Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Bishop of Rochester will step down this year to become a defender of persecuted Christians

UPDATE: Ruth Gledhill at the London Times has another article up for the Sunday edition with this headline: Radical bishop quits early for new mission.

Michael Nazir-Ali radical? I wonder who wrote that headline? It's hard for me to believe Ruth did. How is he radical?

Maybe it has something to do with this:

Were evangelical churches in the Church of England to seek an “alternative” bishop to lead them or provide oversight, Nazir-Ali would be an obvious choice. However, one insider close to the bishop said any such speculation was “hypothetical”.
Ruth still doesn't mention the fact that Bishop Michael did not attend Lambeth. One could make the argument that his act of conscience was radical, especially in merry olde England when one is a member of the House of Lords. All we can say is: watch this space. And God bless Michael Nazir-Ali.

From the Telegraph:

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali is only 59 and could have stayed for another decade in his post, one of the most senior in the Church, but has chosen instead to devote the rest of his career to working in communities where Christians are in a minority.

While this is likely to see him involved in the Middle East and Pakistan, the bishop revealed that he also plans to work with Muslim converts to Christianity in Britain.

He said he has been inspired by the story of Hannah Shah, an Imam's daughter who faced being killed by her family for refusing an arranged marriage before becoming a Christian.

"Bishop Michael is hoping to work with a number of church leaders from areas where the church is under pressure, particularly in minority situations, who have asked him to assist them with education and training for their particular situation," said a spokesman.

In a letter to clergy in his diocese, the bishop said: "I have decided that the time is now right for me to step down as Bishop of Rochester. I have valued my modest part in the life of the Church locally, nationally and globally.

"We take this step of faith 'not knowing where we are going.'"

Dr Nazir-Ali, who is the Church's first and only Asian bishop, received death threats himself after warning last year that parts of the country have been turned into "no-go" areas for non-Muslims.

He has been unafraid to speak out since being appointed as Bishop of Rochester in 1994 and has risen to become a leading champion of traditional Christianity in Britain.

Many saw him as a likely contender to succeed George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury in 2002, but he has instead become a focus for the conservative evangelical wing of the Church that has opposed the incumbent, Dr Rowan Williams.

His interventions over the row over homosexual clergy in the Anglican Church have been seen as a direct challenge to the archbishop.

Nevertheless, Dr Williams paid tribute to Dr Nazir-Ali's contribution to the Church of England.

"Bishop Michael's decision to undertake this new and very challenging ministry will leave a real gap in the ranks of English bishops," he said.

"His enormous theological skill, his specialist involvement in the complex debates around bioethics, his wide international experience and his clarity of mind and expression have made him a really valuable colleague, and he has served the Church and the wider society with dedication and distinction.

"In his new work with churches in minority situations, he will need all our prayer and support.

"It is a courageous initiative and a timely one."

Read it all here. Ruth Gledhill has her story at the Times here, including information on the farewell service at Rochester Cathedral on September 12, 2009 at 3.15 p.m. His successor will be appointed. That will prove interesting as well.

What the articles fail to mention is that by conscience the Bishop of Rochester did not attend the Lambeth Conference last summer in Canterbury. Let's watch this space, shall we?


Anonymous said...

My first thought when I saw the headline--He's coming to the USA!!
Then I realized there are Christians far more persecuted than we are.
Here our lives aren't taken, just our church property.

Marie Blocher

Rod said...

I hope they meant 'radical' as addressing the root of a problem; but I fear they didn't.

Anonymous said...

Four words: Anglican Province of the UK.