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Anglican News from Around the Globe
Updated: 2 hours 16 min ago

Church of Uganda defends Biblical standards defining marriage

7 hours 16 min ago

The Church of Uganda has issued a statement responding to criticisms issued by a mega-church pastor who charged the church’s stance on marriage was non-biblical. Pastor Aloysius Bugingo, who is currently estranged from his wife, said the Anglican view that marriage was between one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others, for life, was not found in the Bible.

Pastor Bugingo has made a declaration that the phrase ’till death do us part’ is not biblical, and that it is from Satan! In so doing, the pastor attacks the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Pentecostal Churches, associating them with what he calls a practice from Satan.

I can’t believe that these words are from someone who claims to be a pastor! Nonetheless, I’m not surprised that he is making such a statement after divorcing his wife on grounds of a sickness!

Bugingo claims that he has read the Bible a number of times he is not even able to count! That in itself is an interesting claim, which I wish he were humble enough not to associate himself with. Even if it was true that he has read the Bible countless times, it would be prudent for him to know that it is one thing to read even several times, but another to understand.

He states that no where does the Bible say that the married should not separate. Remember that the Bible is God’s holy, infallible, and innerant word, some versions of which he once set ablaze on an Easter Monday, claiming that they were deceptive!

Of course, for this particular statement and others of similar nature he has been making, one underlying and obvious factor, which is having a significant influence on his judgement, is his divorce, the possibility of other forms of conditioning notwithstanding. His yearning soul is in a desperate need for justification over his prejudiced separation with his bona fide wife, which, because he cannot get it by virtue of moral objectivity, he is deliberately misinterpreting the Bible, so he can justify his act – if it were possible.

Also, it is so disheartening that Bugingo is taking advantage of the innocence of those that attend him, some of whom have been blinded and/or brainwashed by his heretical eloquence that finds solace in a theological vacuum that he himself has created and made them victims of.

Let us now zoom in on the issue at hand and do a theological analysis of his claims, basing on the Bible, of which, deriving from his utterance, he is a prolific student and a voracious reader.

  1. Does the Bible he has read countless times have the following verses: Rom. 7:2-3; Mal. 2:13-16; Heb. 13:4; Mat. 5:32; 19:4-9; plus 1 Cor. 7:2-40, and especially verse 10 which says, “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord), the wife should not separate from her husband.” Verse 11b also states clearly, “and let not the husband put away his wife.”

Again does the Bible Bugingo has read contain Gen. 2:18; Eph. 5:33; Luke 16:18, and 1 Cor. 7:39 which says, “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to get married to whom she wishes, but only in the Lord”?

What is Bugingo’s interpretation of these verses, and if he has not read them, which Bible has he been reading all those countless times?!

  1. Consider Jesus’ command: “What God has joined together let no man put asunder” (Mat. 19:6). Has Bugingo read it? Can he define either the logical or conceptual scope of its duration? In other words, where and when does the legality of that instruction’s demand end?
  2. About those who are joined in marriage Jesus asserts, “they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Gen. 2:24; Mat. 19:6). How can one separate with oneself?! Looking closely at the immediate context of the verse and Jesus’ plot of thought here, one doesn’t have to be a genius or even a cultured theologian to realise that the word “therefore” which Jesus uses immediately after his assertion, is actually ‘there for something’ – to emphasize what is otherwise implied, that he (Jesus) is speaking against divorce. Actually, the words ‘no man’s in the phrase “what God has joined together, let no man separate”, speak also to the two, who are married. The husband and wife are also included in that prohibition.

There is the except clause of Mat. 5:23 that has always been looked at as Jesus’ permission to divorce. While it is true that “marital unfaithfulness” or sexual immorality can be a ground for divorce, if it happens, it comes as a regrettable consequence of an already defiled marriage, not as its approved remedy.

  1. Does the Bible Mr. Bugingo has read have God’s assertion “I hate divorce” in Mal. 2:16? When God says so, what does that mean for the married? Doesn’t that imply that God requires that our marriage be a lasting one? Where does a marriage whose parties won’t divorce end, if not till death separates them?
  2. In Eph. 5:25-33, Paul likens the marriage between a husband and wife to Christ’s relationship with the church, and commands the man to love his wife as Christ loves the church. When does Bugingo expect Christ to be separated with his ‘bride’ – the church?

When Bugingo says that the marital vows are not in the Bible. Is this to indicate that for him every activity, phenomenon, invention, and venture ought to be stated in the Bible for it to be true, right, or acceptable?

Should the Bible have stated in black and white: build cars, use computers, boil water before drinking it, form a political party, construct aeroplanes, make tarmac roads, establish hospitals, design smart phones, make jets, use treadmill and TRX bands for fitness, establish constitutions, set up universities, etc…so we know that doing such is biblical, and therefore acceptable?!

God created us in His image and gave us brains to use. In some aspects the Bible is specific and particular in accordance with both the immediate and wider contexts, but in other and actually most cases it states what is true or right in principle. What the Bible says in principle informs our conscience and so guides or facilitates our decisions and establishments.

As Christians we live by faith and reason, not faith apart from rationality, because we are commanded to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds (Mat. 22:37; Mk. 12:30, and Luk. 10:27).

  1. Bugingo’s reasoning that the vows compel the married to kill each other is very unfortunate. The worst of this assertion is its implication. He interprets the statement to mean, ’cause death, so you can then get married to another.’ What peace do those who divorce enjoy, after? What society would survive if the parties that make it separated at each and every misunderstanding or conflict?

Dear Aloysius, marriage survives on the classic nature of agape love as stated in 1 Cor. 13.1-9, not on a series of separation, or of murder and remarriage. Love which understands, which bears, which forgives, is the kind that sustains marriage to the end.

  1. Mr. Bugingo asserts that those marital vows came from Satan. Which irrefutable proof has he that their origin or author is Satan? Which evidence is there that makes such a claim valid?

May the Lord bless you for reading this. May He protect you from false and pseudo ideologies and teachings from self styled liars – enemies of the gospel and God’s infallible word. May the Holy Spirit illumine our minds and keep us alert.

Beloved, take heart.”You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16, 20).

To Him be the glory!

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Makerere University to establish a Centre of Excellence in honor of Archbishop Stanley Ntagali

7 hours 24 min ago

In order to keep alive the legacy of Church of Uganda’s outgoing Archbishop, The Most Rev Stanley Ntagali, Makerere University will establish a centre of excellence in his honour.

The centre will focus on either research, conflict resolution or peace studies depending on his wish.

This was revealed today by Prof Eria Hisali the Principal of Makerere University’s College of Business and Management Sciences (COBAMS) who represented the University’s Vice Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe during the farewell service for Archbishop Stanley Ntagali at St Francis Chapel, Makerere University.

“The Lord has abundantly blessed Archbishop Ntagali and as such, a lot has been achieved under his leadership. The centre of excellence will be to keep his legacy alive. ” Prof Hisali said.

He commended him for preaching the gospel of development, peace and reconciliation which was exhibited through a calm and peaceful tenure as the 8th Archbishop of the Church of Uganda.

“I am blessed to have heard a lot of your sermons Your Grace. They were so inspiring and transformational.
You are leaving behind a very powerful legacy and we want to thank the Lord for enabling you to achieve all those landmark achievements.” He added.

