Standing Committee Day 4
The final day included presentations on Bible in the Life of the Church Project, the ecumenical dialogues of the Anglican Communion, Unity, Faith and Order issues and the Anglican Communion’s Legal Advisers Network.
Unity, Faith & Order
Director for Unity, Faith and Order, the Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan, presented her report on the Anglican Communion’s Faith and Order work, plus the ecumenical initiatives supported by her office. These included facilitating the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee (IASCUFO) and various dialogues at the global level.
A report by the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission containing tool kits for Anglican-Methodist conversations was welcomed by the Standing Committee. It will be available soon. Canon Barnett-Cowan went on to explain that the members of the dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the World Communion of Reformed Churches have been named and will meet in 2015.
Canon Barnett-Cowan noted that the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan recently adopted the Anglican Communion Covenant. (The full list of responses to the Covenant to date can be found here)
The Anglican Communion Legal Advisors Network
Canon John Rees, legal adviser to the ACC, said this group of canon lawyers from across the world are considering meeting together in person in January 2015 to consider family law patterns which are changing around the world. One reason for this is to provide a “descriptive backdrop against which Churches are carrying out their mission”.
Bible in the Life of the Church project
Mr Stephen Lyon presented a report on the Bible in the Life of the Church project. He reminded the Standing Committee of the background to the project and associated ACC resolutions, and summarised the project so far. The project had fallen into two phases and would come to an end in 2016.
The project had four goals for its second phase 2012-2016: to increase educational resources and engagement with phase 1 of the project; to encourage engagement with what Anglicans had already said about Scripture; to support Anglicans in reading the Bible together to learn with and from one another; to explore different viewpoints on questions underlying understanding of Scripture, for example, what was meant by the authority of Scripture.
Following the publication of the report at the end of phase 1 of the Project, Deep Engagement; Fresh Discovery, questions had been raised such as ‘What does the Bible say about itself?’ Mr Lyon said he would write to a number of biblical scholars and theologians around the Communion asking them to consider these questions by email in small groups, with a view to publishing the conversations.
A series of essays edited by Clare Amos, former ACO Director for Theological Affairs, had been published with the title The Bible in the Life of the Church within the series Canterbury Studies in Anglicanism.
Mr Lyon raised then three questions for the committee to consider:
• What form or forms should the final publication take? While the Deep Engagement; Fresh Discovery report had been described as ‘excellent’ it had also been noted that it ‘is a lot to digest in a short time’.
• Where should the work of the Bible in the Life of the Church project be placed, once its project-stage ended in 2016?
• Were there other platforms through which the work of the project and especially its resources could be made available?
These questions were discussed and suggestions fed back to Mr Lyon. It was proposed that post-2016 the work of the project should be placed within the Department for Unity, Faith and Order, or the Theological Education if funds were found to reinstate this department.
Other matters resolved by the Standing Committee on the final day of its meeting included:
• That the Secretary General and Lambeth Palace staff should further investigate the feasibility 0f a project to help (Anglican) Christians and Muslims to better understand the nature of recent and current Christian/Muslim violence and consider possible ways to respond to it.
• Official thanks were given to Alyson Barnett-Cowan for her major contribution to the life and work of the Anglican Communion. Canon Barnett-Cowan is due to retire early in 2015.