Task group developing deeper links and wider understanding
[ACNS] The Task Group set up by last year’s Primates’ gathering has been meeting in London this week with the emphasis on understanding diversity within the Anglican Communion – and recognising the many areas of unity.
The Archbishop of Armagh, Richard Clarke – who chaired the meeting – said it has been a positive and fruitful discussion.
“We have been developing a greater understanding between us of the diversity within the Communion,” he said. “But, significantly, we have been seeing the many, many areas of commonality.
“It has not been a theological discussion. Instead, we have been examining what differences mean at a practical level. In particular, we looked at marriage practices and relationships in different parts of the Communion. But we also looked at the spiritual dimensions of the idea of walking together.”
The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon – who serves the group as secretary – added that it had been considering how the authority of primates and bishops was practised in different parts of the Communion.
The group was established in January 2016 by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the request of the Primates. It was given the task of restoring relationships, rebuilding mutual trust and responsibility, healing the legacy of hurt and exploring deeper relationships. The group met for the first time last September. Seven of the nine-member group met this week. Canon Elizabeth Paver – the former vice chair of the ACC — and Bishop Paul Sarker from Bangladesh were unable to attend on this occasion.
Archbishop Philip Freier – the Primate of Australia – said it was significant that the meeting had been taking place immediately after Easter. He said that was a moment when the Church reflected on the paradox of Jesus’ powerlessness on the cross and his glorious victory.
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, continued the reference:
“After that Easter, the disciples walked together on the road to Emmaus. They didn’t recognise Jesus walking with them – yet they kept walking together. And, of course, in time, they realised exactly who he was.
“We have committed to walking together with each other – talking, listening and seeking to understand each other. I believe we will see the risen Christ walking with us as we deepen our relations with each other.”
Canon Rosemary Mbogo from the Anglican Church of Kenya said: “I feel that this week has built on what we did when we met last autumn. On that occasion, we began to establish working relationships. Now we are developing those relationships and exploring each other’s perspectives.”
The group will provide an interim report for the Primates’ meeting at Canterbury in October. It hopes to meet again in the spring of 2018.
A determination to continue to walk and work together – despite differences between the Provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion – has been attested to by this Meeting of the ‘TASK GROUP’ set up by last year’s meeting of Anglican Primates, to look into matters of differences, while yet seeking means of convergence in a post-Resurrection Anglican Communion.
The reference to the confusion of Jesus’ disciples after his death in Jerusalem, being likened to the situation of the Anglican Communion Churches provincial Churches – in the wake of disagreements that have risen on matters of Biblical interpretation in connection with the understanding of human sexuality – would seem to have met with general agreement among the Task Force participants.
Enlightenment was needed by the disciples, as they both individually and collectively encountered the Risen Christ before a general consensus could be reached in the Early Church. So, too, it may take some time before the different provincial Churches of the Anglican Communion can begin to see the vital importance of meeting together to discern the mind of Christ for the furthering of the Gospel openness to the world through our common witness to the power of the Resurrection of Christ amongst us.
“Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us; therefore, let us keep the Feast – not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the Unleavened Bread of sincerity and Truth” – EASTER ANTHEM
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand