From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: News Briefs

Date Tue, 21 Jan 2003 15:37:16 -0500

January 21, 2003


Episcopalians: News Briefs

MLK Jr. Day service draws 3,200 to Washington National 

(NCC News) An estimated 3,200 people filled the Washington 
National Cathedral January 20 to pray for a peaceful resolution 
of the Iraq crisis. Afterward, worshipers marched down 
Massachusetts Avenue with candles and "War Is Not the Answer" 
placards to take that message to the White House.

"Today we pray to God and plead with our national leaders to 
avoid the destructiveness of war and find a better way to 
resolve the very real threats involved in this conflict with 
Iraq," said the Rev. Jim Wallis, executive director of 
Sojourners and the convenor of Call to Renewal, one of the 
service's keynote speakers.  "We believe that is possible, and 
we believe we can still stop this war before it starts."

The Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Prayer Service for Peace and 
Justice focused on the connection between war and poverty.

"Before there were Jews, Christians and Muslims, there was 
Abraham!" said Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Episcopal Diocese 
of Washington (DC) during a pastoral prayer at the service. "And 
we must be reminded of that shared thread of monotheism, a 
thread that must not be broken by indiscriminate violence, 
terrorism, religious intolerance, racism and the desire of some 
to claim religion as the centerpiece of their political and 
national agendas."

"Help us, creator God to repent of our warring ways... Help the 
elected, or self-appointed, leaders of the world to end their 
rhetoric that demonizes and dehumanizes others within the global 
community," Chane prayed. "Most gracious God, help us as a 
nation to use the richness of our wealth, technology, medical 
research and agricultural abundance as the new 'weapons of mass 
rebuilding' in our war against violence, poverty, disease, 
famine and the feeling of hopelessness that billions of people 
on this planet now experience."

In his introduction to the series of readings and meditations on 
peace, racism/poverty and global community, the Rev. Bob Edgar, 
general secretary of the National Council of Churches, recalled 
hearing Martin Luther King, Jr., in February 1968 at the New 
York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. The concern 
then was the Vietnam War.

"Afterwards," he said, "we walked arm in arm with Dr. King to 
the White House, much as we will do today.  The words of Dr. 
King that we will read today aren't from that February 1968 
event, but from the pulpit of this cathedral, from which Dr. 
King preached four days before he was assassinated. As you 
listen, hear how prophetic these words are for today."

The service was co-sponsored by the National Council of 
Churches, Children's Defense Fund, the Episcopal Diocese of 
Washington, Call to Renewal and Sojourners.

[Photos are available at]

Griswold commends Illinois governor's decision in death penalty 

(ENS) Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold has written a letter to 
Illinois' outgoing Republican Gov. George Ryan, commending him 
for his January 11 decision to commute the death sentences of 
167 people to life in prison.

"You have used your power as governor to the utmost good in the 
saving of lives and in bringing capital punishment once again to 
the forefront of public debate," Griswold wrote in a letter 
dated January 17. "It is my hope that, with your bold action as 
witness and example, each state and this country as a whole will 
reconsider the use of the death penalty and cease this 

Ryan's decision followed a three-year review of Illinois 
death-row cases sparked by disclosures that 13 death-row inmates 
had been wrongly convicted. "Because our three-year study has 
found only more questions about the fairness of sentencing, 
because of the spectacular failure to reform the system, because 
we have seen justice delayed for countless death-row inmates 
with potentially meritorious claims, because the Illinois 
death-penalty system is arbitrary and capricious and therefore 
immoral I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death," 
Ryan said in a prepared text.

The Episcopal Church has long taken an active stance against 
capital punishment. Bishops of the three dioceses that comprise 
the state of Illinois--Chicago, Quincy and Springfield--have 
worked through the Illinois Conference of Churches in supporting 
the call for commutations.  

In 1958, the General Convention passed a resolution opposing 
capital punishment because "the individual life is of infinite 
worth in the sight of Almighty God; andthe taking of this human 
life falls within the providence of Almighty God and not within 
the right of man."  The resolution has been reaffirmed several 
times since 1958. Only the District of Columbia and 11 states do 
not use the death penalty.

War on Iraq not justified, Canadian Anglican primate argues

(ACC) A US-led invasion of Iraq at this time would fail to meet 
any of the theological tests by which war can be justified, 
Archbishop Michael Peers, the Canadian Anglican primate, said in 
a letter to church members. 

The United States, Archbishop Peers says in the letter, has 
"introduced a new and perilous set of criteria, justifying an 
invasion of Iraq based on the American desire for a 'regime 
change' and as a hedge against the possibility of damage to the 
American economy should Iraq attack the United States." 

