Bishop Frade’s Pastoral Letter – The Cure is Worse than the Sickness

“And let Thy grace, O Lord, control

Our minds and hearts, that none

Should make a sport, that kills the soul,

Of evils war hath done.

‘T is Thou alone who from Thy throne

Canst rule us thus, and save us!”

The Chorale Book for England, 1863

“La cura es peor que la enfermedad.” That’s and old Spanish saying that reflects our government’s proposed solution to show the Syrian regime our opposition for their alleged sarin attack of August 21, 2013.

We claim that President Bashir Assad’s regime is responsible for killing over 1,429 Syrian civilians and military rebel personnel and that requires for us to unleash an attack on the Syrian regime that is bound to provoke a similar amount of casualties of innocent Syrian civilians as well as military personnel.

In recent days our Archbishop of Canterbury speaking at the House of Lords against the military intervention by the British government addressed his peers reminding them that the rational law is based on “the Christian theory of Just War that says the step up of opening fire is one that must be taken only when there is no possible alternative whatsoever under any circumstances.”

“Any intervention must be effective in preventing any further use of chemical weapons. I have not heard that it has been adequately demonstrated as likely,” said the Most Reverend Justin Welby. He also stated, “any intervention from abroad would declare ‘open season’ on Christian communities of the region.”

My concern as Bishop of your diocese is that we seem to be repeating the mistakes of recent years if we respond in such a hawkish way to the so called “intelligence reports.” They just remind us of similar intelligence reports of weapons of mass destruction that led us to the death of thousands of Americans and many more innocent Iraqi civilians in recent years past.

We refer to President Assad of being a thug and a murderer, but we may end up backing equally or probably worst thugs and murderers as the extremist Islamic faction of the Free Syrian Army that has been the real bulk of that rebel force.

We also have completely ignored a recent well documented Russian report accusing the rebels of firing a missile containing the nerve agent sarin at the town of Khan Al- Assal on March 19, by an Al Qaeda linked group called the Bashair al-Nasr Brigade, which caused the death and injury of over 100 innocent civilians and military personnel.

But for me, the most worrisome fact is that even if we give our so called “intelligence reports” the benefit of the doubt and say, “well go ahead and unleash a precision missile attack” then we have to take in consideration that our precision attacks in the past have not been as precise as we wanted. Point in fact is the date May 7, 1999-we unleashed a similar precision attack that blew up the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade destroying their building and killing three non-belligerent civilian reporters that had taken refuge in their embassy thinking they were going to be safe.

I thank our President, who regardless of his personal opinion is willing to consult with our Congress. But still it doesn’t make any sense to give the people of Syria this bitter medicine as punishment for the killing of over 1,400 rebels and innocent civilians. Our medicine is bound to kill just as many or more military and innocent civilians and, as the Archbishop of Canterbury predicts, it will only unleash an anti-Christian reaction in the Middle East. Unfortunately our prestige as a civilized country will not be better than the one ruling the Syrian regime.

I call upon the clergy and laity of Southeast Florida regardless of their position on this matter to pray for peace and to encourage our government to continue finding a peaceful alternative to assure that chemical weapons will not be used by either side in the Syrian conflict. I also encourage our members to contact their Senators and Representatives to do their upmost to make sure that our actions may serve to preserve peace and not exacerbate the drums of war that seem to have been sounding louder and louder in our country.

May our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace hear our prayer and bring peace.

Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Message of Solidarity

Dearly beloved:

It is with sadness that I share with you this communication from His Grace, Bishop Youssef of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Southern United States. As you know in recent years I had the privilege of being invited to be part of the service at the Coptic Orthodox Christmas celebration, January 7 at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo with Pope Shenouda II presiding. It was an honor and privilege to be there at the sanctuary with Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis, Bishop of Egypt and also Primate of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East. Unfortunately St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo is one the churches that has been attacked by the fanatical hordes of the Muslim Brotherhood and is just one of the 70 churches that have been destroyed in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Unfortunately our government and press seems uninterested in the plea of 12 million Christians of Egypt and our press has been ignoring the horror that Christians are going through having their person, homes and businesses been attacked.

I ask for your prayers and support to our Christian brothers of Egypt and in special for the Coptic Orthodox Church that makes up about 98% of all Christians in Egypt.

 

Blessings.

 

+Leo Frade
Bishop of Southeast Florida
(below is the message from Bishop Youssef)

Greetings in name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Thank you so much for your kind message and comforting words. I appreciate all your help and support for the coptic church during this difficult time.

Satan is attacking Christians everywhere, in the middle east through persecution which is not only in Egypt but in most of the Arab countries. I am sure that your grace is aware of the abduction of the two Syriac Orthodox Bishops since April 2013 and till now we do not know any news about them or even if they are alive or martyred.

