Blogroll: Anglican Ink

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Anglican News from Around the Globe
Updated: 2 hours 21 min ago

Ugandan episcopal election overturned

15 hours 18 min ago

The House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda has nullified the election of the Rev. Charles Okunya Oode as Bishop of Kumi.

Fr Okunya was elected bishop in November in succession to the Rt. Rev. Thomas Edison Irigei and was scheduled to be consecrated on 29 Dec 2019. However, a petition was lodged by a lay group called the Concerned Christians of Kumi Diocese which alleged the bishop-elect had been unfaithful in his marriage and had sired children outside of wedlock.

The House of Bishops investigated the allegations, but overturned the election on 5 Feb 2020 when it discovered the new bishop was below the necessary canonical age.  In his letter to the Kumi Diocesan Chancellor the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, stated that the House of Bishops had reviewed Rev Okunya’s National Identity Card, NIRA records, passport, academic records from Uganda Christian University and those submitted by the diocese, during the vetting process and established that he was born on November 23, 1975, indicating that he was a year younger than the necessary age to become a bishop according to Article 13 of the church constitution.

The post Ugandan episcopal election overturned appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Mass priest pleads guilty to child porn possession charges

15 hours 38 min ago

A Massachusetts Episcopal priest has pled guilty in federal court in Worcester to child pornography charges.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division announced today the Rev. Gregory Lisby (40) had pled guilty to one charge of possession of child pornography.

Lisby was serving as rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Worcester in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts and worked as a kindergarten teacher with the Holyoke Public School system when he was arrested on 11 Sept 2019 by the FBI. He was taken into custody at the rectory he shared with his husband, the Rev. Timothy Burger rector of St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Worcester.

A 24 Feb 2020 statement from the US Attorney’s office said agents discovered an image depicting child pornography that had been uploaded to a Microsoft OneDrive account that was determined to belong to Lisby.  Approximately 180 images and 15 videos of child pornography were identified on the OneDrive. After a cyber tip from Microsoft alerted agents to child pornography on his personal cloud storage a search was executed at the rectory where Lisby’s iPad and cellphone were recovered. On those devices, investigators found login credentials for the OneDrive account used to store the child pornography. 

In a letter sent to the diocese last Friday, the Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, bishop of Western Massachusetts, stated that following his arrest the diocese received “devastating credible evidence” that Lisby sexually abused a teenager “after he was ordained as a priest in 2007.”

The bishop’s letter did not say where the abuse took place Fisher but noted Lisby’s husband, Rev. Timothy Burger was “in no way implicated in any of these charges” and had filed for divorce.

Lisby was suspended as rector of All Saints Church in Worcester in 2018 for an “inappropriate relationship with an adult that did not involve sexual contact”, the bishop said at the time of Lisby’s arrest. Following his guilty plea the diocese will begin the canonical process of deposing him from the ministry. 

“I cannot undo this terrible situation, but I can commit our diocese to telling the truth and seeking healing and reconciliation for anyone who has been harmed by Lisby,” Bishop Fisher wrote, adding: “I am deeply saddened to know that a priest is alleged to have committed such a grievous sin, and on behalf of the entire church, I offer my most heartfelt apology to the victim, the victim’s family and to everyone whose trust in the church has been violated.”

The government press release stated the charging statute provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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Anglican Unscripted 576 -“What do you have to do with us, Jesus?”

Mon, 24/02/2020 - 22:10

Kevin Kallsen, George Conger, and Gavin Ashenden discuss the spiritual warfare coming against the church and your hosts give some vivid personal experiences.

The post Anglican Unscripted 576 -“What do you have to do with us, Jesus?” appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

L’Arche International announces findings of Independent Inquiry into Jean Vanier

Mon, 24/02/2020 - 01:28

On February 22nd, 2020, the leaders of L’Arche International sent a letter to the Federation of L’Arche Communities, which operates in 38 countries worldwide, publishing the results of an inquiry that had commissioned from an independent organization. The inquiry included testimony implicating its founder, Jean Vanier, and his historical link to Father Thomas Philippe, who he thought of as his spiritual father.

The investigation was carried out by GCPS, an independent U.K. consultancy which specializes in improving procedures for the prevention and reporting of abuse. In addition, L’Arche International established an Independent Oversight Committee made up of two former senior civil servants in France, to assess the integrity and reliability of the inquiry’s process and findings. Following their review of the report they stated: “We have no reason to question the methodology of the inquiry and the seriousness with which it was carried out. We therefore consider these conclusions to be well founded.”

The inquiry received credible and consistent testimonies from six adult women without disabilities, covering the period from 1970 to 2005. The women each report that Jean Vanier initiated sexual relations with them, usually in the context of spiritual accompaniment. Although they had no prior knowledge of each other’s experiences, these women reported similar facts associated with highly unusual spiritual or mystical explanations used to justify these behaviors. The relationships were found to be manipulative and emotionally abusive, and had a significant negative impact on their personal lives and subsequent relationships. These actions are indicative of a deep psychological and spiritual hold Jean Vanier had on these women and confirm his own adoption of some of Father Thomas Philippe’s deviant theories and practices.

The inquiry made no suggestion that Jean Vanier had inappropriate relationships with people with intellectual disabilities.

Alongside the GCPS inquiry, L’Arche International commissioned a major piece of historical research based on previously unseen archives. Analysis of the various archives reveals the sources of Jean Vanier’s attitude towards these women, and confirms that he adopted some of Father Thomas Philippe’s deviant theories and practices.

Indeed, the evidence gathered from the investigation, along with the historical research, shows that:

  • As early as the 1950s, a decade before the founding of L’Arche, and contrary to what he publicly stated, Jean Vanier was aware of the key reasons for the canonical trial and condemnation of Father Thomas Philippe by the Catholic Church in 1956. The reasons lay in his theories, which were described as “false mysticism”, and the sexual practices that stemmed from them. Jean Vanier described Father Thomas Philippe as his spiritual father.
  • The historical research suggests that in the 1950s, Jean Vanier was a member of a small clandestine group which subscribed to and participated in, some of Father Thomas Philippe’s deviant sexual practices, which were founded on so-called “mystical” or “spiritual” beliefs that had been condemned by the Catholic Church. This group was made up of Father Thomas Philippe, Jean Vanier and a few women.

L’Arche International submitted GCPS’s final report, along with the historical research, to the Independent Church Sexual Abuse Commission in France (CIASE), which is responsible for investigating abuses within the Church in France.

In a letter dated 22th February 2020, the Leaders of L’Arche International, Stephan Posner and Stacy Cates Carney wrote to the L’Arche Federation:

“We are shocked by these discoveries and unreservedly condemn these actions, which are in total contradiction with the values Jean Vanier otherwise stood for. They are incompatible with the basic rules of respect and dignity of persons, and contrary to the fundamental principles on which L’Arche is based.

We recognize the courage and suffering of these women, and of any others who may not have spoken up. We also want to express our gratitude to the women who, by speaking out a few years ago about Father Thomas Philippe, helped others to liberate themselves of a burden of shame and suffering they did not deserve to be carrying. To all of them, we ask forgiveness for these events which took place in the context of L’Arche, some of which were caused by our founder”.

L’Arche is committed to making sure that its 154 communities across the world are places of safety and growth for all its members, with and without disabilities.

Across the Federation, L’Arche is undertaking a thorough and independent evaluation of its current safeguarding policies and procedures. In addition to local safeguarding measures which are already in place throughout the Federation, L’Arche International has created a centralized whistleblowing procedure, available for all its members. Information or reports received will be dealt with by a Safeguarding Response Team partly made up of people outside L’Arche.

In the same letter the two International Leaders state: “For many of us, Jean was one of the people we loved and respected the most. Jean inspired and comforted many people around the world … and we are aware that this information will cause many of us, both inside and outside L’Arche, deep confusion and pain. While the considerable good he did throughout his life is not in question, we will nevertheless have to mourn a certain image we may have had of Jean and of the origins of L’Arche.”

