Nottingham -- Voices of women describing their status around the world were heard June 25 as the Anglican Observer to the United Nations presented a report to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), meeting here through June 28.
"I am committed to making sure that the policies of the UN states do include a strong gender perspective and are based on universal human rights," said the observer, Archdeacon Taimalelagi Fagamalama Tuatagaloa-Matalavea, a Samoan laywoman, in her report.
ACC also heard an overview of the recently published "Mary, Grace and Hope in Christ," a document praised by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. "There is a common affirmation that if we understand a bit better what we say about Mary we'll understand a bit better about the church," Williams told the ACC.
In the fifth business day of its ongoing meeting at England's University of Nottingham, the ACC also reviewed the council's trienniel budget, conducted elections and considered various resolutions, including one that calls for establishing a safe place for children and the vulnerable.
The ACC is the Anglican Communion's chief consultative body and one of four "instruments of unity" among the world's 77 million Anglicans in 164 countries.
Voice of Women
"The UN Commission on the Status of Women has raised the visibility of the Anglican Communion at the United Nations," the Anglican Observer told the ACC.
The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) was formed "in order that women's rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields and, emerging issues could be tracked by the United Nations," she explained.
Her report to ACC was highlighted by "For Such a Time as Now," a video presentation detailing the UNCSW March 2005 gathering which brought Anglican Women from throughout the Communion to New York City. The video interviews featured women telling their own stories and chronicling their own experiences.
Two speakers interviewed on tape urged Anglican bishops to address violence against women, and to allow for wider representation of women on Anglican decision-making bodies.
Dr. Pauline Muchina of Africa called bishops to "compassion and passion to challenge domestic violence against women," while Dr. Jenny Te Paa of New Zealand said women "need to be at ACC, we need to be at the Primates Meeting."
(Some of the video reports are posted online at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/un and at an Episcopal Church site: http://www.anglicanlistening.org)
The archdeacon noted that women's voices were also heard through Anglican Women's Empowerment, founded under the leadership of Phoebe Griswold, wife of Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, to provide direct assistant to the ACCUN office for Anglican's Women participation at UN activities, especially UNCSW.
"It was established to bring assistance from all over the world," she said. "In 2005 we have 25 provinces represented at the meeting."
The archdeacon outlined six areas of concentration for the UN office: women; children; sustainable communities (development), human rights; the rights of indigenous people; economic and social security with a special emphasis on countries under conflict.
She emphasized a recently published journal "Healing God's Creation," the result of the Global Anglican Congress on Stewardship of Creation.
"If you are convinced of the urgency of the crisis in our environment, please get a copy of this book," she said.
Information about the book and the accompanying study guides are also available through the Anglican Communion's website.
Further blending the voices of women, the archdeacon ended her presentation with a rousing rendition of a song she composed and titled "Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle, Rethink, Repent, Rejoice." Women ACC representatives joined her at the front of the auditorium to sing together at her invitation.
Roman Catholic dialogue; 'Mary document'
The afternoon session began with an Ecumenical Greeting by Roman Catholic priest Don Bolen, a representative of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on behalf of Cardinal Walter Kasper.
"We were glad for the attentiveness to ecumenical concerns," the Cardinal wrote in his letter.
When the Archbishop of Canterbury asked for commented on the Windsor report, "We have been able to speak with an openness that in the past was not possible," Kaspar observed. "When reflecting on what would help our relationship to flourish, I like to think of the Windsor Report as a starting point, rather than a point of arrival."
The greeting preceded a report on the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), presented by the Rev. Canon Gregory Cameron, the ACC's deputy secretary general and its director of ecumenical affairs and studies.
The relationship, he said, will mark the 40-year point next year when "Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey met in Rome at the end of Vatican II and inaugurated a new era of ecumenical relations."
Cameron added: "One of the first dialogues to be sent up was the Anglican – Roman Catholic Commission. It's a flagship dialogue, a model dialogue to which others have aspired."
"There are more instruments for deepening our communication than between any two Christian dialogue partners," Bolen said, also mentioning the Anglican Center of Rome. "This is an excellent means of communications and for building bridges," he added. He further cited the role of the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission and Unity Mission. "There is no parallel organization in any other bilateral discussions," Bolen said. "Our close relationships have allowed us to speak very candidly with each other."
Cameron listed the agreed statements that have been issued by ARCIC: "Salvation and the Church," 1987; "Church as Communion," 1991; "Life in Christ," 1994; "Gift of Authority," 1999; and "Mary, Grace and Hope in Christ," 2005, which was the topic of the ACC presentation.
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold is among contributors to the Mary document.
