A weekly roundup of Anglican Communion news plus opinion, reviews, photos, profiles and other things of interest from across the Anglican/Episcopal world.
Show your support for persecuted Anglicans in Zimbabwe
USPG, the Mothers' Union and other global Anglican and Episcopal groups are encouraging their members to visit a new Facebook page set up to support Anglicans in Zimbabwe who are facing persecution from a pro-Mugabe excommunicated bishop. Go to Facebook page to join more than 800 people around the world who have said that they are standing with Anglicans in Zimbabwe.
This edition includes...
Full agenda published for July 2011 General Synod sessions in York
From the Church of England press office
When the Church of England’s ‘parliament’, the General Synod, meets at York University from 8 to 12 July members will reflect together on sharing Good News for the world today. Key debates will centre on the Church’s role in education, its work in multi-faith areas, and relations with other churches.
Other subjects include the impact of higher education changes on training for the ministry and the involvement of minority ethnic Anglicans in the Church’s ministry and structures.
Sharing Good News for the World Today
The new Synod elected in 2010 has met twice in London, but this will be its first residential meeting. For the 40 per cent of members who attended their first Synod last November, this will be their first opportunity to spend a long weekend residentially in worship and discussion. The Saturday morning has been structured to foster a culture of listening and reflection. The theme will be ‘Sharing the Good News for the World Today’ and the morning will begin with a keynote Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. Members will spend the rest of the morning in groups of 12, each led by a bishop, listening to each other as they reflect on the theme. The morning will finish with worship in the groups.
The Church and Education; the Church in multi-faith areas
In two debates the Synod will consider specific aspects of the Church’s mission and ministry.
In this 200th anniversary year of the National Society, which promotes and resources 4,700 Church of England schools (and 172 schools of the Church in Wales), the Synod will be invited to affirm the continued importance of Church of England schools being ‘distinctively Christian institutions, rooted in the life of the parishes while being open to the diverse communities they serve’.
The Synod will also consider the Church’s work in multi-faith areas. It will be invited to reaffirm the Church of England’s commitment, in partnership with Christians of other traditions, to resourcing ministry, witness and mission in multi-faith areas through the Presence and Engagement Programme, which supports the work of clergy and congregations in such areas.
Relations with Other Churches
Relationships and dialogue with other Christian churches will be a recurrent theme in York.
As usual, a number of ecumenical representatives and guests will be present. The principal guest will be the Archbishop of Tirana, Durrës and All Albania, His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios. The Archbishop, who is the Orthodox President of the World Council of Churches, will address the Synod on the Friday afternoon.
Following the establishment of communion between the Church of England and the Church of Denmark, the Bishop of Copenhagen (the Rt Revd Peter Skov-Jakobsen) will preach at the Sunday Eucharist in York Minster, at which the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, will preside.
The Synod will consider the report of the Church of England’s conversations with the United Reformed Church. Its recommendations include the holding of a service in Westminster Abbey in February 2012 marking both the 350th anniversary of the separation of Congregationalist and Presbyterian churches from the Church of England in 1662 and the 40th anniversary of their coming together in the United Reformed Church.
The Synod will also be invited to take note of an interim report on the second phase of the work of the Joint Implementation Commission for the Anglican-Methodist Covenant.
Higher Education Funding Changes
The forthcoming changes in the funding of higher education will have significant implications for the cost of training clergy. The Synod will be invited to endorse far-reaching recommendations on how the increased cost can be contained, as part of the process leading to decisions by the Archbishops’ Council.
Minority Ethnic Anglicans
The Synod will also consider a report on the inclusion of minority ethnic Anglicans within the ministry and structures of the Church of England and will be invited to ask the Archbishops’ Council and the House of Bishops to take steps to implement its recommendations.
Diocesan Synod Motions
Two motions from diocesan synods will be debated. One, from the Bradford Diocesan Synod, asks for the admission to Communion of adults who have been baptized but have not been confirmed and are not ready to be confirmed. The other, from the London Diocesan Synod, asks for a review of how the House of Laity of the General Synod and the houses of laity of the diocesan synods are elected, and in particular of whom the electorate should comprise.
