Dean Peter Elliott of the diocese of New Westminster has expressed the hope that the upcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) will be a time for member churches of the Anglican Communion to experience “a rich experience of Christian community” and to celebrate what unites them.
Elliott, along with Bishop Sue Moxley (diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island), and Suzanne Lawson (diocese of Toronto), is representing the Anglican Church of Canada at the meeting, scheduled October 27 to November 7 in Auckland, New Zealand.
“For many years, the life of the communion has been focused on what draws us apart, said Elliott in an email interview. “I hope that this Council can celebrate the gospel that brings us together and the mission that draws us into God’s work.”
The ACC, which meets every two or three years in different parts of the world, gathers lay and ordained representatives of 38 member churches of the 80-million strong Anglican Communion. According to its mission statement, the ACC’s role is “to facilitate the cooperative work of the churches of the Anglican Communion, to exchange information and to help coordinate common action.”
The ACC is expected to discuss issues ranging from the status of the proposed Anglican Covenant, to inter-faith relations, mission and evangelism, gender-based violence, the environment and social justice.
“I don’t expect there to be hugely contentious issues to address, but ones that will demand that we all listen to each other deeply and respond in Christian love to varying perspectives,” said Lawson in an email interview.
The Canadian members are expected to follow up on a proposal made by the Canadian church in 2007 to add peace, conflict transformation and reconciliation to the current five Marks of Mission.
“We will be watching to see where that goes and speaking to it fervently,” said Lawson.
Elliott has also been asked to facilitate a session on looking at Anglican-Lutheran relations. “It will be interesting to see how full communion is being lived into in other parts of the world,” he said.
Bishop Sue Moxley said she is looking forward to reuniting with members from previous gatherings, meeting new people and “finding out about life in their part of God’s kingdom.” Social gatherings will give members time to learn about churches around the world, and “Mission Encounters” will give members a chance to visit local parishes of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
Lawson said she’s eager to learn more about the church in New Zealand. “I have always though that it is the church that we in Canada can learn the most from.”
Elliott noted that it would be the ACC’s last meeting with the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who is retiring at the end of the year. “I have always found his reflections to be challenging and educational,” said Elliott, adding that he is looking forward to participating in Bible studies and liturgies.
ACC members will also have opportunities to learn about the work of the global Anglican networks. Three Canadians are representing some of these networks : Ken Gray (Anglican Communion Environmental Network), Ginny Doctor (Anglican Indigenous Network), and Alice Medcof (International Anglican Women’s Network).