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Archbishop of Canterbury interviewed about Iraq crisis

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 about the Iraq crisis.

During the interview, the archbishop said there is “a sense of near despair at the fact that we’ve got to this point, and a longing to be able to do something because that’s always our instinct”.

He added: “I was noting this morning when I was praying about that sense of helplessness and looking at one of the Psalms speaking about, the Psalmist saying to God: ‘Where are you? What are you doing?’”

The archbishop repeated his backing for the call made by three Church of England bishops last week for the U.K. government to offer refuge to Iraqi Christians.

“France, as we know, has opened its doors, and I think that is something we could do, we have the resources to do. It’s a humanitarian thing, to recognize people in the extremes of despair and helplessness and to provide a beacon of hope. We’ve done that throughout our history; it’s a good thing if we go on doing it,” he said.

Asked if he had concerns about the possible implications of the Iraq crisis for Christian-Muslim relations around the world, the Archbishop said he was concerned but stressed that Muslim leaders throughout the United Kingdom have been condemning the atrocities in northern Iraq.

“This is an incredibly complex conflict, and it is a particular group that is carrying out the attacks that many Muslim leaders deny has any real theological validity. I mean, the great trial and challenge to Christians is Jesus saying to us ‘forgive your enemies, love your enemies.’ That may not solve problems, but in the end it changes the world. It may not be a quick fix, but it is the right thing in the end.

“Clearly ISIS, IS, are an enemy. How do we deal with them? It’s very, very hard to say. But what we mustn’t do in blanket terms is condemn all Muslims as though they were all members of this group, because very, very clearly the overwhelming, enormous majority of them have no sympathy with what is going on at all.”

Listen to the full interview on the Radio 4 website (starts at 32min 42secs)

Robin Williams: The death of our captain

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

[Religion News Service] I’m not sure what year it was that I first saw Dead Poets Society. IMDB tells me it was released in 1989, so it must have been at least another six or seven years before I saw it, but the timeline doesn’t really matter. For a young and highly sentimental lover of language, that film gave me a place to belong. It had been preceded by Hook and Aladdin, and later I would see Good Morning Vietnam! and Good Will Hunting and recognize that it wasn’t an accident that all these films that told stories of the world’s strange beauty happened to display the talents of this one man.

He was the genie who made magic; the therapist who could tell you it wasn’t your fault; the dad-turned-nanny who loved his children so much he couldn’t stand to be away from them.

This is what makes Williams’s death by suicide at 63 such a shock: He brought magic into so many people’s lives; he seemed to believe and communicate so many things that were good about the world. It’s days like today when I wish for nothing more than a time machine; our proximity in time to when Williams was alive seems so close that it’s unfair that we can’t go back in time to tell him that he will be okay, that depression doesn’t last forever even when it seems to, that there are realities outside of his own mind’s darknesses.

But it never is that easy. It is also one of the most important things we as religious people need to understand, that depression is a real illness–not a battle to be won or lost, nor a mental condition to be overcome. It is just as real a disease as any, and God cares for and loves and is with all those who struggle with it, even now.

Williams was born in Chicago and raised in the Episcopal Church, which he described in a standup routine thusly: “I don’t understand the whole fundamentalist thing; you see, I’m an Episcopal; that’s Catholic Lite. Same religion, half the guilt!” He married three times and has three adult children; the thought of them being left fatherless now is devastating.

He was one of only two students admitted to an advanced program at Julliard his freshman year; the other was his good friend Christopher Reeve. Williams told PARADE in September 2013 that his two divorces had cost him a lot: “It’s ripping your heart out through your wallet.” He listed his Napa ranch for sale and lived primarily in the San Francisco area with his wife Susan Schneider, whom he married in 2011.

Williams was on the advisory council for Walden House, a recovery center in San Francisco, having himself gone through several bouts with drug use, alcoholism, and sobriety. Speaking to The Guardian about addiction in 2009, Williams said “There’s nothing romantic about it. This idea that as an artist you have to push yourself and explore the dark side? I went there. You can do a lot more interesting stuff when you’re not messed up.”

It’s hard to pick a favorite scene of his. Williams had a gift for making moments: Mrs. Doubtfire’s run-by fruiting. Adrien Cronauer’s decision to lock himself in the studio and report on the explosion at the restaurant. In real life, when he called Steven Spielberg during the filming of Schindler’s List to cheer him up. But I don’t know if there is any moment I have thought of more than this.

If you find yourself struggling with depression, know that you are not alone, and never hesitate to ask for help. This is the website for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or you can call 800.273.TALK.

Three Episcopal Campus Ministry awards presented

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

 [Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Three Episcopal Church 2014 Campus Ministry awards have been presented for outstanding service and dedication.

The awards were presented by the Rev. Michael Angell, Episcopal Church Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministries during the recent Kindling conference.

The awards and recipients are:

Distinguished Leadership: The Rev. Jonathan Melton, Chaplain, St. Francis House, University of Wisconsin, Madison

The award for Distinguished Leadership recognizes a campus minister who is “leading the field, showing exemplary work,” Angell explained. “The Rev. Jonathan Melton has made incredible strides in re-establishing a strong ministry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  His impressive use of social media is coupled with a knack for community building that is helping college students connect with The Episcopal Church.”

