A weekly roundup of Anglican Communion news plus opinion, reviews, photos, profiles and other things of interest from across the Anglican/Episcopal world.
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Episcopalians contemplate implications of Osama bin Laden's death
Celebratory mood viewed with understanding, concern
By Mary Frances Schjonberg - Episcopal News Service
As some people in the United States and elsewhere in the world took to the streets to celebrate the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 1, Episcopalians began offering notes of caution and reflection to those reactions.
"I am not sorry that Osama bin Laden is dead … But I don't celebrate his death, either," the Rev. Jay Emerson Johnson wrote on his blog.
"That distinction, though subtle, is an important one for Christians who claim to be an 'Easter people,'" Johnson wrote, noting that the al-Qaeda founder's death came one week after Christians marked Easter. "Easter celebrates God's decisive victory over death. We taint that celebration if we find anyone's death a cause for celebration and jubilation, and perhaps especially when that death is violent."
Bin Laden was found and killed during an operation by U.S. military and intelligence members in a large compound in the city of Abbottabad, about an hour's drive north from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Just after 11:30 p.m. May 1, President Barack Obama went on national television to confirm reports that began circulating about an hour earlier about the military action and bin Laden's death.
"Justice has been done," Obama said.
The president, noting that he was echoing the words of his predecessor President George W. Bush, said that "our war is not against Islam" and he said bin Laden "was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims."
"Then I found myself feeling very solemn about the whole thing," Hollerith said. "I think the death of any human being is not to be joyfully celebrated. At the same time, I do believe that justice was done in this regard."
Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith wrote on his blog that "justice may sometimes involve violence; vengeance is always directed by violence -- of one sort or another. And the desire for vengeance lies close to the surface in everyone."
Crowds began to gather in front of the White House, at the site of the World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan and in Times Square, among other places, before Obama spoke, and they later grew in size. People in celebratory moods chanted "U.S.A., U.S.A," in tones that some reporters described as more common after an Olympic victory.
"I am deeply uneasy with the gloating and the cheering outside the White House, and elsewhere, as if this was a Super Bowl victory," the Rev. Jim Richardson, rector of St. Paul's Memorial Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, wrote on his blog May 3.
About 15 minutes after Obama concluded his announcement, Diana Butler Bass, a writer and educator, asked on her Facebook wall, "What if we responded in reverent prayer and quiet introspection instead of patriotic frenzy? That would be truly American exceptionalism."
Fifteen minutes later she wrote: "Sometimes I realize that I'm really a biblical literalist at heart: 'Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.' (Proverbs 24:17)"
The Very Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, dean of Washington National Cathedral, said in a May 3 statement that those at the cathedral "share with our fellow Americans a sense of relief that Osama bin Laden's life of hatred and violence is over."
"As followers of the Prince of Peace, however, we Christians regret profoundly the necessity of this killing," Lloyd added.
Diocese of Central Pennsylvania Bishop Nathan Baxter said that while he understands the desire to celebrate bin Laden's death, he urged caution "lest we lose [sight] of the most important work of peace and understanding in the politically named 'War on Terrorism.'"
"The work of everyday Americans, especially Christians, is to live into the best of our faith teachings, resist extremists' abuse in any religion, and guard the dignity of our neighbor, especially Muslims," he wrote.
In Maine, Bishop Steve Lane wrote on his blog that he was having trouble sorting out his emotions about bin Laden's death until he woke up May 2 to read that a mosque in Portland had been vandalized with graffiti equating the al-Qaeda leader with Islam. That act, he wrote, put his feelings in sharp focus.
Saying he is a pacifist as well as a Christian, Lane wrote that "every person, however sinful, is a child of God for whom Christ died."
"I trust that God is attending to bin Laden in a manner that surpasses my understanding," Lane wrote.
The bishop called for "prayerful reflection on Jesus' call to love our enemies" and "prayers for peace and for all the victims of the spiraling violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and all across our globe."