In the last week more than 70 churches were attacked in Egypt, some of them were completely burned, many houses and businesses for the Christians were destroyed, and several copts were martyred.

It is time to be united together in prayers that the Lord may have mercy on us and help us to endure such difficult times with patience and perseverance.

Once again, I thank you so much for your support and comforting words.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bishop Frade’s 2012 Christmas Message~

Can you imagine celebrating Christmas with no Christmas tree, nor Santa Claus, nor gifts or carols and songs, nor Christmas cards or decorations? What if they do away with the Christmas holidays, with all the parties, Christmas family gatherings, with no turkey or refreshments of all kinds? Would you still have Christmas?

Well, I can imagine it and yes we would still have Christmas. Actually in the land of my birth for more than two decades the Cuban Communist government established an atheist state and outlawed the celebration of Christmas but regardless of their attempt to do away with Christmas the Cuban Christians continued celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. There was Christmas and although Santa was sent packing with the Christmas tree and all the trimmings, faith remained.

Unfortunately today, in the midst of our American celebration of Christmas we are facing a massacre of little children so tragic and inhumane at Sandy Hook Elementary School that we need to put away our joy and celebrations to be replaced with tears and mourning. Instead of caroling or parties our country is trying to make sense and understand how could something like this happen in our midst?

How can you have Christmas in the midst of all the constant killings in our society? How can we rejoice in the midst of wars that seem to linger on and on and the threat of more wars to come in faraway lands?

Let me remind you that during the 12 days of Christmas, that starts December 25, we also celebrate on December 28, another massacre of children on a feast that we call The Holy Innocents.

In the midst of the joy of the birth of a small child named Jesus we also have the pain of Mary and Joseph having to flee their land and going into exile.

Throughout the Christian era we have faced many ups and downs in our commemoration of Christmas but regardless of the times we have always remembered that hope was born anew in the little town of Bethlehem and that Christ will always be there for us in the good and bad times.

The Apostle St. Paul reminds us of this promise when he asks: “Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…..For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, not rulers, not things present, nor things to come, nor power, not height, nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus or Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

Let us this Christmas once more be reminded that Christ is the reason for the season and rejoice in knowing that hope can be found in the manger wrapped in bands of cloth.

Let’s join the throngs of angels praising Jesus and say:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among all people!”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Address to delegates and clergy at the 43rd annual Diocesan Convention

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergy or lay people, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon earth.”

Those words come from an 18th Century Anglican priest from England that was able to awake a dormant English church of the time with his preaching and his commitment to the Gospel.  His name was John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement within the Church of England. He and his brother Charles remained faithful Anglicans to their death.  He contended that the purpose of his preaching was to “spread scriptural holiness across England.”

Before his death he stated that his greatest fear was not that his movement will eventually cease to exist or one day dies from the earth. His greatest fear, he said, was that our people will become content to live without the fire, the power, the excitement, the supernatural element that makes us great.

As you probably know I am a convert to this wonderful church of ours from what at the time was called the Episcopal Methodist Church. What some people criticize of our Episcopal Church is precisely what attracted me to it.   I don’t know if you will agree with me but I believe that a convert tends to appreciate our Episcopal Church more than those who take it for granted because they were born in it.

Nevertheless I can say like Wesley said once: “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians of England.” I had the great fortune to grow up in a very committed Methodist family. From my teenage years I heard the call from God to serve him in the ordained ministry. But along the years many things happened along the way that discouraged me to continue being a Methodist.

I must confess that it was a new experience for me being part of this wonderful Episcopal Church. It takes some effort get used to the calisthenics of our Church with our kneeling, seating and standing up while holding the 1928 Prayer Book. I love the freedom of coming to our church and not leaving your brain at the door. But I learned quickly that it does take an effort to be an Episcopalian because other people that you don’t necessarily agree with also came in with their brain into our Church.  I began to wonder how in the world did they manage to get inside?

But you know what? Our diversity is our strength if we keep our eyes and mind in what unites us. Here in this Diocesan Convention we gather as one and regardless of our theological, social, ethnic or political differences we can sit together and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord and what is more exciting is the fact that we can proclaim it in different languages and different accents.

Now, let me tell you that in this conversion process of becoming a true Anglican I had to deal with my very committed Methodist mother.

She respected my decision to become an Episcopalian but she never understood or accepted that we actually use wine during and after communion.  As one of the founders of the Cuban Temperance League, yes there was one but it didn’t get too far in a Rum loving Cuba, she believed that Christ converted wine into water because our Lord will never create anything that could intoxicate his people.

When I was ordained she used to share with her friends that her son was a pastor. I kept reminding her that I was a priest. When I became a bishop she was very proud and told all of her friends that her son was a bishop. I kept reminding her that in the Episcopal Church the bishops don’t have the power that a Methodist bishop has and that I was more like a District Superintendent.

