During the past few years the Anglican Communion has been developing a ‘Listening Process’. The root of the process was in response to the request of the bishops attending the Lambeth Conference in 1998 in Resolution 1.10 to establish "a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion" and to honour the process of mutual listening, including “listening to the experience of homosexual persons” and the experience of local churches around the world in reflecting on these matters in the light of Scripture, Tradition and Reason. The Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham (ACC 13) encouraged such listening in each Province and requested the Secretary General to collect and make available these resources for use in the Communion.
The Listening Process has been looking at the questions facing the Communion and how to move from mutual listening to common purpose. This is not the first time the Communion has faced such questions. The use of Biblical models of confronting difference was suggested at ACC-3 in Trinidad in 1976.
“Christian partnership did not then mean that the partners, although united in their missionary goals, were always in accord on how they were to carry out his mission - witness the disagreement between Peter and Paul in Galatians 2. Rather they were asked to face each other, and the roots of their disagreement and agreement, so openly that both could go forward in mutual love and respect into further creative activity.”
The Listening Process played an important role at the Lambeth Conference last year. Indaba – a Zulu word for the process of decision making by consensus common in many African cultures and with parallels in other no-western societies – was the designated term for this process. The continuation of Indaba, building on the success of the Lambeth Conference signifies that the work is ongoing. In African understanding Indaba is intended to include all interested parties,bishops clergy and laity in the process. It also results in a common decision
Canon Phil Groves the facilitator for the listening process in presenting a report to ACC-14 announced a new development in the listening process named, The Continuing Indaba and Mutual Listening Project.
The Continuing Indaba Project will seek to:
- Develop theological resources to inform the process of seeking a common mind around the world reflecting on Scripture, the traditions of the church in the context of diverse cultures. There will be an emphasis on non-western cultures and to publish information in culturally appropriate forms.
- Develop and publish training for the convening and facilitation of an Anglican Indaba process.
- Run five pilot conversations across the communion, focusing on mission issues and addressing the difficult questions related to sexuality, the authority of Scripture, faithfulness to tradition and the respect for the dignity of all. The hope will be that the result of the conversations will be a depth of agreement and the clarification of disagreement resulting in positive missional relationships.
- Create evaluation groups to see if the process is faithful to the Anglican way, valuable in enabling mutual mission and replicable across the Communion.
Funding has been secured from the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine, initially until the end of 2011, for a project of Continuing Indaba. Canon Phil Groves will run the project from the ACO with support from Lambeth Palace.
The Satcher Health Leadership Institute uses a method of consensus to assist leaders with divergent viewpoints in building agreements on controversial issues related to health policy regarding sexual health. The aim of this project is to adapt the consensus method, by drawing upon biblical models, the traditions of the church and cultural methods from across the Communion.
The money will be used to pay the salaries, employ consultants, fund the movement of people, pay expenses and to publish materials in culturally appropriate ways.
Letter from Satcher Institute