Nottingham's Roman Catholic Bishop Malcolm McMahon told the ACC that "for Roman Catholics, the devotions to Mary the Mother of God are very much the way of everyday life. It's an ordinary way to be a Christian to believe those documents. We always want to acknowledge that Mary is close to all Christians. What we are anxious to do is to show that we are very much in line with biblical scholarship.
He added: "What the document offers the church as a whole is an important exercise in understanding each other. From the Roman Catholic point of view, it's really quite a revelation to look at the continuity of the Anglican liturgical devotion to Mary. That's an important point for Roman Catholics to understand."
McMahon concluded: "We hope that this document will prove not just to be an important landmark, a paving stone to ecumenism, but because of the issue that have come up in our discussion, mostly the communion of saints, this will actually be a springboard to future discussions and will help us to understand each other much more. It's a good document, even if you disagree with it."
In response to a question, Cameron admitted that the ARCIC did not look at the implications of this document from a Muslim viewpoint and promised to share with NIFCON, the Anglican Communion's Network on Interfaith Concerns.
"I hope that a careful reading of this document might help to dispel that sort of misunderstanding. One of the traditional Protestant fears is that Mary is made into some kind of semi-divine being taking her place beside God. That was taken into consideration," Cameron noted.
"I think that part of the purpose of the document in the most limited sense is to ask is it the case that Roman Catholic teaching about Mary is so opposed to what Anglicans have traditionally had in Scripture that we should keep an arm's length from each other," Williams said. "There is an almost unavoidable balance in that.
In its resolution, ACC welcomed the publication Mary Grace and Hope in Christ and "respectfully requests his holiness the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury to proceed to the commissioning of a third phase of ARCIC and of theological dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church in pursuit of the full visible unity of Christ's Body here on earth which is the stated goal for the ecumenical question in both traditions."
(Copies of "Mary Grace and Hope in Christ" may be ordered from Morehouse Continuum books.)
ACC voted to elect two members to its Inter-Anglican Finance and Administration Committee and five members to the Standing Committee. Terms of office run for three ACC meetings, a timeframe that can range up to 9-10 years.
Elected to the Inter-Anglican Finance and Administrative Committee were the Rev. Canon Dr. Mwiti Akiri, provincial secretary form the Province of Tanzania, and Robert Fordham, an accountant who served as a member of parliament from the Province of Australia.
Other nominees for this office were Humphrey Peters, general secretary for the church of Pakistan and Dr Pauline Sathiamurthy, a university teacher from the Province of South India.
Elected to the Standing Committee were: Philippa Amable, a lawyer from West Africa; Fordham; the Rt. Rev Kumara Illangasinghe, Bishop of Kurunagala in the provinces of Ceylon; lay Canon Elizabeth Paver, a primary head teacher from England; and Nomfundo Walaza, executive director of trauma center for survivors of violence and torture from the Province of Southern Africa
Also nominated were: Maria Christina Borges Alvare, lay minister awaiting ordination of Cuba; Dato Stanley Isaacs a lawyer in Malaysia in the Province of Southeast Asia; The Rev. Andres Gregorio Lenton form the diocese of Argentina in the Province of Southern Cone; The Rt. Rev Carlos Lopez-Lozano, bishop of the Spanish reformed Episcopal Church in the province of Spain; Dr Barton Scotland, a attorney from the province of West Indies; and Kate Turner, who runs a non-government organization for conflict resolution in Ireland
Because the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntary withdrew their participation for this meeting, the representatives were not eligible to run for office.
Budgets for next three years
"We have a limited about of money, and it would be good to get your ideas on priorities on how to spend it," Finance Director Andrew Franklin opened the budget hearings.
"In the 2005 forecast we expected to balance the budget," Franklin continued. "Reserves are quite low and there is little room for margin of error. The budget is 1.3 million pounds with 44,000 pounds in reserve. "
Noting that "85 % of the money comes from you, the provinces," he noted, "Every year we request funds form you and most of your do your best to pay that in full."
For 2005, the operating budget income from member churches was 1.1 million pounds sterling (about $2 million), with an additional 160,000 pounds sterling from the Compass Rose Society. "We are grateful and we would like to not rely on it and use that money for special things that need to happen rather than use it for paying for overhead."
He said that "Compass Rose money is given unconditionally to allow it to run its business," noting that Trinity Church in Manhattan provides all the expenses for the web site, telecommunications and the Anglican web portal. "Not one penny can we pay out of our core money, so we are grateful to Trinity," he said.
Funded items include employment costs for 17 people, meetings (ACC, Primates Lambeth, etc.), office and housing expenses, Anglican World magazine and other publications.
Not included in the core budget are the expenses for the UN Observer's office (145,000 pounds sterling), telecommunications (71,000 pounds) and the networks (84, 000). These items are funded from outside sources and fundraising.
