Anglican Consultative Council Digest: Nov. 7

[Episcopal News Service – Auckland, New Zealand] Much happens each day during the Anglican Consultative Council‘s (ACC) 15th meeting. In addition to Episcopal News Service’s other coverage, here’s some of what else went on Nov. 7 (local time), the final day of the Oct. 27-Nov. 7 gathering.

The Auckland Fire Department extinguishes a trash bin fire below Holy Trinity Cathedral just after the end of the Anglican Consultative Council’’s closing Eucharist Nov. 7 (local time). ENS photo/Mary Frances Schjonberg

White smoke over cathedral
Holy Trinity Cathedral Organist Philip Smith had just begun Louis Vierne’’s Toccata in B flat minor as the organ voluntary for the closing Eucharist of ACC-15 when smoke alarms began to sound in the cathedral.

The altar party and choir had already recessed, and ushers began urging ACC members and other attendees to exit quickly as smoke began to fill the building. They emerged into a cloud of acrid smoke circling the cathedral’’s forecourt and wafting over the roof.

A trash bin in the lower car park at the back of the cathedral was smoking and the Auckland Fire Department was already extinguishing the smoky fire by the time people had left the cathedral above.

On a day filled with rumors of the impending announcement of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan William’s’ successor, one Anglican priest of the province urged his fellow bystanders not to interpret the smoke as a signal of a new archbishop.

ACC-16 will meet in Province of Central Africa
Anglican Communion Secretary General Kenneth Kearon told the council that the 16th meeting of the ACC will be held in May 2016 in the home province of its chair Diocese of Southern Malawi Bishop James Tengatenga.

“We’re very grateful that you have accepted the invitation to come to the Church of the Province of Central Africa,” Diocese of Lusaka Bishop David Njovu, who is also an ACC member, told the council.

The bishop predicted that the meeting will be “transformational” both for Anglicans in the province and for those visiting Anglicans who will experience the “vibrant” church in Central Africa, which he said united even though it is in a “hostile environment.”

Njovu asked for the council continued prayers for Anglicans in Zimbabwe, which is part of the province. The Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has been under attack from the excommunicated bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, since 2007. Kunonga, with the support of police and henchmen, has seized church property and used violence and intimidation to break up church services. In a 2011 media interview, Kunonga was quoted as saying he aimed to control the 3,000 Anglican churches, schools, hospitals and other properties in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Malawi, which make up the province. At the end of 2011, the archbishops of Canterbury, Central Africa, Southern Africa and Tanzania met with President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe and presented him with a dossier that outlined how Anglicans have been persecuted over the years.

“The persecutions that the church in Zimbabwe has gone through” has made it stronger and “their faith has grown,” said Njovu. “We are looking to Zimbabwe for how to deal with situations like the one they have.”

Press briefing harkens back to royal wedding
The first question to Archbishop Rowan Williams at an afternoon press briefing that included local Auckland media concerned what it was like to preside at royal weddings.

Williams said the pre-marital counseling time he spent with Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge Catherine “was pretty much what I do with any young couple and because they’re a young couple fairly typical of their generation, that was in its way challenging, interesting and very moving.”

The archbishop said he also told the couple that even if they were aware as they walked up the aisle that five billion people were watching, “when you get to the sanctuary it won’t feel like that, you’ll be looking at each other, your families and, unfortunately, you’ll be looking at me, and that’s what it is going to be about.”

The marriage service “was a really extraordinary platform for talking nationally and internationally about marriage, about how the church sees marriage and about the significance of this commitment,” he said.

Resolutions passed by council today
In addition to the resolutions reported here, the council also acted on:

  • Resolution 15.24, which endorses “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World” from the World Council of Churches; encourages all provinces to study, assess their current practice of Christian witness and develop practices to suit their local context in light of its recommendations; recommends that provinces discuss the report with other faith communities.
  • Resolution 15.25, which thanks members of the Theological Education in the Anglican Communion Working Group, receives its report and calls for it to be widely circulated, notes that its recommendations “cannot be implemented within the present budget priorities of the Anglican Communion” and recommends that outside funding be sought for a commission of theological education and a director.
  • Resolution 15.33, which welcomes the Canterbury Statement of the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation “Rite Relating to Marriage” (available via a link here) and commends it to the provinces for study.
  • Resolution 15.36, which requests the secretary general of the Anglican Communion to ensure the increased participation of lay people in all of the ACC’s commissions, councils, committees, working groups and other bodies.
  • Resolution 15.37, which requests the secretary general of the Anglican Communion to identify practical strategies to support provinces whose people are suffering with respect to land disputes and conflicts between agricultural and pastoral communities; the “trade in small arms, their diffusion and misuse”; border disputes; narcotics and alcohol abuse; youth unemployment and crime; trafficking, abduction and abuse of children and women for rituals, forced labor and forced marriages; and communicate these strategies to the provinces as soon as they are developed.
  • Resolution 15.41, which authorizes the chair, vice chair and secretary to issue a letter of thanks to all who assisted in “making this council’s meeting so fruitful for us all.”

All ACC-15 resolutions are due to be posted here.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Comments

  1. OK, that may be the most memorable part of ACC15 for our bishop, who has been a volunteer member of the Auckland Fire Brigade for at least 20 years. His fellow firefighters will surely never allow him to forget this one….. One just wonders where he was when this went down: in the Cathedral or on the firetruck….?

  2. The report on the Zimbabwean Anglican Church makes reference to an excommunicated Bishop. One thing that worries me is that there seems to be some confusion linked to the term excommunication and its subsequent usage within Anglicanism. I thought the term carried with it the spirit of exclusion. One ceases to belong and this is not subject to any negotiation. If the excommunicated Bishop has been excluded from the Anglican Church, how come the issue has not been strongly argued in the courts of law? If one has been excommunicated there cannot be any reason why the same person could be entitled to the properties of the very institution they are no longer part of. The Anglican Church must use this Zimbabwe case to define for us what excommunication really means. We should be talking about theft by pretence from the moment the bishop refused to surrender the properties of the institution that excluded him. The other question is whether civil courts are competent to deal with the issue of excommunication at all since it carries with it profound theological implications that may not be within civil jurisdiction. The failure to insist in a definitive manner the issue of excommunication has left many Anglicans in Zimbabwe exposed to all sorts of distortions. For example some are arguing wrongly that once one has been consecrated there is nothing the Church could do about it. Excommunication does not nullify ordination but makes the excercise of priesthood illicit within the context it has been preferred. I hope to see this issue getting the ecclesiastical justice it deserves before civil courts could be expected to pass a fair judgement. Where are the Anglican canon Lawyers who could bail us out on this issue? I rest my case.

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