Weekly News Summary on Tuesday 11 August 2020

This weekly news summary replaces the usual output from the Anglican Communion News Service, which has been temporarily suspended.

Source: Anglican News

Rare earthquake in Western North Carolina damages church

Christ Church in Sparta, North Carolina. Courtesy photo

[Episcopal News Service] An earthquake that shook northwestern North Carolina awake on the morning of Aug. 9 caused minor damage to a church in Sparta, the town closest to the epicenter.

No one was inside Christ Church at the time because it has not been holding in-person services due to the pandemic, said Senior Warden Jann Boggs, “so that was a blessing.”

With a preliminary magnitude of 5.1, the earthquake was the largest one to hit the region since 1916. No deaths or serious injuries were reported, though some buildings in Sparta were damaged.

At Christ Church, there was damage to the drywall seams in the sanctuary’s walls and ceiling, the well line was broken, some altar candlesticks broke when they came crashing down and “the sacristy was pretty much a shambles,” Boggs told Episcopal News Service.

“We haven’t had a chance to even get in there and do anything with it, but there’s stuff strewn all over the floor,” she said. “We have no idea what we’ve really sustained as far as damage [in the sacristy].”

The church – which is between rectors since the previous one left just a week before the earthquake – fared better than other buildings in town that were shaken off their foundations or in danger of collapsing, Boggs said. And there was one upside to the earthquake.

“When I tell someone in North Carolina that’s not from here that I live in Sparta, their eyes glaze over. I think now they’ll know where Sparta is.”

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

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Source: Episcopal News

RIP: Former Northwest Texas Bishop Sam B. Hulsey

R.I.P: Bishop Sam B. Hulsey, Feb. 14, 1932 – Aug. 6, 2020

[Diocese of Northwest Texas] The Rt. Rev. Sam B. Hulsey, former bishop of the Diocese of Northwest Texas and assisting bishop in the Diocese of Fort Worth, died on Aug. 6, 2020, at Selby Hill, his beloved family homestead in Parker County. He was 88 years old. A memorial service will be held when it is safer to gather.

Hulsey was born on Feb. 14, 1932, to Ruth and Sim Hulsey in the old All Saints’ Hospital in Fort Worth. He is survived by his wife, Isabelle; his daughter, Ashley Louise Hulsey and her husband, Marc Kittner, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and his son, Byron Christopher Hulsey and his wife, Jennifer, of Woodberry Forest, Virginia. Stepchildren include Ruthie Porterfield of Houston, and Beth Phillips and Huck Newberry of Fort Worth.

Hulsey had a long and distinguished career in The Episcopal Church, which culminated in his tenure as bishop of the Diocese of Northwest Texas from 1980-1997. The diocesan offices in Lubbock are in the Sam Byron Hulsey Episcopal Center. After his retirement, he moved back to his hometown of Fort Worth.

For a full obituary click here.

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Source: Episcopal News

Remains of Roman-era English church restored

[Anglican Communion News Service] The remains of what is said to be the oldest Christian church in England have undergone a restoration process. The stone foundations, next to the Colchester Police Station in Essex, were discovered more than 40 years ago when land was excavated to make way for a new road. It is thought that the church was built around A.D. 320, toward the end of the Roman occupation of Britain.

The high steward of Colchester, Sir Bob Russell, told the Colchester Gazette newspaper that he was grateful that the local council had “arranged for more extensive restoration of the remaining stonework of this amazing survivor of the early days of Christianity in our country.

“With the success of the restoration work just completed, I renew my call for direction signs to be erected on existing poles with signs around the town center. This should be promoted as a major tourist attraction, along with the Roman chariot circus, which is the only one known to have existed in this country.”

The restoration work was carried out by Bakers of Danbury, a specialist church and ancient monument contractor, commissioned by Colchester Council and supported by the Colchester Archaeological Trust.

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Source: Episcopal News

Episcopalians, Anglicans organize relief efforts after catastrophic explosion in Beirut

Glass doors were shattered at All Saints Church in Beirut, Lebanon, after an explosion at the city’s port on Aug. 4, 2020. Courtesy photo

[Episcopal News Service] In the aftermath of the devastating explosion that caused widespread damage across Beirut, Lebanon, on Aug. 4, Episcopalians are reaching out to their Anglican counterparts in the region to assess their needs and offer assistance. The explosion, which killed at least 135 people, injured more than 3,000 and left 300,000 homeless, leveled much of the city’s port when a fire ignited a massive amount of explosives that had been warehoused there for six years.

