Thursday 2 May 2019

Archbishops face a "grilling" at ACC-17

Archbishop Thabo continues his account from Hong Kong on the work done on Wednesday and Thursday by the Anglican Consultative Council: 

In further sessions, we heard a report from the Communion's Safe Church Network, which was set up to develop guidelines to enhance the safety of all persons in the church, especially children, young people and vulnerable adults.

Though time was limited, we started digging deeper into the regrettable pain of past and present abuses in the church, hearing voices from Africa, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. The discussion has been reframed to recognise that the abuses have hurt and negatively affected the mission of the church and the imperatives of the Gospel. The key development is that we have received guidelines, liturgy and a resolution on how we can move together to make the church safe and inclusive.

We then listened to an intervention and study commissioned by the Church of England called “Living in Love and Faith,” which is intended to provide Christian teaching and learning about human identity, sexuality and marriage. This is work in progress.

Before dinner, I again went for a swim to keep up with my exercise regimen. The meals are too good and one cannot do without physical activity as well – after all, physical activity is also part of my spiritual and prayer life. Sea bass is my favorite fish and today I had sea bass with veggies for dinner. (I am careful about sharing my favorite meals publicly. In one diocese, I foolishly did that and almost every parish responded by preparing it abundantly until I announced that I was off that. So sea bass is my favorite only as a treat and when I say so!)

At an after-dinner session, we had an hour-long event called “grilling the Archbishop” in which we could ask Archbishop Justin anything we liked, from what made him happy or sad to decisions about Lambeth, Brexit, his prayer life, Donald Trump and his vision for the church in 25 years, including what his prayer needs were. This was useful, as it eased the frustrations of working in a highly-structured ACC meeting, allowing some informality and including voices that would otherwise not be heard.

On Thursday, there was time for photos, of the whole meeting, the Standing Committee, the Primates on the Standing Committee and of the tables around which we are grouped. If you scroll down below the video which follows, you can see the community I have spent more time with than anyone else here, in Bible study and group work at Table 3, including ACC members from South Sudan, Singapore, Tanzania, Australia, Spain and Chile (two people from each) as well as Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the Secretary General.

We also listened to theological feedback, of which the graphic - also below the video - gives you a flavour, and I joined Archbishop Justin and Bishop Jane Alexander, the Bishop of Edmonton in Canada, to face a grilling from a panel of Anglican Consultative Council youth members. That's the photo you see at the top of this entry, and the video which follows records the session.

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