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The News Centre

Archived News Headlines for Oct/Nov/Dec 2009

Link to main News Archives page

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31 December 2009: Churches sent final text of covenant - 'not a penal code'
The Church Times has a summary of responses by provinces to the Anglican Covenant. It refers to the Archbishop of Canterbury's discussion of the covenant on YouTube, and stresses his claim there that 'it's certainly not going to be a penal code for punishing people who don't comply' (although Uganda wants to expel 'erring members'). In the same issue, Giles Fraser writes with reluctant resignation that this Anglican Covenant thing is going to happen, suggesting that it 'isn't at all like the commitments of a marriage service. It is more like the anxious and untrust­ing legalism of that thoroughly distasteful feature of modern life, the pre-nuptial agreement.' Thinking Anglicans has a Covenant roundup here.

30 December 2009: Prayer Book Society calls for boycott of Letts diaries
The Times (London) reports on the Society's response to changes made in the names of Sundays in the diaries. The names now match Common Worship rather than those in the BCP.

30 December 2009: Priest pelted with pasta after shoplifting remarks
We reported last week on the sermon given by the Revd Tim Jones in which he suggested it was acceptable for those in dire need to steal to feed their families. This week, the Guardian reports Fr Jones had a bucket of pasta thrown on him by someone offended by the sermon.

28 December 2009: Charity urges Church of England to sell land to solve rural housing crisis
The Telegraph (London) reports on research by the National Housing Federation that the affordable housing crisis in rural parts of England could be eased if the Church of England sold or leased land to local housing associations. Around 500 churches are in hamlets with 80 people or less.


27 December 2009: Ugandan Busoga diocese proposed to be split
The New Vision (Kampala) reports that next month's synod will take up the division of the Busoga diocese into three.

26 December 2009: Archbishop of Wales in war of words with BNP
According to Wales Online, the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, has denounced comments by the leader of the British National Party linking it with Christianity. A spokesman for the party responded that, unlike church leaders, it was defending Christianity.

25 December 2009: Archbishop of Canterbury still alive
The Anglican Communion News Service has let us know that the Archbishop of Canterbury has evaded his enemies and has lived to preach another Christmas Sermon, which, astonishingly, does not mention sex. It has been widely rumoured that just hours after delivering that sermon he was jetting back to his winter villa in Bukakata.

24 December 2009: Sentamu condemns Ugandan bill
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has broken his silence about the anti-homosexual bill in his native Uganda, and told the BBC that the proposed law is victimising, and diminishes the individuals concerned.

24 December 2009: Police stop Anglicans attending Christmas services in Harare
Despite a recent court order that sought to restrain them, police loyal to ousted bishop Nolbert Kunonga have continued to intervene on his behalf, according to SW Africa Radio. The Episcopal News Service reports that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have condemned the renewed police intimidation. Voice of America points out that the police had agreed not to interfere. Clearly not all of them agreed.

24 December 2009: Astral mystery endures in Nova Scotia church
Radio Canada reports the story of a Lunenburg church rebuilt after being destroyed by fire. The ceiling was gilded with stars, and in the course of the restoration, what constellations the stars depicted was discovered.

24 December 2009: Church of England seeks ways to attract young
Radio Canada reports on new initiatives the Church of England is proposing after admitting that past efforts have largely failed.

22 December 2009: Bishop 'abandons' church to vie for parliament seat
The Citizen (Dar Es Salaam) reports that the Rt Revd Gerard Elias Mpango has stepped down from his pastoral position to 'serve God through the Parliament as requested by the people in Kasulu East'.

21 December 2009: Research reveals sharp decline in faith in Britain
The Church Executive (Phoenix) reports on new research from the National Center for Social Research which found a large drop in the number of people who self-identify as Christian, mostly due to the steady decline in numbers belonging to the Church of England.

21 December 2009: Does shoplifting violate the eighth commandment?
The parish priest of St Lawrence and St Hilda, York, Father Tim Jones, made headlines when he told his congregation that stealing from large national chains was sometimes the best option many vulnerable people had. Police and politicians interviewed by The Press (York) disagreed, and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, branded him as 'misguided and foolish'.


20 December 2009: Church and state in Zimbabwe
The Zim Diaspora reports that Zimbabwe's high court has granted a provisional order barring the police from interfering with Anglican worship in the diocese from which former bishop Nolbert Kunonga (a close friend of Zimbabwe's president) was deposed. Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe has repeatedly sent federal police to Harare to help his friend exact revenge.

19 December 2009: More on Canadian government's cut of support for Kairos
We reported two weeks ago that the Canadian government had cut funding for the ecumenical justice initiative Kairos. For years, much of its work has been funded by grants from the Canadian government. But the government has curtailed that funding abruptly, at first without explanation, then with a suggestion that the group's priorities are no longer the government's priorities, and recently with the accusation that the group is anti-semitic. Kairos has vigorously objected to both explantations. The Anglican Journal and the Toronto Star provide background.

