Anglican Communion Standing Committee bulletin – Days 2 to 4

Posted Dec 2, 2014

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Communion Standing Committee met in London from Nov. 29-Dec. 2. The following is a bulletin issued for days 2 to 4 of the meeting. The bulletin for day 1 is available here.

Bible in the Life of the Church project

Stephen Lyon began the day by sharing with the Standing Committee that the Bible in the Life of the Church’s project stage will come to an end in 2016. He hoped the project would leave the Anglican Communion a legacy of “a toolkit to do the Bible better.”

“As Anglicans and Episcopalians we’ve no doubt that the Bible has a central part of our life,” he said, “but whether people coming to our churches would know that is another thing.”

In answer to the question: “How do we make [the toolkit] equally well produced and easily accessible?” Lyon is proposing four resources:

• A booklet showing where all the resources can be found;
• A book containing different pathways for deeper engagement with scripture;
• A longer book outlining the resources and providing links/a memory stick where people can access information sheets and other resources; and
• A transcript of email conversation on the Bible from leading thinkers around the Anglican Communion.

“What we’ve been trying to do is resource those whose ministry is one of preaching and teaching,” said Lyon. “To try and offer to them resources that enable them to encourage those within our congregations into a deeper engagement with Scripture.”

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi shared his concern that such material might not consider the needs of Anglicans in the majority world. Lyon said he had tried to do that, but admitted more could be done in this regard. He appealed for more input from non-western provinces.


Lyon then shared the preliminary plans for the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Anglican Communion’s main policy-making body, which is scheduled to meet in 2016. He stressed that there had been some thinking around how to ensure every participant, regardless of their background, had a common understanding of what the Anglican Consultative Council meeting is and is for.

This prompted a discussion among the Standing Committee about the future of the Instruments of Communion (the ACC, the Lambeth Conference of bishops, and the Primates Meeting) in relation to other Anglican Communion gatherings that might be more relational, conversational and perhaps missional in nature.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori mentioned that at a recent meeting between the Episcopal Church and several senior bishops from across Africa [read more], there had been “significant energy” behind the idea of an Anglican ‘gathering’ of some kind, above and beyond the Instruments of Communion.

Ntahoturi said, “The Toronto Congress created the language of mutual responsibility and interdependence. Now there’s a feeling that again we need that [another chance to meet in this kind of way]. A wider gathering of Christians — Anglicans and Episcopalians, lay and ordained — coming together to see and discuss and share and build relationships.

“The Instruments of Communion, they have a 10-year schedule or three-year schedule. In the present world of instant communications, that’s becoming a long time. What happens between those meetings? If communion is really communion then we want something new [over and above the Instruments].”

ACC Chair Bishop James Tengatenga said that it might be that ACC-16 could be a Kairos moment for the Anglican Communion for going forward in this regard. “The idea of a ‘gathering’ has been hanging over our head for a long time. Each generation has been crying for one and we’ve never quite birthed it.”

Knowledge and Information Management

Information and Knowledge Manager Stephanie Taylor shared with the Standing Committee her plans for an area of work that is very new for the Anglican Communion Office.

She explained that effective knowledge and information management had not only a theological mandate, but also one from the Instruments themselves.

“Right from its very inception, information and communication has been at the heart of the mandate of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). The functions of the ACC as outlined in resolution 69 of the 1968 Lambeth Conference instruct the mandate to share information; to advise; to develop; to encourage; to help in the dissemination of information; to keep in review; to promote enquiry and research. Information and knowledge are at the very heart of these functions. They are the foundation and building blocks.”

Taylor said her vision was: “To harness the power of the Communion’s information and knowledge, to serve the Communion and work together to the Glory of God.” Key objectives included:

  • Harnessing and exploiting the ACO’s knowledge and information
  • Fostering a culture of information and knowledge sharing;
  • Introducing and establishing best practice information management, records management, and knowledge manage policies, processes, procedures, tools and techniques;
  • Improving the quality of the data on the Anglican Communion Office’s database, working in partnership with Provincial Secretaries, and promoting its use among ACO colleagues; and
  • Building relationships with professionals in similar and related professional disciplines particularly those working for Christian organizations.

She explained that the ACO had not previously had “a resourced, professionally qualified information professional dedicated to the guardianship and stewardship of its information and knowledge.” Therefore, in her first year, she is looking to draw up and implement some basic policies, processes, and procedures to ensure effective records management. Taylor will also focus on the ACO’s archives to ensure their preservation, and work with office staff members to embed knowledge management practices and techniques which, she said, will have enormous potential to facilitate their work.

The Standing Committee then went into closed session.


2014 Standing Committee Meeting 2 – Day 3

Unity, Faith and Order

Director for Unity, Faith and Order the Rev. Alyson Barnett-Cowan said in her report on the work of Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO) that she is, among other things, currently mapping how the churches make decisions. “What power do the Primates have? What power does the General Synod have?” said Barnett-Cowan. “Not every province makes decisions in the same way.” She explained the purpose was to produce a resource to help provinces better understand why member churches made decisions in the way they did.

Barnett-Cowan told the Standing Committee that IASCUFO was waiting for to hear from all provinces about their decisions regarding the Anglican Communion Covenant. She expected the Covenant to be an agenda item at ACC-16 in Lusaka, Zambia in 2016.

She went on to explain that IASCUFO’s Ecumenical Working Group was considering questions from the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and the Church of Ceylon regarding the recognition of ministries of non-Anglican Churches. She added that themes adopted by the Lutheran World Federation for marking the commemoration of 1517 — the start of the Protestant reformation — will be recommended for study by Anglicans. These include: Salvation not for sale; Human beings not for sale; Creation not for sale.

The Anglican Orthodox dialogue working group has been preparing a draft document on theological anthropology – what it means to be human theologically. This will be reviewed by IASCUFO alongside its own work on the subject.

The Standing Committee then went into closed session.


2014 Standing Committee Meeting 2 – Day 4

The Standing Committee met in closed sessions today. Following the end of the meeting, Chair Tengatenga said the committee expected a job description for the secretary general of the Anglican Communion to be issued in the next few weeks.