It was during this process of getting used to be an Episcopal priest that I realized that there were a few things that we could have brought from that other church. One day my mother visited Holy Cross, Miami, my first parish, actually very near from here in 36 Street.

She came to church as usual with her Bible under her arm. As we walked by, I felt that she was the only one that carried a Bible. I remember turning to her and saying: “Mother in this church we don’t carry the Bible.”  After saying that I realized that it was a stupid thing to say. Well if you look around your churches on Sunday we still don’t carry our Bibles to church.  Perhaps at times we may carry our beautiful leather bound Prayer Books. But a Bible, no way. We don’t want to risk the idea that people may think that we are Baptists.

After the big debate on sexuality that took place in our church following the General Convention of 2003, I began to wonder if we have and continued raising  generations of Bible illiterates that believe that the Holy Scriptures are to be found in those flimsy leaflets that we insert in our bulletins with the lectionary readings of the day.

My hope for this Convention is that we will really be challenged to read and inwardly digest the Holy Scriptures of God. I saw a few years back the extent of our Bible illiteracy. People were swayed by some that had their pet Bible verses adapted to their point of view picking and choosing what was convenient to them.

We need to grow into the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. In our last 77th General Convention of 2012 it was commanded, not suggested or encouraged but commanded that all Dioceses, Parishes and Mission undertake the task of reading the whole Bible in 2013. You will hear more about this with our guest speaker that will present us with that challenge.

Another thing that I have learned is that I should have brought from the Methodist Church their commitment to tithing.

Allow me to tell you another story from my past experience. It happened while I was a priest in New Orleans, Louisiana. I had left Southeast Florida and moved to the Diocese of Louisiana mainly because I could not feed my family with what I was being paid at the time.

I still say that we are not a very generous Diocese with our clergy in comparison with other dioceses. Actually forgive me to say that we are a cheap diocese and if we continue this way we will never be able to attract good and efficient clergy. But that is another matter for another day.

I went to Louisiana and took the challenge of planting a new Hispanic congregation in New Orleans and Houma, Louisiana.

It was during that time that I met Luis Moreno and invited him to our church. At the time he was attending a Methodist church just a few blocks from where Grace Church was on Canal Street.

I was impressed because he was very generous in his offerings. A year passed and I noticed that his contribution to the church had dwindled quite a bit. My first thought was that he had lost his job or was facing some family problems. When I approached him and asked him what was going on he said everything was fine, actually he had gotten a promotion and a raise.

When I told him that I had noticed that his offering to the church had dwindled quite a bit he told me that in the Methodist Church he was reminded often of the need to tithe and to support the work of the church. Then he said to me: “Father, you only have preached once about stewardship, I think it was in September or October of last year, but  I have not heard anything since then about our commitment and need to support the church. I thought that well, maybe you actually didn’t need my money so much.” Believe me my friends, after that I lost any qualms about preaching and insisting on the importance of stewardship.

Our Diocese has many active commissions and committees but not an active stewardship committee. I have asked Mr. Chris Metzger from St. Joseph, Boynton Beach and Fr. Albert Cutie from the Church of the Resurrection in Miami to help carry on the task of helping  our diocese in promoting stewardship. I am calling upon you to offer your help in this important task.

Well, enough about the Methodists and my mother. Let me share with you some very good news. We have received the report from the National Church that keeps the records on the 106 domestic dioceses of the Episcopal Church and they reported that the Diocese of Southeast Florida was the only one showing growth in the State of Florida and was part of 27 dioceses that were showing growth in this country.

Yes, we are growing in a very diverse demographic setting and beyond all predictions and odds, we are indeed growing. The National Church has us growing by 1.8% from 2010 to 2011 but our own more accurate figures place the growth at 2.6% for all congregations and by 4.3% for the congregations that are part of the Nehemiah process. Thank you to all of you who participate in the Nehemiah process.

Why are we growing? Before I answer let me tell you another story. As I get older I find myself enjoying more and more telling stories, so abide by me.

I don’t know if any of you have seen my picture when I first became the Bishop of Honduras. Not only did I have lots of hair but also I was a slim good looking bishop! The photograph shows a beautiful red cope, although I never like the myter they gave me because it was one of those low myter and not the more impressive taller myters.

The cope was made of thick wool but it was a gift of the clergy of my diocese so I used quite a bit. Until one day I was called to do a confirmation in an area that Honduran peasants had invaded because the land was abandoned and not being cultivated as the law requires. Actually in a good Latin American tradition some shooting back and forth took place between the original owners of the abandoned land and the co-op of peasants that now resided in the land. Many of them had come down from the mountains and were Episcopalians and they influenced their group to become Episcopalians.

