Clergy discipline not subject to civil review, Australian court rules: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 27, 2014Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: clergy discipline, Peter Coote
The South Australia Supreme Court has ruled that clergy discipline is an internal affair, not subject to civil court review. In Harrington and Ors v Coote and Anor  SASCFC 154 the court held disciplinary canons were a “consensual contract” between clergy and the church, and that the Australian Church’s Professional Standards Board had the authority to investigate and discipline clergy.
The 23 December 2013 ruling ended an 8-year legal battle waged by the former Archdeacon of the Murray, the Ven. Peter Coote, who was dismissed from office in 2007 for sexual misconduct.
In his ruling Chief Justice Chris Kourakis held the constitution, canons and rules of the church were binding under civil law on the bishops, clergy and laity in matters relating to property.
The right to appoint a member of clergy to a benefice and the licence held by a member of the clergy to conduct spiritual ceremonies on church property were “matters relating to property” under the Act, he held. Having voluntarily agreed to submit to the constitution and canons of the church, Archdeacon Coote could not seek to circumvent the process through the secular courts.
Tags: Geoffrey Hammond, Society of St John the Evangelist
The former chief executive of the Fellowship of St John Trust has pled guilty to theft. On 9 January 2014 Geoffrey Hammond was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment by the Southwark Crown Court for stealing £99,493 between May 2012 and August 2013 while serving as the trust’s executive officer.
An internal audit found a substantial shortfall in the trust’s accounts last summer. When confronted Hammond admitted the theft. He was dismissed from his post on 5 Aug 2013 and the matter turned over to the police.
The Society of St John the Evangelist (SSJE) was an Anglican religious order founded in 1866 at Cowley, Oxford, England, by Father Richard Meux Benson, and was the first permanent religious community for men established in the Anglican Communion since the Reformation.
In the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries the society expanded to America, Canada, Scotland, India, South Africa and Japan. It maintained a presence on Marston Street, Oxford from 1868 to 1980 and in 1905 opened St Edward’s House in Westminster. While the SSJE remains active in the United States, in 2012 the order was dissolved and Edward’s House sold.
Proceeds from the sale were placed with the Fellowship of St John Trust fund trust fund for care of retired members of the society in England.
A former Labour Councilor for the Higham Hill Ward of Waltham Forest, Hammond stated he took the money to meet his debts. The trust has recovered all of the money stolen.
Bibles seized by police in Malaysia: The Church of England Newspaper, January 10, 2014 January 16, 2014Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of South East Asia.
Tags: Bible Society of Malaysia, Bolly Lapok
The president of the Bible Society of Malaysia and the organization’s office manager were arrested by police on 2 January 2014, during a raid on their offices in Selangor. Officials of the State Islamic Affairs Department confiscated Bibles and religious literature for using the world “Allah” in Malay and Iban language versions of Scripture.
The Archbishop of South East Asia, the Most Rev. Bolly Lapok, Bishop of Kuching denounced the raid as unlawful. “If an action assumes such arrogance that violates the Federal Constitution and pays total disregard to the Prime Minister’s directive is not treason, I do not know what is,” he said.
A recent court ruling in Malaysia banned a Catholic newspaper from using the word “Allah”, but the government had given permission for the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia translation of the Old and New Testament to use the world “Allah” for the name of God.
Muslim extremists had “poisoned” interfaith relations Malaysia by demanding exclusive use of the word “Allah”, the archbishop said. He urged all sides to heed the “voice of reason” and for the state to “respect, honour and abide by the guarantee of religious freedom as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.”
Tags: Diocese of Lucknow, Morris Edgar Dan
The Church of North India has deposed the Bishop in Lucknow. Police also arrested Bishop Morris Edgar Dan on 15 December 2013 after the Allahabad High Court revoked the bishop’s bail on charges of forgery and fraud.
CNI general secretary Alwan Masih told The Church of England Newspaper Bishop Dan had “duly terminated by the executive committee of the CNI synod as of 25 November 2013” following an investigation into charges the bishop had sold church lands at below market prices to a syndicate which then resold the property, giving the bishop a kick back of the profits.
Shabnam Dan, the daughter of Bishop Dan, told CEN her father had been “framed”. She accused an influential businessman with orchestrating a campaign to ruin her father after he refused to cooperate in a plan to defraud the diocese. The criminal case continues.
Akinola kidnapped: The Church of England Newspaper, January 10, 2014 January 16, 2014Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Crime.
Tags: Peter Akinola
Nigeria’s Archbishop Peter Akinola was kidnapped on Christmas Eve by armed gunmen on Christmas Eve, but was released unharmed after he refused to pay a ransom.
At approximately 3:00 pm on 24 December 2013, the former Primate of All Nigeria was “carjacked” outside of the offices of the Peter Akinola Foundation Centre for Youth Industrial Training in Abeokuta, the capital of Western Nigeria’s Ogun State. Shortly after his driver pulled onto the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, a car carrying four gunmen cut off the archbishop’s Toyota Primera and fired pistols into the air.
Their car was forced to the roadside and the gun forced the archbishop and his driver to lie face down on the floor of the back seat. The car was driven west towards Nigeria’s border with Benin while the bandit who held the archbishop at gunpoint demanded a ransom payment. Archbishop Akinola told the bandits he was a retired clergyman and had not the means to pay ransom.
The kidnappers stopped in a deserted area near the Benin border and after stripping the archbishop and his driver of their clothes, released them into the bush unharmed.
In a Christmas Day interview with the Premium Times, Archbishop Akinola said after he wa released, he made his way through the bush to a road where he “saw a police vehicle coming and there were gunshots, and the police team later came to rescue me from the spot.”
The archbishop had high praise for the police and for Ogun Governor Ibikunle Amosun. “I have to praise them, and I appreciate the governor who left his work to the bush looking for us. It’s unprecedented for a governor to personally lead a team into the bush. He risked his life and yet he didn’t mind that. I’ am deeply touched and impressed,” he said.
Tags: Steven Lopes, The Portal
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has defined the essentials of Anglicanism that may be kept by converts entering the Anglican Ordinariate of the Catholic Church.
In an interview published in the December issue of The Portal, Msg. Steven Lopes of the CDF said the Vatican’s “working definition” of “Anglican patrimony” was “that which has nourished the Catholic Faith, within the Anglican tradition during the time of ecclesiastical separation, and has given rise to this new desire for full communion.”
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer will not be the sole source. The “Anglican liturgical patrimony is not just 1549 or 1662, nor is it just 1928 or 1976. We can’t go back to a specific period and say ‘this is it’, but you have to look at the whole Anglican experience to see how that faith was nourished’,” Mgr Lopes said.
In October 2013, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham – the English branch of the Ordinariate — launched a new Mass text which included passages from Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer.
Tags: Otis Charles
The Episcopal Church’s first “out” gay bishop has died. The Rt. Rev. E. Otis Charles, retired Bishop of Utah and former Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., died on 26 December 2013 at a hospice in San Francisco. He was 87.
Ordained in 1951, Bishop Charles was elected Bishop of Utah in 1971 and held the post until his retirement in 1986. He served as Bishop of Navajoland for two years before accepting the post of Dean and President of EDS, retiring a second time in 1993.
A father of five, Bishop Charles told his wife he was gay in 1976. Upon his retirement from EDS he informed the House of Bishops of his sexual orientation and announced he and his wife Elvira were divorcing. In 1995 Bishop Charles wrote Breaking the Silence: Out in the Work Place, stating his support for changing church teaching on the morality of homosexual relations. In 2008 Bishop Charles took part in a civil same-sex marriage to his partner Felipe Sanchez-Paris, who predeceased him.
He remained an active member of the House of Bishops in retirement and took up residence in San Francisco, where he served as an honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of California.
New Year’s Honours for NZ Archbishop: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 16, 2014Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: David Moxon
The former Archbishop of New Zealand has been made a knight companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the Anglican Church in the New Year’s Honours List.
Ordained in 1978, the Rt. Rev. David Moxon was consecrated as Bishop of Waikato in 1993 and elected Archbishop of New Zealand in 2006 and named co-primate of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia in 2008. He resigned his see last year and was appointed by Archbishop Rowan Williams as director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s personal emissary to the Vatican.
Archbishop Moxon serves as co-chair of the third International Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and is an honorary fellow of St Peter’s College, Oxford.
A Year of Sex, Money and Politics (2013): The Church of England Newspaper, January 3, 2014 January 5, 2014Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church News, Church of England Newspaper.
Sex, money and politics dominated the news of the Anglican world outside of England last year.
Disputes over doctrine and discipline surrounding questions on human sexuality animated overseas church discussions in 2013. The political battles over gay marriage in England, France, New Zealand and a number of American states had their counterparts within the Anglican world.
Pressure by Western to liberalize sodomy laws in Africa and the West Indies prompted a back lash from the bishops of the Church of the Province of the West Indies, which denounced the sexual “colonialism” being forced upon them by London and Washington. The Church of Nigeria and bishops in Ghana, Malawi, Uganda and other African nations joined their governments in denouncing the linkage of foreign aid to reform of their constitutions and cultures to accommodate the new thinking on sex.
Not all the talk was about gay marriage, however. At year’s end, a U.S. federal court struck down portions of a Utah law banning polygamy, prompting one Episcopal priest to celebrate. The Rev. Danielle Tumminio, writing for CNN argued that “as a Christian, it makes sense to support healthy polygamous practices. It’s a natural extension for those Christians who support same-sex marriage on theological grounds. But even for those opposed to same-sex marriage, polygamy is documented in the Bible, thereby giving its existence warrant.”
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, also challenged the church’s doctrinal boundaries in a May sermon in when she denounced the Apostle Paul as a jealous bigot for not seeing the gifts of God at work in the slave girl whom he released from demonic bondage as reported in Acts 16:16-34.
Salvation comes not from being cleansed of our sins by the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, the Presiding Bishop argued in her sermon, but through the divinization of humanity through the work of the human will.
Bishop Jefferts Schori offered an equally impassioned sermon in South Carolina in February, likening her opponents in the schism in that diocese to terrorists and murderers. “It’s not terribly far from the state of mind evidenced in school shootings, or in those who want to arm school children, or the terrorism that takes oil workers hostage,” she said.
The Episcopal Church’s property wars saw an upswing of activity, while a local court in California ruled against a breakaway parish in favor of the Diocese of Los Angeles in one long-running case, and the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled against a breakaway parish in its dispute with a diocese, the Supreme Court of Texas and a local court in Illinois held there was no bar under civil or ecclesial law to a diocese withdrawing from the national Episcopal Church.
