Mission - Commissions - IASCOME
IASCOME - Travelling Together in God’s Mission
Some Areas of Concern and Continuing Work
In the course of our work and the reports we have received from across
the Communion we have identified a number of mission issues on which we
have begun to reflect. We list them below as an interim summary comment
on what we hope to include in our final report. The sections contain a
number of recommendations.
Islam and Islamisation
In our review of the relations with people of other faiths, the issue
of relations with Muslims was the most widely expressed concern. We heard
from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Tanzania and in particular Nigeria
and Sudan of how Christians experienced their relations with the Muslim
community and in particular the effects of growing Muslim presence and
Islamisation, often funded from Saudi Arabia, Libya or Iran. The events
of September 11 and evidence of international networks of radical Islamist
groups, often with strong political, economic and violent agendas, has
changed the scene very significantly.
We recognised that the situation is complex and contexts vary greatly.
For example in the West where Islamic communities are in a minority the
situation is very different from parts of the Middle East where the Church
is very small and often overlooked. Situations in Africa where Christianity
and Islam often seem to be in competition significantly differ, for example,
from Pakistan and South East Asia, where Christian communities are much
smaller than Churches in Nigeria and Sudan.
Care needs to be taken to consider each situation on its own terms rather
than generalising or drawing universal principles from very particular
We heard that examples of the practical expression of Islamisation included
the increased building of mosques, social and economic institutions and
the restriction of construction of churches; discrimination against Christians
in employment and in legal cases, the forced marriage of Christian girls
by Muslims. There was particular tension for Christian communities in situations
where Shariah law has been imposed. There was also reference to political
radical Islamist movements and expressions among them of desire for domination
of the Christian world – particularly in Africa.
At the 1998 Lambeth Conference the first guideline recommended by the
Bishops on the approach of Christians to relations with people of other
Commitment to working towards genuinely open and loving human relationships
even in situations where co-existence seems impossible.
We have heard of situations in which the possibilities of dialogue (a
word with which those in such situations found increasing difficulty) were
severely constrained by the nature of the Muslim presence. Dialogues at
the national or international level, important and welcome as they are,
seemed often to have little effect at grassroots level.
We give two examples.
Nigeria The process of Islamisation has continued since
we last met with more states declaring Shariah law. Churches have been
burnt and people killed. The introduction of Shariah law is evidence of
an on-going process of Islamisation in spite of repeated calls for dialogue,
tolerance and peaceful co-existence.
Sudan The question of Islam and Islamisation in the
Sudan has been a serious concern to Sudanese Christians for over four decades
ever since Sudanese independence.
It is believed that there is a deliberate effort to Islamise and Arabise
Sudan. This is seen in the consistent trends undertaken by successive Sudanese
government policies of Islamisation and Arabicisation of the Sudanese populace
at all costs. Islamic schools and Islamic Universities have been set up.
Arabic is enforced as the official language of the country, and there is
a comprehensive programme of what is known as Islamic orientation. The
whole educational curriculum for the Sudan has been Islamised. The media
especially radio and TV are used as tools of Islamisation. The country
has been declared an ‘Islamic country’ with Arabic as the
official language. Sharia Islamia (Islamic Law) has been introduced and
the whole constitution of the Sudan is Islamic in complete disregard of
the non-Muslims in the Sudan.
As if all these were not enough, Islam has taken a prominent and almost
central place in the civil war that has lasted over four decades in the
Sudan. ‘Jihad’ has been invoked by Islamic leaders as a way
of perpetuating the cause of Islam in the Sudan.
This leaves the Sudanese Christians with very limited or no options
for dialogue. Sudanese Christians see Islam as being used by the government
as a threat. They feel a very high sense of persecution. Is there a way
for others to share their pain and agony?
In responding to such situations IASCOME recommends:
The Commission discussed and warmly welcomed the report of the ‘Agreement
for dialogue between the Anglican Communion and al-Azhar al-Sharif’.
It placed on record its warm support for the initiatives taken, the visits
made and the commitment given by the present Archbishop of Canterbury in
developing relations with leaders of Muslim communities in many parts of
- that the priority of appropriate witness and service among Muslims
be raised to a higher place on the Primates’ and ACC agendas.
- that there be gatherings of people living in situations of Muslim presence
to share accounts of Christian living and witness for encouragement and
learning. We heard with appreciation that one such gathering sponsored
by USPG and CMS had already been held, but we recommend others to be planned
in which the active participation of women and men; lay people and clergy
alongside bishops be ensured.
- that particular attention be paid to ensuring children are included
in gatherings and their voice and their hopes are heard.
