Posts Tagged ‘Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’

The sweet song of Christian unity

Posted on: January 20th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The sweet song of Christian unity

Posted By Zack Guiliano

18 January 2017

In your concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung — Ignatius of Antioch

Our Lord and his apostles used many figures of speech to describe the Church. From our beloved St. Paul: “We are God’s fellow labourers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9). “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Cor. 12:27). Or Jesus’ words: “Fear not, little flock” (Luke 12:32a). “I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:5a).

Many of us have admired a well-ordered cathedral, such as St. Paul’s, London, or All Saints, Nairobi. We recognize — almost unconsciously — the beauty of the human person, of a pastoral scene or vineyard. No wonder they make fitting images for the Church, the heavenly Jerusalem, a city “at unity with itself” (Ps. 122:3).

Our experience of the Church’s unity tends to fall short of these glorious figures. We see “hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions” (see Gal. 5:19-21).

In recognition of this, Anglicans have turned to other images over the past 14 years: among them, “walking together in synodality,” “walking apart,” or even “walking at a distance.” This language proves useful, vividly illustrating different degrees or intensities of communion: some choose to be close; some go their own way; some wander onto the wrong path.

Through such images, we see how harmony, order, and unity are gifts received, but also unwrapped and used. A field must be cultivated, a building maintained, a vine pruned.

For this reason, I find myself drawn also to musical representations, as my opening quotation from the Church Father, Ignatius of Antioch, signalled. For harmony can be complex, dissonance may rise and fade. More to the point: music needs practice and discipline. A symphony tunes up, interprets the notes on the page, follows the conductor’s time; it learns the “perfect freedom” of scripted service.

(For some fruitful explorations of this dynamic, see Chapter 6 of IASCUFO’s report on the Anglican Communion’s Instruments of Communion, “Towards a Symphony of Instruments;” or, Rowan Williams, “Keeping Time. For the Three Choirs Festival,” in Open to Judgment: Sermons and Addresses.)

We need a renewed sense of the loving commitment and discipline required for Christian unity. Then we shall be “tuned” to God and one another; we will follow what is written and our conductor’s direction. To paraphrase Ignatius, we will make ourselves into a choir, listen for the Lord’s note, and sing sweetly to the Father through Jesus Christ (Letter to the Ephesians, 4:1-2).

During this week of prayer for Christian unity, then, let us pray: that God may draw our hearts into more perfect communion with him, with our Anglican brethren, with Christians throughout the world, and with all the created order.

May our love increase, until Jesus Christ is sung in our concord and in our unity. To him be praise, power, glory, and dominion, now and to the ages of ages.

Dr Zachary Guiliano is associate editor at The Living Church, the editor of Covenant, and an ordinand of the Diocese of Ely.

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the ACNS on Wednesday 18 January 2017

Archbishops call on Christians to repent of differences

Posted on: January 19th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Posted on: January 19, 2017

In October 2016, Pope Francis joined global Lutheran leaders at a joint ecumenical commemoration to mark the start of a year of events marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This week, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, called on Christians to repent of the divisions that keep churches apart.
Photo Credit: Gavin Drake

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have called on Christians to repent of the divisions between churches. In a joint statement issued to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the two primates of the Church of England, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, reflect on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. They say that while it directly contributed to “great blessings” felt by many Christians, it also caused “lasting damage . . . to the unity of the Church, in defiance of the clear command of Jesus Christ to unity in love.”

They say: “Those turbulent years saw Christian people pitted against each other, such that many suffered persecution and even death at the hands of others claiming to know the same Lord. A legacy of mistrust and competition would then accompany the astonishing global spread of Christianity in the centuries that followed.”

Archbishops Justin and John continue: “Remembering the Reformation should bring us back to what the Reformers wanted to put at the centre of every person’s life, which is a simple trust in Jesus Christ. This year is a time to renew our faith in Christ and in Him alone. With this confidence we shall then be ready to ask hard questions about those things in our lives and the life of our churches that get in the way of sharing and celebrating faith in Him.

“Remembering the Reformation should also lead us to repent of our part in perpetuating divisions. Such repentance needs to be linked to action aimed at reaching out to other churches and strengthening relationships with them. This anniversary year will provide many opportunities to do just that, beginning with this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

“We therefore call on all Christians to seek to be renewed and united in the truth of the gospel of Christ through our participation in the Reformation anniversary, to repent of divisions, and, held together in Him, to be a blessing to the world in obedience to Jesus Christ.”

Last year, in a move that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago, Pope Francis took part in a joint service and celebration in Lund and Malmö, in Sweden, with leaders of the Lutheran communion of churches. That event kick-started a year of commemorations of the Reformation which will culminate in Wittenberg, Germany, where Martin Luther nailed his 95-Theses on the door of Castle Church on 31 October 1517.

Ahead of the event in Sweden, a Church of England spokesman described the Reformation anniversary as “a landmark event with particular significance for many of our close friends, including the Evangelische Kirke Deutschland (Evangelical Church in Germany), Lutheran churches who are members with us of the Porvoo Communion of Churches and the Lutheran Council of Great Britain.”

The spokesman said: “We look forward to affirming our growing mutual understanding and cooperation together in God’s mission. It will also be an important opportunity to reflect on the continuing divisions between churches that are part of the legacy of the Reformation period, and to raise awareness of the vital place of religion in shaping the history of our nation.”

Last April, the Anglican Consultative Council, meeting in Lusaka, encouraged Anglicans across the Communion to “be a part of the commemorations by joining in shared services, undertaking study with Lutherans and other ecumenical partners, and engaging with them in mission activities.” The ACC also recommended that Anglicans engage with the Lutheran World Federation’s focus: Liberated by God’s Grace.

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Anglican Communion News Service,  Daily update from the ACNS on Thursday 19 January 2017

Unity prayers to recall the Reformation and celebrate reconciliation

Posted on: January 14th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Posted on: January 13, 2017

Martin Luther’s act of nailing his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg gave birth to the Reformation. In this 500th anniversary year, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will reflect on the Reformation and ongoing reconciliation.
Photo Credit: Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472 – 1553)

[WCC] The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, celebrated worldwide from 18-25 January, will be hosted this year by the Council of Christian Churches in Germany (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen in Deutschland / ACK). As 2017 marks the commemoration of the Reformation, the week of prayer will reflect on the legacy of the Reformation and the current spirit of reconciliation in Christ.

“For Christians in Germany and all over the world, the theme Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us (2 Corinthians 5:14-20) can be considered both a calling and an opportunity for reconciliation”, the Revd Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus, World Council of Churches (WCC) director of Faith and Order, said, “a chance to break historical walls that separate churches and congregations from each other, during times that require healing and recovering hope”.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated worldwide, traditionally from 18-25 January in the northern hemisphere – between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul – or at Pentecost (a symbolic date for unity) in the global south. During the week, Christians come together, in special ecumenical celebrations and services, recalling Jesus’s prayer that “they may all be one so that the world may believe” (John 17:21) and experience in praxis unity in diversity.

