The Episcopal Church Welcomes You
» Site Map   » Questions    

« Return
Diocesan Digest - March 16


The 110-year-old Church of the Holy Trinity in  Juneau, Alaska was destroyed by a fire on  March 12, 2006.   

[Episcopal News Service] 

Parish seeks aid, ways to help others after fire
ATLANTA: Diocese sends medical supplies to Tanzania
CALIFORNIA: More nominees to succeed Swing announced
CONNECTICUT: Yale musician becomes parish's resident artist
LOUISIANA: Diocese changed forever, bishop tells convention
MISSISSIPPI: Board extends decision deadline for school
NEW YORK: Bishop says immigration bill is wrong

SOUTH CAROLINA: Diocese pleased with parts of court ruling
TEXAS: Diocese names suffragan slate

ALASKA: Parish seeks aid, ways to help others after fire

[ENS, wire services] Church of the Holy Trinity leaders are working to keep their own disaster from hurting others in Juneau.

The 110-year-old church building, the second-oldest in the Alaskan capital, was destroyed by a fire that began around 4:30 a.m. March 12. A nearby house was also destroyed, leaving some people at least temporarily homeless. No one was injured.

As firefighters smothered the last of the fire, the Cathedral of the Nativity provided St. Ann's Parish Hall for the Holy Trinity congregation to gather for its regular Sunday morning service. St.  Ann's overlooks the site where the Episcopal church once stood.

The vestry has met with Alaska Bishop Mark MacDonald to plan how to carry on its ministries.

Jim Wakefield, senior warden, told the Associated Press that the community had lost a wonderful building but the church would rebuild. "The church is still there," he said. "It's just the building that's gone."

"That's what our tradition is about," church member Kim Laird told the Juneau Empire newspaper. "We see ourselves as a community-focused church," she said.

Holy Trinity will also host a communitywide celebration in memory of arts and community events held at its now-destroyed McPhetres Hall, March 19 in Nativity's parish hall.

Some of the Holy Trinity's nine vestry members had just been elected to office in January. "We had a great laugh about that today, already," Rector George Silides said. The punch line was along the lines of 'Hi, and welcome to making decisions for the next 100 years,'" he said.

Silides said the church is also carrying an emotional burden because of its inability to do community service work. For example, from its large church kitchen, Holy Trinity had provided food to eight Juneau families through the local HeadStart program. Local groups held weekly meetings in the parish's buildings, Silides said. A local theater group housed in the parish hall lost all of its possessions. Bible studies, Lenten lunches, Wednesday prayer meetings and other church gatherings will continue at alternate locations.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. Fire Chief Eric Mohrmann said it appeared to have started between the two buildings.

Construction began on Holy Trinity in May 1896,and the first  services were held July 26, 1896.

The parish has established a fund for those who wish to help: Holy Trinity Restoration Fund, 411 Gold St., Juneau, AK 99801.

ATLANTA: Diocese sends medical supplies to Tanzania

[SOURCE: Diocese of Atlanta] The Diocese of Tanganyika will receive more than $150,000 worth of medical and other supplies from the diocese of Atlanta this spring.

MedShare International and the diocese have collaborated on the shipment that was packed into an ocean-going container March 14. Bishop Neal Alexander blessed the shipment March 13.

Medical supplies include anesthesia and biopsy kits, catheters, crutches, dressings, diapers, dental supplies, nebulizers, surgical packs, stethoscopes, syringes, and blood collection kits, among many others.

Tanzania is in Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Kenya and Mozambique. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 36 percent of the population living below the poverty line.  According to United Nations estimates, 10 percent of its population, or more than 1.6 million people, are living with HIV/AIDS.

"MedShare's mission is to help people in countries like Tanzania with urgently needed medical supplies and equipment," said MedShare CEO A.B. Short.  "As a member of the Episcopal Church, I am especially proud to work with the diocese of Atlanta to help the poor people of Tanzania."

MedShare International, a nonprofit organization based in metro Atlanta, Georgia, provides humanitarian medical aid to economically developing countries by redistributing vital medical surplus material to underserved hospitals and clinics.

MedShare International's mission is rooted in a deep faith practice and in the Episcopal Church, according to a news release about the shipment. Short is a parishioner at Good Shepherd in Covington, Georgia.  Dr. Martin McCann and his wife, the Rev. Sandra McCann, will receive the shipment.  MedShare's director of development, Dell Pearce, a member at Atlanta's Cathedral of St. Philip, recently moved from Los Angeles where she served All Saints' Church, Beverly Hills, as director of stewardship and development.

CALIFORNIA: More nominees to succeed Swing announced

[SOURCE: Diocese of California] Two names have been added to the previous slate of five candidates nominated to be the eighth bishop of California.

Bishop William Swing of California announced in October 2004 his intention to retire in this year.

The two priests who have entered the process by petition are:

  • The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, 50, officer for congregational development, Diocese of California.

  • The Rev. Donald Schell, 58, rector, St. Gregory of Nyssa Church, San Francisco.

