Posted by: Titus Presler | December 7, 2009

Jane Butterfield appointed Canon of St. John’s Cathedral, Peshawar

In recognition of ministry supporting the Christian community in a part of the world where life is increasingly dangerous and Christian commitment increasingly persecuted, the Rev. Jane Butterfield was appointed Canon Honorary of the Cathedral Church of St. John in the Diocese of Peshawar, Pakistan, with effect from 4 July 2008.

“This is being done in recognition of your selfless and dedicated commitment to Missio Dei and your love and concern for the worldwide church of God,” the Rt. Rev. Mano Rumalshah, Bishop of Peshawar, wrote to Jane on 30 June 2008.  “This is a small token of appreciation for your motivating and inspiring role in launching the Friends of Peshawar Diocese in the USA.  We hope and pray that your interest in this particular role would continue to grow as a source of encouragement to the Diocese of Peshawar.”

As Canon Jane was not able to travel to Peshawar following the appointment, the ceremony installing her as canon took place on 26 April 2009 at Grace Episcopal Church in White Plains, NY, where she is Priest-in-Charge, with Bp. Rumalshah presiding and preaching for the occasion.

“Jane, you are a priest of twenty years standing in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion,” Bp. Rumalshah addressed her during the induction.  “You have offered faithful ministry in parishes, including St. Peter’s in Cambridge, St. Augustine and St. Martin in Roxbury, and Grace Church in White Plains, among others.  You have also offered signal service to the world mission of the church in the Diocese of Manicaland, Zimbabwe, and as Mission Personnel Officer of the Episcopal Church.  In this latter capacity you visited the Diocese of Peshawar; you highlighted the gifts and challenges of Pakistani Christians in a video circulated to the wider church; and you sent us a missionary, Dr. David Johnson, and other visitors who both encouraged us and learned from us in ministry.  You caused the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society to support the Diocese of Peshawar through my ministry, and you gave me the privilege of participating in the formation of numerous missionaries sent out by the Episcopal Church.  In 2008 you organized the Friends of the Diocese of Peshawar and convened its inaugural gathering at the Desmond Tutu Center in New York City.  In all these ways you have supported and encouraged the life and ministry of the small and disadvantaged minority Christian community of Pakistan.”

The inaugural conference of the Friends of Peshawar Diocese took place in April 2008 at the Desmond Tutu Center at General Seminary in New York, drawing about 40 people from interested and committed parishes in such diverse areas as New England, New York, Texas and California.  In addition to hearing from Bp. Rumalshah, participants heard from the Rev. Humphrey Peters, secretary to both the Diocese of Peshawar and the Church of Pakistan.  “God Undivided,” the video of Mano and Benita Rumalshah and the work of the Diocese of Peshawar is available from Episcopal Book and Resource Center in the Windows on Mission video series on Episcopal missionaries that Jane produced from 2003 to 2005, with filming by Philip Carr.  Jane and I visited Peshawar with Philip in March 2004.

Canon Jane served in Zimbabwe as an Appointed Missionary of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church, 1983-86, where she catalyzed the founding of the Mothers Union Development Center at Bonda in the Diocese of Manicaland.  As Mission Personnel Officer of the Episcopal Church, 1999-2005, she oversaw a significant increase in the number and diversity of Episcopal missionaries serving around the world, from about 70 to about 100.  She guided the establishment of the Young Adult Service Corps that was authorized by the 2000 General Convention and instituted serial triennial retreats for missionaries serving in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  Canon Jane serves on the Congregational Life for Mission Commission of the Diocese of New York and is Co-Convener of the Episcopal Partnership for Global Mission.  She is editor of The Scripture of Their Lives: Stories of Mission Companions Today (Harrisburg: Morehouse, 2006), a collection of reflections by missionaries of the Episcopal Church.  A 1989 graduate of the Episcopal Divinity School, she was curate in St. Paul’s Church, Dedham; co-rector of St. Peter’s, Cambridge, interim rector of All Saints’, Stoneham; and priest-in-charge of the Church of St. Augustine and St. Martin, Roxbury, all in the Diocese of Massachusetts, where she continues to be canonically resident.

Background on Pakistan, Christians, and the Diocese of Peshawar

The nation of Pakistan was established as an Islamic republic in 1947, simultaneously with India as British rule on the subcontinent came to an end.  During the Partition that brought the two countries into being there was a large-scale and bloody migration of Hindus to India and Muslims to Pakistan.  Initially, Pakistan consisted of western and eastern parts on either side of India, but in 1971 the eastern sector broke away to become Bangladesh.

