News for Week Ending 5/19/2008
Registration figures released for GAFCON, LambethOrganizers of the Global Anglican Futures Conference have announced that 280 bishops are among the more than 1000 registrants for their Pilgrimage to Jerusalem (June 22–29), which follows their June 18–21 conference in Jordan. Participants come from 17 Anglican Communion Provinces. The GAFCON announcement did not specify if any of the participants were from Common Cause partners outside the Anglican Communion, but a number of attendees are expected from groups that have realigned. The pilgrimage will end in time for those bishops who wish also to attend the Lambeth Conference to do so. England’s Church Times has carried a story noting that the Lambeth Conference of Bishops (July 16–August 3), held once every ten years, has announced registration of 620 bishops out of about 880 possible invitees. Not attending are 172 bishops from Uganda and Nigeria, but almost every other bishop has indicated that he or she will participate. (About 10% of Anglican sees are currently vacant).
Zimbabwe violence targets AnglicansAccording to The New York Times, police supporting President Mugabe of Zimbabwe have attacked Anglicans in the Harare Diocese during worship services. Last year, Bishop of Harare Nolbert Kunonga announced he was withdrawing from the Anglican Province of Central Africa because it was too “soft” on issues of homosexuality. Kunonga is a strong supporter of President Mugabe, who faces a runoff election next month. The Province of Central Africa has appointed a new interim bishop and won a court order requiring that followers of the two bishops share church buildings. However, police have allowed only the breakaway group to worship. Worshipers who have not followed Kunonga complain that attacks by police ignore the fact that their numbers include supporters both of Mugabe and the opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai.
Jefferts Schori, Orombi exchange lettersPresiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori sent a letter to Uganda’s Archbishop Henry Orombi on May 12 protesting the “unwarranted incursion” represented by his planned May 14 visit to the congregation of Christ Church, Savannah, Georgia, without contacting the local Episcopal bishop. She reminded him of the provisions against such incursions in the Windsor Report and urged Orombi to meet with Episcopal Church leaders. Archbishop Orombi sent a strongly worded reply two days later explaining that he was visiting a parish of the Church of Uganda and accusing the Presiding Bishop of arrogance in citing the Windsor Report.
More churches sign up to support Diocese of Virginia, Episcopal ChurchAs reported by Pittsburgh Update here, the United Methodist Church, along with other churches and judicatories, filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church April 24 in their court battle with breakaway parishes. Another eight churches and judicatories, as well as two additional Episcopal dioceses in Virginia have now petitioned the Fairfax County Court to file briefs with the court. The requests were granted.
The Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church are mounting a constitutional challenge to a Virginia statute governing ownership of property in the case of a church “division.” The trial judge ruled that the Virginia law applied to the property dispute between 11 Virginia congregations claiming parish property upon leaving The Episcopal Church and “realigning” with the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)-affiliated Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). The position of the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church is now supported in the case by the United Methodist Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the Worldwide Church of God, the Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Church of the Brethren, the Seventh-Day Adventists, and others. Despite opposition from the 11 congregations, the court granted all the new filers the right to participate in oral arguments scheduled for May 28.
Episcopal New Service has a story here. Actual court documents are available on the Diocese of Virginia Web site here. (Note that entries on the Diocese of Virginia site are in chronological order, so the most recent documents at at the bottom of the page.)