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...
Beating gambling at its own game
Jenny Barrett, Courtney Alderson and Katrina McLachlan in The Guardian (NB: large file size pdf)
Anglicare has employed two new gambling service counsel-lors to help people overcome their compulsion in a supportive, friendly environment.
Chris Reynolds and Francisco Rivas, who both hold Masters Degrees, have joined Anglicare, one of only a few organisations providing gambling services in South Australia.
Christine Bell, Manager of Salisbury Services, says gambling counselling is a highly specialised field. “Gambling counselling is a relatively young industry, only 15 years old,” she said. “Drug and alcohol counselling is well established over many decades, with many therapeutic inter-ventions being well tested and researched.” Christine says many people in the community don’t see gam-bling as a social problem, as it has often been seen as part of our recreational history. For a large percentage of people in our com-munity this can be so, however others see the opportunity to win ‘large’ amounts of money which they believe can enhance their lives in many ways. “Gambling can become a problem for people, and this is usually seen around the time when it stops being fun,” Christine said.
“Many gamblers find it hard to control the time and money spent on gambling. “Part of the counselling is to find out what the client is look-ing for when they go into the gambling venue. Some go in with the expectation of losing a certain amount - problem gamblers go in expecting to win.” Once the motivation to gamble has been established the process of addressing the issues under-pinning the gambling activities and finding alternative activities begins. The problem is not just expecting to win on that occasion but also the need to win back or “chasing” prior losses.
Problem gamblers are often chasing losses to get their money back and when this does not happen they can feel desperate and guilty about it. Christine says only a small per-centage of people experiencing problems seek professional help. Many clients have to ‘hit rock bottom’ or come close to it before they will seek help. The main reasons why gam-blers do not seek professional help are the social stigma as-sociated with having a problem, denial of a problem and people believing they can handle the problem themselves.
A national interdenominational gambling group has recently been established as a result of Church communities’ concern about the increased use of poker machines. In light of a recent survey showing that 30 per cent of regular (weekly) poker machine gamblers either have an existing gambling problem or are at high risk of problematic gambling be-haviour, the Australian Churches’ Gambling Taskforce is lobbying for a gambling pre-commitment system to be put in place.
According to Chair of South Australia Heads of Churches’ Gambling Task-force, Helen Carrig, for every person that has a gambling problem there is one child directly affected and four or five other people affected. “The Anglican and Uniting Churches have been major providers of gambling rehabilitation since 1995,” Helen said.
“Gambling problems exists across every section of society and many people in the Church have been affected,” Helen said.The Churches’ Gambling Task-force is providing a clear national voice as part of the current de-bate regarding the establishment of gambling pre-commitment programs. The pre-commitment system would require every gambler to use a device with data memory capacity, to activate a poker machine. According to Helen Carrig a gambling pre-commitment scheme would include limites on gambling that were pre-set by the gambler and could not be increased with less than 24 hours notice.
"It is preferred that once the pre-set limit is reached no further play is possible on any poker machine in the territory," Helen said.
"A crucial element of any pre-commitment scheme, from churches' perspective, is that the scheme must be mandatory in that all machines in Australia have the capacity for pre-commitment and all gamblers are required to use a device with pre-commitment capacity in order to gamble."
It is vitally important that local communities and churches are heard in this debate. Reports suggest that the gambling industry is implementing a $20 million campaign against gambling pre-commitment.
Community and church groups are recognising that pre-commitment provides greater consumer protection and can also help poker machine players from sliding towards more problematic gambling. One way to do this is to join the postcard campaign (the second in a year). The free cards are addressed to the Prime Minister and only require a postage stamp and the address of the sender.
To obtain postcards contact Mark Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0404067011.
Further information about the Australian Churches' Gambling Taskforce can be obtained from www.getup.org.au/campaign/Un-Australian
In Qatar, faith communities grow through service of Anglican center
By Matthew Davies, May 12, 2011
[Episcopal News Service] A video accompanying this article is available here.
It's early Friday evening in Qatar and the Islamic call to prayer echoes throughout the capital city Doha, but it's not just the Muslim community that is preparing for worship.
In a section of Doha, in an expanding development that has come to be known as Church City, thousands of Christian migrant workers worship freely with the blessing of the Qatari authorities.
Christianity in this Islamic state was once an underground religion, but today it thrives, thanks in part to people like the Rev. Bill Schwartz, an Anglican priest and an Episcopal Church missionary.
