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.]
Anglican Consultative Council 16 (ACC-16)
The committee approved the theme “Intentional Discipleship in a World of Differences” for ACC-16.
Planning coordinator Stephen Lyon reported that Bible studies on the book of Ruth will engage table groups through proposed questions. Translations into French and Portuguese are planned. The committee noted a need to explore possible development of translator networks in the Communion.
The committee agreed that a small committee will give guidance for the drafting of ACC-16 resolutions. Committee members asked that a preliminary ACC-16 mailing inform about the definition and format of resolutions.
The committee discussed ACC and the Standing Committee election mechanisms and ensuring representative balances. The members underlined the need to orient and accompany ACC-16 participants in the election process.
Mr Lyon reported that registration forms will be sent at the beginning of October.
Bible in the Life of the Church
Stephen Lyon reported on the Bible in the Life of the Church project, which will finish at ACC-16. The hope is that a future ACO theological education staff member would take the project work forward.
A toolbox is being produced to provide resources to help people throughout the Communion to engage more deeply with the Bible. The committee agreed that the materials need to be accessible online, particularly for theological seminaries.
The committee expressed its appreciation to Mr Lyon and the teams working on the project for this important hermeneutical work that has the potential to facilitate processes of healing.
The Revd Andy Bowerman, Co-Executive Director explained that the Anglican Alliance is an independent charity under UK, which enables it to seek funding from non-Communion sources.
The Revd Rachel Carnegie, Co-Executive Director explained that the Alliance is an entry point and advocates on behalf of the churches with governmental, non-church and non-Anglican actors.
Mr Bowerman noted that the Anglican Alliance considers itself very much a part of the community of the ACO, despite its status as an independent charity, and would welcome being a part of the ACO strategic funding plan.
The Standing Committee in their function as members of the Anglican Alliance Charitable Company received the Anglican Alliance Annual Report and audited accounts, noted the need to broaden ownership from across the Communion with regards to funding and in-kind support, and noted that Archbishop Idowu-Fearon took up his Ex-Officio position on the Anglican Alliance Board on 1 July when he assumed the role of Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.
Mr Stuart Buchanan reported for the Network for Inter Faith Concerns (NIFCON). The committee approved a change of name from NIFCON to the Anglican Interfaith Network, to be abbreviated AIFN.
Mr Buchanan informed the committee that AIFN is preparing an Anglican theological resource for Christian communities under pressure of persecution and injustice, and those who lead, serve and support them. Target publication date is February 2016.
Unity, Faith and Order
The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut presented the report for Unity, Faith and Order, beginning by pointing out the historical Anglican influence and leadership in this area, and the constitutional anchoring of the ecumenical mandate.
Canon Gibaut outlined the seven current bi-lateral dialogues: Anglican-Roman Catholic (ARCIC & IARCCUM), Anglican-Orthodox, Anglican-Oriental Orthodox, Anglican-Lutheran, Anglican-Methodist, Anglican-Old Catholic and Anglican-Reformed.
He reported that the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox dialogue has published a statement on Christology and the Anglican-Methodist International Commission on Unity and Mission has published its final report, Into All the World: Being and becoming Apostolic Churches; bothwill go before ACC-16. There is a possible statement on theological anthropology from the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue.
As four potential areas of expansion, Canon Gibaut noted dialogue with the Moravian Church, World Evangelical Alliance, Pentecostals and separated Anglican churches.
The committee discussed ways to address the worrying lack of balanced representation in membership on ecumenical bilateral dialogues and the lack of response from the Provinces to the call for nominations.
The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) plans to report on three areas of at ACC-16: life in communion, theological anthropology or what it means to be a human being, and ecumenical reception. Canon Gibaut noted the need for careful strategic planning of this unique forum looking ahead to the renewal of the Commission’s mandate in 2019.
Canon Gibaut is proposing that the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation explore a liturgical vision of what it means to be a communion of churches. The latest IALC meeting had a focus on the use of liturgical gestures of reconciliation.
Canon Gibaut remarked that the situation with regard to the Anglican Covenant is complex given the response from the Provinces. IASCUFO will present a report on responses at ACC-16. The committee asks IASCUFO to explore how delegates could be invited to bring something to ACC-16 that expresses what communion means to their Province.
The Standing Committee welcomed the report of Canon Gibaut in drawing attention to future areas of work for the potential expansion of ecumenical dialogues.
The committee approved the proposal that, following the unsuccessful appointment process for the Director of Communications position, a brief review of Anglican communications is done in order to draft a communications strategy, propose a staffing structure, refine the job description for the Director for Communications and launch a new recruitment process.
The committee also noted the shift from communications being a function to understanding it as part of the mission of the Church and the need for the strategic expertise of a senior communications staff. Some members lifted up the importance of radio and smart phones in order to reach more people.
In other business the committee considered an invitation from the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil (the Episcopal Anglican Church in Brazil) to hold ACC-17 (2019) in Brazil. The Standing Committee also expressed a desire to think strategically about the location of future meetings and the hope that a future meeting might be held in Nigeria.
The committee also underlined the importance of theological education for the Communion. It warmly affirmed the grant application to the St Augustine Foundation to fund the post of ACO Director for Theological Education, and committed itself to work towards the sustainability of this post.