From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: News Briefs

Date Tue, 25 Jun 2002 15:01:06 -0400

June 25, 2002


Episcopalians: News Briefs

Church leaders welcome American role in Mideast peace 

(ENS) American church leaders representing the nation's mainline 
Protestant churches, as well as Catholic groups, welcomed the 
renewed U.S. involvement in Mideast peace efforts as reflected 
in President George W. Bush's June 24 address.

While most of the media focused on the president's call for 
new Palestinian leadership, "in reality he made significant 
demands of Israel, too," said the Rev. Daryl Byler, director of 
the Mennonite Central Committee's Washington office. The 
president challenged Israel "to take concrete steps to support 
the emergence of a viable, credible Palestinian state," steps 
that "would lead to an end of Israel's occupation of Palestinian 
territory," he added. "I am pleased that the president 
recognizes that both parties must work hard to reestablish the 
peace process," he said in a release from Churches for Middle 
East Peace (CMEP), a coalition of denominational offices and 
agencies responsible for monitoring peace efforts.

Byler and other church leaders praised the president for 
committing himself to a process that could end Israeli 
occupation and reach a negotiated settlement based on U.N. 
Resolutions 242 and 338.

"President Bush showed the American people an understanding 
of 'the deep anger and despair' felt not only by the Israeli 
people but also by the Palestinian people," said CMEP director 
Corinne Whitlatch. "In that context, and with the long history 
of this conflict, it makes sense that both Palestinians and 
Israelis could use more forward-looking leadership--persons who 
would show increased willingness to implement this far-ranging 
vision for peace." 

The Rev. San DeBoe of the Catholic Conference of Major 
Superiors of Men's Institutes, chair of the CMEP board, said 
that he hopes the president enables Secretary of State Colin 
Powell to follow through with the peace process. "President Bush 
showed that he understands the need for international 
involvement to move the process forward and demonstrated his 
trust in Secretary Powell to do that on behalf of the United 

"Palestinian reform cannot take place within the existing 
situation of curfews, closures, demolitions, assassinations, and 
military actions," DeBoe added. "Israel must guarantee freedom 
of movement within the West Bank and Gaza so that positive 
reform can happen and popular support for terrorist acts can 
end." Byler said that the president "was most eloquent in 
reminding us that the time has arrived for everyone in this 
conflict to choose peace, hope and life."

Jesse Jackson advocating non-violent solution to Mideast 

(ENI) Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, speaking to reporters 
after meeting with leaders at the Geneva headquarters of the 
World Council of Churches, said that neither Israelis or 
Palestinians have "the courage to overcome the deadlock" and 
find non-violent solutions to the Mideast crisis.

"We need a third force to reconcile the sides; we must build 
a bridge and heal a breach, reach out to civil society within 
Israel and among the Palestinians," said Jackson, who is 
planning to take an inter-faith delegation to the region to help 
promote a "third force" for non-violent reconciliation. In 
preparation for the trip, he visited the WCC to seek the 
organization's "moral authority and credibility to convene a 
body of world religious leaders" who might take part in the 
trip. The WCC has "a huge role to lay as the convener of the 
family" of churches, he said.

Warning that "time is running out," Jackson said that he 
feared the violence would spread and "redefine the world as we 
know it overnight," with suicide bombers attacking Europe or the 
U.S. "unless we are able to break the cycle of occupation and 
the cycle of bombing." He said that American policy was 
"muddled," split between strong support for Israel and an 
attempt to play a mediating role.

"Maybe the U.S. cannot be the substantial supporter of one 
side and then be the referee for both," Jackson said. "That's 
why the WCC, the European Union, the U.N. and perhaps Egypt must 
play a more decisive role as a third force." Recently he issued 
an open letter to Palestinian chairman Yasser Arafat, urging him 
"to call not simply for the end to terrorist bombings, but for a 
new commitment to non-violence as the means to achieve 
Palestinian statehood."

Canadian Anglicans elect Inuit bishop to serve Arctic region

(ENI) Canadian Anglicans have elected the first Inuk to serve as 
a diocesan bishop. In September the Rev. Andrew Atagotaaluk will 
become bishop of the Arctic, a vast territory of 3.9 million 
square kilometers, reaching from Labrador in the east to the 
Yukon border in western Canada, accounting for almost 40 percent 
of the nation. Yet the region has a population of only 53,000, 
including 18,000 Anglicans.

Isolation is a major cause of "burn-out" of clergy who serve 
the sparsely populated region. "They need someone to talk to who 
would understand the kind of pressures they experience," said 
Atagotaaluk. Transportation around the diocese is also a problem 
since few roads link settlements. Travel between parishes is 
almost exclusively by air, an expensive option for the diocese, 
one subject to the vagaries of the weather.

Another challenge facing the diocese is a severe shortage of 
clergy. "We need clergy badly," said Atagotaaluk, who served as 
suffragan bishop in Nunavik, the Inuit part of northern Quebec. 
"We rely heavily on trained catechists and lay leaders to keep 
our parishes going." Appeals to other parts of the church for 
clergy to come north have received little response.

He said that the region has experienced rapid change since 
the exploration for oil and minerals began in the 1960s. The 
social fabric was disrupted, unemployment and suicide rates are 
considerably higher than the rest of Canada. Many young people 
are addicted to drugs and alcohol and the Inuit are "in danger 
of losing their language and culture," he said.

The Canadian Bible Society has recently completed a 
translation of the bible into Inuktutut, an Inuit language, a 
project that took 24 years. The Inuit speak several dialogues at 
home and in their communities and the language is used in 
primary schools.

