A weekly roundup of Anglican Communion news plus opinion, reviews, photos, profiles and other things of interest from across the Anglican/Episcopal world.
This edition includes...
Bishop of Harare uses Pastoral letter to encourage the faithful and avoid violence
To all the Faithful in the Diocese of Harare CPCA
Mukristu Usanete! Namata Urinde! Christian seek not yet repose! Watch and Pray!
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be yours in abundance. Amen.
One of the many lessons we learn from the Day of Pentecost is that the Pentecost experience was a first hand one for the disciples. They knew what had happened to them and in them. They knew the shades and subtleties, the nuances and novelty of this experience; and so they went out into the world and started telling people their story, their first hand story, with power. They had experienced firsthand the power and grace of God, that power of God that raised Jesus from the dead, that power and grace of God that filled their lives; that power and grace of God that changed their sinful lives; that power and grace of God that filled them with forgiveness (Acts 2). Wow! What a firsthand story to tell. We too have a firsthand story to tell about our experience of the power and grace of God in exile. Let us share that story powerfully to the glory of our gracious God.
Two things have been brought to our attention. First, that there are some aspiring politicians who are telling some of our people that they can help us because they have access to the State President. We would like you all to know that our case is pending in the Supreme Court and that if we need to have an audience with His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, we know the acceptable channels to follow. Don’t fall prey to those who want to gain political mileage out of our suffering. Resist those who may want to use our gatherings for their political ambitions. The church is for all people of God regardless of their differences that include political allegiances.
Second, threats to harm some of our rural clergy and local rural church leadership have reached our ears. Do not take these threats lightly. Please report such threats to life to the police and keep us informed. The police are obligated to protect all people without favour. We ask all our parishes to be vigilant and to be your brothers and sisters keepers.
Our diocese condemns all forms of violence and particularly political violence and therefore we urge all the faithful to shun violence. It is an affront to God’s all encompassing love and unbecoming of those who claim to know him. Let the whole world know that we are his disciples by our love for each other Jn. 13:34. Remember the words of St. John the Divine that we cannot claim to love God when we hate (harm and kill) our brothers and sisters whom we can see (1 Jn. 4:20-21). Do read 1 Jn. 3:13-20 as well.
The date for the Supreme Court hearing of our case has not yet been set. We will inform you all once we are notified of the date. In the mean time we encourage you all to persevere in prayer. Continue to uphold in prayer your priests and their families, who together with their local leadership continue to face huge challenges and some of those in the rural areas have had their lives threatened. Remember that the price for our freedom in Christ is eternal vigilance. Care for each other especially in these troubled times.
We love you and we uphold you in our prayers. God is our refuge and a stronghold, a timely help in trouble; so we are not afraid though the earth shakes … The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress (Ps. 46:1-2, 11).
I look forward to seeing you in Marondera for the Bernard Mizeki commemorations during the weekend of 22 to 24 June.
Your Bishop & fellow prisoner of hope,
Japanese faith groups oppose re-starting nuclear reactors
By Hisashi Yukimoto, ENInews
A growing number of faith groups and individuals, citing the quake-triggered Fukushima nuclear crisis, are joining voices in Japanese society opposing the re-start of two nuclear power plant reactors in the central Fukui prefecture (state).
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has said that re-starting the Oi nuclear plant nos. 3 and 4 reactors, run by the Kansai Electric Power Co., is necessary to avoid electricity shortages in the peak summer usage season.
Japan's last operating commercial nuclear reactor -- the Tomari plant on the island of Hokkaido -- went offline on 5 May for mandatory routine maintenance, leaving the nation without atomic-generated electricity for the first time in 42 years.
Japan has 50 nuclear power plants that account for about 30 percent of its electrical generation, but since the damage at Fukushima from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, they have been subject to safety reviews.
"Restarting the Oi Nuclear Power Plant would be regrettable" if the majority of people have not accepted it, Teruo Kuribayashi, a Japanese theologian and author of books on Christian ethics of nuclear technology, told ENInews in an email.
"Considering the risks of severe accidents and radioactive pollution, it is very questionable if nuclear power plant is a kind of technology that God calls good," he added.