This year one of the many ecumenical prayer services taking place worldwide for the Week of Prayer will be held in Wittenberg, Germany – a town with a history and heritage identified with Martin Luther and the Reformation. It was there that Luther is said to have nailed his 95 Theses denouncing church corruption to the side door of the Castle Church, which still stands not only as a place of worship but as a memorial of Reformation.

Emphasis on the international ecumenical character of the Reformation legacy – on the occasion of the 500th anniversary year – is at the core of ACK’s witness to the world through this year’s Week of Prayer. The material prepared has two focuses: reflection upon the main concerns of the churches marked by Martin Luther’s Reformation and recognition of the pain of the subsequent deep divisions that afflicted the unity of the church.

Each year, a different national working group takes the initiative of proposing a theme and organising the week, coordinated by the WCC and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which have jointly prepared and published the resources since 1968.

Mateus noted: “the need for a reconciliation that will break down barriers, build bridges and make peace has been the common request between the different German churches preparing the prayers this year, along with the recognition that amidst a deeply shifting and suffering world the healing immersion of prayer for unity can comfort the suffering in Christ, defeat terror and fear, and bring hope for the future.”

Resources:

  • Click here for more information on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from the World Council of Churches
  • Click here for Week of Prayer 2017 Worship and Background Material
  • Click here for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Facebook

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Anglican Communion News Service, Daily update from the  ACNS ommunion News Service on Friday 13 January 2017

A Pastoral Letter to The Anglican Church of Canada on The Feast of the Epiphany

Posted on: January 8th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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A Pastoral Letter to The Anglican Church of Canada on The Feast of the Epiphany

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Dear Friends in Christ,

I greet you in his name and love on this The Feast of the Epiphany. Today we remember the visit of the magi, their adoration of the Christ Child, and the offering of their gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Church has come to think of them as

“Sacred gifts of mystic meaning
incense doth their God disclose
gold the King of Kings proclaimeth
myrrh his sepulchre foreshows”
(Hymn 158, Common Praise)

The word “epiphany” means to “manifest” or “show forth”. On this day the glory of the Lord was manifested to a world far beyond that manger where he had been laid as the Babe of Bethlehem. Now his glory was being revealed to the nations.

In this holy season we see the Child grow into adolescence and into adulthood. Luke writes he was strong, filled with wisdom and the favour of God was upon him”. (Luke 2:40) We see him leave his home in Nazareth and make his way to the edge of the River Jordan where John was preaching. We follow him in these coming weeks from his Baptism to his Transfiguration. We see him changing water into wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee and feeding a hungry multitude in a grassy place. We hear him calling his first disciples and see how he begins to nurture them as a community. We encounter him as Teacher and Lord, and come to know the power of his love to heal and reconcile, to re-set our relations, one with another, in the wondrous grace of God.

This year we are “in Epiphany” until the very last day of February, almost two months to watch the gospel that is at the very heart of God made known in our Lord’s ministry. And if we listen carefully we will hear his invitation to show forth that same gospel in the manner of our living, particularly through the vows of our baptism.

This year our country celebrates the 150th Anniversary of Confederation. In prayer for Canada we often say, “Make us who come from many nations with many different languages a united people”. (Prayer for the Nation, p. 678, BAS) Considering those many nations, we are more conscious than ever that they include the First Nations of this land – the Indigenous Peoples who lived here long before “settlers” from other places arrived. There is great hope all Canadians will recognize the contributions of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit to the cultural fabric of this country and that where that fabric has been torn, we will have more resolve than ever to mend it. The Calls to Action from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission with respect to the sad and lingering legacy of the Indian Residential Schools are a declaration of what we need to do as a country. I ask your prayers for the Prime Minister, the Parliament of Canada, and for the Churches that our response to these Calls be worthy of the depth and integrity required. With respect to our own Church’s response I am pleased to say that within just a few weeks we will have appointed a full-time staff person whose work will be entirely dedicated to reconciliation. That individual will work in close consultation with the offices of the Primate and General Secretary, the National Indigenous Bishop and the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice.

In 2017 we will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation. In that time, the AFHR has provided grants of over 7 million dollars for 654 projects all across the country. They range from language and culture recovery to healing circles, supporting the healing journeys of Indigenous communities and their members.

Much of the money that supports this process was raised from Canadian Anglicans as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, and the Agreement stipulates that all of the money allocated in this way be spent before 2018. The Healing Fund Committee has faithfully fulfilled this mandate, but that means that as of the end of 2017, the funds raised as part of the Settlement Agreement will have been depleted and the fund will be empty.

Another twenty-fifth anniversary comes in 2017. The annual campaign originally known as “Anglican Appeal” and now called “Giving with Grace” began a direct appeal to Canadian Anglicans to support the ministries of the General Synod.

The convergence of these two anniversaries creates an opportunity for our beloved Church, an opportunity to replenish the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation and renew our commitment to healing. I am very pleased to tell you that the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation will be the focus for Giving with Grace in the twenty-fifth anniversary year that they share. We have begun good work in this ministry, and I am particularly grateful to Esther Wesley for her leadership in developing the AFHR and its relationships with indigenous communities and their members. In 2017, the generosity of Canadian Anglicans will allow a renewal and continuation of that ministry.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Installation of The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald as National Indigenous Anglican Bishop. Mark has travelled the country and met the some 120 Indigenous congregations. He has confirmed 100’s of young people and adults too. He has sat with Elders and Chiefs and Councils and listened to the needs of their people and the hopes they have for building a truly Indigenous Church within The Anglican Church of Canada. There is as the Anglican Council of People has said, “an urgency” to move ahead, and it is anticipated that year will see some significant progress.

In June, Bishop Mark and I are hosting an Indigenous Ministries Consultation. This will be a gathering of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from across the country – laity, clergy, young people, elders, Indigenous Ministry Development Officers, Archdeacons for Indigenous Ministries, Bishops and staff of the General Synod. We will take time to reflect on where we are as a Church in partnership with Indigenous Peoples in the spirit of the Covenant of 1994, the 2014 Statement, “Where we are Now: Twenty Years after the Covenant”, and a 2016 document “Circles of Faith; A Jesus Plan for Indigenous Leadership”. We will celebrate some achievements, note disappointments and acknowledge failures. We hope to learn from them all. We hope to discern together next steps for honouring of the right of Indigenous Peoples to be self-determining with respect to meeting ministry needs, raising up leaders, and making decisions in keeping with aboriginal customs. I pray this conference will be another watershed moment in the Timeline of “Indigenous Peoples and The Anglican Church of Canada: An Emerging Relationship”.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of The Anglican Foundation which has eagerly come alongside thousands of individuals, parishes, dioceses and faith communities to help invigorate, rejuvenate and refresh ministry on all levels, whether it be infrastructure, innovation, or improvement. As AFC celebrates sixty years of generosity, it remembers with gratitude the foresight of its forebears who said in 1957, “the time to proceed is now” when referring to establishing a Foundation to provide Anglicans the opportunity to give to support ministry in Canada where need is greatest. Sixty years of generosity! Sixty years of believing that when we all give, we all benefit. In recent years our tag-line has been “Imagine More!” Now is a time to imagine yet more!

