One hundred lay and ordained faith leaders to meet for the Anglican Consultative Council in Zambia
Over a hundred lay people, priests and bishops will gather next April in Zambia for the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).
The Anglican Communion Standing Committee and the Church of the Province of Central Africa have started the preparations and consultation process for the next year’s meeting taking place in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Lusaka, on 8-20 April.
The overarching theme for the next year’s meeting is to be ‘Intentional Discipleship in a World of Differences’. This is in response to the challenges facing the Church today of articulating our faith in a way that can apply it to Christian ethics in all spheres of life. The theme was commended by the Archbishop of Canterbury and approved in the recent meeting of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.
A number of further priorities for the ACC agenda were identified earlier this year in Dublin in a consultation with Provincial Secretaries who were representing various member churches of the Anglican Communion. Mission and evangelism, environment and climate change, refugees and migrants, reconciliation and difference are among the main topics identified in the consultation. The detailed ACC programme is still being developed.
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka will host over 100 members of the Anglican Consultative Council for its 16th meeting next April. Photo: Lusaka Cathedral
The local launch of the ACC-16 will take place in a dedicated service in Lusaka Cathedral on 29th November and will gather representatives from all the dioceses in the Province of Central Africa (Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia). The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Most Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon, will preach at the service and a video message from the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will also be shown.
The new logo designed for ACC-16 has as the central image the iconic shape of the roof of Lusaka Cathedral. The colours used in the image are all the colours in the flags of Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia – the countries of the dioceses that make up the Church of the Province of Central Africa. The cross in the logo is in the style of the one over the nave altar in Lusaka Cathedral.
The role of the ACC is to facilitate the co-operative work of the churches of the Anglican Communion, exchange information and help to co-ordinate common action. It advises on the organisation and structures of the Communion, and seeks to develop common policies with respect to the world mission of the Church, including ecumenical matters.
The Anglican Consultative Council is one of the four instruments of the Anglican Communion, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates Meeting and Lambeth Conference. It is the most representative bodies as it includes lay and ordained members. Each province, depending on its size has one to three representatives.
The Anglican Consultative council meets every three years in different parts of the world. There have been fifteen meetings of the Council. The last meeting – ACC-15 – was held in New Zealand.
The Good News is – The Anglican Communion Standing Committee (in conjunction with the Province of Central Africa) has arranged a meeting of what may, by that time, have become one of its most important ‘Instruments of Unity’ for its ongoing life – the three-tiered Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) – which will meet in Zambia in Holy Cross Cathedral, Lusaka, in April, 2016.
It seems that, whatever transpires from the January 2016 Anglican Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury, England – and whether or not there will ever be another Lambeth Conference of Bishops – at least the ACC, with representatives from the Faithful Laity, Clergy and Bishops taking part, will continue to function as a definitive working group for whatever remains of the Communion in the foreseeable future.
This is good news for those of us in the Anglican Communion who have elected to remain faithful to the understanding of Anglicans as a Family of Member Churches rejoicing in the paradigm of ‘Unity in Diversity’; not seeking a ‘confessional’ Church – such as would have emerged, inevitably, from the doomed ‘Anglican Covenant’ proposal (rejected by the majority of Provincial Churches of the Communion, including the Church of England), but rather an affiliation of Anglican Churches dedicated to the inclusion of All People into the fellowship of the Body of Christ as celebrated in our world of today.
The theme of the Meeting: ‘Intentional Discipleship in a World of Differences’, is a very important marker of the expectation of the meeting’s outcome. That there are some deeply divergent opinions of how to deal with matters like: interpretation of the Bible; the theological implication of gender and sexuality etiology; and inter-Faith relationships; in different ethnic ands cultural regions of the Communion Churches, cannot be denied. And how to deal with these matters in the local context of mission has yet to be determined.
Anglicanism is not alone in such diversity. Since the accession of Pope Francis in his role of leadership in the Roman Catholic Church, there has been much controversy on his proposals to deal with the mission of the Church in different parts of the world, where there are different social and cultural expectations which derive from a clash of basic understandings of what is indispensible in matters of Faith and Doctrine, and what may be justly called ‘adiaphora’ – of lesser substance than those weightier considerations.
My prayer is that our Anglican Consultative Council, composed as it will be of voices from all parts of the Church – both clergy and laity – will invoke, and receive, the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, so that our constituent members Churches may continue to walk together in harmony and peace, bringing the glorious freedom of the Gospel to everyone in our local territories.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand