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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.

Rapidísimas

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.

Notes

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.