Our Church has long standing Global Relations – some exceed forty and fifty years – I think of Cuba and the Solomon Islands and the Philippines. This year marks the 10th anniversary of a resolution of the General Synod of 2007 to strengthen ties with the Diocese of Jerusalem. And in those years some amazing things have happened – visits I have made with Dr. Andrea Mann, our Director of Global Relations, the funding of a Canadian priest to serve as Chaplain to Archbishop Suheil Dawani, visits by Suheil to Canada, the forging of a very vibrant Companion Relationship between Jerusalem and Ottawa, the formation of Canadian Companions of Jerusalem, the establishing of Jerusalem Sunday (Easter 7). Within recent weeks we have appointed the Rev Canon Richard LaSueur as a Middle East Liaison volunteer. We will mark the 10th anniversary of this relationship by hosting Archbishop Suheil and his wife Shafeeqa for an extended visit throughout Canada this fall. We are grateful for the flourishing of this Global Partnership and we pray that we may be true companions in a diocese so committed to the ministries of hospitality for pilgrims, education and healthcare for all irrespective of their faith tradition, and reconciliation for a lasting peace in the Land of the Holy One.

I am also pleased to say that in recent years we have been able to rebuild a number of relationships with Churches throughout Africa. This is in no small measure a credit to the ministry of The Rev. Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa who works for both our Church and The Episcopal Church (in the United States) nurturing these relationships. Eight of our dioceses are in companion relationships with diocese in five provinces throughout Africa. The Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue continues strong and vibrant. This spring the bishops will gather in Nairobi in Kenya. This fall we will welcome to Canada the Chair of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, The Most Rev. Albert Chama (Primate of Central Africa) for a pastoral visit and engagement with our Church. There is much for which to be thankful and ever hopeful.

When we think of Africa, we often think of the amazing work the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has done over the years – in food aid and security, in combating HIV AIDS, and especially in these times in extending Maternal Newborn and Child Health. All these programs have the wonderful effect of nurturing good relations between our churches and the agencies we support. The “bonds of affection” between us are real and genuine.

For the Church Catholic 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Anniversary of the Reformation that followed Martin Luther’s act of nailing to the door of Cathedral Church in Wittenberg 95 Theses for reform in the Church. That Reformation brought with it many blessings but in time would be viewed as the first of many other movements by which the Church became very much divided. Lutherans around the world have been very clear in saying this anniversary is not a celebration. It is a commemoration that will be marked by numerous ecumenical gestures. A key element in holding these gestures together is the very theme of this commemoration, “Liberated by God’s Grace” and its three sub-themes – “Salvation not for sale, Human Beings not for Sale, Creation not for Sale”. Historically rooted, and biblically based these themes address some of the most pressing issues of our time – religiously motivated violence, human trafficking and Climate Change. Many Churches are partnering with Lutherans in marking this anniversary in such a way as to show our care and concern for our common humanity and our common home, the earth itself.

Fittingly, the World Council of Churches invited the Churches in Germany to prepare the resources for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25). The theme is “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us”. (2 Corinthians 5:14-20). In the midst of liturgies for this week, people will participate in the erecting of a wall confessing the many sins by which Christians have been so sadly divided – ignorance, contempt, intolerance, inquisition, persecution, and exclusion. Having looked upon this wall for a space of time they will move to a time of prayer for forgiveness of these sins. Then the wall will be slowly dismantled and its pieces quietly rearranged in the shape of a cross around which everyone will gather remembering that “Christ has broken down the dividing walls of hostility…that he might create in himself a new humanity, making peace, reconciling us to God in one body through his cross”. (Ephesians 2:14-16)

Within our own Church we look forward to the appointment of a new Coordinator for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations with special responsibilities for our Full Communion relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; our dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church, the United Church of Canada, the Mennonite Central Committee Canada; and our work with the Ecumenical Councils and movements of which our Church is a member, the Canadian Council of Churches and KAIROS.

Like every year this one will mark significant anniversaries for some dioceses and parishes throughout our Church. It is my continuing joy to respond to a number of invitations to share in these celebrations. If I cannot be present I happily send greetings on behalf of the whole Church.

Like other years 2017 will also represent for countless men and women significant milestones in their ministries as lay readers, intercessors, sacristans, Sunday School teachers, catechists, musicians, choristers, pastoral care workers, advocates for compassion for the poor, champions for justice and peace, deacons, priests, bishops, and scholars of the Faith. For the Spirit’s grace at work in their lives we give thanks to God and pray that in every generation the Church may be so blessed for its ministries in the service of the Gospel.

Speaking personally 2017 is a year of several significant anniversaries in my life in Christ. It marks the 60th of my baptism – April 7, 1957 at Emmanuel Church in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I was not quite 2 ½ at the time! As many of you know, I carry the certificate of my baptism in my Prayer Book and occasionally pull it out in the context of a chat with children or in preaching. It is old and yellowed. It is a bit frayed around the edges as indeed I am at times! I must unfold and refold it carefully lest it tears apart. I treasure this piece of paper, for it reminds me of who I am, to whom I belong, and that my life’s labour as Rowan Williams put it is “to take hold of him who first took hold of me” and to live by the principle that “only as a disciple can I lead, only as a learner can I teach”.

I share this baptismal anniversary with you not so much to draw attention to myself, as to lift up one of the current initiatives throughout our worldwide Anglican Communion, – “A Season of Intentional Discipleship”. It is an invitation to the Churches to ponder the holistic nature of discipleship and its impact on every aspect of our living – from our worship to our work and our service in the community, from our political choices to our care for the earth. It is an opportunity to ponder those great biblical texts that remind us that life as a disciple means life in a community of faith and all the joys and struggles that entails. It is a challenge to think afresh about how Anglicans understand the nature of the Church and its calling in Christ. I have great hope that our own Church will seize this opportunity. And in doing so will embrace the recently published text, “Intentional Discipleship and Disciple Making” – An Anglican Guide for Christian Life and Formation, edited by The Rev. Canon John Kafwanka and The Rev Canon Mark Oxbrow. It is superb.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of my ordination as a Deacon-June 3, 1977 in the Cathedral Church of All Saints in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I plan to keep this day in quiet at the Convent of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine in Toronto. It will be a time to give thanks for all those who nurtured my call to ordained ministry, all who taught me the Atlantic School of Theology all who mentored me through the years, and all the many people among who I served in parish ministries and in time episcopal ministry throughout Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Through the example of so many people so dedicated to Christ his gospel and his Church, I have been so blessed and even now as I begin to think of them all my heart overflows with gratitude.