Distinguished Service: The Rev. Daniel Brown, former chaplain, The Episcopal Center at the University of Georgia

The award for Distinguished Service recognizes the work of a campus minister who has served the wider Episcopal Campus Ministry Community.  “The Rev. Daniel Brown served as Provincial Coordinator for Province IV for a number of years, and also represented the office of Young Adult and Campus Ministries ecumenically on a number of occasions,” Angell said. “He helped provide continuity and support for Campus Ministries.”

Sam Portaro Award for Creative Expression and Intellectual Inquiry: Steve Mullaney, Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministry, Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota.

Steve was selected for his creativity in inspiring several new forms of campus ministry on campuses across the Diocese of Minnesota.  “As Missioner for Young Adult and Campus Ministries, Steve Mullaney has unleashed the creative potential of student leaders and leaders in local congregations in engaging with college campuses,” Angell said.  “A testament to this work was also seen in the number of campus ministry grants received by Minnesota this year.”

The Sam Portaro Award is named for the Rev. Sam Portaro, longtime chaplain at the University of Chicago and widely published author.  The award was inspired by Portaro’s consistent commitment to creativity and intellectual inquiry, expressed principally in his books.

The Provincial Coordinators for Campus Ministry reviewed the nominations and recommended the recipients.

For more information contact Angell mangell@episcopalchurch.org.


RIP: Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Canadian director of communications

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vianney (Sam) Carriere was the consummate writer, editor and photographer. Photo: General Synod Archives

[Anglican Journal] Sam Carriere, the Anglican Church of Canada’s director of communications and information resources, and its director of resources for mission, died peacefully at his home in Toronto on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. He was 67.

A graduate of Toronto’s York University, Carriere first joined the Anglican Journal in 1990 as news editor, bringing to the paper the experience of many years in national newspaper journalism. Ten years later he became Journal editor and two years later, General Synod’s director of communications and information resources. In 2010 Carriere was also appointed interim director of philanthropy and in 2013 became director of resources for mission, while retaining the position of director of communications and information resources.

Carriere was also editor of MinistryMATTERS, a quarterly magazine for Canadian Anglican leaders.

He was known for his leadership skills and his willingness to take on any task. “For the General Synod meeting in Halifax in 2010, Sam stepped into the breach and served as acting general secretary. It was one of the best-run synods we ever had,” said Archdeacon Paul Feheley, principal secretary to the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz.

At first glance, Carriere’s outward persona could be deceptively brusque. “Sam had that gruff exterior, but when you got him to sit down and talk, you got way beyond the exterior to an incredibly kind and giving person who always wanted the very best out of you,” said Feheley. “Sam’s gift to me was pulling out my very best.”

After he fell ill late last year, General Synod staff produced the book Dear Sam in tribute and thanks to his long and multifaceted service to the church and illustrated it with his breathtaking photographs.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, wrote that one of his favourite images of Carriere was at Geneva Park, where the management team of General Synod held retreats in the last several years. “The sun has  just come up and the grass is still heavy with dew. I see you roaming the  property. You walk some and you stop. Something catches your eye and up  comes the camera. There are a few seconds of absolute stillness and then with one quick click  you capture forever the beauty you beheld. You have an eye not only for marvels of nature, but also for those graces by which God enriches  our lives,” said Hiltz.

“…You’re Barnabas, an icon of encouragement. When you see a gift in someone, you say so, and the encouragement begins. You create opportunities to exercise and develop the gift, and the encouragement continues, ” wrote Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary and acting director of communications.

Before joining the national church, Carriere served for 22 years as a writer and editor at the Globe and Mail and its “Report on Business,” teaching journalism at Toronto’s Ryerson Polytechnic University as well.

Carriere was also known for his teaching skills. “Sam was the consummate professional journalist and he taught me much of what I know about writing and editing,” said former Journal editor Leanne Larmondin, who worked with Carriere for 15 years. “He also had a huge capacity for generosity, both in his time and his creativity. Even when we disagreed, and we often did, he respected my choices and decisions with a grace that often left me speechless.”

Echoing Larmondin John Sewell, former mayor of Toronto who wrote a daily column on municipal politics under Carriere’s editorship at the Globe in the1980s, said: “Sam was an excellent editor, always trying to improve, not change, what I was trying to say. He gave me great confidence in my transition from being a civic politician to a civic journalist.”

Carriere was “a poet, in his words and in his pictures,” said Solange De Santis, former staff writer for the Journal and former editor of Ecumenical News International.

Like many good teachers, Carriere was unassumingly unaware of the impact he had on other’s development. “When I exchanged emails with him four or five months ago, he seemed surprised to realize how important his approach was for a writer, but that was Sam, very modest and restrained,” said Sewell.

A man of broad-ranging interests and abilities, Carriere was also a skilled and passionate photographer, whose work can be viewed here.

Carriere is survived by his wife, Linda Doohoo, a retired nurse manager and director of care for Toronto Homes for the aged.

A memorial service will be held in the Chapel of the Apostles at the national office of the Anglican Church of Canada in early September. Details are still being finalized.

To read tributes to Carriere from the many who knew him, click here.

Anglicans, Oriental Orthodox prepare for theological breakthrough

ENS Headlines - Monday, August 11, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] Senior theologians in the Anglican Communion and Oriental Orthodox churches are to confirm an agreement on their understanding of Christ’s Incarnation.

The co-chairs and co-secretaries of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission who met near Beirut, Lebanon last week reviewed responses to the 2002 Agreed Statement on Christology, which had been sent to the churches of the two church families for consideration.

The statement considered the question of how the two natures, human and divine, were united in one human being: Jesus Christ.

