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The following are recent published articles of particular interest to the
Christ Episcopal Church Community in La Crosse, WI.

Bishop Jay's General Convention Notes

June 27, 2015  

Dear Sister and Brother Clergy,  

Day 3 of General Convention is over. This was an historic day. The election of Michael Curry as the next Presiding Bishop will energize our church as never before. His preaching will impact our people in the pews as well as our citizens in the street.  

Following the Eucharist the bishops filed out ahead of the Convention congregations. We boarded buses and were whisked away to St. Mark’s Cathedral. There we gathered. The roll was called. 179 bishops were present to vote. 89 were needed to constitute a majority. We then sang for a long time, heard scripture, prayed, and sang again. Then we sat down. The ballots were passed out. With no further waiting, I saw four names, and I checked the second one on the list—that of Michael Curry, Bishop of North Carolina. We then went to lunch. The lunch was almost completed when we were to head back to the nave of the Cathedral for a result. When we got back we were handed a tally sheet. It seemed like a message to get ready for a second ballot. The names were read out. Tom Breidenthal 19 votes. Michael Curry 121 votes. Ian Douglas 13 votes. Dabney Smith 21 votes. We were thunderstruck. We had an election and by such an incredible margin! There were 32 votes more than needed on the first ballot. We broke into song and then lined up. Each bishop had to sign certifying the election.  

One of the bishops in my Class of 2013 is Jeff Fisher, Bishop Suffragan of Texas. He was one of the four tellers. At random each was given the name of a nominee. Jeff was to hold the ballots cast for Michael Curry. The four quickly knew who had won. The other tellers had a handful of ballots cast for their respective candidates. Meanwhile Jeff had this huge stack! Jeff said it was suddenly easy to count the votes. For some reason four bishops declined to vote.  

Michael spoke to us bishops deeply moved and shocked by what had happened. We laughed when he praised Bishop Katharine for her leadership and for “keeping her cool—something he had to learn to do!” The deputies confirmed the election by a vote I believe of 804-12. We bishops returned to the convention center in time for Michael to address the House of Deputies. What a day! As Michael said earlier, The PB job is about being a CEO. This stands for Chief Evangelism Officer! Our Church needs Michael. I just hope we don’t wear this wonderful man out! He will be installed as 27th PB on November 1. To my knowledge no previous PB has been elected in such a landslide on the first ballot. Also he won the election over a strong field of nominees.  

There was one major piece of legislation passed by the House of Bishops today. We spent a lot of time determining that bishops with ecclesiastical authority can assign a lay person to distribute communion as part of a Sunday service. This would be identical to what the Prayer Book currently permits deacons to do. I voted for this. We have congregations where a priest comes only once or twice each month. Now under this resolution when the priest isn’t present and the congregation doesn’t have a deacon, a lay person could take the role currently reserved to a deacon. This means congregations can receive the Eucharist rather than have Morning Prayer. This resolution still must pass the House of Deputies before becoming policy.  

Take care and keep Convention in your prayers. Tomorrow I will participate in a march against gun violence. We bishops will be vested, march, and then process into the Convention’s worship space for the Eucharist. Take care and please share my Journals with your congregations. I give thanks to God for what he did on this special day to raise up Michael Curry as our next PB! With my love and best wishes, I am,  

Your brother in Christ,
Jay

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June 29, 2015  

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,  

Today is day 5 of of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. The biggest decision of the Convention so far has been the election by the House of Bishops and the consent of the House of Deputies to have Bishop Michael Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina as the Church’s next Presiding Bishop. The House of Bishops elected Curry over a strong field of four nominees. The vote for Curry was a landslide. He was elected on the first ballot with 32 votes beyond the majority needed. The House of Deputies confirmed his election by a vote of 800 to 12.  

Michael Curry is an African-American bishop with a wide array of experience as both priest and bishop. He is a marvelous preacher who can get you laughing over some matter and then follow up with a powerful message. You almost want to say, “What happened? From where did that freight train come?” How he preaches in public, and how he conducts himself in private are one in the same.  

Curry is an unabashed evangelist. For him the Presiding Bishop’s primary role is to be the Episcopal Church’s CEO—Chief Evangelism Officer. Our Church needs Bishop Curry’s enthusiasm, his infectious love for Jesus, and his ability to wake up this sleeping giant of a Church and get her moving. Michael Curry is the person who will stir up the person in the pew. He will impact the person out on the street. Today I am boldly assuming the role of a prophet. Michael Curry is going to make a huge difference in the life of our Church. It is time to buckle up the safety belt. Our Church is about to embark on a great ride! Alleluia! Thanks be to God! With my love and best wishes from General Convention, I am,  

Your brother in Christ,
Jay

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June 29, 2015  

Dear Sister and Brother Clergy,  

Day 5 of General Convention is over. In spite of being tired it was a very important and productive day in the House of Bishops. We worked all day on two resolutions regarding marriage. What we passed I hope will be approved by the House of Deputies without alteration. The first resolution was in regard to rites for same gender couples. This was important to me, for it protects the dioceses of Central Florida, Albany and other dioceses where the bishop does not want same gender blessings. All the bishop is required to do is to “make provision” for same gender couples to be married. This can mean simply sending them to be married by a neighboring diocese. I, along with most bishops wanted no part of disrupting conservative dioceses. The first resolution accomplished that.  