I got a couple of phone calls probably from the owners threatening to shoot me if I went ahead with the confirmation. They didn’t want a church there at all that could help to legitimize that group of peasants.

I took my chances and you can see by the fact that I am standing here that those right wingers had a bad aim. The day of the confirmation came and they placed my chair underneath this huge Ceiba tree and when the confirmation service arrived a long, long line was formed. While I was confirming it began to rain, but rain like it does in the tropics. Before the rain people were kneeling in the dirt to be confirmed.

They forgot to bring a kneeler so they put down on the dirt a towel. It passed through my mind that maybe I should postpone the confirmation because of the heavy rain but I saw their eagerness to be confirmed. After a while they were not kneeling in the dirt anymore but in a puddle of water that had formed. I was totally drenched as well as all the persons there.

Finally after more than 200 men, women and teenagers were confirmed I tried to get up to do a prayer and I realized that I could not get up. The cope had absorbed all of that water and mud and everything else that chickens and pigs had contributed. My cope was as heavy as lead. A couple of seminarians that were with me helped me to get up and I could not even walk because of the weight but I kept on my cope.

The Diocese of Honduras grew and grew because we were willing to go anywhere and preach the Gospel without ceasing.

We are growing in Southeast Florida because a lot of lay and clergy leaders have teamed up to give their very best to the ministry of Christ at great personal sacrifice. I believe that their pain was tempered by their unwavering desire to serve the Lord.

In such a diverse culture like ours and the many challenges we have faced we should not be growing. It is a challenging time and just too challenging to move into a new culture and grown in numbers. But you know what I discovered long time ago: With God all is possible.

I think also that one of the driving forces for growth is that we have encouraged our church leaders to be innovative and creative. Just recently the Palm Beach Post published a report of our growth and gave examples from St Joseph, Boynton Beach; St. Paul’s, Delray Beach and Holy Redeemer, Lake Worth and their ability to reach out to all in all places without exception.

The Book of Acts has 28 chapters but we are writing the 29th chapter through the tremendous struggle that has required painful sacrifices.

Talking about sacrifices let me mention our clergy spouses and their families. They are in many cases the unpaid assistants of our churches and they are exposed to criticism in some cases. That is why our Diocese has a Spouse Association and Clergy Spouses Committee that has served to strengthen the bonds of affection and support among the spouses. I will ask that we applaud their committent to the Gospel of Christ and their work and love to support the clergy of our diocese.

Let me tell you about a very special challenge that we face. In a little while, we will walk across the street to our beloved Trinity Cathedral for the Convention Eucharist. For those of you who have not been to our Cathedral for a while, you may be shocked when you see it.

Last Spring when we gathered for the Acolyte Festival, a row of palm trees was placed in front of the sanctuary to shield the congregation from the dirt and the rubble which were around the high altar.

Since that time, a new concrete chancel floor has been laid, supported in part by the rock from the many churches around the diocese that the youth brought with them, to be reminded that this is also their Cathedral. You will see that the stained glass has been removed and is now being repaired; the electrical conduit and outlets are being installed for safety and better lighting; and the floor around the chancel is being carefully restored by artisans and craftsmen. Our Cathedral has become like a story from the Pillars of the Earth.

As you know, all of this is being done to bring the Cathedral into compliance with current codes to enable recertification by the City of Miami, who by the way donated one million dollars for our work.

This daunting project has been undertaken to preserve this ministry center for our Diocese. Not only does the Cathedral serve us liturgically whenever we gather as a diocesan family, it stands as a beacon of what the Episcopal Church represents in all of Southeast Florida: a place of healing, inclusion, compassion and challenge, a place where the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed.

But such a monumental endeavor is not inexpensive. Construction cost alone will be 7 million dollars. But I am happy to say that through the efforts of many people nearly 5 million dollars has already been raised.

We are more than half-way done!!!

Today I am announcing a Comprehensive Campaign for our Cathedral of $8.5 million dollars, in order to complete the project, and establish an endowment for ongoing maintenance and support. Never again we are going to let our Cathedral rot away for lack of funds or energy.

I hope that when the restoration will be finished next summer, all the bills will be paid as well. But we need your help. We all need to be part of this rebuilding, and I invite you to join me in making a commitment to the mission and ministry of our Diocese by supporting this effort. I hope that you will visit the Trinity Cathedral in the exhibit hall and consider joining me in making your pledge today. I invite Dean McCaleb  to come up here and receive from me, the first pledge to complete the Pillars of the Earth in Miami.

In a recent British movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” the Indian innkeeper Sony struggles to convince his guests from England that “Everything will be all right in the end. If it is not yet right, then it is not the end.” This dearly beloved is what the Bible is talking about. It was best articulated by Julian of Norwich when she said: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

I think that this is also timely with our Convention theme because in the grand picture, all of humankind is seeking the ultimate ‘right’ and we all go through the ups and downs of partial satisfaction and grave disappointments of incompleteness. But, these are OK because it’s not yet the end. There are 3 more years until the end of my episcopacy and I want for you and me to work as hard as possible to reach that right to make our diocese not only one among the 27 but the first of them all.