Noting overwhelming approval for the agreement from both sides, the steering committee considered minor adjustments and will prepare a Preamble for consideration by the Commission.

His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Rt Rev. Geoffrey Rowell of the Church of England, Archbishop Nareg Alemazian of the Armenian Orthodox Church were joined by the Rev. Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, director for unity, faith and order for the Anglican Communion, who said, “Such an agreement on the fundamental theological question about the Incarnation marks a breakthrough in over 1600 years of division.

“It is a blessing that the churches can proclaim together in such a time as this the great good news that God in Christ became human in order to enter into and save our world.”

Barnett-Cowan said that throughout the meeting the group was conscious of the violence breaking out in so many places in the Middle East.

“Anglicans and Oriental Orthodox alike, together with Christians worldwide, are united in prayer for the peace of God to come again to the region.”

The committee was received by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Cilicia, who expressed gratitude for work which brings Christians together in solidarity.

The Anglican members were also received by His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church, who was at his summer residence in Beirut.

“There we heard more about the suffering of so many people in Syria and Iraq,” said Barnett-Cowan, “and of the need for Christians and people of good will to assist with relief efforts, but also to encourage the powers of the world to ensure security.

“The Patriarchs of local churches issued a joint statement on August 7 about the situation, and Anglicans everywhere are encouraged to read it and take action as they are able.”

This statement, together with a statement of Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem from July 23, are available here and here.

The next full meeting of the Commission will take place in Cairo October 13-17, 2014.


ENS Headlines - Monday, August 11, 2014

Un grupo de líderes religiosos fue arrestado recientemente frente a la Casa Blanca en Washington cuando pedían cese de deportaciones de extranjeros indocumentados y la aprobación de una amplia ley de reforma migratoria. Entre los arrestados estuvo Minerva Carcaño, obispa de la Iglesia Metodista Unida de la conferencia California-Pacífico. La obispa dijo que “estas protestas son importantes para alcanzar una voz moral, porque no se escucha ni al Congreso, ni a la Casa Blanca”. Carcaño de 60 años y nacida en Texas es la primera mujer electa al episcopado metodista.

El periódico español El Mundo informó que ahora que el rey Juan Carlos de Borbón ha perdido su inmunidad judicial tendrá que hacerle frente a la denuncia formulada por Alberto Solá Jiménez, nacido en 1956, que pide ser reconocido como hijo biológico del ex-monarca. El periódico añade que este caso no es totalmente extraño en el ambiente de las cortes europeas.

Miguel D’Escoto, popular sacerdote católico romano durante el primer gobierno sandinista en Nicaragua, ha sido reinstalado al sacerdocio por decisión del papa Francisco. Según la amplia información sobre este caso el sacerdote de 81 años miembro de la orden Maryknoll, pidió ser reincorporado al ministerio sacerdotal para poder celebrar misa y participar de otras actividades pastorales. D’Escoto fue ministerio de relaciones exteriores de Nicaragua y todavía sigue siendo miembro del Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional.

Hirania Luzardo, editora y reportera del periódico cibernético Huffington Post, describe así la situación entre Israel y Hamás: “Llevo casi un mes que no paro de ver, escoger, editar, publicar fotos de niños muertos, heridos, de mujeres gritando de desesperación y corriendo sin rumbo, en busca del próximo escondite, donde probablemente perderán la vida. Confieso que tanta sangre me ha afectado. Confieso que en las noches reproduzco en sueños las imágenes de las agencias de prensa. Pienso que si yo fuera una de esas periodistas en la zona de conflicto, probablemente me pondría a llorar enfrente de una cámara. Estoy consciente, no estoy ajena, ni ingenuamente insensible, a que todos los días están muriendo miles de niños en otras parte del mundo y por otros motivos: hambre, tráfico de drogas, de órganos, inmigración. Y que no sentimos la magnitud de la tragedia porque no es la noticia del día. Pero ahora el conflicto que está encima de mi escritorio, delante de mis ojos, tocando mi corazón, tiene un nombre: Israel-Hamás. Y cuando veo a una niña muerta, envuelta en una sábana, pienso en la mía. Cuando veo un bebé que ni siquiera pudo llegar a su primer año de vida me quedo muda, petrificada en la silla de trabajo. Me es difícil separar los sentimientos de mujer, madre, de la objetividad periodística o frialdad con la que debo revisar y procesar ese material”.

Thomas Wenski, arzobispo de Miami, dijo en una entrevista con respecto a la situación de los niños de la frontera que “éstos merecen un trato más considerado” e informó que el gobierno de Estados Unidos está planeando “50 juicios por día por espacio de 15 minutos lo cual creemos es un trato cruel”.

Miles de gitanos de toda Europa se congregaron recientemente en los campos de concentración de Auschwitz-Birkenau en Polonia donde sus antepasados fueron exterminados en las cámaras de gas del régimen de Adolfo Hitler. Se cree que unos 220,000 gitanos de 14 países fueron asesinados por el régimen nazi. Historiadores afirman que los gitanos emigraron del norte de la India, posiblemente de la región de Rajasthan en el año 1,000 de nuestra era. Los gitanos han influenciado con su música la cultura de los pueblos donde se han asentado.

La agencia española EFE informa que expertos políticos afirman que después de 20 años de la primera protesta popular en Cuba llamada “El Maleconazo”, las cosas siguen “casi igual”. Añade además que “la represión y la miseria” son los principales instrumentos de poder del gobierno.

