News for Week Ending 8/11/2014
Ebola fears inspire liturgy changesAccording to Anglican Ink, Anglican and Roman Catholic churches in Nigeria are making changes to their services to guard against the spreading of the Ebola virus. Passing of the peace and drinking wine directly from a common cup have been banned. Ebola, which is often fatal, has recently made its appearance in Africa’s most populous country. The virus is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids.
Anglicans, Oriental Orthodox near agreement on nature of JesusAnglican Communion News Service reported August 8, 2014, that the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission is nearing agreement on a joint statement on Christology. The Commission, meeting in Lebanon, reviewed responses, which were overwhelmingly positive, to the “2002 Agreed Statement on Christology” dealing with the human and divine natures of Jesus. The Commission will meet again in Cairo October 13–17, 2014.
Uganda archbishop decries loss of anti-gay lawReligion News Service reported August 4, 2014, that Primate of the Church of Uganda, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, has expressed disappointment that Uganda’s constitutional court struck down on a technicality Uganda’s recently passed anti-gay law. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) According to RNS, Ntagali declared, “The ‘court of public opinion’ has clearly indicated its support for the Act, and we urge Parliament to consider voting again on the Bill with the proper quorum in place.”
Italy recognizes Church of England in ItalyAccording to the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe, Italy has now officially recognized the 20 CoE churches in Italy as an official denomination. Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano signed a decree recognizing the CoE on July 17, 2014. Gaining official recognition took seven years.
Departed New Zealand congregation may not remain AnglicanThe former vicar of West Hamilton Anglican Church in Dinsdale, New Zealand, who removed his congregation from the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, has indicated that his new church may not even remain Anglican. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Rev. Michael Hewat has spoken to representatives of the GAFCON-sponsored Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, but has not—not yet, anyway—cast his and his congregation’s lot with that group. He advised, however, that his new church, West Hamilton Community Church, will not remain independent and could align with the Methodists or Baptists. The story was covered by Anglican Ink.
Michigan bishop accused of mistreating clergy, laypeople, congregationsAccording to an “exclusive report” from conservative journalist David Virtue, the Rt. Rev. Wendell Gibbs, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, has been accused of abusing clergy, laypeople, and congregations. Charges come in the form of a 400-page document from an “Ad Hoc Committee of 23 people including three priests.” The authors want the bishop to embark on a 6-month sabbatical, so that he can undergo a psychological evaluation leading to a dissolution of the bond between bishop and diocese. The Virtue report is long and detailed, but it contains no links to external documentation, news reports, or the report from the committee itself. It can be read here.
Black Jesus inspires controversyThe Union of Black Episcopalians launched a petition drive August 4, 2014, urging Cartoon Network to drop the 30-minute series Black Jesus, even before it first aired on August 7. Based on a trailer, UBE declared that the show “denigrates Jesus, the faith AND [sic] our race.” The UBE “Call to Action” is here, and the petition itself, whose Web page incorporates the Black Jesus trailer, is here.
The Cartoon Network show, which is part of the network’s late-night Adult Swim offerings, is decidedly irreverent, profane, and played for laughs. Jesus—seemingly the real article—is a black man living in Compton, California, who exhibits attitudes that should be familiar to Christians. The sitcom comes from Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder.
Time reviewed the show August 7, asserting that it does not engage in “mockery of Jesus, but “mockery with Jesus.” Reviewer James Poniewozik points out that the Jesus of the Bible was criticized “for hanging out with sinners, partiers and prostitutes (not to mention tax collectors).” Christian viewers may well find Black Jesus thought-provoking. The show airs at 11 PM Thursdays.