In this diocese we began this year, looking and reaching forward to discover our future. Our future is not here so it not must be the end. As we looked forward, in our discovery process we discovered hopes and dreams, opportunities and also threats as well as thrills and apprehensions.  But you know what? They all are okay because it’s not yet the end and believe me there is much to do.

Tomorrow you will take part of the process of Discovering our Future. This is a unique process that will have engaged most of the members of our diocese by the time it is completed in 2013. It is an 18 month project led by the Rev. Charles Fulton, III who has been serving as our consultant now for several years. You will also meet tomorrow John Roberto to help us go through a new process that many of you have not encountered before called Scenario Planning. It’s a new and effective way to explore the future and prepare ourselves for any eventually, good, or bad or mediocre form that may be out there waiting for us in the future.

Please abide with us as we look at the future in many different ways that it may be played. I believe that we can conquer the future because the key part of our future is the superb lay and clergy leadership that we have. This praying, sanctifying, passionate and compassionate leadership opens the door to a very bright future for our diocese.

On a very different note let me remind you that our General Convention approved resolution A049 concerning “The Witness and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” which is a service of blessing for same-sex couples who are in a lifelong, faithful monogamous, committed relationships. In precisely one month from today, on December 2 which is the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the liturgical year this rite can be used for those who want to celebrate this blessing. Please note that we are not referring to a marriage but a blessing of couples of the same gender who live in a faithful monogamous committed relationships. Also please know that now clergy or lay person will be obligated to celebrate this rite.

But let me reiterate that as long as I am the Diocesan Bishop of Southeast Florida our mission will be to make known to all people the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ including all, excluding None.

Before I end I want to thank all of you for your prayers and support while I dealt with a detached retina. This past Tuesday I went to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and Dr. Smiddy the most wonderful Retina Specialist confirmed that my healing was complete. Thank you God and thank you for your prayers for healing.

My daughter Erika is now in a process of healing and will be operated on November 29 in another wonderful hospital, the Cleveland Clinic. After almost a year of suffering in many hospitals and under many doctors the good folks of Cleveland Clinic were able to diagnose her and they are treating her to full recovery. I tell you if you have a problem head for the Cleveland Clinic.

I also would like to thank you for your prayer for my wife Diana earlier this year. I give praise to God for her recovery from a thyroid tumor and thank God it was benign. As you can imagine this year has been one of those years where we have been in and out of the Body Shop for repairs but thankfully we are doing much better now.

To that end, I want for us to remember the pain and destruction along the passage of Hurricane Sandy. Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba has suffered the destruction along its path and of course we have seen the pain and suffering of our people in the Northeast with the devastation of such magnitude. I invite our churches to take a special collection and send it to either the Episcopal Relief and Development or to Food for the Poor to be able to provide the assistance that is needed.

Now one last thing I have to say. Next Tuesday we are going to vote. I will not tell you how to vote but I hope that you will consider voting to save Big Bird from extinction.

May God bless and keep and may give us the strength and the wisdom to carry the task that we have been given.

Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reflections on the 77th General Convention

Reflections from your Bishop on the 77th General Convention

 Dearly Beloved:

 Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am writing to you on my way back from Indianapolis, Indiana, where we have just finished the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. 

Your bishop and your deputation have worked very hard since July 5 in our deliberations in the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, as well as in numerous hearings and various legislative committees.

You can also be very proud, as I am, of our diocesan Youth Commission president, Nora Viñas, who was one of two members of the Official Youth Presence to make a presentation in both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, as well as in the ECW Triennial. She also participated in a panel of “New Generation Latinos.”

I assume that the news reports you have read have been focused primarily on Resolution A049, which authorizes Liturgical Resources for Blessings of Same-Gender Relationships. This resolution was approved by a large margin of votes in both houses.

As you are well aware, I have already authorized the clergy of our diocese, if they believe it appropriate, to bless persons of the same gender who have been legally married in another jurisdiction. To that effect I formed a task force three years ago to develop a liturgy for such blessings. That liturgy will be superseded by “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” from “Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing,” beginning the First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2, 2012.

The only change for us in Southeast Florida is that now we can provide a generous pastoral response not only to same-gender couples who are legally married, but also to couples in legal civil unions and domestic partnerships.

It is important to note that this resolution also states that no bishop, priest, deacon or lay person should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities, as a result of his or her conscientious objection to this decision of the 77th General Convention.

