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Primates Meeting Roster January 16, 2016

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Primates Meeting 2016

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Hiatus June 2, 2015

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I have fallen behind in my posting on my archive — six months to be exact. I have several thousand older stories to post as well as new stories. The mix of my work has changed however.

As rector of a fast growing congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida I have had to cut back on my output. I’ve said goodbye to GetReligion and the Media Project after a happy five year run and pulled back from freelance work. I am focusing my writing energies on Anglican Ink, The Church of England Newspaper, and Anglican Unscripted. Everything else is devoted to one of the fastest growing, and most spirit filled congregation in the Episcopal Church: Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church in Lecanto.

Bibles for the Ukraine: The Church of England Newspaper, April 11, 2014 May 10, 2014

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The Ukraine Bible Society has responded to the street protests in Kiev and the unrest in the Crimea with a campaign to distribute Scriptures in Russian and Ukrainian. “We believe that only God can bring peace and reconciliation so, with clergy and church volunteers, we went out onto the streets, getting close to government forces and protesters. Local churches set up prayer tents all over Maidan (Kiev’s Independence Square, scene of the conflict between police and protestors), and together we provided food and drink, helped the injured to get medical help, and distributed more than 8,000 Scriptures. People responded so warmly that we completely ran out of free Scriptures to distribute”, reports Rostyslav Stasyuk of UkBS. “We pray that with God’s help, Ukraine will emerge renewed and re–devoted to Him,” he writes.

Danish queen marks Anglican parish restoration: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013

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Queen Margrethe II of Denmark joined the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, the Rt. Rev. Geoffrey Rowell  in the re-dedication of St. Albans Anglican Church in Copenhagen last week. In 2012 the church began a campaign to restore the 125 year old church, built with the assistance of Queen Alexandra, the consort of Edward VII and Princess of Denmark. The 20 October celebration marked the completion of repairs to the church’s Victorian stained glass windows and its Queen Alexandra memorial.

In his sermon Dr. Rowell noted the generosity of the congregation in its support for the project hoping those present would “keep this forever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people.”

Leninist academics block Tengatenga appointment at Dartmouth: The Church of England Newspaper, August 23, 2013 p 6. August 26, 2013

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James Tengatenga

The president of Dartmouth College Philip J. Hanlon has blocked the appointment of the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga as dean for moral and spiritual life at the American university. While the Malawian bishop and chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council now backs gay marriage, his past support for the church’s traditional teaching made him too controversial for the school.

The 14 Aug 2013 announcement by Pres. Hanlon leaves Dr. Tengatenga without a job and a country. Last month he resigned as Bishop of Southern Malawi upon being appointed dean at the New Hampshire college – and his new found support for gay marriage will make his position untenable in the conservative African nation. Without a job, his American visa will lapse and Dr. Tengatenga will also come under pressure to step down as ACC chairman in light of his commitment to the American cause within the sharply divided Anglican Communion.

Bishop Tengatenga said he was disappointed the university had withdrawn his appointment as Virginia Rice Kelsey Dean of the William Jewett Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth College following protests by gay activists. He told the Episcopal News Service had “chosen to trust bigotry over truth and justice.”

Following his appointment gay activists at Dartmouth began an internet search on the bishop and found news reports in the Church of England Newspaper that detailed Dr. Tengatenga’s support for gays in Malawi and his work fighting corruption, abuse and tyranny in Central Africa. They also found the bishop had affirmed the church’s traditional teaching on marriage and had objected to the 2003 appointment of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

Confronted with his past statements the bishop said his views had evolved in recent years and he now backed “marriage equality” and saw Bishop Robinson’s appointment as a “blessing” for the church.  However gay activists argued the bishop’s new found support for the gay agenda were too little and too late. A professor of African-American studies also suggested that the bishop was an opportunist, changing his views to suit his new employer.

A Zambian priest resident in the US, the Rev. Kapya John Kaoma, told the Boston Globe the bishop’s rejection would have wider repercussions. “This is a big blow, because it leaves African activists on the ground wondering if they can work with Westerners,” Fr. Kaoma said.

“All human rights defenders in Africa are working under very, very hard conditions, and the violence against them is always there. What they have done is exposed Bishop Tengatenga and then dumped him back into Malawi.”

A Dartmouth faculty member told CEN the American “left refused even to recognize [Tengatenga] as one of their own.  He unwittingly and in circumstances scarcely imaginable here violated their language code; their own moral pride compelled them to relegate him to the status of outcast, unfit to exercise moral leadership in our community.”

