From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: News Briefs

Date Wed, 15 Jan 2003 16:57:12 -0500

January 15, 2003


Episcopalians: News Briefs

Church of England bishops warn against war in Iraq

(ACNS) Last October the bishops of the Church of England told a 
government committee that, while military action can sometimes 
be justified as a last resort to enforce United Nations 
resolutions, to undertake a preventative war against Iraq at 
this juncture would be to lower the threshold for war 

At its recent meeting in Leeds, the bishops issued a statement 
January 14 that said, "We believe that the Government's stated 
policy of disarming Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction is 
best pursued by facilitating and strengthening the work of UN 
weapons inspectors. It is crucial that this process be allowed 
to run its course. To launch military action while there remains 
the potential to secure a peaceful resolution would be 
ill-judged and premature."

The bishops also said that they were not yet convinced that "a 
conclusive case" has been made in favor of military action. "We 
do not believe the evidence presented to date suggests a clear 
link exists between Iraq and Al Qaeda or that Iraq poses an 
imminent threat to international security" and therefore 
"military action could not be morally justified."

The statement called on Iraq to "present credible evidence to 
support its claim that it does not possess weapons of mass 
destruction." It also called on the international community "to 
provide the basis for a lasting and just peace in the region by 
taking all necessary steps to revitalise the Middle East Peace 
Process, based on the twin principles of a secure Israel and a 
viable Palestinian state." 

The bishops urged the government and media "to avoid the use of 
language or rhetoric which might cast this crisis in religious 
terms or contribute to extremist and exclusivist attitudes."

(Full text of the statement is available on the Anglican 
Communion News Service Web site.)

Danforth returning to the Sudan to resume peace talks

(ENS) The US State Department has announced that former senator 
John Danforth, an ordained Episcopal priest, is returning to the 
Sudan as the Khartoum government and the southern rebels prepare 
to resume peace talks.

Danforth will also visit Egypt, Kenya and Eritrea for talks on 
the peace process as follow-up to discussions with both sides in 
the Sudan in Washington last month. According to the State 
Department, the talks were supposed to resume January 15 but 
Khartoum said that it hadn't received its invitation yet. The 
rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) said the new round 
of talks, aimed at ending two decades of civil war, should begin 
soon in Kenya.

The talks will focus on three main issues, including the status 
of sharia or Islamic law in Khartoum. Previous talks led to what 
many regarded as ground-breaking protocol agreements last July 
that granted a six-year period of self rule in the south, 
composed mainly of Christians and animists. A referendum would 
then decide whether the region would secede or remain part of 
the Sudan. A second round of talks started in August to finalize 
that agreement was suspended by Khartoum in the face of a rebel 
victory in the south.

German church Web site aimed trying to reach working mothers

(ENI) The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) has opened a Web 
site designed to reach mothers who work outside the home. "Women 
feel responsible for the religious life of the family," said 
Manfred Kock, head of the EKD, at a press conference to announce 
the launch. "They bring the children to the parish kindergarten 
or discuss whether to baptize them. They ask all the relevant 

The church hopes to help equip women to fulfill their dual daily 
role and to improve their performance both at work and at home. 
A study conducted by Germany's two main television stations 
concluded that more and more women are using the Internet, 
rising from just over a million to over 12 million in the last 
five years.

The study found that women and men under the age of 50 were 
using the Internet in equal numbers. "Men and women use the net 
much moreto get things done at work and at home," the study 
concluded. "This includes using it for faith and church 

The site presents 10 stages of life, including birth, schooling, 
partnership, work, retirement and death. It portrays the life of 
10 women, using short articles and videos to depict their daily 
life. "The site answers the questions we frequently receive in 
e-mails or in chat rooms at other church Web sites," said EKD 
webmaster Tom Brok. It deals with themes such as how to pray 
with children, helping children make the most of their 
confirmation classes, or being a single parent. Links connect 
users to other sites for additional information on topics such 
as baptism or marriage.

Scottish Episcopal Church produces communion coloring book

(ACNS) The Scottish Episcopal Church has launched the country's 
first coloring book specially designed for use by restless 
children during communion.