They add: “The words of those who have testified bring to light a troubled part of our history, but they give L’Arche the opportunity to move forwards with a better understanding of our history and, ultimately, better equipped to face the challenges of our time.”

The letters written by the L’Arche International Leaders to the Federation on the GCPS inquiry, as well as the Summary Report of the inquiry and the historical research, are available here:

Letter from International Leaders – February 2020 
Summary Report – February 2020 
Inquiry and historical timeline
Letter from International Leader – June 2019
Letter from International Leader – July 2019

The post L’Arche International announces findings of Independent Inquiry into Jean Vanier appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

GAFCON chairman’s February pastoral letter

Sun, 23/02/2020 - 21:43

Beloved in Christ Jesus: Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Light of the world!

The season of Epiphany has been a reminder to us of the mission of the Church – to reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  With the Great Commission Jesus encouraged his disciples –

Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have command you; and I am with you until the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19,20). 

One of the great joys of the Anglican Communion is that it has the potential to demonstrate the gospel ‘mystery’ of being heirs, members and sharers together by a common global life and mission. It has been my privilege to share in the installation of Archbishop Melter Tais as the new Primate of South East Asia. It is a joy to be with brothers and sisters who are so united in mission and in love for Jesus.

Please pray for Archbishop-elect Stephen Kaziimba as the Church of Uganda prepares for his enthronement service on Sunday, March 1st, at which I have been invited to preach. The Ugandan Church has a noble history of faithfulness to Christ, from the early martyrs of the mid 1880’s through to Janani Luwum in 1977 and countless acts of courageous witness for Christ to the present day. We give thanks for the Ugandan witness throughout the decades. May this Church, truly seeded by the blood of the martyrs, reveal even more of the glorious mystery of the gospel in its life together!

Christian discipleship and leadership calls us to make disciples of all nations and it requires us to protect the flock from false teachers. Encountering false teachers is nothing new in the history of the Church. The New Testament is filled with exhortations regarding false teachers.   The Apostle Paul was concerned about what was happening in his beloved church plant in the city of Ephesus and wrote: For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them…(Ephesians 5:5-7).  

Did Paul say not to love them? No.  He said not to become partners with them.  This is the real challenge for many of our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion who have had years of partnership and fellowship and communion with provinces who now are filled with false teachers and with those who are practicing immorality.  While the Anglican Establishment argues that this does not matter – that we can agree to disagree on issues of salvation — the Scriptures are clear that we are dishonouring the Body of Christ and the Lord himself when we ignore false teachers and pretend everything is just fine. See 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 and 2 John 1:10-11.

Recognising the difference between true and false teachers and true and false “togetherness” calls for discernment. I strongly recommend a new tool that helps us in this task by recalling our recent history. The Anglican Reality Check (www.anglicanrealitycheck.org) is an interactive time-line which tracks key events, good and bad, in the unfolding crisis of faith which has overtaken the Anglican Communion in the twenty-first century. It is amazing how much we can forget, and in a world of instant mass communication, this is a great way of keeping perspective and not being swayed by the latest PR slogans. Please spread the word and ensure that this powerful resource is used as widely as possibly to keep the laity and clergy informed. 

In the meantime, the Gafcon Networks have continued to work and minister so as to enhance the proclamation of the Gospel all around the world, especially to those in places where they have no witness or church.  These Networks – the Suffering Church, Church Planting, Theological Education, Women’s Ministries, Bishop Training Institute, Youth and Children’s Ministry, Global Mission Partnerships, Lawyers Task Force, Sustainable Development, and PRAYER – are all working to help equip the Church for the work God has given us.  You can find out more at www.gafcon.org/neworks.

Please also pray for KIGALI 2020 in Rwanda, an important conference for bishops and their wives.  Archbishop Kwashi, Archbishop Mbanda, and their teams are working hard to prepare for our arrival in June.  If you are a bishop in the Anglican Communion and can affirm the Jerusalem Declaration, you are welcome to attend.

I invite you today to go out and share Jesus with someone!

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  – Collect for Third Sunday of Epiphany

Your brother in the hope and faith of Christ, 

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach 
Chairman, Gafcon Primates Council
https://awordfromthelord.org/

The post GAFCON chairman’s February pastoral letter appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

What lies ahead for the Anglican Church of Australia

Sun, 23/02/2020 - 21:37

A number of people have asked me to lay out my thoughts on what is going to happen in 2020 in the Anglican Church of Australia. Others just want to know where we’re up to and what lies ahead. So here’s my update on the lay of the land and the contours I can see ahead.

What’s the current situation?

We’re in the middle of what I think is best described as a tentative ceasefire. Of course, with any ceasefire there’s opportunities for both sides to position themselves for the conflict that is yet to come. If you think all this language sounds combative then you’d be absolutely right. Both sides recognise that this is exactly what it is – a battle for the soul of the Anglican Church of Australia. There are clearly defined positions; one that seeks to uphold the orthodox view on human sexuality (but sees that as part of a wider issue – the authority of Jesus in the church through the Scriptures) and the other side that sees a liberalising of sexual ethics as a gospel imperative.

For both sides, therefore, this is a matter of fidelity to what they think is most important.

Every conflict, of course, has particular battles. Here’s what happened in 2019 (and in the run-up). The background is pretty clear – repeated General Synods (national parliaments) of the national church have upheld the orthodox position on human sexuality. The last General Synod even censured the Scottish Episcopal Church for legislating for same-sex marriage. In addition, the bishops of the church agreed together not to pursue changes to the doctrine of marriage without going through the appropriate constitutional processes. For the Anglican Church of Australia that process was abundantly clear – it would have to come from General Synod.

Despite this apparent clarity, a number of bishops have continue to actively pursue revisionism. Some did so quite openly, like Bishop John Parkes of Wangaratta who was quite transparent in his desire to have some form of liturgical blessing of same-sex marriage and, indeed, promoted such a motion at his diocese’s synod. Others attempted to persuade us that they were simply allowing their diocese to work out which way to go. Bishop Peter Stuart of Newcastle, who told the 2017 General Synod that we do not have a settled doctrine of marriage, would be the prime example of this course of action, speaking about a “Newcastle Way” to decide the matter, promising a “Faith and Order Commission” to examine the question and yet allowing (and effectively supporting) a “Wangaratta Bill” to be presented at Newcastle’s 2019 Synod. He has appointing a new chair of the Faith and Order Commission; Canon Andrew Eaton who is a known supporter of same-sex marriage.

The decision to support such bills was in clear contradiction to the intent and spirit of the Bishops’ Agreement.

Both Wangaratta and then Newcastle passed their bills but with differing outcomes. There was an expected protest against the Wangaratta bill which was referred to the Appellate Tribunal – a body which offers opinions on constitutional matters in the Anglican Church of Australia. The diocese was persuaded to hold back from using the liturgy until the Tribunal offers a ruling.

The Newcastle bill has followed a different pathway. It, too, was referred to the Appellate Tribunal but also required (under NSW law) ratification by the Diocesan bishop within 30 days. Those 30 days have long passed and the bill has now lapsed, despite attempts to write a clause into the bill that would override the legal requirement. The Newcastle bill appears to have died a quiet death and the Wangaratta bill is the focus of attention of the Appellate Tribunal.

There is little indication that the Tribunal will properly meet, let alone offer their opinion, before a number of other events are completed, the election of a Primate and the next session of General Synod.

A New Primate

More imminently on the agenda is the election of a new Primate (head bishop and chair of General Synod). I wrote previously back in November when the news was announced that the most likely candidate to be elected will be Geoff Smith of Adelaide.

Since then I’ve consistently heard about two other candidates who are understood to want their name to go forward and have been effectively working towards that end, even being spoken of as “running a campaign”. The first, Kay Goldsworthy, has already been discussed in my piece above. The second is Peter Stuart of Newcastle who was described by one source as “trying to position himself above theological camps”. I don’t think either candidacy will have even a remote chance at success and Geoff Smith remains the favourite.