“I don’t think my perception is entirely distorted when I notice a Leninist streak in the American liberal arts left.”

New bishop for Southern Malawi: Anglican Ink, August 25, 2013 August 26, 2013

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Bishop-elect Alinafe Kalemba of Southern Malawi

The electoral synod of the Diocese of Southern Malawi has elected the Ven. Canaan Alinafe Kalemba bishop of the diocese in succession to the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga.

On 24 August 2013 Archdeacon Kalemba was elected from amongst four candidates to succeed Dr. Tengatenga, who resigned as bishop in June to take up the post of dean for moral and spiritual life. However the president of Dartmouth rescinded Dr Tengatenga’s appointment last week claiming he was too “controversial”. Gay activists had protested Dr. Tengatenga’s appointment saying they believed his support for gay rights was insincere and insufficiently robust for their liking.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Christmas services return to St Petersburg: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 5. January 21, 2013

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Altar of the English Church, St Petersburg

Ninety six years after its last service, an Anglican Christmas service was held  at the historic English Chapel in St Petersburg.

The British Consul General in St Petersburg along with English speaking Anglicans in the Russia’s second city returned to worship at the two hundred year old church for the second time since the October Revolution.  Last November, Remembrance Sunday was celebrated at the Church designed by the Imperial court architect Giacomo Quarenghi.

“It was very important to hold this service exactly in this church that once used to be the center of the British community for more than 200 years,” Mr Ward told the Moscow Times. “And it is very important for the British community to have access to this church again.”

Churchwarden Adrian Terris told the Moscow Times the expatriate community had been working for several years to worship once more in the English Church, and thanked the St. Petersburg Conservatory for their cooperation in allowing them to return.

Built by the Russia Company in Archangel, the church was moved to Russia’s new capital, St Petersburg in 1712.  From 1721 until 1917, the church was located at 56 English Embankment on land given by the Tsar to the British community in Russia.  The current Palladian neo-classical style church was built in 1875 to accommodate 2500 worshipers.  With the outbreak of the Russian Revolution, however, the church was closed and the building seized by the state.

Anglican worship resumed in St Petersburg following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1993, with services held at the city’s Swedish Lutheran Church.  The St Petersburg English Church is supported by St Andrew’s Anglican Church in Moscow, but the city has no resident Anglican chaplain at this time.

The church’s website states services St. Petersburg’s branch of the English church does not have its own permanent chaplain; services are instead led by Anglican clergy on short-term visits from Britain or by local clergy from the Swedish and Finnish Lutheran churches.

ABC on Jesus the sky pixie: Get Religion, October 11, 2012 October 11, 2012

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Lenin lived, Lenin lives, Lenin will live!

These words close Vladimir Mayakovsky’s 1924 poem “Vladimir Ilych Lenin“.”  Written in the months after Lenin’s death, “VI Lenin” is the greatest of Mayakovsky’s works and the apex of the socialist realist style of poetry that flowered in Russia in the decade after the Revolution. “VI Lenin” is also the template through which some in the press construct the person and works of Jesus Christ

For many members of the chattering classes Jesus is a Lenin figure, or Lenin is a Jesus figure (depending on your priorities) with the difference that Lenin was a real historical figure, while Jesus was not. A recent interview with Salman Rushdie conducted by the ABC, (note the “the” before ABC, meaning the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, not the American Broadcasting Corporation) typifies this view of Jesus held by his cultured despisers.

But culture first, then media criticism.

Divided into three cantos, “VI Lenin” tells the story of the triumph of the proletarian revolution through the vehicle of the working class, which through toil and strife, guided by the laws of social development, revealed by its ideological genius Karl Marx, produces the “twin of Mother History” — the Bolshevik Party and its leader, VI Lenin.

The party for Mayakovsky is the symbol of the strength and wisdom of the working classes and is what has trained and mobilized the masses, and lead them out of their bondage. And over all this:

appears
the compass of Leninist thought,
appears
the guiding hand of Lenin.

Lenin’s life did not end with his death as the people and the party live on.

And even the death of Ilyich
became a great communist organizer
.

Lenin will live in the hearts of the proletariat and will remain the rallying point for world revolution.

Proletarians, form ranks for the last battle!
Straighten your backs,
unbend your knees!
Proletarian army, close ranks!
Long live the joyous revolution, soon to come!
This is the greatest
of all great fights
that history has known.

What prompted that bit of showing off of the detritus of a wasted youth was the Salman Rushdie interview broadcast on the ABC Radio National program Books and Arts Daily. In a forty minute segment entitled “Salman Rushdie’s New Memoir: Joseph Anton” host Michael Cathcart spoke to the British novelist about his life in the wake of the fatwah.