Moravian Church approves Interim Eucharistic Sharing with 
Episcopal Church

(ENS) The Episcopal Church's five-year dialogue with the 
Moravian Church in America has taken several significant steps 
forward in recent months, including approval of sharing the 

At an April meeting in Sewanee, Tennessee, the churches 
discussed a draft resolution on Interim Eucharistic Sharing and 
the possibilities for a shared ministry of bishops, presbyters 
and deacons in the future. (The Moravians trace their history to 
the Czech Hussite reform movement that separated from the Roman 
Catholic Church in 1457 but they have preserved the three-fold 
order of ministry.)

The April meeting of the Southern Province of the Moravian 
Church in America passed a resolution that endorsed the plan to 
share the Eucharist with Episcopalians. The Northern Province 
meeting in mid-June also unanimously passed a resolution on the 
proposal. Dr. Thomas Ferguson, associate deputy for ecumenical 
relations and an Episcopal participant in the dialogue, said 
that is "a very important and exciting time in our Moravian 
dialogue. Building on previous Anglican-Moravian dialogues, we 
have found enough common agreement on matters of faith and 
practice to be able to stand together at the eucharistic table."

Ferguson said that future dialogues will deal with areas of 
common mission, "with the hope of further theological dialogue 
to allow for a possible full communion proposal in 2006 or 
2009." The Episcopal Church and the Lutherans established a 
similar sharing of the Eucharist in 1982 as a major step in 
moving to "full communion" in 2000.

In his greetings, Ferguson noted that "historically the 
Moravian Church has been one of the Anglican Communion's oldest 
dialogue partners. Although small in number, you have had an 
influence on the Christian world out of proportion to your size. 
We your Episcopal brothers and sisters have been enriched by 
your contributions to Christian spirituality, world missions, 
hymnody, and passion for following Jesus Christ."

The Moravian Church in America is part of the worldwide Unity 
of the Brethren, consisting of 20 autonomous provinces with 
about 750,000 members. The U.S. and Canada are divided into two 
provinces that are in communion with each other but operate 
separately. They are both governed by synods that meet once 
every four years.

Fate of valuable paintings at British bishop's palace still 

(ENI) The fate of valuable 17th century Spanish paintings that 
have been hanging in Auckland Castle in Durham, seat of the 
Church of England's diocesan bishop, is still uncertain. Plans 
to sell the historic paintings were blocked by a vigorous 
campaign by those who regard them as part of the region's 
cultural heritage.

The church's commissioners, responsible for investments, said 
that the paintings could not justify "keeping these non-income 
producing assets." The commission's responsibilities range from 
paying salaries for the bishops and some clergy pensions to 
supporting ministry in impoverished areas and settling the 
future of redundant churches. Since the church was caught in the 
financial troubles of the world's largest cell phone operator, 
Vodafone, it looked as though the paintings, valued at $15 
million, might be rushed to market.

Vodafone has reported an annual loss of over $20 billion, the 
largest in British corporate history. The church's investment 
was only a small part of its $6 billion portfolio. A church 
spokesman, Arun Kataria, said that it was not necessary to sell 
the paintings" to "meet current expenditure." If the paintings 
were sold, he said that the proceeds "would become capital, and 
the income from this would be used to support poorer parishes."

Paul Judson, a spokesman for the diocese, said that the 
paintings "are earning money where they are because they are an 
attraction at Auckland Castle for tourists, conference 
participants and wedding groups."

President of Integrity USA visits counterparts in Uganda

(ENS) The Rev. Michael Hopkins, president of Integrity USA, 
spent two weeks in early June visiting his counterparts in 
Uganda. He reported on his return June 19 that Integrity Uganda 
has built a community center in a village near the capital city 
of Kampala. "The center serves not only as the headquarters of 
Integrity but also as a place of worship for all and a center 
for ministry to the surrounding community," he said in a June 21 

Hopkins preached and concelebrated the Eucharist at the 
community with Bishop Christopher Senyonjo. "The congregation 
was a mix of lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual Ugandans, 
young and old," said Hopkins. "Together they are deliberately 
creating a community that welcomes all, unlike the overwhelming 
majority of institutional churches in Uganda, including the 
Anglican Church of Uganda."

The church in Uganda has inhibited Senyonjo and threatened 
him with "ecclesiastical trial and defrocking," reported 
Hopkins. The bishop was severely criticized by his colleagues 
for his involvement in the creation of Integrity Uganda. Hopkins 
said that the Rev. Erich Kasirye, founder of Integrity Uganda, 
"has also been prohibited from the exercise of his ministry. I 
was honored to be a guest of these two courageous men, both of 
them heterosexual persons who are committed to the equality of 
their homosexual and bisexual fellow Christians."

"I was also pleased to meet my counterpart, Mr. Denis 
Iraguha, the new president of Integrity Uganda, and his partner, 
Mr. Henry Irankunda," Hopkins said in his statement. "Sharing 
our stories and our faith, in spite of the opposition of many 
Christians and the society at large, is an experience I will 
never forget. Both Henry and Denis have in the past been arrest 
for 'homosexual offenses' and imprisoned without right of 
visitors, subjected to repeating canings. These young men, both 
22 years old, showed a profoundly tenacious faith."

Hopkins said that he was "saddened that this community must 
live cut off from the fellowship of the Church of Uganda." He 
said that the Diocese of Namirembe, where both Senyonjo and 
Kasirye were active clergy until their suspensions, passed a 
resolution in May 2001 that effectively lunched "a vigorous 
crusade against all forms of homosexuality."


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