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Diocesan Digest - April 20

[Episcopal News Service]   
  • ALASKA: Juneau church donates entire savings to help rebuild burned Holy Trinity
  • IOWA: Iowa City congregation withstands Maundy Thursday tornado
  • LOS ANGELES: Episcopalians join march for immigrants' rights
  • LOUISIANA: Church responding to New Orleans health-care crisis, bishop declares
  • NEW YORK: Trinity Church to present live telecast on renewal of Christian communities
  • OLYMPIA: Donations help secure cold-weather homeless shelter

ALASKA: Juneau church donates entire savings to help rebuild burned Holy Trinity

[SOURCE:] A small Juneau congregation with no building of its own has turned its entire bank account over to a church that lost its home in a fire. Mark Everett, senior pastor of Juneau's Victory Foursquare Gospel Church, presented a $7,000 check to the Rev. George Silides of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church during Palm Sunday services.

About 25 members of Everett's congregation joined 80 or so members of Holy Trinity during one of the larger church's two April 9 services at the St. Ann's Parish Hall. Silides and Everett preached back-to-back sermons, after which Everett handed over his church's savings.

"Honestly, I believe it was a move of the spirit of God. He just spoke to my heart," Everett said. "I was praying for direction for our church," he said. "A transition is a very difficult thing to go through for a church and I've been really seeking the Lord for a direction for us." He said God's answer was to help someone in need. Members of both congregations broke into tears at the announcement.

Silides said the donation was an extremely generous outpouring of Christian charity. He said it reminded Holy Trinity of the need to handle each donated dollar with extra care. "We should be shaped by humility and gratitude of receiving it and gaining a conscious awareness of the sacred nature of every gift we have and the stewardship of those gifts," Silides said.

Holy Trinity's building in downtown Juneau was destroyed in a March 12 fire. The blaze also burned the church's McPhetres Hall, which was used by many local organizations. A nearby house and boat were also destroyed.

Police have arrested a 24-year-old man and charged him with starting the fire in the boat. They say he did not appear to be targeting the 110-year-old church.

Silides has said the church was insured, but the payments will not cover the full cost of rebuilding or replacing the contents, which could
total about $2 million.  Silides said he is anxious to remove the remains of the church building. However, testing of the debris showed some asbestos and lead, so demolition must be handled carefully. He said rebuilding will take at least two years.

Victory is part of the national Foursquare Church. "Foursquare" is a Biblical term used of the tabernacle in the Book of Exodus. The denomination's founder was Aimee Semple McPherson.

IOWA: Iowa City congregation withstands Maundy Thursday tornado

[Source: Diocese of Iowa] Parishioners of Trinity Church in Iowa City are safe after an April 13 tornado brought minor damage to their parish buildings.

In an April 15 letter to the diocese, Iowa Bishop Alan Scarfe noted: "I am writing to let you know that I have spoken to Mel Schlachter, the rector of Trinity, Iowa City and to John Harper, deacon at New Song in Coralville. They indicate that everyone is safe in their communities of faith, and they have been able to offer assistance to their neighbors, especially the people of St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church. St Patrick's is just two blocks from Trinity. In fact the people of Trinity felt the tornado go over them as they were huddled in the basement during their interrupted Maundy Thursday service. Some of their cars were damaged but no one was hurt. The Trinity building lost a few shingles and cracked a stained glass window, according to Mel.

"Holy Week and Easter is always a time for mixed emotions, and that is expected in this situation. We pray for those who have suffered loss, especially relatives and friends of the one who lost her life in Nichols, and we offer our gratitude for the many who escaped harm in what could have been an even more devastating event.

"Last year, Iowan Episcopalians increased giving for disaster relief through ERD from more than $36,000 to over $ 158,000! I know that you will continue to be generous as we learn of needs that might arise in the coming days."

LOS ANGELES: Episcopalians join march for immigrants' rights

[Source: Diocese of Los Angeles] The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles made itself known at an April 10 "Day of Action" march to support comprehensive immigration reform.

More than 200 Episcopalians joined the thousands of people who walked from Olivera Street to the Downtown Federal Building. L.A. Episcopal Bishop Assistant Sergio Carranza, former Anglican bishop of Mexico, carried the leading banner at the front of the procession, flanked by two 10-year-old vested acolytes carrying signs that read "We are all God's Children."

The Very Rev. Ernesto Medina, provost of the Cathedral Center, offered a bilingual blessing of the procession as it departed La Placita Church. According to Medina, Episcopalians met at the entrance of Union Station 15 minutes before the event began, having arrived on most forms of public transportation, including two trainloads on the Gold Line.

Church members carried signs that called for pathways to citizenship, for the reunification of immigrant families, for protection of human rights and workers' rights, and, echoing the Church's baptismal covenant, for "the dignity of every human being."

View images at

LOUISIANA: Church responding to New Orleans health-care crisis, bishop declares

[Source: Diocese of Louisiana] Bishop Charles E. Jenkins of Louisiana offered the following statement in response to a report on the health care crisis for children in New Orleans and how the Diocese of Louisiana, in partnership with ERD and others, is responding to it.

