Category : Ecumenical Relations

(ACNS) Archbishop Ian Ernest of Mauritius appointed Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome

Archbishop Ian Ernest, the Bishop of Mauritius and former Primate of the Anglican Church of the Indian Ocean, is to become the Archbishop of Canterbury’s next Personal Representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. He will take up his new role towards the end of the year following an official Papal Visit to Mauritius by Pope France in September.

In his current role, Archbishop Ian has worked closely with his Roman Catholic counterpart, the Bishop of Port Louis, Cardinal Maurice Piat. The two have written joint statements on environmental and social issues and have delivered joint Christmas messages for Mauritian television.

The two co-lead one of the top schools on the Mauritian island of Rodrigues, the ecumenical Rodrigues College, which was formed in 1973 by the merger of St Louis Roman Catholic School and St Barnabas Anglican School. When Archbishop Ian’s mandate as Archbishop and Primate of the Indian Ocean was renewed in 2012, he invited a Roman Catholic priest to preach the sermon.

“I feel deeply honoured and humbled by this appointment”, Archbishop Ian said. “It is a calling from God which I accept with all humility. I will try my best to honour this calling and to honour the office.

“I look forward to working in close collaboration with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Board of Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Indian Ocean

([London] Times) Pope Francis is interviewed by the Archbishop of Canterbury

A groundbreaking video message by the Pope has been recorded by the Archbishop of Canterbury on his personal mobile phone during private talks in the Vatican.

It is the first time an Anglican archbishop has interviewed a pope, and marks an extraordinary warming of relations between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches as well as the personal friendship between the two church leaders, who have met five times. In the video, to be broadcast to a rally of Christians in Trafalgar Square next month, the Pope expresses his support for a campaign, launched four years ago by the Most Rev Justin Welby and John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, to mark the 11 days between Ascension Day and Pentecost as a time of intensive prayer for Christians across the world.

The campaign, called Thy Kingdom Come, will focus on empowering Christians to be witnesses for their faith. It offers themes that they can explore on each of the 11 days. These include the person of Jesus, thanks, being sorry, offering, praying for someone, help, celebration and silence. The days of prayer will be marked in 114 countries, with much of the material being distributed online. Resources will be published in seven languages on various websites. About 65 Christian denominations, including Roman Catholics, Orthodox, evangelicals, Pentecostals, Baptists and the Salvation Army, have agreed to take part.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

Anglicans and Catholics make joint submission to Foreign Office review on persecuted Christians

From there:

The Church of England and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have made a joint submission to the Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians.

In a joint letter accompanying the submission, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said that in many places “our Christian sisters and brothers face persecution of an intensity and extent unprecedented in many centuries.”

However, the Archbishops added that these threats to freedom of religion or belief are not restricted to Christians alone, but are a widespread experience of the followers of other faiths.

“We ask Her Majesty’s Government to take note of the practical recommendations offered by our Churches in this Submission and to take meaningful action not only in protecting Christians facing persecution but also in promoting freedom of religion and belief more widely,” they said

(follow the link to see the 2 full letters).

Posted in Church of England, Ecumenical Relations, Globalization, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Roman Catholic

(Tennessean) Why John Perkins, a leading voice on racial reconciliation says evangelicals aren’t focusing enough on unity

The book emphasizes biblical reconciliation, which it describes as “the removal of tensions between parties and the restoration of loving relationship.” Perkins, who has dedicated his life to reconciliation work, sees his latest book as a manifesto of sorts.

“The problem of reconciliation in our country and in our churches is much too big to be wrestled to the ground by plans that begin in the minds of men,” Perkins writes. “This is a God-sized problem. It is one that only the church, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can heal.”

While there is still much work to be done, Perkins has seen signs of unity in the American church, especially in the past 15 years or so. He has been encouraged by the inclusive attitudes and determination of young people and by congregations successfully starting new multi-ethnic and multicultural churches.

“I praise God for that,” Perkins said.

He pointed to a successful Memphis church as an example, saying that its congregation also has gotten involved in trying to heal some of the city’s wounds, too.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ecumenical Relations, Evangelicals, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(ACNS) Senior ecumenical panel to discuss Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification

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Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Theology

Thorneloe University appoints the Rev. Canon Dr. John Gibaut as its Next President

A priest of the Diocese of Ottawa, Gibaut is well known in ecumenical circles, having served on national and international dialogues and commissions.

