Members of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) are reflecting Friday and Saturday on the present and future of the Instruments of Communion.
In his introduction to the group discussions on this issue, the Rt. Rev. Stephen Pickard of Adelaide, Australia, said Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) had been given a “very specific mandate” by the last ACC meeting to reflect on the role and responsibility of the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ACC.
Bishop Pickard, vice chair of IASCUFO, said the commission “decided to begin with an introductory report [sent to ACC members] which outlines the historical development of the Instruments of Communion.”
Pickard said “it would be difficult, if not impossible” to find ways of enhancing the Instruments without first understanding their history. He highlighted the theological reflection on the Instruments in the report and said that there needed to be a proper understanding of the Instruments as a gift for the Communion that is primarily about relationships.
“The Instruments of Communion can lose their focus,” he said. “Their primary concern is the mission of God. Their horizon should be God’s work in the world. All deliberations, arguments [and] desire for corporate discernment, ought to be directed to God’s work in the world.”
Pickard stressed that this report marked only the first stage of the commission’s work. “It’s a work in progress, we’re looking for input and feedback from wide consultation,” he said. “The next stage will feed off those comments and suggestions.
“It’s a two-stage process. The overall purpose is to explore the effectiveness of Instruments of Communion and ask how we may enhance deeper harmony among the Instruments. How do they work together? How might they be creatively part of the process of evolution of the Anglican Communion?”
The reflection about the Instruments continues Saturday. Much of the feedback on the work of IASCUFO is due to be heard in plenary on Tuesday.