Listening is a priority as delegates and observers prepare for the Anglican Consultative Council's 13th triennial meeting (ACC-13) to convene June 19-28 in Nottingham, England.
Participants in the international forum, whose president is Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, will exchange perspectives on issues of global concern, with emphasis given to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals for the alleviation of poverty.
Understandings of human sexuality will be considered June 21 at the request of ACC leaders, who have asked representatives of the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to offer topical presentations. The U.S. Episcopalians will describe experiences around the 2003 election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire, and the Canadians will comment on the Diocese of New Westminster's practice of blessing same-gender unions.
The presentations respond to specific requests of the Anglican Communion's Windsor Report (paragraph 135). In further cooperation with the report and with last February's meeting of the Anglican Primates (leading archbishops), the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada have formally withdrawn their elected delegates from the ACC-13 proceedings. The delegates, three from each nation, will attend as observers by vote, respectively, of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council and the Canadian Church's Council of General Synod.
The U.S. and Canadian churches are among 38 member provinces of the Anglican Communion, which is composed of 77 million members in 164 countries. The Council's purpose is to provide consultation and guidance on policy issues, including mission and ecumenism, for the Anglican Communion. Formed in 1969, the Council includes clergy and laypersons as delegates.
While the ACC engages some legislative functions, membership in the Anglican Communion is a matter determined by each province's direct formal relationship with the See of Canterbury. The 38 interrelated, yet autonomous, provinces are recognized by four "instruments of unity": the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, the Primates' Meeting, and the ACC.
"What I hope will evolve from the ACC is a greater respectfulness, a greater willingness to listen and honor the different ways in which the Gospel is articulated in different places," said the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold. "It is only through listening -- listening deeply with an undefended heart -- that we can hear the richness of God's truth.... In spite of differences, in spite of tensions, the overwhelming reality of the church is people engaged in mission for the sake of the world. It is through listening that I hope we can become better partners across the Communion."
Griswold will join six presenters in Nottingham June 21. The presenters are Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta; Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana; Bishop Suffragan Catherine Roskam of New York; the Rev. Michael Battle, academic vice president of Virginia Theological Seminary; the Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity and an assisting priest at All Saints' Church in Pasadena, California; and Jane Tully, founder of CFLAG (Clergy Families of Lesbians and Gays) and a parishioner of St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City.
Roskam is one of the Episcopal Church's three elected delegates to the ACC, as are Josephine Hicks of North Carolina and the Rev. Robert Sessum of Lexington.
Concurrent with the June 21 presentation, a written response will be posted online at www.episcopalchurch.org and www.anglicanlistening.org. Copies of the text are not available for release prior to the presentation. A news conference is scheduled to follow the presentation. Information about the Canadian participation is online at http://www.anglican.ca/news/news.php?newsItem=2005-05-25_a.ans.
The dialogue will also continue as ACC-13 discusses the formation and structure of a listening process as requested by Lambeth resolution 1.10.
The agenda for ACC-13 and a list of its approximately 75 participating members are posted online at http://www.aco.org/acc/meetings/acc13/index.cfm, where details for media coverage and credentialing are also offered.
The Anglican Communion website also includes links to information about each of the 38 Provinces, among which there is a diversity of practice in terms of governance, polity and structure.
More on these unique contexts will be reported by the Episcopal News Service as ACC-13 approaches and convenes.