The previously announced nominees are:

  • The Rt. Rev. Mark Handley Andrus, 49, bishop suffragan, Diocese of Alabama;

  • The Rev. Jane Gould, 49, rector, St. Stephen's Church, Lynn, Massachusetts;

  • The Rev. Bonnie Perry, 43, rector, All Saints' Church, Chicago, Illinois;

  • The Rev. Canon Eugene Taylor Sutton, 52, canon pastor of Washington National Cathedral; and

  • The Very Rev. Robert V. Taylor, 47, dean, St. Mark's Cathedral, Seattle, Washington.

The election will take place at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, on May 6. The new bishop will be consecrated on July 22.

The election is one of seven to which all bishops with jurisdiction and the House of Deputies at General Convention will be asked to consent during its meeting June 13-21 in Columbus, Ohio. All dioceses electing bishops within three months of General Convention present their selection at the convention for consents. (Consents for elections outside this period are obtained by mail from all diocesan bishops and standing committees.)

The search committee accepted nominations by petition until March 13.

More information about the candidates is available at

CONNECTICUT: Yale musician becomes parish's resident artis

[SOURCE: Christ Church New Haven] Professor Thomas Murray of Yale University has been named artist in residence at Christ Church.

Murray will take an active role in the music program of Christ Church. He will accompany the choir, serve as one of the liturgical organists and present programs on the church's new Lively-Fulcher organ.

He is university organist and professor of music at Yale University, where he teaches and performs on the renowned Skinner organ in Woolsey Hall. He is widely known for his interpretations of Romantic repertoire and orchestral transcriptions.

Murray has appeared in recitals and lectures at six American Guild of Organists (AGO) conventions. The AGO named him International Artist of the Year for 1986. In 2003 he was named an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Organists in England, and in 2005 he was awarded the Gustave Stoeckel Award for excellence in teaching from the Yale University School of Music.

Prior to joining the Yale faculty in 1981 he trained the men and boys' choirs at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in Boston. At Yale he directed the University Choir for five years.

LOUISIANA: Diocese changed forever, bishop tells convention

[SOURCE: Diocese of Louisiana] As the Diocese of Louisiana met March 11 for the first time as a convention since hurricanes ravaged its homes and churches, Bishop Charles Jenkins said that the diocese has a future.

"There are great opportunities before us and those opportunities fill me with hope," Jenkins said during the 169th convention that met at Trinity Church in New Orleans.

Yet, Jenkins said, the diocese's life and ministry has changed and it can no longer live for itself alone. "The luxury of debate about mission" is now beyond them, he said.

"The old paradigm of our life as the Episcopal Church in Louisiana has been washed away, blown away or crowded out. Those of us who cannot or will not recognize the new paradigm of our lives and the changed context of Christian ministry will soon be relegated to the dustbin of history," he said. "To fail to engage the world in mission will mean quick and certain obsolescence."

Jenkins repeated an earlier warning that the demographics of the diocese are changing and that more congregations might be done in by those shifts than by wind and water. He said the diocese has a common mission that must be about more than a struggle to survive.

He said Hurricane Katrina exposed weaknesses in how members of the diocese related to each other. "The DNA of [the diocese of Louisiana] has enabled a weak episcopacy and a poorly functioning diocese. The system in which we live has promoted congregationalism at the expense of interdependence and common mission," he said. "Thus, I ask that today we do a frightening thing and change the systemic heritage that is ours."

The diocese has learned to be a recipient of great generosity, Jenkins said, adding that he hopes its experience can be a "gift to the Church."

"I would hope that we can share, without a hurricane, something of the spirituality of poverty, of powerlessness, of a life with little control with a Church that sees power as the keys to the Kingdom," he said.

He told the convention that the diocese could operate at its current level of income and spending through 2007 but that 2008 will bring a "fiscal crisis" unless he can raise more money. He said he will be traveling nearly every week to ask for money.

Jenkins noted the recently-begun "Darkness into Day: Restoring Hope in the Wake of Katrina," an appeal to raise money to rebuild church buildings and congregations, insure compensation until congregations become self-sufficient again, create new opportunities for church schools, and establish ministry centers in the dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi. The appeal is a partnership of the two dioceses, the Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal Church Foundation.The full text of Jenkins' address is available at

The convention passed nine revisions to its constitution and canons, and other resolutions to address the changes Jenkins described. It also passed resolutions dealing with disaster planning. It referred to committee a number of resolutions dealing with the relationship between the diocese and Episcopal schools. All of the resolutions can be seen at

MISSISSIPPI: Board extends decision deadline for school

[SOURCE: Diocese of Mississippi] The Board of Trustees for All Saints' Episcopal School in Vicksburg, Mississippi, was charged March 10 with finding the answer to an extremely difficult question:  could the school remain open for the next academic year?

"We agreed - unanimously - to extend the deadline to ourselves until March 31," said Mississippi Bishop Duncan M. Gray III in a news release. "What has come across is a proposition from a bonding company that will possibly allow us to secure the necessary funds to meet expenses through the end of this year and to have the cash necessary to move forward."

