Organizers in 20 nations are busy planning the Third International Conference of Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion, to take place at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College Aug. 4-9. The conference is expected to attract some 100 administrators, chaplains, bishops, faculty, students and directors of the Anglican Church to explore a host of themes and concerns. The conference will build on the successes of two previous gatherings, says Canon John C. Powers, general secretary of the New York-based Association of Episcopal Colleges, the U.S. arm of the association. The first conference was held in Canterbury, England, in 1993, and drew 40 institutions. The second was held at St. Stephen’s College in Dehli, India in 1997 and attracted 60 oranizations. The organization comprises 116 degree-granting colleges and universities in 20 countries. Eight are in Canada: Bishop’s University, Lennoxville, Que.; Canterbury College, Windsor, Ont.; Huron College, London, Ont.; Renison College, Waterloo, Ont.; St. John’s College, Winnipeg; Thorneloe University, Sudbury, Ont.; Trinity College, Toronto; and the University of King’s College, Halifax. Canon Powers says the umbrella organization has refined its mission along four main themes: to promote faculty exchanges; to provide opportunities for intercultural student exchanges, in which students undertake community service in addition to class time; to assist member colleges as they seek to understand and live out their Anglican heritage; and to explore new avenues for institutions to develop and share resources. “We try to effect ways to work together,” said Canon Powers. The theme of the Toronto conference will be Forward Together for the Common Good. Five topics will be addressed: spirituality, service, technology, leadership and intercultural understanding. An issue sure to arise in Toronto, said Canon Powers, is the “backlash” against Christians in India, where the organization has the largest number of member schools, with 44. “We’re noticing a lot of colleges exist in a very sensitive environment,” he said. A highlight will be the Aug. 8 Sunday service at St. James’ Cathedral, led by Archbishop Michael Peers. The conference will be preceded by a seven-week program of study and community service, beginning June 26 , administered by Renison College.The study portion will be a course in the college’s department of social work. Participants will also serve in small teams for about 20 hours per week in local agencies that provide help for those in need. Participants in the Renison program will be encouraged to take part in the conference. Details on the gathering, and on bursaries and scholarships to offset travel and registration costs, are available by calling the Association of Episcopal Colleges at (212) 716-6149.
Ron Csillag is a freelance journalist based in Toronto