Private Member’s Motion
The Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, will move a Private Member’s Motion calling for a ‘national mission action plan’ for the Church of England.
The Synod’s other business
There will be the one item of liturgical business: First Consideration of draft Additional Eucharistic Prayers for use when a significant number of children are present.
Legislative business will include the Revision Stage of the draft Church of England Marriage (Amendment) Measure, and a debate on the Parochial Fees Order, which prescribes fees for weddings and funerals (the first such Order since the legal framework for these fees was changed).
The Synod will receive presentations on the Annual Reports of the Archbishops’ Council, and the Church Commissioners. It will debate the report of the Council’s audit committee and will be invited to approve the Council’s budget for 2012.
Parishioners can keep in touch with the General Synod while it meets. Background papers and other information will be posted on the Church of England website (www.churchofengland.org) ahead of the General Synod sessions.
A live feed will be available courtesy of Premier Radio (accessible from front page www.churchofengland.org), and audio files of debates, along with updates on each day’s proceedings, will be posted during the sessions.
Massachusetts students raise $3,500 for the Haiti Micah Project
By Emily Young, Brooks School
Nothing evokes true power like maintaining a set of keys, whether symbolic or literal. Key to the city. Key to one’s heart. Key to success. Thus, rising Brooks School senior Zander Buttress took his responsibilities as a second-year Phillips Brooks Society member quite seriously, as they did in fact come with a set of keys.
“I held the key to the soda machines,” Zander said. “About once a week it was my responsibility, with the assistance from others in the group, to collect the money from the Pepsi machines on campus and refill the empty machines.”
The student-run Chapel group at Brooks School in North Andover, Mass., raised $3,582.58 this past academic year through a series of fundraisers and those profitable soda machines. The group subsequently donated $3,500 to the Haiti Micah Project. The non-profit, founded by Rev. Joseph Constant, provides the street children of Mirebalais, Haiti, with food, clean water, health care, education, vocational training and emotional support.
“We chose this project because of all the hardship still going on in Haiti,” said first-year PBS member and rising junior Ani Bilazarian. “But most importantly, this group doesn't just give money to Haiti or to any organization; the purpose of this group is specifically to get children off the streets and into orphanages, which really makes an impact in Haiti.”
Constant was a friend of School Minister Bob Flanagan while fellow students at Virginia Theological Seminary. He is now the director of ethnic ministries at VTS, in addition to being the president of the Haiti Micah Project. He discussed the non-profit during a Chapel Address this past October.
“I think that helping out the orphans was especially important because Haiti got a lot of publicity when the earthquake first struck. But in the recent months, I feel as though other disasters around the world have taken over the media and people are forgetting that the people of Haiti are still struggling and trying to rebuild their lives,” said rising senior Joanna Choe, co-head of PBS next year. “The children, having to go through a life changing experience so early on in their lives, needed our help and we couldn't have picked a better project for this year.”
This is the second academic year that Brooks students aided those in Haiti. Last year, Brooks' chapel groups coordinated with the Sisters of Saint Margaret, whose 1919 convent, orphanage and church in Haiti were destroyed in the recent earthquake, to aid those suffering in Haiti. The nuns who were on the ground in Haiti had very specific material needs, including soap and tarps. Thus, Brooks sent more than 340 bars of soap and six tarps to Haiti in February 2010.
“I think donating to Haiti was a great cause because they currently still are in need of lots help, whether it's soap, water or money,” said next year’s co-head and rising senior Will Stockwell. “Even after the Japan disaster, Haiti was still in distress and people seemed to shy away from Haiti and focus more on Japan, when both need a lot of help.”
PBS ran several different fundraisers throughout the year, and every PBS member has his or her own favorite event. Joanna enjoyed designing the Brooks Superfans shirts because she “loved seeing people wear them around campus and it shows how much our community supports the group and our cause.”
