Day 4 of 4: Tuesday 27 June, 2010
On tuesday's agenda: the second part of the Unity, Faith and Order report; the report on the Bible in the Life of the Church project and theological education in the Anglican Communion; a report on Anglican Communion communications; a report on Continuing Indaba.
Director of Unity, Faith and Order Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan presented the second part of her report on the ecumenical dialogues of the Anglican Communion. These included the Anglican Roman Catholic Dialogue, the International Anglican Orthodox Commission for Theological Dialogue, Anglican Oriental Orthodox International Commission, Anglican Lutheran International Commission and the Anglican Methodist Commission on Unity and Mission.
Canon Barnett-Cowan explained that the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO) was looking at how the work of these dialogues is being received by Provinces of the Communion. The question was raised about how the Anglican Communion might relate to Pentecostal churches and new independent churches in the future, though it was acknowledged that some initial work was being done through multilateral platforms such as the Global Christian Forum. International conversations might also be initiated with Moravians, and with churches of the Reformed tradition, especially in the light of the recent formation of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/ecumenical/
The Bible in the Life of the Church
Project manager Stephen Lyon told the Committee that the project (http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/theological/bible/index.cfm) was well under way. The Standing Committee explored a couple of the exercises that have arisen from the project seeking to identify the influences we all bring to our own reading of the Bible. In the discussion that followed the Standing Committee gratefully acknowledged the support for the project given by the American Bible Society. There was a strong recommendation that the project might reach out to other bible societies around the world for similar support.
Theological Education in the Anglican Communion
Two major pieces of work for the Working Party on Theological Education in the Anglican Communion over the coming year will be an international consultation for theological college Principals, and the production of a web-based course on Anglicanism. The Principals consultation is aimed particularly at Principals who work in isolated situations. It plans to offer encouragement, support, and sharing of insights about curricula and the spirituality of ministerial formation. The web-based course on Anglicanism will be based on the already available 'Signposts statement' (a concise expression of 'The Anglican Way' published by TEAC in 2007) Members of the Standing Committee acknowledged the importance of theological education in helping to share the life and well-being of the Communion.
The Anglican Communion Office's new Director of Communications Jan Butter presented a short report that considered the Communications gaps, needs and potential of the Communion. He stressed the importance of all members of the Communion sharing and hearing about the successes and challenges of all levels of church life and mission. In particular he highlighted the Anglican Communion News Service (http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/help/acnslist.cfm) as a free web-based channel for all Anglicans to share their news and hear the news of others. Recognising the limited web access of some members of the Communion, Mr Butter indicated other communications channels that could allow those without web access to receive Anglican information, news and resources.
Revd Canon Phil Groves began his presentation by expressing his delight at being involved in Continuing Indaba because it was about energising local and global mission. He was pleased to report that there was genuine excitement about the project from across the Communion. Anglicans worldwide are eager to engage in difficult conversations across difference if they lead to deeper relationships with Christ and with one another. People are starting see the project's potential. Following a recent consultation Bishop Patole of Mumbai said, "It was good to share and we became clear on Indaba and how it can assist our mission in India."
Canon Groves drew the Standing Committee's attention to the commendations of the project on the Anglican Communion Website. He also reported that theologians have been gathered in order to develop Anglican resources on how we enter a journey of conversation in ways that are biblical and draw upon the cultures of the Communion. So far these Theological Resource Hubs have been run in Kenya, South Africa, India, The West Indies, England, the USA and Hong Kong with further Hubs planned. Theological resources supporting the project can be found on the website (http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/continuingindaba/).
When asked whether this was the Listening Process Canon Groves replied that the project had emerged from the Windsor Report process. The bishops at the 1998 Lambeth Conference committed themselves to 'listening to the experience of homosexual persons' and following ACC-13 resources had been provided to assist them in this ongoing task. The ACC had also encouraged mutual listening and ACC-14 had commended Continuing Indaba as a method to deliver this aspect of the Listening Process. Mutual Listening is wider, and many Provinces had asked why one issue was given preference over others. Kenyan theologians had told him that for Continuing Indaba to be useful the topics for discussion would need to be relevant to their context; their prime issue was reconciliation in the context of post-election violence.
Canon Groves said, "The ultimate test of Continuing Indaba is not that we all agree with one another but that local mission is furthered through our global Communion."
Further discussion on moratoria breach
As agreed, the Committee revisited Saturday's discussion. Dato' Stanley Isaacs delivered a frank and passionate presentation about the distress felt by some parts of the Communion about The Episcopal Church's decision to breach one of the moratoria. He concluded by proposing that rights to participate in discussions of matters of faith and order at the Standing Committee and the ACC be withdrawn from The Episcopal Church.
In the subsequent discussion Archbishop Philip Aspinall reiterated that the Standing Committee did not have the power to undertake such an action. He reminded the Committee that the Covenant had been drawn up to address just these kinds of points of disagreement. It was also stated that the Standing Committee did not have all the powers of the ACC, especially when it came to the Membership Schedule.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori questioned why the proposal was singling out The Episcopal Church. Bishop Ian Douglas stressed he was present in his role as an elected representative of the ACC, not a member of The Episcopal Church and he desired to always be responsible to the Council. He thanked Dato' Stanley Isaacs for attending the Standing Committee meeting despite his [Isaacs'] feelings about recent events in the Communion. He said that having other elected representatives present who represented a genuine segment of the ACC helped him [Bp Douglas] to be a better member. He added that he missed having Bp Azad's voice at the meeting.
Dr Tony Fitchett agreed that the Committee needed as full a range of views as possible. "I'm conscious I'm not here representing my province," he said. "I'm here because I was appointed by the ACC. My accountability is not to my Province. I expect to continue to serve on the [Standing Committee] even if my Province were ever to be unacceptable to other churches because of its actions."
After what Canon Elizabeth Paver described as "the time, prayer and space necessary for everyone to be heard on this matter" the Standing Committee agreed a resolution that it: "regrets ongoing breaches of the three moratoria that continue to strain the life of the Anglican Communion; regrets the consequential resignations of members of the Standing Committee which diminish our common life and work on behalf of the ACC and the Primates' Meeting; recognises that the ACC and the Primates' Meeting are the appropriate bodies to consider these matters further."