in Houston and Austin are preparing to expand capacity to address the surge.

Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, part of the Diocese of Texas, resumed in-person worship on June 21, with up to 60 people allowed in. Parishioners were required to register to attend, and to wear masks. Communion was celebrated with bread alone, and there was no congregational singing.

However, on the 25th, the dean of the cathedral announced that in-person worship was canceled for the 28th, citing the “startling” data coming out of the area’s hospitals.

“All but one of the criteria that push Houston’s COVID crisis meter into the red zone have now been surpassed: a 7-day average of greater than 100 new COVID cases, 7-day increasing trend in daily hospital population, and more than three days of greater than 15 percent ICU usage by COVID patients,” the Very Rev. Barkley Thompson wrote. Online worship will continue.

Florida, which began reopening on May 4, reported nearly 9,000 new cases on June 26 (as of the early afternoon). Reported cases there have increased 37% since June 19 – and 526% since Memorial Day. Gov. Ron DeSantis closed bars on June 26, but churches – which were never closed by a state order – can remain open.

The Diocese of Southeast Florida, which contains Miami, is still in phase one of its COVID-19 plan – meaning churches must remain closed for in-person worship, except for some feeding ministries and day care programs – until at least June 30.

“I am deeply aware that we are entering a time when congregational leadership will be coming under increasing pressure,” Bishop Peter Eaton wrote to the diocese when extending his initial closure order in late May. “I am also aware that the matter of re-entry and re-gathering in places of worship has become politicized, and this only adds to the complexity of discerning wise and prudent timing. … The leadership of the diocese is motivated solely by our shared discernment of the moral imperative of the well-being of those who constitute our communities.”

In the Diocese of Southwest Florida, churches have been allowed to open for in-person worship since May 31, with attendance limited to 25% of the church’s maximum occupancy. Masks are “highly recommended” and parishioners are instructed to stay six feet apart. Communion may be offered as bread only.

In a letter to the diocese on June 23, Bishop Dabney Smith said he was concerned about the increasing spread of COVID-19 in the diocese but that diocesan policies remain the same.

“It is our role to take care of our people; again I remind you this care includes some of our at-risk clergy,” Dabney wrote, encouraging congregations to carefully consider their own practices.

Meanwhile, in the Northeast, governors in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on June 24 announced that travelers arriving from hotspots outside the tri-state area would be required to quarantine for 14 days.

In the Diocese of Newark, where the governor has set the limit for indoor gatherings at 100 people or 25% of maximum capacity and at 250 people for outdoor gatherings, Bishop Carlye J. Hughes issued a 36-page document on June 23 containing guidelines for in-person worship.

In the Diocese of New York, which includes parts of New York City and stretches north into the Hudson Valley, in-person worship remains suspended through July 1.

“I write to you one week before the July 1 date at which limited resumption of public worship will be permitted in the Diocese of New York. I want to say at the start that I have no expectation that churches will resume public worship at this time. A significant number of our churches and clergy are telling me that they do not intend to reintroduce worship inside their churches until September or the end of the year. I completely respect those decisions,” wrote New York Bishop Andrew Dietsche in a June 24 letter to the diocese, asking that churches continue virtual worship.

“From the start we have said that this is permission, not requirement. COVID is a very dangerous disease – fatal for too many – and a whole lot of our people, and our clergy, are high risk due to their age or underlying health conditions. Safety must be our first concern. We have learned how to have effective, enriching worship and a robust community life, even while distanced, over the last three months. Continuing those distanced practices and relationships until we see that it is safe to come physically together is a decision which is faithful and sensible. We are seeing that in other parts of our country which have ‘reopened’ early, churches are already being revealed to be centers of new infections. We cannot let that happen in our churches, and that means observing strict disciplines in our practices,” Dietsche said.

In a June 19 letter to clergy and wardens in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, where the state is in the process of reopening, Bishop Ian T. Douglas and Bishop Suffragan Laura J. Ahrens urged people in at-risk categories and people age 65 and older “to stay home and stay safe,” and for those parishes considering in-person worship to consider holding services outdoors.

