Ecumenical Greeting Delivered by the Representative of the Lutheran World Federation, Bishop Walter Jagucki on behalf of the Secretary, The Revd Dr Ishmael Noko, to the 13th ACC Meeting
Most Honoured President, Chairperson and Secretary General, dear friends,
It is a privilege and joy for me to send you a word of greeting through Bishop Walter Jagucki of the Lutheran Church in Great Britain, representing the Lutheran World Federation at your meeting. I do this as I gratefully remember the time I spent with you in Hong Kong three years ago. Since then, the relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran World Federation has remained close and stable. We are in so many ways sister communions, with family bonds of many kinds binding us together.
The strongest ties between us are the committed forms of church communion that Anglican and Lutheran churches have entered into in Europe and North America. It remains a major opportunity and challenge to stimulate similar agreements in other parts of the world.
But we are also bound together in many other ways. One of them is the strong commitment we share for the inner unity of our communions. There are those who see our efforts to uphold the integrity of our communions as a form of confessionalism. I believe, as I know you do also, that nothing could be farther from the truth. Our commitment to unity within our families is one very important way in which we participate in, and contribute to, the ecumenical movement. This is, or course, on the basis that we are at the same time ecumenically open and ready to recognize other churches as true churches of Christ and enter into communion relations with them whenever possible.
I have been graciously invited by the Anglican Communion to be an ecumenical participant in the Reception Reference Committee pertaining to the Windsor Report. This is also one expression of the way we are involved in each others’ life and each others’ concerns as world communions.
Secretary General, John Peterson and I enjoyed a close and trusted relationship and I am confident that such a relationship will continue also with Secretary General, Kenneth Kearon. Let me take this opportunity to wish you once more, Canon Kearon, God’s blessing in his new, present calling.
The Anglican Communion and the LWF can always rely on each other to be represented at important ecumenical meetings and events. We look to each other as do siblings, for mutual comfort and joy.
We meet annually in Joint Staff meetings, where we usually process quite a long agenda of ecumenical issues of common concern and interest. It is this Joint Staff Meeting that also decides, with approval of our governing bodies, on matters concerning the official dialogue between our two families. A new Anglican-Lutheran International Commission (ALIC) will begin its work in January 2006 with a meeting to take place in Moshi, Tanzania. The mandate agreed on for this commission is an interesting and promising one. We shall also do what we can to ensure that the All Africa Anglican-Lutheran Commission can continue its work with a view to reaching a communion agreement between the Anglican and Lutheran churches on the African continent.
Let me assure you of my sincere good wishes and prayers to God for this meeting of the ACC. May the Holy Spirit be your strength, your guide and your hope – for each one of you, for your Council, and for your Communion. In Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Ecumenical Greeting Delivered by the representative of the Mar Thoma Church of Mamabar, The Rt Revd Dr Euyakim Mar Coorilos, on behalf of the Metropolitan Dr Philipose Mar Chrysostom and the Diocese of North America and Europe , to the 13th ACC Meeting.
Respected Archbishop, the Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams, revered Bishops, clergy and members of the Consultative Council; I deem it as a privilege to be invited to this Consultative Council to represent the Mar Thoma Church. I consider this as a noble ecumenical gesture. At the out set, let me bring you all greetings from the Mar Thoma Church, especially on behalf of our Metropolitan Dr, Philipose Mar Chrysostom and the Diocese of North America and Europe.
We cherish and thank God for the relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Mar Thoma Church. In an age of fragmentation, autonomy and divisive trends at various levels, what it to be underscored is interdependence and joint witness in words and deeds.
The Mar Thoma Church has always been in the forefront of ecumenical endeavours in India. In the light of the joint witness in various fields in order to give more visible manifestation to our common concerns, the Joint Council of the Church of South India – Church of North India and the Mar Thoma Church is now known as ‘The Communion of Churches in India’ (CCI). The Church is active in the Tsunami relief activities in collaboration with CASA.
As you are well aware, the Church is understood in a variety of ways: as the people of God, Communion of the faithful, Community of faith, Movement of the Kingdom, the Wider family of God and so on. While acknowledging the theological content of all these concepts, the one that seems to be more relevant in the light of the contemporary realities is the ‘Wider family of God’ (Eph. 3:14). Here God is the ultimate home maker.
