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The News Centre
Archived News Headlines for Jul/Aug/Sep 2007

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30 September 2007: About the US House of Bishops meeting
We hope you didn't come rushing to the News Centre for breathless midweek updates on the events at the US House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. Even after it was over, it took the world a few days to finish figuring out what happened. It will take weeks or even months to figure out the meaning and consequences of what happened.

The bishops issued this statement. The US Episcopal Church published this article about it all. The Anglican Communion's secretary general issued this statement. The Church Times published this summary report. Press reports generally described the statement as a compromise: the New York Times reported 'Episcopal Bishops Reject Anglican Church’s Orders', but the Telegraph (London) reported 'For now, US Anglicans give in to Archbishop'. Thinking Anglicans has linked most of the early press reactions here. African critics of the US Episcopal Church have predictably stated that since the document is a compromise, it is not satisfactory (Nigeria, Kenya). The Telegraph reports that UK conservative group Reform will issue a 'throw the bums out or else' ultimatum to the Archbishop of Canterbury this week.

28 September 2007: Last hurdle cleared authorizing women bishops in Australia
The Anglican Church of Australia issued this press release announcing the determination of the Appellate Tribunal on Women Bishops. The Archbishop of Melbourne issued this statement in support of the determination, while the Archbishop of Sydney issued this statement lamenting the determination. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation filed this report, the Sydney Morning Herald published this report, The Australian published this report, and The Age (Melbourne) published this report and this opinion piece.

28 September 2007: US conservative groups meet in Pittsburgh
The Church Times reports on the meeting in Pittsburgh of several groups wanting to replace or take control of the US Episcopal Church. The US Episcopal News Service published this report on that meeting. Reuters reported 'Conservative Episcopalians plot separate church' and the Associated Press reported 'Breakaway Episcopalians Form Partnership'.

23 September 2007: US House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans
The big event this week is the (regularly scheduled) meeting of the House of Bishops of the US Episcopal Church in New Orleans. Journalists and pseudo-journalists from all over the world have gathered there the way that they would for a sporting event. The Associated Press filed this glum report asserting that it's all a futile exercise. Most press coverage, such as this Reuters piece, implicitly assumes that the Anglican Communion is a well-defined club with management and rules. The Church Times did a good job of reporting on the meaning of the meeting while sticking to facts and reality.

It seems to us that there is a lot of heat and no light in the on-site, real-time reporting of this meeting; each article describes the events and their consequences as being in agreement with the true beliefs or worst fears of the reporter, depending on the level of sensationalism employed by that reporter. Thinking Anglicans has gathered the first-round press coverage here. We continue to believe that reports about what might happen, what could happen, what ought to happen, or what any right-thinking person wants to happen are not news. When something actually happens, we will report it here.

23 September 2007: US Internal Revenue Service ends investigation of sermon and parish
The Episcopal News Service reports that the IRS (America's answer to Inland Revenue) has ended its investigation of a sermon preached at All Saints Pasadena in October 2004.

22 September 2007: US bishop to swim the Tiber
The Living Church Foundation reports that the Rt Revd Jeffrey Steenson, Bishop of the Rio Grande, is resigning his post as bishop to become a Roman Catholic because of his discomfort with current events in the US Episcopal Church.

22 September 2007: Stephen Bates retires, to be replaced by Muslim woman
Thinking Anglicans reports on the retirement of Stephen Bates, considered by many to be Britain's leading religion reporter. He worked for the Guardian, which has announced that he will be succeeded as the Guardian’s religious affairs correspondent by Riazat Butt, the first Muslim to be appointed to such a post by a British national newspaper.

21 September 2007: Pro-Mugabe Bishop of Harare to form his own church province
The Church Times reports in more detail on the announced plans of Nolbert Kunonga, Bishop of Harare and strong supporter of Robert Mugabe, to form his own Anglican province, withdrawing from the Province of Central Africa. This article in the Financial Gazette (Harare) suggests that Kunonga's technique is to assert 'I am more opposed to homosexuality than are my enemies'.

16 September 2007: Australian bishop might face tribunal
The Australian reports that the primate of the Anglican Church in Australia is considering setting up a special tribunal to examine complaints against the Bishop of The Murray to determine if he should be stripped of his holy orders. The complaints against him charge that he has 'a history of bullying, verbal and emotional abuse', but we know that no bishop would ever be like that, right?

16 September 2007: Sydney continues push for lay presidency
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that 'The Sydney Anglican Church has revived its radical push to let church elders preside over Holy Communion despite strident opposition from Australian Anglicans and the worldwide church and at the risk of antagonising international churches it has courted to stop the consecration of gay bishops.' Ah, the politics of power are complex.

