Mission possible

Published June 9, 2010

The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon
Photo: Art Babych

In his address to General Synod 2010, the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, focused on mission and work that unites the Communion. He also warned the synod that, “mission is damaged when Christians disagree and fight.”

But his speech was first and foremost about shared mission. He began by thanking the Anglican Church of Canada for its significant contribution. He highlighted the work of a number of individuals, including the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, as the co-chair of the Anglican-Lutheran International Consultation. Canon Kearon described the work as “probably the most important and certainly the most successful ecumenical conversations that we’re involved in as a Communion.”

He also made mention of:

  • the work of Archbishop Colin Johnson (metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario) who is the chair of the working group on theological education;
  • Bishop Patrick Yu [diocese of Toronto] who is convening of the new Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative;
  • the Rev. Dr. Eileen Scully, who is convener of the Inter-Anglican Liturgical Consultation.
  • Canon Kearon added that the Compass Rose Society, under the leadership of Suffragan Bishop Philip Poole [diocese of Toronto], “does remarkable work in ongoing and sustained support for the Anglican Communion.”

Last but not least, he reserved a special thanks for Canon Dr. Alyson Barnett-Cowan, the former director of the Faith, Worship and Ministry department for the Anglican Church of Canada. Canon Barnett-Cowan was recently appointed director for Unity, Faith and Order for the Anglican Communion. “She is now the most senior person in this vital field of work as we shape the future…” said Canon Kearon. “She’s brought remarkable gifts already to the Anglican Communion from this church.”

Canon Kearon then pointed to four areas of mission where he thought greater good could be accomplished by the provinces working together through the Anglican Communion.

Firstly, he mentioned the Anglican Relief and Development Alliance, an idea that came about during the Lambeth Conference of 2008. The proposal there was not to create a new relief and development agency, but to forge a cooperative alliance to strengthen advocacy, strategy and emergency response. To that end, an international planning group has been formed, and Canon Kearon said he expects to see “action on the ground” soon, possibly early next year.

In particular, he said the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) could “benefit hugely” from being part of a wider strategic alliance. Not only could it join organizations to identify mutual priorities but PWRDF could also act as a role model to other, smaller churches.

The second area of mission he described was evangelism. The Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative, which Bishop Patrick Yu of the diocese of Toronto convenes, focuses on “growth in evangelism, both in terms of numbers and in the depth of faith,” said Canon Kearon. This includes new strategies to reach the unchurched. Canon Kearon said part of this initiative will function like an e-mail network and many people from the Anglican Church of Canada have already registered to be a part of it.

The third focus is The Bible in the Life of the Church project, said Canon Kearon. Although the Communion has great traditions of Bible study and reading, “it needs to be refreshed,” he suggested. ” We need to engage anew with the Bible and how it speaks to our varying situations today.”

“As a Communion, we will over the next few years be looking at how we actually use the Bible in our common life…not at how academics think we ought to use the Bible in the life of our church.” He added that the Communion will be developing resource material for use in Christian education, and more information about the project is available in a podcast from the Archbishop of Canterbury on the home page of the Anglican Communion website at www.anglicancommunion.org/.

Finally, he drew attention to the newly created Anglican Health Network, which he said demonstrates “the sort of imaginative thinking that is now happening in the official networks of the Anglican Communion.” The network will facilitate communication and co-operation between Anglicans who are providing health services around the world. It is also intended to provide forums to exchange experience and best practices and to manage donor and insurance programs to deliver new investments.

Canon Kearon described a pilot project that has already been established in the Anglican province of Tanzania. Using a concept similar to micro-finance, in which small amounts of money are loaned to individuals to start businesses, a micro-health insurance program is being tested. Although he is not directly involved in the project, Canon Kearon said, “What I think this project is doing is providing…some seed money to get it going, and…a fairly high level of insurance expertise, calculations and so on… so that it is sustainable.” The project is only in its infancy, but he said it appears to be going well so far. “I think that it could have the power to transform people’s health care needs in many parts of Africa,” he said.


  • Leigh Anne Williams

    Leigh Anne Williams joined the Anglican Journal in 2008 as a part-time staff writer. She also works as the Canadian correspondent for Publishers Weekly, a New York-based trade magazine for the book publishing. Prior to this, Williams worked as a reporter for the Canadian bureau of TIME Magazine, news editor of Quill & Quire, and a copy editor at The Halifax Herald, The Globe and Mail and The Bay Street Bull.

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