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Weekly News Summary on Tuesday 9 June 2020

Posted on: June 9, 2020 4:58 PM
Related Categories: Global

Anglican priest shelters 70 people after flooding in Burundi

Intensive heavy rains have forced hundreds of families to leave their homes in Gatumba, a district of western Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. The Anglican Church in the region have been working to alleviate the suffering: one priest sheltered 70 people who were forced from their homes.

He said that the situation is likely to become harder as rains continue to fall. “Victims, especially children and other vulnerable people, also face the threat of disease caused by poor sanitation and pollution”, the Anglican Church of Burundi said on its Facebook page. “For those people who have been affected emergency help is needed urgently not only to prevent an epidemic breaking out but also to provide appropriate shelter, food and clothing.”

Situated along the shore of Lake Tanganyika, Gatumba is particularly vulnerable to flooding when water levels of the lake rises and the Rusizi River floods during prolonged rains.

“Much damage has been caused mainly affecting houses and crops while in other localities the rain has damaged roads”, the Church said. “Some people use boats to access their houses where there was normally a street. Some schools and churches have had to close until the water recedes and buildings dry out.

“Families whose houses have been flooded are finding shelter in churches that remain unaffected and on building sites. Some are sleeping alongside the main road that joins Bujumbura to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Victims say that they have lost all their belongings except some clothes.”


Archbishop of Cape Town: “We are tired, sick to death [and] exhausted at the seemingly never-ending struggle that people of colour still face”

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, joined other Christian leaders in a multi-faith vigil on Sunday to stand in solidarity with people who have died at the hands of law enforcement officers during lockdown in South Africa and abroad. Two vigils took place: one outside St George's Cathedral in Cape Town and another outside St Alban's cathedral in Pretoria.

Speaking at the Cape Town vigil, Archbishop Thabo said: “We are gathered here because Black Lives Matter, whether in South Africa, the United States, France, Australia or elsewhere.

“Our prayers here today have been for Collins Khoza and all those he represents in South Africa who have been killed by forces deployed by the State to enforce lockdown regulations. They have been for George Floyd and all those he represents in the United States, for Adama Traore and all those he represents in France, and for David Dungay, an indigenous Australian who died saying ‘I can't breathe’, and all those he represented.”

Archbishop Thabo added: “We are here because we are tired, sick to death, exhausted, at the seemingly never-ending struggle that people of colour still face, well into the 21st century, 50 years after the American civil rights struggle, 25 years after the end of political apartheid, to be treated equally by arms of the State.

“We are here because we protest against the wanton, unnecessary use of violence by police and soldiers who break the laws they are entrusted to uphold and assault protestors of whatever race who declare that Black Lives Matter.

“We are shocked at the way in which the SA National Defence Force, with the most rudimentary, inadequate reasoning imaginable, has exonerated its soldiers of any culpability in Mr Khosa's death, and at the repudiation of their minister's statement that the matter has not been finalised.

“We are shocked at the blatant disrespect for law and order shown by members of the Buffalo, New York police squad, 57 of whom resigned from their unit not because two of their number were implicating in assaulting a 75-year-old man, inflicting head injuries, but because the two were suspended.

“In South Africa, when President Ramaphosa announced that he would send law enforcement forces to our communities, he made a clear plea to both the police and the military that this should not be a time for ‘skiet en donder’ [violent action]. His words have fallen on deaf ears.”

In recent days, at least 12 people have reportedly died in South Africa at the hands of the police and army troops. “We recognise that investigations are still ongoing,” Archbishop Thabo said, “but we are deeply concerned that the plight of our sisters and brothers is going unnoticed and forgotten.”


Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of US-based Episcopal Church addresses overlapping crises

[Edited from a report by Egan Millard for the Episcopal News Service] The Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, opened an online meeting of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council yesterday (Monday) with a rousing, emotional address that acknowledged the suffering and anguish caused by the overlapping crises of the past three months: the Covid-19 pandemic, racial violence and police brutality against African Americans, and the government’s sometimes-violent reaction to protests.

Quoting from Isaiah 40, Curry simultaneously expressed the spiritual pain and exhaustion of this moment, the solace of faith in God and the need for the church to double down on its commitment to justice, even “when the cameras are gone.”

“We’re not going to quit,” Curry said. “We’re going to stay the course.”

Curry praised the way Episcopalians have risen to the occasion and engaged with the various issues that have arisen in recent weeks, and he gave an impassioned and unvarnished assessment of the political and cultural forces responsible.

“We have seen false representations of Christianity and Christian nationalism on display for all the world to see,” Curry said. “We have seen the blatant face of the brutality of racism that is very often far more subtle and pernicious and systemic and institutional. But we have seen its brutal face. We have seen fundamental challenges to the ideals of freedom, justice and human equality. . . We have seen fundamental challenges to the democratic fabric of American society, something I never thought I would live to see.

“We have seen a ruthless virus, a plague in the land, sickness and death and hardship visited to one degree or another on all of us, but particularly on the most vulnerable among us. And it has exposed inequities and moral wrongs that shouldn’t be in our land, or in our world.”

The Executive Council is meeting to “sketch out visions and plans for the church’s future in a world that bears little resemblance to the one that existed when council last met in person, in February.”

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Christian communicators condemn police attacks on journalists in the US

The North American chapter of the World Association for Christian Communication has joined with the Associated Church Press and Religion Communicators Council to call on American law enforcement authorities “to immediately cease their interference and abuse of journalists as they cover protests against police brutality and the extrajudicial killings of Black Americans.”

The Anglican Communion is a member of the World Association for Christian Communication. In their statement, the groups say that “American democracy is built on the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and an unhindered free press. Recently televised and photographed arrests of journalists who have been shot at, tear–gassed, clubbed, shoved, and otherwise abused, represent an intentional targeting of the press and have prevented the practice of their constitutional rights.

“We recognise the complex and ever-evolving nature of demonstrations, however, law enforcement violently impeding journalists’ ability to cover the protests limits free speech and narrows the scope of the coverage.”

The groups say that “preventing the exercise of an independent press in any way is an affront to democracy and the values of a free society. This sentiment is exacerbated by repeated claims of ‘fake news’ and naming the press as ‘enemies of the state’ by the United States president. We call on him, and all elected leaders in America, to strongly affirm the constitutional rights of a free press and take swift action to ensure the safety of journalists.”


Archbishops in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia issue call for prayer

The Archbishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia have called on Christians in the Church to pray for thanksgiving, prayer and heartfelt reflection in the lead up to Te Pouhere Sunday. Te Pouhere is the name of the constitution of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, which is built on three tikangas, or cultural streams.

Each tikanga is led by an Archbishop who, uniquely in the Anglican Communion, combine as the province’s Primate. Archbishops Don Tamihere (Aotearoa), Philip Richardson (New Zealand) and Fereimi Cama (Polynesia) are calling on Anglicans in the islands to reflect and pray on the church's three-Tikanga identity in the light of the big issues rocking the world at this time.

“Firstly, the Archbishops highlight our nations’ responses to the global coronavirus pandemic, calling on their Church to offer prayer for those who have suffered, and thanksgiving for those who have served during these hard times”, Anglican Taonga says. “As we move toward Te Pouhere Sunday – when this Church gives thanks for our three-Tikanga life – the Archbishops have called on Anglicans to pray for hearts and minds that are open to the kind of reconciliation and change that will help dismantle racism in all its forms.”

The Archbishops' call to prayer and thanksgiving can be read on Anglican Taonga.