Here are the notes from the Standing Committee’s first day together.
- Members from five continents attend this year’s Standing Committee meeting
- Persecution continues against Anglicans, bishops in Zimbabwe
- Communion speaking out against gender-based violence “displays our common life”
- “All Communion members deserve to be heard and to hear from fellow Anglicans”
- Continuing Indaba resources “guided by local culture”
Chair of the Standing Committee Bishop James Tengatenga opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and by inviting all members to introduce themselves. Those present on the first day were as follows:
- Bishop of Southern Malawi Bp James Tengatenga (Chair)
- Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Bp David Chillingworth (Primates’ Standing Committee member)
- The Primate of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Abp Paul Kwong (Primates’ Standing Committee member)
- The Chancellor of The Church of the Province of West Africa Mrs Philippa Amable (ACC appointment)
- Bishop of Connecticut, USA, Bishop Ian Douglas (ACC appointment)
- Dr Anthony Fitchett of the The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia
- The Revd Maria Cristina Borges Alvarez from the Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba (ACC appointment)
- The Revd Canon Janet Trisk, Rector of the Parish of St David, Prestbury in Pietermaritzburg, in the Diocese of Natal (ACC appointment)
- Bishop Paul Sarker, moderator of the Church of Bangladesh and Bishop of Dhaka (Primates’ Standing Committee Alternate member)
- Primate of The Church of the Province of the West Indies, Archbishop John Holder (Primates’ Standing Committee Alternate member)
- Canon Elizabeth Paver (Vice Chair) was unable to attend today’s meeting as she had to chair a meeting of her diocesan synod. Dato’ Stanley Isaacs sent his apologies and explained he was unable to attend this year’s meeting. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the President of the Anglican Consultative Council and himself an Instrument of Communion, traditionally attends the last two days of the meeting.
Bp James explained it was always a challenge to ensure all areas of the Communion are represented on the committee, so he was particularly pleased that The Revd Maria Cristina Borges Alvarez from Cuba had accepted the invitation to become a committee member.
Kenneth Kearon explained that because the elections to the Primates’ Standing Committee had happened so recently, several Primates already had commitments over the dates of this Standing Committee. Therefore the following Primates had given their apologies on this occasion:
- Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi
- Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak
- Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
- Bishop Samuel Azariah
Alternates for the Primates’ Standing Committee appointees were Bp Paul Sarker and Archbishop John Holder.
The Committee then noted that Bp Kumara Illangasinghe of The Church of Ceylon has retired from active ministry and therefore has vacated his place on the committee. A decision on next steps was deferred until later in the meeting.
Secretary General’s report
In his report Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon said the biggest event of the last year had been the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin. His Communion visits this year were to The Church of Ceylon in Sri Lanka and also the Diocese of Harare where he participated in a church service held outside because Anglicans in Zimbabwe have been barred from their churches by the police. He and Bp Tengatenga both expressed their concern at the situation facing Anglicans in Zimbabwe and the real personal danger faced by bishops there.
Canon Kearon also informed the meeting that Mrs Sally Keeble had been appointed as the Director of the Anglican Communion’s Anglican Alliance for Development, Relief and Advocacy.
Primates’ Meeting report
Reporting back to the meeting on the January Primates’ Meeting Abp John Holder began by saying a key moment had been the presentations on gender-based violence. Bp Ian Douglas said he thought the Primates’ statement on this issue and the fact that the issue had also been addressed at the Lambeth Conference was a good example of the ways the Communion worked together on important issues.
“Ecclesiologically this is very important and we shouldn’t lose sight both of the urgency of this topic and what it means for us as church,” he said. “For those critics who want to say the Communion just goes from meeting to meeting, this is a great manifestation of our common life.”
Abp John Holder then referred to the working document Towards an Understanding of the Purpose and Scope of the Primates’ Meeting, one of several documents issued by the Primates following their meeting in Dublin. “The document captures the spirit of the meeting,” he said. “You read it and realise there’s a sense of openness, that it’s not exclusive. You get the point of how Primates see themselves and their ministry. The picture is not of lines drawn and barriers, instead it’s open…This is a document that can take us forward.”
Bishop David Chillingworth said of the Primates’ Meeting, “It seemed to me that the gathering of Primates worked out that as a group we needed to reflect and express the polity and the attitudes to the use of authority that each of us exercises in our own Province. That’s a significant change. It became clear the differences [between Primates] were not primarily differences of views on certain issues but rather differences of views about the exercise of authority.”
Director for Communication’s report
In his presentation, Jan Butter the Anglican Communion’s Director for Communications shared a vision of a future in which members of the whole Communion were equally able to communicate their stories of their life and ministry regardless of their location or language. Effective sharing of such news and information from all Anglican Communion Churches would, he said, ultimately create stronger bonds of friendship, understanding and co-operation between Communion members at all levels. This would in turn promote greater pride in being twin citizens of their own Church and of the Anglican Communion.
Mr Butter said telecommunications experts believed that getting Africa online “is happening faster than anyone could have imagined”. He stressed that the Communion needed to be prepared and be willing to work out how best to capitalise on this rapidly growing online global network. “Effective communication is a vital tool in enabling all Anglicans to carry out their part in God’s mission. Communicating the Gospel is our baptismal mandate,” he told the meeting, “and as individual Churches and as a global community we need to have communication as part of the Communion’s DNA.”
He also laid out some future plans for strengthening and building on global Communion communications. These included constructing a new and improved Anglican Communion website, employing additional staff for the Anglican Communion News Service, and launching an Anglican Communion quarterly magazine translated into several languages.
Presenting on the progress of Continuing Indaba, Canon Phil Groves and Miss Angharad Parry Jones shared with the committee just how many resources had been produced over the past year. These were produced by theologians from across the Communion involved in the ‘resource hubs’ that are part of the Continuing Indaba project. The resources have been very well received by members of the Communion at all levels. “The resources were grounded in the Anglican tradition but guided by the culture of the place in which they were produced,” said Canon Groves.
Bishop Chillingworth said he thought that ‘indaba’ was “becoming the way the Communion talks to itself.” He explained that in his own Province members had considered the indaba model to assist with their discussions about the Anglican Covenant.
Canon Groves and Miss Jones also gave an update on the dialogues that have been taking place in the following Provinces: North India, the USA, England, Tanzania, Southern Africa, Kenya, West Africa, West Indies, Hong Kong and Canada. They went on to say that the next phase of the project was to product a toolkit that would better equip any segment of the Communion wanting to have a discussion across difference to do so.
Bishop Ian Douglas presented a discussion paper on the proposal that there should be a strategic planning exercise for the functioning of the Standing Committee in serving the ACC. ACC consultant Robert Fordham reminded committee members that this proposal, brought to the last Standing Committee meeting, was made by the Finance Committee in the light of the auditors’ recommendation that any charitable organisation should conduct occasional strategic reviews of the organisation’s operation and function. There had been, he said, no request from the auditors that the Standing Committee should undertake such a review. After some discussion it was decided not to proceed with a review at this time.