All Saints Church in Beirut, Lebanon. Courtesy photo

All Saints Church, part of the Anglican Communion’s Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, sits about a mile from the site of the explosion. Surrounded by skyscrapers, the church sustained relatively minor damage given its location; all the glass doors in the parish hall were shattered, but the sanctuary was not seriously damaged, the church’s leadership wrote on Facebook. There were no known deaths from the explosion among the church’s Arabic-speaking Lebanese and international congregations, according to the church.

“For this we thank the Lord, while we also very much grieve at the tragic accident,” the church’s leadership wrote.

The Anglican Center at the Near East School of Theology, two miles away from the blast, was also damaged, while a diocesan school for children with disabilities farther from the city center was not, according to the Most Rev. Suheil Dawani, archbishop of the Diocese of Jerusalem.

The explosion dealt a crippling blow to a country already suffering from the simultaneous disasters of COVID-19 and a catastrophic economic collapse. In recent weeks, food shortages, power outages and violent protests against government corruption and mismanagement have been the norm.

“We are all facing a new catastrophe, on top of the very challenging COVID and economic problems Lebanon is dealing with,” the All Saints leaders wrote.

The Rev. Canon Robert D. Edmunds, The Episcopal Church’s U.S.-based Middle East partnership officer, described the additional crises that will complicate any response to the explosion.

“As challenging as things are in our country on so many levels, at this point, for Lebanon it’s exponential,” Edmunds told Episcopal News Service.

Since the country’s main port has been destroyed, importing repair materials – like the vast amounts of glass that will be needed – will be exceptionally difficult, Edmunds said. Even getting money into the country is a problem because of the collapse of the Lebanese banking system, Edmunds learned during a call with his ecumenical partners.

Dawani issued an appeal to the Diocese of Jerusalem’s international partners for relief funds to repair All Saints Church and the Anglican Center, “but also to engage in a larger outreach effort to those members of the communities in Beirut most stricken by this tragedy.” All Saints, being close to the blast but relatively unscathed, might be well-positioned to help with relief efforts, Dawani said.

In the U.S., that appeal is being implemented by the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, which has set up an emergency relief fund. The Middle East Council of Churches is also organizing an appeal, Edmunds said.

Dawani and All Saints’ leadership also asked for prayers as Lebanon endures yet another crisis.

“Thank you for your prayers as we continue to seek to be a light for Christ in this bleak city which is suffering so much,” the All Saints leaders’ letter concluded.

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

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Source: Episcopal News

African Anglicans join voices against human trafficking

[Anglican Communion News Service] “Trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights,” the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) said in a statement to mark the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30. The general secretary of CAPA, J.W. Kofi deGraft-Johnson, described human trafficking as “a transnational organized crime that affects communities globally.”

In the statement, CAPA called on people to join the campaign against human trafficking, saying, “Societies are judged by how they treat the least among them. Today we urge you to look at the plight of people in our communities who have been reduced to merchandise. They are bought and sold for labor, sexual exploitation, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or for the removal of body organs.”

Read the entire article here.

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Source: Episcopal News

Chicago church’s Greenlining Campaign works to reverse effects of racism in housing

[Diocese of Chicago] On May 31, Pentecost Sunday, six days after George Floyd was killed by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 47 people at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Chicago, Illinois, attended an online evening prayer service to mourn him and other Black people killed by racist violence.

“We reflected on how people felt powerless in this moment,” said Elizabeth Moriarty, a member of the parish and volunteer leader with United Power for Action and Justice. “We all had stories of shame and grief. But the organizer in me said, Oh no, we don’t know our power.”

Two months later, the congregation announced that it had raised $232,600 to support Canaan Homes, a housing and community organizing initiative in Lawndale, a West Side neighborhood devastated historically by predatory lending and the discriminatory housing policies known as redlining. The fundraising effort, which All Saints’ called the Greenlining Campaign, was launched a few weeks after the Pentecost prayer service “with the idea that we would be leaven,” said the Rev. Stephen Applegate, the parish’s interim rector. “Leaven for the 1,000 homes Lawndale Christian Development Corporation hopes to build and leaven for others to join in this campaign.”

All Saints’, a North Side congregation with more than 600 members, moved beyond its initial sense of powerlessness using a community organizing ministry that began in 2018, Moriarty said. With the support of Bishop Bonnie Perry of the Diocese of Michigan, then rector of All Saints’, Moriarty established the ministry through one-on-one interviews with members of the congregation “to build relational power.”