- that there be such a gathering specifically for those living under
- that we recognised there needs to be action on many fronts, for example
the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Al-Azhar initiative is to be greatly
welcomed. We encourage all such initiatives at all levels.
- that out of the gatherings clear guidelines be prepared on how to respond
to Islamisation in a Christian way.
- that the cry and pain of those Christians and Churches suffering or
under pressure in the face of Islamisation be acknowledged with great sensitivity
Developing Anglicanism: A Communion in Mission
The Anglican Communion has grown out of the vision for world mission.
The Decade of Evangelism highlighted this founding perspective and encouraged
Churches of the Communion to explore what this might mean for a new era.
Today we see signs of many different kinds of mission in the Communion
leading to growth and developments in terms of both the size and nature
One way of expressing this emerging perspective is to say that we are
a family of Churches who find their Communion in Mission. Within this Communion
we find structures which express our unity, marks which identify our mission,
and relationships which create our fellowship. We are a Communion in Mission
in so far as our identifiable mission is relational and our structures
serve those mission relationships.
As a Communion in Mission, being led forward by the Holy Spirit, we
acknowledge (with other sister Churches) that we are God’s pilgrim
people, and therefore whilst affirming the patterns and traditions of our
past we realise that these are provisional and that our Communion is developing
as it is being transformed in Christ.
Indicators of Mission
The various issues addressed in this report can also be seen as indicators
of mission. We have identified a number of these:
These indicators of mission challenge us to see Anglican identity as
developing historically over time through an engagement with a variety
of contexts. The variety of contexts push us to give priority to relationships
as fundamental to a Communion in Mission.
- The missio Dei, the mission of God, is grounded in the Trinitarian
affirmation of a Communion in Mission (see above). One way of understanding
the mission of God, in which the church is called to participate, “is
to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ”.
- The Church finds its vocation as it expresses and serves a restored,
reconciled and redeemed creation.
- The new creation brought forth by the mission of God embodies wholeness
and life abundant in the pains and possibilities of our daily experiences.
- A Communion in Mission is characterised at one and the same time by
a celebration of commonality and difference. Our commonality and difference
is sustained by apostolic truth and the promise of the unity of all things
in the worship of God.
- The evangelistic imperative draws the Church into a movement to both
proclaim and live out a restored, reconciled and redeemed new creation.
The Quality of Mission Relationships
A Communion in Mission is characterised by the quality of its relationships
engendered by God’s own relational life in mission (koinonia). These
- solidarity in pain
- Structures of Communion
- The structures of the Communion in Mission express God’s mission
- seek to serve and not to be served
- offer effective leadership
- nurture relationships
- effect reconciliation, freedom, justice and peace
- are alive and moving
- are flexible, available and accessible
ACC-12 is asked to affirm IASCOME’s concern to give priority to
the development of and reflection about Anglicanism as a Communion in Mission.
And specifically to:
- support ventures in the Church that serve relationships in mission,
e.g. the Anglican Gathering and the emergence of new networks;
- lift up and celebrate the stories of mission relationships across the
- live more deeply into the local-global nature of the Anglican Communion
- address questions of authority and truth in relation to the life of
the Church as a Communion in Mission
- the Commission recognises that there is still further work to do on
new ways of being Church and new forms of evangelism.
The Journey towards Wholeness and Fullness of Life
Listening to reports from many parts of the world we are aware of so
many serious threats to life – not just of individuals, communities
and nations, but also to the life of the planet. For example we heard accounts
The unfolding consequences of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on families and,
in particular, children across sub Saharan Africa.
The traumatic effects of exploitation of children, child soldiers, internal
displacement of families and child abuse in countries like Sri Lanka and
parts of Africa on the emotional growth and social development of children
from whom leaders of the future are likely to emerge.
The effects of environmental degradation in situations of war and conflict,
for example in the Sudan, has brought about desertification caused by the
cutting down of trees and the effects of the oil industry.
The internal displacement of millions of people in the Sudan and many
more becoming refugees outside the country divides families and deprives
children of education and development of skills for the future quite apart
from the emotional impact upon them.
War between nations and within countries (for example the thirty-six
year war in the Sudan, conflict in Sri Lanka, Democtratic Republic of the
Congo, Israel/Palestine) has lasting physical and emotional effects on
those involved and tear the social fabric of civil society apart.
Poverty in many areas has a crippling effect.
Slavery and terrible physical abuse of captives in war situations, forming
part payment for unpaid government troops.
In northern nations where material wealth might be greater than in other
parts of the world there are many areas of poverty and the effects of dysfunctional
families and relationships, the pressures and stress of life can all prove
wounding and death dealing.
