A REPORT "exploring new frameworks for the Church of England in
world mission" was the basis of a debate by the General Synod on
Introducing the debate, the Bishop of Bristol,
the Rt Revd Mike Hill, commended the report World-shaped
Mission to the Synod. The motion focused "on the four
priorities that I believe will assist us to re-imagine the Church
of England's realistic contribution to the global mission", he
said. These were: "the necessity for co-ordination in a field of
increasing diversity"; "the importance of a sense of common
Anglican identity"; "the need for continuing relationships within
the National Church Institutions"; and "the need to be seen to be
working out principles of mutuality among Church of England links
and agencies as well as with our partners in the global
The heart of the report was "a call to the Church of England to
move towards a greater mutuality in world mission relationships".
The C of E had once understood missionaries as those "who went with
the mission agencies to another part of the world to take the
gospel". Over the past 20 years, the understanding of mission had
changed: "we now see ourselves here at home to be in mission in our
local communities and in national life. England is a mission
field." There needed to be "attitudinal change at all levels of the
Church". The motion "specifically affirms the work of the mission
agencies and the companion links, but calls for partnerships
between all engaged in world mission relationships".
Jennifer Humphreys (Bath & Wells) reported
that, since the last Lambeth Conference, the diocese had been
raising awareness of the Millennium Development Goals. It had
recently invited people from Zambia and Brazil to talk about
environmental sustainability in their contexts. The report would
"resonate" with what the diocese was trying to do in bringing about
"behavioural change" in parishes.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said the report
was an "exceptionally coherent and powerful document". He drew
attention to paragraph 119, suggesting that the Church needed to
listen to migrant residents in England: "If we are to take this
document seriously, we need to reflect on how we invest,
collaborate with, and learn from the global Church on our
This would include interaction with diaspora communities, and
ongoing liaison with the black-majority Churches in this country.
He also referred to the "growing concurrence between mission
agencies and aid agencies", and welcomed the "excellent stories of
liaison" between Christian Aid and local agencies.
The Church, he said, had been able to work more and more closely
with the Department for International Development to "overcome
innate suspicion" in Westminster towards faith-based agencies in
this context - "no small task".
The Revd Professor Paul Fiddes (Baptist Union)
welcomed the "superb" report, its theological setting, appeal to
ecumenical partnership, plea for cross-cultural Christianity, and
"sensitive exploration of what partnership means - giving and
receiving on both sides". He went on to ask how churches could make
partnerships with agencies outside the Church, including relief
work organised by Muslim groups. It would need to develop a
theology for such partnerships which did not "sell short the
Christian gospel", but took seriously "the mission and presence of
God which overflows the Church".
The Revd Mark Ireland (Lichfield) said that he
was excited by the report's emphasis on mutuality and
interdependence in mission; but there was a missing chapter dealing
with mission and evangelism. While mission was more than
evangelism, evangelism was a key component; and overseas partners,
he said, had much to teach about evangelism.
The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, said: "I
did a bit of dramatic improvisation in my youth, and learned that
it works quite well if you can be inspired by those you're acting
with." In partnership links, he said, the best was drawn out of the
partnership as "we improvise together in God's service."
Penny Allen (Lichfield) said that she was
disappointed that the report did not contain "reference to seeking
to transform unjust structures of society". She would have liked to
see "reference to the Church of England in partnership with the
Government making our country into a Fairtrade country", or "taking
more ethical stances about the economy and banking".
The Revd Dr John Perumbalath (Rochester), a
trustee of USPG, said that he had observed "an unhealthy
competition in world mission"; he had found Anglican mission
societies and Anglican development agencies "working unconnected",
and often asking the same people for financial support.
Clive Scowen (London) said that his amendment
sought "to add another strand" to the motion "by stressing the
potential of every parish church and individual members of churches
to participate in mission in other parts of the Anglican Communion
. . . by taking direct missional initiatives themselves". He gave
the example of a mission project set up by a priest, and supported
by his two parishes. This had resulted in "many . . . becoming
Christians when they see the life-transforming power of the gospel
The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd
Christopher Hill, encouraged the Synod not to vote in favour of the
amendment. The point made by Mr Scowen was covered by the "generic
reference" to "all involved in Church of England world mission" in
paragraph (d) of the motion. The danger would be ending up with
"lots of things simply duplicating what is going on through
diocesan links and mission agencies".
The amendment was carried by 195 to 120, with 15 recorded
Canon Celia Thomson (Gloucester) moved an
amendment to add "the world Church" to the motion. She said that
companion links with ecumenical partners, particularly in Europe,
could be fruitful. The diocese of Gloucester had links with a
branch of the Lutheran Church in Sweden. More people were able to
benefit from that link than from links to Africa and India; and
there was the shared context of European Churches.
Her amendment was supported by the Bishop of Bristol, and was
carried without debate.
Mr Scowen sought to introduce a further amendment to encourage
parishes and individual members of the C of E to engage in world
Speaking in support of it, Canon Chris Sugden
(Oxford) said that the agency CMS had originated in Holy Trinity,
Clapham. "The work of parishes feature in no diocesan reports or
agency budgets," he said. "The way members of our churches
understand the world Church is through personal connections." Such
links were messy and untidy, but should be left to flower".
Canon Simon Butler (South-wark), opposing the
amendment, said that they shouldn't tell all parishes to be
involved in world mission. "Some will see it as yet another thing
to add to their to-do lists."
The amendment was lost.
The amended motion was carried. It said:
That this Synod, recognising the Church of England's
historic and continuing participation in world mission as essential
to our identity as members of the universal Church:
(a) welcome the report entitled World-shaped Mission
and commend it to the dioceses and parishes of the Church of
England for further study;
(b) affirm the ongoing role of Mission Agencies in
resourcing the mission of the Church of England at home and
(c) affirm the continuing growth, whether through the
Diocesan Companion Links, initiatives by parishes or otherwise, in
the relationships between the Church of England, the Provinces of
the Anglican Communion, and the world Church; and
(d) encourage the building of continuing partnership between
all involved in the Church of England world mission and development