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Chairman's Address to ACC-13

Posted on: June 21, 2005 4:34 PM
Related Categories: ACC, ACC13, chairman

Chairman's Address to ACC-13, Nottingham, United Kingdom, 21st June 2005

Your Grace, Archbishop Rowan - President of the Anglican Consultative Council - members of the Primates' Standing Committee, Ecumenical Guests and Observers, and fellow members of the ACC, I greet you all warmly and sincerely as the Chair of the ACC. I have now been a member of this Council since ACC-8 met in 1990 in Cardiff, Wales. That means I have fifteen years of ACC experience on which to reflect, and I think that only two of the longer serving Staff members have anything like that number of memories, that number of meetings, that number of years. Little did I realise, however, when so narrowly elected to this post three years ago in Hong Kong, what the ensuing three years would hold. They have been eventful years, they have been difficult years, and now more than ever before, the Anglican Communion needs the solidarity and the sound common sense which the Anglican Consultative Council offers, to be brought to bear in its affairs.

As the Chair of the ACC I have been at times privileged, at times burdened, to be involved in events in and around the Anglican Communion, and I hold it to be my responsibility to report on some of those matters to this Thirteenth Meeting of the Council.

Inter-relationships of the Instruments of Communion

For a six year term from 1998 to 2004 I served as Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, which meant that I have experienced at first hand membership of three of the four 'Instruments of Unity' or as the Windsor Report suggests they might better be called 'Instruments of Communion' - namely the Lambeth Conference, the Primates' Meeting, and what I like to refer to as the most representative body in the Anglican Communion, the Anglican Consultative Council.

I make that point because my being part of the Primates' Meeting gave the ACC a presence and a voice within that Instrument which it otherwise does not have. For some years now the ACC has welcomed the presence of members of the Primates' Standing Committee at the full Council meeting, although they do not have a vote, but most certainly they have a voice and a presence which is helpful to all. Those Primates, however, do not have a mandate to represent the concerns of the ACC at the Primates' Meeting, and the recent request of the Primates concerning the participation of the representatives of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada at this meeting of the ACC, throws up in sharp contrast that lack of reciprocal membership, and certainly the lack of at least an ACC voice at the Primates' Meeting. I shall return to this matter when touching on the Lambeth Commission and the Windsor Report.

The Reverend Canon John Peterson

When ACC-12 met in Hong Kong it was clear to many of us that it would be the last full meeting of the ACC that Canon John Peterson would serve in his role as Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. John, however, was adamant that he should not be thanked and farewelled at that point as he still had two years to serve in office, and I am sure that decision was correct. In 2004 his term of office, which had already been extended twice, came to an end. The Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and the Primates met in October 2004, and took the opportunity to thank John and Kirsten for the selfless manner in which they had served the Communion for more than ten years. Subsequently the Archbishop of Canterbury very generously hosted a Dinner at Lambeth Palace for the express purpose of thanking and farewelling John and Kirsten, and a number of people from around the Communion attended on that occasion to wish them well. At the October meeting I expressed the thanks of the ACC in particular, and we presented the Peterson family with some furniture, on your behalf, for their new home near Kanuga in the USA. The idea was that John might occasionally be able to literally 'put his feet up' but those of us who know John well, realise that to be a forlorn hope. He is now busily engaged as a Canon for Global Justice and Reconciliation at the National Cathedral in Washington, and I hope that this meeting of the ACC might send him an assurance of our gratitude and good wishes for his new ministry.

St Andrew's House, London

One of the matters which concerned John greatly during the latter years of his work as Secretary General was the cramped working conditions for the staff of the Anglican Communion Office in Partnership House, Waterloo Road, London. John examined a number of possible alternative locations, and then entered into negotiations with the Tavistock Trustees, the Community of St Andrew and the London Diocesan Order of Deaconesses for the use of St Andrew's House, Westbourne Park in London. We have been grateful for the helpful assistance of the Bishop of London in this matter, who is Visitor to the St Andrew's Trust, and the gracious encouragement of the remaining Sisters of the Order.

We do not own the building at Westbourne Park, but have entered into a long term leasing arrangement with the Tavistock Trustees at very advantageous rates. However, the building required extensive renovations before being able to be used for our purposes, and this proved to be a very expensive exercise. Despite the Joint Standing Committee placing a limit on the extent of the costs involved, there was a serious overrun. Canon John Peterson worked tirelessly to attract donors to assist with these costs, and many parts of the Church, including numerous individuals, responded generously. Details of the financing arrangements will be presented when we examine our accounts later in the meeting. We still have a way to go on clearing our indebtedness over St Andrew's House, but the positive side of the story is that we now have an attractive and welcoming base for the work of the Communion, and much improved working conditions for our staff. There are a small number of ensuite guest bedrooms for visitors to London to use, and Ann Quirke ensures an efficient and welcoming homely atmosphere as House Manager. The use of that form of accommodation reduces the costs of meetings, and also provides a small but useful income stream.