St Francis Chapel’s Chaplain, Rev Onesimus Asiimwe applauded Archbishop Ntagali for his tremendous achievements in the spiritual realm which have also been manifested in physical infrastructure.

He commended the Archbishop for the completion of Archbishop Janani Luwum Church House which had stalled for 40 years.

He further thanked him for the establishment of Uganda Martyrs Museum in Namugongo, construction of All Saints Cathedral Kampala, his firm stand for the authority of Scripture against same sex unions, his focus on Misson, Evangelism and Family life Ministry, Insurance of clergy and Christians through the KIDO Program, creation of new Dioceses, revitalization of Youth and Students Ministry and maintaining peace in the entire Province.

“I have had the singular privilege of serving under three Archbishops and I have seen turbulent times in COU. I can testify that the Province has never been this peaceful.” Rev Onesimus Asiimwe said.

On his part, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali appreciated the cordial relationship between the University Management and the Church.

He welcomed the idea of the University establishing a Centre of Excellence in his honour and pledged total support to see the idea come to fruition.

Quoting Acts 20:32, he commended Christians of St Francis Chapel Makerere to God and to the word of His Grace to build them up and give them the inheritance among those who are sanctified.

In the same service, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali confirmed and commissioned 98 confirmees into the Mission of Christ and His Church.

Archbishop Ntagali is set to retire on 1st March 2020 when he turns the Church of Uganda’s Constitutional retirement age of 65 years and will hand over to Rt Rev Dr Samuel Stephen Kazimba Mugalu the Bishop of Mityana Diocese who was elected by the House of Bishops on 28th August 2019 as the 9th Archbishop of the Church of Uganda and 8th Bishop of the Diocese of Kampala.

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Welby briefs Kenyan bishops on Lambeth 2020

7 hours 32 min ago

The Anglican Church of Kenya reports the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, briefed the members of the Kenyan House of Bishops on Tuesday during a meeting at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi.

In May 2019 the archbishop of Kenya, the Most Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit, told the Religion News Service, “I will not be at the Lambeth Conference for those reasons. Others are also boycotting.”

“God’s plan of marriage is between a man and woman for procreation. Homosexuality is a sin before God,” he added.

Archbishop Ole Sapit joined the primates of Rwanda, Uganda and Nigeria in boycotting the 2020 conference. The archbishop’s comments did not bind all of Kenya’s bishops, however. In 2008 the Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi did not attend the Lambeth Conference. Less than a dozen Kenyan bishops, however defied their primate and attended the gathering. It is not known how many Kenyan bishops will attend Lambeth 2020.

The Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Rev. Jackson Ole Sapit,

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Welby visits Kenyan government leaders in Nairobi

7 hours 42 min ago

His Grace Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit joined the Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of Canterbury for courtesy calls on the Deputy President Dr. William Ruto, the African Union (AU) High Representative for Infrastructure Development, the Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga and Kenya’s special Peace Envoy to South Sudan, Kalonzo Musyoka. Their Discussions centered on National Cohesion, National Development, and sustainable Regional peace, especially the South Sudan peace process.

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Episcopal Church of South Sudan reports 32 dead in tribal clashes along Sudan border

8 hours 1 min ago

The Episcopal Church of South Sudan reports 32 were killed today in a village in the disputed Abyei region on the border between Sudan and South Sudan.  In a tweet released on 21 Jan 2020 the Episcopal Church of South Sudan wrote: “We request your prayers for the Diocese of #Abyei, and Bishop Michael, as they mourn the loss of 32 members who were killed in cold blood by militia earlier today.”

The United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) reported “19 people are reportedly dead and 25 wounded while three children are reportedly missing and 19 houses burnt from the Dinka community.” However, a government official told AFP 32 people had been killed in the fight between Dinka villagers and nomadic Misseriya herders from Sudan.

The oil rich Abyei region has been claimed by South Sudan and Sudan since the former gained its independence in 2011. In 2011 the UN deployed troops to the area to keep the peace between the  South Sudanese Ngok Dinka community and the Misseriya herders. 

Today’s statement from UNISFA said it had deployed Ethiopian peacekeepers to “control movements and contain the situation.” 

“The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) strongly condemns this attack as it can only contribute to the tension and chances of renewed violence in the area.” In 2011 the UN Security Council sent 4500 troops to restore order to the region, after tribal clashes drove over 100,000 from their homes. 

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CoI statement on the restoration of government powers in Northern Ireland

8 hours 49 min ago
The Church of Ireland has issued the following statement on the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive:

The Church of Ireland welcomes the recent restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive and the commitment expressed to resolve the many difficult issues affecting the community.

As MLAs resume normal business for the first time in three years, we offer them encouragement and the assurance of prayer. We support the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement which, we feel, captures the hopes for a new decade. If the parties to the agreement, including the two governments, live up to its spirit, it could prove transformational.

Responsibility, accountability and a transparent way of doing business are embedded in the new agreement. People are keen to work with their political leaders to turn around the social crisis in Northern Ireland. People want lasting foundations and sustainable progress. People are ambitious in their hopes and – in the best traditions of Northern Ireland – they are generous in offering the political parties the necessary space to make good on the commitments made. But people will expect results.

In recent years, too many have experienced job loss and financial hardship, have suffered because of under–investment in public services, been frightened by the prospect of welfare ‘reform’ and frustrated by the lack of political direction. That needs to change. We welcome the fresh commitment to address the huge problems facing the health, social care and education sectors, and the determination to tackle the crisis in mental health.

Above all, it is important that the restoration of the Executive brings fresh impetus to the task of building a peaceful, just and shared society. As a body composed of people from all parts of the island of Ireland, we reflect the importance of collective responsibility – moving forward together while respecting and recognising different cultural identities. We urge all in leadership to engage with each other with civility and respect. We are committed to engaging in civic dialogue and to supporting the Executive as it recommences its work in any way we can. We continue to uphold in our prayers all those who bear the onerous responsibility of elected office.

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CoE House of Bishops pastoral statement on civil partnerships

9 hours 22 sec ago

Civil Partnerships – for same sex and opposite sex and opposite sex couples.

A pastoral statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England

  1. In December 2005 the Civil Partnership Act came into force. For the first time it created a new institution that was not marriage, enabling two people of the same sex to acquire a new legal status by registering a civil partnership with each other. The House of Bishops prepared a statement in July 2005 to help the Church as it addressed the pastoral and other implications of the new legislation.
  2. At the time, Civil Partnerships were possible only for couples of the same sex. The government of the day had no intention of introducing same sex marriage, and so civil partnerships were offered as a complementary but distinct institution: marriage for opposite sex couples and civil partnerships for same sex couples.
  3. However, things changed with the introduction of same sex marriage by the Coalition government in 2013. This, for the first time, meant that a substantive gap emerged between the Church’s understanding of marriage and that of the State. The House of Bishops has issued separate guidance on same sex marriage (2014).
  4. In June 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the retention in law of Civil Partnerships solely for same-sex couples was incompatible with the Human Rights Convention. HMG has chosen to respond to this by making provision for Civil Partnerships to be opened to opposite sex couples.
  5. HMG supported a Private Member’s Bill which included provision for the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to be amended by regulations to allow opposite sex couples to enter Civil Partnerships. The Bill received Royal Assent on 26th March 2019, becoming the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Act 2019.
  6. The House of Bishops is therefore issuing this new Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships to reflect the fact that Civil Partnerships are now open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. It also addresses other changes in marriage law since 2005.