El maestro José Antonio Molina, director de la orquesta sinfónica nacional de la República Dominicana, ha dicho que “el llamado género urbano es un veneno para la sociedad cuyas letras incitan a la violencia”. Añadió que “nadie puede llamar a eso música en el buen sentido de la palabra”.

PERSONAL: Nina Soto, esposa del obispo Onell Soto y brazo derecho de este noticiero, ha sido diagnosticada con cáncer del seno derecho. Ahora tendrá que someterse a un tratamiento de quimioterapia por 16 semanas y posteriormente a una operación quirúrgica. Gracias a todos por sus notas de aliento y sus oraciones. Un abrazo, +OAS

Anglican Vicar of Baghdad: ‘Child I baptized cut in half by ISIS’

ENS Headlines - Friday, August 8, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The five-year-old son of a founding member of Baghdad’s Anglican church was cut in half during an attack by the Islamic State1 on the Christian town of Qaraqosh.

In an interview Aug. 8, an emotional Canon Andrew White told ACNS that he christened the boy several years ago, and that the child’s parents had named the lad Andrew after him.

Canon Andrew White Photo: Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East

“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” he said. “I baptized his child in my church in Baghdad. This little boy, they named him after me – he was called Andrew.”

The fact that Andrew’s brother was named George after St George’s Anglican Church in Iraq’s capital demonstrates the strong ties the family had to the church there. The boy’s father had been a founder member of the church back in 1998 when the Canon had first come to Baghdad. White added, “This man, before he retired north to join his family was the caretaker of the Anglican church.”

Baghdad is part of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, which is included in the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, a member church of the Anglican Communion.

Though the move north should have proved safer for the Iraqi Christian family, the Islamic State made sure that it became a place of terror. “This town of Qaraqosh is a Christian village so they knew everybody there was part of their target group,” said White. “They [the Islamic State] attacked the whole of the town. They bombed it, they shot at people.”

The Islamic State group captured Qaraqosh overnight Aug. 6/7 after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces.

ISIS, which has been called a “brutal, extremist group” and which claims to have fighters from across the world, announced the creation of a “caliphate” – an Islamic state – across its claimed territory in Iraq and Syria a month ago. There is a BBC background report here and one from the New York Times here.

The boy’s family, along with many other townspeople, has now fled to Irbil. However, news reports suggest this may be the Islamic State’s next destination.

Anglicans at the forefront of relief
The violent takeover of parts of Iraq by the Islamic State is threatening to bring about what the United Nations has said would be a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the beleaguered nation.

White said that Anglicans there have been working hard to provide a lot of support for the Christians who have fled Mosul and Nineveh to the north, as well as the many other minority groups targeted by the Islamic State.

“Anglicans are literally at the forefront of bringing help in this situation and there’s no-one else,” he said adding that the church is supplying much-needed food, water, accommodation and other relief items thanks to financial contributions from supporters overseas. The church’s activities are led by a Muslim, Dr. Sarah Ahmed.

“We need two things: prayer and money. With those two we can do something. Without those we can do nothing.”

As regards prayer, White said, “I have three ‘P’s that I always mention which is for protection, provision and perseverance. We need protection, we need to provide for those people and we need to keep going.”

It’s clear from social media posts on Facebook and Twitter that members of the Anglican Communion right across the world are praying for this situation. Many have also indicated their support for persecuted Christians in Iraq by changing their social media avatars to the Arabic symbol for “N” denoting Nazarene, which ISIS has been using to identify Christian homes.

Leaders speak out
In recent days, Anglican leaders from countries including Egypt, Wales, Brazil and South Africa have all expressed their dismay at the situation unfolding in Iraq.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby issued this statement Aug. 8 on the situation in Iraq, shortly before he travelled from the Philippines to Papua New Guinea.

Other Christian leaders have also spoken up about the situation in Iraq including Roman Catholics, who, in England and Wales, have designated Aug. 9, as a Day of Prayer for Christians in Iraq. The Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Aug. 7 wrote to the United Nations, following an emergency meeting of patriarchs, calling on the UN Security Council to “fulfill their responsibilities in stopping this genocide.”

Those wanting to assist the church in Baghdad can find more information here.


Canada: The making of Mishamikoweesh

ENS Headlines - Friday, August 8, 2014

Children and youth gathered last June at Kingfisher Lake in northern Ontario to celebrate the creation of the Anglican Church of Canada’s first indigenous diocese. Photo: Anglican Video

[Anglican Journal] Anglican Video is producing a documentary on the creation of the Spiritual Indigenous Ministry of Mishamikoweesh, the first indigenous diocese in the Anglican Church of Canada.

Lisa Barry, Anglican Video senior producer, says the documentary—which will be available in 2015—explains the genesis and evolution of the new diocese, beginning with the dream of pioneering aboriginal priest the Rev. William Winter. “This diocese was William Winter’s dream,” says Barry. “It began to be articulated at the first Sacred Circle in 1989 and it has come to fruition in the installation of Bishop Lydia [Mamakwa].”  Mamakwa’s installation and the celebration of the new diocese took place in the first week of June at Kingfisher Lake in northern Ontario.

Footage of the celebration and interviews with Mamakwa and other people in the community have already been posted on the church’s website, but the documentary is intended to provide the historical context documented by Anglican Video.

