[ACNS, by Adrian Butcher] Being proactive, building links and bringing peace to a world in turmoil – those are the main tasks ahead for the Anglican Communion and its leaders, according to the chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop Paul Kwong.
Archbishop Paul – the Primate of Hong Kong – is celebrating his first six months in the post. He is the first serving Primate to be elected to the role. Speaking to ACNS, he said it was vital for the Communion to be relevant.
“We are not simply a body of churches,” he said. “We have a mission to do – to serve the world, especially in areas where there is lots of conflict, human trafficking and terrorism.
“It seems to me there is no safe place in the world today. We have to help people find peace in their lives and in their hearts. This is the gospel we have to bring to the world.”
He urged the Communion to continue to pray for peace.
“There is no peace in the hearts of most people,” he said. “Wherever you go, you see so much conflict, confrontation, polarisation. It is very sad. We need to pray.”
Archbishop Paul acknowledged there were divisions within the Communion, especially on issues such as same-sex marriage. But he said he hoped people would remain committed to working out their differences.
“I want the Standing Committee to be proactive and not defensive. I want us to take the initiative and reach out to the people who like us – and those who ‘loathe’ us! After all, we are brothers and sisters – we are not enemies.
“There are no enemies in our family. Yes, we have people who have different views, who think differently but that doesn’t mean we cannot talk to each other.”
Archbishop Paul said he hoped people would remain together in spite of any disagreement.
“In reality, people are free to choose whether to stay and walk together or not,” he said. “But, as chair of the ACC, I don’t want to see anyone walk away.”
The archbishop has spent his time in office so far working behind the scenes – meeting people and trying to bring people together. One meeting will see the Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church, Bishop Michael Curry, meet primates from south east Asia.
“Connecting people is a really important part of the job,” he explained. “We have committed to walk together – so it is one of the main things I must do.”