This website is best viewed with CSS and JavaScript enabled.

Weekly News Summary on Tuesday 28 July 2020

Posted on: July 28, 2020 6:52 PM
Related Categories: Global

We apologise that, because of operational issues, we were unable to publish a News Summary last week (21 July).

Anglican Communion Secretary General speaks out in support of Diocese of Egypt

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has spoken out to rebut claims by a protestant group in Egypt over the status of the Episcopal / Anglican Province of Alexandria.

The Protestant Churches in Egypt (PCE) group – whose name is sometimes translated as the Evangelical Church Association – has tried to claim ownership of the Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt for a number of years. It has sought to take ownership of Anglican Church buildings and insists on the right to approve appointments – including that of the recently elected coadjutor Bishop of Egypt, Dr Samy Fawzy Shehata. The PCE argue that the Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt should subject themselves to the spiritual, financial and administrative supervision of the PCE.

The former Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa is now the Episcopal / Anglican Province of Alexandria – the 41st member of the Anglican Communion. It has four dioceses: Egypt, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Gambella.

“Contrary to statement made . . . by the PCE, the Episcopal / Anglican Province of Alexandria is an Anglican Church and an integral part of the Anglican Communion. And it always has been an Anglican Church and an integral part of the Anglican Communion.

“The Anglican presence in Egypt began in 1819 with clergy sent by the Church Missionary Society who worked in partnership with the Coptic Orthodox Church. The first Anglican Church building – St Mark’s Church in Alexandria – was consecrated in 1839. And what was to become the Episcopal / Anglican Cathedral in Cairo began as a small parish church in 1876.

“In those early days the Anglican Church in Egypt was under the direct leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Over the decades, the Anglican Church in Egypt has grown in size and status. It was transferred from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem; before becoming part of what was then the new Episcopal / Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East in 1976.

“Earlier this year the Anglican Church in Egypt – along with the other nine countries in north Africa and the Horn of Africa which it serves – left the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East to become its own self-governing Province – the 41st Province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.”

Reiterating the fact that the Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon added: “the Episcopal/ Anglican Diocese of Egypt is part of the Episcopal / Anglican Province of Alexandria which is a Province of the worldwide Anglican Communion and can't be under any other denomination.”

Archbishop of Canterbury launches Anglican Communion Covid-19 appeal

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has today launched a “Together in Unity” appeal to support churches and communities around the world during the Covid-19 crisis. The bishops of the Communion had been expected to be gathered at the University of Kent in Canterbury this week for the decennial Lambeth Conference; but this has been postponed until 2022 because of the global travel restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19.

In a video message to the bishops of the Communion, Archbishop Justin said that the whole world had been affected by the impact of Covid-19, with some communities and dioceses being harder hit than others.

“The Coronavirus pandemic has hurt families, communities and nations across the world in so many ways”, he said. “In our Communion, there is not one province, diocese or parish that is untouched by the pandemic. The Body of Christ is hurting. We know that some parts of the body are more hurt than others. And they need our help.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Together in Unity appeal is being administered by the Anglican Communion Fund (ACF), a UK registered charity that supports the Archbishop of Canterbury’s international ministry and provides grants for provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion.

The ACF has already allocated more than £180,000 GBP to support churches in areas of need across the Communion as part of a special Covid-specific grant cycle; and is now seeking to raise an additional £250,000.

Amongst the recipients to have benefited from disbursements already are more than 200 pastors and lay readers in the South Sudanese Diocese of Maridi, who were provided food relief. Church leaders in the diocese have been trained in virus prevention; and five pastors have been given bicycles and hand microphones to carry virus prevention messages into remote areas

And in Bangladesh, hundreds of vulnerable families have received support to enable them to buy food and daily necessities in the midst of job losses and economic pressures from the lockdown.

Referencing Psalm 133 and the biblical theme of the Lambeth Conference, 1 Peter, Archbishop Justin told the bishops that “Peter refers to us as living stones, built up as a spiritual house. We are the household of faith. The household of God. In Psalm 133, David declares how good and pleasant it is for us to dwell together in unity.

“In this time of global crisis, we need to care for the weaker, and the more vulnerable members of the household. The pain and suffering of my own sister and brother must become my own pain and suffering. I must do what I can to help. By bringing our help across the world, we will fulfil our personal responsibility that God has given us through his call to the church.”

Anglican provinces and agencies around the world issue Covid-19 emergency appeals

Many Anglican Churches and agencies have launched emergency appeals to help poorer hit areas of their own provinces – and harder hit parts of the world – respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In New Zealand, Anglican Missions have launched an appeal called Our Global Response. “In Aotearoa, many Anglicans have not lost their income, and some have even saved money during this period”, the Bishop of Wellington, Justin Duckworth, said. “I encourage you to get together in families, house churches and parishes and think creatively about how you can give into these places with great need. Every one of us can support these initiatives in prayer, and if you can give financially, I encourage you to give generously.”