The second resolution changed the marriage canons. The terminology is gender neutral, but the canon otherwise is unchanged. The Declaration of Consent is now placed in language that permits a non- Christian to sign in good conscience in marrying a Christian. Meanwhile the language of commitment to marriage is stronger in the new canon than was the case of the old.  

I have written to you many times that the collegial spirit of the House of Bishops is always respectful. Whenever there is disagreement there isn’t rancor, anger, or a mean spirit. Out of community respect we work together. The fruits of this attitude were present as we worked through these two important resolutions. So much of this is due to Bishop Katharine. I am proud of both what we accomplished and the courtesy and kindness of the process. The first resolution on rites passed by voice vote. The roll was called on the second resolution about canonical change. For the record the Bishop of Fond du Lac voted no. The Bishop of Milwaukee abstained. I voted yes. The motion passed by 129 for, 26 against, and 5 abstentions. The initial report of The Living Church is an accurate account.  

Tonight May Ruth and I attended a dinner for bishops. Bishop Katharine and her husband, Dick, were honored with gifts and Bishop Katharine received a box full of letters of thanks from her fellow bishops. I wrote my letter to her back in April.  

We go back to work tomorrow, but I don’t think we have much critical work left. I am not anticipating any major restructuring. There isn’t much desire in either house for structural change. We have four more days of this grueling pace. Friday will be a welcome day. In the middle of the day today I realized this is an anniversary for me. 34 years ago I was ordained a deacon. God gave me the gift of preaching relatively decent sermons from that point forward. What I am trying to say is they were truly bad before that ordination! With my love and best wishes, I remain,  

Your brother in Christ,
Jay

Bishop Jay's vision for 2014 and beyond...2013 Convention Address

Special Addition The Frontier News Diocese of Peshawar-Church of Pakistan

Peace and Trust- Basic ingredients for Democracy
The Very Rev. Canon Patrick P. Augustine, D.Min., Rector,
March 2013 ....read full publication

A crowd gathers outside of All Saints Church, PeshawarFriday, March 6, 2015
By G. Jeffrey MacDonald
TLC Correspondent

Signs of Christian persecution are all too visible in Pakistan this winter, from tents housing hungry Christian refugees to armed security standing guard atop a church roof as the faithful warily arrive for Sunday Eucharist.

But jarring, onerous conditions have not broken the spirit of the church in Pakistan, said the Rev. Patrick Augustine, who returned last month from visiting his native country. Christians there continue to worship, witness, and even plant churches, he said, albeit with little fanfare and much discretion.

“The Islamic militancy tries these attacks to frighten them to give up their faith and accept Islam,” said Canon Augustine, rector of Christ Church in La Crosse. “But it has not, in their knowledge, helped to convert one Christian to Islam. It has actually deepened their commitment to be a Christian … and to offer a message of peace and reconciliation in the capital of terrorism.”

In his travels, Augustine saw how the traumatized community of All Saints, Peshawar, has, by necessity, taken on a fortress atmosphere. Gone is All Saints’ weekly Sunday soup kitchen, which was attacked by suicide bombers in September 2013. The attacks killed 127 and injured more than 250. The church and its government protectors could not secure such a ministry, Augustine said.

Now a new six-foot wall topped with barbed wire surrounds the church in a crowded part of the old city. Members of the congregation keep watch at entrances. Those who enter must pass under cameras and through metal detectors. Armed guards keep watch on rooftops.

Inside, however, signs of hope stir. Nearly 400 worshipers gathered when Augustine preached. That’s down from 700 before the attacks but up from fewer than 100 in the immediate aftermath. The congregation prayed, as it does every week, for those who attack local Christian and Muslim communities. During the week, clergy sometimes host interfaith gatherings of religious leaders. They also walk the neighborhood, visiting with shopkeepers and being visible in a low-key way.

“Given the security situation, there are not many ministries they can do because that area is prone to Al Qaeda activities,” Augustine said. “But they try to reach out to their neighbors.

” Violence was not far away. Word spread one January morning that a Diocese of Peshawar high school in Bannu had been overrun by a mob with guns and machetes in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. Augustine made the four-hour trip with the Bishop of Peshawar and five local clergy to visit and comfort the rattled community.