A few weeks after that anniversary I will recall the 10th of my installation as Primate June 25, 2007 in Winnipeg. I have travelled much in these years and I give thanks for the warmth of hospitality with which I have been received in dioceses and hundreds of parishes across the country. I rejoice in the many ministries that bear such an incredible witness to the Gospel of Christ in your local context. For some of you that is a huge and densely populated urban sprawl, for others a vast expanse of communities scattered across Canada’s North. For some it is a ministry concentrated among the poor and destitute in the downtown core of our large cities, for others it is a chaplaincy in hospitals and in hospice, in shelters and in centres for recovery from addictions, in prisons and in half way houses. For some it is ministry on our streets with the homeless and for others it is ministry at our harbour fronts with mariners from all over the world.

As dedicated as you are to all these local ministries I recognize and appreciate your commitments to the work of the Church more broadly as well. Thank you for your support of the ministries of the General Synod, Anglican Foundation and PWRDF. I am so encouraged by all who embrace “the big picture” of what it means to be The Anglican Church of Canada.

I draw this pastoral letter to a close with reference to an initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby in “drawing together young Christians (age 20-35), from all over the world and all denominations and varieties of Christian expression, for one transformative year of prayer, theological reflection and service to the poor, in the heart of London”. The Community of St. Anselm as it is known is based at Lambeth Palace. These young people lead the liturgical life of the Chapel in the Palace crypt. They work in the community and on occasion some of their numbers accompany the Archbishop in his travels. In this “A Year in God’s Time” prayer is at the heart of their life and work. Their quest for a closer walk with the Lord, their openness to his leading in their lives is very much in the spirit of St. Anselm. (Archbishop of Canterbury 1093-1109, and Teacher of the Faith) Here is an excerpt from his great work, “Faith Seeking Understanding”.

“This is my prayer, O God: may I know you, may I love you, so that I may rejoice in you. And if in this life I cannot know, love, and rejoice in you fully, may I progress day by day until that joy comes to fullness. May knowledge of you advance in me here, and there be made full; may your love grow, and there be full; so that here my joy may be in great hope, and there may be full in reality. Lord, through your Son you command or rather counsel us to ask, and you promise that we shall receive, that our joy may be full (John 16:240. I ask, Lord, for what you counsel through our wonderful Counsellor (Isa 9.2) I shall receive what you promise through your truth, that my joy may be full. Faithful God, I ask to receive it that my joy may be full. In the meantime, may my mind meditate on your promise, may my tongue speak of it. May my heart love that joy, may my mouth talk of it. May my soul hunger for it, may my flesh thirst for it, may my whole being desire it, until I enter into the joy of my Lord, God three and one, who is blessed for ever. Amen (Rom 1.25).”

In so much as that was the prayer of Anselm and now that of a Community named after him, it is a fitting prayer for any and all of us who through our baptism endeavour to live more fully our life in Christ.

With blessings for Epiphany and this New Year,

Fred J. Hiltz
Archbishop and Primate

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Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, January 06, 2017

Walls and wills

Posted on: January 7th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Fred Hiltz on January, 03 2017
 

Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank   Photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Shutterstock


(This article first appeared in the January 2017 issue of the Anglican Journal.)

The history of humanity is marked by many walls of empires risen and fallen.

All of us have images of the Walls of Jericho, Hadrian’s Wall, the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall and the Separation Wall in the West Bank. People in the United States are apprehensive about recent talk of building a wall along the border shared with Mexico.

These political walls often take the form of enormous concrete blocks piled high, massive steel plates welded together, vast stretches of chained link fencing topped with barbed wire. Others are swaths of highly militarized territories often described as “no man’s land” separating people one from another.

Our world is also familiar with other kinds of walls representing racial, class, economic, gender and religious divides.

Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther nailed to the door of a cathedral church in Wittenburg his 95 theses for reform in the church. at Reformation brought with it many blessings, but it also spawned many movements through which the church has been further divided.

In the midst of liturgies for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity,* people will be invited to participate in both the erection and dismantling of a wall. The construction will be marked by confession of all the sins by which we have been so deeply divided—ignorance, contempt, spiritual pride, abuse of power, intolerance and assimilation, inquisition and persecution, and acts of exclusion, to name but a few. I have no doubt that in building this wall, people will be imaginative in their use of wood and stone, and fencing and fabric. Once it is built, the people will pray:

“Lord, our God, look upon the wall we have built which separates us from you and from one another. Forgive us our sins. Heal us. Help us to overcome all walls of division and make us one in you.”

As the liturgy continues, that wall will be dismantled. Its pieces will be quietly rearranged in a form taking the shape of a cross. Here will be a dramatic reflection on St. Paul’s preaching: “Christ has broken down the dividing wall of hostility…that he might create in himself a new humanity, making peace, reconciling us to God in one body through the cross…” (Ephesians 2:14–16).

Pray with me, dear friends, that our wills be made strong for continuing to dismantle the walls that so sadly divide us, and that our common witness to the gospel of Christ be more worthy of his prayer that “they all may be one” (John 17:21).

* Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: January 18-25, 2017

 

About the Author

Fred Hiltz

Fred Hiltz

Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. 

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Anglican Journal News, January 04, 2017

‘Giving with Grace’ to focus on Healing Fund: Primate

Posted on: January 7th, 2017 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Tali Folkins on January 06, 2017

Photo: The General Synod, Anglican Church of Canada 


The focus of “Giving with Grace,” the Anglican Church of Canada’s annual fundraising campaign, in 2017 will be to replenish the church’s fund for Indigenous healing, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, announced this week.

In a five-page pastoral letter to Canadian Anglicans on the Feast of the Epiphany, released Jan. 6, Hiltz first discusses the meaning of Epiphany, which, he notes, means literally a manifesting or showing forth, and is meant to suggest the glory of Jesus as it was revealed to the nations of the world.

In Epiphany, Hiltz says, we trace the steps of the Holy Child’s growth through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood. In these stages, he says, “we come to know the power of his love to heal and reconcile, to re-set our relations, one with another, in the wondrous grace of God.”

In 2017, Hiltz continues, Epiphany lasts until the end of February. In these two months, he says, “if we listen carefully we will hear his invitation to show forth that same gospel in the manner of our living, particularly through the vows of our baptism.”

Hiltz’s letter notes a slew of anniversaries that will be commemorated in 2017. One, he says, is the 150th Anniversary of Confederation. Citing the Prayer for the Nation in the Book of Alternate Services—“Make us who come from many nations with many different languages a united people”—Hiltz says there is now great hope that the contributions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people to the fabric of Canada will be recognized, “and that where that fabric has been torn, we will have more resolve than ever to mend it.”

The 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the legacy of the Indian residential schools, Hiltz says, declare what Canada needs to do as a country. He asks for Anglicans to pray that the prime minister, Parliament and churches of Canada respond adequately to these calls.