The New Primate will inherit a fracturing church and his or her first major test will be chairing the upcoming General Synod.

General Synod: 31 May – 5 June

All of these matters are going to come to a head at the upcoming General Synod. We reported previously of the failed attempt to avoid full debate and voting on these contentious matters. There will now be a full session, including a “conference” and we should expect to see a climax of the conflict.

There is now no doubt that conservatives will present a number of very robust motions and they will do so with increasing confidence. The censure of the Scottish Episcopal Church at the 2017 session has shown that the weight of the General Synod is for the orthodox position.

Expect to see a motion, or several motions, that not only clearly reassert the long-held position of the church but also speak against revision of that position or ordination and consecration of candidates who’s life is not in keeping with clear Biblical standards. There may even be some strengthening of disciplinary canons. Whatever the specifics, I’m predicting a victory for conservatives in June. We will end up with a very clear position set out and upheld by the most important body in the national church.

Such a decision should also render the related work of the Appellate Tribunal somewhat redundant. If the General Synod has spoken clearly (and not for the first time) then what more is there to say?

After General Synod

All the above seems pretty straight forward and I can’t see anything happening to change the outcomes I’ve described. But what then? Well, on the basis of how things have played out in almost every other western province of the Anglican Church I think we’re going to see the following:

  1. A number of revisionists (possibly even a Metropolitan Archbishop) will ignore the clear (restated) mind of General Synod and push on with a renewed energy to legislate for same-sex weddings and related changes in disciplinary structures.
  2. Conservatives will begin disciplinary procedures against any clergy who participate in or preside over the new liturgies and against bishops who approve of them in their own dioceses.
  3. Conservatives will also refuse to meet with those who continue to openly reject Biblical standards as reiterated by the General Synod.
  4. The new Primate will be faced with a difficult decision – will they uphold the clearly-stated position of the General Synod and refuse to invite to meetings those who reject it, or will they still act as though we’re all united?

In one sense the answer to 4. will be partly academic. Either way I don’t expect conservatives to continue to pursue fellowship with those who have shown no desire to maintain catholicity, undermine the doctrine and discipline of the church and won’t uphold their ordination vows.

So what will the Anglican Church of Australia look like in 2021? My best guess is that we will have a sadly fractured church. Whether we are meeting nationally as the entire church depends on whether the new Primate will be robust in upholding the position of General Synod. If we don’t meet in this way then expect the bonds of fellowship within the GAFCON movement to be only strengthened and expressed more formally.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if we see planting of congregations by conservatives in those dioceses where the bishop or synod have rejected Biblical authority and the doctrine and discipline of the national church. We will also see oversight being offered by GAFCON bishops to those clergy and parishes who cannot, in good conscience, remain in communion with such dioceses and bishops.

The story of the Anglican Church of Australia is going to be decidedly different to that of other western provinces in the Anglican Communion. Our history and our constitution have left conservatives in a much stronger position than in England, Wales, New Zealand, the USA or Canada. We have no plans to leave the Anglican Church of Australia, but my best guess is that we’re rapidly reaching the moment when we’re not going to be able to recognise others as being part of that national grouping.

What do you think? 

The post What lies ahead for the Anglican Church of Australia appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Anglican Unscripted 575 – Reaching the Connected World

Thu, 20/02/2020 - 13:50

Kevin Kallsen, George Conger, and Gavin Ashenden report on the latest court victory in Britain regarding ‘thought crime’ and they have a lengthy discussion on spreading the Gospel to the connected world.

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Vale: Andrew Fairfield

Wed, 19/02/2020 - 14:34

From Gethsemane Cathedral in Fargo:

Prayers of Sympathy are offered for family and friends of Bishop Andy Fairfield, including his wife Sally, and for the people of the Diocese of North Dakota. Bishop Andy died Sunday, February 16 in Shutesbury MA. Burial will be Wednesday, February 19 in Shutesbury followed by a family service Shutesbury Community Church. A public memorial will likely be held in May around the time of Andy’s birthday. Bishop Andy was the 10th Bishop of North Dakota and served from 1989 to 2003. Notes and cards can be sent to Sally Fairfield, 281 Leverett Road, Shutesbury MA 01072.

Grant, O Lord, to all who are bereaved the spirit of faith and courage, that they may have strength to meet the days to come with steadfastness and patience; not sorrowing as those without hope, but in thankful remembrance of your great goodness, and in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love. And this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

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Lent – Extinction Rebellion faith communities launch 40 days of action on Ash Wednesday: Enough Earth Destruction!

Wed, 19/02/2020 - 14:25
  • Christian Climate Action and Extinction Rebellion Faith Communities join forces during Lent for 40 days of Action where people are invited to choose one action to commit to for 40 days to protect the Planet
  • 40 Days of Action will launch on the 26th of February, Ash Wednesday, with a vigil outside Westminster Abbey starting at 2pm
  • 40 Days of Action is for everybody and everyone, people of all faiths and none. This is all about system change triggered by personal growth and interconnectedness. Some will be led to divest from fossil fuels, others will undertake acts of nonviolent civil disobedience.

40 Days of Action will be launched on the 26th of February, Ash Wednesday, with a vigil outside Westminster Abbey starting at 2pm to align with Lent. Groups such as Christian Climate Action and Extinction Rebellion Faith Groups will be coming together to call on religious organisations to fully divest from fossil fuels by the end of Lent. Our over-attachment to oil is crucifying the poor and harming life beyond repair. 

Priests will say a liturgy inspired by CCA’s Litany of the Earth and then invite all in attendance to have a cross marked upon their foreheads made not from ash, as is traditional, but fake crude oil.

Like ash we are using oil, made from dead matter, as a symbol of mortality and of our struggle to live more compassionate lives. Our over-attachment to oil is crucifying the poor and harming life beyond repair. We are calling all present to reflect on the desperate need to find a balance between the extraordinary benefits of fossil fuels and the need to live simpler more connected lives. We will be calling on the church and all religious organisations to fully divest from fossil fuels by the end of Lent. Other faiths and traditions are invited to offer reflections and then we will process onto Parliament Square to launch the 40 Days 24/7 Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Vigil.

For more information and how to join the Vigil, please visit the facebook event page https://www.facebook.com/events/s/ash-wednesday-vigil-to-launch-/136440977531212/

During the vigil, a global prayer and meditation lasting 40-Days and 40-Nights will begin, with people being invited to choose one action to commit to for 40 days. All are invited into the wilderness together, a ‘vision quest’, a time to reflect upon the ways that we can strengthen the bonds of community and give up our over-dependence on fossil fuels. Some will decrease the amount of time spent on computers and social media, others will value and buy more locally sourced food, switch to an eco-friendly bank, or stop, pause and appreciate the beauty of a planet we are about to lose if we do not change direction. Others will find the courage necessary to step out into the unknown and commit to non-violent civil disobedience.

From the 26th of February until the 11th of April, many Christians around the World mark the season of Lent, the 40 days when Jesus of Nazareth went into the desert to fast and be tempted. This reflects the story in the Jewish tradition of forty years that the Israelites wandered in the desert after exile from Egypt. Many Indigenous traditions such as those of Aboriginals, the California Yuki, the Pueblo people of New Mexico and the Sioux practice prolonged exposure to wilderness as part of their vision quest that will help them find their purpose in life, their role in a community, and how they may best serve the People.

The 40 days action is inclusive by design and by necessity. It is open to everyone and every part of everyone. It can and should be interpreted according to one’s values and principles. It is non-violent and non-passive. 

Birds, ancient trees, mammals and all living creatures need a non-toxic planet free from pollution and over-heating. We can act now.

Forty days of protest and strike for some, for others 40 days of restraint and journeying into a simpler more fulfilling life lived with others. For some, 40 days of self-analysis. For some,  reaching into communities, developing relationships and mutual understanding. For many, 40 days of solidarity with those already devastated by the climate and ecological emergency. 

