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International Briefing

[Episcopal News Service]   
  • AFRICA: CAPA Primates send message of solidarity to Christians in Nigeria
  • AUSTRALIA: Queen attends historic Commonwealth Day service in Sydney
  • ENGLAND: Faith schools provide essential education, Williams says
  • KENYA: Nzimbi offers apology to AIDS patients; Church will return grabbed land
  • NIGERIA: Two-Day National Mourning will honor victims of religious clash
  • WALES: Cardiff hosts European Church Communication meeting

AFRICA: CAPA Primates send message of solidarity to Christians in Nigeria

[ENS, Source: CAPA] The Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), who met in Nairobi, Kenya, February 26-28, sent a message to Christians in Nigeria expressing their concern about the violent religious riots in the country, which have claimed many lives and destroyed church property.

"We wish to reassure you of our love and prayers to sustain you in the present struggle," the message said. "As Christians, we can never be without hope. It is easy to become hopeless but you and us believe that God Our Father has a plan for His world in which all mankind are to have adequate care and sustenance for their bodies, minds and spirits. Our lives are being threatened because of our faith and commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.

"The Church locally and internationally has been called to be prophetic. She seeks to be a sign of demonstrating God's Kingdom of power through love. This is our vision as the body of Christ whose hope is founded in God."

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AUSTRALIA: Queen attends historic Commonwealth Day service in Sydney
By Ramon Williams

[ENS, Source: Anglican Church of Australia] For the first time in history, the Commonwealth Day Service was held outside Britain and the honor was bestowed upon St. Andrew's Anglican Cathedral in Sydney on Monday, March 13, attended by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen was accompanied by her husband, His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and her son, His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. The Commonwealth Secretary General, the Rt. Hon. Don McKinnon, and Australian Prime Minister, the Hon. John Howard, were also present and took part in the service.

The Very Rev. Phillip Jensen, dean of St. Andrew's, welcomed the official guests and dignitaries and greeted members of the public gathered at the barricades several hours before the ceremony.

Students from St. Andrew's Cathedral School paraded the Commonwealth Flags, followed by the Commonwealth Mace.

Both the Royal Anthem and the Australian National Anthem were sung and, in accordance with the traditional Commonwealth Day Observance format, the service included special items relating to the "broad cultural and racial diversity of the Commonwealth."

A Commonwealth Day Rajathani Dance Group contributed to the program, which was followed by Australian singer and Pop Idol Anthony Callea performing "The Prayer."

The Queen's Commonwealth Day Message 2006, illustrated by a video, addressed issues of health and healthcare facing the Commonwealth.

The Queen spoke of "few feelings more satisfying than waking to a new day with a sense of wellbeing. Good health is a precious gift. Yet many do not share in this. Some 40 million people today are living with HIV/AIDS, well over half of whom are Commonwealth citizens."

In closing, Her Majesty said: "In Melbourne, in just a few days' time, I will be opening what are known as 'The Friendly Games.' Commonwealth athletes will gather once more in a spirit of goodwill and fellowship, and will strive to achieve new heights of excellence.

"As we watch our finest sportsmen and women compete, we will see clearly what exercise at the very highest level can contribute to both body and spirit."

Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney delivered the sermon, in which he called upon people to "put their hope in Jesus Christ, the Bible's 'great physician,' who can defeat such evils and in whom the final healing of the world lies ahead of us, in the Kingdom of God, made possible by his death on the cross."

Following the Commonwealth Day 2006 Observance, Her Majesty, accompanied by the Prime Minister, carried out her "meet and greet" along the barricades, speaking to many and receiving gifts of flower bouquets and greetings.

On March 15, Her Majesty officially opened the Commonwealth Games.

The full text of Archbishop Jensen's sermon

The full text of Her Majesty's Speech at the Commonwealth Day service

Photos available here

ENGLAND: Faith schools provide essential education, Williams says

[ENS, Source: Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has launched a strong defense of faith schools as helping to provide the "broadest possible access to ideas" for young minds.

In a speech at the National Church Schools Conference in London on March 14, Williams argued that faith schools offer an essential contribution to the development of strong and integrated communities and rejected accusations that they encourage divisiveness, exclusivity and irrationality.