He has been a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada, the Faith and Witness Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue, and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations.

Gibaut earned a doctorate in theology from Trinity College, University of Toronto, and has honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from the Montreal Diocesan Theological College and Trinity College, Toronto. He has served as canon theologian of the Diocese of Ottawa.

He has lectured in the Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College as well as academic institutions in Australia and the United States. He has an impressive list of publications and presentations to his credit, reflecting his deep and diverse perspectives on theology. He is a highly regarded scholar in the areas of ecumenism, liturgy, church history, historical theology and Anglican studies.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Canada, Ecumenical Relations, Education, Religion & Culture, Uncategorized

(Advocate) A tale of 2 churches: Baton Rouge Anglican congregation finds home in a Baptist church

For four years, Holy Cross Anglican Church met in a car dealership. The price was right — free — but the congregation wanted a more traditional space.

Holy Cross found it in a place that has made opening its doors part of its mission.

Grace Mid-City, a Southern Baptist church at 630 Richland Ave., has been sharing its facilities with Holy Cross since Oct. 28. The Anglicans worship at 9 a.m., the Baptists at 10:30 a.m., and each has its educational programs while the other is using the sanctuary. Both groups say they’re happy with the arrangement.

“The first Sunday that we both had our services, the chief complaint was that we had figured out how to move around the campus so well to accommodate one another that our congregations didn’t interact. Our folks wanted to interact more,” said the Rev. Jarrett Fontenot, rector of Holy Cross. “We wanted to see each other and meet these new faces and remind each other that at the end of the day, our mission, our work, what we’re about is really the same thing, and it’s bigger than our denominational distinctives. It’s been a lot of fun.”

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Baptists, Ecumenical Relations, Parish Ministry

(David Ould) New Head Of Anglican Centre In Rome Is Denier Of Jesus’ Resurrection

In a move that can only further raise concerns with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s leadership, the Anglican Centre in Rome (essentially, the “embassy” of the Anglican Communion to the Roman Catholic Church) have announced their new Interim Director….

John Shepherd was previously Dean at Perth Cathedral for many years where he gained a reputation for regularly challenging Christian orthodoxy. Most famously, in his 2008 Easter message he denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus, stating….

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop of Canterbury, Australia / NZ, Ecumenical Relations, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Theology: Scripture

In 2009 an Anglican church was expelled from their building in Central NY under TEC Bishop Skip Adams and it became an Islamic Center for 1/3 the price the parish was willing to pay

Former Bishop of South Carolina, C. Fitzsimons Allison, has written about this matter here and described it as follows:

…nothing in the behavior of TEC suggests their goals with departing parishes and Dioceses have changed over time. They continue to litigate in the Diocese of Quincy, Illinois despite having lost at the highest level in the state courts there. In the Diocese of San Joaquin, California, after spending $15 million to recover the parish properties, only 21 have been declared “viable” with the other 25 reported as going up for sale. In Bishop Adams’ former diocese, the people of Good Shepherd, Binghamton, NY were denied the purchase of their former church, seeing it sold for 1/3 their offer to become a mosque instead. The pattern of behavior is clear. For TEC, “reconciliation” has meant, “surrender, return the property and we’ll forgive you so you can rejoin us”. That is not a viable way forward.

Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Stewardship, TEC Bishops

(ACNS) Britain’s Methodists debate Church of England full communion proposals

The Methodist Church of Great Britain has debated proposals that could see it enter into a full communion agreement, including the interchange of ministries, with the Church of England. The proposals are contained in a report “Mission and Ministry in Covenant”, which was published last year. The C of E’s General Synod debated the report in February, and called for additional work to be undertaken on it. This morning (Monday), the Methodist Church adopted similar motion at its annual conference, which is meeting this week in Nottingham.

The proposals would see future Presidents of Conference being ordained as bishops in the apostolic succession and have the title President Bishop. As Methodist Presbyters in Britain are ordained by the Conference, this would mean that, should the proposals be accepted, future Presbyters would be ordained by a bishop in the apostolic succession. The C of E is being asked to recognise existing Methodist Presbyters, who haven’t been ordained in the apostolic succession, as a “bearable anomaly” until, over time, all future Methodist presbyters are ordained under the new system replace those ordained under the existing system.

