The Listening Process

The Continuing Indaba and Mutual Listening Project

The Windsor Continuation Group commended the work of the Listening Process to the Archbishop of Canterbury and recommended that the Instruments of Communion commit themselves to its renewal, and a real seeking of a common mind upon the issues which threaten to divide us.

With the aim of renewing the Listening Process funding has been secured from the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine, initially until the end of 2011, for a project of Continuing Indaba. Canon Phil Groves will run the project from the ACO with support from Lambeth Palace.

Indaba is a Zulu word for the process of decision making by consensus common in many African cultures and with parallels in other non-western societies and was the designated term for this process at the Lambeth Conference. The continuation of Indaba signifies that the work was not completed. In African understanding Indaba is intended to include all interested parties and we are seeking to include clergy and laity in the process. Indaba can be a long process, but results in creative activity.

The Satcher Health Leadership Institute has utilised consensus methodology to assist leaders with divergent viewpoints in building agreements on controversial issues related to health policy regarding sexual health. The aim of this project is to adapt the consensus method, by drawing upon biblical models, the traditions of the church and cultural methods from across the Communion.

A question facing the Communion is how to move from mutual listening to common purpose. The use of Biblical models of confronting difference was suggested at ACC-3:

Christian partnership did not then mean that the partners, although united in their missionary goals, were always in accord on how they were to carry out his mission - witness the disagreement between Peter and Paul in Galatians 2.  Rather they were asked to face each other, and the roots of their disagreement and agreement, so openly that both could go forward in mutual love and respect into further creative activity.

The Continuing Indaba project will seek to:

  • Develop theological resources to inform the process of seeking a common mind by the utilisation of theologians around the world reflecting on Scripture and the traditions of the church in the context of diverse cultures, with and emphasis on non-western cultures and to publish them in culturally appropriate forms. Develop and publish training materials for the convening and facilitation of Anglican Indaba processes.
  • Run five pilot conversations of typically three dioceses meeting across diversity. The focus will be upon on the primary mission issues in each context and will not avoid hard questions – not only related to sexuality, but also to the authority of Scripture, faithfulness to tradition and the respect for the dignity of all. The hope will be that the result of the conversations will be a depth of agreement and the clarification of disagreement resulting in positive missional relationships.
  • Run theological and process evaluation groups to ensure the process is faithful to the Anglican way, valuable in enabling mutual mission and replicable across the Communion.

Reporting will be to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Joint Standing Committee and the ACC.

The money will be used to pay the salary of the ACO based director and an administrator, employ consultants, fund the movement of people pay expenses and to publish materials in culturally appropriate ways.