Episcopal Church USA Meeting Focuses on Rita and Katrina Devastation

The five-day gathering of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. in Puerto Rico drew to a close earlier in the week. The members focused on the devastation wrought by the recent devastating hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, to hit the Gulf Coast.
A report by the ECUSA House of Bishops read: “Throughout this meeting, we have been reminded that in sharing the grief of so many along our nation’s Gulf Coast, and in considering our relationships one to another and within the larger Church, we so always bearing hopeful witness to the power of Resurrection.”

The first day of the meeting saw descriptions from Duncan Gray, Bishop of Mississippi, Charles Jenkins, Bishop of Louisiana, and Philip Duncan, Bishop of the Central Gulf Coast, of the devastation of the hurricanes in their areas.

Numerous churches have been destroyed throughout the hurricane-afflicted areas, Mississippi, one of the lesser hit areas, losing six churches and nine rectories completely.

ECUSA has been heavily involved in the relief response to the devastation. Members at the meeting were able to hear accounts of the work going on the affected areas by different ministries within the Church.

Robert Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief and Development, reported on the ERD’s successful fundraising appeal to date, with a massive $6million gathered so far. Richard Parkins, Director of Episcopal Migration Ministries, also gave an account of the progress so far in assisting the displaced persons from Hurricane Katrina. |QUOTE|

Bishop George Packard, Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies, announced a new response system called We Will Stand With You, designed to assist dioceses, congregations and institutions wishing to partner with congregations in the devastated regions.

A report by the ECUSA House of Bishops said that the response of the Church would need to be continued long into the future, with ECUSA pledging to join with members in “this long process of resurrection”.

The statement also said that fundamental injustices and environmental neglect and abuse had been exposed by Katrina, as well as “any pretence that the inequities of race and class have been overcome in our nation or among ourselves.”

It continued: “A crisis like Katrina strengthens our resolve to challenge racial, economic and other social injustices, and to respond to unmet needs around the world, as well as close to home.”

The issue of the Windsor report also arose at the ECUSA gathering. The bishops in their statement urged the Church to continue to read and discuss the Windsor Report, and said that “we will re-engage in our own conversation about this report at our meeting in March of 2006.”

The Anglican Consultative Committee also adopted a resolution which affirms, in part, the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of equal representation for women in governance at all levels, after a report from Phoebe Griswold reported on the considerable lack of female representation within the Anglican Communion, particularly in the higher ranks.