“The Problem: As part of changing a life path that repeatedly ends in Santa Clara County jail, many inmates want to learn about and develop their faith and theology but lack resource access and the reading capability or education to move forward. Inmates who are Spanish language speakers, have reading difficulties, and those with mental health challenges are at a particular disadvantage and are often isolated and disempowered. America’s punishment-based, racist and classist carceral system, and the constant population churn inside jails, militate against empowering inmates’s spiritual well-being, success, and change of life. Tailoring educational and faith programs to particularly disadvantaged inmates may help to reduce long-term recidivism.
The Purpose: To support the most invisible of the largely-unseen and severely marginalized population of jail prisoners in Santa Clara County, this project revises existing Bible study and theological reflection program materials to support inmates in three particularly-underserved and vulnerable groups: those whose primary language is Spanish, and/or have mental health challenges, and/or have reading comprehension difficulties. Making materials more accessible may help to encourage their faith walk, sustain their difficult journey, and discourage recidivism after release.”
This is the fourth and final legislative day for the deputation of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR) at the General Convention (“GC-80”) in Baltimore, Maryland. Today, after morning worship and an inspiring sermon by the newly-elected President of the House of Deputies, Julia Ayala Harris, we discussed changes to the Book of Common Prayer, heard a health report by Dr. Rodney Coldren (only 26 COVID cases reported during GC-80) who thanked us for protecting our fellow deputies, celebrated many House of Deputies awards by outgoing President, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, thanked many remarkable people who have worked for years to make this event happen, planned for GC-81 in Louisville in two years, and filled a variety of positions by election. We particularly celebrated the ten years of the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings as HofD President and gave her many standing ovations.
The historic change of leadership was symbolized by a hand off of the President’s gavel from the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings to Julia Ayala Harris. Both are inspiring and remarkable women who make the world change for the better. In her concluding remarks, Rev. Gay Clark Jennings said it was not enough to appoint and elect change makers, we must also actively encourage and support them to stop the racism and misogyny endemic in our church. People of color and women face real gritty situations and structural barriers, not theoretical problems. We must commit ourselves to this work, seize the opportunity, and not assume others will take care of it.
This is the third legislative day for the deputation of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR) at the General Convention (“GC-80”) in Baltimore, Maryland. Today, despite persistent technical challenges, the House of Deputies (HOD) passed a variety of resolutions and amendments, including the church’s budget, the election of Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton as Vice President of the HOD (the first ordained woman to be so elected), and the celebration of the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, the first woman to serve as President of HOD as her term nears its end. There are so many remarkable faith and community leaders here – it is inspiring!
I have mostly stayed in the hotel and convention center but from time to time we go out to eat. Tomorrow night, we celebrate Maryland Night, so I will see more of Baltimore. Check out the Diocese of El Camino Real’s daily GC-80 “Updates from the Floor.”
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This is the second legislative day for the deputation of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR) at the General Convention (“GC-80”) in Baltimore, Maryland. The big excitement so far was this morning’s election of Julia Ayala Harris as the next President of the House of Deputies (PHoD). She is the first Latinalay person to hold that role, was endorsed by the LGBTQ+ Caucus, and is from the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma. After the HoD ballot count was announced, Ayala Harris thanked the other candidates who ran, thanked her predecessor the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, and said her election was “for justice, for inclusion, and for Jesus.” A good start!
Today’s House of Deputies session opened with worship and a sermon by the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings. There are about 800 deputies from 107 Episcopal dioceses present. We get a health and safety update from Dr. Rodney Coldren daily. As of this morning, only eight people had reported having COVID-19, which is about 1% of the House of Deputies. Dr. Coldren urged us to follow the guidelines not only to protect the immunocompromised but to respect and protect other people’s choice not to get your COVID. In these pandemic times, assume that symptoms of “just a cold” means COVID, even if you test negative. In more general news, it is raining in Baltimore. Our deputation enjoyed pizza dinner together between the afternoon and evening sessions.
If you want to follow General Convention in real time and detail, check out the Virtual Binder: “The Virtual Binder contains all of the legislative information for the meeting of General Convention. The website is vbinder.net and accessible to the public.” Also, read the Diocese of El Camino Real daily GC-80 “Updates from the Floor.”
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I am part of the deputation of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR) to the General Convention (“GC-80”) in Baltimore, Maryland, this week. This is the eightieth General Convention since the House of Deputies was formed in 1785. (The House of Bishops was formed in 1789.) This is the third time I have been part of an ECR deputation: you can read about my adventures at GC-79-Austin and GC-78-Salt-Lake-City on this blog. Many of us arrived in Baltimore from California and registered yesterday. Today is the first day of business. The Episcopal Church has taken many measures to try to minimize the potential danger of the pandemic to GC participants. For example, GC-80 was postponed for a year, the event was shortened from two weeks to four days, all participants must prove that they are vaccinated or exempted, and we all must mask and test every day. This morning’s sessions opened with worship, including an inspiring sermon by our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.
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Susan Broaddus and I worked together for many years on the Congo Network, a project of the worldwide Anglican and Episcopal churches to support the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She passed away on 3 December 2021 after a lifetime of faithful activism, including twelve years as an Episcopalian missionary in the Congo. This is to honor and remember her. May Susan rest in peace and rise in glory.
