The news of the Anglican world in 2018

The former Primate of Uganda, Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo, died on 5 January 2018 from pneumonia. He was 80 years old.

Retired Archbishop Nkoyoyo served as Archbishop of the Church of Uganda from 1995 to 2004, and pioneered visionary initiatives, including upgrading the Bishop Tucker Theological College in Mukono into Uganda Christian University, the first university in Uganda to be privately chartered.

Meanwhile, half of the clergy in the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney signed an open letter questioning the appointment of the Rev Canon Anne Dyer as the new Bishop of the Scottish diocese. In total there were over 16 signatories to the letter, which includes the Warden of the Lay Readers and members of the diocese’s standing committee.

While they cited the new Bishop’s support for same-sex marriage, their letter focused on the appointment process.

However, the Primus said he ‘deplored’ the nature of their public letter and pointed out that Canon Dyer’s appointment had been greeted with ‘delight’.

The critics say that at the time of her appointment, three of the seven Dioceses in the Scottish Episcopal Church were vacant and so the decision was made by just the four remaining Bishops.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the Anglican Primate of Canada, announced his retirement.

Archbishop Hiltz marked 40 years of ordained ministry in 2017, including 23 years as bishop, and 10 as Primate of Canada.

World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, led a WCC delegation visiting member churches in China.

The purpose of the visit, which took place on the 70th anniversary of the WCC, was to strengthen relations between the WCC and their member church, China Christian Council (CCC).

The Council of Churches in Zambia called for peace and justice in the region.

The Council of Churches in Zambia, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia and Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops said that despite the public pronouncements that Zambia is a peaceful country, ‘the reality on the ground is different due to many acts of injustice, a growing culture of corruption, incidences of violence and utterances out of deep-seated hatred’.

They appealed to the region’s political leaders ‘to stop insulting each other or anyone who does not agree with their political opinion’ and to ‘start genuinely to respect fellow political players as legitimate opponents with their constitutional right to hold their political opinion and to propagate it among the general public’.

US bishops criticised a decision to cancel residency permits for 200,000 Salvadorans there.

The decision was made by the Trump administration but it was condemned by the Bishop and the Assistant Bishop of Maryland.

The Oval Office gave a deadline of 9 September 2019 for Salvadorians who currently have permits to live and work in the USA, to leave or obtain a green card.

The Rt Rev Eugene Sutton, Bishop of Maryland, said that the “temporary protective status” (TPS) of El Salvador refugees, granted temporary asylum by the US government in recent years following an earthquake in 2001, was being ‘threatened’.

He said that although the US has been extending their legal status as residents for 17 years and building their lives, nearly 200,000 across the country now face either deportation or a ‘gruelling’ bureaucratic task applying for a Green Card.

The Bishop of Salisbury congratulated and asked for prayers for the Rt Rev Justin Bardi who was elected Primate of South Sudan.

Archbishop Bardi, former Bishop of Maridi, was elected at a meeting of bishops and clergy and lay representatives of the Episcopal Church in South Sudan.

The appointment of a new American Ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom was welcomed by campaigning groups. It was last July when the White House nominated Governor Sam Brownback for the role. He had served in the US Senate from 1996-2011.

Welcoming the appointment, the chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Daniel Mark, said the commission looked forward to the US government’s promotion of international religious freedom.

The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil elected its first female bishop.

The Rev Canon Marinez Santos Bassotto, formerly the priest in the Southern Diocese’s (Meridional) parish of São Paulo in the city of Cachoeirinha, was elected as the next Bishop of the Diocese of Amazon, succeeding Bishop Saulo Mauricio de Barros, who retired.

The Church Pension Fund for the Episcopal Church, the financial services organisation that serves the Episcopal Church, invested $17 million to provide renewable energy finance loans to businesses in the developing world.

