Posts Tagged ‘diocese’

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Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

At the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of New York last weekend, the Bishop of New York recommended two proposals, which were duly passed as resolutions of the whole convention.

The first resolution allocated $1,100,000 from the diocesan endowment as reparations for the sin of slavery. The money will go to assist African-Americans in ways yet to be determined. Reparations have been discussed in New York for years by a small group of Episcopalians. Now they are coming to fruition in the form of a grant equal to 2.5% of the diocesan endowment.

The Bishop also recommended a ten-year plan to reduce the carbon footprint of each parish by 30% by the year 2030–following a plan by Mayor Bill DiBlasio for many New York City buildings. Annual energy audits would have to be filed by every church as part of the parochial report.

These proposals will eventually impact the 200 or so parishes of the diocese. I won’t be here when Incarnation decides how to respond to these costly and left-of-center proposals, so I really don’t need to comment. I would just note that I can’t remember a Bishop of New York ever making this radical a challenge to his congregations. —J. Douglas Ousley

A Limit to Diversity?

Monday, January 14th, 2019

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Michael Curry has recently restricted part of the ministry of the Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. William Love.

Bishop Love is the sole bishop in the Episcopal Church who will neither allow his priests to perform same-sex marriages nor permit another bishop to ordain such priests and allow such marriages.

Following last year’s General Convention resolution to make such weddings available throughout the Episcopal Church, including in dioceses such as the Diocese of Albany that had forbidden them, the Presiding Bishop’s inhibiting of Bishop Love is perhaps not surprising.

But it is a severe stricture on a godly and humane man (I know this from personal experience) who has the sole failing of believing what the universal church taught for two thousand years: that homosexual relations are sinful.

I myself disagree with Bishop Love and have encouraged gay rights from the beginning of my ministry. But surely the Episcopal Church can allow a little remaining dissent–one bishop in a tiny diocese. (If any same-sex couples in the Diocese of Albany want to get on a train to New York, I will be happy to marry them.)

We should avoid becoming as dogmatic as other Christian groups that we accuse of being authoritarian. —J. Douglas Ousley

Not Slaves But Free

Monday, January 7th, 2019

Under the leadership of our Associate Rector, Incarnation has become very active in the burgeoning movement to end human trafficking in the United States. As part of our observance of the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we will be participating in a service at the Church of the Ascension, Fifth Avenue and 10th Street, this Thursday at 7 PM.

This movement isn’t just one more worthy cause. Trafficked women and men serve with minimal or no compensation as prostitutes, kitchen workers, nail salon workers, and other occupations, with little or no freedom of movement or basic human rights. There many within blocks of our church. The Church of England rightly doesn’t mince words; it calls such persons, “slaves.”

Incarnation has pioneered a program to increase awareness in Midtown Manhattan hotels, so that hotel employees may identify trafficking victims. Our next step will be to educate school children about the risk of being trafficked.

For most of us, the suffering induced by modern slavery is hard to imagine. We should do anything we can to help people escape or avoid this fate. Our Christian duty is clear.–J. Douglas Ousley

In Black and White

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Much of the annual Convention of the Diocese of New York last weekend focussed on racial and gender prejudice. A play on slavery was presented and a special liturgy centered on the #MeToo Movement.

What was striking to me as a white male was how different the perceptions of persons of color and women were from my own. Where I saw progress in race relations, black delegates saw continuing inequality. Where I saw minor sexist gestures, women saw abusive actions.

It sometimes seemed to me as though there were two different realities. Of course, there aren’t–there is only one Reality, one Truth grounded in God.

But different perceptions do exist in our diverse mental worlds. And it’s up to me to try to understand the mental worlds of those who are suffering in today’s culture. —J. Douglas Ousley

Where the Treasure Isn’t

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

This saying came to mind as I was attending the Annual Convention of the Diocese of New York last weekend. An underlying theme of the Convention was certainly treasure.

Or, rather, the lack of it. 33 of 200 parishes are unable to pay their full assessment (tax) to the diocese, so the diocese will have to dip into its endowment to balance its budget this year and next. Though the diocesan bureaucracy has not (yet) been cut back, many of its outreach programs are seeing reductions in their budgets.

