UPDATED on 17 July 2018
Major steps were taken this weekend in the journey towards the creation of the 40th Province of the Anglican Communion, when two new bishops were created for the Diocese of Chile. The diocese is currently part of the province of the Anglican Church of South America, but is set to become its own autonomous Anglican Communion Province later this year. The move has been ratified by both the diocesan Synod and the Provincial College of Bishops. Next month an international delegation led by the Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop Paul Kwong of Hong Kong, will visit Chile to decide whether it is ready to become the 40th Province of the Anglican Communion.
The consecration took place at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in Valparaíso in a service which also marked the cathedral’s 160th anniversary. The cathedral has been declared a historical monument and has an important heritage value for the city and the Church in Chile as the first protestant Church in the country.
The Primate of the Province of South America, Presiding Bishop Greg Venables presided at the service, which was attended by bishops, priests and ministers from all the cities of the country; as well as hundreds of people from the laity, including authorities representing the British community in Chile.
Speaking during the service, the Bishop of Chile, Héctor Zavala, who will become Primate if the new Province goes ahead, said: “Today we had a historic event in this building, which is the first non-Catholic building built in Chile in 1858, when there was no freedom to worship, and it is in this place where Anglicanism was born. . . But at the same time we celebrate the growth of the church. It was impressive to see today the number of pastors and young members who are in our diocese, and that means there is a future ahead.”
Bishop Greg developed the theme of growth in his message, saying: “Anglicanism is growing for several reasons. One of them is that many people are looking for a church where they may feel calm, happy, and where the Gospel is preached, and apparently the church in Latin America has that face for many people today.”
During the service, Samuel Morrison was consecrated as Bishop of the new Diocese of Valparaíso and Enrique Lago for the new Diocese of Concepción. The current assistant bishop of Chile, Abelino Apeleo, will lead the new Diocese of Temuco and the current diocesan bishop, Héctor Zavala, will lead the new Diocese of Santiago and serve as Primate of the new Anglican Province of Chile.
The bishops were elected at an extraordinary Synod in May at which the new constitution and canons, which will be adopted if the new Province is confirmed, were approved. The decisions were ratified by the college of bishops of the Province of South America later that month.
After the consecration service, the new bishops expressed their gratitude to the Lord and the Church: “For me it is a call to service, to be a minister serving people who serve people,” Bishop Samuel said. “And it is also a huge challenge, because here the first Anglicans came to Chile with the beginning of the Republic and we have a tradition that will almost turn two centuries. So we want to continue preaching in this city, a port that received from many parts of the world, a message of hope.”
Bishop Enrique described his new appointment as “a wonderful challenge, in a sense, since it is a double function in my case. I continue to be the senior pastor of Saint James church in Punta Arenas, as well as having the responsibility to encourage all the congregations in southern Chile that will make our diocese to continue growing.”