The Church’s Teaching on Marriage

  1. It has always been the position of the Church of England that marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman making a public commitment to each other, is central to the stability and health of human society. We believe that it continues to provide the best context for the raising of children, although it is not the only context that can be of benefit to children, especially where the alternative may be long periods in institutional care.
  2. The Church of England’s teaching is classically summarised in The Book of Common Prayer, where the marriage service lists the causes for which marriage was ordained, namely: ‘for the procreation of children, …for a remedy against sin [and]…. for the mutual society, help, and comfort that the one ought to have of the other.’
  3. In the light of this understanding the Church of England teaches that “sexual intercourse, as an expression of faithful intimacy, properly belongs within marriage exclusively” (Marriage: a teaching document of the House of Bishops, 1999). Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings.
  4. The introduction of same sex marriage, through the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, has not changed the church’s teaching on marriage or same sex relationships. A major study of this and other areas of human sexuality is underway (the Living in Love and Faith project). This work, which is expected to be completed in 2020, will then inform further deliberations of the House of Bishops. In the context, however, of the introduction of opposite sex as well as same sex civil partnerships, the teaching of the church on marriage remains unchanged.

The effect of legislation introducing civil partnerships

  1. Two people may form a civil partnership by signing a civil partnership document in the presence of each other, a civil partnership registrar, and two witnesses. The legislation underlines the civil nature of the registration by providing that it may not take place on religious premises nor include a religious ceremony.
  2. Many of the provisions in the legislation on civil partnerships are, however, similar to, or identical with, those in marriage law. In particular, couples may not register if they are under 16 (or under 18 and do not have parental consent), are within one of the prohibited degrees of relationship, or already have a civil partnership or are married.
  3. As with marriage, civil partnerships embody the concept of committed fidelity between two persons, mutually consenting to their relationship.
  4. The legislation does, however, leave entirely open the nature of the commitment that members of a couple choose to make to each other when forming a civil partnership. In particular, it is not predicated on the intention to engage in a sexual relationship. Thus, there is no equivalent of the marriage law provision either for annulment on grounds of non-consummation or for its dissolution on the grounds of sexual infidelity.
  5. Behaviour such that one party ‘cannot reasonably be expected to live with’ the other can trigger the dissolution of a civil partnership. Whether sexual conduct was relevant would depend on the circumstances of each case and the nature of the understandings reached between the couple when entering into the partnership. There is likely to be a range of circumstances in which people of the same sex or opposite sex choose to register a partnership, including some where there is no intention for the relationship to be expressed through sexual activity.
  6. The principles underlying the pastoral guidance which the House of Bishops issued following the Civil Partnership Act 2003 therefore apply also to opposite sex civil partnerships.

The blessing of civil partnerships

  1. It is likely that some who register civil partnerships – whether same sex or opposite sex — will seek some recognition of their new situation and pastoral support by asking members of the clergy to provide a blessing for them in the context of an act of worship.
  2. The House advised in 2005 that the practice of the Church of England needs to reflect the pastoral letter from the Primates of the Anglican Communion at Pentecost 2003 which said: ‘The question of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions is still a cause of potentially divisive controversy. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke for us all when he said that it is through liturgy that we express what we believe, and that there is no theological consensus about same sex unions. Therefore, we as a body cannot support the authorisation of such rites’.
  3. Because of the ambiguity about the place of sexual activity within civil partnerships of both sorts, and the church’s teaching that marriage between a man and a woman is the proper context for sexual intercourse, we do not believe that it is possible for the church unconditionally to accept civil partnerships as unequivocally reflecting the teaching of the church.
  4. One consequence of the ambiguity contained within the civil partnerships legislation is that people in a variety of relationships will be eligible to register as civil partners, some living consistently with the teaching of the Church, others not. In these circumstances, the House continues to believe that it would not be right to produce an authorised public liturgy in connection with the registering of civil partnerships. In addition, the House of Bishops affirms that clergy of the Church of England should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership.
  5. It will be important, however, to bear in mind that registered partnerships do allow for a range of different situations – including those where the relationship is simply one of friendship. Hence, clergy need to have regard to the teaching of the church on sexual morality, celibacy, and the positive value of committed friendships in the Christian tradition. Where clergy are approached by people asking for prayer in relation to entering into a civil partnership they should respond pastorally and sensitively in the light of the circumstances of each case.

Those wishing to be in ordained ministry and to register a civil partnership

  1. The House of Bishops does not regard entering into a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that the relationship – whether same sex or opposite sex – is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality. The wording of the Act means that civil partnerships will be likely to include some whose relationships are faithful to the declared position of the Church on sexual relationships.
  2. The Church should not collude with the present assumptions of society that all close relationships necessarily include sexual activity. The House of Bishops considers it would be a matter of social injustice to exclude from ministry those who are faithful to the teaching of the Church, and who decide to register a civil partnership. There can be no grounds for terminating the ministry of those who are loyal to the discipline of the Church.
  3. Nevertheless, it would be inconsistent with the teaching of the Church for the public character of the commitment expressed in a civil partnership to be regarded as of no consequence in relation to someone in – or seeking to enter – the ordained ministry. Members of the clergy and candidates for ordination who decide to enter into civil partnerships must expect to be asked for assurances that their relationship will be consistent with the teaching set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.
  4. While clergy are fully entitled to argue, in the Living in Love and Faith process and elsewhere, for a change in that teaching, they are not entitled to claim the liberty to set it aside. Because of the ambiguities surrounding the character and public nature of civil partnerships, the House of Bishops advise clergy to weigh carefully the perceptions and assumptions which would inevitably accompany a decision to register such a relationship.
  5. Although there is nothing in the legislation for Opposite Sex Civil Partnerships which determines their social meaning, the arguments advanced in the Supreme Court included the desire for a publicly authorised institution which explicitly rejected the perceived religious connotations of marriage. Given this ambiguity, clergy and candidates for ordination wishing to enter an Opposite Sex Civil Partnership should expect to be asked to explain their understanding of the theological and social meanings of their decision.
  6. Once opposite sex civil partnerships have been available for some time, the situation may arise where a candidate for ordination (or consecration) has been in a civil partnership that has ended and is now married. The question then arises whether the provisions of Canon C4, seeking to establish the circumstances in which the previous relationship broke up, apply.
  7. As a civil partnership is not entered into through vows, the question of broken vows does not arise in the case of a former civil partnership. As Canon C4 is primarily concerned to give assurance that the candidate fully understands the nature of vows and the spiritual implications of breaking them, Canon C4 does not apply in the case of a broken civil partnership. However, civil partnerships do involve commitment to another person and the discernment process for ordination or consecration involves seeking assurances about the whole character of a candidate as revealed in the history of their relationships of different kinds. If a candidate has a broken civil partnership in their history, they should expect to be asked to give an account of the causes of the breakdown of this relationship.

