Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths

Posted on: October 5th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews


JERUSALEM: One City, Three Faiths
by Karen Armstrong (1997)


By Wayne A. Holst


My Thoughts:


“The Holy Land in general and Jerusalem in particular have become essential to the spiritual geography of Jews, Christians and Muslims,” writes Karen Armstrong in her book – Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths.


Begins at approximately 2000 BCE (Before the Common Era) or 4,000 years ago when Abraham left Mesopotamia in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley to the east and sojourned westward to Canaan “the Promised Land.” Here he fathered Isaac and Ishmael, the patriarchal founders of both the Jewish and Muslim faiths. The Hebrew Temple in Jerusalem was sacked and destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE and most Jews were forced to leave their land until November, 1947 when the United Nations partitioned Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. This marked the beginning of the modern state of Israel.


Jesus arrived on the scene in the ancient regions of Judah and Israel in 33 CE (The Common Era). He became a well-known preacher and healer, observing the Jewish festivals like Passover in Jerusalem. He is arrested and crucified by the Romans, but his disciples were convinced he rose from the dead. They persuaded others to believe in Jesus as the Messiah and in the Resurrection (the central Christian tenets separating it from the Jewish faith, and giving birth to a new religion). Over the centuries, some Palestinian Arabs became Christians, but their numbers have been in decline due to Jewish and Islamic persecution. There are a dwindling number of Christians in the Holy Land.


In 705 CE a small Muslim prayer house was built close to the site of the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Eventually, Muslims built The Dome of the Rock (not a mosque, but a holy site, displacing most of the ancient remains on Temple Mount.) Christian sites such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (where Jesus body was to have been laid after he died on the cross) were built over the centuries.

Crusaders from Europe made a number attempts to reclaim sacred places that had been taken over by Muslims, but this era ended after 1,300 CE. The region continued as a locus of religious controversy.


Most of modern Palestinian Territory and Sinai were taken over by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967. In March of 1979 at Camp David, Maryland Jimmy Carter worked out a treaty between Israel and Egypt to establish diplomatic relations and the withdrawal of Israel from Sinai. In July, 2000 the Palestinian and Israeli leaders met with US President Bill Clinton to create an agreement for Palestinian self-government in Gaza and parts of the West Bank. This was confirmed in 1993 with the so-called Oslo Accords. These hopeful efforts failed to accomplish the mutual goal of freedom for the Palestinians and recognition of Israel’s right to exist in peace and security among its Arab neighbors. Just recently, the Palestinians have declared that they are no longer bound by the Oslo agreements.

So today, in spite of much effort and good will on all sides, a continuing state of unrest – even terrorism – exists with regular flare-ups.

At the same time, the Holy Land remains an important spiritual centre for people of all three faith traditions.


Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. XI, No. 09,  October  4th, 2015

WCC event explores ways to advance SDGs to end extreme poverty

Posted on: October 3rd, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Participants in the event on the “Moral Imperative to End Extreme Poverty and Advance the Sustainable Development Goals” in New York.
Photo Credit: WCC

[World Council of Churches] The moral imperative to end extreme poverty and advance proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was the focus of an event hosted by the World Council of Churches (WCC) on 24 September at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City, United States.

The event brought to public attention the call to action, a joint statement titled Ending Extreme Poverty: A Moral and Spiritual Imperative – launched in April and signed by 39 leaders from major world religions and heads of global faith-based organizations. These organizations were as diverse as the WCC, [the Anglican Alliance], ACT Alliance, American Jewish World Service, Baha’i International Community, Eco-Sikh, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Religions for Peace and World Vision International.

The joint statement indicates the need to “act, advocate, educate and collaborate [in order to] empower and uplift those living in poverty, so that they can become agents of their own transformation.”

The event in New York was co-sponsored by the WCC, the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion Development, the World Bank and several other, multi-religious organizations.

The event mobilized a cross-section of faith-based and religious organizations to find tangible ways to realize sustainable development goals and the end of extreme poverty. The meeting strengthened collaboration between faith-based organizations, governments, the UN and the World Bank Group.

At the meeting, the Faith-based Action Framework to End Extreme Poverty was introduced to an audience of more than eighty representatives of faith-based organization. Participants further committed themselves to the Moral Imperative call and affirmed the Action Framework. An afternoon session brought together members of the entire community, including both multilateral and faith organizations, devoted to working together to end extreme poverty.

Multilateral representatives at the meeting included Thomas Gass, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs; Mahmoud Mohieldin, Corporate Secretary and President’s Special Envoy, World Bank Group; Luiz Loures, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS; David Donoghue, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations; Azza Karam, senior advisor, Culture, United Nations Population Fund and coordinator, UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion and Development; and Adam Taylor, lead, Faith Initiative, World Bank Group.