For its part, Hiltz says, the Anglican Church of Canada expects to appoint, in a few weeks, a full-time staff person who will be entirely dedicated to fostering reconciliation work between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

Hiltz also notes that both Giving with Grace (formerly known as the Anglican Appeal) and the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation—established to fund programs that promote healing and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Anglicans—will be 25 years old in 2017. This convergence of anniversaries, he says, presents an opportunity to the Anglican Church of Canada to renew its commitment to the fund by using money raised by Giving with Grace to replenish it.

“In 2017, the generosity of Canadian Anglicans will allow a renewal and continuation of that ministry,” says Hiltz.

The Healing Fund was founded in 1992. Since then, Hiltz says, it has made grants totalling more than $7 million to 654 projects—language and culture recovery and healing circles, for example—across Canada. Money for the fund was originally raised by Canadian Anglicans as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. But the fund is about to be depleted, because, according to the agreement, money allocated to it was to be spent before 2018.

In 2015, Giving with Grace raised $611,721, according to unaudited figures released at Council of General Synod last spring.

This year, Hiltz continues, will also mark the 10th anniversary of the installation of Mark MacDonald as National Indigenous Anglican Bishop. Citing the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, Hiltz says there is an “urgency” on the part of many Indigenous Anglicans in Canada to move ahead with building their own church, and that significant progress in this area is expected in 2017.

Hiltz also says he and MacDonald plan to host an Indigenous Ministries Consultation this June—a time for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the church to “celebrate some achievements, note disappointments and acknowledge failures” in the church’s partnership with Indigenous people. The consultation will also be a time for discerning next steps in the movement of Indigenous Anglicans toward self-determination, he says.

Hiltz then notes that the Anglican Foundation of Canada, which awards grants for ministry to dioceses, parishes and individuals across the country, will be marking its 60th anniversary this year.

Turning to the national church’s office of global relations, Hiltz mentions that 2017 will mark the 10th anniversary of a resolution by General Synod to strengthen its ties with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, a member of the Anglican Communion, with parishes in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

He notes that Suheil Dawani, archbishop of the diocese, and his wife will be making an extended visit through Canada this fall.

The primate writes that he is pleased that the Anglican Church of Canada has been able to rebuild relationships with a number of churches in Africa. He also praises work done by The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund in that continent, especially its efforts in maternal, newborn and child health.

An anniversary of significance in many countries, Hiltz says, will be the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation—an event, he adds, that Lutherans around the world have been careful to say they will be commemorating rather than celebrating, on account of the divisiveness the Reformation gave rise to. He notes that the three sub-themes of the commemoration—“Salvation not for sale, human beings not for sale, creation not for sale”—speak to contemporary issues such as religiously-motivated violence, human trafficking and climate change.

Fittingly, Hiltz adds, the World Council of Churches has asked the churches in Germany—birthplace of the Reformation—to prepare materials for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25), the theme of which will be “Reconciliation—the love of Christ compels us.”

The Anglican Church of Canada, he says, hopes soon to have appointed a new co-ordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations. The position has been vacant since the last one to hold the position, Bruce Myers, was installed as coadjutor bishop of Quebec last spring.

Hiltz rounds out his list of anniversaries by mentioning some personal ones. This year, he says, will mark the 60th anniversary of his own baptism. It will also, he notes, be the 40th anniversary of his ordination as deacon, and the 10th anniversary of his installation as primate.

Hiltz finishes his epiphany message by praising the Community of St. Anselm, an intentional community of young people established in 2015 by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. He quotes a prayer from the namesake of the community, St. Anselm of Canterbury: “O God: may I know you, may I love you, so that I may rejoice in you…May my heart love that joy, may my mouth talk of it. May my soul hunger for it, may my flesh thirst for it, may my whole being desire it, until I enter into the joy of my Lord, God three and one, who is blessed for ever. Amen (Rom 1.25).”

Anselm’s words, concludes Hiltz, are “a fitting prayer for any and all of us who through our baptism endeavour to live more fully our life in Christ.”

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer.

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Anglican Journal News, January 06, 2017

Anglican bishop shares his experience of observing Catholic Synod

Posted on: February 24th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
General, Reviews

By André Forget on February, 23 2016


Bishop Tim Thornton of the Church of England’s diocese of Truro meets Pope Francis at the Vatican Synod on the Family in October 2015. Photo: L’Osservatore Romano


Bishop Tim Thornton of the diocese of Truro in the Church of England is the co-chair for the Anglican-Roman Catholic Committee in England, and serves on the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Council for Unity and Mission. Last October, he travelled to Rome to observe the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on the Family as one of the 14 fraternal delegates—members of other denominations invited to observe the synod. In an interview with the Anglican Journal, he talks about what he experienced. Excerpts:

How did you become a fraternal delegate? 

When the Pope calls a synod, he for some time now has graciously invited ecumenical delegates to…observe and to some extent participate…An invitation came from the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity to the Archbishop of Canterbury to send somebody [to represent] the Anglican Communion, and the Archbishop asked if I would take that role.

It is not an ongoing responsibility…It is a great privilege.

 

What was your experience of the synod?

It was a very interesting experience to…observe another denomination at fairly close quarters.

 

Was there an interest in hearing your perspective on conversations now happening in the Anglican church around human sexuality and church order?

Yes…I felt…people were pleased that there was an Anglican observer there. All the fraternal delegates were given, as with every other synod, a three-minute opportunity to speak in the main synod hall…All were [members] of the small groups.

This time around…small-group work took a high role in the whole synod, and in those groups I was able to speak just as openly as anyone else.

 

What is the value of observing and participating in other denominations’ synods?

 

It builds relationships; it helps people understand each other and how different churches understand different ways of working…I think it’s very insightful for all concerned…It’s very honest of the Roman Catholic Church to want to hear other Christian denominations speaking into their context.

 

Do you think the Anglican church can learn from conversations the Catholic church is having?

Yes…we can always learn from each other! I was particularly intrigued by the universality of the Roman Catholic Church. One thing I learned…was that in my world, in the Church of England…our horizons are too narrow. I was really struck by the fact that—I think, apart from mainland China—the whole world was gathered there.

The moderator of our small group was an archbishop from Ireland, and he asked some very perceptive questions of some of the Nigerian bishops in the room—and other African bishops…We really got into the question of how marriage works in some of the African countries. I think just hearing carefully what is going on in different cultures is clearly very important, and stops you from…making wrong assumptions about why people are saying what they are saying.

 

In your experience, has Pope Francis had an impact on how Anglicans and Roman Catholics relate ecumenically?

I think the extraordinary thing about Pope Francis…is that he understands the role of gestures. The way he does things, what he chooses to do and then how he uses sometimes relatively few words are all very important to notice and reflect on. At the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, he had an Orthodox metropolitan and Bishop David Moxon, who is the Anglican Centre director, giving a blessing together. Now, that’s an extraordinarily powerful gesture and symbol.