Will’s favorite event was definitely the four-square tournament because “it was fun planning a fun activity that everyone loves to play at Brooks, raise money, and have a random date dance after where kids could coordinate outfits and take pictures.”
Both Ani and Zander loved the student-faculty basketball game because it’s “always hilarious to see the faculty get down and competitive,” Ani said, and “because of how it brought so many of the students and faculty together for an entertaining event,” Zander added.
The returning members of PBS are already looking forward to raising even more money for charity next year through a series of fun events. Will would love to sponsor a few community service events, perhaps teaming up with the Community Service Board.
Both Joanna and Ani will do their best to bring back the Mr. Phillips Brooks competition next year, which was one of the funniest highlights of Joanna's third form. It was also a lucrative fundraiser, netting more than $3,000 during the evening event.
“Nothing was taken seriously at this event and everyone was laughing at how ridiculous the competitors were on stage,” Joanna noted.
And Zander hopes that next year the PBS will exceed this year’s donation to the Haiti Micah Project.
“To do this, I want our group to reach out to and attract more support from the students and faculty at Brooks,” Zander said. “If we can gain the support of everyone on campus, our fundraisers will potentially bring in much more money, which in turn can be sent to another charity organization.”
The Empty Chair – a play reading on domestic abuse
From Elaine Cameron, the Scottish Episcopal Church link of the International Anglican Women's Network
In recent years, there has evolved a practice of offering informal lunch-time sessions for any interested members at the Scottish Episcopal Church's General Synod. This year our Mothers Union requested a slot in which to enact a play written locally to focus on the need of all church members not only to be aware of the invasive extent of domestic abuse, but also to appreciate that churches can work together to support victims & challenge perpetrators.
The play was simple. Three women meet around a table for coffee, voicing increasing concern about the absence of June – their friend who should be in the empty chair. She has confided to one of them that she no longer comes to church because she feels so unworthy, dirty – and is unable to pray. The women note how important it is for her to be listened to, & to know she is believed – though her husband seems such an upright church member. Offstage, a key is heard turning in a lock, symbolising the dread abused women feel when they hear their husband / partner come home. As abuses are noted, seven rainbow silks are tied to June’s empty chair. An offstage voice lists the appalling figures for abuse in Scotland, and the help given on an average day to women and children in Scotland by Women’s Aid.
But there is hope. Members of congregations need to break silence about this issue, recognise & support the victims in their midst. They might even begin to work together, and ecumenically, to expose this. Seven steps are noted; the rainbow silks are untied and laid in hopeful rainbow-shaped fashion on the floor. June’s life can be turned round.
This play made a huge impact on all who attended - many were chilled at the extent of the problem, & the thought that there might well be abusers in their congregation. All signed the petition seeking an end to domestic abuse. They left empowered, with good intentions of breaking the silence.
This was a simple format, whose impact certainly merited the preparatory time & effort. The attached text can be adapted / shortened to suit your context. Try it for yourselves!!
For a copy of the script, please send an email to email@example.com
Visually Impaired student receives top honors at Princess Basma School Graduation
From the newsletter of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem (Download PDF here)
A day that showered more than the rare blessings of May rain was marked as a day of celebration at the Princess Basma Centre School where the red-roofed sun screen served as a morning rain shield. Graduating their second Tawjili class of students preparing for the Tawjili entrance exams for university admission, the Basma School honored the achievements of students and their supportive families.
To the delight of the assembled crowd, a visually impaired student earned top science marks, demonstrating that those with special needs could excel in a spirit of mutual respect where Christians and Muslims, boys and girls study together, living the promise of a future in Jerusalem where all people are created equal.
Bishop Dawani gave the graduation speech and brought greetings from Princess Basma of Jordan who cannot attend the ceremony in Jerusalem.
We extend congratulations to all, to Mrs. Betty Majaj, visionary and director, Bishop Dawani, the Diocese of Jerusalem, the school staff, the students and their families, and international supporters who have helped to make these dreams come true.
