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The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith & Order issues a Communiqué

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith & Order issues a Communiqué

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order met at Elmina, Ghana, from 2 to 9 December 2015.

The Commission was generously hosted by the Church of the Province of West Africa and its Diocese of the Cape Coast. The Primate, the Most Revd Daniel Sarfo, and the Bishop of the Cape Coast, the Rt Revd Dr Victor Atta-Baffoe met with the Commission, and the Bishop subsequently welcomed the Members to a special ecumenical Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral, Cape Coast. Commission Members also participated in the Cathedral’s Sunday morning celebration of the Holy Eucharist, at which Bishop Victoria Matthews was invited to preside and Bishop Howard Gregory to preach. The Commission was delighted to spend a morning engaging with students and faculty at the St Nicholas Seminary.

President Barack Obama finishes an address following a tour with his family of Cape Coast Castle in Ghana on July 11, 2009.   (Official White House photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way or used in materials, advertisements, products, or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House. )
President Barack Obama following a tour with his family of Cape Coast Castle in Ghana on July 11, 2009.

In the context of the contemporary crises of displacement and uprooting of people, of refugees and of human trafficking, the Commission paid a deeply moving visit to the Cape Coast Castle (see photograph). This was a major centre of the transatlantic slave trade, with the terrible incongruity of an Anglican church directly over the dungeons that held those who, through the ‘Door of No Return’, were to be shipped into chattel slavery.

For part of the meeting, the Commission was joined by Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, who offered a deep and wide-ranging reflection on the present challenges within and future hopes for the Communion. The Commission warmly welcomed the opportunity to engage with him on ways of strengthening its capacity to fullfil its mandate in the service of the Communion.

The Commission was also greatly heartened by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s timely decision to invite his fellow Primates of the Anglican Communion to meet together in January, and held this gathering in its daily prayers. Recalling that all of the Primates gathered at the Enthronement Eucharist of the Archbishop in March 2013, IASCUFO believes that the forthcoming meeting could be an opportunity for a new, redeemed conversation within the Communion to begin, and stands ready to assist in any way consistent with its remit.

Much of the Commission’s work was devoted to supporting the forthcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, in Lusaka in April 2016.

For this, the Ecumenical Working Group considered recent ecumenical developments, including such significant documents as:

ACC will also be invited to commend to the Communion:

  • ways of deepening relationships between Anglicans and Lutherans, around the commemoration of the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation in 2017
  • Receiving One Another’s Ordained Ministries, a report intended to assist churches of the Anglican Communion on questions of receiving the ordained ministries of ecumenical partners.

In accordance with IASCUFO’s mandate, the Working Group on Communion Life prepared for ACC:

  • Reflection on the ways in which Communion life is deepened, including prayer, worship and Scripture
  • A document entitled A Mission Shaped Communion
  • A working paper on the Instruments of Communion, as a follow up to the document Towards a Symphony of Instruments, prepared for ACC-15
  • Working papers on local expressions of communion life for the Anglican Communion website.

Work continued on a paper on Theological Anthropology, in which issues of slavery and human trafficking – so much present to those in Elmina – among other subjects, are addressed.

The Commission expressed thanks to all who assisted with the organisation and running of the meeting, and particularly to the Revd Canon Anthony Eiwuley, Provincial Secretary. Members warmly welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Adviser on Anglican Communion Affairs, the Revd Canon Precious Omuku to his first IASCUFO meeting, and appreciated the extensive contribution of the Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut in his first meeting as Director of Unity, Faith and Order, rather than as a consultant member.

The Commission’s work was nourished by the daily rhythm of worship. In the spirit of the Advent hope, the Commission celebrated a daily Eucharist, and said Morning and Evening Prayer.

The next meeting will take place from 1 to 8 December 2016, at a venue to be confirmed.

Attending –
The Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, Prov. of the Anglican Church of Burundi,
Chair of the Commission

The Revd Professor Paul Avis, Church of England
The Revd Sonal Christian, Church of North India
The Rt Revd Dr Howard Gregory, The Church in the Prov. of the West Indies
The Revd Professor Katherine Grieb, The Episcopal Church (USA)
The Rt Revd Kumara Illangasinghe, Church of Ceylon, Sri Lanka
The Rt Revd Victoria Matthews, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
The Revd Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen, Scottish Episcopal Church/Church of England
The Revd Canon Precious Omuku, ABC’s Adviser on AC Affairs
Professor Andrew Pierce, Church of Ireland
The Rt Revd Professor Stephen Pickard, Anglican Church of Australia
The Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones, Church in Wales
The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut, Director for Unity, Faith and Order

Sent apologies –
The Revd Canon Professor Simon Oliver
The Rt Revd William Mchombo
The Revd Dr Jeremiah Guen Seok Yang

Not attending –
The Rt Revd Dr Georges Titre Ande
The Rt Revd Professor Dapo Asaju
The Revd Canon Clement Janda
The Revd Dr Edison Kalengyo
The Revd Canon Dr Michael Nai Chiu Poon
The Most Revd Hector Zavala

PDF of the Communiqué
The image is a screenshot from the PDF of the Communiqué

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JC Fisher

A “Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order” by its very name implies an attempt to stamp out theological diversity among the member churches of the Communion. The name itself is un-Anglican and chilling.

The Faith&Order movement has a 100+ year tradition of moving separate Christian bodies towards greater unity (a movement which Anglicans/Episcopalians always played a conspicuous role).

While I share some of your concerns re the participation here (that is to say, lack of: I’ve no doubt that the location was chosen to facilitate easy travel of precisely some of those who stayed away), there’s no need to insult this noble movement (working towards Christ’s prayer that all his followers be one as he and the Father are one, John 17) in the same breath.

Jeremy Bates

There is every need to speak out against the twisting of important words such as Anglican, covenant, unity, faith, and order when they are used as tools to oppress.

The so-called Anglican Covenant was neither Anglican nor a covenant.

This IASCUFO is not about faith, unity, and order but rather about disciplining The Episcopal Church as it tries to treat all God’s children the same.

I’m not insulting a movement; I’m calling out Orwellian behavior. Was IASCUFO called into being because the Anglican participation in the faith & order movement was inadequate? Of course not.

IASCUFO was called into being for much more malign purposes.

You raise the larger issue of ecumenism. If the price of ecumenism is discrimination, then count me out. I don’t think Christ would want a church unified around criminalizing love.

Jeremy Bates

This new IASCUFO body seems already on its last legs.

It is burdened with an Orwellian name, an impossible task, and a recalcitrant membership.

A “Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order” by its very name implies an attempt to stamp out theological diversity among the member churches of the Communion. The name itself is un-Anglican and chilling.

When formed in 2009 this IASCUFO body had among its charges the task of promoting the so-called Anglican Covenant. That document was neither Anglican nor a covenant, so it has been rejected by several member churches, including the Church of England itself. The so-called Covenant is dead, so that task is unnecessary.

And then we see that six of the members of this commission not only did not attend this meeting, but could not even be bothered to send apologies for absence.

Obviously the real message being sent here is that some provinces are prepared to boycott Communion meetings if they do not get their theological way.

No wonder what’s left of IASCUFO is passing the buck to the January Primates’ meeting! This IASCUFO looks like a commission that has already lost its raison d’être.

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