Jerusalem Church Leaders urge halt to West Bank annexation plans
The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Archbishop Suheil Dawani, is one of 13 senior church leaders to put their name to a statement calling on the State of Israel not to unilaterally annex land in the West Bank. The statement, issued by the Council of the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, says it views the plans “with the utmost concern” and say that they “would bring about the loss of any remaining hope for the success of the peace process.”
The statement also calls on the USA, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United Nations “to respond to these unilateral annexation plans with a time-delimited and phased Peace Initiative in line with International Law and United Nations resolutions on the matter, in order to guarantee a comprehensive, just, and long-lasting peace in this part of the world that is considered Holy by the three Abrahamic Faiths.”
And they urge the Palestinian Liberation Organisation “to resolve its internal disputes – as well as any conflicts with other factions that are not under its umbrella – in order to present a unified front dedicated to achieving peace and the building of a viable State that is founded upon pluralism and democratic values.”
The statement, which has also been signed by the Greek Patriarch Theophilos III, and the Custos, Father Francesco Patton, amongst others, can be read in full on the Diocese of Jerusalem’s website.
Church of Ireland Primates commend “sacrifice of personal liberty”
The Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, John McDowell and Michael Jackson, have issued a statement today (Tuesday) in response to indications by the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom and the devolved administration in Northern Ireland, on “road-maps” to gradually ease the lockdowns in each territory. The Church of Ireland is an all-island Anglican Church which serves both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“Although the road maps differ somewhat from one another, they all point to a gradual and a graduated easing of restrictions”, the Archbishops said. “Each is set out in stages and presupposes that movement to the next stage will require satisfactory progress against certain criteria. It is acknowledged that there may be setbacks.
“We want to thank all of those in the Church of Ireland community and far beyond who, by their sacrifice of personal liberty, have made progress to this point possible. We especially wish to thank all of those who have self-isolated and all who have strictly observed the guidelines laid down by public health authorities. It has often been far from comfortable to do so.
“We wish also to commend those who have been involved in reaching out into their parishes and communities to maintain the work and witness of the Church; through online services of worship; through parish initiatives to maintain a sense of togetherness; and through action with other groups and projects. In short, by serving God, “not only with our lips but in our lives.”
Addressing a potential re-opening of churches for public worship, they said: “As progress is made, there is an inevitable eagerness to return to our old patterns of worship. That is our hope too in the long run. In the meantime, as with any other gatherings which have the potential to spread the Covid-19, progress towards that goal will be gradual.
“A return to even small gatherings for worship will require close observance of both social distancing and hygiene requirements as laid down by the public health authorities. Even where such gathering for worship is permitted, it may well require each parish to carry out an evaluation and risk assessment.
“For now, we thank God for the vocation he has given us to worship him, to care for his people, for our neighbours and for and his world. We thank you for being faithful in living out that vocation in troubled and uncertain times and for moving forward in faith, in hope and in love.”
Thy Kingdom Come global wave of prayer continues despite international lockdown
The annual Thy Kingdom Come global prayer initiative will take place this year but in a different format. The initiative began as a call to prayer for evangelisation within the Church of England but has grown into an international movement across the Anglican Communion and amongst churches of many denominations. Thy Kingdom Come has become characterised by mass public gatherings and worship through “beacon events”; but has been radically revamped this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
New resources have been created to enable churches, families and individuals to pray and worship in their homes, through a suite of adapted resources, in line with social distancing guidelines. A dthis year, in addition to praying for others to know the love of Christ, Christians taking part in Thy Kingdom Come are being encouraged to practically demonstrate their love and care through action during the 11 days from Ascension to Pentecost in an initiative called “Prayer and Care”.
“It seems we are having to reinvent everything this year”, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said. “Thy Kingdom Come, which is normally a time of gathering and of being together, is now to be done at home. Well, praise God. That’s where the church began – in people’s homes, in people’s houses and where in many parts of the world it still happens.
“Let us regain our confidence as we pray between Ascension and Pentecost this year, praying for the coming of the Spirit that all may know that Jesus Christ is risen, that Jesus Christ is Lord, And in His life and love, there is hope and peace, and call and purpose. May God bless you in your times of prayer, may you know His living presence in your home. Amen.’
Resources and further information can be found on the Thy Kingdom Come website.