(The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, a diocese of the worldwide Anglican Communion, extends over five countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel, within the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. There are 27 parishes that minister to the needs of their communities, centered on the Cathedral Church of St. George the Martyr in Jerusalem. The church supports 33 institutions, which include hospitals, clinics, kindergartens and schools, vocational training programs, as well as institutions for the deaf, the disabled and the elderly, reaching out to interfaith neighbors in mutual respect and cooperation.)
Environmental Group calls on Anglicans to help stop coal mining
From Cam Gray, The Wilderness Committee
Canadian environmental group, The Wilderness Committee is calling on Anglicans, and members of all faith-based communities, to take a stand against the globally destructive practice of coal mining.
The group is asking for an immediate moratorium on new coal mining projects, and the phasing out of existing coalmining projects by 2050. Presently, the group is asking for global support in their opposition of the proposed Raven Underground Coal Mine on Vancouver Island, in the North American Pacific Northwest.
Cam Gray, a coordinator for the Wilderness Committee said, "The proposed Raven Coal Project would have devastating ecological, social and economic impacts. Over its 16 year lifespan, the mining operations would emit over 52 million tonnes of climate-change causing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, and would have devastating impacts on local groundwater supplies. Especially, coming off the warmest year on record, we cannot allow mining companies to continue to fuel the climate crisis and further jeopardize the future of our fragile earth.
"Opening new coal mines in the 21st century demonstrates a complete disrespect for global humanity and the earth in which we live. Decades of scientific data and front-line community testimonials demonstrate the severity of the climate crisis; a problem directly linked to the extraction and burning of coal. Alternative energies and fabrication materials must continue to improve, through increased research & development.
"As persons of faith, we have a responsibility to act as good stewards of the earth and God’s creation. We are bound to respect the principles of climate justice, thereby “affirming the sacredness of Mother Earth, ecological unity and the interdependence of all species, and the right of al communities to be free from climate change, its related impacts and other forms of ecological destruction.”
"We must respond proactively to the calls from our allies in the Global South for climate justice, which require a just and equitable transition to a sustainable economy through all the means at our disposal. Preventing the opening of new coal mines, and other unnecessary and environmentally destructive projects, is a necessary step in the reshaping of our world."
"Together, united as communities, we have the opportunity to reshape our world and build a sustainable future for our children and generations to come. Please help us stop the Raven Coal Mine."
Cam Gray is the Vancouver Island Outreach Coordinator for the Wilderness Committee and sits on the Anglican Church of Canada’s Greening Anglican Spaces Committee. He is actively involved with the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition and KAIROS Canada’s climate justice work, and has travelled as a youth delegate to the United Nations Conference on climate change in Cancun, MX.
Notes to Editors
Anglican agencies combine efforts to help Japan
By Sally Keeble, Director of the Anglican Alliance
Anglican aid agencies have agreed to combine their work to support the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (The Anglican Church in Japan) in its mission to support the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
In a recent phone conference organised by the Anglican Alliance, the agencies agreed to provide funding for the NSKK’s recovery programme to support the wider community, and also the church rebuilding programme. Allocation of funds within these two general “baskets” will be decided by the Church in Japan.
In response to the NSKK request for co-ordination of response, they agreed that Episcopal Relief and Development would be the link agency with NSKK.
Anglicans who want to help the massive relief operation for Japan are asked to give to their relevant Anglican aid agency, including ERD, the Primates World Relief and Development Fund, USPG, CMS, Anglicord, ABM or ACROSS.
Disciplinary Board for Bishops formed in compliance with Episcopal Church Title IV
The Governance of The Episcopal Church: This information is another in an ongoing series discussing the governance of The Episcopal Church.
In accordance with Canon 17 of Title IV of the Episcopal Church, the Disciplinary Board for Bishops has been selected with the duties of their office effective July 1.
The Disciplinary Board for Bishops, part of the Title IV canons, consists of 10 bishops, four clergy and four lay members. Eight of the bishops were elected by the House of Bishop at the group’s recent meeting; two were later appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori when vacancies occurred. The clergy and lay members were appointed by President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson for an interim basis until the House of Deputies can elect at General Convention 2012. The Disciplinary Board will select a president from among themselves.
