Episcopal News Service reports on the upcoming meeting in New Zealand of the Anglican Consultative Council, and The Rt Rev. David Chillingworth of Scotland comments:
The 15th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council Oct. 27-Nov. 7 is being billed in Auckland, New Zealand, as a “once in a lifetime” event that will be “the biggest-ever Anglican gathering to hit these shores.”
And, the Episcopal Church’s ACC members are eager to be part of a gathering that will discern ways in which Anglicans can deepen their understanding of their common call to God’s mission in the world.
“I am more optimistic about the [Anglican] Communion than I have been in recent years,” Josephine Hicks, the Episcopal Church’s longest-serving member of the ACC, told Episcopal News Service. “I hope that optimism is reinforced at this meeting.”
The ACC’s diverse members will be asked to consider issues ranging from the current status of the Anglican Covenant and the Anglican Communion Office’s financial situation, to ecumenical and interfaith relations and reviews of the work of the office’s staff and that of the communion’s 14 networks that help coordinate the communion’s work of mission and social justice.
Also, members have been asked to report on the status of the Anglican Covenant in their provinces.
Jefferts Schori said it is “hard to say what will come forward [out of the ACC’s covenant discussion] for decision or position statements, though this is the first time the ACC has said it would discuss membership and ways forward around the covenant.”
Douglas suggested that “there was probably a hope that more churches would have adopted the covenant than have at this point,” and that fact “draws into stark relief” the question of the covenant’s future.
He predicted the covenant discussion could include questions of how many provinces must adopt the covenant before it is considered to be in effect and what the timeframe for adoption might be. None has yet been sent, even though the provinces have had the covenant for nearly three years.
Also on the ACC agenda in Auckland is:
the work of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO), including the Anglican Covenant process;
the communion’s ecumenical dialogues with a report from the communion’s Network for Inter Faith Concerns;
discussion of the ongoing Bible in the Life of the Church project begun at the last ACC meeting as well as other theological education efforts and the Continuing Indaba project;
reports and possible resolutions for future work from the communion’s networks;
discussion of the work of all four instruments of communion, of which the ACC is one, (the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, and the Primates Meeting being the others);
discussions of the environment, gender-based violence and Christian witness based on the results of three evening sessions, one on each of the topics, to which members of the public have been invited;
approval of a budget for the Anglican Communion Office, a discussion during which Douglas said “the Episcopal Church as members will have to be accountable” for a decision made at General Convention this summer to contribute $700,000, or just more than a fourth of what is asked, to the budget. The church’s Executive Council agreed Oct. 18 to increase the church’s 2013 contribution by $104,000 in recognition of what Bishop Stacy Sauls, chief operating officer, called a mistaken reduction in the triennial amount. Council members agreed they would revisit the church’s contributions in 2014 and 2015;
a visit to the Maori King Tuheitia Paki, the seventh leader of the Kingitanga movement; and
a Nov. 4 “Mission Encounter” during which ACC members will be dispersed among the province’s cathedrals, parishes and pastorates, and to the centers of the major hui amorangi (the equivalent of dioceses in the Maori portion of the church). Many of the ordained members of the council will preach in local churches. Back in Auckland the next day, the ACC plans a discussion of mission informed by what the members learned the previous day.
The Rt Rev David Chillingworth, Primus of The Scottish Episcopal Church writes:
I remain amazed at how similar Anglican churches are everywhere in the world. It’s there in the worship, in the culture and – this is one that isn’t so obvious – in the governance.
Which brings me to the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC15) which is only another five hours of jet lag away in Auckland. And that in turn raises the question of what holds the Anglican Communion together – given that we delight in not having any tooth-endowed centralised authority nor any single teaching magisterium. Indeed, if we attempted to do either, I can be sure that Scotland would be there to vote it down.