‘Our engagement with the Bible has several aspects to it – rather like the different parts of a house. The actual black print on white paper on which the words of the Bible are written resembles the front door of the house – our point of access and welcome. Then as we enter the house we find ourselves standing on Christ the Rock, who is the living foundation-stone of the whole building in which we are located. The walls that separate us room from room can be linked to the different contexts which we bring to our study and exploration of the scriptures, which affect the shape and parameters of our reading. But overarching all, as a roof for the entire building, is the world-wide Church which both embraces and offers a generous boundary for our reading.’
This striking image was offered by Archbishop David Moxon of New Zealand as he opened the first meeting of the Steering Group of ‘The Bible in the Life of the Church’ which gathered at St Andrews House, London, 30 November – 3 December 2009.
‘The Bible in the Life of the Church’ is a major project being undertaken over three years by the Anglican Communion, mandated by the Anglican Consultative Council at its Jamaica meeting in May 2009. It is seeking to discover how Anglican Christians read the Bible, recognising the very diverse contexts we inevitably bring to this reading. With the support of the Anglican Communion Department of Theological Studies, the work of this Bible project will largely take place in a number of Regional Groups based around theological education institutions in Kenya, Southern Africa, South East Asia, Oceania, North America and Britain. Representatives of each of these regions were present at the opening Steering Group meeting in London and together set up the process that the Regional Groups will seek to follow throughout the coming year.
We are also planning to set up a number of “User Groups” that will enable input from other parts of the Anglican Communion. We also have on the Steering Group members from Latin America and Nigeria. The “User Groups” will take part in the project by testing out material that emerges from the work of the Steering and Regional Groups.
In order to enable the overall task with which this ‘Bible project’ has been entrusted, it has been agreed to ask those who will be participating to undertake first of all some serious biblical engagement with the Fifth Mark of Mission of the Anglican Communion. The Fifth Mark of Mission speaks of the missionary imperative, ‘to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.’ We hope that, through exploring together a selection of key biblical passages which relate to this theme – widely acknowledged as one of the most crucial challenges facing the Churches and humanity today – we will be able to offer evidence of the way in which we, as Anglicans, actually handle the Bible and to identify principles of biblical interpretation.
Reflecting on the Steering Group meeting, Stephen Lyon, the project's administrator said, ‘those involved left London excited by the possibilities of the project. It will involve the grass roots as well as scholars; encourage an excitement in exploring the Bible; take seriously the diversity of our Communion while acknowledging the foundational place Scripture has always played in our common life.’
Clare Amos, the Anglican Communion’s Director for Theological Studies, echoed this commitment to ensure that the project takes seriously the widest possible range of Anglican experience. ‘At our meeting in London we shared both our high hopes for the task, and a range of creative ways of taking this work forward. We want the people of the Anglican Communion as a whole to share the sense of urgency and importance that the project is generating. It is vital that different regions of the Anglican world are empowered to make their distinctive contributions. Stephen and I believe that among our responsibilities will be to ensure that news about the progress of the work is shared widely. One of the tools for this will be a section dedicated to the project on the Anglican Communion website. So watch this space!’
Members of the Steering Group
Chair: Most Revd David Moxon , Archbishop and Co-Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and Bishop of Waikato.
Regional Group representatives:
Oceania - Dr Charles Sherlock, Executive Officer, Board of Ministry, Anglican Diocese of Bendigo, Australia.
Southern Africa – Revd Dr Jonathan Draper, the academic coordinator of Biblical Studies at the School of Religion and Theology part of the University of KwaZulu, South Africa. Also involved will be Prof. Gerald West, Professor in the School of Theology, University of Natal and Director of the Institute for the Study of the Bible, School of Theology, University of Natal.
East Africa - Revd Dr Kabiro wa Gatumu, Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at St Paul’s University, Limuru, Kenya.
Europe - Dr David Allen, New Testament lecturer at the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham, England.
North and Central America - Revd Robert MacSwain OGS, Instructor of Theology and Christian Ethics, School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, USA
South East Asia – Diocese of Singapore.
The Rt Revd Dr Michael Olusina Fape, Bishop of Remo Diocese, Nigeria and a member of the Steering Group in his capacity as the Regional Coordinator for TEAC (Theological Education in the Anglican Communion).
Dr Ellen Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke University, North Carolina, USA.
Dr Clara Luz Ajo Lazaro lives and works in Cuba as teacher in the Ecumenical Seminary at Matanzas and will act as a liaison with the CETALC network in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Anglican Communion Office staff:
Mrs Clare Amos, Director of Theological Studies at the ACO
Mr Stephen Lyon, project manager and administrator.
For further information contact Stephen Lyon at email@example.com