By Julanne Clarke-Morris, writing for Anglican Taonga and Anglican Communion News Service
The first thing the Archbishop of Canterbury will face at tomorrow’s Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) opening ceremony will be a guttural challenge from the young people of this country.
On entering the Telstra Events Centre in Manukau, Dr Rowan Williams and ACC members will be greeted with a wero (challenge) from a young Maori Anglican brandishing a taiaha (spear).
Welcome to Aotearoa, Archbishop; we do things differently here.
But the youth challenge won’t be just ceremonial. The opening event includes an unscripted conversation between young Anglicans and Dr Williams on any topic they think the church should care about.
Given that the kapa haka groups and choirs alone make up more than 800 Maori, Pakeha and Polynesian Anglican students, there’s potential for a few curly questions.
Archbishop David Moxon is pleased for the youth have first say. “It’s fitting that students, some of the youngest voices in our church, show a flavour of our mission in the Pacific, in what is a key moment for the church now and for the future.”
Those students have bussed into Auckland from Waikato and Tai Rawhiti. Diocesan and independent Anglican schools will be represented, along with Te Aute and Hukarere colleges.
Right now they’re hiding out at an undisclosed Anglican school campus, putting the final touches on their welcoming acts.
Anglicans from around Aotearoa-New Zealand and Polynesia will support the bishops and people of Tai Tokerau and Auckland in offering hospitality to the ACC. The City of Auckland has stepped up, too, with a civic welcome.
Archbishop Rowan Williams flew into Auckland on Thursday night, to a warm but low-key welcome from Bishop Kitohi Pikaahu (Tai Tokerau) and Bishop Ross Bay (Auckland) plus a team of Tikanga Maori clergy and lay people.
In the care of Bishop Kito, the Archbishop and his wife, Dr Jane Williams, made a low-key entrance to the conference venue where he was met by Anglican Communion Office staff.
Dr Williams’ first public engagement will be to lead the unveiling service for Sir Paul Reeves’ headstone at St John’s College at 3pm today.
This 15th session of the Anglican Consultative Council is the largest and most representative Anglican gathering held in New Zealand. Youth stewards spent this morning registering ACC members from all corners of the Communion.
Archbishop David Moxon says: “It’s an honour for us as a church to host this gathering and it is also significant as it is the last international engagement for the Archbishop of Canterbury.
“As we welcome the delegates we will also be strengthening our own ties to them from this part of the world, bonding in our diversity and our common commitment to the kingdom of God.”
The ACC is an advisory body that draws together more than 80 lay and ordained delegates from 38 provinces across more than 165 countries.
They are meeting in Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral from October 27 to November 7 to discuss the now and next of the Communion.
Topics include the threat of environmental change and the elimination of domestic and gender-based violence around the globe, as well as issues of ecumenism, mission and theology.