Lay people who register civil partnerships

  1. The House considers that lay people who have registered civil partnerships ought not to be asked to give assurances about the nature of their relationship before being admitted to baptism, confirmation and communion.
  2. In relation to infant baptism, Canon B 22.4 makes it clear that, while baptism can be delayed for the purposes of instruction (including on marriage and the family), it cannot be refused. The responsibility for taking vows on behalf of the infant rests with the parents and godparents. Provided there is a willingness, following a period of instruction, to give those vows, priests cannot refuse to baptise simply because those caring for the infant are not, in their view, living in accordance with the Church’s teaching.

Converting Marriages to Civil Partnerships

  1. The legislation on Opposite Sex Civil Partnerships has not, to date, made provision for those who are currently married to convert their marriage into a civil partnership. This question is expected to be considered, and possibly legislated for, later in 2020. If provision for conversion from a marriage to a civil partnership is made possible, it may be for a limited period only. If such provision is made, the following considerations should shape to the church’s pastoral practice.
  2. A key difference between a marriage and a civil partnership is that marriages are solemnised with vows and civil partnerships are not. Converting a marriage into a civil partnership thus implies the repudiation of a couple’s marriage vows.
  3. If a couple decides to convert their marriage to a civil partnership and seeks to discuss this in a church context, good pastoral practice requires that their reasons are carefully attended to. But the implication that they are repudiating their marriage vows should be carefully pointed out to them.
  4. In the case of clergy or ordinands who seek to convert a marriage into a civil partnership, it should be made clear to them that their decision involves the repudiation of their marriage vows and that the same discipline will apply to them as to those who have broken their marriage vows in other circumstances.

Conclusion

  1. With opposite sex civil partnerships, and with those for same sex couples, the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged. For Christians, marriage – that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity. In its approach to civil partnerships the Church seeks to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships and to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently.

House of Bishops

December 2019

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Hearing date set for Bishop Love

Wed, 22/01/2020 - 05:12

A Message From Bishop Love Regarding the Upcoming Hearing
January 21, 2020

To the Clergy and People of the Diocese of Albany,

Several of you have been asking about the status of the Title IV Disciplinary proceedings directed against me in regard to B012. I have been notified that a Hearing, headed by The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, (President of the Hearing Panel) is scheduled to be held at the Desmond Hotel in Albany on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. The subject of the Hearing is “The Matter of Allegations Concerning the Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany.”

It is alleged by the Intake Report and Investigator’s Report that I have “violated Canon IV.4.1(c) by failing to abide by the promises and vows made when he [I] was ordained, specifically the Declaration he [I] signed at his [my] ordination as bishop in which he [I] promised to ‘conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.’ ”

The above charge is the result of my unwillingness to abide by Resolution B012, passed by the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which if followed, would allow for same-sex marriages to occur in the Diocese of Albany.

The Hearing Panel convened for this case is made up of the following five individuals:

· The Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, Convener
· The Rt. Rev. Herman Hollerith
· The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Brooke-Davidson
· The Rev. Erik Larsen
· Ms. Melissa Perrin

In accordance with the Canons, the Hearing is “open” to the public however, under the control and direction of the Hearing Panel. Space will be limited. While the exact starting time has not yet been released, I anticipate it will begin by mid-morning and will most likely take only a few hours. Both sides have agreed that there are no contested facts regarding my actions and neither side will be presenting witnesses. Instead, the attorneys will be making arguments as to what the canon law requires.

I want to thank all of you who have been holding me and my family and the Diocese of Albany up in your prayers these past many months. It is greatly appreciated. Whatever the outcome of the Hearing, I pray God’s will and purpose will be accomplished.

Faithfully Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. William H. Love
Bishop of Albany

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Boko Haram execute Christian pastor held captive

Wed, 22/01/2020 - 01:07

Boko Haram has announced that it has killed Pastor Lawan Andimi, a leading Church figure, kidnapped in north-east Nigeria by the Islamist terrorist group on 2 January.

A video announcing the pastor’s execution, which took place on 20 January, was released today by Boko Haram via its regular journalist contact, Ahmad Salkida. It is not known how Pastor Andimi, who leaves behind a wife and seven children, was killed.

CaptionIn his final message to his family and colleagues, Pastor Lawan Andimi urged them not to cry or worry about him but to “thank God for everything”

Pastor Andimi, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), was abducted in Adamawa State during a series of Boko Haram attacks in the region.

In a video released by his captors on 5 January, the pastor had called on senior CAN colleagues to ask the State governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, to intercede for his release. It is thought that the church was involved in negotiations with the captors when Pastor Andimi was killed.

In his poignant statement, Pastor Andimi had told his family and colleagues not to cry or worry about him but to “thank God for everything”.

“I have never been discouraged because all conditions that one finds himself is in the hands of God. By the grace of God, I will be together with my wife, my children and my colleagues. If the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God,” he said.

A regional analyst in contact with Barnabas has warned that there are indications that Boko Haram is extending its territory in north-east Nigeria. At least four murderous Islamist attacks have taken place in the region in less than a month, including the beheading of ten Christian men and shooting of an eleventh by Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP). The past year has also seen a significant increase in Boko Haram activity in neighbouring Far North Cameroon. The expert raised concerns that the group may be progressively combining forces with other terrorist militia including ISWAP, Fulani herdsmen and Al Shabaab.

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A Christian conservative reflection on the anti-woke rebellion

Wed, 22/01/2020 - 01:04

Anti-woke rebels such as the comedian Ricky Gervais, the actor and musician Laurence Fox, and the writer Douglas Murray may be a breath of fresh air in a stultifying neo-Stalinist atmosphere but social conservatives inspired by Christianity surely ought to be clear in their minds that our enemy’s enemy is not necessarily our friend.

The new anti-wokeists object to the authoritarianism and hypocrisy of the socially Marxist establishment in Hollywood, in the BBC, and in Silicon Valley as we do and they are doing so with wit and eloquence. There is much that social conservatives can applaud in this mounting rebellion. Social conservatives should be opposing woke-ist thought policing, brain-washing and social engineering.

But we are not libertarians. Our outlook has been shaped by the Book of Common Prayer.  We want to belong to a nation that is being ‘godly and quietly governed’ under a Christian constitutional monarch. Led by the Prayer Book, we pray in the name of Christ that Almighty God would ‘grant unto her (the Queen’s) whole Council, and to all who are put in authority under her, that they may truly and indifferently (impartially) minister justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice and to the maintenance of thy true religion and virtue’.

Because their primary objection to woke-ism would seem to be its authoritarianism, we do not seem to hear much about law and order from the anti-wokeists. Their main objection to woke-ism would seem to be summed up in Laurence Fox’s song The Distance.

‘They have put something in the water/They seek a cure for the conversation/They stole a march on your indecision/And the first to fall is laughter/Just to quell the long offended/They seek to murder your opinion.’

I think I can say ‘Amen’ here even if I may not be inclined to sing along for musical reasons (in case my tuneless tones were overheard by the neighbours). But there would seem to be a verse missing in an anti-wokeist hymn like this. The practical reality is that fear-spreading lawlessness is a massive impediment to liberty. When knife-murderers strut the streets of London and other major British cities with their heads held high, surely such gangsters are in their own way dictators? Woke is surely not the only threat to liberty.

