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Diocesan Digest - April 13

[Episcopal News Service]   
  • DELAWARE: Bishop to mark women's ordination anniversary
  • LOUSIANA: Jazz second line part of Palm Sunday service
  • NEW YORK: Cathedral outlines development on close
  • VERMONT: Episcopal Province of New England calls executive director
  • WEST MISSOURI: Episcopal and Roman Catholic cathedrals to join for part of Easter Vigil

DELAWARE: Bishop to mark women's ordination anniversary

[SOURCE: Wilmington New Journal] Retired Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon of Washington, the second woman to be ordained a bishop in the Episcopal Church, presided at a Wilmington worship service April 11 celebrating the 30th anniversary of the church's ordination of women.

The noon service was held at the Cathedral Church of St. John in Wilmington. It was preceded by a panel discussion on what women have contributed to the church.

Of the 16,523 Episcopal clergy nationwide, there are 4,051 women, including deacons, priests and bishops. Of the church's 292 bishops, 12 are women.

Bishop Wayne Wright of Delaware was also among those celebrating the anniversary, along with women ordained in the diocese.

LOUSIANA: Jazz second line part of Palm Sunday service

[SOURCE: Diocese of Louisiana] Just as Jesus was welcomed with fanfare into Jerusalem, St. Anna's Episcopal Church celebrated Palm Sunday with a jazz procession and second line through its New Orleans neighborhood.

The Storyville Stompers led the second line from Esplanade Avenue and the Mississippi River to St. Anna's Church where a jazz Mass began at 10:30 a.m.

Leaders of the little church, who recently established a mobile medical mission and a mission to musicians, are determined to minister to the whole person in body, mind and spirit. The jazz procession on Sunday was a vivid marker in the Lenten season as Christians await the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.

The tradition of the second line is rooted in New Orleans' history of fraternal groups and burial societies, which often competed with each other to see which group could send off a member in the greatest style. When the church service was over, and the procession moved from church to cemetery, a band played sad hymns and dirges. After leaving the cemetery, the music became more joyful. The band played high-spirited tunes. The second line, those people who joined in behind the band and the family, danced with wild abandon, usually sporting umbrellas and handkerchiefs.

Although St. Anna's suffered more than a 50 percent drop in the number of its parishioners, its leaders hope that positive works such as the medical mission and celebration such as the jazz procession will help to continue to make St. Anna's a viable part of the community near the French Quarter.

Before Hurricane Katrina, St. Anna's had between 75 and 80 parishioners. That number is now between 30 and 35. St. Anna's roof was badly damaged by Katrina as were some walls and ceilings. It was founded as a mission in 1849 and gained full parish status in 1869.

NEW YORK: Cathedral outlines development on close

[SOURCE: Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, New York Times] In a March 29 letter to the diocese and on its website, the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine has described a seven year effort to develop two underutilized perimeter parcels on its property.

The Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, dean of the cathedral, told the New York Times in an April 4 article that income from the two parcels might generate up to $5 million annually to support the cathedral's mission, helping the cash-starved institution increase its small endowment, undertake deferred maintenance and meet operating costs.

The unfinished cathedral is running a debt of up to $1 million a year and facing up to $20 million in maintenance expenses, according to the Times.

One 32,000-square-foot site is on the southeast corner of the property at 110th Street and Morningside Drive. The other 55,000 square feet is along 113th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive on the north side of the campus. The cathedral close covers 11.3 acres.

In November, the cathedral signed a lease agreement for the southeast site with AvalonBay Communities, Inc., which plans to build and manage a 20-story 300-unit residential rental building on the land. The Times reported that the lease would run for 99 years and that the cathedral would realize about $2.5 million annually for the first 20 years.

A year ago the cathedral agreed to give Columbia University an option through 2008 to lease and develop an academic facility on the north site. The agreement can be extended for as many as eight more years, ending if Columbia does not exercise its option, according to the cathedral.

The initiative, according to the website and the March 29 letter, is part of a strategy to preserve the buildings and open spaces on the grounds as well as the religious, educational, cultural and civic programs that the cathedral supports. No buildings on the grounds will be demolished or altered.

It will sustain the "religious, social, cultural and educational mission commitment of the Cathedral to the neighborhood and the City," according to the letter and the website. The developments will "enliven the streets surrounding the campus, making them safer for pedestrians" and increase "substantially the long-term economic activity in the neighborhood."
"The corner of Cathedral Parkway and Morningside Drive will be transformed from a desolate, vacant area to a well-lit, beautifully landscaped corner that is safer for pedestrians," the website says.

The building's garage will be located behind a wall that will replace the partially collapsed retaining wall. A new and "significantly enhanced" play area will be created south of the cathedral nave; it will be open to the public when not in use by cathedral programs. The Rose Garden will be relocated east of Diocesan House.

