Staff from the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) – the secretariat for the Anglican Communion’s Instruments of Communion – shared highlights from their work and why support from the Compass Rose Society matters. The updates were given during a presentation this week to Compass Rose Society members who had gathered at Church House in Westminster, London, for their Annual General Meeting.
Bishop Anthony Poggo, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, led the presentation. He spoke of the wealth of diversity that is the Anglican Communion: “as I travel, I often think of the verse from Hebrews 10:25. It talks about not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another. It inspires me, because this is what I so often see on my visits. Anglicans around the Communion are meeting together, serving their local communities. We are meeting together globally and locally responding to human need caused by issues of poverty, inequality and injustice.”
He explained that the ACO seeks to be an enabling team working to strengthen and support the shared life of the Communion. This is achieved through supporting important conversations, encouraging collaboration, sharing resources, supporting training and education and promoting the Five Marks of Mission.
He stressed how valuable the partnership and relationship between the ACO and the Compass Rose Society are. “We thank you that the funding you provide helps us operate as a secretariat,” he said.
Bishop Anthony introduced the Revd Canon Stephen Spencer, Adviser on Theological Education and Lambeth Conference Implementation and Janet Miles, Head of Communications at the Lambeth Conference. Stephen spoke about his work in supporting the creation of the Anglican Communion Science Commission, which was launched at the Lambeth Conference in 2022. “The Science Commission has been set up to bring about a culture of change and to foster confidence and courageous leadership around issues of science”, he said. “Our leaders need to see science as an ally as we face issues of our time”.
Stephen spoke about Science Commission workshops that took place recently in Limuru, Kenya. Bishops, scientists, and theological educators from across Africa gathered to develop the work of the Commission. A highlight for him was two-thirds of the way through the workshop, the bishops who were participating took over providing the input and shaping the outputs of the workshop, so that they formed and owned them for themselves – in particular finding connections between their Christian faith, the world of science and their inherited traditional knowledge systems.
Janet spoke about the Lambeth Calls issued by bishops at the Lambeth Conference. She highlighted the series of Lambeth Calls webinars that are taking place. Her highlight has been “the opportunity to work with and learn from so many voices and perspectives from around the world. That has been for me a real privilege”, she said.
The Revd Rachel Carnegie leads the work of the Anglican Alliance and played an important role in building on one of the legacies of the Lambeth Conference – the launch of the Communion Forest. “The Communion Forest is about growing and protecting trees, but also about growing and protecting forests,” she said.
Rachel thanked the Canadian Compass Rose Society for their support and spoke of plans to bring churches in Canada and the US together to restore forests destroyed by wildfires. Finally, Rachel said that she has been in touch with colleagues in the Diocese of Jerusalem and stressed the appeal for medical resources for the diocesan-owned al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, and asked those present to continue to pray.
Martha Jarvis, the Anglican Communion’s permanent representative to the United Nations, joined the conversation with Rachel and Bishop Anthony. She will be involved with Anglican representation at COP28 in November and December. She said: “we as a Communion have a gift to represent people for whom this is life and death every day. People who have lost family and livelihoods because of climate change. We are building on the work that Rachel was just talking about and are a strategic partner in all practical responses. We can also speak about God.”
The ACO Finance Director, Sean Willans, thanked Compass Rose Society members for their generous support, saying: “the amount of doors that Bishop Anthony has opened has been unbelievable. Without your support he wouldn’t be able to do that”.
Some members of the Compass Rose Society had recently visited the Anglican Church of Tanzania in a visit hosted by the Compass Rose Society, the Secretary General, and other ACO staff, and used the opportunity to speak about their experiences. These included Colin Johnstone, Jane Hamilton and Della Wager Wells.
“The most important part of our mission and outreach programme is not based on funding of programmes, but on friendships,” said one.
“A highlight for me was the hospitality, not just the food, warmth and friendliness, but the privilege of accepting hospitality.” She spoke of the “sacred work” and holistic approach that communities supported by the Anglican Church are doing. “I was lifted up,” she said.
Another member spoke about how proactive the Anglican Church is in Tanzania, of how people got along and that parishioners are increasing in numbers.
Responding to a question asking what Bishop Anthony had learned during his 11 visits so far, he said: “firstly, our contexts are different. Secondly, there is a lot of misinformation – I’ve heard people report things that have not actually been said. Thirdly, hospitality and the warm welcome that people give”.