Update: On 26 July 2022, the Congo Network’s Chair, and Africa Partnership Officer for the Episcopal Office of Global Partnerships, Rev. Daniel N. Karanja, Ph.D., presented the linked Brief to the Congo Network honoring Susan Broaddus and her inspiring life of advocacy and lay leadership. The Rev. Daniel reviewed over 400 pages of Susan’s letters and documents to create the Brief. He spoke of Susan’s outstanding and inspiring contributions developing the role of women leaders and educational programs, especially at theUniversité Anglicane du Congo.
Susan’s obituary was published by The Virginian-Pilot from 8 December – 10 December 2021. A longer version was published on Facebook by Women to Women for Congo on 8 December 2021:
It is with great sadness that we are sharing the news of the death of Susan Broaddus, founder of the Women to Women for Congo and primary moderator of this page.
Susan Broaddus succumbed to cancer on December 3, 2021, in Norfolk, Va., where she was born in 1946.
Her life’s greatest passion centered on The Democratic Republic of Congo, where she served as an Episcopalian missionary for over 12 years, dedicated to improving the lives of the people in that lawless and war-torn region.
She was especially concerned for the women and children there, because many militias continually attacked the towns and villages. The militias often kidnapped or killed the men, sexually attacked the women, and left the children orphaned.
About a decade ago, Susan revisited the Congo and was inspired to do more by raising awareness and money in the United States to help her beloved Congolese people. She founded a group called Women-to-Women for Congo, which joined her mission to pray for and financially assist the people there. She also supported the Anglican seminary in the Congo, both through individual scholarships and by supporting the seminary’s capital projects.
She was at the forefront locally of assisting with the immigration of the Sudanese “Lost Boys,” personally assisting many of them with tutoring, housing, bureaucracy, and more.
Susan was a lifelong Francophile. Before retiring, she taught high school French in several school systems throughout the greater Hampton Roads area.
Her fluency in French enabled her to stay in touch with her friends and contacts in the Congo. When Susan’s health was declining rapidly from her second battle with cancer, the Most Rev. Henri Isingoma, who was the Archbishop of the Congo while she served there and is now retired, e-mailed a letter to Susan, which captured Susan’s spirit. It reads, in part (roughly translated): “I have no other words but to congratulate you for having led a life consecrated to the holy ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am convinced that you do not fear anything because, together, we have worked in the direction of ensuring the continuity of his mission to proclaim the Eternal Kingdom of God. Knowing that our human capacities have time limits, we had trained others among us and for subsequent generations. The mission continues.”
In addition to her work with the Congo, Susan was an avid reader and member of a book club. Shelves and stacks of books on many subjects filled her home. She also was active in her church, Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
Susan was preceded in death by her parents, John and Margaret Broaddus, and her sisters, Margaret (Midge) Hutchison, and Ann Broaddus. She is survived by her nephew, Jason Nowell, and extended family and hometown friends….
If you would like to remember Susan in a meaningful way, please contribute to Episcopal Church Women, designating “Broaddus/Congo” in the memo line (mail to: ECW, Christ & St. Luke’s Church, P.O. Box 11499, Norfolk, VA 23517)
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This semester, I am taking a class at the Graduate Theological Union called “Christian Ethics: Radical Love Embodied” from Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Professor of Theological and Social Ethics. One of the texts for this class is Dr. Moe-Lobeda’s own 2013 book, Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation. Chapter 4, “Unmasking Evil that Parades as Good,” has caused me to think deeply on how background social and cultural understandings perpetuate and affirm the way things are, even if those understandings are destructive or evil. The author characterizes this as “‘hegemonic vision’… the constellation of socially constructed perceptions and assumptions about ‘what is,’ ‘what could be,’ and ‘what ought to be’ that maintain the power or privilege of some people over others, and ‘blind’ the former to that privilege” (Moe-Lobeda, 88).
Dr. Matthew Clair, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, uses the word hegemony with regard to U.S. law, but does not use the phrase hegemonic vision in his 2020 book Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court. He presents similar concepts, writing of how racism and classism intersect, “I found that the working class and poor, especially racial minorities, often sought to learn their legal rights, contest their defense lawyer’s expertise, and advocate for themselves in court. Meanwhile, the middle-class people I got to know found themselves in trusting relationships with lawyers and thus were more likely to defer to their lawyers and the court. Privileged people were rewarded for their deference, whereas the disadvantaged were punished for their resistance and demands for justice” (Clair, xv). That is, Dr. Clair reports that the U.S. justice system has a vision of how people should behave that is based in middle-class assumptions and communication patterns. He finds that those who are poor or working class who do not communicate as expected are disproportionately penalized.
The Prison Policy Initiative affirmed what Dr. Clair has written in their “Mass Incarceration: the Whole Pie 2020” in which Wendy Sawyer and Peter Wagner write, “People in prison and jail are disproportionately poor compared to the overall U.S. population. The criminal justice system punishes poverty… Poverty is not only a predictor of incarceration; it is also frequently the outcome.”
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