So many of the tragic situations in the world today are evidences of
the work of forces of death and destruction that contradict the desire
of God expressed in Jesus’ words that ‘all people should have
life, life in all its fullness’ (John 10:10).
It is the Christian witness that God is a God of Life expressed in the
working of God’s Spirit throughout the created universe to bring
life and to counteract the forces of death. The universal life-giving work
of God’s Spirit is focused in human form in the person of Jesus – ‘In
the beginning was the Word … in him was life, and the life was
the light of all people….the Word became flesh and lived among us’ (John
1:1-14). Jesus is described as ‘the Bread of Life’; ‘the
Way, the Truth and the Life’; ‘the Water of Life’. Through
his death on the Cross he entered into the pain and evil of the world,
taking on the forces of death and destruction and rising after they had
done their worst into a new resurrection life.
The Bible speaks of the Spirit of Jesus carrying on his ministry of
bringing life and pressing all people to join in the journey into life
which will culminate in the new heaven and new earth.
Our response to the forces of death is to analyse causes, develop programmes
to take action to prevent, provide alternatives and to heal, in other words
to pursue Jesus’ Nazareth Manifesto (Luke 4:18-19). In this section
we focus specifically on the call to heal, to make whole those wounded
physically and emotionally as individuals and communities by the death
dealing trends in the world. The prophet Isaiah speaks of God’s servant
not breaking ‘the bruised reed’ and not quenching ‘the
flickering flame’- but of binding up and healing wounds and helping
all people on the journey to wholeness that is God’s calling and
all people’s need.
In relation to HIV/AIDS there is a ministry of care, counselling and
support both for People living with AIDS and for their families and those
who support them, both before and after their death – a ministry
of support, accepting and holding.
Destruction of the environment calls for a healing of the wounds inflicted
on the earth.
Communities that have suffered trauma and displacement need reconciliation
The ministry of healing, which takes the form of prayer, the laying
on of hands and anointing with oil, is frequently practised in some and
being rediscovered in other parts of the Communion as a form of ministry
to Christians and those outside the Christian faith alike.
The healing of children who have suffered abuse and need emotional and
social healing is a skilled and demanding work of love.
IASCOME therefore recommends:
ACC-12 is asked to affirm the Commission in undertaking these tasks
and encouraging others to do so.
- that Liturgies for cleansing and healing in communities where terrible
things have happened be researched and listed/collected for sharing more
- This should include liturgies for environmental healing.
- Connection with representatives in provinces on liturgical committees
or on the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation.
- Liturgies from Anglican and other Church sources.
- New liturgies for healing and the laying on of hands that are being
developed in some parts of the Anglican Communion.
- Any reports on healing produced within member Churches of the Communion.
- Examples of the work of circles of prayer, healing and reconciliation.
- that the ways in which the ministry of healing and reconciliation,
including its psychological elements, are part of the theological and ministerial
formation of Church and youth leadership be researched.
- that some assessment be made of how the Church in each country plays
its important role in the preparation of leaders for the future in the
light of the huge threats posed by HIV/AIDS and the consequences of war
to the present and next generation of leaders within many countries.
- that stories be collected and shared (in an appropriate way) of the
effects of the forces of death and of life-giving responses being made
as the basis for analysis. People’s stories have proved so valuable
in awakening awareness.
Mission as Justice-Making and Peace-Building
At both the first and second meetings of IASCOME, we listened to members
describe the mission work of their various churches, and were struck by
the powerful stories of committed Anglicans challenging injustices in their
own contexts and also working to bring about peace and reconciliation in
areas of conflict. In many parts of the Anglican Communion the mission
focus of the church at this time is justice-making and peace-building in
contexts of poverty, abuse of power and violence.
We noted two types of violence, visible and spectacular
violence against individuals and communities, and systemic, structural
These are characterised as follows:
Visible and spectacular violence:
Wars arising from ethnic, religious, political conflicts and from socio-cultural
practices are funded through external sources and often fought using outside
Domestic violence within the family.
Violence against children, including child trafficking, child labour and
Systemic and structural violence:
We believe the imperatives for this behaviour are firmly grounded in
the teaching of Scripture and the faith of the practitioners, which we
heard articulated as follows:
- Poverty perpetuated by oppressive and exclusionary systems.
- The abuse of power in and by both secular and religious institutions.
- Globalised capitalism, including unethical biotechnology practices.
- Based on the stories we heard, we make the following observations about
how Christians in mission behave:
- Christians in mission live out the values of the gospel: love, justice,
peace and preferential option for the poor, powerless and weak. They respect
and affirm the dignity of each person, looking for and honouring the Christ
in each child of God.
- Christians in mission affirm those structures and value systems that
are life-giving, and seek to transform cultural practices that oppress,
discriminate and are contrary to the gospel.