Some Episcopal Church parishes reflected on bin Laden's death during regularly scheduled worship services or special gatherings. During the daily noon Eucharist May 2 at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, in the Diocese of Los Angeles, the Rev. Susan Russell changed the readings from the propers for the upcoming Sunday, as is All Saints' custom, to ones centered on peace and reconciliation. They included Micah's prophecy of a time when all people would gather in peace on the mountain of the Lord, Psalm 85's prediction that righteousness and peace would one day kiss each other and Jesus' call in the gospel of Matthew to love one's enemies and pray for one's persecutors.
The Rev. Ed Bacon, who is on sabbatical, sent a statement on behalf of himself, the wardens and the vestry to the parish which Russell read during her homily. The statement said that bin Laden's death "presented an important moment of reflection, prayer and action for peace-loving people around the globe."
"We understand and share a sense of relief and visceral satisfaction that bin Laden's physical voice is silent," it said. "A mass murderer is dead."
The statement noted that "Jesus calls us to a new way of being" that involves praying for enemies.
"The nature of the global network of care demands that perpetrators be captured and brought to trial under the rule of law," it said. "The rule of law must prevail over the rule of war… We must see today the dangers and distractions of triumphalism and celebrations of another's death."
Bacon and the lay leaders called for a united global effort to "replace policies of retaliation and humiliation against enemies with passionate, imaginative diplomacy."
Russell, whose son serves in the U.S. Army, said earlier in her homily that she had wrestled with complex emotions after hearing about bin Laden's death. "I am more grateful at this moment than I have words to express that I have a liturgical container for all of the complicated thoughts and feelings, anxieties and fears, reliefs and all the rest of it," she told the congregation.
At the Parish of St. Clement in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Rev. Liz Zivanov invited members to a gathering on the evening of May 3 to discuss a Christian response to the death of Osama bin Laden."
-- The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is national correspondent for the Episcopal News Service.
Archbishop Henri Orombi: Celebrating victory over the troubles of this world
The Primates' Easter message from churchofuganda.org
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.”
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
When Jesus made the profound declaration, “I have overcome the world”, the disciples must have thought he meant that the end of all their earthly troubles was near. They must have been excited at the prospect of the Messiah overcoming the current leadership and taking over the affairs of all Israel, if you like.
But a few chapters on, the Bible tells us that the disciples were faced with the reality of Jesus’ death, and the pain and disappointment they experienced; the agony of watching their dreams crushed right infront of their eyes.
2000 years later, societies have since grown and developed in many aspects, but we remain the same as humans. Human beings always hope for a better tomorrow, keep trying when they could have given up; keep believing in the power of miracles to make their worlds better. Like the disciples, we cling to every hope that we are given as an ultimate solution to our problems. We cling to money, we cling to power, we cling to Charismatic leaders and to those we believe can bring about the change we hope for.
And many times, like in the chapters that follow this passage- we become disillusioned. We are crushed when our expectations remain unmet. When food and fuel prices are soaring; when our young ones remain unemployed; and when our mothers, wives and sisters die during child birth. Like the disciples, we wonder what happened to the solution we had so much hope and faith in to make our world a better place.
The truth is, we cannot forget the fact that Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” Our troubles are not only physical, but also spiritual, and emotional. We have all sorts of troubles, unending, like a vicious cycle. And we ask ourselves, why is life so hard? When will the days get better? When will we see no trouble? When will our tears stop flowing? When will this end?
Brothers and Sisters, the truth of the matter is that while we are here on earth, our troubles will continue. That is why, it is important to look to the one who overcame the world for victory over your worldly troubles. He made the world, he knows the troubles of the world and he alone can give you grace for your troubles.
The resurrection of Christ is the one assurance we have that we too will overcome the world and its troubles. Jesus’ act of dying and rising again, gives us a different attitude towards the trouble we experience here on earth.
It is true that at the moment, the cost of living in Uganda is very high. The levels of disgruntlement are manifested in the headlines of our papers and on the screen. The growing number of street children, high morbidity rates, poor nutrition and social abominations like child sacrifice rage on. How can we face the challenges of our time?
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Jesus is also the provider of all our needs; after all he owns Heaven and Earth. It is about time that we realise that our victory over the troubles we face lies in Jesus alone.
Ugandans, your faith is under test. Will you look to Him who remembered you even at his darkest moment.
In the act of dying on the cross, Jesus catered for all these things. At the cross we find freedom from the power sin and death. Through Jesus we find much needed peace to carry us through the storms of life and only through Jesus do we actually get the wisdom to find solutions to our troubles.
My prayer this holiday is that each one of will take time to reflect on the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection; to know that through his death, we receive victory over the world and its challenges.
May you be inspired by Christ’s attitude towards those who oppressed him and abused his rights- that you too will always be forgiving and tolerant of others different from yourselves.
May those in leadership also learn fom Christ; he used his authority not to oppress the poor but to lift them and bring healing and hope into their lives. Leaders are servants of the people, using your power and mechanisms to oppress others is ungodly. Leadership should have space to talk and listen to their people.
Above all, may all Ugandans know and celebrate the victory over sin and death.
I congratulate all Ugandans for completing the elections in relative peace. The fact that you chose to be tolerant of one another and to choose peace over violence is an answer to our prayer. We made a choice to remain a family in spite of our differences.
I send sympathies to those suffering in Japan from the effects of the Tsunami and the nuclear exposure thereafter. I also empathise with all those in the Arab world, particularly, the Christian community as they endure civil unrest and cry for reform. May God comfort all those who call to him in distress.
I ask all Ugandans to continualy adopt peaceful, lawful, and unifying strategies to address their challenges. Disgruntled people should ensure that they do not encroach on the rights of others to go about their business. Government, especially institutions like the Police and Defence forces, should remember that they are servants to the Ugandan people; their duty is to maintain order in society using the most peaceful methods possible. Abuse of power, of authority acts as a catalyst to disgruntlement and produces a vicious cycle of unrest.
I send Easter greetings to His Excellency the President, Maama Janet and the family; The Vice President and his family; The Prime Minister and his family; the Kabaka of Buganda and all cultural leadership and the Members of Parliament in our nation.
I send greetings to all religious leaders in Uganda especially, the Council of Presidents of Inter-religious Council of Uganda, Co-chairs of Uganda Joint Christian Council and all Christians as they celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.
May we make this a season to celebrate the victory we have over our troubles through Christ’s resurrection.
Yes, he is ALIVE!
To God be the Glory!
The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi
Japan farm is testing daily for radiation
Nearly two months following the Japan earthquake on 11 March, USPG’s church partners continue to live in fear.
From USPG's website
Steven Cutting is based at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI), where USPG sends community leaders for training in agriculture.
He reported: ‘Exactly one month after the quake, we had one of the biggest aftershocks. The tension that has slowly been dissipating came back instantly.
‘These aftershocks, big and small, continue daily. Last night there were at least four. Each time you feel the tremor, you wonder if this one will evolve into another huge quake. And sometimes you realise there was no shaking at all – it was only the wind blowing or your heart beating.’
ARI is about to intake 22 students from churches around the world. In recent years, USPG has sponsored students from Myanmar, Malawi and the Philippines.
ARI is located 110km from the unstable nuclear power plant in Fukushima. However, due to the ongoing radiation hazard, the institute will initially hold training at a site further from the power plant, close to Tokyo.
'Each morning we share updates on radiation'
Steven said: ‘We are longing to return to some sense of normalcy. Each morning we share updates on the nuclear power plant situation, report the wind direction and radiation levels in the air and water, and decide our daily work.
‘As I write this, the wind is blowing from east to west and is swirling all around Japan. Up to now it has been blowing consistently towards the sea. It is not very comforting to know that our wellbeing rests on something as fickle as the direction of the wind.’
He added: ‘No matter what level is said to be safe I never thought that I would have to decide how much radiation is OK for my kids. The fact that ARI water has been tested clean (at least for the time being) is a huge relief.’
ARI is exploring ways for independently testing its soil and food products, and is experimenting with using micro-organisms to clean radiation from the soil.
