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ACC-15 told that love can still unite ‘untidy’ Anglicans

02 November 2012


Dramatic start: left to right: Cyprus Morunga, Kahutia Maxwell, and Pouoterangi Ngargopo issue a Maori challenge to welcome the members of the ACC in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday

Dramatic start: left to right: Cyprus Morunga, Kahutia Maxwell, and Pouoterangi Ngargopo issue a Maori challenge to welcome the members of the ACC i...

THE Archbishop of Canterbury said that he was praying for a "Pentecostal experience" at the 15th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), which got under way last weekend in New Zealand.

Speaking to ACC members on Saturday, at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Center, in Auckland, Dr Williams said that he hoped that "divided tongues of fire will touch us all in the days ahead; that we shall learn to listen to one another's languages, experience, and insight with all the enthusiasm and eagerness with which we would listen to God's own word".

Preaching a sermon at the opening eucharist of the ACC, in Holy Trinity Cathedral, in Auckland, on Sunday, Dr Williams said that the Anglican Communion should "constantly . . . draw others in".

He continued: "If we are prepared to risk loving the unlovable, knowing that we the unlovable have already been loved, then we'll be the Church, and then, please God, our wonderful quarrelsome, diverse, untidy An-glican Communion will testify in and through the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father."

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon, said that all the provinces had accepted the invitation to attend the ACC. "There's no province staying away," he said.

The Anglican Communion News Service, however, reported on Sunday that ten out of the 87 members of the ACC were not present. Some were "still in transit", while others had struggled to obtain visas, or had withdrawn for personal reasons.

The Church of the Province of Uganda, which has been preoccupied with electing a new Archbishop, "forgot to nominate someone", Canon Kearon said. "But the intention was there, and they apologised."

Canon Kearon was asked about reports that the Archbishop of Aba, in Nigeria, the Most Revd Ikechi Nwosu, and the Rt Revd Julian Dobbs, a bishop in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, had not taken communion at the service in the cathedral on Sunday. There was "nothing compulsory about taking communion", he said, and Bishop Dobbs was "not part of the ACC".

Canon Kearon reiterated that there were no immediate plans to introduce a "presidential figure" to share the Archbishop of Canterbury's workload on the Anglican Communion. Dr Williams had appeared to suggest, in a newspaper interview in September, that, in the long term, such a figure might be necessary ( News, 14 September).

Canon Kearon said: "The Instruments [of Communion] are evol-ving, and there could well be changes, but there are no specific plans. But obviously the Archbishop is entitled to express his opinions, and his opinions matter because he's been in the middle of it for the last ten years. . . We are listening very carefully to what he suggests for the way forward."

The Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand, the Rt Revd Victoria Matthews, spoke to ACC members on Tuesday about the reception of the Anglican Covenant around the Communion, which is being monitored by the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith, and Order (IASCUFO), of which she is a member.

Bishop Matthews said: "I have often thought that the document people discuss and the actual Anglican Covenant are two different documents. One is the document that people have in their mind, and the other is the Anglican Communion Covenant on paper. . .

"I believe that, in the original idea of the Anglican Covenant, there was a desire to allow the Anglican Communion to be a safe place for conversation and the sharing of new ideas. The actual document of the Anglican Covenant does not achieve that for all the Churches of the Anglican Communion, and that is why some Churches have declined to adopt it."

The Covenant had been criticised as both "punitive" and "lacking teeth", Bishop Matthews said; which suggested "that it is not yet perceived, let alone received, as a truly safe way in which to encounter one another".

On Tuesday, members of the ACC unanimously voted to adopt a resolution calling on Churches to "adopt and implement" a charter to protect vulnerable people. On the same day, Sally Keeble, the director of Anglican Communion's Alliance for Development, Relief and Advocacy, spoke to members.

The ACC meeting continues until next Wednesday. Other topics on the agenda include environmental change and "Christian witness in a multi-religious world".

In a pastoral letter issued on Monday after a meeting in Dar es Salaam of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Primates council to  the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), Archbishop Eliud Wabukala said that the Primates had been mindful of "the need for prayer for those who will gather in Auckland, New Zealand, for the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. In particular we prayed that they will avoid compromise and have the courage to declare boldly the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is good news for all people at all times and in all cultures."

The council was "vividly reminded of the costly struggles of so many of our fellow Christians, whether facing violent persecution, natural disaster or spiritual conflict with competing ideologies."

GAFCON2 is now scheduled for October 2013, rather than May, as previously indicated.

Question of the week: Does the Anglican Communion need a more presidential figure, separate from the Archbishop of Canterbury? 

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