“This is not a time to go rushing back to in-person worship as we have known it in the past,” the bishops wrote. “We recognize that many parishes are beginning to resume in-person worship and are using the ‘Living with COVID-19’ protocols and directions that we have promulgated as guidelines. We appreciate the deliberate, careful and collaborative way that you, the clergy and lay leaders in ECCT, are considering what is best for your parishes in this new phase. Thank you for your ongoing faithful and inspiring leadership.”

Massachusetts, initially one of the hardest-hit states, now has the lowest rate of positive COVID-19 tests in the nation, with a seven-day positive test rate average of 1.9% as of June 25. The Diocese of Massachusetts suspended in-person worship in late March, and the bishops’ directive was extended until July 1. On June 15, the bishops told the diocese that congregations may reopen for in-person worship starting July 1, but strongly encouraged them not to. Parishes that wish to resume in-person worship must confirm that they will be able to meet state and diocesan criteria.

Western New York deanery initiative seeks to keep small, rural churches alive

by lwilson |

[Diocese of Western New York]The Genesee Deanery of the Diocese of Western New York is made up of small towns and small churches that are struggling to survive. Only one of the nine churches in the three-county region between Buffalo and Rochester has an average Sunday attendance of more than 40. Five have an average attendance of 15 or below. But in this collection of rural communities and former canal towns, an experiment is underway that could suggest a path forward for small churches and rural communities across The Episcopal Church.

The Genesee Deanery initiative was first conceived by the Rev. Colleen O’Connor, who, until the end of last year, had been the part-time priest at both St. Mark’s Church in LeRoy and St. Paul’s Church in Stafford. It imagines a deanery team of two or three priests and a deacon who would rotate among six of the eight parishes in the deanery that do not have full-time clergy. The plan would make it possible for all six to celebrate a Eucharist or communion service at least three times each month, in addition to having a steady pastoral presence, and a priest available for emergencies.

“My goal is that these parishes would also participate in congregational development projects, and that the lay leadership can think about how to reach out to the community, about who they are and who God is calling them to be,” O’Connor said. “If survival is not an issue, how do we spread the gospel to our communities? We are not going for megachurches, but to have a vibrant healthy church active in our communities.”

The participating parishes are Christ Church, Albion; St. Luke’s, Attica; St. Paul’s, Holley; St. Mark’s, LeRoy; Holy Apostles, Perry and St. Paul’s, Stafford.

Of the three remaining churches, St. James, Batavia, by far the largest church in the deanery, has a full-time rector. It has committed to collaborating with other parishes, but is still considering how fully it will participate.

“I am excited about this plan because it takes into account the culture of the region and the character and charisms of each of the individual congregations,” said Bishop Sean Rowe. “It allows people to collaborate in a way that really brings a balance to lay and clergy leadership.”

The deanery has been losing population for more than two decades and suffering economic setbacks as well. A Fisher-Price plant in Medina closed in 1995, a Champion sportswear plant in Perry closed in 1998 and the massive Diaz Chemical plant in Holley closed in 2003, leaving behind a Superfund site. The region today is sparsely populated, but close-knit.

“It’s a lot of small towns spread apart,” said the Rev. Bonnie Morris, rector at St. James. “There is a lot of countryside. People live in their communities a long time. They know each other from way back, and they have very definite ties to their community.”

Rowe says preserving those ties is at the core of the deanery initiative. “We are saying that just because these churches are a small presence, that doesn’t mean they aren’t critical to their communities,” he said. “You have to believe it matters that The Episcopal Church is present in these tiny communities, because otherwise you follow the way of thinking that says, ‘Why don’t you close all of these places?’ That’s what you do if you want the church to be an urban-suburban phenomenon, and that’s the way the church is heading. I am saying these places are critical, but this is not just about keeping them open, it’s about making them present in their communities.”

In 2017, the deanery received a grant from Diocese of Western New York to explore the benefits and challenges of sharing clergy. On the first Sunday of each month, O’Connor, then the priest at St. Mark’s and St. Paul’s, would lead worship at St. Luke’s, Attica and attend its vestry meeting. St. Luke’s would pay the deanery for a supply priest, and the deanery would contract with a supply priest to lead worship at St. Mark’s and St. Paul’s.

On the third Sunday of the month, Morris would lead worship at St. Luke’s before returning to her own parish. St. Luke’s would again pay the deanery for a supply priest, and the deanery would compensate Morris.

