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New bishops course "crucial" to their ministry

Posted on: February 3, 2014 11:08 AM
Photo Credit: ACNS
Related Categories: ACO, Canterbury Cathedral, Global

By ACNS staff

The Anglican Communion's newest bishops have described their time on a course run by Canterbury Cathedral as "crucial" to their ministry.

The bishops were speaking during a visit to the Anglican Communion Office, based in London, England to learn more about the life and ministry of the staff there.

The visit was part of the week-long Canterbury-based course which aims to help the Anglican leaders learn more about their episcopal ministry. The programme includes lectures, worshops, and discussion groups on such topics as the Marks of Mission, the life and role of a bishop, liturgy, mission, and the Anglican Communion.

The 26 bishops come from the following Member Churches: Australia; Canada; Central Africa; South India; England; Ireland; Kenya; Korea; Lusitanian Church; Melanesia; Myanmar; Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia; Nigeria; Scotland; Southern Cone/South America; Sudan; West Africa;and the West Indies.

Several of bishops spoke of the course as having a profound impact on them and their ministry. Bishop of Korea's Busan Diocese Onesimus Park said that, while he knew intellectually that Korea was part of the worldwide Anglican community, the visit had made this knowledge real. 

He added that, particularly through the regular acts of worship on the course, he understood just how much the bishops had in common: "We started every morning and finished every evening with worship. It is through this that we can identify as members of the Anglican Communion. It is from worship and through worship and with worship we [as Anglicans] can consider new mission, discuss issues and make decisions."

Canada's Bishop Lydia Mamakwa of the Diocese of Keewatin said a highlight for her had been seeing and worshipping in Canterbury Cathedral, "This is where the roots of our Church came from and so it feels very special to me to be able to see it first hand. It feels like coming home." 

She added that she has been inspired to bring people from her diocese to England to have the same experience of heritage and history. 

Bishop of Kenya's Nakuru Diocese, Joseph Muchai, said the experience was going to be crucial for his future ministry, he said that, in particular, he valued the opportunity to learn from, and share with other bishops. "You also understand that they have the same challenges as you have. You learn new ways of doing things and that is really helpful for me".

He added that he was eager for the bishops to visit one another in their diocese in the future to build on what they had started in Canterbury.

They were welcomed to the St Andrew's House by Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon who described the Anglican Christian tradition as "catholic and reformed with a distinctive view of authority". 

He said that in an time of rapid change, when many people were seeking certainty, "Anglicans do take very seriously their mission...to help people to live with that uncertainty." Anglicans can do that, he suggested, because they know they are rooted in a relationship with God. "That doesn't mean we have easy answers," but rather "a confidence in our understanding that deep down, God is at the centre of those uncertainties." 

Although some Member Churches have their own new bishops courses, hundreds of people from mroe than 60 countries have attended the conference for bishops in the early years of episcopal ministry over the years. Almost 300 Communion bishops have attended the course to date which is well over a quarter of the current total. 

The aim is that by 2018, more than half of the bishops will have come on the course.