The show notes state:

On Valentine’s Day in 1989, Iran’s Supreme leader the Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwa – any believer who assassinated the novelist Salman Rushdie was promised eternal life. The Ayatollah announced that the Indian born British novelist had committed an unpardonable blasphemy against Islam in a novel called The Satanic Verses. To supporters of the fatwa, even the title must have seemed like a confession. This was a man who by his own declaration was the author of The Satanic Verses. And so Salman Rushdie winner of the Booker prize became Rushdie the Infidel. Rushdie the man in hiding. For some he became a champion of free speech, a man who refused to cave in to bullying. To others, he was the author of his own misfortune. Now he tells the story of his years in protection in a memoir, a vast book called Joseph Anton, the alias he took while in hiding.

I encourage you to listen to the interview. Rushdie tells a fascinating story about his life and his work — and also has insights in the present unrest spreading across the Muslim world.  In recounting the protests that followed the publication of The Satanic Verses Rushdie states the “people who had demonstrated were ordered to demonstrate.”

“They didn’t know anything” about his book and were out in the streets demonstrating against a Western provocation against Islam on the instructions of political leaders who wanted to capitalize on the book’s notoriety for their local political advantage. The same pattern of events was unfolding in the Muslim world, Rushdie argued, with the obscure YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims.”

This interpretation of events is in line with the reports I shared from my contacts in Egypt on 11 Sept 2012 when a mob attacked the U.S. embassy in Cairo and consulate in Benghazi. While the government on 28 Sept backed away from its claim the attack on Benghazi was caused by spontaneous outrage from the “Innocence of Muslims” film, I have yet to see them concede what the press and Egyptian government have concluded — that the Cairo riot was a staged provocation also.

Do listen to Rushdie — he is worth your time. The interviewer, on the other hand, was not as strong.  About six minutes into the broadcast, when discussing Rushdie’s university studies about the history of Islam, the interviewer said:

There is no doubt that Muhammad was a real person. .. (while) Jesus was an ambiguous person.

Muhammad is real. Jesus is, maybe, real, or maybe a legend, the ABC argues. The interviewer has mangled his facts here, as after 150 years of scholarship on this point, the historical Jesus is conceded to have existed by most scholars. The issue as to whether Muhammad existed is an open one in Western scholarship.

For Mayakovsky Lenin is not like other men. He is a symbol of the struggle of the proletariat: past, present and future. He is a genius and a practical man, the “most human of all humans who have lived on earth”, Mayakovsky wrote.  A man “just like you and me.”

The ABC interviewer, were he to posit the existence of Jesus, would describe him in these terms also — and view the Christian religion in terms of its social utility. Let me say my concern is not to argue theology, but to point out the worldview the interviewer used in expressing what he believed to be the consensus as to who Jesus was. Jesus like Lenin was a figure whose value lay in his symbolic utility. It is how Jesus is interpreted, not who he is or his work that matters.

This, of course, is contrary to most Christian traditions, save for a few modern sects — yet the palette the ABC uses to paint who Jesus was is a default left-liberal semi-universalist one. Doubts can be raised about Jesus, but the portrait of Muhammad is the one held by traditional Islam.

Voluble skepticism of Christianity doubled with incurious statements about Islam is common among the press these days. Why?

Was this an example of political correctness? The crawling that one sees from many in the press when the topic comes to Islam? Or, was it ignorance of the topic? What say you GetReligion readers? Do you think the ABC would have argued that Jesus was real while Muhammad was sky pixie (a phrase beloved by atheists in describing divinity)?

First printed in GetReligion

ACI leader under investigation: Anglican Ink, July 5, 2012 July 5, 2012

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Allegations of disloyalty have been leveled against one of the leaders of the Anglican Communion Institute and may lead to his being charged with misconduct.

In an email published on the website Titusonenine, the Very Rev. Philip Turner, the former Dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale reports that he is being investigated for having executed an affidavit in the Diocese of Quincy lawsuit and had endorsed the Anglican Communion Institute’s amicus brief in the Diocese of Fort Worth case before the Texas Supreme Court.  On 29 June 2012 nine bishops received emails from the Rt. Rev. Clayton Matthews informing them they were being investigated for their views on the issues under dispute in the two lawsuits.

Dean Turner wrote that “I enquired as to whether a complaint against me had been lodged with my diocese. I was told by an unimpeachable source that in fact a complaint against me had been received. I have not seen the complaint. I do not know what the complaints are or who the complainants are.”