18 December 2009: Billboard furor in New Zealand
The Times (London) reports that a billboard outside St Matthew-in-the-City (Auckland) has grabbed a lot of attention and was defaced by vandals within hours of being erected. The church issued this press release. The New Zealand Herald reports on some angry responses. After repairs, vandals tore down the entire billboard, at which point the church chose not to rebuild it a second time. The best discussion we've seen on this episode was this one, published in ChurchStir. Ekklesia (London) published this report on the billboard and this report on the repeated vandalization. A New Zealand television network carried this news report, which includes an interview with the vicar and with various members of the public, wondering if it might just be 'virgin mirth'. We remember Brendan Behan's famous remark that 'There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.'

18 December 2009: Church and politics in Nigeria
On December 14 the Daily Champion (Nigeria) reported that the Church of Nigeria announced that its preferred candidate in the upcoming election was the Labour Party candidate. Four days later that same newspaper reported 'The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) said yesterday in Abuja that it had not endorsed any candidate for the 2010 governorship election in Anambra State.'

18 December 2009: Who's going to church, and why we have to
A guest opinion writer in the Otago Daily Times (New Zealand) reflects on church attendance.

18 December 2009: Consecration of the Bishop of Guyana
The Nassau Guardian tells of the consecration of Bahamian-born Cornell Moss as Bishop of Guyana, in St George's Cathedral (which boasts of being the world's tallest wooden church).

18 December 2009: Standing Committee releases supposedly final draft of proposed Anglican covenant
The Episcopal News Service (USA) reports that 'The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, at the conclusion of its Dec. 15-18 meeting in London, released the revised text of section 4 of the proposed Anglican Covenant, a set of principles intended to bind the Anglican Communion in light of recent disagreements over human sexuality issues and theological interpretation.' The US ENS also reports that this Covenant has been sent to all Anglican provinces for consideration and possible adoption. We doubt that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, realized when he accepted that appointment that the Anglican Communion would disintegrate on his watch.

17 December 2009: Letter to the Baltimore Sun
In general we choose not to waste your time, our time, or perfectly good electrons in reporting news about church mudfights over sex. But this calm letter to the editor of the Baltimore Sun caught our attention and is short.

15 December 2009: Roman Catholics being drawn to the Anglican Use liturgy
Catholic Online reports that a new group, Anglican-Use Catholics of Springfield, want to start an Anglican Use parish in that city. Some of its members are former Episcopalians, others are Roman Catholics disillusioned with the current vernacular mass, still others come from Baptist or other evangelical backgrounds.

14 December 2009: British Armed Forces bishop apologises for comments about Taliban
We suspect strongly that there is an 'E pur si muove' component of this story, but it is a matter of record that The Telegraph (London) reported 'The new Bishop for the Armed Forces said he was ''deeply grieved'' to have caused offence by suggesting the Taliban could be admired for their religious conviction and loyalty.' We wonder about the statistics for Taliban worship service attendance, but this report in the Church Times removes the need to wonder about UK Christian worship service attendance.

14 December 2009: But we will reward virgins
The New Vision (Kampala) reports that the Bishop of Mityana(Uganda) has announced that youth who get married when they are still virgins will be rewarded. However, it only mentions the committee that he has set up to determine if the brides-to-be were virgins. We presume that there will be an equivalent committee to evaluate the husbands-to-be.


13 December 2009: Sir Richard O'Brien
The Telegraph has published this obituary of Richard O'Brien, who was the first chair of the Crown Appointments Commission, which recommended Robert Runcie for the see of Canterbury in 1980. He had previously chaired the quango which supervised Britain's training schemes. Margaret Thatcher remarked, 'In view of my later relations with the hierarchy, I could wish that Sir Richard had combined his two jobs and established a decent training scheme for bishops.' After inner-city riots in the early 1980s, he chaired, at Runcie's request, the committee which produced the report Faith in the City. Attacks on the report triggered an extensive public debate about the inner cities.

13 December 2009: Anglican Santa barred from giving gifts to children
Hundreds of children are caught up each year in the UK's asylum system. Several London congregations donated presents to bring some cheer to the children held at the Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre. But when St Nick (Canon James Rosenthal) and his helper (Professor Nichoas Sagovsky) arrived to distribute them, the private security guards blocked them and called police. The Guardian reports on an incident that highlights mounting concern about the treatment of children.

12 December 2009: ABC reflects on schism, Rome, politics and conservation
George Pitcher writes in the Telegraph of his conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, in which the Archbishop spoke of the 'small miracle' that there will be a new round of ARCIC talks, about the need for political leaders to be more open about their faith, and about his desire to protect Anglicans who can't accept women priests. He also said the Ugandan bill on homosexuality was 'of shocking severity', and he couldn't see how it could be supported by any Anglican (noting that Archbishop Orombi has not yet taken a position on the bill). But this long-awaited opinion was not an official statement, like his rebuke to the American church for electing a lesbian bishop.

12 December 2009: The health and safety guide to carol singing
The Ecclesiastical Insurance Office (UK) has issued a guide for carol singers. An article in the Telegraph says that when Ecclesiastical did a survey, they found almost half of respondents did not like carol singers.

12 December 2009: New bishop for Upper South Carolina
The rector of Trinity Church in Excelsior, Minnesota, Andrew Waldo, has been elected as the next bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina. According to the Episcopal News Service, Waldo has taught early music, led two capital campaigns and helped the parish grow to over 550 members.

