From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Episcopalians: News Briefs

Date Tue, 11 Feb 2003 15:14:57 -0500

February 11, 2003


Episcopalians: News Briefs

Williams' Canterbury enthronement first to be webcast

(ACNS) The enthronement of the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, 
Rowan Williams, at Canterbury Cathedral, England, on February 27 
at 3 p.m. GMT will be "webcast" worldwide by the BBC.

The BBC is negotiating to archive the webcast and keep it online 
so that viewers can view the service at their convenience, 
especially if they cannot watch it during the live event.

As of February 14, the BBC reports that the service will not be 
broadcast in the USA. However, there is a possibility that 
C-Span may carry the program. Check your local C-Span schedule.

A video of the service can be reserved by sending an email 
request to Jim Rosenthal at 
Credit card payment of $25 for each video will be accepted when 
the videos are shipped.

Check these two web addresses for updated information about the 

Kenya's churches hope new commission will shed truth on past 

(ENI) At the urging of Kenya's churches, the government is 
establishing a truth commission to deal with alleged corruption 
and human rights abuses committed under the previous government, 
voted out of office in December last year. Church leaders said 
the commission, prompted by a similar commission in South 
Africa, was long overdue. 

"Kenyans ... are anxious to know the truth," said Canon Peter 
Machira of St Mark's Anglican Church, Nairobi. Church leaders 
want the commission to address past tribal clashes, illegal land 
allocations, unresolved deaths of clergy and politicians, and 
general corruption, which a government report last week said had 
cost the country US$1.6 billion between 1990 and 1999. 

The setting-up of the commission was announced by Kiraitu 
Murungi, the new justice and constitutional affairs minister, at 
the swearing-in of the new cabinet after the elections in 
December. "We have learned a lot from the Truth and 
Reconciliation Commission of South Africa and other commissions 
in Latin America," Murungi said in announcing the commission. 

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired 
by the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, 
spent almost three years examining gross human rights violations 
committed in the apartheid era. It was empowered to grant 
amnesty to those who admitted their crimes. 

Murungi said last week that Kenya's commission would hear 
testimony from victims of abuse and perpetrators. 

Archbishop's remarks on asylum spark controversy

(ENI) The archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has 
surprised both his supporters and his critics by calling it 
"perfectly reasonable" to put asylum seekers in secure units 
while their cases are evaluated. 

In an interview with the London's Sunday Times newspaper, the 
Anglican leader said he was concerned about people's safety. 
"There's got to be a security agenda," said Williams. "It's a 
very unsafe world and there is no way around that. The challenge 
for any responsible government is to be absolutely serious about 
security." But he insisted that asylum claims must be processed 
quickly so that people were "not locked up in hermetically 
sealed compartments for an indefinite period". 

Williams has been viewed as a liberal on issues such as Iraq and 
homosexuality but his comments were seen by some groups to put 
him in the conservative camp on asylum seekers. 

Security has in recent weeks become a front-page issue after a 
police detective, Stephen Oake, an active Baptist, was fatally 
stabbed in January during a police raid on a flat in Manchester. 
Four men reported to be Algerian asylum seekers were arrested. 

Responding to Williams's remarks, the Refugee Council, a 
non-government organization, said there were "real fears about 
security that need to be addressed" but "a policy of detaining 
all asylum seekers on arrival will do little to improve our 

Jonathan Jennings, Williams's press spokesman, told ENI: "The 
archbishop was not advocating detention of asylum seekers, but 
saying it was reasonable to raise the question. The security 
question is not a trivial one, but one would also need to solve 
other issues like speed of processing applications and equity 
for asylum seekers." 

At the same time, the Churches' Commission for Racial 
Justice--part of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland--has 
spoken out on behalf of asylum seekers who will be denied 
financial and other support if they do not register at their 
port of entry into Britain. The commission described the new 
measure as "draconian" and highly unlikely to stop people 
seeking asylum in Britain.

Shadowy Mungiki is feared by Kenyan churches and government 

(ENI) Kenyan church leaders, the media and legislators have 
joined forces in calling for the government to halt the violent 
actions of Mungiki, a shadowy outlawed group said to have links 
to traditional faiths. The group has been blamed for at least 20 
killings in Kenya since the beginning of the year, all in brutal 
attacks at taxi ranks and bus terminals. The latest was the 
slaying and burning of a police officer in Nairobi's Dandora 

Mungiki supports female circumcision, a practice of mutilation 
abhorred by churches and humanitarian groups. Kenyan media 
reports say Mungiki recruits members from Christian churches and 
that some of its leaders have converted to Islam, although 
Muslim leaders have also condemned the group's violence. 