For next year, at 1.4 million pounds, "We're paying for a panel of reference and listening process, new items for 2006."
In order to meet costs for the upcoming years, Franklin issued some bad news to the ACC. "We don't waste your money and it's hard to ask provinces for 3 or 4 %. Some say they can give us what they can. We've asked for a 10% increase in 2006 and thereafter a 4%."
He said that "over the last two or three years we have had to fund things that we didn't expect would happen. We are dangerously low in reserves and dangerously low in resources in staffing."
Reserve funds will cover the costs of the Lambeth Conference in 2008, an item which has no allotment for the next three years.
Bishop John Paterson, ACC chair, said, "The sum of 100,000 pounds that we have been able to put aside will cover the cost of Lambeth conference. The Lambeth design group is reasonably confident that the money we have put aside will be okay. They would be much more comfortable if we could make the contribution as in the past."
Paterson added: "Networks certainly are funded on a shoestring basis. Most have to find funding our site the core budget. Networks do great work, but they do it independently."
Responding to a question about the formula used to determine the provinces' contributions, Franklin replied, "It is based on past history it needs reviewing to see if it is fair. There are probably one or two who think they are paying too much. Two provinces are paying 70% and that is too much. It relies too heavily on two big provinces that happily pay. There are some that I ask myself why they have to pay too much. One or two provinces could afford to pay more. We drastically need to look at that."
Contributions from The Church of England and the Episcopal Church form the 70% referred to by Franklin, according to budget statements.
Paterson concurred: "It's time for a more equitable arrangement."
Compass Rose generosity
Compass Rose chairman Albert Gooch of the United States followed the budget presentation with an overview of the Society's fundraising activities.
"The Compass Rose Society is an independent organization, a partner organization with the Anglican Communion," said Gooch, who is past president of Kanuga Conference Center in North Carolina. "It's a group of persons, families, churches, dioceses and chapters who share a commitment to the worldwide ministry of the Anglican Communion."
Members provide an inaugural gift of $10,000 or the local currency. "Members are expected to say prayers daily for the Compass Rose Society and the Anglican Communion," Gooch explained. "Members are asked to seek new members. We have 200 members in six nations on three continents and the numbers are growing."
Compass Rose projects have been launched in Nigeria, Cuba, Spain, Tanzania, and Southern Africa. "Between 1999 and 2004, Compass Rose corporately and individual through its member donated $4 million dollars to the Anglican Communion and its various ministries," Gooch said. "Over $1 million went to the operating of the budget of the Anglican Communion."
Information about the Compass Rose Society and new memberships is posted on the Anglican Communion website.
ACC acted on a series of resolutions ranging from protection of children, the drought in Africa and the rights of lay members.
"Problems have come to the surface regarding clergy and church workers regarding the abuse of children," Fordham from Australia said. "It's not just an Australian issue. This is an opportunity for exchange of information in terms of knowledge and outcome of our study over the years."
ACC approved a resolution noting the "recommendation from the Anglican Church of Australia that ACC establishes a Safe Ministry Task Force to promote the physical, emotional and spiritual welfare and safety of all people, especially children, young people and vulnerable people within the member churches of the Anglican Communion; Refers the recommendation and proposed action plan to the Standing Committee for evaluation and recommendations on the further action that may be taken by this Council and the provinces of the Communion."
ACC member Sylvia Scarf of Wales said that Anglicans are "also working with our ecumenical partners in this. This is not something that is confined to the Anglican Church."
In what some viewed as a reaction to the inclusion of the primates on the ACC, the council approved a resolution calling for specified rights of the lay members.
"We are not asking for any changes to be made at the moment, said Dr. Anthony Fitchett of New Zealand. "We are asking the standing committee look at things."
Under the resolution, the Standing Committee would examine circumstance when it would be appropriate to vote by orders; clarifies the use of secret ballots and majorities other than a simple majority; examines means to persuade primates to send lay people in those instances where a province sends only one delegate to ACC; considers whether the chair of vice-chair shall be one clerical and one lay; provide a meeting of lay members early in each ACC gathering.
In other resolutions approved today, ACC:
-- Applauds the initiative talks in 2004 by the African Anglican Bishop's Conference to hold a conference of African bishops in Nigeria in order to discuss problems faced by dioceses and to find local solution;
-- Notes with concern the ongoing serious drought in many parts of Africa and the effect of this on the population of the continent; offers its prayers to the communities thus affected; and requests all provinces to consider ways in which aid and support can be offered to these communities;
-- Gratefully receives the report of the Anglican Indigenous Network (AIN); notes the AIN resolutions for its work, contained in the report of the AIN gathering at Pala, California, in 2005; and requests the provinces of the communion to support those resolutions where appropriate.