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IASCUFO writes from Jamaica

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Adapted from Anglican Communion News Service

Gathering in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, as the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO), at the invitation of the Rt. Rev. Dr. Howard Gregory, Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, we have been acutely aware of the season of Advent and the promise of Isaiah and John the Baptist that God is doing a new thing: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1); and “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2). We have been enlivened and enriched by our anticipation of the coming of the Christ and in our receiving from one another.

We give thanks for the life of Nelson Mandela, whose death occurred while we were in Jamaica, a land which, like many others, was inspired by his courageous leadership. As we consider the obligations of leadership in church and society, we see in him a model of how to pursue peace and reconciliation with justice.

Encouraged by reports of the 15th Anglican Consultative Council in Auckland, New Zealand, and the 10th World Council of Churches Assembly in Busan, Korea, we welcome the new energy for ecumenical relations and in our life together within the Anglican Communion. We also look forward to what God will do through new leadership in the world Church, asking God’s blessing on the ministry of the Most Rev. Justin Welby as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Tawadros II as Patriarch of Alexandria and Pope Francis as Bishop of Rome.

Meeting in the context of daily prayer and the Eucharist, we have valued the shaping of our discussions by our Bible studies on the Epistle to the Ephesians. We have been emboldened by Christ’s breaking down of the dividing wall (2.14) and the Church’s calling to make known “the wisdom of God in its rich variety” (3.10). We have been challenged to steadfastness and maturity and to pursuing our calling to build up the body of Christ in love (4.14-16).

To this end we commend engagement with the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Faith and Order Paper The Church: Towards a Common Vision. The fruit of twenty years of consultation among Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, Evangelical, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic churches, it offers a high degree of common understanding of the theology of the Church. We welcome this publication overseen by the Rev. Canon Dr. John Gibaut, Director of Faith and Order for the WCC and himself a member of IASCUFO, and believe it offers a rich resource for the understanding of our common mission as Christians.

We also received reports of ecumenical dialogues including the draft text of the final report of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission (AMICUM) and various local initiatives. We rejoice at the re-convening of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission after 12 years and note its agreed statement on Christology which has been sent for consideration by the churches of the Anglican Communion.

In successive meetings, we have returned to the theology of the human person, known as theological anthropology, exploring what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God in the language of Genesis 1:26-27. In the face of the challenges and opportunities offered by globalisation, migration and developments in the human and natural sciences, we are seeking to articulate a coherent theological understanding of the human person and human society to support our theological work and to engage our churches in a serious study of what it means to be human in the 21st century.

Continuing our efforts to deepen our common life within the Anglican Communion, we recalled the importance of our lived communion for our prophetic engagement as reconciled reconcilers in the world. Focusing on the inter-connectedness of mission, ecclesiology and life in the Spirit, we have committed to on-going work which will seek to address the global situation and the tensions and divisions within our Anglican family and to witness to the advent of God’s reign in our midst. On-going work will explore the foundational role of the Holy Spirit in our common life. We recognise the need to discern and embrace new and life-giving interventions of the Holy Spirit in our Communion worldwide during the past half-century, with particular reference to the churches in the southern continents.

Reflecting on the discussions and resolutions of ACC-15, IASCUFO has focussed on the need to strengthen Communion relationships in the 21st Century and has again noted the importance of the Instruments of Communion as signs and servants of our common life. We believe face-to-face encounters are essential for the well-being of our Communion and that the Lambeth Conference, in particular, constitutes a crucial part of our life together in taking common counsel and in expressing our common identity.

Daunting as our task is, we take heart from the repeated exhortation of Scripture, “Do not be afraid … for nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:30,37). Therefore we place our confidence and trust in the One who makes all things possible.

“Now to him, who by the power at work in us, is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever, Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Present at the Jamaica meeting
The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi
Primate of the Anglican Church of Burundi, and Chair of the Commission

The Rev. Canon Professor Paul Avis
Church of England

The Rev. Sonal Christian
Church of North India

The Rev. Canon Dr. John Gibaut
World Council of Churches

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

The Rev. Dr. Katherine Grieb
The Episcopal Church

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

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

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

The Rev. Canon Dr. Simon Oliver
Church of England

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

Prof. Andrew Pierce
Church of Ireland

The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Nai Chiu Poon
Church of the Province of South East Asia

The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Guen Seok Yang
The Anglican Church of Korea

The Rev. Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan
Director for Unity, Faith and Order

Mr. Neil Vigers
Anglican Communion Office

The Rev. Canon Joanna Udal
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs

Unable to be present
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Georges Titre Ande
Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Dapo Asaju
The Church of Nigeria

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

The Rev. Canon Clement Janda
The Episcopal Church of the Sudan

The Rev. Dr. Edison Kalengyo
The Church of the Province of Uganda

The Rt. Rev. William Mchombo
The Church of the Province of Central Africa

The Rt. Rev. Hector (Tito) Zavala
Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America (Anglican Communion)

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