11 December 2009: Government thugs again disrupting Anglican worship in Zimbabwe
Anglican-Information (Malawi) reports that ousted former bishop Nolbert Kunonga 'again trying to destabilize the diocese by invading various churches and interrupting confirmations, weddings and other legitimate activities'. The Church Times (London) published this report on those events. A first-hand account of what happened in one parish can be found here in the 'Not the same stream' blog.

11 December 2009: God and Mammon in England
The Church of England has placed online its yearly report on finance and ministry statistics.

10 December 2009: Next bishop of Peterborough a gift for journalists?
In his blog in The Guardian (London), Andrew Brown wonders about the choice of Donald Allister as bishop of Peterborough. Allister sees liberalism as one of Satan's greatest weapons against the church, and affirms that what the scriptures teach about history of geography is to be believed and obeyed without reservation. If you aren't exactly sure where or what Peterborough might be, you can read its Wikipedia article.

9 December 2009: Sex, sex, sex
Most of the Anglican news generating interest and outrage this week is about sex. We're going to ignore most of it, but suggest that you read 'Nothing but sex please, we're vicars...' by Richard Morrison in The Times (London).

8 December 2009: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Anglican Communion News Service has released this communiqué from the new Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order.


5 December 2009: Los Angeles elects lesbian bishop, ABC expresses unhappiness
The US Episcopal News Service reports that the Revd Canon Diane Bruce and the Revd Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool have been elected bishops suffragan by the Diocese of Los Angeles. Because Ms Glasspool is a partnered lesbian, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued this brief statement, about which the BBC published this comment. Writing in The Times (London), Ruth Gledhill contrasts the speed with which the ABC raised questions about this election with his utter silence on the Ugandan anti-gay bill.

5 December 2009: Auckland elects a new bishop
TV NZ reports that the Very Revd Ross Bay, Dean of that diocese's Holy Trinity Cathedral has been elected as the next Bishop of Auckland. He started his career as a banker, and is a volunteer with the Fire Service.

5 December 2009: Louisiana elects a new bishop
The US Episcopal News Service reports on the uncontroversial election of the Very Revd Morris K Thompson as Bishop of Louisiana.

4 December 2009: England's cathedrals need help from rich people
The Church Times, noting that cathedral maintenance is a victim of the global economic downturn, calls for contributions by the super-rich to help prevent the demise of 'England's jewels'. The BBC notes that England's cathedrals still need £100m of work.

4 December 2009: US and Canada oppose Uganda anti-gay legislation
The US Episcopal News Service reports that the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church has said that that church is 'deeply concerned' about a proposed Ugandan law that would introduce the death penalty for people who violate that country's anti-homosexuality laws. The Anglican Church of Canada's House of Bishops has issued this statement.

3 December 2009: Singapore Anglican Church issues clarification of its Archbishop's remarks
The Temasek Review (Singapore) reports that the Singapore Anglican Church has written to the Straits Times to clarify the comments made by its archbishop who had earlier implored his followers to unite against 'alternative values' such as homosexuality, rampant materialism and religious extremism.

2 December 2009: Funding cuts threaten Canada's KAIROS
The Anglican Journal (Canada) reports that Canada's federal government has 'decided to cut $7 million in funding to KAIROS, a Canadian ecumenical justice organization that advocates for the rights of marginalized communities in Canada and overseas'.

1 December 2009: Bishop warns that his diocese is 'teetering on the verge of extinction'
The Anglican Journal (Canada) reports that at the recent House of Bishops meeting of the Diocese of Québec, its bishop warned that parish finances are continuing to collapse and the number of parishioners is dwindling.

30 November 2009: Massachusetts bishop approves blessing of same-gender marriages
The US Episcopal News Service reports that Massachusetts bishop M. Thomas Shaw said that the bishops of Massachusetts have agreed to permit Massachusetts clergy to 'solemnize marriages for all eligible couples' beginning immediately, but not the use of the Marriage rite in the Book of Common Prayer. The Boston Globe reported the story this way.

30 November 2009: Seven new deacons in Bendigo
The Advertiser (Bendigo, Australia) reports that 'After weeks of controversy, history was made yesterday with the ordination of four women and three men as Anglican deacons at St Andrew’s Uniting Church.

30 November 2009: Statement from the Episcopal Church of Sudan
The Anglican Communion News Service has published this statement issued by the Provincial Standing Committee of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan.


29 November 2009: Diocese of Lagos turns 90
The Guardian (Lagos) reports on the upcoming 90th anniversary for Nigeria's oldest diocese by means of an interview with the Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lagos and Bishop of Lagos Diocese, the Most Revd Ephraim Adebola Ademowo.

29 November 2009: Bishop says traditional carols are nonsense
The Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, has written a book entitled Why Wish You a Merry Christmas? in which he argues that some traditional carols perpetuate images of Christmas that have more to do with Victorian sentiment than the story in the Gospels. The Telegraph tells of his comment that it's bizarre to sing Away in a Manger, with a baby who doesn't cry: 'Is it any surprise that children grow into adults and throw out the tearless baby Jesus with Father Christmas and other fantasy figures?' The Church Times review said the book was 'a running commentary on the Christmas story which you could keep on the bed­side table, without worrying that it might make sleep hard to come by.'

