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Monday, February 21, 2005

CONTROVERSY, CAUTIOUS ACCEPTANCE AND EVEN UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LEGALITY OF PRINCE CHARLES’ UPCOMING WEDDING


By Jeremy Reynalds
Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service


LONDON (ANS) -- While the decision by Britain’s Prince Charles to marry his long time lover Camilla Parker Bowles has created controversy in the Anglican Church, one evangelical ministry head in India thinks the upcoming wedding is an event whose time has come. (Pictured: Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles - from www.itv.com).

In an e-mail, Rev. Isaac Newton Johnson, (a self-described Indian evangelical charismatic Anglican) and founder and president of the Voice of Christians Evangelical Church in Ludhiana, India said those at his ministry are “overwhelmed with joy” at the royal decision.

Johnson said, “We ... strongly ... support the long pending decision of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne to marry his most faithful and trusted lover Camilla Parker Bowles (on April 8) ... ending years of speculation when their three decade-old romance would be solemnized in nuptials.”

Johnson said he hopes that those members of the Church of England’s General Synod (the organization’s highest decision making body) who are uneasy about the upcoming marriage, will “honor and respect” Charles’ decision.

However, Britain’s Evangelical Alliance (EA) was less enthusiastic, in a news release giving the Charles and Parker Bowles wedding “a cautious welcome ... considering it the lesser of two evils.”

In the news release the EA said, “The Evangelical Alliance welcomes the formalizing of Prince Charles’ and Mrs. Parker Bowles’ relationship. As with the Church of England, the Evangelical Alliance contains both those opposed to the remarriage of divorcees in all circumstances, and those who believe that such remarriage may sometimes be acceptable.”

The statement from the EA added, “Even so, we recognize that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles’ impending marriage represents a serious move to put their relationship on a more moral footing. Given their intention and desire to marry, we also recognize that the choice of a civil ceremony followed by a church blessing is probably the best way to proceed.”

The EA’s general director, Joel Edwards, said in a news release that the upcoming marriage should be seen as a positive step.

“As with many modern-day liturgies marking the remarriage of divorcees,” Edwards said, “we trust that the blessing service at St. George’s Chapel will offer clear opportunities for expressing remorse for past wrongs and repentance for hurts caused in both their previous marriages.”

Edwards said that the EA recognizes that the formalizing of Charles and Parker Bowles’ relationship does not “historically, constitutionally and legally” prevent Charles from becoming the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

“However, in theological and spiritual terms,” Edwards said, “we acknowledge that the couple’s previous divorces, their documented adultery and the nature of their extra-marital relationship up to this point, do present difficulties for many of our Anglican members and others with respect to Charles’ suitability to govern the Church of England.”

While Parker Bowles was previously married to a Roman Catholic, Edwards said in the news release, “we understand that this association with Catholicism effectively ended with her divorce, and that she will be entering this marriage as an Anglican. Consequently, we see no major constitutional problems arising on this front.”

However, Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper (www.mailonsunday.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=338673&in_page_id=1770)  reported that a former British attorney general said the marriage may be illegal and that the Queen has not been given enough advice to proceed.

Sir Nicholas Lyell suggested that emergency legislation could be needed to clarify the legal position before the wedding. Otherwise, the Mail on Sunday reported Lyell told the BBC Radio 4 PM program, the royal couple might have to get married in Scotland.

However, Britain’s Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, earlier insisted that the wedding will be legal, despite claims from experts that the law does not allow civil marriages for members of the Royal Family in England.

Lyell said he wonders whether the entire situation has been adequately thought through. He told the Mail on Sunday, “(I feel) some disquiet, because the last thing one wants is for the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Parker-Bowles, or the Queen herself, embarrassed by this question.”

Lyell told the Mail on Sunday it was his understanding that Britain’s 1949 Marriage Act, which updated the law on civil marriages in England, had excluded the Royal Family, leaving them subject to historic laws requiring marriage in church.

“On what I know at the moment - and I don't claim to be a walking expert on this topic, but I've looked it up in recent days - I would first of all have done a very careful trawl of the very best legal opinion,” Lyell told the Mail on Sunday. “I think I would clarify the position by legislation. I wouldn’t simply say that the 1949 Act is crystal clear, because far too many people don’t agree with that.”


Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter, http://www.joyjunction.org or http://www.christianity.com/joyjunction. He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico and is a candidate for the Ph.D. in intercultural education at Biola University in Los Angeles. He is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at jgreynalds@aol.com. Tel: (505) 877-6967 or (505) 400-7145. Note: A black and white JPEG picture of Jeremy Reynalds is available on request from Dan Wooding at assistcomm@cs.com.


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Rev Isaac Newton Johnson is an Indian Evangelist since 1976 working with non-Christian brothers in North India. He is international media missionary and Christian speaker. He has been invited by SungKwang Presbyterian Church, Guri, Seoul, South Korea in June-July, 2004 as Guest Speaker from India. He preached in Indian, Pakistani, Nepali and Korean brothers there. Five brothers and one sister of Indian origin accepted Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and baptized during his ministry in South Korea. He has founded “Voice of Christians Evangelical Church” at Ludhiana, India in 1999 (A House Church) working among poorest of poor people, imparting education to them and sharing the good news of Lord Jesus Christ. (Pictured: Rev Isaac Newton Johnson being honored in SungKwang Presbyterian Church, Guri, Seoul, South Korea in June 2004). He needs committed prayer partners and Church ministry supporters around the world to proclaim the Gospel in India and to the end of the earth.

Rev Isaac preaches in English, Hindi, Panjabi and Urdu languages simultaneously without interpreter.


He can be contacted at: isaacnewtonjohnson@yahoo.co.in
Website: www.voiceofchristiansministries.org 


 
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