Edited by John Martin
950 Ordinations in England: Petertide is the traditional season for ordinations in the Church of England, and this year about 950 men and women will receive the laying on of hands to minister in churches across the country. Among the persons to be ordained are a former lorry driver, an award-winning performance poet, a former member of the British Army, teachers, and a former midwife.
Many Church of England clergy are older than 60 and expect to retire in the next decade. But dioceses report an upward trend in people coming forward for ordination, and a good proportion are young people who can make ministry a lifetime career.
Canon White Suspended: The Rev. Canon Andrew White, known as “the Vicar of Baghdad,” has been suspended from his role as president of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. Officials of the charity remain tight-lipped about the reasons, but there have been accusations that White used the foundation’s funds to free sex slaves and hostages kidnapped by Muslim militants linked to ISIS in Iraq. U.K. law prohibits using charity funds to pay ransoms.
White, 58, was recently forced to leave Iraq after continuous threats on his life. He is now based in Amman, Jordan, and maintains a family home in Hampshire in the south of England. There were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq before the war in 2003, but sources believe all but 250,000 have fled the advance of ISIS in the north of the country.
A Facebook post led to attention about White’s efforts to free women and girls used as sex slaves. He will continue to be paid during the suspension.
Adieu to St. Anselm’s First Class: The first intake of the Community of St. Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s monastic-style community in which young people spend “a year in God’s time” has now finished its first 12 months at Lambeth Palace.
Archbishop Justin Welby prayed for first members at an “end of term” service at Lambeth Palace last week. “May you go from here to feed the world,” he added.
He presented each of the members with a Bible and prayed for them. Several members gave testimonies about how their year in the community had transformed and deepened their relationship with God and with others.
The members, who come from several countries and church denominations, have divided their time between prayer and worship, study, and working alongside vulnerable people with local charities.
“God is in the business making sufficiency out of inadequacy,” Archbishop Welby said. “We are the disciples who are to trust not only that we will be fed, and that we will be able to feed those we meet. But we are also the bread and the fish. We are also that which is surrendered into the hands of Jesus and is broken, and turns out to be adequate — in fact more than enough — for all the needs that are placed before us.”
New Zealand Friary Closing: Time has been called on New Zealand’s last Franciscan friary. The Friary of the Divine Compassion, based in Hillcrest, Hamilton, lost a long-standing member, Brother Brian, who died at age 90. Brother Damian Kenneth will shortly move into retirement accommodation. The Rev. Phil Dyer, a Third Order Franciscan who has lived at the friary for some years, will also move on.
Brother Christopher John, SSF, Minister Provincial of the Province of Divine Compassion (the Society of St. Francis in New Zealand, Australia, and Korea), says the brothers were reluctant to leave.
“Unfortunately, we lack the brothers to sustain a community life and engagement in ministry,” he said in Anglican Taonga. “Nor are there brothers available elsewhere in SSF. We need to acknowledge that for now we lack sufficient suitable candidates in this land, and elsewhere, to be able to plan for a future where we can staff a friary such as we have had here.”
The Rt. Rev. Eric Gowing, Bishop of Auckland from 1960 to 1978, invited Anglican Franciscans to New Zealand in the late 1960s. They have been based at several locations, and 15 years ago Archbishop David Moxon invited the brothers to Hamilton.
Brother John says the closure of the friary does not necessarily mark the end of an Anglican Franciscan presence in New Zealand, but only the end of this friary and a community of brothers.
“The Third Order of the Society of St Francis are very much the Franciscans on the ground, throughout much of New Zealand and beyond,” he said.
First Order brothers will continue to visit New Zealand from other parts of the Asia-Pacific region.