The members and their dioceses are:
Bishop Ian T. Douglas of Connecticut; Victor Feliberty-Ruberte of Puerto Rico; Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick of Hawaii; Bishop Dena Harrison of Texas; Christopher Hayes of California; Bishop Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina; Bishop Herman Hollerith of Southern Virginia; Bishop J. Scott Mayer of Northwest Texas; the Rev. Marjorie Menaul of Central Pennsylvania; Josephine Powell of Michigan; the Rev. Jesus Reyes of El Camino Real; Diane Sammons of Newark; Bishop Thomas Shaw of Massachusetts; the Rev. Canon Angela Shepherd of Maryland; Bishop Prince Singh of Rochester; the Rev. Robert Two Bulls, Jr of Los Angeles; Bishop James Waggoner of Spokane; Bishop Catherine Waynick of Indianapolis.
Canon IV: 17: 3
Sec. 3. The Disciplinary Board for Bishops is hereby established as a court of the Church to have original jurisdiction over matters of discipline of Bishops, to hear Bishops' appeals from imposition of restriction on ministry or placement on Administrative Leave and to determine venue issues as provided in Canon IV.19.5. The Disciplinary Board for Bishops shall consist of ten Bishops elected at any regularly scheduled meeting of the House of Bishops, and four Priests or Deacons and four lay persons initially appointed by the President of the House of Deputies with the advice and consent of the lay and clergy members of the Executive Council and thereafter elected by the House of Deputies. All lay persons appointed to serve shall be confirmed adult communicants in good standing. Members of the Board shall serve staggered terms of six years, with terms of one half of the Bishops and one half of the lay persons, Priests and Deacons collectively expiring every three years, with the first expirations occurring at the end of the year 2012.
The Episcopal Church welcomes all who worship Jesus Christ in 109 dioceses and three regional areas in 16 nations. The Episcopal Church is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
(Editor's note: Sorry, folks, it's only for people in the United Kingdom. But why not persuade your media to run a similar competition?)
The Times Christmas Carol Competition: Your chance to write a new carol
By Richard Morrison in The London Times
Are you a budding composer, and aged 16 or over? Then pick up your pen, enter our competition and write a new carol to light up the world. The winning entry will be performed by the renowned Bach Choir at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea in December
I expect you will be hitting the high street today. Just six shopping months to Christmas! But may we suggest a more cultured and less financially ruinous way of casting thoughts forward to the season of goodwill? Write a new Christmas carol over the summer, enter our competition, and — if you win — hear it performed in polyphonic splendour by the mighty Bach Choir in its Christmas concert in aid of the charity Action Medical Research.
And that may just be the start. We will publish the carol, so that all can admire your immaculate conception. Then, who knows? Perhaps, like Franz Grüber’s Stille Nacht, it will still be sung across the world 200 years from now.
What prompted us to start a competition for new carols? After all, there are thousands in existence. They range from exquisite medieval lyrics such as Ther is no Rose of Swych Vertu and sturdy Victorian favourites — the likes of Good King Wenceslas and In the Bleak Midwinter — to, in our own day, the prolific works of John Rutter. Nearly every country where Christianity is practised has contributed to the genre, and the best carols are great travellers. Indeed, some foreign carols are so familiar that we don’t realise where they originated. Ding! Dong! Merrily on High was a saucy French knees-up. An unknown American gave us Away in a Manger. And We Three Kings of Orient Are comes not from the Orient, or even Leyton Orient, but Pennsylvania.
Yet even the richest of repertoires needs constant revitalisation if it is not to feel stale. Many is the carol service at which I have inwardly longed for a 25-year moratorium on the singing of O Come All Ye Faithful and O Little Town of Bethlehem. That’s one reason why we wanted to get budding composers and lyricists of all ages thinking afresh about carols. Another is the ubiquity of the genre. Is there another form of music and poetry that has the capacity to unite so many, from all generations, in hearty performance and benign fellow-feeling? Even at a time when fewer people sing hymns, carols have kept their universal appeal.