First published in Anglican Ink.

Anglicans welcome in Hungary: The Church of England Newspaper, March 9, 2012, p 7. March 15, 2012

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The Hungarian National Assembly in Budapest

The Hungarian parliament has expanded its list of formally recognized churches from 14 to 32, adding the Church of England its list of government approved sects.

The 27 February 2012 vote was boycotted by the opposition, but the governing Fidesz Party and its coalition ally the Christian Democrats were able to pass the an amendment to the Religious Communities bill with a two-thirds majority.  State approval gives religious organizations tax-free status and allows them access to government funding for their social services agencies.  Ministers of approved religious groups are also authorized to undertake pastoral work in state institutions including prisons, hospitals and the military.

On 14 July the Hungarian parliament adopted “The Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion and on the Status of Churches, Religions and Religious Communities” Law, by a vote of 254 to 43.  The new law recognized the Roman and Greek Catholic Churches, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Lutherans, the Calvinists, select Jewish denominations, the Hungarian Unitarians, the Baptists and the Faith Church as churches.  The Church of England, which counts St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Budapest as part of the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe, along with 347 other religious groups lost their legal status as churches.

The ruling prompted harsh criticism from human rights activists and a legal challenge.  The Washington-based Institute on Religion and Public Policy condemned the new law saying it “creates the most burdensome registration system in the entire OSCE region while codifying systematic discrimination of religious minorities. The Religion Law is completely inconsistent with fundamental human rights as it contravenes the principles of equality and non-discrimination.”

In December, the Constitutional Court struck down the church law on procedural grounds, but did not review the substance of the law.  Parliament then reauthorized the law and 66 religious organizations petitioned to be added to the approved list.

Last week Parliament added 18, the Church of England, Methodists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a number of Muslim and Buddhist groups.

A spokesman for the Diocese in Europe told The Church of England Newspaper that it welcomed the grant of official and legal recognition to the Anglican Church.  The vicar of St Margaret’s, Dr. Frank Hegedűs “welcomed this clarification” that confirms the status of the Church of England within Hungary.

“The decision follows a number of meetings and representations in recent weeks and has shown the strength of support for this English speaking ministry in the heart of this capital city,” the diocesan spokesman said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Cavalcanti funeral set for Wednesday: Anglican Ink, February 28, 2012 February 28, 2012

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Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti

The Diocese of Recife reports that the memorial service for Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife Miriam has been scheduled for 29 February 2012 at Emmanuel Anglican Church in Olinda in Pernambuco state.  The internment will follow immediately afterwards at the House of Peace Cemetery in Paulista.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Bishop of The Murray defrocked: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 17, 2010 p 7. December 22, 2010

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Bishop Ross Davies

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane, has accepted the findings of the church’s Special Tribunal and deposed the former Bishop of The Murray.

On Dec 13, a spokesman for Dr. Aspinall stated the archbishop had “accepted the recommendation of the tribunal and approved the removal of Bishop Davies from office in accordance with these recommendations.”

On Sept 24, Bishop Davies resigned as Bishop of The Murray in South Australia, one day before a tribunal met to hear nine counts of misconduct laid against him by the Archbishop of Adelaide and Bishop of Willochra.

After two days of hearings, the tribunal found the former bishop guilty of misconduct in absentia and recommended he be removed from the episcopate.

Bishop Davies was adjudged to have subverted the Professional Standards processes by failing to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct made against his archdeacon.  The tribunal found he had displayed a lack of commitment to the Anglican Church and acted at times in an abusive manner “inconsistent with his pastoral role as a Bishop of the Diocese.”

He was also found guilty of having improperly influenced the composition of diocesan council in order to gain financial advantage “at the expense of the interests of the Diocese.”

Bishop Davies is believed to have been received into the Roman Catholic Church, but the Anglican Church of Australia had no knowledge of his current status, Dr. Aspinall’s spokesman said.

Questions over ACC letter on the Southern Cone raised: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 22, 2010 October 21, 2010

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Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council has withdrawn the Bishop of Chile’s invitation to serve on the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (UFO), citing the province’s violation of the moratorium on crossing provincial boundaries.

However, the Oct 14 press release issued by Canon Kenneth Kearon has left Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina “flummoxed.”

In an interview taped on Oct 18 with Anglican TV, the primate of the Southern Cone said he was nonplussed by the assertions made in the secretary general’s press release, as it was “untrue” and “unjust” to say he had not responded to the ACC.

