THE Anglican Communion is “alive and well”, and negative stories that suggest otherwise are a “distortion of the truth”, its secretary-general, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has said.
Speaking at the Center for Anglican Communion Studies, at the Virginia Theological Seminary, in the United States, he said that, while there were tensions in the family of the Communion, there were also “many shining lights”, and, among them, he singled out the Alpha Course, and Holy Trinity, Brompton, in bringing thousands to Christ.
“English Anglicans were the pioneers of mission in the 18th and 19th centuries, and that spirit is still alive. Anglican Communion membership has grown by ten per cent in the past decade, and that is not only due to the birth rate but to the simple, persistent, and faithful sharing of the gospel.”
He also praised efforts to find common ground with Muslim communities in countries around the world, through the work of churches and dioceses in health care and schools, such as carried out by the diocese of Jerusalem.
Addressing the issue of differences over sexual morality, he reminded his audience that it had taken 100 years before the Lambeth Conference had come up with a definitive pastoral solution on polygamy, which agreed a framework that could be worked out in local contexts.
“The tensions are real, but we are still together . . . as a family, we are working through our problems,” he said.
His address was part of celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the Centre, which was set up to promote community for the Communion through research and consultation, with the aim of interreligious reconciliation.
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US, the Most Revd Michael Curry, will also speak at an event to mark the 20th anniversary.
The director of the Center for Anglican Communion Studies, the Revd Dr Robert Heaney, said: “As a result of Archbishop Josiah’s presentations and presence here, a palpable and deeper sense of what it means to be sisters and brothers in the Anglican Communion has emerged.
“Difficult issues have not been ignored. However, in the context of celebrating the Communion, we have glimpsed the possibility of a fruitful future for Anglicans committed to the gospel of Christ and relationship with one another.”
The Dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary, the Very Revd Dr Ian Markham, said: “Virginia Theological Seminary has a deep and rich history of discerning the mission of God through the Anglican Communion.
“We are proud of our Center for Anglican Communion Studies, as it continues this tradition of discernment in intercultural theology; in consultations, research, and publications; and in developing practices of reconciliation across the world.”