In one part of Church City, Schwartz is overseeing the construction of an Anglican Centre. More than 10,000 Protestant Christians from 37 denominations already worship in the Angican Centre and many more are waiting for space to become available.
"What we're establishing, not only in the building but in our presence here, in our relationships, and in the image of Christianity that the local people have – is what will be the foundation for the relationships of Christians and Muslims in this country for the next 50 or 60 years," Schwartz told ENS. "It's a great privilege, it's a great responsibility, but certainly we're seeing God's blessing and we're all rejoicing."
The Roman Catholics, the Syrian Orthodox and a group of Indian churches have already completed their buildings in Church City. Meanwhile, the Coptic Orthodox, Greek Orthodox and the Anglicans continue to make good progress, Schwartz said.
Until recently, Qatar was seen as a purely Islamic country, but as new leadership tapped vast natural gas resources, economic development exploded. The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, knowing that such development brings migrant labor and different faith traditions, provided the land for Church City.
The emir is widely supported for using Qatar's national wealth for the good of the country's people – for developing infrastructure, healthcare and education.
Qatar is now ranked as the richest country in the world per capita, yet the vast majority of the Christians living in the country come from developing countries and work for low wages in the construction or service industry, Schwartz explained. He continues to interact with the government on their behalf.
"We all appreciate the encouragement we receive from the government to establish the presence of the Christian community in this country through the building of churches, even though none of the citizens of Qatar are Christians," said Schwartz. "Even so, there are hundreds of thousands of Christians who have found employment and have made a life here, and our churches are overflowing."
On most days of the week the Anglican Centre is used for worship or other religious events such as Bible study and youth activities. But on Friday -- the day of worship in Islamic countries, and the one day of the week most people have off from work -- the center comes alive with a strictly timed roster of worshipping congregations from various Christian traditions, including those from Africa, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Ministry to children is also an essential service of the center, with rooms specially designed to accommodate Sunday school, known as Friday school in this context. One African pastor explained how, until the Anglican Centre opened, the children had to meet outside in the desert heat and dust.
Schwartz, who also serves as archdeacon of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, is committed to ensuring that the Anglican Centre runs like clockwork. But he also gives thanks for a committed team and he says he is well aware of the need to delegate and to encourage new leaders throughout the community.
Even so, there are certain roles that only Schwartz can fulfill. He is one of only two priests currently licensed to perform Christian weddings in Qatar. As such, preparing couples for the lifelong commitment of marriage is an important ministry and Schwartz has performed 104 weddings in just over two-and-a-half years.
Schwartz is widely respected for his ministry in Qatar and his 38 years of service in the Middle East as a whole. It's a ministry for which in 2007 he was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, an award bestowed on individuals by the British sovereign.
Schwartz also ministers to his own congregation, the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, which continues to meet in a school gymnasium until ample space becomes available at the Anglican Centre. The congregation includes about 600 people and forms part of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf.
"We have the most international congregation I have ever seen in the Church of the Epiphany," said Schwartz. "The incredible cooperation between Christians across the whole Pentecostal-evangelical-traditional spectrum in funding and building this church is a testimony to a kind of Christian unity not seen in many places in this world."
Construction began at the Anglican Centre in August 2008, but the building is still only one-third complete and the project needs $5 million. Despite the wealth of the nation and its tolerance towards Christianity, it would be deemed unethical in the eyes of the Islamic authorities for Qatari citizens to back the center financially, so fundraising by local Christians is essential.
Jaywant Michael, a member of the Epiphany congregation who serves on the finance committee for the building project, said: "Even though it's called the Anglican Centre, it's actually for the entire community here. It gives us a clear identity and a presence in this place. We need to be thankful that we are able to worship in this place quite freely."
An additional 23 denominations are looking for worship space, and Schwartz knows of many more Christians who may want to use the center in the future.
"It is really important to show the local people that Christianity is not a Western religion, but Christianity is a global religion," said the Rev. Jebaraj Devasagayam, who recently came from the Church of South India to assist Schwartz with his pastoral responsibilities in Qatar.
Devasagayam also leads one of the newest communities at the Anglican Centre, a Tamil congregation.
"When I came to Doha thinking that I am going to worship in an Anglican church I didn't ever imagine half of the variety we have here," he said. "It shows 16 million colors."
-- Matthew Davies is editor and international correspondent of the Episcopal News Service.