"I consider this a journey to look for resources for the school," said the Rev. Bill Martin, rector and head-of-school. "We knew some of what we would find as we looked for financing; what we didn't know about was the energy of the parents and alumni organization nor the diverse group of people who would think creatively about new financing options. It has been as if we were climbing a steep mountain and the summit is in sight: just across a small crevasse. We could easily jump across the crevasse if our load – our debt - was lightened."

To breach the gap, the school will work through the approval process for securing the bonds and setting up other necessary lines of credit.  The board committee working to establish such financing will have an answer in the next two to three weeks. The board will then meet and decide whether the school can move forward with the 2006-07 academic year.

Linda Hall, long-time teacher and now academic dean, said, "Now, we have everything going for us - increased enrollment, a flexible and strong faculty, and wonderful students. The only thing holding us back is the debt."

To make a donation or pledge to the school, contact All Saints' at 601-636-5266 or visit

NEW YORK: Bishop says immigration bill is wrong

[SOURCE: Diocese of New York] Bishop Mark Sisk said March 11 that a United States House of Representatives immigration bill has many provisions "that are antithetical to our Judeo-Christian tradition and mission."

House Resolution 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act, is sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., an Episcopalian from Wisconsin, and Rep. Peter King of New York. It would expand the definition of "alien smuggling" in a way that could include such actions as working in a soup kitchen. The bill would classify undocumented aliens as "aggravated felons," thus making it a crime to aid them.

The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church said March 10 that it strongly opposed any legislation that would make it unlawful for faith-based organizations to relieve "the suffering of undocumented immigrants in response to the Gospel mandate to serve the least among us and our Baptismal covenant to seek and serve Christ in all persons."

The council's resolution (NAC 044) called upon the people of the Episcopal Church "to act on their baptismal covenant without regard to such unjust legislation."

Calling his diocese "a diocese of immigrants throughout its history,"Sisk said the diocese's congregations and institution "could not in conscience comply with any legislative provision that forbids us to act in faith, love and charity toward our brothers and sisters because of their immigration status."

The full text of Sisk's statement is available at the announcement section.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Diocese pleased with parts of court ruling

[SOURCE: ENS] The Diocese of South Carolina said March 14 that it is glad that a judge had partially ruled that day in its favor in a complicated on-going court case over the status of a congregation on Pawley's Island, South Carolina.

"The diocese is pleased that the congregation and officers who remained loyal to the diocese and the Episcopal Church were recognized by the court as the true congregation and vestry of All Saints Parish, Waccamaw," a diocesan statement said.

The diocese and the parish are considering what action to take about the court's decision to uphold a 1745 trust deed. "The trust states that the property is to be used as a chapel or church of the Church of England established by law, and the diocese is the successor to the established Church of England in South Carolina," the diocesan statement said. "However, the position of the diocese and the loyal vestry has always been that the property has been owned by the church since colonial times, and that the creditworthiness of the parish is impaired by title being in separate trustees."

A state judge had ruled in October 2001 that the parish does not own the 50-acre campus that is also home to the breakaway Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). That judge ruled that legal title to the property belongs to the heirs to the last trustee, and equitable title to the residents of Waccamaw Neck.

The case arose in September 2000 when the diocese filed a public notice that All Saints, subject to the canon law of the diocese, holds its property in trust for the diocese, which in turn holds it for the Episcopal Church nationally. Attorneys for the diocese said that the notice was filed "out of concern that All Saints might attempt to convey its property" to the AMiA.

The parish then sued, claiming at the time that legal title belonged entirely to the parish. The diocese's notice, the parish said, put a "cloud" on the title, making it difficult for them to obtain a mortgage free and clear of diocesan approval.

The legal document pertaining to the land title is a trust deed written in 1745 by Percival and Anna Pawley, giving the 50-acre tract to Percival's brother George and to William Poole "in trust for the Inhabitants of Waccamaw Neck for the Use of a Chapple or Church for divine worship of the Church of England established by Law." Poole died in 1750, leaving George Pawley as sole trustee.

The Church of England was disestablished after the American Revolution, although the 1778 and 1790 constitutions of the new State of South Carolina guaranteed existing parishes the right to their property as part of the new Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America.

TEXAS: Diocese named suffragan slate

[SOURCE: Diocese of Texas] Four diocesan clergy have been nominated to be suffragan bishop for the Austin area.

The election will be held at Christ Church Cathedral, Houston on April 29.

The nominees are: the Venerable Dena Harrison, archdeacon and canon for ministry in the diocese; the Rev. James McGill, canon missioner at Christ Church Cathedral, Houston; the Rev. Albert Rodriguez, rector of St. John's, Austin and the Rev. Frankie Rodriquez, rector of Calvary, Richmond.

Information about the nominees is available at

No additional nominees will be accepted, in order for all background checks to be completed prior to the election.

A bishop suffragan acts as an assistant to and under the direction of the diocesan bishop and serves as a bishop for the whole church.

The new bishop will oversee pastoral and congregational development for the 64 congregations in the Austin region. The Episcopal Church's General Convention will be asked to consent to the election because it will have occurred within 120 days of the convention, which runs from June 13-21 in Columbus, Ohio.