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...
Richard Dawkins: '6.9 out of seven' sure that God does not exist
He is regarded as the most famous atheist in the world but last night Professor Richard Dawkins admitted he could not be sure that God does not exist. He told the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, that he preferred to call himself an agnostic rather than an atheist.
The two men were taking part in a public “dialogue” at Oxford University at the end of a week which has seen bitter debate about the role of religion in public life in Britain.
Last week Baroness Warsi, the Tory party chairman, warned of a tide of “militant secularism” challenging the religious foundations of British society.
The discussion, in Sir Christopher Wren’s Sheldonian Theatre, attracted attention from around the world. As well as being relayed to two other theatres, it was streamed live on the internet and promoted fierce debate on the Twitter social network.
For an hour and 20 minutes the two men politely discussed "The nature of human beings and the question of their ultimate origin" touching on the meaning of consciousness, the evolution of human language – and Dr Williams’s beard.
For much of the discussion the Archbishop sat quietly listening to Prof Dawkins’s explanations of human evolution. At one point he told the professor that he was “inspired” by “elegance” of the professor’s explanation for the origins of life – and agreed with much of it.
Prof Dawkins told him: “What I can’t understand is why you can’t see the extraordinary beauty of the idea that life started from nothing – that is such a staggering, elegant, beautiful thing, why would you want to clutter it up with something so messy as a God?”
Dr Williams replied that he “entirely agreed” with the “beauty” of Prof Dawkins’s argument but added: “I’m not talking about God as an extra who you shoehorn on to that.”
There was surprise when Prof Dawkins acknowledged that he was less than 100 per cent certain of his conviction that there is no creator.
The philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny, who chaired the discussion, interjected: “Why don’t you call yourself an agnostic?” Prof Dawkins answered that he did.
An incredulous Sir Anthony replied: “You are described as the world’s most famous atheist.”
Prof Dawkins said that he was “6.9 out of seven” sure of his beliefs.
“I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing is very very low,” he added.
He also said that he believed it was highly likely that there was life on other planets.
At one point he discussion strayed onto the theoretical question of whether a traditional cut throat razor could be described as a more complicated thing than an electric shaver.
There was laughter as the Archbishop said he would attempt an answer before adding: “Not that I know much about razors.”
During a wide-ranging discussion the Archbishop also said that he believed that human beings had evolved from non-human ancestors but were nevertheless “in the image of God”.
He also said that the explanation for the creation of the world in the Book of Genesis could not be taken literally.
“The writers of the Bible, inspired as I believe they were, they were nonetheless not inspired to do 21st Century physics,” he said.
When Prof Dawkins suggested that he believed the Pope took a rather more literal interpretation of the origins of humans, the Archbishop joked: “I will ask him some time.”
One in three planning to observe Lent don’t know what to give (or take) up survey finds – as Church House Publishing launches Reflections for Lent app
From the Church of England website
21 February 2012
As the nation prepares to cook pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, over 20 per cent of adults are planning to observe the season of Lent, although nearly one in three of them don't know what to 'give up' or 'take up', according to a new survey. Church House Publishing commissioned the survey to study the nation's Lenten habits as it launches a new iPhone app - Reflections for Lent - containing daily reflections on Bible passages by leading authors.
Jane Williams, co-author of the material featured on the app, said: "You can take your Lent discipline with you wherever you go by using the new Reflections for Lent app. The readable reflections on the season's Bible passages are a good alternative or accompaniment to giving up chocolate or coffee."
Women are more likely to observe Lent than men (27% versus 20%), the survey discovered, and the age group most enthusiastic about marking the season are 18-24-year-olds (30% of them will observe Lent in some way).
The following percentages were recorded in answer to the question: "Which, if any, of the following describe what you are planning to do for Lent this year?":
Will do something but don't know what yet (32% of those observing Lent)
Try to do more positive/kindly acts (21%)
Give up chocolate or other treats (17%)
Stop shopping for non-essential items (17%)
Give money to charity (10%)
Take up doing something spiritual like praying, reading the Bible (9%)
Stop swearing (9%)
Give up alcohol (8%)
Cut back on social media/gaming (7%)
Volunteer for a charity (7%)
Stop smoking (6%)
Something else (4%)
According to the results, women are nearly twice as likely to engage in positive/kindly acts as a Lent discipline. Men are twice as likely to give up alcohol for Lent, whereas women are nearly three times more likely to give up chocolate. Men are nearly twice as likely to spend less time on social media and gaming for Lent, and women are nearly one-and-a-half times as likely to stop shopping for non-essential items as a form of penance.
Reflections for Lent, produced by Aimer Media for Church House Publishing, is available from iTunes for £1.49.
A total of 2,024 people aged 18 and above in England, Scotland and Wales were asked the survey question via online fieldwork on 10th-12th February 2012 by ICM Research.