In South Carolina, the diocese won several early rounds in the fight with the national church in its bid to quit the Episcopal Church, while in Recife the breakaway diocese successfully appealed a lower court ruling that would have turned over its property to the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil. Brazil also witnessed a schism from the left in 2013, as the largest Anglican Church in South America, St. Paul’s Cathedral in Brasilia, quit the province to resume its historical status as a Church of England chaplaincy.
Church splits in Central Africa were almost brought to a conclusion in 2013. At the Church of the Province of Central Africa’s synod in November, Archbishop Albert Chama reported the Kunonga schism had been successfully concluded with the country’s Supreme Court ruling against the bid by breakaway bishop Dr. Nolbert Kunonga to seize the property of the dioceses of Harare, Masvingo and Manicaland for his “Anglican Church of Zimbabwe”. While the cathedral in Harare and most of the province’s schools, churches, hospitals and other properties were restored to them by the courts, reports of Kunonga die-hards holding on to properties with the connivance of local police officials were reported at year’s end.
The provinces of Central Africa and Sudan voted against dividing into national churches in 2013. Delegates to the November synod meeting in Lusaka voted against spitting Central Africa into three provinces – Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, while the November synod meeting in Bor of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan voted against splitting the church into a northern and southern province. It did however vote to rename itself the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan.
Central Africa was the hold out, however, in a year that saw considerable gains for women clergy. While the Central African synod voted down a motion put forward by the Diocese of Harare to allow women clergy, women bishops were appointed and elected across the globe. The Church of Ireland appointed its first woman bishop, while the Anglican Church of Australia saw its first women diocesan bishop elected, as did the Church of South India. An English female priest was elected a bishop in New Zealand and two women took their place in the House of Bishops in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. The Diocese of Ballarat, one of the last hold outs against allowing women clergy in Australia, ordained its first female priests at year’s end – while commentators predict a woman priest will be elected a bishop in Uganda.
Secular issues also animated the life and the work of the church in 2013. Bishops in the Church of Ceylon backed their government in a spat with the Commonwealth over human rights abuse claims – leading Archbishop Desmond Tutu to call for a boycott of the November CHOGM meeting in Colombo. Archbishop Tutu played a prominent role in the ceremonies marking the death of Nelson Mandela in December, while the Bishop of Egypt, Dr. Mouneer Anis, played a prominent role in Egypt’s second Arab Spring.
Corruption remained a problem in parts of the Communion, the Churches of North and South India saw two bishops removed from office, and retired bishops arrested for fraud and corruption. Corruption allegations paralyzed the Diocese of Sabah, and led to police questioning of bishops in South Africa and Zambia, while the election of a new primate of Tanzania was marred by charges of vote buying.
Abuse investigations animated the secular press in Australia, as a Royal Commission investigated institutional responses to child abuse. Mishandling of Australian abuse claims led the Bishop of Grafton to resign, and saw church leaders admit before the commission that they did not follow the church’s published guidelines on abuse reporting.
Census reports and statistical studies published in 2013 painted a picture of a church in decline in some parts of the Communion. The Episcopal Church reported that while its losses appeared to have stabilized, over the past ten years there were 24 per cent fewer people in church on Sundays. New Zealand census figures reported an even steeper decline in that country, with Anglicans declining by 17 per cent in seven years.
Persecution was a constant factor in the life of Anglicans in Nigeria, the Sudan, Zanzibar, Pakistan and the Middle East in 2013. Over 105,000 Christians were killed because of their faith in 2012, an Italian sociologist reported in January, with reports from Africa, India and Asia showing a surge in anti-Christian persecution over the Christmas holidays.
The depredations of Boko Haram, which has vowed to drive out all Christians from Northern Nigeria – either by death or expulsion – has led to the deaths of hundreds of people, while the Taliban has ramped up its campaign in Pakistan against religious minorities – Christians, Shi’ites, Ahmadiya and Hindus.
Concerns over the global “war on Christians” were not restricted to church circles, however. In the United States Sen. Rand Paul – a conservative Republican leader – sounded the alarm, as did a Westminster Hall debate in November. “In virtually every country in and around the [Middle East], Christians report suffering either high, high to extreme, or extreme persecution,” MP Fiona Bruce warned, while other MPs reported on persecution facing Christians in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
“We should be crying out with the same abhorrence and horror that we feel about the atrocities towards Jews on Kristallnacht and on other occasions during the Second World War,” she said.
The Prince of Wales added his voice to the chorus of concern, telling an Advent gathering at Clarence House warning that Christianity may “disappear” in the Middle East because of a wave of “organised persecution.” Prince Charles said he was “deeply troubled” by the plight of our “brothers and sisters in Christ” and urged intensive inter-faith dialogue to stop the persecution.
However, the single largest gathering of overseas Anglicans, the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) held in Nairobi in October, saw a new enthusiasm for mission, evangelism and renewal. The collapse of the authority and relevance of the existing instruments of unity for the Anglican Church – a point conceded by the Archbishop of Canterbury – since Lambeth 2008, and the retreat by Archbishop Justin Welby from the world scene, has seen a more aggressive overseas policy from the Episcopal Church and conservative global south Anglicans.
The old ways of the Anglican Communion were as “dead as the British Empire”, Dr Peter Jensen, the Gafcon general secretary said, at the start of the conference. The “future” of Anglicanism had “arrived” – and it was Gafcon, he observed.
Dr Jensen characterised the communion’s problem as a failure of commitment. “We have failed to make disciples through teaching the commands of Jesus found in the Bible at depth. That is why so much of the Church in the West has simply collapsed, capitulated, and compromised before a virulent, antagonistic secularism.”
Census reports 17% decline in 7 years for NZ Anglicans: The Church of England Newspaper, December 20, 2013 January 5, 2014Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Philip Richardson
The number of New Zealand Anglicans has fallen by 17 per cent over the past seven years, giving the Anglican Church of Aotearoa/Polynesia the distinction of being the fastest declining member of the Anglican Communion.
Census data on Religious Affiliation released on 10 Dec 2013 by Statistics New Zealand reported Anglicans had lost their top spot as the country’s largest denomination – a position held since census figures on religion were first tabulated in New Zealand — and are now second to the Roman Catholic Church in terms of membership.
The number of Catholics fell from 508,812 in the 2006 census to 491,421 in 2013, but this total left that church with approximately 40,000 more members than the Anglican Church. During the same period Anglicans in New Zealand declined from 554,925 to 459,771, or 17 per cent. The Episcopal Church of the USA, divided by schisms and litigation, declined on 12 per cent during the same period, from 2,154,572 to 1,894,181members.
The number of those reporting “no religion” remained the largest category of respondent with the 2006 number of 1.297 million rising to 1.635 million in 2013, climbing from 32.2 per cent to 38.6 per cent of the population. In 1956 more than 90 per cent of New Zealanders identified themselves as Christian.
In his Advent letter to the church, Archbishop Phillip Richardson wrote the census figures “contains few surprises. Not even the decline in Anglican affiliation should catch us unawares. These trends liberate us from notions of self-importance and turn us back to our fundamental calling.”
He added that “they also situate our Church more on the margins of our society, where we really belong.”
“My immediate response, then, is thankfulness to God that we are being refined, called to repentance and to a refocusing of our mission,” he said adding that “following Jesus has always been fundamentally counter-cultural. And the Church has always been most authentically the Body of Christ when it is salt and leaven rather than the ‘religious’ dimension of modern society.”
“Our Church may be smaller numerically, but we may also be more authentically Christ’s Church as we recover our saltiness and become real leaven,” Archbishop Richardson said.
Christian march on Parliament in Delhi broken up by police: The Church of England Newspaper, December 20, 2013 January 5, 2014Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of North India.
Tags: Alwin Masih, Dalits, Manmohan Singh
Police in New Delhi used water cannons and truncheons to stop a march on parliament in support of Dalit rights by Christian leaders last week.
After breaking the marchers’ line with jets of water on 11 Dec 2013 police wielding lathis (canes) waded into the crowed marching on Sansad Marg (Parliament Street) after they refused an order to disburse.
The march began at Jantar Mantar and headed towards Parliament House in defiance of a ban on protests along Parliament Street. Police arrested the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Delhi Anil Couto, the General Secretary of the Church of North India Alwin Masih and a number of clergy, nuns and activists. Several clergy were injured in the attack.
The march had been organized by Christian leaders to call for an end to the statutory discrimination against Dalit Christians and Muslims. Under Indian law Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist Dalits, or Untouchables, are eligible for special government benefits and preferences. However, Christian and Muslim Dalits are not eligible for the subsidies as the government has held that once an Untouchable becomes a Christian or Muslim, he is freed from caste discrimination – a stance disputed by Christian and Muslim leaders.
After his release from jail Archbishop Couto said: “Government after government have been turning a deaf ear to the demand of Christians. Now they are going to the extent of brutally beating up our priests and nuns and now arresting us too.”
Fr Ajay Singh, a Catholic priest from Orissa who was present at the march told Christian Solidarity Worldwide, “The Prime Minister’s apology must be followed by action to end more than 60 years of injustice done to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims, which is totally against the spirit of equality and secularism. He should not play politics with the millions of Indians deprived of their human rights. The police response to the protest shows how the state ignores the multiple layers of discrimination against the most vulnerable and marginalised minority communities”.
The CSW reported that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has offered his apologies for the police action and told march leaders their concerns would be discussed at the next Cabinet meeting.
Central Africa celebrates the end of the Kunonga era: The Church of England Newspaper, December 20, 2013 January 5, 2014Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Zimbabwe.
Tags: Albert Chama, Godfrey Tawonevzi, Nolbert Kunonga
The Church of the Province of Central Africa has postponed action to split the church into three national provinces, voting to put the Kunonga years behind them and work towards unity and healing .
Approximately 100 hundred bishops, clergy and lay delegates from Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe met in Lusaka from 27 Nov to 1 Dec 2013 gathered under the theme “Going Forward Together in Unity and Prayer” in the province’s first synod since 2007.
Speaking to ACNS before the start of the meeting, Archbishop Albert Chama stated: “The six turbulent years that we have gone through since the last Synod require us all to move on in solidarity and in a very prayerful manner. God has seen us this far and he will lead us through.”
The Sept 2007 session held in the southern Malawi town of Mangochi was marked by debates over homosexuality, the Episcopal Church of the USA, Robert Mugabe and the aspirations of the national churches. The province was also without an archbishop and a number of dioceses were without bishops.
The then bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga, attempted to capitalize on the power vacuum within the church and sought to enlist the province as an ally of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. Unable to force the subordination of the province to the government of Zimbabwe, Dr. Kunonga told the Harare Herald the province had been dissolved, initiating six years of litigation.