“It’s been such a privilege…to film every Sacred Circle,” says Barry, explaining that the first Sacred Circle in 1989 was the first time Anglican aboriginal clergy from across the country gathered. Barry added that it has also been a privilege to witness the changes in what was voiced in those gatherings. “What you saw at the first Sacred Circle [was] a glimmer of hope and a lot of pain…And in 1994, it was just like a river or a sea of pain, with the people sharing about residential schools and the apology,” she said. “And then it became about rebuilding. And Lydia’s installation was a… glorious moment, to see the tremendous pride and hope and just grace that was visited upon that event.” Anglican Video filmed the new diocese’s first Sacred Circle, which will be its governing body, functioning like a synod, as well as the week’s celebrations, which included evening gospel music jamborees.

Barry says she hopes the documentary will be useful when Mamakwa tells the story of Mishamikoweesh in communities and also for helping all Anglicans understand the purpose and meaning of this new indigenous diocese, especially the fact that it is not a movement to separate from the church but to create an indigenous diocese within the church. “That was what was stressed over and over again,” said Barry, explaining that the message was, “We are walking together…We are not leaving you. We are walking with you as equal partners.”

Barry said the documentary marks both an end and a beginning. “It is the fruition of this dream, but now the work is ahead.”

But Barry said the stories she has heard from people in the community indicate that Mamakwa is well equipped to lead them through new challenges. She recounted the story of one young woman who said that Mamakwa had cared for her at a time when she was despondent about the suicides of friends, inviting her to be involved and help in the church with other youth. She told Barry that many people have such stories of Mamakwa personally inviting them, watching over them, encouraging them and trying to help them to heal. “I heard so many stories like that. I think what a tremendous testament to Lydia as a leader—in her quiet way, saving her community and saving young people,” said Barry.

The video, when finished, will be available online on the church’s website and from Anglican Video.

- See more at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/the-making-of-mishamikoweesh#sthash.s69gB3pP.dpuf

Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury on Iraq

ENS Headlines - Friday, August 8, 2014

[Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, issued the following statement Aug. 8 on the situation in Iraq, shortly before he travelled from the Philippines to Papua New Guinea. He has just begun a 10-day visit to the Anglican Provinces in the Philippines and Oceania.

The horrific events in Iraq rightly call our attention and sorrow yet again. Christians and other religious minorities are being killed and face terrible suffering.

What we are seeing in Iraq violates brutally people’s right to freedom of religion and belief, as set out under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is extremely important that aid efforts are supported and that those who have been displaced are able to find safety. I believe that, like France, the United Kingdom’s doors should be open to refugees, as they have been throughout history.

The international community must document human rights abuses being committed in northern Iraq so that future prosecutions can take place. It is important and necessary for the international community to challenge the culture of impunity which has allowed these atrocities to take place.

With the world’s attention on the plight of those in Iraq, we must not forget that this is part of an evil pattern around the world where Christians and other minorities are being killed and persecuted for their faith. Only this week I received an email from a friend in Northern Nigeria about an appalling attack on a village, where Christians were killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Such horrific stories have become depressingly familiar in countries around the world, including Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

We must continue to cry to God for peace and justice and security throughout the world. Those suffering such appalling treatment in Iraq are especially in my prayers at this time.

Congo Anglicans reach out to Pygmy community

ENS Headlines - Friday, August 8, 2014

The Pygmy people’s appearance and lifestyle means they have also been marginalized by much of society (2). Photo: Creative.org

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is breaking new ground by bringing help and hope to a Pygmy1. community living in the country’s forests. 

Pygmy peoples live in several ethnic groups across the forests of central Africa. There are an estimated 250,000 to 600,000 living in the Congo rainforest alone.

These forest dwellers have lived by hunting and gathering for millennia. But in the past few decades their homelands have been devastated by logging, war and encroachment from farmers. Their appearance and lifestyle means they have also been marginalized by much of society2.

Bringing help

In an interview with ACNS , the Provincial Youth Worker for the Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo the Revd Bisoke Balikenga revealed that he is talking with the Pygmy community to find out how he and other Anglicans there can best meet its needs.

Earlier this year, Mr Balikenga and a team of other youth workers visited Bamande, a Pygmy settlement in the heart of the Equatorial rain forest. “We went to give them food and to find out how we can reach them with the Word of God,” he explained. “They were saying that they also want to learn how to read and write.”

Mr Balikenga explained that locals have been hiring the Pygmy people in Bamande to do basic chores such as laundry for them. The wages are very small: “[The Pygmy people] are surviving on less than a dollar a week,” he said.

“We gave them beans and salt and it was nice to see their reactions because many of them did not think that any church, including the Anglican Church could help them,” he said. “It is really nice to work with Pygmies because they have been neglected by many people for a long time.

“We need to organise seminars and workshops for them so that they can learn how to read and write,” he said. “We need to teach them about their health and where they can get the right medicine when they have a problem since most of them still rely on traditional medicines which are not always effective.

He added: “The Church activities are going well but we still need to do more. These people need food since a lot of them are dying of starvation, and clothes.”

Bringing hope

The Anglican Church is also thinking about how best to bring the Gospel to these forest people. “We need more evangelistic teaching among Pygmies,” said Mr Balikenga who explained that there were other churches trying to help, but were not going far enough to help Pygmy communities.

Mr Balikenga said that, regardless of their lifestyle, their poverty or lack of formal education, the Pygmy people deserve to be treated with dignity: “They should still be considered like any other human being with rights.”

