Mission - Commissions - MISSIO

Patterns of International Mission Structures in the Anglican Communion

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The intention of this chapter is to outline the development of structures and connections for international mission within the Anglican Communion and the principles that underlie them. It also includes examples of recent expressions of cross-cultural mission, and concludes with proposals for the next stage in Anglican Communion international mission structures. The chapter does not consider internal mission within provinces, but it does raise the question of how best to bring together internal and international mission.

The Role and Purpose of Structures

A structure is the way a group organises itself for particular tasks, functions or purposes. Its success can be assessed by its effectiveness in accomplishing its tasks.  A structure should change and develop as its purposes change. Structures can be experienced both negatively and positively. Negatively, a structure can be heavy, controlling, bureaucratic, committee-bound and too rigid or hierarchical for an organisation's purpose. It can dominate and be unjust. Positively, a structure can be enabling, invigorating, flexible and collaborative, allowing space for initiative and creative development. The tests for any structure are the extent to which it is life giving and energising, and its effectiveness in achieving its functions.

In assessing structures for international mission in an Anglican Communion of autonomous provinces and independent agencies, we are looking for structures that are light, flexible, responsive, collaborative, easy to manage, facilitating connections. The purpose of the connections is to foster relationships between provinces, their dioceses and mission agencies, so as to improve the appropriate mission response to the different contexts in which the churches of the Communion are set.  The structure should enable relationships to develop and so permit the great variety of mission challenges and responses across the Communion to inform, encourage, support, challenge and critique each other.  It should allow space for initiatives and those surprises so characteristic of the work of God's spirit.  Indeed, all structures of the Anglican Communion should be evaluated according to their contribution to the work of the church in serving the mission of God.

Some Underlying Principles

In any discussion of structures for mission within the Anglican Communion, one must remember that the primary responsibility for worship and witness in each place lies with the Christians who are there.  They are the local expression of the universal Church.  Most Anglican Christians are part of a parish, which may consist of one or more congregations.  But the parish is not on its own.  It is part of a diocese in which the bishop shares responsibility for the care of souls with the clergy. Although the diocese is the basic unit of Anglicanism, dioceses themselves are connected together into provinces.

For most Christians, mission and witness takes place in the local community and in the place of work, through the natural everyday process of living, working and relating with others. But special activities and programmes also supplement the daily life and witness of Christian people.  These may be organised by church bodies or by voluntary movements. The corporate structures of the Church are the congregations, dioceses and provinces, their councils and synods. Such special activities may have to do with the formation of new churches, education, healing, social action for justice and development, relations with government and campaigning on particular issues. They are an expression of the collective witness of a church responding to the context in which it is set. 

Voluntary movements are an important way in which Christians have expressed their commitment to a particular task. The religious orders and the missionary societies are notable expressions of the voluntary principle (the right of Christians to associate together to fulfil a particular objective).

A theological framework for this mix of structures for worship, service and witness is to see the Church as a movement, the pilgrim people of God journeying to the Kingdom. Within this large movement, there arise many smaller movements as faithful Christians seek, under the Spirit, to fulfil their vocations in a variety of ways.  Such movements may be about evangelisation, issues of justice and peace, advocacy for the powerless.

The role of church leadership in relation to such movements is to provide recognition, facilitation and direction, but not control. Bishops, as those whose office is the focus of the unity, catholicity and mission, need to ensure that there are adequate structures within their dioceses and provinces for representatives of such movements to meet with representatives of the Church's leadership for consultation, co-ordination and planning.

A voluntary movement within the Church should be close enough to the Church's structures and leaders, and yet true enough to its own task, to be a genuine resource and witness to the Church.

Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence

The rapid growth of the church in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and the formation of new autonomous provinces has contributed to the multiplicity of mission experiences and the need to find ways to connect in order to provide mutual encouragement, support and challenge. Since 1963 the Anglican Communion has initiated two Communion-wide programmes to encourage mutual participation and support in the mission of the church - Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence (MRI) and Partners in Mission (PIM).

The Communion as a whole began its journey from paternalism to partnership in its mission relations in the 1960s.  In 1963, just prior to the Anglican Congress in Toronto, the Primates and Metropolitans of the Communion issued a “manifesto”, Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ - MRI.  Their proposal was essentially to look at needs (for people, finance, skills and infrastructure) across the Communion and to gather and distribute resources to meet those needs.  It was a challenge to break out of the donor/recipient mindset of the colonial era and move into new relationships of equality and mutuality, not just in financial sharing but in personnel and other aspects of Christian discipleship. A call was made for a fund of five million pounds to assist the new provinces. A priority was theological education to encourage self-reliance in leadership. MRI increased awareness of the Communion, the need for partnership, and the principles on which it should be based.  The final part of the manifesto reads as follows:

We are aware that such a programme as we propose, if it is seen in its true size and accepted, will mean the death of much that is familiar about our churches now. It will mean radical change in our priorities - even leading us to share with others as much as we spend on ourselves. It means the death of old isolations and inherited attitudes. It means a willingness to forgo many desirable things, in every church.