Lent 2012 begins on Ash Wednesday (22nd February) and ends on Easter Eve (7th April). Many treat this time as a way of preparation for Easter. There are various ways of marking Lent. Some choose to give up bad habits or certain foods and drinks or meals, where as others prefer to see Lent as a way to help others, pray for others, or take up something new. The concept of fasting for '40 days' (Sundays are sometimes excluded by those observing Lent) is to reflect the 40 days Jesus fasted in the desert. More on Lent is available here.
The three contributors to Reflections for Lent are Martyn Percy (Principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon), Angela Tilby (Anglican priest in Cambridge) and Jane Williams (lectures at St Mellitus College, London, and visiting lecturer at King's College, London)
New era of freedom and expansion for Cuban church
By Diana Swift, The Anglican Journal
Most Canadians visiting Cuba in February are there for the sun, the sea and the mojitos. But early this month, Archbishop
Fred Hiltz led a delegation with a different purpose: to observe the 103rd synod of the Episcopal Church of Cuba, led in Havana by Bolivian-born Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio, bishop since 2010.
The Episcopal Church of Cuba traces its origins to an early Anglican presence on the island in 1901. It consists of 46 parishes and about 10,000 members. Within the Anglican Communion, the Cuban church has the status of an extra-provincial diocese since it is not part of a larger province and has no primate. Its governance includes the Metropolitan Council, which exercises oversight in matters of faith and order.
Enter the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, who co-chairs the council with the archbishop of the West Indies and the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
The primate—accompanied by Michael Thompson, general secretary, Michael Pollesel, former general secretary, and Andrea Mann, global relations coordinator, partnerships—experienced firsthand a Cuban church poised to expand its mission and rebuild its crumbling infrastructure.
"We didn't have a lot to do with synod," said Archbishop Hiltz at a Church House presentation. "But once in a while we were asked for our opinion." Also present in low profile and respecting the new leadership was Bishop Miguel Tomayo Zaldivar, former interim bishop of Cuba and retiring bishop of Uruguay.
At a notable opening service, Bishop Delgado had the clergy renew their ordination vows. "It was a memorable moment for the church, for her and for them," said the primate.
Later, in a lengthy address, the bishop spoke of walking together in physical and spiritual unity in Christ and moving ahead in new directions. She encouraged the clergy to work together in spite of their real theological and political differences.
At the synod’s workshops, the bishop laid the foundations for a different way of meeting and working. Lively debates arose around everything from nominations to seminary and faculty positions to smoking on church property.
After synod, the Canadian representatives took advantage of the Cuban people's singular hospitality as they toured the eastern end of the island and its interior.
"The parish priests showed us the church buildings, and everywhere the people came out to greet us," said Pollesel. "The church in Cuba is coming into a new era of freedom."
Always in scarce supply, the Cuban Episcopal clergy works under tremendous disadvantages. "In one parish, the rectory got sold and the priest has to live several kilometres away in a Soviet-era apartment block," said Thompson.
Mann described the "radical" hospitality and open-spirited love of the Cuban people, who have so little yet "from that scarcity show just an amazing generosity." Everywhere they were met with copious cups of strong sweet coffee, safe, clean, dry accommodation, drivers and abundant meals featuring the local rice-and- bean-based cuisine. “It is a privilege to travel with people who live their faith," Mann said.
Many church buildings are in a state of near-collapse. At the Church of St. John the Evangelist, for example, Fr. Albert had to hammer open a sheet of galvanized metal to permit entrance to his congregation, and later hammer it closed. At the Church of the Good Shepherd, a foundation capable of supporting three stories has been laid, but the congregation cannot afford a roof and fears damage to the structure during hurricane season. Yet essential work could be done very cheaply. “It’s amazing what $5,000 or $6,000 US can do in Cuba,” said Archbishop Hiltz.
Another problem is the scarcity of clergy, which forces parishes to rely on seminarians and lay ministers to lead prayer when no priest is available. “They would like to have four or five archdeacons but they can have only one,” said Hiltz. The lack of pensions for retiring clergy such as Bishop Tomayo is another pressing issue. The primate plans to work with the Metropolitan Council to explore ways of supporting the Cuban church financially. (The council has no funds of its own.)
Archbishop Makgoba to head University of Western Cape
By Michelle Jones, The Cape Times
ANGLICAN Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says he is thrilled that Thabo Makgoba, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, is following in his footsteps to become the new chancellor of the University of the Western Cape (UWC).
Tutu, 80, stepped down as chancellor – a position he held for 23 years – last year. Makgoba, 51, will be inaugurated on Tuesday. Tutu told the Cape Times yesterday that Makgoba was a good choice for UWC.
“He is younger, he is more interesting and he is more handsome than me. I am so very glad for UWC and for Archbishop Makgoba, who is making his mark early, both within South Africa and overseas.”
