Bishops Speak out on Resumption of Death Penalty for Drugs Offenders in Sri Lanka
The bishops of the Church of Ceylon have spoken out after reports that Sri Lanka’s President and Cabinet have moved to reinstate the death penalty for prisoners convicted of drugs offences. There has been a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in the country since 1976, with sentences of death commuted to life imprisonment. But now President Maithripala Sirisena has said that he will sign execution orders for people convicted of drug trafficking who are said to be continued to be involved in offences despite being in prison. The move has been opposed groups as diverse as the Human Rights Commission, the European Union, Amnesty International and the country’s Anglican Church.
Young Pakistani Christians Hold Discussion on the Role of Youth in Nation-Building
A group of 40 young Christians from the united Church of Pakistan, the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan, and the Roman Catholic Church have met to discuss the country’s forthcoming general elections. The event, on the role of young people in nation building in Pakistan, was organized by the National Council of Churches in Pakistan and the Christian Conference of Asia with the Centre for Social Justice. Organizers say it was designed to build awareness among young Christians and encourage them “to exercise their democratic rights to choose the future leaders of the country.”
Bishops Act Following “Dramatic and Profoundly Uncomfortable” #MeToo Listening Exercise
Bishops in the US-based Episcopal Church (TEC) have adopted a covenant committing them to seek change after hearing personal stories of abuse, harassment and exploitation. Ahead of the Church’s General Convention – the triennial governing synod of the province currently taking place in Austin, Texas – the bishops took part in a “special listening liturgy” to acknowledge the #MeToo movement. They then adopted “A Working Covenant for the Practice of Equity and Justice for All in The Episcopal Church” which commits them to seeking change.
Regional Conference Equips Christians for Mission and Evangelism in South India
One hundred delegates from six dioceses in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have attended a regional missionary conference. During the event, hosted by Dornakal Diocese, the delegates discussed how “to spread and propagate the unconditional love and compassion of Christ through our deeds and words to all,” the Church of South India’s Mission and Evangelism Director, Maxcin John, said. “We are never ever for any religious fundamentalism or extremism. On the other hand, we should stand together for religious harmony, peace, justice and reconciliation in our living context”.
Church of English Bishops in Nationwide Evangelism and Church Planting Drive
Nearly half of C of E churches have fewer than five under 16-year olds, a report to next month’s General Synod says. But the Church is seeking to change this through a new Youth Evangelism Task Group chaired by the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Paul Williams; who has also become the lead bishop on youth evangelism. The Church has also appointed a national Youth Evangelism Officer, Jimmy Dale, as part of “structural change” designed to tackle “the challenge the Church of England faces in reaching and discipling young people.”
Swaziland Diocese Holds on to National Environmental Awards
The Diocese of Swaziland has held on to two national environmental awards. The diocese itself retained its title as the best Environmentally Active Faith Based Organization in the Kingdom; while young Green Anglican Mncedisi Masuku retained the title of Young Eco-Hero. Both recipients were awarded the awards when they were first granted in 2016; and retained them when this year’s Temvelo Awards were presented in Swaziland’s Royal Convention Centree.
Archbishop in Jerusalem Urges Anglicans to Work for Reconciliation
The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, has stressed the need for reconciliation amongst Anglicans. Speaking to delegates at the Gafcon event being held in the city, Archbishop Suheil spoke of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s work of reconciliation in the Holy Land, and emphasized the importance of the Church being one. This message featured in a homily delivered at an evensong in St George’s Cathedral on Sunday attended by some 200 of the Gafcon participants, including more than 70 bishops; and repeated in a welcome message to the Gafcon event being held in Jerusalem’s International Convention Centre.
Across the World, Anglicans are Working to Provide Support and Care for Refugees
Today – 20 June – is World Refugee Day, when the world is called to remember the millions of individuals fleeing their countries as refugees; and the millions more internally displaced people stranded within their country with no home to go to. In the middle of this crisis, across the Communion, Anglicans are responding.
In a statement released today, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, called on the Church to lift up these millions of people in their prayers, and reflected on ministry to refugees that he had seen on his travels.
“Day of Jubilation” as New Primate Enthroned for Province de L’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda
Thousands of people from across Rwanda – including the Prime Minister – and scores of guests from overseas packed into a stadium in the capital, Kigali, for the enthronement of the new Primate of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, Archbishop Laurent Mbanda.
