From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: News Briefs
Wed, 4 Dec 2002 17:00:23 -0500
December 4, 2002
Episcopalians: News Briefs
Committee drafting agreement on move of church center to
seminary campus reports it has encountered difficulties
(ENS) The committee appointed to examine a potential move of the
Episcopal Church Center to a new facility on the campus of the
General Theological Seminary (GTS) has reported to Presiding
Bishop Frank T. Griswold that it has encountered difficulties
and that it does not seem possible at this time to "successfully
complete a binding agreement that will be acceptable to both
The three members of the subcommittee asked to draft the
binding agreement--Dall Forsythe, Russell Palmore and Andrew
McMaster--said that conversations with Griswold and senior staff
members convinced them that "relocating the church's
headquarters to GTS may result in negative synergy--in problems
instead of possibilities." The memo added, "It is our
recommendation that the project be scrapped." Among the
reservations cited were differences in the mission of a seminary
and the national church and "concern expressed about the loss of
flexibility associated with a thirty year commitment and the
difficulty in predicting the shape and size of the national
church staff in years to come."
Griswold reported to council members that "the process will
continue as we sort through the significant issues involved and
you will be kept informed in preparation for our January
meeting" in the Dominican Republic.
In other action, the Investment Committee "by unanimous vote
strongly recommends against pledging a significant portion of
the Unrestricted Assets of the DFMS Endowment for the purpose of
obtaining financing" for the project with GTS.
In an amplifying letter to Executive Council members,
Griswold said that his reservations "are rooted in my focus on
the missional energies" that he sees "so wonderfully at work in
our church and on how these energies might best be supported and
expanded." He said that he had concluded that "relocating the
church center and building a conference center do not respond to
the missional energies of the church at this moment and the
desire to focus these energies on reaching out to the world. I
further believe that taking on this project would be an enormous
distraction in our common life. Much of our financial and staff
resources would be diverted to bricks and mortar rather than
advancing our mission."
(Texts of the memos from the committees and Griswold are
available on the web site of the General Convention Office at
Vancouver bishop agrees to delay rite for blessing same-sex
(ENS) Bishop Michael Ingham of the Vancouver-based Diocese of
New Westminster (Canada) has agreed to delay implementation of a
rite for blessing same-sex relationships to honor a mediation
process with eight parishes that are withholding funds in
protest and asking for a "flying bishop" as an alternative to
At an October meeting, the House of Bishops in the Anglican
Church of Canada urged Ingham to seek reconciliation with the
clergy who walked out of the June diocesan synod meeting where
the rites were authorized and delay action until the church's
General Synod meets next May.
Ingham told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that
he is not backing away from his decision while agreeing to meet
with those in opposition. "Hopefully they can see there is
nothing to fear in this as we move forward," he said. "I've
invited them to meet with me and others in the diocese and I
hope when we get there we can resolve this as well as we can."
In an interview with the CBC, Ingham compared the
international controversy over the blessing issue with the one
provoked over the ordination of women to the priesthood. He said
that the "Anglican Communion worldwide is showing the same
diversity of reaction that we're finding locally."
A special diocesan synod will convene on January 18 to deal
with the financial situation. The eight dissenting parishes
contribute about $330,000 a year or 19 percent of the diocesan
budget. "Financial prudence speaks to the need of a review of
diocesan finances," said treasurer Jim Stewart.
Canadian church activists ambivalent about oil company's
withdrawal from Sudan
(ENI) Canadian church and human rights activists are claiming
some credit for the decision of a leading energy company to pull
out of Sudan in the face of persistent charges that they were
fueling a 19-year civil war that has resulted in the deaths of
almost two million people, many of them Christians living in the
Talisman Energy of Canada announced in late October that it
was selling its oil interests in Sudan for $750 million (US) to
a subsidiary of India's national oil company. Talisman issued a
statement saying that a drop in the company's stock price and a
drain on human resources led to the decision--and Talisman
president James Buckee said that "shareholders have told me that
they were tired of continually having to monitor and analyse
events relating to Sudan."
After a four-year campaign of pressure on Talisman, human
rights groups were ambivalent about the decision. "Our approach
to the whole issue was to try and pressure Talisman to take
social responsibility seriously," said Gary Kenny, a human
rights policy advocate for KAIROS, a coalition of 12 Canadian
Kenny noted that a different company halfway across the world
had assumed Talisman's role--and little had changed for the
Sudanese living in the region near the oil fields. "They are
still vulnerable to the same kind of attacks," he said. He and
others have argued over the years that Sudan's Islamic
government has used oil revenues to buy arms to use in the
country's civil war pitting Khartoum against the population in
the south, mostly Christian and animist. Most of the deaths are
attributed to famine triggered by the war.
