Anglican Conference seeks path to growth in worship and witness | New

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From July 26 to August 7, Anglican bishops and their spouses from around the world gathered at the University of Kent, England, to engage in discussions around the theme “God’s Church for God’s World – walking, listen and testify together”. Discussions, guided by prayer, reflection and fellowship, as well as visits to Lambeth Palace, worship at Canterbury Cathedral and a boat tour of London inspired the bishops to issue calls for action to the Church and society.

Guided by critical reflection on pre-conference material prepared by bishops, lay people and scholars, the bishops reflected on these appeals focused on nine areas to determine how issues and activities in local and global contexts are relevant to the operations of the Church of God. in the world of God. As spouses and bishops reflected together on the Bible study and retreat on the First Epistle of Peter, steps were taken to discern what the Spirit is saying to the Church in these difficult times. Of course, while acknowledging that no monopoly over the work of the Holy Spirit should be claimed by any one religious tradition, the bishops and consorts led by Archbishop Justin Welby and his wife Caroline have kept discussions open, honest and thought-provoking discussions that resulted in very successful engagements and commitments to engage in mission and ministry in the world.

Nine discussion areas, or calls, focused on mission and evangelism, reconciliation, church safety, environment and sustainability, Christian unity, interfaith relations, human dignity, identity Anglican Church and Discipleship. The dialogue around these issues, some of which were viewed controversially, such as human dignity, caused some tension, particularly regarding human sexuality, as liberals wanted to repeal the 1:10 resolution and conservatives wanted excommunicate dioceses and provinces that bless homosexual unions. Ultimately, however, the bishops agreed that callings provided scope for ministry and mission, and once there was openness to the working of the Holy Spirit, changes, positive developments and renewed relationships could emerge in the medium and long term.

For example, with respect to the human dignity-focused appeal, which was facilitated by the Archbishop of the West Indies, the Rt Rev Dr Howard Gregory, concerns were raised about issues relating to human sexuality and the issue of the blessing of same-sex unions. At the same time, there were a number of other issues such as the establishment of an Archbishop’s Commission for Redemptive Action to address gender justice, cultural diversity, sexuality and reparations, among others. Human sexuality was therefore not the substantive issue in the call to emphasize human dignity. Rather, the importance of valuing and respecting people made in the image and likeness of God, especially with reference to Resolution 1:10, which places the understanding of same-sex relationships in biblical and theological perspectives while stating that at the last conference, the majority of the bishops held to this common point of view. This position, however, does not suggest that all bishops, provinces and dioceses accept the terms of the 1:10 resolution.

At the same time, it is undeniable that there is a critical mass of Anglicans who support the views expressed in the resolution, hence the need for dialogue and openness to the work of the Holy Spirit, which has affirmed at the last conference and reaffirmed at this one as an essential part of the collective witness of the Anglican Communion.

Here it is useful to remind readers that the Anglican Communion is not a Church as one thinks, for example, of the Catholic Church with the Pope at its head. On the contrary, the Anglican Communion is a community of independent churches first brought together in 1887 to solve a very difficult and challenging problem. In response to a Southern African bishop who took the Bishop of London to court over a polygamy issue in which the Bishop of London lost on appeal to the Privy Council, with the court ruling that all churches local authorities are autonomous and are therefore within their rights to make decisions in their best interest. Since then, the bishops of the Anglican Communion have met annually, but with the understanding that the autonomy of the local church must be respected at all costs.

At the Lambeth Conference this year, it was impossible to avoid the challenges that emerged from local churches such as those in Nigeria and Tanzania that do not share the views of other members of the Anglican Communion. A variety of points of view as well as points of difference are expected, and in a dialogue of this nature, and although the parliamentary style of debates and the publication of resolutions were not used this time, the bishops nevertheless agreed that the nine topics provided principles that could be made applicable and achievable in different ways in their local contexts. This approach to respecting individual autonomy has moved bishops and their spouses beyond words to action and commitment to return to their dioceses and provinces to do the work of God and the people entrusted to their care. .

In the final analysis, therefore, this year’s Lambeth Conference had to address some of the challenges of the past such as chattel slavery and the question of reparation. It took into account the rape and abuse of children, women and the elderly and the continuing threat of disease and global warming. With these real threats to the survival of the planet, the conference reflected on the theme “God’s Church for God’s World – Walk, Listen, and Witness” with a view to forging a path to growth in worship and testimony in a context of that a large number of people have renounced the Church, and frankly, some have no interest in being part of a religious institution. Nevertheless, with countless others searching for meaning and purpose in life, and knowing that religion offers such benefits, there is hope for the positive results that are expected to come. beyond the conference.

Rt Rev Garth Minott is the Bishop of Kingston

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