Faith communities in attendance included Global ONE, Society of Jesus, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Baha’i International Community, World Vision, Organization of African Instituted Churches, International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV or AIDS (INERELA+), Church World Service, American Jewish World Service, Christian Aid, ACT Alliance, World Council of Churches, Caritas Internationalis, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, World Evangelical Alliance and Religions for Peace International.

Dr Evelyn Parker, member of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) welcomed participants of the meeting, and emphasized the importance of coming together as faith leaders to address issues of extreme poverty and its root causes.

Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, WCC representative to the UN, celebrated the affirmation of the Action Framework to End Extreme Poverty: “It is an inspirational document, which allows religious leaders and faith-based organizations to come together at regional and national levels to work collaboratively on concrete actions to address issues of extreme poverty and inequalities. It is an opportunity to engage faith communities in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.”

The successful gathering of faith-based and multilateral organizations this Thursday confirmed a collaborative effort to realize the SDGs and to put an end to extreme poverty.


Anglican Communion News Service, ACNS Today’s top stories, October 01, 2015

International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue Communiqué 2015

Posted on: September 28th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

The International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue met in Buffalo, New York, from 19 to 25 September 2015.
Photo Credit: ICAOTD

International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue

September 2015 Communiqué

Buffalo, New York, United States of America

In the name of the Triune God, and with the blessing and guidance of our Churches, the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue (ICAOTD) met in Buffalo, New York, from 19 to 25 September 2015. The Commission is deeply grateful for the generous hospitality extended by the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Buffalo (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople).

Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit formally welcomed the Commission to its meeting in his diocese. He offered praise and encouragement for the work of the dialogue. He stressed the urgent need for expressions of Christian unity in light of the deep challenges and crises before the global community, mindful of events unfolding even as the Commission undertook its deliberations.

The Commission brought to completion the first section of its work on the theological understanding of the human person, with the adoption of its agreed statement, In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology. The report, shortly to be published, is the culmination of six years of study on what Anglicans and Orthodox can say together about the meaning of human personhood in the divine image.

This agreement lays the foundation for continuing dialogue on ethical decision-making in the light of this vision. At its future meetings the Commission will consider the practical consequences of this theological approach to personhood. The Commission anticipates ongoing study in areas such as bioethics and the sanctity of life, as well as human rights and ecological justice.

The meeting commenced with the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. Commission members also attended an ecumenical celebration of Evensong at St Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral. The Commission was welcomed by Bishop William Franklin of the Diocese of Western New York. In his homily he spoke of the contribution to Christian unity made by a former bishop of the diocese, Charles Henry Brent, who was a leading pioneer in the Faith and Order movement. Daily prayer strengthened and grounded the work accomplished together. Morning and evening prayers were offered, alternating between Anglicans and Orthodox.

The fellowship of the Commission was enriched by the warm and gracious reception by parishioners of the Annunciation Church, and their parish priest, the Revd Dr Christos Christakis, who is the Orthodox Co-Secretary of the dialogue. Members of the Commission were introduced to the unique historic, cultural and natural characteristics of the city of Buffalo, Niagara Falls and the surrounding area.

The work of the Commission will continue at its next meeting in September 2016, to be hosted by the Anglican Communion.

Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia
Orthodox Co-Chairman

The Most Revd Roger Herft
Anglican Co-Chairman

Representatives of the Orthodox Church

Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia
Ecumenical Patriarchate, Co-Chairman

Metropolitan Serafim of Zimbabwe
Patriarchate of Alexandria

The Revd Fr Alexander Haig
Patriarchate of Antioch

The Revd Dr George Dragas
Patriarchate of Jerusalem

The Revd Dr Valentin Vassechko
Patriarchate of Moscow

Professor Dr Bogdan Lubardic
Patriarchate of Serbia

Metropolitan Nifon of Târgovişte
Patriarchate of Romania

Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Kition
Church of Cyprus

Professor Dr Miltiadis Konstantinou
Church of Greece

Bishop Ilia of Philomelion
Church of Albania

The Revd Dr Christos B Christakis

Members unable to attend:

Protopresbyter Giorgi Zviadadze
Patriarchate of Georgia

The Revd Fr Andrzej Minko
Church of Poland

Representatives of the Anglican Communion

The Most Revd Roger Herft of Perth
The Anglican Church of Australia, Co-Chairman

The Revd Marc Billimoria
The Church of Ceylon

The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke of Armagh
The Church of Ireland

The Revd Canon Deacon Dr Christine Hall
The Church of England

The Revd Canon Philip Hobson OGS
The Anglican Church of Canada

Ms Natasha Klukach
The Anglican Church of Canada

The Rt Revd Michael Lewis of Cyprus & the Gulf
The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East