Brian Williams, chairman of the Council, said the decision about who to appoint took many long and in-depth discussions about the university and its future direction.
“The decision was made to follow a path of enrichment by having a spiritual leader of the calibre of the Archbishop as the symbol of what UWC stands for. The Archbishop is a modest person who is an intellectual with deep spirituality. He combines wisdom with a warm caring disposition and this makes him an ideal healer and unifier. As our chancellor, he is the symbol of spiritual power and academic excellence. He can inspire the university to even greater heights. For these and other reasons we have chosen Archbishop Thabo Makgoba as our chancellor.”
This isn’t the first time Makgoba has followed in Tutu’s footsteps. Both have also served as Archbishop of Cape Town.
Makgoba was born on December 15, 1960. He graduated from Orlando High School in Soweto and afterwards obtained a Masters degree in Educational Psychology at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits), where he also lectured part-time from 1993 to 1996. Makgoba then went to St Paul’s College in Grahamstown to study for the Anglican ministry. He married Lungelwa Manona, daughter of academic Cecil Manona.
Makgoba’s first few years in ministry were spent in the Diocese of Johannesburg; first as a curate at the Cathedral and then as Wits chaplain. He was then put in charge of St Alban’s Church and later of Christ the King, Sophiatown.
He became Archdeacon of Sophiatown in 1999. He is also patron of two organisations, Hope and Africa for Haiti.
Youth must be given a chance in the church - Abp Okoh
by The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) on its Facebook page
The Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh has charged the Church to begin to given the youths a place in all aspects of its affairs.
This according to him would enable them to take over the affairs of the Church effectively at the appropriate time.
The Most Reverend Okoh, who stated this while speaking to Standing Committee news letter at the Cathedral Church of St. Faith described as unacceptable the situation where the elderly dominate in all aspects of the Church from laity to committees.
The Primate asked every member of the Church to be ready to serve in furtherance of the work of God especially in evangelism.
He stated that time has gone when evangelism is left for the Clergy alone, noting that people should get rooted in the word of God for effective and efficient evangelism.
New bishop elected for Edinburgh
From the Scottish Episcopal Church website
The Very Rev Dr John Armes was today elected as the new Bishop for the Diocese of Edinburgh. Dr Armes succeeds the Rt Rev Brian Smith who retired in August 2011.
Dr Armes is presently rector of St John the Evangelist Church, Princes Street, Edinburgh and Dean of the Diocese of Edinburgh. Before moving to Edinburgh in 1998, he was Area Dean of Rossendale and Priest in Charge of Goodshaw and Crawshawbooth in the Diocese of Manchester. His biography is detailed below.
On hearing the news of his election the Bishop-elect said “I am both delighted and honoured to be elected the new Bishop of Edinburgh, especially as those who have elected me are people who know me and have worked with me over a number of years. I see this as an exciting challenge and look forward to working with my colleagues as we continue to develop the work and life of the Diocese of Edinburgh.
There are obvious gains and losses and one of the difficult things will be to leave St John’s Church, which has been the most rewarding place I’ve ever worked. Everything I’ve learned at St John’s will strengthen me as I enter this new phase of ministry”.
The election of the new Bishop was carried out by the Electoral Synod (comprising representatives of clergy and lay church members from the Diocese of Edinburgh), which was chaired by the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Rev David Chillingworth who says “I congratulate John on his election and am delighted to welcome him to leadership in the Diocese of Edinburgh and to share in the life of the College of Bishops. John has had a distinctive ministry as Rector of St John’s Church, Princes Street and has placed the ministry of the Scottish Episcopal Church at the heart of the City of Edinburgh. He now has the opportunity of exercising a wider leadership role in the Diocese of Edinburgh.”
Dr Armes is married to Clare; they have four children (youngest is 19; oldest is 25). His interests include theatre, cinema, walking, reading novels, watching sport, travel and humour.
The service of consecration and installation of the new Bishop will take place in the Cathedral Church of St Mary, Palmerston Place, Edinburgh at a date to be agreed. Further details of this service will be available in due course.
Biography: Born 1955. Cambridge University BA 1977, MA 1981. University of Manchester PhD 1996. Salisbury–Wells Theological College. Deaconed 1979. Priested 1980.
Currently Rector of St John the Evangelist Church, Princes Street, Edinburgh. Formerly Area Dean of Rossendale in the Manchester Diocese; priest-in-charge of Goodshaw & Crawshawbooth (1994-1998); Anglican Chaplain to University of Manchester. Team Vicar and then Team Rector of Parish of Whitworth (University Parish), Convener of Chaplaincy Ecumenical Team (1986-1994); Chaplain to Agriculture and Rural Life in Cumbria (two-thirds time) and Team Vicar in Greystoke Team Ministry, looking after Watermillock parish (1982-1986). Curate, Walney, Barrow in Furness. Chaplain, Barrow Sixth Form College (1979-82)
From YouTube, found on the Diocese of Kurunagala's Facebook page
"A selection of photos of parishes of the Church of Ceylon - Anglican Church in Sri Lanka. Background Music - Wachet Auf (Sleepers wake) - A cantata by J S Bach on the Second Advent of Christ.