29 November 2009: Kenyan Archbishop in the news
The Most Revd Eliud Wabukala is quoted in two different reports on Afrique en ligne this week. One concerns the inclusion in the draft constitution of kadhi courts. The Archbishop said, 'The constitution should maintain equality' among religions. The other report deals with the relocation of people from the forest that serves as Kenya's 'water tower'. The Archbishop said, "It is grossly inhumane that people removed from the water tower are left to live on the road-sides. Such people should be given alternative settlement."

28 November 2009: Redundancies forecast in Church of England
The Times online reports the Church of England is 'set to lose a tenth of its clergy in five years'. UPI reported it this way. Ekklesia reported on the proposed elimination of chaplains from two universities, which would make them the only universities in England with no Anglican chaplain.

28 November 2009: Vatican ban on Anglican offer in Australia
The Age (Melbourne) reports that the Vatican has ordered an Australian bishop to withdraw an offer to let Anglicans ordain deacons in a Catholic church tomorrow because four of the seven are women. Do note that this is not an ordination of Roman Catholic deacons, it is the ordination of Anglican deacons by an Anglican bishop, but in an RC building because the Anglican cathedral, St Paul, is closed for repairs.

27 November 2009: Diocese of Winchester dealing with £1.4m shortfall
The Church Times reports that diocesan and clergy posts and university chaplaincies are among the potential casualties of deep cuts proposed in the diocese of Winchester to save £1 million on its 2010 budget.

27 November 2009: ACNS seeking Director of Communications
The Anglican Communion News Service is seeking to hire a Director of Communications. Press release here, details here. Gosh; who knew that communication was so important?

27 November 2009: ABC and Pope 'try to mend fences' in Vatican
The Church Times reports that 'The Vatican described the meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Canterbury — the first since the Apostolic Constitution was announced — as "cordial".' Read their take on it here; read the BBC report here and that of the New York Times here.

26 November 2009: Canadian court rules for Diocese of New Westminster
The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia) reports that the Supreme Court of British Columbia has ruled in favor of diocesan ownership of disputed parish property. The bishop has issued this pastoral letter, which, unlike many documents thus classified, is breathtakingly pastoral. Bishop Ingham certainly has our attention.

23 November 2009: UK Bishop urges display of Christian symbols for Advent and Christmas
The Telegraph reports on the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill's message to worshippers: wear crosses or fish symbols to demonstrate that Christmas is a religious holiday. He also criticised 'politically-correct' companies and local councils who sought to make the period a secular celebration.

23 November 2009: Long-standing US cathedral radio broadcast to stop
The purportedly oldest continuous religious radio broadcast in the US is the weekly broadcast from the Diocese of Massachusetts' Cathedral Church of St Paul. The radio station (WCRB) that aired and web-streamed the broadcast has been sold to the local public radio station which has decided not to continue this service. An account can be found in the local Boston Examiner, a plea on the cathedral's website, and a statement on the diocesan website.


21-22 November 2009: Thinking Anglicans distillations on ABC and the Pope
We hesitate to choose any single news source's reports on the visit by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Vatican. We recommend for your perusal the two compilations on this topic at Thinking Anglicans here and here.

20 November 2009: Nova Scotian church going to Louisiana
All Saints Church in Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia built in 1814, was one of the province's oldest churches. But it was deconsecrated in 2005, and is being moved to house a Baptist congregation near New Orleans (the pastor's wife has Acadian ancestry, and many Acadians, deported from the maritimes in 1755, resettled as Cajuns in Louisiana). The Truro Daily News reports that once it is reassembled, it will be the oldest church in the state.

20 November 2009: Africans suffer from 'collateral damage' in US culture clash
Pat Ashworth writes in The Church Times about an investigative report by the Revd Kapya Kaoma, Globalizing the Culture Wars: US Conservatives, African Churches, & Homophobia. "It argues that African bishops and other leaders are being used as proxies in an internal US conflict."

18 November 2009: Skateboarding comes to church
The Ottawa Citizen reports on a new ministry at St James in Perth: skateboarding in the parish basement.

17 November 2009: The modern priest
In his weekly letter from Zimbabwe to Radio Netherlands, John Masuku writes about the perceived trend among congregants that priests today are more focused on 'money, wealth and luxury'.

17 November 2009: Bishop speaks in Nigeria
The Nigerian Tribune (Ibadan) reports on a speech by the Rt Revd Olusina Fape (Remo Diocese) to celebrate 60 years of uninterrupted publication of the paper. He charged journalists to be more proactive and to hold politicians accountable. He also urged the media to press for the passage of the Freedom of Information bill currently stalled in the legislative process.

17 November 2009: Canada's Council of General Synod dismayed over Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Thinking Anglicans reports on the dismay expressed by the Council of General Synod of the Canadian church over the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which 'would impose excessive and cruel penalties on persons who experience same-sex attraction as well as those who counsel, support, and advise them including family members and clergy.'