There is division in the Church of England’s House of Bishops about the proposals, which were formulated by the Faith and Order bodies of both churches. The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, addressed the Conference this morning and acknowledged the lack of unanimity in the C of E.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

(NCR) First report by Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission in 13 years considers authority, role of laity

The official commission for dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches has published its first document in 13 years, focusing on how each global institution can learn from the other in balancing exercise of ecclesial authority at the local, regional and worldwide levels.

Among the considerations in the 68-page report, released July 2, are questions of how the Catholic Church might learn from the Anglican experience to empower local church leaders to act more independently from Rome at times, and to give more governing authority to consultative bodies such as the Synod of Bishops.

“The Roman Catholic Church can learn from the culture of open and frank debate that exists at all levels of the Anglican Communion,” the members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission state in one of the conclusions of their document, titled: “Walking Together on the Way: Learning to Be the Church — Local, Regional, Universal.”

“The Anglican practice of granting a deliberative role to synods and of investing authority in regional instruments of communion indicates that the Synod of Bishops could be granted a deliberative role and further suggests the need for the Roman Catholic Church to articulate more clearly the authority of episcopal conferences,” the document continues.

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Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Featured (Sticky), Roman Catholic

(Christian Today) Could sexuality be a thorn in the side of the Anglican-Methodist unity pact?

What is perhaps a more pressing question is what would happen to the Anglican-Methodist Covenant were either church to change its opposition to gay marriage. Would a sudden change by the Methodist Conference in 2019 or 2020 scupper the long proposed deal…?

It certainly might make the strong conservative base on the Church of England’s ruling general synod less enthusiastic.

But difference in teaching on sexuality is not officially a block on sharing ministry.

The Church of England is already in direct ‘communion’ with its sister Anglican churches in Scotland and the US. This means that priests in both churches are recognised as such by the Church of England and so they can, as long as the local bishop agrees, come and minister in CofE parishes.

Both the Episcopal Church in the US and the Scottish Episcopal Church permit same-sex marriage, and while they faced sanctions from the wider Anglican Communion, they remain in communion with the CofE.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CNA) Marriage and Communion: Roman Catholic Norms address interchurch couples

For the universal church and in the guidelines offered by different bishops’ conferences distinctions are made between the faithful of the Orthodox churches and the faithful of the Anglican and mainline Protestant churches.

The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of Orthodox sacraments and welcomes members of the Orthodox churches to receive the sacraments in a Catholic Church, although it cautions that their Orthodox pastors and bishops might object.

The U.S. bishops’ brief guidelines, published in 1996, said, “Members of the Orthodox churches, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these churches.”

For Anglicans and Protestants, the situation is more complicated and Catholic church law requires that they “manifest Catholic faith in this sacrament,” as the directory phrased it.

Shared faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not unlikely, however, because it formally has been affirmed over the course of more than 50 years of formal theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican and mainline Protestant churches.

Therefore, the norms published by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, in 1999 stated, “Episcopalians and Lutherans can be presumed to believe in the real presence. For members of other communions there may be need for some further discussion concerning their belief in the Eucharist.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecumenical Relations, Eucharist, Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology

Archbishops of Armagh to reflect on ministry and legacy of Saint Patrick at Armagh annual lecture

On Friday 16 March, the eve of Saint Patrick’s Day, the two Archbishops of Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin and Church of Ireland Archbishop Richard Clarke will join together to host the annual Saint Patrick’s Lecture at at 11.00 am in the Market Place Theatre in Armagh.

At the lecture the Archbishops will reflect on ministry and legacy of our National Patron, Saint Patrick. Following the lecture, UTV presenter Sarah Clarke will host a discussion with the Archbishops on the words of Saint Patrick, and how his message still resonates and holds relevance for many of the challenges faced by people today.

Reflecting on the life of our National Patron ahead of the event, Archbishop Martin said, ‘Saint Patrick, himself a migrant, was called to serve and bring God to a people far from his home. I encourage the faithful at this time to pray for migrants, and all who struggle to live and integrate into new cultures, at home and abroad, arising from displacement and poverty.’