May all our churches be prepared and worthy a pure virgin bride awaiting the coming of her Bridegroom - Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. MARANATHA!
Please pardon me for not including a photo of your church (if I have missed) due to constraints in time and resources. Gratitude to all clergy and laity, especially Mr. Joshua Isaiah, whose photo collection helped to make this a reality.
The Right Reverend John Sperry
The Right Reverend John Sperry, who has died aged 87, was Bishop of the Arctic, a diocese of some 18,000 Anglican souls spread over 1.5 million square miles of northern Canada.
In 1950 he had left England for Coppermine, a tiny mission in the central Arctic where only seven Inuit families and 12 “southerners” lived all year round. The native people had little experience of Western technology, and spoke little English. Their homes alternated between snow houses and tents, and they survived by hunting and fishing.
Towering over his flock at 6ft 4in, and aided by his sense of fun, Sperry made himself not only much loved but also admired for his self-reliance and willingness to learn. As well as conducting his ministry, at first he had to spend some eight hours a day on chores. He had to import wood from the south to build his mission house, and learn how to hunt and skin caribou, lay fishing lines under the ice and saw off ice blocks to be stored for drinking and cooking.
Each winter he would visit small hunting communities spread over 3,000 miles while driving a team of 13 dogs, covering some 50 miles a day; once, when the dogs were struck by illness, he had to take the lead harness of the 18ft sledge himself for 200 miles.
At the same time Sperry was preaching the Gospel and delivering packages and medical supplies. He was ready to meet any emergency: when the only dentist gave up, Sperry took on the task himself, despite having no training in extractions.
Since few members of his scattered flock spoke English, Sperry learned the Copper Inuit dialect, into which he translated the Gospels, the Acts of Apostles, the Book of Common Prayer and some 200 hymns.
The son of a shoe manufacturer, John Reginald Sperry was born in Leicester on May 2 1924, and went to Melbourne Road School before joining the Co-Op as a counter assistant and delivery boy. At 16 he became an evangelical Christian, and was already interested in missionary work when he joined the Royal Navy. He served as an Asdic operator in the destroyer Verdun on coastal patrols and Atlantic convoys, then in the minesweeper Hare in the Far East.
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Maggie Helwig’s post-9/11 panic novel named Keep Toronto Reading’s One Book
Toronto writer Maggie Helwig's book Girls Fall Down is the Toronto Library's One Book selection for 2012.
By Greg Quill, thestar.com
Toronto novelist, poet, activist and Anglican priest Maggie Helwig’s Girls Fall Down has been named the Toronto Public Library’s Keep Toronto Reading One Book community reading program’s 2012 selection as the book all Torontonians should read this spring.
Set in Toronto in 2002, Helwig’s 2008 novel explores post-9/11 angst and urban paranoia when a teenager collapses in the subway after commenting on “the smell of roses,” sparking panic and the fear of terrorism among the population despite official assurances that no one is in danger.
Girls Fall Down was shortlisted in the City-sponsored Toronto Book Awards in 2009.
“It’s certainly an honour, because when I was writing it, it seemed to be a book no one would ever want to read — it’s a bit strange and dark in some ways,” Helwig said after the announcement was made Tuesday morning.
“It’s nice to have the endorsement, but I have to admit to slight qualms about the idea that everybody should read just one book,” added Helwig, who was ordained to the Anglican priesthood in January.
“But better that than no book at all. And I think public libraries are wonderful. I’ll support anything they do.
Read more here
ANGLICAN CYCLE OF PRAYER Click here for the full ACP
Psalm: 62:1-8 Job 23:1-7
Bukuru - (Jos, Nigeria) The Rt Revd Jwan Zhumbes
Sunday 26-Feb-2012 Lent 1
Psalm: 88:1-6 Ro. 9:14-29
PRAY for Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du CongoThe Most Revd Kahwa Henri Isingoma Archbishop of the Congo & Bishop of Kinshasa
Psalm: 88:7-12 Job 23:8-17
Byumba - (Rwanda)The Rt Revd Emmanuel Ngendahayo
Psalm: 34:1-7 Ro. 9:30-10:4
Ballarat - (Victoria, Australia) The Rt Revd Garry Weatherill
Psalm: 27:7-14 Job 24:1-12
Banks & Torres - (Melanesia)The Rt Revd Nathan Tome
Thursday 01-Mar-2012 St David of Wales
Psalm: 4 Job 24: 13-25
Bangor - (Wales)The Rt Revd Andrew John
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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.