Photo Credit: Neil Turner / Anglican Communion
On the second full day of the 18th plenary meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-18) in Accra, Ghana, Bishop Anthony Poggo, the new Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, presented his report with these opening words:
“This report aims to inform ACC members of key matters related to the internal workings of the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) as well as wider matters related to the Communion itself. It covers my activities since I began my role as Secretary General on 1 September 2022, my priorities for 2023, and those matters that are on my heart for the Anglican Communion.”
The Secretary General’s written report was very comprehensive. It speaks of a priority of getting to know the staff of the Anglican Communion Office and he outlined recent changes to the staff. He will be working with the Lambeth Conference outcomes and will be incorporating them into the development and roll out of the Strategic Plan for the Communion.
He spoke of the work that remains from the Lambeth Conference which includes feedback from the Lambeth Calls being shared with a Phase Three Development Group. When they are finished, the Secretary General indicated that “they will be shared back as a gift to the Anglican Communion, inviting provinces and dioceses to consider them.”
Saint Andrew House in London will be maintained as the home of the Anglican Communion with a new 10 year lease.
The Anglican Communion continues to grow with the new province of Igreja Anglicana de Mocambique e Angola (IAMA) being inaugurated as the 42nd province of the Anglican Communion. Bishop Anthony indicated that he “had the privilege of joining the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend the provincial celebration in Mozambique in November 2022,” he said. “We visited the northern Capo Delgado region to see the work of the Anglican Church in Mozambique with ecumenical, interfaith and UN partners in peacebuilding.”
Despite all the difficulties with Covid over the past few years three new Commissions have been established. The Science Commission will make a significant impact going forward with its through its hub in Kenya. Secondly, the Evangelism and Discipleship Commission, which is supporting and extending significant work in Church Planting across the Communion as well as Intentional Discipleship through the Jesus-shaped life Programme. The third is the Commission for Theological Education in the Anglican Communion (CTEAC), which will continue the networking and resourcing that it has initiated over the last five years. In the next few months, a Network for Bishops’ Spouses will also be the formed building on the work begun at the Lambeth Conference.
The Secretary General raised the issue of provincial contributions to the inter-Anglican budget, and provinces’ ability to provide their contributions given their financial strain during the Covid-19 pandemic. He indicated that “we may need to review the allocations of contributions from each province to reflect these concerns. It is important for us to have a solid financial position to meet some of the needs within the Anglican Communion.”
Bishop Poggo closed his report expressing hopes to visit some of the smaller provinces so that their voices are heard in the life of the communion. He shared information about the Personal Emergency Fund and the impact it has on the lives of those who benefit from it. He is also very encouraged by the growing number of Companion Links throughout the Communion.
In his time as Secretary General he hopes “to serve the extending of God’s mission in God’s world through the life and work of the Anglican Communion,” he said.
Bishop Poggo succeeded Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who stepped down as Secretary General last summer. Bishop Anthony was born in 1964, in what would later become South Sudan. As a child he and his siblings were taken by his father – an Anglican priest – and his mother into Uganda to flee the first Sudanese Civil War. In 1973, at the age of nine, he returned with his family to South Sudan.
As a young man he made the decision to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He was ordained a deacon in 1995 and a priest in 1996. In 2007 he was elected Bishop of Kajo-Keji, a position he held until 2016, when he became the Archbishop of Canterbury’s adviser on Anglican Communion affairs before moving into his new role last September.
Bishop Anthony said that when he was about 12, somebody shared with him the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “I then took the step of accepting Christ and following him,” he said.