The chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop Paul Kwong, the Primate of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, offers his reflections at the start of 2017.
In the past year, we have seen very great changes in our world, many of which can be characterised by increasing nationalism, nativism and ethnic strife. The Brexit vote, the American presidential election, the destruction in Aleppo immediately come to mind. Here in Hong Kong, we see a growing localism and even calls for Hong Kong “independence.”
The social movements behind all these phenomena divide people, social classes and ethnic groups from one another. In turn, people are driven by fear, exclusion of the other, economic insecurity and a sense that the world as they once knew it has spun out of control.
In politics and the economic world, in society and culture, in religion and the church, this has resulted in a retreat from an embracing globalism and interconnectedness, in favour of a self-centred isolationism.
In the Anglican Consultative Council, we have no choice but to go against the tide. Our very purpose is to work for co-operation with one another as we seek the common good in the church and in the world.
I personally want to work for reconciliation and unity without uniformity in the ACC. To be sure, our churches have also been subject to polarisation and divisiveness, for we are part of the world that we want to change. We all know that there are also tensions between churches in many parts of the communion.
But we have been given the faith, hope and love to participate in God’s mission in the world, together with sisters and brothers from other churches. We have also been called to dialogue and engagement with other religious communities to address the issues facing our world. We cannot do any of this alone.
At ACC-16 in Lusaka, we addressed questions of climate change, gender justice, safe church environments, youth involvement in the communion, solidarity with persecuted people, and interfaith and ecumenical relations, among other issues.
We should review the statements we approved and the actions that we took in order to determine how they speak to the divisions, conflicts and tensions we face in our own contexts. The ACC is a living fellowship of churches, of all in each place, and we must redouble our efforts to live out the unity with one another that we have been given by God.
There is much we can do together.
Epiphany is the climax of Advent and Christmas. In this season of revelation, with Simeon we praise God saying that Jesus’ birth is a “light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:32).
May the revelation of Christ’s love enlighten our hearts so that we participate in the healing of the division and brokenness of our world.