Ever since the creation of this world, He is in the process of making His home on earth. He makes His home so inclusive so that all will have space in it. Hence all our projects and programs are to be assessed in the light of our proximity to or estrangement from this ‘Wider family of God’. Though there is a gap between the ideal and the actual in the life of the church, rather than making truth claims for ourselves, the question is whether we can make our Christian presence more meaningful. There are commonalities and divergences in our ecclesial polity and historical predicaments; yet let us continue to cherish our ecumenical concerns and commitment: unity in essentials and diversity in non-essentials.
Mission is both being and doing. As the Nairobi Assembly statement rightly points out: Our concern should be the proclamation of “the whole Gospel, for the whole person, through the whole church, in the whole world”. As we are gearing up for the upcoming Assembly of W.C.C. to be held in Porto Alegre, Brazil under the theme “God, in your grace, transform the world”; rather than giving a mandate to God, let us make ourselves agents of transformation.
Our calling is to make a difference in our times. This is definitely swimming against the current. The emergence of the new is always a painful process which involves struggles and sufferings. The authenticity of our decisions is to be measured in terms of our preparedness to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit who always opens up new possibilities and challenges before us as a community of faith.
I hope and pray that the Anglican Communion would usher in new decisions which would enrich and transform the life and ministry of the Church at all levels. “Our task is to make the message of Jesus Christ intelligible in our times and a choice for or against him inescapable.” (M.M.Thomas) Let us resolve that our actions will be dictated by convictions and not by convenience. Let the discussions and deliberations in this Consultative Council enable us to make our witness more credible and our journey of faith more significant.
Thank you and may God bless us all.
Ecumenical Greeting Delivered by the Representative of the Churches of the Union of Utrecht, The Revd Canon W.B. Van Der Velde, on behalf of the Archbishop of Utrect, Dr Joris A.O.L Vercammen, to the 13th ACC Meeting
Dear Sisters and Brothers
When in 1871, the Church Congress of the Church of England met here in Nottingham, it adopted a vote of sympathy with the young Old Catholic movement in Central Europe. The resolution affirmed, among other things, the Church of England’s concern to maintain the catholic faith as it is expressed by the Ecumenical Councils of the Universal Church and to be united upon those principles (…) in the bonds of brotherly love with all churches in Europe. There was clearly a recognition between the Old Catholic Movement and the Anglican longing for unity among the churches. Both were convinced that only the strong fundaments of the Ecumenical Councils would offer the opportunities to grow in unity.
But the Anglican and the Old Catholic churches are not only partners on this point of view. Both traditions did face the modern developments as they influenced western society since the Age of the Enlightment. Anglicans and Old Catholics are holders of “fellow-traditions” since both have opened themselves to the challenge of secularization. Both are rooted in the confrontation between reason and belief.
Therefore, thinking about Anglicans and Old Catholics, one of the most important characteristics that comes into our mind, is that we both are Bridge-churches. Our churches built bridges between modern secularized culture and Christian belief. They want to build bridges between the great Christian traditions. And, since both are convinced religion should contribute to peace, both want to build bridges between the religions that are seen as – to some extent – bearers to human wisdom and divine inspiration.
We want to express our gratitude towards the Anglican Consultative Council for all the work that is already done by it in respect to build bridges among all those aspects of our world, we mentioned above. We want to encourage the Council and to express our hope that it will become more and more that opportunity for exchange and reflection that will enable all of us to grow in Unity.
This Unity is a condition for the reliability of the churches and their witness in our societies.
Encouraged by – among others – your council, next year we will celebrate the 75 th Anniversary of the Agreement of full communion between the Anglican and the Old Catholic churches of the Union of Utrecht. In the resolution of the previous meeting of your Council, that agreement is called a milestone in our ecumenical relations. To put it that way, expresses precisely our great esteem for the agreement that was certainly trendsetting in a time that ecumenical contacts were just beginning.
