In a broad sweep media briefing yesterday, Stephen Lyon, co-coordinator of ACC-16 in Lusaka, highlighted some of the issues expected to be covered in the meeting that opens today.
He said that some of the themes would emerge during the meeting; and that some had already emerged from conversations and consultations that had already taken place.
The first of those was “our care for the environment,” he said. … [A] second concern at this ACC was to “ensure we hear the voice of the youth.” Some ninety per cent of Zambia’s population is under the age of 45 and the Anglican Communion has organised a youth conference, which is taking place this week, to bring together young people from across southern and central Africa to discuss the environment and discipleship.
…The ACC would also look at regions of the world where congregations were growing. “There is a bishop in Tanzania that has done I don’t know how many thousands of confirmations each year. His question is ‘How do I build up those who I have confirmed into the Church in their faith?’
“In other parts of the Anglican Communion, sad-to-say, congregations are declining. So what can we learn from those places in the Communion that are growing, that perhaps we are not taking on board in those places where congregations are declining.”
Lyons also raised up the work of Bishop Ian Douglas addressing gun violence in the US.
He said that two other things that “come from the state of the world we are living in at the moment,” were issues of migration and also issues of violence – both in the home and family, and also in communities.
“We have a bishop from America who is leading the campaign of the Church over there against gun violence.” Ian Douglas, a member of the ACC Standing Committee, is Bishop of Connecticut where, in 2012, some 20 six- and seven-year old children and six members of staff were killed when a gunman opened fire on them at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. “How can the Church offer another way of looking forward – a way of peace, a way of reconciliation,” Mr Lyon said.
While marriage and sexuality were not on the agenda, the differences in opinion raised at the gathering of Primates in January were expected to find a place for discussion.
The Ven Paul Feheley, a member of the communications team for ACC-16, responded to another question by saying that the question of same sex marriage and relationships was not on the meeting’s agenda. “It is not an issue that is going to be dealt with in some depth,” he said. But he anticipated some discussion around the issue in a session looking back to the Primates Gathering and Meeting that took place in Canterbury Cathedral in January” and the Primates’ communiqué.
Acknowledging that some Provinces have stated that they will not attend ACC-16 because of their disagreement with the Episcopal Church’s position on same-sex relationships, Archdeacon Feheley said: “We respect their right to make those decisions [but] we regret it because we act as a family. And I’m sure it is the same in your family as it is in mine: when some of the members of the family aren’t present; you still have the conversations, you still continue to act and to be; but you are always a little bit less because some of the family members are not there.
“So we respect their decisions not to come but we regret it as well because we would like them to be part of the conversation.”
Read the ACNS report on the media briefing here.
In other news, the Kenyan delegation is present — that’s the word from The Episcopal Church delegation.
Photo: Lusaka Cathedral is ready for ACC-16. Via ENS on Twitter