‘Conservative’ political leaders may now be waking up to the growing anti-woke public feeling and we may see them being bolder in speaking out against identity politics and the delusion that ‘racism’ is widespread in British society. But unless and until Her Majesty’s Government is prepared to pass legislation that would require a judge to pronounce the sentence of death on, for example, a young man who has been found being guilty by a jury of his peers of committing murder with a knife, even if he was only a day over 18 when he did it, her ministers show themselves to be moral relativists who do not really believe in the clear demarcation between right and wrong, which is required for true liberty to flourish.

So, even at the risk of being labelled ‘boring’ by the cool new anti-wokeists, Christian-based social conservatives should be clearly different from libertarians if we are to do any good for our country.

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Anglican Unscripted 567 – Predators in the Pulpit

Mon, 20/01/2020 - 17:09

Kevin Kallsen, George Conger, and Gavin Ashenden talk about Part 2 of the BBC Documentary on Peter Ball.

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GAFCON chairman’s epiphany letter to the church

Sun, 19/01/2020 - 17:29
Beloved in Christ Jesus: Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Light of the world!!

On Epiphany we remember the Magi who came to worship Jesus as the King of kings, bringing to him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold, a most precious gift representing nobility and royalty. Frankincense, an expensive beautiful smelling incense offered to the gods (Origen: Frankincense is the incense of deity). Myrrh, a costly perfume emphasizing his humanness, often used for burial. Here in their offerings to Jesus, we see gifts emphasizing his divinity and his humanity; gifts honoring his birth and honoring his death.

There was also a dark side to the Epiphany story. On the 4th Day of Christmas (December 28) we are reminded of King Herod’s ruthless massacre of the children of Bethlehem in an attempt to exterminate the infant Jesus. Even in the midst of such blessing to the world, evil seeks to destroy all the good that God does and His plans for humanity. Of course, we know evil (and evildoers) will not have the last word as demonstrated in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!!  Until the fullness of the Kingdom is realized in the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must still face this reality in our daily lives and ministries.

For many of us, Christmas is a time for celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Word becoming flesh, and enjoying time with family and friends. However, for some of our brothers and sisters in Christ, Christmas has become a time of increased threat. This was graphically and barbarically demonstrated by the beheading of a young Nigerian woman, Martha Bulus, and her 10 companions who were abducted by Boko Haram on their way to her wedding on December 26th  in north eastern Nigeria’s Borno state. It is reported that the executions were filmed and the video posted online. 

It is truly appalling that families who should have had videos of a joyful wedding were faced with a video of their loved ones being butchered to death. This tragedy has illustrated again the deep reluctance on the part of many Western governments, church leaders, and media to speak out on behalf of persecuted Christians. But last year the British Government accepted a report prepared for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, commissioned from the Rt Rev’d Philip Mountstephen, Bishop of Truro. It recognised the large scale of persecution worldwide, involving an estimated quarter of a billion Christians in 144 countries.  

While the West mostly remains silent, it is the global family of the Church who must be at the forefront in standing with those who suffer by prayer, practical care and advocacy. Those of you who use the Gafcon daily prayer diary will know that we regularly pray for the Suffering Church and during 2020 the Gafcon Suffering Church network will play an important part in Gafcon’s global ministry. (If you do not yet use this wonderful aid for your prayers, why not make it a New Year’s Resolution to do so?)

We must never speak glibly of suffering, pain and trauma, but in solidarity with the Suffering Church we gain the liberating perspective of faith. The Apostle Paul tells us that he was seeking to know Christ “and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10), and that he hadn’t obtained it yet, but “I press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).  

I am reminded of the Epiphany Collect in which we pray, “Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face.” For all of us our life on earth is temporary, but we trust in what we do not see, and are sustained on our pilgrimage by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit until that glorious day when we shall see Jesus face to face! Hallelujah! 

Suffering as a mark of the Christian life carries a powerful message to Church leaders who have compromised Christian teaching and morality in order to try and win acceptance from secular societies that celebrate relativism and narcissistic individualism. Compromising biblical truth only leads to more compromise, and eventually becomes unrecognizable as anything Christian. It demonstrates in real life that this faith in Christ is not just ‘my truth’ or something merely therapeutic, ‘but is truth gloriously and uniquely revealed in Jesus Christ who said God’s word is truth (John 17:17), and “I am the truth” (John 14:6), and has promised “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28.20).’ 

Bishops of the Anglican Communion will gather in June for the Gafcon 2020 Bishops and Wives Conference, hosted by Archbishop Mbanda and the Anglican Church of Rwanda. It is this unquenchable hope in Jesus, the unfailing truth of His Word, the redemption of all suffering, and joyful life of serving Jesus as found in the Gospel, that we bishops will proclaim in solidarity when we gather in Kigali. 

Finally, as we remember those in the midst of distress, let us continue to pray for God’s mercy upon those in Australia who are enduring bush fires on an unprecedented scale which have brought loss of life, trauma and widespread destruction. Archbishop Glenn Davies has commended a special prayer which I in turn commend to the whole Gafcon family.

Your brother in the hope and faith of Christ, 

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach 
Chairman, Gafcon Primates Council

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New Bishop elected for Glasgow and Galloway

Sun, 19/01/2020 - 17:24

The Right Reverend Kevin Pearson was today [18 Jan 2020] elected as the new Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway.

Bishop Kevin is currently the Bishop of Argyll and The Isles and his election to Glasgow and Galloway represents a historic “translation” of a Bishop from one See to another. The See of Glasgow and Galloway became vacant in 2018 following the retirement of the Rt Rev Dr Gregor Duncan who had served the diocese as Bishop for eight years. Bishop Kevin will take up his new post at a service of installation later in the year, on a date to be announced in due course.

Bishop Kevin has served as Bishop of Argyll and The Isles since February 2011 and before that was Rector of St Michael & All Saints Church in Edinburgh, Canon of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, Dean of the Diocese of Edinburgh and the Provincial Director of Ordinands (responsible for the discernment and selection process for candidates for ministry). He is also currently the Convener of the Council of the Scottish Episcopal Institute (responsible for the training of those entering authorised ministry) and serves on the provincial Standing Committee of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Bishop Kevin was elected to Glasgow and Galloway by the Episcopal Synod, a body comprising the Diocesan Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church. In accordance with the Church’s canonical process, the right of election had passed to the Episcopal Synod, following previous processes of vocational discernment within the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway.

Following the election at St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, Chair of the Episcopal Synod, the Most Rev Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church said:-

“I warmly welcome the unanimous election by the Episcopal Synod of Bishop Kevin as Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway. The election follows a period of vacancy and since the right of election passed to the Episcopal Synod during the summer of 2019, the Bishops have continued to listen carefully to the views of the Diocese and to engage in a process of ongoing prayer and discernment throughout the autumn.

“Bishop Kevin will bring his wealth of experience as a Bishop to his new role in Glasgow and Galloway as well as his deep love, knowledge and understanding of the Episcopal Church. As he prepares for this new ministry, we hold him and his wife Elspeth in our prayers.

“The Bishops are aware that, in electing Bishop Kevin, this will in due course create a new episcopal vacancy in Argyll and The Isles and we will look forward to supporting that Diocese as it seeks a new Bishop.”