16 November 2009: New General Secretary for Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
Taonga Online has posted the announcement of the Revd Michael Hughes as the new General Secretary for the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

16 November 2009: Priest and warden fined for repairing leaks without permission
Sometimes several buckets were required to collect water leaking into the baptistry of St Margaret, Halliwell, Bolton. When the Diocesan Advisory Committee turned down a proposal for repair, the parish went ahead anyway. The Telegraph reports that a judge of the church's Consistory Court was appalled with the way the work had been arranged, and fined the priest in charge and warden for 'blatant disregard' of the advice they had been given.

16 November 2009: Swanley church refuses to host remembrance service because Legion chaplain a woman
The News Shopper (a Gannett group publication) reports that for almost twenty years, Remembrance Day services in Swanley have been held at St Mary the Virgin parish church, which is next to the town's war memorial. But when the British Legion appointed a female chaplain, the church, which does not accept female priests, refused to host the service. The town council was not pleased, and withdrew the thousand pound annual grant to maintain the church and its grounds.

16 November 2009: Provinces join together for meeting on human trafficking
Ekklesia reports on a November meeting held in Hong Kong sponsored by the Anglican Communion's UN Observer. Delegates came from twelve Anglican Provinces. The purpose was to address the issues involved in human trafficking. Ekklesia's article is based on reports from the Episcopal News Service. Documents, articles, reports and reflections are available here.

15 November 2009: Woman priest ordained in the Diocese of Forth Worth
The Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas) reports that the Revd Susan Slaughter would be, then that she was ordained priest in the Diocese of Fort Worth, which has for decades been forbidden there. The US Episcopal News Service filed this report.


15 November 2009: Lumière, Durham
60 light-and-sound artists collaborated in a bid to make Durham the UK culture capital in 2013. The Guardian reports that the highlight was the lighting up of the cathedral with pages from the 7th century Lindisfarne Gospels. You can see pictures here.

14 November 2009: The Gospel of prosperity
Bankers have been taken to task by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other religious leaders since the financial collapse. But some, such as the chief executive of Barcalys PLC, defended their role to an audience at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. The National Post (Toronto) cites him as saying that Christianity and fair reward are compatible.

13 November 2009: Vatican publishes text of Anglicanorum Cœtibus
The Church Times reports that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Cœtibus and the Complementary Norms that provide for Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with Rome were published this week. The Church Times offered this editorial opinion and The Tablet offered this editorial opinion.

13 November 2009: Uganda church publishes 'clarification' of its view on Uganda's pending anti-gay legislation
The Church Times reports that the Church of the Province of Uganda says it “does not yet have an official position” on the country’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Ekklesia reports that the Archbishop of York, who grew up in rural Uganda, intends to remain silent about this proposed legislation. Thinking Anglicans has gathered this collection of commentary, statements, and reactions to the proposed legislation.

13 November 2009: The 'destructive restoration' of Mirfield
The Community of the Resurrection, founded in 1892 by Charles Gore and W.H. Frere, has been an important centre of anglo-catholic influence. But the Telegraph reports that a number of influential friends of the Community have complained to the Church Times that plans to restore the church might be seen as an attempt to erase the memory of the first century of its witness.

12 November 2009: ABC warns Anglican church future 'chaotic and uncertain'
The Telegraph (London) reports that 'The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned the future of the Anglican church is "chaotic and uncertain" as dozens more married priests consider defecting to the Roman Catholic church.'

11 November 2009: Same-gender blessings for Southern Ohio in 2010
The US Episcopal News Service reports that the Bishop of Southern Ohio told his diocesan convention that same-gender blessings could be offered there beginning Easter 2010. There is no press release trumpeting this, but if you read the bishop's address to the convention you can learn just what he said.

9 November 2009: First Pakistani woman priest ordained
Dr Khushnud Mussarat Azariah is the daughter of a bishop and the wife of the Presiding Bishop of Pakistan. The US Episcopal News Service reports that, although she could not be ordained in her own country, she was ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Bishop Azariah was a presenter at the service.

9 November 2009: Christians demand release of banned Malay bibles
The government of Malaysia has banned 15,000 Malay-language bibles, because they use the word Allah for God. Bishop Ng Moon Hing of the Diocese of West Malaysia, who is the chairman of the Christian Federation of Malaysia, notes that the word is the commonly used word for God, and that the constitution guarantees the right to use the national language in the practice of his or her religion. A news report can be found in Union of Catholic Asian News.

9 November 2009: Nassau priest seeks altered birth certificate to continue working
Archdeacon Etienne Bowleg wants to remain rector of Holy Trinity, but church law says that, even with the bishop's sanction, he must retire at age 70. So he went to court to have his birth certificate changed, to say he was born in 1945 and not 1937. According to the Nassau Guardian, the case has been discontinued, but his fate has not been decided.


8 November 2009: Prince of Wales attends church in Canada
Besides the endless stream of stories relating to sex and sexuality and the church, the top story this week seems to be this from the Canadian Press that Prince Charles and Camilla attended an Anglican Church of Canada service in the Diocese of British Columbia. It's officially a 'slow news week' .