The Revd Dr Gloria Mapangdol
The Episcopal Church in the Philippines

The Revd Dr Duncan Reid
The Anglican Church of Australia

The Revd Canon Professor John Riches
Scottish Episcopal Church

The Rt Revd John Stroyan of Warwick
The Church of England

The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut

The Revd Neil Vigers
Anglican Communion Office

Members Unable to Attend:

The Revd Dr Timothy Bradshaw
The Church of England

The Revd Dr Joseph Wandera
The Anglican Church of Kenya

The Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams
Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury


Anglican Communion News Service, ACNS Daily Summary, September 25, 2015

PWRDF partner champions gender equality in Mozambique

Posted on: September 27th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Olinda Magaia, program coordinator for the Association of Community Health (EHALE), a Mozambique-based PWRDF partner, shows the bicycle and motorcycle ambulances she’s designed. Photo: Tali Folkins

Religious leaders from three faiths are teaching their communities about gender issues, thanks to the efforts of a Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) partner in Mozambique.

In development work, gender roles are often inextricably tied to other areas such as health, said Zaida Bastos, director of PWRDF’s development partnership program. Bastos and visiting representatives of three African partners of PWRDF — the Anglican Church of Canada’s relief and development arm — spoke at a gathering in Toronto on September 24.

Speaking through Ms. Bastos as an interpreter, one of these representatives, Olinda Magaia, program co-ordinator of the Association of Community Health (EHALE) in Mozambique, supplied two examples. If a child is sick in her country, Magaia said, traditionally a man cannot take the child to the hospital. Or if a woman gets ill, it’s common for her husband to leave her and find another wife—potentially spreading the disease if he himself is also infected.

“These gender structures really have had a huge impact on the spread of HIV/AIDS,” said Magaia.

One of the strategies EHALE has developed to address gender roles in the 200 villages it covers, she said, has been to teach the religious leaders of these communities gender roles based on equality. This has meant gathering together not only Christian and Muslim clerics, but also animist priests, since, she said, a lot of the gender inequalities that persist in Mozambique have their root origin in animist initiation rites.

EHALE brought 60 clerics together for gender training, only to have 19 drop out of the program.

“They were being challenged in their core beliefs” such as polygamy, said Magaia. “The gender training was really touching a raw nerve for them.”

Those who have stayed “and embraced the values of the training have seen an improvement in their lives,” she added. Some began to see the economic advantages, for example, of having one as opposed to five wives.

“They were setting an example to the others to the extent that now the 19 want to come back and be educators. However, the others that remained said, ‘No, you have not been a good example—we don’t know what you will be teaching in the communities, so we won’t allow you to be gender trainers!” she said with a smile.

Magaia, a nurse by training, has also been working to develop bicycle ambulances. She was working in very rural communities, and transportation was an issue. She met a craftsman in the village, and she said, ‘Can you build something like that?’” said Bastos, pointing to a photo of one of Magaia’s inventions. “And so they did.”

Magaia has since been “upgrading,” Bastos said, having recently designed a motorcycle ambulance.

“As she goes she’s becoming more creative,” Bastos said with a smile. “But it has really been a lifesaver in the communities, because there are no good roads. Sometimes people have to walk—mostly pregnant women who are ready to deliver, almost 50 km to the next hospital. And they get there exhausted, and the outcome is that the mother dies or the child dies. By having that they really have cut maternal death.”

EHALE is one of three partners in the five-year program, launched in 2012 and jointly funded by PWRDF and Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. It focuses on preventive health—especially maternal and child health—and food security.

Among the program’s accomplishments thus far, Bastos said, are the construction of houses for expectant mothers, clinics and a maternity ward, including a house for maternity ward staff. Over the last three years, she said, almost 300,000 children have been vaccinated under the program. In parts of Mozambique, she said, the program has seen a decrease in maternal death in the order of 20 per cent.


Anglican Journal News, September 25, 2015

Members express views on marriage canon report

Posted on: September 27th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Anglican Journal staff

Council of General Synod members and observers during a special session at Cody Hall, St. Paul’s Bloor, Toronto.
Photo: Marites N. Sison



What do you think about the marriage canon report? Was there anything that stood out for you?  Council of General Synod (CoGS) members and partners to weigh in.



Cynthia Haines-Turner,  General Synod deputy prolocutor 


[The report was] extremely well-done, well-presented, clear, balanced, reflective of a lot of care and attention. I found a lot of the reflection quite helpful [in clarifying] the issue. The commissioners were given a particular task, but the theological reflection, the Biblical understanding are some fairly key elements. What they presented was actually quite accessible and I think that people taking the time to go through the sections will find it very helpful.


Canon Terry Leer,  clergy, ecclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land


[What stood out was] the integrity and earnestness of the commissioners. It was very clear that they worked hard. It was very clear that they were given an almost impossible task and yet sought to remain faithful to [it]. [The proceedings were]  very respectful, but then this group knows each other. We’re coming towards the end of our term together. I think it will all feel much more civil and caring and supportive than the actual experience at [General] Synod. Both Winnipeg 2010 and Ottawa 2013 were not pleasant, warm, fuzzy experiences. So I do have some fears and some anxieties. Once we get there and we’re in Toronto 2016, it won’t feel at all like this.