Another important, if less newsworthy in the opinion of secular media, action of General Convention was a the passage of a resolution (C083) that asks all Episcopal dioceses, cathedrals, churches and missions to invite their whole membership, as well as people beyond their church, to read the entire Bible in 2013.

We also affirmed that there is no inherent contradiction between holding and practicing the Christian faith and practicing or utilizing the discoveries of science and medicine. The Convention affirmed that certain characteristics of faith, most explicitly the tenet that reason and tradition are essential to extending our understanding of God’s Creation, are mirrored in science, and that in God’s physical universe the proper practice of science cannot and does not automatically lead its practitioners or others to lose their faith in God, or to be led into beliefs that contradict the existence of God.

I believe that this resolution (A136) is important for us today as we see how fundamentalists are trying to remove any scientific understanding of creation and forcing a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation stories. This rejection of scientific findings threatens our efforts to care for God’s creation in the face of such challenges as climate change and the loss of biodiversity.

Other important actions included:

The 77th General Convention stated its belief that the Holy Spirit is urging The Episcopal Church to reimagine itself, so that, grounded in our rich heritage and yet open to our creative future, we may be more faithful to the 5 Marks of Mission:

1.      Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.

2.      Teach, baptize and nurture new believers.

3.      Respond to human need by loving service.

4.      Seek to transform unjust structures of society.

5.      Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life on earth.

Resolution C095 calls for the establishing of a Task Force whose purpose shall be to present to the next General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, with a plan to reform the Church’s structures, governance and administration. This Task Force will gather information and ideas from congregations, dioceses and provinces and other interested individuals and organizations to provide information and guidance in their work of discernment.

Resolution D016 stated the desire of the Convention to move Episcopal Church Center offices from the 815 Second Avenue building in New York City, but did not authorize the sale of the property at this time.

Resolution B019, dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calls for a continuing advocacy for peace in the Middle East and reaffirmed the existence of the State of Israel, but also calls for a free, viable and secure state for the Palestinian people with a shared Jerusalem as the capital of both. The House of Bishops voted down Resolution C060, which called for a boycott of products made and distributed from illegal Israeli settlements and “more vigorous and public corporate engagement with companies in the church’s investment portfolio that contribute to the infrastructure” of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

Animal lovers will welcome the decision of A054 that makes available Rites and Prayers for the Care of Beloved Animals. These rites and prayers will be appearing in the Book of Occasional Services and will include, among others, prayers for the adoption of an animal, for a lost or missing animal, for a sick animal, for one whose beloved animal has died and for the euthanizing of an animal.  Clergy and laity will have now prayers that will help us to alleviate the grief caused by the death of a loved pet.

There was heated debate in the House of Bishops over Resolution C029, which had been passed by the House of Deputies and offered for our concurrence. This resolution allowed clergy in various local contexts to provide Holy Communion to persons who have not been yet baptized.  The bishops eliminated that section of the resolution, so that it now states that The Episcopal Church reaffirms baptism as the ancient and normative entry point to receiving Holy Communion, and that our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to go into the world and baptize all peoples.

Resolution A021 calls for the release of all in Cuban prisons for religious activities or peaceful advocacy of political change in the Republic of Cuba. It urges the government of the Republic of Cuba to cease the practice of exile of released political prisoners and harassment for their peaceful advocacy of political change. This resolution also calls for the humane treatment and pastoral care of four Cuban nationals who are now serving prison terms for spying for the Cuban government. It does not call for their release.

Two other resolutions were approved that I consider important. The first was Resolution B026, which concerns implementation of the Denominational Health Plan and will give dioceses and parishes an additional three years to meet the requirement that they provide parity in health insurance cost-sharing between lay and clergy employees. That deadline now is extended until Dec. 31, 2015. Dioceses and parishes still must offer health insurance to employees through the Church Medical Trust by the end of this year.

The other resolution was B016, which asks for the preparation of a budget to be presented at the next General Convention based on a 15% asking as the minimum commitment during the 2016-2018 trienniums.

Many other resolutions were debated, and some were approved as others were rejected. I urge you to follow the links in the General Convention section of our website to learn more about all the actions of this convention and to view photos and videos that will give you a sense of the effort—and the joy—of this great triennial gathering of our worldwide Episcopal family.

It was an arduous work, and you can be proud of our deputies, who faithfully served our Church at the 77th General Convention.

Blessings,

+Leo Frade

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s the most wonderful time of the

(Sermon preached by Bishop Leo Frade at Trinity Cathedral, Miami, December 24, 2011)

Yes indeed, it’s for sure the most wonderful time of the year: Tonight we are able to celebrate Christmas and rejoice knowing that it is through Christ’s birth that we are able to share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity.

What a wonderful delight it is to be able to worship in this historic Cathedral. Some of us tonight are able to share our joy with family and friends, while others reach for the memories of those who have parted from our midst and now know the strength of God’s presence and rejoice in his eternal glory.