Valerie Brown, 40 Days of Action spokesperson, says: “The values and laws of the UK and many other countries around the world including parts of Africa spring from the teachings of the Bible. Likewise the Koran in the Middle East and also in Africa is the foundation of laws and values. 40 Days shines a light on what we have in common rather than the culture of dissent which has developed over the last 20 years. At a time like no other in human history the Climate and Ecological Crises has to pull us together if we are to overcome it. The regenerative message of 40 Days speaks to everyone because we want the same things. It’s an Action which gives each person self expression and time to reflect on what they want to do with our threatened world. The beauty of it in a world of sorrow is so much what we all need.”

Nick Cooper, Christian Climate Action spokesperson, says: “This is about system change, triggered by personal growth. We invite everyone to journey with us into the wilderness of Lent and encounter the ‘quiet voice’ so often hidden from us in daily life. We need desperately to hear that sacred voice calling us together as a global community – learning to live simpler more connected lives, and find the courage to take up civil disobedience in the face of an ever more desperate climate crisis. We need to stop denying the power that we hold as one sacred and interconnected body.”

Maria Chenoweth,  The Earth Day Switch Spokesperson, says: “The climate emergency makes it utterly critical that all individuals and groups must reconfigure and become one mass voice against the continued damage inflicted on our Earth.

The beginning of lent 26th February, marks the date where across the world all faith and non-faith groups come together, united with one voice to tell the world that the fossil fuel industry is destroying our planet.  

Together we will reflect on our collective and individual participation with fossil fuels, transitioning away from our personal use and how we indirectly fund them with our own money through the choice of bank, energy supplier and pension provider.”

NOTE TO EDITORS

We join with the Earth

and with each other

with our ancestors

and all beings of the future

to bring new life to the land,

to recreate the human community,

to provide justice and peace,

to remember our children,

to remember who we are.

We join together as many and

diverse expressions

of one Loving Mystery,

For the healing of the Earth

and the renewal of all Life.

-‘Capacitar Prayer’ -adapted from the UN’s ‘Prayer of the Sabbath’.

ABOUT CHRISTIAN CLIMATE ACTION

Christian Climate Action is a community of Christians supporting each other to take meaningful action in the face of imminent and catastrophic anthropogenic climate breakdown. Inspired by Jesus Christ, and social justice movements of the past, we carry out acts of non-violent direct action to urge those in power to make the change needed.

Purpose of Christian Climate Action:
  • To raise the alarm about the urgency and scale of the climate crisis facing God’s creation
  • Taking meaningful action to tackle the issue
  • To communicate the key role that Christians and the church can play in this climate emergency
  • To demonstrate the power of  non-violent direct action in change-making
  • To create safe spaces for people to emotionally process the effects this climate emergency has already caused to our planet and what it threatens to destroy if we carry on as business as usual.
Our Principles and Values:

OUR GOD IS LOVING: Our God is the creator who cares about creation

WE ACT IN LOVE: God calls us to love our neighbours, our enemies and our God – we must do all things in love.

WE ARE CALLED TO PARTICIPATE IN BRINGING ABOUT A RENEWED WORLD: Creating a world that is fit for generations to come.

OUR ALLEGIANCE IS TO GOD: Where there is a choice between obeying God and obeying the law of the land, we chose to obey God.

WE SET OUR MISSION ON WHAT IS NECESSARY: Mobilising enough of the population to take meaningful action in order to achieve system change.

WE ARE CALLED TO BE FAITHFUL, NOT SUCCESSFUL: None of us are perfect for tackling the climate emergency, but there is no time to wait until we are. We are called to tell the truth about the emergency we are in and to faithfully act now.

WE TAKE ACTION IN A SPIRIT OF REPENTANCE: We acknowledge we are part of the problem that we are fighting against and come to our actions in repentance and prayer.

WE NEED A REGENERATIVE CULTURE: Creating a culture which is healthy, resilient and adaptable.

WE OPENLY CHALLENGE OURSELVES AND THIS TOXIC SYSTEM: Leaving our comfort zones to take action for change.

WE VALUE REFLECTING AND LEARNING: Following a cycle of action, reflection, learning, and planning for more action. Learning from other movements and contexts as well as our own experiences.

WE WELCOME EVERYONE AND EVERY PART OF EVERYONE: Working actively to create safer and more accessible spaces.

WE ACTIVELY MITIGATE FOR POWER: Breaking down hierarchies of power for more equitable participation.

WE AVOID BLAMING AND SHAMING: We live in a toxic system, but no one individual is to blame.

WE ARE A NON-VIOLENT NETWORK: As Jesus did, we use non-violent strategy and tactics as the most effective way to bring about change.

WE ARE BASED ON AUTONOMY AND DECENTRALIZATION: We collectively create the structures we need to challenge power.

Anyone who follows these core principles and values can take action in the name of Christian Climate Action. It is important to note that all actions are taken by individuals acting in their own personal responsibility.

ABOUT EXTINCTION REBELLION

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

  1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
  2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

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Justice for Indian pastors after false accusations: acquitted of kidnappings, forced conversions

Wed, 19/02/2020 - 14:17

MADHYA PRADESH (19 February 2020) – This week, eight Christian pastors were acquitted of all charges. They had been falsely accused of kidnapping, and forceful conversion while accompanying children to a summer camp, and were arrested in May 2017. Initially, the children were questioned while the pastors awaited bail for three months. The acquittal marks a groundbreaking win for Christians in India. It highlights the false accusations and hostilities directed at religious minorities.

“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. We are grateful that the group of Christians have been acquitted of the crimes they were so unjustly accused of. Simply because they are part of a religious minority they were targeted and falsely accused of kidnapping and forceful conversion. The Indian Constitution guarantees the freedom to practice and propagate religion. Sadly, such cases are not isolated incidents, but the prevalence of justice in this case gives comfort to all those Christians and other religious minorities facing harassment and hostility,” said Tehmina Arora, Director of ADF India.

Persecution of Christians in India

On 23 May 2017, at Ratlam train station, Madhya Pradesh, the local police detained a group of pastors and fellow Christians, including two women and two minors, who were accompanying 60 children. The group was on its way to a Christian summer camp in the neighbouring state of Maharashtra. All parents immediately confirmed in front of the local Court that they had willingly sent their children to the camp. While the children were allowed to return to their homes, the pastors and most of the coworkers were held in jail. The accused were only granted bail after three months and were acquitted of all charges this week.

In 2019, violence against Christians rose significantly. The United Christian Forum and ADF India documented over 300 incidents of harassment and mob violence against Christians. The attacks often take a similar shape and rarely receive any police attention. A mob will arrive at a prayer meeting or Christian gathering, shout abuse and harassment, and beat up those in attendance including women and children. Then, the pastors or priests are usually arrested by the police under false allegations of forced conversions.

“This case provides a telling example of the challenges faced by many Christians in India. The acquittal shows that the fundamental rights of religious minorities can and should be protected in the courtroom and through effective legal advocacy. Sadly, the recent violence and mob attacks testify to what many Christians and other religious minorities experience in India today. All people have the right to freely choose, and live out their faith. We urge the Indian government to uphold this right and do more to protect religious minorities and promote religious freedom,” said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International.

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Former Army Colonel becomes bishop in khaki

Tue, 18/02/2020 - 00:54

The Reverend Grant Dibden has straddled the Army, Navy and Air Force in military training and logistics and now takes on a spiritual challenge as Anglican Bishop of the Defence Force.

The Primate, Archbishop Philip Freier, has announced the metropolitan Archbishops of Australia have chosen Mr Dibden as Bishop and the government has also approved the Bishop-designate as the Anglican representative on the Religious Advisory Committee to the Services.