In his presidential address last week Archbishop Chama reported on the successful conclusion of the Kunonga schism, with the Zimbabwe courts returning all of the assets seized by Dr. Kunonga. However, the fight had damaged the church, burdening it with $200,000 of unpaid legal fees in the Diocese of Harare and $180,000 in the Diocese of Manicaland.
However the Bishop of Masvingo, the Rt. Rev. Godfrey Tawonevzi on 9 Dec 2013 told overseas supporters Dr. Kunonga’s allies had not halted their actions in his diocese. Kunonga loyalists with the help of local police and government officials were holding on to a number of churches and schools in defiance of the Harare court orders.
Debate over dividing the CPCA into national provinces at the Lusaka meeting of synod did not have the politically charged atmosphere of 2007, participants told The Church of England Newspaper.
While many Zambian delegates pushed for division, the parlous state of the church in Zimbabwe following the Kunonga schism, and the lack of a clear guidance from diocesan synods in Malawi prevented a consensus from being reached on division.
Delegates opted to follow the counsel of the archbishop and the theme of the meeting focus the efforts of the province on rebuilding institutions and fostering unity, sources told CEN.
Pope Francis: “ecumenism of blood” the new face of inter-Christian relations: The Church of England Newspaper, December 20, 2013 January 5, 2014Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: ecumenism, La Stampa, Pope Francis
The old ways of managing ecumenical relations among Christian churches is passing away, Pope Francis told Italy’s La Stampa newspaper, with bureaucratic initiatives making way for a “ecumenism of blood”.
Speaking to Andrea Tornielli in an interview published on 14 Dec 2013, the pope was asked whether he saw Christian unity as a priority.
Francis responded: “Yes, for me ecumenism is a priority. Today there is an ecumenism of blood. In some countries they kill Christians for wearing a cross or having a Bible and before they kill them they do not ask them whether they are Anglican, Lutheran, Catholic or Orthodox. Their blood is mixed. To those who kill we are Christians.
The pope said that while Christians are “united in blood”, Christians have “have not yet managed to take necessary steps towards unity between us and perhaps the time has not yet come. Unity is a gift that we need to ask for.”
Francis illustrated his convictions on the changing face of ecumenical relations with an anecdote of a “parish priest in Hamburg who was dealing with the beatification cause of a Catholic priest guillotined by the Nazis for teaching children the catechism. After him, in the list of condemned individuals, was a Lutheran pastor who was killed for the same reason. Their blood was mixed. The parish priest told me he had gone to the bishop and said to him: ‘I will continue to deal with the cause, but both of their causes, not just the Catholic priest’s’.”
“This is what ecumenism of blood is,” the pope said.
“It still exists today; you just need to read the newspapers. Those who kill Christians don’t ask for your identity card to see which Church you were baptised in. We need to take these facts into consideration
Suit seeks to hold Bishop Lawrence personally liable for South Carolina’s secession: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2013 December 18, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
Tags: Mark Lawrence
The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the faction loyal to the national Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, has filed a motion in state court seeking to add Bishop Mark Lawrence and three other diocesan officials as parties in the lawsuit over the control of church properties. The new pleading seeks to hold the breakaway leaders personally liable for the secession of South Carolina from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
On 25 November 2013 loyalists filed a motion alleging 18 causes of action against the four, the bishop, his canon to the ordinary, the current and former president of the standing committee , “including breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion, trademark infringement and civil conspiracy.”
Supporters of the diocese have dismissed the motion as a last minute ploy to salvage the national church’s case against the breakaway diocese.
Canon lawyer Allan Haley, who has represented breakaway dioceses of Quincy and San Joaqui in their litigation with the national church, stated the pleadings were ridiculous.
“It should be obvious to almost anyone that priests who break their ordination vows, or who violate the Constitution and Canons of the Church or of one of its Dioceses, cannot be sued in the civil courts for those actions,” he said, “that is the entire purpose of Title IV (“Ecclesiastical Discipline”) of the Canons.”
“I fail to see, therefore, how the rump group could have authorized the motion to add additional parties to state any claim for breach of the Constitution and Canons — or indeed, for breach of any fiduciary duties owed to the Church whatsoever,” he said citing a recent decision by the California Fifth District Appellate Court that “such questions are ‘quintessentially ecclesiastical’ — they are issues ‘the First Amendment forbids us from adjudicating’.”
“I fail to see how this ‘Hail Mary’ pass has any chance of success in court,” he said.
However, the national church supporters said the motion was filed “because actions [Lawrence and the others] they took to ‘withdraw’ the diocese from [the Episcopal Church] were outside the scope of their legal authority and violated state law,” a press statement said.
Their actions amounted to a “conspiracy” to spirit away “the assets of the diocese and ‘deprive Episcopalians loyal to the Episcopal Church of their property rights’ by manipulating the corporate entity of the diocese,” the pleading alleged.
Sudan synod rejects call to divide: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2013 December 18, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
The Episcopal Church of the Sudan has rejected calls to divide the church along national lines, but has agreed to rename itself the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan to mark the 2011 independence of South Sudan from Khartoum.
Meeting from 27-30 Nov 2013 in the Jonglei state capital of Bor in South Sudan 35 bishops and delegates from the church’s 31 dioceses: 26 in South Sudan and 5 (Khartoum, Port Sudan, Wad Medani, Kadugli, and El Obeid) in Sudan, debated the structure of the 4.5 million member church at the 10th meeting of the Provincial Standing Committee (synod).
The Bishop of Lianya, the Rt. Rev. Peter Amidi, told the Sudan Tribune the tremendous growth of the church over the past generation, coupled with the 2011 independence of South Sudan had raised the question of division. A split would “not [be a] separation as such but an arrangement within the Anglican communion where you devolve power from the mother provincial authority to the area of clusters of dioceses”.
Sources in the Sudanese church told the Church of England Newspaper the delegates discussed creating an independent province and an internal province for the north led by its own archbishop. However, the lack of infrastructure and funds along with the desire to support the persecuted church in the north led the delegates to endorse the status quo.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports Christians in the north are harassed by the government, which seeks to deport them to South Sudan or convert them to Islam. In April 2013 Khartoum’s Minister of Guidance and Endowments, Al-Fatih Taj al-Sir, told the country’s Parliament the government will not permit the construction of new Christian churches in the country. CSW reports there has also been a systematic targeting of African ethnic groups, particularly the Nuba, prompting fears of a government plan for the Islamisation and Arabisation of norther Sudan.
In their communique, the Sudanese church welcomed the “improvement in relations” between north and south Sudan, and urged the two governments to “tackle any outstanding issues in a peaceful way.”
The communique also called upon the government of South Sudan to stem the recent outbreaks of tribal violence and called upon the international community to maintain pressure on Khartoum to halt the violence in Darfur, the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains.
The synod also reaffirmed its support for the church’s traditional teaching on human sexuality, rejecting innovations in doctrine and disciple that would permit gay blessings. “We reaffirm our position rejecting same-sex relationship,” the communique said.
Tags: David Dingwell, Diocese of Easton
A bizarre church fire has left two dead including the rector of St Paul’s-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Ocean City, Maryland in an incident police describe as arson.
On 26 Nov 2013 a 56-year old man, subsequently identified as John Sterner, entered the church offices located in the ground floor of the parish rectory. Witnesses told police that Sterner’s clothing was on fire and he was screaming for help.
Sterner grabbed a church volunteer and set her clothing on fire. The fire spread then spread to the building. The volunteer was able to escape the building, but firefighters found parish rector the Rev. David Dingwell, apparently unconscious from smoke inhalation, inside the building. Sterner died at the scene of the fire and the two other victims were taken to hospital.
However, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton, the Rt. Rev. James Shand, reported Mr. Dingwell died later that day from his injuries.
Police report Stern was unknown to the members of the church and are investigating how he came to be covered in an accelerant fluid. Suicide is suspected as the motive for the crime.
Church of Scotland urges restraint in legalizing same-sex marriage: The Church of England Newspaper, December 6, 2013 December 9, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Presbyterian/Church of Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church.
Tags: same-sex marriage
The Church of Scotland has reaffirmed its opposition to same-sex marriage.
In a statement released last week following the vote in the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee to begin the process towards legalizing same-sex marriage, the church’s press office stated it “stands within the mainstream Christian belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
The Rev. Dr Alan Hamilton, Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Legal Questions Committee, affirmed the church’s commitment to “care for all people, gay and straight”, but said “until any future General Assembly of the Church of Scotland decides otherwise, that remains our position.”
There was a “wide spread of public opinion” about the wisdom of legalizing gay marriage, Dr. Hamilton said, “and that spread of public opinion is reflected among members of our congregations across the country. One thing is very clear and that is there is not unanimous support for this legislation in Scotland.”
“As the bill progresses through Holyrood, The Church of Scotland will continue to be a constructive voice in the national debate about it. We would also seek robust and detailed legal assurances and protection for those who do not wish to conduct same sex marriages as a matter of conscience.”
“The Church is conducting a wide-ranging review of marriage but there are no plans on the table for the Church to stop conducting marriages,” he said.
When the Scottish government announced its intention in 2012 to begin a process that would lead to the creation of same-sex marriages the Scottish Episcopal Church said that “its General Synod expresses the mind of the Church through its Canons. The Canon on Marriage currently states that marriage is a ‘physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and as a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God’.”
The Rt Rev. Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness said: “The Church’s current position is that marriage is a union between a man and a woman and this clarity allows us the space to listen to the many differing views held by the members of our Church.”
Prayers for Glasgow helicopter crash victims: The Church of England Newspaper, December 6, 2013 December 9, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Disaster Relief, Scottish Episcopal Church.
Tags: Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway
The Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway has offered his condolences to the families of the victims of the Clutha helicopter crash of 29 Nov 2013, when a police helicopter crashed into a pub killing at least nine and injuring 32 people
The Rt Rev. Gregor Duncan stated: “On behalf of the Episcopal Church in Glasgow and across Scotland I wish to extend our deepest sympathy to all the families of those who have lost their lives and to those who have been injured in this terrible disaster.”
Approximately 120 patrons were inside the Glasgow pub last Friday evening when a police helicopter crashed into the roof of the building. Chief Constable Stephen House said the two officers and the civilian pilot aboard the chopper were killed, along with six people on the ground.
“We can now confirm that the number of fatalities involved in this incident has risen to eight,” the chief constable said, “fourteen people remain seriously injured in Glasgow hospitals and are being cared for by health colleagues there.”
Dr. Duncan offered thanks for the help provided to the emergency services by volunteers, offering the church’s “gratitude to the many citizens of Glasgow who have come to the help of the people caught up in this tragedy, and praise the exemplary work being done by all the emergency services and medical staff.”