8 November 2009: Dunedin gets new liberal bishop
The New Zealand Press Association announced the election of Dr Kelvin Wright as bishop of Dunedin. Happily, he sees challenges in declining numbers, aging congregations, and supporting small congregations scattered over rural Otago and Southland. He reflects on the election in his blog.

8 November 2009: Tell us how you did it . . .
The Observer reports on the refusal of the Church of England to publish the investment advice it received — and followed — that led to the loss of significant assets.

6 November 2009: Church school burnt down in Pakistan
St Denys' School for girls, in Murree, was burned to the ground in what is suspected is an act of terrorism against the Christian minority in that country. The Episcopal News Service notes that Pakistan's recent anti-blasphemy law has been used by extremists to justify such violent attacks.

6 November 2009: Worldwide Anglican silence on Uganda anti-homosexuality bill
The Church Times notes the 'devastating silence' of the world's Anglican churches on the bill in Uganda's parliament that would criminalise everything related to homosexuality in that country.

6 November 2009: Four new dioceses for the church in Sudan
Religous Intelligence reports that the Episcopal Church of the Sudan has created four new dioceses (Terekekea, Pacong, Akot and Nzara) and elected seven new bishops at a meeting of the provincial synod and House of Bishops in Juba.

5 November 2009: Thought for the Day must reform or die
The current debate on the inclusion of more minority faiths on BBC Radio 4's long-running radio religious programme Thought for the Day is compared to the battles to make Parliament more inclusive.


31 October 2009: South African bishop receives Bremen Peace Award
The Witness (South Africa) reports that Rubin Phillip, Bishop of Natal, has received the prestigious Bremen Peace Award, given in Bremen, Germany.

30 October 2009: An English parish church in a Japanese skyscraper
Japanese couples are so fond of English-style weddings that a company has built a replica of All Saints', Brockhampton as part of its wedding complex, in an Osaka skyscraper. The Church Times reports that the marriages are civil weddings, and couples pay 8,000 pounds to hire the chapel. There are more photographs here, on the website of Brockhampton village, and one additional picture on this BBC report.

30 October 2009: Obituary
The Los Angeles Times has published this obituary of retired bishop and committed civil rights advocate John Harris Burt.

29 October 2009: Vatican row delays Anglo-Catholic text
The text of the Apostolic Constitution laying down the conditions for admitting Anglican priests was not released because of behind-the-scenes debate over priestly celibacy, according to an article in The Times citing an article by papal biographer Andrea Tornielli in Il Giornale. It suggests that the announcement was made prematurely, because Cardinal Levada had briefed the Archbishop of Canterbury, and was afraid the news might leak out. The Associated Press reports that Vatican officials have issued a denial of this story.

29 October 2009: Church and State in Uganda
A bill being debated in Uganda's parliament would impose the death penalty for homosexuality in some cases, and imprison doctors or clergy who do not report suspected homosexuals to the authorities. According to The Monitor (Kampala), the provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda, Canon Aaron Mwesigye, advocates life imprisonment rather than killing. Changing Attitude has called on the English Primates and the bishops of the three dioceses linked with Uganda to urge the church there to oppose the bill. Thinking Anglicans notes their silence (so far).

28 October 2009: The last cathedral
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that 'The world's last Gothic cathedral to be completed will be consecrated in Brisbane on Thursday.' The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported (the next day) that it did indeed happen.

27 October 2009: US bishop notes that Roman Catholics have always been welcome in Anglican churches
The Baltimore Sun reports on recent statements by the Bishop of Maryland about Roman Catholics being received into Anglican churches.

27 October 2009: Further money woes in Sydney
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Diocese of Sydney has had additional financial problems because of its investment in an apartment building close to its cathedral.

27 October 2009: Baghdad church badly damaged, again
The Church Times and the US Episcopal News Service report that the last Christian church in Baghdad, St George, was seriously damaged in a bomb explosion this week.


25 October 2009: The Vatican invites Anglicans
It's been front-page news around the world, so you surely have heard. The Observer (London) asserts that it could start a struggle for the soul of both churches.
In the Observer, Diarmaid MacCulloch (whose massive History of Christianity is reviewed in the same issue) suggests that Benedict has been resisting the reforms promised by Vatican II within his own church, and that Roman Catholics have as many unresolved tensions as Anglicans. 'In one sense, this is a storm in a teacup, stirred by an elderly cleric in the Vatican with a private agenda and a track record of ill-thought-out policy moves. In another, it is a fascinating moment in a confrontation as much a struggle for the soul of the Church of Rome as the Church of England.' The Globe and Mail (Toronto) published this editorial cartoon. The Church Times published this report, and also notes that English traditionalists 'warmly welcome' the Pope's offer. The BBC reports that 'Anglican group mulls Rome switch'. Thinking Anglicans has gathered up a number of responses to the Pope's sudden action here and here and here and here.

25 October 2009: Canon White writes about being in Iraq
The Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Georgia, USA) reports on a speech given by the Revd Canon Andrew White, the vicar of the only remaining Anglican church in Iraq. The Times-Herald (Coweta, Georgia, USA, a far suburb of Atlanta), having attended the same speech, reports that 'White finds unexpected blessings in war zone'.