“No-one is more surprised than me about this, but I am comforted to know that it didn’t take God by surprise,” Mr Dibden said. “I’m also comforted by the fact that God promises to be with all of us until the end of the age (Matt 28:20) and so I can rely on Him and know that with His help I will be able to fulfil this most important role.”

Given his background, the role might not come as a surprise to others. After graduating from the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1982  Mr Dibden was allocated to the Army Ordnance Corps. As a Lieutenant Colonel, he commanded the 7th Combat Service Support Battalion and in 2001 instructed at the Australian Defence Force Staff College developing relationships with Navy and RAAF Officers. He was promoted to Colonel in 2002 to Command the Force Support Group and be the Chief of Staff, Headquarters Logistic Support Force.

After the then Colonel Dibden left the regular Army in 2004 he was reduced in rank to Captain to enable his transfer to the Royal Australian Army Chaplains’ Department. He has held various Reserve Chaplain appointments culminating in his current posting as the Senior Chaplain for 2nd. Division.

He was also National Director of the Navigators in Australia.

Dr Freier described the appointment as ‘good news’. “Grant’s extensive military background gives him immediate credibility and rapport with the ADF’s most senior officers. It also means he understands their ethos, values and thinking that is inculcated over many years and so is well placed to provide Christian input.” Dr Freier said. “Grant has a long and active involvement with the Anglican Church. He was ordained Deacon in 2004 and ordained a Priest in 2010 by the Bishop of Bathurst.”

The bishop-designate is already looking to the future, but not forgetting Christian ‘basic training’.

“As the Anglican Bishop to the Defence Force, I will be in a unique position.  I speak with the most senior leadership of the Defence Force advising them on a range of weighty issues such as religious policy, morals and ethics from an Anglican point of view in what is a challenging, secular and diverse environment.  On the other side, I advocate for the Defence Force, particularly the need for care and support of Defence Anglican chaplains at the highest levels of the Anglican Church in Australia.  But arguably, the two most important things are serving the Anglican Chaplains as their Bishop and living out what every Christian leader should: Loving the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength, loving my neighbour as myself, seeking first His kingdom and, making disciples.”

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Communique from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s bishops’ meeting, February 2020

Tue, 18/02/2020 - 00:18

To the beloved People of God,

Grace and Peace to you!

The regular February session of the Synod of Bishops convened in The Outlook Lodge at Kempton Park, Gauteng, in the Diocese of the Highveld from Sunday 9 February to Thursday 13 February.

Bishop of Table Bay

On Sunday, an Electoral College to elect a Bishop for Table Bay was constituted, during which the Bishops considered the unique challenges facing the Diocese of Cape Town. After discernment the Venerable Joshua Louw, Rector of St Paul’s Church and Archdeacon of the Waterfront in Cape Town, was elected as Bishop of Table Bay.

States of Emergency

The Synod of Bishops met from Monday 10 to Thursday 13 February. Formal sessions of the Synod were preceded by a unique first: a joint meeting of the Provincial Guilds and Organisations, Hope Africa, and Green Anglicans. This historic gathering reflected on ways to implement the resolutions of Provincial Synod 2019. We agreed to declare a “State of Emergency” with regards to Gender-Based Violence and Climate Change, which must be addressed by putting strategic programmes in place as a matter of urgency at Provincial, Diocesan and Parochial level.

Worship

Our worship, as always, was inspiring and challenging at the same time. We were made to think hard about the creation of “holy spots” in our churches (Mark 6:53ff); Then we were invited into the reality of “doubting certainty” as reflected in Solomon’s prayer (1 Kings 8:23ff) and a consideration of the tensions between reason and faith, often being tested by hard questions requiring great wisdom to answer, just as Solomon was tested by the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10.1). Finally we were challenged both to recognise the power of humble faith to courageously break through barriers to reach those among the marginalised who are seeking healing, as in the case of the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30, and to overcome our own prejudices by God’s grace to open the way for healing to take place.

Welcomes and recognition

The Archbishop welcomed everyone, especially the Bishop of St Mark the Evangelist and the Bishop of Mzimvubu, who were attending the Synod of Bishops for the first time as Diocesan Bishops. The Vicar-General of Kimberley and Kuruman, the Revd Canon Carol Starkey, and the Vicar-General of Natal, the Very Revd Ndabenzinhle Sibisi, were also especially welcomed. A moment of silence was observed in memory of Bishop Mlibo Ngewu.

After evening prayer on Monday, the Archbishop honoured Ms Tricia Sibbons with the Archbishop’s Peace with Justice Award for her service to the Diocese of Johannesburg spanning thirty years.

The Role of Women in the Church

We valued assistance given to us when we considered our role as transformational leaders. Findings arising out of the Archbishop’s Commission on the election of women highlighted the large number of ordained women in contrast to the few ordained women in senior positions. An appeal was made to the Synod of Bishops to forward more comments, suggestions and questions to the Commission to assist them in carrying out their work, to chart a more proactive way, subject to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, of getting women elected as bishops. The Bishops concurred that gender equity is not about women but about justice.

The theology and vocation of the Episcopate

Synod spent some time reflecting on the theology and vocation of bishops. The physical endurance, depth of spirituality and mental strength required of the bishop was brought into sharp relief by exploring an example of surviving solitary confinement and complete reliance on God as the supreme source of hope and strength in adversity through a presentation by Mr Thabo Ndabeni. He highlighted the importance of self-care. Bishops were given time for personal sharing and asked to support each other in the exercise of the onerous responsibilities the episcopal office demands of them. Bishops were made to realise that weakness is not a sign of failure and to seek help when needed. The sharing gave rise to the adoption of a Mutual Accountability Pro-Forma to be shared at every Synod of Bishops meeting.

The Final Sabbath Call

The Revd Dr Kenneth Mtata addressed Synod on “The Final Sabbath Call” issued by the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations. Zimbabwe’s tortuous history has created deep insecurity within those with power who hold political office. This insecurity has led to years of oppression. The past has not been dealt with and all leaders are haunted by the past, resulting in a nation in pain.

Zimbabwe’s fortieth anniversary is seen as symbolic of Israel’s journey in the Wilderness. The Sabbath calls for a moratorium on all elections in order to create space for re-imagining a new future for the country and its people. Synod responded to the call for ACSA to stand in solidarity and support of the Sabbath Call by appointing a liaison Bishop to the Zimbabwe Council of Churches; by agreeing to make prayer and action a standing item on the agenda of Synod of Bishops, by participating in solidarity visits and by sponsoring an ordinand to attend the College of the Transfiguration.

Liturgical development

A discussion on the experience of using the revised Ordination Liturgies was engaged in. Although they were widely used and enthusiastically received, written responses requested by the Liturgical Committee were still awaited. The pressing need for succession planning to identify and train future liturgists was noted as an urgent need that must be addressed. The report from the Advisory Board on Theological Education highlighted the need for lifelong learning and ministerial formation. The key goal of the Board was the ongoing professional, ministerial and spiritual development of the clergy.

A new Lusophone Province

We were given a comprehensive overview of the vast Dioceses of Angola and Mozambique. The vision to multiply the number of Dioceses in Angola and Mozambique was motivated with conviction. This deep plea by the Portuguese-speaking Dioceses was enthusiastically received and endorsed by us. In time it is envisaged that growing the number of Dioceses in both areas will enable them to apply to form a united new Province. Significantly our agreement to set the process in motion comes when ACSA is celebrating its 150th anniversary as a Province.

Further Synod Business

Hope Africa

After an overview of the social development programmes and projects run by Hope Africa, and the dire financial situation within which Hope Africa finds itself, the Bishops were asked to consider proposing a Provincial Synod Resolution that all Dioceses contribute 0.7 percent of their annual income to Hope Africa, and making it a development resolution of permanent force.

Youth Ministry

The Bishops grappled with the funding of Youth Ministry after a comprehensive report on the challenges experienced by our Provincial Youth structures.

