Byline: JEFF BRUMLEY
Pure chance is bringing two of the biggest names in the worldwide Anglican Communion to the First Coast this weekend.
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Desmond Tutu of South Africa comes to Jacksonville to receive an honorary degree from the University of North Florida today. The archbishop will preach at St. John's Episcopal Cathedral downtown Sunday morning.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey is scheduled to speak at Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach on Sunday morning and Monday night. Carey will preach at the cathedral Sunday evening.
"Purely coincidental," Thomas Mantz, rector's associate at Christ Church, said of the overlapping visits.
UNF's invitation to Tutu was timed to coincide with his planned visit to the United States and with the conclusion of the university's lengthy process of granting him the degree of doctor of humane letters, said Janet Owen, vice president for governmental affairs at UNF.
"It is the highest academic honor that we can bestow on a person," Owen said.
The university is honoring Tutu for his work in social justice across the world. He became a household name internationally in the 1980s for his opposition to apartheid and has since spoken out against racial, religious and political oppression worldwide. He was the first black archbishop of Cape Town and leader of the church of Southern Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
UNF also wants to thank Tutu for his service to the university, where he was a guest lecturer in 1999 and a visiting scholar for a semester in 2003, Owen said.
"He has a tremendous fan base in Jacksonville," said Kamele Oupa Seane, director of the Intercultural Center for Peace at UNF and a family friend who helped bring Tutu to UNF in 1999 and 2003.
"He calls Jacksonville his second home."
The planning for Carey's visit to Christ Church began at least six months ago by its speakers bureau, called the Bridge Institute, Mantz said.
On Monday, Carey will deliver an address titled "Conflict and Reconciliation: The challenge of living in communion when differing views may want to pull us apart."
The topic deals with conflict resolution and is especially timely on the First Coast, Mantz said. Six North Florida parishes recently announced they will leave the Jacksonville-based Episcopal Diocese of Florida over theological issues, he said.
"We asked him to speak on this topic," Mantz said, adding that Carey's experience makes him the right person to address the issue..
Carey was the archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002. As the spiritual leader of the 70 million-member Anglican Communion, which includes the Episcopal Church USA, one of his roles was to promote unity in a communion composed of churches spread across the world, Mantz said. …