A PRESENTATION ON THE WORK OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION
Given on June 27th ST PAULS CATHEDRAL BUFFALO NY by Father Jim
Archbishop Tutu always refers to the AC as the rainbow people of God and that is exactly what the composition of the churches of the AC offer to our weary world of 2021.
Whether it be the Episcopal Church USA, the Church of England or Anglican church of Brazil, whatever and wherever the Anglican expression was placed, by God’s good grace continues to be a source of faith, hope and fellowship that is needed more than ever, especially as COVID unites us all, but in the saddest of realities.
I am from Chicago but have now been in the UK for over 30 years and have had the privilege of meeting and encouraging people in some 70 countries in 15 years, mostly along side in a communications capacity with Archbishop Carey and then a few visits with the beloved Archbishop Rowan Williams.
The Anglican Communion is supported by various groups that supply strength and often financial aid to so many and for so many reasons. When I was a young Episcopalian I remember our priest saying, we now pray in the church’s programme of mutual responsibility and interdependance we pray for and then usually followed a rather unique name of a diocese and an even more challenging Bishop’s name!
Although we have no Pope the ABC has the gift of bringing the Bishops and lay leaders to the Mother Church of Canterbury Cathedral and he (it could now be a she), as a spiritual oversight that is warmly received, often more gleefully in the other parts of the world than the UK.
Any global experience of bring diversity into a form of unity can be a life or death reality, the world work of the Communion demands mutual concern and action. No national church is more justice minded and generous than the Episcopal Church. The role of the USA Church internationally blossomed during the tenure of Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold who took the work and witness of the Anglican Communion very seriously, and the current dynamic Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is beloved everywhere, especially through his books. The C of E is a national church, affiliated with the State, the only one of the 42 provinces that has such a connection. However the Cathedral in Washington is called the National Cathedral and indeed it has been vigilant in offering expressive and powerful on-line worship and speakers. The Roman Catholics have as their “National Shrine” on the other side of DC. The Episcopal church was once called the Republican party at prayer, though that title no longer seems a useable one.
As St Pauls Cathedral Buffalo I urge to never forget how essential the work and ministry of a Cathedral. The principal cathedral for us all is Canterbury Cathedral which is deemed the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion and in my work and experience is the one place where unity expresses itself the best. Holy, calm and joyful all describe the current dean and the glorious Anglican-styled liturgy and music, complete with a new organ. Again Americans show huge support to Canterbury so that its witness is never diminished. Our focus of unity is the altar of God, none other.
We need each other is my conclusion as I have seen and touched the essence of true salvation that joins one church to another. The one event that brings the most together is the occasional Lambeth Conference of Bishops and Spouses, where the Archbishop calls together the Anglican Episcopal World, expected to happen next year with Dr Welby and Mrs Welby.
The laity representing their respective national churches have their say in the Anglican Consultative Council and in the work of the many networks that keep concerns mutually expressed and noted in places like the UN where Anglicans have a place in the work of the United Nations.
The Anglican world also includes a presence in special places associated with Christ and the ministry of us all.
This includes a centre in Santiago run by the Spanish Reformed Episcopal of which I humbly serve as a Non-residentiary Canon. There is also the great gift in having St Georges Anglican College and Cathedral, with its fine guest house and the scholarly and prayerful presence at the Anglican Centre in Rome. This are all very special places.
I would just share with you briefly where we seem to be heading in the good ole’ C of E. When you enter a hospital and they begin filling out your registration and the clerk says to the patient, religion? None says the person and the register is noted Religion? C of E.
Although Islam grows and there has been a strong Jewish presence especially in London, there are growing numbers of independent churches (some storefronts) and Baptist, Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic, Reformed and Pentecostal churches as in USA. This is a rather newish phenonium. Ethnic orthodox churches are very evident
Local unity endeavours seem hidden, but when we can stop worrying about sex and think an open, love-motivated existence then we will truly “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord”. A new sexuality study is underway in a dramatic and rather tone as set by the General Convention (it meets 3 x a year) while TEC meets every 3 years or so. Most newly appointed (not elected) bishops are women, including the major role of the Bishop of London in the person of Bishop Sarah, who was a nurse with a national portfolio.
COVID has threatened the ability of the grand churches, abbeys and cathedral to remain open even with entry fees but with very few seeking such places as London and the country at large experience empty streets. It is a shame that cathedrals charge entrance fees (except for worship) but someone must pay the bills and there is no aid from any officials, accept, ready, the lottery, which help many Christian ministries including Canterbury. The Compass Rose as found in the floor of Canterbury Cathedral is our global symbol, I suggest you use it!
I ask to you gain a better perspective by visiting the websites of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Compass Rose Society, Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace.
Remember though attempts are made at destroying our fellowship, pray the Holy Spirit will keep us in tune with a weary and waiting world that could benefit greatly from joining us on our pilgrim way. As a global family we have much to offer all and everyone, that come our way.