Soldiers found a bomb hidden at the entrance of a Christian neighborhood during Augustine’s visit. They removed it and no one was hurt, but anxiety ran high as he prayed with and for Christians in Bannu.

“The plan was to explode the bomb and kill Christians in the Christian colony,” Augustine said. “They were all shaken and very afraid. Anything can happen during the night.”

In Bannu, he found 200 Christian and Shiite Muslim families from the countryside living in tents inside a diocesan compound. They had left their homes in Waziristan, an Al Qaeda stronghold, where they had faced discrimination from Islamic relief organizations and struggled to survive, according to Augustine.

Inside the compound, one family of 11 had run out of food. Augustine authorized $500 from his congregation’s gift to the Diocese of Peshawar to supplement the family’s ration.

Later in his trip, he visited the region of Azad Kashmir, where a Christian family offered its land as a site for worship and a cemetery. It will be the only church in the region. Christ Church, La Crosse, is collecting donations to help build it and support other ministries in Pakistan.

And he found signs of hope in the small city of Mardan. The government was helping to rebuild St. Luke’s Church, which attackers burned down in 2012. He was there on a Friday, when the city was effectively shut down for Muslim prayers. About 20 young adults gathered at the church in the afternoon, as they do every Friday, taking their seats on the ground. There they studied Scripture, prayed, and sang hymns.

“They were not pastors, they were not bishops, they were just high school and university college students,” Augustine said. “Somehow all these situations of persecution and challenges to their faith have made them even stronger.”

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Prayer Vigil for Peace and Service of the Holy Eucharist, January 14, 2015
Christ Episcopal Church, La Crosse, Wisconsin
The Very Rev. Canon Patrick P. Augustine, D.Min. DD.

Matthew 5: 1-12

“Blessed are the Peacemakers”

We gather here tonight with our partners in faith communities to pray for peace in the face of terrorism and the brutal attacks in Paris by Islamic militants. It was an act of pure cruelty, killing cartoonists who use art to convey their message. One wonders what kind of religious purpose this serves, who did it help? ...Read More

Nothing Can Separate Us from The Love of Christ
La Crosse Tribune August 4, 2014
The Very Rev. Canon Patrick P. Augustine, D.Min. DD., Rector

Persecuted Christians catalyst for Collaboration
Father Patrick September 2014
Special Addition The Frontier News Diocese of Peshawar-Church of Pakistan

 

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Anglican Commentary by Very Rev's Canon Patrick P. Augustine

I’ve often wondered: Why wasn’t I born in a Muslim Family. After all, Pakistan is 95% Muslim. It’s a mystery to me. I thank God for bringing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to my grandparents. My grandfather was a teacher and an ordained Presbyterian minister who became an Anglican minster of the Gospel in the 1920’s. My father, graduated from the Scottish Presbyterian Murray College, Sialkot in 1929 and joined an Indian Ashram based in the Anglican Church. He was an itinerant Indian Sadhu who carried a Bible and a Book of Common Prayer to teach, preach and heal as a Christian monk throughout sub-continent of India. The Anglican Bishop of Lahore encouraged my father to join the Lahore Divinity School. He was ordained and then became a parish priest in the early 1940’s......Continue Reading

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Peace Vigil from January 14, 2015 at CHRIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 111 NORTH 9TH ST. LA CROSSE, WI 54601

The cowardly attack in Paris, France last week on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo caused the cold-blooded execution of innocent persons.  Last month another attack of Islamic militants targeted a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, where children were in their classes.  They killed 132 children in the day light to spread their hateful ideology.  We saw on our television screens yesterday that over four million people of all faiths and several nationalities from all over the world have gathered in solidarity to convey a message of peace and unity.

In the United States we also had recent killings of the citizens and law enforcement officers because of racial divide.  We pray for healing and reconciliation among people of all races, religions and cultures in our own nation.  We pray for the safety of men and women in uniform who protect our nation at home and abroad.

Christ Episcopal Church is inviting members of the greater La Crosse community to join us on Wednesday January 14 at 5:30 p.m. for Peace Vigil and service of the Holy Eucharist.  We call on all people of goodwill to pray as they feel able for the repose of the victims, for their families and friends whose lives will never be the same again.  We must ask for healing for the wounded as well.  We invite you to come together as people of all faiths to pray for peace for our troubled communities in the world.  Please join us.  For further information call Christ Church office: 608-784-0697.

The Very Rev. Canon Dr. Patrick P. Augustine Rector
Christ Episcopal Church, La Crosse

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Persecuted Christians catalyst for Collaboration

Father Patrick proclaimed, “Tonight I bring you the voice of the voiceless our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ (around the globe) that you should hear their cries”. It was the one year anniversary of the tragic bombing of All Saints church in Peshawar, Pakistan, an attack which killed 128 and wounded nearly 180 more.  In Peshawar the anniversary was celebrated by seven bishops, numerous clergy and more than 4,000 people attending services at the devastated All Saints Church. Bishop Humphrey said the area was cordoned for safety and throughout the day more than 9,000 people visited to pay their respects and pray.