In substance what we are really asking is the rebirth of the Anglican Communion, which means the death of many old things but - infinitely more - the birth of entirely new relationships. We regard this as the essential task before the churches of the Anglican Communion now. 1

The vision was inspiring and in keeping with independence movements sweeping colonial parts of the world. However, changing behaviour is a different story from seeing visions and dreaming dreams. The Anglican Communion’s Executive Officer in London and his regional representatives implemented the vision of MRI through a Directory of Projects. The focus on money contributed to a “shopping list mentality” in which churches of the South or Third World prepared lists of projects which the churches of the North or First World, agreed to fund .... or not. Personnel needs were more difficult to meet. Somehow the balance of power did not shift sufficiently to enable full relationships of mutuality and interdependence. Those who controlled the purse strings still held most of the power. Nevertheless MRI was a most significant initiative in propelling the Communion along the path to greater mutuality.

One of its fruits was the encouragement of companion diocese links (which had begun from the USA in the 1950s) as a means of enabling the exchange of prayer, information and encounter through face to face meeting across the Communion.


A second development was the Partners-in-Mission process. This emerged because of the difficulties associated with MRI, and attempted to foster a wider interpretation of partnership. The principles for PIM were stated at the first two ACC Meetings in Limuru (1971) and particularly Dublin (1973). They remain of abiding importance for the Communion and bear repeating.

The responsibility for mission in any place belongs primarily to the church in that place. However, the universality of the gospel and the oneness of God's mission mean also that this mission must be shared in each and every place with fellow-Christians from each and every part of the world with their distinctive insights and contributions. If we once acted as though there were only givers who had nothing to receive and receivers who had nothing to give, the oneness of the missionary task must now make us all both givers and receivers. 2

In place of the Directory system a new vehicle was proposed. Each church was to engage in a planning process to set its own mission priorities. This process was to be undertaken with the active participation of partner churches, selected by the host. The Partners-in-Mission or PIM process was born.

Developing Communion-wide programmes in a voluntary association of autonomous dioceses is not easy. But provinces agreed to a programme of consultations to which representatives of partner Anglican and other churches would be invited to assist them in setting their mission priorities and assessing the help they would need from others. A detailed programme of consultations was worked out for the 1970s and early 1980s. The process was refined as a result of experience. Monitoring the process and learning the lessons of the experience was a particular priority of the two Mission Issues and Strategy Advisory Groups. Since 1973 there have been 65 PIM consultations of which the latest, for West Africa, was held in Ghana in 1997. A staff member of the ACC was responsible for facilitating these consultations.

Provinces in the South have held the majority of consultations, inviting those churches and mission/development agencies with which they have had historical funding and personnel relationships. In some cases those who have held the purse strings have unduly influenced the agenda of their “partners” who needed funds. The PIM process has also been influential in determining mission action and budget priorities for churches in the North. Despite problems, the PIM model of consultation over mission priorities has been a sustained attempt, over more than twenty years, to move from paternalism to partnership.

The programme has been of far-reaching significance as follows:

  • It has helped churches focus on their mission calling and its priorities.
  • It has provided a means of expression of mutual partnership that has extended far beyond the historic boards and agencies (but without neglecting them).
  • It has enabled church representatives who perhaps did not have much contact with churches outside their own, to gain experience and carry it back to their home councils.
  • It has provided a framework within which national church boards and voluntary agencies could focus their own priorities.
  • It has helped get the language of partnership, of receiving and giving, of mutuality more into the bloodstream of the Anglican Communion.
  • It has encouraged widespread meeting.
  • It has enabled a more effective sharing of resources of prayer, people and finances, and emphasised the importance of those non-tangible expressions of Christian experience.
  • It resulted in the statement of Ten Principles of Partnership produced by MISAG II in 1992.
  • It established the principle of involving representatives of partners in assisting organisations, dioceses and provinces in planning for their future.

In recent years, the Partners-in-Mission process of consultations appears to have slowed to a virtual halt for a number of reasons:

  • As provinces and dioceses have grown both in numbers and in size, so consultations have become more unwieldy and difficult (and costly) to organise.
  • A generation of leaders has emerged who have not been part of the formative process.
  • The growth in self-sufficiency and self-reliance in a number of provinces has lessened the urgency for them to seek financial support.
  • The 1988 Lambeth Conference call for a Decade of Evangelism has been given greater attention, and more staff priority for the ACC.

The principles that underlie the PIM process, however, and the practical lessons learned must not be forgotten, but rather built upon and developed into the new context of the twenty-first century.

