Nigerian priest murdered and his family kidnapped
AN ANGLICAN priest in Nigeria, the Revd Anthony Idris Jata’u, has been murdered and his family kidnapped, local media have reported. Although there has been no official confirmation, it has been reported that Mr Jata’u, from the diocese of Sokoto, was shot and killed while driving to a new posting. His wife, three children, and two sisters-in-law have been kidnapped by the killers, who have separated their victims and are demanding a ransom, equivalent to £22,000. Mr Jata’u is said to have survived an earlier kidnapping in 2006 in another diocese. The Archbishop of Canterbury told the Anglican Communion News Service that he was “deeply distressed and saddened” by the news.
ENSThe new Bishop of Maine, the Rt Revd Thomas Brown, who is the third openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States
Bishop of Maine is first married gay priest to head diocese
THE man elected to be the next Bishop of Maine is the first gay priest in the Episcopal Church in the United States to be chosen to head a diocese while married. The Revd Thomas Brown, currently a parish priest in Massachusetts, was elected last week. He is married to the Revd Thomas Mousin, who is the rector of an Episcopalian parish in Boston. The first openly gay Episcopalian bishop, Gene Robinson, married his partner in 2010: he had been consecrated seven years before.
Three-month service to stop deportations halted
DUTCH pastors have finally stopped holding a rolling 24-hour church service after the government abandoned efforts to deport an Armenian family who were sheltering inside the building. Dozens of ministers from across the Netherlands had volunteered to take on shifts at the continuous service inside the Bethel Church, in The Hague, since October (News, 21 December). An obscure law prevented officials’ entering to arrest and deport the family while a religious service was being held. The authorities have now agreed to suspend the deportation.
US diocese buys shares in gunmaker Smith & Wesson
THE diocese of Western Massachusetts has bought shares in the parent company of Smith & Wesson, one of the most famous gun manufacturers in the United States (News, 4 January). The diocese said that it would use its new position as a shareholder to demand that the company’s directors engage with it over gun control, the Anglican Communion News Service reported. The move copies the tactics of a Roman Catholic religious community, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, who successfully moved a shareholder motion on gun control at the firm’s AGM last year.
South Indian Moderator recovering after stroke
THE Moderator of the Church of South India and Bishop of Madhya Kerala, the Most Revd Thomas Oommen, was forced to miss a regional Primates’ meeting in Jordan last week owing to a stroke, the Anglican Communion News Service has reported. The Church’s general secretary said that, after treatment at a Christian hospital in India, Bishop Oommen was now back at home, recuperating. Bishop Oommen, who is 65, was elected Moderator in 2017.
Israeli Eurovision band refuse to play on the sabbath
A POPULAR Israeli band have dropped out of the running to represent Israel at this year’s Eurovision contest because they would have had to rehearse on the sabbath, the Religion News Service reported. The Shalva Band, which is made up of disabled Israelis who work with a disability charity, had made it to among the final four contenders to become the country’s entry in Eurovision 2019 — which is due to be held in Israel for the first time this year. But, because some of the band’s members are Orthodox Jews, they decided to withdraw, after the Eurovision organisers said that all contestants would have to perform on a Saturday.