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World Report - September 13


ACNS  photo
Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) workshop members.   (ACNS photo)

[Episcopal News Service] 
  • AFRICA: CAPA holds workshop to develop five-year strategic plan
  • ENGLAND: Archbishop of Canterbury visits Southwark Cathedral for 1400th anniversary
  • ENGLAND: Former Archbishop of York to retire through illness
  • KENYA: Christians, Hindus, Muslims unite on constitution changes
  • LAMBETH PALACE: Archbishop of Canterbury to award Cross of St. Augustine
  • RWANDA: Global South Primates to meet in Kigali
  • UGANDA: Bishop of Northern Uganda meets with rebel leader Joseph Kony
  • ZIMBABWE: Harare Bishop shuts down Churches to mark wedding anniversary

AFRICA: CAPA holds workshop to develop five-year strategic plan

[Source: Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa] The HIV/AIDS, TB & Malaria Program of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) held a workshop coordinated by the CAPA Team and the Christian Organizations Research and Advisory Trust (CORAT) Africa from August 28-30 at the Anglican Church of Kenya's Guest House in Nairobi, Kenya. The aim of the workshop was to develop a five-year strategic plan for the program for 2006 to 2010.

The participants were drawn from different parts of the CAPA provinces and other collaborating bodies. In attendance was Archbishop Benjamin M. Nzimbi of Kenya, who is also the acting CAPA general secretary.

The five-year strategic plan document on HIV/AIDS/TB/Malaria will enable CAPA to strengthen and scale up programs within the 12 African Anglican provinces. Most of the objectives of the initial five-year strategic plan document, titled "Planning our response 2001," have been achieved, a CAPA press release reported.

The document is expected to be completed by February 2007.

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ENGLAND: Archbishop of Canterbury visits Southwark Cathedral for 1400th anniversary

[Source: LondonSE1] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, traveled by boat from Lambeth Palace to London Bridge on September 10 to visit Southwark Cathedral as part of its 1400th anniversary celebration.

Williams and his family traveled from their London residence at Lambeth Palace on the motor launch, Zodiac, and were greeted at London Bridge City Pier by members of the clergy and congregation who then walked together to Southwark Cathedral.

Williams presided and preached at the Choral Eucharist for the patronal festival of the cathedral, which is dedicated to St Mary.

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ENGLAND: Former Archbishop of York to retire through illness

[Source: The Yorkshire Post] Ill health is forcing the former Archbishop of York, Dr. David Hope, to retire from his parish on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales in northern England.

The former Primate of England announced his resignation as priest-in-charge of St. Margaret's Church, Ilkley, to the congregation September 10.

It means Lord Hope of Thorner, who became priest in charge of St. Margaret's in March 2005 after 10 years at York, will retire for a second time soon after Christmas.

He had returned to St. Margaret's on a part-time basis on September 1 after a debilitating illness, but now feels he cannot continue. "I have really agonized over this decision, but my doctors have made it very clear that to carry on would be injurious to my health," he said. "So although I do this with great reluctance, I felt I had no alternative."

Bishop David James of Bradford said Hope had achieved an enormous amount in a short space of time. "He has taken the parish forward and helped it look outwards into the community as well as upwards to God," he said. "I know the parish will be as disappointed as he is at his resignation, but I know they will continue to support the parish priest they have grown to love dearly and respect highly."

Full story by Brian Dooks

KENYA: Christians, Hindus, Muslims unite on constitution changes

By Fredrick Nzwili

[Source: Ecumenical News International] Christian, Hindu and Muslim leaders in Kenya have united to reject "piecemeal" amendments of the constitution before the 2007 elections, saying they do not go far enough, while pledging to mobilize for the inclusion of their followers' voices.

Their united stance comes as politicians have warned the faiths to refrain from taking part in the constitutional review debate, as clerics have pressed for more far-reaching reforms than the politicians appear prepared to recommend.

"These politicians do not want changes that benefit ordinary Kenyans," Roman Catholic Archbishop of Nairobi Raphael Ndingi Mwana a' Nzeki said on September 4 at a media conference convened by the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya.

Less than 10 months after a government-backed referendum on proposed constitutional changes was lost, members of parliament have started agitating for minimum reforms along with politicians who had championed the rejection but who are now leading calls for changes.

The reforms are targeting presidential powers that allow for the leader to dissolve parliament, call for elections and appoint members of the electoral commission. The politicians argue that changing these powers will create a level playing field before the next national elections. But President Mwai Kibaki has dismissed those calling for the changes as self-seekers.

However, religious leaders say they are being sidelined in the debate, and have warned that the failure to include all stakeholders in the process will lead to "parliamentary dictatorship."

"The only change that politicians want is that which will entrench their positions of power ... The people will not be held hostage to the whims and self-interest of politicians," the leaders said in a statement.

In an interview with Ecumenical News International, Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said there was a need to jump-start the process within a legal framework. "The process should be led by neutral and sober groups," said Nzimbi. "I believe the faith groups would be better placed to take the lead."

LAMBETH PALACE: Archbishop of Canterbury to award Cross of St. Augustine

[Source: Lambeth Palace] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has announced the award of the Cross of St. Augustine to ten recipients.

The award marks conspicuous service to the Church and the wider community. The ten recipients will receive the award at a ceremony in the Chapel at Lambeth Palace on October 31. They are the Rev. Gethin Abraham-Williams, the Rev. Don Brewin, Père Louis Derousseaux, Margaret Doak, David Gedge, Hazel Gedge, the Rev. Paul Gibson, Dr. Bernard Knowles, Eileen Mickleburgh, and Catherine Widdicombe.