Resolution on Palestine

Resolution 4 of Provincial Synod 2019, declaring solidarity with Palestine, caused consternation in many quarters. A sobering presentation was given by Mrs Dudu Mahlangu Masango, World Council of Churches’ coordinator for the Southern African Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. She gave us a heart-rending description of what Palestinians go through as seen through the lens of the Accompaniment Programme.

Pastoral guidelines on human sexuality

The preparation of these Pastoral Guidelines is ongoing. A small committee was formed to do preliminary work to develop terms and references in line with last year’s Provincial Synod resolution.

Safe Church

Recognising the devastating detrimental effects of abuse, including sexual abuse, on the lives of vulnerable children and adults, the Bishops have spent a great deal of effort in recent years on putting systems in place to deal with this scourge. Apart from the overriding importance of ministering to the victims and disciplining the perpetrators of such abuses, the cost to the Church if found wanting in the case of a law suit could be crippling financially and reputationally. Ensuring that all churches in our Province are Safe and Inclusive Church compliant is a matter of great urgency. By September this year all ministers, ordained and lay, must be compliant or their licences will no longer be valid.

Clergy in political office

The Bishops have crafted a set of pastoral guidelines to apply when Clergy want to participate in party political activities. We agreed they were a work in progress and they will be published in due course.

Expropriation of land without compensation in South Africa

We were reminded that land expropriation without compensation is a burning issue potentially affecting our parishes. Dioceses must ensure that they have an up-to-date register of church properties and note whether they hold title deeds or permission to occupy these properties. Theologians will be requested to produce a theology underpinning Church ownership of land. We also need to develop practical guides on how to develop land which is owned by the Church.

Amendments to the Canons

The Bishops spent time making sure that the Canons amended at Provincial Synod are understood. These include Canons 4, 34, 35, 38, 39, and 42.

The Bible Society

The Bible Society, celebrating its two-hundredth anniversary this year, made a presentation to Synod detailing the impressive milestones they have achieved in their ministry of Bible translation and making Bibles accessible to more and more people. ACSA was thanked for its ongoing financial support and an appeal was made for us to continue our support of the Bible Society.

Inspiration

The leading South African social and business entrepreneur, Mr Isaac Shongwe, chairman of Letsema Business Management Consultants, gave an inspiring concluding presentation on “Journey on Management, Administration and Leadership”. It was stimulating, thought-provoking and challenging in terms of what is expected of Bishops and the roles they have to fulfill in the exercise of their episcopal ministry and the many demands on their time. It highlighted the need to be equipped with skills that high-level leadership requires to be effective and efficient, given the demands of the challenges we face in today’s world.

The Dean of the Province, Bishop Stephen Diseko, proposed a vote of thanks. Archbishop Thabo Makgoba gave the Benediction and declared the Synod of Bishops dissolved.

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you as long as I live. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.” – Psalm 63:2-4

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Two sexes, one flesh: A Commonsense Prophecy Awaiting Fulfillment

Tue, 18/02/2020 - 00:05

Twenty-three years ago, I wrote a book titled “Two Sexes, One Flesh: Why the Church Cannot Bless Same-Sex Marriage.” The first chapter was “What Are We Talking About?” in which I argued that in order to think biblically about the question of same-sex marriage, we had to think logically about the terms, including the term “sex.”  Here is what I wrote:

Sexuality is a word less than two centuries old. It can be understood in a neutral sense as “the constitutionally bipolar character of human nature” (N.B. sex from the Latin “to cut”).

I then referred to the 1986 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which states:

As a rule, male and female complement each other at all levels of organization: as sex cells; as individuals with either testes or ovaries; and as individuals with anatomical, physiological, and behavioral differences associated with the complemental roles they play during the whole reproductive process.

Sadly, the 1986 edition was the last in a grand tradition. However, even the latest online version continues to say:

Sex, the sum of features by which members of species can be divided into two groups—male and female—that complement each other reproductively.

I went on in my chapter to lay out the new “transformed” definition of “intimacy” which describes sex in terms of “plastic sexuality,” “confluent love,” and “the pure relationship.” This definition has become the new gender orthodoxy.

Some scientists, it seems, are fighting back. Two biologists from Penn State and University of Manchester are reviving the old orthodoxy. They write:

In humans, as in most animals or plants, an organism’s biological sex corresponds to one of two distinct types of reproductive anatomy that develop for the production of small or large sex cells—sperm and eggs, respectively—and associated biological functions in sexual reproduction. In humans, reproductive anatomy is unambiguously male or female at birth more than 99.98% of the time. The evolutionary function of these two anatomies is to aid in reproduction via the fusion of sperm and ova. No third type of sex cell exists in humans, and therefore there is no sex “spectrum” or additional sexes beyond male and female. Sex is binary….

The time for politeness on this issue has passed. Biologists and medical professionals need to stand up for the empirical reality of biological sex. When authoritative scientific institutions ignore or deny empirical fact in the name of social accommodation, it is an egregious betrayal to the scientific community they represent. It undermines public trust in science, and it is dangerously harmful to those most vulnerable.

One wonders how long before these researchers are excommunicated from their guild.

Anyway, it is strange to think that such an understanding of human nature in the image of God needs be prophetic rather than commonsensical, but since it is, I’ll utter another prophecy: the time will come when the 1986 Britannica definition will be restored to honor and the transformed definition will be as ludicrous as the Emperor’s New Clothes. How many people in the meantime will suffer confusion and loss, and not just academic, God only knows.

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Jihadists attack church gatherings in Burkina Faso and Cameroon

Mon, 17/02/2020 - 23:52

Jihadist terrorists stormed an Evangelical church in Burkina Faso during Sunday worship services killing 24 people. On 16 Feb 2020 gunmen riding motorbikes entered the village of Pansi in the Yahgha province in northern Burkina Faso, and attacked the villagers as they were gathered for worship. Eighteen people were wounded in addition to those killed, while the pastor and several elders were taken captive. 

This week’s attack follows a 10 Feb 2020 attack on the nearby city of Sebba. Seven people were kidnapped during a house church service. Three days later, five of the captives including the pastor, were found murdered. Two women captives were found unharmed.

Since 2015, about 750 people have been killed in Burkina Faso, and about 600,000 people have been forced from their homes. Christians are frequent targets of persecution in the north of the West African country.

The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit on 17 Feb 2020 condemned the attacks in Burkina Faso, and a second jihadist attack in Cameroon. 

“I am profoundly sad that people who are gathered to worship suffer from such a senseless act of hate,” said Dr. Tveit.

“These acts of violence are attacks on our one human family and we must continue to work together for justice and peace,” he said.

In Cameroon, according to the UN, 14 children were among 22 people killed by armed men on 14 February in Ntumbo, a village in northwestern Cameroon. At least 600 villagers have since fled the area. In the past several months, some 60,000 Cameroonians have fled to Nigeria amid escalating violence.

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Evangelical elected Bishop of Connor

Mon, 17/02/2020 - 18:06

The Ven George Davison, Archdeacon of Belfast, has been elected Bishop of Connor.

Mr Davison was appointed by the Episcopal Electoral College for the Diocese of Connor, meeting in the Alexander Synod Hall, Armagh.  He succeeds the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy who retired in December.

The Bishop-elect is currently rector of St Nicholas Parish Church, Carrickfergus, in the Diocese of Connor, and Archdeacon of Belfast. He is an Honorary Secretary of the Church of Ireland’s General Synod, and was previously Archdeacon of Kilmore and rector of Kinawley, in the Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh.

The Rt Rev Patrick Rooke, President of the Electoral College and Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry, said: ‘I congratulate Archdeacon George Davison on his election as Bishop of Connor. I am confident that he will be a popular choice and a wise and caring leader in a diocese he knows well.

“I look forward to working alongside him in the wider Church and wish him well as he prepares for this new phase of ministry.’

Bishop-elect Davison said: “The members of the Electoral College for the Diocese of Connor have done me a great honour in electing me to serve as the next bishop of the diocese.