In March last year churches in Kenya were incensed by the 
slaying of 24 people, attributed to Mungiki, and carried out in 
a Nairobi slum area. People were hacked to death apparently 
indiscriminately in bars, streets and homes. 

The Anglican archbishop of Kenya, the Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi, told 
ENI the latest killings attributed to Mungiki "means the 
government has a duty to stop the taking of innocent lives." 

Mungiki claims a membership of around 2 million. The National 
Council of Churches of Kenya and a number of human rights 
agencies say its membership comprises mainly unemployed young 
people living on the fringes of society. 

Nzimbi told ENI that more than two years ago the churches had 
commissioned a study to find out the origin, aims, and purposes 
of the organization. But the churches found the study 
inconclusive, Nzimbi said, explaining that more work was needed 
on it. "We expect something very soon," he said.  

The formation of Mungiki, which some people see as a sect, 
remains a mystery to many Kenyans, and statements made about it 
are often contradictory. Some reports say the group may have 
started in 1988 with the aim of toppling the government of the 
then president, Daniel arap Moi, who was on 27 December voted 
out of power along with his Kenya African National Union party. 
Other analysts have said that some young Kenyans who cannot find 
a secure place in present-day society see Mungiki actions as 
akin to the bloody Mau Mau rebellion that fought British 
colonial rule, used ritualistic secret oaths and often engaged 
in brutal actions against outsiders. 

Jerusalem's Anglican bishop threatens to sue Israelis over 
church bombing 

(ENI) The top ranking Anglican cleric in Jerusalem is 
threatening to sue the Israeli government if it refuses to pay 
compensation for the bombing of a church in Gaza City last 

Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal said he would have no choice but to 
take legal action if Israel did not fund the costs of repairing 
St. Philip's Episcopal Church, located within the Ahli Arab 
Hospital complex. 

"I am going to put a claim into the Israeli government and I 
hope that they will come to terms with compensating the church 
so that we will rebuild, renovate, repair the damage that was 
done," he told ENI. "But if they don't apologize and pay for the 
damage they have done, I will have to take them to court." 

Riah was reacting to the strike against the church and the 
hospital on 24 January. Israeli Brigadier-General Tzvika Fogel 
claimed that Israeli helicopters had fired five missiles at a 
suspected Palestinian weapons factory but that two of the 
projectiles had malfunctioned, one of them landing in the 
"vicinity" of St. Philip's. 

Riah, however, took a different view of the events. "Well, 
certainly I was shocked, not because the missile missed its 
target and hit our church, but because we were targeted as a 
church," he said. He estimated the damages to be in the hundreds 
of thousands of dollars, including damages to the hospital. 

"The roof will have to be changed, the walls will have to be 
rebuilt," he said. "And with the [recent winter] rains and no 
roof, the damage will be far greater than when it was hit on 
January 24." 

Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance receives $1 million from Gates 

(GAIA) The San Francisco-based Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance 
(GAIA) announced today that it has received a $1 million grant 
from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fight HIV/AIDS in 
Malawi, Africa.

The grant enables GAIA ( to launch the Malawi 
Women's Empowerment Project to train a network of women in rural 
Malawi villages in HIV/AIDS prevention and care. These women 
then would be deployed throughout southern Malawi to provide 
counseling and medical referrals to those living with HIV/AIDS. 

The GAIA Malawi initiative is based partly on research from the 
2002 International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, which found 
that empowering women in developing countries is a key to 
reducing the number of new HIV infections. The organization was 
founded by the Rev. William Rankin, former president and dean of 
the Episcopal Divinity School in Massachusetts, in June 2000 in 
the wake of the Durban AIDS Conference.

GAIA has effectively trained nearly 500 health and religious 
workers in Africa in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, working 
successfully in Tanzania, the Rift Valley of Kenya, Mozambique, 
and more recently, Malawi.

GAIA, established in 2000, is a non profit organization 
dedicated to slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS in African and other 
developing countries. GAIA's programs involve training health 
and religious leaders of all faiths for HIV prevention and care, 
and supporting village level projects through grants. 

"GAIA is profoundly grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates 
Foundation for its support in allowing us to expand our work in 
Africa in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention and care," said Dr. 
Charles Wilson, chair of the GAIA Board of Trustees and emeritus 
chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of 
California Medical Center in San Francisco (UCSF). "Empowering 
women continues to be a major barrier to health education and 
treatment. This grant will help to empower women and reduce HIV 


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