Photo Credit: Neil Turner / Anglican Communion
The Bible studies at the 18th plenary meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-18) in Accra, Ghana, have been inspired by the theme of the Conference: “The Marks of Mission – Today and Tomorrow”, with each day centred on one of the Marks of Mission
On the business days of the Conference, the members sit in table groups that reflect the different ages, cultures, and geography with lay and clergy considering the early chapters of Mark’s gospel and especially on passages which show Jesus and the disciples serving God’s mission in a range of ways.
A similar format is followed each day that allows for the prayer, study, and discussion to inform the consultation that takes place that day. At each study the participants are invited to share their experiences of that day’s Mark of Mission, allowing them to contribute to the thinking of the ACC and to grow in their awareness and understanding of different ways of doing mission from other contexts. The passages from Mark’s gospel are intended to challenge their experience and understanding of mission in different ways.
- First Session: Tell
Mark 1:9-15 and the first Mark of Mission:
To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
- Second Session: Teach
Mark 1:16-20 and the second Mark of Mission:
To teach, baptise and nurture new believers.
- Third Session: Tend
Mark 1:21-39 and the Third Mark of Mission:
To respond to human need by loving service.
- Fourth Session: Transform
Mark 2:23-3.6 and the Fourth Mark of Mission:
To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation.
- Fifth Session: Treasure
Mark 4:1-2, 24-36 and the fifth Mark of Mission:
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth
An essential part of each study is a short testimony from a person from one of the five regions of the Anglican Communion on how the designated Mark of Mission finds expression in their own context and in their own personal life, to stimulate everyone to also share how it finds expression in their own contexts and own lives.
At the second session on “Teach” Ms Sar Kabaw Htoo a member from The Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma) spoke of the difficulties of teaching faith in South East Asia. In referring to the gospel text of the day the presenter asked the haunting questions: when there are difficulties how do fish for people? How do you share the love of Christ? Are you able to fish where you are?
At the third session on “Tend”, the Reverend Natalie Simons-Arendse from Southern Africa, a theological adviser for the Bible studies provided a foundation to enable the members to discuss and see how the passage could be affirmed and what challenged them.
She spoke of the different miracles in the passage and noted that faith was not a prerequisite for the healings, nor did it depend on what political party or group or cause they belonged to. At the end of the passage, they bring all in need – spouses, partners, children, people with disabilities – as all looked to Jesus. It is not a choice between evangelism and need, Natalie Simons-Aremdse said, we must do both.
The Bible studies will continue throughout this week as part of the ACC-18 meeting.