“Our churches across Glasgow, and beyond, will be praying for all those affected by this tragedy and for the whole city of Glasgow,” the bishop said.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Consistory court offers guidance on burial plot allocation: The Church of England Newspaper, December 6, 2013 December 9, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Consistory Court, Diocese of Bath and Wells, grave yards
The Consistory Court of the Diocese of Bath & Wells has ruled that “informal agreements” to reserve burial plots in churchyards have no standing in ecclesiastical law.
In the case of Re The Churchyard of Wick St. Lawrence  Bath and Wells Const Ct, the diocesan chancellor offered guidelines for parish church councils on the rules governing allocation of burial plots. Where there is no legal right to burial at a particular parish, the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1976 s6(2) empowers the minister, having taken the advice of the PCC, to permit an interment.
In the Wick case, informal permission had been given by the minister to a couple who wished to be buried in the churchyard, even though they had no legal right to claim burial. However, the vicar’s promise did not create a legal right for the couple’s children to have a spot reserved for them also.
The chancellor stated PCCs must adopt business-like practices in the management of churchyards and not make informal agreements or use spaces that have already been set aside for others. “The Parochial Church Council is entitled to have regard to the anticipated demands upon burial space arising from an increase in the population of the parish,” and may refuse to honour “informal agreements” made by the minister.
Tags: Diocese of Qu’Appelle
Police have recovered the bishop of Qu’Appelle’s crosier, stolen last month from St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Regina, Saskatchewan.
On 18 Nov 2013 Regina police reported they had recovered the five and a half foot long staff made in the 1880s in London for the first bishop of the Canadian diocese. Valued for insurance purposes at C$15,000, the crosier sported a silver head encrusted with semi-precious stones. Police report the crosier had been damaged as the thief appeared to have attempted to pry the jewels from the staff.
The police have declined to speak to the circumstances of the crosier’s recovery, though they have asked the public to assist them with their inquiries to catch the thief.
NZ Supreme Court permits demolition of Christchurch Cathedral: The Church of England Newspaper, December 6, 2013 December 9, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Christchurch Cathedral, Victoria Matthews
New Zealand’s Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT) which had asked the court to block the demolition of earthquake ravaged Christ Church Cathedral.
On 2 December 2013 the court held the GCBT had not shown the lower Court of Appeal decision permitting the cathedral’s demolition had been in error.
The underlying issues were of ”great general importance to the citizens of Christchurch” arising from the “history, function and iconic nature of the Cathedral. However, in this case nothing that has been raised on behalf of the applicant reaches the threshold of showing that the decisions of the courts below may be in error,” the court held. The New Zealand Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court decision allowing the Church Property Trustees (CPT) of the Diocese of Christchurch to demolish the earthquake damaged cathedral.
On 22 Feb 2011 a 6.3 magnitude earthquake toppled the 132 year old cathedral’s Gothic spire and collapsed part of the roof. Earthquakes in June and December caused further significant damage leaving the building in ruins. On 2 March 2012 the Rt Rev Victoria Matthews announced the cathedral would be demolished as rebuilding would cost NZ $50 million more than would be received from the proceeds of the insurance settlement.
The GCBT led by former MP Jim Anderton protested the decision and asked the High Court to cancel the demolition and order the church to rebuild the damaged cathedral. However High Court Justice Lester Chisholm ruled the church was entitled to deconstruct the cathedral, but only if it built a new cathedral on the same site. The GCBT challenged this decision in the Court of Appeal, and on 15 Nov 2012 the High Court issued an interim judgment halting demolition until Court of Appeal reviewed its findings. In July the Court of Appeal denied GCBT’s petition, prompting it to take its case to the Supreme Court.
Lord Carey’s doom warnings spark sharp debate: The Church of England Newspaper, December 6, 2013 December 9, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: George Carey
Lord Carey has warned the “Church of England could be one generation away from extinction”.
Speaking to the Shropshire Churches Conference 2013 on 17 Nov 2013, the retired archbishop observed the Church of England was viewed with “indifference — the rolled eyes of embarrassment, the yawn of boredom,” adding that may did not see “the average church as a place where great things happen.”
“To sit in a cold church looking at the back of other peoples’ heads is surely not the best place to meet exciting people and to hear prophetic words,” he said.
The archbishop offered a four point plan for evangelism that began with reimagining the church. Rather than focus on institutional preservation, Anglicans should emphasize the “transformative effects of Christianity … of prayer being answered … of sins being forgiven … of reconciliation taking place … of lives being touched.”
“What I am urging is a return to basics where our expectation is for transformed lives,” Lord Carey said. “This is not a cry for more gimmicks, but simply a cry to go deeper.”
To do this, Christians must “nurture fellow Christians to grow authentic disciples,” as well as serve as “agents of social transformation. “
“The time has come to ratchet up our commitment to serving our communities around us. Often the dirty word is the word relevance. Christians cry: ‘It is not our job to be relevant. Our job is to follow Christ’. I agree. But no one was more relevant than our Lord in serving others,” he said.
Lord Carey’s warnings sparked spirited controversy in the press. The Telegraph’s Cristina Odone endorsed the archbishop’s sentiments and applauded his work of recent years, but said his predictions were wrong. Also writing in the Telegraph, A.N. Wilson argued nothing could be done to save the Church of England.
There are two simple reasons for this, and there is nothing anyone can say that will make these reasons go away.
“The first is sex. Traditional Christianity taught that there is no permitted sexual act outside marriage. All but no one now – even Christians – really believes this. What used to be called ‘living in sin’ is absolutely normal. Nearly all young people, gay or straight, when they reach a certain moment in their relationship, try living together. The Churches can either back down and say that for 2,000 years they have been talking nonsense about sex; or they can dig in their heels. Either way, the Church is diminished.
“The second reason is a much bigger thing. That is the decline of belief itself. Most people simply cannot subscribe to the traditional creeds. No number of Alpha courses can make people believe that God took human form of a Virgin, or rose from the dead. They simply can’t swallow it. They see no reason, therefore, to listen to a Church that propounds these stories and then presumes to tell them how to behave in the bedroom.”
The Guardian’s Andrew Brown stated: “Like a hypochondriac told by the doctor that he really has got cancer, the former archbishop finds that the worries that have comforted him for years are suddenly, horribly frightening.”
He further argued the decline of the Church of England was Lord Carey’s fault. “If the CofE is doomed, as former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey insists, it’s down to the damage he did in office.”
Gov-Gen backs gay marriage/republic for Australia: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2013 November 28, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.
Tags: gay marriage, monarchy, Quentin Bryce
Governor-General Quentin Bryce has endorsed gay marriage and a republican form of government for Australia.
Appointed Australia’s first female governor-general in 2008 by then Labor Party Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Mrs. Bryce, the former governor of Queensland, stated on 22 November 2013 in a lecture delivered in Sydney that she hoped Australia would become a nation were “people are free to love and marry whom they choose”.
“And where perhaps, my friends, one day, one young girl or boy may even grow up to be our nation’s first head of state.”
The governor-general’s comments prompted some political leaders to call for her dismissal, while others endorsed her views.
NSW state MP David Elliott, who in 1999 led the “no republic” coalition that fought attempts to make Australia a republic and remove the Queen as head of state said: “If Quentin Bryce wants to debate policy and legislation she should run for parliament, not use her vice-regal position to pursue her own political agenda.”
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young told the Associated Press she was pleased the governor general had spoken out. “To have the governor-general step forward and say this is something Australians care about, and as the governor-general, she believes that marriage equality is a human right … it’s hugely influential across all voter groups.”
However, Liberal Party Prime Minister Tony Abbott – a staunch opponent of gay marriage a supporter of the monarchy — said he was not perturbed. “It’s more than appropriate for the governor-general approaching the end of her term to express a personal view.”
Mrs. Bryce is expected to step down in March, 2014.
“Cross does not save” says Australia’s first diocesan woman bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2013 November 28, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Women Priests.
Tags: Diocese of Grafton, Sara Macneil
The Diocese of Grafton has appointed Australia’s first diocesan woman bishop.
On 17 November 2013 a twelve member Nomination Board appointed by the diocesan synod selected the Rev. Dr. Sara Macneil to be the 11th bishop of the New South Wales diocese.
In a statement released on the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn website, Dr Macneil, the Senior Associate Priest at Holy Covenant in Jamison, ACT, said she was “surprised, overwhelmed, humbled” to be appointed Australia’s first female diocesan bishop.
“I am awed by the confidence placed in me by the [Grafton Diocese] appointment board and by their willingness to be trailblazers,” she said.
She told the ABC: “There’ll be lots of people for whom it’s unexpected that a woman has been elected. For some people for whom it will be unwelcome, I think there’ll be some scrutiny but there’ll also be, for a lot of people, a lot of excitement and joy.”
While women have been appointed assistant bishops in Melbourne, Canberra, Perth and Brisbane, none have been elected to the episcopate. While serving as Archdeacon of Canberra in 2008 she stood for election as bishop in that diocese, but was not elected.
In 2011 Dr. Macneil abruptly quit as Dean of Adelaide, telling the congregation of St. Peter’s Cathedral she was resigning as she could “no longer work with integrity at diocesan level.”A member of the liberal wing of the Australian church, Dr. Macneil rejects the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement, journalist the Rev. David Ould reports, and has argued the “cross does not save” but it is “Jesus’ presence among us” that saves. The bishop-elect also has gone on record endorsing the ordination to the priesthood of candidates who are in same-sex relationships — a stance at odds with the church’s teachings.
A onetime member of the Australian diplomatic corps, Dr. Macneil declined to elaborate on the reason she was resigning less than two years after her appointment as South Australia’s first female Dean – and the first woman to be appointed to the post in an Australian capital city.
Unlike other Australian dioceses, where the choice of bishop is made by the synod, in the diocese of Grafton a 12 member committee composed of six clergy and six lay members is elected by the synod to select and then appoint the bishop.
The choice of a new bishop for Grafton fell to a 12 member committee Other women have been consecrated as assistant bishops within Australian Anglican dioceses and, overseas, women have been made diocesan bishops but this is a national first for Australia.
Dr. Macneil’s election comes at a difficult time for the diocese. Her predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Keith Slater, resigned in May 2013 in the wake of an abuse scandal involving the Church of England North Coast Children’s Home in Lismore.
On 18 November 2013 a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began hearings on the diocese’s conduct in the North Coast Children’s Home affair.
However, Bishop-elect Macneil stated: “In recent times the Diocese of Grafton has faced financial difficulties and is now appearing before the Royal Commission… There is a determination among the people of the diocese to understand what has gone wrong in the past, to ensure that it does not happen again and to embrace the future with hope, trusting in God.”
Tags: Australia, Roy Morgan Research Ltd
Islam is not a religion of peace in the minds of the majority of Australians, a survey conducted on behalf of the Q Society of Australia reports. The survey undertaken by Roy Morgan Research Ltd shows indicates a majority of Australians believe the assimilation of Muslim immigrants is not working as 70 per cent believe the country is not a better place because of Islam.
The survey, completed in late October, found a majority (53 per cent) of Australians want full face coverings banned from public spaces and 50.2 per cent want Islamic sharia law banned all together.
Older Australians and those who voted for the governing Liberal/National parties coalition were helding harsher views of Islam than did Green party supporters or younger voters. However, only 15 per cent of Australians think Islam and terrorism are not related, while proposals by secularist and multi-cultural advocates to cancel state Christmas, Easter or ANZAC Day celebrations in order not to offend non-Christians is endorsed by only 3.5 per cent of those surveyed.
Q Society spokesman Andrew Horwood said the poll results validate in their opinion the need for “new strategies and policies. While followers of most religions seem to get along well, Australian politicians must acknowledge Islam is not just another religion and the growing concern is not a fringe issue,” he said.
The Q Society of Australia is a civil rights advocacy group founded in 2010 whose members are “concerned about the socio-political problems associated with the rise of Islam and sharia law in Australia; as well as religiously-motivated human rights abuses against religious minorities in many OIC-member countries,” its website states.
Oxfordshire priest imprisoned for child abuse: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2013 November 28, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Christopher Tadman-Robins
A NSM priest in the Diocese of Oxford and former magistrate has been sentenced to prison for child abuse.
On 22 Nov 2013 the Rev. Christopher Tadman-Robins (66) was sentenced to two and half years imprisonment by the Luton Crown Court after having been convicted last month of five counts of sexually abusing a ten year old girl.
Ordained in 1989 Dr. Tadman-Robins had sat as a magistrate in Witney, and had taught music. He was also the former musical director of the Northern Ballet.
While his barrister pleaded with the court for his client to be spared a term of imprisonment as no other complaints of abuse had been made, Judge Philip Bartle QC said his past good deeds would not spare him.
“Your victim was aged from 10 to 12 and you were in your 50s. The impact on her of these offences has been devastating. She has suffered untold stress and has self-harmed.”
“Your actions took away her innocence which is something from which she will never recover,” the judge said as he handed down sentence.
Following his conviction last month, the Bishop of Dorchester noted Dr Tadman-Robins had served as a non-stipendiary curate in the Burford Benefice from 1989-1992. “Since then he has held no ecclesiastical office in the Diocese of Oxford, but used to take occasional services at the invitation of the parish clergy in West Oxfordshire. His permission to officiate was withdrawn as soon as he was arrested last year.”
“Any case like this is a matter of sorrow and regret for the Church of England. We recognise that the suffering of survivors of sexual abuse is profound and long lasting. The Church of England will not tolerate abusive behaviour in its clergy or anyone else for whom we have responsibility. We take allegations of offences such as these extremely seriously and always work closely with the statutory authorities to ensure abusers are brought to justice.”
“We would expect Dr Tadman-Robins to be referred for barring and prohibited from ever holding office in the Church of England again as a result of his conviction,” Bishop Colin Fletcher said.
Peer’s objections to central heating overruled by church court: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Chichester, Lady Margaret Baldwin, Re Burwash Weald St. Philip  Chichester Const Ct
The Consistory Court of the Diocese of Chichester has overruled objections to the installation of a heating system for St. Philip’s Church in Burwash, holding the objections made by a nonegarian peer, while no doubt well intentioned, had “served in this instance only to obfuscate and delay the carrying out of the now long-overdue process of renewing the heating system”.
In Re Burwash Weald St. Philip  Chichester Const Ct, Chancellor Mark Hill QC, noted Lady Margaret Baldwin, a prominent member of the congregation, had made formal objections to the installation of a natural gas boiler and radiators to heat the church.
The chancellor wrote he had had “some difficulty in comprehending the nature of the objection advanced by Lady Baldwin,” which had been made in a “good number” of letters written in “dense text in a small font.”
“Their content strays considerably from relevant material – they are at times contradictory and at others repetitive.
“Lady Baldwin expresses herself to be animated by ‘habitual concern for the congregation’ – a worthy objective, but an intrusive and debilitating one if the concern is misplaced or rooted in a flawed understanding of the proposals.”
Chancellor Hill said the objections by Lady Baldwin, who was well into her 90’s, centered round fears the installation of central heating would damage the organ, which had been accidentally damaged during renovations in 1962.
The parochial council had engaged an “eminently qualified” architect to oversee the project had had raised the £51,000 necessary to undertake the project through a public appeal and a loan facilitated by the Diocesan Board of Finance.
He added: “As a dispassionate observer, I am saddened that Lady Baldwin’s ‘habitual concern for the congregation’ seems to have served in this instance only to obfuscate and delay the carrying out of the now long-overdue process of renewing the heating system.
“It has led to further faculty fees and may have increased the overall cost for the parish. That is much to be regretted,” the judge ruled in granting the faculty.
Westminster Hall debate highlights persecution of Christians in the Middle East: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in British Foreign Policy, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Christians are in danger of being driven out of the Middle East, MP Fiona Bruce warned last week, urging the British government to aid the victims of the campaign of terror waged by militant Islamists.
In remarks made at a Westminster Hall Adjournment Debate on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, Mrs. Bruce, the member for Congleton (Cons.) highlighted findings of a newly released report prepared by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The report, “Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2011-2013”, found that intolerance had grown in 20 of the 30 countries surveyed.
“In virtually every country in and around the [Middle East], Christians report suffering either high, high to extreme, or extreme persecution,” she said.
Christians “have suffered from a domino effect of violence that began in Iraq, spread to Syria and overshadows Egypt, leaving the survival of the Church in jeopardy.”
“We should be crying out with the same abhorrence and horror that we feel about the atrocities towards Jews on Kristallnacht and on other occasions during the Second World War,” she said.
The member for Upper Bann, David Simpson (DUP) told the gathering ““Every hour, a Christian is tortured and murdered somewhere in the world.”
“Surely, in this day and age, something more can be done to protect people and their faith,” he said.
David Burrowes MP said: “The term ‘Christian persecution’ is sometimes bandied about carelessly… if there is Christian persecution in this country then at worst its victim is likely to be sued, but in the Middle East the victim will be killed. That is the stark reality that we are facing…”
The member for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, Tom Geatrex (Lab.) warned of problems facing Christians in Malaysia, where a court “has effectively outlawed the Bible, particularly in the eastern states of Malaysia”, after ruling that the word “Allah” may only be used in the context of the Muslim faith.
Other members of Parliament spoke of the persecution Christians faced in Iran, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. Mrs. Bruce observed the problem of militant Islam was not confined to the Middle East. “Western Muslims are going to fight alongside jihadists in Syria… returning home to become potential jihadists themselves.”
“Western countries are not fully grappling with this problem,” she said.
Foreign Office Minister, Hugo Swire MP, said the government was aware of the problem and noted that “protecting human rights, including religious freedom, is an important part of British foreign policy.”
Ban on divorced/remarried Catholics from receiving Communion reaffirmed: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 25, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Marriage, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Robert Zollitsch
Divorced and remarried Roman Catholics may not receive Holy Communion, the Vatican has told the German Catholic church.
In letter dated Oct 21, 2013, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller directed the Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau to retract its pastoral guidelines that permitted priests to “respect” the wishes of divorced and remarried Catholics who chose to receive the Sacraments.
The new policy introduced following the retirement of Archbishop Robert Zollitsch on 17 September 2013, said if divorced and remarried Catholics had made a “responsible moral decision” to receive Communion, their consciences should be respected.
The new policy was contrary to church teaching and “would cause confusion among the faithful about the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage,” Archbishop Müller wrote in his letter, published in the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost on Nov 11, 2013.
However, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, told Die Tagespost Archbishop Müller’s letter was not the final word.
“The prefect of the Congregation cannot end the discussion,” Cardinal Marx said. “We will see that this is discussed further, but with what result, I do not know.”
Typhoon Haiyan rocks the Philippines: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2013 November 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Disaster Relief, Episcopal Church of the Philippines.
Tags: Typhoon Haiyan
Church aid agencies have issue a call for help following the landfall of Typhoon Haiyan in the Central Philippines.
At least 10,000 people are feared dead around the city of Tacloban, 375 miles south-east of Manila and the death toll is expected to mount sharply after communications are restored to the south-eastern province of Leyte.
The head of the Philippines Red Cross described the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, renamed Yolanda in the Philippines, as “absolute pandemonium” while Philippine Consul General in London said “the world has never seen a storm like this before”. The Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council stated that approximately 4.28 million people have been affected by the storm, while UNICEF reports 405,000 children are in immediate need of food and shelter.
Oenone Chadburn, Tearfund’s Head of Disaster Management, reported: ‘We’ve been in emergency communication with our partners and their networks of churches, across the Philippines, all weekend.
“Together we’re initiating emergency food distributions and our church networks are planning emergency shelter-and-blanket distributions, as well as child-focused protection work. What we need now is the money to run these,” she said.
On 11 November 2013 the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said his “heart goes out to the people there. We are all deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the loss of thousands of lives and of the suffering of millions as a result of Typhoon Haiyan.”
“Our prayers are with all who have lost loved ones and all those who are traumatised by the disaster and in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical attention. We pray for those who are most vulnerable in this crisis: children separated from their parents, the sick and injured, the disabled and the elderly.”
“As a Church, we will stand beside the people of the Philippines at this devastating time, offering all we can in practical and spiritual support as the scale of the disaster unfolds,” the archbishop said.
“May the victims of this terrible storm know God’s comfort and derive strength from their faith.”
Bishop of Wakefield to lead city church: The Church of England Newspaper, November 23, 2013 November 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: St Michael's Cornhill, Stephen Platten
The Bishop of London has appointed the Rt. Rev. Stephen Platten to be rector of the medieval church of St. Michael’s Cornhill in the City of London. Bishop Platten will take up his appointment following the merger of the Diocese of Wakefield into the new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales on Easter Sunday 2014.
Bishop Platten said: “Eleven years is the longest I have ever served in one place and one puts down real roots so I shall be sad to say farewell to so many people and friendships in and well beyond the Church of England.
“I shall also miss all those familiar and beautiful views in the landscape of such a fascinating diocese – thanks to all who have given me so much!”