16 September 2007: High stakes at upcoming meeting of US House of Bishops
The New York Times offers an explanation of why the upcoming meeting in New Orleans of the House of Bishops of the US Episcopal Church might actually be important. The Associated Press notes that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will be there for part of the meeting.

15 September 2007: ABC: 'Our society is broken'
The Telegraph has published an interesting interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury and then this news report about it, and this opinion piece about it. Though not strictly 'news', we commend all three of these to your attention.

14 September 2007: Outspoken New Zealand archbishop dies
The New Zealand Herald reports that retired archbishop Whakahuihui Vercoe has died. He was a powerful conservative voice in that country's religious life. The Maori Party issued this press release.

13 September 2007: Church of Nigeria applying pressure to Canterbury
The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria has released this 'open letter' to the Archbishop of Canterbury urging him to do certain things related to power and governance. The Episcopal News Service (USA) reported on it and also mentioned the consecration of four more Nigerian bishops for the USA. It looks to us as though, fairly soon, most of the leaders of the fight to topple the US Episcopal Church will have African mitres.

11 September 2007: Florida bishop states that he will work for unity
The Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt Revd John Howe, who has been one of the leaders of the breakaway organization 'Anglican Communion Network', sent this letter to his diocese announcing his intention to work for unity and not schism.

8 September 2007: No room for the Hotel Rwanda manager
Christianity Today reports that Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini instructed an American Episcopal breakaway congregation in suburban Chicago, now under the authority of Rwanda, to cancel a talk by Hotel Rwanda's Paul Rusesabagina.

7 September 2007: Combat worsens in Diocese of Ely
The Church Times reports on the escalating saga of the feud between the Revd Dr Tom Ambrose and his PCC. We find ourselves quite perplexed by these reports and wonder what ever is going on up there on the Isle of Eels.

7 September 2007: African bishop removed from Dean post because of 'pro-gay' stance
The Living Church reports that 'The political disputes over The Episcopal Church’s place within the Anglican Communion have spilled over into Central Africa, leading to the replacement of the provincial dean, the Rt Revd Trevor Mwamba, Bishop of Botswana.' The Anglican Church of Canada published the speech that Bishop Mwamba delivered in England in March 2007 which is presumably the cause of his ouster.

7 September 2007: Outrage, retraction, apology, and blame in reports of what a Nigerian bishop said
Thinking Anglicans has gathered the bits and pieces of this story. The original report, and the responses are on separate pages. A week later a Nigerian spokesman sent a not-widely-circulated email insisting that much of the report was untrue; Thinking Anglicans has published its text here and has gathered a great deal of related material here.

7 September 2007: UK proposals for a 'Single Equality Bill' generate controversy
The UK government has issued proposals for a bill calling itself a 'Framework for Fairness'. These documents are not legislation nor even proposed legislation, but narratives about the possibility of such a bill and the solicitation of public opinion. The Church of England responded with this press release. Ekklesia observes that the C of E might be concerned that such a bill would reduce its influence. The Daily Mail responded predictably, and The Telegraph reported 'Church fears lawsuits over gay rights'.

6 September 2007: Rwanda joins the 'consecrate Americans as bishops and then send them home' party
The Episcopal News Service (USA) reports that Rwanda's Episcopal Church's House of Bishops elected three former Episcopal priests to serve as bishops for the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA).

6 September 2007: Diocese of Sydney to give a free Bible to everyone in town
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Archbishop of Sydney plans to launch a project called 'Connect09' to distribute a free Bible chapter, either as a book or a DVD, to everyone in the city. We seem to remember from our long-ago youth a salesman at the door giving away a free copy of one chapter of a book and offering to sell us the rest; we don't think that Sydney's plan is like that.

1 September 2007: Into Africa
As promised, the Anglican Church of Kenya consecrated two Americans as bishops in that church. The Mail and Guardian (South Africa) reported the event under the headline 'Africa welcomes US gay-bashers'. The BBC reports that Uganda is getting in on the action, having announced plans to consecrate the Revd John Guernsey (an American) as a Ugandan bishop to be stationed in America. Other media coverage of Kenya's consecrations includes the BBC, the Church Times, the Washington Post, Reuters, and the New York Times.

1 September 2007: New UK magazine for Christian girls and their friends
Our fellow travelers over at the Church Times have launched Caris, a new magazine 'designed for Christian girls and their non-Christian friends'. Not surprisingly, the Church Times did a good job of reporting its launch at the Greenbelt festival. The world needs more projects like this; try to help them if you can.

