Partnership for Publishing New Voices: Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church Mission Society and Durham University have become partners in creating an innovative seven year post: Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion.
The purpose is to research, stimulate, connect and publish works of theology in the Anglican Communion, with particular focus on insights from Africa, Asia and Latin America, in their ecumenical contexts.
The Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings, currently Bishop of Sherborne, has been appointed and will take up this new post in July 2015. He will be based in London, visiting Durham University, as an Honorary Fellow, and will travel in the Communion. He will convene a series of seminars in Anglican Communion Studies for theologians, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A new web site, launched today,MissionTheologyAngCom.org, will publish the papers.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said, “I am delighted that this strong partnership has developed with CMS and Durham University. It is very gratifying that the concept of a Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion has attracted the necessary support to get to this stage where the post can be established. I know that the Anglican Communion has many gifted theologians and it is so important that their voice is heard more widely. I am glad that Bishop Graham’s experience and knowledge of the Communion is being made so generously available and I shall encourage the development of this project with a keen interest.”
The Revd Professor Joseph Galgalo, Vice-Chancellor of St Paul’s University, Limuru, Kenya, said, “This partnership affords new and creative ways of initiating and managing theological discourses across the Communion; and equally provides opportunities for constructive engagements. Bishop Graham Kings, with his vast experience in cross-cultural mission, is well placed to build a wide network of theologians to stimulate fruitful theological conversations, and to inspire partnerships across communities of faith. I wish him well and all God’s blessings as he lays the foundation for this exciting responsibility.”
Canon Philip Mounstephen, Executive Leader of the Church Mission Society, said, “CMS has long been committed to enabling the theological insights and voices of the global south to be better heard around the world as together we explore, and learn more, of the mission of God. I’m thrilled with this new post in CMS.”
Professor Alec Ryrie, Head of the Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University, said: “This partnership is exactly the kind of creative enterprise that we should be entering into, to make more of the fresh and important theological thinking taking place in areas which are sometimes remote to readily accessible scholarship. Our leading research and alumni networks can hopefully bring emphasis and credibility to this initiative. We are delighted to welcome Dr Kings as an Honorary Fellow in the Department.”
Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Interim Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, said: “Bishop Graham is well known to the Anglican Communion Office, through his participation in the interfaith network of the Anglican Communion. I am excited that this new post, although not based in the ACO, will complement our work in mission and theological studies. My colleagues and I look forward to working in partnership with him.”
The Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, said, “I am very grateful for all that Bishop Graham has contributed to the Diocese of Salisbury as Bishop of Sherborne. This new post makes very good use of his experience, knowledge and skills. We give thanks for him and Alison and ask God’s blessing on all that lies ahead.”
The Rt Revd Dr Graham Kings said, “I am amazed at this creative post, and give thanks to God. I am also deeply grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury, CMS and Durham University and to the wide range of supporting donors. Henry Venn, the great 19th Century General Secretary of CMS, talked of ‘self-supporting, self-governing and self-extending churches’ throughout the world. For many years, more recently, there has been a ‘fourth self’: ‘self-theologising’. It is these voices which need to be heard more clearly throughout the Communion.”
Funds for this new post have largely come from a wide range of private donors, from various traditions in the world-wide Church of God, as well as from the Church Mission Society, which will be employing Dr Kings from 16 July 2015.
Bishop Graham Kings, the Church of England bishop of Sherborne in the Diocese of Salisbury, has been given a brand new post in the Church Missionary Society, which will be in charge of theological oversight of Missionary activity in the Society – in conjunction with Durham University – that will have ramifications on the world-wide Anglican Communion’s connectivity in the future.
As a moderate conservative in the Communion, Bishop Graham will already have filial connections with the more conservative Provinces, and one might wonder what effect that might have on future relationships with sodalities like GAFCON and ACNA, which have distanced themselves from the rest of the Communion – including the Church of England – on their openness to accepting Gay clergy (and, in some cases; Women clergy) in their respective Provinces.
With the possibility of a split in the Communion between the likes of GAFCON Churches and the rest of us; it may be that the appointment of an Evangelical Conservative bishop to the theological missionary strategies of the Anglican Communion might delay any imminent departure of GAFCON Provinces. In this respect, a lot will depend on the reaction of GAFCON to this appointment, with some expectation on their part as to the way in which the matter of gender and sexuality questions is handled during the upcoming ‘Conversations’ on Human Sexuality now being facilitated by the Church of England General Synod.
Of all the conservative, evangelical voices in the Church of England, Bishop Graham Kings is probably the most balanced and sensible moderator to be given such and important post that will inevitably have some effect on the future of the world-wide Anglican Communion.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand