From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Episcopalians: News Briefs
Fri, 17 Jan 2003 12:36:35 -0500
January 17, 2003
Episcopalians: News Briefs
New York diocese holds discussions about nuclear plant
(ENS/Westchester Journal News) The Episcopal Diocese of New York
has stepped into the debate over the security of nuclear power
by holding three community discussions about Indian Point, the
controversial nuclear plant located on the Hudson River just 24
miles north of New York City. The discussions are designed to
explore the moral dimensions of nuclear power as well as
security concerns raised by the September 11, 2001, terrorist
The path of American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the
north tower of the World Trade Center, took it directly over the
Indian Point complex. On September 8, 2002, Britain's Sunday
Times quoted members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network as
saying the initial plan for the September 11 hijackers had been
to crash planes into nuclear power plants in the United States.
James Steets, communications manager for Entergy Nuclear
Northeast, which bought the Indian Point plants from Con Edison
just before the attacks, has stated that the company has spent
$5 million on increased security since then.
Over three Wednesdays in January, Episcopal churches in the
Westchester County cities of Nyack, Mamaroneck, and Ossining
host open-invitation talks about Indian Point's safety and
current evacuation plans for a nuclear emergency.
"This is a frightening subject and a divisive subject, and the
church belongs where people are frightened and where people are
divided," the Rev. Steve Holton, rector at St. Paul's
On-The-Hill Episcopal Church in Ossining, told the Westchester
Journal News. "We try to bring comfort to those who are
frightened and unity to those who are divided. It is an ideal
place for the church to get involved."
"We feel that previous venues for discussion were political,"
added Bishop Catherine Roskam. "We wanted to provide a different
context, a kind of safe space where we can learn about the
issues and listen to one another."
"The purpose of these meetings is to clarify that there are
significant moral issues involved here," said the Rev. Jeff
Golliher, canon for the environment at the Cathedral Church of
St. John the Divine in Manhattan, who will moderate all three
forums. "We hope that the concerns of the citizens will be
heard. The church will be listening."
Urban Caucus debates church growth and discipleship
(ENS) The Episcopal Urban Caucus will meet in Chicago February
26-March 1, 2003 to hear a report on national church anti-racism
hearings, engage the issues raised by "20/20," and learn about
nonviolence, radical discipleship, and economic justice.
"Chicago is a good place for us to meet," said the Rev. Emmett
Jarrett, TSSF, national coordinator of the EUC. "The leadership
of Bishop William Persell in interfaith peace efforts makes
caucus members feel very much at home. The work we did in Los
Angeles last year on multicultural ministry positions us to
challenge the Episcopal Church to be a church for all races, a
church without racism, and to respond to the new majority' in
the nation and the church of Black, Latino, Asian and Native
The theme of the assembly is Church Growth or Discipleship, and
the Rev. Ian Douglas, professor of global mission at the
Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, is keynote
speaker. The sermon at the Assembly Eucharist at St. James
Cathedral will be preached by the Hon. Byron Rushing,
Massachusetts state representative and former president of the
caucus. The banquet speaker will be Bishop Paul Moore, who led
the caucus on a picket line at its first assembly in
Indianapolis in 1980.
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship and the Episcopal Network for
Economic Justice will meet with the caucus, and workshops on
nonviolence and economic justice actions will be presented by
these church networks. Special attention will be paid to General
Convention issues this year, and a high priority is given to
youth in attendance at the Assembly.
For more information, see the EUC website,
Rights report criticises US war on terror, Chinese religious
(ENI) Echoing concerns by some US religious organizations, a
prominent New York-based human rights group has criticized the
United States government for its war against terrorism, saying
the Bush administration "has refused to be bound by human rights
In its annual report on international human rights globally,
Human Rights Watch said that while the US government was not
among the worst human rights offenders, its "willingness to
compromise human rights to fight terrorism sets a dangerous
precedent," particularly because of its unique leadership role.
The report, released on January 14, criticized the United States
for refusing to raise issues of repression in countries such as
China, which Human Rights Watch said were using the fight
against terrorism "to cloak or intensify repression" against
dissident or nationalist movements and in some cases religious
In its report on China, Human Rights Watch paid particular
attention to religious persecution in that country, noting that
President Jiang Zemin had, at the end of 2001, said that
"current international and domestic conditions" prompted the
strengthening of the national government's "control over
religion." Among the problems in China cited by Human Rights
Watch were continued crackdowns on Mentuhui, a Christian group
also known by the name Society of Disciples, and on the
Falungong organization, which combine Buddhist and Taoist
beliefs. Roman Catholics also faced persecution, with 53 Roman
Catholic bishops and priests either in police custody or under
surveillance early in the year and three priests receiving
prison terms on charges of "disturbing the social order."
Muslims in the northwest province of Xinjiang also faced
persecution, which Chinese authorities justified under the aegis
of anti-terrorism measures.
