From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: News Briefs

Date Tue, 7 Jan 2003 14:44:01 -0500

January 7, 2003


Episcopalians: News Briefs

New archbishop of Canterbury raises morality issues in first 
public lecture

(ENS) In what one newspaper called a "morality crusade," the new 
archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, used his first 
public lecture to plead for a role for religion in political 

In the Dimbleby Lecture, delivered December 19 before a 
distinguished audience of politicians, church leaders, 
journalists and other opinion makers, Williams argued that 
without religion "our whole politics is likely to be in deep 
trouble." He also pointed to the limitations of governments to 
provide a moral basis for citizens or long-term security.

Williams said we are living in a time when the "basic 
assumptions about how states work are shifting" and may be 
witnessing "the end of the nation-state," replaced in the 
developed world "by what some call the market-state." As a 
result, short-term expectations could produce "instability, 
reactive administration, rule by opinion poll and pressure."

"We are bound to ask where there is a future for the reasonable 
citizen, for public debate about what is due to human beings, 
for intelligent argument about goals beyond the next election," 
he said. "My conclusion is that this future depends heavily on 
those perspectives that are offered by religious belief."

Williams described an educational system that is largely empty 
of vision, a system that fits "too neatly into the consumer 
model" that allows the "actual philosophy of education itself to 
be obscured behind a cloud of sometimes mechanical criteria of 

Religion could fill the vacuum, according to the archbishop. "If 
specifically religious tradition has a place here it is because 
of those elements that only religious conviction seems to secure 
in our sense of what is human. To see or know anything 
adequately is to be aware of its relation to the eternal," he 
said. "With that relativising moment, our whole politics is 
likely to be in deep trouble." He added that he is convinced 
that religion can offer ways to open the way for human choices, 
providing a wider context and setting for understanding who we 
are as individuals and communities.

Prime Minister Tony Blair praised Williams for his "insights," 
suggesting in a newspaper interview that "the church should 
always speak out where it feels strongly about things." He said 
that he did not agree, however, that consumerism was driving 
morality out of politics.

(Full text of the lecture is available at

Episcopalians working with Muslims in Georgia

(Journal-Constitution) Episcopalians and Muslims are working 
together in the Atlanta metro area to help refugees establish 
new lives in Georgia.

"We'll learn from each other and we'll grow together," said the 
Rev. Bob Hudak, rector of Church of the Nativity in 
Fayetteville. He is working with the Muslim Community Center of 
Atlanta and the Christian Council of Metro Atlanta on the 
refugee plan. The Muslim Community Center has become a popular 
meeting and prayer center and an anchor for the thriving Muslim 
community in Fayette that now numbers more than 500 people.

While the reception has been mostly warm, there are signs that 
some are hesitant to accept Muslims in the community following 
the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the World Trade 
Center in New York and the Pentagon. "The wounds haven't 
healed," said Hudak. "A lot of people won't come out and express 
their real opinions." For example, some Episcopalians were not 
prepared to support a joint remembrance service with Muslims to 
mark the anniversary of the terrorist attacks and promote 

Yet Hudak is committed to interfaith networking, pointing out 
that some of his church members attended a dinner during the 
month-long Muslim observance of Ramadan.

Diocese of Los Angeles uses ads to fight violence

(Episcopal News) The Diocese of Los Angeles launched a series of 
30-second ads on local television stations around Christmas to 
carry a message against violence--and to welcome people to the 
Episcopal Church.

The "Stop the Violence" campaign stemmed from the recent 
cross-country "Hands in Healing" trip taken by diocesan leaders 
and youth. The spots feature some of those youth speaking out 
for the prevention of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual 
assault, gang activity, hate crimes and terrorism. The spots 
were prepared at the request of Bishop Jon Bruno by the diocesan 
communications office in partnership with Collage Digital Video 
of Glendale.

While recognizing that it was not possible to use cable 
television to provide complete coverage within the six-county 
region, the diocese made every effort to use its budget to 
purchase airtime for maximum effectiveness. In some cases it was 
possible, for example, to place the spots for as low as $50.

Other congregations and dioceses that might want to consider 
adapting the spots for local use should contact Bob Williams at 
the diocesan office of communication, tel. 213-482-2040, ext. 
240 or at e-mail,

Churches join humanitarian campaign to address health needs of 
Iraqi children

(NCC) Several religious organizations--including Church World 
Service (CWS), the relief and development arm of the National 
Council of Churches--have joined a campaign to raise $1 million 
to address critical health care needs of Iraqi children.

