From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: News Briefs

Date Fri, 24 Jan 2003 11:39:26 -0500

January 23, 2003


Episcopalians: News Briefs

Anglicans set day of prayer for Archbishop of Canterbury

(ACNS) The official Anglican Cycle of Prayer has designated 
Sunday, January 26, 2003 as a day of prayer for the Archbishop 
of Canterbury. Coming just one month before the 104th Archbishop 
of Canterbury will be seated in the historic Chair of St. 
Augustine in the Cathedral Church of Christ, Canterbury, the 
intention of the prayer is one of thanksgiving for the ministry 
of Archbishop Rowan Williams and for the office and unique role 
of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the worldwide Communion. 
Other organizations have also observed special days of prayer, 
with Affirming Catholicism being first on December 6.

The ancient enthronement service will be held in Canterbury 
Cathedral on Thursday, February 27, 2003, the day the church 
commemorates George Herbert, priest and poet. Requests for seats 
by people from around the Communion have far outnumbered the 
2,500-seat capacity of the cathedral. The service will be 
broadcast on BBC TV and heard on BBC Radio 4. ACNS will link to 
the BBC webcast and the availability of a commercial video for 
purchase will be announced in due course. A special edition of 
Anglican World magazine will also be published in early March.

The following prayer may be used on January 26 and at any other 
appropriate time:

"Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of 
your faithful people is governed and sanctified; Receive our 
supplications and prayers, which we offer before you for all 
members of your holy Church, and especially at this time for 
your servant Rowan, the Archbishop of Canterbury, that in their 
vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; 
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns 
with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for 
ever. Amen."

Anglican Communion Sunday is now set for May 25, 2003. The 12th 
Meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council passed a resolution 
last September on observing such a day, and asking in the future 
that a special offering be taken for the work of the ACC. 

NCC General Secretary calls for fasting, peace prayers

(NCC News) Dr. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National 
Council of Churches, called on people of faith to fast and pray 
for peace on January 27--"the first of three days of events that 
will help determine history," he said.

On that date, the United Nations Security Council is to receive 
a progress report on weapons inspections in Iraq.  The next day, 
President Bush delivers the annual State of the Union address.	
On January 29, Win Without War and other national coalitions are 
calling for a day of local actions against military intervention 
in Iraq.

"I am calling on all people of faith to observe Monday, January 
27, 2003, as a national day of prayer and fasting for a peaceful 
resolution of the Iraq crisis," the declaration said. "This day 
is the first of three days of events that will help determine 

"The United Nations Security Council is scheduled on January 27 
to receive a progress report from chief UN weapons inspector 
Hans Blix. On Tuesday, January 28, President George W. Bush will 
stand before the assembled leaders of the United States Congress 
in Washington, D.C., and deliver the annual State of the Union 
address. The following day, Wednesday, January 29, Win Without 
War and other national coalitions are calling for a unified day 
of local actions to protest military intervention in Iraq.

"As this nation edges ever closer to armed conflict, let us 
fast, pray for peace, and search for alternatives to war. I urge 
people of faith to pray for President Bush, for all our nation's 
leaders, and for our military mpersonnel, their families and 
friends. Let us pray for the suffering people of Iraq and all 
others in the region and around the world who may be affected by 
war. And, believing that no one stands outside of prayer, let us 
pray also for Iraq's leaders, including its president, Saddam 

"Together, on January 27, let our hearts, our minds and our 
prayers be as one, witnessing to the ways of peace; witnessing 
to the fact that war is not the answer. Together, on January 27, 
let all people of faith join in a national day of prayer and 
fasting as we seek peace in our day."

English priest believes knowledge of witchcraft can be 

(ENI) For Richard Thomas, a priest on the Anglican bishop of 
Oxford's staff, witchcraft is not to be feared or hated but to 
be understood as "an emerging faith community."

Thomas, who is the Oxford diocese's director of communication, 
has spent three months meeting practitioners of Wicca, or modern 
pagan witchcraft, and attending their rituals.

Christians may be alarmed by the sound of groups with names like 
the Children of Artemis, but Thomas stressed that Wiccans had a 
"deep sense of spirituality and care for the sacredness of 
creation." He said in an interview with ENI: "They are 150 per 
cent committed to how they live their lives."

The project is part of Thomas's work for a master's degree under 
an award by the archbishop of Canterbury, known as the Lambeth 

Rod Thomas (no relation), spokesman for the Church of England 
evangelical movement Reform, told ENI: "Richard Thomas's studies 
may well be of wider use if they enable Christians to relate to 
those who hold pagan beliefs in a more informed way. We hope the 
outcome of his studies will enable us to be more effective in 
conveying the good news of Christ to those who hold pagan 
beliefs. If, on the other hand they do not do so, or worse, seek 
to compromise the exclusive claims of Christ, then they will 
have been counter-productive and the time and money will have 
been badly spent."

Support for the study project came from the bishop of Oxford, 
Richard Harries, the Church of England press office said.

Richard Thomas said Christians often made assumptions about 
pagan rituals, and this led to a clouded picture. "For dialogue 
to take place it is necessary to proceed from a position of 
humility and understanding rather than from a position of 
arrogance or fear." Wicca was partly to be understood, he 
suggested, as an alternative to what its followers saw as "the 
imperialism of organized religion." 

Thomas was keen to dispel several myths about paganism in 
Britain: he said it was not a middle-class movement, or a 
reaction against Christianity or a form of New Age beliefs. He 
added that Wicca "is about the invocation of spirits and 
affecting others through magic and ritual." But he stressed that 
"Wiccans are required to do no harm" and that the effect of 
their actions "must be at least morally neutral." He pointed out 
that Christian prayers were another way of trying to produce a 
benign effect on other people.