[At] the event to mark the 50th anniversary of synod of bishops, Pope Francis gave this speech in which he stressed the importance of synodality…of walking together…of actually listening to other people, and the importance…of seeing his role as Pope at the bottom of the pyramid rather than the top…All of those things show the humility of wanting to listen, under God, to other people—not imagining that you are the only person or the right person to say anything. And then, of course, the importance of actually sticking together even when clearly you disagree.

 

Where did your personal interest in ecumenism come from?

TT: When I was 16, I went to Taizé, the ecumenical community in France…It was an eye-opener… seeing the brothers praying together—praying together across the…Protestant-Roman Catholic divide was, for me, a very significant moment in my formation.

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Anglican Journal News, February 24, 2016

The Centre Holds: Primates 2016 in Canterbury

Posted on: January 30th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
Features

The Centre Holds: Primates 2016 in Canterbury – Interweavings No 5 Jan 2016

Graham Kings

By Graham Kings

The Centre Holds: Primates 2016 in Canterbury

Interweavings No. 5

By Bishop Graham Kings, Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion

Introduction

W. B. Yeats’ 1919 poem, ‘The Second Coming’, has the memorable line:

Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.

The media, and many people around the world, thought there would be a split in the Anglican Communion during ‘Primates 2016’. This was the meeting of the senior bishops of the 38 provinces, joined by the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, from 11th to 15th January at Canterbury Cathedral.

Remarkably, through the grace of God, the humility of the Primates and prayers throughout the world across the traditions of God’s Church, the centre held.

Here we consider seven interweaving themes of the week.

1. Walking Together

The Primates were approaching a fork in the road. People thought some would walk left and some walk right.

Astoundingly and amazingly a central path emerged during the week and the Primates’ voted unanimously to ‘walk together’ along that path.

They are ‘walking together’ and some are ‘at a distance’ from each other, but they are walking together.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has described the key moment:

The meeting reached a point on Wednesday where we chose quite simply to decide on this point – do we walk together at a distance, or walk apart? And what happened next went beyond everyone’s expectations. It was Spirit-led. It was a ‘God moment’. As leaders of our Anglican Communion, and more importantly as Christians, we looked at each other across our deep and complex differences – and we recognised those we saw as those with whom we are called to journey in hope towards the truth and love of Jesus Christ. It was our unanimous decision to walk together and to take responsibility for making that work.

This means that stories of energetic mission links will continue to reverberate around the world.

2. Priority of Prayer

The week was bathed in prayer. The Primates joined in with the regular services of the Cathedral, Morning Prayer, Holy Communion and Evening Prayer and fasted on the first morning.

Prayer and the Renewal of Religious Life is the first priority of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This was manifest in the presence in Canterbury Cathedral, throughout the week, of 17 young people from around the world and from different denominations, in their 20s and early 30s, from the Community of St Anselm at Lambeth Palace

The Community of St Anselm was founded by the Archbishop (as Abbot) in 2015 and is led by him and Prior Anders Litzell. There are 36 members, of whom 16 reside at Lambeth Palace and 20 live around London and continue in their day jobs. They have all offered ‘a year in God’s time’ for prayer, study and service in local parishes.

The Chemin Neuf community of seven people at Lambeth Palace, part of the international Catholic charismatic community, form the permanent praying community and the Community of St Anselm will change each year as members enter new roles, or return to their previous work, after their year at Lambeth.

A video filmed in Canterbury Cathedral has profound interviews about their experience of praying for the Primates.

3. Links through Loans

There were two very moving loans for the week, showing links from the past for the present. The Roman Catholic Church lent the head of the pastoral staff (crosier) associated with Pope Gregory the Great to Canterbury Cathedral specifically for the Primates as a symbol of prayer and catholicity in time. Pope Gregory sent Augustine to (re)evangelise Britain and he arrived in Kent in 597 AD. The ivory head of the crosier was transported from Rome to Canterbury and set up in a special exhibition case in the crypt.

Pope Gregory gave Augustine the Canterbury Gospels for his mission to Britain. They are kept in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and were brought to the crypt for the Primates. The last time they were in Canterbury was for the inauguration of ministry of the Archbishop in 2013, when the Primates were also present.

In 1982, the Canterbury Gospels were in the cathedral during the visit of Pope John Paul II to Canterbury with Archbishop Robert Runcie. In planning the momentous service, a key question was who would sit on St Augustine’s chair – Pope John Paul II or the Archbishop of Canterbury? The Dean, Victor de Waal, solved the issue with great insight. The Canterbury Gospels, were placed on the chair. The Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury sat under God’s Word.

4. Wisdom from Jean Vanier

On the Friday morning, during the final service of Holy Communion in the Crypt, Jean Vanier, 86, expounded John Chapter 13 and led the Primates in washing each other’s feet. A Roman Catholic theologian and social innovator, originally from Canada, he founded L’Arche Community, at Trosly-Breuil, France, in 1964. It has grown into an international fellowship of communities in 35 countries for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the Primate of Canada, relates the impact of this:

Vanier has often said that there is a sacramental character to this humble act. He spoke of some of his experiences in L’Arche. Even when, sadly, we cannot break bread together, we can still wash one another’s feet. And then he knelt down and washed Archbishop Justin’s feet. Justin prayed for him and then knelt to wash the feet of the Primate sitting next to him. So around the circle this quiet act of humble service was replicated. All one could hear was the gentle splash of water being poured over feet and the voice of prayer.

Jean Vanier also spoke to the Community of St Anselm on the Thursday.

5. Previous Meetings and Canterbury 2016

Statements from the previous 18 Primates Meetings, 1979 (Ely) to 2011 (Dublin), were gathered on the Fulcrum website as part of its wide-ranging resources on the Meeting.

In his reflections concerning the differences from previous meetings, Archbishop Mouneer Anis, Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East and Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa makes three points:

1. The Archbishop of Canterbury consulted widely with the Primates in regard to the agenda. In the Meeting, the Primates voted for the most important agenda items. This gave the Primates a sense of ownership over the Meeting.

2. When the Primates chose the first item for discussion, “the response of the Primates’ Meeting to the latest action of the Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention”, it became clear that this time the burning issues were not going to be swept under the carpet.

3. The invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Archbishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is another recognition of the facts on the ground. ACNA is an Anglican Church that holds the Anglican teachings which are recognised by a large number of Provinces from the Global South. On this basis, the Archbishop did not want to exclude anybody.

It was remarkable that all the Primates accepted the invitation to come to Canterbury. This owed much to the Archbishop’s visits to all the other 37 Primates in their homes, during his first 18 months in post, to subsequent phone calls to them last summer, following General Convention of The Episcopal Church, to the wisdom of the new Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, and to the invitation to Archbishop of ACNA.

The previous week The Economist elliptically had entitled the article in its print edition of 9 January, ‘Rowing, not Rowing’. This alluded to the Archbishop’s student experience of steering as a cox in the Trinity College, Cambridge first boat. The Economist followed it up with further online comment, ‘Why the Anglicans’ Meeting Matters’ and, after the Press Conference, ‘The Centre holds: Justin Welby just about manages to hold together the Anglican Communion’.

