Directors of programme areas at the Anglican Communion Office have spoken to members of the Anglican Consultative Council to report on their work over the past three years. The seventeenth meeting of the Consultative Council (ACC-17) brought together more than 100 members from the 40 provinces of the Anglican Communion in Hong Kong for a week of prayer, discussion, and fellowship.
On Tuesday 30 April, three Directors in the “Mission Cluster” – Canon Terrie Robinson, the Director for Women in Church and Society; Jack Palmer-White, the Anglican Communion’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations; and the Rachel Carnegie, the Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance; presented their reports.
In what was Terrie Robinson’s last report to the ACC – she is concluding her ministry with the Anglican Communion at the end of this month – she shared a number of stories, some very graphic, that had taught her about the question of power and how that may be misused and abused. Robinson told the meeting that the women’s desk “could become a point of contact for any woman or any man in the Anglican Communion who was doing something or wanted to do something about violence against women and girls.”
Her work is dedicated to raising awareness of the prevalence of violence against women and girls, to share information and to reach out to survivors. She highlighted programs which have contributed to this work: The 16 Days of Activism, Thursdays in Black and White Ribbon Day and a new work called “God’s Justice: Just Relationships between Women and Men, Girls and Boys” that she hopes will find its way into seminaries and other places of learning throughout the Communion.
She summed up her more than 16 years of work for the Communion with these words: “It has all been about a simple Gospel truth, that whenever the image of God is disfigured by violence or abuse or misuse of power in any way, then it is a sin against the Holy Spirit. My work has been to play a part and to serve others in God’s mission in leading the world away from sin, so that the world might fully celebrate God’s image as a feature of being human, not of gender”.
For Jack Palmer-White, this was his first opportunity to address the Consultative Council, as he began his work in late 2017. In his report, he explained that The Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations represents and raises up the voices, experiences and expertise of the Anglican Communion on the global stage, specifically in the context of engagement with the secretariat, agencies and member states of the United Nations.
There has been a continued Anglican presence at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. In 2019, a delegation of eight women was selected based on their expertise on the session’s theme, with planning focused on supporting delegates to identify key opportunities to advocate on behalf of their provinces, before, during and after the meeting.
A new strategic plan has been developed which calls on the UN to collaborate more effectively and enthusiastically with local churches around the Anglican Communion, so that they are acknowledged as vital, credible, durable, sustainable, equitable and locally committed partner.
Jack when on to explain the “Provincial Engagement Plan”, which puts provinces of the Anglican Communion at the heart of their work. He shared about the importance of recognising and connecting global activity with the local, grassroots ministry of provinces, dioceses, and agencies of the Anglican Communion.
The continuing priorities he identified were migration, refugees and displacement, birth registration and statelessness, women’s rights, global health, the environment and indigenous rights. In addition, he reflected on some new opportunities that he felt the Anglican Communion could share in- perhaps uniquely because of our insights and experiences: human rights accountability, sustainable development goals, and peace and security.
The Anglican Alliance was born out of the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Highlighting the Marks of Mission, Rachel Carnegie explained that the role of the Anglican Alliance is to connect and equip the worldwide family of Anglican and Episcopal churches and agencies as they respond to human need, challenge unjust structures, build peace and safeguard creation.
In her report, she explained how the work has expanded across the Communion, Carnegie talked about three areas, beginning with relief. “Since 2016”, she explained, “we have coordinated over 20 humanitarian responses, contacting churches immediately after a disaster – raising a call for prayer – and then working with the affected church on their response, while convening Anglican agencies and companion dioceses into a single coordinated support.”
She noted the painful reality that the number and severity of climate-related disasters are increasing.
The second area is development. The Alliance’s role is to connect and share expertise around the Communion that will link the local and global and to sharing excellent models of community development and social outreach. The third area is advocacy. The Communion has an extraordinary voice to connect the local experience with global advocacy, she said.
She concluded her presentation by talking about the most compelling issue they face – one that cuts across the three areas of work – and that is climate justice. They hear almost on a daily basis about the devastating impact of climate change; as well as stories of hope of local action and global advocacy
She expressed the hope that with her Mission Cluster colleagues, the Alliance might weave together the various Communion-wide initiatives on climate justice along with the Anglican Environment Network, Green Anglicans and others to develop a powerful resolution for the Anglican Consultative Council to consider.
The Anglican Communion’s Director for Mission, Canon John Kafwanka, earlier reported on his department’s activities, including its focus on the Season of Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-making, the development of a youth network, inter-diocesan Companion Links, and diaspora community and cross-cultural mission engagement.
For the Season of Intentional Discipleship, the department had produced a brochure, booklet, study life guide and a catechetical framework in various languages. “There is a growing interest and excitement in Provinces and among dioceses across the Anglican Communion”, he said. “The former Primate of West Africa and Archbishop of the Internal Province of Ghana recently remarked that ‘this Intentional Discipleship is God-sent in the Anglican Communion.’”
He said that the number of Companion Links continued to grow. “Since 2016, several requests have been made and new links have developed and are developing”, including Coventry Diocese (England) and Kapsabet Diocese (Kenya), Peterborough Diocese (England) and the Anglican Church of Korea, Sheffield Diocese (England) and Bondo Diocese (Kenya), Diocese of Kapsabet (Kenya) and Bunbury Diocese (Australia).
“With the Lambeth Conference in view and the associated hospitality initiative, more diocesan companion links are envisaged for mutual learning and mutual discipleship.”
On Thursday 2 May, Canon Stephen Spencer presented his first report to the ACC as Director for Theological Education in the Anglican Communion. His work focused on three areas: Establishing the TEAC reference group, setting up Companionship Links between theological colleges and courses in the global north and south, and organising a conference ahead of next year’s Lambeth Conference for principals and bishops interested in developing Theological Education leadership across the Anglican Communion.
Work has also begun, he said, to commission open-access course frameworks for the Anglican Communion website for local learning groups to populate with their own material. “These will be for the emerging paradigm of theological education (theological education by extension delivered through local groups – TEEL ), at introductory / certificate level, developed by regional consultations with partners across the Communion”, he said.
“The first group of topics will include Anglican discipleship, history and doctrine, and gender justice. In due course the TEE course frameworks will be made available in Spanish, Portuguese and French.”
On Friday 3 May, the Director for Communications, Adrian Butcher, presented his last report to the ACC. He had been appointed shortly before the Council’s previous meeting – ACC-16 – in Lusaka and steps down from his role this week. He highlighted considerable developments in the Anglican Communion’s communications activity, including re-designed and restructured websites and the introduction of weekly news digests in French, Spanish and Portuguese.
He concluded his presentation by handing over to the incoming Director for Communications, Gavin Drake, who spoke about areas for future development, including the creation of an informal network for Anglican Communion Provincial and Diocesan communicators.