In his charge, the Archbishop thanked his House of Bishops for doing him the honour of electing him to be their leader. He pledged to work hard for the Province and to maintain the team spirit and unity among the bishops. A former vice president of Compassion International, he said his experience would help him to build the Church. He also spoke of the Church being a blessing to the Anglican Communion.
Church of South India Looks to Establish “Child-Friendly Churches” in Karnataka North
Sunday school teachers and Christian educators from the Diocese of Karnataka North in the united Church of South India have received training to develop child-friendly churches. They gathered at the CSI Synod Centre in Chennai for three days of training, sponsored by Evangelical Mission in Solidarity, a German-based mission agency. The training was organized as part of a challenge “to reach out to children with a commitment to establish God’s reign in this present world.”
“Our Faith, Our Way”: 8,000 gather to mark two decades of Hong Kong’s Anglican province
Celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (HKSKH), the Anglican Church in Hong Kong, have got underway with a gathering of 8,000 people at AsiaWorld-Expo. The large gathering of teachers, social-workers, priests and parishioners was a celebration of the evangelism, education, social service ministries of the Church.
Archbishop of Canterbury says a Reconciled Church can Dispel the “Fear of the ‘Other’”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has spoken of the danger that “fear of the other” poses to “Christian witness and presence”. Speaking to the General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches, meeting in Novi Sad, Serbia, he said that churches working together can help to break down the walls that others seek to build. “The Church breaks across boundaries and frontiers as if they did not exist,” he said. “By being in Christ, I am made one by God in a family that stretches around the world and crosses cultural, linguistic and ecumenical frontiers, driven by the Spirit who breaks down all the walls that we seek to erect.”
Korean Churches Plan Prayer Vigil as US – North Korean Diplomacy Heats Up
A planned summit between the US and North Korea next month looks increasingly to be in doubt, as rhetoric between the two nations increase. But churches on the peninsula are continuing their plans for a prayer vigil outside the US embassy in Seoul ahead of the scheduled 12 June meeting between US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore. The regional ecumenical group the National Council of Churches in Korea has planned the prayer vigil to express its hope for lasting peace on the peninsula.
Diocese of Tasmania to Sell Churches to Fund Redress to Victims of Abuse
The Bishop of Tasmania has published a list of 78 parish properties that could be sold to fund redress to victims of abuse. The majority of the properties in the provisional list are churches, but it also includes rectories, rental properties and vacant land. In a pastoral letter to the people of the diocese last month, Bishop Richard Condie revealed that the diocese is liable for around $8 million AUD (approximately £4.5 million GBP). The proposals will be debated by the diocesan Synod meeting in Launceston on Saturday.
“Redress is so important,” Bishop Richard said. “It’s a vital step in providing restorative justice, recognition and support to survivors of sexual abuse. The Prophet Isaiah teaches that God loves justice and calls us to make recompense for those who have been wronged. As people committed to God’s restoration of the world, we have an obligation to provide this.”
Bishop of Hawaii “Marvels at God’s Creation” as Kilauea’s Volcanic Eruption Continues
No churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii are in the path of the lava flow emanating from the Kilauea volcanic eruption, diocesan bishop Robert Fitzpatrick said. The volcano on Hawaii’s “Big Island” – the island of Hawai’i – has been continuously erupting since 1983; but on 3 May, several new lava vents opened up in the lower Puna area following a 6.9 magnitude earthquake. On 17 May, the volcano erupted explosively, throwing 30,000 feet of ash into the air. As the lava reaches sea water, it is being turned into dangerous clouds of hydrochloric gas containing tiny particles of glass.
Bishop Robert said, “As we say our prayers those most impacted and as we do what we can to help, we still marvel at God’s creation.”
Emergency appeal launched by overwhelmed Anglican hospital in Gaza City
The Anglican Diocese in Jerusalem has launched an emergency appeal for funds to support its al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City. The Anglican-run hospital has been overwhelmed by the number of casualties sustained during protests across the Gaza strip this month.
“Our Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza had been literally working around the clock to serve the wounded from the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip ever since the United States formally opened its Embassy in Jerusalem on 14 May 14,” Archbishop Suheil Dawani, the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem and Primate of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, said. “The wounded coming to our hospital have no money, but no one is ever turned away. Most of the men, women, and children who are treated at [the hospital] have been injured from live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas intoxication.
Anglican Priest in Mexico Honoured for Work in US for Female Victims of Violence
The Mexican government has bestowed an honour on an Anglican priest in recognition of her work helping female victims of violence in the US. The Revd María Elena Daniel Cristerna was presented with the Ohtli Award at the Mexican Consulate at Eagle Pass, Texas, earlier this month. Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told ACNS that Cristerna was one of 10 Ohtli Awards given to “Mexicans and friends of Mexico, who have dedicated their lives and professional activities, to forging a path for the Mexican community abroad” as part of the 156th anniversary of the Battle of Puebla and Cinco de Mayo.
Trio of Church Bombings in Surabaya Heralds the Start of Wave of Terror in Indonesia
Three churches in Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia, were attacked Sunday in a co-ordinated terror attack said to have been carried out by members of a single family. At least 13 people were killed when bombs exploded at the city’s Gereja Kristen Indonesia (Christian Church of Indonesian) in Jalan Diponegoro; the Church of Immaculate Santa Maria, in Gubeng District; and the Pentecostal Church on Jalan Arjunodate. Police foiled two further attacks.
Navajoland Sees New Uses for Old Hospital as Presiding Bishop Blesses Re-Consecrated Chapel
The Navajoland Area Mission is committed to fixing up one of its historic buildings in Farmington, New Mexico, as a labour of love. It would be easier and cheaper simply to demolish the 1922 structure, but this is no ordinary building. It originally served as an Episcopal hospital catering to the Navajo people. Generations of Navajo were born and treated at the hospital until it closed about 50 years ago. The hospital’s chapel remained in use until about a decade ago, when it too was closed, out of safety concerns.
Because of its deteriorating condition, saving the building is a herculean task, but through Episcopal Church grants, additional fundraising efforts and the dedication of Navajoland officials, a two-year restoration project had advanced enough to reopen the chapel last week in time for it to be re-consecrated and blessed during Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s recent visit to Navajoland.
South Sudanese in the US call on diaspora to join together “as a force for peace”
A group of South Sudanese expatriates living in the US have met to discuss “obstacles and the foundations for reconciliation and peace-building” in their native land. In a message to other ex-pats issued at the end of the conference organized by the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of the Sudans, they said: “We realized our need for a stronger and more unified voice.” And they are calling on other South Sudanese in North America to unite for peace.
Christian Families Show Love to Chile’s most Vulnerable Children through Temporary Shelter
Churches in Chile are working together to create a network of host families to help provide shelter for vulnerable children. The Welcome Movement, which is supported by the Diocese of Chile, part of the Anglican Church of South America, held a conference last month as they sought to recruit “Families of Specialised Shelters”. The overarching message from the conference was that “it is time we loved not only in words, but with concrete actions for our children.”
Hundreds Walk on Toronto’s “Via Dolorosa” in Memory of Van Attack Victims
An estimated 200 people gathered Monday, April 30 at the site of the 23 April Toronto van attack for an Anglican-organized prayer walk and vigil in memory of the victims. The walk, organized by the diocese of Toronto’s York Mills deanery, began at the intersection of Yonge and Finch streets, just north of where the first victim was struck by the speeding van. Following a prayer by Kevin Robertson, area bishop of York-Scarborough, participants walked southward along part of the alleged assailant’s route, past makeshift memorials of flowers, until they reached the Anglican Church of St George on Yonge, near which another pedestrian had been killed.
Documentary Profiling the Fight Against Sexual Abuse in Congo Wins Human Rights Award
The 2017 Human Rights Award, which is issued jointly by the ecumenical World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) and Signis, a membership body for Roman Catholic media professionals, has gone to Dieudo Hamadi’s “Maman Colonelle”. The film profiles the work of Honorine Munyole, a Congolese police officer who is responsible for a small unit protecting women and children in Bukavu in Eastern Congo, known for its high frequency of rape.
The eastern portion of the DRC faces particular challenges in sexual violence towards women. There are hundreds of thousands of victims, young and old, facing crushing psychological, physical and social consequences. The film depicts the ways in which society blames them, and does not see them as the victims they are, therefore denying them justice and human rights.
