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World Report


Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town helps distribute mosquito nets in Mozambique.  

[Episcopal News Service] 

Compass Rose Society grant supplies theological colleges with books
EUROPE: World Council of Churches to focus on Middle East at meeting
JAPAN: First Anglican women's conference held in Hakone
KENYA: Church leaders urge: Follow US senator in HIV testing
MIDDLE EAST: Statement by the Patriarch and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem
MOZAMBIQUE: Archbishop of Cape Town helps to distribute mosquito nets
RUSSIA: Orthodox Church seeks relations with conservative dioceses; ecumenical officer responds
SOUTH AFRICA: Tutu appeals to former vice president not to run for office
UGANDA: Anglican Church leader 'optimistic' about peace deal

ANGLICAN COMMUNION: Compass Rose Society grant supplies theological colleges with books

[Source: Anglican Communion News Service] As the result of the generosity of a number of members of the Compass Rose Society, TEAC (Theological Education in the Anglican Communion Working Party) is supplying theological colleges in Asia and Africa with key books in the field of Anglican Studies. The purpose of the grants is to enable students training for Anglican ministry in theological colleges with limited library resources to have greater access to books which will provide an overview of Anglican history, liturgy and spirituality.

So far, the grants received have enabled books to be sent to six theological colleges in Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands; it is hoped to send out similar sets of books to at least another ten colleges before the end of 2006.

Full story

EUROPE: World Council of Churches to focus on Middle East at meeting

By Stephen Brown

[Source: Ecumenical News International] The main governing body of the World Council of Churches (WCC) is to debate the situation in the Middle East at its August 30-September 6 meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

"We are convinced in the WCC the time has come when we should broaden the coordination of the ecumenical response to the Middle East," the church grouping's general secretary, the Rev. Samuel Kobia, said after the return this month of a WCC delegation to Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories. The churches' approach to the situation in the Middle East, needs to be "as broad as possible including what we can do with the Roman Catholic Church", Kobia told journalists.

The Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC, which groups more than 340 churches, mostly Anglican, Protestant and Orthodox, but it cooperates with the council on a number of issues.

The meeting of the WCC governing body, called the central committee, is also scheduled to discuss issues including HIV/AIDS, trade justice following the collapse of the World Trade Organization talks, and the plight of children in conflict situations in Africa, with particular focus on northern Uganda, which has been the scene of a two-decades-long civil war.

JAPAN: First Anglican women's conference held in Hakone

[Source: Nippon Sei Ko Kai] The first Anglican Women's Conference of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Church of Japan) was held in Hakone, Japan, August 16-19 under the theme "We Open the New Doors" with 85 women and 10 men in attendance.

The participants listed 15 resolutions that upheld "equal participation of women and men in church ministry" as being "indispensable for the realization of justice and peace in society," and noting that the "validity of women's ordination to the priesthood should be given respect equal to that of men's ordination to the priesthood in all dioceses of NSKK.

KENYA: Church leaders urge: Follow US senator in HIV testing

By Fredrick Nzwili

[Source: Ecumenical News International] Church leaders and anti-AIDS activists in Kenya are urging people to heed the call for mass HIV tests by US Senator Barack Obama, who has won praise after taking a test while visiting their country.

"Leaders, be it politicians or religious ones, have to show the way," Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi told Ecumenical News International after Obama took an HIV test in Kisumu on August 26. "I am encouraging all the people to be tested so that they can know their status. If we don't go for the test, we are not fighting the epidemic."

Obama, a member of the US Democratic Party whose father was Kenyan, took the test in a mobile clinic in Kisumu with his wife, Michelle, amid cheers from thousands of people.

"Knowing your status is the first step in controlling the spread of disease. Let everyone be tested," Obama later told onlookers who had come out to greet him.

While visiting South Africa before traveling to Kenya, the senator told AIDS activists that he planned to take an HIV test, winning the praise of Anglican Archbishop-Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

"That would be very good," Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reported Tutu as saying after holding talks with the senator. "It encourages other people who may be less brave to want to do that. It also helps to deal with the question of stigma."

Obama is the only black US senator and only the fifth African-American to serve in the Senate, the upper chamber of the US Congress.

MIDDLE EAST: Statement by the Patriarch and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem

[Source: Diocese of Jerusalem] The Patriarch and leaders of Churches in Jerusalem issued the following statement August 22, titled "The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism."

Christian Zionism is a modern theological and political movement that embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism, thereby becoming detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel. The Christian Zionist program provides a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it laces an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ's love and justice today.

We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.

We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine. This inevitably leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of the world.

Full statement

MOZAMBIQUE: Archbishop of Cape Town helps to distribute mosquito nets

[Source: Anglican Church of Southern Africa] Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town took delivery of part of a consignment of 16,500 mosquito nets at Maputo Harbour on August 29. The nets have been treated with a long-lasting insecticide and were donated by Standard Chartered Bank and Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). HOPE AFRICA, the social development arm of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, facilitated this donation.

Ndungane, together with Bishop Dinis Sengulane of Lebombo, and senior church staff, paid a courtesy call to Mozambique President Armando Guebuza and pledged partnership –- on behalf of the Anglican Church –- in the international Roll Back Malaria campaign. Ndungane also promised support to Mozambique in the battle against HIV and AIDS.

On August 28, Ndungane visited a maternity hospital in Macia -- about two hours from Maputo -- to distribute nets to pregnant women and mothers with young children.