“I am very conscious of the great responsibility that is being entrusted to me. I am immensely thankful for the gifted colleagues who serve the Church in Connor Diocese and look forward to serving with them as we seek to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in the years ahead.”

Following approval by the House of Bishops, the bishop-elect will be consecrated as a bishop on a date to be determined.

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Piecing Together Anglican Identity: More questions for Gafcon and the Global South

Fri, 14/02/2020 - 22:38

“Did the Archbishop of Canterbury really say that it doesn’t matter what you believe as an Anglican so long as you are in relationship with the See of Canterbury?”

I received this question in response to the article I wrote on January 28, “How can two walk together” in our last International Update. And the answer to the question is YES, that is exactly what the Archbishop of Canterbury seems to be saying following his meeting with the Primates in Jordan. Let me explain.

When I wrote on January 28, I was citing the Press Conference in Amman immediately following the Primates meeting in Jordan. In addition to Archbishop Welby, two other Primates answered questions from the press: Archbishop Michael Lewis (Jerusalem and the Middle East) and Archbishop Justin Badi (South Sudan). You can find the link to the press conference here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHAhdgF_TBo

At 16:19, a reporter from overseas asked the following question of Archbishop Welby: “We’ve seen the formation of new churches such as the Church of Confessing Anglicans in New Zealand. Was this discussed in terms of how the Instruments of Communion should respond?”

At 16:30, Archbishop Welby replied: “We didn’t specifically discuss the formation of churches like that church. No, we didn’t at all. We discussed how in partnership with other Christians we grow the church of Jesus Christ, and that was at the very heart of our discussion. Church planting we discussed. Funny enough there was very little discussion or desire to discuss some of those negative aspects.”

So despite the formation by Gafcon of the new Church of Confessing Anglicans in New Zealand, precisely for doctrinal reasons-including dissent from the approval of same sex marriage by the “recognized” Anglican Church of New Zealand—neither the Archbishop of Canterbury nor the Gafcon and Global South Primates present discussed this matter, much less even “desired to address such negative aspects.”

But there’s more. At 17:00 Archbishop Lewis added that the primates had engaged in “considerable and deep talk about Anglican identity, spelling out Anglican identity in a way that is clear and honest.” Archbishop Lewis went on to say that Anglican identity is rooted in specifics—including faithfulness to the Scriptures, the “unfolding tradition of the Church,” reason and the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (which states that the essentials of the faith include Scripture, the two sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the historic Episcopate locally adapted, and the Creeds). But at 17:54, Archbishop Lewis hastened to add that “Anglicans are those who are in communion with the See of Canterbury” and complimented Archbishop Welby on his “inspiring efforts” to have the Primates think more deeply on the issue of Anglican identity and “how to be as generously inclusive of all who would claim the name of Anglican within the framework just outlined.”

At this point the Archbishop of Canterbury could have added a note of correction to Archbishop Lewis’s citation of the great Anglican theologian Richard Hooker for the often misstated maxim that Anglicans believe that equal weight should be given to Scripture, reason, and “the unfolding tradition of the Church.” Scholars and readers alike know that Hooker never said anything of the sort, that he always maintained the priority of the Holy Scriptures over reason and tradition, and in fact strongly asserted that “one word from the mouth of God” outweighs 10,000 councils of the Church that say otherwise (Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, vol. 1, book 2, ch. VII.5).

In the correct spirit of Hooker, Archbishop Welby could have noted that the doctrinal foundations of Anglicanism which Archbishop Lewis cited as “clear and specific” essentials of Anglican identity are at least as important, if not more important, than a geographic relationship with the See of Canterbury. Instead he thanked Archbishop Lewis for the compliment. Then he waited for Archbishop Justin Badi (S Sudan) to add his remarks (beginning at 18:38). Here is what Archbishop Badi said in response to the question:

“My understanding for our coming for the meeting was not to discuss the formation of new churches. The main thing was to discuss how we move forward as an Anglican Communion, to prepare ourselves for the Lambeth Conference, and also to have our fellowship together. We strategized how we can plant more churches so that we expand and take the Gospel forward.” To which Archbishop Welby replied at 19:22: “And I should say that the agenda was put together by the consultative process with the Primates. It was not fixed by anyone, it’s just no one brought up those subjects,” with Archbishop Badi nodding in agreement.

So there you have it: a Communique and a press conference which ignored the crisis of false teaching in the Anglican Communion. Taking the words of Archbishops Welby, Lewis, and Badi at face value, it would appear that no one bothered to address the crisis of false teaching because such issues were “negative.” Instead, there was considerable discussion about Anglican identity without any “negative” discussion about differences of doctrine. According to the Primates press conference, “biblical faithfulness” is one factor in Anglican identity—but such faithfulness is only one factor to be balanced against reason and the “unfolding tradition of the Church.” In the end, there is an endorsement of a framework for Anglican identity which is uncompromising only in relationship to the See of Canterbury as being an essential marker.

“Generous inclusivity” within this framework is only for those who are in relationship with the See of Canterbury, which means Canterbury promotes the following notion: so long as you are in relationship with him, you can believe whatever you want, as long as you can make a case that what you believe squares with an interpretation of the Bible equally balanced with reason and “the unfolding tradition of the Church.” We know, in an ever-secularizing Western culture, what the shape of that “reason” and “unfolding tradition” looks like: the blessing of same sex unions and other innovations, which appeal to the “reason” of our times.

By their continuing silence and assent to the Jordan Primates Communique and this press conference, isn’t it fair to ask whether the Archbishops and Primates from Gafcon and the Global South are saying the same thing—that Anglican identity is based ultimately on relationship with Canterbury rather than on what we believe?

As I have written elsewhere [https://americananglican.org/featured/decides-membership-anglican-communionnot-secretary-general-acc/] the requirement of relationship with the See of Canterbury may have been important when the Churches of the Anglican Communion were colonies of the British empire, but we are past that colonial era. Today, what unites Anglicans in the global communion of Churches is the doctrine we share from our Reformational roots. For this reason, the largest Church in the Anglican Communion, the Church of Nigeria, in 2005 changed its Constitutional definition of membership in the Anglican Communion from “relationship with the See of Canterbury” to relationship with those who uphold the historical formularies of the Anglican Communion (The Bible, the 39 Articles, and the BCP 1662 and Ordinal). It was a long overdue signal that Anglican identity and membership is in fact based on a common confession– and not geography or mere “bonds of affection.”

This in turn shaped the definition of membership in the Anglican Communion in the Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion (London: Anglican Communion Office, 2008). According to Principle 10.4 of the PCLCCAC, “the relationship of ecclesial communion within the Anglican Communion is based on the communion of a church with one or more of the following (a) the See of Canterbury…; or (e) all churches which profess the apostolic faith as received within the Anglican tradition.” (emphasis added).

Three years later, in June 2008, over 1000 Archbishops, bishops, clergy and lay leaders from Anglican churches all over the world gathered in Jerusalem for Gafcon. These Anglican leaders from the majority of Churches in the Anglican Communion reaffirmed the historic doctrine and “formularies” of Reformational Anglicanism as the basis for true communion. In the Jerusalem Statement (2008) they stated without hesitation, “While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury.” In the Jerusalem Declaration (2008) they drove the point home even further: “We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord (para. 13).”
Ten years later, Gafcon 2018, one of the largest global Anglican gatherings, brought together in Jerusalem 1,950 representatives from 50 countries, including 316 bishops, 669 other clergy and 965 laity. From that gathering of the Church came a direct appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Gafcon 2018 Letter to the Churches:

• to invite as full members to Lambeth 2020 bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America and the Province of the Anglican Church in Brazil and
• not to invite bishops of those Provinces which have endorsed by word or deed sexual practices which are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, unless they have repented of their actions and reversed their decisions.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has refused both requests. Only those Churches in relationship with the See of Canterbury will send their bishops to the Lambeth 2020 Conference, regardless of what they believe and teach about human sexuality, marriage, and leadership in the Church.