25 August 2007: Additional African bishops for America coming soon
The Anglican Church of Kenya announced in June 2007 that it would be consecrating bishops for North America. That will happen this week, as will a similar consecration by the Church of Uganda. This Reuters story covers both events. Once these consecrations have actually taken place, we expect more press coverage.

24 August 2007: Virginia breakaway bishop revealed as ghostwriter of Nigerian letter
The Church Times reports that a letter sent recently by the Peter Akinola to the members of the Church of Nigeria was for the most part written by Martyn Minns, who was consecrated as a Nigerian bishop after having been rector of a large Virginia congregation. The Church Times article says 'computer tracking software suggests that the letter was extensively edited and revised over a four-day period by the Rt Revd Martyn Minns', but Anglicans Online has extensive Computer Science resources and after consideration of this document, we would not use the language 'suggests that'. The Microsoft Word document contained the complete change tracking and edit history, and identified each of the editors. The Church of Nigeria has issued this disclaimer, calling the charges insulting and racist.

22 August 2007: Bishop Tutu urges full participation in Lambeth 2008
The Episcopal News Service reports that Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace laureate and retired archbishop, has urged all involved to behave in such a way as to get every bishop to the Lambeth conference. The Church Times reported it this way.

22 August 2007: ABC writes prayers for Princess Diana commemoration
The Church Times reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury has has written prayers for use on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The Church of England has published the prayers on its prayer page.

22 August 2007: Church of Nigeria to require HIV test before marriage
ChristianToday reports that the Church of Nigeria has made it mandatory for couples wishing to be married by the Church to first take a HIV test.

19 August 2007: Archbishop of Nigeria writes to his flock
The Church of Nigeria has distributed this letter signed by Archbishop Peter Akinola, leader of the Nigerian Communion. It details Archbishop Akinola's agony as he prepares his delegation for possible attendance at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. We're confident that Peter Akinola is not actually Daniel Dravot.

18 August 2007: New Zealand archbishops petition government on behalf of Iranian hunger striker
The Press (New Zealand) reports that New Zealand's two Anglican archbishops 'called on the Government to "have mercy" on hunger-striker Ali Reza Panah, saying he was close to death'.

17 August 2007: Religious book sales flourish online
The Church Times reports that online sales of books about religion (even those trying to debunk it) have increased by 50% in the last year or two.

17 August 2007: Impasse in Lake Malawi bishopric nearer to a solution
The Church Times reports that the impasse in the diocese of Lake Malawi moved towards resolution last week when the first synod to be held for six years voted to pass the matter on for review by a Central African Provincial Court.

15 August 2007: Plans ramp up around ABC visit to New Orleans
The Archbishop of Canterbury announced in April that he intends to visit the United States this autumn in response to the invitation from the House of Bishops of the US Episcopal Church to attend its New Orleans meeting. The Diocese of Louisiana has launched an informative website about that upcoming visit. The Living Church gave it a short mention.

14 August 2007: Peter Jensen bans John Spong
The Australian reports that Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen 'has taken the extraordinary step of banning [retired US bishop] John Shelby Spong, a fellow member of the Anglican communion ... from churches in his diocese'. Bishop Spong, well known for his success at being a trouble making radical, intends to collect no taxes during his visit.

13 August 2007: Manchester bishop to move to Cyprus
The Diocese of Manchester has announced that The Rt Revd Michael Lewis, suffragan Bishop of Middleton, has been appointed Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf. He will take up his duties in mid-November and will be based in Cyprus.

10 August 2007: Sydney bishops fail to respond to Lambeth invitation
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the six bishops in the Diocese of Sydney have not responded to the invitation issued to the Lambeth Conference 'saying they hesitated to sit at the same table as those who supported the consecration of gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions'. The Church Times reported the following week.

10 August 2007: New bishop for Iran
The Church Times reports on the joyous occasion of the installation of a new Anglican Bishop in Iran. The Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) has a photograph of the attending bishops.

10 August 2007: Oxford report recommends tightening controls over Private Halls
The Church Times reports that a review by Oxford University recommends keeping the Private Halls such as the controversial Wycliffe Hall, but suggests that the university needs to tighten control over them in order that they maintain Oxford's traditional values and ethos. The Guardian filed this report.

10 August 2007: Church of England General Synod members experimenting with Facebook
The Church Times reports that Members of the General Synod (Church of England) are signing up to the social-networking website Facebook, after a new informal group was set up for them.

