Premier Christian News Apologises for Offending Article

“On 14th August 2021 Premier Christian News (PCN) published an article entitled:

Conspiracy theory’ vicar’s new charity receives thousands from his former church

After discussion with Reverend Dr Sizer PCN recognises that elements of the content and tone of the article did not meet the standards to which we hold ourselves to and we accept that parts of the article were inappropriate and sensational.

PCN acknowledges that Dr Sizer has publicly repudiated antisemitism and holocaust denial and conspiracy theories concerning Israel on numerous occasions. We also recognise that there were elements of the article which are contested by Dr Sizer and we should have provided him an opportunity to respond.

PCN apologises unreservedly to Dr Sizer and the trustees of Peacemaker Trust and regrets any distress caused.

PCN extends the same apology to the Rev Dr Simon Vibert, vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, and their Parochial Church Council, who were also referenced in the article.”

Stephen Sizer statement

For the record, over the years, on my blog I have:

  • repudiated holocaust deniers hereherehere and here.
  • repudiated anti-Semitism herehere and here.
  • repudiated racism and the British National Party (BNP) here.
  • distinguished anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism here. 
  • advocated for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by peaceful means based on the implementation of international law herehere and here .

To clarify my position in my book Zion’s Christian Soldiers, I wrote the following:

It is true that at various times in the past, churches and church leaders have tolerated or incited anti-Semitism and even attacks on Jewish people. Racism is a sin and without excuse. Anti-Semitism must be repudiated unequivocally. However, we must not confuse apples and oranges. Anti-Zionism is not the same thing as anti-Semitism despite attempts to broaden the definition. Criticising a political system as racist is not necessarily racist. Judaism is a religious system. Israel is a sovereign nation. Zionism is a political system. These three are not synonymous. I respect Judaism, repudiate anti-Semitism, encourage interfaith dialogue and defend Israel’s right to exist within borders recognised by the international community and agreed with her neighbours. But like many Jews, I disagree with a political system which gives preference to expatriate Jews born elsewhere in the world, while denying the same rights to the Arab Palestinians born in the country itself.”

I take seriously the Apostle Paul’s injunction that Christians should not take fellow believers before the secular courts in 1 Corinthians 6. For that reason I am content with the retraction and apology from Premier. 

However, my forbearance does not extend to secular or other religious media who persist in making these allegations, nor those who wilfully and knowingly continue to defame with the intent to cause reputational damage and further their racist political agendas.

I concur wholeheartedly with John Stott. In a sermon entitled The Place of Israel, which he graciously allowed me to include in my book, Zion’s Christian Soldiers, he said, 

“Away then with anti-Semitism! It has been an appalling scandal in the history of Europe, and even the Christian church has been implicated. Christians should be ‘pro-Semitic’, in the sense that we recognize how the people of Israel have been highly favoured by God. We Gentiles are their debtors, Paul wrote (Romans 15:27). We owe them a huge spiritual debt, especially in their bequest to the world of both the Scriptures and the Christ.”

An Update from Wendy Hough

I would like to express huge thanks once again to all those who have been praying for me through this time of such disorientation. It means so much to feel that I am accompanied from afar on this wilderness journey.

It has been a period of disenfranchisement. I came over to the Netherlands eventually as it was impossible after almost half a year to continue paying to rent a room. Here I can stay with old friends to whom I am very grateful for hospitality and friendship. It is undoubtedly restorative, and I can get my CoVid vaccinations whilst here. When I arrived, my daughter, Lily, thought I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder!

It has certainly been the biggest challenge of my life to process this all and psychologically/emotionally and spiritually find a way through and beyond this. I do find openings and encouragement, then find myself overwhelmed and almost paralysed by the practical consequences of this all. It is still an emotional roller coaster. I feel very small indeed at accepting financial help but it has been a lifeline and I am humbled and deeply grateful for such kindness and generosity.

