The first full day of business at the Primates meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, has been held in a relaxed atmosphere with primates generally positive about the days ahead.
The media spokesman for the primates meeting, Australia’s Primate, Archbishop Dr Phillip Aspinall, said day two of the meeting included a presentation by five Primates about the impact of the current situation on province mission priorities.
Archbishops Fred Hiltz from Canada, Thabo Makgoba from Southern Africa, Henry Orombi from Uganda, Stephen Oo from Myanmar and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori from the United States made presentations.
Dr Aspinall said the five Presentations were very different considering the differing contexts and how they influenced mission priorities and the life of the church
“Going from one culture where bishops had been in discussion about these issues but because in that cultural setting the understanding of marriage and human sexuality was very traditional, with little if any variation, these issues hadn’t percolated into the grass roots life of the church and bishops were concerned about what would happen if they did. So the issue of human sexuality was not an urgent priority in that province and they identified that their situation could create some space for others to engage in reconciliation.
“In another of the contexts human sexuality had been a real issue for a decade but the church was not at the forefront of the issue at all. In all presentations there was clear commitment to mission and recognition that human sexuality issues are not a challenge for Anglicans only but a number of cultures in society and other churches.”
Doctor Aspinall said small group and plenary discussions focused on the way in which scripture is interpreted and how that is affected by local context. “Very powerful analogies were drawn and Archbishop Thabo’s reflections on South Africa and the ethics of armed struggle to overthrow apartheid were powerful. During this real life and death struggle the church stayed together despite deep differences.”
The Australian Primate also spoke of the afternoon session on the Covenant led by Archbishop John Chew. “Submissions will be received from provinces up until 9th of March. A new draft will then be presented to the Anglican Consultative Council.”
Dr Aspinall said there was a general warming to the possibilities of what might be afforded by the covenant and increasing realism about what a covenant can and can’t do.
“I sense a pulling back from language of ‘sanctions’ and ‘teeth’ and there was a discussion on whether that is appropriate language for the body of Christ. “There’s a growing appreciation that what we are talking about is a framework for koinonia, fellowship, for communion, for relationships and if there is a failure in koinonia the way that such a failure needs to be addressed is through further investment in koinonia, fellowship and relationships, not hitting people over the head with sticks.”
Archbishop Aspinall said that provinces are generally committed to the process of a Covenant but none can yet commit to a particular form of covenant because they haven’t seen it.
The conference continues today with consideration of a report on the Windsor Continuation Group and a session on the future of the Theological Education Working Group. The evening session will see a discussion on global warming presented by Archbishop David Moxon from Aotearoa and New Zealand.
Podcast of press briefing from 2nd February 2009
Get Flash to see this player.
Duration: 50:49 | File Size: 20.3MB