​The Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, is to visit Burma/Myanmar at the invitation of Archbishop Stephen Myint Oo to strengthen relations between the Churches of Australia and Myanmar. Dr Freier said: “It is an indication of the Church’s desire to recognise ‘the Asian century’ and further strengthen relationships across the region within the Anglican and other churches.”

A team of two men and two women, including Mrs Joy Freier, Dr Freier’s wife, will accompany him.

The visit will be for two weeks, February 14-25, 2013, and will include visits to Toungoo and Pa’an, areas where the Anglican Church is strong among Karen people. Discussions will include repatriation of 150,000 Karen refugees from camps in Thailand, and relations with the many Karen refugees who have come to Melbourne.

Dr Freier said: “There has been a long history of Melbourne Anglican involvement, particularly through Anglican Overseas Aid (formerly Anglicord), back to the first Karen refugees from Burma crossing into Thailand in the late 1980s. Australian-funded projects have included a kindergarten, a High school at No Bho, English language courses and HIV education. The Melbourne Diocese now has many Karen refugees among its worshippers, particularly in the Werribee parish.”

Terms of Reference for the team include:

  • To build relations between the Diocese of Melbourne and the Anglican Province of Myanmar.
  • To strengthen understanding in Melbourne of the Karen situation – internally displaced people as well as refugees in Thailand, and their changing future, so as to inform ministry with Karen in Melbourne as part of Multicultural Ministry.
  • Specifically, to visit Bishop John Wilme in Toungoo and Bishop Stylo in Pa’an in connection with the future of the Karen people.
  • To develop understanding of the peace-building and human rights education of the Myanmar Council of Churches and inter-faith networks.
  • To conduct a two-day training course in communications and media for 20 diocesan and Provincial communications and development staff.

While Dr Freier will focus on relations between Churches, Mrs Joy Freier will focus on education, skill development and the work of the Mothers’ Union. Canon Alan Nichols AM and Ms Denise Nichols, who have worked among the Karen, and Brad Chapman, of the Anglican Board of Mission, will also accompany Archbishop and Mrs Freier, focusing on communications, women’s networking and the production of a DVD for community education in Australia.

For further information please contact:
Canon Alan Nichols 
M: 0408 387 460
Communications Director Roland Ashby 
M: 0418 342 561

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