We will celebrate the Bonn Agreement, as our agreement of full communion is called because of the place where it came into being, during the next Old Catholic Congress that will be held in Freiburg (Germany) from August 7 th until 11 th 2006. The theme of the congress has to do with Anglicans and Old Catholics together on the way in Europe. We are very grateful that His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury plans to attend the celebration during the congress Wednesday the 9 th. He will be invited to address the congress as well. We do hope a lot of Anglicans will not only attend the celebration with the Archbishop, but will also stay for the whole of the congress.
Anglicans and Old Catholics have some important work to do on the European Continent as well. Nevertheless our agreement of full communion, Anglicans and Old Catholics built their own ecclesiastical structures on the continent. There is a clear lack of links between those. In addition there is still the problem of the overlapping jurisdiction as a crucial point within the challenge of organizing our common witness. We do hope this Council will support our efforts to solve this anomaly in our ecclesiastical structure.
Concluding this short address, we again want to express our gratitude for the opportunities for collaboration already created by the Anglican Communion and we do hope and wish the sisterhood between our communions will be strong enough to witness of the hope our world is waiting for.
God bless you all!
Dr Joris A.O.L. Vercammen
Archbishop of Utrecht
Utrecht, 21 June 2005
Ecumenical Greeting Delivered by the Representative of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, The Revd Canon Donald Bolen on behalf of the President, His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper to the 13th ACC Meeting.
Your Grace, dear members of the Anglican Consultative Council, dear friends in Christ,
I send warm greetings to you as you meet to reflect on aspects of the life and mission of the Anglican Communion and, in particular, on the Windsor Report and its various recommendations.
Over the past four decades, the Catholic Church and Anglican Communion have made sustained efforts to clarify and overcome the causes of our separation, seeking always to the next step which we can take towards greater communion. Five years ago, in Mississauga, Canada, Anglican and Catholic bishops took stock of what we had achieved to that point and noted that our partial communion should ‘no longer be viewed in minimal terms… but is even now a rich and life-giving, multifaceted communion.’
As you know, last month we sought to take another step towards the goal of full communion, with the launch of ARCIC’s most recent agreed statement, Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ. While at this stage the document remains the work of ARCIC and is not an official statement of the Anglican Communion or the Catholic Church, it has nonetheless been a moment to give thanks to God for having brought us this far. As we now invite a wide-ranging reflection on the text, it is our hope that it will serve as an instrument of reconciliation, providing further theological foundations upon which our relations can be strengthened.
As a result of our growing relationship and an increased awareness of our common calling, we have come to learn as dialogue partners that the actions and decision of each of us has a significant impact on the other. Two years ago, developments in the Episcopal Church USA and in the Anglican Church of Canada raised serious questions, from both moral and ecclesiological perspectives, regarding the degree of faith we share. In December, 2003, the decision was taken to put on hod the principal project of IARCCUM – work towards a common statement attempting to identify our common faith on matters addressed by ARCIC documents.
During the period followed, we were encouraged by the attentiveness to ecumenical concerns which has characterized the Anglican Communion’s discernment of a way forward. Close communication and friendly relations have been maintained between the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Lambeth Palace, the Anglican Communion Office and the Anglican Centre in Rome. As well known, at the initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, we jointly established a sub-commission of IARCCUM which prepared a document – submitted in due course by the Archbishop to the Lambeth Commission – reflecting on the current ecclesiological situation in the Anglican Communion in the light of the work of ARCIC over the past 35 years. When the Windsor Report was published, again the Archbishop of Canterbury invited written reflections on its possible ecumenical implications, and asked that I lead a PCPCU delegation to meet him and Anglican Communion staff at Lambeth Palace to carry forward the discussion.
We have been able to speak with an openness and directness which in the past would have been impossible. In our communications, I have stressed my appreciation for the ecclesiological foundations set forward by the Windsor Report, noting that they are largely consistent with the koinonia ecclesiology articulated in the agreed statements of ARCIC. The consequences which the Report draws from these foundations are also helpful to our ecumenical relations, notably the interpretation of provincial autonomy in terms of interdependence, thus ‘subject to limits generated by the commitments of communion’ (n. 79). This is consistent with the Gifts of Authority’s understanding that maintaining and strengthening the koinonia and a commitment to interdependence are constitutive aspects of the Church and vital for its unity.