The yawning divide between pencils and iPads
By Tom Ehrich, Religion News Service
In preparing a commencement address this week, I decided to write it on my new Apple iPad, sitting on a sofa beside a window, using an app called Quickoffice. Big deal, you say. But, think about it.
A month ago, I didn't own an iPad. I had never heard of Quickoffice. I had never imagined that a touch-screen keyboard could be satisfying. I carried 20 pounds of gear, files and books onto an airplane; now I tote around a 1.3-pound iPad.
In one month's time, everything has changed.
What's the point? The point is change -- rapid change, change in even the most basic functions we perform, like stringing words into sentences. New gear, new media, new ways to express thoughts, to store and process images, share ideas, collaborate with others, and manage time. Of all the current tools I use in my work, only one -- a mechanical pencil -- was in my toolkit a year ago.
Is it all about gadgets? Not in the least. I read this week about a family that sold their property in Arizona and now just travel around in a Winnebago, doing their jobs by Internet and laptops. Others live and work on boats or run businesses from coffee shops.
My list: no car, no checkbook, no landline telephone, no lawn mower. Much that I considered normal a few years ago isn't even part of my life now.
Churches are forming without buildings, pipe organs, stained glass windows, pews or wood-paneled offices. Bricks-and-mortar universities are moving online. Even dating has moved online.
The point isn't to extol technology, but to note that most of these changes will seem normal any day now. Former ways, it turns out, weren't essential. We want to fall in love, yes, but whether we do so at a church social, company picnic, group meetup, or Match.com is just a detail.
We need to eat, but whether we shop at a corner market, a huge Costco or online grocery is just a detail.
We need to have faith, but whether we find it in a building with a steeple, a house church, or walking with a friend is just a detail.
A divide is opening between those who still consider the details of yesterday's normal to be necessary and those who perceive the details as optional. When something is necessary, you fight to preserve it. When it becomes optional, letting go is no big deal.
Church buildings, for example, feel like sacred space and a solemn trust to some people, who sacrifice much to preserve them. Others say, "So what? We can worship in a hotel ballroom, meet at Starbucks, study online, and find the sacred anywhere." The point is faith, not facilities.
Sorting out these two perspectives is wrenching work, filled with misunderstanding, suspicion of motives, loss of employment, loss of certainty, loss of common ground for imagining basic things.
These deep divides aren't about age or maturity, education or income, or intangibles like respect. It's more disposition than anything. It's like the gulf between ranchers and farmers a century ago over need for fences: there are elements of self-interest, but also different ways of seeing history, land, values and future.
The obvious answer is to coexist: some using pencils, some iPads. But when so much is changing, and details are in constant dispute, the bonds of community can get strained.
-- Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of "Just Wondering, Jesus" and founder of the Church Wellness Project. His website is www.morningwalkmedia.com. Follow Tom on Twitter@tomehrich.
PUBLICATION OF THE WEEK
Anglican Communion music
Why not check out the Anglican Church Music web site at http://www.churchmusic.org.uk/. This site aims to be a central source of information for Anglican and Episcopal church and cathedral music, with resources for church musicians, singers, congregation members, or anyone around the Anglican Communion who enjoys this kind of music. Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, USA and many more Provinces are included. Is yours?
Learn more about ministry in The Anglican Church of Burundi
The folks in Burundi have posted a introductory video explaining the life and ministry of the church and its members on its website here www.anglicanburundi.org and you can see other videos on its youTube channel here http://www.youtube.com/user/EABBurundi#p/u
Fourth video in healthy congregation series features Long Island congregation
By Episcopal News Service staff, May 11, 2011
St. Jude's Episcopal Church in Wantagh, Long Island, USA, once experienced declining membership and dwindling resources, but today it is growing and reflects its local community, according to a press release from the Office of Public Affairs.
The church is featured in the fourth of five videos in the "Transforming Churches, Changing the World" series produced by the Episcopal Church’s Office of Communication. [The video is available on the Episcopal Church website and on the church's Facebook page.]
Working together, the congregation was "deliberate and very strategic in wanting to bring about positive change and long-reaching vision," said the Rev. Bob Honeychurch, the Episcopal Church's officer for congregational vitality, according to the release.
The church was founded in 1956, "a time on Long Island when every community had an Episcopal church," explains the Rev. Christopher Hofer, St. Jude's rector.
