[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Archbishop and Primate of Hong Kong, the Most Revd Dr Paul Kwong, has been elected as the new chair of the Anglican Consultative Council – the legally constituted body that brings together Anglican churches from around the world. Dr Kwong will take on his new role at the end of the current meeting of ACC-16 which is being held in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka, Zambia, until Tuesday.
The Archbishop – the first serving Primate to be elected to the role – said that he was “deeply honoured and humbled” by his election.
“I think the most important issue that we have to work towards is to hold the Communion together,” he said, “and also to bring all the people of differences – people who are of different views of different matters – together, to work together and to serve together.
The new chair said that the Anglican Communion existed for mission: “This is the major objective of the Communion, he said, “because we have to serve the Communion that we are called to serve. We have to make the Communion be relevant to the world; to the people we are called by God to serve. I think this is the most pressing thing we do, regardless of the differences that we have.”
He said that the mission of the Anglican Communion was expressed through discipleship, and in addressing issues of poverty, human trafficking and violence. “There are far too many things and we have to [tackle] them together for the world,” he said.
He explained how his Hong Kong background would be an asset in helping the Communion to hold together. Hong Kong – despite its mix of Western and Eastern cultures, was “basically a Chinese community,” he said. “Chinese culture is very inclusive. Normally, we don’t judge who is wrong and who is right. We walk together with those who are right and also with those who are wrong.
“Coming from this kind of culture, perspective and attitude I think I would probably make some contribution to the life of the Communion. But I don’t know how successful I will be because I don’t think a single person can achieve all these things. In order to achieve these goals, in order to hold the Communion together, I have to work with every single person in the ACC and within the other instruments of unity.”
Archbishop Kwong is the first Primate to be elected to chair the ACC. He recognised that this might be a concern for some – the ACC is the only formal international Anglican Communion that includes lay people – but said that being a Primate would give him access to the other Instruments of Unity – the Primates Meeting, the Lambeth Conference, and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
“The role of the chair of ACC is not just to chair meetings,” he said. “The chair of ACC, as I see the role and responsibilities, is to connect people – or reconnect people – in the Communion.” He said that the four Instruments of Communion were “not independent from each other” and needed to be connected to each other “for the purpose of holding the Community [together], building up the community and making the community relevant to the world.”
Archbishop Kwong received 40 votes. The runner up, Professor Joanildo Burity from Brazil, received 25 votes. Archbishop Kwong will succeed Bishop James Tengatenga, who will step down at the end of the current meeting on Tuesday.