A weekly roundup of Anglican Communion news plus opinion, reviews, photos, profiles and other things of interest from across the Anglican/Episcopal world.
This edition includes...
[Global] Communion clergy holiday house-swap service to be extended to laity.
By ACNS staff
An online service that helps Anglican Communion clergy take affordable holidays by house-swapping is being opened up to Anglican Church lay ministry employees on a trial basis this year.
EVEnetOnline is the online presence of the Episcopal Vacation Exchange Network that has been facilitating the exchange of homes among Anglican/Episcopal clergy on a not-for-profit basis since 1981 under the volunteer leadership of several clergy. The Rev. Ken Howard, rector (and founding vicar) St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Germantown, Maryland, and author of a new book (Paradoxy: Creating Christian Community Beyond Us and Them), took the leadership of in 2003 and created the EVEnetOnline website early in 2004.
EVEnet is operated entirely online. Participants submit an e-mail application form which describes their family, their homes, and their vacation plans. These descriptions are consolidated into a single online newsletter, the link to which will be e-mailed to all participants. Participants then contact each other directly to negotiate vacation plans.
"EVEnet has been a God-send to many clergy people whose salaries might not otherwise permit them to take vacations involving significant travel," said the Rev. Howard.
He explained that the initiative is taking full advantage of social media with a both a Twitter account http://www.twitter.com/EVEnetTW and a Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/EVEnetOnline. The hope is that these channels will help counter the slight drop in people offering their homes for exchange this year and that, ultimately, more and more members of the Communion will hear about the scheme and join in.
"The EVEnet Online Vacation Exchange Newsletter is now open for viewing by those who have submitted proposed Vacation Home Exchanges in 2011," he said. "The reason we are opening the online listings a little later than usual is that applications have been arriving more slowly this year than in previous years (probably due to continuing economic uncertainties.) It took until January 1 to get a sufficient number of listings to open the exchange. Still, we would all benefit from additional listings, so please pass along information on EVEnet to your colleagues around the worldwide Anglican Communion.
[Ireland] Church of Ireland bishop preaches in RC churches for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2011
This week, the Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, Bishop of Meath & Kildare and President of the Irish Council of Churches spoke at St Peter’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Belfast, and St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Armagh. He did so as part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an annual event in which many Christians become more aware of the great diversity of ways of adoring God.
Hearts are touched, and people realize that their neighbours' ways are not so different. Traditionally celebrated between 18-25 January (in the northern hemisphere) or at Pentecost (in the southern hemisphere), the Week of Prayer affects congregations and parishes all over the world. Pulpits are exchanged, and special ecumenical worship services are arranged.
In his sermon, Bishop Clarke called for greater ecumenical sharing in the celebration of Baptism, studying the Word of God and in pastoral care, both ordained and lay.
Extracts from Bishop Clarke’s address:
‘It is not advanced psychology to say that people will not willingly change - will not move – unless they are deeply and sincerely dissatisfied with where they are and there seems to be no alternative but to leave where they are. We have to ask the question on an evening like this as to whether we are satisfied with where we stand at present, as splintered traditions within the Body of Christ, whose witness to the country in which we live is undoubtedly being compromised and even demeaned by our disunity. If we are satisfied with where we are, then the basic integrity of an occasion such as this is most called into the most serious question.
‘…Virtually all the Christian traditions that have a sacramental tradition recognise the baptism of other traditions as being baptism into the One Body of Christ, and hence something which transcends the limitations of our own particular tradition of the Church … Would a statement of the deepest of all unity not be made if at the celebration of baptism in one particular tradition (in other words even on occasions where we were not speaking of parents belonging to different traditions), members of other Christian traditions were there by proper and official invitation to celebrate the event, representing the wider Church, so that the reality of the entire Body of Christ was symbolised in the celebration? It clearly could not be a feature of every baptism in every church building, but if we believe (as indeed we claim to believe in our creeds) in One Baptism, here is an opportunity to proclaim a unity that we already have in Christ.
‘We [should] make it a principle, so far as we can, that as Christians we will not study the Word of God in denominational isolation from one another, separate from members of other Christian traditions. No Christian tradition owns the Word of God, and no Christian tradition has a monopoly on the right interpretation of the Word of God. All of us are called to sit humbly under the judgment of the Word. Surely we are called to sit together under the Word of God. There are indeed bible study groups that are ecumenical in scope, but this should be the only type of group that studies the Scriptures in fellowship.