In addition to his parish post, Bishop Platten will serve as an honorary assistant Bishop in the Diocese of London. In January 2014 he will also assume the chairmanship of the Hymns Ancient and Modern charitable trust. He will also continue in his post as chairman of the governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
Born in London and educated at the Stationers’ Company’s School in Hornsey and the University of London, Bishop Platten trained for the ministry at Cuddesdon Theological College and Trinity College, Oxford.
He served as a priest in Oxford, Lincoln and Portsmouth dioceses and as Tutor of Ethics and Chaplain at Lincoln Theological College, before becoming the then Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs in 1990. In 1995, he became Dean of Norwich and was enthroned as the Bishop of Wakefield in July 2003.
Rochester vicar suspended for 8 years for sexual misconduct: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2013 November 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Rochester, Paul Meier
A disciplinary tribunal has banned a Diocese of Rochester vicar from serving in the ministry of the Church of England for eight years.
In a decision handed down last week, the Rev. Paul Meier vicar of St Margaret’s Church in Horsmonden and youth missioner for the Storrington deanery in West Sussex for the Diocese of Rochester, had engaged in gross misconduct for having had an affair with an 18-year old girl.
Mr. Meier had been suspended in October 2012 from his benefice after a complaint was made that he had engaged in a sexual affair with an 18 year old girl who had attended his youth group.
The tribunal learned the 47-year old married father of two whom he had known the girl and her family for at least six years prior to the incident and that the girl was “unbalanced”.
The relationship began in 2007, the tribunal learned, and in 2008 Mr. Meier invited the girl, then 18, to move in to his family home.
Mr. Meier had “hoped for further sexual intimacy” with the girl, Judge John Lodge, the chairman of the tribunal, observed. However, in 2008 the girl’s parents had their daughter admitted to a psychiatric unit for evaluation and treatment.
Judge Lodge held: ”The complainant became mentally disturbed, as evidenced by attempts to self-harm, and she acted bizarrely.
“Mr Meier admits the complainant self-harmed and that she told him about it. Rather than cease his misconduct and provide her with the support she needed and deserved, he allowed things to continue unchanged.”
Mr. Meier’s actions were “inappropriate to the work of a clerk in Holy Orders,” the tribunal ruled, and suspended him from the ministry for eight years.
St Peter’s relics to be placed on public display by the Vatican: Church of England Newspapaer, November 15, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: St Peter, Year of Faith
The Vatican will mark the conclusion of the “Year of Faith” with the first public exhibition of the the relics of St. Peter, the Apostle and first Bishop of Rome.
On 8 November 2013 Msgr. Rino Fisichella, president for the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, announced in an editorial published in the semi-official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano St. Peter’s relics will be removed from their grotto and placed on display to mark the close of the Year of Faith on 24 November.
The editorial did not offer further details, but announced the Year of Faith – a major evangelization initiative for the Roman Catholic Church – will conclude on Sunday the 24th with Pope Francis celebrating the Eucharist in St Peter’s Square.
Pensions Board asks for fossil fuels review: Church of England Newspaper, November 15, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Church of England Pensions Board
The Church of England Pensions Board has lent it support to a request by 70 global pension funds to the world’s major energy companies, asking them to investigate how the push to combat man-made climate change will impact the profitability of their businesses.
On 24 October 2013 the 70 pension funds published an open letter to the top 45 oil, gas, coal and electric companies asking them to complete the study by the end of the first quarter of 2014. Because the capital investments required to extract gas, oil and coal take years to recoup, the pension funds stated the risk of future regulations that would limit production or impose expensive pollution-control requirements could reduce the industry’s profitability.
The letter signed by the Church of England Pensions Board, Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, Rockefeller & Co., and the treasurers of half a dozen U.S. states, represents almost $3 trillion in investments.
“The underlying question here is the billions of dollars that are being invested” is prudent in light of the changing regulatory environment, the head of the California’s State Teachers’ Retirement System, Jack Ehnes, told the Associated Press.
Kenyan Anglican elected WCC moderator: Church of England Newspaper, November 15, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Church of England Newspaper, WCC.
Tags: Agnes Aboum
A lay woman from the Anglican Church of Kenya, Dr. Agnes Aboum, has been elected moderator of the World Council of Churches.
The 150-member Central Committee of the Christian ecumenical organization elected Dr. Abuom last week at its 10th Assembly in Busan, South Korea held from 30 October to 8 November 2013. She will be the first woman and first African to hold the post.
As moderator Dr. Abuom will lead the WCC’s highest government body. The administrative head of the WCC is its general secretary the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit of Norway.
“My open prayer is that we shall move forward together, in the next years, despite our diversities that have the potential to divide us,” Dr. Abuom said shortly after her election, “…and that the WCC will continue to remain an instrument for providing a safe space for all who can come and share their hopes, aspirations and visions, and prophetic voice.”
According to a press hand out from the WCC, Dr. Aboum said the prophetic voice is vital for “ecumenism in the 21st century and the church in our world today.”
As the first woman moderator of the worldwide body, Aboum says the model of consensus discernment “resonates very well with femine decision-making processes,” consultative and careful listening and seeking to understand the other person’s perspective.
Dr. Abuom has served on the WCC Executive Committee, representing the Anglican Church of Kenya. She is also a development consultant serving both Kenyan and international organizations coordinating social action programmes for religious and civil society across Africa.
Dr. Abuom was the Africa regional president for the WCC from 1999 to 2006. She has been associated with the All Africa Conference of Churches and WCC member churches in Africa. She is a co-president of the Religions for Peace and the National Council of Churches of Kenya.
Nigerian plea to keep politics out of church: Church of England Newspaper, November 15, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Politics.
Tags: Emmanuel Chukwuma, Holy Ghost Adoration Camp Ground
A stampede that killed 28 people at the close of a vigil at a Catholic festival in South Eastern Nigeria has led to calls from church leaders to ban politicians from canvassing voters at church services.
Details as to the cause of the sudden rush of the crowd at the Holy Ghost Adoration Camp Ground in Anambra State remain unclear. But at approximately 6:00 am on Saturday 2 November 2013 the crowd of 100,000 began to rush towards the exits, trampling scores of worshippers and killing 28.
The National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor , urged the Anambra governor Peter Obi to launch an inquiry into the tragedy. However, the chairman of CAN in South East Nigeria, the Anglican Bishop of Enugu,the Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, said the federal government should investigate the disaster.
Leaders of the governor’s political party have called for the arrest of opposition candidate in the forthcoming gubernatorial election, Senator Chris Ngigie saying his comments to the crowd had caused the stampede – a charge the senator has denied.
Speaking to reporters after the disaster, Bishop Chukwuma said: “It is my own duty as CAN chairman, South East to ban all politicians from attending our churches with their teams for campaigns. The church should also steer clear of partisan politics because there are different kinds of people in the church that belong to different political parties.”
“So it is wrong to come into the church and begin to talk about manifestos. It is not going to be acceptable any more because it causes commotion and disrespect for one another.
“We appeal to bishops, priests, pastors and clergymen to please avoid politicians coming to use churches as campaign arena. This does not augur well for our spiritual growth.
“We therefore urge the Federal Government to set up a probe panel to find out what actually happened because we feel very much worried. Since the state government is involved, I think there should be a neutral body for the investigation,” Bishop Chukwuma said on behalf of CAN.
Tutu calls for boycott of Commonwealth summit: Church of England Newspaper, November 15, 2013 November 14, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of Ceylon, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Desmond Tutu, Sri Lanka
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has lent his support to the call by Tamil leaders for a boycott of next week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
On 7 November 2013 the South African Nobel Laureate urged Commonwealth heads of government to skip the meeting in protest over “war crimes” committed by the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse.
Approximately 40,000 civilians were killed in the final months of the Sri Lanka’s civil war, a 2009 U.N. report claimed, as government troops shelled rebel held territories in the north of the island. The U.N. report also accused the rebel Tamil Tigers of shooting civilians who attempted to flee the war zone. In the war’s aftermath the government has been accused of using violence to suppress political dissent and has jailed journalists for voicing critical views.
On 11 November the Indian government announced that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would honor the boycott and skip the meeting, while Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week said he would stay away in protest to Colombo’s treatment of the Tamils. Both governments will send lower level delegations to the 51-nation summit.
Prime Minister David Cameron stated he would attend, but will ask “serious questions” of Mr. Rajapakse after having viewed a “chilling documentary” detailing the closing months of the war.
“I will raise my concerns when I see president Rajapakse next week in Colombo,” Mr. Cameron said, “and I will tell him that if Sri Lanka doesn’t deliver an independent investigation, the world will need to ensure an international investigation is carried out instead.”
“If there are enough reasons to suggest that the Sri Lanka government have not been doing things with integrity, I think the world has to apply all the screws that it can,” Archbishop Tutu said. “And a boycott of the CHOGM could be one of them.”
Australian diocese warns it may opt out of marriage: Church of England Newspaper, November 8, 2013 November 11, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of North West Australia, Gary Nelson, gay marriage
The Bishop of North West Australia has warned that if the state or federal governments legalize same-sex marriage, Anglican clergy in his diocese would no longer serve as marriage registrars.
The statement by the Rt. Rev. Gary Nelson follows the decision last month by the Australian Capital Territory to legalize same-sex marriage – a move that has been challenged by the federal government as being unconstitutional.
Bishop Nelson told The Western Australian “If we were compelled as marriage celebrants to marry same-sex couples then, as far as this diocese is concerned, I would be withdrawing my approval for ministers to act as marriage celebrants.
The bishop said his clergy would be permitted to perform marriage services according to the rites of the Church, but couples married in the church would need to go to a civil registrar to have their marriage recognized by the state.
Australia was in the midst of a culture war between those holding a traditional Christian worldview and post-modernists.
“The post-war rise of deconstructionism impacted ethical thinking, suggesting that humans are free to create their own natures and decide upon their own purposes — so marriage could be regarded as one social construct among many,” he said.
“But in forming an ethical position, you have to decide if you are committed to a relative or absolute set of values. For us as Anglicans and Christians, we ask what is the Bible, as God’s disclosed word, saying on any issue.”
Bishop Nelson told The Western Australian he would be voting “no” at the 14 November 2013 provincial council meeting when the Diocese of Perth motion on same-sex marriage is reviewed.
The bishop said the Perth motion “seems benign, but the underlying perspective is not consistent with the official view of the Anglican Church held recently and historically.”
Keep guns out of church, pleads Kenya’s archbishop: Church of England Newspaper, November 8, 2013 November 11, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Eliud Wabukala, gun control
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya has denounced a call by Mombasa clergy that they be given guns to protect themselves from the depredations of criminals and Islamist militants.
