THE ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury described the state of the contemporary world as one “in which death and nothingness have what looks like a powerful advantage”, when he preached at the General Convention last week.
“We collude with the death of the poor, with the almost unimaginable ravages of HIV/AIDS in Africa, with the ruination of small economies on the strange adventures of the global market, with the impending extinction of the possibility of human existence in some parts of the world by rising water levels. . . . And in this world, the Church is there to name death and to promise life,” he said.
Dr Williams also took part in a discussion panel about the global financial crisis, at which the Presiding Bishop, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, described the world as “in the midst of a crash course on economic interconnectedness. . . We’ve been quick to assert our need while ignoring the privation nearby.”
Sermons at the Convention have focused on global mission. Dr Courtney Cowart, the New Orleans-based director of advocacy and community affairs for the Office of Disaster Response, told delegates: “37.3 million Americans have been thrown in the ditch that lies beneath the poverty line, and left there to languish — 24.5 per cent are black, 21.5 per cent are Hispanic, and the poorest counties in America are predominantly Native American. . .”
The Convention has also been told that the Episcopal Church needs more time to deal with the legacy of slavery. Only 12 or 13 dioceses out of 110 had begun work on two resolutions passed in 2006.
The budget is also looming large. The Episcopal Church faces choices over expenditure, as income is projected to be $15 million less than expected. Diocesan giving is down, and there is a $1.3-million decline in income from investments.