‘…There is another step that we should be able to take structurally as well as haphazardly … pastoral care of others in the name of Christ. …There is, I am sure, no priest or pastor of any tradition, who has not felt moved and humbled when asked directly to give a blessing to a Christian of another tradition, whether in a hospital ward or in a place of bereavement or even in a friend’s house. …[Can we ] take the simple step of committing pastoral care of some people to those of different Christian tradition that their own. It is not an anomaly when it happens. It should be both common sense and good ecumenism. The pastoral care of God’s people (and by that I mean all God’s people, both inside and outside the man-made walls of the institutional Church) should never be restricted in any way. It can certainly be made more effective.’
Bishop Clarke concluded, ‘…The only motivation, the only dynamic for our moving out into an ecumenical future that will be an adventure rather than a duty, is love, the love of God for each one of us and, in response to that perfect love, our true love for one another.’
[USA & India] First ever Order of the Daughters of the King group established in India.
By Grace Sears, President of The Order of the Daughters of the King
The first chapter of The Order of the Daughters of the King in India was instituted in the Diocese of Durgapur (Church of North India) at the end of last year. The Order of the Daughters of the King is an association of women founded in the Episcopal Church in 1885. More than 20,000 Daughters in the US and more than 2,500 in other countries have taken vows to pray daily, serve, witness, and wear the cross of Christ their King.
Seven women took their vows at St. Michael’s, an English-speaking church in the diocesan compound of The Rt. Rev. Probal Kanto Dutta. Shawnee Irwin, of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, had begun the 12-chapter study guide with them in February, and St. Michael’s priest, the Rev. Swagata Das, shepherded the women through the rest of their study.
The Daughters of Faith at St. Michael’s are noteworthy not only because they are the first known Daughters of the King chapter to form in India in the Order’s 126-year history, but also because the chapter originated in the companion relationship between the Diocese of Durgapur and the Diocese of Western North Carolina. At the Rt. Rev. Porter Taylor’s request, the Rev. Clara Berry had e-mailed bishops across the Anglican Communion, looking for a diocese that did not already have a companion and would be interested in forming a relationship with Western North Carolina. Bishop Prabol Dutta responded almost immediately. The Rev. Ann Fritschner, who accompanied Bishop Taylor and Deacon Clara on an exploratory visit to Durgapur in 2005, was especially impressed with the women there. She suggested that her diocese could share the ministry of the Daughters of the King with the women of Durgapur.
When Bishop Dutta visited North Carolina, Deacon Annie introduced him to the chapter at St. Phillips, Brevard, where she was serving. Bishop Dutta then suggested forming a chapter at St. Michael’s, Durgapur, and the Rev. Swagata Das, St. Michael’s priest, brought a group together, including Rita Dutta, the bishop’s wife. Shawnee Irwin, a Daughter from the St. Monica Chapter in Brevard, volunteered to travel to Durgapur in January 2010 and begin the 12-chapter study with the interested women at St. Michael’s. Another Daughter, the Rev. Janet Echols, flew over from Pune, India, to meet with them also.
This fall [Autumn] the women at St. Michael’s completed their study, applied for a charter, and took their vows. At the end of January Shawnee Irwin will present the Daughters of Faith charter to the Rev. Swagata Das and Bishop Dutta at the annual thanksgiving service of the Durgapur diocese, where attendance is expected to be three or four thousand.
Durgapur is an industrial city of approximately 500,000 known for steel production; the population of the region is primarily Hindu, with a significant number of tribal peoples, who are typically animists. Bishop Dutta maintains an active outreach ministry among the tribal groups.
Grace Sears, PhD, is the current president of The Order of the Daughters of the King. The Order’s business office is located in Woodstock, Georgia; the website is http://www.doknational.com.