"The 'NBC Nightly News' of Tuesday, April 18, 2006, reported on the crisis in health care for the children of New Orleans. It was no surprise to hear that 44% of the New Orleanians who had health insurance prior to Katrina have lost that insurance.  Indeed, many recognize the health care crisis in New Orleans and the impact of that crisis upon the children of the city. The Episcopal Church is present in a significant way in response to this crisis.

"Thanks to the partnership with Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) and with others around the Church, the Diocese of Louisiana has been able to provide one year of salary for a pediatrician to serve the St. Thomas' Clinic....

"St. Thomas' Clinic is one of perhaps two free clinics operating in the city of New Orleans. St. Thomas' Clinic has been one of the major ministries of Trinity Episcopal Church, New Orleans, for years. In fact, the Clinic was founded upon the hard work and good efforts of many Trinity parishoners and clergy. The two resident physicians at St. Thomas' Clinic today are both members of Trinity Episcopal Church.  Surely many, many others have come to the assistance of St. Thomas' Clinic over the years. Even so, the Episcopal Church has been an essential part of the support of the Clinic since day one and continues to this day.

"A particular aspect of the St. Thomas' Clinic, which remains an independently funded ministry, is the commitment to and freedom to pursue the undoing of racism in New Orleans. The work of the clinic is not simply to heal the body, but to undo the harmful effects of centuries of racism in New Orleans. The high occurrence of fatal illness caused by stress, and powerlessness to access treatment for physical disease are two realities connected to the sin of racism recognized by the physicians of St. Thomas Clinic.

"In addition to the support of St. Thomas' Clinic, ERD and the diocese have pledged assistance to the Trinity Counseling Center, another ministry of Trinity Episcopal Church.  The resources for mental health care in the city are few and the demands upon the Trinity Counseling Center far exceed the post-Katrina capacity of this ministry.

"Yes, there is a health-care crisis in New Orleans. The Church is present at the point of need with a response that speaks of the love and mercy of Jesus Christ."

-- The Rt. Rev. Charles Jenkins, Tenth Bishop of Louisiana, Episcopal Church

NEW YORK: Trinity Church to present live telecast on renewal of Christian communities

[SOURCE: Trinity Church-St. Paul's Chapel] Trinity Church-St. Paul's Chapel will present a live online telecast on Ascension Day, May 25, exploring the increasing interest within Christianity to build inclusive and progressive faith-based communities.

As a growing number of Christians are forming church communities without a creed, doctrine, biblical orthodoxy, or even the structure of a denomination, "Here Comes Everybody!: Christian Communities That Work" will bring together three prominent advocates for progressive discipleship for a discussion that will also include questions from the online viewing audience. Participating panelists include: Diana Butler Bass, a senior researcher at Virginia Theological Seminary and director of the Project on Congregations of Intentional Practice; the Very Rev. Alan Jones, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco; and Brian D. McLaren, founder of Cedar Ridge Community Church, an innovative, nondenominational church in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area.

The program is for lay and clergy leaders who want to learn how to strengthen and build their faith community through the renewal of basic practices such as hospitality, discernment of the church's calling, personal testimony, observing the Sabbath, and open conversation.

The telecast will be available for live online viewing at from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) and will include video essays, interviews, and a call-in question-and-answer segment from viewers.  The program will be available for on-demand viewing following the telecast.

The Parish of Trinity Church, established in 1697, has a diverse congregation drawn from the New York region and offers 18 worship services during the week as well as daily interdenominational prayers for peace at St. Paul's Chapel. The church and the chapel in Lower Manhattan attract over 1.8 million visitors annually. It offers a variety of outreach programs and has a strong musical tradition, with a family choir, a professional choir with CD recording contracts, and a popular twice-weekly concert series.

It supports the Episcopal Church locally, the worldwide Anglican Communion and the city of New Work through grants made by the Trinity Grants program. More information about the telecast is available on Trinity's web site,

OLYMPIA: Donations help secure cold-weather homeless shelter

[SOURCE: The Olympian] St. David's Episcopal Church in Shelton, Washington, has secured a certificate of occupancy that allows it to house up to 32 homeless people on nights when temperatures fall below freezing.

Shelton residents donated more than $17,000 so the church could buy and install a fire alarm system, which was put in earlier this year. As a result, the church can serve as an emergency homeless shelter when the weather turns cold again this fall.

In 2004, the church secured a city permit to operate an emergency shelter out of the church's parish hall. The permit expired, and an extension wasn't secured before last winter because of a miscommunication between the city and the church.

The church needed the permit because it didn't have a required fire alarm system. The city required that a fire monitor stay overnight when the hall was used as a homeless shelter.

The new permit means those measures won't be necessary, and the installation of the fire alarm means the shelter can take up two floors instead of one, doubling its capacity from 16 to around 32 people, said the Rev. Jeff Sells, the rector.

The church recently added a year-round community meals service on Saturday and Sunday nights when the local soup kitchen doesn't operate, Sells said. St. Edward's Catholic Church in Shelton is helping with the program.

The rector said St. David's will have a dedication, likely toward the end of May, to honor the community's contributions to the emergency homeless shelter.