"It's natural for us to oppose the plan" to restart the Oi plant, the Rev. Shingo Naito, who chairs the Peace and Nuclear Issues Committee of the National Christian Council in Japan, told ENInews.
On 30 May, the Inter-faith Forum for Review of National Nuclear Policy, a Tokyo-based anti-nuclear network led by Buddhists, Christians, and a Shintoist, submitted a petition opposing the restart of the Oi plant to Fukui governor Issei Nishikawa.
In the petition, they said Nishikawa should "share the sadness of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster" and "wake up to the foolishness of restarting nuclear power plants, with radiation victims among nuclear power plant workers and residents in their vicinities."
Meanwhile, a team from the Christian Network for Nuke-Free Earth, an interdenominational group based in Chiba, east of Tokyo, plans to adopt a joint statement on 9 June with civic groups in the city of Hakodate in Hokkaido.
The statement is meant to be "a message to the world" to "realize a post-nuclear power society" and ask Japan not to resume construction of the Ohma nuclear plant in Aomori prefecture south of Hokkaido, not to resume operations of any nuclear power plant and halt a nuclear fuel project in Aomori prefecture.
The adoption of the statement is part of a five-day tour from 5 June to nuclear power plants and reprocessing facilities of used nuclear fuels in northern Japan.
In April, the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace released a statement signed by its president, Bishop Daiji Tani, also opposing the Oi plant restart, saying it involves ethical problems. The council urged governments to tackle conversion to renewable energy "as an urgent task."
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Bishops urge Obama to intervene in UN funding cut for Gaza hospital
By Matthew Davies, Episcopal News Service
[Click here to watch a video of Suhaila Tarazi, director of the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, speaks about the vital ministry of the healthcare institution run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East]
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has ended its financial support to the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, an institution run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East.
The decision, made June 1, cuts the hospital’s budget nearly by half.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori along with 101 Episcopal Church bishops from 43 states and the District of Columbia have written to U.S. President Barack Obama calling for his intervention in reversing the decision that, they say, could have “disastrous consequences for the more than two million residents of Gaza, already living in conditions of profound humanitarian need.”
UNRWA’s decision, after nearly two decades of partnership with the hospital, comes “without public justification … and threatens to debilitate the hospital, its 120-person staff, and the many thousands of Gazans who rely on it for primary and urgent care and treatment,” the bishops say.
Founded as a mission of the Anglican Church in 1882, the hospital became a part of the diocese in 1982. Today, it is among more than 30 institutions run by the Jerusalem-based diocese.
The hospital provides primary and emergency care to the almost exclusively Muslim population in Gaza, “and does so without proselytizing or discriminating on the basis of religion, ethnicity, politics, or social identification,” the bishops say. “It is the only facility of its sort in the Gaza Strip that is not run by the Hamas government and as such, it is able to provide care without any outside interference or political calculation. Its continued operation thus is in the inherent interests of the United States government.”
Hospital Director Suhaila Tarazi, in a recent interview with ENS, said that the hospital is “a place of peace, a place of reconciliation, a place of love.”
The hospital serves about 42,000 outpatients and 4,800 inpatients per annum, and runs specific programs for children and the elderly. It provides services in general surgery, general medicine, gynecology and obstetrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, among other areas.
“We provide medical care to all people, especially the poor, without any discrimination,” said Tarazi. “As a Christian hospital we have the full respect from all the community because we are for all.”
Jefferts Schori, lead signatory of the bishops’ letter, met Tarazi in March 2008 when she visited Gaza and the hospital. The presiding bishop witnessed firsthand some of the desperate living conditions Palestinians in Gaza face daily. Although unemployment levels have dropped from 80 to about 42 percent in the last 4 years, more than 70 percent of Gazans still live below the World Health Organization poverty line.
Trade and services to Gaza are mostly controlled by Israel, which views the Hamas government and Islamic militants as a threat against its security. Israeli airstrikes in Gaza continue as a response to Islamic militants firing rockets into southern Israel.
Regular power cuts, food and water shortages, and lack of fuel place immense pressure on the daily medical services provided by the hospital.
“There is a shortage of medical supplies, in particular anesthesia,” said Tarazi. “So many times we’ve cancelled operations.”
