AUCKLAND, NZ: Some Decisions made about the Anglican Communion at ACC-15
By David W. Virtue in Auckland
October 31, 2012 (local time)
* Anglicans worldwide have voted unanimously to call on their churches to adopt and implement a charter protecting vulnerable people. More than 80 members of the Anglican Consultative Council have committed themselves to promoting the physical, emotional and spiritual welfare and safety of all people, especially children, young people and vulnerable adults, within their national and regional churches.
* It's time to move on violence, say ACC-15 delegates. Anglicans who are struggling at the front line in the battle to turn back gender-based and family violence can take comfort. As of now they know they have absolute, unequivocal support from their leaders in the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury has long spoken against this abuse. So, too, have the Primates - who sent a letter to the churches following their meeting in Ireland last year. The Anglican Consultative Council threw its weight behind the cause, too - signaling that the time for words is over and that action is needed at all levels. The archbishop said that the church also must be committed "to helping people not cope with or get over abuse but, simply live through it faithfully."
* Young Anglicans reframe mission. Archbishop Rowan Williams believes the Anglican Communion needs to change its approach to mission. He also thinks young Anglicans will lead the way - which is why he was so excited about a book launch in Holy Trinity Cathedral on Sunday. The Communion's mission maps were drawn, Dr. Williams said, "largely by men, largely by ordained men over 55, and largely by ordained men over 55 with a slightly paler complexion than the average Anglican". The Archbishop praised a book "Life-Widening Mission - Global Anglican Perspectives" by seven young Anglican leaders. Williams said the book showed that the youthful contingent of the Communion was making its own maps and charting its own course, "not in rebellion against tradition but simply getting on with it. The book has been edited by Dr Cathy Ross (Aotearoa New Zealand) and brings together first-hand reflections on mission from local mission contexts and in response to the Edinburgh 2010 global mission conference which the group attended.
* Statement from the ACC concerning those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Members of the Anglican Consultative Council, meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, Oct. 31 (local time), expressed their concern, compassion and prayers for all those caught up in the impact of Hurricane Sandy. Members heard of the scale of lives lost in the Caribbean, in the eastern United States and Canada, and of the devastation wrought in the wake of the hurricane. Condolences were expressed to the Anglican Province of the West Indies, the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of Cuba.
* Council considers status of Anglican Covenant in small groups. We're still in communion,' one member notes. New Zealand Diocese of Christchurch Victoria Matthews and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams speak together Oct. 31 (local time) shortly after Matthews initiated the first formal discussion of the Anglican Covenant held during the Anglican Consultative Council's 12-day meeting in Auckland. The Anglican Consultative Council spent an hour in private conversation on Oct. 31 (local time) considering the status of the Anglican Covenant but took no action. Before the Oct. 31 reflection conversations began, New Zealand Diocese of Christchurch Bishop Victoria Matthews asked the members to consider "why [the covenant] is a cause of fear and why is it a sign of hope for others?"
* The ACC-15 is a meeting seeking to redefine Anglican identity around the needs of the world rather than the sufficiency of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of all, writes Canon Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council. In the Opening Service in the cathedral Archbishop Rowan Williams preached from John 17:27: "And you also must testify, for you were with me in the beginning." Rather than see this as referring to the disciples or the church, ++Rowan Williams suggested that the passage means that all of us-- believers and non-believers-- were with God from the beginning, before time began, and therefore "There is no clear line where the church ends and the world begins." Moreover, he said, if we know that we (the church) have been with God from the very beginning, we will understand that our job is to make known God's "causeless and unreasonable love for the world," and that our mission and sure foundation is to open peoples eyes--including those who reject Jesus Christ and his way-- "To this mysterious sense of being there from the beginning with God." While there is much to commend in this message on the extravagant love of God, the world's desperate need to know this love and our need to share his love with the world, the message was confusing. Was the Archbishop of Canterbury suggesting that everyone will be saved by the mysterious love of God which embraces all from the beginning? Currently, the work of the Anglican Communion appears to be driven by a new global, non-Biblical ethic that focuses on the needs of communities rather than the person and power of Jesus Christ, writes Ashey.
* The work of the Anglican Alliance on economic empowerment continues to focus on the secular development of skills for "inclusion," ""consultation and governance," "protection of vulnerable people," and "principles of financial planning"-- all from their report today, all very worthy efforts and all utterly lacking in any Biblical and universal truths rooted in the person and power of Jesus Christ.
Likewise a presentation on gender based family violence by three community social service leaders provided an excellent survey in psycho-social roots of violence, recent breakthroughs in understanding how the brain contributes to violent behavior, and therapies for dealing with fear and abuse. But there was no mention of Jesus Christ, no testimonies of life change through Him, and nothing to suggest any spiritual basis for this work other than the presentation on a Maori native spiritual framework for such work.
* The Anglican Alliance has no funds but specializes in connecting and co-ordinating. The Director of the Anglican Alliance, Sally Keeble, told members of the ACC-15 that the Anglican Alliance existed to strengthen the capacity of the Communion to undertake development, relief and advocacy. She told members the Alliance was not a fundraising initiative but was there to help fulfil God's mission by strengthening the development, relief and advocacy activities of the Anglican Communion. The models of working were to come she said, "From the grassroots up and driven by those closest to poverty." The importance of the Alliance not becoming simply another funding body was emphasized by the Episcopal member from Nigeria, Archbishop Ikechi Nwachukwu Nwosu. He said, "Resources available in Africa if managed well could make many African churches and communities financially independent and assist the Alliance to serve us better."
* Given the disaster in New York will Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori return at once to be a shepherd to her flock? Apparently not. ENS did put out a sympathy note to those dioceses affected by Hurricane Sandy. The Presiding Bishop continues her knitting in the cathedral each day. So presidents cancel campaigning, both Obama and Romney help out with the rescue (neither of them have Senate seats) and the chief shepherd of the flock whose website can only proclaim that their office is closed sits doing her knitting (or is it tapestry?) 10,000 miles away. Does this model the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep? In South Africa, whenever there was a crisis, Archbishop Tutu would abandon the meeting and say "We must go at once to be with them."
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