In Australia, two separate appeals have been launched by the Anglican Board of Mission and Anglican Overseas Aid.

Explaining its Global Emergency Response appeal, the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) said: “during these uncertain times, and as we seek to understand and as we feel the impact of Covid-19 ourselves here in Australia, ABM continues to be in contact with our overseas partners to assess and respond to this crisis. Partners are working hard on information campaigns including the distribution of handwashing and hygiene kits to prevent Covid-19’s spread. We anticipate the loss of livelihoods and lack of basic services in many of the communities where we work.”

Anglican Overseas Aid have called their appeal Communities Overcoming Covid-19. “Times are very hard all around the world, and probably will be for months to come”, they said. “And for those of you who are grieving, suffering financially or have been having difficulty coping with restrictions, our prayers are with you.

“Together, whether in our own lives here in Australia, or in places like Kenya and Mozambique, we can help communities overcoming Covid-19 and provide healing and hope.”

In Canada, the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has allocated $200,000 CAD (approximately £116,000 GBP) to provide Covid-19 relief in Burundi and Canada – as well as to support the global ACT-Alliance appeal. “The work of our global partners to respond to this pandemic is critical right now,” Will Postma, Executive Director of PWRDF, said. “They are helping the most vulnerable in areas where even the basics of soap, running water and two metres of physical distancing can be a luxury.”

In the UK, the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partner in the Gospel) has launched a Focus on the Future appeal. “We don’t yet know what the full impact of Coronavirus will be globally: on health, on livelihoods, on food security and on people’s life choices”, they said. “The marginalised and those living in extreme poverty will be hardest hit.”

Another UK-based Anglican mission Agency, the Church Mission Society (CMS) has also launched a Covid-19 appeal under its Mission Unscripted initiative. “As the big picture of the pandemic changes week by week, country by country, our priority remains the same: making sure that our people in mission have the support that they need so they can keep bringing the hope of Jesus”, they said. “For some, this means continuing to provide them with mission advice, risk management expertise and loving care so they can stay where they are and continue serving their communities. For others, it has meant bringing them home to the UK unexpectedly.”

The all-island Church of Ireland’s Bishops’ Appeal – which serves as the Province’s World Aid and Development Programme – has released €50,000 Euro (approximately £45,000 GBP) to support five partner mission and development agencies – Christian Aid, Tearfund Ireland, CMS Ireland, USPG, and Motivation – as they work among the world’s most vulnerable people.

“The emergency responses include distributing essential supplies such as food, soap, medicine and information to people whose markets have shut down and who have no access to supplies, people who live in informal settlements and in refugee camps, and people who are living with a disability,” the Church of Ireland said.

In Kenya, Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit has launched a province-wide emergency appeal to support the work of the province’s development arm, Anglican Development Services Kenya.

“As the world continues to adjust to the accompanying realities of the Covid-19 global pandemic, we continue to pray for God’s sustenance and protection over all peoples of the world”, they said. “Such times offer an opportunity for countries to unite and address a common course. While it remains uncertain about when vaccines and defined treatment for the disease will be developed, we remain optimistic about the healthcare models being offered – and have helped many people recover.

“As a Church, we will walk with Kenyans in addressing these disruptions, partnering with state agencies and other stakeholders. We continue to celebrate our health workers who are on the front line, working tirelessly to ensure that we flatten the curve.”

In the US, staff from Episcopal Relief & Development, part of the US-based Episcopal Church, are in contact with partners in 44 countries to provide technical expertise and financial assistance in response to the pandemic.

It has launched a Pandemic Response Fund, with the support of individual donors and a “generous grant” from New York’s Trinity Church Wall Street. ER&D “is providing technical expertise and tools to assist as partners adjust programming with necessary physical distancing and enhanced sanitation protocols in order to keep program staff, volunteers and beneficiaries safe”, the agency said. “Episcopal Relief & Development is also providing emergency assistance such as food, medical supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation kits.”

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks out on Hagia Sophia

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and four other Presidents of the ecumenical Churches Together in England (CTE) group have spoken out against the decision by Turkey to turn the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque. Built in AD 537 as the Cathedral of the Patriarch of Constantinople, it was the largest Christian Church in the Byzantine Empire. In 1453, after the Ottoman conquest, it was turned into a mosque.