Tarazi also told ENS that on most days the hospital operates without electricity for between 16 and 23 hours.
“It is not hyperbole to say … that the humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip are as severe as any on earth, or that Al Ahli Hospital is a rare and absolutely vital source of genuine good news in that context,” the bishops write in their letter. “The decision of UNRWA to terminate its support for the hospital is utterly indefensible and must be reversed.”
UNRWA’s support has amounted to approximately $1 million per year, or nearly half of the hospital’s $2.4 million budget.
“Mr. President, in asking for your personal intervention, we appeal to you as a person of faith who has spoken stirringly of the need for reconciliation between the children of Abraham. Al Ahli hospital is doing the work you have articulated, but in order to continue, it needs the support of friends from around the world,” the bishops write. “As professionally superb as the hospital is, it cannot survive without international donor support, the largest portion of which has heretofore come from UNRWA.”
“This unfortunate decision aggravates a desperate and desperately sad situation,” Anne Lynn, director of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, told ENS. “If this decision is not reversed, the hospital’s capacity to serve those in need will be drastically reduced. The people in Gaza have depended on this facility for 130 years.”
The American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem provides some financial assistance to the hospital that serves the predominantly Muslim population in Gaza.
Praising Tarazi and Ahli’s medical professionals for their “courageous ministry,” Lynn said: “In a place of fear and violence, the hospital is an oasis of calm and peace. We as a community of faith must come together to insure that this ministry continues.”
Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani told ENS in a recent interview that Christ is present in Ahli Hospital through the work of healing. “The institutions are the arm of witness to the Lord in this land.”
– Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.
Forced Conversion in Pakistan
From the newsletter of the Diocese of Peshawar
An Interfaith Conference was held on the topic of ‘Building Peace & Harmony’ through interfaith joint efforts, at the Pearl Continental Hotel, Abbottabad on May 15. The conference addressed the followers of various religions to work together, and to show unity in building a good image of the country.
The Rt. Revd. Humphrey S. Peters, Bishop of Peshawar, Dr. Atta-ul-Rehman, Chief Nazim, Rabta al- Madaras al-Islamia, and Mollana Mehboob al-Rehman, Khateeb, Ilyasi Mosque, Abbottabad, were the guests of honour.
The programme started with prayer by the Bishop’s Chaplain, Revd. May 15, 2012: The Ministry for National Harmony,Government of Pakistan organized a seminar at Islamabad Hotal, Islamabad. The topic was, “Forced Conversion in Pakistan”.
Religious leaders from various faith communities and from various sects of Muslim majority were among the participants. Dr. Paul Bhatti, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan with the authority of Federal Minister, Pakistan and Chair, All Pakistan Minority Alliance welcomed all the guests at this occasion. Mr. Akram Masih Gill, the Minister of State for National Harmony also accompanied him.
The seminar specially focused on the forceful conversion of Hindus and Christians girls who are kidnapped by majority Muslim land lords or well to do people and forced to marry.
The Rt. Revd. Humphrey S. Peters was also invited as one of the eight main speakers at the seminar. The Bishop stressed that (i) The Religious Minorities of Pakistan must be given equal rights according to the founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s presidential address to the constituent assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 and Article 25 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973. (ii) Age of the abducted girls must be determined by the Court. (iii) Police must register the cases lodged by the aggrieved parents. (iv) At the time of Courts decisions, the girls must be allowed to meet their parents. Unless we are serious this menace will never end.
Three Stories from Dogura Diocese
From ABM - Anglican Board of Mission's website
Dr Julianne Stewart, Programs Director for ABM returned from a week-long visit to Dogura Diocese. Dogura is the place where Australian Anglican missionaries first landed and began their work of preaching, teaching and healing in the lands that are now Papua New Guinea. The station itself is beautifully located on a plateau in the foothills of the Owen Stanley Ranges, looking out over Goodenough Bay, nestled within Milne Bay Province, and it is centrally located to access rural communities along the coast and inland to the mountains.