When reflecting on what would help our relations to flourish, I find it useful to think of the Windsor Report and the communiqué of the most recent Primates’ Meeting as a starting point rather than a point of arrival. We believe that the Windsor’s principal recommendations would have a positive ecumenical impact if received and implemented. I would like to assure you, as I did the Archbishop of Canterbury, ‘in a spirit of ecumenical partnership and friendship, we are ready to support this process in whatever ways are appropriate and requested.’ Above all, it would be the reception of the Windsor’s ecclesiology, concretized by tangible decisions to give it an authoritative character, which would enhance our understanding of the Anglican Communion precisely as a communion, which is the premise on which we have proceeded in our dialogue since the Second Vatican Council. Any strengthening of the bonds of communion which are consistent with the apostolic faith as witnessed in the Scriptures, the early councils and the patristic tradition, is bound to draw us more closely together.
In affirming the traditional understanding of marriage and endorsing the ecclesiology of the Windsor Report, the communiqué of the February Primates’ Meeting has given us an indication of the direction the Anglican Communion wishes to move, and has encouraged us to believe that our dialogue can continue to make progress. Work on the IARCCUM common statement project is scheduled to resume with a drafting meeting in September, and it is hoped that this will provide us with a constructive means to receive important elements from the corpus of ARCIC II texts. Meanwhile, discussions have begun towards a third phase of theological dialogue.
As you meet in Nottingham, it is the hope and prayer of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity that the Holy Spirit will strengthen the bonds of communion among you, and that renewed by this same Spirit, we will all be able to join increasingly in living out our calling to be light for the world and salt for the earth.
Walter Cardinal Kasper
Ecumenical Greeting Delivered by the Representative of the World Council of Churches, Ms Teny Perri-Simonian on behalf of the General Secretary, The Revd Dr Samuel Kobia to the 13th ACC Meeting
President of the Anglican Consultative Council,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Grace and Peace to you. I am sure that your prayers, deliberations and resolutions at this 13 th meeting of the Consultative Council will help you continue your Christian vocation as a living communion. By so doing, you will also strengthen the fellowship of churches within the World Council of Churches (WCC) on their way towards koinonia, in response to their common calling to unity, mission and service.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit the Archbishop of Canterbury and President of the Anglican Consultative Council. During out meeting the Archbishop reconfirmed the commitment of the Anglican Church to the fellowship of churches within the World Council of Churches. Our cooperation has been has been fruitful for the ecumenical movement. I reminded him of the visits of his predecessor His Grace Robert Runcie and invited him both to our 9 th Assembly to be held 14-23 February 2006 in Porto Alegre, brazil, and to the World Council of Churches in Geneva after the Assembly. I use this opportunity to reiterate my invitations. We shall continue walking together according to the prayer of Jesus Christ that all may be on in order that the world may believe (cf. John 17:21).
In 1998 the Eight Assembly of the WCC adopted the policy stated. “Towards a Common Understanding and Vision”. The document called for the strengthening and deepening of relationships with and among member churches. It encouraged the WCC to widen its relationships to include non-member churches. And, not least, it recognized the important relationship between the WCC and the Christian World Communions, stating that
“these relationships should be marked by mutual accountability and reciprocity, and the Council should seek ways to share tasks and resources with these partners in the ecumenical movement. Such sharing is particularly important for … world-wide communion of churches of which most if not all members are also member churches of the WCC” (CUV, Chapter 4).
I therefore extend my greetings to the representatives of the Anglican Provinces, which are also members of the World Council of Churches. A strong relationship between the WCC and the Anglican Consultative Council through our common member churches will be enriching for both of us. It will strengthen the Anglican member churches’ sense that they are part of the worldwide fellowship of Christians, and it will remind all the churches in the World Council that ecumenical commitment can be nourished by rootedness in an ecclesial tradition (CUV, Chapter 4).
