Review begins into post Covid-19 priorities of the Anglican Communion Office
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, is to chair of a review into the operational priorities of the Anglican Communion Office. The review was proposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, and accepted by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council during an online meeting last week.
The Anglican Communion Office is the secretariat for the Instruments of Communion – the four bodies which hold the Anglican Communion together: the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates’ Meeting, the Lambeth Conference and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The staff in the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) serve the Communion through co-ordination, networking and relationship building in the areas of mission and discipleship, theological education, gender justice, representation to the United Nations, communications, and administration – including finance and support for meetings and events.
The review team will consult with primates – the leaders of the 40 national and regional independent yet interdependent autonomous churches of the Anglican Communion – and others, including departmental directors at the ACO, to help determine new operational priorities for the Anglican Communion going forward, as the world emerges from the post Covid-19 global lockdown.
“The Church around the world now faces a whole host of new challenges and mission priorities than it could have envisaged just a few short months ago”, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said. “A ‘new normal’ is emerging. It is too early to say what that ‘new normal’ will look like, but it is clear that the assumptions and priorities of the past are not the assumptions and priorities for the future. The work and ministry of our member churches is being changed. We need to change too, in order to help them in that work and ministry.
“One thing won’t change is the priority of all of us to be God’s Church in God’s World; but the world has changed and this review will help us to discern how we be God’s Church in these changing times.”
Major new resource equips churches to tackle Covid-19-related Domestic Abuse
A major new resource by the Anglican Alliance and Anglican Consultative Council will equip churches to recognise and take action to prevent domestic abuse. The resource, Domestic Abuse and COVID-19: How Churches can respond, says that lockdown measures and restrictions on movement can “have an impact on the prevalence and severity of domestic abuse and gender based violence”, and adds that “the increased fear, tension and lack of money can worsen a toxic environment where abuse can thrive unchallenged.”
It goes on to say that “the Church is well placed within communities to be a light and refuge in times of need and can reach into communities where governments cannot. Our Christian call is to love one another as Christ loved us and not to turn away from our own flesh and blood.”
The resource includes sections on what the Bible says about abuse, what domestic abuse is, and how big an issue domestic abuse is. It looks at the impact of Covid-19 on domestic abuse sets out practical action for church leaders and good neighbours; advice for victims and survivors; and challenges for perpetrators.
The resource’s author is Mandy Marshall, who recently joined the staff of the Anglican Communion Office as Director for Gender Justice. She said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen a rise in domestic abuse around the world. Now, more than ever, it is vital that we, as a church community, are equipped to recognise the signs of abuse and respond appropriately.
“This key resource assists the churches in responding well and in line with good practice to domestic abuse. I recommend reading it, sharing it and acting on it.”
In preparing the report, Mandy Marshall was supported by a large number of contributors around the world, including Rob Dawes and Naomi Herbert from the Mothers Union in the UK, and Provincial Community Development Co-ordinators from members of the Mothers’ Union worldwide.
The Chief Executive of the Mothers’ Union, Bev Julienne, said: “this is a timely resource addressing the very real issue faced and addressed by Mothers’ Union members around the world. This will provide an excellent framework for a practical response”.
- The resource, Domestic Abuse and COVID-19: How Churches can respond, is available to download free of charge from the Anglican Communion website: anglicancommunion.org/genderjustice.
Thousands of Christians from many countries pray together on Asia Sunday
This year’s Asia Sunday has been marked with a unique live online worship service using the Zoom platform. Anglicans joined Christians from many denominations throughout Asia for the service; and they were joined with many Christians from across the world.
The Bishop of Colombo in the Anglican Church of Ceylon, Dhiloraj Canagasabey, preached a homily during the service, which was themed around the phrase “God, heal us as we are vulnerable”. Speaking about the Christian Conference of Asia, the regional ecumenical umbrella body which organised the service, he said: “our fundamental focus of mission has been to foster ecumenism in our relationship with each other by transcending every difference to strengthen each other and work together towards establishing the reign of God in the here and now.”