A United Nations report issued in October pointed to "the
continuation of grave human rights abuses linked to oil
exploitation, aimed at depopulating oil-rich areas to ensure
[government] control." Kenny said that KAIROS would continue to
call for suspension of all oil development until a peace
agreement is achieved.
Germany's Jewish community getting status equal to
(ENI) Jewish leaders have welcomed as a milestone a plan by the
German government to grant them status equal to the main
Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.
"This is a historic event," said Paul Spiegel, head of the
Central Council of Jews in Germany, at a news conference
attended by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. "That Jews live here
once again in considerable numbers is a fact that those who
returned after 1945 can hardly imagine."
Under the plan, the government will make a formal agreement
with the Jewish council to increase funding of Jewish schools,
legalize Jewish religious education in schools, and finance
other Jewish institutions, such as hospitals and kindergartens.
The plan creates a pact similar to one the government has with
The accord recognizes the rapid growth of the Jewish
population in Germany from 30,000 in 1990 to over 100,000 today.
Most Jewish immigrants come from Eastern Europe and the former
Soviet Union. Before the Holocaust there were an estimated
600,000 Jews in Germany.
Swiss churches hail defeat of proposal to tighten asylum laws
(ENI) Switzerland's churches have expressed relief after voters
rejected, by a tiny margin, a proposal that would have made the
country's asylum laws the "most restrictive" in Europe,
automatically turning back anyone seeking asylum from another
country that was deemed safe. It was defeated in a referendum
November 24 by just over 3,000 votes out of a total of 2.24
"Despite the close result, our country must continue to be
guided by solidarity in thought and deed with human beings who
are fleeing situations of crisis," said that council of the
Swiss Protestant Church Federation in a statement. The council
said that although "the state has the duty to protect itself
against abuses of the right to asylum," the existing policies
were "by and large sufficient."
Switzerland's Conference of Roman Catholic Bishops also
welcome defeat of the proposal, saying in a statement that
"common sense has prevailed." Underscoring the close vote, the
statement added, "Switzerland, which is one of the richest
countries in the world, must continue to be one of the most
generous. It is a question of conscience."
The proposal, launched by the right-wing populist Swiss
People's Party, was opposed by all the main political parties,
the government and parliament, as well as the churches. The
Swiss parliament will vote soon on a revision of the country's
asylum laws and, as a local newspaper pointed out, the "close
result will not encourage the parliament to show an excess of
compassion toward asylum-seekers."
The Swiss cantons where the population speaks French or
Italian rejected the proposal while support was strongest in the
War could seriously disrupt relations between Christians and
Muslims in Iraq
(ENI) Christians in Iraq are expressing fears that a war would
seriously alter what have been peaceful relations between them
and the Muslims.
Muslim fanaticism increased in the years following the Gulf
War in 1991, Christians said, but this did not have a major
impact on Christian communities. "We have had no religious
problems until now," said one man. "There has never been any
harassment of us as Christians."
Although Christians downplay fears about their relations with
Muslims, freedom of speech and movement in Iraq cannot be taken
for granted and all evangelical work is forbidden. Yet most
Christians said that, despite the threat of war, they didn't see
problems in their immediate neighborhoods where everyone knows
Yet some Christians said that they felt some vulnerability as
a minority and reported that some of their children had been
asked by Muslim students to convert to Islam. They also remember
that, during the Gulf War, Christians were accused by Muslims of
being allies of the United States.
In the southern part of the country, which lies in the "no
fly" zone established by the United Nations, both Christians and
Muslims are feeling pressure, much of it attributed to bombings
by American and British aircraft. In a once-prosperous city like
Basra, the city was still suffering from heavy destruction
during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-86 when it faced a new round of
destruction during the Gulf War. Now jobs are virtually
non-existent for most people. Mothers and children are often
seen begging on the streets and drinking water is scarce,
according to recent visitors.
"The churches already support some of these people,
Christians and Muslims, with meager means at their disposal,"
said one Christian. "But if there is a war, these people will be
the most vulnerable."
Browse month . . .
Browse month (sort by Source) . . .
Advanced Search & Browse . . .