Abp. Deng: Talk to GAFCON

Reports on the first two days of the Anglican Communion Standing Committee meetings in London.

Adapted from ACNS

Day 1

All but one member of the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee were able to attend this year’s meeting. Only Bishop James Tengatenga, the group’s chairman, was unable to travel to London because of visa issues.

Much of the first day was taken up with business matters. Canon John Rees, legal adviser to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), began with a brief orientation. The committee then moved on to discussions about membership. With the elevation of Sarah Macneil (Australia) to bishop the committee needs to appoint a replacement.

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi (Burundi) was re-elected as a member of the Crown Nominations Commission and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba (Southern Africa) was re-elected as his alternate. Archbishop Emmanuel Egbunu (Nigeria) was also re-elected to a group that appoints the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe.

Highlights from the Secretary General’s annual report included informal talks with the Vatican, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the Lutheran World Federation; the WCC General Assembly in Busan, South Korea; and visits to Anglican Communion Churches in West Africa, Brazil, the USA and Zambia.

Committee members received Transforming Communities, the report of ACC-15, and copies will be sent to ACC members, primates, and provincial Secretaries. The report will soon be available in the Anglican Communion Online Store.

In response to a paper on Muslim-Christian relations submitted for consideration, the committee began an informal conversation. The paper will be considered in more detail later in the meeting.

Day 2

Canon Phil Groves, Continuing Indaba’s director, presented an update on the project.

He said that Archbishop Justin Welby’s focus on reconciliation has added fresh impetus to the initiative, adding: “I think we have an interesting future ahead.” He said the vision of the Communion as a “place of reconciled reconcilers” remained and told the committee his office has produced a guide to implementing the principles of Indaba, as well as a new website. A further publication, Living Reconciliation, will be published in September this year, gathering theological resources from the project’s pilot program and reflecting on reconciliation.

Canon Groves said that principles of Indaba were being taking up in many parts of the Communion, including Kenya, the United States, and England. “The Indaba journey is growing and developing,” he said. “We’re providing process resources, and theological resources, and we’re getting them out into the hands of Anglicans who are changing their world.”

Archbishop Daniel Deng (Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan) noted the need for internal reconciliation and highlighted a need for a conversation with the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). Canon Groves thanked the primate for his comments.

The Rev. Rachel Carnegie and the Rev. Andy Bowerman presented the Anglican Alliance company trustees’ audited annual report. The committee received the report and approved the appointment to the board of trustees of Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s director for reconciliation, to succeed Chris Smith as the archbishop’s representative.

Michael Hart, consultant to the finance and administration committee and its vice chair, presented its report. The committee’s report included reference and administrative details of the charity; its trustees and advisers; a list of ACC officers; the annual report of the trustees; the independent auditor’s report to the trustees; a statement of financial activities through December 31, 2013; a balance sheet and notes to the financial statements; and a schedule of contributions to the inter-Anglican budget.

Helen Biggin (Wales) described the budget as “tight and well managed,” but she noted the need for more thinking about future funding, particularly for those projects reliant on grants.

The day ended with a presentation by Jan Butter, director for communications, who presented the committee with five Church communications wins, five challenges, and five “big ideas” about how the Anglican Communion could look to the future.

The wins included more churches getting to grips with digital media; thinking about ministry and witness in digital spaces; sharing more best practice online; speaking for themselves rather than relying on the media; and reaching a younger generation through social media and digital technology.

He added, however, that when it came to the Anglican Communion having basic communications tools in place, too little had improved: strategic communication was still not in many provinces’ DNA; neither clergy nor laity receive formal training on how to live as a Christian online; and there are still too few member churches or extra-provincials with qualified senior communicators in place.

He also said that, as a Communion of 85 million people, Anglicans are not leveraging their collective voice, power, and resources, particularly through digital channels. He cited Kickstarter and Change.org as two models for the way the Anglican Communion uses its collective power for good.

His “big ideas” included a Kickstarter Sunday to raise money for projects around the Communion; setting up a global network of volunteers to translate Communion documents, news, and information into a range of languages; and having the Anglican Communion lead a global forum on the future of “being and doing church in a digital age.”

Image by Neil Vigers/ACNS

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