Human Rights Watch said the Bush administration had downplayed
the Chinese government's actions--a pattern it said was
dangerous. "An anti-terrorism policy that ignores human rights
is a gift to the terrorists," Human Rights Watch said about
overall US policy and the way it was affecting the actions of
governments elsewhere. "It reaffirms the violent instrumentalism
that breeds terrorism as it undermines the public support needed
to defeat terrorism." A number of US religious ecumenical
groups and denominations, including the National Council of
Churches, the nation's biggest ecumenical agency, have raised
similar concerns since the September 2001 attack on the United
States that precipitated the US-led "war on terror."
Hate campaign root of violence against minorities, say Pakistan
(ENI) Church leaders in Pakistan say ongoing attacks on
Christians and other minorities is a fallout of unchecked
The National Council of Churches of Pakistan (NCCP) has endorsed
a statement by the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Roman
Catholic Church, expressing "deep concern over hate speech and
provocation of religious frenzy against non-Muslims."
"We share the fears expressed by the Catholic church," Victor
Azariah, NCCP general secretary, told ENI from Lahore.
The statements followed an attack on Christmas Day by assailants
clad in traditional Muslim dress who hurled a hand grenade into
a small Protestant church in Chianwala, killing three girls and
seriously wounding more than a dozen worshippers. Christians
have expressed fears that the Chianwala attack was the result of
continued hate speeches against Christians by the cleric in
charge of the local mosque.
Religious minorities account for less than 5 percent of the 140
million people in Muslim-dominated Pakistan.
Episcopal Peace Fellowship offering nonviolence training
(ENS) The Episcopal Peace Fellowship is offering facilitator
training in nonviolence. "We are looking for Episcopalians who
have a passion for nonviolence, have experience or the capacity
to facilitate groups, and have time to promote and run workshops
and retreats," according to the EPF announcement.
The workshop, "From Violence to Wholeness," will be offered
March 13-16 in Atlanta. It was created by the Pace e Bene
Franciscan Nonviolence Service. The retreats help participants
reflect on the nature of violence and then teach the history,
principles, and methods of active, transformative nonviolence as
a way of life and social change.
Those who are interested should visit the EPF web site at
www.episcopalpeacefellowship.org and review the "From Violence
to Wholeness" curriculum guide by contacting the Franciscans at
email@example.com or calling 702-648-2281.
A questionnaire for those who want to apply asks for background
and experience, a description of a role model of a nonviolent
leader, qualities that are important for group facilitation, and
areas where the applicant might anticipate difficulties as a
Cuts at World Council of Churches affecting US office
(WCC) The board of directors for the US Conference of the World
Council of Churches will meet February 26-28 to discuss the
implications of the recent announcement of staff and program
cuts for the WCC presence in the United States.
The reduction of more than $4.5 million last November to offset
a predicted shortfall in the 2003 budget has meant a cut of 16
full-time equivalent staff positions. Two US office staff
positions--Philip Jenks, communications officer, and Sonia
Omulepu, special projects officer--were included in the cuts.
Effective June 1, the US office will be staffed by a
relationships officer, a fund development officer, and a United
Nations liaison staff person.
The US Conference is composed of heads and representatives of
the WCC members in the USA, as well as several Orthodox churches
based in other countries that have dioceses in the USA. The Rev.
Kathryn Bannister, a United Methodist minister from Kansas, is
moderator of the conference and one of the eight presidents of
The board of the US office will discuss ways its member churches
can relate to and support the new structure announced by the WCC
last November. The WCC was reorganized along five historic
themes that have been part of its mission since it was founded
in 1948: faith and order; mission and ecumenical formation;
justice, peace and creation; international affairs, peace and
human security; and diakonia and solidarity.
Scottish churches take first steps toward union
(ACNS) The Scottish Church Initiative for Union (SCIFU),
announced January 10 that after seven years it is prepared to
take "a few, first steps on the way to union" with some
recommendations for a model of a united church.
The recommendations call on participating churches to reaffirm
their commitment to the goal of full visible unity; embrace the
theological principles of the SCIFU report as an expression of
that commitment; share resources and integrate structures of the
four churches (the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the
Scottish Episcopal Church, and the United Reformed Church);
promote and facilitate the piloting of the model locally;
appoint a new group to complete the unfinished business of the
proposal; and prepare a Basis and Plan of Union.
At the heart of the proposal is the Maxi Parish, in which
worshiping communities would work together under one leadership
body and be grouped together in regions with the office of a
bishop and a regional council to carry out the responsibilities
at this level. Fundamental to the life of each congregation, and
in line with a commitment to "the ministry of the whole people
of God," would be a "church meeting of members and a
congregational council" to enable each congregation to carry out
A National Council would meet annually, serving as "the chief
locus of authority" in declaring the mind of the church in
matters of life and witness--and final court of appeal for
approving the budget and program. Elders would be a vital part
of the church locally, regionally and nationally and deacons
would "stir up consciences" on issues of justice, peace and
integrity of creation. The bishops would be "a pastor to the
pastors," their families and the ministry team. They would work
closely with those who bear office in the regions and be
expected to give "personal leadership and inspiration" to the
church's evangelism efforts, as well as fostering and nurturing
communities of faith and articulating the demand for social
justice for all in the name of Christ.
The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and the United Free Church
were observers, not participants in the initiative.
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