Christians are a small minority in Pakistan, numbering about 3.9 million in a total population of about 153 million.  Yet at 2.5% of the population, they are the largest religious minority.  Through schools, colleges and hospitals, the church serves the majority population and has substantial influence.  Yet Christians themselves are greatly disadvantaged.  With avenues of economic and professional advancement closed to them, most Christians live in poverty, confined to specially designated residential areas, called bastis.  There have been many instances of outright persecution, including killings, in the Diocese of Peshawar and elsewhere in the country.

Anglicanism has a long history in Pakistan.  The Church Missionary Society entered Karachi in 1850, and the Anglican Diocese of Lahore was organized in 1877.  In 1960 the Diocese of Karachi was formed and headed by the first Pakistani Anglican bishop.  In 1970, Pakistani Anglicans joined with Methodists, Lutherans and Presbyterians to form the Church of Pakistan.  Anglicans were the largest uniting group, and the Church of Pakistan is member church of the Anglican Communion.

The Diocese of Peshawar, one of eight dioceses in the Church of Pakistan, was formed in 1980.  Encompassing the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), with 17 million people along the border with Afghanistan, it is the scene of intensifying conflict as the Afghan and Pakistani contingents of the Taliban and Al Qaeda use the mountainous terrain for staging attacks in both Afghanistan and in Pakistan.  The city of Peshawar was earlier the primary destination of Afghan refugees during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.  The closing months of 2009 have seen many suicide bombings in Peshawar and surrounding areas and a number of outright attacks on police and military installations throughout Pakistan, especially as the Pakistani army has gone on the offensive in Swat and along the Afghan border.

NWFP is home to about 100,000 Christians, half of whom are affiliated with the Diocese of Peshawar.  Its many congregations are divided among three deaneries and are served by about 35 clergy.  The diocese has pioneered ministry with people affected by leprosy, mental challenges, HIV/AIDS, and physical handicaps.  Major institutions include Mission Hospital and Edwards College in Peshawar, Pennell Hospital and Pennell Secondary School in Bannu to the south, and a major technical training facility.  The October 2005 earthquake in the northern part of the diocese killed 79,000 people, injured 65,000, and left 4 million homeless.  The diocese’s continuing outreach, assisted by Episcopal Relief and Development, is one of the few continuing initiatives in the wake of that catastrophe.  Its community-based organization in the Patika area is so effective that local Muslims there call it “our church.”

Muslim-Christian understanding is a major concern of Bp. Rumalshah, who has sponsored several dialogues, at the first of which Canon Jane and I were present in 2004 at the University of Peshawar.  There are few places in the world where inter-religious understanding is so urgent.

Background on Bishop Mano Rumalshah

Born in 1941, Bp. Mano was ordained in 1965 and served a curacy in Karachi Cathedral.  He was curate in Roundhay, Leeds, in Ripon Diocese in the Church of England, 1970-73, before serving the Church Mission Society as area secretary for Ripon and York, and then as assistant home secretary.  He was education secretary for the Community and Race Relations Unit of the British Council of Churches, 1978-81, and was a member of the council’s Committee for Relationships with People of Other Faiths.  While priest-in-charge of St. George’s, Southall, in the Diocese of London, he served on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Urban Priority Areas.

In 1989 he returned to Pakistan as a college lecturer and parish priest and was made Bishop of Peshawar in 1994.  He was General Secretary of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, founded in 1701 and based in London, from 1998 through 2003. While serving at USPG, he was also honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of Southwark, on the south side of the River Thames.  In recent years he has been much in demand as a speaker at Anglican, ecumenical, and youth events around the world.  He has spoken about the persecution of Christians in Pakistan in numerous venues, including the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Lambeth Conference, and the Global Episcopal Mission Network.

Bishop Mano is married to Benita and has three daughters and three grandchildren.  His passion is watching cricket and his ambition is to have membership of the Marylebone Cricket Club so as to watch cricket in his retirement at Lords!

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Responses

  1. It is good to serve Christianity in developing countries where persecution of Christian faith is on its peak, and to help the real deserving community of local believers. I request to you come and find ordinary people in local communities to give them help and uplift Christianity in Pakistan.


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