The Mission to Seafarer's Flying Angel a lifeline for sailors stuck out at sea
The Flying Angel is a vessel built and funded by charitable gift. It’s purpose is to provide seafarers at anchor off the coast of Fujairah, UAE, with vital contact with family and friends. The Flying Angel project was conceived by The Rev’d. Stephen Miller Director of the Mission to Seafarers (MTS) in Dubai, UAE - an organisation that cares for seafarers regardless of race or religion in over 300 ports around the world. Around 95% percent of all world trade is transported by sea, which in turn depends on the seafarers who crew the world’s fleet. In the UAE however, over 99.3% of all goods arrive by ship
Launched 28th February 2007 by England's HRH Prince Charles, Motor Vessel Flying Angel (M/V Flying Angel) now gives comfort to thousands of seafarers who often go through long periods of isolation, loneliness and separation from their families in order to bring us the goods we depend upon in our daily lives at home and at work. We depend upon seafarers in our daily lives, help us to support them
Watch a BBC video about the work of the Flying Angel here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-10751921
Some good news out of Egypt's bad news
By Rev. Canon Paul-Gordon Chandler on Episcopal News Service
Many Americans have heard of the recent terrorist suicide bombing at a church here in Egypt. In the midst of this tragedy and resulting tensions, there are some hopeful signs that are often not presented in the media's coverage.
On New Year's Day, just after midnight, a bomb exploded outside a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, just as worshipers were beginning to leave the church. Twenty-one were instantly killed (four others died later) and more than 90 were seriously wounded.
Since last October, al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq have threatened to attack churches in Egypt. Despite increased security by Egyptian police at the more than 3,000 churches in Egypt, it is humanly impossible to prevent ill-intentioned incidents like that in Alexandria on New Year's Day.
Following the bombing, many frustrated Egyptian Christians across the country took to the streets in anger and significant violence.
Many already sense they are discriminated against as a minority in Egypt's majority Muslim country. And due to the various incidents of attacks on Christians in the past few years, and the general economic crisis, all this frustration finally erupted with this recent attack.
Church leaders were greatly distressed by the violence and anger expressed by mobs of Christians around the country and worked hard to calm this reaction, pointing out that it is against the spirit of forgiveness and peace of Christ. The majority of Muslims have expressed deep sorrow about what happened in Alexandria.
Last Thursday, the night of Feast of the Epiphany (January 6), when Coptic Christians across Egypt celebrated Eastern Christmas, while many people were afraid, church attendance this year was most probably greater than ever before. Amazingly, there is a considerable movement throughout Egypt among Muslims to stand in solidarity with the Christians at this time, and many Muslims therefore attended the services with Christians, to show unity with them and to send a message to terrorists that if they attack churches they will be harming Muslims as well as Christians. Also, hundreds of Muslim government officials were at Coptic churches last Thursday.
To help give some context, the Christian minority (up to 12 percent) in Egypt is unique in that it represents a remnant of the original Egyptians (descendents of the pharaohs) and traces their heritage to the gospel writer St. Mark, the first bishop of Alexandria. While many Christians in Egypt are slum dwellers or poor villagers, numerous Christian business persons have thrived and it is estimated that they now control nearly 30 percent of Egypt's wealth.
In spite of the great difficulty in getting permission to build new churches, dozens of new church buildings are opened every year and churches are flourishing with growing numbers of weekly worshippers. While Christians in Egypt experience hardship as a minority or often feel that they are "second class" citizens, they are nevertheless a thriving community. One of the primary challenges at this time is the escalating tension within the country between the vocal advocates of an Islamic State and the majority moderate Muslims and Christians who are working peacefully within the present legal system for a more balanced democracy which respects human rights for all. In response to this tragedy, coalitions are being formed between the faith communities and actions are being planned to seek ways to increase solidarity, to bring greater peace to the nation and to ensure full citizenship be applied to all Egyptians.
As a mission partner of the Episcopal Church, serving here within the Episcopal Diocese of Egypt & North Africa, we personally feel very safe. This last weekend our church, St. John's Church, had many machined-gunned security forces in front of it that have been sent by the government to protect our church, for which we are grateful.
Times such as these remind us of one of the main reasons we are here in Cairo, to build bridges of peace, understanding and friendship between Muslims and Christians through our work at St. John's and all its various interfaith projects.
In the wake of this suicide bombing, we will be hosting in February 2011 our interfaith CARAVAN Festival of the Arts, bringing together 45 premier Arab and Western artists -- with the goal of building bridges between Muslims and Christians, through the visual arts, literature, film and music. It will be held our church, St. John's, and officially opened by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar in Cairo, Sheik Ahmed el Tayeb, the intellectual and spiritual heart of Sunni Islam, and Reza Aslan, the New York Times best-selling author. For more information visit: www.oncaravan.org.
-- The Rev. Canon Paul-Gordon Chandler, mission partner with the Episcopal Church, is an author, Episcopal priest, and interfaith advocate serving as the Rector of St. John's Church in Cairo (www.maadichurch.org / www.paulgordonchandler.com).