The 1990s

By the 1990s the Communion had become ore complex and less amenable to centrally organised programmes, which, despite contrary intentions, were often dominated by northern churches and their agencies. There are a number of factors in the changed situation.

There are now 38 provinces and over 618 dioceses. They are initiating a plethora of mission activities. In 1963 the major historic northern national mission boards and missionary societies could be counted on the fingers of two hands. By the 1990s their resources in people and finance had decreased.  Missionary personnel from the north have reduced in numbers. Apportionments from dioceses to the funds of national mission boards as well as individual gifts to mission agencies have reduced in real terms.

Alongside the historic organisations, new northern agencies have emerged. They often focus on specific tasks such as team visits or development projects in specific countries.  Although smaller than the older agencies, they often attract supporters because they seem new, participatory and personal.

Churches in the North, although struggling to renew themselves and respond to their own contexts, are smaller in numbers and financial strength, and face increased local demands. Churches in the South have increased in numbers and in some cases, in financial resources and are also aiming at self-reliance.

The significance of a whole range of links involving provinces, dioceses, cathedrals, parishes (individually and in groups) has increased.

The 1980s also saw the rapid growth of development agencies in the North, emphasising issues of development and justice.  Some attracted government funding and increased giving from individuals, often in response to disasters.  They were perceived to be providing rapid responses.

From many of the newer churches of the Communion, new forms of cross-cultural missionary engagement have emerged. There are now many new centres of missionary sending and receiving.

In 1899 an international mission map of the world would have resembled that of a steamship line with many of the routes traceable back to Britain, Europe and North America. In 1999 a cross-cultural mission map for the Anglican Communion and for other denominations now resembles a world airlines map with many centres and hubs, both internationally and within countries, and no overall centre. The possibilities of exchange, encounter, partnership, shared mission and evangelism are much greater, richer and less controllable.  As the Communion grows, so the numbers of centres of mission sending will increase further.

Principles of Partnership

In 1993 the Anglican Consultative Council accepted the final report of the Second Mission Issues and Strategy Advisory Group (MISAG II).  Its reflection on the PIM process identified Ten Principles of Partnership, which were proposed as “essential to any meaningful or healthy partnership in mission process”. (The full text of these is included in Appendix D.)

1. Local initiative. 6. Integrity
2. Mutuality 7. Transparency
3. Responsible stewardship 8. Solidarity
4. Interdependence 9. Meeting together
5. Cross fertilisation 10. Acting Ecumenically

These principles stand as excellent “benchmarks” against which to measure mission partnerships. They have been used creatively in some parts of the Communion and ignored in others.

Companion Diocese and other Companship links

The system of diocesan companion links grew out of the call for MRI.  Across the Communion they have to come to complement and add value to the historic connections through the national mission boards and missionary societies.  At their best they expand awareness of the experiences of Christians in different parts of the Communion and encourage mutual support, challenge and learning.  The face to face meeting they encourage is of great value in providing cohesion and flesh to the bones of the Communion's structures.
The number and variety of diocesan companion links has expanded considerably since the 1960s. Patterns of linking vary among provinces.  For example, dioceses in the USA and Canada tend to link with one other diocese for a limited period.  English diocesan companion links broaden this model to include those who link to a number of provinces.  Many links also appear to have become permanent, with evaluation reviews seeking to improve the quality of the relationship.  Whereas the guidelines suggest that transfer of money should not form a major feature of a companion link, in a number of instances financial support is large. There are increasing numbers of multilateral links such as the Dioceses of Bradford, Northern Sudan and Southwest Virginia, or Los Angeles, West Africa and Belize.

Given the expanding variety of diocesan links, it is important that the Companion Relationship Guidelines and Principles of Partnership be used to add value and quality to the links. The purpose of companion links is to assist the companions to get to know each other, to learn from each other and to each share their faith.

The Mission and Evangelism desk at the Anglican Communion Office maintains a list of formal links and a list of those dioceses seeking relationships.  The selection of links is a haphazard process, which is perhaps inevitable within a Communion of autonomous provinces.  Nevertheless effort needs to be made to enable those dioceses without links but seeking them, to find companions. The 1998 Lambeth Conference encouraged all dioceses to have some connection, formal or informal, by 2008, a process which needs to be facilitated and monitored by the Mission and Evangelism Office.

Alongside the diocesan links there are an increasing number of other forms of companionship - between parishes, parish to diocese, between cathedrals etc.  A task for the next Mission Commission is to assess this development and offer guidelines for new and more particular forms of companionship relationship. The existing Anglican Communion Companion Diocese Guidelines could provide a basis.

