From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopal News Service Briefs

From Daphne Mack <>
Date Fri, 13 Dec 2002 14:57:42 -0500

News Briefs

News Briefs

Scottish Episcopal Church launches ad
campaign on meaning of Christmas

(ACNS) The Scottish Episcopal Church has launched an
ad campaign in train stations across the country to remind
people of the true meaning of Christmas. 

Posters show one of the three kings looking down in
horror at a price tag left on his gift of gold to the baby
Jesus. The slogan reads, "Losing the plot? Give yourself a
break at church this Christmas." 

Church leaders said the campaign was not an attempt to
stifle the holiday spirit but rather a light-hearted bid to
remind people of the real reason for the celebration.
"We're not trying to take the commercialization out of
Christmas," said the Most Rev. Bruce Cameron, primus
of the church. "Shopping for presents and parties can be
great fun. What we're trying to do is to restore the
balance and put the Christmas message back into our

The Scottish Episcopal Church joined with the Churches
Advertising Network, a group of Christian media
professionals, to put together the campaign. Train stations
were chosen because they catch people on shopping
excursions or on the way to parties. 

Reacting to commercial ads that suggest it's necessary to
spend money to find the meaning of Christmas, Cameron
said, "We are saying that the real gifts of Christmas are
love and peace. But they are the gifts that I'd like to give
to the children of Baghdad and Jerusalem this Christmas."

(For more information, visit the church's web site at 

Canadian churches hail patent ruling on
genetically modified mouse

(ENI) The Supreme Court of Canada has issued a
landmark judgement ruling against allowing Harvard
University a patent on a mouse that has been genetically
modified for medical research. 

The ruling ends a 17-year legal battle and is a victory for
churches that argued that patenting the mouse would
mean turning living beings into intellectual property.
"There has been enormous lobbying by the
pharmaceutical industry and biotech industry to allow
patenting of higher life forms," said the Rev. Eric
Beresford, an Anglican who was speaking on behalf of
the Canadian Council of Churches. 

The court in its 5 to 4 ruling said that Canada's
century-old patent law did not permit higher life forms to
be considered "invention." Harvard had altered the
genetic composition of the mouse so that it and its
offspring would develop cancer more frequently and
predictably as an aid to cancer research and had applied
in Canada for the patent. 

The Canadian Commissioner of Patents had granted
Harvard exclusive rights on the process and the genetic
composition of the mouse but denied a patent on the
mouse itself. The churches argued that granting a patent
on the mouse under current law had serious implications
for the future of biotechnology, creating the possibility of
human patenting in the future. 

Canada is the only country that has refused such
applications. The European Union, the United States and
Japan have already ruled in favor of allowing such
patents. The only recourse for those who support
genetically modified life forms is to appeal to the
Canadian Parliament. 

Churches to launch global campaign on trade
and human rights

(WCC) A global network of churches and related
organizations is launching a three-year campaign to press
for international human rights, social, and environmental
agreements to take precedence over trade agreements
and policies. 

The campaign, called "Trade for people, not people for
trade," was launched on International Human Rights Day
December 10 by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance
(EAA), a network of more than 85 churches,
development agencies and related
organizations--including the World Council of
Churches--representing a constituency of hundreds of
millions of people. 

"Global trade can either promote or hinder justice, peace
and sustainability," said Dr. Musimbi Kanyuoro, general
secretary of the Young Women's Christian Association
(YMCA). "We will use human rights principles to
challenge economic injustice and to change trade rules in
favor of justice between and within countries and
communities, create alternatives, and support people
struggling against economic discrimination," she said. 

Specifically, the campaign will advocate trade rules that
recognize the right to food, ensure sustainable agriculture
and food security for all, and promote greater
self-reliance in developing countries. It will also advocate
global and national trade policies and rules that guarantee
access for all to essential services, based on human rights
principles. It will also seek regulation of transnational
corporations to ensure that they contribute to the
eradication of poverty, the promotion of human rights,
and the protection of the environment. 

Call for ban on Muslim dress denounced by
church leaders in Australia 

(ENI) A suggestion made by a member of an Australian
state parliament that authorities ban Muslim women from
wearing traditional dress in public in case they were hiding
explosives or guns has drawn strong criticism. 

"Such remarks are inconsistent with the Christian Gospel
of freedom and peace," said the Rev. James Haire,
president of the United Church in Australia. "We support
the right of Muslim women to wear whatever clothing
they feel is appropriate in accordance with their beliefs." 