Bishop Kevin said:-

“I am delighted, excited and humbled to be elected as the new Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway. I am looking forward enormously to entering this new phase of ministry and serving the people of Glasgow and Galloway. My wife Elspeth and I already know many in the Diocese but are also looking forward to living there and getting to know the people and the area better. We shall be very sad to be leaving the people of Argyll and The Isles which we have grown to love deeply over nine years of ministry there.”

Bishop Kevin is married to Dr Elspeth Atkinson who is Chief Operating Officer for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh. Prior to that Elspeth was Director of MacMillan Cancer Support in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and for most of her career held senior roles in Economic Development in Scotland.

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Bishop Ronald Jackson of the Great Lakes steps down

Sat, 18/01/2020 - 23:24

A Joint Statement from the Anglican Church in North America and the Standing Committee of the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes

The Rt. Rev. Ronald Jackson has communicated to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes his resignation as the bishop ordinary of the diocese, citing health reasons and to be effective immediately. The diocese has accepted his tendered resignation and is grateful to Bishop Ron for his years of service. Adhering to the canons of both the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes and the Province, the Standing Committee will begin implementing the details of the transition immediately and will share more information about that process in the weeks ahead. The Rt. Rev. John Miller, appointed temporary bishop for the diocese in November 2019, will continue advising the Standing Committee and serve as a liaison with the Province.

Bishop Jackson has been on administrative leave since November 2019 concerning information brought to the attention of the Archbishop’s Office that called for an impartial investigation to be conducted. At the provincial level, the investigative process has entered its middle stages and remains ongoing. Locally, a pastoral team has been put in place to provide holistic care for Bishop Ron and Patty.

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, commented on the transition: “Please keep Bishop Ron and his wife, Patty, in your prayers. This has been a difficult and complicated decision for them. Please also pray for the Standing Committee. I have been impressed with how they have proactively and wisely led the diocese over the last couple months. They will have my prayers and full support as they move forward during this challenging time.”

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7 Tips For Covering Horrific Events At Houses Of Worship — And Treating Victims Right

Sat, 18/01/2020 - 23:20

I love journalism. I love my fellow journalists.

But as I pointed out in last week’s column on the media barrage faced by minister Britt Farmer after a deadly shooting at his Texas church, I believe we can do better — much better — in how we treat victims.

To help in that regard, I asked four highly respected news professionals — three of them Pulitzer Prize recipients — for advice. Everyone I’m quoting has extensive experience in this area and in making our profession proud.

Based on what they told me, here are seven tips for covering horrific events at houses of worship:

1. How you approach a victim is everything.

“Many mistakes are usually made in the initial approach when journalists are trying to get that quote or sound bite,” said Joe Hight, a Pulitzer-winning editor who is the Edith Kinney Gaylord Endowed Chair of Journalism Ethics at the University of Central Oklahoma. 

“It just doesn’t work like you’re at a public news conference or interviewing a public figure,” added Hight, who hired me at The Oklahoman in 1993 and oversaw our coverage of victims after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. “You are intruding upon private individuals in their most vulnerable moments. In these tragic situations, you have to ask the victims or family members for permission. You need to say, ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ and mean it sincerely. You need to put yourself in the victim’s position of grief and despair after such a tragic situation.

Pictured, clockwise from top left, are journalists Jennifer Berry Hawes, Joe Hight, Yonat Shimron and Peter Smith.

Pictured, clockwise from top left, are journalists Jennifer Berry Hawes, Joe Hight, Yonat Shimron and Peter Smith.

“You need to determine whether the individual is even capable of talking to you at this point or whether you need to step away and approach later. How would you feel if you were asked that question? You don’t want to cause further harm or take advantage of someone in grief just for a quote or sound bite. How you approach will often determine what kind of interview you will get. Do it poorly, and you will possibly cause more damage.”

2. Think long and hard about your call to a victim (and if you really need to make it).

Sensitivity is so crucial.

Jennifer Berry Hawes, a Pulitzer-winning special projects writer for The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., can’t help but cringe at how some reporters behaved after the 2015 massacre at the Emanuel AME Church.  Nine African Americans were killed during a Wednesday night Bible study, while three victims survived.

“When I first spoke with the survivors of the Emanuel shooting, two of them told me stories that made me embarrassed for our business,” said Hawes, author of the book “Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness.”

“Polly Sheppard described a reporter climbing through the rose bushes in front of her house,” the journalist added. “Felicia Sanders, who survived the shooting by playing dead with her 11-year-old granddaughter in the blood of her loved ones, described her phone ringing off the hook with reporters (and others) calling her home when she arrived there the next morning. She described running from the cacophony to her shower where she folded up her bloody clothes and showered to wash away the crusted blood of her son and aunt. Can you imagine that in those moments, her phone was ringing with reporters?”

No, I can’t. 

Then again, given what I know about Farmer’s experience after he lost two close friends, I really can.

“In the aftermath of these horrific events, we really need to take a step back and ask ourselves: How important is it that we speak to this person right now?” Hawes said. “Sometimes, it is essential. But at other times, it’s simply not.”

3. Whenever possible, go through an intermediary.

“Call a person’s pastor or rabbi or imam, a friend, their attorney, a family member, a boss, a coworker, a neighbor, anyone who is close enough to approach the person on your behalf,” Hawes recommended.

“For one, I have found this makes the person much more likely to consider talking to you, especially if the intermediary will vouch for you. Second, a good intermediary is in a better position to know when and how to approach the person about an interview — and when not to. Approaching at a bad time can close that door to you for the long haul.”

Yonat Shimron, a national reporter and senior editor for Religion News Service, offered similar advice.

Shimron, a former Religion News Association president, covered both the 2017 massacre that claimed more than two dozen lives at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, and the 2018 mass shooting in which 11 people died at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

“I have never approached survivors or their families cold, and I wouldn’t recommend it,” Shimron said. “Find an intermediary who may introduce you to such a person. If the shooting took place at a house of worship, perhaps (reach out to) a fellow worshiper who was close to the family, or a coworker or a teacher or a pastor or a neighbor.”

4. Start preparing to cover a tragedy at a house of worship before it happens.

Wait, what!?

Now that I have your attention, let’s listen to veteran religion writer Peter Smith, a key part of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette team that won a Pulitzer for its “immersive, compassionate coverage of the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue that captured the anguish and resilience of a community thrust into grief.”

“I have tried from day one to get to know members of our local religious communities, which often may mean just showing up for events or informal meetings that may not even lead to an initial story,” said Smith, the current president of the Religion News Association. 

“There’s no way to know everybody,” he added. “But at least there’s a greater likelihood that people will know me if I need to call. (As it happened, I had only a couple of direct connections with the three congregations at Tree of Life but many others with the larger Jewish community.) For national reporters … I would think that that would involve more getting to know regional and national leaders and connectors.”

View image on Twitter

5. Work to understand — really understand — the beliefs of the faith group involved.

“You should seek to understand their beliefs before doing any coverage,” said Hight, a devout Catholic. “Many religious organizations have vastly different beliefs than you do, especially when it comes to death. 

“You need to be careful not to instill your own beliefs into your coverage. You should seek to explain to others why members of a particular organization believe the way they do. Ask questions to further your understanding and your audience’s. Do research before asking the questions.”

6. Seek out valuable context, much of which does not require a victim interview.

“Where was the place of worship? What kind of neighborhood was it? What kind of town?” Shimron said, listing possible questions. 

