From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: News Briefs
Mon, 3 Jun 2002 17:02:29 -0400
June 3, 2002
Episcopalians: News Briefs
Tutu leads formation of charity to aid farmers in Zimbabwe
(ENI) Retired Anglican Archbishop and Nobel Laureate Desmond
Tutu of South Africa is supporting formation of a charity to aid
commercial farmers in Zimbabwe affected by the government's
controversial land reforms.
The Zimbabwe Agricultural Trust has been established in
Britain to "provide a focal point for international support" for
farming families and other agricultural workers caught up in the
haphazard and sometimes violent land redistribution program. The
aim is to alleviate the "hardship and suffering" of those
farmers who have been directly affected by the civil unrest,
according to Lao Watson-Smith, the trust's administrator.
Tutu, who condemned his own government's endorsement of
Zimbabwe's controversial presidential election in March, is
patron of the trust.
At least 11 farmers and seven workers have been killed,
thousands assaulted and abused and nearly a million farm workers
and their dependents displaced since February 2000 when members
of President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe National Union-Patriotic
Front and veterans of the liberation war of the 1970s launched
raids against the farms. The raids targeted properties of white
farmers accused of campaigning against a draft constitution that
included a clause allowing the government to seize, without
compensation, any farm belonging to white, large-scale farmers.
The invasions intensified prior to the presidential election.
Nearly half of the farm workers affected are descendants of
migrant workers from Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia who lost
their citizenship last year when the government passed a law
declaring them ineligible for resettlement under the land reform
Task force seeking information on issues stemming from 'new
(ENS) The Ethics and New Genetics Task Force of the Episcopal
Church's Executive Council is developing a report that will
focus on the significant ethical and theological issues being
created as a result of the new genetic.
"We would especially like to address some of the pastoral
concerns that our new genetic capabilities are raising for
individuals and families who experience problems or have
concerns about illness related to their genes," said Dr. Cynthia
Cohen of Georgetown University, chair of the task force.
She said that the task force is seeking stories from people
who have considered genetic testing, or those who have dealt
with problems related to employment or health care insurance
among those who have tested positive for a genetic condition.
The task force would also like to hear from people who have
considered prenatal testing to determine if a fetus has problems
or couples who have used "the new reproductive technologies to
avoid having a child with a genetic disease or condition," she
said. "Or individuals who have considered the use of cloning to
avoid passing along genetic diseases to their children."
"We are also exploring what sorts of prayers and liturgies
are being used to address the concerns, hopes, fears and needs
of those who face difficult medical or other decisions because
of their genes," Cohen added. "If such prayers and liturgical
forms do not exist, do you see a need for developing them?"
The task force is asking that observations, ideas, concerns,
prayers and liturgies be sent to the Rev. David Ames, Episcopal
chaplain and a professor of community health at Brown
University, by e-mail at David_Ames@Brown.edu or regular mail at
Box 1931 at the university, Providence, Rhode Island 02912.
Bishops charge that Dutch government is 'anti-religious'
(ENI) Dutch Roman Catholic bishops have labeled the outgoing
centre-left government "anti-religious" and called for a closer
relationship with the new government. The bishops listed a
number of recent controversial social issues on which they
opposed government policies, from euthanasia to same-gender
marriage, which was passed last year.
The conference of bishops said that the outgoing government,
replaced with a newly formed anti-establishment party, had
"seriously underestimated the importance of religion for
society." They also contended that governments in recent decades
had contributed to what they called "the spiritual devastation"
of Dutch society.
In response to calls for tighter immigration controls, the
bishops said, "Asylum-seekers who for reasons of war or
political persecution have left home should be freely admitted
into our country." They argued that government policy should go
beyond "reducing financial shortfalls and fulfilling material
needs...striving for the greatest possible welfare."
The bishops also called for regular consultations between the
churches and the government aimed at addressing the current
social climate in the Netherlands where "attention needs to be
given to the quality of life and to good citizenship."
The Council of Churches in the Netherlands, which includes
the country's main Protestant churches as well as the Roman
Catholic Church, called for a "clear recognition by the
government of the contributions of religious organizations to
British churches sign ecumenical covenant on queen's Golden
(ENI) The leaders of Churches Together in England signed an
ecumenical covenant during celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II's
Golden Jubilee, in the presence of the queen at a service at
Windsor Castle near London.