6. Primates’ Communiqué  

The Communiqué was entitled, ‘Walking Together in the Service of God in the World’ and was released at the Press Conference on Friday afternoon, 15 January.

Key points include:

  1. They agreed unanimously to ‘walk together’.
  2. This involved some walking together ‘at a distance’, in the light of the ‘recent change to the doctrine of marriage by The Episcopal Church in the USA’
  3. The consequences for The Episcopal Church were that ‘for a period of three years TEC no longer represents us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.’ (Addendum A.7)
  4. The Archbishop of Canterbury was asked to appoint a Task Group ‘to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt etc. (Addendum A.8) The communiqué adds that points A.7 and A.8 were adopted by the majority of the Primates present.
  5. They would ‘develop this process so that it can also be applied when any unilateral decisions on matters of doctrine or polity are taken that threaten our unity.’
  6. They ‘condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ.’ They ‘reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.’ They also  ‘recognised that the Christian Church, and within it the Anglican Communion, has often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation and that has caused deep hurt. Where this has happened, they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God’s love for every human being is the same, regardless of sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression.’
  7. They reported that they had discussed many other issues:  evangelism, climate change, religiously motivated violence, child projection, tribalism, ethnicity, nationalism, patronage networks, and corruption.
  8. They committed themselves ‘through evangelism to proclaim the person and work of Jesus Christ, unceasingly and authentically, inviting all to embrace the beauty and joy of the Gospel.’ (Addendum B)
  9. They supported the Archbishop of Canterbury ‘in his proposal to call a Lambeth Conference in 2020.’

As the Communion heads towards the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia, in April 2016, and looks forward to the (newly announced) Lambeth Conference in 2020, the Primates drew on the language of The Windsor Report 2004, (‘walking together’ – adding a differentiation within that unity ‘…at a distance’) and of the Covenant process (‘consequences’).

Reaction to the communiqué has been varied across the Communion. Most people are surprised, relieved and delighted that there was unanimous agreement to ‘walk together’. It was received with pain by members of LGBTI communities and their supporters in various provinces. The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Bishop Michael Curry, was magnanimous and dignified in his video statement, while remaining clear in his support for LGBTI communites. A passionate evangelist at heart, he also is reported to have given a lead in the discussions about evangelism.

Some commentators misinterpreted the communiqué, partly because the Addendum A had been leaked the day before the Press conference, without the context of the full document. The Church Times article, ‘A Canterbury Tale’, by staff reporters, is accurate in its clearing up of misunderstandings and is worth reading in full. The Church Times editorial is nuanced and balanced and judged that ‘the Canterbury meeting was characterised by a new honesty.’

7. Ecumenical Movement Proposing to Fix the Date of Easter

The Primates were discussing issues in the Anglican Communion, but not in a vacuum. The Communion is part of God’s worldwide Church across many traditions and rooted in God’s world.

The announcement by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Press Conference that the Primates had also given backing to the ecumenical movement for fixing the date of Easter, caught journalists by surprise.

This proposal came from the maelstrom of contemporary Egypt. The Coptic Pope, Tawadros II of Alexandria initiated the idea, for which he then received the backing of Pope Francis in Rome and of the Ecumenical Patricarch, Bartholomew, in Constantinople. When consulted, the Archbishop of Canterbury said he would raise it with the Primates at Canterbury. They agreed with this movement and the Archbishop said it would take “in between five and 10 years” to implement and that he “would love to see it before I retired”. He added that Buckingham Palace and Number Ten Downing Street had been informed before the Meeting that this would be discussed.

In 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical Council of the Church, fixed the date of Easter: its 1700th anniversary will be in 2025. May that be a promising date for a profound ecumenical symbol?

In Britain, the Synod of Whitby fixed the date in 664 AD. Both St Aldhelm, the first Bishop of Sherborne (who died in 709 AD), and the historian and biblical commentator, the Venerable Bede (who died in 735 AD) were fascinated by, and wrote about, the date of Easter concerning the Catholicity of the Church.

Madeleine Davis, in the Church Times, describes the calculation of the date:

Eastern and Western Churches use the same formula to calculate the date of Easter: the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. They arrive at different dates because Eastern Churches use the Julian calendar and base calculations on the actual, astronomical full moon, and the actual equinox as observed along the meridian of Jerusalem, while the Western Church uses the Gregorian calendar and applies a fixed date of 21 March for the vernal equinox, and uses tables of new moons.

The former Dean of Durham, Michael Sadgrove, represents those who are more cautious, worried about losing the link with Judaism. He concludes:

So, by all means, let an ecumenical conversation happen. But please don’t let’s give up on such a long and rich paschal tradition too quickly.

There will be many further discussions among churches and governments around the world: a fixed date has been on the British Statute book, but not enacted, since 1928. However, as a lead into the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it was significant news. It linked what could be termed four ‘Patriarchates’: Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople and Canterbury. Wider discussions in other traditions will also be significant.

Reshaping the Communion is one thing: changing everyone’s diaries is extraordinary.

Conclusion

So, rather than focussing on sexuality, ecclesiology was the key subject.

Rather than just being inward looking, the Primates considered holistic mission.

Rather than being only Anglican centred, they recognised the historic links of Catholicity, and contemporary fellowship, with Alexandria, Rome and Constantinople.

Rather than being completely ‘Church’ centred, they considered a proposal which, if followed through, will affect the whole world: the date of Easter.

We conclude by drawing on two ‘doctors of the Church’: one from Africa and one from the United States of America, who taught for decades in England.

Canon Professor Joseph Galgalo, Vice-Chancellor of St Paul’s University, Limuru, Kenya, wrote an article for the official Primates 2016 site, ‘What can we learn from Jesus’ hospitality’, based on an address he had given to the Community of St Anselm in November 2015:

Table fellowship defines Jesus’ communality. ‘Eating is patterned into the scheme of his work revealing a striking centrality of food to Jesus’ ministry…The most undeserving of people are given a place at the table, to be heard, healed, forgiven, restored, taught and fed to become beneficiaries of divine hospitality.

The Primates lived and ate together at Canterbury and recognised themselves in those words.

The Revd Professor Daniel W. Hardy, during the last few months of his life, dictated the sum of his ponderings on ecclesiology to his son-in-law in Cambridge, Professor David Ford: they had both been theological advisers at Primates’ Meetings and at the Lambeth Conference of 1998. His insights were published posthumously in a unique book, Wording a Radiance: Parting Conversations on God and the Church(2010). In it, he developed the theme of ‘attraction towards God’:

Creatures are created to move towards God. When creatures somehow lose that ‘towardness’ – becoming obsessive at some point, separating themselves  from the whole of things, and serving only themselves – then the creation loses its order. (p. 47)

He then applied this to the Church:

If, for example, any denominations serve themselves rather than the whole Church, or if any interpreters claim, ‘We have the whole meaning of the Bible, not just one perspective’, then they move against God’s attraction. (p. 47).

