Adapted from ACNS

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith, and Order (IASCUFO) has welcomed next month’s Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury. In a communiqué from its latest meeting, the commission describes Archbishop Justin Welby’s invitation to his fellow primates as “an opportunity for a new, redeemed conversation within the Communion.”

The commission issued the communiqué after its meeting last week in Elmina, Ghana, in the Province of West Africa’s Diocese of the Cape Coast. Commission members say they are “greatly heartened” by the meeting and are “ready to assist in any way consistent with [IASCUFO’s] remit.”

During their meeting, commission members visited Cape Coast Castle, a major center of the transatlantic slave trade, and spoke of the “terrible incongruity of an Anglican church directly over the dungeons that held those who, through the ‘Door of No Return,’ were to be shipped into chattel slavery.” They described their visit as “deeply moving” in “the context of the contemporary crises of displacement and uprooting of people, of refugees and of human trafficking.”

The commission is working on a paper on theological anthropology that will address issues of slavery and human trafficking.

The Most Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, presented a “deep and wide-ranging reflection on the present challenges within and future hopes for the Communion” and commission members “welcomed the opportunity to engage with him on ways of strengthening [IASCUFO’s] capacity to fulfill its mandate in the service of the Communion.”

The bulk of the commission’s work focused on its support for next April’s meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-16) in Lusaka and recent significant ecumenical developments and agreed statements.

The full communiqué follows.

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith, and Order met at Elmina, Ghana, from 2 to 9 December 2015.

The Commission was generously hosted by the Church of the Province of West Africa and its Diocese of the Cape Coast. The Primate, the Most Rev. Daniel Sarfo, and the Bishop of the Cape Coast, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Victor Atta-Baffoe, met with the Commission, and the Bishop subsequently welcomed the Members to a special ecumenical Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral, Cape Coast. Commission Members also participated in the Cathedral’s Sunday morning celebration of the Holy Eucharist, at which Bishop Victoria Matthews was invited to preside and Bishop Howard Gregory to preach. The Commission was delighted to spend a morning engaging with students and faculty at the St Nicholas Seminary.

In the context of the contemporary crises of displacement and uprooting of people, of refugees and of human trafficking, the Commission paid a deeply moving visit to the Cape Coast Castle. This was a major centre of the transatlantic slave trade, with the terrible incongruity of an Anglican church directly over the dungeons that held those who, through the “Door of No Return,” were to be shipped into chattel slavery.

For part of the meeting, the Commission was joined by Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, who offered a deep and wide-ranging reflection on the present challenges within and future hopes for the Communion. The Commission warmly welcomed the opportunity to engage with him on ways of strengthening its capacity to fulfill its mandate in the service of the Communion.

The Commission was also greatly heartened by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s timely decision to invite his fellow Primates of the Anglican Communion to meet together in January, and held this gathering in its daily prayers. Recalling that all of the Primates gathered at the Enthronement Eucharist of the Archbishop in March 2013, IASCUFO believes that the forthcoming meeting could be an opportunity for a new, redeemed conversation within the Communion to begin, and stands ready to assist in any way consistent with its remit.

Much of the Commission’s work was devoted to supporting the forthcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, in Lusaka in April 2016.

For this, the Ecumenical Working Group considered recent ecumenical developments, including such significant documents as:

ACC will also be invited to commend to the Communion:

  • ways of deepening relationships between Anglicans and Lutherans, around the commemoration of the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation in 2017
  • Receiving One Another’s Ordained Ministries, a report intended to assist churches of the Anglican Communion on questions of receiving the ordained ministries of ecumenical partners.

In accordance with IASCUFO’s mandate, the Working Group on Communion Life prepared for ACC:

  • Reflection on the ways in which Communion life is deepened, including prayer, worship, and Scripture
  • A document entitled A Mission-Shaped Communion
  • A working paper on the Instruments of Communion, as a follow-up to the document Towards a Symphony of Instruments, prepared for ACC-15
  • Working papers on local expressions of communion life for the Anglican Communion website.

Work continued on a paper on Theological Anthropology, in which issues of slavery and human trafficking – so much present to those in Elmina – among other subjects, are addressed.

The Commission expressed thanks to all who assisted with the organisation and running of the meeting, and particularly to the Rev. Canon Anthony Eiwuley, Provincial Secretary. Members warmly welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Adviser on Anglican Communion Affairs, the Rev. Canon Precious Omuku to his first IASCUFO meeting, and appreciated the extensive contribution of the Rev. Canon Dr. John Gibaut in his first meeting as Director of Unity, Faith, and Order, rather than as a consultant member.

The Commission’s work was nourished by the daily rhythm of worship. In the spirit of the Advent hope, the Commission celebrated a daily Eucharist, and said Morning and Evening Prayer.

The next meeting will take place from 1 to 8 December 2016, at a venue to be confirmed.

Present at the Elmina meeting:

The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi
Province of the Anglican Church of Burundi, and Chair of the Commission

The Rev. Professor Paul Avis
Church of England

The Rev. Sonal Christian
Church of North India

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Howard Gregory
The Church in the Province of the West Indies

The Rev. Professor Katherine Grieb
The Episcopal Church (USA)

The Rt. Rev. Kumara Illangasinghe
Church of Ceylon, Sri Lanka

The Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews
Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

The Rev. Canon Dr. Charlotte Methuen
Scottish Episcopal Church/Church of England

The Rev. Canon Precious Omuku
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Adviser on Anglican Communion Affairs

Professor Andrew Pierce
Church of Ireland

The Rt. Rev. Professor Stephen Pickard
Anglican Church of Australia

The Rev. Canon Dr. Sarah Rowland Jones
Church in Wales

The Rev. Canon Dr. John Gibaut
Director for Unity, Faith, and Order

Apologies received
The Rev. Canon Professor Simon Oliver
The Rt. Rev. William Mchombo
The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Guen Seok Yang

Others absent from the meeting
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Georges Titre Ande
The Rt. Rev. Professor Dapo Asaju
The Rev. Canon Clement Janda
The Rev. Dr. Edison Kalengyo
The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Nai Chiu Poon
The Most Rev. Hector Zavala

Image: Members of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith, and Order visit Cape Coast Castle

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