It invested the money in a fund run by the Social Investment Managers & Advisors (SIMA) Off-Grid Solar and Financial Access Senior Debt Fund. In total the $75 million fund will provide loans to microfinance institutions, distribution companies, and manufacturers in the off-grid solar sector located in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Anglicans around the world were being asked to pray for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo when North-eastern DRC continued to suffer inter-communal violence in the Ituri province, as well as armed group activities and military offensives in North Kivu.

The UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said it has been alarmed by the surge in violence that drove large numbers of Congolese to flee eastwards to neighbouring Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda.

Thousands of children, women and men abandoned their homes, in the midst of intensified military operations against Mai Mai armed groups in South Kivu province. Almost 7,000 people crossed to neighbouring Burundi and an additional 1,200 to Tanzania in the space of a week.

Gafcon responded to the consecration of the first woman bishop for a Gafcon province.

The Archbishop of Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan consecrated Elizabeth Awut Ngor as their first female Bishop in the Diocese of Rumbek.

In his statement, Gafcon General Secretary, Archbishop Peter Jensen, explained that ‘from the beginning of the Gafcon movement there have been a variety of understandings among our members on the question of consecrating women to the episcopate’.

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington passed a resolution to avoid gendered pronouns for God. The resolution was passed at their Diocese Convention.

Anglican leaders endorsed the Pope’s call for a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace for war-torn nations, in particular for the Democratic Republic of Congo and for South Sudan.

The Deputy Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, the Rev Dr Justin Lewis-Anthony, said he ‘strongly’ supports the call to mark the first Friday in Lent as a day of fasting and prayer in solidarity with the suffering peoples of South Sudan and the DRC.

American bishops led services of lamentations at churches following a high school shooting in Florida.

The services, which took place around the USA, included calls from church leaders for political action against gun violence. They said they wanted to end “lethal spasm of violence in the country.”

The Synod of the Anglican Church of Tanzania elected the Rt Rev Maimbo Mndolwa as its seventh Archbishop.

Bishop Mndolwa, formerly the bishop of the diocese of Tanga, succeeded the incumbent Primate, the Most Rev Dr Jacob Erasto Chimeledya.

In March, a diplomatic row in the Old City of Jerusalem led to the closure of the historic Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The decision by the leaders of Jerusalem’s Churches was in protest at what they called a ‘punitive and retroactive’ tax on church properties there.

But alongside the plan by the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, they were also concerned about moves by a member of the Israeli Parliament to introduce a Bill that would give the Israeli government the power to confiscate church property.

The closure of the fourth century church, believed to be where Christ was crucified and laid to rest, was announced by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Catholic Custos of the Holy Land and the Armenian Patriarch.

Their joint statement argued that ‘the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land’ has ‘reached an unprecedented level as the Jerusalem municipality issued scandalous collection notices and orders of seizure of Church assets, properties and bank accounts for alleged debts of punitive municipal taxes.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury joined Primates from the four Anglican provinces in the Oceania region for their annual meeting in Fiji. This was the first of a series of regional meetings of Primates being held in the run-up to the Lambeth Conference in 2020.

The following month, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, wrote to King Abdullah of Jordan, thanking his government for its support of the three-day closure of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem.

“On our behalf, on behalf of the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem and on behalf of the Council of Churches in Jordan, as well as our clergy, our faithful and the many thousands of pilgrims who visit this region every year, we wish to express to you our gratitude for the help and support that you have given to us in the recent crisis that faced the Christian community of our region,” he added.

Anglicans were urged to pray for Papua New Guinea after an earthquake there.

The call came from Dr Winston Halapua, Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and Archbishop of New Zealand and Bishop of Taranaki, the Most Rev Philip Richardson, after the 7.5-magnitude earthquake hit the rural Enga province of Papua New Guinea, with continued aftershocks.

The rights of Christians in Saudi Arabia and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen were among the issues raised by the Archbishop of Canterbury when he hosted a private meeting with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia at Lambeth Palace.

Also that month, the Bishop of Christchurch in New Zealand, Victoria Matthews, and the Bishop of Shrewsbury in the Diocese of Lichfield, Mark Rylands, said they were standing down to pursue new callings.