10 August 2007: Virginia court announces intention to use church canons in property dispute
The Episcopal News Service reports that a Virginia Court ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia in denying the claims of 11 separated congregations that the court should not consider the Church's Constitution and Canons in deciding property disputes. And the Diocese of Virginia reports that the judge with appropriate jurisdiction has overruled a motion to dismiss lawsuits that it filed to recover church property.

8 August 2007: Dissident Colorado ex-rector found guilty of financial misconduct
The Episcopal News Service reports that the Revd Don Armstrong, former rector of a large Colorado church, has been found guilty on all counts of financial misconduct presented to an Ecclesiastical Court of the Diocese of Colorado. The Rocky Mountain News carried this report, and the Colorado Springs Gazette carried this report. The Denver Post reports that city police are investigating to see if there was criminal action. The Church Times reports that Fr Armstrong had 'broken a shredder in an attempt to cover his tracks'.

8 August 2007: General Synod elections in Church of England
Thinking Anglicans reports on the results of elections just held among General Synod members to fill various posts.

4 August 2007: South Carolina re-elects Mark Lawrence as bishop
The Episcopal News Service (USA) reports that The Very Rev. Mark Lawrence was re-elected as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina August 4 at a special electing convention. Lawrence was the only candidate.

4 August 2007: Angry Australian group continues push to expel bishop
The Advertier (Adelaide) reports on the progress of a dissident group in the Diocese of The Murray still focused on the removal of their bishop.

4 August 2007: Reggae hymns for Jamaica
The Jamaica Observer reports that the Anglican Church of Jamaica will add reggae songs to its hymnals, starting with Bob Marley's infectious 'One Love' and Peter Tosh's 'Creation'.

3 August 2007: Canadian bishop to resign
The Anglican Journal (Canada) reports that 'Bishop Victoria Matthews, who broke new ground for women in episcopal ministry and was twice a candidate for primate, or national archbishop, announced on August 2 that she will resign as leader of the diocese of Edmonton, citing that she believes “God is now calling me in a different direction.”'

3 August 2007: Flying Nigerian bishop for England?
Thinking Anglicans tells, with a series of daily updates, the rather complex story of alleged plans for the Church of Nigeria to consecrate a bishop for the UK. The page is in chronological order, which means that the latest is at the bottom.

2 August 2007: Diocese of Virginia removes 21 priests from clergy
The Diocese of Virginia reports that 'the Rt Revd Peter James Lee took the required canonical action to remove from the priesthood' 21 priests who were 'determined to have abandoned the Communion of The Episcopal Church'. The Anglican Communion Network responded with a message that is slightly too complex to summarize here, but if you have a passing familiarity with the issues and the players here, you can probably imagine what they had to say. The Associated Press reports the incident and describes the priests' response as being approximately 'you cannot fire us, because we have already quit'.

1 August 2007: Detailed reports of July 2007 Church of England General Synod now online
Thinking Anglicans has compiled an index to the Church Times' publication of the detailed General Synod reports from July 2007. How's that for collaborative work?

1 August 2007: Anglican Communion Network asks US Episcopal Church to end litigation
The Episcopal News Service (USA) reports that delegates to the Annual Council of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes have asked the US Episcopal Church to end property litigation and have expressed a willingness to enter into mediation under some circumstances.

31 July 2007: Ephraim Radner resigns from Anglican Communion Network
The Revd Dr Ephraim Radner, a Fellow of the Anglican Communion Institute and one of the founders of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (usually referred to as the Anglican Communion Network), issued this statement in resigning from it.

27 July 2007: Further on UK employment tribunal finding against Bishop of Hereford
The Church Times headline for this article is 'Priddis loses, but sticks to his guns'. The Church Times also offers this detailed explanation of why the tribunal felt that Bishop Priddis' actions were illegal.

27 July 2007: British churches rally to aid flood victims
For many centuries, English churches and cathedrals have been built on high ground. Now, the Church Times reports that during the recent dreadful floods in Britain, those un flooded churches offered shelter to those who needed it.

27 July 2007: Conservative English bishop threatens Church of England bishop boycott
The Church of Ireland Gazette reports that the Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester, said that he thinks that if the Americans don't yield to the will of the Global South primates, that 60% of English bishops would be reconsidering their own attendance at Lambeth 2008.

27 July 2007: Interview with Gene Robinson
Andrew Collier of The Scotsman (Glasgow) interviewed the Rt Revd V Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, and published his report under the headline 'Millions believe this man is the Antichrist' The Times Online reports on that interview with the headline 'Without gay priests Church would be lost claims Bishop Gene'.