“As church leaders, we should be on the forefront preaching for peace and reconciliation. Churches are places of worship and not a battlefield,” Archbishop Eliud Wabukala said on 1 November 2013.
On 20 October 2013 a pastor at a Pentecostal church in Mombasa was shot to death in his church’s sanctuary. At his funeral church leaders called upon the government to protect ministers – or give them the means to do so.
The call to arms received the cautious support of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), which last week issued a statement saying it supported the right of clergy to bear arms, if they complied with civil laws concerning the registration and use of guns.
However, Archbishop Wabukala told the congregation gathered at Bishop Hannington’s Teachers College in Mumias, guns were no guarantee of safety.
“AK47 rifle will never secure anyone’s security. I beg to differ with my fellow pastors because even if they are issued with guns, how will they protect themselves from a mob. They should ask Kenyans to repent and live in peace,” the archbishop said.
It was the responsibility of “government to provide security to all. No single person can protect himself. We need everyone to be protected regardless of their position in society.”
“The murder of the pastor was wrong; the attacks on churches should be stopped. All places of worship should be respected whether it’s a church, a mosque, a temple or even a traditional shrine. We should be tolerant with those who don’t believe in our religion because we are all Kenyans,” the archbishop said according to an account of his sermon printed in The Standard.
Episcopal Church sees 24% decline in 10 years: Church of England Newspaper, November 8, 2013 November 11, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
The number of Episcopalians at worship on Sundays in the United States has declined by 24 per cent over the last ten years, statistics released last week by the church’s national office in New York reveal.
The church’s Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) in 2012 for domestic and overseas dioceses was 679,923 – a decline of 2.6 per cent from 2011.
In 2002 the ASA for the domestic dioceses of the Episcopal Church was 846,640. In 2012 the domestic ASA was 640,142; a decline of 206,498 or 24 per cent over ten years. The secession of the Diocese of South Carolina last year is not reflected in these figures.
Baptized membership declined by 29,679 in 2012 to 2,066,710, the Episcopal Church reported on 31 October 2013, with growth in baptized membership reported in only 33 domestic dioceses. Twelve dioceses saw growth in their ASA in 2012. The Diocese of Nevada saw the greatest percentage and numeric growth in attendance of any diocese, 6.9 per cent or 165 people, while the Diocese of Ohio had the steepest decline: 1,150 or 14.4 per cent.
Perth archbishop vetoes same-sex marriage motion: Church of England Newspaper, November 8, 2013 November 11, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Diocese of Perth, gay marriage, Roger Herft
The Archbishop of Perth has withheld his consent to a synod motion affirming same-sex marriage.
On 28 October 2013, the Most. Rev. Roger Herft vetoed a motion put forward by the Rev. Chris Bedding that “acknowledge[s] that legal recognition of same-sex relationships may co-exist with legal recognition of marriage between a man and a woman.”
Mr. Bedding had brought the motion to the 2012 meeting of synod, where it passed on a majority vote. However, Archbishop Herft withheld his consent saying the motion could be construed as being contrary to church teaching on marriage.
Mr. Bedding brought the motion a second time to the 2013 Perth synod last month, where it received a two thirds majority from the clergy and laity. He told the AAP the motion sought to counteract negative comments on same-sex marriage voiced by some Christian groups.
“When they come out and say things like ‘it’s unnatural to be gay’ or ‘it’s against the bible’ or ‘all Christians reject homosexual behaviour’ … we want to say ‘that’s not the case’,” he said.
“And if the government … goes ahead with any kind of recognition, whether that’s something as simple as changes to superannuation laws or marriage equality, we’re comfortable with that,” Mr. Beddings said.
In his letter explaining his reasons for vetoing the motion, the archbishop stated the word “recognition” connotes “formal acceptance. The Church cannot formally accept certain behaviors. “
Archbishop Herft, who comes from the liberal Catholic tradition, noted the theology behind the motion was faulty. The first part of the motion which recognizes sexual diversity and differing theologies on sexuality in the diocese “gives our sexual identity and theology on sexuality a place of prominence that is not theologically sound.”
The motion could be construed as being a statement in support of same-sex marriage, he added, and this violated the Book of Common Prayer’s teaching on marriage. “The members of synod who passed the motion may not have intended to depart from the Fundamental Declarations and Ruling Principles of the Anglican Church of Australia,” but that is the “effect of the motion.”
Archbishop Herft stated that he had referred to the matter to a special meeting of the Western Australia Provincial Council on 14 November 2013 for adjudication of the dispute between bishop and synod.
Gafcon fears a fire over England: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
Tags: Rod Thomas, John Guernsey, Gavin Ashenden, Anglican Mission in England, Pilling Report
The fear of fragmentation over the Pilling report and women bishops has led the 2nd Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) to adopt a statement pledging its members support to traditionalist evangelical and Anglo-Catholic members of the Church of England.
The Nairobi statement was adopted by the meeting on 26 October 2013 by acclamation, with only slight — but significant “no” voices raised. The Rev. Rod Thomas, vicar of St Matthew’s Elburton, Plymouth and chairman of Reform told The Church of England Newspaper he was very pleased. Mr. Thomas, a member of the writing committee that produced the document said “it sets a clear Gospel priority for Gafcon. It is designed to cary forward the work of encouragement and faithfulness … I’m delighted.”
The Rev. Dr. Gavin Ashenden,Vicar of St Martin de Gouray on Jersey, cautioned the document should not be read as a “Mosaic tablet. It is a fluid document” he explained that it was a multi-layered document written by committee for different audiences. However, the core principles enunciated were a reaffirmation for the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration and a shift of focus away from America to the U.K, he explained.
The Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, Bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic of the Anglican Church in North America and chairman of the writing team, told delegates the text was not written before the meeting, but arose from its proceedings. After the opening plenary sessions, conference participants broke into “mini-conferences” that addressed topical issues facing Anglicans. Gafcon 2 boasted no invited speakers, with all of the presentations and mini-conferences presented by delegates.
Each delegate participated in a single session over the course of the conference, choosing in his registration his group: The Challenge of Islam, The Work of the Holy Spirit, Marriage and Family, Children and Youth, Gospel and Culture, Being Women of God, Aid and Development, Theological Education, and Episcopal Ministry. Over the 11 hours of sessions, that were structured as seminars to allow each participant voice in the deliberations, the mini-conferences produced several hundred recommendations for issues and items to be included in a final statement.
A draft document was presented to a plenary session of the conference on 25 October 2013. Gafcon general secretary Dr. Peter Jensen and Bishop Guernsey asked the conference to break into national or regional groups to offer substantive corrections and criticisms for review by the writing committee, which was composed of delegates from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, the Southern Cone of South America, US/Canada and England. Eight drafts were needed to produce the final document from the several hundred submissions, and the final four page document was presented in the closing session of the meeting.
Divided into two sections — an extended preamble and the Nairobi Commitment — the document began with a recital of the highlights of the conference and a history of the formation of the Gafcon movement, now identified as the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA). The document thanked the Archbishop of Canterbury as “he gave us the assurance of his prayers, and we likewise pray for him.’
It reaffirmed the GFCA’s evangelical theological principles and restated its denunciation of homosexual practices, affirmed the principle movements within the GFCA: Evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics and Charismatics, and recounted its support for the formation of the Anglican Church in North America.
The document went on to reaffirm its self-understanding as a fellowship of Anglicans, but noted at this stage in its life it needed to create institutional structures to support its work, asking delegates to provide funds for a staff and central/regional offices.
In the section entitled “Our Priorities” the document spoke to the core issues facing Gafcon and announced that it would provide support for embattled Anglicans whose provinces or dioceses had disowned them, or made their lives intolerable. Yet, the willy-nilly cross-border interventions of the past ten-years, which had been condemned in the Windsor Report, were ruled out. Future crossings of ecclesiastical boundaries by the Gafcon members would be taken only after the Gafcon Primates council came to a consensus on the need.
“Supporting genuine gospel initiatives, recognising that there are times when the maintenance of structures can constrain the proclamation of the gospel. In line with The Jerusalem Statement’s expectation that the Primates’ Council would intervene to provide ‘orthodox oversight to churches under false leadership’, the Primates’ Council will carefully consider working beyond existing structures as an obedient response to Jesus’ commission to take the gospel to all nations.”
Other priorities enunciated by the document included deepening “discipleship” as Christians, to the exclusion of “national, ethnic or tribal attachments.” Combatting the pernicious influence of secularism on the doctrines and discipline of the church, responding to the challenges of militant Islam and “work for the protection of the environment and the economic empowerment of those who are deprived of resources.”
These principles were then enunciated in the Nairobi Commitment, which included a specific pledge of support to traditionalists in the Church of England. “We commit ourselves to the support and defence of those who in standing for apostolic truth are marginalized or excluded from formal communion with other Anglicans in their dioceses. We have therefore recognized the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) as an expression of authentic Anglicanism both for those within and outside the Church of England, and welcomed their intention to appoint a General Secretary of AMiE.”
It was his hope that Gafcon would become a “non-geographic province”, Canon Ashenden said. “Not legally, but spirituality, psychologically” supporting clergy and laity marginalized by the existing order, he said.
Steps had to be taken now, he explained, so that if there was a crack up within the church over recommendations from the Pilling Report to provide pastoral rites for the blessing of gay civil partnerships, and when Synod endorsed the appointment of women bishops but declined to offer enforceable safeguards to those who could not accept this innovation, there would be one place to gather the diaspora.
While covering a vast amount of ground, the Nairobi Commitment was a clear call to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops of the General Synod of the Church of England. “Bishops have to decide,” Canon Ashenden said.between “Biblical orthodoxy” and the spirit of the age. “You must choose,” he said.
Makgoba urges Africa to end gay bashing: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: gay bashing, Thabo Makgoba
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has lent his support to a campaign launched by the British NGO Human Rights Watch to combat gay bashing.
In a video released last week Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said “Don’t fear … you’ve been given this task of helping the rest of humanity to realize that we are called to respect and we are called to honor each other. People may come and say this is un-African, and I’m saying love cuts across culture.”
The Human Rights Watch campaign seeks to push back against statements and policies put forward by African governments and leaders that it considers homophobic. ”When you violate somebody on the basis of difference you’re not only violating them but you are demeaning yourself,” Makgoba says in the video. He exhorts leaders to take up their “moral responsibility to stop the violence against people who are different.”
“Archbishop Makgoba’s statement should serve as a call to national, religious, and cultural leaders across Africa who support the rights of LGBTI people to speak out publicly,” said Graeme Reid, LGBT Rights director for Human Rights Watch. “And the archbishop’s message of respect for everyone’s rights should challenge leaders who have opposed the rights of LGBTI people to reconsider their positions.”