So how does the competition work? We don’t mind if you write your own words or use someone else’s — provided that the words are out of copyright (which means that their author must have died more than 70 years ago). So if you feel that the world is crying out for a new tune to The Holly and the Ivy, don’t let the scepticism of friends or family stop you. Our judges (David Hill, conductor of the Bach Choir; Andrew Riley, of The Times Register and News International Choir, and myself) may agree. Stranger things happen.
On the other hand, if you believe that there is some corner of the Christmas story that could benefit from your poetic insight, feel free to supply both words and music. And the words don’t necessarily have to be sacred, although the birth of Jesus Christ is certainly a momentous event. In the spirit of Jingle Bells, to say nothing of Slade’s 1973 mega-hit Merry Xmas Everybody, we will consider lyrics based on everything from stockings hanging on the wall to mama kissing Santa Claus. After all, a lot of old English “wassail” carols were much keener on listing the delights of alcohol and red meat (preferably in the form of a boar’s head) than in mulling over the mystery of the Incarnation.
Similarly, any style of music will be considered. Remember that the winning entry will be sung by the 150-strong Bach Choir (with, if you wish, keyboard accompaniment). Although the choir’s members are famed for their performances of great oratorios and requiems, they are an adaptable bunch. If you write the world’s first eight-part a-cappella thrash-metal Christmas carol, and we think it’s a winner, the Bach Choir, will rise to the challenge.
Submit your entries by September 23 — as an old-fashioned manuscript if you wish, sent either by post or by e-mail, or as a Sibelius music file. The full entry details are in the box, left. We will judge the entries in October, and announce the winner in The Times in November. David Hill will conduct the Bach Choir in the premiere at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea, on December 8, 2011. We will pay return travel costs for the winner to come to London to hear it, with accommodation if necessary due to distance. And we will publish the winning entry, both words and music, in The Times before December 31 (with attribution to the winner, of course).
What qualities are we looking for? We would like to find freshness and memorability in the music and (if you have written them) the words as well. But the mood can be ecstatic or reflective, up-tempo or tranquil, edgy or comforting. Some of the best carols have tragic themes. Think of the Coventry Carol, evoking Herod’s slaughter of the innocents; or Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas, which focused on global famine. Some are mysterious and transcendental, such as The Cherry Tree Carol — scholars still argue about what it means. On the other hand, for many people the essence of Christmas is conjured by carols of childlike simplicity and uncomplicated joyousness.
Whatever the style, we want the winning entry to touch hearts. Remember how, in December 1914, it was the singing of a carol — Grüber’s Stille Nacht — that silenced the guns for the first and only time during the First World War, and brought about an unofficial truce between British and German soldiers in the trenches. That’s the power of a great carol. We hope that, by December, we will have found another one.
Richard Morrison is Chief Music Critic
Basanti Sangma - International Anglican Women's Network Provincial Link for the Church of Bangladesh
Greetings from Church of Bangladesh Women's Fellowship. I am Basanti Sangma, age 52, married, two children - son and daughter, they are grown up. My education: M.A. B.Ed. Previous job- I worked as a training coordinator of Secondary Education Sector Development Project, Ministry of Education, Government of Bangladesh.
I am from northern part of Bangladesh and from Garo tribe. Presently we live in Dhaka. I am responsible for the Synod Women and Children Ministry as well. I have to organised different program for women and children, and backup support to the Women's Fellowship and Children's Committee of two Dioceses in Church of Bangladesh. I also do networking with national entities related to Church of Bangladesh for Ministry of Women and Children Program in Bangladesh.
The Church of Bangladesh women have the opportunity to participate in the Church activities and social functions. The women and children are leading, preaching and reading scripture in the Holy Eucharist Service and from time to time in special occasions. 30% of seats are reserved for women member in the parish committee.
