The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion is meeting 3-6 September at the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) in London. [The members of the Standing Committee can be seen at http://bit.ly/1hWqdwV.]
All but one member of the Standing Committee, Ms Louisa Mojela, were able to attend this year’s meeting.
During the morning members heard reports on the situation in Burundi and South Sudan, and voted unanimously to issue statements of solidarity.
The committee recognised with gratitude the service of the Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan as Interim Secretary General of the Anglican Communion from January to June 2015. It welcomed the Most Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon as Secretary General and thanked the Selection Committee for its work in the appointment process.
The Standing Committee responded positively to the request to recognise the emerging Lusaphone network as an Anglican Communion network.
Members also heard from Compass Rose how financial support is enabling the work and programmes of the Communion.
Secretary General’s report
The Most Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon gave his first report as Secretary General since assuming that role on 1 July.
Archbishop Idowu-Fearon attended the consecration of the first indigenous bishops in the Diocese of Peru in July, and noted the plans for the diocese of Peru to become its own province. He reported that the visit underlined the role of language in giving a sense of belonging to Communion and the continued need to explore ways of increasing the linguistic inclusiveness of the Communion.
Archbishop Idowu-Fearon attended the recent meeting of the provincial secretaries in Dublin. The gathering is an important opportunity to build relationships and hear about life and witness in the different contexts of the Communion.
The Secretary General also visited the Primate of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, the Most Revd Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, to explore opportunities to meet with primates and bishops at the planned Global South conference in October.
Archbishop Idowu-Fearon noted with gratitude the diverse work that Anglican Communion Office staff is doing. He highlighted the ongoing need to secure stable funding, in particular for interfaith, UN representation and communications work, and adequate support for staff so that they can serve the Communion better.
Today the committee heard presentations from the ACO’s Mission Cluster—comprising the Anglican Alliance, the Mission Department, the Department for Women in Church & Society, Continuing Indaba/Living Reconciliation and the Anglican Communion representation at the UN in Geneva.
The Anglican Alliance
The Revd Rachel Carnegie presented on the work of the Anglican Alliance, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary sharing God-given gifts within the Communion in the areas of relief, development and advocacy. The continuing acceleration of crises in the world – Burundi, South Sudan, the migrant situation in Europe – has challenged staff in 2015.
She reported that the Alliance will hold its first regional consultation in Europe, focusing on migration and the response to austerity measures.
She explained the focus in the area of relief to promote solidarity, share needs and support the church response, including the Burundi church’s response to displaced people and churches in the DRC, Tanzania and Rwanda receiving refugees. She reported on the increasing need for pastoral and practical support for church leaders in crisis situations.
Development initiatives centre on sharing skills and expertise through consultations and mutual visits such as the Commonwealth Fellowship scheme and the Agents of Change programme. She shared how churches in Africa are working to ensure food security for children, with support from CAPA and, increasingly, other parts of Communion.
Advocacy work looks to bring information from local churches to the leadership level and build skills. An example was the G20 summit in Australia in 2014. The church in Australia supported Pacific Island advocacy work in a successful push to put climate change on the agenda, with subsequent commitments to action. A current focus is the UN climate change summit in Paris in December.
The Alliance continues to collaborate with Anglican Communion networks and representation at the United Nations.
The Revd John Kafwanka, Director for Mission, reported on the June meeting of the Anglican Witness core group during which they shared good practice examples and reflected on mission trends.
A “season of emphasis” on intentional discipleship and disciple-making is being proposed, with the aim of equipping the members of the churches of the Anglican Communion to more effectively live and speak their professed faith in their everyday lives.
Mr Kafwanka said a particular concern is to pass faith on to the next generation and place young people at the centre, as well as bring about renewal in the life of the Church including liturgy, prayer life and preparing new leaders.
Continuing Indaba and Living Reconciliation
The Revd Dr Phil Groves presented developments in Continuing Indaba, which aims to inspire all Anglican to live as reconciling agents in church and the world. He reported that Continuing Indaba process models are being picked up and Living Reconciliation is enabling change in individuals and communities.
Dr Groves told the committee how intra-provincial realities are being energised by links across the Communion. Continuing Indaba is showing that reconciliation has to be done locally but also has to be Communion-based. He said the challenge is to keep providing inspiration and resources.
Women in Church and Society
The Revd Terrie Robinson reported that gender violence has been a key focus of the Women’s Desk. She has continued her work with the We Will Speak Out Coalition and involvement in the 16 Days of Activism against Violence and Women and Girls. She is supporting Anglican efforts to raise the broader issue of gender justice as a Gospel-issue. She is collecting tools for transformation on the Anglican Communion website. She accompanied the Anglican Communion delegation to the 59th session of UN Commission on the Status of Women.
A South Asia conference of the International Anglican Women’s Network will take plan in October.
Ms Robinson noted that the newly-launched International Faith Movement for Gender Justice will help build capacity to tackle gender injustice through regional workshops for church leaders.
Representation of the Anglican Communion at the UN
The Revd Canon Flora Winfield, Anglican Communion Representative to the United Nations institutions in Geneva, echoed the Anglican Alliance report of more and increasingly dire humanitarian emergencies, and noted that this is leading to the exhaustion of humanitarian effort both financially and personally. However, there is now a huge readiness on the UN’s part to work with churches and faith-based organisations.
One focus of work has been to take forward the “Welcoming the Stranger” initiative through advocacy, looking at the role of faith communities in the global movement of peoples and building the spiritual capacity to receive migrants, refugees, and other displaced persons. Canon Winfield reported that bible studies are being developed for Anglican Communion use during Lent 2016.
She is also working on birth registration and issues around statelessness, together with the International Anglican Family Network, and addressing the new dynamic of non-state actors in conflicts.