In the language of the Industrial Areas Foundation, the community organizing network founded in Chicago by legendary organizer Saul Alinsky, the phrase “relational power” refers to the power that can be amassed through strategic, mutual relationships between people and organizations.

At All Saints’, the movement grew quickly. When the parish joined United Power in February 2019, 40 people from the congregation went to Lawndale to deliver the annual dues check. Seven months later, 142 All Saints’ members participated in a United Power meeting with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, during which more than a thousand people asked her to release a thousand vacant lots in Lawndale for affordable housing.

“This is what All Saints’ does through the power of the Holy Spirit. We take these kinds of risks and make these kinds of things happen,” Applegate said.

This spring, the organizing momentum was slowed by Perry’s departure and the pandemic. But shortly after the Pentecost prayer service, Moriarty received an email from Richard Townsell, executive director of Lawndale Christian Development Corporation, calling on United Power members to respond to systemic racism with “persistent and targeted action that is built on relational power.”

“Our goal,” wrote Townsell, “is to rebuild Lawndale with homes that working people can afford; to rebuild the public square with local leaders that care about the issues that affect us, and to not give in to fear or the market driven ideology that has taken over our country’s polity.”

The next day, Moriarty called Townsell and asked how much money he needed. He sent her a 50-page plan for Canaan Homes, she recalls, and she thought, “Oh, a church can raise money for the Promised Land. This is our chance!”

The All Saints’ vestry endorsed the project on June 16, and the Greenlining Campaign launched six days later with the goal of raising $215,000 in a month. On July 27, the campaign committee met with Townsell to announce that they had exceeded the goal by more than $17,000. Half of the gifts were for $100 or less, and 56% of donors are not members of All Saints’. Chicago Bishop Jeffrey Lee and five other Episcopal congregations—St. Mary’s, Park Ridge; St. Augustine’s, Wilmette; St. John’s, Irving Park; Church of the Atonement, Edgewater, and Grace Place Episcopal Church, South Loop—were among the donors, as were several ecumenical congregations.

All Saints’ co-warden Scottie Caldwell was one of the parish leaders who helped raise the funds. In a letter to the congregation, she wrote about her anger and sense of powerlessness on the night George Floyd was killed. But then, she wrote, she had a realization: “I know what to do. All Saints’ is with me. … Because we have been working with United Power for Action and Justice, because we have been talking about racism and power and organizing, and because I have seen, again and again, the transformative power of a community that believes in what’s possible and what makes the world new, I remembered that I am not alone.”

“The biggest thing I can say is that it is unprecedented,” Townsell said of the campaign. “I have had so much difficulty reaching into some of the big name white evangelical churches in Chicagoland trying to get them to support our work and I have struck out. They won’t even return my phone calls. It’s to All Saints’ credit that they are really willing and able to do the Gospel and to do something outside of their congregation.”

The money will pay to build the first model home in the development and three months of salary and benefits for a community organizer from North Lawndale. The organizer, Townsell said, will “get muscle politically to defend” the project.

“When we built the Ezra Project in the late 1990s, we had a lot of enemies,” Townsell said, referring to an affordable housing initiative in which the Diocese of Chicago invested a million dollars. “The street gangs weren’t happy, the banks weren’t happy because we went with one preferred bank, the developers weren’t happy because they wanted to build more market rate homes. We build 100 houses, and then the opposing forces shut us down.

“Now we’re starting with the organizing,” he said. He is counting on what he calls the “All Saints troublemakers” to be part of the organizing power. “The mayor should not just be hearing from our alderman.”

Applegate, who arrived at All Saints’ in February just three weeks before the pandemic forced the suspension of in-person worship and programs, said Perry’s legacy helped the congregation deliver such impressive results. “Bonnie’s ability to create and empower leaders means that she left behind a whole group of capable, committed, and energetic leaders,” he said. “When she left, she left them with a legacy of risk and risk and risk again. She was very successful in creating a DNA that has outlived her and will outlive her.”

To Moriarty, the Greenlining Project’s success can be measured not just by the money raised, but also by the relationship it has formed between All Saints’ and Lawndale Christian Development Corporation. “Part of our power at All Saints’ is our white privilege and our ability to leverage relationships across the city,” she said. “This project allowed us to move our money back to where it was taken from and say to Richard, ‘We believe in you, we’re following you.’ We’re learning the story of Lawndale.”

