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Forum stretches, informs; challenges church to act, reconcile, lead

By Sarah T. Moore
[Episcopal News Service] 

“Global dialogue returns to this space,” said an ebullient Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold as he welcomed nearly 1,000 people, including many international visitors, to St. Mark’s Cathedral in downtown Minneapolis Thursday night to hear the “Presiding Bishop’s Forum on Global Reconciliation.”

Forty-nine years ago, almost to the month, the first pan-Anglican congress held outside Great Britain gathered at St. Mark’s. At that time nearly 800 delegates attended that international meeting at which the now internationally recognized symbol of the Anglican Communion, the Compass Rose, was first used. A large image of the Compass Rose lay on the floor of the transept of St. Mark’s this second night of the 74th General Convention.

Griswold was pleased to introduce the Most Rev. Njongonkulu Ndungane, archbishop of Cape Town representing the worldwide Anglican Communion, to speak on the issues of international debt, HIV/AIDS, and economic distress of the province of Southern Africa. Read more about the archbishop's presentation here.

Griswold also welcomed macroeconomist Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute, professor of sustainable development and of health and policy and management at Columbia University and special adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

“Jeffrey Sachs’ voice is one that Episcopalians more broadly need to hear,” said Griswold, in introducing the macroeconomist who advises Kofi Annan on a group of poverty-alleviation initiatives under the name of Millennium Development Goals. This topic is to be considered by General Convention in a resolution from the Committee on National and International Affairs (D006). Read more about Sachs' presentation here.

Following Ndungane and Sachs, three young professionals spoke of their work in global reconciliation: Abagail Nelson, director of Latin American Programs at Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD); Ranjit Mathews, a “Witness Anglican UN Intern” at the Anglican Observer’s Office at the United Nations, seminarian, and postulant for holy orders in the Diocese of Massachusetts; and the Rev. Dr. Sabina Alkire, Anglican priest, author, previous coordinator of Culture and Poverty Learning-Research Program at the World Bank, and currently a research fellow at the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard. Read more about their presentation here.

The seeds of this forum were planted at the House of Bishops meeting following September 11th, Griswold said. It was a time to focus on global citizenship, the worldwide Anglican Communion, and to let people teach us about reconciliation around the world, he said. After listening to papers from South Africa, Pakistan and around the globe, the bishops heard “stretching perspectives” and began to think of themselves in a new way across the cultural divide.

Out of that conference Griswold published a book on those papers, Waging Reconciliation, which generated a reaction of hate and anger rather than reconciliation. It convinced him the need was even greater.

As one of 38 Anglican primates gathering regularly, Griswold said, “I am deeply aware how interconnected we are and take more seriously our global role. Reconciliation has to do with the world. These speakers broaden our horizons and invite us to collaboration and deeper solidarity, in concrete, real terms that involve us all.”

Nan Cobbey and Sharon Sheridan, Convention Daily writers, and Matthew Greco contributed to this article.