By meeting both their physical and spiritual needs the Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo aims to do just that. “We need to give hope to Pygmies who are mostly neglected by the society here in Congo,” he said.


1. The term ‘Pygmy’ has gained negative connotations, but has been reclaimed by some indigenous groups as a term of identity 2. The conflict in the DRC was especially brutal for the country’s Pygmy peoples, who suffered killings and rape. In August 2008, nearly 100 were released from slavery in DRC, of whom almost half came from families who had been enslaved for generations – See http://www.survivalinternational.org/tribes/pygmies

Maryland notified of successful canonical consent process

ENS Headlines - Thursday, August 7, 2014

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Office of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has notified the Diocese of Maryland that Bishop Suffragan-Elect Heather Cook has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.

As outlined under Canon III.11.4 (a), the Presiding Bishop confirmed the receipt of consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction, and has also reviewed the evidence of consents from a majority of standing committees of the Church sent to her by the diocesan standing committee.

In Canon III.11.4 (b), Standing Committees, in consenting to the ordination and consecration, attest they are “fully sensible of how important it is that the Sacred Order and Office of a Bishop should not be unworthily conferred, and firmly persuaded that it is our duty to bear testimony on this solemn occasion without partiality, do, in the presence of Almighty God, testify that we know of no impediment on account of which the Reverend A.B. ought not to be ordained to that Holy Office. We do, moreover, jointly and severally declare that we believe the Reverend A.B. to have been duly and lawfully elected and to be of such sufficiency in learning, of such soundness in the Faith, and of such godly character as to be able to exercise the Office of a Bishop to the honor of God and the edifying of the Church, and to be a wholesome example to the flock of Christ.”

The Rev. Canon Heather Cook was elected on May 2.  Her ordination and consecration service is slated for September 6; Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will officiate.

While Bishop Suffragan-Elect Cook has received the necessary majority of consents, consents will continue to be accepted up to and including the October 3 deadline date.

Responding to Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone and Liberia

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, August 6, 2014

[Episcopal Relief & Development press release]  Episcopal Relief & Development is working with the Anglican Diocese of Bo in Sierra Leone and the Episcopal Church of Liberia in response to the Ebola epidemic that has killed hundreds of people since the current outbreak began in March 2014.  Through its local partners, the organization is supporting awareness-raising efforts and providing personal protection equipment and disinfectants to under-resourced hospitals and clinics in the affected areas.

“The disease caused by the Ebola virus is extremely serious and contagious,” said Abiy Seifu, Senior Program Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development.  “I am grateful that our partners in Sierra Leone and Liberia have acted quickly and made responding to this crisis a top priority.”

The current Ebola outbreak began in Guinea around the capital, Conakry, and four southeastern provinces bordering Sierra Leone and Liberia.  By mid-April, neighboring countries were reporting suspected cases, with confirmed cases in late May and increased spread through June and July.

Ebola is a virus that causes hemorrhagic fever, which is often fatal.  In the current crisis, as of August 1, 887 out of 1603 suspected cases (56%) have resulted in death. There is no vaccine or established cure.

Containing the virus has been a challenge due to the ease with which Ebola spreads (through contact with bodily fluids of infected individuals or eating meat from infected animals) and the long latent period of up to three weeks between infection and the appearance of symptoms.

Additionally, the high death rate and lack of successful treatment has led to popular reluctance to seek professional diagnosis or hospital care.  For this reason, or due to misconceptions about the cause of the disease, many families are choosing to treat the illness at home.  This causes further spread and makes accurate assessment of the numbers and locations of cases and deaths difficult.

In response, The Episcopal Diocese of Bo in Sierra Leone is building on its existing health programs to reach key community leaders such as priests, imams, traditional healers and chiefs with training on how to promote accurate information and encourage correct prevention and treatment practices.

“Faith leaders are respected and listened to by their communities and can therefore play an important role,” Seifu said.  “They can help head or promote education and awareness-raising campaigns to promote change in high-risk behaviors.”

The diocese is also mobilizing its network of local health volunteers to reach children and youth in schools, and to directly reach 20,000 individuals through community meetings and home visits.  Health volunteers also assist international health organizations and Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation in watching for and referring suspected cases.

In Liberia, Episcopal Relief & Development is assisting the local Church in providing necessary medical and sanitation supplies to hospitals and clinics.  These supplies include bleach for sanitizing health facilities, and disposable gloves and hand sanitizer to help protect health workers who may come into contact with infected patients.

“Health workers, volunteers and others who are at the forefront in combating this deadly disease are increasingly contracting the Ebola virus themselves,” said Seifu. “Prayers and support are needed as these people do their utmost to tend to their patients in these extremely challenging circumstances.”

To enable Episcopal Relief & Development to respond to crises like the current Ebola crisis in West Africa, please donate to the Disaster Response Fund.

Episcopal groups offer help for clergy in difficult calls

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

[The Care for Clergy in Difficult Calls Writing Project press release] The Episcopal Women’s Caucus and the Network of Episcopal Clergy Association have formed a partnership to develop The Care for Clergy in Difficult Calls Writing Project.

Conjointly, we have asked a series of individuals in and outside the Episcopal Church to share their view in order to identify the systemic issues involved in challenging calls. This project developed following  a watershed moment when in January 2014 the Diocese of Newark passed a resolution seeking that their bishop appoint a task force to explore dignity of work issues (relating to workplace bullying) in relation to clergy.

