Under the theme "Living Communion," the 13th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) opened in Nottingham at 10 a.m. today with a service of worship and a business session for roll call and introductory proceedings.
This morning's gathering included more than 70 elected members and more than 50 visitors. The session opened the 10-day meeting of the ACC, which meets every three years as the principal consultative body, one of four "instruments of unity" within the Anglican Communion and its 77 million members in 164 countries.
Led by the Rev. Ian Tarrant, Anglican priest and senior chaplain to the University of Nottingham, the worship service was conducted with liturgy projected on a large screen. Texts included Acts 1:1-11, and a reading with the response, "waiting, waiting, waiting for the Spirit to come." The opening hymn was "Holy, Holy, Holy," and the prayers included a confession and absolution.
In the prayers, Tarrant gave thanks for the faith traditions held in common among the Anglican Communion, adding: "We are sorry for the divisions among us, and we pray, Lord, [in] this meeting, that you'll help us find unity."
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, was present for the worship service and business session, led by the ACC's chairman, the Rt. Rev. John Paterson, retired Archbishop of the Church of Aotearoa and New Zealand.. The Anglican Communion's Secretary General, the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, called the roll, and recognized ecumenical guests, including representatives of the Mar Thoma Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the World Council of Churches.
Reading the roll in non-alphabetical order, Kearon introduced representatives of the churches of Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Central America Region, Ceylon, Hong Kong, Indian Ocean, Japan, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Korea, Melanesia, Myanmar, New Guinea, Philippines (delegates en route), Southern Cone of America, Scotland, Southeast Asia, West Africa, Aotearoa/New Zealand/Polynesia, Central Africa, Congo, Ireland, Kenya, North India, Pakistan, Sudan, youth delegates including a representative of the international Anglican Youth Network, Australia, Canada, England, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Africa, South India, Tanzania, Uganda, United States, Mexico, West Indies, Wales.
Kearon included both the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church in the roll, identifying the delegates as "elected members" while also acknowledging their role as observers, whose churches had voluntarily withdrawn their participation from the proceedings. "We recognize the awkwardness of their presence here," Kearon said.
The Episcopal Church's elected members, all of whom were present and introduced themselves this morning, are Bishop Suffragan Catharine Roskam of the Diocese of New York, Josephine Hicks of the Diocese of North Carolina, and the Rev. Robert Sessum of the Diocese of Lexington.
When called upon, Roskam extended greetings from the Episcopal Church's 101 domestic dioceses, and the overseas Province 9 dioceses, listing them by name, and the Convocation of American Churches in Europe.
Other U.S. Episcopalians present as visitors include members of the American Anglican Council, an organization that is offering a display among exhibits in the lobby area of the conference center on the campus of the University of Nottingham.
Proceedings continue this afternoon with Eucharist at St. Peter's City Center Church, Nottingham, where the Rev. Andrew Deuchar is vicar. Deuchar formerly served as secretary for Anglican Communion relations during Dr. George Carey's tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury. Preacher this afternoon will be Canon Joel Edwards, president of England's Evangelical Alliance.
During this morning's worship time, participants were lead in learning and singing a song new to many: "I will offer up my life in spirit and truth, pouring out the oil of love as my worship to you. In surrender I must give my every part; Lord receive the sacrifice of a broken heart.
"Jesus, what can I give, what can I bring, to so faithful a friend, to so loving a King? Saviour, what can be said, what can be sung as a praise of your name for the things you have done? Oh, my words could not tell, not even in part, of the debt of love that is owed by this thankful heart.
"You deserve my ev'ry breath, for you've paid the great cost; living up your life to death, even death on a cross. You took all my shame away, there defeating my sin, opened up the gates of heav'n and have beckoned me in."