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International Briefing

[Episcopal News Service]   
  • INDIAN OCEAN: Muslims donate land for Anglican Church
  • MALAWI: Anglicans split over nomination of Briton as bishop
  • RWANDA: Archbishop Kolini addresses drought-ravaged people
  • SUDAN: Archbishop of Canterbury's Ash Wednesday statement on hunger
  • WEST INDIES: Archbishop Gomez's successor elected

INDIAN OCEAN: Muslims donate land for Anglican Church

[ENS, Source: Diocese of Antsiranana - Indian Ocean] In the midst of world stories of violence and boycott due to the publication of cartoons caricaturing the prophet Mohammad, Muslims have donated a piece of land for the erection of a new Anglican church in Ambilobe town in the Diocese of Antsiranana.
         "I could not believe my ears when I was told that the Muslims of the Matsabory Leidama suburb of Ambilobe donated a piece of land to the Anglican Church," said Bishop Roger Chung of Antsiranana. "But God's ways are not our ways, and His thoughts not our thoughts, says the Book of Isaiah."
         The chairman of the parish, Diogene Mahavavy, explained that the Muslim community was aware of difficulties Anglicans were having in obtaining a plot of land for building a new suburban church. They readily offered to donate the plot.
         The peoples of Ambilobe are from the Antakarana tribe, which is predominantly Muslim. However, evangelization of the Ankarana region has resulted in many families having both Muslim and Christian members. So mutual support between Muslims and Christians is very common.

Full story and photos

MALAWI: Anglicans split over nomination of Briton as bishop
By Frank Jomo

[ENS, Source: Ecumenical News International] The nomination of a British priest as an Anglican bishop in Malawi has split the diocese, with demonstrators barricading church offices in protest at the failure of church authorities to approve the appointment.
         The Rev. Nicholas Henderson was elected bishop of the Diocese of Lake Malawi in July 2005, but the church's court of confirmation rejected his appointment because of his involvement with a group seen as supporting homosexual clergy.
         On February 22, hundreds of demonstrators protesting at Henderson's rejection briefly barricaded the church offices in the capital city of Lilongwe, preventing Archbishop Bernard Malango from entering the premises.
         "We have closed the offices and ordered all diocesan employees to proceed on leave until the matter is resolved," said one of the protestors, who requested anonymity, saying he was afraid of reprisals.
         Henderson is a former general secretary of the Modern Churchpeople's Union (MCU), which in 2005 compiled a book in which strong support was given to the 2003 election of openly-gay V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire.
         The Diocese of Malawi belongs to the Church of the Province of Central Africa, led by Malango, who is an opponent of Robinson's election.
         The Central African church's court of confirmation refused Henderson's appointment on the grounds that his association with the MCU demonstrated he was "not of sound faith."
         Instead, the church opted for retired Bishop James Mwenda from Zambia to take up the position of bishop for the Lake Malawi diocese as a "caretaker," provoking anger among many people there.
         The decision to barricade the church offices was reached after the failure of a meeting between Malango and representatives of the Lake Malawi diocese to reach agreement on Henderson's future, local media reported.
         The Daily Times newspaper noted that 21 out of 26 clerics in the diocese were in support of the consecration of Henderson as bishop, but the meeting broke up without agreement when Malango and Vicar General Frank Dzantenge left the gathering.
         Meanwhile, Henderson on a private 10-day visit to Malawi received a rousing welcome on his arrival and was carried shoulder high from the plane amid chants of "Nick! Nick!"
         On his departure, Henderson said problems about his position in the Lake Malawi diocese resulted from differences between himself and Malango. He said, "The difficulties are not between me and the church elders, it's between me primarily and the archbishop."

RWANDA: Archbishop Kolini addresses drought-ravaged people

[ENS, Source: L'Eglise Episcopal au Rwanda] Bugesera District in Rwanda has been without rain for more than three years, which has severely devastated the area causing persistent famine, which has led residents to flee to other parts of the country in search for food.
         Some international agencies have intervened to provide food for the affected population. The Episcopal Church of Rwanda has put in place water systems in a bid to provide the area with adequate water.
         The leader of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, has launched and blessed the water project initiated by the church.

Full story by Grace Mugabe

SUDAN: Archbishop of Canterbury's Ash Wednesday statement on hunger

[ENS, Source: Lambeth Palace] Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams delivered an Ash Wednesday message while on an official visit to Sudan February 26-March 5. The message follows:

The World Food Programme and the Anglican Church worldwide deal with the needs -- the primary needs -- of millions of people everyday. And in this, as in so many areas, what we need is better and better resource partnership with the organisation. Here in Africa it is impossible to think of developments goals being achieved without partnership with those organisations on the ground which are best equipped to deliver locally. So here particularly in Sudan, with the churches, we look for further development of the partnerships that we've already seen. During this visit in Sudan and particularly in southern Sudan, we've seen some of this partnership at work, we've seen this morning 700 children who are fed daily in an Anglican school here in Malakal, with the co-operation of the World Food Programme, and this is the pattern which we need to work by.

Today is Ash Wednesday in the Christian world, it's a day when we ought to be thinking about what we need and what we don't need. A day where we ought to be thinking about how we clear space for the work of God to happen in and around us. Today is the day when I guess for me and for many Christians, the scenes we witnessed this morning will be particularly poignant, and particularly important, setting an agenda not only for Lent, the season that's coming for Christians, but for years ahead, the pressingly absolute urgency of relief work. At the moment the resources of the WFP to deliver at this level are stretched and slender. People here feel that relief is coming slowly, but although peace has been declared, the peace dividends are not here yet. Donor nations, donor groups and institutions, the western world as a whole, they all need to think with the utmost urgency, what is needed here, and how we could deliver it as speedily and as effectively as possible.

Full message:

WEST INDIES: Archbishop Gomez's successor elected

[ENS, Source: The Bahama Journal] The rector of the Holy Cross Anglican Church in the Bahamas, the Rev. Laish Boyd, emerged as the new successor to Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies February 24 after an intensive round of voting at the Holy Trinity Activity Center.
         Boyd eventually captured the two-thirds majority of votes from among members of the voting clergy and laity needed to secure him the position.
         Securing 76 'yes' votes out of 101 from the House of Laity and 50 'yes' votes out of 73 from the House of Clergy, Boyd beat eight other nominees for the post.
         Boyd will now work closely with Gomez until he retires in 2008, a few months shy of the archbishop's 72nd birthday.
         Following the vote, Boyd said that his first duty as bishop co-adjutor would be to assist Gomez.
         "I will say that close to my heart, as is close to the heart of the Church and the purpose of the Church, is to continue to bring the message of Jesus Christ home and into the lives of people," Boyd said. "That's certainly my view of what the Church ought to be doing and that will continue to be what the Church is about."

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