Anglican churches should set aside their internal divisions and be sensitive to the needs and struggles of people in societies worldwide, an international body representing various provinces of the Anglican Communion has urged. The call was made by delegates to the triennial meeting of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN), which met March 14 to 20 in Geneva.
The APJN also urged member provinces of the Communion to “incorporate issues of justice into missional work and into theological education at every level.”
A network of the Communion, the APJN is the vehicle by which Anglicans around the world collectively advocate for global peace and justice issues. Now in its 25th year, the APJN is composed of representatives from about 24 active provinces of the Communion.
In a communique issued at the end of their meeting, the APJN also condemned the recent murder attempt on Bishop Martin Barahona, primate of the Anglican Province of the Central American Region. “We urge our churches to condemn violence whenever and wherever it occurs,” said the APJN. An unknown man approached and fired upon Bishop Barahona and his driver, Francis Martinez, in Santa Tecla, El Salvador on March 17. The bishop was unharmed, but Martinez was hit in the stomach and arm and was reported in “grave but stable condition.”
During their meeting, the APJN said they had focused their learning and discussions on international laws relating to:
* the right to truth, transitional justice, and non-discrimination;
* the rights of women, and everyone’s right to health;
* the rights of children, and the importance of education in emergencies; and
* the rights of migrants, minorities, and people in exile.
Delegates also shared local concerns and initiatives. Among them were representatives from the Nippon Sei Ko Kai and the Anglican Church of Korea, who urged Anglicans to “share their opposition to militarization in the region” during the Japan Peace Week and the Peace Conference scheduled this June in Okinawa.
“For me, the most important thing was the coming together of the 30 people across the Anglican Communion,” said Rev. Canon Maylanne Maybee, eco-justice co-ordinator of General Synod’s partnership department, who represented the Anglican Church of Canada at the meeting. “Having all those people in the room brings issues alive.”
The examination of the role that the UN, the World Council of Churches, the Anglican Communion and other faith-based and humanitarian groups play in advocating for human rights was also very informative, said Canon Maybee. Canon Maybee noted the presentation on the right to truth and the role of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs) and said there are at least six provinces, including the Anglican Church of Canada, that are involved in this process in their respective countries. “Most of those TRCs are in the aftermath of significant ethnic conflict and it was interesting to reflect that the role of the TRC in Canada is different and distinctive, and they were interested in that, too.” (The Canadian church is participating in the TRC process relating to the Indian Residential Schools, the now-defunct federally-funded but church-operated boarding schools that tried to assimilate native children during the 19th and early 20th century. Other issues that were widely discussed included human trafficking, gender-based violence and issues of migrants and refugees. “…You always pay attention to what your partners are suffering, so that will significantly inform…what priorities we should look at in the next triennium,” said Canon Maybee.
The APJN also noted that other networks of the Communion – the Anglican Refugee and Migrant Network, the Anglican Health Network, the International Anglican Women’s Network, Anglican Indigenous Network, the Anglican Health Network, and the Anglican Francophone Network – had sent representatives to the meeting.
“It was clear to us that many issues of injustice and conflict which are of shared concern among the Networks – as well as Anglican leaders worldwide – are rooted in the poverty and economic disparities that plague our world.”