How then can the Gafcon Primates who participated in the Primates meeting in Jordan turn back to a colonial definition of Anglican identity based on relationship with Canterbury? How can they walk away from their own Gafcon Jerusalem Statement and Jerusalem Declaration (2008) and Letter to the Churches (2018)? How can they walk away from the very principles and reasons for which they recognized and authenticated biblically-faithful Anglicans and their Churches in North America, Brazil, and now, New Zealand (NOT in relationship with Canterbury), in favor of walking with false teachers?

Likewise, how can the Global South Primates, led by the new President of the Global South Steering Committee, Archbishop Justin Badi (S Sudan), turn away from the doctrinal foundations of the new Cairo Covenant (October 11, 2019) as the basis for Anglican identity, and turn instead to walking with false teachers?

Last week the Gafcon office created “The Anglican reality-check” website [https://www.gafcon.org/sunday/timeline], which sets out the facts in an easily accessible way to empower faithful Anglicans. It reveals how predominantly Western church leaders have relentlessly sought to undermine the authority of Scripture and its teaching on marriage and sexuality as reaffirmed by the vast majority of the world’s Anglican bishops at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. It is a very helpful and up-to-the-minute timeline of why we must urgently address both false teaching (the “gospel deficit”) and the lack of consequences (the “ecclesial deficit”) within the Communion of Anglican Churches.

If only the Gafcon and Global South Primates themselves would use this resource in their meetings with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other leaders. Clearly, the current Gafcon and Global South Primates who met in Jordan did not use these well-documented facts in their conversations. Will there need to be another generation of Gafcon and Global South leaders who will use this resource to reaffirm Anglican identity on the basis of our historic Anglican faith? Will there need to be another generation of Gafcon and Global South leaders needed to use this resource to challenge false teaching and un-biblical practice among the leaders and churches of the Anglican Communion—including the Archbishop of Canterbury himself and the Church of England?

Or will that be too little, too late?

The post Piecing Together Anglican Identity: More questions for Gafcon and the Global South appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

New massacres of Christians in Nord Kivu

Fri, 14/02/2020 - 22:26

Muslim terrorists believed to be part of the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) have murdered 30 Christians in attacks on four villages in the Nord Kivu province of the Democratice Republic of the Congo. The new massacres follow attacks 29 Jan 2020 that left 36 dead, including the Anglican Archdeacon of Eringeti, who was martyred after he refused to renounce his Christian faith.

The Congolese NGO, the Center for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights (CEPADHO), reports that on 7 Feb 2020, 8 civilians were murdered in the village of Sibe by ADF militants. The next day 12 more people were killed in a neighboring village, and in the early hours of 9 Feb 2020 three were killed in the village of Toko-Toko.

The ADF descended on the village of Makeke later that day and killed three women and four men with machetes. One of the ADF terrorists was captured by the police. However the ADF returned in force to the village and attacked the police post freeing their comrade. They left the village with 9 captives to transport their loot. 

Agenzia Fides reports upwards of 20,000 have fled the area surrounding the villages to take shelter in the city of Beni. However, with 200,000 IDPs already housed in refugee camps outside Beni, many had to be turned away to find shelter in the forest, CEPADHO reported.

On 29 Jan 2020 the Ven. Ngulongo Year Batsemire, the Archdeacon of Eringeti, and his wife were captured by ADF terrorists as they were walking to their fields. They demanded the archdeacon Ngulongo tell them where they could find other pastors and demanded he convert to Islam. When the father-of-ten refused to renounce Christ, the jihadists martyred him. His wife’s life was spared. The ADF entered the villages of Manzingi, Mebendu and Mayabalo later that day, going door to door, killing and robbing as they went.

These new massacres bring the number of civilians killed by the ADF in the Beni region to 312 since 30 Oct 2019, the date of the start of the latest government offensive by the FARDC against the rebels in Beni.

The post New massacres of Christians in Nord Kivu appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Questions in Parliament: Lord Carey asks if Britain will increase the number of Christian refugees permitted to enter the country from Syria

Fri, 14/02/2020 - 21:52
Lord Carey of Clifton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have, if any, to increase the proportion of Christians accepted under the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme.

Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development)

(13 Feb 2020) Our resettlement schemes prioritise the most vulnerable refugees regardless of race, religion or ethnicity – we do not discriminate in favour of, or against, any particular group. This is why we work closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has well-established procedures and criteria for identifying and resettling the most vulnerable refugees. Apart from the criteria we set for each scheme, we do not seek to influence which cases are referred to us by UNHCR.

However, we recognise how important it is that UNHCR is accessible to the most vulnerable refugees, including members of minority religions, and this is why we are working with UNHCR and their partners to intensify their outreach to groups that might otherwise be reluctant to register. This includes people in formal refugee camps, informal settlements and host communities. The efforts undertaken by UNHCR include mobile registration teams, outreach teams, and helpdesks for areas where different minority groups are concentrated to facilitate registration and access to services.

Citation: HL Deb, 13 February 2020, cW

The post Questions in Parliament: Lord Carey asks if Britain will increase the number of Christian refugees permitted to enter the country from Syria appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Anglican Unscripted 574 – The Carbon Neutral Racist Synod

Fri, 14/02/2020 - 20:56

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Three Amigos. So, this week Kevin Kallsen, George Conger, and Gavin Ashenden tackle Justin Welby’s White Privilege and the CofE’s desire to be Carbon Neutral before they go out of business in 2030.

The post Anglican Unscripted 574 – The Carbon Neutral Racist Synod appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Church of England General Synod sets 2030 Net Zero carbon target

Fri, 14/02/2020 - 03:56

The Church of England’s General Synod has set new targets for all parts of the church to work to become carbon ‘net zero’ by 2030.

At its February 2020 meeting, members voted in favour of a revised date encouraging all parts of the Church of England to take action and ramp-up efforts to reduce emissions. 

A motion approved today called for urgent steps to examine requirements to reach the new target, and draw up an action plan.

An amendment by Canon Prof Martin Gainsborough (Bristol) introduced a more ambitious target date of 2030, fifteen years ahead of the original proposal.

The motion follows the launch of the Church of England’s first ever Green Lent (#LiveLent) campaign for 2020, featuring 40 days of prayers and actions to encourage care for God’s Creation.

The Church of England has also announced an energy footprinting tool for parishes to calculate their carbon footprint. 

Following the debate, the Bishop of Salisbury, Nick Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop on Environmental Affairs said:

“Synod has set an ambitious target for the whole Church of England to respond to the urgency of the Climate Crisis.

“Toreach Synod’s target of 2030 will not be easy, and requires each of us to hear this as an urgent call to action.

“But this is a clear statement of intent across the Church and to wider society about our determination to safeguard God’s creation.

“This is a social justice issue, which affects the world’s poorest soonest and most severely, and if the Church is to hold others to account, we have to get our own house in order.

“There is no serious doubt that climate change is happening, and that people are causing it, so it is very encouraging that Synod is grappling with one of the most urgent issues of our time.”

“We will now need to work out a plan to ensure we do everything possible to meet this target.”

The final motion approved was as follows:

That this Synod, recognising that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation, and a fundamental injustice, and following the call of the Anglican Communion in ACC Resolutions A17.05 and A17.06;

(a) call upon all parts of the Church of England, including parishes, BMOs [Bishop Mission Orders], education institutions, dioceses, cathedrals, and the NCIs [National Church Institutions], to work to achieve year-on-year reductions in emissions and urgently examine what would be required to reach net zero emissions by 2030 in order that a plan of action can be drawn up to achieve that target;

(b) request reports on progress from the Environment Working Group and the NCI’s every three years beginning in 2022 and;

(c) call on each Diocesan Synod, and cathedral Chapter, to address progress toward net zero emissions every three years.

The post Church of England General Synod sets 2030 Net Zero carbon target appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

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