Theological Education - Commissions IATDC

IATDC Communiqué September 2003

The Commission, now two-years into its study of the meaning and maintenance of 'Communion', met under the Chairmanship of the Rt Rev Professor S.W. Sykes from 4-9 September as guests of Virginia Theological Seminary. The work of the Commission is being pursued as an active conversation with member churches of the Anglican Communion, a process which was approved at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Hong Kong in 2002. Several hundred dioceses and theological centres, a number of parishes and individuals have participated in this dialogue by responding to the Four Key Questions and Six Propositions on ways in which Anglicans understand and experience koinonia.

Whenever the Commission has gathered it has been vividly aware of the need for the sort of trust and solidarity which Communion anticipates. The initial meeting of the Commission was disrupted by terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, and the next overshadowed by the mounting rhetoric which preceded the invasion of Iraq. On this occasion members were acutely conscious of the controversy surrounding the election of an non-abstinent homosexual priest as the next Bishop of New Hampshire. The circumstances of our meetings have demonstrated how urgent it is, within the church as much as throughout the wider human community, to encourage good argument on disputed matters so as to nurture the unity promised by the gospel in an increasingly polarised global context.

We have been made aware by our correspondents of the variety of threats to koinonia which they face, and also the high value which is placed on membership of a world-wide Communion of Anglican Churches, especially in situations where Christian discipleship can be a lonely, challenging and dangerous calling. The response which the Commission is making seeks to learn from that evidence. It is developing an argument which tries to discern how God addresses his creation and how his people receive and respond to his word; it is taking seriously the way the Gospel addresses theological and ethical disputes; and, in a world so challenged by global and local tensions, it is asking how recent developments in Anglican polity may impact on its developing understanding of Communion.

During its meeting the Commission also gave the document To Mend the Net further consideration, it discussed the papal encyclical, On the Eucharist and the Church, and began to explore ways in which theological education resources might be shared throughout the Communion, perhaps in concert with the Theological Education Initiative being commissioned by the Primates Meeting. The next phase of the Commission's work will be to integrate the three lines of its discussion - continuing reflection on the responses to the Six Propositions which have been received, developing a response to the document To Mend the Net, and working on the processes by which the Communion can sustain its life. Together it is hoped these will lead into the development of a dynamic description of how our life as a Communion can be carried forward.

The generous hospitality and resources of the Virginia Theological Seminary were again greatly appreciated by the Commission, which next year expects to meet in Kenya.

The Commission will report its proceedings as usual to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates, and the Anglican Consultative Council. Compilations of replies received to the Six Propositions and other information about the study process can be seen on the Anglican Communion web-site.

Stephen Sykes
9 September 2003

Enquiries on the work of the Commission may be addressed to:

Gregory Cameron
Anglican Communion Office
Partnership House
157 Waterloo Road
London SE1 8UT

Philip Thomas
Assistant to the Chair
The Vicarage
Co Durham

The members of the Commission are:

The Rt Revd Professor Stephen W Sykes (Chair)
The Revd Dr Philip H E Thomas (Assistant to the Chair)
The Revd Canon Gregory Cameron (Secretary)
The Revd Professor Kortright Davis
The Rt Revd J Mark Dyer
The Rt Revd Tan Sri Dr Lim Cheng Ean
The Revd Dr Katherine Grieb (Observer)
Dr Esther M Mombo
The Revd Canon Luke Pato
The Revd Dr Stephen Pickard
Dr Jenny Te Paa
The Rt Revd Paul Richardson
The Revd Dr Nicholas Sagovsky
Dr Eileen Scully
The Rt Revd Dr N Thomas Wright
The Very Revd Paul F M Zahl
The Rt Revd Tito Zavala

Not present on this occasion were:

The Revd Victor R Atta-Baffoe
The Rt Revd Dr Samuel R Cutting
The Revd Dr Bruce N Kaye
The Rt Revd Dr Matthew Oluremi Owadayo

Administrative staff:

Mrs Christine Codner
The Revd Terrie Robinson