The Iglesia Anglicana de Chile, the Anglican Church of Chile, became the 40th province of the Anglican Communion in a service of joy and celebration in the capital, Santiago.
During the service, Bishop Héctor Tito Zavala Muñoz was installed as archbishop and primate of the new province. Archbishop Justin Welby prayed over the new archbishop and presented with a primatial cross.
More than 800 people, including many from overseas, attended the service Nov. 4 at the Grange School.
In his address, Archbishop Welby spoke warmly of the Chilean church and its mother province: “The province [of South America] and its new province are shining lights within the Anglican Communion which will now burn yet more brightly as a challenge and example to the rest of the Communion.”
Zavala became Bishop of Santiago when Chile was split into four dioceses in preparation for its move toward provincial status. The other new dioceses are Valparaíso, Concepción, and Temuco.
In an interview with Anglican Communion News Service, Zavala spoke of his joy at becoming a separate province.
“I am so happy. What is happening is historic and unique in our history,” he said. “I remember when I talked to dioceses 20 years ago, we had many dreams about growing and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. And now I can see how the church has grown.
“And I am so excited about the life of the church because I can see how young people are becoming involved day by day.”
Speaking before the service, Welby told reporters it was a day of rejoicing and an important moment for the church around the world because Chile’s inauguration was the birth of a new mission.
“It shows the Church is growing … that the Anglican Communion is growing,” he said. “Chile is a province that gives love and ministry to the poor and those on the edge of society. And it is one of the great examples in the world of planting new churches.”
Welby also spoke by phone with Sebastián Piñera, president of Chile, who was unable to attend.
Welby praised the president for his stance in challenging corruption and for his openness and compassion.
“Chile is a model of growth and reconciliation, of finding hope after difficult years, and we praise God for that,” Welby said.
Chile began seeking autonomy is 2015. It received approval from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and support from a majority of the Anglican Communion’s primates. Its inauguration as 40th province comes just over a year after Sudan became the 39th.
Adapted from ACNS