"A mosquito net is a small thing, but we are giving out 16,500 mosquito nets," said Ndungane in an August 28 sermon. "That is 16,500 people who will now be able to sleep safe from mosquitoes, safe from the threat of malaria. That means 16,500 people have received a physical demonstration that they matter."

He added that on their own, donors and policy makers cannot distribute mosquito nets to all who need them and this is why churches -- and other faith communities -- have a vital role to play.

"Wherever there are people, faith communities are present. And we have organizations that network across the country and across the continent," he said. "Through our parishes and congregations, we can reach almost everybody. We can take practical actions, and we can also feed back the necessary information about how effective policies and programs are on the ground. In this way we can help shape the decisions that are made to ensure that they are as effective as possible in giving support to those who need it most."

RUSSIA: Orthodox Church seeks relations with conservative dioceses; ecumenical officer responds

[ENS] The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed its willingness to restore ecumenical relations with dioceses in the Episcopal Church that have asked for Alternative Primatial Oversight since the 75th General Convention, an August 23 letter from Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad states. In response, Bishop Christopher Epting, deputy for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, issued the following remark:

"The Episcopal Church's position on the full equality of women and men in the light of the Christian Gospel is already well known and is nothing of which we are ashamed. Anglican-Orthodox dialogues, both on the local and international level, continued after the Episcopal Church and other Anglican churches authorized the ordination of women.

"The Episcopal Church has regularly declined to comment or take sides on divisive issues within any of our ecumenical partners, and we have no intention of doing so now. We have always honored the jurisdictional boundaries of our ecumenical partners and have not attempted to interfere in others' internal conflicts. Any such comments or actions will have to be unilateral on the part of the Russian Orthodox Church. We are always eager to engage in candid dialogue on these issues with them in the spirit of mutual understanding and we believe that such dialogue is preferable to communication through the media."

Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, welcomed the offer in an August 25 letter, but noted that some of the dioceses that had been approached by the Russian Orthodox Church ordain women to the diaconate and presbyterate, a matter that "may impede the recognition," he wrote.

In addition to Duncan, Kirill's letter was addressed to Bishops Edward Salmon of South Carolina and John-David Schofield of San Joaquin.

SOUTH AFRICA: Tutu appeals to former vice president not to run for office

By David Wanless

[Ecumenical News International] Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has said he would like to see South Africa's presidential electoral system reformed and he hopes that Jacob Zuma, fired as vice president last year, will not participate in the race to succeed President Thabo Mbeki.

Tutu described Zuma as a "warm, approachable person", but added that "the best thing he could do, if he loves this country, is to elect not to take part in the succession race" that will take place for Mbeki's job before he steps down in 2009.

Tutu's remarks came during a lecture in Cape Town on August 23 to honor the South African anti-apartheid activist Harold Wolpe, who died 10 years ago.

Mbeki dismissed Zuma as vice president in 2005 after he was implicated in a corruption trial of his now convicted financial adviser. Zuma's alleged acceptance of a bribe from a French arms company in that case is currently before the courts.

During another trial earlier this year -- on a charge of rape, on which he was acquitted -- Zuma said he had consensual sex with the HIV-positive young accuser. He told the court although he was aware of her health status, he had not used a condom, but had showered after the act to minimize the risk of infection.

"I for one would not be able to hold my head high if a person with such supporters were to become my president, someone who did not think it necessary to apologize for engaging in casual sex without taking proper precautions in a country that is being devastated by this horrendous HIV/AIDS pandemic," said Tutu, the former Anglican leader in South Africa.

Tutu said although Zuma apologized for his "extraordinary claim about the efficacy of a shower to ward off HIV/AIDS," he never condemned the "abominable and quite disgraceful" behavior of his supporters outside the court who denigrated and threatened the woman who accused him of rape.

"It is high time our president was elected directly by the people," Tutu said. Political representatives need to owe "their primary loyalty and accountability to the constituents rather than to the party bosses." He said this would make South Africa a more vibrant democracy. At present all legislators are elected on a proportional basis for political parties.

UGANDA: Anglican Church leader 'optimistic' about peace deal

By Fredrick Nzwili

[Source: Ecumenical News International] A top Ugandan church leader has said efforts need to be made to keep the peace process in northern Uganda on track after agreement by government forces and rebels belonging to the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) to cease hostilities.

"It now clear any doubts about the seriousness of these talks and challenges need to focus on things that keep the dialogue on track," the Rev. Grace Kaiso, executive secretary of the Uganda Joint Christian Council, told Ecumenical News International in Nairobi.

The agreement took effect at 6 a.m. local time on August 29 and requires the rebels to assemble within three weeks at two places in Sudan called Owiny-ki-Bul and Ri-Kwangba.

The Ugandan army and the rebels have pledged not to fight each other or engage in hostile propaganda.

"We hope that the two principals will take action so that the guns can go silent," Riek Machar, chief negotiator and vice-president of the autonomous region in southern Sudan was quoted as saying by the Daily Monitor newspaper on August 27.

Rebel leader Joseph Kony and other top LRA generals are wanted by the International Criminal Court for charges including murder, rape and forcibly enlisting children. But religious leaders have said the court should review the arrest warrants in order to promote peace negotiations.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said he expects a comprehensive agreement by September 12. Church leaders, however, say they remain anxious about setting a fixed date.

"I would urge them to cease making unilateral demands or setting deadlines," said Kaiso. "If we have accepted to sit at the table, that is the most important thing."