(from the general Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada)
A Presentation from Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary-General of the Anglican Consultative Council
Members of General Synod received insight into the current state of the worldwide Anglican Communion through a presentation by Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who was named Secretary-General of the Anglican Consultative Council in April 2015. Archbishop Idowu-Fearon brought greetings on behalf of the churches of the Anglican Communion and the four Instruments of Communion that bind them together, in particular from the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the community of St. Anselm, who would be praying for members throughout General Synod.
He began by reminding members of the “historic and ongoing” contributions of the Anglican Church of Canada to the Anglican Communion as a whole, thanking individual Canadian Anglicans for their work on various bodies related to the international work of the Communion. Most recently, Canadian bishops were present at the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, which took place from May 25-29 in Accra, Ghana. He pointed to the text that emerged, A Testimony of Unity in Diversity, as meriting a careful and respectful reading across the Anglican Communion.
In the midst of concerns among members of General Synod over how changes to the marriage canon might be received among other Anglican provinces, Archbishop Idowu-Fearon discussed statements from successive Primates Meetings that vigorously condemned both homophobia and governments that have criminalized homosexuality with punishments that include imprisonment and even the death penalty. Citing the tragedy of the recent mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, he pointed to the prophetic task of Anglican Africans of denouncing violence, and the requirement of space and time to do work towards changing attitudes on their own.
Despite divisions at the Primates Meeting, Archbishop Idowu-Fearon noted that the Primates remained in unity at the end, united not through their agreement with each other, but through the “irreversible communion with each other in the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The 2016 Anglican Consultative Council, which took place from April 8-19 in Lusaka, Zambia, affirmed the commitment of the Primates of the Anglican Communion to walk together. “This is an exciting time to be an Anglican,” he concluded, praying that the spirit of the risen Christ would bless the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and the members and officers of the 41st General Synod. He assured them of his prayers and those of the churches of the Anglican Communion as the members of General Synod discerned how Christ called them to be his witnesses in a rapidly changing world.
Report from 2016 Anglican Consultative Council
Continuing on the subject of the Anglican Consultative Council, Suzanne Lawson and Bishop Jane Alexander, both delegates to ACC-16 along with General Secretary Michael Thompson, discussed their time in Lusaka. Lawson said that despite sadness and dismay over the absence of three provinces (Nigeria, Uganda, and Rwanda), the Canadian Anglican contingent was met with great welcome, with Bishop Alexander being elected to a standing committee. Bishop Alexander described the opening worship, which attracted thousands of people from the surrounding areas, as a particular highlight. Each day of the meeting was grounded in worship and prayer, creating a sense of unity through the presence of Christ in their midst.
The pair discussed the work of the international Anglican Alliance, which seeks to create a world free of poverty, suffering, conflict, and injustice, characterized by just and sustainable relationships with each other and with God’s creation. They also touched on the work of churches and agencies across the Anglican Communion committed to ending gender-based violence and human trafficking.
Among the international Anglican networks working towards justice in different areas, Lawson and Bishop Alexander spoke about the work of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network, Anglican Communion Safe Church Network, Anglican Communion Environmental Network, Anglican Indigenous Network, Anglican Health Network, Anglican Network for Inter Faith Concerns, International Anglican Family Network, Réseau francophone de la communion anglicanne, Anglican Witness—Evangelism and Church Growth, and Anglicans at the UN. They also noted ongoing ecumenical dialogue between Anglicans and Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Old Catholic, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Reformed churches around the world.
After remarks from the General Secretary on his pride in working with Lawson and Bishop Alexander, Lawson concluded by noting the presence of the Holy Spirit at the meeting in Lusaka, working through people with different cultures, views, and ways of being and following Christ. “We were moved,” she said. “We were living into communion—not uniformity, communion. We won’t ever always agree. But as far as we can see, the Holy Spirit is helping us as long as we open ourselves to the ongoing process of knowing and learning, and above all of listening.”
Table groups engaged in approximately 15 minutes of discussion on three questions: What’s important to you about the communion? What’s new to you? What do you want to share with those at home?
In this excerpt from a report on the proceedings of the Anglican Church of Canada’s current meeting of its General Synod, we are privy to a report on the Anglican Consultative Council’s recent Lusaka Meeting presented by the Council’s Secretary-General, the Rt. Revd. Josiah Idodwu-Fearon. In his summarization of the Meeting the S.G. is reported as being hopeful of unity in diversity:
“He began by reminding members of the “historic and ongoing” contributions of the Anglican Church of Canada to the Anglican Communion as a whole, thanking individual Canadian Anglicans for their work on various bodies related to the international work of the Communion. Most recently, Canadian bishops were present at the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, which took place from May 25-29 in Accra, Ghana. He pointed to the text that emerged, A Testimony of Unity in Diversity, as meriting a careful and respectful reading across the Anglican Communion.
The Canadian General Synod is currently discussing the prospect of possible changes to the Marriage Canon in the AC of C.’s Constitution. The Synod has been warned by the Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, that the discussion is NOT primarily about Same-Sex relationships, but about the future of the Church’s legislation on Marriage.
However, considering the fact that, at this very moment, the Church of England’s general Synod is in the middle of a 2-day ‘in camera’ meeting discussing the matter of how the Church is going to deal with the reality of Same-Sex Marriage in the civil realm, there can be little doubt that the Anglican Church of Canada will find itself irrevocably concerned with what the outcome might be from the C. of E. discussion on Human Sexuality and its implications for Same-Sex relationships in the Church.
Prayers are needed for both Churches as they struggle with these important issues. Prayers are also needed for ACANZP as we, too, look forward to some resolution of the treatment of LGBTI people in our part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand