DURING a presentation about the 15th meeting of the Anglican
Consultative Council (ACC), held in New Zealand last month, the
Archbishop of Canterbury, on Monday, disputed the idea that
"the structure and pattern of ACC meetings is designed to push to
the margin some of the more contentious matters" in the Communion.
He continued: "The crucial point is not whether we have those
arguments: it is where we have them." There had been "demanding
exchanges on the state of the Anglican Communion and larger issues
that divide us" in smaller groups.
Dr Williams also spoke of the "question about the Instruments of
Communion" and "the kind of international life we have as a
Communion". The Communion had "moved forward culturally" from the
"post-World War II era, where, if you have a problem, you throw a
committee at it". The networks of the Communion, such as the
Anglican Health and Women's networks, were now "some of the most
creative, most universally supported work we do as a Communion", he
"The larger question is, How do we hold together the burgeoning
life of less formal alliances and networks with the unavoidable
need for decision-making and management bodies? The ACC meeting put
forward this question more vividly than ever before."
Elizabeth Paver (Sheffield), who is the
Vice-Chair of the ACC, led the presentation about ACC 15 (News, 2
November, 9 November). The ACC's agenda, she said, included
"Bible-study groups, reflection groups, and reports from all areas
of work commissioned by the previous ACC". There had also been
sessions on finance, and an annual report from the Secretary
General of the Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon. Resolutions had
been proposed and voted on in the business session.
The Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin (London), a member
of the delegation from the Church of England, said that she had
been impressed by the "rich liturgy in words of different
languages, as well as music and movements" which she had
encountered in churches in the Polynesian Church. "Imagine having
the Gospel danced from the altar down to the aisle, and danced back
up again - absolutely wonderful."
Margaret Swinson (Liverpool) informed the Synod
about some of the resolutions that were passed at the ACC,
including a resolution on "birth registration". Mrs Swinson said:
"We take for granted that all children will be registered at birth.
But this is not the case across all of the Communion, and
registration of birth. . . opens up access to education and the
establishment of identity."
Among other resolutions carried by the ACC were those concerning
"gender-based violence" and "domestic violence".
The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen
Cottrell, said that he had gone to ACC 15 with "some trepidation,
wondering if I'd be cast into the centre of the most difficult and
intractable politics of the Anglican Communion".
It was not like that, however. "Over the course of two weeks, we
did learn to dance together, and we had some very beautiful and
rich conversations where we faced up to some of the disagreements
and differences that we face in our Communion."