This Christmas celebration should not take us by surprise, considering that the Church has been reminding us during the four weeks of Advent to prepare ourselves to receive this gift of God, which is Baby Jesus.

But in addition, our secular society has been eagerly reminding us to get into our Christmas spirit from as far back as Halloween. By Thanksgiving all the stores and many of our streets were full of decorations, and the elevators were playing Christmas music, to make sure that we realized that, “it’s beginning to look like Christmas,” and that it was time to get our credit cards out.

Now, not everybody reacts to Christmas the same way. For me it has not arrived until I hear the Salvation Army bells ringing in front of Macy’s and Publix. Those bells seem to work for me, as the bell did for Pavlov’s dog that began to salivate as soon as he heard the bell ringing.

I’ll make a confession to you; I have not always been a faithful Episcopalian. I discovered during my college days in Kentucky that I could be bought just with the offer of a Christmas job. It all began before Christmas 1961 when I was enticed to get a job during my Christmas vacation as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army. Some of my college friends convinced me to join them and apply for a job during Christmas to raise money ringing a bell for the Salvation Army. Lo and behold, we got the job and four of my friends crowded with me in my 1950 Ford, and with lots of prayer and teenage immaturity we drove from Kentucky to New York City, where the Salvation Army headquarters is located.

From there we were assigned in groups of two to different parts of the city. I ended up assigned, together with my friend Hyman, to ring our bells in front of the Sears store in the Bronx by the Grand Concourse. I must say that it was a good deal for the time because not only did we get paid the minimum wage, but we also got free housing at the Salvation Army alcoholic rehab center–one of the many programs that they successfully run to help those in need. We were given a bed and slept in a big hall with the people being treated for their addiction. It wasn’t too bad—we were young, and besides giving us a place to sleep we were fed every morning a hearty free breakfast.

We worked non-stop ringing our bells from the time that the stores opened until they closed. Our outfit was a long black winter coat and one of those Salvation Army hats.  I don’t want to brag but I really looked very handsome and official.

From then on every year during my college days my friends and I spent our Christmas vacation ringing bells and freezing in those cold New York winters.

Now don’t think that we were the only ones ringing bells in front of the stores. Next to us we always found the dreadful competition: It was the Santa Claus ringing bells for the Volunteers of America. I must confess that I did very well in my job. One of the reasons was that the Santa Claus that had been assigned to my spot was drunk most of the time. He asked me every day to take care of his pot while he went to the bar. It was easy pickings as I directed the passersby to put their money in my pot.

Today when I see one of those Salvation Army red pots and hear the bells ringing I just cannot resist giving my contribution. It not only brings back old memories, but I know that the money will be used for a good cause.

Christmas is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.  I think that there are two reasons that make Christmas unique: magic and miracle.

Yes, magic and miracle make Christmas so extraordinarily different from all the other holidays of the year. During Christmas time, like magic, people are transformed and our behavior tends to change for the good.

I have found that regardless of all the pressures that we encounter during this time there seems to be something that takes place within us, and that magical something makes us willing to reach out to others.

Christmas has such a positive magic in itself that is able to transform us. It becomes like a light in the middle of the darkness that allows us to see the goodness in others that otherwise we are unable to see in the shadows of our daily life.

Christmas may be a time of pressure but also a time that brings joy to our busy burdened life.

Talking about pressures let me share with you the quandary that I find myself every year around this time. As a married man I face double jeopardy because my wedding anniversary is December 22, just three days before Christmas. I didn’t realize the mistake I was making by getting married on that day. Are you aware of how hard it is for a man to make up his mind on what to buy his wife, not one but two gifts, one after the other? And the only help I get is: “Honey, whatever you get me is fine with me.” Actually I am hoping that Walgreen’s will be open tomorrow morning because if not I am in big trouble.

But regardless of all the pressure we tend to face, I won’t change Christmas for anything else. The magic that takes place makes it worthwhile. Christmas brings that extra special feeling that life is precious and that we are bound to each other in our humanity as brothers and sisters. 

One of the most beautiful Christmas stories I have heard is a true story that took place in the battlefield of France during the First World War. It has to do with an event that happened to German, French and Scottish soldiers that were fighting in opposite trenches during the war to end all wars.

On Christmas Eve 1914, the Allied troops began to see candlelight coming from the German trenches. Thinking that they were going to be attacked they got ready, but then instead of canons or bullets, they began to hear that famous Austrian Christmas carol Stille Nacht, Heilege Nacht, “Silent Night, Holy Night,” being sung by the German troops. The French and Scottish troops instead of firing began to sing French and Scottish Christmas hymns. It was then when an informal, unauthorized truce began to take place and the troops from both sides began to fraternize with each other exchanging gifts, playing soccer and showing pictures of their families to each other.  The soldiers and the officers of the opposing armies peacefully met in a  no-man’s land to share a precious pause in the carnage of war. This extraordinary moment in the middle of the war was captured in the film Joyeux Noel, a 2005 movie directed by Christian Canon. It allows you to see that magic of Christmas that took over the troops.

