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International Briefing

[Episcopal News Service]   
    • CANADA: Anglican documentary resonates with police
    • CANADA: Primate clarifies church's position on investments in Israel
    • HAITI: Bishop Tharp Business and Technology Institute inaugurated
    • MALAWI: Christians want upper age limit for presidents
    • NEW ZEALAND: Bishops call for concerted efforts to grapple with climate change
    • UGANDA: Bishop calls for action to end 'world's worst war'
    • WEST INDIES: Boyd confirmed as Archbishop Gomez's successor

CANADA: Anglican documentary resonates with police
by Marites N. Sison

[Source: Anglican Journal] The Toronto Police Service, one of Canada's largest police forces, has sought and been granted permission to use an award-winning documentary by Anglican Video as a reference material for its training program for city police officers.

"Topahdewin: The Gladys Cook Story" is a powerful film about an aboriginal Anglican woman who survived a damaged childhood to become a prominent drug and alcohol abuse counselor. A recipient of a 1996 Governor General's Award for promoting women's rights, Cook was sexually abused while attending a residential school. The one-hour documentary uses archival footage, still photography and 13 years of interviews with Cook, now 74, in which she talks about her journey of despair, rediscovery of faith and her work with native women, addicts, prisoners and survivors of abuse.

"This is very exciting for us and the whole church, to know that our work can make a difference in the way aboriginal people may be treated by the police force," said filmmaker Lisa Barry. She said that the video has also been purchased for use by some correctional facilities and social work programs, aside from being screened at various healing circles across Canada.

Barry said the Toronto police human relations department, through a training officer, Sgt. Mark Fehr, had made the request to use the video for its training program. "He said that he and his group had found the program very powerful and in particular, want to use the historic aspects of the program. They hope that it will raise awareness among police officers around many issues that aboriginal people are dealing with."

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CANADA: Primate clarifies church's position on investments in Israel

[Source: Anglican Church of Canada] Reports that the Anglican Church of Canada has or is considering disinvestment in Israel are unfounded, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, the Canadian Primate, said.

"No proposal for disinvestment has come before us in Canada, nor is such a proposal on the agenda for consideration," Hutchison explained during an address at a neighborhood interfaith dinner at Beth Tzedec Synagogue in Toronto on April 5.

Hutchison gave a detailed history of his relationship with the Jewish community while he was Bishop of Montreal prior to his election as primate in 2004.

Full address


HAITI: Bishop Tharp Business and Technology Institute inaugurated

[Source: Episcopal Relief & Development] The Bishop Tharp Business and Technology Institute (BTI) was officially inaugurated at a ceremony on Sunday, April 2, in Les Cayes, Haiti. The school first opened in September 2005 and provides university-level courses such as business management, computer technology, statistics and English.

Approximately 250 people attended the inauguration and dedication, including Robert W. Radtke, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) president, Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin of Haiti, Mark Spina, director of ERD, clergy from the Diocese of Haiti, and former ERD board members, as well as BTI board members, students and their families. The institute is named after the late Rt. Rev. Robert G. Tharp, former Bishop of the Diocese of East Tennessee, ERD board chair and friend of the Diocese of Haiti.

"The idea of a Diocese of Haiti/ERD partnership focusing on post-
secondary business education began in 1999," said Radtke. "Bishop Duracin, ERD board members, Episcopal lay leaders with mission involvements in southwest Haiti, and staff began to discuss ways to use resources to invest in an education strategy that drew on local community support and involvement, church presence and a commitment to practical read world training and skill-building."

"Today, BTI is educating 180 students who will soon be business managers and owners, helping stimulate the local Les Cayes economy," said Radtke.

The celebration began with a Eucharist at Saint Sauveur's Parish in Les Cayes with Duracin serving as chief celebrant. A homily was given by the Rev. Kenol Rock, the parish's rector. A gospel choir, comprised of 25 BTI students, sang, "O Happy Day" at the celebration. Then Duracin and other clergy led a procession from the church through the streets of Les Cayes to the BTI campus.

The inauguration ceremony and dedication included remarks from Burton Joseph, interim director of BTI, Radtke and BTI board members. Duracin and clergy consecrated the five classrooms, computer laboratory, future library and administrative building.

Rita Redfield, former ERD board member, read a message of support and remembrance from Ann Tharp, widow of Bishop Tharp. "Perhaps there are those among you who met Bob early in life and are here today on your journey at this institute," said Redfield. "If Bishop Tharp were here today, he would challenge your sense of adventure and he would share with you his conviction that life is a holy dance."

"BTI's opening and this ceremony is a testament to the determination of Bishop Duracin and his dedicated staff, ERD's partnership with the diocese and the strength of the Haitian people themselves to pursue post-secondary business education opportunities for young people in southwest Haiti," said Radtke.

Ultimately, BTI will create a pool of skilled workers equipped to start their own business or join the local workforce in Les Cayes, Haiti's third largest city.

"BTI has made a real difference in Les Cayes," said Louis Roosevelt, a student at BTI. "I am seeking opportunities to study and further my education."


MALAWI: Christians want upper age limit for presidents
By Frank Jomo Blantyre

[Source: Ecumenical News International] Christian groups in Malawi are proposing that there should be a retirement age for serving presidents just as the country's constitution has set the entry age for the person to lead the nation at 35 years.