West Indian economic crash prompts episcopal calls for thrift: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Development/Economics/Govt Finances.
Tags: Diocese of Barbados, John Holder
An economic downturn and political turmoil in Barbados has prompted the Archbishop of the West Indies to challenge his countrymen to practice thrift and self-reliance. The Most Rev. John Holder has also tasked political leaders to set aside their political wrangling and work together to pull Barbados and the West Indies out of a protracted economic slump.
Last week the island’s Central Bank reported sharply lower foreign exchange reserves and a down turn in overseas investment, while economic growth was projected to be less than 1 per cent for the coming fiscal year. Last month the IMF forecast no grown for 2013 and 2014 for Barbados — marking it as one of the most sluggish economies in the hemisphere.
On 23 October 2013 Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler survived a no-confidence motion by a vote of 15-14. The Barbados Labour Party had charged the government with incompetence in managing the country’s fiscal affairs.
In response, Archbishop John Holder, the Bishop of Barbados, released a statement on 26 October with the church’s Advocacy and Social Justice Commission urging Barbadians to “use the coping and creative skills we have to ride out the recession and lay the groundwork for an economic rebound.”
“Barbadians of earlier times fought against the odds and laid the foundation for the quality of life we now enjoy,” the archbishop said, adding: “We are proud inheritors of such a spirit of fortitude and resilience, and we must show that we are capable of peacefully getting past the present economic setbacks and building a more prosperous and just nation.”
“We do have some control over our destiny. What we must not do is to throw up our hands in despair and just wait for the IMF’s dire forecast to be realised. Rather, we should use the unfavourable assessment as motivation to redouble our efforts to prove the predictions wrong.”
While crying up thrift for the people, the archbishop also challenged the government to institute social and economic reforms. “We must re-examine our systems and structures, and work to ensure that those Barbadians who consider themselves to be marginalised are given the opportunity to enjoy some of the benefits of a prosperous Barbados,” the statement said.
Politicians needed to do their part as well. “Leaders need to tone down the rhetoric and refrain from saying or doing anything which creates anxiety and despair. Instead, they should work together to find solutions to the problems which our nation faces. One up-manship and selfish actions will only serve to fracture the society at a time when unity is required,” the paper said.
Tags: Diocese of Qu’Appelle
Thieves have stolen the bishop of Qu’Appelle’s crozier from St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Regina.
The Diocese of Qu’Appelle reports that sometime in the last three weeks the antique bishop’s staff disappeared from the Saskatchewan cathedral. The police have been notified and local pawns shops informed of the theft.
The five and a half foot long staff was made in the 1880′s in London for the first bishop of the Canadian diocese and has a silver head encrusted with semi-precious stones. The Very Rev. Mike Sinclair, Dean of Qu’Appelle told the Regina Leader-Post the insurance value of the crozier was approximately C$15,000, but it was historical value made it irreplaciable for the diocese.
“It’s nearly impossible to sell,” he said, encouraging the thief to return the crozier.
“We’d love to have it back; it’s part of our family history, but at the same time we’re concerned for who has stolen it, that they don’t end up with more trouble than they need, when it would just be easy to return it.,” the dean said.
Arctic Cathedral in financial crunch: The Church of England Newspaper, October 24, 2013 October 27, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: David Parsons, Diocese of the Arctic, St Jude's Cathedral Iqaluit
The financial collapse of a builder may leave the Diocese of the Arctic without a cathedral.
In May the Canadian building firm Dowland Contracting Ltd went into receivership and filed for bankruptcy protection in July. One of the construction giant’s projects had been the rebuilding of St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral in Iqaluit, Nunavut [Baffin Island].
Last week the Rt. Rev. David Parsons, Bishop of the Arctic reported that Dowland’s receivers were demanding immediate payment of C$3 million plus $30,000 per month in interest. “This is a request that the diocese cannot meet without closure of the Cathedral and an end to the church’s ministry of compassion, hope and presence in the Arctic,” he said.
“We have always remained committed to paying the balance owing on the construction costs to date. But these new demands now threaten our very existence.”
In 2005 the igloo-shaped cathedral was destroyed when a young man set the building ablaze. The fire left the church unusable, while insurance proceeds were insufficient to cover the cost of a replacement. A nationwide fundraising campaign enable the diocese to begin rebuilding the cathedral and more than $7.5 million of the costs have been paid so far.
Bishop Parsons told The Church of England Newspaper the diocese was appealing for help and reaching “out across the Arctic and across Canada to ask people for their support and contributions toward paying off the Cathedral.”
“What I am doing is asking God to pay” the bill, he said. “I don’t know how God will work but let all know this, I, and I hope we, are looking to God for help and direction. We know that God often works through people and our plan is let our people and all else know that we need as many as possible to respond to our ongoing fundraising, so that our Cathedral will become debt free and we may have a service to consecrate it. Until it is paid off we cannot.”
The diocese will not lay off any of its employees, he said. “We actually wish to be able to expand our ministries and we are seeking God’s direction and our people’s help for this and the cooperation of the receiver. Until the receiver decides how he will respond to our situation, nothing will change,” he said.
“We have always been faithful stewards who have not gone back on our word. As we promised Dowland, we will pay our bills when the money comes in. Until it does, we cannot. Everyone, including the receiver for Dowland needs to know this,” the bishop said.
Teachers’ union denounces church reform plea: The Church of England Newspaper, October 24, 2013 October 27, 2013Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: South African Democratic Teachers Union
South Africa’s Teacher’s Union has denounced a plea from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to devote itself to teaching and eschew politics, saying the church had become a tool of “imperialist” parasites and an ally of reactionary politicians.
Secular and religious education was among the chief topics of debate at the ACSA synod last week. Delegates gathered in Benoni, a suburb of Johannesburg, urged Anglican members of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) to “either to transform the trade union into a body that truly serves the cause of education, or resign from Sadtu,” a church press release stated.
With 260,000 members the SADTU represents approximately 70 per cent of the country’s state school teachers. A political ally of the ruling African National Congress, the union has been criticized by education reformers for its frequent strikes, poor teaching standards and alleged corruption.
The synod denounced teacher “corruption and laziness which deprives our children of the education they deserve” and called upon the union to “refrain from destructive stay-aways.”
In a statement released last week, Sadtu responded the church’s complaints about the country’s poor state schools were misplaced. “We maintain that the majority of our members are dedicated to the profession but are frustrated by the fact that they are not receiving sufficient support like resources to teach in schools and are not sufficiently developed in order to teach the new curriculum.”
The church should stay out of politics, the union said. Its condemnation was an “opportunist”, “antagonistic” and “reactionary resolution”.
“We reject the synod’s call with the contempt it deserves and its attempt to interfere in labour issues and the rights that we fought for.”
Allah ban upheld by Malaysian court: The Church of England Newspaper, October 24, 2013 October 27, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of South East Asia.
Tags: al-Kitab, Bolly Lapk, Malaysia
A Malaysian Court of Appeal has forbidden a Catholic newspaper from using the word “Allah” to refer to God, ruling the use of the Arabic word for God was not a central tenet of the Christian faith.
On 14 October 2013 the three judge court of appeal overturned a 2009 Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling which rejected the Malaysian government’s ban against using the word “Allah” by the Herald, a Catholic newspaper published in Malay.
“Our common finding is that the usage of Allah is not an integral part of the Christian faith. We cannot find why the parties are so adamant on the usage of the word,” the court wrote last week.
Using “Allah” in a Malay language newspaper would confuse Muslims, the court said, and in the interest of public safety it granted the government’s appeal. “The welfare of an individual or group must yield to the interest of society at large,” wrote Justice Mohamed Apandi in his ruling.
Christian leaders reacted strongly to the verdict. The Primate of the Church of the Province of South East Asia, the Most Rev. Bolly Lapok, Bishop of Sarawak said Anglicans would continue to use the word “Allah”.
“For an outsider to say that the use of the word Allah is ‘not integral to the Christian faith’ is excessive, utterly irresponsible and grossly demeaning, to say the least. The Church does not need an apologist from outside to decree what is integral or not regarding her faith,” he said in a statement released after the decision was published.
“In fact, the ruling has far-reaching implications. It is not only insensitive to Christians in Sabah and Sarawak, but it is an insidious aberration to the spirit of Muhibbah (harmony), which the government has been so desperately trying to promote among all Malaysians. It is repugnant to the universal common sense.”
The government, however, was quick to assure Christians that the Allah ban applied only to the Herald and not to other Christian publications. The ban on the use of the word Allah only applies to the Catholic weekly, Herald, and not other Christian publications or the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia bible which is widely used in Sabah and Sarawak, said Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
First woman archbishop for Sweden elected: The Church of England Newspaper, October 24, 2014 October 27, 2013Posted by geoconger in Central Florida Episcopalian, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Sweden.
Tags: Antje Jackelén
The Church of Sweden has elected the Rt. Rev. Antje Jackelén, Bishop of Lund as Archbishop of Uppsala and primate of the Church of Sweden. The 15 October 2013 vote by the Swedish synod makes Dr. Jackelén the church’s first woman archbishop.
Dr. Jackelén is the second Archbishop of Uppsala to be elected by popular vote following the disestablishment of the Church of Sweden on 1 January 2000, and she succeeds Archbishop Anders Wejryd who was elected in 2006.
A native of Germany, Bishop Jackelén was ordained a priest in 1980 and served parishes in the dioceses of Stockholm and Lund from 1981 to 1996. In 1999 she earned a doctor of theology degree at Lund University, with a doctoral dissertation Zeit und Ewigkeit: die Frage der Zeit in Kirche, Naturwissenschaft und Theologie was published in English in 2005 as: Time & eternity: the question of time in church, science, and theology. She taught at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago from 2001 to 2006, when she was elected Bishop of Lund.
A member of the liberal wing of the Swedish Church, Bishop Jackelén is a prolific social commentator and was Sweden’s first twitter bishop and publishes a micro blog about her work and beliefs. In an interview published in the Swedish church newspaper Kyrkans Tidning, Bishop Jackelén defended herself against charges she was cold and aloof. “I think I have many warm and close relationships,” she said, but in her job as bishop she came in contact with “an incredible number of people, I cannot be everything to everyone.”
She also objected to making belief in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ a benchmark of the Christian faith. “It is strange that the question of the virgin birth has become something of a faith test,” she told Kyrkans Tidning, adding the Bible had been interpreted in different ways across time and cultures and that many different cultures had made use of a virgin birth as a way to show a particular person’s self-importance.
“I am more afraid of those who claim to know everything, than anyone who claims to wrestle with the Bible,” she said.