The Bishop who leads the Anglican Communion’s Consultative Council (ACC) – the church’s major forum, says churchgoers worldwide do not want to hear Bishops talking about division and schism.
John Paterson, the Bishop of Auckland in New Zealand, is five years into his six year term as chair of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). Speaking to the meeting of the Diocesan Synod in the Diocese of Hereford, where he is staying prior to attending the Lambeth Conference next week, the Bishop stressed the importance of the ACC as the only body with representatives from the Episcopacy, the clergy and, most importantly, the lay people who sat in the pews every week.
“Our ability to meet and to talk is in jeopardy at the moment,” he said and added, “The Bishops are about to converge in Canterbury for the Lambeth Conference, but we know only too painfully that a good number of bishops will not be present. How can we work through the issues that trouble us, the issues that divide us, if we are not all present in the same room, sitting around the same table, worshipping together in the presence of our Lord?”
He talked about the difficulties caused by Bishops only speaking to other Bishops yet making decisions that affected the whole of the church. He cited the meeting in Ireland three years ago that attempted to discipline the North American Churches without reference to the ACC.
“I remain convinced that the great beating heart of the Anglican Communion, the wonderful lay people of the Church, do not want their bishops to be talking about schism, talking about division, calling each other names, applying labels such as 'apostates' to people who don't necessarily think the same way about everything,” he said.
Bishop John concluded, “The Anglican Church should be able to look to its bishops gathered at Lambeth to work hard and diligently towards finding a way through, so that the really important questions which are in front of us all can be addressed. Poverty, access to water, HIV / Aids, the great questions of effective mission and ministry, questions of interfaith understanding. There are any number of tsunamis out there waiting to engulf the Church, while so much of its attention is being taken by questions of human sexuality.”
The full script of Bishop Paterson’s address can be found at www.hereford.anglican.org from the link on the front page.