Our discussions at Toronto 2016 will have to be focussed on relationships. I’m deeply involved in discipleship formation and development, and everybody in this field knows that whether we’re talking about stewardship or discipleship or mission, it’s all in terms of relationship, and that will have to happen at General Synod 2016. The planning group will have to potentially create systems and processes that will enable people to say things face to face. It is very much harder to be angry with a person than it is to be angry about a position. Toronto 2016 will be tough—I think processes can be designed that will ameliorate some of the pain… that will help increase the sense of belonging and responding to God’s call to love one another.



Amanda Lucien,  youth, ecclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land


What stood out for me was probably the explanation that we got from the Commission—the complexity of it, and the good wording. I felt, as a youth, that I got a better understanding from listening to them rather than reading through the report itself. The sections were really easy. It made it easier to find certain questions.


National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald


I think it’s careful and well-done and I would commend them for it. I still think that the cultural perspective of First Nations people was not a part of it. It’s still very much a report from the larger church, which is Western in its orientation. It will be a challenge for Indigenous people to work through it, analyze it and do a careful response to it. There will be some long, challenging and intense discussions about how we relate to it as we lead up to General Synod. Of course, there will be quite a bit of variation, but I think, as well, even for people who might be supportive of the goal, the perspective is still very much that of the dominant culture.


In the submission we gave (to the commission) we said this, and they listened very carefully. We said, ‘This is very much a Western discussion and doesn’t really take into enough that there are other ways of dealing with issues that are problematic.’


There are two issues of translation – one is the issue of language, the other, the cultural perspective.  It will be a (challenge) the way in which law and social sciences from a Western perspective have been kind of introduced in these discussions —without anybody really thinking about it. Everything is careful, measured… This is a different perspective. Post-colonial theorists call it “the aloof white gaze.” In Western societies, it works very well, but in other cultural contexts it’s dealt with very differently, maybe in a spiritual context, which views things in a holistic sense.


We’ll certainly try to work with it and we’ll try to interpret best as we can to our elders what it means and wait for their wisdom.


Archdeacon Lynne McNaughton, clergy, ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon


I’m from New Westminster, so this is a lively issue in my diocese and has been for years. I was very impressed with the work of the commission. I can heartily commend the report [and] say, “Please read it, please read all the footnotes, please look at the resolution,” as we prepare for General Synod 2016 to be able to have that kind of depth. I think the report was so well done. They did their work extremely well. The kind of calm voices they had going into that much depth has prepared us at CoGS. We know what our work is to prepare for 2016 and I’m actually looking forward to going back to my diocese, having heard people’s anxieties about 2016 and about this resolution. I think our work is well-prepared.


[The] concise, fresh, biblical theological rationale that goes into depth is a refreshing thing; 65 pages is doable for people to read. I’m frustrated with people who are for or against, but haven’t actually read it. They [commissioners] drilled into the task very clearly, they were very careful to do what General Synod 2013 told them to do. [They] didn’t get us back into the kind of debates we were having in 2002, in New Westminster,  about same-sex blessings —  where people were already polarized so that there wasn’t real, careful listening.


Jennifer Warren, lay, ecclesiastical province of Canada


I think what stood out for me in the report was the care that was given to listening to all of the voices, and the respect of people with very diverse opinions. Some submissions were short and concise, and others were lengthy and detailed. But, every voice was heard, everyone who put forward their voice was heard. They did a very good job of reflecting that, particularly in the margins along the side. I enjoyed seeing the comments directly from the submissions as opposed to just the opinion of the commissioners.


I feel like the spirit is moving people to be open to other ideas. I feel like there is great care being taken to respect what was asked of us by General synod 2013, that the instructions were quite clear and direct. And though there might be some people who disagree in principle, and in their personal beliefs, with the changes, there is still a commitment to honour what was asked of CoGS by General Synod, and then to leave it to the will of General Synod 2016.


The Rev. Norm Wesley, diocese of Moosonee, Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples  (ACIP) representative to CoGS 


The proceedings went lighter than expected. I was expecting them to be very complex, difficult to understand, and hard to grasp. It wasn’t so. The way it was presented was just genius, how the members of the commission came up and said their parts and highlighted [sections of the report] for us. Then we actually got to read the document, so I was able to grasp it a lot easier in terms of what the content was.


I was expecting to carry a big binder home, but it wasn’t, it was only 65 pages. And to be able to condense that down, we have to commend the commission for doing that, because it is a very difficult issue. A lot of prayer went into that, I’m sure.