The first essay “Confronting Clergy-Congregational Conflict,” by Donald V. Romanik, president of the Episcopal Church Foundation, is here.

Our project was to ask a host of writers to address the challenge of challenging calls and the issue of workplace bullying. While the view in the first essay is the author’s own and we acknowledge that no one essay will be able to identify all the issues involved, our hope is that in and through the collection of pieces we might support what has begun locally in the Diocese of Newark and more importantly, further the conversation in the wider Episcopal Church.

In Central America, war without a name and refugees without papers

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

[Huffington Post] Editor’s note: This piece originally ran in the HuffPost LatinoVoices Blog. 

The child migrant crisis has increased awareness in the United States about violence in Central America, and for the first time, people are considering the possibility that some migrants from the region may actually be refugees. This new narrative focuses specifically on the child victims of homicide, torture, and sexual assaults that have arrived in recent months. The surge of unaccompanied minors however, cannot be seen in isolation from a legacy of protracted conflict and displacement that has gripped the region and produced refugees for nearly fifty years. Likewise, solutions to the crisis must focus on creating real options for families struggling for basic security and well-being in societies battered by decades of violent conflict and exodus.

In El Salvador, where I am the Executive Director of a human rights organization, there have been 30,000 deaths in the country since 2005. The legacy of conflict in Central America stretches back to the period of social unrest and civil war that lasted from the 1970s to the mid-1990s. During this period, hundreds of thousands were killed and millions were displaced. The violent social conflict that we are witnessing today remains largely nameless, anonymously mounting a death toll over twenty years that makes the region the most violent in the world and deadlier than it was during the civil war period. Our Human Rights Program specializes in cases of forced displacement and last year we received over 150 Salvadorans seeking international protection. Approximately 130,000 Salvadorans were internally displaced in 2012 and 60,000 fled the country. Currently, between 60-70 percent of child migrantsinterviewed over the past few months name violence as the primary reason for fleeing their homes.

The White House’s strategy to accelerate deportation, double down on border security, and minimally fund repatriation does nothing to address the conflict that produces refugees and evades the international responsibility to protect those who desperately need it. Currently, Central American families are stuck between two bad options: risk trafficking and an undocumented existence for their children in the United States, or violence and lack of opportunities at home. Short of blaming families in the Northern Triangle, politicians on both sides of the border cast the coyotes, or traffickers, as the bad guys of the humanitarian and refugee crisis. However, the reality is that for families caught in one of the world’s deadliest conflicts, the coyotes offer the best option to safeguard their children’s lives and livelihood.

Salvadorans have multiple motives for leaving, but the motives have a common origin: refugees are either running from the conflict’s bullets, or its equally murderous effects on social development and economic growth. The 2013 United Nations Human Development Report on El Salvador describes a society that is marked by inequality and violence, incapable of producing quality opportunities for its people. The report’s coordinator, Carolina Rovira, calls the situation a “vicious stew” whose ingredients include, “the fragility of family structures, the lack of quality education, the powerful social control of the gangs, the stagnation of the labor market, and lack of political leadership.” The World Bank report on El Salvador calculates the annual economic cost of the violent conflict to be over 2 billion dollars or 10.8 percent of GNP and that it costs the average business an annual 4.5 percent reduction in sales. The deteriorated social and economic conditions in the communities drive Central American families to flee the conflict before their lives are directly threatened.

Even policy makers that recognize violence as a primary cause of displacement are careful to distinguish, including in the case of the children, between those who are forced to flee directly by violence and those who are escaping the resulting economic and social conditions. This analysis justifies the orthodox policy approach to minimize the number of children who are granted international protection for fear of opening “the floodgates,” and punishes the children perceived to be seeking opportunities with swift and certain deportation.

The crisis can be resolved and regional stability can be restored through regional cooperation on strategies that create options for families in crisis, not further restricting them. Specifically, families in the Northern Triangle need options to: (1) mend family structures torn by conflict and exodus, (2) guarantee security, well-being and economic opportunity, (3) provide individuals with access to international protection when facing immediate threats of death and violence, and (4) end the protracted conflict through a peace and reconciliation process between civil society, gangs, and the government.

It will take political courage from leaders on both sides of the border to recognize the gravity of the violent conflict and break the ideological and policy paralysis around immigration and the obligation to protect. In the mean time, there is a “vicious stew” simmering south of our border, and the coyotes still have the best option on the table for the refugees who seek a way out.

– Noah Bullock is the executive director of Foundation Cristosal, a human rights and community development organization in El Salvador. 

Archbishop of Canterbury joins in World War I commemorations

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Archbishop Justin Welby carries lanterns with Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge in Mons, Belgium on Aug. 3. (Picture: PA)

[Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby joined members of the Royal Family and Britain’s Prime Minister at an event in Belgium the evening Aug. 3 to remember the entry of British soldiers into World War One in August 1914.

The service, which recalled the sacrifices of British soldiers while giving thanks for the strong friendship between former foes, was held at St. Symphorien Military Cemetery, Mons. It was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; Prince Harry; and Prime Minister David Cameron.

Also in attendance were the King and Queen of the Belgians; the President of Germany; the President of Ireland; and representatives of other countries who fought in the First World War. Five hundred people attended the event, many with personal family links to soldiers buried in the cemetery.

During the ceremony the archbishop prayed for reconciliation, asking that our “God of peace and justice” will strengthen people to “seek peace”.