On the north site, the cathedral said, it has set strict development guidelines as to the height and bulk of what can be built, and required that open space surrounds the future structure. The building or buildings will be set back so as not to obstruct views of the cathedral and the height will not exceed the eave line of the cathedral (approx. 145 feet). The structure will be reduced in height at the portion of the site adjacent to the north transept.

The structure will be situated about 70 feet north of the cathedral—about the width of Lexington Avenue (building to building). A new plaza, open to the public and accessible from Amsterdam Avenue, will be established between the new building and the cathedral nave. The north transept, when rebuilt, will be visible and accessible from 113th Street. The deteriorating sheds and chain-link fence on the site will be removed.

VERMONT: Episcopal Province of New England calls executive director

[SOURCE: Province I] Bishop Chilton R. Knudsen of Maine, president of the Province of New England (Province One), announced on April 5 that Susan Ohlidal of the Diocese of Vermont has been called to serve as the province's executive director.

Her primary role will be that of "empowering ministry in the Episcopal Church in New England," Knudsen said.

The announcement culminates a nearly year-long search process that included consultation with staff members, bishops and others in the seven New England dioceses. A search committee of members from each diocese developed a job description and conducted the search process.

They winnowed an original pool of forty applicants down to three finalists, and the province's executive committee made the final call. When the Executive Committee met April 3 to make its decision, Knudsen said, "the clarity was resounding about whom God was calling to this ministry."

Ohlidal has a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, a Master of Arts in English from Pennsylvania State University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Wilson College in Pennsylvania. She has worked in university, church and community settings and is currently employed as the half-time pastoral enrichment coordinator for the Diocese of Vermont. The position is part of a five-year Lilly Endowment funded project coordinated by the Episcopal Divinity School that is focused on "promoting, deepening and sustaining pastoral excellence" in the dioceses of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Ohlidal will begin her Province One work on June 15.

Knudsen made her announcement at a Pastoral Excellence Program gathering of the Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont diocesan staffs and Episcopal Divinity School faculty. She noted that Province One, under the twenty-two year leadership of its former executive secretary and now Bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, pioneered the development of province-wide ministry in the Episcopal Church.

"The job, as I have seen it, is a ministry of relationship, a ministry of connection," Ohlidal said. "Those are the two things that drew me to consider the ministry and drew others to suggest that I consider the job." She noted that a number of people had urged her to apply. "The call was very pronounced from the community," she said.

Ohlidal succeeds the Rev. Ran Chase, who has served as interim executive secretary for the province since late 2003. She lives with her partner in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, where she is a member of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. The title for the position will change from executive secretary to that of executive director.

WEST MISSOURI: Episcopal and Roman Catholic cathedrals to join for part of Easter Vigil

[SOURCE: Diocese of West Missouri] Easter Eve in Kansas City, Missouri, will see the continuation of a more than 30-year-old tradition when Bishop Barry Howe of the Diocese of West Missouri joins with Bishop Robert Finn of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph to bless the new fire and begin the Great Vigil of Easter.

In 1974, Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which are a block apart, entered into a covenant to pray and work for unity. "The Covenant is very much a part of each cathedral's Lenten journey to Easter Day," says the Very Rev. Terry White, dean of Grace and Holy Trinity.

On this Ash Wednesday, the clergy and people of both congregations gathered at Grace and Holy Trinity for a liturgy at which the Rev. Robert Gregory, pastor of Immaculate Conception, preached, and Dean White presided. There were the familiar lessons, imposition of ashes, and litany of penitence, but reflecting current ecumenical realities, the Holy Eucharist was not celebrated.

"The fact that we could not share the Eucharist was a sin for which we asked forgiveness even as we recommitted ourselves to the work of reconciliation," said White.

A four-week Lenten academy followed, with Evening Prayer, a shared meal, and four course offerings each evening. The joint preparation for the paschal feast culminates in the lighting of the new fire.

"The cathedrals are separated by a single block, where we gather for the lighting of the paschal candle. The catechumens from each congregation, those to be baptized, confirmed, and received, stand nearest the new fire as we pray for the candidates and for our unity in Christ," White said.

"Then two paschal candles are lit, and a deacon sings the first portion of the Exsultet. Next, thurifers lead a festive procession, with the vested bishops and cathedral clergy walking side by side. The choirs sing of the light of Christ. The joy is palpable. And then comes the moment when the procession splits, as Roman Catholics and Episcopalians head to their respective cathedrals. It is a moment of sadness and a powerful example of the work that remains for us all."

Yet the gathering is also a sign of hope. The commitment to unity is strong among the people of the cathedrals, unity built through prayer, study, and working together to serve the people of Kansas City. Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral is home to the Kansas City Community Kitchen, which feeds 500 hot meals daily Monday through Friday. Immaculate Conception Cathedral provides sack lunches to many of the same people on Saturday and Sunday.

"Our outreach is centered around sharing a meal with all who are hungry. What remains is for us to share the Eucharistic Meal at the same Holy Table," White said.