23 October 2009: Former archbishop's treasures found in a river
The Associated Press reports that 'A fresh mystery is gripping Britain's religious community: Just how did a treasure trove of rare medallions and coins collected by a former archbishop of Canterbury end up at the bottom of the River Wear?'

23 October 2009: Tutu Tester unit gets seal of approval
IOL (South Africa) reports that former Archbishop Desmond Tutu was pleased to lend his name to a mobile HIV and AIDS testing facility in Cape Town.

23 October 2009: Church and sex in Australia
No, it's not like that. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Archbishop of Adelaide has 'called for an end to the premature sexualisation of young children, something he describes as corporate pedophilia'.

22 October 2009: Church and state in Ireland
For forty years the Irish government supported schools of the protestant minority. When the Education Minister announced that the grants were being removed because they were unconstitutional, the Archbishop of Dublin, John Neill, challenged him to show the legal advice he had been given, and suggested that the move was not being driven by financial considerations. The Bishop of Cork, Paul Colton, who accused the government of 'financial back street butchery'. The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin has supported the campaign to reinstate the grants. Reports in The Independent (Dublin) and Ireland On-Line.

19 October 2009: Warm welcome
Last week we reported on an English priest who demonstrated 'fire eating' during a baptism. It has been pointed out to us that his parish website offers 'a very warm welcome to all'. No wonder.


19 October 2009: Gambling in Sydney
The Sydney Morning Herald notes that the Diocese of Sydney many years ago imposed a ban on the sale of lottery products on land that it owned in central Sydney, but itself gambled in financial markets and lost $160 million AUD. Also see the 'Forgive those who trespass...' section of this article in The Australian. As we read about the incomprehensibly large gambling losses and resulting cutbacks by the Diocese of Sydney we can't help thinking of Mark 10:17ff.

18 October 2009: New bishop elected in Pittsburgh
Another step in the Diocese of Pittsburgh's recovery from civil war is the election this week of Kenneth Price as interim Bishop of Pittsburgh; see this report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or this announcement from the diocese.

18 October 2009: A Nigerian leader retires
On the eve of his 70th birthday, Matthew Oluremi Owadayo will retire as Bishop of Egba. The Guardian (Lagos) reviews a book which celebrates his episcopacy. In an age when there are 'men of the cloth who care less about the doctrine but are more interested in office and privileges', it is happy to celebrate the example of the outgoing bishop.

18 October 2009: Church and State in South Africa
South African President Jacob Zuma spoke to religious leaders at the home of Archbishop Makgoba, saying the scourge surrounding race and ethnicity continues to plague South Africans, according to Eye Witness News. Meanwhile, the Bishop of Natal, Rubin Phillip, has lamented ANC's attack on the shack settlement at Kennedy Road in Durban, which Greenleft Online describes as ethnic politics, pitting Zulu against Pondo, that was unthinkable even in apartheid's darkest days.

16 October 2009: Politics and women bishops in the Church of England
The
political wrangling that surrounds the issue of women bishops in the Church of England is getting more complex. So much so that we're not even going to attempt an explanation. You can read 'Synod's women-bishops committee draws back from code of practice' in the Church Times, 'women bishops: a look back' in Thinking Anglicans, or perhaps 'Leader: Revision committee deserves a hearing' in the Church Times. Ruth Gledhill of The Times noted 'Women clergy could leave Church of England if plans to resrict powers approved'.

16 October 2009: Cost of English bishops is increasing
The Church Times notes that a recent report from the Church of England showed that its bishops cost £16,044,144.
This is about £2 million more than for 2007. About a third of that increase was the cost to the Church of England of hosting the 2008 Lambeth Conference. The dry-cleaning of mitres must be very expensive. We can't resist combining this report with notices of the upcoming 'Equal Pay Day' in the UK, to observe that the Church of England could take advantage of that country's notorious pay differential — women are on average paid about 17% less than men for similar jobs — to trim its budget by the simple trick of hiring women bishops. Ekklesia has an interesting opinion piece on 'Equal Pay Day'; you can read it here.

16 October 2009: Canadian elected as secretary general of the Anglican Indigenous Network
The Anglican Journal (Canada) reports that Donna Bomberry, indigenous ministries co-ordinator for the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod, has been elected as the new secretary general of the Anglican Indigenous Network.

14 October 2009: Australian priests in trouble
Australian Broadcasting (Sydney) reports that the Bishop of Newcastle has suspended three priests after serious allegations of misconduct were made. The Age (Melbourne) and The Herald (Newcastle) report that the Rt Revd Dr Brian Farran said the men were accused of 'examinable conduct'. All accounts report the police are involved and that the bishop said the events were of an 'historic nature', meaning they did not take place in the immediate present.

13 October 2009: Compass Rose Society annual meeting missing guest speaker
The Episcopal News Service (ENS) published the Compass Rose Society news release on their recent annual meeting in London and subsequent trip to Malawi. The Rt Revd Suheil Dawani, Bishop of the Diocese of Jerusalem, was invited to speak at the Society's annual meeting. However, he was unable to attend after being denied access to the airport in Tel Aviv although he had completed the usual and customary protocols required by Israeli authorities. Dawani's address was read to the Society; the text can be found here.