ABM and the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea are in partnership to provide Literacy, grassroots community development and HIV/AIDS and Gender Awareness programs to communities in Papua New Guinea serviced by the Anglican Church. In Dogura diocese, as in many parts of PNG, people in remote communities often have not had access to education, to knowledge about health and nutrition, to basic life skills such as growing and cooking healthy foods, sewing clothes, making crafts, knowledge about small scale income generation, and awareness about the negative impact of understandings of gender on women’s and families’ health and well-being
She has shared the stories of three local people who are supporting the Anglican church threre on the ABM website here
Learn more about the work of ABM in its autumn magazine Partners here
The latest news from the Anglican Church of Kenya
From the Anglican Church of Kenya
The ‘Ministry of Abundant life’ is the publication of the Anglican Church of Kenya, Directorate of Social Services, highlighting the work of the church in mission and social transformation.
Here's the editor's summary of the latest: "The Anglican Church of Kenya's one-of-a-kind revival conference reaching out to all denominations. There was a consistent call to influence the society we live in through reading of Scriptures to shed light in a world where values are compromised, church attendance trivialized and social life disintegrated.
Representatives from the provincial office, dioceses and Christian Community services met at ACK St. Julian’s Conference Centre to develop a strategic direction on caring for creation as a God given mandate. The two days meeting focused on analyzing the desired outcomes in a church that cares for creation based on Biblical
The constitutional provision for inclusion of women in leadership challenged the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) to be more proactive in her gender approaches, equity and role modeling of women leaders. A project training women on governance is ongoing.
Internationally, a working group on Communications reviewed the Anglican communion and considered what steps the Communion could take to strengthen its Provincial and global communications. The group consisting of communications professionals from five continents had earlier carried an online survey in which 33 provinces responded."
For more visit the website at http://www.ackdoss.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Diocese of St Asaph announces a year of pilgrimage
From the Diocese of St Asaph's website
The Welsh diocese of St Asaph has announced that 2013 is to be year of pilgrimage. The announcement states: There is a sense in which every Christian is on a pilgrimage. We recognise that we are simply passing through this world and heading for something much greater.
With that in mind, we have decided to make 2013 a “Year of Pilgrimage” for the Diocese of St Asaph.
We’re encouraging every parish, deanery, school or other organisation to take part in a series of events to mark the occasion.
Initially it was thought we might host another “Diocesan Event”, similar to the Feeding of the Five Thousand back in 2001 but instead we will use Pilgrimage as a focus for a variety of events across a 12 month period.
It’s hoped the Year of Pilgrimage will provide a focus for Church members across the Diocese as well as forging further links with holy places and helping to promote religious tourism in north Wales.
The countdown is now underway and the Year of Pilgrimage will be officially begin on St Asaph’s Day 2013 as Bishop Gregory joins the Bishop of Monmouth the Rt Revd Dominic Walker to launch the event on Offa’s Dyke. The Diocese of Monmouth designated 2012 a Year of Pilgrimage, so they will officially hand the baton to St Asaph.
It’s hoped parishes, deaneries and schools will make their own pilgrimages to St Asaph Cathedral and to other holy sites both here and further afield. There will also be special liturgy, prayers and a study course to provide a focus.
You can already download our Litany for the announcement of the Year of Pilgrimage, bilingually here.
A map is being produced to include all the holy places around the Diocese and there will be strong links with Pennant Melangell – a place of Pilgrimage right on our doorstep – as well as with the North Wales Pilgrim’s Way.
The picture shows parishioners from Southsea on a pilgrimage to St Tecla's Well in Llandegla.
Archdeacon Shirley is heading up the working group who are putting together the Year of Pilgrimage.
She said: “This is an exciting venture which is already generating a great deal of interest throughout the diocese.
“The Year of Pilgrimage will be an opportunity for us all to reflect on where we are on our spiritual journey and to refresh ourselves for the future.
'It will also be an opportunity for us to highlight the many holy sites we are privileged to have on our doorstep and we hope to inspire others to discover this rich Christian heritage.'"
To hear a proclamation about this from the diocese's Bishop Gregory click here
Video games in church?Posted on by Jesse Dymond
“What is wrong with the inspiring hymns with which we grew up? When I go to church, it is to worship God, not to be distracted.” It’s a question most of us in the church have heard, if not asked, in our continued struggle to contextualize the Gospel message and our religious traditions in the world around us. But in this case, the question was asked in a letter written in 1890 about the new-fangled hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus.” Shocking? Perhaps. But it’s a good reminder that while change is hard, time changes our perspective.