26 July 2007: Archbishop of York warns conservatives
The Telegraph (London) published an exclusive interview (more detail here) with the Rt Revd Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, in which he said conservatives risked severing themselves from the Anglican Communion. We've been saying for several years now that there is likely to be a Nigerian Communion to accept refugees. Dr Sentamu himself is from Uganda, not Nigeria.

25 July 2007: Bishop of Jos (Nigeria) attacked again by gang members
The Church Times reports that the Rt Revd Benjamin Kwashi, Bishop of Jos, was assaulted at knife point and gunpoint by a gang who threatened him with murder, beat up his teenage son, and stole large amounts of household possessions. This is the second such attack, the first occurring in February 2006. Bishop Kwashi is the coordinator of Nigerian's North American mission, CANA.

22 July 2007: Australian priest said to have escaped sanction over sex abuse claims
The Australian reports that Archdeacon Peter Coote 'escaped sanction over sex abuse complaints, despite an independent investigator finding that the evidence against him was credible and consistent with a pattern of preying on vulnerable women'.

13 July 2007: General Synod wraps up in England
The triannual General Synod of the Church of England has finished. Thinking Anglicans has its usual exhaustive coverage. The Church Times reported on a few highlights, including a push for more power in the selection of bishops and this interesting editorial. Most of the remaining stories in the Church Times are not yet available to non-subscribers. Every week for the last year and a half we have clicked on the 'Subscribe' button, only to be told 'We will be offering online subscriptions shortly.' Quite shortly? The Anglican Communion News Service has issued thus far only this press release, about the Church of England's response to the Covenant process.

13 July 2007: Ugandan archbishop defines Anglicanism
The Primate of the Church of Uganda has written an essay 'What is Anglicanism?'. A lot of commentary has been written; this analysis at Preludium and ensuing responses, and these responses at TitusOneNine seem to us to be representative of the political spectrum. The US Episcopal News Service issued this summary of what Bishop Orombi had to say and the Church Times printed this report.

11 July 2007: US Episcopal Church appoints group to write Covenant response
The Episcopal News Service (USA) reports that nine people were appointed to draft the Church's response to the first version of an Anglican covenant. None is a bishop. It's a very interesting list of people, though we must refrain from the gossip that would be required to tell you what's interesting about them.

11 July 2007: Anglican priest forced to flee Baghdad
The Associated Press reports that Canon Andrew White, a British national who ran Iraq's only Anglican church, left the country Tuesday and returned to Britain. This is a serious blow to the Christians remaining in Iraq.

10 July 2007: Australian primate intervenes in Murray Bridge bishop dispute
The Australian reports that 'Primate Phillip Aspinall intervened to smooth over the troubles that have split the Anglican congregation in Murray Bridge, east of Adelaide, and provoked a stand-off between former parish priest Peter Wales and the bishop who sacked him, Ross Davies.'

8 July 2007: General Synod in England
The Church of England General Synod this week is uncharacteristically significant. Thinking Anglicans and the Church Times are providing worthwhile coverage. The Draft Covenant appears to be the most important topic under discussion, but there was discussion of the Wycliffe Hall issue, and intriguing changes to marriage qualifications and other topics. The BBC report on the Draft Covenant vote is the most accessible that we have found. London newspapers The Times and The Guardian have almost opposite interpretations of that vote.

6 July 2007: British Prime Minister to withdraw from choosing English bishops
The Church Times reports that the new Prime Minister of the UK, Gordon Brown, is to surrender his power under the royal prerogative to choose diocesan bishops, 'as part of wide-ranging constitutional reforms'. The Archbishop of York issued this statement in response (he likes it).

6 July 2007: Confused Episcopal/Muslim priest suspended
The Associated Press reports that an Episcopal priest who announced last month that she is also a practicing Muslim has been suspended from the priesthood. The Seattle priest's local newspaper has a more detailed report.

1 July 2007: Nigerian bishop ousted as president of Christian Association
The Sun (Abuja) reports on the failed attempt by Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria, to extend his tenure as president of the Christian Association of Nigeria.

1 July 2007: Australian parish demands ouster of bishop
The Australian reports that an angry parish in the Diocese of The Murray has demanded the ouster of its bishop over his sacking of a popular priest. We suspect they won't get very far; recently a US bishop (Milwaukee) sacked a priest that he didn't like over the objections of most of the parish, and still has his job. The diocesan website of The Murray has gone missing, but we don't believe this is related to the current conflict.

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