"A serving president should retire when he or she has clocked between 70 and 85 years," reveals a recently released survey conducted by the Christian groups. Malawi is expected to review its constitution in 2006 and the government is seeking views of the people and organizations on what they think should be included in it.

The survey was conducted between 2004 and 2005 by the Churches Development Coordination Committee, Church and Society, the (Roman) Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, the Malawi Council of Churches, the Association of Progressive Women, the Centre for Human Rights and the Rehabilitation and the Public Affairs Committee.

Christians have also demanded that Malawi's Anti-Corruption Bureau should not have to seek consent from the director of public prosecution before prosecuting suspects as is the case at the moment and which is seen as undermining its independence.

They have also demanded the removal of the office of the second vice president, describing it as unimportant and a misuse of resources. Christians also want to recall a provision that would empower citizens to replace incompetent members of parliament.

On the immunity for the president and his deputy from prosecution, Christians said this provision should not apply in the case of criminal offenses. The Most Rev. Bernard Malango, Anglican Archbishop of Central Africa, said the survey allowed Christians, who have a strong influence on politics in the central African nation, to express their minds on the country's constitution.

The survey was funded by DanChurchAid through the Civic and Political Space Platform Project.


NEW ZEALAND: Bishops call for concerted efforts to grapple with climate change

[Source: Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia] Anglican bishops in New Zealand and Fiji have added their voices to scientists' pleas for serious moves to be made to tackle the threat of climate change.

The bishops issued a statement endorsing last week's Wellington conference on climate change, saying that the phenomenon is "a real and present danger to the future of this planet."

"Our country," the bishops said, "needs to be managed and cared for as a part of God's creation. Ethics and the environment are closely linked."

The urgency of confronting the crisis requires "governments, local governments, businesses and faith communities to work together," the statement said.

One of the bishops who signed the statement, the Rt. Rev. David Moxon of Waikato, acknowledges that some people may question whether Christian leaders should involve themselves with such issues.

But the obligation for Christians is clear and inescapable: "God's world," he says, "needs God's people to act for the redeeming of God's creation."

The Anglican Church's Social Justice Commissioner, The Rev. Dr. Anthony Dancer, agrees: "As we prepare to celebrate Easter, Christians recall that through Christ the whole of creation is reconciled or restored to God, and that this places a moral or ethical imperative upon us.

"To continue to live in a relationship to creation which is distorted, to subject ourselves to all manner of structures and systems which cause us to utilize the planet in a way which destroys it, is completely contrary to the Gospel.

"At the very least," Dr. Dancer says, "we're called to be good stewards of that which is given to us. Committing ourselves to carbon neutrality – managing and offsetting our carbon emissions -- is an important first step for the Church to take.

"The reality of climate change is without dispute. It's a reality that we cannot afford to ignore.

"The time to act," he says, "has been with us for some time. We need to make brave decisions, bold decisions, and be willing to stick our necks out."

Full story and statement


UGANDA: Bishop calls for action to end 'world's worst war'
By Fredrick Nzwili

[Source: Ecumenical News International] Anglican Bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng of Northern Uganda has called for immediate action to bring an end to 20 years of violent conflict in his diocese, which civil society groups say is one of the worst war zones on the planet, worse even than Iraq.

Onono-Onweng made his plea as the Civil Society Organizations for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU) released a report saying the death rate in the region is three times higher than that in Iraq.

"I do not want to lament, but I want the international community to realize that we are part of global humanity with rights to life, peace education, culture and wealth," Onono-Onweng told Ecumenical News International from Gulu on March 31.

The report, "Counting the Cost: 20 years of war in Northern Uganda", was compiled by a coalition that includes Oxfam International, Care International, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee. It was released on March 30 as U.N. Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland met in Kampala with Uganda government and other international representatives to address the conflict.

"We do not want them to just visit and see us. We want them to work with the government to let the people of northern Uganda go," said Onono-Onweng.

Stella Ayo-Odongo, chairperson of CSOPNU, said, "Northern Uganda is one of the world's worst war zones. The violent death rate in northern Uganda is three times higher than Iraq. It is a tragedy of the worst proportions. This conflict cannot be allowed to fester any longer. A peaceful resolution of this must be found."

International NGOs say the war, pitting the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) against Uganda government forces, has displaced an estimated 2 million people, while the LRA is said to have abducted 25,000 children in 20 years. One quarter of children younger than 10 years old in northern Uganda have lost one or both parents. Relief agencies estimate 146 people die each week in a war that has cost Uganda almost US$2 billion, roughly the same as the total aid to Uganda from the United States between 1994 and 2002.


WEST INDIES: Boyd confirmed as Archbishop Gomez's successor
By Bianca Symonette

[Source: The Bahama Journal] With unanimous confirmation from the House of Bishops, the Rev. Laish Boyd has assumed the title of Bishop Coadjutor-Elect of the Diocese of The Turks and Caicos Islands, Anglican Archbishop Drexel Gomez announced on April 5.

Rector of Holy Cross Anglican Church, Boyd emerged as Gomez's successor on February 23 after an intensive round of voting at the Holy Trinity Activity Center.

Gomez, who attended a meeting of the House of Bishops in Barbados on March 21, said that the bishops agreed to hold the ordination and consecration of Boyd at 10 a.m. on June 29 at Christ Church Cathedral.

Boyd will assume administrative duties on a part time basis first before assuming full-term duties towards the end of this year. During the transitional period, Boyd will be functioning as a bishop.

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