Andy Robertson draws the parallel in his Church Times article, Not to be consoled as to console. He isn’t, however, talking about innovative new music or liturgy. You see, Andy is computer-games journalist. He speaks openly about finding meaning “among smartphones, tablet computers, and game consoles.”
Earlier this year, members of Exeter Cathedral were invited to play a video game during an evening service. To Robertson, it simply made sense: worshippers were able to control a simulated flower petal as the wind blew it though the fields. It seemed a perfect compliment to the Liturgy’s creation theme. Despite the community’s positive experience, the media was less understanding, calling the game “a gimmick.”
The article raises all sorts of questions for me, as I’m sure it does for you. Was the integration of a video game considered to be novel and/or distracting because it was outside of the traditional worship experience, or was it because it involved a certain kind of technology? Would a passive use of technology like watching a video have been more widely accepted than an interactive one, where worshippers were invited to take part? Or are we simply uncomfortable making the connection between worship and play?
Granted, different symbols and styles of worship reach different communities. But I wonder if we’re seeing something more here. What do you think?
Jesse was writing for The Community which the Anglican Church of Canada says describes as "a safe place [online] for Anglicans to get together and talk about life in the church. It has several parts:
Fancy yourself as a church communicator?
The Episcopal Church's online news service ENS (Episcopal News Service) is inviting people to grab their pen and reporter's notepad and help share news and information about the life and work of the church where they are.
An invitation to help spread the good news of what God is doing through the Episcopal Church can be found on the ENS website: "Episcopal News Service offers in-depth reporting and analysis of local, regional, national and international news for Episcopalians and others interested in the church’s mission and ministry.
"ENS welcomes submissions, including live event coverage, news stories, feature articles and commentaries. Contact an ENS editor before submitting your story to discuss relevance, the appropriate angle, word count, deadline and photo opportunities."
As with all news and information from Anglican Communion churches, ENS material is often re-issued via ACNS across the world, so your article may be also read by people in upward of 165 countries.
Fear and Friendship - Anglicans Engaging with Islam
edited by Sarah Coakley and Frances Ward
Information from publisher's website: "Offers a new depth of theological thinking in Anglican/Muslim engagement, founded in narratives of real encounters in parish and cathedral life in contemporary Britain.
Many encounters between people of different religions are marked by an initial sense of incompetence, ignorance and fear-- of getting it wrong, of causing offence, of ulterior motives. Such fears are here explored honestly, in stories of actual situations and relationships – often unexpected, sometimes funny, invariably profound. Friendship is presented as a public rather than merely a private phenomenon, enabling relations of trust and depth to develop and leading to the possibility of authentic talk and reciprocity of respect and courtesy.
It emerges as a risky venture in learning how to be human, involving honest negotiation, self-sacrifice and a seeking after the truth. It can enable people to address the fears that so often prohibit inter-religious encounters from deepening beyond the superficial.
A strong underlying theme is how the Church of England can contribute to social cohesion in a religiously pluralistic society, even if local clergy and congregations at first feel untrained or wary."
The book is available online here www.continuum.com
Psalm: 6:1-9 Jdg 5:19-31
Cueibet - (Sudan) The Rt Revd Elijah Mutaney Awate
Psalm: 7:1-11,17 Mk 6:30-44
Cuernavaca - (Mexico) The Rt Revd James Ottley
Sunday 10-Jun-2012 Pentecost 2
Psalm: 8 Mk 6:45-56
PRAY for The Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma) The Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo Archbishop of Myanmar and Bishop of Yangon
Psalm: 9:1-10 Mk 7:1-23
Curitiba - (Brazil) The Rt Revd Naudal Alves Gomes
Psalm: 10:1-12,16-18 Mk 7:24-37
Cuttack - (North India) The Rt Revd Dr Samson Das
Psalm: 11:1-5,7 Jdg 6:1,11-32
Cyangugu - (Rwanda) The Rt Revd Geoffrey Rwubusisi
Psalm: 12 Jdg 7:1-22
Cyprus and the Gulf - (Jerusalem & Middle East) The Rt Revd Michael Augustine Owen Lewis
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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.