Tuesday 23 October 2012

Global Anglican Meeting, with Environmental Emphasis

This media release was issued on 23 October 2012

Archbishop heads for New Zealand, to a global Anglican meeting with Environmental Emphasis

The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town heads for New Zealand on Thursday, to take part in a global gathering of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Consultative Council, which meets every 3 years, brings together lay and ordained representatives from each of the Communion’s 38 member churches, for ten days of discussions around their global structures, mission, and other shared issues. ‘All Anglicans, around the world, are asked to hold us in their prayers, as we grapple with questions of what it means to be faithful and obedient Christians in our various contexts, at this time’ said Dr Thabo Makgoba. He noted that this will be the last meeting of the worldwide Anglican family at which Dr Rowan Williams will preside as Archbishop of Canterbury, before his retirement at the end of the year. ‘We are so grateful to Dr Williams for his dedication to the global Anglican family’ he said. ‘He has had a very rough ride, and been forced to spend too much time and energy on issues that, though divisive, ought not to be seen as church-dividing. We give thanks to God for the way that he has nonetheless kept his eyes firmly fixed on the question of who we are called to be, in Jesus Christ, and encouraged us all to do the same.’

The agenda includes review of Anglican relations with other churches, and of the work of a host of global Anglican networks. Among these is the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN), which Dr Makgoba chairs, and there will be a major presentation around its work. Dr Makgoba recalled that the Network recently launched a series of seven studies, ‘Sabbath Reflections: Capitalism and Inequity versus a Gospel Mandate’ in which Dr Makgoba’s predecessor as chair, Bishop George Browning, considers how contemporary societies must ‘address rapidly growing inequity and ... confront an economic system which operates as if resources are infinite and that humanity can somehow exist as if it is not part of an unfolding ecological crisis.’ He explores how a fresh understanding and practice of the biblical concept of Sabbath can reconnect economics to ethics, and shape human society in a manner that is consistent with the creation upon which it depends. Dr Makgoba said ‘these are vital questions we must face, if we are to ensure that it is not business as usual in our international financial structures. There needs to be a radical overhaul if we are to reverse the shocking trends of growing inequality and economic injustice through which a small minority can become ridiculously wealthy at the expense of the poorest, and even of the middle classes.’ Other major topics on the agenda include inter-faith relations, countering gender-based violence, communications, and Christian witness in contemporary contexts.

The Archbishop said he was looking forward to enjoying robust debate with other church leaders around the key questions facing the Anglican Communion at this time. ‘All this is, of course, conducted within an atmosphere of prayer, and guided by rigorous engagement with the Bible’ he said. ‘We shall be rooting ourselves in the daily rhythms of worship, to ensure that our focus remains, above all, on listening to God and seeking to discern his good and perfect will for us, so we may faithfully serve the world he loves so deeply.’

Note for Editors: The Anglican Consultative Council is one of Anglicanism’s ‘Instruments of Communion’, alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference (the meeting of all serving bishops, that is held every ten years) and the Primates’ Meeting (of the heads of churches, which meets at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, generally every other year).

For more details on the Sabbath studies, see

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman 021 763 1320 (office hours)