Driven by this spirit, I would like to identify four areas of work that are on the agenda of the WCC and will also impact the life of the Anglican Consultative Council:
Bilateral Dialogues: Although bilateral dialogues and theological and ecclesiological discussions have been successful, they will contribute to visible unity only when they are discussed in a multilateral context. The bilateral forum of the Faith and Order Commission has served as the place for such conversations. Only by strengthening Faith and Order will we be able to bring together the results of these dialogues and also identify new issues for discussion in bilateral dialogues.
The Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the World Council of Churches was created in response to questions raised by Orthodox member churches. The work of the commission demonstrated that the issues raised by the Orthodox also reflected the concerns of other member churches. On the basis of the final report of the Special Commission, the Central Committee added a theological criterion to the WCC membership requirements and proposed a new category of membership, “members in association with”. This new category will enable smaller churches to join the Council, and, in other cases, will allow churches in difficult situations to withdraw from the Council temporarily and yet remain in association with the Council until the period of difficulty has passed.
The Special Commission also proposed that WCC governing bodies adopt consensus decision-making as an alternative to voting. This concept is not new for the WCC; certain member churches live this experience based on their theology and ecclesiological self-understanding: for example, conciliarity’ in the case of Orthodox churches, and ‘suspending judgement’ in the case of the historic peace churches.
‘Difficult questions: Like the Anglican Communion, the WCC finds itself facing sensitive issues which challenge both individual churches and churches in their relations with each other. Many of these issues relate to fundamental questions of anthropology and ethics. Today, member churches of the WCC do not speak with one voice on a number of new sensitive issues; indeed, in some cases they have not yet found the language to talk constructively with one another about them. We have begun using a methodology of “listening to one another”, especially in the area of human sexuality. In February 2005, the Central Committee adopted an aide-memoire to help churches journey together towards mutual understanding in these areas. Can we learn together how to shape a common response to difficult questions?
Ecumenism in the 21 st Century: Since 2003 the WCC has undertaken a study process in order to respond to the changing Christian landscape, and to the need to revitalize the ecumenical movement. Statistics reveal that Christianity is thriving in the South, and new churches are springing up in all regions and challenging the ecumenically committed historic churches. Ecumenical organizations seeking Christian unity at the global, regional and national levels have multiplied, and this brings new questions regarding their financial sustainability and the role within the one ecumenical movement.
Being the Church and serving the one ecumenical movement are central ecumenical issues today. A consultation held in December 2004 proposed the establishment of a Continuation Group convened by the WCC, to which Christian World Communions are also invited. This group will take up the reflection on the new configuration of the ecumenical movement. I would wish that the plurality of the Anglican Church as it has enriched the World Council of Churches, and the experience of the Anglican Consultative Council as a world communion, will contribute to this process.
The areas of concern I have tried to identify have no “expiration date”. They will remain with us as we prepare the 9 th Assembly of the World Council of Churches. At the Assembly we shall pray, celebrate and reflect on the basis of the theme “God, in your grace, transform the world.”
I pray that this theme will not only help us draw lessons regarding the areas of concern mentioned above, but will also help us move together in building s spirituality based on our respective ecumenical treasures. Only through prayer and spirituality may we respond to the devastating problems of the world and to the changing ecumenical scene. Nor may we forget that the youth of today will inherit our legacy and, therefore, we are responsible to prepare them as active participants in building the household of God.
In conclusion, I would like to ask our member churches in the Anglican Consultative Council to help strengthen the fellowship of the World Council of Churches in its proclamation of our common faith, prophetic witness, mission and service so that our unity may be visible and the world may believe.
Yours in Christ,
Rev Dr Samuel Kobia
Ecumenical Greeting Delivered by The Revd William R. Morrey, President of the Methodist Church Conference to the 13th ACC Meeting.
Mr President, I have looked forward to the opportunity to be able to address the Archbishop as Mr President, so it is one President to another, and members of the council. It does give me great pleasure to bring greetings to you on behalf of the Methodist Church in Britain and as far as anyone can speak for the Methodist Church world-wide communion on their behalf as well. I am not quite sure about the wisdom of asking a Methodist minister to bring brief greetings on the longest day and when you have set your clock such as to give us an extra hour. However, I am aware that Anglican ways and Methodist ways can be a little different and I shall probably always remember the rather novel way in which having been welcomed, 10 minutes later, I was asked to respectfully withdraw for a little while.
