Mission - Commissions - IASCOME

Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism

Appendix 2

Anglican Contextual Theologians Network (ACTs)

The Anglican Contextual Theologians network (ACTs) came into being at the initiative of a group of theologians from around the Anglican Communion who saw the need to engender ongoing theological conversations across the Communion that wrestle with, and celebrate the richness of, the many and diverse cultural and geographic contexts of contemporary Anglicanism. The first consultation of Anglican Contextual Theologians (ACTs1) gathered thirty-four people for five days of conversation in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA in May 2003. (see ACTS Communiqué, below)

The Cambridge consultation recommended that another consultation should take place and members of the African Network of Institutions of Theological Education Preparing Anglicans for Ministry (ANITEPAM) offered to host such a meeting if it was held in Africa. With the leadership of ANITEPAM, the second consultation of Anglican Contextual Theologians (ACTs2) was held in Durban, South Africa, in August 2004, with eighteen participants, fourteen of whom were from Africa. The Co-ordinator of ACTs2, Mike McCoy, summarised the consultation with the words: ‘My hope is that the value of this gathering – and of others like it – will be shown in the building of relationships across the Communion, across cultural and theological frontiers, so that our rather stretched bonds of affection may be strengthened.’ IASCOME sees networks as ACTs and ANITEPAM as rich resources for the building up of relationships in mission across the many and diverse contexts of the Anglican Communion.

COMMUNIQUE
FROM A CONSULTATION OF
ANGLICAN CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGIANS

A consultation of Anglican contextual theologians was held from 13th to 16th May, 2003 at the Episcopal Divinity School, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Thirty-four theologians from twenty-two countries participated in the consultation.

The aim of the consultation was to establish a voluntary network of Anglican Contextual Theologians (ACTs network). The network will provide a forum for multiple theological voices within Anglicanism to be heard and acknowledged and will advance resources for theological education and leadership formation for the Anglican Communion.

The consultation took the form of group and plenary discussions around definitions and methodologies of contextual theology. The consultation identified death-dealing issues of particular concern to members’ contexts and their relevance for theological education. Four key issues were discussed including: the dehumanising effects of poverty, globalisation and its marginalising effects on small nations states, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and war and violence. Challenges of interfaith realities were also considered.

The participative and open process adopted by the consultation itself reflected an evolving theological method, resulting in a broad conversational agenda for the group. To this end, the consultation sought to develop a working understanding of the nature of contextual theology and its potential contribution to the life of the Anglican Communion.

The overwhelming majority of participants in the consultation agreed that contextual theology emerges out of an engagement with economic, political, and social realities that deeply inform issues of identity and culture. Contextual theology is rooted in a critical and communal reading of the Bible that seeks to discern the presence of the life-giving God in a suffering world. It affirms and uplifts the role of women in the theological enterprise. It is a reflection on God’s transforming action in an increasingly globalised world. It is prophetic and critical, hopeful and life affirming. It participates in Jesus’ solidarity with the marginalised and privileges their voices. It is a theology that fosters engagement and action.

The consultation believes that our Anglican Contextual Theologians network can provide a valuable resource for the churches of the Anglican Communion. It will encourage contextual theological reflection among other bodies of the Anglican Communion (such as but not limited to: the Inter Anglican Standing Commissions on Mission and Evangelism, Theology and Doctrine, and Ecumenical Relations, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting), and will help to foster theological conversations and reflection within and between provinces and at local levels. The network will seek to engage further discussions with, and supply resources for, theological education institutions across the Anglican Communion.

Participants in the consultation offered personal and institutional commitments to further the work of contextual theology locally and globally.