Funds raised by the "All Our Children" campaign will purchase 
desperately needed items such as antibiotics, anesthesia, 
intravenous kits and devices to monitor clean drinking water. 
The United Nations attributes the death of hundreds of thousands 
of Iraqi children to a complex web of internal and external 
forces, especially the trade sanctions imposed in 1990.

"It is a crisis of tragic proportions to which compassionate 
people of faith in the United States must respond," according to 
the appeal. "At a time of great anxiety about another war in 
Iraq, this effort by people in the USA will be a tangible 
demonstration of our love for children, a love shared by all 
humanity." The plan is to distribute the supplies to pediatric 
hospitals under the supervision of international relief 

Many of those organizations have been providing relief for more 
than a decade. CWS, for example, has already provided more than 
$3 million in blankets, food, medical supplies and other aid for 
children and their families since 1991. The Mennonite Central 
Committee has shipped about $4.2 million worth of food and 
material assistance and supports a number of agricultural, 
educational and health-related developmental relief projects. 
CWS is cooperating with the Mennonite Central Committee to raise 
funds for more supplies and school kits that it shipped earlier 
to Jordan.

(For more information call 1-800-297-1516 or go to the web site 

Consultation calls for local initiatives in interreligious 

(WCC) Representatives of international Christian and Muslim 
organizations met in Geneva recently at a consultation sponsored 
by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and concluded that 
"globalized markets and information systems threaten to create 
new structures of oppression and thus feed extremism and 

The purpose of the conference, "Christians and Muslims in 
Dialogue and Beyond," was to focus on "a critical examination of 
the present state of relations between the participants' 
respective communities, and an assessment of what has been 
achieved" through dialogue, according to Dr. Tarek Mitri, 
executive of the WCC's Interreligious Relations and Dialogue 

Participants expressed particular concern over media coverage of 
events "where Christians and Muslims are perceived to be in 
conflict" because those reports "often contribute to the 
worsening of unrelated situations" by politicians and extremists 
who set the communities against each other. In its final report, 
the consultation emphasized "the role of education by and for 
our communities as a key arena in which to crate the trust and 
mutual understanding which are essential to resist attempts to 
exploit religious differences for destructive ends."

The participants also shared stories of local initiatives that 
have built trust and understanding in many parts of the world, 
often under the leadership of parents, teachers and faith 
leaders. The consultation concluded that those local initiatives 
would serve as the main source of models for new ways of living 
together--and that real change would happen in communities where 
Christians and Muslims live, pray, worship and work together.

Church leaders meet with Department of Defense officials at 

(RNS) A group of religious leaders met with Pentagon officials, 
including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, December 18 to 
discuss aspects of the war on terrorism. Participants described 
the two-hour meeting as a "good exchange."

Pentagon officials briefed the church leaders on America's role 
in Afghanistan and the changing shape and source of threats. 
They took questions from the church leaders on the religious and 
moral implications of the military campaign. "Today the enemy is 
not all that visible or discernible or noticeable and yet is a 
very, very real threat and represents imminent danger," said the 
Rev. Clarence Newsome, dean of the Howard University School of 
Divinity in Washington, DC.

Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold said that he left the meeting 
with "an enlarged sense of the complexities of the problems" 
facing military leaders as they combat the threats of terrorism, 
but he reasserted his opposition to the possibilities of war 
with Iraq. "I still have the gravest reservations about a war, 
but I certainly was encouraged that some of the nuances and 
complexities that are so integral here are being included in the 
conversations" at the Pentagon, he said in an interview.

Newsome and Griswold said that the church leaders suggested that 
an increase of American concern for some of the major problems 
of the world, such as the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa, might help 
combat terrorism. As Anglican churches continue their explosive 
growth in many African countries, Griswold said that a 
generation of AIDS orphans and militant strains of Islam 
threaten to destabilize the region and make it ripe for 
terrorists looking for recruits. "I said I think we need to be 
aware of these sorts of larger concerns," he said.

Bishop John Chane, the new bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of 
Washington, joined the church leaders in the Pentagon 
discussions, along with Jewish, Roman Catholic, Methodist and 
Evangelical representatives. 


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