Christian Aid’s Head of Middle East Policy, William Bell, said he ‘despaired at the level of international indifference’, following Israel’s deployment of tanks and snipers against Palestinian demonstrators on 30 March, resulting in 17 dead.

Also, the Episcopal Church in America (TEC) was warned that its place in global Anglicanism would be at risk if it moved to approve gender-neutral marriage rites.

The Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye, told the Church that the way aspects of TEC’s practice of their trial marriage rites are implemented will have ‘implications’ on the relationship between the two Churches.

In May, the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) said they were “deeply moved” by an agreement between the leaders of North and South Korea that included a commitment to the denuclearisation of the peninsula.

The Panmunjom Agreement was signed at the 2018 InterKorean Summit by the Republic of Korea’s President Moon Jaein and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. The historic meeting was watched closely around the world.

NCCK General Secretary, the Rev Lee Hong Jung, and Chair of the Reconciliation and Reunification Committee, the Rev Ra Haek Jib, said that steps have been made ‘towards a new history of reconciliation and peace on the Korean peninsula’. They explained that the summit, which started with the two leaders of Korea crossing the military demarcation line (MDL), ‘deeply moved the heart of all Koreans and the people in the world’.

The Diocese of the Amazon became the first in South America to consecrate a woman bishop. The service for Bishop Marinez Bassotto had to be held in the Cathedral’s sports court because of the huge number of those who wanted to attend.

She was appointed to lead the Diocese of Amazon in  the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil – the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil.

There was widespread international condemnation for terrorist attacks on Christian churches and a police station that took place in Surabaya, Indonesia, on 13 and 14 May, which resulted in at least 18 people killed and many more injured.

Bombs exploded on Sunday at Gereja Kristen Indonesia (Christian Church of Indonesia), the Church of Immaculate Santa Maria, and the Pentecostal Church on Jalan Arjunodate, in an attack thought to be perpetrated by a single family.

Gafcon installed a Primate of a new Anglican Church in Brazil. The Most Rev Miguel Uchoa Cavalcanti was installed as their first regional Archbishop and Primate during a service at the Paróquia Anglicana do Espírito Santo (Anglican Church of the Holy Spirit)

Following Australia’s referendum to allow same-sex marriage, the country’s bishops were sent a request to check for loopholes.

According to the Australian Church’s ‘guiding principles’, bishops were advised to ‘make enquiries about their powers to restrict the use of church property’. The ‘Guiding Principles’ from the Anglican Church of Australia made their move in response to the recent changes in the Marriage Act.

In December 2017, a bill was passed in the House of Representatives to make same-sex marriage legal in Australia, following a majority vote by MPs. This came following a national poll in November that year in which Australians overwhelmingly voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage.

Bishop Curry’s sermon at the Royal Wedding was reported around the world.

Just days after his sermon at the Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, US Presiding Bishop Michael Curry led a ‘Reclaiming Jesus’ march and service in Washington DC.

In June, the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil voted in favour of amending its marriage canon to allow same-sex blessings.

This was the third time since 1997 that the matter was brought for consideration at its General Synod. The change was voted in by a large majority of votes – 57 in favour, four against and two abstentions.

This came after the Anglican Service for Diaconia and Development (SADD) and the Centre for Anglican Studies (CEA) were commissioned by the Synod in 2013 to deepen dialogue among dioceses of the Province.

The Episcopal Church in America reported that it was continuing to provide emergency assistance after the Kilauea volcano first erupted on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 3.

The aid was being provided by the Church’s Episcopal Relief & Development arm in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii and Church of the Holy Apostles in Hilo.

Members of that church, which is located about half-an-hour north of the evacuation zone, were among the thousands forced to evacuate their homes. An eruption at Kilauea summit jolted the area on Wednesday 6 June with the force of a 5.4 magnitude earthquake.

The Gafcon conference drew 2,000 delegates to Jerusalem.

An interfaith group of religious scholars united to speak out against President Donald Trump’s US Immigration Policy.

