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c. 2008 Religion News Service

Conservative Anglicans meet to plot strategy

AMMAN, Jordan _ Conservative Anglicans on Thursday (June 19) said there is “no longer any hope for a unified” Anglican Communion just weeks before a crucial summit of Anglican bishops in England.

Traditionalist Anglicans were meeting here ahead of the June 22-29 Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) summit in Jerusalem, in order to map a strategy for their future within the Anglican Communion.

The Anglicans say the Episcopal Church in the United States, and the Anglican Church of Canada, have “chosen to walk away from the biblically-based path we once all walked together.”

On Thursday (June 19), GAFCON leaders released a 94-page handbook titled,“The Way, The Truth and the Life,” which organizers say explains the theological underpinnings of the weeklong summit in Jerusalem.

The 94-page document says the Communion faces a “moment of truth” and conservatives seek reconciliation but “not at the cost of re-writing the Bible to accommodate the latest cultural trend.”

More than 300 bishops from 19 countries are expected at the GAFCON meeting; most of them plan not to attend the upcoming Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in late July, and some weren’t officially invited.

Bishop Martyn Minns, a Virginia-based leader of breakaway former Episcopalians loyal to Akinola, said the statement does not mean GAFCON leaders are declaring independence from the archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion.

Minns is one of several bishops who were not invited to the Lambeth Conference because his ordination by Akinola violated traditional geographic boundaries of authority.

“We’re not leaving,” said Minns. “We’re moving into a different relationship. Canterbury is part of our history; we’ll always be grateful for that. We’re no longer the dependent children. We’re still part of the same family.”

_ Amy Hybels and Kevin Eckstrom

Muslims angry after being moved at Obama event

WASHINGTON (RNS) A Muslim civil rights group is asking Sen. Barack Obama to invite two Muslim women to a future campaign event after they were prevented from sitting near Obama at a rally in Detroit because they were wearing Muslim head scarves.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it accepts the Obama campaign’s apology for the incident, in which volunteers told the two women they could not sit near the Detroit stage on June 9 because of their head wear.

“I was coming to support him, and I felt like I was discriminated against by the very person who was supposed to be bringing this change, who I could really relate to,” Hebba Aref, 25, told The Politico, a political newspaper in Washington.

Obama, who is Christian, has been dogged by false rumors that he is Muslim, and some Muslims have expressed frustration that he has not followed up those denials with expressions of support or defense of U.S. Muslims.

“We welcome the campaign’s apology and urge candidates of all parties not to give in to pressure from the vocal minority of Islamophobes in our society that seeks to stigmatize Islam and marginalize American Muslims,” said CAIR national legislative director Corey Saylor.

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said, “It is offensive and counter to Obama’s commitment to bring Americans together and simply not the kind of campaign we run. We sincerely apologize for the behavior.”

The campaign has also pointed out that during this campaign Obama has posed for photos with women in Muslim garb, including head scarves.

_ Daniel Burke

Bishop fumes over wedding of two gay priests

LONDON (RNS) The Anglican bishop of London has sharply rebuked a priest who conducted a church wedding for two gay priests, saying he was astonished to learn of the ceremony from newspaper and television reports.

In a letter sent Thursday (June 19) to churches in London, Bishop Richard Chartres also suggested that the priest, the Rev. Martin Dudley, was treating his parish of St. Bartholomew the Great in London as a “personal fiefdom.”

Dudley triggered a storm of protest by blessing the civil partnership of the Revs. Peter Cowell and David Lord in a May 31 service that included the wedding-style phrase, “With this ring I thee bind, with my body I thee worship.”

In a letter that signaled the start of a formal investigation into the case, Chartres told Dudley that “the real issue is whether you wilfully defied the discipline of the Church and broke your oath of canonical obedience to your bishop.”

The bishop also warned him that “St. Bartholomew’s is not a personal fiefdom,” and said the investigation into Dudley’s actions will be conducted by senior Anglican authorities, including Archdeacon of London Peter Delaney.

It was not immediately clear how long the inquiry might take, but if Dudley is found guilty of serious misconduct, he could lose his job.

Chartres said he was furious when he learned that the ceremony had been planned as long ago as Nov. 1. “I find it astonishing that you did not take the opportunity to consult your bishop,” he wrote in his letter to Dudley.

The Church of England’s top two officials, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Archbishop of York John Sentamu, said in a joint statement that they viewed the St. Bartholomew’s service “with very great concern.”

They said that while clergy who disagree with church teachings “are at liberty to seek to persuade others within the Church” why the rules should be changed, “they are not at liberty simply to disregard it.”

_ Al Webb

Christian Reformed Church issues post-9/11 statement of faith

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (RNS) The temptations of the Internet, environmental degradation and the global economy have created a challenging new world _ but it’s still God’s world.

So says a new testimony of faith approved Tuesday (June 17) for use in Christian Reformed Church worship services and Sunday schools.

“Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony” revises the CRC’s modern summary of faith first adopted in 1986. Its 58 paragraphs address terrorism, global warming, embryonic stem-cell research and other realities that have emerged in the intervening years.

It also fine-tunes theology and tones down male pronouns for God in keeping with today’s understandings, the testimony’s authors told the CRC annual Synod.

“We felt times have changed,” said the Rev. Morris Greidanus, who helped craft the 1986 statement and headed the revision committee. “We wanted to speak to new issues.”

Though not radically different from the original, the revised statement seeks to convey the insecurities of a post-9/11 world while declaring God’s grace and sovereignty, officials say.

“There’s more expression of that human anxiety we have,” said the Rev. Leonard Vander Zee, editor in chief of Faith Alive Christian Resources. “At the same time, we express our faith in God who is in control.”

Delegates to this week’s CRC Synod meeting at Calvin College approved the revisions despite some delegates’ concerns certain passages sound more political than biblical. One section advocates “meaningful work and fair wages for all.”

“Of course they’re political,” Greidanus responded. “We’re living in a world where politics is a big thing, and the church has to speak to it.”

_ Charles Honey

Quote of the Day: Catholic Bishop Arthur Seratelli of Paterson, N.J.

(RNS) “What one individual calls a `swamp,’ another more ecologically conscious individual calls `wetlands.”’

_ Catholic Bishop Arthur Seratelli of Paterson, N.J., who, as chair of the U.S. bishops’ committee for divine worship, is charged with gaining approval for a new Vatican-ordered translation of the Mass. At a June meeting, one bishop called the new translation a “linguistic swamp.”


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