Book Aid: Remembering Bishop John Ellison

Yesterday I collected about 15 boxes of Christian literature for Book Aid from the Oasis Christian Centre in Romsey which acts as a hub for donations from customers. We then take on to Book Aid’s regional hub in Southsea.

Last week I also received a collection of theological books donated from the estate of the Right Revd John Ellison, former Anglican Bishop of Paraguay 1988-2007 who died in 2019. John had been a good friend, an occasional preacher at Christ Church, Virginia Water, and more recently, a member of the Peacemakers International Board of Reference. We are grateful to John’s family for some of his theological books donated to Book Aid. Andrew Symes wrote a moving testimony to John’s life and ministry for Anglican Mainstream. In these two short videos I interviewed Bishop John about the state of the Episcopal Church in North America and the Church of England.

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Archbishop Mouneer Anis on the Centre for Christian Muslim Understanding and Partnership

An interview with Archbishop Mouneer Anis, First Archbishop of the Anglican Province of Alexandria, about the launch of the Centre for Christian Muslim Understanding and Partnership at All Saints Cathedral in Cairo this week. The vision is to promote peace and harmony between faith communities through more understanding of faiths, cultures and through working together for the common good.

The Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt played an important role in the drafting of the interfaith agreement between the Anglican Communion and Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, signed in 2002 at Lambeth Palace in London. Since then, the Diocese and Al-Azhar have worked together on many community projects through Egypt, and have arranged and participated in an annual dialogue meeting.

The Centre for Christian-Muslim Understanding and Partnership was established in order to bring these projects together in one organisation, in order to further develop and resource this vital work in the future. The idea for such a centre was developed and supported by the Anglican Archbishop of Alexandria, the Most Rev. Dr. Samy Fawzy Shehata, and His Eminence, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al-Tayyeb. Archbishop Samy then asked Archbishop Emeritus Mouneer Anis to develop the centre and serve as its first director.

See also Egypt’s Anglicans Offer Challenge to Intolerance

A Response to ‘Cry for Hope’: A Call to the Churches and the WCC Assembly 2022

Statement from the Sabeel-Kairos Theology Group Consultation held at the Gladstone Library, Hawarden, Flintshire, 15-17 March 2022. Endorsed by Sabeel-Kairos UK.

We met during the days immediately following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces on the orders of President Vladimir Putin, recognized by the United Nations as a flagrant breach of international law, and causing millions of Ukrainian families to flee for their lives, cross borders, and add to the ever-growing number of refugees.

We remembered that in the wake of another war in 1948 three-quarters of a million Arab Palestinians (60% of the Arab population) were driven from their homes and became refugees as the State of Israel was born. Although every year their right to return is renewed by the UN, it is ignored with impunity by the Israeli state. Since 1967 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have endured an ongoing violent military occupation, and those living inside Israel are designated as second-class citizens. So, why after all these years are we still here, calling for an end to this seemingly unending denial of human rights?

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Convivencia Alliance Launch

New Middle East peace initiative seeks to harness spirit of Spanish Golden Age.

A new initiative to help bring a just peace in the Middle East was launched in London yesterday, invoking the periods of mutual co-existence enjoyed by the three Abrahamic faiths in medieval Spain and the Ottoman Empire.
Convivencia is a cross-faith, international initiative for a just peace in the Middle East that seeks to substitute the current militarised ‘solutions’ based on racist oppression, brute force, denial of rights and colonial dispossession with an approach predicated on shared values and commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The conveners were Professor Haim Bresheeth and David Cannon of Jewish Network for Palestine (JNP), Massoud Shadjareh of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and myself.
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Book Aid Serving the International Church

This week I made another delivery of Christian books collected from in and around Southampton to the Book Aid depot in Southsea. Many of these will be going on a container to churches and bookshops in Ghana next week. This was the 12th delivery of books from Southampton to Southsea made in the last year. Given that during much of the last year we were under covid travel restrictions, deliveries have averaged two or three a month since the lockdown eased.

Book Aid supports Christian bookshops, mainly in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Smaller shipments of more scholarly books are occasionally made to equip Bible College libraries where they are used to train a new generation of ministers. Find out more about how you can support Book Aid Charitable Trust

When Peacemaking is Controversial

Earlier this year the Charity Commission notified our trustees of ‘regulatory concerns’, presumably arising from a complaint, questioning whether some articles on the Peacemaker Trust website, were ‘in line with the advancement of the Christian religion or promotion of religious harmony’

The trustees responded by pointing out that the Church of England, and many other Christian denominations, define ‘the advancement of the Christian religion’ in terms of the ‘Five Marks of Mission’These include the aim of seeking “to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.” 

The trustees emphasized that “We understand our charitable purposes in these terms and seek to be catalysts for peacemaking, especially where minorities are persecuted, where justice is denied, human rights are suppressed or reconciliation is needed.”

They referred to a quote by John Stott found on our website

“The incentive to peacemaking is love, but it degenerates into appeasement whenever justice is ignored. To forgive and to ask for forgiveness are both costly exercises. All authentic Christian peacemaking exhibits the love and justice – and so the pain – of the cross.” 

They concluded that “Dr Sizer’s stance in challenging racism, segregation and apartheid, based on non-violence and international law, is intended to advance an orthodox presentation of the Christian religion and promote religious harmony, by supporting justice, peace and reconciliation. This, in the opinion of the trustees, clearly falls within our charitable purposes.”

The trustees are grateful that the Charity Commission responded:

Thank you for the comprehensive response you have provided to our letter; the Commission are satisfied with the assurances provided by The Trustees and no further engagement is needed.”