“Give a history of the place,” she added. “There were tons of stories about the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh, and I generally found these very moving. Sutherland Springs was a tiny outpost, but I struck gold when I found a little amateurish museum of the town and befriended the volunteer curator who knew everyone and gave me the most amazing details about the town and the church’s traditions in particular.

“Other good resources are neighboring churches, the library, the local cemetery. Denominational leaders will often know a lot because they will be the first to reach out to the congregation.”

Bobby Ross Jr.✔@bobbyross

On drive to New Mexico yesterday, finished reading (actually listening, via @audible_com) to @JenBerryHawes’ “Grace Will Lead Us Home” about the Emanuel AME church massacre. Highly recommend. Exceptional reporting and storytelling. #Godbeat

View image on Twitter

7. Be patient.

“Over the long haul, it was important for me to remain patient and wait for times when the Emanuel survivors and families were ready to talk to me,” Hawes said. “I found that some people were super open to talking to me one day and then not at all on other days. 

“At first, I thought I’d upset them. I felt that I should be there for every blip in their journeys. But in reality, they just weren’t in the mood to talk at that particular time,” she recalled. “They all had better and worse days as they dealt with tremendous losses and traumas. And that was OK. 

“It was important for me to be patient. In journalism, I have found patience to be be an undervalued skill. I also think it’s important that we remain human beings first, reporters second. How would we want to be treated if the roles were reversed?”

Amen! For those of us who are Christians, there might even be a Scripture about that.

P.S. The Religion News Association’s annual conference in Las Vegas this past fall featured a session on covering horrific events. Watch it here.

• • •

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Speech by the Patriarch of Jerusalem to the Meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Amman

Fri, 17/01/2020 - 16:51

The following speech was read on behalf of H.H.B. our Father and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos at the meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Amman, on Wednesday January 2/15, 2020.

“His Beatitude Theophilos III Patriarch of Jerusalem

Your Grace, Archbishop Justin,

Your Grace, Archbishop Suheil,

Your Eminences,

Your Graces,

Sisters and Brothers,

In this holy season during which Christians in both West and East have been celebrating the great feasts of our Lord’s Nativity and Theophany, we greet you and we welcome you warmly to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which is part of our ancient Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

We are especially happy to welcome you back once again, dear Archbishop Justin, to this region, and we wish to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to you for the help and support that you have given, and continue to give, to us and to the Heads of the Churches and Christian Communities of the Holy Land, in our united struggle to preserve our historic and sacred rights and privileges and to support a vibrant and secure Christian presence in the Holy Land.

We face unprecedented threats to our life here, especially from radical groups who are seeking actively to undermine our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious landscape. Even in the Old City of Jerusalem we see this activity, which, if unchecked, could well lead to fundamental disruptions in the ability of pilgrims and local Christians to have access to our administrative centre as well as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

These are very serious matters and in facing them we take great encouragement both from the unity of purpose that exists among the Heads of the Churches and Christian Communities of the Holy Land, as well as from the remarkable support that we are receiving from leaders in government and religion around the world. We cannot rest, for the pressures are great and relentless, and we know that an assault against one of our communities is an assault to us all.

In this regard, we would like to make special mention of the commitment of our dear friend Archbishop Suheil, to this work. Our Patriarchate and the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem have always enjoyed a good and close relationship over many years, and this long friendship is bearing considerable fruit at the present time as together we stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of our common difficulties. We wish also to mention Archbishop Suheil’s tireless pastoral zeal for his communities and his work in renovation and restoration of congregations in his care. All of this work contributes to the strengthening of the Christian presence in our region.

We would also like to mention the recently established International Community of the Holy Sepulchre, which is an intentionally ecumenical society that is committed to enabling communities in the Holy Land to flourish. This society has the support of the Heads of the Churches, and seeks to gather Christians from all the Churches in effective support of the Christian presence in the Holy Land. It is our hope that ICoHS will grow to include members in every Province of the Anglican Communion, and indeed in just a couple of weeks there will be important events in the Diocese of Southeast Florida in the Episcopal Church to promote the mission of ICoHS. This is a significant venture for us, and we so appreciate your support.

As you gather here in preparation for the Lambeth Conference next summer, we recall with deep joy our participation in the last Lambeth Conference twelve years ago. The Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Church have enjoyed a centuries-long relationship that is important to us both. We share so much in our common patristic heritage and over the generations we have been able to be of unique support to each other.

While it is true that both our Churches are facing complicated internal issues at the present time, we cannot let these matters distract us from our fundamental commitment to an ever-deepening dialogue and to travelling together on the road to unity. We must always resist the temptation to a narrow parochial focus that blinds us to the greater and primary mission of the Church, of being a beacon of the light of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in a world that is increasing bereft of hope, and were confusion and despair struggle with truth and joy for the souls of men and women.

This greater and primary mission must always be paramount in our ministry as those to whom the Divine Providence has entrusted the pastoral care of our respective Churches.

As you gather here in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, we pay tribute to the strong commitment of His Majesty King Abdullah II, who is the Custodian of Christian and Muslim Holy Sites in the Holy Land, to the well-being of the Christian communities here. Jordan remains a country in which faithful communities are protected, and where Christian leaders from all over this region are able to gather freely. We are delighted that you and your fellow Primates are able to enjoy this opportunity to gather and take counsel in this city where all are welcome.

MAY God bless you, dear Archbishop Justin, as you meet together over these days, and MAY God guide you as you gather the bishops of the Anglican Communion at the Lambeth Conference in the summer.

Thank you.”

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Bishop of Niagara sees climate change activism as the church’s answer to numerical decline

Fri, 17/01/2020 - 01:57
[15 Jan 2020]

Dear friends,

So we’ve all read the statistics and we’re in shock. 

But are we really

I rather feel that the “bombshell” of the National Church statistics released in this month’s edition of the Anglican Journal, is maybe not so much of a bombshell as all that.

The fact is, we have been living with decline and an ageing demographic for some time.  We’ve been living with an exhausted Christendom paradigm as well.  We have been managing this decline for decades – slowly, perhaps quietly but inexorably.  So, on the one hand the empirically verified statistics found in the national church report are, in the cold light of day, sobering, but they can hardly be called a surprise. 

Much ink has been spilt refuting the claim that, all things remaining the same, we will be no more as a denomination by a certain date.  That need not detain us long.  All things will not remain the same and therefore, I don’t believe that prognostication, and I don’t think you do either.  What I do believe however, is that we are very definitely being called into a different future – and that the decline we are experiencing and the change it is creating, is making sure that there’s no turning back from that. 

I want to talk to you about the future; and about some intimations about what we might be being called to – and maybe what we’re being called away from.  All of that is much more interesting than the hand-wringing of recent weeks.

Is this a crisis?  Yes.  A holy one, I believe.  The question is, how do we respond?  Well we are Christ-followers and so I’d humbly suggest that we need to do just that:  follow Jesus and listen for God’s voice to guide us. 

I am firmly of the belief that God has gifted us with this time.  I am not being Pollyanna.  I mean this.  We have come to the end of a time in which the Church was a dominant force in our culture.  That is an undisputed fact.  And yet not one that should make us despair.  We’ve had a good run.

