The Anglican Communion’s new Inter Faith Commission has held its first meeting and agreed a number of steps to implement its mandate – including the creation of a series of Inter Faith Networks across regions, provinces and dioceses. The Commission was requested by the Primates of the Anglican Communion at their meeting in Canterbury in 2016 and affirmed by the Anglican Consultative Council at their meeting in Lusaka the same year. It was launched at last year’s Primates Meeting in Canterbury. Last week’s meeting was hosted by the Commission’s chair, Bishop Mouneer Anis, at his diocese’s All Saints Garden Conference Centre in Cairo. They met the Grand Imam of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Dr Ahmed el-Tayeb, and Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
At their meeting, the Grand Imam said that it was “crucial at this time” to have a Commission like this; and expressed his hope that this Commission would work to deepen understanding between faith communities.
Pope Tawadros spoke about the history of peaceful coexistence of faith communities within Egypt and urged Commission members to think about how they can ensure this happens also in our time.
In their communiqué, the Commission set out a number of agreed actions on different areas of their mandate, under the headings of relationship, understanding and education, advocacy and inter faith networks.
The first of these is to encourage provinces and dioceses across the Communion to evaluate the relationships they have with other faith communities and to identify ways to strengthen them.
They want to develop and disseminate resources to help Anglicans in local communities to understand other faiths better; and ensure that the curricula for courses, theological colleges and seminaries include the study of and engagement with other faith traditions.
And they want to develop an interactive forum to enable communication across the Communion, to facilitate wide-spread awareness of existing and emerging issues; and to speak with and for the marginalised and the voiceless through standing in solidarity with them, praying for them and practically supporting them.
To develop the work, they want to create an Anglican Inter Faith Network – this will involve the creation of inter faith networks in each region, province and diocese of the Communion for inter faith engagement. They hope that these networks will hold local meetings “for mutual encouragement and sharing information and resources”; and also develop projects “that enable people from different faith communities to work together for the common good, especially at the grassroots level.”
The Anglican Inter Faith Commission expect to meet twice each year. Its next meeting will take place between 14 – 16 November, in Carthage, Tunisia, where members will report back on work they have done to develop the Anglican Inter Faith Network in their regions.