PUBLICATION OF THE WEEK
Church & Society in Asia Today • Vol 13 No 2 • August 2010
Christian Responses to Islam: A Struggle for the Soul of Christianity
By John Azumah
One of the crucial issues facing Christians today is finding the right balance in our response to Islam and engagement with Muslims. The quest for an appropriate Christian response to Islam has sadly polarized Christians along “evangelical” versus “ecumenical”, “truth” versus “grace”, “tough” versus “soft” or “confrontational” versus “conciliatory” lines. Christians accuse each other of spreading fear about Islam and engendering hostility towards Muslims (Islamophobia) on the one hand, and naïvely going soft on and becoming apologists for Islam (Islamophilia) on the other. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq war, the Madrid bombings, 7/7, etc, the division amongst Christians has deepened. But this division regarding a Christian approach to Islam is as old as Islam itself. Kate Zebiri chronicles the different approaches down the centuries and makes the point that In contrast to the Muslim view of Christianity, in the absence of any clear scriptural mandate there has never been, and there in the nature of things never could be, a unified or official Christian attitude towards Islam… Paradoxically, the lack of specific scriptural restraints accounts in part for both the greater virulence of Christian anti-Islamic polemic in the medieval period, and the greater flexibility and openness in the contemporary period.
Reflecting on the post 9/11 and 7/7 situation of Christian responses to Islam, Joseph Cumming talks of a titanic struggle, a struggle not between Muslims and Christians, Christian Responses to Islam: A Struggle for the Soul of Christianity a struggle not between Islam and the West, but “a struggle within Christianity itself, a struggle for the soul of the Christian faith”.
Cumming suggests that Islam per se is not necessarily the greatest challenge facing Christians today, but rather how Christians choose to respond to Islam. One of the biggest sources of the misunderstanding and mudslinging amongst Christians regarding an approach to Islam and engagement with Muslims is that Islam is often spoken about and presented as a monolithic entity. It is common to read or hear statements like, “Islam says or teaches X, Y, Z”; “Islam does not permit or teach X, Y, Z”. Such statements are rather misleading as they assume that there is one unified system of belief called “Islam”.
The Anglican Story in Ghana - From Mission beginnings to province of Ghana
The Anglican Church, by virtue of being the Christian communion most closely tied to the colonial history of the West Africa sub continent, could be said to be the oldest historic mission ecclesial body within the region. Emeritus Professor Canon John Samuel Pobee's work The Anglican Story in Ghana is the only published full length monograph of Ghanaian Anglicanism since Church of England missionaries first set foot on the soils of the then Gold Coast in the middle of the 18th century. It is a historical account that features insights into the work and activities of the various dioceses of the Anglican Church including their contributions to education, social evangelism and education in particular. Each chapter is illustrated with pictures of key personnel dating back to the colonial era.
ANGLICAN CYCLE OF PRAYER Click here for the full ACP
Psalm: 24: 1-6 Eph. 6: 10-24
Long Island - (Province II, USA) The Rt Revd Lawrence Provenzano
Psalm: 98: 1-4 Isa. 45: 9-13
Los Angeles - (Province VIII, USA) The Rt Revd Joseph Jon Bruno
1. Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles - (Province VIII, USA) The Rt Revd Mary D Glasspool
2. Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles - (Province VIII, USA) The Rt Revd Diane Jardine Bruce
Sunday 23-Jan-2011 The Epiphany 3
Psalm: 34: 4-10 I Cor. 1: 1-9
Louisiana - (Province IV, USA) The Rt Revd Maurice Thompson
Psalm: 34: 11-18 I Cor. 1: 10-25
Luapula - (Central Africa) The Rt Revd Robert Mumbi
Tuesday 25-Jan-2011 The Conversion of St Paul Ecumenical
Psalm: 33: 12-14,19-end I Cor. 1: 26-2:5
PRAY for the ordering of our life together, that in all things we may show the glory of God.
Psalm: 145: 10-17 I Cor. 2: 6-16
Lucknow - (North India) The Rt Revd Anil R Stephen
Psalm: 62 I Cor. 3: 1-9
Lui - (Sudan) The Rt Revd
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Disclaimer: The Weekly Review is a summary of news, information and resources gathered from around the Anglican Communion over the past week. The views expressed in Weekly Review do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Anglican Communion Office.