But I also believe that we are being called to deep engagement with our faith and simultaneously, and our behavior as a culture.  As an example, take the climate crisis.  What does the mission of God look like in the light of that?  If, as N.T. Wright has recently written, New Testament Christians believed that in Jesus the Christ, God was bringing earth and heaven together, “making creation new, restoring the world from all its pathologies,” then working to establish the kingdom of God is rightly the work of all believers.  This sounds to me like a robust mandate for a theology which will support bold and sustained Christian action to address the climate crisis. 

This is a recovery of a strong Christology, which leads to a renewed sense of both Christ’s work among humanity and a template for our own Christian vocations.  

I’m taking encouragement from this recovery – that a robust theology of a redeemed humanity in creation is embodied in this interpretation of our scripture and of the whole project that Christ ushers in.  It touches and changes how we think through our mission as the people of God.   John 3:16, “for God so loved the world…,” means something quite different then, doesn’t it? 

So perhaps God is calling us again to listen – just as God has called in the great revivals and ‘re-thinkings’ of our past:  Consider the great renewal stories in our denominational history:  the times when we prayed as a people that God would “renew a right spirit within [us]”:  Wesleyanism in the 18th century which led to the “Great Awakening”, the evangelization of North America, The Oxford Movement that breathed on the dry bones of the 19th century church, the World missions movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries,…

I suppose all I’m saying, is that on every level – we’ve been here before.  In every age, God has called us into a renewed relationship like the children of Israel.  In every age God finds ways to speak to us afresh about mission – in ways that we can’t ignore.  This re-awakening is a deeply rooted pattern in our faith.  Just because we’ve forgotten that, doesn’t change the truth of its existence.  So enough of the hand-wringing.

Here is the Gospel in all its strangeness and beauty and truth – urging us on to deeper thought and engagement through the Gospel of Jesus Christ with this beautiful world.

You see, the issue isn’t that we lack a mission – rather God’s mission is so deep and wide that only  through God’s love and only with a vision for working for the kingdom of heaven here among us can we begin to find the energy and the compassion and the motivation to dedicate ourselves, our souls and bodies and our resources and whatever else this new and emerging Church has to give towards its accomplishment. 

So, don’t ask me if I think the Church is declining.  I categorically do not think that.

However, I do think a church is declining.  

But if you then ask me if the electrifying mission of God is alive, then I’d show you a resurrected church, and a new heaven and a new earth.  And I have to tell you that that’s what gets me up in the morning with optimism and with a full heart of gratitude for the Diocese of Niagara.  Because that is the direction in which we are very consciously travelling – to listen for where God is working and to run to catch up.

We in Niagara are called to life and compelled to love; ignited by the irresistible love of Jesus and renewed by the Holy Spirit.

To my ears, that sounds like the mandate of faith.

Thanks be to God.

The Rt. Rev. Susan Bell

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South Sudan note from the Amman primates meeting

Fri, 17/01/2020 - 01:19

Archbishop Justin Badi Arama of South Sudan writes: “I am currently in Jordan with other Primates from the Anglican Communion. We visited the Greek Orthodox Church, on the bank of River Jordan, today and our visit was graced by King Abdullah II of Jordan.”

The post South Sudan note from the Amman primates meeting appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Report from the Archbishop of Burundi on the Amman Primates Meeting

Fri, 17/01/2020 - 01:12

The Primates of the Anglican Communion met in Jordan from 13 to 15th January 2020 for the pre-Lambeth Conference on the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem hosted this great meeting in which Primates of 33 Provinces of the Communion attended, 7 were absents. It was the first time for 12 Primates to attend this meeting.

The Primates reaffirmed their commitment to evangelism. The climate change was also on the agenda. According to the Anglican Primates, the climate change is not a future threat but a present and lived reality in many parts of the world. They reaffirmed to work together despite the complexities they face

The post Report from the Archbishop of Burundi on the Amman Primates Meeting appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Church pleas for help following Philippine volcano eruption

Thu, 16/01/2020 - 02:37

Church leaders in Manila have urged parishes to hold special collections at worship services this weekend to help the victims of the Taal volcano eruption. On 14 Jan 2020 the government of President Rodrigo Duterte urged the “total evacuation” of nearly a million people living near the volcano that is situated approximately 35 southwest of Manila. 

Ash plumes almost nine miles high have risen from the smoldering volcano. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has warned that an “explosive eruption” could be imminent. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that about 459,000 people lived within a 9 mile radius around the volcano while more than 930,000 people lived on a broader 11 mile “danger zone.”

“There was a time when Taal volcano erupted for six months,” Joselito Castro, head of the Batangas Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, told UCA News. “We are preparing for at least half of that time as a worst-case scenario,” he added.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle issued a pastoral letter requesting that a second collection be taken at all Masses in support of refugees fleeing the volcano. On Facebook the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Philippines reported on relief efforts amongst the Episcopal churches in the danger zone.

What’s Up: Update as of January 14, 2019, 6pm

After launching a campaign for immediate relief and financial support for those most affected by the Taal Volcano eruption on January 12, 2020, The Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines shares to you the following:

1). St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, (our base) in Crossing Mendez Tagaytay City (back of Jollibee) is currently taking care of 8 families (34 individuals) who evacuated from the eruption and are now housed in our Church Rectory. This number may increase in the next 24 hours as their relatives together with some neighbours are transferring from other evacuation centers to our Church. Sagada Construction is helping out in moving evacuees and at the same time fetching water for sanitary needs.

2). Christ the Lord Episcopal Church (Sinisian, West ot Lemery, Batangas) in Sitio Ilaya, where the Church is located, there are around 40 families (315 individuals) who sought shelter with relatives on higher ground while others were housed at the Balayan, National High School.

3). Balayan National High School considered as the center of evacuation for the neighboring towns of Agoncillo, Calaca and Lemery.

As of 9:00am January 14, 2020, there are 192 families being housed there (more or less 700 individuals).

In trying to prioritize their immediate/basic needs we came up with the following things:

• Food has to be cooked (we need vegetables/healthy foods to prepare)

• Drinking water is still a need, but we needed more

• Beddings, banig, kumot, at unan

• Clothes

• Tents

• Safe lamps (no electricity yet)

• Face masks

• Kitchen utensils, and more importantly

• Sanitary kits for women and children

4). For CASH donations:

BANK name:

The Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines or EDCP

a. BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS peso account: 3891-0009-94; US dollar: 003894-0036-84 swift code BOPIPHMM

b. Chinabank peso account: 223-0097810.

Kindly inform us your remittances via fb messenger or email at edcpbishop@gmail.com togethèr with a copy of deposit slip or screen shot of your fund transfer for issuance of official receipt.

5). In kind donations may be brought to The Cathedral of St. Mary & St. John (275 E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave. Quezon City – beside St Luke’s Medical Center and Trinity University of Asia) look for Fr James Boliget or at Brent International School (Mamplasan, Binan Laguna) look for Padi Mary Balitog.

For friends who are capable to bring their donations to the evacuation centers (St Barnabas Church in Tagaytay or Balayan National High School, Batangas) kindly contact

Fr. Joe Medina at

Smart 09217009195

Globe 09156137496

for PROPER coordination and guidance po.

May the Good Lord bless you in abundance!

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