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, Church History, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Roman Catholic

Archbishop Justin Welby and Cardinal Vincent Nichols call on Israeli government to protect Jerusalem holy sites

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, have called on the Israeli government to protect the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem.

In a joint letter to the Israeli Ambassador to London, Mark Regev, the two faith leaders expressed their deep concern at the events unfolding in Jerusalem of unprecedented, punitive and discriminatory taxation of Christian Institutions, and their fears that this dispute could inflict long-term damage on relations between the two communities.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Israel, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Cath News NZ) Anglican-Methodist reunion likely

Two matters are of particular concern in relation to reuniting the two churches.

One is whether Methodist presbyters would have to be re-ordained to provide a unified and public catholic witness. The synod report proposes the Anglican Church recognise Methodist ministers’ holy orders.

The other issue is about how churches should be led.

Anglican churches operate under an episcopal model with bishops seen as following on from the apostles, as the Church’s leaders. As bishops consecrate more bishops and ordain new clergy, the “apostolic succession” continues.

Methodists do not accept the idea of “apostolic succession” in the Anglican sense.

If the churches were to reunite, an Anglican bishop would take part in ordaining new Methodist ministers, enabling them to enter the “apostolic succession”.

The Methodist Conference says it is willing to receive the episcopate as long as partner churches acknowledge that the Methodist Church “has been and is part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church”, Ruth Gee, former president of the Methodist conference says.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist

Church of England General Synod welcomes move towards communion with Methodist Church

The General Synod has given its welcome to a report containing proposals which could bring the Church of England and the Methodist Church in Great Britain into communion with each other.
Members backed a motion welcoming a joint report published last year, which sets out proposals on how clergy from each church could become eligible to serve in the other.

The report, Mission and Ministry in Covenant, which was co-written by the two churches’ faith and order bodies, also sets out how the Methodist Church could come to have bishops in the historic episcopate.

The motion acknowledges that there is further work to do to clarify a number of areas, including how the proposals would be worked out in practice.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist

(Christian Today) Diarmaid MacCulloch: ‘Why Anglicans who object to reconciliation with Methodists should read more history’

The point of worry seems to be a break in a succession of hands in ordination from the apostles who were the first followers of Christ. That strikes me as a professional historian of the Church (and also in Anglican orders) to be a very unrealistic view of Christian history.

First, ‘the historic episcopate’ throughout the Christian world is a pragmatic, gradual creation of the second century CE, which links with the first apostles, but does not do so exclusively. There was no single bishop of Rome, for instance, until the 2nd century, and earlier lines of single succession there are benevolent fictions.

Second, the Church of England is a Church of the Reformation which just happened to keep bishops. It is actually a ‘Reformed’ Protestant Church, that is not Lutheran, but part of a family of European Churches, some of which kept bishops in their government, some not. So national Reformed Churches in England, Ireland, Hungary, Romania and Poland have bishops. Up to 1662, clergy from other Reformed Churches served regardless in the CofE when they came here: often they were placed in English cathedrals or universities, not to quarantine them in some way but simply because they didn’t speak much English, and there they could exercise a ministry in the learned language of Latin.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist

(Church Times) Proposals on Methodism compromise the C of E’s faith and identity, says Andrew Davison

I grew up in an Anglican-Methodist family, and went to a Methodist Sunday school. I rejoice at the prospect of a closer relationship with the Methodist Church. The report before the General Synod, Ministry and Mission in Covenant, pursues that noble aim, which makes its failings all the more agonising. With a few adaptations, it could be a triumph; as it stands, it compromises the faith and identity of the Church of England.

Our Church upholds ancient Catholic order: bishops in the his­­toric episcopate are the ministers of ordination; the eucharist is celeb­rated by them, and by the priests they ordain. This is central to what makes the Church of England Cath­o­­lic as well as reformed: not vest­­ments, nor genuflection, but order.

