“Go forth into the world in peace” were the words of the choir’s anthem at St John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong on Sunday 5 May. It was sung to celebrate the conclusion of the 17th meeting of the triennial Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-17). More than 110 delegates and guests from around the world have gathered in Hong Kong this past week to shape the international work of the Anglican Communion for the coming years.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was the celebrant of the Eucharist and the Archbishop and Primate of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui – the Anglican Church in Hong Kong, Dr Paul Kwong, preached. Archbishop Paul is also the elected Chair of the Consultative Council.
Archbishop Paul based his sermon on the Gospel reading of the day from John 21: 1-19. On the theme of hospitality, he said: “‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught’, said Jesus. ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Of all the things to do on a quiet morning, what could be more natural? What could be more hospitable than someone cooking breakfast for their friends?”
He stated that hospitality was central to the conversations during ACC-17, and he affirmed “how important the simple actions of giving and receiving, of taking care of one another, of loving one another, are in our Christian lives together.”
He thanked all of the members of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui who had met and cared for those involved in ACC-17.
He also spoke about what it is to be a practical Christian. In challenging the congregation to love each other even when they disagree. In referencing ACC-17, he said: “we have had our arguments, our disagreements, our disappointments, just as much as we have had our genuine achievements. But I believe very strongly that our arguments and disagreements and disappointments have all taken place within the Body of Christ: that, however passionately we feel about the rightness of our cause and our beliefs, we return to listen to the Word, to share the Peace, to break bread, to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and to be sent out into the world to do His will.”
After an invitation to follow Christ, he concluded the sermon saying: “And as I say thank you to each and every delegate to ACC-17, and as I bid you travel safely back to your homes, reflecting upon these powerful Bible readings and this extraordinary Mass of Christ, I ask you only to remember Christ’s words to Peter, on behalf of the Communion and on behalf of the faithful Christians who have hosted you here in Hong Kong. Let us follow Christ, wherever He may take us. Amen.”
Members of the Standing Committee read the lessons and lead the intercessions. The music included Ernest Yang’s “Fount of love, our Saviour God”, “Great are thy mercies” to the Chinese folk song “Song of the Hoe”. The sung parts of the Eucharist were to a setting by Victor Chan.
The theme of the ACC-17 meeting was “Equipping God’s People: going deeper in intentional discipleship”. The work in the past week had included daily Bible studies, reports, presentations, resolutions, and briefings on a wide variety of ministries. There were also opportunities to visits local parishes and see their social ministry work.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, prays for three departing Anglican Communion Office Directors: Adrian Butcher, Dr John Gibaut, and the Revd Canon Terrie Robinson
Photo: St John’s Cathedral
During the closing Eucharist, after a time of prayer Archbishop Justin commissioned the ACC-17 members, the Standing Committee and the Staff of the Anglican Consultative Council to work together to advance God’s mission worldwide.
He prayed particularly for three departing members of the Anglican Consultative Council’s staff: Director for Unity, Faith and Order, Dr John Gibaut; Director for Women in Church and Society, Canon Terrie Robinson; and Director for Communications, Adrian Butcher.
He also prayed for the Anglican Communion’s Secretary General, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon.
The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, is prayed for by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, during the closing Eucharist of ACC-17 in Hong Kong.
Photo: Old Dog / St John’s Cathedral
Before the ACC-17 meeting concluded, the host provinces for the next two Anglican Consultative Council meetings were announced. West Africa will host ACC-18 in 2022; and ACC-19 will be hosted by the Church of Ireland in 2025.