Asked whether formally studying Wicca amounted to treating it as 
equivalent to world faith systems like Islam, Buddhism and 
Hinduism, Thomas said: "I make no judgement on the objectivity 
of its claims, but I could make a strong case for Wicca as an 
emerging faith community." He saw no conflict between his 
ministry and his chosen area of study: "I feel this is something 
that God has called me to do." The church would benefit through 
his being a link with the pagan community, he added.

According to the Children of Artemis's statement of beliefs, 
magic is "an intrinsic part of this world, a completely natural 
and neutral force." Its Web site,, quotes the 
Wiccan saying: "An [if] it harm none, do what you will."

Thomas's research was supported by a 1000 pounds sterling 
(US$1600) bursary from Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc, a 
company with strong Anglican connections. Maggie Vinson, 
Ecclesiastical spokeswoman, said the churches needed to "listen 
and learn" from other cultures. Bursaries were offered to help 
that process. 

Nonprofit utility announcing renewable energy option

(AP) A nonprofit organization called Interfaith Power and Light 
unveiled plans to offer Maine consumers the chance to buy their 
electricity from clean, renewable sources. The so-called "green 
power" plan was put together by the Brunswick-based group, which 
was founded three years ago with a grant from the Maine Council 
of Churches. Other religious groups have also been working on 
the project. 

The announcement reflects a growing trend nationwide that links 
religion and environmental awareness. The model for the Maine 
program is Episcopal Power and Light of San Francisco, which 
started in 1995.

The clean energy option is being offered to Maine households, 
churches and small businesses. To residential customers who use 
500 kilowatt hours a month, the added cost would amount to $7.50 
a month. Organizers hope to get at least 1,000 Mainers to sign 

Baxter plans to step down as dean of National Cathedral 

(Washington Post) The Very Rev. Nathan D. Baxter announced his 
resignation January 22 as dean of Washington National Cathedral, 
one of the country's most influential churches, effective June 

Baxter made the surprise announcement at a scheduled meeting of 
the cathedral's senior staff, said the Rev. Alan Geyer, canon 
for ethics and public policy, who attended the meeting. 

"This is an ideal time for me to conclude my deanship," Baxter 
read from a letter addressed to "Dear Friends." "Together we 
have accomplished much of what I had set out to do, and I now 
want to explore new opportunities and challenges."

Baxter, selected as the cathedral's chief administrator in 1991, 
said in the letter that a new capital campaign, as yet 
unscheduled, and a centennial celebration in 2007 make this an 
appropriate time to find a new dean. He did not elaborate on his 
plans or reasons for resigning, and a cathedral spokesman said 
Baxter was not available for an interview.

John Shenefield, chair of the cathedral's governing board, said 
a search committee will be appointed to provide Washington 
bishop John Bryson Chane with a list of candidates to replace 
Baxter. The bishop will submit his choice to the Protestant 
Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, the congressionally chartered 
body that operates the cathedral and four schools on its 
grounds, which will vote on the candidate. Chane is president of 
the foundation. The search process will begin soon, Shenefield 
said. "It would be great" to have a new dean by the beginning of 
Advent, he said.

Since Baxter's arrival in fall 1991 as the seventh dean, the 
cathedral has planned and conducted its largest capital 
campaign, created a Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage, 
established a resident girls' choir and started a scholars 
program to benefit public high school students in the District.

His tenure was distinguished by a number of major national 
services held at the cathedral, including the funerals of 
Thurgood Marshall and J. William Fulbright; visits from a 
variety of world leaders, including the Dalai Lama and Desmond 
Tutu; and the nationally televised Service of Prayer and 
Remembrance after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Maine diocese establishes fund for community affected by 

(ENS) In the wake of the recent bankruptcy announcement by Great 
Northern Paper of Millinocket, Maine, the 67 congregations that 
comprise the Episcopal Diocese of Maine have made a decisive 
effort to support residents of the affected community. St. 
Andrew's Episcopal Church, in cooperation with Bishop Chilton R. 
Knudsen of Maine and the diocese's Commission on Outreach and 
Services, have established a fund called Millinocket Emergency 

The fund will provide vouchers for fuel oil, groceries, and 
prescription drugs for all affected by the plant closure as well 
as others who find their families in need as a result of the 
economic downturn. The Rev. Lance Almeida of St. Andrew's, along 
with an Emergency Outreach Committee, will issue the vouchers, 
redeemable at six local businesses which will, in turn, bill the 
Financial Office of the Diocese of Maine. 

In addition to the voucher program, Maine's Episcopal 
congregations are being asked to set aside Sunday, February 2, 
as a day to donate non-perishable food items and essentials such 
as diapers and laundry and dish detergent. On February 4, 
volunteers will pick up donations at stops in Kennebunk, 
Portland, Augusta, Brewer, and Houlton, before making their way 
to St. Andrew's in Millinocket. Both the voucher program and the 
food pantry will be fully operational beginning in February. 
Details on how to access both programs will be publicized as 
soon as they are worked out.

"We are overwhelmed that the people in the Diocese of Maine are 
willing to give of their resources and that the diocesan office 
is willing to take on the administrative work," said Almeida. 
"That will take a tremendous burden off of our shoulders and 
allow us to focus on being a pastoral, supporting presence to 
the people in our community."

Donations to the Millinocket Emergency Outreach Fund may be made 
payable to the "Diocese of Maine-Millinocket Outreach" and sent 
to the Bishop's Office, 143 State Street, Portland, Maine 04101. 
For more information about the Fund and the food donation 
effort, visit 


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