ARCIC holds online meeting to discuss moral discernment
This year’s meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) is taking place online. Representatives from both Churches are holding four days of talks using the Zoom platform to discuss “moral discernment”. They are exploring how Anglicans and Roman Catholics “work out what we believe to be good ethical teaching” a staff member on the Anglican side told ACNS.
The representatives will discuss how the Church “finds its way through the mazes and traps of the complex diverse world in which we live; how is it faithful to scripture, to the voice of the Spirit, to the institution of the Church and its magisterium where that exists, and how do we share and learn from each other in this task of discernment of ethics”.
Mission agency-backed arts and craft micro business shifts production to Covid-19 PPE
A small business staffed by men and women with disabilities making craft items in Tanzania has halted its normal production process and is now turning out personal protective equipment (PPE) for the country’s medical community. Neema Crafts, pioneered and led by Church Mission Society, made the switch in January and is now manufacturing PPE for Tanzania’s hospitals, medical centres and key frontline workers.
They workers are now producing 800 masks, 120 face shields and 50 gowns per week, from the safety of their own homes. With no national health service in Tanzania, the aim is to help protect the lives of front-line workers against Covid-19 as well as supporting the livelihoods of people with disabilities in the Iringa region, as they work from home, CMS said.
“We are proud of how the team at Neema Crafts have risen to the challenge of producing PPE”, CMS mission partners Ben and Katy Ray, the directors of Neema Crafts, said. “It will ensure our disabled artisans continue to receive an income and it could mean the difference between life and death for hospital workers in our region.”
98-year-old Canadian World War II veteran rings church bell to mark 75th anniversary of VE Day
Commemorations to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day – the end of the Second World War in Europe – on Friday (8 May) were muted and curtailed around the world because of the global Covid-19 lockdown. In the Canadian city of Barrie in Central Ontario, a 98-year-old veteran William Snow marked the anniversary by striking the bell at Saint Margaret of Scotland Anglican Church 75 times.
It was one of nine churches in the city which rang their bells on VE Day. “Hearing the church bells today don't have the same meaning to the public”, Royal Canadian Air Force Association Director Bill Sergeant told CTV News, “but at the same time, it's a way of remembering for whom the bell tolls.”
Hundreds of schools to sing virtual “thank you” as song goes viral
A school chaplain in England has spoken of her delight after a song written to share hope during Coronavirus closures went viral, with more than a hundred schools now preparing to record their own versions. The song, Looking To The Rainbow, was originally composed by Becky Drake for the Bluecoat Church of England School in Birmingham, but now more than 100 schools across the Church School network and beyond will also sing the song in time for Thank a Teacher Day on 20 May.
The song is now being promoted as part of the Church of England’s #FaithAtHome initiative, which launched earlier this month. The C of E’s Chief Education Officer, Nigel Genders, is encouraging schools to get involved. The song also has the backing of the official Thank a Teacher Day campaign, run by the Teaching Awards Trust.
The C of E said that any school across the world is welcome to take part. Comprehensive instructions for school leaders can be downloaded from the Worship for Everyone website – videos can be shared with the organisers who will edit a compilation video in time for Thank a Teacher Day on 20 May.
“I wrote this song to bring some joy to the children I work with and give them hope that we won’t be in lockdown forever”, Becky Drake said. “When I first saw the children singing the words I was moved to tears!
“I’m delighted to see other schools using the song of hope with their own communities as part of the Faith at Home campaign. I hope it will be a blessing to many families and teachers, and generate a sense of unity across the country.”
Mission agency chief undertakes world preaching tour – in 24 hours
The General Secretary of the Anglican mission agency USPG has completed a 24-hour marathon missionary tourm addressing churches in 22 countries over the Zoom digital conferencing platform. During his tour, Dormer “travelled” some 60,000 miles from Aotearoa to the Windward Islands – the equivalent flights would have emitted 15,000 kg of carbon dioxide.
“At a time when the world is facing a common threat, albeit the impact of Covid-19 varies in different in parts of the world, now is a really important moment to reach out and express our global solidarity as sisters and brothers in Christ,” he said. “As a global mission agency, USPG is seeking to do that via its General Secretary bringing greetings to churches, offering biblical reflections and preaching across the world.”
He began his 24-hour preach at 10.30pm GMT on Saturday 2 May and “visited” Bangladesh, Belize, Brazil, Cameroon, Fiji, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, The Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga and the Windward Isles.
The mission agency said that they think such an initiative was a first for virtual preaching “and very possibly a world record too.”