Citing the importance of theological education and the need for its expansion, a panel focusing on Theological Education for the Anglican Communion (TEAC) presented a report that included goals, audiences and timeline at the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).
"The gospel overflows in theology," Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams said in his presentation on the subject. "Theology is perhaps first and foremost a celebration - a celebration that helps us find a way, or a truth that leads us into a life."
The six members of the TEAC panel are: the Rev. Mwita Akiri from Tanzania; Clare Amos, secretary to TEAC; Pauline Makoni from Central Africa; Sue Parks, conference manager for Lambeth 2006; Robert Paterson, Church in Wales; and Williams.
The TEAC report recognized issues including a general lack of theological literacy; "inadequate engagement with contemporary thinking, culture and society"; confusion about callings of those involved in the church’s public ministry; inadequately or inappropriately trained priests; inappropriate practices of the ministry of a bishop in changing contexts; and a weak or selective commitment to Christians of other traditions.
The report opened the afternoon session of the first full day of the Anglican Consultative Council meeting (ACC-13) in Nottingham, England. The ACC is the principal consultative body of the Anglican Communion and its 77 million members in 164 countries.
The morning's agenda included the Presidential Address given by the Archbishop of Canterbury (see related story at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_62966_ENG_HTM.htm). The morning also included a nearly hour-long closed session called by the ACC Chairman, Bishop John Paterson of New Zealand. Members only attended the session, for which all observers left the lecture hall. No report was offered on the content of the closed session as the morning's business resumed.
Framework for theological education
TEAC is exploring seven "Marks of Mission" which provides a framework for its task:
• To proclaim the good news of the Gospel
• To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
• To respond to human need by loving service
• To seek to transform unjust structures of society
• To safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain and new the life of the earth
• To worship and celebrate the grace of God
• To live as one holy, catholic and apostolic church
The focus, Parks explained, is "not just to do mission, but to be a people in mission. Our understanding of mission needs to make that clear."
The TEAC committee is addressing the Marks of Mission in five target groups: laity; vocational deacons, catechists, lay ministers and those who need to be licensed; priests; bishops; and the Anglican way, which Amos explained is "what is or what should be the specific Anglican component in the education of the church."
Amos pointed out that some issues, such as languages, will overlap into the five target groups.
The report plus additional information is available at www.anglicancommunion.org/teac
The next meeting of the group will be held in July in Oxford, when the discussion will focus on outcomes, setting guiding principles and sharing resources. In January 2006, the full committee will meet with target groups, all leading up to the final report to be presented at the 2008 Lambeth Conference.
A question during the open discussion period prompted the Archbishop of Canterbury to address the practice of lay people presiding at worship. "The Anglican Church has always been consistent about this," he answered. "The reason for that prohibition is this: When we meet for Holy Communion, it isn't the action of only that church, but church throughout the whole world in the communion. Ministry that is not just local, but is recognized by the wider church. That is what ordination is. Holy Communion is the act of the whole church."
The afternoon concluded with a close look at proposed ACC constitutional changes. Lawyer Canon John Rees explained that prior to final approval, the changes must be endorsed by two-thirds of the member provinces.
Many of the proposals focused on wording changes, such as using the term "delegates" rather than "members", and changing references to the gender-neutral "chairperson" and "vice chairperson."
The proposals also call for expanding the object of ACC: "to advance the Christian religion and in particular to promote the unity and purposes of the Churches of the Anglican Communion in mission, evangelism, ecumenical relations, communication, administration and finance."
Members suggested ACC should ensure a lay representation from each province and equal representation regardless of the size of the province.
Eliciting the most comments were recommendations stemming from the Windsor Report, specifically the addition of all 37 Primates as ex officio members of the ACC.
Currently there are 73 ACC members, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. Under the proposal, ACC would potentially increase by 37 members to a total of 110 members.
A jump in costs and a potential uneven balance of men and women were among the views voiced against the proposal. Some noted that this was not the first time this proposal was presented, noting it had been defeated as recently as the last ACC meeting in Hong Kong.
The discussion was still strong as the session expired. Therefore the topic will be continued during the Wednesday morning session.
Archbishop's address; ecumenical greetings
The Archbishop of Canterbury's 45-minute address to the ACC emphasized themes of Christian friendship and discipleship. (Full reports: Audio stream available online at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_62543_ENG_HTM.htm. Full text online at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/articles/39/75/acns3991.cfm)
The Monday session was highlighted by two ecumenical greetings; in the morning by Esme Beswick, co president of Churches Together in England who told the assembly: "We acknowledge the significance of this meeting which can only happen in the body of Christ."
In the afternoon, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Euyakim Mar Coorilos, bishop in the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, noted: "I hope and pray the Anglican Communion will share decision for the life of the church on all levels. Let us resolve that our actions will be dictated by convictions and not by convenience."
ACC-13, assembled in Nottingham, England, is a regularly scheduled meeting of representatives from each of the 38 Anglican provinces, including the Episcopal Church. At this gathering, representatives from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are attending as observers, not members. Both voluntarily withdrew from active membership in accordance to a request from the February Primates following the release of the Windsor report last October.