In his press release, Canon Kearon cited Archbishop Rowan Williams’ Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion.  The May 28 letter stated that the members of those provinces that have “formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion” on gay bishops, blessings and the violation of provincial boundaries “should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged.”

Members of the UFO committee from these provinces, Dr. Williams said, “should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members.”

On June 7, Canon Kearon announced that five American participants on the Ecumenical dialogue commissions had been informed that “their membership of these dialogues has been discontinued,” while the sole American member of the UFO committee was downgraded to consultant status.

The ACC Secretary General also stated he had written to Archbishop Fred Hiltz asking whether Canada has “formally adopted policies that breach the second moratorium in the Windsor Report, authorising public rites of same-sex blessing,” and to Bishop Venables “asking him for clarification as to the current state of his interventions into other provinces.”

In his Oct 14 press release, Canon Kearon said “I have not received a response” to this request for “clarification” from the Southern Cone.

Canon Kearon’s claim, however, is at odds with Bishop Venables’ memory, as he reports having had two telephone conversations with Canon Kearon and one with Dr. Williams about this issue.

Bishop Venables further stated that he told Dr. Williams and Canon Kearon in the three conversations that he could not give a definitive answer to Canon Kearon’s letter until after the meeting of the Southern Cone standing committee.

A spokesman for the ACC confirmed that Canon Kearon had indeed “followed up with two phone calls” his June letter to Bishop Venables.  However, the secretary general had “received no clarification as to the current state of his interventions by mid July as requested,” ACC spokesman Jan Butter said.

He added that Canon Kearon was “not made aware of the bishop’s intention to bring the issue before his House of Bishops or Provincial Synod,” but was now “delighted” to learn “that he will be doing so.”

Asked if Dr. Williams had spoken to Bishop Venables about these issues, a spokesman for Dr. Williams told CEN on Oct 18 the Argentine bishop “has not, as requested, confirmed his province’s position in respect of interventions. Confirmation is still awaited.”

The fracas over Canon Kearon’s June letter is not the first breakdown in communications between the ACC and the Southern Cone, as Bishop Venables told Anglican.TV he never received a copy of the revised Anglican Consultative Council constitution that was to have been distributed to the provinces before it was adopted this summer.

One senior Global South leader told CEN he was troubled by the implication that Canon Kearon could make demands upon the primates and the provinces.  The ACC secretary general has “no authority” to dictate to the communion, he observed.

“I was side lined” says Bishop of Egypt as he quits top body: CEN 2.05.10 p 6. February 11, 2010

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The President Bishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East has quit the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, stating he has no faith in its integrity.

In a withering critique released on Jan 30, the Bishop of Egypt Dr. Mouneer Anis said that after having served for three years on the Standing Committee he had come to the belief that his continued presence had “no value whatsoever and my voice is like a useless cry in the wilderness.”

The Bishop of Egypt’s defection comes as a blow to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, who had counted on Dr. Anis as one of his few remaining allies among the global south coalition of primates.

Dr. Williams had attempted to dissuade Dr. Anis from quitting the standing committee after Dr. Anis gave voice to his concerns following its December meeting. He pleaded with Dr. Anis to stand fast, sources close to the Egyptian bishop told The Church of England Newspaper, arguing the Anglican Covenant would soon answer his concerns.

However, Dr. Anis’ Jan 30 letter branding the processes and structures Dr. Williams set in place as flawed, comes as a public rebuke to the archbishop, which further isolates Canterbury from the non-Western primates of the Communion.

In his five page letter, Dr. Anis stated the Standing Committee was usurping authority not properly granted to it. It had “continually questioned the authority of the other Instruments of Communion, especially the Primates Meeting and the Lambeth Conference,” and had ignored the recommendations of the Windsor Report and the Primates’ 2005 and 2007 meetings concerning the Episcopal Church. It engaged in a pointless tartuffery that offered “no effective challenge to the ongoing revisions” of the US Church.

Dr. Anis noted that while there were “many good aspects” to the Covenant, he had a number of reservations about its utility in resolving the issues before the Communion. He also objected to the twisting of the “Listening Process” mentioned in Lambeth Resolution 1.10 from a call to “minister pastorally and sensitively” to those with a homosexual orientation, to pro-gay agitprop.

“It seems as if the aim of the Listening Process is to convince traditional Anglicans, especially in the Global South, that homosexual practice is acceptable,” he said.

Dr. Anis also had grave reservations about the staff of the Anglican Consultative Council’s London office. The non-Western Anglican world had no “sense of ownership” of its work and agenda, he said. This would only change if the “provinces feel that they own the ACO, and it is not an office in the UK that tries to run the Communion in its own Western way.”