There is a parish women committee which is playing a big role in the church and community. Women are also taking care of the Bible school in the church. Other activities of the women committee are awareness programs, family visits and prayer, retreat, prayer for patients, supporting needy students and some limited fund raising for church programs etc.
For a copy of Basanti's report on the situation of women and girls in Bangladesh please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter To the Laos - To the People of God
The Most Rev Thabo Makgoba
Dear People of God
I am writing to you on my return from a visit to the Diocese of Niassa, in northern Mozambique. Having had the privilege of working in the mainly rural diocese of Grahamstown, where I encountered both the rawness of poverty and the generosity of people, in many ways it felt like coming home.
Bishop Mark and I travelled around the three Mozambican provinces of his diocese. In some places the roads were non-existent, and at one point we had to find a route across a river, with no bridge, to get to the Cathedral! We began my visit by going to the grave of Bishop Charles Mackenzie, who was first Archdeacon of Natal, and then consecrated in 1861 as a missionary bishop to the peoples near the Zambezi river. He died within a year – and yet today people still speak of his faith and his courage for the gospel. His grave is in a marsh, on a fertile banana plantation between the Rue and Shire rivers. We celebrated the Eucharist under a plastic yellow tent hoisted on sticks, and I felt deeply conscious of the joy of being ‘made one with all God’s people of every age’ (both the living and the departed), and, indeed, ‘all the company of heaven’, as we say in the Eucharistic prayer.
After 2 hours’ drive we met parishioners who praised God, with many testimonies of church growth; and then after 4 more hours reached the coastal town of Quelimane, where we ate and slept, after sharing messages of encouragement with the faithful, in a church built by a couple from Nigeria. This small bicycle-filled town has lots of potential to grow beyond the current single parish.
We then flew in a 4-seater plane to Nampula, a more developed town, where, as indeed was so everywhere, we were greeted with joyful singing and dancing. Our theme at the Eucharist, held in an indoor sports hall, was ‘Developing the Journey’, and we focussed on our unity in Christ, building peace, and courage in the face of poverty, disease, and syncretism (being sucked into local, non-Christian, cultures). You may remember that the Mozambican wars of liberation began in the north, and many are still scarred, spiritually, physically, and emotionally, by those times. Yet this is an area of high literacy, forward looking, and with a vision for growth – not only numerical, but growth that is ever-more deeply rooted in our Lord (without which any church risks becoming merely some social organisation).
We then flew to Lichinga, the northern province’s capital, and Bishop Mark’s home. The church is larger and more established here. Near the airport, we visited the diocesan farm (much in need of development), and drove in convoy with truck-loads of parishioners singing joyful songs of welcome, to see two churches currently under construction. We held a service to celebrate St Bernard Mizeki (himself a Mozambican) in an indoor sports stadium. The theme was hospitality, courage and love, reflecting both Bernard Mizeki’s example and the readings of the day. The local mayor – a Muslim, married to a Mothers Union member – and the Provincial President, who is a parishioner, brought greetings, and praised Bishop Mark and the Diocese for their involvement in social justice issues. We had supper with the local clergy and the mayor, and I realised that like Christ and his disciples, so much of the deep fellowship of the visit was experienced through sharing meals together.
On Sunday we took a 2-hour drive to the Cathedral at Messumba. The beautiful lake-side region reminded me of parts of South Africa’s Wild Coast, and areas around Port St John in Mthatha diocese. The vast lake appears much like the sea! It was an amazing day, starting with crossing the bridge-less river, and then we walked – hundreds of us – in procession to the Cathedral, walking fast to avoid the dust and the scorching sun. When we arrived the large Cathedral building was already packed to capacity. We celebrated Trinity Sunday with four exhilarating hours of joyful celebration, singing and dancing, with radio and TV to witness us. Among the overwhelmingly generous gifts that were given to me were 2 doves, 2 fresh eggs, rice, and many crafts. The Bernard Mizeki society sang while we shared lunch. Driving home (accompanied by a bakkie-load of singing, praying, members of St Agnes’ Guild), we saw more churches under construction, and I thank God for the good land with which the diocese is endowed.