The intolerable departure from that order, proposed in this report, would be to invite ministers who have not been ordained by bishops to serve in the place of Anglican priests. This would last beyond the lifetimes of those reading this article. Imple­mented as the report stands, Meth­od­ist presbyters who have not re­­ceived episcopal ordination will preside at the eucharist in parish churches, chaplaincies, and fresh ex­­­pres­­sions for decades to come. That would not be as ecumenical guests, but as the celebrants of C of E ser­vices.

For the C of E to accept that would be to say at least one of the following: (1) that nothing sig­­nificant distin­guishes ordination by a bishop from ordination with­out; (2) that nothing about the eucharist (or anointing or absolu­tion) is significant for the jour­ney of salva­­tion; (3) that orders are ir­­relevant in these cases, since means of grace depend only on the inner dis­position of each individual. Each of those arguments sells short the faith and practice of the C of E.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

Forward in Faith’s statement on the proposed Methodist-Anglican reunion

Found there:

Anglo-Catholics are among those who are most committed to the full visible unity of Christ’s Church. We are therefore grateful to those who have worked to produce the present proposals for a development in Anglican-Methodist relations, which the Forward in Faith Executive Committee considered at its meeting on 31 January. It is a matter of regret that we must oppose them in their current form.

As the report Mission and Ministry in Covenant (GS 2086) makes clear, significant questions and concerns have been raised, not least in the House of Bishops. Will these proposals bring us closer to unity, or might they, by creating two related but distinct episcopates within England, merely serve to entrench separation? Given the Methodist Church’s model of corporate oversight, can the office of ‘President-bishop’, to be held for one year only, be recognized as a ‘local adaptation’ of the historic episcopate upheld in the Catholic Church in East and West through the ages? We note that further work is to be done on these questions, but are concerned at the suggestion that work on such substantial issues could be completed by July.

Of even greater concern are the consequences of these proposals for catholic order in the Church of England. To permit those who have not been ordained by a bishop to minister as Church of England priests, even for a ‘temporary’ period (which might last for sixty or seventy years) is for us not a ‘bearable anomaly’ but a fundamental breach of catholic order. We deeply regret that the report rules out further consideration of this issue. As loyal Anglicans, we uphold the doctrine and discipline regarding Holy Orders that is enshrined in the historic formularies of the Church of England, and in the 1662 Ordinal in particular. We shall oppose any proposals that would effectively set that doctrine and discipline aside. We note that it is to the inheritance of faith embodied in these formularies that all who minister in the Church of England must affirm their loyalty by making the Declaration of Assent.

We remain fully committed to the search for the full visible unity of Christ’s Church, but we do not believe that it can be advanced by sacrificing catholic order and Anglican integrity

.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

(C of E) Bishop John Inge–Healing the wounds between Anglicans+Methodists

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, explains why he will be supporting new proposals for communion between the Church of England and the Methodist Church in Great Britain.
It is a terrible indictment of the Church of England that Methodists found they had to separate from us in the first place. So much good has been borne of Methodism, though. Having attended a Methodist school I owe it a great debt of gratitude for my Christian formation.

Michael Ramsey described the failure of his plan for reunion with the Methodist Church to garner the necessary two thirds majority in General Synod as the ‘saddest day of my life.’ I was confirmed by him in Canterbury Cathedral shortly afterwards in what I believe to have been the first Anglican-Methodist confirmation service. It was a small sign of hope in a depressing situation.

More than forty years later, we have another opportunity to heal this gaping wound in the Body of Christ. It will involve sacrifices by both communions but they are a small price to pay. I hope with all my heart that we shall be prepared to make them.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

(Telegraph) Church of England braced for ‘controversial’ vote on using Methodist ministers

Church of England leaders are braced for a “controversial” vote on whether it should share ministers with the Methodists as part of plans set to boost struggling rural churches.

The proposals will be debated at the Church’s governing body, the General Synod next month – but senior figures warned that some will see the proposals as “very problematic”.

The plans would allow priest from each church to preach at the other, and would help areas where there are “serious challenges in sustaining a Christian presence”, church leaders suggest.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Parish Ministry

(CEN) Irish Church leaders unite in support of families

Irish Church leaders issued a rare joint New Year’s message in support of the family, as Pope Francis prepares to take part in the Roman Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families in the summer.

The Pope is taking part in the three-yearly meeting as part of his state visit to Ireland, and it prompted calls from Church leaders for new efforts to protect vulnerable families from hardship.