Despite his misgivings over the structures and the new roles for the instruments of unity imposed on the Anglican Communion in the past few years, Dr. Anis was optimistic about the future, noting that those churches that upheld the “traditional Anglican faith are growing very fast.”

American ACC delegate Dr. Ian Douglas, the bishop-elect of the Connecticut told CEN he was “saddened that Bishop Mouneer has chosen to resign from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. I respect Bishop Mouneer and I have found him to be a faithful friend and brother in Christ in the many different ways we have worked alongside each other over the years. I will miss his contributions to the Standing Committee and we will be less without him.”

On Feb 1 Dr Williams released a statement saying “Bishop Mouneer has made an important contribution to the work of the Standing Committee, for which I am deeply grateful. I regret his decision to stand down but will continue to welcome his active engagement with the life of the Communion and the challenges we face together.”

Originally elected to the West Asia seat on the primates’ standing committee at the 2007 Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam, Dr. Anis’ resignation should give the seat to the alternate elected for West Asia at that meeting: Bishop Alexander Malik, the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan. However Bishop Malik has since stepped down as Moderator leaving the seat vacant until a successor is elected at the next primates meeting.

Bishop Duncan…Break with TEC Now Complete: TLC 6.22.09 June 24, 2009

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First published in The Living Church.

Telling delegates the break with the Episcopal Church is now complete, Bishop Robert Duncan opened the Inaugural Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) June 22 at St. Vincent’s Cathedral in Bedford, Texas.

The ACNA’s archbishop-designate stressed the themes of martyrdom and mission in his opening address to the assembly. He said St. Alban’s Day, the feast of the first British martyr, had been specifically chosen for the start of the assembly session. He also urged delegates to take up the battle cry of “muscular Christianity”: “No cross, no crown.”

Bishop Duncan recounted the birth pangs of the new province, concluding that the break with the Episcopal Church was absolute.

“How is it that a once great tradition has lost its moorings?,” he asked. “We compromised, we were silent, we looked away. No more!

“There is no one here who will go back.”

Asserting that “what is ahead of us is what really counts,” Bishop Duncan said “we are proud to be part of the great reformation of the Christian church” now taking place.

“There is an ever-growing stream of North American Protestantism that has embraced” a foundational view of scripture, he said, while “at the same time Pentecostals and Evangelicals are moving towards tradition.”

While internally divided over the issue of women’s ordination, Bishop Duncan told delegates it is a “miracle” that those who believe the ordination of women was a “grave error” can “work together toward mission” with those who see it as a being justified by scripture.

Anglican-Buddhist is elected Bishop in Northern Michigan: CEN 2.24.09 February 24, 2009

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The Anglican Communion’s first Anglican-Buddhist Bishop was elected this week at a special convention of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. The sole candidate on the ballot, the Rev Kevin Thew Forrester received the support of 88 per cent of the delegates and 91 per cent of congregations, according to a diocesan news release.

The nomination of Fr Forrester sparked controversy last month, when the diocese announced that he was the sole candidate for election. Critics charged it was unseemly that a single candidate was chosen by the search committee — which included Fr Forrester among its members — to stand for election. Concerns were also raised about the suitability of a professed Buddhist who said he had received Buddhist “lay ordination” and was “walking the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism together” being consecrated a bishop.

Known also by his Buddhist name, “Genpo” which means “Way of Universal Wisdom”, Fr Forrester holds progressive views on a number of traditional Christian doctrines. Writing in the diocese’s news letter he stated: “Sin has little, if anything, to do with being bad. It has everything to do, as far as I can tell, with being blind to our own goodness.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican-Buddhist is elected Bishop in Northern Michigan

Scenes from Alexandria: Kenya February 21, 2009

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The Primate of Kenya, the Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi during a break of the 2009 Primates Meeting at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria on Feb 1.

The Primate of Kenya, the Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi during a break of the 2009 Primates Meeting at the Helnan Palestine Hotel in Alexandria on Feb 1.

Scenes from Alexandria: Scotland February 18, 2009

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The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop Idris Jones of Glasgow and Galloway

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop Idris Jones of Glasgow and Galloway

Canadian bishop resigns to join Anglican Network: CEN 1.31.09 p 6. January 31, 2009

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A one-time candidate for election as Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada has quit that church to join the breakaway Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). On Jan 23 the Rt. Rev. Ronald Ferris, retired Bishop of Algoma announced he had been received by Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables into the Province of the Southern Cone.