Steven said: ‘ARI’s life of self-sufficiency is given even greater meaning by this disaster.
‘The disaster has also tested us in unexpected ways and, at the same time, brought us closer together. When you shake the foundations in life, you find the things that are truly strong, truly important.’
Christians under attack again in Pakistan
The atmosphere is tense in Gujrunwala, Pakistan, this week, following attacks on a Christian homes a school and church.
Many Christians have fled the area, following the violence on Saturday 30 April, which left some 50 people wounded and resulted in 25 arrests, according to newspaper reports.
The violence followed the release of two Christian men who had been accused of desecrating the Qur'an by writing on it and burning pages.
Police had arrested them two weeks before. It soon became clear the accusations were fabricated after the police employed a handwriting expert to test whether the men wrote the offending words.
On Friday 29th, rumours began circulating that the men had been released, although the police had kept them in protective custody. This is what is thought to have sparked the violence.
On Saturday morning mobs attacked Christian homes in the Aziz Colony in Gujrunwala. Police responded with tear gas and shots fired into the air.
The fear was intense, reported one senior faculty member at Gujrunwala Theological Seminary* on Saturday: "All [the] community is under siege and cannot even get out of their houses. Police and civil authorities are trying to control the situation but it seems to be out of control."
The situation seemed broadly under control by Tuesday 3 May, with police maintaining a significant round-the-clock presence on the streets, particularly around Aziz Colony.
Also on Tuesday police arrested two Muslims from Aziz Colony in their continuing investigation to find the real culprits of the Qur'an desecration, reported another correspondent, a student at the United Bible Training Centre (UBTC) in Gujrunwala. "They think one of them did this just [because] he wanted to create problem for Christians," wrote the student.
At least 3,000 Christian families fled the area for Lahore and Sialkot, said the Express Tribune newspaper on Sunday. They feared 'another Gojra' – the incident in July 2009 when eight Christians were killed in retaliation for supposed desecration of the Qur'an.
The violence came at the end of two weeks of tension following the initial allegations. Christians in Pakistan ask our prayers that the police investigation will yield results quickly. "If it takes time we will suffer," said the UBTC student.
However, the Express Tribune's report ended on an encouraging note: "The incident is the first where, despite having two people clearly accused of blasphemy, the police did not bow to intense pressure from religious and political parties."
*Sources are not named for their protection
Mothers' Union to hold their 2011 General Meeting in Scotland, UK
Professor Tanya Byron has agreed to be a keynote speaker at Mothers' Union's General Meeting - Tanya Byron is a chartered clinical chartered psychologist, an author, broadcaster and professor. Tanya is also known for her on screen expertise on The House of Tiny Tearaways and books such as Little Angels, Your Child Your Way and many more.
Mothers’ Union’s General Meeting 2011 will be held on Thursday 9th June, at the world famous Usher Hall in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is one of the most vibrant cities in Europe and Usher Hall is a wonderful venue with the capacity to accommodate at least 2000 visitors.
The General Meeting will commence at 10.30am, with doors opening at 10.00am and tickets priced at £7.50.
The Service of Celebration is being held in two locations St Mary’s Scottish Episcopal Cathedral, Palmeston Place and St John’s Church on Princes Street. Both service’s are held on the evening of the 8th June and start at 7.30pm. Unfortunately the Service of Celebration at St Mary’s Cathedral is completely full! However there are still a limited number of seats available for St John’s Church.
The Church for sinful addicts
By Giles Fraser writing in the Church Times
I met a man the other day who had spent 20 years as a heroin addict. He is now the CEO of a large and well-known company, and married with children. The only suggestion of previous addiction was the can of Coke in his hand as the rest of us drank wine. He has been clean for nearly 25 years, but still goes to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) every week.
I am on day four of giving up smoking, again. It’s not the same as a heroin habit, I know. But it is interesting how addiction stays with you. I gave up smoking several years ago, and I really thought I had cracked it. But, one night last December, I just had the one, and then was back on 20 a day within a week. It was madness. Was it weakness of will? That, of course, is a common explanation of addiction. But my new friend understood it completely differently. Addicts actually have incredibly strong wills, he argued — in fact, too strong. How else can they resist the pressure of friends and family constantly calling on them to quit? No, the addict’s will is so strong that he or she is endlessly inventive to justify a reason for the next fix; endlessly devious in finding new opportunities for a puff or a line.