But in addition, I mentioned that a miracle is also involved that makes Christmas so special. That miracle comes as soon as we grasp the wonderful realization that God so loved the world–that God so loved you and me–that he sent his only son so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish, but have eternal life.  

It is at the moment that Mary receives the message from the Archangel Gabriel and surrenders to God’s will for her life that the miracle of Christmas begins to take place.

It is the miracle of God’s love for us that touches our innermost being. It is then that we are called to know God in Jesus Christ, and believe in him as someone we know intimately, whose promise is worthy of our trust, as well as our personal investment and commitment.

The miracle of Christmas lies in our believing that the Savior of the world has been born in Bethlehem, born of the Virgin Mary, and that Mary’s son, Jesus, is indeed Emmanuel, “God with us.”

This Christmas let that magic touch you, and also let the miracle of Christmas transform you through believing that God cares for you, and that God cares for your loved ones, both those whom you can see and those who are now gone.

Let the miracle of God incarnate in our midst as a tender baby allow us to share that eternal light that will help transform this world, to bring peace on earth and goodwill to every man and woman of this planet.

My prayer for you this Christmas Eve is that God may grant you

The light of Christmas, which is faith,

The warmth of Christmas, which is love,

The radiance of Christmas, which is purity,

The righteousness of Christmas, which is justice,

The belief in Christmas, which is peace,

And the all of Christmas, which is Christ.

Yes, indeed Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year!

Merry Christmas to all!

Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

El Milagro de la Navidad : Un Mensaje de Navidad 2011

Regocijémonos durante estos días de Navidad porque es a través del nacimiento de Cristo que podemos compartir la vida divina de quien se humilló para compartir nuestra humanidad.

 La Iglesia nos ha estado recordando estas últimas cuatro semanas que nos preparemos a recibir el regalo que Dios nos ha dado en Belén. Dios nuestro Creador, Salvador y Santificador no ha amado tanto que nos ha dado a su único hijo para que el que crea en él no se pierda sino que tenga vida eterna.

n el momento que la Virgen María recibió el mensaje del Arcángel Gabriel y se rindió a cumplir la voluntad de Dios para su vida es que el milagro de la Navidad comienza.

Es el milagro del amor de Dios por nosotros que toca lo más intimo de nuestro ser. Es entonces cuando somos llamados a conocer a Dios en Jesucristo y a creer en él como alguien que podemos conocer íntimamente y en cuya promesa podemos confiar al igual que nuestra entrega y compromiso personal.

El milagro de la Navidad radica en que nosotros creemos que el Salvador del mundo nació en Belén, nacido de la Virgen María y ese hijo de María, Jesús es sin lugar a dudas Emanuel, “Dios con nosotros.”

El signo visible y externo de este milagro del amor de Dios es el milagro de nuestra transformación cuando comenzamos a confiar en el saber que Dios nos cuida y no solo a nosotros sino que además cuida de nuestros amigos, extraños y hasta de nuestros enemigos.

Dios también cuida de nuestros seres queridos que vemos hoy y aquellos que hemos dejado de ver que hoy conocen la fortaleza de su presencia y se regocijan en su gloria eterna.

La Navidad es verdaderamente la temporada más maravillosa del año como dice esa canción popular navideña en inglés. Pero esta temporada es maravillosa no solo por los regalos, las alegres decoraciones navideñas y por las fiestas ó por la anticipación de los regalos que vamos a recibir. Esta temporada de navidad nos recuerda que debemos de buscar nuestro regalo que el Niño Dios nos hace, el regalo de saber lo que puede ser la humanidad si esta busca a Dios para transformar nuestras vidas y las relaciones de los unos con los otros.

La navidad puede ser una luz en el medio de la oscuridad de nuestro ser que nos guía a buscar esa bondad que casi siempre permanece escondida en la sombra de nuestra cotidiana vida. El poder conocer que Dios ha entrado en nuestro mundo como un indefenso infante, nacido en alrededores de pobreza y nos recuerda que cada vida es preciosa en los ojos de Dios y que estamos unidos los unos con los otros en nuestra humanidad como hermanos y hermanas.

Regocijémonos durante estos días de la temporada navideña que no se acaba ahora sino que comienza a la medianoche del 24 de diciembre y que dura por doce días. Nuestra gran alegría proviene de saber de que Dios está con nosotros y que también pertenecemos a él para siempre.

Les deseo a todos una Feliz Navidad.

Monseñor Leo Frade, Obispo del Sureste de La Florida

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment