[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] Navigating the changing relationship between the state and the church has been the focus of discussions between Anglican leaders from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania taking part in USPG’s triennial International Consultation in Barbados, this week ( 7-14 June).
The Chief Executive Officer for USPG, Duncan Dormor, said: “The consultation is focusing on relationships between Church and State across the Anglican Communion. Experiences vary greatly: for some discriminatory practices are commonplace, for others attempts are made to co-opt the influence of the church. For bishops and archbishops the issue of when and how to speak out, and when to remain silent is a fundamental one.”
The consultation has included contributions from Anglican leaders from 17 different Anglican provinces around the world. Rienze Perera, the Archdeacon of Galle in the Diocese of Colombo, spoke out of the experience of the Easter Day bombings in Sri Lanka, as well as the challenges faced by so many who are marginalised and disempowered. A priest from Hong Kong, Chan Kwok Keung, gave a presentation on the current political tensions in Hong Kong and how the Sheng Kung Hui (the Anglican Church in Hong Kong) relates to the government.
Duncan Dormor said: “This issue of Church and State is particularly important for leaders in the Anglican Communion, it’s an issue they have said they wrestle with and of course education is a big issue for many, with the high numbers of church schools. We heard fascinating insights from Archbishop Maimbo Mndolwa in Tanzania, not least the importance of encouraging young Christians to engage in politics.”
The keynote speaker was Kay Sharon McConney, Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology in Barbados. She mapped out a model of how church and state might work together as partners in a “co-creative mission” united by a vision of shared concern for the welfare of the people they serve.
A lifelong and deeply committed Anglican, Kay McConney, focused on how the church and state in Barbados must come together to tackle the challenges of caring for the growing ageing population and raising the nation’s children “with humanity, in a digital age”.
She went on to lay down a missional challenge to the church leaders asking questions about what they might unite against, areas where they will stand together and what they must not let come between them.
The conference is USPGs triennial international gathering.