The initial meeting of the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission had been disrupted by the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, so this year’s meeting was the first occasion for all members to come together. Assembled at Virginia Theological Seminary, and charged by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Consultative Council to articulate 'the meaning and maintenance of communion', the Commission was once again vividly aware of the volatility of human communities. Dramatic preparations were being made for the anniversary of September 11, rhetoric for regime change in Iraq was gathering force, and during the meeting news was received of the murder of a Congolese priest as he was travelling to a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.
The Commission, twenty-two theologians and teachers from all parts of the Anglican Communion under the Chairmanship of the Rt Revd Professor Stephen Sykes, was also acutely aware of conflict and potential divisions within the church. Papers commissioned for the meeting and extensive correspondence with dioceses and centres of theological education around the world were discussed. Over 100 replies were received to questions about the nature of communion, threats to its integrity, and the degree to which 'moral teachings' define, but also at times divide, Christian identity. What has become clear is that alongside well-publicised differences over attitudes to homosexuality, questions of gender and ministry or the possibility of lay-presidency at the Eucharist, most Anglicans are even more concerned about the way appropriate expressions of fellowship could provide mutual support for churches living under the threats of poverty, ethnic tensions, violence and enormous human need. An underlying theology of communion (koinonia) will need to engage all these issues.
The Commission is committed to continuing its task in conversation with the Anglican Communion as a whole, and especially with churches of the global South. In a second stage of consultation, responses are being sought to a series of about the nature of conflict in the church; the role of Scripture; the proper integration of doctrine and ethics; the way in which local, contextual questions are addressed and how far the interdependence of Anglican provinces can be a source of strength in this responsibility, along with the need to find structures of ‘testing, reconciliation and restraint’ which are appropriate to an Anglican understanding of authority in the Church.
The Commission greatly appreciated the generous hospitality of Virginia Theological Seminary and expects to meet next from 4-9 September 2003. A review of responses to the first phase of the Commission’s work, The Communion Study, 2002: Four key questions for Anglicans, will be sent to dioceses along with an outline of the future course of its study. Additional details will be shown on the IATDC pages of the Anglican Communion web-site: www.anglicancommunion.org.
The Rt Revd Prof Stephen Sykes, England, Chairman
Dr Jennie Te Paa, Aotearoa/NZ and Polynesia
The Revd Dr Stephen K Pickard, Australia
The Revd Dr Bruce Kaye, Australia
Dr Eileen Scully, Canada
The Rt Revd Dr Samuel Cutting, India (not able to attend)
The Rt Revd Paul Richardson, England
The Revd Prof Nicholas Sagovsky, England
The Revd Canon Dr Tom Wright, England
Dr Ester Mombo, Kenya
The Revd Joseph Denge Galgalo, Kenya
The Rt Revd Dr Matthew Owadayo, Nigeria
The Revd Canon Luke Pato, Southern Africa
The Rt Revd Héctor Zavala, Southern Cone
The Rt Revd Dr Lim Cheng Ean, South East Asia
The Revd Victor Atta-Bafoe, West Africa
The Very Revd Dr Paul Zahl, United States
The Revd Prof Kortwright Davis, United States
The Revd Dr Kathy Grieb, Observer, VTS
The Rt Revd Dr Mark Dyer, IASCER Cross Appointment
The Revd Dr Philip Thomas, England, Assistant to the Chairman
The Rt Revd John Baycroft, ACO, Secretary
Mrs Christine Codner, ACO, Administrative Assistant
Ms Frances Hiller, ACO, Administrative Assistant
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