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Source: Episcopal News

In 1918 church registers, traces of another pandemic emerge

Fourteen people were buried out of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Montclair, New Jersey, from early October 1918 through the end of the year, with half of those occurring in October, six between Oct. 8 to Oct. 15 alone. Photo: John Mennell/St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

[Episcopal News Service] As the coronavirus began its spread in the United States in the spring, Episcopal clergy and parish historians began searching weekly service registers and records of baptisms, marriages and burials for clues about the 1918 flu pandemic’s impact on their congregations and parallels with COVID-19.

In some places, records showed an uptick in burials – one after another for days. Some show notations of canceled worship services, and many people have found inklings of stories about which they wish they knew more.

The 1918-19 influenza, caused by an avian H1N1 virus, came in three waves. At least 50 million people died worldwide, including approximately 675,000 in the United States. The three-month period from September to November 1918 saw the height of the second wave; an estimated 195,000 Americans died that October alone.

In the current pandemic, more than 157,000 people have died and more than 4.6 million have been infected with the coronavirus in the U.S. as of Aug. 5. Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 18.5 million and more than 701,000 people have died.

In mid-March of this year, as the Diocese of Newark began gradually shutting down in-person worship, the Rev. John Mennell, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Montclair, New Jersey, pulled out the 1918 service register.

“It doesn’t look like things slowed down dramatically,” he told Episcopal News Service.

Mennell found that while Sunday services were canceled on Oct. 13 and 20, weddings took place on Oct. 12 and 17, the latter with 60 people present. When services resumed on Oct. 27, 414 came for Morning Prayer. Another 19 attended an early morning Communion service and 58 gathered for Evening Prayer. The Nov. 1 celebration of All Saints’ Day fell on a Friday that year and 125 came for Holy Communion. Two days later, 438 came for the Communion service on the first Sunday of month.

Five children were baptized during the height of the pandemic’s second wave: two in late September and three in mid-November. And then there were the burials. “It’s pretty steady,” Mennell said. The register shows 14 burials from Oct. 8 through the end of the year, with half of those occurring in October, six between Oct. 8 and Oct. 15 alone.

“While services may have been shut down for a couple of weeks, it doesn’t look like much else was down,” he said. A century later, St. Luke’s has taken a different approach to Sunday services and has not held in-person worship since mid-March.

Jamie Green, parish historian for Christ Church in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, consulted yet another source of information about the life and times of the 318-year-old congregation. Reading the vestry minutes from 1917 to 1920, he found no mention of the pandemic “or the war, for that matter,” he said. “Then again, the record of those meetings is pretty thin.”

Green also searched the pages of the Red Bank Register, then the local newspaper. An article from Oct. 9 reported the local health board’s closure of “all motion picture places, churches, schools, dance halls, pool rooms, lodge rooms, saloons, soda fountains and other places where numbers of people congregate.” The article noted that people who died of influenza or pneumonia could not have “public funerals.”

The Oct. 16 issue of the Register featured a short story about John Lang, the church’s sexton. Due to the church building’s closure, Lang was supposed to have Sunday, Oct. 13, off, his first in 28 years as sexton. “He was eating breakfast Sunday morning when a party called at his home and said a grave was wanted in one of the church yards and that the work would have to be done immediately,” the article said.

In all, 10 people were buried from Christ Church in 1917 and seven in 1918, Green found.

As the coronavirus continues to spread quickly in the South, Midwest and West, states that recorded high infection rates and deaths early on in the pandemic – such as New York, Connecticut and New Jersey – have slowly begun to reopen. Christ Church, with permission from the Diocese of New Jersey, resumed in-person worship July 5 after almost four months.

In Montana, where as of Aug. 2 cases have increased by 10% from the average two weeks earlier, Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Missoula has decided not to resume in-person worship until at least September.

The Rev. Terri Ann Grotzinger, rector of Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Missoula, Montana, preached an Easter sermon near the graves of parishioners who died in the 1918-1919 influenza epidemic. Photo: Holy Spirit Episcopal Church video screenshot

The Rev. Terri Ann Grotzinger, rector of Holy Spirit, went to the church’s records to see what happened during the 1918-19 pandemic in the then-36-year-old congregation. The city’s infection rate between October 1918 and March 1919 reached about 25%. An estimated 5,000 Montanans, or about 1% of the population at the time, died.

The October deaths listed in the church’s records begin with a famous Montanan, Granville Stuart. Described as a pioneer, gold prospector, businessman, civic leader, vigilante, author, cattleman and diplomat, Stuart died at his Missoula home on Oct. 2. Heart failure is the cause of death listed in the burial register, but Stuart was known to have suffered from tough bouts of influenza and other respiratory illnesses. He was 84.