The newly formed secular government of what had become the Republic of Turkey turned the building into a Museum. It was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Earlier this month, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, took part in the first Friday Prayers at the site to mark its transition back to a Mosque, a move that had been condemned by bodies including UNESCO and the World Council of Churches.

In a statement issued shortly before President Erdoğan’s presence at the prayer service, five CTE Presidents, including Archbishop Justin, described the move as “lamentable and painful for many people of faith the world over.”

In a joint statement the CTE Presidents expressed their sadness at the move, saying: “for a long period of time Hagia Sophia has been a unique centre symbolising a co-existence of people of faith. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, as a place where the rich history of Istanbul is told visually, can be a living example of religious tolerance and respect.

“The decision to alter the status quo in this way is a powerful, symbolic change that is lamentable and painful for many people of faith the world over.”

In addition to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the other CTE Presidents making the statement are Cardinal Vincent Nichols from the Roman Catholic Church; Dr Hugh Osgood, Moderator of the Free Churches; Archbishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church; and Pastor Agu Irukwu, head of Redeemed Christian Church of God in the UK.

The Church of England’s Bishop in Europe, Dr Robert Innes, whose diocese includes Turkey, issued his own statement, in which he said: “I endorse wholeheartedly the sentiments of lament expressed by the Presidents of Churches Together in England. As Anglicans, we have likewise expressed our feelings of deep regret shared by Christian brothers and sisters worldwide.

“Hagia Sophia has wide-reaching significance for Christians and Muslims, and a great benefit of its museum status since 1934 has been to help build a common understanding of our shared history in this unique city.

“We have shared the sadness of this loss and the distress of many partners with the UK Ambassador to Turkey, and a desire that reassurances are sought regarding future access to Hagia Sophia as a World Heritage site, recognised by UNESCO.

“The Diocese in Europe represents the presence of Anglican communities across over 40 countries, including Turkey. It is our fervent hope and prayer that opportunities to foster and strengthen dialogue, to build trust and mutual understanding among faiths in all communities where we are represented, will continue to have room to flourish.”

The new status of the Hagia Spohia was discussed by the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches durings its meeting last week. “Members representing different church families and regions joined in prayer and sorrow with millions of Christians around the world marking this sad day in history of Christianity and of inter-religious relations,” the WCC’s Interim General Secretary, Dr Ioan Sauca, said. “We offer our solidarity and accompaniment particularly to all churches and Christians of the Orthodox family, for whom Hagia Sophia holds a very special significance, as well as to all Turkish citizens who do not feel represented in this action by their government.

“We continue to pray that the Turkish authorities will be moved to reconsider this decision, and to undo this deeply regressive measure.”

Church of Pakistan in solidarity visit to Sikh community in Peshawar

A delegation from the united Church of Pakistan’s Diocese of Peshawar visited the Gurdwara in Dabgari to express condolences over the death of 22 Sikhs in a train accident earlier this month. The dead had visited a Sikh pilgrimage site – the Shrine of Nankana Sahib – in Sheikhupura, and were returning to Peshawar when one of their bussed was hit by a train ona level crossing. 20 people died at the scene and a further two died later in hospital. Seven of the dead were women.

The Priest in charge of Saint John’s Cathedral in Peshawar, Joseph John, led the delegation, which included the Vice President of Clergy, Shazad Murad, to express the Church’s condolences and pray for the families of the dead.

“The Diocese of Peshawar has strong ties with other religious communities in the Province”, the diocese’s Frontier News reported. “They always stand by each other in times of crisis.”

The Sikh Community “highly appreciated” the solidarity and friendship, Frontier News said.

Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia Synod confirms triple primacy

The General Synod (Te Hīnota Whānui) of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has reaffirmed its commitment to a three-tikanga primacy, comprising the senior bishops of the Māori, Pākehā and Polynesian tikanga (cultural strands).

The decision, which was made on Saturday (25 July) at a virtual Synod meeting on the Zoom video conference platform, reaffirms that the primates of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia will continue to be the senior bishop of Tikanga Māori, Tkanga Pākehā and Tikanga Polynesia, up till General Synod Te Hīnota Whānui 2026.

Currently the senior bishops of each tikanga are: Te Pīhopa o Aotearoa for Tikanga Māori, the Senior Bishop of the New Zealand Dioceses for Tikanga Pākehā and the Diocesan Bishop of Polynesia for Tikanga Polynesia.

After the Synod made that decision, the Tikanga Pākehā Conference reappointed Archbishop Philip Richardson to a further primatial term as Senior Bishop of the New Zealand Diocese for three years leading up to 30 June 2023.

The other current members of the three-tikanga primacy are Archbishop Don Tamihere (Te Pīhopa o Aotearoa) and Archbishop Fereimi Cama (Bishop of Polynesia).