13 October 2009: Heritage funding in Australia to help Hobart's cathedral
Australian Broacasting (Sydney) and the Gov Monitor (Delray Beach US) report on the Tasmanian government's awarding of heritage conservation funds for projects including AUD $1.6 million for conservation and restoration of the episcopal seat of the Bishop of Tasmania, the Cathedral church of St David, 'widely regarded as the finest example outside England of the work of the leading Victorian architect, George F. Bodley'.

12 October 2009: A fire-eating vicar
At a baptism at St Giles' Church in Scartho, Father Edward Martin lit a fire-stick from the paschal candle, and gave a demonstration of fire-eating, in an attempt to inform people about the Holy Spirit, symbolized by fire. The Grimsby Telegraph has this video clip of his skills. Scartho and Grimsby are in the Diocese of Lincoln in South Humberside, east of Sheffield in England.


11 October 2009: Archbishop of York asks government to tackle prostitution
Writing in the Sunday Times John Sentamu tells why he tabled a question in parliament asking the government to curb the sex trade. He argues that most of the women involved in it have been forced into the trade, and that it is not a victimless crime.

9 October 2009: Covenant would not be Anglican, says Selby
The former Bishop of Worcester, Dr Peter Selby, has given a detailed critique of Dr Williams' statement on covenant. The Church Times quotes his comment that 'The bullying, the threats, the withdrawal of communion, the unilateral invasions of others' territories, have made Anglicanism quite unrecognisable to a significant number of people.' The full text of Selby's talk given at the Inclusive Church conference can be found here.

9 October 2009: Church of England committee wrestles with compromise on duties of female bishops
Reuters reports on a proposed compromise 'to end a rift between traditionalists who want to keep the all-male senior clergy, and liberals demanding equality'.

7 October 2009: Church of England comments on proposed EU hedge fund regulations
The Business Insider (New York) reports on the apparent change in position since last fall by the Church of England on hedge fund regulations. The text of the letter sent to the House of Lords EU committee can be found here. The 'change of position' theme was also picked up by FINalternatives (New York), an outlet for hedge fund and private equity news, and the Punjab Newsline Network (Chandigarh).

6 October 2009: New Diocese in South Africa
The Daily Dispatch (East London) reports on the inauguration of Ukhahlamba Diocese was celebrated this week with Archbishop Thabo Makgoba presiding. The Rt Revd Lawrence Ndzwana is bishop of the new diocese created by splitting the Diocese of Grahamstown.

5 October 2009: New Bishop of Dover
This is Kent (UK) describes Trevor Willmott as a real foodie who enjoys cooking cricket and gardening. When he takes up his new post next February, he will have oversight of the diocese of Canterbury. The Archbishop of Canterbury comments on the new bishop in a video on Kent Online.

1-6 October 2009: Recent court actions involving US Episcopal Church
The Episcopal News Service (US) reports on recent developments in various court cases involving break-away dioceses and parishes. The Diocese of Los Angeles was featured in two recent decisions. The US Supreme Court declined to hear a petition of review brought by one breakaway congregation, and the California Supreme Court declined to hear a petition to overturn a Superior Court decision in favour of the Diocese of Los Angeles. A judge in Pennsylvania ruled that 'all diocesan assets must be held by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh that is recognized by the Episcopal Church'.


4 October 2009: Bishop urges Zambians to make noise
Religious leaders in Zambia are unhappy that an appeal has been blocked, after the former president was acquitted of corruption charges. The Post (Lusaka) notes that the Bishop of Central Zambia has told his countrymen to make noise until the case is fully heard.

4 October 2009: New bishop elected in Kenya
The Daily Nation (Nairobi) reports on the election of the Revd George Mechumo as bishop for the Diocese of Bungoma in the Anglican Church of Kenya.

2 October 2009: Pacific tsunami reporting
The New Zealand Herald (Auckland) reported on a story from Taonga Online (news from the Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia) where a Samoan Archdeacon describes tsunami devastation in her home village. Taonga Online also has a report on the difficulty of communications and the wait for news about the parishes in American Samoa. Statements and messages from the Co-Presiding Bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia and the Archbishop of Melbourne are also online.

2 October 2009: Bishop speaks in Nigeria
The Rt Revd Chidi Collins Oparaojiaku spoke to newsmen on the 49th anniversary of Nigeria's independence. The Daily Trust (Abuja) reports he 'maintained... the worst thing that had happened to the country in the past 49 years was denial of the younger generation their right to power.'

2 October 2009: Announcement expected soon of Pope visit to UK
The Church Times reports that 'The Vatican is expected to confirm that Pope Benedict XVI will visit the UK next autumn. It would be the first papal visit to Great Britain in 30 years, and the second since the Reformation.'

1 October 2009: Archbishop of Wales delivers Hobart lecture
WalesOnline reports the Most Revd Dr Barry Cennydd Morgan gave the annual Hobart lecture and was installed on the cathedral's 'international throne' at the Cathedral of St John the Divine (New York, US). The Archbishop's topic: 'the Church should make more effort to reassure Christians that grieving is an acceptable part of dealing with bereavement'.

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