The Cross of St. Augustine was founded by Archbishop Michael Ramsey. It was first awarded by him on 19 February 1965 and takes the form of a circular medallion bearing a replica of the 8th Century Cross of Canterbury; on the reverse is an engraving of the chair of St Augustine at Canterbury. The ribbon is of "Canterbury Blue" and it is worn around the neck by clergy and on the left breast by lay people.

RWANDA: Global South Primates to meet in Kigali

[Source: Global South Anglican News] A group of Anglican primates from the Global South will meet in Kigali, Rwanda, from September 19-22 "to address current Communion concerns" such as the proposed Anglican Covenant, responses to the Episcopal Church's 75th General Convention, and the agenda for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, a Global South Anglican News release reported.

Archbishop John Chew of Southeast Asia, general secretary of the Global South Steering Committee, said that the meeting will follow up on some of the key issues raised at the last meeting, which met in October 2005 in Egypt.

Priorities will include tackling poverty through economic empowerment, strengthening mission co-partnership, and cooperating in Communion theological formation and education development.

UGANDA: Bishop of Northern Uganda meets with rebel leader Joseph Kony

[Source: Anglican Communion News Service] Bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng of Northern Uganda, a diocese in the Anglican Church of Uganda, was among a group of religious, cultural, and political leaders who traveled to the Garamba Forest in northeastern Congo to meet face-to-face with Joseph Kony, the leader of the rebel group known as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The meeting took place on Monday, July 31.

The LRA has been fighting the Government of Uganda for twenty years in Northern Uganda, and has been accused of abducting children and forcing them to become soldiers.

Countless women have been raped and maimed, men have been killed, and girls have been conscripted to be concubines of Kony and his commanders.

More than 2 million Ugandans have succumbed to living under inhumane conditions in Camps for Internally Displaced Persons in order to avoid the random and merciless attacks of LRA groups.

Children have resorted to becoming "night commuters" into nearby towns to avert forced abduction into the LRA. The UN considers Northern Uganda to be one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world today.

In June, Riek Machar, the Vice-President of Southern Sudan, offered to mediate yet another round of peace talks between the LRA and the Government of Uganda. Teams from both sides, along with Acholi religious leaders, have been meeting in Juba, Southern Sudan, for the talks.

Because of the arrest warrants issued against Kony by the International Criminal Court, Kony refused to attend the talks, but invited leaders to meet him in his current hideout in Garamba Forest in northeastern Congo.

During the historic meeting, Nelson said, "Many people fear to see the face of Kony, thinking that he is the Devil, a terrorist and a monster. But Kony is created in the image of God, and he also has to see that we, too, are created in the image of God."
Quoting from the Genesis account of the reconciliation of estranged twin brothers Jacob and Esau, Nelson exhorted those present to embrace reconciliation, "For to see your face is like seeing the face of God" (Gen. 33:10).
Kony responded, "Now that you have come and seen for yourself that I am not a monster with a tail and huge eyes—you have confirmed that I am a human being—go back and tell the people of northern Uganda that I want peace."

The Rev. Willy Akena, information officer for the Northern Uganda Diocese, said, "The main purpose of this meeting was to build confidence with Kony, and I strongly believe that purpose was accomplished. The fact that Kony accepted to sit, talk, take pictures, and eat with people is a clear sign that he is gaining confidence in our assurance that he will be safe to return home. We want him to accept the peace deal that is being negotiated in Juba."
Akena concluded with a plea: "Our request to the entire Church of Christ is to join us in prayers, so that this time round total peace comes back to our motherland that has known only war for the last 20 years."

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ZIMBABWE: Harare bishop shuts down churches to mark wedding anniversary

[Source: Catholic Information Service for Africa] The controversial Anglican bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, widely thought to be politically allied to Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, ordered all churches in his diocese to close on Sunday, September 10 to mark his 33rd wedding anniversary, the Catholic Information Service for Africa reported.

Instead of services, he held a prayer meeting and a fundraiser at a sports arena to celebrate the occasion, according to a report by Independent Catholic News.

Individual parishes attending the event were asked to contribute 500,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($2,000) and each member of the congregation was to bring 5,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($20).

The 5,000-seat sports arena was less than half full, with some stands taken up by choirs and parties of school children.

The ICN correspondent in Harare saw several cars outside, including the bishop's limousine, bedecked with ribbons and colorful balloons. Vendors sold Bibles and Christian mementos. Men in dark suits identified by lapel badges as 'security' patrolled the grounds of the arena in scenes more reminiscent of a political rally in the troubled southern African nation.

The event celebrating Kunonga's 33 years of marriage to his wife, Agatha, is expected to deepen rifts in the Anglican Church, one of the country's main Christian denominations. Many Anglican clerics and church leaders stayed away.

Critics accused Kunonga of running the church like a branch of President Mugabe's ruling party, using similar tactics of threats and intimidation.

The 2001 election of Kunonga, an outspoken supporter of Mugabe's authoritarian rule, split Zimbabwe's Anglicans.

Last year, regional Anglican bishops dropped charges against Kunonga, a former African liberation theology professor in the United States, of alleged incitement to murder and besmirching the name of the church.

He appeared before a church court in August 2005 after being accused by parishioners of intimidating critics, ignoring church law, mishandling church funds and bringing militant ruling party politics to the pulpit. In the key charge, Kunonga was accused of urging a priest to instruct ruling party militants to kill 10 of the bishop's opponents in the local Anglican hierarchy.

Church leaders are among the most outspoken critics of Mugabe's record on democratic and human rights, but in sermons supporting Mugabe, Kunonga has denounced some black clergy as "Uncle Toms" and puppets of whites.

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