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Archbishop of Canterbury beats African drums to official open the ACC-18 meeting in Accra

Posted on: February 13, 2023 2:11 PM
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, beats African drums during a Eucharist Service at Christ Church, Legon in Accra to mark the official opening of the ACC-18 meeting in Ghana
Photo Credit: All photos: Neil Turner / Anglican Communion

Those attending the opening Eucharist of the 18th Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-18) were treated to resounding music of West African drums as they entered the Church. The music during the rest of the service included many traditional hymns sung accompanied by organ and other instruments and the choir shared an exciting variety of hymns sung in an African style during the offertory.

The celebrant of the liturgy was Archbishop Paul Kwong, the Chair of the ACC. The preacher was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The celebration took place at Christ Church, Legon within the University of Ghana in Accra. The congregation included the ACC-18 delegates, members of authorised Anglican networks and official Commissions, staff and ecumenical guest from around the Anglican Communion, as well as laity clergy, and bishops and of the province of West Africa. The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and the First Lady were also in attendance and the President brought greetings on behalf of the people of Ghana.

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The President of the Republic of Ghana, Mr Nana Rebecca Akufo-Addo, and First Lady Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, arrive at Christ Church , Legon, for the Opening Eucharist of the 18th plenary meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-18).
: Neil Turner / Anglican Communion

In his sermon, Archbishop Justin cited the biblical readings of the day (Genesis 1: 27 to 2: 3; Psalm 46; Romans 8: 18 – 25 (read in Spanish); and Matthew 6: 25 – end (read in Afrikaans).

Archbishop Welby connected the Genesis passage with the fifth Mark of Mission – “The Five Marks of Mission: Today and Tomorrow” is the theme of ACC-18.

“In Genesis, we see that the world and God cannot be separated. God is the one who creates, sustains and completes”, he said. “The entire world is suffused with the God who created it.

And he charges us to assist him in that task. To be involved with the world, to love it, to care for it, as God loves and cares for it. This very obviously links with the fifth mark of mission, to treasure the earth, to protect the natural environment that God has called good.”

From the Gospel the Archbishop said: “in these verses we find that we do not have to do it all ourselves, that God cares and is present in every small details. It is a challenge for those in need. Jesus was speaking to the poorest, small farmers in a country at war. They had no power to help themselves, so they prayed and came to Jesus. And Jesus puts their life in the context of all of creation.”

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The President of the Republic of Ghana, Mr Nana Rebecca Akufo-Addo, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and bishops and other leaders from the Church of the Province of West Africa and the Anglican Consultative Council.
: Neil Turner / Anglican Communion

The Archbishop used Matthew’s words to challenge those present with two things: the first was “not to just sit back and let God get on with it whilst we twiddle our thumbs. God is far too generous, far too welcoming for that he tasks us with getting involved. We are to be those who steward the Earth in Genesis, who seek the kingdom in Matthew.”

The second, he said, was: “to understand what we do when events are well beyond us. What do we understand about the 25,000 dead in Turkey and Syria, in two vast earthquakes? If God does get involved why are they not protected? The answer in the New Testament is clear, do what you can in faith and love, as Jesus did what he could do in faith and love, and trust the Holy Spirit of God. Lament, protest and cry out to God. We are often the answer, and seeing that is one of the tasks of this week.”

He closed the sermon by returning to the Marks of Mission: “the Marks of Mission are a sort of road map towards the Kingdom we are sent out to seek. Jesus sends us out onto the road and tells us not to worry about how we will survive. That is up to God. It is the same with the Anglican Communion – we ask ‘how will it go on along the rocky path we see ahead of us?’ And the answer is the same – by the grace of God alone. . .

“Our job is to go out and make this known. To tell, teach, tend, transform and treasure. From our first charge in Genesis to look after creation to Jesus’ sending us out to look after one another.”

Following the Prayer after Communion, the official opening of this week’s ACC-18 meeting took place. Archbishop Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith Paul warmly welcomed the delegates representing 39 of the 42 provinces and 165 countries to Ghana and the Province of West Africa

He explained that “Ghana is the gateway to Africa and one of the most peaceful places on earth.”

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Members of the congregation at a service to mark the official opening of the 18th plenary meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.
: Neil Turner / Anglican Communion

He invited the delegates to enjoy the food and hospitality of the Ghanaian people and to tell the story of Ghana when they return home.

Archbishop Justin offered a prayer for guidance and then declared the ACC-18 open by robustly and joyfully striking two African drums many times.