Changing Expressions of Mission and Mission Connections

Various expressions of international and cross-cultural mission are emerging in many parts of the world. They are responses both to local contexts and to the missionary vocation. Some are a recovery and renewal of older forms. Others are new.  Many of these new expressions of mission are reaching out to the least evangelised peoples and communities in our world, whether within nations or across geographical boundaries. The list below is not exhaustive, but is intended to increase awareness of what is happening within the Anglican Communion.

Forced movements of peoples

In recent years civil war, famine and other natural causes have tragically displaced a growing number of people, many of them Christian.  Sadly this is not new in world history. Recent examples include Sudanese to Congo, Northern Uganda and Kenya; Mozambicans to Malawi; Rwandans to Tanzania, Uganda and Congo; displacement of populations within Liberia and Sierra Leone; Karen from Burma to Thailand.  They worship in the midst of their suffering and share their faith with those around them. The accounts of their faithfulness and witness, and their success at forming new congregations are a challenge, rebuke and inspiration to other parts of the world church.  It is a reminder that it was persecution that first caused the gospel to spread (Acts 8).

Natural movements of peoples

In recent decades, the movement of large numbers of people for reasons of business or emigration has led to the establishment of communities in countries other than their places of origin. The world is a much more pluralistic place as populations mix.  As Christians have moved, so they have both joined the congregations of their new countries and also formed congregations in their own language and culture.  In both ways they have often stimulated and contributed to the life and mission of the church within the country to which they have come.  Again this natural movement is not new. It occurred in the first decades of the Church (Romans 16).

Missionary chaplaincies

The movement of peoples has led to an increase of missionary chaplaincies set up to minister within the community and to assist the receiving church in its ministry among the community. Examples include the Nigerian chaplaincy in London; Korean chaplaincy in Toronto; over 30 such chaplaincies in Sydney; a Sabahan chaplain in W. Malaysia. The Diocese of New York has congregations in at least twelve different language groups.

Missionary bishops and formation of new dioceses

As a response to the call for a Decade of Evangelism, missionary bishops were named and missionary dioceses created in the largely Islamic Northern Nigeria. They were financially sponsored by older dioceses in southern Nigeria, and in some cases by individuals.  This has led to rapid church growth and yet further dioceses have been formed.  In Kenya the formation of smaller geographical dioceses in some areas has enabled increased attention to be given to the growth of congregations.  The 1998 Lambeth Conference identified this process as one for further study to see what lessons can be learned.  This is an issue we refer to the next Mission Commission.

Missionary faith-sharing teams

There has been a growth in the sending of short-term, faith-sharing mission teams.  Many examples can be given.  They include South-North; South-South; North-South. They both increase the experience of the mainly lay Christians who participate, and enable missionary encounters to take place in the areas they visit.  The diocesan bishop often leads diocesan teams.  Renewal teams serve a similar function.  Mission agencies like USPG and CMS have brought mission teams, drawn from a number of nations, to Britain.  The dioceses of Southwest Brazil and Uruguay have used a team to establish a community on their joint border.

New missionary societies in the South

New missionary societies are being formed. The Church of Nigeria has formed the Church of Nigeria Missionary Society. This is a Synodical Society which is lay-led with money raised from voluntary contributions. To some extent it combines the model of ECUSA with that of CMS. In South India missionary societies have long been established and they are developing their work both within and outside India.

Multi-point (or multilateral) mission movements

There are a variety of patterns of joint mission partnerships between one or more northern agencies and one or more southern dioceses. The Church of Canada has supported Cuban missionaries to Uruguay; British SAMS and CMS, a Brazilian missionary to Mozambique; British CMS and USPG, a north Indian presbyter to Johannesburg for inter-faith ministry.

South-south mission

There is an increase in missionaries sent from one part of the South to another. The Diocese of Singapore sends both missionaries and mission teams to Latin America, South Africa, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.  Individual parishes provide the support, the sending diocesan bishop, on the recommendation of the Board of Mission, provides the authority and co-ordination. In Melanesia the Melanesian Brotherhood has sent missionaries to Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Fiji. Most northern mission agencies now have budgets to assist South-South missionary encounter and exchange (a recommendation made by MISAG-II in 1992).

South-South Movement

The South-South Movement that arose from the Brisbane mission agencies conference in 1986 is one structure that has grown to encourage South-South connections.  It is described in more detail below.


Within the Anglican Communion, networks have been developed which contribute to the mission, in its broad sense, of the Communion: Justice and Peace, Youth, Interfaith, Refugees etc.  Networks provide flexible means of connection. They do not act as operational programmatic agencies in their own right, but they enable those who do, to co-ordinate and consult.  A network for Mission and Evangelism has been proposed as a result of the work of Section II of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.  The process of networking is to be encouraged in a Communion as broad and diverse as ours.

