Though some people think the money the Episcopal Church gives the Anglican Communion is directly passed on to Provinces, most of it goes to the work of coordinating worldwide ministries. The role of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), which is meeting right now in Lusaka, Zambia, is to facilitate the co-operative work of the churches of the Anglican Communion, exchange information between the Provinces and churches, and help to co-ordinate common action.
At the ongoing ACC meeting yesterday, the Department Directors for mission gave reports on their work, work that includes empowering discipleship and tackling gender inequality; promoting reconciliation and supporting humanitarian work in conflict areas and following disasters.
Director of mission, John Kafwanka, spoke of the drive to promote good practice, share resources and foster great co-operation. He said the diocesan companion links formed an important bedrock where relationships were mutual and inter-dependent and were a wonderful sign of the Bonds of Affection. John also spoke of the new Youth Awards, created to encourage innovation and highlight successful work.
“Joining the dots” was the way director for Women and Church in Society, Terrie Robinson, described her work. Terrie painted a bleak picture of the world faced by many women and girls – of forced marriage; female genital mutilation (FGM); sexual violence in war; trafficking and the threat of so-called honour killing. She said change was hard to achieve but Anglicans were responding – and explained her role was to tell the stories of successful initiatives and lobby at the highest level for change.
The positive response by Anglicans in the face of a torrent of humanitarian crises around the world was the theme of the report by Flora Winfield, the Anglican Communion’s representative at the UN in Geneva. She described her role as “working on behalf of the world’s most disregarded people”.
She said the Church had provided “outstanding service” often when Anglicans themselves were suffering the consequences of the disaster too. International relief agencies were creaking under the weight of the demands on them, but the Communion was providing help on the ground, quickly and with love. Flora explained her role in educating the Church about the institutions of the UN – and raising “faith literacy” within the UN – and her part in ecumenical and interfaith work.
ACC members also heard from the director of Continuing Indaba, Phil Groves, about how this initiative was bringing people together in places as diverse as Kenya, New York and India. Phil said the project of Indaba had now become a process and was being used around the world to build community, energise mission and provide a context to resolve conflict.
He explained how Indaba had been used by two warring clans in Kenya and had resulted in them rescinding aggressive oaths dating back to the 1960s; how it was being applied in Burundi in the face of conflict; how it had been used by the Diocese of New York to unite an incredibly diverse range of parishes and how Indaba had resolved a dispute between dalits and tribal people in Northern India.
Andy Bowerman and Rachael Carnegie reported back on the work of the Anglican Alliance and its three pillars of development, relief and advocacy. They conceded that the Alliance was relatively new and still learning how to have an impact – but then listed a wide range of areas and initiatives. One example from Rachael detailed support for a business project in Kenya, while Andy explained how the Alliance helped to energise a vast campaign to lobby the COP21 climate conference in Paris.
The session concluded with a short report from the new director for communications, Adrian Butcher, who took up his post just before ACC-16. He paid tribute to his predecessor, Jan Butter, and expressed his desire to build on the vision to establish worldwide communication network. Adrian spoke of the need for training and his desire to see positive stories about the work of the Communion shared more widely and more effectively among what he described as “this wonderful worldwide family.”
image: Flora Winfield, the Anglican Communion’s representative at the UN, addresses ACC-16 members at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka, Zambia. Photo Credit: Gavin Drake / ACNS