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Edinburgh Welcomes ACC

Posted on: September 19, 1999 10:01 AM
Related Categories: ACC, ACC11, Edinburgh, Scotland

The splendour of a Solemn Eucharist in St Mary's Cathedral, a lunch with the First Minister of the Scottish Parliament, a private hearing on sexuality and a bus tour of the Royal Mile, were the ingredients of a day in Scotland's capital for the ACC.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd George L. Carey, received a warm welcome from the Provost of St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral and preached the sermon at the liturgy that was standing room only. The two-hour service included music by the choir of boys and girls with men, the first such choir in the United Kingdom having boys and girls sing together. A Mozart mass and anthem were accompanied by orchestra members of St Mary's Music School. The prayers were offered in the style of Taize. The music was of the highest calibre.

In his sermon Archbishop Carey said, "But it is not always easy to keep our ideals uppermost in our thoughts and prayers. I was struck by Bishop Richard Holloway's address at Aberdeen Cathedral on Tuesday. He spoke of the way we church people may confuse the church structures with the good news we share. The result may be that we end up loving the church more than the gospel and seek our own survival rather than obeying the Lord of the Church.

Yes, that is a subtle danger. As Paul reminds us, there is a gospel to contend for and we can only do it effectively when we do it together and are open to the leading of God.

To say we live in exciting times is a truism. This century has seen the encouraging growth of our Communion. What is more we have grown most spectacularly where our church has suffered and where it has had to live out its faith by exercising a daily trust in God. God beckons us into his future; a future which will daunt the strongest among us and call forth from us, possibly, depths of faith, love and hope that we have never previously fathomed."

As incense billowed through the glorious building the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Richard Holloway, complete with mitre, presided at the Eucharist assisted by the Chairman of the ACC, Bishop Simon Chiwanga of Tanzania and Vice Chairman, Presiding Bishop John Paterson of New Zealand.

At the conclusion of the mass the Sunday School children, in a very emotional moment, gave prayer cards with the Gaelic Blessing to the ACC members as the choir sang the text to music by John Rutter as the dismissal of the liturgy. The children process out of the church following behind the Primus.

The ACC were guests of the Scottish Episcopal Church at a luncheon attended by the First Minister of the new Scottish Parliament as well as leaders of the National and Conservative parties. In his greeting the First Minister said the government and church share the social justice and poverty agenda. Speaking of the emergence of the Scottish Parliament and referring to the church as well said, "Some people fear change but we must face it and embrace it as we are in a time of change."

At an optional event on the ACC schedule, four Anglicans and one Presbyterian gave testimony and witness at a hearing on homosexuality at a venue near the cathedral. One of the speakers was a parent of a lesbian daughter and another an Anglican priest, the others were laity. The Revd Richard Kirker gave a brief outline of the work of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement in the UK. The testimonies were received by thoughtful and reflective silence. In a statement to the press ACC Chairman Bishop Simon Chiwanga said, "As the ACC is a representative gathering of the world-wide Anglican Communion, the reaction to such testimonies is broad and diverse. The whole area of human sexuality is complex, personal, and wrapped in cultural understandings."

The press statement also announced the initiation by the Archbishop of Canterbury of a Communion-wide "conversation" on human sexuality. This is being done in consultation with the Primate of the Episcopal Church USA, the Most Revd Frank Griswold. The first meeting will take place in New York in November. This initiative is in response to the Lambeth Conference resolution addressing homosexuality.

A bus tour completed the day with a quick look at the sights of Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

The ACC work for Monday, September 20, centres on mission and evangelism both on a local level with Scotland's Mission 21 and Communion level with MISSIO. Bishop of Honduras, Leo Frade, will lead a hearing on International Debt in the afternoon