- Christians in mission have a richness of spirit that leads them to
repent, forgive, reconcile and restore.
- Christians in mission are engaged in the political and economic life
of the/their world in a non-partisan way. They challenge unjust structures
and value systems in institutions, especially the church, in groupings
in society such as tribes, clans and social movements, and in the economic
and political systems at local, national and international levels of the
- Christians in mission are prophetic risk-takers.
- Christians in mission are actively involved in peace-making as part
of building a safe world. They find ways to hold safe spaces where opposing
forces can listen and talk to each other.
Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” His
life is the example of how we are to love.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies”. The challenge is to hold our
enemies accountable in the hope of bringing change, without destroying
All people are created in the image of God, irrespective of race, class,
gender, age, sexual orientation.
God continues to redeem humanity, and Christians in mission are called
to be instruments of this redemption in their own cultures.
IASCOME affirms the good work done by the Anglican Peace and Justice
Network (APJN) and encourages provinces to support those in their midst
engaged in the mission work of justice-making and peace-building.
To expand and strengthen this work, IASCOME makes the following recommendations:
- that provinces examine their health and educational institutions to
ensure that there are appropriate policies and monitoring mechanisms to
protect the vulnerable, and as much as possible, to guarantee fair access
- that provinces examine their cultural practices, affirming those that
liberate, and transforming those that contradict and deny the liberating
message of the gospel.
- that provinces, dioceses and parishes include in their various cycles
of prayer, prayers for peace-makers and those involved in the work of reconciliation.
- that provinces gather and submit to IASCOME resources being used in
peace-building, so that these can be made available to assist in the training
Money, Power and Christian Mission
During the course of our first two meetings, the members of IASCOME
have listened to stories of the benefits which a healthy local economy,
financially self-sufficient churches, and the compassionate exercise of
power can bring to the furtherance of Christian mission. But we have also
heard how poverty, financial dependency, and financial corruption coupled
with the abuse of power can obstruct and distort God’s mission. Based
on these stories, we make the following observations:
Jesus came to offer abundant life to everyone (John 10:10). This means
the material basis of life as well as the spiritual. The Good News has
no credibility if people remain poor and powerless while the rich thrive.
Love of God is false unless there is a genuine love of neighbour through
mutual respect and service. We are accountable to God for the gifts we
have received and for the welfare of our neighbours (Matt. 25).
Wealth is a gift from God requiring honesty, transparency and vigilance
in financial management and accountability. Financial scandals tarnish
the image of the church and diminish the credibility of the gospel.
Power must be exercised in the service of the powerless, as exemplified
by Jesus. Failure to follow Jesus’ example of empowering the powerless
makes a mockery of the liberating message of the gospel.
Those engaged in Christian mission need to include the following tasks
in their work:
Economic analysis. People need to be equipped to seek answers to their
concerns about their local economic situations. This means paying attention
to the economy at the global as well as the local level, since the two
are so closely intertwined. Information and basic tools of analysis need
to be provided so that people can make informed economic decisions.
Sharing financial resources. Financial resources need to continue to
be shared across the Communion, but capacity must also be built in wealth
generation and financial management. The sharing of resources should be
seen as a stepping stone to financial self-sufficiency. To this end, we
need good ethical teaching in Christian stewardship that leads to accountability
Participation in civil society. People need help in becoming involved
in civil society. This requires building dignity and self-confidence, and
teaching organisational skills, as well as finding ways to both share power
and exercise it in compassionate and responsible ways.
Ethical financial behaviour. Christian values apply at all levels, local,
and global. Financial corruption and mismanagement need to be challenged,
as do unethical investment practices.
It is important that Christians in mission challenge the abuse of power
and financial corruption and mismanagement in the wider society. At the
same time, these sins continue to be present within the church and need
to be corrected.
- that provinces examine their entire investment portfolios, including
pension funds, to ensure that they meet the Global Reporting Initiative
Standard (see Appendix X) (website http://www.globalreporting.org),
especially in relation to the arms trade and the environment.
- that provinces examine their governance structures to ensure transparency
in decision-making processes and financial management.
- that provinces seek ways to train creative administrators who are also
- that provinces put in place measures to deal with corruption in the
church at all levels, and make these measures known to the membership.
- that each province affirm its commitment to the Anglican Communion
by a renewed endeavour to fulfil its financial obligation to the Inter-Anglican
Evangelism has run as a theme through many of the Commission’s
discussions and presentations, but a sustained reflection on evangelism
across the Communion has been identified as a major piece of work for future
Commission meetings. We look forward to continuing to encourage and support
the significant efforts in evangelism that are emerging in the Communion.