Roman Catholic Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Moderator
Tony Burnham of the Free Churches Group and Esme Beswich of the
joint council for Anglo-Caribbean churches joined Archbishop of
Canterbury George Carey in the covenant pledging "in the power
of the Holy Spirit to work towards the visible unity of the
Church of Jesus Christ."
The queen is the constitutional head of the Church of England
with the title of supreme governor and "she has helped the
church by her religious observance, the witness of her life and
the absolute seriousness with which she views her coronation
oath [to protect the church]," according to Michael Mayne, a
former dean of Westminster Abbey. He recalled that the queen
decided to locate an interfaith observance for the Commonwealth
at the abbey where it quickly became an annual event.
The queen's former personal chaplain at Windsor, Bishop
Michael Mann, said that the queen's faith was "absolutely
integral" to her life. "She never misses going to church on a
Sunday," he said, preferring services that do not include the
The queen's preference for plainer Anglican services was
noted by a former archbishop of Canterbury, the late Robert
Runcie, who called her "a devout Christian and a regular
worshipper" who liked the "traditional simplicities of the
church rather than its more colourful ceremonies."
In the coming months the queen is scheduled to visit Jewish,
Muslim, Hindu and Sikh centres "to show that non-Christian as
well as Christian communities are central to contemporary
Britain," according to a statement from Buckingham Palace.
Ecumenical forum for young theologians scheduled for September
(ENS) A week-long conference to provide an international
ecumenical forum for young theologians and recently ordained
clergy will be held September 6-14 in Jerusalem, under the
patronage of Bishop Riah Abu al-Assal of the Episcopal Diocese
of Jerusalem and the Middle East.
The conference, designed for those between the ages of 22 and
35, will focus on dialogue both with theological experts and
members of local congregations in seeking to identify the needs
and challenges of the Christian community and the Christian
message in the present age, according to an announcement from
the diocese. The conference will be ecumenical, including young
men and women from various denominational backgrounds.
Theological reflection will center on three keynote papers
that will reflect on "Ministry and mission: the public face of
the church in the light of today's societal transformation";
"Contemporary expectations, future challenges"; and "Practicing
what we preach: imagining the church of tomorrow, creative
opportunities the church can provide, and my role."
The conference is aimed at "making young Palestinian thinkers
converse theologically and consider critically the state of the
church today, in conversation with visiting participants but
also with theological experts," according to the Rev. Yazeed
Said. "This would be one of the ways in which the Christian
presence is maintained in Palestine and Israel for such events
also aim at providing the necessary background for developing
future leadership in the church and creating a greater
commitment for the church as well."
Planners of the conference are seeking short papers to
complement the keynote addresses and provoke discussion. For
more information contact the Rev. Yazeed Said at St. George's
Cathedral, 20 Nablus Road, East Jerusalem via Israel or e-mail
Participants will stay at the East Jerusalem YMCA near the
cathedral. All sessions will be conducted in English.
Ecclesiastical court in Ft. Worth schedules trial of Edwards
(ENS) The Diocese of Ft. Worth (Texas) has announced that the
Ecclesiastical Trial Court of the diocese will convene for the
trial of the Rev. Sam Edwards on July 23 at the Diocesan Center
for Ministry. According to the president of the court, the Rev.
Laurens Williams, the proceedings will begin immediately
following a 9am Eucharist.
A formal presentment, or charge, was issued against Edwards
by the Standing Committee of the diocese on December 17, 2001,
accusing him of officiating without a license from the Rt. Rev.
Jane Holmes Dixon, acting as bishop pro tempore in the
Diocese of Washington (D.C.). That is a violation of Title III,
Canon 16.2 of the Episcopal Church which requires that no
priests officiate for more than two months within any diocese
other than the ones where they are canonically resident without
a license from the ecclesiastical authority in that diocese.
Edwards, who is canonically resident in Ft. Worth, became
rector of Christ Church in Accokeek, Maryland, in the Diocese of
Washington. Dixon went to court in an effort to block that call
and a recent court decision upheld her authority in doing so.
The presentment was received by the court on December 29,
2001 and Edwards was notified of the charge on March 21, 2002.
He responded with a plea of "not guilty" on April 18 and the
trial date was set in accordance with the canons, requiring at
least 60 days for "disclosure and discovery."
Williams says he expects the five-member court to hear
testimony from both sides on July 23 and, if necessary, the
court would reconvene the following day. He expects the court to
render its verdict by the end of the day on July 24. If Edwards
is found guilty, sentence would be imposed at a later date.
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