Faith Leaders Unite to Oppose Plans for New Coal Mine in Northern Queensland
More than 50 religious leaders from across Australia have called on Gautam Adani, chairman and founder of the Adani Group, to abandon plans to build a new coal mine in Northern Queensland. In an open letter delivered on 18 April to representatives of the Adani Group at their Townsville office, the coalition of Christian ministers – including Anglicans Bishop Philip Huggins of the Diocese of Melbourne and Dean of Brisbane’s Cathedral Dr Peter Catt – Rabbis, Imams, Buddhists and Religious Sisters said they oppose all new coal mining in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. The faith leaders argued that the environmental impact of a new mine would be “too great”, while the economic rationale was “grasping at short-term profits from a thermal coal industry in worldwide structural decline” and could not provide the long-term jobs the region needs. Instead, they urged Mr Adani to invest his company’s wealth into renewable energies.
Funerals Held as 157 Victims of the Genocide in Rwanda Buried in Ruhango Memorial
The recently discovered bodies of 157 victims of the Rwandan Genocide have been laid to rest in a former Anglican Church, alongside the bodies of 36,700 victims already buried there. On 15 April 1994, more than 25,000 people seeking refuge and sanctuary at the Ruhango Episcopal Anglican Church were slaughtered. The church is now a memorial for the victims. The scenes at Ruhango were repeated at other churches across Rwanda. While several of them have been turned into memorials; Ruhango is the only Anglican church that has become a memorial site.
Faith Leaders call for Urgent Climate Change Action at Commonwealth Leaders’ Meeting
The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has joined more than 170 other faith leaders from across the Commonwealth urging the 53 member-nation governments to turn “words into action” on climate change. The heads of government are meeting in London this week for their biennial CHOGM summit. The Anglican Communion is playing a significant role in official Commonwealth youth, women, business and citizens forums; and in a parallel programme of events. In a letter published in London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, the faith leaders say that “not even the remotest corner of the Commonwealth remains unaffected” by climate change, and that the greatest impact is felt by the group’s poorest people.
We, faith leaders from across the Commonwealth, representing peoples of Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Europe and the Americas, come together in friendship and co-operation to mark the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London,” the faith leaders say in their letter. “Not even the remotest corner of the Commonwealth remains unaffected or unthreatened by the impacts of climate change. Commonwealth citizens, especially the poorest, struggle to thrive amidst our changing climate.
Salisbury “Service of Cleansing and Celebration” to be Held Following Nerve Agent Incident
Sites across the centre of Salisbury remain cordoned off more than a month after Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious on a bench in the city centre. They were later found to have been poisoned by Novichok, a nerve-agent linked to the Russian government. On Sunday, the Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, will lead a “service of cleansing and celebration” in the parish church of St Thomas’, not far from where the Skripals were found
Mr Skripal, 66, a former Russian military intelligence officer who acted as a double agent for the UK’s intelligence services, remains in hospital in Salisbury; but is reported to be responding to treatment and is no longer in a critical condition. His 33-year-old daughter Yulia was released from hospital this week and is said to be living with police protection. British authorities have said that a “military grade nerve agent” called Novichok, was used in the attack. The international community has laid the blame for the attack on the Russian government. More than 150 Russian diplomats working in 29 countries, as well as NATO and the UN, have been expelled.
Bishop’s Fear of “a Government that has Become a Nightmare to the Poor and the Minorities”
The Moderator of the united Church of South India, Bishop Thomas K Oommen, has accused the Indian government of being “a danger to the very fabric” of the country. In an open letter, Bishop Thomas accuses the government of adopting “Hindutva supremacist ideology” – an extreme form of Hindu nationalism; in a country whose constitution “declares liberty, equality, and fraternity as its ideals; assures social, economic and political justice to the citizens of India; offers liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship; provides equality of status and opportunity to all the people; and strives to promote fraternity among all the citizens.”
Anglican Leaders Pay Tribute Following the Death of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
Tributes have been paid to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of the late South African anti-apartheid leader and President Nelson Mandela, who died on Monday at the age of 81. The Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, is currently in London for a meeting of the Lambeth Conference 2020 Design Group. He told ACNS: “I send my condolences to the family. I am humbled to have known her. I admired and respected her. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.”
Mothers’ Union Steps in to Help Snow-Trapped Medics’ Unplanned Hospital Stay
When the “Beast from the East” blanketed much of the UK with large amounts of snow at the beginning of March, many roads were impassable, leaving many essential services short of staff. In hospitals around the country, nurses and doctors opted remain at their hospitals in their non-working hours, to ensure they were there for the start of their next shifts. In Newcastle, in the north-east of England, the chaplaincy department at the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust teamed up with the diocesan branch of the Mothers’ Union to provide essential toiletry kits to staff.