While many Anglicans may not accept all of the principles the 
church applies to decide if a war is just, he adds, these 
principles "provide more than enough reasons to oppose this 

Peers notes in his letter that in opposing a U.S. war on Iraq, 
the Anglican Church of Canada joins many other churches and 
religious organizations including the Canadian and World 
Councils of Churches, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal 
Church USA and the archbishop of Canterbury. 

He invites Canadian Anglicans to participate "in the 
international and ecumenical consensus opposing an invasion of 

The text of Peers' statement is available at

'Spirituality of Resistance' is theme of WCC's contribution to 
World Social Forum

(WCC) For the World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation taking 
part in the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 23-28 
January, the emphasis will be on a spirituality directed towards 

"We are witnessing the development of a spirituality that 
supports the powers responsible for the current unjust and 
unsustainable process of corporate globalization. For that 
reason, we need to recover the long tradition of a Christian 
spirituality critical of power. It is a spirituality which has 
given those without power the strength and courage to oppose 
those who abuse it," explains Rogate Mshana, responsible for the 
WCC's Economic Justice program.

Delegation members will lead a series of workshops showing links 
between Christian spirituality and examples of resistance 
against the unjust world order by churches and social and 
ecumenical organizations. WCC delegation members will also 
participate in two discussion panels arranged by the forum 
organizers, and WCC president Bishop Federico Pagura has been 
invited by the forum organizers to share his experience as a 

The WCC delegation will be active at the World Social Forum 
within the framework of an ecumenical caucus set up by the WCC, 
the Lutheran World Federation, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, 
the Latin American Council of Churches, and an ecumenical 
coalition of Brazilian churches and related organizations. 

"The churches were not very visible at earlier forum meetings, 
although they strongly supported the causes on its agenda," 
Rogate Mshana comments. "We hope that our higher profile on this 
occasion will enable us to strengthen our participation in the 
social movements working to ensure that all human beings can 
live in dignity."

Further details of how the WCC is participating in the World 
Social Forum, including descriptions of the workshops and the 
text of the presentations, can be found at (English).

Anglican archbishop calls for understanding of homosexuals

(Johannesburg Sunday Times) Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, 
head of the Anglican church in Southern Africa, has asked its 
members to reflect upon their attitudes towards homosexuality. 

In an eight-page discussion document on human sexuality sent out 
to members of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, 
Ndungane warned that the issue is threatening to divide their 

Loraine Tulleken, spokesperson for Ndungane, said that the 
discussion document had been sent to bishops, clergy, parishes, 
theological colleges and Anglican organizations in South Africa, 
Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and St. Helena. 

Ndungane's action stems from a resolution taken at the Anglican 
synod in Bloemfontein last October, when some participants 
argued that the church's openly gay clergy needed to be 
officially recognized. In South Africa the church also faced a 
potential clash with the constitution, which gives same-sex 
couples the right to marry. 

According to Ndungane, more traditional elements in the church 
were unable to adjust to a growing acceptance of homosexuals as 
practicing Anglicans and believed that "somehow the faith is at 

Mideast church leaders celebrate new unity

(Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem) The common bonds and the new 
unity that have developed among church leaders in the Middle 
East will be celebrated during the annual Week of Prayer for 
Christian Unity, January 18-25.

"Being a minority in the first place in a time of real 
difficulties, it seems the differences start to fade away," said 
Bishop Riah Abu el Assal of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. 
"For hundreds of years, Christians of different denominations 
closed the doors in the face of each other. Today we're all 
under the same roof--and the doors are quite open."

The heads of the churches in Jerusalem meet monthly to discuss 
ministry in a very difficult climate. Three of them are 
Palestinians--Riah, Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, and Bishop 
Mounib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church--who are deeply 
concerned that the flood of Palestinian Christians out of the 
region will continue, further diminishing the Christian 
presence. In 1967 there were 30,000 Christians in Jerusalem and 
the churches estimate that figure has dropped to 8-9,000 today.

"Ecumenical work in Jerusalem particularly has improved since 
the heads of churches banded together three years ago for 
Jubilee year activities," said Father Athanasius, a Franciscan. 
He says that interchurch unity in Jerusalem is much better than 
it was 50 years ago, offering the spirit of cooperation  at 
Church of the Holy Sepulcher as evidence.

"It's also important that churches work together to curb the 
violence for the sake of the pilgrims," added Father Shemun. 

The Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches 
is responsible for the theme which this year is "We have this 
treasure in clay jars" from 2 Cor. 4:7.


Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home