If you look at your agenda you will find that actually I have been asked to speak on a particular subject to you in bringing greetings. I have been asked to particularly share with you about the Methodist/Anglican Covenant which is the Covenant between the Methodist Church in Britain and the Church of England. The Covenant was signed two years ago and there is an interim report on the Covenant that comes to our Conference and to General Synod this year. Two years in church time is actually rather quick and I have been asked to share with you something of that experience.
As I travelled around England this year I have been aware that in many places there are times when Methodists and Anglicans are sitting down together to do their thinking about ministry and mission together. To do their planning and to look at their sharing of resource in a way which will work for the Kingdom and so there are many hopeful signs because of the Covenant we have signed together. In one sense the Covenant is a child of its time. It has been signed at a point in our histories where we are very conscious of living in post modern and as some would call it, post Christian Britain, and we have come together to commit ourselves to a journey. The impact of that coming together is noticeable in localities. What I thought I would do is to share with you something of the feel of the Covenant by sharing from the report that is coming to us, something of what it says about good covenanting, and I think you will hear in what I say resonances of some of the things we heard in the Presidential Address and that we have heard in some of the other contributions so far during the consultation. Thinking of covenanting we observe that vows are for living. Making a covenant is similar to taking religious vows but vows taken at a wedding or by a novice in a religious community mark the beginning of a journey of a life within a committed relationship. We are not called simply to implement an Anglican Methodist Covenant but to learn what it means to live it so we are discovering what it means to be in a special relationship together. Covenanting is both deeply rewarding and also costly. Covenant is about living in a way that involves a dynamic tension. A tension between being where we are and where we believe we should be, knowing what it is that we are trying to actually do embody whilst also being aware of our failures to express our unity together.
We note that we are in this for the long term. It isn't about a quick fix between two churches. The Welsh experience, to which Rowan alluded, where five churches have been in covenant for thirty years is that change is often slow but there is no going back on the commitment made in relationship together. So patience is essential and change is inevitable. We are learning, I think, to cherish appropriate diversity and to sense where the spirit is speaking to us through our difference. Without wanting to make one like the other but rather to recognise that the Spirit speaks in that very diversity. And then I read to you a little more fully this passage:
Our Covenant will be shaped by a purpose beyond itself. Only God can make a covenant with a known ultimate destinational purpose. Without a sense of purposefulness rooted in God's purpose of the unity of all creation in Christ our relationship will just drift. Inside some scripture may yet challenge our two churches to express more clearly how our Covenant commitment serves God's Kingdom purpose beyond ourselves. Clues may lie in the language of reconciliation of healing of self emptying and of hospitality. Because it will always point to a purpose beyond itself a mutual covenant commitment will be neither self righteous nor inward looking. If our purpose is too narrowly focused on ourselves and on the future of our two churches our journey will not lead to a deeper unity in Christ but only to a self conscious defensiveness, a fractiousness which will make us less serviceable within God's reconciling purposes in this land. Only by looking to God and beyond ourselves can we hope that our covenant commitment will bring about what God wants to achieve. So I offer to you that sense of journeying from the English context.
I am also aware that I stand as a Methodist and if the statisticians are correct then the Methodist world-wide is a little under 70 million and so for all of you there are likely to be Methodist congregations of various sizes in the countries from which you have come. I would hope that in each of those settings it was possible to look at the ways in which covenant or some other commitment to working together is possible. Methodist history is such that most of our autonomous churches came about because of missionary movements from Britain. Some subsequently came about because of missionary movements from America. We have a whole series of autonomous conferences. I wont bore you with trying to explain how they are in some way related together. What we do find is a very rich sense from our sharing together, when we come together to sense what God is saying to us from our different perspectives. It is our hope and our prayer as Methodists that you will find as you come together from the wide variety of contexts from which you come that you will also sense the way in which God's spirit is speaking to you about the richness of the diversity of God's love. Thank you for the opportunity to share some of that time with you. I am afraid I will have to leave you at the end of this day in order to go to a Methodist Conference that will be meeting in what is described as the English Riviera of Torquay. Thank you.