“After 28 wonderful years as Bishop, first in the Yukon and then in Algoma, I am delighted to embark on a new challenge – new church development,” Bishop Ferris said, adding that his decision to “relinquish the licence” he held from the Anglican Church of Canada was not “taken quickly or lightly.”

A spokesman for Canadian Archbishop Fred Hiltz said the primate received the news of Bishop Ferris’ secession “with regret.”

“Bishop Ferris has served the Anglican Church of Canada well. He has a long-standing service and dedication as bishop,” Archdeacon Paul Feheley said in a statement released on behalf of the archbishop.

While disappointed with the news, the archbishop nonetheless “respects and understands when people follow their conscience.” Bishop Ferris “has always been a strong conservative voice in terms of his beliefs and he has held on to that,” he said.

A resident of British Columbia, Bishop Ferris will plant churches for ANiC in the jurisdictions of the Anglican Church of Canada’s Dioceses of New Westminster and British Colombia as well as assist ANiC Bishop Donald Harvey’s episcopal ministry.

A candidate for election as primate of the Canadian church in 2004, Bishop Ferris was elected Bishop of the Yukon in 1981 and was translated to the Diocese of Algoma in Ontario in 1995, retiring on Sept 30, 2008.

Bishop Ferris will join the former Bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, the Rt. Rev. Donald Harvey and the former Bishop of Brandon, the Rt. Rev. Malcolm Harding in providing episcopal leadership under the oversight of Bishop Venables for ANiC. Founded in 2007, ANiC has three bishops, 66 clergy, 26 congregations and an average Sunday attendance of 3200.

The secession of the highly regarded Bishop of Algoma comes as a blow to the Canadian Church. While Bishop Ferris had supported ANiC within the Canadian House of Bishops and was considered the leading voice amongst its conservative, his secession was unexpected.

However, it did draw warm words from Bishop Harvey. The newest addition to the ANiC fold has a “true pastor’s heart and is wholeheartedly dedicated to Christ’s ministry and service. I am grateful for the privilege of ministering together.”

Corporal punishment call: CEN 6.06.08 p 8. June 5, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Education, Uncategorized.
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Sparing the rod has spoiled the children of Ghana, the Bishop of Sekondi said last week. Bishop John Otoo called upon the Ghana Education Service to impose stricter disciplinary standards to combat the breakdown of order amongst the young, recommending the sparing use of corporal punishment and firm rules for student behavior.

“Heads, teachers and pupils, nowadays do not care to know the limitation of their bounds; they do not know their code of conduct, and are careless about discipline, therefore contributing heavily to the breakdown of the moral standard of our society,” Bishop Otoo, a former army colonel told the Ghanian Chronicle.

Education must not simply transfer knowledge, but instill discipline he said. Speaking at the dedication of a church school last month, Bishop Otoo said that creating an ordered and harmonious society began with the proper schooling of the young. Addressing indiscipline in schools would benefit the student, the education system and society as a whole.

Bishop Otoo placed some of the blame for juvenile delinquency on western pop culture, saying it sapped the moral fiber of the young.

Government hotline established for forced marriage victims: CEN 4.18.08 p 4. April 18, 2008

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Nigel McCullochThe Home Office has established a telephone hotline for victims of forced marriage and honour-based violence. The telephone “Honour Network” will be run by the charity Karma Nirvana, an Asian men and women’s project based in Derby, and is one of the first government programmes arising from the passage of the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act.

Scheduled to be implemented this autumn, the Act gives courts the power to issue Forced Marriage Protection Orders to stop forcible marriage and in cases where the marriage has already taken place, the courts will have the power to issue civil protection orders and remove the victim from the household.

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said the helpline “run by survivors, for survivors, is a big step in the fight to raise awareness of the issues of forced marriage and honour-based violence and is crucial in giving victims across the country the confidence to come forward.”

The extent of forcible marriage among Britain’s Asian community “remains unknown,” the minister said on April 11, and “much of the problem stays underground. We are determined across Government to continue engaging with local communities and taking action to protect victims to put an end to this appalling practice.”

Speaking for the Church of England during the debate last year on the Forced Marriage Act, the Bishop of Manchester stated the bishops’ bench welcomed the new laws.

“I know from heart-rending stories in Manchester that forced marriages happen and that the victims of that wholly unacceptable practice,” Bishop Nigel McCulloch (pictured) said, “need legislative protection.”

“Forced marriage is not only an abuse of human rights; it is also in faith terms a complete and utter contradiction,” he argued.