The last couple of days have been really revealing for me, and it gives us plenty to think about in terms of where we go as a church.


What stood out to me was the motion, in terms of what needed to be done within the canon, and how little had to be changed within the canon, because we’re not really changing the definition of marriage, we’re just making it more inclusive. The other, of course, was the opting out on the part of the diocesan synod, the bishop, and also the congregations.


Don Wilson, lay, ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and Yukon 


I think there was a tremendous amount of work that went into it. It has satisfied all the parameters of the resolution that was demanded of CoGS by General Synod in 2013 to produce a motion [to amend Canon 21 to allow the marriage of same-gendered couples].  …It had a sound theological basis for that.


Anglican Journal News, September 25, 2015

Hiltz on same-sex marriage: ‘I do not want the church to divide over this’

Posted on: September 27th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By Anglican Journal staff

Archbishop Fred Hiltz with (left) Archdeacon Michael Thompson, general secretary, and Archdeacon Harry Huskins, General Synod prolocutor, during the special session of CoGS. Photo: André Forget

The Anglican Journal sat down for an interview with Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, after the Council of General Synod (CoGS) concluded its special session on September 22-23 to receive the report of the Commission on the Marriage Canon. Excerpts:

What are your initial thoughts about the report?

This commission really did honour the mandate that was given to it by CoGS. The context for that mandate was clearly the resolution, the direction given by General Synod 2013 for this CoGS [to draft a motion changing Canon 21, the church’s law on marriage, “to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples.”]

One thing I so appreciated about the report was [that the commissioners] really gave full attention to the pieces of the resolution of General Synod 2013, that were by way of amendment to the resolution as it was initially presented. The amendment was around whether this [changing the marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage] is congruent with the Solemn Declaration and [to have] a biblical and theological rationale and broad consultation.

The biggest piece of the report was around the  Biblical, theological rationale [for allowing same-sex marriage.] I think they’ve given us both a challenge and an invitation to go more deeply into our conversations about same-gendered relationships. I think that’s actually a gift to the church, no matter how we feel about the issue. They’ve taken us to a depth that is both needed and I think, welcomed in a number of quarters in the life of the church.

Are you referring to the three models for understanding same-sex marriage?

The three models arise out of [the commissioners’] reflection of a possible Biblical, theological rationale. I think it’s helpful that they say that to go the “undifferentiated view” [of same-sex marriage] is simply to look at it from the point of view of the law, drop “man and woman” and put whatever you want [in the rites and vows].  If we did that, we would just be in accord with the law of the land…But they’ve introduced the whole idea around marriage not just as a legal agreement… but rather as a covenant with God in the midst of it. And from that perspective they move into the model…assuming something new, which doesn’t detract from what already has been a solid understanding of marriage. Does this expand the possibilities of how we view marriage? That will be a challenge for some people, there’s no question about that. Even gays, lesbians and transgendered people who will be made to feel like the Gentiles. Although they speak to that in the footnote of the report.


You said the report takes people to a deeper level of conversation around same-sex relationships. What, in particular, are you referring to?

I think what they did with the creation passages, which are often quoted when we talk about marriage. There are stories of creation and coming out of that —ways of viewing marriage and the purposes of marriage. I think that was helpful.

I’ve always believed this — that marriage is a covenant —but the way in which they talked about marriage as covenant with God in the midst…reminds us of the sacredness of the vows that are made.

They raise the question that was also raised in the St. Michael’s Report [of the Primate’s Theological Commission] and that is, “Can we see, in same-gendered relationships, a similar working of God’s grace in the love between two people of the same gender, as we see in two people who are heterosexual?” That does push the church to really stop and think about that.

And, if one of the purposes of marriage is procreation – I think the report was incredibly honest in saying the reality is that in some marriages, for a variety of reasons, that never happens – either by choice, by reason of health or age – and people go into the marriage knowing that. The reality is that in those marriages it’s the companionship, the mutual support that one ought to have for the other… faithfulness until death —  that’s what’s fulfilled…


What should Anglicans focus on when reading this exhaustive report? 

The report is barely 24 hours out in the world and as I said to the Council, we’ve just seen it and we, ourselves, who have the greatest responsibility for this report have got to take some time to read it, digest it and allow it to inform our own thinking.

One of the challenges coming out of CoGS must be an invitation to the whole church for every delegate to General Synod to have been required to read the report and participate in conversations. If we have people coming to General Synod who have not read the report or have their opinion pre-formed, not having read the report, then be engaged by it, that’s not going to be helpful.


Does this report reflect the broad consultation that the General Synod 2013 resolution asked for? 

There is still a broad range of opinion out there of same-gendered marriage. What’s different now is that we actually have, in front of us, a biblical theological rationale, which in a sense people can say, “we actually didn’t have that.” We had a conversation from the point of view of human rights, justice, pastoral care. But we didn’t have deep biblical theological rationale and that’s what General Synod, among other things, asked for. I think the commission delivered.

Not everyone will agree, I know that. But I do think the models present an opportunity for some good and well-informed conversation. I hope people wouldn’t just dismiss it, but that they be engaged by it. Even within that commission there’s a  variety of views on same-gendered marriages. They’re not of one mind, but they took on the task that was given to them. I have no doubt that there were times during their meeting that they struggled through it. But they honoured the  mandate that was given to them and that, to my mind, is the sign of a real servants of the church.


Do you have some anxiety about how this motion will be dealt with at General Synod 2016? 

From the point of view of Council, as [its] chair, I’m not anxious. I think the officers wisely advised that there be a working group.

This CoGS recognizes the challenge that they have ahead of them and are quite prepared to be guided by the working group. They seem quite determined that we have as good an experience as we can at General Synod in 2016. This means we have to be really attentive to the process in a variety of ways. People have talked about this before – that we will have sufficient conversation about the resolution itself… that we’ll be engaged in the debate in a less heated kind of way, a more patient kind of way. I’m comfortable and confident that CoGS will put a good process in place for that.

What happens out there in church land and what happens in the Communion in response to this report, I have no control over that. In some ways I would be anxious about it…. I will go to the primates’ meeting in January and there will be some primates [who] will be all over me about this. I know that. But I try to, as I did today, remind people that in the polity of our church and in the decision-making of our church, here are the parameters within which we work.

In reality, as I will have to say publicly, if General Synod approves this draft resolution or a resolution to change the marriage canon, it cannot take effect until January 2020 and who knows what will happen in the meantime?


This motion, if approved, has the potential to divide the church. Is this something that keeps you up at night? 

Of course, that’s always on my mind, because part of my ministry as primate is to be a focus of unity for our church. I carry that all the time. I carry that in this Council,  I carry that in the House of Bishops and I carry it at General Synod.

Does it keep me awake at night? Yes, it sure does. I do not want to see the church divide over this. The St. Michael Report used the helpful language of “core doctrine” and other kinds of doctrine. Core doctrine meaning the kind that’s reflected in the creeds of the church. They [Primate’s Theological Commission members] said, in the St. Michael Report, that they didn’t believe the blessing of same-sex unions was a communion-dividing issue. I kind of think about that language still, at the back of my mind. I would hope that the church would not come apart over this.

I think there’s enough will and resolve within our church to have a good, focused, patient conversation about this. I really do feel that. I know it’s not universal, but, generally speaking, [there’s a] kind of a movement in that direction.

I worry, too, of course, about our place in the Communion and our place in ecumenical relationships. We’ve been advised by the Communion not to pursue it but to continue with local option. In other words, don’t take it a step nationally,  but live as much as you can within the parameters of what you have around local option. I’m mindful of that.

We’ve been told clearly by the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue that this will be, if we take this step, it will be detrimental to our continuing dialogue and I’m sorry to hear that, actually, Indigenous communities in our own church have clearly said, “You know, we may not be happy with the decisions you make but we consider ourselves in a continuing relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada.”

I kind of carry the weight of it, not just from the point of view of the family – the Anglican Church of Canada – and the stress and strain that can be part of this family over controversial issues, but also the wider extended family – the Communion and our brothers and sisters in other ecumenical circles.


Anglican Journal News, September 25, 2015

Phyllis Tickle: Essential Spiritual Writings

Posted on: September 21st, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews

Essential Spiritual Writings

Introduction, Jon M. Sweeney

Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY
2015. 162 pages. $28.50 CAD
ISBN #978-1-62698-137-9.



Review By Wayne A. Holst

My Thoughts:

I am pleased that a book reflecting the
sweep of colleague Phyllis Tickle’s lifelong
writing is now just published by Orbis.

This is very timely, given the RNS report
which appears at the end of this notice.

Quite apparently, I am one of those readers
who have connected mainly with her during the
last stages of her life, and do not yet appreciate
the larger scope of her work.

In November of 2010 I heard Phyllis speak
at Christ Church, Elbow Park in Calgary.
Her presentation focused on “emergence” –
the theme that dominated the final part
of her career.

As usual, I interviewed her, and made copious
notes of her dramatic presentations. It was
quite apparent that she was both “Anglican”
and “Southern American” and I found the
combination winsome.

This comes through in her writing as well,
and the book brings that out effectively.

For those interested in reading my summary
notice for Tickle’s “Emergence Christianity”
and “The Great Emergence” please click:

For those who want a thumb-nail statement,

here is her summary for how her two major
books on the theme describe what she means
when she writes about – Emergence:

“… Of the general characteristics that the
Great Emergence and Emergence Christianity
hold in common, these of deinstitutionalisation;
non-hierarchical organization; a comfortable
and informed interface with physical science;
dialogical and contextual habits of thought;
almost universal technological savvy; triple
citizenship with its triple loyalties and
obligations; a deeply embedded commitment
to social justice with an accompanying, though
largely unpremeditated, assumption of all
forms of human diversity as the norm; and
a vocation toward greenness – these are
undoubtedly among the most characterizing.”
(page 137.)

