In a unanimous vote, members of the Anglican Consultative Council, meeting in Dundee, Scotland, received Anglicans in Mission: A Transforming Journey, the report from MISSIO, the Mission Commission of the Anglican Communion.
In the ensuing discussion which largely centred on the Decade of Evangelism it became clear that experiences varied widely. Some talked with enthusiasm of the initiatives and achievements of their Province. Others felt that there was not enough leadership and commitment to the Decade 'from the top.' One group commented 'there is always a need for episcopal interest and drive and energy' and that 'the bishop needs to model mission in his own style and ministry.' Others affirmed the role and abilities of youth in mission and evangelism and said 'they should not just be evangelised, but they should also be evangelists.'
MISSIO, chaired by Bishop Datuk Yong Ping Chung of the Diocese of Sabah, Malaysia, was established by ACC-9 in Cape Town in 1993. With members appointed for five years, MISSIO met four times from 1993 to 1999, each time in different places in the Anglican Communion. In presenting the report to ACC-11, Mrs Maureen Sithole from Southern Africa said that meeting in different places meant that MISSIO members were able to experience the life and witness of local churches in their own context, and thereby be informed of mission and evangelistic initiatives across the Communion.
The report contained some far reaching proposals. These included suggestions of a meeting of synodical, provincial and voluntary mission agencies in the year 2001; a review of leadership training and clergy formation; a review of the lessons learnt across the Communion during the Decade of Evangelism; the appointment of a Mission and Evangelism Officer and also the reappointment of another Commission on Mission under a more accessible name.
The tasks of the new commission would be to facilitate Companion Diocese and other companionship links throughout the Communion; to work with existing Anglican networks for mission and evangelism; to facilitate the sharing of resources, both human and financial throughout the Communion; and to link and critique experiences for capacity-building for mission and evangelism. Another important function would be engagement in theological reflection on mission.
The proposed Staff Person would have the tasks of offering leadership and suggesting new initiatives for the work of mission and evangelism; liaising with Anglican networks, provincial and synod officers and mission boards; ensuring the sharing of information on mission and evangelism around the Communion; and overseeing the developments of Companion links around the Diocese.
After the report's presentation, the ACC discussed the issues in small groups and then shared their responses to the proposals prior to voting on the motion. They stressed that the Anglican world comprises many different cultures and therefore mission and evangelism initiatives must always be sensitive to the surrounding culture. They also believed that the relational terms of 'partnership' and 'companionship' required understanding and redefinition in the light of the contempory experience of relationships between provinces.
While the proposed review of leadership training received strong endorsement, members made a strong call for recognition of the expansion of lay leadership in many places, and the essential need for increased attention to lay training and spiritual formation and nurture. In affirming a review of clergy training, one group said that the clergy should be seen as interpretator of Scripture both to the Church and the world; animator of the people of God in their mission; and celebrant of the mysteries of God in the world. This resonated with Dr Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was in the chair for the session, and he added to their summary the clergy as change agent, a term he said he owed to Archbishop Brian Davis, the late former Primate of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
They endorsed the proposal for a Staff Officer for mission and evangelism to work from the Anglican Communion Secretariat, though one group did query whether a more immediate priority would be a staff officer to promote concerns and action for the cancellation of the unpayable debt of the world's poorest nations. The ACC finally voted that a Staff Officer should be appointed, 'when the funds are available.'
Issues relating to the group NAME, formed after the Lambeth Conference, were deferred for later consideration.
The text of the MISSIO Resolution agreed by the ACC on 20 September, 1999 is as follows:
- Receives the report of MISSIO to ACC-11, Anglicans in Mission: A Transforming Journey;
- Notes the positive experience of MISSIO in holding each of its meetings in a different part of the Communion, thereby experiencing the life and witness of the local church in its own context, and encourages this way of working to the future Commission, and to other bodies of the Communion, as appropriate.
- Endorses the MISSIO proposal to hold a meeting of Synodical, Provincial and Voluntary Mission Agencies in the year 2001, to reflect on the roles and responsibilities of the mission agencies, as well as promote networking and mutual understanding among the older agencies and newer expressions of mission structures, and.
- Asks the Joint Standing Committee to consider the MISSIO suggestion to initiate a review within the Communion of leadership training and clergy formation to identify trends, needs and problems, and how they might be addressed.
- The provinces and dioceses of the Communion to evaluate the lessons learnt during the Decade of Evangelism, with a view to continue and build on the momentum the Decade has achieved and to keep evangelism as a high profile in the church's mission; and
- Provinces, dioceses and parishes to develop and expand appropriate training to equip individuals and congregations for effective work in mission and evangelism.
- Recommends the continuation of a Standing Commission on Mission which would be called the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and which would have functions and membership as detailed on pp 58-59 of the MISSIO report Anglicans in Mission: A Transforming Journey,
- Asks the Joint Standing Committee in consultation with the Inter Anglican Finance Committee to consider the appointment of a senior-level Mission & Evangelism Staff Officer to the Anglican Communion Office, to be responsible for the functions listed on p. 60 of the MISSIO report Anglicans in Mission: A Transforming Journey, when the funds are available.