Changes to the historic Synodical Mission Boards and Voluntary MissionAgencies

Historic mission agencies, both voluntary (like CMS and USPG) and synodical (like the Boards of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada), have played a vital part in the growth of the Communion.  During the 1990s, they too are responding to changes in the Communion and its context.  Many have developed new mission statements, directions and priorities. In Canada, for example, the challenge is to connect international and domestic mission.  In England a number of agencies are looking at ways to concentrate on mission partnership at the cutting edge of mission, and to work with churches in enabling them to respond to those priorities.

South to South Encounters

In 1994 in Nairobi and again in 1997 in Kuala Lumpur, representatives of Anglican Churches in the South met to look at their mission. The Conference aims are an important statement of their concerns:

  • To meet, to know and to encourage one another in our faith and mission as Christians of the ‘South’.
  • To listen to God and to listen to one another.
  • To share our stories, our needs, our resources, our vision.
  • To explore and encourage ways of offering ourselves and our unique gifts and insights as Christians of the South for the enrichment of the life of the whole Church and for world mission.
  • To discover our unique identity as Anglican Christians of the non-western World.
  • To encourage qualitative and relevant leadership development for our rapidly growing churches so as to secure the future of the Church in the South and world-wide; to enable partnership, both South to South and South to North, on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
  • To explore ways of being authentically Christian in our cultural milieu while remaining universally connected to the global Anglican Communion.

The South-to-South movement has named a Steering Committee and shows every sign of continuing with future gatherings.

One of the issues emerging from these conferences is the importance of capacity-building, by which is meant developing the skills and resources of churches and communities for greater self-reliance, self-confidence and self-direction.

Emerging Patterns of Contact and Co-Ordination

Personnel exchange and encounter

In 1992, MISAG II emphasised the importance of encounter and exchange as a means of strengthening mission. “Exchange necessarily involves the joyful sharing of resources [including] long and short-term personnel exchanged from south to south, south to north, north to south. Ideas, vision, respect for other peoples' culture and renewed energy and enthusiasm for mission can be the fruit of these exchanges. Visits will enhance an appreciation of liturgy, spirituality and tradition.” 3  Despite all the advances in technology, the value of person to person encounter and face to face meeting cannot be overestimated.


If PIM consultations have decreased, more general Conferences are proving of increased importance in enabling contacts to be made, ideas to be shared and relationships to develop. The two South-to-South Encounters (Nairobi 1994; Kuala Lumpur 1997) have both established connections as well as making their own impact on the Communion.  The 1995 Kanuga Conference to mark the mid-point review of the Decade of Evangelism was an important gathering of laity, clergy and bishops from across the Communion. The 1998 Lambeth Conference provided opportunities for face to face meeting.  These particular gatherings have also provided models of ways of meeting, and in particular, of the importance of worship, which have been carried into provincial and other gatherings.

Planning consultations

Some agencies and churches are holding consultations to assist them in their own priority setting. From Britain, USPG has held a number with individual partner churches and provinces, on its specific policies and programmes with that church.  CMS has held two consultations (in Britain and Hong Kong) on more general priorities for the future, drawing representatives from a wide range of partners.  The Church of England Conference on The Church of England and Its World Mission Partnerships, held before the 1998 Lambeth Conference, was an important occasion for discerning issues to be addressed in the future. The Mothers' Union World-Wide Council, held before each Lambeth Conference, is a most significant occasion for women leaders of the Communion to meet.  There are similar occasions in other parts of the Communion.

The value of these Conferences can be greatly enhanced if Conference participants visit local Christian communities to experience their life and outreach, and then take that experience back to their own areas. This also serves to encourage the host community

International representatives

Other agencies, such as the Anglican Church of Canada, ensure that there are representatives of partner churches on their major boards, committees and councils. It is becoming increasingly common in the north, for participants from the south to be included in gatherings as a matter of course.

Ecumenical structures

In many places there are increasing efforts at ecumenical co-ordination of mission activities.  In the USA and Canada, for example, the orientation and debriefing of mission personnel is often undertaken jointly by several denominations pooling their resources.  So too are resources for mission education frequently developed by an ecumenical working group.

Money and Mission Relationships

Experience has shown that money both benefits and distorts mission relationships.  Because it is so significant we include a reflection on this issue.

Every dimension of mission requires money.  The commonly used expressions, “money makes the mill go round” or “it takes cash to care”, make it apparent that mission programmes must be adequately funded if they are to achieve the desired results.  The records of the early church show that from its inception, money was needed for mission and ministry, and those who had access to money made it available to the leaders.  The account of Paul's collection from the poor churches of Greece and Asia Minor for the church in Jerusalem experiencing famine, is a model of the principles for sharing money (see 2 Corinthians 8 and 9).  The sharing of financial resources (often sacrificially, Philippians 4:10-17) was therefore an established principle within the Body of Christ.  It must also be noted, however, that the first major act of deception, the Ananias and Sapphira saga (Acts 5), was centred on money, bringing into focus the fact that there is not only a bright side to money, but a dark side also.