The joint message was signed by the Anglican Primate of Ireland, Archbishop Richard Clarke. He was joined by the Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland and Presbyterian, Methodist and Irish Council of Churches leaders.

They expressed their concern at the rising level of homelessness in Ireland, which they describe as “one of the most tragic and glaring symptoms of a broken system that is leaving too many people without adequate support.”

They said that in the Republic of Ireland one in three of those living in emergency accommodation is a child. And in Northern Ireland, families with more than two children are among those most at risk from the combination of welfare changes, cuts to services, and cuts to charities providing vital support to children and young people.

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Other Denominations, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Ecumenical Christmas Letter 2017

The gospel story, the saving story of Jesus Christ is good news indeed. The Gospel according to St Luke tells us the story of the good news announced to the Shepherds. On the hillsides above Bethlehem the Angel of the Lord appeared and brought good news. The good news was none other than the birth in Bethlehem of a Saviour, the Christ, the Lord.

This year we have learned a new phrase in various parts of the world. This phrase is ‘fake news’. Fake news is dishonest; it is deliberate misinformation published in order to deceive, to confuse and disrupt. Fake news is used as a weapon to achieve dishonest advantage and to subvert honest debate and discussion. It is the antithesis of the good news. Fake news is but lying and does not come from God.

But we like the Angels proclaim good news and, like the Shepherds, we receive good news. The good news is good news for all people, whatever their situation in life. It is good news for politicians and leaders but is also good news for the refugees and displaced persons who continue to flee from danger and seek safety and sanctuary. As St Gregory Nazianzen writes:

He who gives riches becomes poor, for he assumes the poverty of my flesh, that I may assume the richness of his Godhead. He that is full empties himself, for he empties himself of his glory for a short while, that I may have a share in his fullness. (Oration 38. 13)

This is truth and this is good news.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christmas, Ecumenical Relations

(AJ) Saskatchewan Anglicans share church with Roman Catholics

In the early afternoon of Christmas Eve, 2016, Chad Geis, chair of the pastoral council at the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qu’Appelle, Sask., arrived at the church he had known since his childhood to get things ready for the Christmas morning mass.

From the moment he stepped in, it was clear something was amiss. It was oddly cold inside. The thermometer read -5° C. Christmas services ended up being cancelled at the church while Geis tried to find out what was wrong with the boiler.

Two and a half blocks away, at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, there were no Christmas services planned either. Its congregation of eight to 10 active members receives sacramental ministry once a month from a retired priest who also ministers to other churches, and they wanted to offer the priest the option of putting on a service at a larger church with more children, says warden Jean Kurbis. So Kurbis and some other parishioners had made plans to attend the Christmas service at the Roman Catholic church instead. When they arrived on Christmas Day, they were surprised to see a sign bearing the words “Closed until further notice” on the door.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Ecumenical Relations, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(1st Things) The Christian Way: A Statement By Evangelicals And Catholics Together

Christians freely obey Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. “Come,” he beckons, “follow me.” Being a Christian requires more than intellectual or moral agreement with Christian teachings. Christ asks for our love and loyalty. Following him requires conversion, which leads to membership in the Church, the Body of Christ. To be a Christian means being a citizen of a city that has a rich inheritance and glorious future. As the Psalmist says, “Walk about Zion, go round about her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels; that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will be our guide for ever” (Ps. 48:12–14). Christianity is a community of faith shaped by the Holy Spirit, by worship and proclamation, by prayer and spiritual discipline, by ancient rites and teachings that are received from those who have gone before. Within this community of faith, we come to know and enjoy the presence of God.

Christianity is not a religion, if by that we mean one among many expressions of the natural human impulse to encounter the divine. The Christian way of life is rooted in the people of Israel. Christians share with Jews a common heritage reaching back to a time well before the age in which Jesus of Nazareth lived and preached. It begins with God’s gracious promise to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves” (Gen. 12:1–3).

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ecumenical Relations, Evangelicals, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AJ) Freedom from slavery theme of 2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The 2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will focus on freedom from slavery, with prayer topics that are of special importance to the Caribbean. These topics include the plight of Haitian refugees, human trafficking, violence, the debt crisis and credit union movement, strengthening families and colonial reconciliation.

