From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: News Briefs

Date 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 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 
in Jerusalem

(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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