From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: News Briefs

Date Wed, 8 Jan 2003 17:06:25 -0500

January 8, 2003


Episcopalians: News Briefs

Australian law restricts use of names on prayer lists

(Daily Telegraph) A Privacy Act that took effect December 21, 
2002, in Australia restricts churches from placing names on 
prayer lists in bulletins unless they are given specific 
permission. Clergy are also finding it increasingly difficult to 
visit patients in hospitals because of privacy legislation 

"If there is any doubt about what the individual's reasonable 
expectations are, it is good privacy practice to check with them 
first, especially where sensitive matters such as health or 
personal troubles are involved," said deputy privacy 
commissioner Timothy Pilgrim. 

According to Anglican Bishop Roger Herft of Newcastle, the act 
detracts from the spontaneity of comfort a person derives when 
they unexpectedly hear their name read aloud on the prayer list. 
He said that, while he understands an individual's legal rights 
must be respected, people also were part of the human family and 
should be able to care for each other without restrictions. "It 
would seem to me that the Privacy Act, if it is not used 
sensibly, can contribute to the biggest disease of mankind and 
that is loneliness. People can feel completely left out of the 
loop if we are not careful."

Some clergy complained about getting access to sick people in 
hospitals because hospitals now cannot release that information. 
Patients must sign a permission form before they go to the 

Schools help impart religious knowledge, British survey 

(ENI) When researchers at Exeter University surveyed more than 
500 youngsters about their religious knowledge, they received 
some surprising but also reassuring answers. More than half (54 
percent) did not know that Easter celebrates the resurrection of 
Jesus but three-quarters of them (77 percent) knew that, 
according to the gospels, he was raised from the dead.

The survey, sponsored by the Jerusalem Trust, an organization 
supporting Christian education, found that 44 percent of the 
children could name a specific biblical parable, with the story 
of the Good Samaritan by far the best known. Just over half were 
able to cite one of the Bible's miracle stories.

In Britain, schools are required by law to teach religion which 
must "reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great 
Britain are in the main Christian, while taking account of the 
teachings and practices of other principal religions 
represented." According to Terence Copley of Exeter, principal 
author of the survey, "the common idea among Christian groups 
that schools are failing to deliver on religion is not borne out 
by the survey. Jesus, however, often comes across as just a good 
man in a secular, 21st-century sense."

Copley said that one of the surprises, however, was that 
children were getting most of their religious education from 
school, even if they came from religious families. Some schools 
do not give Jesus any particular prominence. One school in 
Brighton has banned the use of the terms BC, "before Christ," or 
AD, "anno domini" or "year of the Lord."

"It is not the job of the school to lead a pupil towards a 
particular faith," said John Thorne, a school official. "We 
teach about religion, not just one religion."

Virginia Seminary's library chosen as archive for African 
American Episcopalians

(ENS) Under an agreement between Virginia Theological Seminary 
and the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, the 
seminary's library in Alexandria, Virginia as been designated as 
the home for the documents illustrating the history of the 
church's African Americans.

In the new archival project, the African American Episcopal 
Collection will include a variety of media--oral histories, 
institutional records and other documents, as well as 
photographs--chronicling the lives and experiences of blacks in 
the church. The agreement also includes a plan to expand the 
collection, obtain additional funding and materials, and improve 
its accessibility. This summer the library will construct 
additional archival space to accommodate the collection.

The seminary library is named in honor of the Bishop Payne 
Divinity School, a seminary for the education of African and 
African American Episcopalians that merged with Virginia 
Seminary in 1953. The primary goal of the new collection is to 
make its materials available for both scholarly research and 
education of the wider church.

The seminary is asking that prospective donors to the collection 
or those who want additional information about the collection 
contact head librarian Mitzi Budde or archivist Julia Randle at 

Tutu slams U.S., Britain over Iraq action

(SAPA-AFP) Retired South African archbishop Desmond Tutu 
criticized the U.S. as an arrogant superpower bent on unilateral 
action in an interview on the Iraq crisis telecast in Britain on 
January 6.

"I'm shocked to see a powerful country use its power frequently, 
unilaterally," said Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 
for opposing apartheid in South Africa. "The U.S. says: 'You do 
this' to the world. 'If you don't do it, we will do it.' That's 

Tutu said it is "mind-boggling" that British prime minister Tony 
Blair is strongly backing President George W. Bush in the 
showdown with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. "Many, many of us are 
deeply saddened to see a great country such as the U.S. aided 
and abetted extraordinarily by Britain," the archbishop said.

Tutu also questioned why Iraq is being singled out when India 
and Pakistan are confirmed nuclear powers. "What do you do with 
weapons of mass destruction in Europe? What do you do with them 
in India? What do you do with them in Pakistan?" he asked. 
"Where do you stop?

"America should remember they supported some of the most 
repressive governments," he said. "Let's hear what [UN weapons] 
inspectors get to see. But if you are going to apply UN 
resolutions there, you ask why there and not in other places. 
Why not in Palestine?"

Tutu was interviewed for the Jonathan Dimbleby Newsmakers 
program for the commercial ITV television network. 

Tutu joins University of North Florida faculty

(South Florida Sun-Sentinel) In 1984, Archbishop Desmond Tutu 
helped a young friend named Oupa Seane flee from South Africa. 
The teenager had come of age under apartheid and later was 
jailed for fighting it. Almost two decades later, Seane, an 
adjunct political science professor at the University of North 
Florida, brought Tutu to North Florida for a lecture in 1999 and 
persuaded his old friend to return this spring for a semester as 
a scholar in residence.

"I've been here before and was thrilled by my engagement with 
the students. And there was a young South African on the faculty 
who twisted my arm a little bit," said Tutu, now retired, who 
will be paid $76,000 for his work.