Developed by an ecumenical team in the Caribbean, the theme for the week, “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power” (Exodus 15:6), represents the abolition of enslavement in its many forms, according to background material included in the Week of Prayer resource booklet.

Exodus 15:1–21, the song of Moses and Miriam, was chosen as a motif because of its themes of triumph over oppression, it adds.

The choice of theme reflects the Caribbean’s colonized past, from the islands’ Indigenous inhabitants who were enslaved and, in some cases, exterminated, to the African slave trade and the “indentureship” of people from India and China. “The contemporary Caribbean is deeply marked by the dehumanizing project of colonial exploitation. In their aggressive pursuit of mercantile gains, the colonizers codified brutal systems which traded human beings and their forced labour,” says the Week of Prayer resource booklet for 2018.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Politics in General, Sexuality, Spirituality/Prayer, Violence

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s sermon at Reformation 500th anniversary service

Through the Reformation we learned that we are saved entirely, confidently and unfailingly by grace alone, through faith, and not by our own works. From the poorest to the richest all will come at the end to stand before God, only with the words of the hymn, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to your cross I cling.”

Through the Reformation the church found itself again confronted with its need to be weak and powerless; to come with nothing to the Cross and to admit that, in the words of the Collect in the Book of Common Prayer for the 19th Sunday after Trinity, “without thee we are not able to please thee”.

Through the Reformation the church found again a love for the scriptures, and seizing the opportunity of printing, gave them afresh to the world – telling every person that they themselves should read them and seek the wisdom of God to understand them. In doing so the church released not only reformation but revolution, as confidence grew amongst the poor and oppressed that they too were the recipients of the promise of God of freedom and hope.

Through the Reformation the vast mass of people across Europe and then around the world were drawn to receive the fruits of a missionary movement that did not indefinitely suffer tyranny, and that would not unquestioningly bow the knee to authorities and hierarchies.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

(TGC) Fred Sanders–Why the Reformation Should Make You More catholic

Celebrating the Reformation, as a 500th anniversary invites us to do, isn’t necessarily a straightforward affair. Even those of us who have robust confidence in the rightness of Protestant doctrine, who feel profound gratitude to the reformers, and whose entire Christian lives have been lived within the good heritage of Reformation churches, can nevertheless worry that somewhere around the third “hip, hip, hooray,” we might be in danger of giving the wrong impression.

The wrong impression would be the sectarian, clannish, hooray-for-our-team impression. It would be bad enough if our Reformation celebration looked like an excuse to mark the boundary between the Protestant us and the Roman Catholic them. But even worse would be a Reformation celebration that looked like an excuse to mark the boundary between 1517 and all that went before it. There is such a thing as chronological clannishness that divides Christian history into fourths and then celebrates the final quarter alone.

Protestants ought to say that this kind of centuries-segregating sectarianism is uncatholic: It fails to be universal in its intent, and it ignores the completeness of the entire Christian tradition. Universal, complete, and entire are of course the proper meanings of the word catholic. So although it may sound odd to our conventional connotations, it’s actually not contradictory at all to say that the Reformation ought to make us catholic.

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Posted in Church History, Ecumenical Relations

(Atlantic) Emma Green–Why Can’t Christians Get Along, 500 Years After the Reformation?

While relations among Christians are far more peaceful today than they were 500 years ago, the tension between theological particularity and yearning for universal fellowship is still just as complicated. As global Christianity evolves, the tension is likely to increase.

Especially over the last century or so, Christian groups have made significant attempts to repair the conflicts among them. In the mid-19th century, the Evangelical Alliance sought to unite Protestant groups to oppose child labor and poor factory working conditions, a unity they described as “a new thing in church history.” In 1910, a missionary conference in Edinburgh laid the groundwork for what later became the World Council of Churches, which united many Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and mainline Protestant churches for the first time.

But until recently, the rifts of the Reformation were insurmountable. “The idea that Catholics and Protestants would get together to cooperate on anything is just almost unimaginable before the 1960s,” said Mark Noll, a historian at Notre Dame University. “In my lifetime, there has been a sea change in Protestant-Catholic relations, opening up an unimaginable array of cooperation.”

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Posted in Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Theology