Rejecting the misconception that faith schools offer mostly middle class families an alternative to paying for private education, Williams said that the Church of England educates children from a diversity of social backgrounds and regularly provides a faith-based education for those living in deprived areas.

"The often-forgotten fact that church schools are the main educational presences in some of our most deprived communities means that it simply cannot be said that these schools somehow have a policy of sanitizing or segregating," Williams said, arguing that an avowedly secularist approach to the provision of public education has serious implications for good community relations in the future.

"If the choice appears to be between systematically secular schools in the public sector and explicitly sectarian schools privately resourced, the dangers should be obvious," he added. "Religious conviction becomes something fiercely guarded from the light of public discussion or scrutiny; the way in which it relates to other areas of life and thought can only be looked at in ways that are not publicly accountable."

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KENYA: Nzimbi offers apology to AIDS patients; Church will return grabbed land

[ENS, Source: East African Standard; The Nation] Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) has said that the church does not want to be associated with corruption and is ready to return grabbed land if sufficient evidence is produced, the East African Standard reports.

"The church should come out in the open to say whether the land they are occupying was grabbed or not," Nzimbi said, responding to the Ndung'u Report which has published the results of an investigation into illegal practices of land grabbing.

Nzimbi, who was speaking during a workshop for religious leaders living with HIV/AIDS, also demanded that ministers mentioned in the Ndung'u report be prosecuted immediately, while instructing all Anglican bishops in the 29 dioceses to check if any church had been issued with land in an irregular manner.

According to the Ndung'u report, the ACK, Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), Africa Inland Church (AIC), Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) and full gospel churches are among institutions that acquired land irregularly in the country.

On behalf of the Church, Nzimbi also apologized to AIDS patients for shunning them, thus encouraging their stigmatization and discrimination, the Nation reports.

"As a church, our earlier approach in fighting AIDS was misplaced since we likened it to a disease for sinners and a curse from God," he said. "We apologize for earlier abandoning our flock, which was as a result of our ignorance of the disease, but today we are more informed."

Full stories can be found online at: and

NIGERIA: Two-day national mourning will honor victims of religious clash

[ENS, Source: Church of Nigeria] The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has instructed all Christians in the country to stay at home on March 27 and 28 and observe two days of national mourning in honor of the victims of the recent religious clashes that have claimed several lives.

A statement was read by CAN's president, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, during a March 12 service of inauguration of the League of Anglican Media Professionals (LAMP) in Abuja, that said during the "period of mourning no Christian shall go to work, no shop, market, nor office is to be opened."

"This is no holiday -- but a time to mourn, weep, repent, and to pray for our country," Akinola emphasized.

CAN also requested law enforcement agents and the judiciary to prosecute perpetrators of recent religious riots.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Maccido, was commended for "giving leadership to the Islamic community not to allow a spread of the wanton destruction."

Members of the Nigerian Police force were also commended for their "valor and responsible behavior" during the crisis.

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WALES: Cardiff hosts European Church Communication meeting

[ENS, Source: Church in Wales] The Church in Wales is hosting representatives from all Porvoo Churches across Europe in Cardiff March 16-21, to discuss the challenges and processes of communicating the Gospel in the 21st century.

Members of the churches in Wales, England and Ireland, as well as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Latvia, are meeting at the Urdd Centre within the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay for the four-day conference, which will include seminars, speakers, video and practical training in church communication.

"We are looking forward to welcome [sic] some top class speakers to the conference," Siôn Brynach, the Archbishop's Press Officer for the Church in Wales, said. "Worship will be a key part of the conference and will take place in the ecumenical Lightship 2000, moored in Cardiff docks, and be coordinated by the Lightship's Chaplain, the Rev. Monica Mills. The conference will also give those attending a taste of Wales with visits to the National Museum and Galleries of Wales -- St. Fagan and the Big Pit Museum in Blaenafon."

Speakers include: Phil George, creative director of Green Bay TV that produced the BBC programs 'Bread of Heaven' and 'An Archbishop Like This,' and Jonny Baker of the Church Mission Society. Also providing training and leading delegates in a closing retreat is former Wall Street Journal staff reporter, the Rev. Tom Ehrich from North Carolina, now an Episcopal priest known for his daily meditations (

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