“If St. Mark’s and St. Paul’s (Stafford) weren’t willing to go along, it wouldn’t have worked,” O’Connor said, joking that after listening to her preach for 15 years, “they were really excited to hear someone else for a change!”

The feedback from participating parishes was positive, and after the Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania began their partnership, O’Connor brought the proposal to Rowe seeking further support.

“The reality out here is that even if we put all of our resources together, they wouldn’t be able to afford enough bodies to make that work,” she says.

Rowe, an advocate of collaboration among dioceses as well as among congregations, was impressed by the plan and its architect. “She really has a missionary heart,” he said of O’Connor, who supplements her income by helping seniors choose Medicare insurance plans. “The church doesn’t value this kind of work enough.”

The initiative moved forward on June 25 when Western New York’s Diocesan Council approved a three-year $20,000 transition ministry grant, creating a full-time position, for O’Connor as deanery priest.

Although several details remain to be worked out, including the nature of St. James’ involvement, the benefits of collaboration in the deanery are already manifesting themselves. “What we get out of it is a feeling of Episcopal community that goes beyond our parish,” Morris said. “We are the minority in the Christian community, especially in this area, and this is giving us the chance to share some initiatives, like gathering more people for a Bible study or a ministry effort.”

Earlier this year two members of St. Luke’s participated in the confirmation class at St. James and were confirmed during Rowe’s visitation to Batavia. Two members of Christ Church, Albion were received into the Episcopal Church at St. James during that same visit.

Jim Isaac, who was president of the Western New York Standing Committee when that diocese and the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania signed their partnership agreement, is part of the committee developing the initiative. A member of St. Mark’s, LeRoy, he said the deanery initiative is emblematic of Rowe’s approach to fostering vitality through reorganization.

“His attitude is, ‘Okay, we got this to work once when we brought two dioceses with a lot of talented people together. What’s next?’ This deanery project kind of fits into his focus. The parishes put in some money, the dioceses put in a little.

“Okay, let’s make this work.”

A chaplain to the dying in a season of pandemic

by lwilson |

[Episcopal Church in Vermont] It’s not as though the Rev. Ann Hockridge didn’t know there was a pandemic on.

By March 15, she had already suspended the in-person worship service she leads for two yoked congregations in the United Church of Christ, as well as the one at Convivia/StJ, the Episcopal community she co-pastors in St. Johnsbury. But the arrival in northern Vermont of the virus that causes COVID-19 had not affected her work as a hospice chaplain for Caledonia Home Health Care and Hospice.

Then, one day, her director came into Hockridge’s office just as she was leaving to visit a woman who, in the parlance of hospice workers, was “actively dying.”

The health system had just classified chaplains as non-essential workers, the director said.

Hockridge got permission for her impending visit, but nothing after that.

People who minister to the dying are practiced in keeping track of their own feelings, lest other people’s grief pull them under, and Hockridge recognized in herself a mixture of resentment and understanding. “To put it bluntly, my feelings were hurt,” she said. “It was like middle school, and I had been booted out of the cool kid lunch table.” At the same time, she realized that personal protective equipment (PPE) was in short supply.

“There was a sense for me that if I used that mask or that gown or that face shield, I was taking it away from a teammate, and potentially taking it away from a family that may need important nursing care,” she said. “Also, I recognized I needed to do my part to minimize contact with our families in order to minimize the potential for spreading the virus to our patients and their families.”

Hockridge set off as she had numerous times since the pandemic began, but this visit was different.

“I realized that despite my hurt feelings about being named non-essential, something had really shifted for me,” she said. “It was not just the risk I posed to someone else, but the risk I was facing.” And that anxiety was exacerbated by the possibility that she would bring the disease home to her partner, who is in a high-risk category for the virus, and their two teenage children.

In the three months since that visit, the virus has transformed everything about the way she and other hospice chaplains do their work, requiring deeper levels of attentiveness, adaptability and self-awareness.

Hockridge said she is fortunate to have visited most of those she currently counsels before the pandemic began. “We’ve had real life physical contact, so that helps me because I can say, ‘Oh I recognize the living room where they are sitting,’ she said. “Or maybe I know that a certain expression on their face is accompanied by a slight slump of their shoulders. I am having to listen very carefully and watch very carefully and try to use the hints I am getting over the screen to evoke the full person.”

