Theological Education - IATDC

Communiqué Marie Reparatrice Retreat Centre in Wimbledon, England, 14-18 September 2001

The International Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission (IATDC) met from 14 to 18 September at the Marie Reparatrice Retreat Centre in Wimbledon, England, under the chairmanship of the Rt Revd Professor Stephen Sykes.

This was the first meeting of a newly constituted Commission, appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was scheduled to be held at Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS), in Alexandria Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington DC. The devastating events of the 11 September necessitated a transfer of the venue to England, as many members were either passing through London en route to the USA, or beginning their journey in the United Kingdom. Due to the disruptions in air travel, and the pastoral commitments of those based in the United States, we had to proceed in the absence of some members. We recognised that such a situation would be far from ideal, but it was important to begin the work with as many as could be present.

The IATDC was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury to focus on an area that is of critical importance to the Anglican family at this time: "The nature, basis and sustaining of communion in the Church with particular reference to the Anglican Communion". This will involve analysis of the limits of diversity within a communion of Churches, some further reflection on collegiality and interdependence, and the implications of being in communion with the See of Canterbury. In the circumstances, with several members unable to be present, it was not possible to enter in depth into the substantive issues related to the mandate. However the Commission was able to identify the key questions that will need to be faced in the study of "communion", and to outline the processes and resources that might enable us to move the study forward when the full complement of members are together. As the first meeting of the Commission, some time was necessarily spent in mapping out a timetable for the work, and discussing some practical details of process and management of the studies to be undertaken.

Among the highlights of the discussion at this preliminary stage were:

  • an assessment of the way the Churches of the Communion and individual theologians are evaluating The Virginia Report (1997) of the previous doctrine commission;
  • an analysis of the main proposals in To Mend the Net, a volume prepared for and presented to the Primates' Meeting in 2001 and referred by that meeting to the IATDC;
  • the consideration of the concept of "the fundamental articles" of Christian faith

Questions which will give direction to the work were identified, along with an overarching question related to the relevance of The Virginia Report:

  1. When we speak of the Anglican Communion, what do we mean by the word "communion"?
  2. What is it that makes some disputes so crucial that failure to resolve them threatens a break in communion?
  3. "In what way are Christian teachings about moral behaviour integral to the maintenance of communion"?
  4. "In addressing these questions, we shall be asking how far does the Virginia Report meet the relevant situations that have arisen in the Anglican Communion since its publication". The members recognised that complementary work on "communion" is being undertaken by the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations (IASCER). It was agreed that relevant papers and study material will be shared between IASCER and IATDC to ensure coherence in the respective studies.

The meeting was undergirded by daily offering of morning and evening prayer and celebration of the eucharist. In addition to the formal sessions, time was devoted each day to a reflective study of 1 John. The members attended the Sunday eucharist at Christ Church Wimbledon where they were warmly received by clergy and parishioners. The prayer life of the meeting was very profoundly affected by the tragic events in Washington and New York earlier in the week, and the grief, anxiety and distress felt by the whole world were at the heart of our intercessions.

The Commission was grateful to the Sisters of the Marie Reparatrice Retreat Centre for their most gracious hospitality and loving attention to our needs and for their willingness to host the meeting at such short notice.

IATDC will next meet at VTS, Alexandria Virginia, USA, from 5 - 11 September 2002.

The members and staff of the Commission are:

The Rt Revd Prof Stephen Sykes England, Chairman
*Dr Jennie Te Paa Aotearoa/NZ and Polynesia
The Revd Dr Stephen K Pickard Australia
*The Revd Dr Bruce Kaye Australia
*Dr Eileen Scully Canada
*The Rt Revd Dr Samuel Cutting India
The Rt Revd Paul Richardson England
The Revd Prof Nicholas Sagovsky England
The Revd Canon Dr Tom Wright England
Dr Ester Mombo Kenya
The Revd Joseph Denge Galgalo Kenya
The Rt Revd Dr Matthew Owadayo< Nigeria
The Revd Canon Luke Pato Southern Africa
*The Rt Revd Héctor Zavala Southern Cone
The Rt Revd Dr Lim Cheng Ean South East Asia
The Revd Victor Atta-Bafoe West Africa
*The Very Revd Dr Paul Zahl United States
*The Revd Prof Kortwright Davis United States
*The Revd Dr Kathy Grieb Observer, VTS
*The Rt Revd Dr Mark Dyer IASCER Cross Appointment
The Revd Dr Philip Thomas England, Assistant to the Chairman
The Revd Canon David Hamid ACO, Secretary
Mrs Christine Codner ACO, Administrative Assistant
Ms Frances Hiller ACO, Administrative Assistant

(*unable to attend the Wimbledon meeting)