"My Holy Communion Book" takes children through the words of a 
normal Sunday morning service, illustrating key moments in the 
ceremony with bright, multi-colored illustrations. In addition 
to coloring the pictures in the book, children can participate 
in the service by writing special notes after prayers and the 

"As soon as we started using the books, I knew they were working 
because the noise levels dropped right down," said the Rev. 
Steve Butler of Leith who commissioned the book. "They run for 
the books now at the start of a service. They really engage with 
the service. The books become theirs because they have written 
and drawn in them."

During the sermon the book advises young worshipers to listen 
closely if the preacher is addressing them specifically. But if 
the sermon is aimed at adults, it gives a list of other things 
they might do, including drawing a picture of that day's Bible 
story. Each page is printed on special paper that can be wiped 
clean to allow the children to erase their work and start fresh 
every Sunday.

After the congregation sings the Gloria, children are invited to 
"draw or write something I have seen or heard this week that 
makes me want to praise and thank God." During the regular 
prayers, they are asked to "write down the names of people who 
need your prayers. If you can help them during the week, write 
what you can do for them." While people move forward for 
communion, the book suggests that the children "draw a picture 
of people in the church and ask Jesus to bless them."

"People often say that church is boring for children," said 
Rosemary Gallagher, editorial director at Redemptorist 
Publications that produced the book. "We thought there was a 
need for something that related to children and looked like the 
sort of books that they were used to. The whole thing becomes 
more immediate when they can fill in their own prayer requests 
for friends or even for a loved pet."

Episcopal Society for Ministry on Aging will dissolve in 

(ENS) The board for the Episcopal Society for Ministry on Aging 
(ESMA), which for nearly four decades has served as the official 
agency dealing with aging issues at the national level, has 
voted to dissolve on February 28, 2003.

ESMA was formed in 1964 in response to the first National 
Conference on Aging and was designated at that year's General 
Convention as the agency to assist parishes and dioceses in 
establishing housing for the elderly.

In 1977 the focus was broadened to include a wider ministry. 
Representatives were appointed in every diocese and in 1979 the 
office was moved from New Jersey to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and 
the executive director became a full-time position.

In 1991 the General Convention voted to phase out funding for 
ESMA and it operated without national support since 1994. A 
directory of housing programs for the elderly related to the 
Episcopal Church was published in 1995 and was rated highly by 
"Consumer Reports." By 1999, however, support from parishes and 
dioceses had decreased and ESMA had used its reserve funds, 
leading to the decision to close the office.

A resolution presented to the 2000 General Convention, calling 
for a national consultation to consider the church's response to 
the needs of an aging society, passed unanimously and the 
consultation met in Florida in the fall of 2001. The 
consultation recommended that a full-time national office of 
ministry with the aging be established but the Executive Council 
meeting in June 2002 did not respond positively. The Executive 
Council later passed a motion that will ask the 2003 General 
Convention to appoint a six-member task force to assess ministry 
with the aging.

Finnish film wins Templeton European Film of the Year Prize

(ENI) A Finnish film, "The Man without a Past," has won the 
Templeton European Film of the Year award, it was announced 
January 13 by the Conference of European Churches in Geneva. The 
award is presented by the Templeton Foundation, the inter-church 
film organization Interfilm, and the CEC for artistic merit and 
a point of view in keeping with the message of the Scriptures.

In the film urban violence opens the way to tell the story of a 
survivor, the man without a past. The film also won the 
Ecumenical Jury Prize at the Cannes International Film Festival 

Judges look for films that stimulate debate about spiritual and 
social issues. They said that the film written, directed and 
produced by Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki was a parable told 
with tenderness and moments of humor. It is the story of a 
community inspired by a man almost totally deprived of his 
memory after being mugged. The film features Finnish actor 
Markku Peltola as the victim and Kati Outinen as a Salvation 
Army worker who encourages the victim to find himself again.

The prize will be awarded during this year's Berlin Film 
Festival on February 9.


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