Those who engage with others as partners in mission, must commit themselves to the biblical principles of Christian stewardship and ensure that money transfers are made on the basis of transparency, responsibility and accountability.  Transparency refers to the source of the funds, the purpose of giving and the legitimacy of the project. Responsibility requires that those on the receiving end must demonstrate their commitment by making their own contribution to the project. Accountability is the means of ensuring that the money is used in the most efficient manner for the purpose for which it is needed and intended. With the appropriate safeguards, the giving and receiving of money can indeed be a blessing to both giver and receiver, though one may argue on the basis of Scripture that the greater blessing goes to the giver.

Money, however, has its darker side.  Money can be given to maintain power, control and influence.  “The one who pays the piper calls the tune”, is an old saying that cannot be ignored. Integrity demands that those who are receivers must reject all funds where the source and intention are either unclear or unacceptable.  This applies not only in church to church exchanges, but also in government to church or business to church.

Another reality about the dark side of money is that it may engender greed.  “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (I Timothy 6:10).  Those who control its disbursement may “feather their own nests” instead of fostering development.  There is no need to give examples of the misuse of funds caused by greed.  It is a common human failing from which many church leaders have not been exempt.  Appropriate mechanisms and checks for accounting must be employed to keep those who receive and spend money away from the snare of this temptation.

Another negative feature of the sharing of money is the propensity to foster dependence on the outside donor.  Much has been written about the danger of creating a “dependency syndrome” in “receiving churches”.  The Three Self Principles, enunciated by Henry Venn of CMS in the nineteenth century, have been promoted as a way of charting a course that would see new churches taking responsibility for the various areas of their life in terms of governance, support and propagation.  Money unwisely given and received can have the effect of creating dependence, rather than building capacity.

Finally, money can have a negative effect on the donor.  It can focus the donor's concern on the raising of funds, on its transfer and on seeking to control its use, thus taking attention away from other more significant aspects of partnership.

None of the foregoing cautions, however, can override the basic principle that sharing, which includes the sharing of money, must continue to be an integral part of what is meant by partnership in mission. A holistic approach sees financial sharing as a dimension of total partnership which includes the sharing of joys, sorrows, people, liturgies, prayer, challenge, advocacy, experience of poverty for the sake of the kingdom.

Structures for Co-Ordination: Within Provinces

On the principle that mission movements and provincial structures are both expressions of Christian discipleship, there need to be, within provinces, means to ensure that there is adequate communication and sharing of plans and activities.  Different churches will develop different models.  What is important is that there is opportunity for connecting and sharing.  Some examples of current structures follow:

  • In the USA, the Episcopal Council for Global Mission was formed in 1990 as a forum in which representatives of a wide range of dioceses, large congregations, mission agencies, religious orders and the national church boards, including the relief board, can all meet. This has proved highly effective in building relations and developing mutual understanding. The structure is simple, workable and acceptable to all.  A proposal that this become the Episcopal Church's official Partnership for Global Mission is under study.
  • In England, the Partnership for World Mission was formed in l978 to provide a forum in which representatives of the mission agencies and General Synod could meet and work together.  In 1991 it became a constituent part of the General Synod Board of Mission, in an endeavour to allow international mission and mission in England to inform each other.
  • In Melanesia, the Melanesian Board of Mission includes the Melanesian Brotherhood and Sisterhood, the Community of the Sisters of the Church, the Mothers' Union, the Missions to Seamen.  It is also responsible for Youth Ministry, Hospital and Prison Chaplaincies, and Evangelism.
  • In Australia, mission agencies, including the synodical Anglican Board of Mission and voluntary mission agencies, like CMS and SAMS, have formed a mission agency network.
  • The Church in Wales has a Partnership for World Mission Committee consisting of representatives of mission agencies and chaired by a nominee of the House of Bishops.

Structures of Co-Ordination: For the Anglican Communion

An Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission

Although mission is carried on within each province, the underlying principle of the Communion that each church needs the wider church to assist, critique and provide stimulation, argues for some real but light international co-ordination of mission and evangelism across provinces and mission agencies.  In the past this has been provided first by the Mission Issues and Strategy Advisory Groups - MISAG I (1980-85) and MISAG II (1986-92), followed by a Standing Commission on Mission, known as MISSIO (1994-1999) established by ACC-9 in Cape Town, 1993.

The expanding diversity of mission connections within the Communion, the priority given to mission and evangelism by the Decade of Evangelism, and the 1988 and 1998 Lambeth Conferences, all point to the continuation of the current Standing Commission on Mission for the Anglican Communion.  Its basic purpose should be to enable the sharing of information and reflection, and the facilitation of relationships across provinces and synodical and voluntary mission agencies.  Its membership should include representatives both of synodical and voluntary mission agencies, and of the wider church.