The Compass Rose Society

Another of the enduring legacies of John Peterson's tenure of office is his initiation and nurturing of the Compass Rose Society. The Society has already become a very important part of the Anglican Communion, and through the journeyings of groups of members to various parts of the Communion to learn and share in our global mission, and through its very generous sharing of resources and contributions to the Inter Anglican Budget, it has become a very valuable ally and partner in the work of the Communion. In particular, I am thankful that representatives of the Compass Rose Society have been able to observe meetings of the Inter Anglican Finance and Administration Committee, and in return the Secretary General and other representatives of the ACC have been consulted and included in various activities and meetings of the Society. That close interaction and good communication needs to continue, so that understanding, trust and co-operation will realise the enormous benefits to us of the existence in our midst of the Society.

The Compass Rose Society is particularly active in the United States of America, in Hong Kong and in Canada, and its current Chairman, Philip Poole has recently been episcopally ordained and we wish him well in his new ministry within the Diocese of Toronto.

The Compass Rose Society has worked hard to establish an Endowment Fund for the work of the Communion, at a time when the cohesiveness and commonality of the Communion itself has been called into question, and thus their work has been made much more difficult. The Society has also made great efforts to assist in the financing of the renovations to St Andrew's House, as a more immediate call upon their fund raising activities. The Council will have an opportunity to hear directly from representatives of the Compass Rose Society later in this meeting. At this point I simply wish to place on record our gratitude for their tremendous work amongst us, and on our behalf.

Appointment of the new Secretary General

During the year prior to the completion of Canon John Peterson's term of office, I consulted Archbishop Rowan as the President of the ACC, and brought a paper before the March 2004 meeting of the Joint Standing Committees of the ACC and the Primates, suggesting a process for us to follow in the matter of the appointment of a new Secretary General. The Joint Standing Committee duly appointed two Primates and two ACC representatives to form a Committee to conduct the search and interview process. Ms Fung-Yi Wong of Hong Kong and myself were the two ACC members, and The Most Reverends Dr Bernard Malango of Central Africa and Dr Barry Morgan of Wales were the two Primates. The process was very well administered by Chris Smith from Lambeth Palace, and I wish to record here my personal gratitude to Chris and the staff of Lambeth Palace for the expert help and advice given to the search and interview group. We are also indebted to the members of the search and interview group for a task done with care and prayer and great sensitivity.

The position was widely advertised, the Primates were invited to comment and nominate suitable persons, and we received a very healthy number of applications from several Provinces of the Communion. These were reduced to a short list and interviews took place at Lambeth Palace. We nominated three of the applicants for final interview and decision by the Archbishop of Canterbury who then announced that The Reverend Canon Kenneth Kearon, Director of the Irish School of Ecumenics in the Church of Ireland, had been duly appointed.

One of the factors we had to take into consideration was the need for close cooperation and constant communication with both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the staff of Lambeth Palace, particularly with regard to the Archbishop's critical role in the Anglican Communion. There has been noticeable improvement in these matters in recent years, and with the Secretary General being enabled to occupy a flat at Lambeth Palace, another step forward has been taken.

Kenneth was commissioned by Archbishop Rowan in the Chapel at St Andrew's House in January of this year, and in his first six months in the position has already arranged, administered and survived a meeting of the Primates, and now comes face to face with the whole ACC. I am sure the ACC will want to join me in welcoming Kenneth, ably supported by his wife Jennifer, to this aspect of his work, and to assure him that what Archbishop Robert Runcie once described as the 'bonds of affection' which have kept the Anglican Communion together, are elastic enough to enclose the Kearon family carefully, prayerfully and with equal affection.

The Most Reverend Dr R.H.A Eames

The Lambeth Commission on Communion was chaired by Dr Robin Eames, Primate of All Ireland. In fact one of the reasons it was called the 'Lambeth Commission' was because there had already been two entities known as the 'Eames Commission'. Archbishop Eames has also served the Communion as Chair of the Inter Anglican Finance and Administration Committee and retired from that position in 2004. We owe Archbishop Robin a tremendous debt of gratitude for his enormous contribution to the life and mission of the Anglican Communion. The Joint Standing Committee mounted an appeal for funds to assist in the completion and naming of an area in St Andrew's House in order to honour the senior Primate of the Communion, and I am pleased to report that some generous responses have come to hand, and that there is room for more !

