Tuesday 21 January 2020

Anglican Primates meet in "spirit-led, forward-looking, inspiring" meeting in Jordan

Archbishop Justin Welby leads a service at the River Jordan
The Archbishop has issued the following comments on the recent meeting of the heads of churches of the world-wide Anglican Communion, held in Jordan in the Middle East:

We had a good Primates' Meeting, spirit-led, forward-looking, inspiring and held in a cordial atmosphere.

We met in the context of the Middle East, and the biblical historical context reminded me of God’s presence in our lives and throughout history.

In my Twitter feed and Facebook account, I asked for the prayers of the people of our Province as well as their wishes for what the Primates' agenda should touch upon, and most of their wishes and suggestions were indeed covered.

I now look forward, and invite your prayers, for the meeting of our Province's Synod of Bishops, to be held next month, from February 9 to 14.

The full text of the Communiqué issued by the Primates follows:

Communiqué of the Primates’ Meeting

Jordan, 13-15 January 2020

Glory be to God on high, peace and good will to all people. Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1. The Primates of the Anglican Communion met from 13 to 15 January 2020 in Jordan at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, and hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and their Archbishop, the Most Reverend Suheil Dawani;

2. Our meeting was grounded in prayer, in the sacrament of the Eucharist and in sharing through Bible study the treasures of God’s word. We rejoiced in the unity that was expressed in our sharing of Holy Communion together and, in our last act of worship together we will renew our baptismal promises in the River Jordan at the site associated with the baptism of Christ;

3. The location of our meeting was of profound significance. We gathered in Jordan, in the lands of the Bible. We were close to Jerusalem where Jesus died and rose again. At the end of our meeting we will make pilgrimages in groups to places such as Mount Nebo, where Moses glimpsed the Promised Land, to Jerusalem and to Bethlehem. We were conscious in our time together of the long history of Christianity in this region and the pressures that face Christians in the Middle East today. We were pleased to meet and to receive the greetings of His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and we continue to ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ (Psalm 122. 6). It was our privilege to be received in audience by His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan. His Majesty spoke powerfully of his commitment to enable people of different faiths to live together  despite their differences and of his support of the Christian communities in the region. We were grateful also for the warm hospitality of the Salfiti family, who welcomed us into their home in Amman;

4. As we gathered as Primates we were acutely aware of the ongoing tensions within the Anglican Communion. However, we were also profoundly conscious of the Holy Spirit in our midst, drawing us to walk together. We heard compelling testimony from the Primate of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Church in Japan) of the gift of reconciliation between peoples and nations and we leave the meeting glad that we were here;

5. Primates from 33 of the 40 provinces were present. We lamented the absence of those three primates who chose not to attend and those four who, by virtue of vacancy, illness or other difficulty, were not able to attend. We are always greatly diminished by the absence of colleagues;

6. We welcomed twelve new primates, attending this meeting for the first time; welcomed into our midst the primate of the newly formed province of Chile; and bade farewell to those whose term of office was coming to an end. As we gathered together we received news that the Right Reverend Dharmaraj Rasalam, Bishop of South Kerala, had been elected as Moderator of the Church of South  India. We assure him of our prayers as he takes up this new ministry and we look forward to welcoming him to our next meeting. We approved the formation of a new Province of Alexandria, covering Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa and we noted progress towards a province in Sri Lanka;

7. When we come together from around the world we bring our varied situations with us and are able to share, and pray for, the countries and churches from which we come. In various parts of the world Christians face great pressure that makes Christian life and ministry difficult and, sometimes, unbearable. We are, as a body, strengthened by the resilience and faithfulness of these, our brothers and sisters. As Primates we express our heartfelt prayer for peace, justice and reconciliation throughout the world and remember particularly the people of South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Hong Kong, Bolivia and Chile. We express our concern for the people of Australia in the midst of fire and continue to pray for all those affected by migration and displacement in Latin America and elsewhere. We note with concern the taking over by the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, of Edwardes College: a Christian foundation more than a century old and we urge the Government to enter dialogue with the Diocese of Peshawar, Church of Pakistan with a view to restoring management of the College by the Church authorities;

8. The safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults remains a topic of acute concern. The fact of past and present abuse is a matter of lasting pain and regret. We heard a report on the progress of the Safe Church Commission. We repent of those times when the Church is and has been culpable and has failed to protect those entrusted to the Church’s care. We reaffirm our commitment to listen to and to work with all survivors of abuse and our determination to provide a safe environment in our churches;

9. We heard about and commend the work of the Anglican Environmental Network, noting that climate change is not a future threat but, for many in the world today, a present, lived reality;

10. We reaffirm our commitment to evangelism and endorse the work of the new Anglican Church Planting Commission;

11. We agreed that all members churches should contribute to the Inter-Anglican Budget according to their means and we commend the transition to new arrangements for determining member church contributions;

12. In 2016 the Primates’ Meeting asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to set up a Task Group to look at how we might walk together despite the complexities we face. At this meeting we affirmed our continued commitment to walk together; we received the work of the Task Group and commended it to the other Instruments of Communion – the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Consultative Council. We recommended that a group be appointed to continue the work of the Task Group to explore how we live and work together in the light of the Lambeth Conference. We invite the Churches of the Anglican Communion to set apart the Fifth Sunday of Lent (29 March 2020) as a day to focus on the Prayers of Repentance produced by the Task Group;13.

The Lambeth Conference will take place in Canterbury this year. We were updated on plans for the conference, both practical and programmatic. We discussed how the fruits of our discussions at the Lambeth Conference might be widely communicated and we explored how the bishops, gathered together in conference, might ‘invite’ the church and the world to join us as we collaborate in God’s mission of building God’s Church for God’s World. As we continue to explore what it means to walk together in our differences we recognise that the Lambeth Conference is a vital part of the journey, and one for which 650 bishops and 506 spouses have now registered. The Task Group’s work reminded us of the story of the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24. 13-35) where the two disciples, walking together, unknowingly meet the risen Christ. In meeting and, ultimately, recognising him in the breaking of the bread, they are changed forever. They remain the same people but are transformed and, in their new-found joy return to Jerusalem to proclaim the good news of the resurrection;

14. We are grateful to those staff from the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace who provided practical support to our meeting, to the Community of St Anselm and Chemin Neuf community, who supported and surrounded us with prayer and to the Archbishop and staff of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem for their hospitality and support;

15. Throughout our meeting we were strongly aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit calling us to be together, to walk together and to remain together. We deeply appreciate the prayers of those throughout the world who prayed for us during this meeting and commit ourselves, our provinces and the Anglican Communion to the care and guidance of Almighty God.

15 January 2020

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