Suggestion for the ban came from the Rev. Fred Nile, a
retired Uniting Church minister and member of the upper
house of the parliament for New South Wales. Last year
he drew headlines when he denounced Harry Potter
books and films because they might attract children to
witchcraft and Satanism. He is also well known for
holding prayer meetings on the eve of Sydney's Gay and
Lesbian Mardi Gras parade where participants are asked
to pray for rain to disrupt the parade. 

Nile said that the full-body chador, the dress used by
some conservative Muslim women, could be used to
conceal weapons. "It is not a fairytale, it just occurred in
Moscow where six women wearing chador coverings
also were carrying explosives and were prepared to blow
up the theater and kill seven or eight hundred people," he
said, referring to the October siege involving Chechen
Muslim rebels. His statements drew more attention
because it appeared, at first, that Prime Minister John
Howard was supporting his statement. 

There are about 300,000 Muslims in Australia, most of
them of Lebanese or Turkish descent, but half of them
born in Australia. Since the October bombings in Bali,
security officials have raided the homes of Muslims
suspected of having connections with extremist groups. 

WCC publishes new edition of Dictionary of the
Ecumenical Movement

(WCC) The World Council of Churches has published a
revised and expanded edition of its "Dictionary of the
Ecumenical Movement," a valuable tool for study and
research on the many facets of the search for Christian

With almost 700 articles and 370 authors from all
Christian groups around the world, the 1300-page
volume is a "window into the richness and diversity of
ecumenical thought and action," according to the
publisher. The new edition takes into account the major
changes that have taken place in the world and the life of
the churches since the first edition published a decade

Among the themes in the dictionary are: ecumenical
developments at all levels of church life; the work of the
WCC and other ecumenical bodies; ecumenical concerns
of the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian
communions; discussions and agreements on doctrinal
matters; social, political, legal, cultural and ethical issues
from a Christian perspective; evangelism and mission,
worship and prayer, education and the renewal of the
church; Christian responsibility toward the poor;
communicating the ecumenical vision and dialogue with
other faiths; biographies of distinguished ecumenists,
thinkers and leaders. 

While available only in English at this time, it will also be
published soon in French, Italian and Spanish with the
possibility of later editions in German and Russian. One
article per month will be published on the WCC web site
in the coming year. 

As WCC General Secretary Konrad Raiser notes in the
prologue, the dictionary is intended "to be a resource of
inspiration and reliable orientation for all those who have
accepted the call to the unity and renewal of the church as
a personal commitment." 

(For more information go to the WCC web site at 

Reasons for being Episcopalian fill website, new

(ENS) "God loves you, and there is not a thing you can
do to change that." 

That's the winning entry in an impromptu online contest
for the best of "365+ Reasons For Becoming an
Anglican/Episcopalian," which will soon be part of a book
released by Morehouse Publishing. The entry was penned
by the Rev. Tom Van Culin of Honolulu, Hawaii, a past
member of Executive Council and a frequent deputy to
General Convention. The win means Executive Council
member Dr. Louie Crew, who came up with the idea for
the list, will donate $100 to Episcopal Relief and
Development (ERD) in Van Culin's name. 

Sixteen people agreed to read all the entries without the
authors' names attached and ranked their first 10 choices.
Morehouse has chosen its own favorites from the list for
the book 101 Reasons to be Episcopalian, which will
appear in spring 2003. All profits from the book will go
to ERD. 

The second most popular entry was written by the Rev.
Phil Wilson, Morristown, New Jersey: "Where the only
requirement at Communion is that you be hungry!" The
third most popular entry was anonymous: "Where the
Bible is taken seriously, not literally." Of the 365 entries,
145 (40%) appeared in the top 10 of at least one of the
16 judges. 

"Basically, I started my own list of reasons that I liked for
being Episcopalian, with a mind to using them on a
rotating basis," said Crew. "After writing the first dozen or
so, I decided it was much too much fun to keep to
myself. I invited others to send entries, and over several
months they poured in. 

"As a new old-age pensioner, I had less of my own
money to give, but hoped I could encourage others to
know about ERD by offering a prize to ERD in the name
of the author of the most popular item in the first 365,"
Crew added. "I've been particularly pleased that some
parishes have posted all or parts of the list, and I
understand that some parish groups have tried to write
some of their own 'reasons.'" 

Morehouse editor Debra Farrington spotted
announcements of the contest on the bishops-deputies
email discussion list, and suggested Morehouse might
want to do a book. "I felt it would be a great way to help
Episcopalians be evangelists in ways comfortable to many
of us, telling why we like our church," Crew explained. 

The full list of reasons is online at

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