Probably unbeknownst to those who first
decided to include Tickle in the now 50 plus
series of the Orbis “Modern Spiritual Masters
Series” edited by colleague Robert Ellsberg –
Phyllis had contracted cancer. Here is an
official notice:

Religion News Service, May 22nd, 2015

“Author Phyllis Tickle Faces Death Just as
She Enjoyed Life – My Dying is my Next Career”

Even at this stage of her life, Phyllis remains as
vital and connected to what is going on as she is

Here is what her automated response to each
issue of Colleagues List informs me:

From: “Phyllis Tickle” <[email protected]>
To: [email protected]
Sent: Friday, 28 August, 2015
Subject: out of office
Re: Colleagues List, August 30th, 2015


“Because of declining health, I am not able to

interface with my mail as fully as I would like.
Please understand, though, that each message
is being read and appreciated. Gratefully,”

Phyllis Tickle

My response:


Many of your friends in Canada are keeping you

in our thoughts and prayers.

I’ve read you for years. I met you personally at
Christ Church, Calgary a few years ago and you
agreed to receive my Colleagues List mailings.

May God be with you at this time.

Wayne Holst, Calgary, Canada


Buy the book from

Orbis Books Website:


Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. XI, No. 07,  September 20th, 2015

Mission Theologian commissioned for ministry

Posted on: September 21st, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

Bishop Graham Kings with Bishop of Malakal Hilary Garang in South Sudan.
Photo Credit: Dean Michael Miakol

By ACNS staff

The Most Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, has assured Bishop Graham Kings of support and prayers for his ministry as Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Kings’s role to connect theologians in the Communion, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and stimulate and publish their work would not be an easy one, Archbishop Idowu-Fearon stated at a commissioning service at Canterbury Cathedral on 13 September conducted by Dean Robert Willis.

“Your primary task is to equip believers to relate Christianity to their cultures so as to transform the individual for the glory of the Lord,” Archbishop Idowu-Fearon told Bishop Graham.

Archbishop Idowu-Fearon likened the commissioning service to Paul’s challenge to the believers in Romans 15.30-33 to strive together with him and use the ministry of prayer to restrain evil. “That is what prayer is so often – a way of putting barrier around someone and protecting them in their ministry,” he said.

Noting that Paul requested for deliverance from unbelievers, he warned Bishop Kings: “There will be those who will hate what you are doing.” The Secretary General said that his fervent prayer for the new Mission Theologian echoed Paul’s request that the believers in Rome pray that his service might be “acceptable to the saints”.

He said his prayer was that the saints in Africa and Asia would accept the gifts that Bishop Kings brings and that the Mission Theologian would let himself be challenged by and learn from the gifts of those he would encounter in this ministry.

Encountering myths

In his sermon, Archbishop Idowu-Fearon lifted up several myths that he sees about Christianity in Africa.

One of these myths is that of church growth, he said. In a numerical sense, it may be the case that the churches in Africa are growing but there are no credible statistics to support most of these claims, he noted.

With regard to the reported vibrancy of the churches in Africa, the Archbishop said the question must be asked whether there is a depth of maturity, whether church members are “full of goodness, filled with knowledge and able to instruct one another” as Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (15.14). He commented that when there is a crisis, most African Christians would more often seek out a traditional native healer or self-styled prophets rather than the priest or clergy.

The Secretary General said that another common myth is that the Church in Africa is unified, while there is a divide between churches in the Global North and South. The Communion in Africa is not uniform, he asserted, but contains evangelical, charismatic, low-church, high-church and many other streams. The “unity” found in Africa is “servile unity”, where voices that are different are silenced and leadership is stifled, he continued, quoting Gratiano in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice who said: “I am Sir Oracle, and when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!”

Building a culture of respect

Archbishop Idowu-Fearon urged Bishop Kings to be prepared for what he would encounter in his new ministry. “You’ll meet those who are timid, scared but well-informed and waiting to be liberated Christian theologians.” Much prayer would be needed for the task of identifying and liberating these theologians, he remarked.

He also told the Mission Theologian that contextualisation would be a major challenge, to get African and Asian theologians who had been trained in the West to translate theology into their different contexts without altering the truth.

Archbishop Idowu-Fearon suggested that there were lessons in this regard to be learned from the healthy discourse between the theological schools of Alexandria and Antioch in the fourth and fifth centuries. The school in Alexandria was a theological centre open to challenges, with a tradition rooted in philosophy, while Antioch was characterised by literal interpretation and a strong emphasis on seeing Jesus as a man who had at some point or other been taken over by God.