The Lambeth Commission on Communion

For some decades now questions surrounding the issue of authority in the Anglican Communion have been addressed by some of our best minds. Since the last meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, this matter has been given intense scrutiny because of differences over human sexuality in various parts of the Communion. A special meeting of the Primates of the Communion in October 2003 requested the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Commission on Communion, and this was duly done. I was asked to serve as a member of the Commission, and I accepted the task as I believed it to be important that the ACC could have a voice there. Although the Commission was established at the request of the Primates' Meeting, the Mandate of the Commission is clear in that it was to report to the Archbishop in time for this meeting. I therefore wish to quote in full the Mandate of the Commission, so that it becomes written into the record of this meeting of ACC-13.

"The Archbishop of Canterbury requests the Commission:

1. To examine and report to him by 30th September 2004, in preparation for the ensuing meetings of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, on the legal and theological implications flowing from the decisions of the Episcopal Church (USA) to appoint a priest in a committed same-sex relationship as one of its bishops, and of the Diocese of New Westminster to authorise services for use in connection with same-sex unions, and specifically on the canonical understandings of communion, impaired and broken communion, and the ways in which provinces of the Anglican Communion may relate to one another in situations where the ecclesiastical authorities of one province feel unable to maintain the fullness of communion with another part of the Anglican Communion;

2. Within their report, to include practical recommendations (including reflection on emerging patterns of provision for episcopal oversight for those Anglicans within a particular jurisdiction, where full communion within a province is under threat) for maintaining the highest degree of communion that may be possible in the circumstances resulting from these decisions, both within and between the churches of the Anglican Communion;

3. Thereafter, as soon as practicable, and with particular reference to the issues raised in Section IV of the Report of the Lambeth Conference 1998, to make recommendations to the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, as to the exceptional circumstances and conditions under which, and the means by which, it would be appropriate for the Archbishop of Canterbury to exercise an extraordinary ministry of episcope (pastoral oversight), support and reconciliation with regard to the internal affairs of a province other than his own for the sake of maintaining communion with the said province and between the said province and the rest of the Anglican Communion;

4. In its deliberations, to take due account of the work already undertaken on issues of communion by the Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998, as well as the views expressed by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in the communiques and pastoral letters arising from their meetings since 2000."

The sixteen members of the Commission worked well together both in the course of the three actual meetings of the full Commission, and individually in coping with the enormous amount of reading, preparation and writing that was required. I wish to acknowledge the way in which our own ACC staff worked to support the Commission. The Reverend Terrie Robinson and Mrs Christine Codner worked long hours as Administrative Assistants. Canon Gregory Cameron brought his extraordinary skills and knowledge as the Secretary of the Commission, and our Legal Advisor, Canon John Rees contributed wit, wisdom and learning to the work.

The documents circulated prior to this ACC meeting contain excerpts from the Windsor Report, as the published report of the Commission has become known, which have a bearing on the ACC in particular. This full meeting of the Council will have to devise a way of dealing with the various recommendations about our own membership, about the frequency and timing of meetings of the Standing Committee to coincide with meetings of the Primates, about the ex officio membership of the Primates' Standing Committee on the ACC and our own Standing Committee and therefore trustees. Further, the recommendations about the Anglican Communion Office require urgent consideration, and of course all these matters have significant budgetary implications, as do the recent recommendations from the Primates' Meeting.

We are in fact experiencing changes in the inter-relationships of the Instruments of Unity as we speak. The Primates' Meeting met for years without making any recommendations or passing resolutions, with the one exception in the late 1980's expressing reservations about constitutional changes in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. But that is now changing, and the 'enhanced responsibility' which successive Lambeth Conferences and the Inter Anglican Doctrinal and Theological Commission recommended is finally being taken on board. Yet the ACC needs to take care lest such enhanced responsibility on the part of one of the Instruments of Unity move from the art of gentle persuasion to what has been called 'institutional coercion'. The fact that the Lambeth Commission on Communion was asked to report to the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose office is itself one of the Instruments of Unity, 'in preparation for the ensuing meetings of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council' yet has found that the Instrument which happened to meet first, has taken steps to recommend that the Instrument which was to meet subsequently can only meet without its full membership, is at least slightly premature, if not coercive and somewhat punitive. A body which exists by means of a constitution agreed to by all the member churches of the Anglican Communion, and that is required by that constitution to be 'consultative' cannot consult fully or properly if all of its members are not sitting at the same table. It is surely not for one Instrument of Unity to disempower another ?

Similarly there is a constitutional and legal difficulty in that both the Lambeth Conference and the Primates' Meeting are able to resolve that certain work be undertaken, that certain bodies be established, yet are not able to provide the funding necessary for those things to be accomplished. At present, the members of the ACC Standing Committee are constituted as the Trustees of the assets and funds of the Anglican Communion, and bear a degree of personal liability for the decisions on income and expenditure, but are not consulted when some of those decisions or recommendations are being made. The Anglican Communion Office and its staff are thus sometimes placed in invidious positions by being asked to ensure that these matters are administered, arranged or otherwise organised. Unless the Bishops who come to the Lambeth Conference, or the Primates who make those recommendations are able to stand behind them by ensuring an increased level of contributions to the Inter Anglican Budget, or the Primates' Standing Committee assumes responsibility as joint Trustees, then the present arrangements cannot hold. In this respect members will note that our papers contain a report from a small sub-committee established as a result of recommendations from both ACC-11 and ACC-12 on a new Constitution and structure which will go some way towards meeting the concerns I have identified. However, that work was largely completed before the publication of the Windsor Report, and we will have to take care that the recommendations in that Report are considered before a revised structure and constitutional framework are put in place. Since writing the first draft of this Address, the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC has met here in Nottingham, and spent some very useful time in considering these matters. As a result, the recommendations of the Windsor Report have now been incorporated in the constitutional amendments which the ACC has already been able to consider, particularly with regard to the membership of the Standing Committee, and the inclusion of the Primates as members of the ACC itself.

The Anglican Consultative Council as an Instrument of Unity

Those who care deeply about their membership of the Anglican Communion, this world-wide faith community characterised since the 1963 Toronto Congress by mutual responsibility and interdependence and held together by little more than those 'bonds of affection' will have been concerned at the somewhat dismissive comments that have abounded in recent times about the effectiveness of this body, and particularly by some of those voices which have been raised in support of an enhanced role to be played by the Primates' Meeting.

A careful reading of the papers already circulated for ACC members, and those reports still to come before us, will reveal a consensus of concern and care for our continuing cohesiveness as a Communion. And it is not only present amongst those Commissions and Networks which report to the Consultative Council. The meeting last year of the Provincial Secretaries and Treasurers of the Anglican Communion clearly stated a strong desire for the Anglican Communion to remain together and united. The Network reports seem to me to share an underlying concern that the important and often pioneering work that they undertake is given strength and coherency and significance because of the international nature of our constituency. A considered look through the expanded description of the 'Object' of the ACC in the Report of the Constitutional Review sub-committee identifies our role clearly. And it is not that the ACC is important because we have identified its role in that manner, but rather that those important elements of tasks and responsibilities do not belong anywhere else. A world-wide Communion that consists of 38 autonomous Provinces plus a number of associated dioceses and areas which takes our international membership to perhaps 43, has to have some way of working together and relating to each other and to other major Christian Churches and a host of other organisations.

The ACC gives voice and hope and strength and dignity to those 80 million or more Anglicans who say they belong to us, and look to us to represent them, but who are not themselves Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, Deacons or ACC members. They are the laos, they are the people of God, and they are our people, and they are importantly and impressively represented in the ACC, and I believe they want us to stay together, to live with difference, and not have difference forced upon them. Many Anglicans know what it is to have been colonised, and have no wish to repeat that experience in a new colonising of the mind and heart. Let ACC-13 declare to our watching and rather anxious church that our Communion is indeed a living Communion, that God lives, that God loves, and that we can continue to worship and serve God from our many different perspectives, while still proudly calling ourselves 'Anglicans'.

My personal hope is that this ACC-13 can express sufficient confidence in our 'Living Communion' that we can mark Anglican Communion Sunday in every parish, in every ministry unit, in every diocese, in every Province with a real celebration of our unity, and by remitting to the Anglican Communion Office a suitable donation of whatever size, for the express purpose of endowing our Communion, of ensuring our future.


It is an honour to serve the Communion as Chair of the ACC. I look forward to three or might it be four more years working with the Standing Committee, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and with the Primates' Standing Committee. More immediately I look forward to the work of ACC-13 with members both new and experienced, and to what our time together in Nottingham might mean for the unity and strength of the Anglican Communion.

+ John Paterson
ACC Chair
21 June Mid Winter Day / Mid Summer Day 2005