From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: News Briefs

Date 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 and review the "From Violence 
to Wholeness" curriculum guide by contacting the Franciscans at 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 WCC.

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 
its mission.

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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