The irony is that these realities are now reversed, he said. However, both perspectives were needed and thus his prayer was “for a new culture of respect from the various parts of our Communion”, as was the case earlier between the Alexandria and Antioch schools.


The post of Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion is the result of a partnership between the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church Mission Society and Durham University. The purpose of the position is to research, stimulate, connect and publish works of theology in the Anglican Communion, with particular focus on insights from Africa, Asia and Latin America, in their ecumenical contexts. Read more at


Anglican Communion News Service,  ACNS Recent top stories, September 21, 2015

Why the Archbishop of Canterbury is inviting young Christians to spend a year in God’s time

Posted on: September 20th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews


St Anselm Online

By Prior Anders Litzell, Prior of the Community of St Anselm 


When Justin Welby and his family were moving into the family apartment on the top floor of Lambeth Palace in 2013, someone asked the new Archbishop of Canterbury what he was going to do with the rest of the 800-year-old building. “We’ll fill it with young people,” he said.

Fast forward two years and Archbishop Justin is launching a radical new monastic-inspired community of young Christians at Lambeth Palace, called the Community of St Anselm. In a special service at Lambeth Palace Chapel today, 36 young men and women will commit to a year of praying, studying ethics and theology, and serving the poor.

When the initiative was announced last September it caught the imagination of many – including unlikely parts of the media. The Financial Times reported – on their front page, no less – that the Archbishop was inviting young bankers to spend a year of prayer at Lambeth Palace. Meanwhile the Huffington Post enjoyed the idea of young men and women being offered the opportunity to “kick it with the Archbishop of Canterbury”.

The reality is a little different, but – I believe – even more exciting. The Community is open to young Christians from around the world, from every part of the church, and with every kind of professional background or ambition. Whether they are already, or plan to be, working in banking, education, politics or the media, or they sense a call to serve the church, the programme offers the same opportunity: to experience a monastic lifestyle focused on Jesus Christ, and to do that while actively serving in the world.

Today in a special service at Lambeth Palace, the first members of the Community of St Anselm will promise to spend the next year living by a Rule of Life that the ancient monastics would have recognised.

They will be committing to a year of prayer, study, rigorous self-examination and committed fellowship with one another. But they will also be committing to live out this loving life of Christ in local communities, serving those on the margins and in most need.

Some will be residential members, based at Lambeth Palace; others will continue their day jobs in advertising, education, media, banking, the civil service and elsewhere – part of their challenge will be exploring how to close the gap that often exists between professional and spiritual life.

But despite the diversity of their national, cultural, professional and denominational backgrounds, the unifying question for all of them over the coming year will be: how do I follow Jesus throughout my life, and stay deeply committed to him wherever life takes me?

Over the last year in particular the Community of St Anselm has taken shape at extraordinary speed – a lot of coffee has been drunk, a lot of work has been done, and most importantly a lot of prayers have been said. From a flash of God-given inspiration a few years ago, to today’s service of commissioning at Lambeth Palace Chapel – it’s been quite a journey. But the real adventure starts today, and it’s one that I am thrilled to be travelling with these young people, with Archbishop Justin, and most importantly with Jesus Christ.


The Community of St Anselm, St. Anselm Online, September 18, 2015

Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life

Posted on: September 16th, 2015 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Books, Reviews


By Harold S. Kushner
Knopf Canada, Sept. 1st, 2015
$19.40 CAD. 171 pages. Hardcopy.
ISBN #978-0-385-35409-7



Review By Wayne A. Holst

My Thoughts:

I always find it intriguing and worthwhile
to attend to the mature spoken or written
words of persons – male and female – of
various spiritual traditions. This is also true
for those claiming no religious tradition.
I may not always agree with them, but
all can offer insights that guide my life.

Here, without specific comment, are
‘nine essential things’  that Kushner has
learned about life:

1. In the twenty-first century, the
religious agenda will be set not by
the tradition’s answers but by
congregants’ questions.

2. God is not a man who lives in the sky.

3. God does not send the problem; God
sends us the strength to deal with
the problem.

4. Forgiveness is a favor you do yourself.

5. Some things are just wrong: knowing
that makes us human.

6. Religion is what you do, not what
you believe.

7. Leave room for doubt and anger in
your religious outlook.

8. To feel better about yourself, find
someone to help.

9. Give God the benefit of the doubt.


Reading a book like this reminds me
that human problems and opportunities
are common to everyone.  Wisdom gained
from both positive and negative experience
is applicable to all of us.

Thanks, Rabbi Kushner, for sharing
so generously of yourself.


Buy the book from


Dr. Wayne Holst teaches religion and culture at the University of Calgary and  helps  to co-ordinates Adult Spiritual Development  at St. David’s United Church in that city. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Colleagues List, Vol. XI, No. 06,  September 13th, 2015