Marriage was “by definition a voluntary union for life between one woman and one man to the exclusion of all others,” the bishop said and was “an honourable estate, instituted of God … signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church.”

Scripture, Church tradition and the teachings of the Church of England “all emphasise that that mystical union is a sign of love that is freely given, not forced. That is why the essence of the Church of England marriage service is the public exchange of vows.”

“The giving of consent is its central and defining feature. Our marriage law in this country is shaped by that Christian understanding and the principle of consent. That is why it is wholly against our culture and legal framework to accept forced marriage that so offends that principle of consent, especially in sexual relations,” Bishop McCulloch said.

UK MPs find leap in anti-Semitism: Jerusalem Post, Sept 5, 2006 September 5, 2006

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LONDON – Anti-Zionism has fueled an explosive rise in anti-Semitism in the UK, an All-Party Parliamentary Enquiry into Anti-Semitism is expected to report to Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday.

A draft copy of the report, quoted by the Guardian newspaper, finds that anti-Israel activists and Islamist extremists have used criticism of Israel as a “pretext” for fomenting hatred against Jews in Britain.

The conclusions drawn by the 13-member panel of MPs support the findings of a study published last month by two Yale University professors, which reported that anti-Israel sentiments were a predictor of anti-Semitism.

The parliamentary committee was chaired by former minister for Europe Denis MacShane and included former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne and Birmingham Labor MP Khalid Mahmood. It found that a “minority of Islamic extremists” were responsible for “inciting hatred toward Jews.”

The government had not responded adequately to the upsurge in Jew-baiting, the study concluded, saying police and prosecutors had failed to tackle anti-Semitism with the same alacrity as they had other racist crimes.

The report warned against the sharp rise of anti-Semitic incidents across Britain, citing violence and physical intimidation, destruction of property and verbal abuse. It also criticized the academic boycott campaign against Israel, noting that “calls to boycott contacts with intellectuals and academics working in Israel are an assault on academic freedom and intellectual exchange,” the Guardian reported.

Anti-Semitism was “no longer a 1940s far-right phenomenon,” Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust (CST) told The Jerusalem Post; “it’s far wider than that. Jews are its first target, and it will not end there.”

Anti-Semitic incidents have risen threefold following the start of the conflict in Lebanon, said Gardner, a spokesman for the CST, an organization whose roots stretch back to the 1930s battles with Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists in London’s East End. July was the third-worst month on record. He added that he hoped this inquiry “brings a better realization that all of society is challenged” by the scourge of anti-Semitism.

Following the committee’s first meeting last November, MacShane stated there was “evidence that many British Jews are living with an unacceptable level of anxiety and discomfort as a result of a perceptible rise in anti-Semitism.”

British Jews had been “forced to spend much-needed resources on securing their schools, places of worship and community centers,” he said, noting that he hoped the committee’s “definitive report on the state of anti-Semitism in the UK” would guide the government in taking “positive steps” to “improve the situation.”

In July, MacShane wrote in his blog of his frustration in responding to voters in his South Yorkshire constituency who demonized Jews. “How do I explain politely to my constituents that the Holocaust did happen, that Jews have lived in Palestine for millennia, that the UN, not the UK, set up the State of Israel and that if the first point of politics is to demand the removal of the State of Israel, no one is going to get very far?” he asked.

A statistical link between anti-Semitic views and anti-Israel views was found in a study of 5,000 Europeans in 10 countries conducted by Profs. Edward Kaplan of Yale University’s School of Management and Charles Small of Yale’s Institute for Social and Policy Studies. The study supports the conclusions of the MacShane inquiry.

Central Florida Disassociates from Convention Actions: TLC Sept 29, 2003 September 29, 2003

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First printed in The Living Church magazine.

Clergy and lay deputies to a special convention in the Diocese of Central Florida Sept. 20 voted by a 4-to-1 margin to distance the diocese from the Episcopal Church.

Convention struck the words “Episcopal Church” from a compromise resolution offered by a coalition of 55 clergy who sought to reaffirm diocesan unity and continued participation with the See of Canterbury, the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church.

General Convention “triggered both a constitutional and a pastoral crisis throughout the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion,” the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, Bishop of Central Florida, said in his convention address.

In the course of a long day of debate that had 10 conservative for every one liberal speaker, the convention adopted an additional three resolutions: disassociating the diocese from the General Convention vote, endorsing the recent request made to worldwide Anglican primates by Episcopal bishops who seek the primates’ intervention in the pastoral emergency within the Episcopal Church, and eliminating diocesan contributions to the national church.