In a blessing the archbishop said:
“God of peace and justice,
Who in compassion for a world
Broken by our sins of pride, desire,
selfishness and ambition,
brought reconciliation to all who seek you,
Strengthen us to seek peace and pursue it,
To forgive as we are forgiven;
And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.

The St. Symphorien Military Cemetery contains the bodies of the first and last British soldiers who died on the Western front in the First World War: Private John Parr of the Middlesex Regiment, who was fatally wounded during an encounter with a German patrol on Aug. 21, 1914, two days before the Battle of Mons; and Private George Ellison of the Royal Irish Lancers, who was killed on Nov. 11, 1918. The cemetery is shared almost equally between the Commonwealth and German dead, thanks to a Belgian, Jean Houzeau de Lehaie, who gave the land on condition that both British and German soldiers would be buried there.

The commemorative event – part of the government’s program to mark the centenary of the First World War – was organized in partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and was based around music, poetry and readings which reflect the history of the site.

Vigils and commemorations have been held all over Europe in the past few days. A service the evening of Aug. 4 at Westminster Abbey began in the last hour before the 100th anniversary of the moment that Britain was pulled into the war. The church, which was fully lit, gradually descended into darkness until all the lights and candles inside were extinguished. Lastly, the Duchess of Cornwall, representing Queen Elizabeth, snuffed out an oil lamp at near the Grave of the Unknown Warrior. The grave contains unidentifiable body buried in soil brought from France.

The darkening of the church was meant to represent the shadow of war descending on Britain. It was also meant to echo the words of then-Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey who, after telling Parliament that war was inevitable, told a friend that “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

At Westminster, only the Paschal Candle remained burning, in the Lady Chapel, “representing the Light that for ever shines in the darkness, offering us hope,” the Westminster website said.

The order of service for the vigil is here.

Queen Elizabeth joined in a local commemoration at Crathie Kirk in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, near Balmoral castle.

– Episcopal News Service contributed to this report.

Uganda’s Anglican leader says anti-gay law still needed

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

[Religion News Service] Uganda’s top Anglican leader criticized the constitutional court for striking down the country’s controversial anti-gay law on a technicality, saying the law is still needed to protect children and families from Western-imported homosexuality.

Ugandan Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali

A five-judge panel on Aug. 1 declared the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014, null and void since it was passed by parliament without the required quorum. Dismissing the law on a technicality maintains the possibility that it could be revived in a different form.

The law punishes homosexual acts with life imprisonment. President Yoweri Museveni signed the measure in February, drawing harsh criticism from Western nations and cuts in foreign aid.

Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali called the decision a disappointment for the Church of Uganda, religious leaders and many Ugandans.

“The ‘court of public opinion’ has clearly indicated its support for the Act, and we urge Parliament to consider voting again on the Bill with the proper quorum in place,” Ntagali said on Aug. 4.

Uganda’s religious leaders had widely supported the law, but opposed an earlier clause threatening the death penalty for some homosexual acts. Most Ugandan church leaders say homosexuality is against God’s order and African cultures. Such a law was needed to protect families, children and youth, the leaders stressed.

“I appeal to all God-fearing people and all Ugandans to remain committed to the support against homosexuality,” said Ntagali, whose church cut ties with the Episcopal Church, the United States-based branch of Anglicanism, after the election of an openly gay bishop in 2003.

Gays and lesbians celebrated the verdict as their victory and a sign of freedom, but analysts view it as a start of a long battle for gay rights in the country.

“I am no longer criminal,” Kasha Jacqueline, a prominent gay activist, tweeted. “We have made history for generations to come.”

David Bahati, the member of parliament who authored the bill, said the government’s attorney general will petition the Supreme Court over the ruling, giving the greatest sign that the law will be revived.

CPG names Anne Mallonee chief ecclesiastical officer

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

[The Church Pension Group press release] The Church Pension Group (CPG) announced today that the Rev. Canon Anne Mallonee will join CPG as Executive Vice President and Chief Ecclesiastical Officer on September 29, 2014.

“The role of Chief Ecclesiastical Officer is relatively new at CPG,” said Mary Kate Wold, CPG CEO and President. “It was created almost two years ago to provide dedicated, executive-level focus on church relations. The Chief Ecclesiastical Officer, who reports to me, is a key advisor to CPG on developments around the Church and how they might impact our work. When the Rev. Canon Patricia Coller announced her retirement from the role earlier this year, we undertook a national search for someone with deep experience leading complex organizations. Anne Mallonee’s years of service in various institutions around the Church made her the right fit for the role. We are delighted to welcome her to the CPG team.

For the past ten years, Canon Mallonee has been serving as Vicar and a member of the Senior Leadership Team at Trinity Wall Street, New York City. Before that, she spent several years as Interim Dean at Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford, CT, and served for six years at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark, Minneapolis, MN, the last two as Acting Dean. She began her ministry in the Diocese of Kansas, where she was ordained.

“I am delighted and deeply honored to join this dedicated team and to be part of CPG’s unwavering commitment to the well-being of those who serve The Episcopal Church,” she said.

A graduate of the University of Kansas, Canon Mallonee received her M.Div. from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University, where she also served on the Board of Trustees and was a member of the 2014 Dean and President Search Committee. She is a Trustee of the Diocese of New York and a member of the boards of the Alliance for Downtown New York and the Children’s Radio Foundation.

Early in her career, Canon Mallonee worked for Henson Associates, the producers of the Muppets. When she entered the ordination process, she received a scholarship to attend seminary from that organization.