by Margaret S Larom
Delegates from 45 countries are travelling to Cyprus for the Anglican Mission Organisations Conference, scheduled for 12-18 February in the seaside town of Larnaca, Cyprus.
The 120 delegates, representing almost every province in the Anglican Communion, have leadership roles in voluntary agencies, mission boards and church structures. They were invited because they incarnate in their very lives and work the conference theme, Transformation and Tradition in Global Mission.
The conference was organised by the Anglican Communion Office in London and a planning team selected by the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism. The aims of the week are:
- To renew our vision for mission through biblical and theological reflection, worship and prayer
- To gain a better understanding of contemporary mission issues and changing patterns in mission
- To challenge new church models in mission and evangelism
- To encourage the development of new networks among mission organisations
The Most Revd Clive Handford, bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf and president bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, will welcome his fellow Anglicans to the conference but is unable to enjoy the fellowship for long. With US threats against Iraq mounting daily, the shadow of war looms over the entire region he serves. Prayers for peace will be part of the worship services every morning and evening.
Bible studies will be led by Professor John M G Barclay, Head of School of Divinity, University of Glasgow, Scotland, on The First Missionary Journey of St Paul. Everyone will go to Paphos (on the west coast of Cyprus), to see where Paul preached, view archaeological remnants of the civilization he entered, and try to understand the boundaries he crossed to get there. More poignantly, the other trip will be across the Green Line into the northern part of Cyprus, occupied by Turkey for decades. Tradition has it that St Barnabas is buried there, but the conference participants will be relating to the heartache of a divided nation where visits are governed by daily curfews. Local Anglican congregations, a small minority in this predominantly Greek Orthodox country, will be visited en route.
The other days will be packed full of speakers and workshops. The theme will be set by the Revd Dr Christopher Duraisingh, who organised the World Council of Churches World Conference on Mission and Evangelism in 1996 and presently teaches at Episcopal Divinity School in the USA.
In presentation and response format, four other mission leaders will address the goals in plenary sessions. These include:
- The Rt Revd Simon Chiwanga, bishop of Mpwapwa, Tanzania, and former chair of the Anglican Consultative Council
- The Rt Revd John Chew, bishop of Singapore and former principal of Trinity Theological College there
- Ms Edwina Thomas, head of SOMA-USA (Sharing Our Ministries Abroad) and a founding member of the Episcopal Partnership for Global Mission in the USA
- The Revd Dr Zac Niringiye, formerly with Scripture Union in Uganda and now the Africa region director for the Church Mission Society in England.
The question 'What Is the Anglican Communion?' will be addressed by the Revd Canon John L. Peterson, secretary general for the past 10 years. The newly elected Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Revd Benjamin Nzimbi, will offer the sermon at the closing Eucharist and commissioning service.
Workshops will address the challenges facing the Anglican Communion in respect to three broad areas - theological education, leadership and management, and working together in partnership - as well as issues impacting mission such as HIV/AIDS, Christian-Muslim relations, and peace, reconciliation and justice.
[Margaret S. Larom is the World Mission Interpretation and Networks Officer at the Episcopal Church Center in New York. She represented her province on MISSIO from 1994 to 1999.]