I have had to engage new lawyers to present the appeal to the ministry. Every time I feel that we have taken a step forward it seems another door is locked and we have to go searching for another route.

As you may have heard me say before, my concern for and investment in supporting the dispossessed and displaced has always featured highly in my personal life and ministry and now after this experience I shall continue to work in this arena for justice even more so.

With deep thanks and warmest wishes,

Wendy

You may contribute toward Wendy’s appeal costs here

Bishop Azad Marshall elected as Moderator of the Church of Pakistan

Bishop Azad Marshall of the Diocese of Raiwind has been unanimously elected Moderator of the Church of Pakistan (The Anglican Church of Pakistan became the United Church when it merged with three other denominations in 1970). This position has a three year term. He succeeds Bishop Humphrey Peters. Bishop Azad is also a valued member of the Peacemaker International Board of Reference.

In December 2016, Bishop Azad was honoured by the government of Pakistan for his work on human rights. He was one of 40 recipients of awards last weekend to mark International Human Rights Day. Bishop Azad received the Presidential Award for Human Rights from the President of Pakistan, Muhammad Mamnoon Hussain, during an award ceremony at the President’s House.

Bishop Azad is the President of National Council of Churches in Pakistan. “He has no doubt a long and continuous record of contributing to educational development and human rights in Pakistan,” a statement from the Diocese of Raiwind said. “We congratulate him and pray for his continuous ministry in Pakistan and beyond.”

The diocese thanked the Pakistan government “for recognising and nominating distinguished citizens committed to upholding the poor and the marginalized [and] for upholding their human rights.”

President Muhammad Mamnoon Hussain presents the human rights award to Bishop Azad Marshall

Immediate reversal of the unjust deportation of Wendy Hough

Dear Prime Minister and Ministers of the Turkish Cypriot Cabinet,

We, the undersigned, are appealing to you to immediately reverse the deportation of the British citizen Reverend Wendy Hough from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

On the 11th of December, two immigration officers arrived at Wendy’s home. She was taken from everything she owns, thrown in a rancid cell during a global pandemic and separated from her family. For five months she has been stranded at the border in the Republic of Cyprus (ROC). She bought her only home, investing all that she has into it. She has no other home to go to, has only survived financially with support from a global group of friends and is experiencing emotional distress.

TRNC Immigration claims she overstayed a three-day visa, about which she knew nothing, two weeks prior to the start of lockdown in February 2020 whilst at the time she was applying for residency. 

Wendy is a respected member of the community in the TRNC. She was appointed, in 2014, to be the priest of the English Church in Kyrenia, and stepped back from her position in 2018, to better serve the Turkish Cypriot Community. 

We ask that she is able to return home without further delay.

Please sign the petition here

Please leave a comment and also add your position or title and country as this will help give international weight to the petition.

Contribute toward Wendy’s appeal costs here

Mariam Tadros Appointed Peacemaker Trustee

A graduate in Theology and Religious Studies, Mariam also has a postgraduate degree in Conflict Regulation in Divided Societies. Mariam has previously worked with Tearfund in their operational response in the Kurdish region of Iraq as well as working on the West and Central Africa desk. Mariam is a Technical Specialist for Peacebuilding, supporting peacebuilding projects in the Middle East, Central Asia, Latin America and West Africa – providing strategic and technical support to teams globally as well as conflict transformation training.

Tom Getman Joins Peacemaker International Board of Reference

Thomas Getman is president of a private consulting group that specializes in international, United Nations and Non Governmental Organization affairs and university seminars and workshops on UN Reform and humanitarian interagency partnership building.  He was World Vision’s executive director for international relations with tenure until March 1, 2009.  In this role, he managed World Vision’s liaison activities with the UN and the World Council of Churches and was responsible for diplomatic relations with UN government member missions in Geneva and with countries on sensitive tax, staff and protocol negotiations.

He served until 2009 on the board of principals for the UN Deputy Secretary General for Emergency Relief in the UN Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and as chair of a premier NGO consortium the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA).

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