This is why, my friend believes, the only way to recover fully is to hand your will over to others — or, as a Christian might put it, to an Other. Thus, for instance, if he was planning to go on a trip, he would ask those at his NA meeting whether they thought it was a good idea. They would see the risks, understand the temptations, and smell out the bogus justifications that we use to return to our drug. If they said no, he wouldn’t go on the trip.
I have long felt that groups such as Narcotics Anonymous offer a model for a persuasive ecclesiology. Human beings are sinful creatures. Sin is an addiction, even for those who have been clean for years. A good church is a place where you can have the trust to hand your will over to others — as well as to an Other. A good church is a place where we all acknowledge our addiction, and can help each other with honesty and fellow-feeling. This is why church can be so easily corrupted by respectability, by the desire to pretend and to tut-tut.
I was having a fag outside the new Bishop of Ely’s enthronement the other day. Another cleric saw me, and screwed up his face in obvious disapproval. If my ecclesiology has some merit, then that face is how the Church dies. Snooty respectability kills it by acting as if we, as church, have been cured of our addiction. No: what we need to do is to support each other in our battle against sin, not to pretend that we are somehow beyond it.
The Revd Dr Giles Fraser is Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, England.
PUBLICATION OF THE WEEK
Why not take a look at the new websites of Archbishops Rowan Williams at http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org and John Sentamu at http://www.archbishopofyork.org ? Both sites are packed with photos, stories, and videos detailing their ministries.
A sheep in wolf's clothing?
Developing Consciousness - A Roadmap of the Journey to Enlightenment
(From the publishers' promotional material)
When is a book a Christian book? That is the debate that is raging around Nicholas Vesey's groundbreaking Developing Consciousness - A Roadmap of the Journey to Enlightenment. Written with non-Christian sensibilities firmly in mind, it reads like any other 'New Age' book until about half way through. Anglican priest Nicholas Vesey has constructed a book positioning Christianity as an eastern religion where seekers can find 'enlightenment' like Buddhism, Taoism or Hinduism.
"This book is aimed at people who wouldn't normally go anywhere near the church," says author Nicholas Vesey. "It is an attempt to build a bridge between contemporary Christianity and the Christian tradition. The pitch is: 'if you're seeking enlightenment, then why not find it in the Christian tradition?'"
For more information visit http://www.developingconsciousness.net
ANGLICAN CYCLE OF PRAYER Click here for the full ACP
Psalm: 78:1-8 Exod. 13:1-16
Newark - (Province II, USA) The Rt Revd Mark M. Beckwith
Sunday 08-May-2011 Easter 3 Julian of Norwich, Spiritual Writer, c.1417
Psalm: 85:8-13 Heb. 5:1-6
Newcastle (AUS) - (New South Wales, Australia) The Rt Revd Brian George Farran
Suffragan Bishop of Newcastle (AUS) - (New South Wales, Australia) The Rt Revd Peter Stuart
Psalm: Luke 1:68-75 Heb. 5:7-10
Ngbo - (Province of the Niger, Nigeria) The Rt Revd Christian Ebisike
Psalm: 78:17-30 Exod. 14:1-14
Nicaragua - (Central America) The Rt Revd Sturdie Downs
Psalm: 78:32-39 Exod. 14:15-22
Niger Delta North - (Province of the Niger Delta, Nigeria) The Rt Revd Ignatius Kattey
Niger Delta West - (Province of the Niger Delta, Nigeria) The Rt Revd Adoluphus Amabebe
Niger Delta, The - (Province of the Niger Delta, Nigeria) The Rt Revd Gabriel H Pepple
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Disclaimer: The Weekly Review is a summary of news, information and resources gathered from around the Anglican Communion over the past week. The views expressed in Weekly Review do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Anglican Communion Office.