Bishop Daniel Sarfo of Ghana says the Anglican Communion is a gift from God and must not be divided. Photo: Diana Swift
This week, the Anglican Church of Canada hosted the third Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue. And judging by the bishops’ comments, the future looks bright for the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Growing out of Lambeth 2008, which uncovered divisions and disagreements between African and other Anglicans on the issue of human sexuality and same-sex relationships, the dialogue held its first meeting in London in 2010 and it second last year in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. The group was originally organized by Archbishop Colin Johnson of the diocese of Toronto, who is also metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario.
After their meeting at the Manresa Retreat Centre, a Jesuit facility east of Toronto, almost 20 African, American and Canadian prelates and their associates attended a Communion service at Church House, the national office of the Anglican Church of Canada in Toronto.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, presided and Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, primate of the Church of Burundi, delivered a homily on St. Barnabas. He focused on his early discipleship among Jews in Jerusalem and his role in bringing St. Paul to Antioch to join the broader missionary journey among the Gentiles.
Archbishop Ntahoturi reminded congregants, “If you want to go fast, you go alone. But if want to go far, you go with others.”
Attending the dialogue for the second time, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Sarfo, bishop of the diocese of Kumasi in Ghana, was very positive about the meeting. “It was so wonderful,” he said. “We really opened up and discussed issues concerning mission and what will bring the Anglican Communion together.”
Conceding that at the previous meeting in Dar Es Salaam the bishops were not sufficiently open, Sarfo said that “this time we really understood where others were coming from.” The dialogue left him feeling very hopeful about the future of Anglican unity. “The communion is a gift from God. It is a treasure. We cannot divide it. We should treasure it even though we may have our differences.”
Commenting on the dialogue, Archbishop Johnson called it “very exciting—a real opportunity to get to know one another more deeply and to share what we’re doing together in mission in our individual dioceses and across the communion.”
He, too, is hopeful about the future. “I think the communion is going to pull together,” he said. “There’s a real commitment to be part of one another and a deep recognition that we need each other.”
This year’s dialogue was a positive continuation of the last, he added. “People are talking more deeply and with fewer reservations. The issues are more difficult, but the conversations are richer and more exciting. There’s more listening and a lot of learning—an absolute commitment that we need to be together.”