From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: News Briefs
Tue, 7 Jan 2003 14:44:01 -0500
January 7, 2003
Episcopalians: News Briefs
New archbishop of Canterbury raises morality issues in first
(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
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
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Churches join humanitarian campaign to address health needs of
(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
(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
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