Anglican relief and development bodies weigh formation of Anglican Alliance

By on March 1, 2009

Curtis

An Anglican alliance among member provinces of the Anglican Communion is being proposed to “better co-ordinate and strengthen” existing relief, development and advocacy activities of Anglicans worldwide.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in January invited a group of relief and development professionals from various regions in the Anglican Communion for a consultation on how a “more collaborative” approach to relief, development, and advocacy efforts could be achieved.

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The meeting achieved consensus on “the need to define and communicate an Anglican theological basis of understanding and practice of development that roots development firmly with God’s mission as articulated in the Anglican Communion; and to communicate this throughout the communion, from parish level to international structures,” said Lambeth Palace in a statement.

Participants also agreed that this “foundational document” would be used as a basis for creating the Anglican Alliance, and for inviting member provinces to join it.

The meeting was called in response to a call made by bishops at last year’s Lambeth Conference for a more collaborative approach to Anglican global relief and development responses given the enormity of emergencies arising in today’s world.

Cheryl Curtis, director of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, said that the PWRDF board “has not had a formal conversation” around the proposed alliance, where membership will be voluntary. “It would really be great for the alliance to exist,” she said, adding that the PWRDF would benefit from it. “It gives us an opportunity to bring our excellence to the table and to have it seen and recognized in the communion,” she said.

She added that creating an alliance would be a good way to improve the communion’s visibility around the area of development and mission. “We’re a lively expression of a church that’s very focused on mission and to bring that to the fore is going to enrich lives in the Anglican Communion, right at the parish level,” she said.

The proposed alliance “is not intended nor will it replace networks that any of us are a part of,” said Ms. Curtis. “One outcome may be that we, through the alliance, find and articulate our Anglican voice and bring that to the networks that we’re a part of.” (About 90 per cent of PWRDF’s relief response is made through Action by Churches Together International, a global humanitarian alliance of churches and agencies.)

Ms. Curtis said that Archbishop Williams underscored that the proposed Anglican Alliance wouldn’t be modeled after Caritas, the Roman Catholic Church’s international aid and development organization.

“The archbishop was very clear when he spoke to us that that’s not how we’re structured, that’s not how we are, and that’s not where we’re going to go,” she said. Caritas, which has 162 member organizations from seven regions around the world, is governed by a general assembly that meets in Vatican City every four years to review its work and approve a budget, and by an executive committee.

Ms. Curtis was one of four participants who was asked by Archbishop Williams to present case studies of their organizations’ successful programs. She presented the story of PWRDF’s decade-long engagement in the 1990s with the region of Uhambingueto in the diocese of Ruaha in Iringa, Tanzania. “It started with a water project and it just built from there in amazing layers,” she said. Other projects later evolved, including a medical clinic, a maternity ward, a daycare and farmers’ workshops.

“It’s a marvellous case study and it lifts up all of PWRDF’s partnership principles of mutuality, accompaniment, (and) respect which are so critical and foundational,” said Ms. Curtis.

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