She says part-time positions at various churches have taught her that even when pastoral care must be given in less time than she would like, it can still be effective. “We are going through a similar process now as chaplains in recognizing that, yes, the Zoom or the telephone call is not ideal, but it can be enough,” she said.

Not long after the restrictions on home visits were instituted, Hockridge had an experience that brought this point home.

“Someone I was close to, in a family I was close to, died,” she said. “Normally I would have been in that family’s living room visiting with them and reminiscing. If the family had invited me, I would have gone to the funeral home with them.

“When they called to say she had died, I had conversations sequentially with the adult children, and we did the same things we would have done if I were there. They asked if I would call in when they went to the funeral home. I called in, and we did what we would have done in the living room on the phone. We were telling stories, talking about this person’s legacy, what we loved about her, what drove all of us crazy.

“I was able to lead them in prayer at the end of that. I got off the phone, and I fully expected that I would feel miserable, that this was completely inadequate, that this was second rate, that I was just going through the motions. But I got off the phone and realized that we had been able to do what we would have done in person, and that it had been enough.

“And I was shocked by that, but I think it helped me to approach new situations as they were coming up with some level of trust that we could make it enough.”

That isn’t always possible, she acknowledged. “The hardest piece for me is our patients who are in nursing homes. Contacts with them have basically ceased. Connecting over phone or via Zoom isn’t possible or practical because nursing homes having to prioritize contact with family,” she said.

But family visits have been quite limited in some instances, or simply prohibited in others, leading many people to experience an even deeper sadness at the moment of a loved one’s death, Hockridge said.

“I think one thing many people are struggling with is the fact that their loved ones may be dying alone in a nursing home or a hospital because of the restrictions around visitors,” she said. “And I think one of the things that many of us in hospice come to is, there is a difference between dying alone and dying lonely.

“I don’t say that in a Pollyanna way. I don’t mean that it’s fine that people have been dying without loved ones at their bedside. But there are people we see in hospice who chose to die alone, and it happens so frequently that we feel it can’t be a coincidence. That moment comes when family who have been very attentive or present or even hovering are called away, and in that moment their loved one dies. And I think some people choose the privacy of that moment to spare their loved ones seeing them taking their last breath.

“I guess I hold that up in these days. It’s mysterious and I don’t have easy answers about it, but I think it is something that is worth thinking about for all of us.”

As the pandemic has worn on, Hockridge has encountered other changes in the nature of her work. Hospice chaplains are typically available for bereavement support with those who have lost a loved one. Before the pandemic, only about a quarter of the people whom she called to offer such a service returned the call. During the pandemic, almost everybody calls back.

“We are experiencing a profound sense of collective grief, so people’s personal grief has been really escalated,” Hockridge said. “Also, the isolation has escalated people’s symptoms of grief.”

Working with people experiencing such profound sadness requires a particular kind of self-awareness.

“One of the things that has shifted is my own need for self-care,” Hockridge said. “In what we think of as a more typical time, there might have been a patient or a situation that really pressed on my own sense of sadness, or my own history, and in those situations, I’d need good peer support or good clinical supervision. It was always very clear cut.

“In this time, I am living with the same fear, the same uncertainty, the same exhaustion, some of the same isolation that is impacting all of my parishioners and all of our hospice patients, and all of our staff, and so it has been incredibly important for me to be talking about my confusion, my worry, my exhaustion with other chaplains and other clergy, so that I am not spilling out.”

For all of the hardships of the pandemic, Hockridge has had moments of deep gladness, particularly when she is able to touch not only the dying, but those who care for them.

“I am struck by the ways I have had to deputize—It’s not the right word, but it is what comes to mind—medical staff over the phone,” she said. “In one situation, someone was actively dying and wanted a prayer and an anointing, but they were adamant that they didn’t want anyone else in the home because of the risk of the virus.

“So I talked the nurse through how she could do the anointing as I said the prayer over speakerphone. Later, she said to me, ‘Nursing is my calling. I have no question about my sense of call. But I have never really felt like I was a minister, or that there really is a priesthood of all believers. But you trusting me to do that work and giving me the work to do made me realize I do have a ministry. I am part of the priesthood.’”