It is proposed that the title MISSIO be replaced by the title Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission.  Details of the proposal, including suggested membership and ways of working, are included as a separate section below.

A Mission Staff Officer at the Anglican Communion Office

The functions of a Mission Commission and the growing rich variety and complexity of mission activities and relationships in the Communion support the reinstatement of a senior-level staff person in the Mission & Evangelism Office, with appropriate secretarial support.  Such a post is as important for the future as for the past. The international mission relationships and connections of the Communion are significant means of providing cohesion, coherence and human experience that fleshes out the realities of world-wide Anglicanism.  Details of the major functions of the staff position are included with the proposal for the Standing Commission on Mission, below.

A number of the Networks of the Communion are engaged in mission in its broad understanding. So it would be appropriate for the Mission & Evangelism Officer to be the point of contact between them and the Anglican Communion Office.  This would enable the Officer to keep the Mission Commission and the Networks abreast of what each are doing.

Partnership to Companionship?

There has been a significant narrowing of the meaning of the term partnership in the 1990s. The word is increasingly used to describe specific programmes or collaborative activity between agencies or dioceses, so that there is talk of mission partnerships.  This is a change from earlier broader usage of  “partnership” to describe the total relationship that should exist between churches.  Drawn from the word “koinonia”, it has its roots in that relationship of sharing found within the life of the Trinity, into which Christians are drawn through Christ, and into which God's mission is to draw the whole inhabited world (Ephesians 1:9,10; Colossians 1: 15-20).

That quality of broad relationship may now better be described by the word “companionship”.  The word speaks of those who are equals taking part in a journey together, relating, supporting, encouraging, communicating, breaking bread and being together.  There cannot be a dominant companion - for if there is, the companionship breaks up.  It also carries the connotation of solidarity; standing with each other in times of struggle and suffering.

Companionship speaks of values, trust, listening, generosity, encouragement, support and sharing; of journeying together in the movement of the church.  It provides a different and creative context in which to speak of programmes and budgets.  It is that quality of relationship among Christians that will encourage real witness of life and word, and enable Christians to push beyond what now exists.  In a Church of England Consultation about good and bad experiences of mission partnership, good partnership experiences had to do with relationships, attitudes and values - respect, generosity, openness, care, listening, mutuality, prayer, worship, encouragement, support in situations of injustice, sharing in struggles, good personal relationships enabling free and frank exchange.  In bad experiences some or all of these were lacking.

It has taken several decades for the term partnership to become part of the currency of the Communion.  It should not be lost, but it may now be time to build on it and speak more the language of companions in order to encourage this breadth and depth of quality in mission relationships.

International and Local Mission

One of the challenges facing the Communion is how to enable the international experience of mission to inform and have an impact on the local experience - sometimes called inner, domestic or home mission.  Various structures have been tried.  But it may be that the clue is to be found within the concept of a companionship in which the journey of churches together sees matters of money, people and programmes as instruments to ensure mutual sharing at the deeper level of experience, struggle, prayer, engagement with context in order to be transformed and so transform.

An example of what this might involve is found in the recent experience of the Anglican Church of Canada. That experience is much wider than an issue of partnership and so it is included as a separate chapter, but among its themes is the struggle to relate international partnership practice to local Canadian concerns.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • What lessons and principles does your province, diocese, mission agency draw from the Partners in Mission process?  In what ways can they be improved to assist your work?
  • What are the structures for consultation and co-ordination between voluntary agencies and the wider Church in your parish, diocese and province?  How do you evaluate their effectiveness?  How can they be improved?
  • What new expressions of mission do you see developing in your parish, diocese, province and the wider Anglican Communion?  How does your Church/ agency connect with them?  What does it learn from them?  What ecumenical mission activities/structures are found in your region?
  • How are representatives of other parts of the Anglican Communion and wider Church involved in your committees, councils, decision making and consultative processes? How adequate is this? How might it be improved?
  • In what ways does the budget of your agency, diocese, province contribute to south-south mission?
  • What have been your experiences over the use of money for mission? How have you been able to use it to positive effect? How have you been able to overcome the problems of allowing it to distort transparent, mutual and open mission relationships?
  • How have you used the Ten Principles of Partnership within your agency, diocese, province? How could you use them more effectively?
  • What do you think of using the language of companionship to give new meaning to partnership in mission?
  • The Lambeth Conference called for all dioceses to have some form of formal or informal companionship link by 2008 - what new forms of connection for mission with other dioceses can you imagine?


