[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican bishops, priests and laity from across the world will gather in Lusaka, Zambia next month for the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-16). Members will discuss a range of issues around the theme “Intentional discipleship in a world of difference” – how Christians can be faithful to the Gospel in all aspects of their lives in the different cultures and situations that Anglicans find themselves in.
The Anglican Communion Office is now inviting applications for media accreditation for journalists who wish to attend ACC-16.
The ACC facilitates the co-operative work of the 38 autonomous but interdependent national and regional churches and the six extra-provincial churches and dioceses that are in communion with the archbishop of Canterbury. Through the ACC, churches of the Anglican Communion exchange information and co-ordinate common action. The ACC also advises on the organization and structures of the Anglican Communion, and seeks to develop common policies on world mission and ecumenical matters.
Prayer, worship and Bible-study underpin the work of the ACC, and this year’s meeting, which begins on April 8 and continues until April 19, will begin with Morning Prayer in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka before the first in a series of Bible studies on the book of Ruth.
The draft program for ACC-16 has now been published. This will be finalized by the ACC’s Standing Committee immediately before the ACC meeting gets underway. Many of the issues to be discussed by the ACC will develop from discussions around emerging themes and priorities emanating from the provinces.
There will be extended discussions on environmental issues – a major concern for many Anglicans, especially those in parts of their world where their very survival is threatened by the effects of climate change.
Significant recent developments in ecumenical relationships will also be discussed, including the final report of the Anglican-Methodist dialogue, Into All the World: Being and Becoming Apostolic Churches, the report of the Anglican-Orthodox dialogue, In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology, and the report of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox dialogue, with its agreed statement on Christology.
And as the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in 2017 approaches, the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order, will propose that the ACC welcomes and affirms the substance of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification of the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church.
There will also be a report on the Primates’ Gathering and Meeting that took place in Canterbury Cathedral in January.
The host province for ACC-16 is the Anglican Church of Central Africa, which includes Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. ACC-16 will be the first time that such a significant international Anglican gathering has taken place in the province.
During the meeting, the diocese of Lusaka and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. David Njovu, and its dean, the Very Rev. Charley Thomas; and the Province of Central Africa and its archbishop, the Most Rev. Albert Chama, will have the opportunity to welcome the delegates to Zambia and to showcase the mission and ministry of local Anglicans in the region.
One day of the meeting will be given over to a day conference when members of the ACC will be joined by members of congregations from parishes in greater Lusaka to discuss “Following and Proclaiming Jesus in a World of Differences.”
Before the conference, an international gathering of young people from across the Anglican churches of Central Africa and Southern Africa will gather for a conference on leadership for discipleship. During the five-day advocacy training for environmental ministry and intentional discipleship, based on the Micah Challenge “Change Makers” program, participants will have a chance to hear from and speak with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
Their deliberations, sponsored by Tearfund, will feed into the regional day conference at the ACC.
As is usual, the members of ACC-16 are expected to draw up and agree a number of resolutions on various issues following their discussions. They will also elect the new chair and vice-chair of the ACC. The current chair is Bishop James Tengatenga from Malawi and the vice-chair is Canon Elizabeth Paver from England.
Elections will also take place for seven members of the ACC Standing Committee. The five primatial members of the Standing Committee were elected at the Primates’ Gathering and Meeting in January. They are: Archbishops John Holder of the West Indies; Richard Clarke from Ireland; Philip Freier of Australia; Mouneer Hanna Anis from Jerusalem and the Middle East; and Thabo Makgoba of Southern Africa.
The membership of the Anglican Consultative Council is appointed or elected by the provinces.
The larger provinces send one bishop, one priest and one lay person. Smaller provinces send one ordained person and one lay person; while the smallest provinces send just one person and are encouraged to select a member of the laity. Each member serves for three ACC meetings.
The Episcopal Church’s three members are Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, whose term will end after this meeting; House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, who will be attending her second meeting, and Diocese of the Virgin Islands Deputy Rosalie Ballentine, who was elected in June 2013 and thus will be attending her first meeting. Douglas is also currently a member of the Standing Committee.
The archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, has indicated that his province will not be appointing anybody to its three places. This follows a decision of the Anglican Church of Uganda’s Provincial Assembly that it would not to take part in the formal structures of the Anglican Communion until what it considered to be “godly order” was restored following decisions by the Episcopal Church on issues of sexuality.