With 13,000 students, North Florida is hardly small, billing 
itself one of the 100 Best College Buys in America. But it does 
not have the prestige of a University of Florida or a Florida 
State, much less Harvard--an institution that granted Tutu an 
honorary doctorate in 1979.

David Kline, the university's interim president, hopes Tutu's 
name will help with fund raising and faculty and student 
recruitment by "raising the intellectual environment."

At North Florida, Tutu will teach a one-semester class focusing 
on his time heading South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation 
Commission, a body that investigated the abuses of apartheid in 
the mid-1990s, and three mini courses.

Australian author takes on "suicidal church"

(The Age) Is the Anglican church in Melbourne committing 
suicide? Art historian Dr. Caroline Miley thinks so--and the 
Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Watson, is inclined to agree. 

Miley is the author of a new book, The Suicidal Church: Can the 
Anglican Church be Saved?, that Watson is recommending to the 
church's leaders. It says the church is timid, 
institutionalized, racist, sexist, homophobic, and impedes the 
message of the Gospel. The book argues that the church has to 
take risks, be willing to offend, offer unconditional love and 
acceptance and, above all, strip away the institutional 
trappings that allow timid Christians to shelter inside and 
avoid their biblical responsibilities.

"In business you'd talk about your core business, but church 
people don't like that kind of talk. She calls it religion. I'd 
say our core business is God, or the message about God, about 
Jesus Christ. When the institutional forms stop us doing what we 
are here to do, we have to change," said Watson.

Watson's approval was a pleasant surprise for Miley, who had a 
sharp divergence of views with Sydney's conservative Anglican 
archbishop, Peter Jensen, in a radio interview. 

"The discrepancy between what the church is like and what the 
gospels are like is really the cause of the book. The gospels 
are about empowerment, and the church is frightfully 
disempowering; the gospels are about love and acceptance, and 
the church is not accepting. It's mediocre and drab. I realized 
it was the culture of the church--it was basically English 19th 
century middle-class culture. You know, don't talk about sex, 
it's not nice." 

Another barrier, she says, is the lack of diversity. "There's 
terrible snobbism. Someone said to me once at an upmarket church 
when I complained they had no women serving, 'If you want that 
sort of thing, you should go somewhere else.' And I felt like 
saying, 'It's not your church, actually; it's God's. You're a 
guest here as well.'" Miley is also scathing about Anglican 
attitudes to women. She says the wider church shamefully 
discriminates against women, and has done for 2000 years. 

She believes the church need not continue its steady decline. 
The way ahead is backwards: back to biblical basics, modeling 
Christ, evangelism. And this means taking risks, offending 
people, accepting setbacks, which a crippling culture of 
timidity doesn't allow, she said.

UK evangelical groups threaten to look abroad for leadership

(AP) Evangelical groups in the Church of England, angered by the 
new archbishop of Canterbury's view on homosexuality, said that 
they would consider looking abroad for alternative spiritual 
leadership. Archbishop of Sydney Dr. Peter Jensen is one of the 
contenders being considered.

The Rev. George Curry, chairman of the conservative Church 
Society, said there might be a "breaking point" if divisions 
between the traditionalists and Archbishop Rowan Williams were 
not resolved. "We hope that things don't go from bad to worse, 
but if they don't get better all options will be considered," 
Curry said. "That's not because we want to be awkward customers 
or have a sideswipe at the liberal establishment. When you have 
leaders teaching error you must do something about it."

The Rev. David Banting, Reform's chairman, said arguments over 
homosexuality were part of a much wider split between 
traditionalists and liberals among the world's 70 million 
Anglicans. "In 10 years' time there will be a realignment 
between orthodox Christians and those who want a much more 
culturally based Christianity who will only pay lip service to 
the historic foundations of the Bible," he said.

Pittsburgh bishop removes himself from Philadelphia row

(ENS) Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan has removed himself from 
an ongoing feud between Bishop Charles E. Bennison of 
Pennsylvania and the Rev. David Moyer. Moyer, for 13 years the 
rector of Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, a 
Philadelphia suburb, was deposed in September by Bennison after 
repeatedly refusing to allow Bennison and two of his 
predecessors to make formal visitations to the church.

Moyer, president of the North American chapter of the 
traditionalist group Forward in Faith, was nominated by the 
group at its annual meeting last summer to be consecrated as a 
bishop outside the Episcopal Church's canonical structures. 
According to the diocesan standing committee, Moyer had 
"abandoned" his ministry in the Episcopal Church, and they voted 
to have Moyer deposed.

Following notice of the deposition, it was announced that Moyer 
had been accepted by Archbishop Bernard Malango of the Province 
of Central Africa as a priest of the diocese of the Upper Shire. 
One day later, Duncan accepted Moyer as a priest in the 
Pittsburgh diocese, later saying that he had "purposely 
occasioned a constitutional crisis " to open a discussion about 
"limiting episcopal power." Moyer did not move to Pittsburgh and 
continues to live in the Rosemont parish rectory.

Bennison then sent Duncan a letter asking him to remove Moyer, 
according to Ronda Carman, a spokeswoman for the diocese. Duncan 
didn't want to defy the canons by refusing the request and 
didn't want to remove Moyer, she said, so in a December 16 
letter, Duncan transferred Moyer back to the African diocese. 

"Father Moyer is still welcome to function in Pittsburgh," 
Duncan said in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
"He's just no longer (canonically) under me." Carman said Duncan 
transferred Moyer to remove himself from the controversy, which 
includes a lawsuit by Moyer accusing Bennison of fraud, 
misrepresentation, collusion and denial of due process. "To some 
extent it is more of a battle than Bishop Duncan wants to be 
in," Carman said. Members of Duncan's immediate family are part 
of the Rosemont congregation.


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