They said that while they were glad that President Donald Trump signed an executive order ending the family separation policy at the US-Mexico border, they remained concerned with what they deemed ‘the Trump administration’s attempt to substitute mass detention of families as a “solution” for family separation’.

Families would be kept together, though the immigration policy at the border would be ‘zero-tolerance’.

In July, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church approved a motion allowing clergy to use trial marriage rites for same-sex couples even where their bishop disagrees. Previously, clergy could only use the rites under the direction of their bishop.

The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) urged the international community to ‘accompany’ their newly elected government and churches to ‘enrich’ the institutions and ‘mature’ Zimbabwe’s democracy.

In their pastoral statement following the civil unrest sparked by the nation’s first presidential election since the resignation of Robert Mugabe last year, the ZCC said they were pleading with the international community not to ‘continue the isolation of Zimbabwe on the basis of shortcomings of this election’.

The Episcopal Relief & Development agency partnered with the Diocese of Northern California to provide emergency support to help communities impacted by the Carr Fire that started on 23 July.

The fire starting in Redding, a city located approximately 200 miles north of San Francisco. It was the largest of the 17 wildfires that burned throughout the state.

The Bishop of Daejeon, Moses Nak Jun Yoo, was elected as Primate of the Anglican Church of Korea. He succeeded Bishop Onesimus Park, the Bishop of Busan, whose term of office had come to an end.

St James, in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, had its first Cathedral Dean in 10 years.

The Rev Ryan D Newman, now Dean-elect of St James Cathedral, finished his work as Rector & Head of School at All Saints’ Church, Kaua’i, Hawaii, before moving to the role.

The new Dean took up the post 10 years after a large group from the conservative-leaning San Joaquin diocese chose to leave the Episcopal Church to align themselves with Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, and affiliate of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) because of their views on same-sex relationships and the ordination of women.

Christian Aid and other Christian charities launched emergency appeals to help the most vulnerable affected by the Kerala floods.

More than 1 million people sheltered in relief camps, and money from the Christian Aid appeal helped households access safe drinking water, sanitation supplies, and hygiene essentials such as soap, and shelter materials including tarpaulin, rope and blankets.

Six bishops from six provinces of the Anglican Communion joined with members of General Synod for the commissioning of Bishop Andrew Lines.

Bishop Michael Curry said he was ‘saddened’ by the announcement from US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, that the refugee admissions ceiling for next year has been set at 30,000. This is the lowest ceiling in the USA’s history.

In October, the Primate of the Anglican Church of South East Asia, Archbishop Moon Hing, called for prayers for victims of the earthquake and tsunami in the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

A 7.5-magnitude quake struck just off the central island of Sulawesi, setting off a tsunami that struck the city of Palu. The number of people known to have died rose to more than 1,300.

Leading UK aid agencies announced a joint fundraising appeal to help the survivors. Over 200,000 people were in urgent need of clean water, food, medical care and shelter.

Ireland went to the polls in a referendum to decide whether to abolish the blasphemy laws completely.

In November, the newest Province of the Anglican Communion was inaugurated at a service in Santiago, Chile.

The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered the sermons as the Iglesia Anglicana de Chile – the Anglican Church of Chile – became the 40th Province of the worldwide Communion.

Asia Bibi, the Pakistani mother-of-four who has been on death row since 2010, was cleared on blasphemy charges, but campaigners say she is far from safe.

Episcopal churches across the USA came to the aid of those left devastated by the fire that wiped out the town of Paradise in California.

The local priest there, the Rev Ann Sullivan, said that although the church was ‘relatively untouched’, her home was destroyed. “Everyone I know who lived in Paradise lost their home,” she said. At the time, a total of 77 were reported to have been killed in the fire that spread over 150,000 acres, but up to 1,000 were reported missing.

In December, the Anglican Church in Japan committed to spearhead an international campaign to rid the world of nuclear energy.

A conference next May will welcome delegates from across the Anglican Communion to Fukushima to promote the campaign.