In response to the Lambeth Conference Resolution 2:2e on “Mission and the Structures of the Anglican Communion”, and having heard of the proposed recommendations of the ACC Joint Standing Committee’s Priorities Working Group, MISSIO:

  • Endorses the proposal of the Priorities Working Group to continue a Standing Commission on Mission;
  • Recommends that it be called the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission, with functions and membership as detailed below;
  • Recommends that a senior-level Mission & Evangelism Staff Officer be appointed to the Anglican Communion Office, responsible for the functions listed below.

Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism

The Commission on Mission shall be appointed by and accountable to the Anglican Consultative Council or its Standing Committee.

Tasks and Functions of the Commission:

  • Be Accountable to ACC.
  • To report to and receive tasks from the Anglican Consultative Council.
  • Oversee Mission Relationships.
  • To facilitate Companion Diocese and other companionship links throughout the Communion, in accordance with the Guidelines for such links.
  • To work with Anglican networks for mission and evangelism as they currently exist or might emerge in the future.
  • To facilitate the sharing of resources, both human and financial, throughout the Communion.
  • To link, share and critique experiences of capacity-building for mission and evangelism.
  • Reflection. 
  • To engage in theological reflection on mission.  This would include but not be limited to, reflections on Gospel and Culture, on the Missio Dei, on the Transformation of the Church, on the implications of the changing profile of the Anglican Communion, on the Good News in situations of poverty, displacement, war and conflict.
  • To be a forum where the Provinces and the Voluntary and Synodical Mission Agencies of the Communion share and reflect on their practices, experiences and learnings of mission and evangelism.
  • Priority of Mission and Evangelism.
  • To continue the momentum of the Decade of Evangelism, in accordance with the learnings described elsewhere in this report.  This includes encouraging the Anglican Communion to see mission and evangelism as a Gospel imperative, not an optional activity.
  • New Structures.
  • To encourage the emergence of new and appropriate structures for mission and evangelism.
  • To liaise with the South-to-South Movement.
  • Ecumenical Expressions.
  • To encourage, monitor and learn from ecumenical expressions of mission.

Membership of the Commission:

Membership of the Commission shall be appointed by the ACC Standing Committee with intention to include a mix of the following factors:

  • Expertise in missiology.
  • Gender balance.
  • Balance of clergy/lay
  • Voluntary Mission Agencies and Synodical Mission Boards from both North and South.  7 members from this category with at least 3 from the South.
  • Knowledge of or involvement with Province/Region/Anglican Communion.
  • Continuity with MISSIO of up to 6 continuing members.
  • 18 appointed from nominations submitted by the Provinces of the Communion:




North America & Caribbean

USA, Canada, CPWI


Latin America

Cono Sur, Brazil, Central America, Caribe

2 (1 Spanish speaker, 1 Portuguese speaker)


England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland,


East Africa

Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Indian Ocean

2 (1 francophone, 1 anglophone)

West Africa

Nigeria, West Africa


Southern/Central Africa

CPSA, Central Africa


Middle East & Sub-Continent

Jerusalem & :Middle East, Ceylon, CSI, CNI, Pakistan, Bangladesh



Australia, Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, Melanesia, PNG


East Asia

Philippines, Japan, Korea, South East Asia, Hong Kong, Myanmar (Burma)


  • 3 members-at-large, these to be appointed to balance the 6 factors listed above.
  • The Chairman to be appointed by the ACC, either from among the provincial members or as a member-at-large.
  • A liaison member from ACC.
  • There shall be rotating membership, term by term, within a region, to ensure variation in membership.

Modus Operandi of the Commission:

  • The Commission shall meet 4 times during its 5-year term of office, with meetings lasting for approximately 10 days plus travel time.
  • Members are expected to undertake tasks between meetings.
  • It is recommended that the Chairman appoint an advisory group of 2 or 3 members who can function as a decision-making executive between meetings.

Mission and Evangelism Staff person in the Anglican Communion Office

It is recommended that the staff vacancy in the Mission & Evangelism Office be filled as soon as possible, with the following functions to be included in the job description:

  • To ensure that the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission receives the staff support needed to accomplish its work
  • To offer leadership and suggest new initiatives for the work of mission and evangelism in the Anglican Communion, as appropriate.
  • To be the mission liaison/connector with the appropriate Anglican Communion networks and with the South-to-South Movement.
  • To liaise with Provincial Mission Officers/Secretaries.
  • To liaise with Synodical Mission Boards and Voluntary Mission Agencies.
  • To ensure good communication and the sharing of information around the Communion re mission and evangelism experiences/stories/resources.
  • To oversee the development of various kinds of companion links within the Communion.


1. Report of Anglican Congress, 1963, p.22.

2. Report of ACC-2, Dublin, 1973, p.53.

3. Towards Dynamic Mission: Renewing the Church for Mission.  Final report of MISAG II, 1992, p.33