The next entry in Holy Spirit’s burial register is Marjorie Mary Hogue, 9, who died on Oct. 16. “Spanish Influenza” is listed as the cause. She was buried two days later near Hope Avenue in the Missoula City Cemetery.

Incidentally, it was called the Spanish Flu not because it originated in the Iberian peninsula but because Spain remained neutral during World War I, and, unlike other nations engaged in war, did not suppress the story.

Two other members are buried nearby. Sidney Dunbar, a 19-year-old from Potomac, Montana, and the first flu fatality from the Student Army Training Corps on the University of Montana campus in Missoula, died Oct. 18. Anna Pabst Agethen, 70, died two days later of “heart trouble,” according to the register.

Grotzinger preached her Easter sermon in the cemetery near the graves of Hogue, Dunbar and Agethen. The Easter story is about hope, she said, so preaching near the graves of Holy Spirit members buried along a street called Hope seemed fitting. Grotzinger’s sermon was part of a Liturgy of the Word service recorded in various places around Missoula.

Twenty Holy Spirit members died between Oct. 2 and Dec. 28, nearly all of them from influenza and related causes such as pneumonia. Most were in their teens, 20s and 30s. In addition to 9-year-old Marjorie Hogue, another girl the same age, Harriet Louise Oates, died on Christmas. The register lists similar deaths into 1919 but, in all, just 11 deaths are listed for the entire year.

Grotzinger also found an entry in the parish’s baptismal register for Sept. 19, 1918, that lists the baptisms of two girls whose mother was “too weak to come to church.” Martha had been born two days earlier and Margaret was nearly 18 months old. While the mother might have been too weak because of her labor, Grotzinger said she found no other reference to a mother’s health and only one other instance of baptisms conducted in a family’s home, when a 5-day-old girl and her 1-year-old sister were baptized at home on Dec. 17.

During a recent sermon, the Rev. Tracie Middleton, a deacon at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, Texas, uses the Plexiglas pulpit shield as a see-through bulletin board on which she taped pieces of paper to illustrate how Matthew’s Gospel is a remix of other material. Trinity’s rector, the Rev. Robert Pace, who has recovered from COVID-19, looks on. Photo: Trinity Episcopal Church video screenshot

In Fort Worth, Texas, Jane Gillett, the office and events coordinator for Trinity Episcopal Church, found something that many register explorers have encountered: The records are often incomplete. There are 14 deaths listed on Trinity’s 1918 register. None list influenza as the cause of death, but the virus raged through the area that fall.

In September 1918, Dr. A.W. Carnes, a health officer, said that the “general health situation in Dallas is good.” A month later, 1,200 people in that city and neighboring Fort Worth were dead, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Trinity’s only burial entry that does list influenza comes on July 10, 1919, about the time that the third and final wave of the pandemic was subsiding. Archie Edward Parnum was born July 17, 1917 and had been baptized on Oct. 7 of that year; he was just shy of his second birthday.

Gillett, who has been using the closure of Trinity’s buildings to update the parish’s membership records and registers, found 22 blank lines in the burial register after an April 29, 1919, entry. She wonders if there had been mass burials or if the person responsible for maintaining the register was sick or caring for family members.

Trinity had a firsthand experience of the current pandemic when its rector, the Rev. Robert Pace, started feeling sick the day after Ash Wednesday. He was hospitalized and has since recovered. He and a small altar party have been broadcasting services from the sanctuary via Facebook Live and YouTube.

“We’ve been doing some old things and some new things,” the Rev. Tracie Middleton said during her sermon from a Plexiglas-shielded pulpit on July 26. “We’ve been remixing church.”

To make her point, as Middleton preached, the Rev. Amy Haynie and parishioner Luanne Bruton posted comments, questions and links in the Facebook comments section. She also used the barrier as a see-through bulletin board on which she taped pieces of paper to illustrate how Matthew’s Gospel is a remix of other material.

The parish’s Regathering Task Force recently announced that nearly 65% of the 137 people who responded to a congregational survey said they or a member of their household are at high risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19. Slightly more than 26% said they plan to wait until a vaccine is widely available before they return to in-person worship. Trinity has not made a decision about when its members will gather in person for worship.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg retired in July 2019 as senior editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service.