Ecumenical Greeting Delivered by the Pepresentative of the Baptist World Alliance, The Revd Proffesor Paul S. Fiddes on behalf of the General Secretary, Dr Denton Lotz and from the President, Dr Billy Kim to the 13th ACC Meeting.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
We are grateful for the recent world-wide conversations between Anglicans and Baptists, which have shown in a new way the unity we have in Christ. These bi-lateral conversations were unique in that they were held in five different continents which helped all of us appreciate the spectrum of God’s grace and of our common witness
to Christ’s love and salvation in very different settings.
The leaders of the Baptist World Alliance are always pleased to meet with
Anglican representatives during the annual meeting of the Christian World Communions. Baptists have always appreciated the ‘bridge’ that Anglicans have formed between the Free Church tradition and the more liturgical churches. We rejoice at the increasing unity that we have with one another, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In the third world setting where hunger, war and poverty dominate, denominationalism tends to fall away and our unity in Christ and working together becomes more important.
We are grateful for the strong Biblical and ethical positions that the worldwide Anglican communion adopts on many issues, which are an encouragement to Baptists and the rest of the evangelical world.
Our President, Dr. Billy Kim from Korea, joins me in wishing God's
blessings upon you. Many greetings from the community of 80 million
Baptist believers worldwide. May the Christ of All Joy be your strength
To this greeting I would like to add a special greeting from the Baptist Unions and Conventions who helped to host the Anglican-Baptist conversations in the six regions where they were held over the past five years.
That is, greetings from the Baptist Convention of Myanmar-Burma; the Baptist Convention of Kenya; the European Baptist Federation; the Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Chile; the Canadian Baptist Ministries; and the National Baptist Convention of the Bahamas.
As I have met with members of these conventions over the past year, I have been very aware that they have excellent memories of the times spent in conversation with Anglican Christians, and especially of the periods of sharing worship and eucharist together. I know that they want to be especially mentioned in these greetings, as you gather in faith and hope from all parts of the world. Grace be to you, and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ecumenical Greeting Delivered by The Revd Esme Beswick MBE, President of the Churches Together in England to the 13th ACC Meeting
I would like to begin by thanking God for enabling me to stand here today in the presence of my fellow brothers and sisters, many of whom have travelled many miles.
However, we must be reminded that it is our duty as Christians here in the presence of the Anglican Communion, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, a requirement of God our father and part of the covenant as president of the Churches Together of England, whom I represent.
As acknowledge, there has been widespread exploration of the meaning of the word ‘ecumenical’ which, has Greek origins – meaning ‘the whole inhabited earth’. As I look around me I see representatives from most of the whole inhabited earth and the richness of our diverse previous culture from which we can learn.
Ecumenism is therefore far more than Church unity it is about the culmination of our traditions through faith for disseminating the gospel to the whole world.
There are 23 member Churches Together in England (CTE) includes most if not all the major world confessions. A major shift in 1990, from being the British Council of Churches to a new ‘Churches Together’ model enabled the Roman Catholic and several Black Majority and Pentecostal Churches to join CTE and the umbrella body connecting the four nations, ‘Churches Together in Britain and Ireland’.
The thinking behind the changed name and procedures was to ensure that decision making, remained within the Churches rather than being presumed by a Council, which might become remote from the Churches. Authority has remained within the Churches.
This has increased the sense of ownership, though it means that decision-making can be more laborious. Public statements are rare and this reflects the diversity within Churches as well as between Churches, the Churches speak ‘with one voice’ less than some people would hope; this can mean that voluble non-representatives voices satisfy a thirsty media.
Much of CTE’s work is through ‘Co-ordinating Groups, which bring together those in the Member Churches who have responsibility for a particular are of work –
EVANGELISATION, HEALTH CARE, FAMILY LIFE, MINISTERIAL TRAINING, GATHERING STATISTICS, EDUCATION ….. A theology and Unity Group monitors developments and dialogues: it reflects on, for example, the notion of ‘Covenant, it is currently looking at Mary – grace and Hope in Christ.
Though most work is co-ordination, sometimes tasks are undertaken on behalf of all the Churches at their request, the most recent example of which is preparation to make the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave trade Act in 2007.