Some 22 Church leaders from 20 Asian countries took part in leading the service, which was held on the Zoom platform, and re-transmitted on social media sites.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry speaks at Covid-19 virtual memorial service
Bishop Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church, preached a sermon during a public online memorial service this weekend. The service, organised by the National Council of Churches USA, was held to more the more than 300,000 people worldwide who have lost their lives to the Covid- 19 pandemic. The US has been particularly badly hit, with more than 90,000 victims of the virus.
The National Council of Churches USA brings together 38 member communions, ranging from mainline Protestant to historic African American and Orthodox churches. Its Chair, Dr John Dorhauer, leader of the United Church of Christ, said: “religious rituals provide unique ways for us to express our feelings and close emotional wounds. There are gaping needs for this right now. Our hope is that by taking part together in this observance, healing will follow in the hearts and minds of those who are grieving.”
Speaking prior to the service, the General Secretary of CCA, Dr Mathews George Chunakara, explained the the theme of the service: “The crucial conditions which we are currently collectively undergoing serve as a reminder for humankind to reflect on the fragility of human life and the ultimate vulnerability of the entire cosmos”, he said. “Our world needs prayers, cure, and healing especially amidst this COVID-19 crisis.”
- The service is available on YouTube.
Prince William takes part in Church of England virtual service for Mental Health Week
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, took part in the Church of England’s online service last weekend, which was held to mark the end of Mental Health Awareness Week. The prince urged people who are concerned about their mental health or that of others to reach out and start a conversation.
The service was led by a Devon Vicar, Professor Gina Radford, a former Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England. It included prayers for all those whose mental health has been affected, their relatives, friends and carers.
In her sermon, she said that this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week had a “particular significance” as more people struggle with mental health and well-being.
“For some people of faith this is particularly challenging,” she said. “Surely, we might ask, my faith should get me through? But we need to face the reality that we are human – we are body, mind and spirit. We are all susceptible to mental ill-health, just as we are to physical ill-health.”
- The service is available on YouTube.
Anglican Communion brings weekly video-based service series to a close
The weekly online services produced by the Anglican Communion Office will come to an end this week, with a special service marking Thy Kingdom Come, the global wave of prayer for evangelisation. It will be led by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and the sermon will be given by the new Primate of All Ireland, the Archbishop of Armagh, John McDowell.
The Anglican Communion’s Director for Communications, Gavin Drake, commented: “our services began at the start of a global lockdown in response to the need of people to take part in worship. Our first service was on the fifth Sunday of Lent – a date set aside by the Primates and the Archbishop’s Task Group as a Day of Prayer and Repentance in the Anglican Communion. And our services will conclude with Thy Kingdom Come – a special focus on prayer for evangelisation. Two keynote event to bookend our services.
“We have had good feedback for our services and we may hold occasional special services in the future; but in the short term, we will seek to share links to some of the many online services being prepared by the Churches of the Anglican Communion.”
Last weekend’s service is a special service for Anglican Communion Sunday. It is available online at anglicancommunion.org/worship. From 7pm GMT on Saturday 30 May, it will be replaced with the special service for Thy Kingdom Come.
Kenyan priest responds to Covid-19 lockdown with “balcony church”
A priest from All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi has responded to the Covid-19 lockdown by taking church services to residential parking areas so that residents can take part from their balconies. Children and parents are dancing on their balconies as Paul Machira and a supporting band play Christian songs and hymns. Machira preaches a Gospel message between the songs.
“When corona opened its floodgates to Kenya and the world, one of the things that was quickly cut off is the fellowship of believers,” he told the Associated Press news agency. “But I also think this is the greatest opportunity that has ever arisen to the church, reason being we have got reason to go out on the streets. . . Jesus sometimes would go to the temple but his main ministry was out in the fields, out in the streets.”
He has taken his “Balcony to Balcony” service to 16 locations so far. He and his team ensure that housing in the areas have balconies so that social distancing measures can be observed; and he seeks the consent of all the residents.