The next morning I flew to Lilongwe in a tiny 4-seater, with just the pilot, whose chatty conversation dispelled my great nervousness at being in such a tiny aircraft. He let me sit in the co-pilot’s seat, and it was an amazing experience to cross the vast lake at 20,000ft. Even so, it was a relief to land in Lilongwe and transfer to a larger plane for the next leg of my journey home!
Though the Diocese is 150 years old, I found Niassa to be, like Mozambique itself, full of the vibrant life of a very youthful population. I saw how critical is the role of catechists, in evangelism and building up young congregations so that they learn how to mature and stand on their own feet. Music and storytelling are key in communicating who Jesus is, all that he offers, and the life to which he calls us – which people are hungry to learn. I was also struck by the poverty of the diocese, reflected in the Bishop’s elderly Toyota that I feared might break down at any point and leave us stranded! Yet I saw how great God’s grace is, in challenging circumstances, and came home feeling refreshed and enriched by my visit – feeling the paradox of the kingdom that is, and is yet to come, as I both saw 150 years of history, and felt so much new life that is on the point of being born afresh.
‘Youth’ seems to be my theme this week, writing between meetings of the ANC Youth League and our own Provincial Youth Council. I returned to find the press full of Julius Malema’s statements on reforming land, mines and the whole economy. What he has raised is not new and we should not be alarmed. We need to engage him, and all young people, on what it means to make democracy work. As I discussed in a telephone conference with SACC church leaders, we must have educated public debate on today’s very different sort of ‘struggle’ – the commitment to rightly-focussed hard work that delivers economic justice, and tackles the needs of poverty, education and opportunity which (and Malema is right on this) particularly affect young people so adversely. There is hope, but we must not be afraid of rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty. As my visit to Niassa showed, dedication and perseverance, even in very difficult and uncertain times, can deliver new life. So we must go forward with joy and resolve, and speak up for the poor, the fearful, the despairing, in the true hope of Jesus Christ.
Yours in the service of Christ
+Thabo Cape Town
Read more from the Archbishop on his blog here
PUBLICATION OF THE WEEK
Lectionary-based study outlines
Growing Disciples of Jesus
Welcome to our diocese's new resource to help grow disciples of Jesus and healthy churches transforming life Bible study outlines based on the Gospel reading for each Sunday of the year! The studies are designed for use in home or church-based study groups, and to be a helpful resource for preachers as well. They can also be used for personal reflection and study. Just click on the link to the Sunday study you wish to download or print off.
July 2011Contributed by Mark Holland
Australian Christian Book of the Year: 2011 Short List
The following books have been short-listed for the 2011 Australian Christian Book of the Year Award:
Click here to read Bishop John's post with more information about the judges for 2011.
ANGLICAN CYCLE OF PRAYER Click here for the full ACP
Psalm: 13 Acts 5:1-11
Oru - (Province of Owerri, Nigeria) The Rt Revd Geoffrey Chukwunenye
Psalm: 15 Gen 6:9-22
Osaka - (Japan) The Rt Revd Samuel Osamu Ohnishi
Sunday 03-Jul-2011 Pentecost 3 Thomas the Apostle
Psalm: 119:1-6 Acts 5:12-16
Osun - (Province of Ibadan, Nigeria) The Rt Revd James Afolabi Popoola
Osun North East - (Province of Ibadan, Nigeria) The Rt Revd Humphrey Olumakaiye
Psalm: 16 Acts 5:17-26
Ottawa - (Ontario, Canada) The Rt Revd John Holland Chapman
Psalm: 17 Acts 5:27-42
Oturkpo - (Province of Jos, Nigeria) The Rt Revd David Bello
Psalm: 18:1-16 Gen 7:1-10
Owerri - (Province of Owerri, Nigeria) The Rt Revd Dr Cyril Chukwunonyerem Okorocha
Psalm: 18:17-32 Gen 7:11-16
Owo - (Province of Ondo, Nigeria) The Rt Revd James Adedayo Oladunjoye
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