Later he applied to Scripture and the Church a word recently new to him, ‘granulation’:

I would say that Scripture enables the healing powers deep within a pilgrim (whether a community or a person) to ‘granulate’. Recovering from a medical treatment recently, I learned that ‘granulation’ refers to the body’s capacity to generate new connective tissue from deep within the flesh, just underneath the diseased tissue that lies above it. This is a hopeful sign, because it shows how the rebuilding of tissue is possible from within the deepest parts of the human body. I would extend the metaphor to the capacity of societies and persons to be regenerated from deep within themselves. (p. 64)

Following ‘Primates 2016’, may the Anglican Communion be regenerated from deep within, to the glory of God.

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Interweavings  No 5  Jan 2016, Mission Theology in the Anglican Communion e-mail,   January 27, 2016

Pope Francis apologises for treatment of non-Catholic Christians

Posted on: January 26th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
News

Pope Francis apologises for treatment of non-Catholic Christians

Pope Francis pictured at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, November 2014.
Photo Credit: Gavin Drake

[ACNS] Pope Francis has apologised for behaviour towards Christians from non-Roman Catholic churches that “has not reflected Gospel values.” The Pope made his comments during a Vespers service in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome last night attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Sir David Moxon.

The service was held to mark the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and was also attended by Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. At the end of the service the Pope invited Metropolitan Gennadios and Archbishop David to join him in blessing the congregation.

On its Facebook page, the Anglican Centre in Rome described the homily and the joint blessing as “very powerful words and a very powerful gesture.”

“In this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, we must always keep in mind that there cannot be an authentic search for Christian unity without trusting fully in the Father’s mercy,” Pope Francis said. “We ask first of all for forgiveness for the sins of our divisions, which are an open wound in the Body of Christ.

“As Bishop of Rome and pastor of the Catholic Church, I want to ask for mercy and forgiveness for the behaviour of Catholics towards Christians of other Churches which has not reflected Gospel values.

“At the same time, I invite all Catholic brothers and sisters to forgive if they, today or in the past, have been offended by other Christians. We cannot cancel out what has happened, but we do not want to let the weight of past faults continue to contaminate our relationships. God’s mercy will renew our relationships.”

Today, Archbishop Sir David Moxon said that the Pope’s words and gesture “immediately challenges Christians who aren’t Roman Catholic to respond in the same way, asking for forgiveness for the wrongs we have done and the wounds we have inflicted on the body of Christ.”

He continued: “This mutual confession automatically brings forth a sense of forgiveness, grace, and hope and we can be closer than we were before because of this. Such a movement of grace is indeed a blessing we can all share.”

In his homily, Pope Francis spoke of the need for evangelism, saying: “The mission of the whole people of God is to announce the marvellous works of the Lord, first and foremost the Pasqual mystery of Christ, through which we have passed from the darkness of sin and death to the splendour of His new and eternal life.

“In light of the Word of God which we have been listening to, and which has guided us during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we can truly affirm that all of us, believers in Christ, have been called to proclaim the mighty works of God.

“Beyond the differences which still separate us, we recognise with joy that at the origin of our Christian life there is always a call from God Himself. We can make progress on the path to full visible communion between us Christians not only when we come closer to each other, but above all as we convert ourselves to the Lord, who through His grace, chooses and calls us to be His disciples.

“And converting ourselves means letting the Lord live and work in us. For this reason, when Christians of different Churches listen to the Word of God together and seek to put it into practice, they make important steps towards unity.

“It is not only the call which unites us, but we also share the same mission to proclaim to all the marvellous works of God. Like St Paul, and like the people to whom St Peter is writing, we too cannot fail to announce God’s merciful love which has conquered and transformed us.

“While we are moving towards full communion among Christians, we can already develop many forms of cooperation to aid the spread of the Gospel. By walking and working together, we realise that we are already united in the name of the Lord.”

  • The full text of Pope Francis’ homily can be read on the website of Vatican Radio.

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Anglican Communion News Service, Your daily update from ACNS, January 26, 2016

Week of Prayer highlights partnerships for refugees

Posted on: January 26th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
News

Week of Prayer highlights partnerships for refugees

Augusto Léon and his family found refuge in Ottawa with the help of the Mennonite Church in Colombia and Canada.Photo: Art Babych


Churches in the national capital area are sharing their long-term experience in refugee work with wider community groups as Syrian refugees continue to arrive in Canada.

The Rev. David Sherwin, of the Ottawa Presbytery of the United Church of Canada, said individual congregations are partnering with local community groups, nursing homes, sports teams and service clubs. “We also see local congregations partnering with other local congregations of other denominations, with other faith groups, and from other traditions entirely,” Sherwin said. “It’s good news as we unite our time, our energy and our money in order to welcome newcomers.”

Sherwin was speaking at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service at the First Baptist Church January 24, organized by the Christian Council of the Capital Area (CCCA). Instead of a homily, Sherwin outlined details of the refugee work being done by several churches in Ottawa and Gatineau. Also participating in the service were church leaders and representatives from more than 12 denominational churches in the area, including Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and United churches.

Sherwin noted that the Anglican diocese of Ottawa has “opened up” the diocesan sponsorship agreement it has with the federal government. Doing so allows community groups to “reach out to people in need through the Anglican diocese and sponsor refugees across the city,” he said. The United Church’s Ottawa Presbytery has also extended its diocesan sponsorship agreement to include community groups.

Augusto Léon of a church-sponsored refugee family now living in Ottawa gave a first-hand account of how the Mennonite Church, both in Colombia and Canada, helped him, his wife and four children find refuge in Ottawa. Léon said he was threatened on several occasions in his homeland for his human rights work, and faced an assassination attempt in Bogota. His wife was also threatened. Fearing for their lives, the pair in 2008 sought help in leaving the country from a pastor at a Mennonite Church in Colombia. With the aid of the Mennonite community in Ottawa, the couple and their children became a church-sponsored refugee family.

Léon wiped tears from his face as he thanked the Mennonite Church, a member of the CCCA. “God bless you, and God bless Canada,” he said.

Pierre Chetelat, representing Ottawa Mennonite Refugee Assistance (OMRA) Shelter Alternatives Corporation, gave a briefing on the work of the church agency, which is run entirely on a volunteer basis. Along with the Ottawa Mennonite Church and other groups, OMRA works to provide safe, clean, affordable housing for refugees coming to settle in Ottawa. It was through OMRA that the Léon family found housing.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, started in 1908, is an international Christian ecumenical observance held annually from January 18-25. A different church in the national capital area hosts the service each year.

The First Baptist Church in Ottawa was founded in 1857, and was the first Baptist congregation in the city. Notables who have worshipped at the church near Parliament Hill include former prime minister John Diefenbaker.

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Anglican Journal News, January 26, 2016