There are around 50 intermediate bodies in England, roughly the size of a Church of England diocese. In the immediate bodies the leaders of the Churches – bishops, chairs, moderators – meet and have the opportunity to reflect on the Churches’ respond to the life and social situation of their communities, to plan Church life, and to supervise local ecumenical partnerships [for example, joint congregations].
This is an emerging form of shared oversight, which is usually facilitated by a ‘County Ecumenical Officer’, full or part time.
There are about 2000 local ecumenical groups of ‘Churches Together’. Also some 800 formalised Local Ecumenical Partnerships, where there are substantial agreements about the use of buildings, forms of shared worship and pastoral care, the Church of England participates in about 500 of these.
However, I would like to acknowledge the importance of this gathering for Christian consultative purposes that can only help to foster the body of Christi, Church leaders, Theologians and Church historians, to engage in the process for bringing into context from experience, the subjects that will be discussed, here this week.
Ecumenical Greeting Delivered by Bishop Kallistos of Dioklela of behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the 13th ACC Meeting.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is with great joy and love in our Lord that his All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, wishes to respond to your kind invitation to send a message to the 13 th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. The Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Orthodox Church in general have always valued highly their relations with the Anglican Communion, with which they have been engaged in theological dialogue and fraternal contacts for many decades now.
Your meeting takes place at an important moment in the history, not only of your own Church, but of the Christian Church as a whole. After having devoted a great deal of effort and work to the restoration and further deepening of the unity of the Church of Christ, we who bear the name of Christians realise that we are now faced with new challenges coming from the world in which we live and to which we are called by God to proclaim the Gospel. These challenges oblige us to strengthen and deepen our ecumenical relations and our unity in Christ ‘so that the world may believe’ (John 17, 21).
In order to respond to these challenges it is necessary for us, in the first place, to avoid or overcome any divisive tendencies within our own Churches. Anglicans and Orthodox have in common a tradition of Church polity which values highly the autonomy of each ecclesiastical province to which the Orthodox have given the name of ‘autocephalous Church’. Although the Orthodox structures of autocephaly and the Anglican provincial system are not identical in all respects, both of them present the same problems with regard to the unity of the Church. Decisions made at the level of a province or an autocephalous Church sometimes create tensions within the whole Church. The problem of the relation between the local church and the Church at the universal level is one of crucial issues we face today, both within our own particular Churches and in our ecumenical relations.
The Orthodox feel strongly that these problems can be properly solved only in the spirit of an ecclesiology of communion. We are pleased to see that this is the view taken also by the Anglican Communion in the Windsor Report which has been read carefully and with appreciation in the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It is our view too that decisions of major importance can be carried into effect in a constructive manner only after consultation and agreement with the rest of the local churches. This calls for a careful study of the levels of primacy within the Church and more particularly of the manner in which such primacy may be applied, so as to respect the right balance between local autonomy and universal unity.
We believe that the same principle of consultation and consensus should govern also our ecumenical relations. It is for this reason that the Orthodox would have hoped that decisions on major matters affecting deeply our ecumenical relations, such as the ordination of women to the priesthood, would have been made with deeper consideration of their ecumenical repercussions. We are pleased, however, that such important questions have been receiving full consideration and deep examination in the official Theological Dialogue between the Anglican and the Orthodox Churches. It is with great satisfaction that we note that the Commission on this Dialogue is now completing its present phase of work and will soon approve for publication the agreed statements that it has drawn up.
The challenges that the Church of Christ receives from the world today call us to extend our pre-occupation beyond matters concerning our internal problems. We are called to face the dangers arising from the use of religion as a source of conflict and fanaticism, and to work together in order to combat, alike at a national and an international level, all forms of hatred and discrimination.
We are also asked to work with all the spiritual means at our disposal for the overcoming of poverty throughout the planet, and to foster the protection of God’s creation at this critical time of sever ecological crisis. In all these and other areas we can and must join forces, never losing sight of the vision of one Church visibly united, as our Lord wills her to be.
With these thoughts and feelings His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, wishes to greet this meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and assure you of his prayers for the success of your work, for the benefit of the Church of Christ and her unity.