Happily, Incarnation is blessed with a growing endowment, and results of the pledge drive for 2018 are encouraging. But we also will need to watch our pennies in the future. We’ll need more fund-raising efforts, more supporting members–more work, more commitment. And through it all, we will need to remember that the goal of all our efforts is to love and serve God and our neighbors.

Ultimately, that’s where our hearts should be. —J. Douglas Ousley

A Week in the C of E

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

I just returned from a week in London, attending various services and meetings in connection to the Link Program between the Diocese of New York and the Diocese of London, which I chair.

The highlight of my stay was the farewell Eucharist for the Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres KCVO. The service was prefaced by Christian rock music and social media in the square in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The 20 or so bishops and 400+ priests then processed into St. Paul’s for a majestic Candlemas celebration attended by several thousand laypeople.

I was touched that I was mentioned in the service leaflet, and the Bishop made a special effort to greet me during the service and send his best wishes to the Bishop of New York.

Other highlights included taking the Sunday Eucharist at our link parish of St. Vedast-alias-Foster and then participating in the patronal feast of the parish on February 6. I met the soon-to-be priest-in-charge, the Rev. Paul Kennedy and enjoyed a festive reception in the nave of St. Vedast.

All in all, I am happy to report that the our Mother Church remains alive and well. —J. Douglas Ousley

One Year Later

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Tomorrow night, April 14, the Empire State Building will appear in red lights, reminding the public that most of the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists have been in captivity for one year.

Our congresswoman, Carolyn Maloney gave a press conference today outside the UN to urge Nigerian authorities and other influential parties to press for the return of the girls. Sadly, there is evidence that some of the young women have already been enslaved or killed or given as wives to jihadis.

Still, credit is due to the #BringBackOurGirls movement and other groups dedicated to end the violence against women. Our newly-appointed assistant, the Rev. Adrian Dannhauser, who arrives at Incarnation in mid-July has been a leader in this movement in the Diocese of New York. May we keep the poor girls and other Christian victims of terror in our prayers. —J. Douglas Ousley

Great Expectations

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

The annual Convention of the Diocese of New York last weekend spawned the usual number of socially conscious resolutions. Numerous reports were presented of the good works performed by the diocese’s 200 congregations.

But the workshop on parish growth noted that the Episcopal Church tends often to have low expectations of its membership. They aren’t expected to tithe their incomes or attend church every Sunday. They don’t need to raise their children in the church or profess all the doctrines of the Creeds.

The workshop leader said that this attitude wasn’t conducive to church growth. Instead, church members should be encouraged to strive beyond their comfort zones. And church leaders shouldn’t be afraid to challenge their congregations to work harder and do more. I can’t think of anything in this advice that is contrary to the imperatives of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. —J. Douglas Ousley

Ashes to Go, Cheap Grace?

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

An email yesterday from the director of communications of the Diocese of New York asked if we were having “ashes to go” on Ash Wednesday. I replied that ashes were administered in the church throughout the day, from 8 am to 7 pm.

I recognize that this is stretching the rules; the Book of Common Prayer only allows ashes to be given within the context of the special liturgy for Ash Wednesday. Indeed, our local Roman Catholic Church has posted a sign that ashes will only be distributed during the three masses of the day “following church law.”

Even so, the idea of “ashes to go” is troubling. Ashes are a sign of penitence and mortality–surely not subjects to be linked with drive-through lines for coffee and hamburgers. Surely, anyone seeking to remember that he or she “is dust and to dust shall return” can take a minute to enter the church to receive the ashes. They might even have another minute to pray before and after that event.

Going out on the sidewalk and randomly dabbing passers-by with ashes is the latest attempt by Episcopal churches to attract attention and members. I wonder if it is a step in the right direction. —J. Douglas Ousley

Indaba Encore

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Some of you may have seen this comment on a previous post. It comes from Incarnation’s former Junior Warden, Mark Lulka:

>>”Indaba” is not a great word. When I first heard it, I immediately thought of “intifada”, and had to check the spelling and definition. The Episcopal Church should steer clear of trends and the use of language that can be misconstrued.<<

In my recent trip to the UK (of which more soon), I noticed that while the Diocese of New York delegation often used the term, the concept of “indaba” seemed pretty foreign to Church of England clergy. Maybe the word has already outlived whatever usefulness it once had. —J. Douglas Ousley