A half a world away 65 Christians in the Coulee region rallied as well. The event created an ongoing relationship between Christ Church, the oldest parish in La Crosse, and First Free Evangelical the youngest and largest congregation in the region. The goal is to put a face on the support, prayer and love for our brethren in a church seven seas away. The Augustine family including: Father Peter, Lily, Avais, Patrick, Myra and children came together to share the culture , history and plight of the Christians who are being persecuted for their faith in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Middle East and Asia. They sang songs in Urdu and Punjabi, cooked and shared Pakistani food while meeting and getting to know members of First Free.

First Free Church dedicated 5 offerings throughout the weekend to help provide medicine for those healing from wounds, rebuild Sunday school rooms and provide school fees and books to the children orphaned by the bombing. Eventually a memorial will also be created to commemorate those who were martyred that day.

“We want to form a relationship which allows us to collaborate together” says Father Patrick. We want our American Sunday schools, women’s groups, and other ministries to share our stories of Christian faith with those in Pakistan and beyond. We want to put a face on humanity and come together in prayer.

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Christ Episcopal pastor honored
by Archbishop of Canterbury

Father Patrick and Myra recieving the Crosss of St Augustine from Bishop Ed Leidel on December 16, 2012The pastor of Christ Episcopal Church in La Crosse has received the Anglican Church’s second-highest honor from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Bishop Ed Leidel presented the Rev. Patrick Augustine with the Cross of St. Augustine during a surprise ceremony Dec. 16.

 In the citation for the award, Archbishop Rowan Williams wrote of Augustine’s “lifelong commitment to defend the free exercise of faith in countries where believers are marginalized and persecuted” and the hope and reconciliation he’s brought to communities that have endured decades of conflict, violence, poverty and persecution......More

 

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"Beauty Meets Substance"
By Lauren Anderson
THE LIVING CHURCH November 18, 2012

At the beginning of this century Christ Church of La Crosse, Wisconsin, had become known as a “country club church.” Founded by James Lloyd Breck in 1850, Christ Church meets in a Romanesque-style building with a Venetian Renaissance interior of soaring ceilings, a bishop’s throne, and elaborate stained-glass windows. Since 1899, the church with the 108-foot tower has stood at the corner of Ninth and Main Street in the western Wisconsin city of about 52,000 people. It could have easily become a museum, where faith is remembered more than lived......MORE

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"Peace not Violence"
 as published in the La Crosse Tribune and Denver Post Sept 2012
The Very Rev. Canon Dr. Patrick P. Augustine, Rector
Christ Episcopal Church
111 North 9th St.
La Crosse, WI 54601
608-784-0697 (Ch) 608-385-2287

“The nation needs to do some “soul-searching” on how to reduce violence”, says President Obama. In recent days our televisions broadcast one after another sad violent attack or the “hindsight” of what “could have, should have” been done to prevent them. They encompass our nation, Colorado, Arizona, Virginia, and now a Sihk temple in Wisconsin. Sadly all of these attacks have something in common, not just the lone intent of an individual(s) to take other lives. In most cases it was precipitated by some form of mental illness, or societal aberration. The man who shot Gabby Giffords in Arizona admitted he had not taken his medications to control his schizophrenia for nearly a year. In Colorado a smart student suddenly loses his grip on school and possibly reality. In Virginia, a man with a history of severe anxiety kills nearly 40. Here in Wisconsin a man with ties to white supremacy hate groups continues the theme. Addressing the violence in society is only part of the solution. Finding ways to recognize, identify and treat these individuals before they act out a terrible nightmare is key. I have heard people saying, “ Why do criminals, terrorists and other mentally ill people have access to guns?” Whether it’s fanatics with box cutters, or bombs made of fertilizer, the result is the same. Many of these men began to drift to the margins of society where they fell through the gaps; gaps of medical care, mental health care, family and community support. As they drifted away from what was good and wholesome and worthy they became fueled by the power to control whether another individual lived or died. Anger, frustration, isolation are all part of the equation. So how do we identify and provide the mental health care and support needed to turn the culture of violence into a culture of peace.....More

 

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"Star on a Stick"
Lee Donahue
as printed in the La Crosse Tribune, December 2010

This is a story about a boy, a family, a new home and a star on a stick.

Six years ago my family left Germany where we lived off and on for 15 years. It was December; soon we would move to a new unseen home in La Crosse. A house we saw on the Internet. My husband's sister bought it for us, in our absence. Her husband helped the movers fill our new garage with belongings we shipped in October. Our son would celebrate his fourth birthday; Christmas was barely weeks away......MORE