Provincial Secretaries from around the Anglican Communion met in Mexico from 25 August to 1 September 2011 for the seventh in a series of informal meetings started in the 1980s.
The conference programme was designed to further the professional development of the participants, who are each key administrators within their respective Provinces. It provided space for exploring the particular challenges and opportunities facing individual Provinces, sharing lessons learned from experience over the past few years and strengthening knowledge and understanding within the Communion.
Representatives from 25 Provinces (see below) and from the Church of Ceylon attended. Four were unable to attend at the last minute because of illness or visa difficulties and a number of others sent regrets and best wishes. Around half of those present had moved into their present roles since the last meeting of Provincial Secretaries in 2007.
The Provincial Secretaries received a letter of greeting from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Dr Rowan Williams. They were welcomed to Mexico by the Primate of Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico, the Most Reverend Carlos Touche-Porter. He explained how, over recent years, the Mexican church had sought to explore the richness of Mexican culture and popular devotional practice while retaining pride in its independent origins as a national church and in its traditional Anglican ways.
Conference participants visited the conference centre and training seminary of the Mexican Church and took part in Sunday services in a number of churches in and near Mexico City. The warmth of the welcome at each location and the vibrancy of the worship were uplifting. The Provincial Secretaries were deeply grateful to their Mexican colleague, the Reverend Canon Habacuc Ramos-Huerta, for the enormous effort that he had invested in putting together such a stimulating programme.
Presentations from individual Provinces included a moving account of the response of the small Anglican Church in Japan, through its ‘Let Us Walk Together’ project, to the enormous challenges posed by the earthquake and tsunami in March that had claimed some 21,000 lives. Participants also heard of the reconstruction work in New Zealand following the Christchurch earthquake which, as well as claiming many lives, had seriously damaged 26 Anglican churches and the cathedrals.
Sally Keeble, Director of the Anglican Alliance for Development and Relief, briefed those present on the Alliance’s emerging plans. Jan Butter, Director of Communications for the Anglican Communion, gave a presentation on ways in which Provincial Secretaries and the Anglican Communion Office could work together more effectively to tell the story of the communion and its presence in some 165 countries. The Reverend Terrie Robinson briefed those present on the current work of the Anglican Communion international networks and led a discussion on action being taken in Provinces in the light of the Primates’ letter on addressing gender-related violence. The Reverend Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General to the Communion, briefed those present on a number of current Communion activities and initiatives.
Provincial Secretaries reflected on the financial challenges facing all provinces in the light of the world economic difficulties of the past three years. They noted that the need to construct and meet tighter budgets was an opportunity to re-examine past ways of working and to subject priorities to fresh scrutiny. Above all it was a spur to presenting the people of God afresh with the call to committed discipleship and the responsibility to give proportionately and sacrificially for the extension of the Kingdom.
Time was given to discussing the role of Provincial Secretaries in promoting unity both within and between churches for the sake of the whole Church’s mission to the world. Those present shared information about current provincial discussions concerning the adoption of the Covenant for the Anglican Communion which has, so far, been adopted by Ireland (subscribed), Mexico, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia, Southern Africa (subject to ratification), and the West Indies.
Through worship, warm fellowship and lively discussion those present were strengthened in the bonds of friendship. They committed themselves to supporting each other in prayer in the days ahead. There was agreement in principle that a further meeting in the series would be valuable, perhaps in 2015.
Provinces represented: Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia; Australia; Bangladesh; Brazil; Burundi; Canada; Central Africa; Congo; England; Hong Kong; Indian Ocean; Ireland; Japan; Mexico; Nigeria; North India; Papua New Guinea; Scotland; Southern Africa; Southern Cone; Tanzania; TEC; Wales; West Africa; West Indies.