Hofer says in the video that when he began as St. Jude's rector in July 2004 the first thing that struck him was the lack of children in church, despite many youngsters living throughout the community. Today, he notes that "incremental changes" have transformed St. Jude's into a welcoming church with "joyful liturgy" along with many programs, described by Hofer as "kid-centered, adult friendly," the release explains.
The purpose of the "Transforming Churches, Changing the World" video series is to present identifying characteristics of healthy churches with a focus on ministry and outreach, the release said.
Previous videos are available here and feature Christ Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix, Arizona; and St. Paul and the Redeemer in Chicago, Illinois.
God is not a Christian - And Other Provocations by Desmond Tutu
A New Book 'God is Not a Christian' by Nobel Prize Winner and International Humanitarian, Desmond Tutu, is an Essential Collection of Historic Speeches and Writings. Biographer John Allen collects the Archbishop Desmond Tutu's most profound, controversial, and historic words in this inspiring anthology of speeches, interviews, and sermons that have rocked the world. God Is Not a Christian is perfect for anyone moved by Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech or Nelson Mandela’s stirring autobiography Conversations with Myself, brilliantly connecting readers with the courageous and much-needed moral vision that continues to change countless lives around the globe.
Desmond Tutu has become one of the greatest moral voices of our time. In his new book, God is Not A Christian, an essential collection of his most historic speeches and writings, we witness his unique career of provoking the powerful and confronting the world in order to protect the oppressed, the poor, and the victims of injustice.
Tutu first won renown for his courageous opposition to apartheid in South Africa, but his ministry soon took on international dimensions. Rooted in his faith and in the values embodied in the African spirit of ubuntu, Tutu’s uncompromising vision of a shared humanity has compelled him to speak out, even in the face of violent opposition and virulent criticism, against political injustice and oppression, religious fundamentalism, and the persecution of minorities.
Arranged by theme and introduced with insight and historical context by Tutu biographer John Allen, God is Not a Christian: and Other Provocations (HarperOne, May 2011; ISBN 978–0–06–187462–8; $23.99) takes readers from the violent clashes in South Africa over Apartheid to the healing work of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee; from Trafalgar Square after the fall of the Berlin Wall to a nationally broadcast address commemorating the legacy of Nelson Mandela; from Dublin, Ireland’s Christ Church Cathedral to a basketball stadium in Luanda, Angola. Whether exploring democracy in Africa, the genocide in Rwanda, black theology, the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church, or the plight of Palestinians, Tutu’s truth is clear and voice unflinching.
In a world of suffering and conflict, where human laws all too often clash with the law of God, Tutu’s hopeful, timeless messages become more needed and powerful with each passing year. The strength of principle found in this collection can inspire younger generations of every stripe to pick up Tutu’s mantle. God is not a Christian invites us to participate, to engage the spirit of ubuntu, because “without us, God has no eyes; without us, God has no ears; without us God has no arms or hands. God relies on us.”
Desmond Mpilo Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. In 1986, he was elected Archbishop of Cape Town, the highest position in the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, and in 2009 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. Tutu serves as Chairman of the Elders, a group of global leaders who campaign for justice and human rights worldwide.
John Allen is the managing editor of allAfrica.com and has served as director of communications of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The author of the Tutu biography Rabble-Rouser for Peace, he lives in Cape Town.
ANGLICAN CYCLE OF PRAYER Click here for the full ACP
Psalm: 78:56-64 Exod. 15:1-19
Nnewi - (Province of the Niger, Nigeria) The Rt Revd Dr. Godwin Izundu Nmezinwa Okpala
Sunday 15-May-2011 Easter 4
Psalm: 78:65-72 Exod. 15:20-27
North Carolina - (Province IV, USA) The Rt Revd Michael Bruce Curry
Suffragan Bishop of North Carolina - (Province IV, USA) The Rt Revd James Gary Gloster
South Carolina - (Province IV, USA) The Rt Revd Mark Lawrence
Psalm: 45:1-4,6-7 Rev. 1:9-16
North Central Philippines - (Philippines) The Rt Revd Joel A Pachao
Psalm: 18:1-6 Rev. 2:8-11
North Eastern Caribbean & Aruba - (West Indies) The Rt Revd Leroy Errol Brooks
Psalm: 18:7-12 Rev. 2:12-17
North Kerala - (South India) The Rt Revd Dr K P Kuruvila
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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.