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Source: Episcopal News

Presiding Bishop participates in CfR conversation on responding to COVID-19, racism

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry joined Rabbi Shoshanah Conover, senior rabbi at Temple Sholom of Chicago, Illinois, and Mohamed Elsanousi, executive director of the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, to discuss how faith communities have responded to the crises of COVID-19 and racial unrest, and what we can learn from their experiences. The Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond The Episcopal Church, moderated the July 30 conversation hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations as part of its Religion and Foreign Policy Program’s Social Justice and Foreign Policy series.

Click here for the full 77-minute video.

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Brotherhood of St. Andrew’s national leaders apologize over handling of racism debate

[Episcopal News Service] The Brotherhood of St. Andrew’s top national leaders have issued a “statement of public apology” after the 137-year-old organization’s mishandling of internal discussions over its racial reconciliation work and its response to national protests against racism and police brutality.

The letter, dated July 30, acknowledges that national board members of the Episcopal men’s ministry “made regrettable mistakes” during their review of a draft statement about the May 25 death of George Floyd and other police killings of African Americans. Three Black members of the national board resigned last month after Brotherhood President Jeff Butcher reacted negatively to the statement proposed by an ad hoc committee of the board.

“Our mistakes have caused a loss of trust within the Brotherhood and resulted in the resignations of three valued leaders,” the letter said. “This is a painful indication that we have not lived up to our mission as a Christian brotherhood, and for this we are truly sorry.”

The letter was attributed to Butcher, Senior Vice President Jack Hanstein and Dick Hooper, who as national council chairman is responsible for overseeing planning of the organization’s annual meetings. The organization has yet to issue a public statement on Floyd’s killing or the subsequent nationwide protests, but the three top leaders committed the Brotherhood to “a new phase of the journey of truth-telling, learning, listening and ultimately, with God’s help, reconciliation.”

As part of that process, they have asked the Rev. Shaneequa Brokenleg, The Episcopal Church’s staff officer for racial reconciliation, to help bolster the Brotherhood of St. Andrew’s antiracism efforts. The church has long called for Episcopalians to engage in that work, most recently through its Becoming Beloved Community framework.

“We know the work of building Beloved Community has no finish line and that this work of racial reconciliation is in fact a commitment to a new way of being – as individuals, as Brothers Andrew and as Christians,” the organization’s leaders said in the statement.

Those leaders had sounded a conciliatory tone earlier as well, in interviews with Episcopal News Service last month about the board upheaval, though it appears unlikely in the short term to mend relations with the three board members who resigned.

“It doesn’t change anything for me with respect to the primary issue,” Joe McDaniel told ENS in an Aug. 4 text message. He had served for about three years as national vice president of the Brotherhood’s racial reconciliation committee until he quit in protest on July 10.

The Brotherhood “failed to do the right thing when it had the initial opportunity,” McDaniel said, suggesting the recent letter was a “public relations spin on being caught engaging in racist behavior.”

The two others who resigned were Karl Colder, head of the addiction recovery committee, and John Robinson, the Brotherhood’s Province I president.

Internal written communications and interviews with board members revealed disagreements over whether to emphasize the role of systemic racism in Floyd’s killing and how to describe the public protests.

Brotherhood of St. Andrew

The Brotherhood of St. Andrew was founded in 1883 in Chicago, Illinois, and now has more than 350 chapters at Episcopal churches around the United States. Photo: Holy Family Episcopal Church, Fishers, Indiana

The Brotherhood of St. Andrew touts itself as The Episcopal Church’s oldest men’s ministry, with more than 5,000 members and more than 350 chapters in the United States.  While maintaining its general focus on prayer, study and service, the Brotherhood under Butcher has restructured its national operations in an effort to be more responsive to its chapters’ needs. As part of that effort, it identified seven core ministry areas, from veterans outreach to human trafficking. Racial reconciliation was among those areas of emphasis.

McDaniel, a retired lawyer from Pensacola, Florida, has been a prominent lay leader in efforts churchwide and in the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast to confront The Episcopal Church’s historic complicity in racist systems. But after he was chosen for a national role in 2017, McDaniel alleged the Brotherhood offered him little financial support or encouragement to expand the antiracism workshops he had been tasked with leading.

He also chaired the ad hoc committee that convened July 7 to draft a statement on Floyd and the deep-rooted systemic racism that many say is built into American institutions and social interactions.

Butcher responded by suggesting the proposed statement was too political, engaged in “identity politics” and would only fan the flames of division in the United States.

The July 30 apology letter doesn’t address Butcher’s specific comments, though it thanks those “who truthfully and courageously pointed out our painful errors.” It doesn’t identify McDaniel, Colder or Robinson by name.

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

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Source: Episcopal News