The "Towards Effective Anglican Mission" (TEAM) conference, meeting in Boxburg, South Africa, March 7-14, 2007, will bring together representatives from the worldwide Anglican Communion to focus on issues of poverty and AIDS and to enhance current initiatives in social outreach work to achieve the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals.
The Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, director of Peace and Justice Ministries and a TEAM planning committee member, spoke with Episcopal News Service about the importance of the conference, which is being hosted by Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.
"What's so important about this [conference] is that instead of a few provinces addressing this issue, we are calling together the whole Communion, and that is what can really generate a holistic response that has a real chance to achieve something very significant in the life and mission of our Church," Grieves said. "That's what's exciting to me -- that we're doing it together."
Video and audio streams of Grieves' interview are available here.
An earlier ENS article about the TEAM conference is available here.
The full text of Grieves' interview follows:
The gathering next year in Boksburg, South Africa, is called TEAM for short. It stands for Toward Effective Anglican Mission, and it’s intended to bring together Anglicans from around the Communion -- approximately 400 people hopefully representing every province -- and the signs are very encouraging that we’re going to get a very good response.
We’ll come together around the issues of poverty and AIDS -- those are the two major issues that are being lifted up at this conference -- and we’ll be looking at them through the lens of the Millennium Development Goals, the goal to cut poverty in half by the year 2015 as developed by the United Nations.
We’ll be seeing how we, in responding to our own mission as the Church, can move towards achieving those goals to develop strategies at that conference that can then be used in a holistic way responding to those issues throughout the Anglican Communion. That’s what the conference is about and I am very excited at the response that we’re getting to it so far.
We’re very grateful to Archbishop Ndungane for his leadership in organizing this conference and for his taking on the mantle which was given to him by the Primates to bring people together to address an Anglican Communion response to both of these issues that plague us -- global poverty and the AIDS pandemic.
I think it is very important that the conference is taking place in sub-Saharan Africa, because that is where we see the greatest problems around the whole issues of poverty and around, of course, the spread of AIDS. That is the place where we can learn from our African partners. What do these issues really mean to people day in and day out; that these are really life and death issues. We have so much to learn from our partners in Africa, so for them to have taken the leadership to put on this conference, they are the ones who up to this point have responded most enthusiastically to sending delegations to this event. That’s the right place for us to have this conference and I am delighted we’re going to be there.
Invitations to the TEAM event have gone out to all the Primates of the Communion for themselves to attend if they can, but for them to name official delegations of five people each and those delegations should be made up of practitioners involved in development issues, advocacy issues around the Millennium Development Goals, and AIDS. Also, young people, we want women -- a good balance and a good representation of the Anglican Communion in each of the delegations.
The response so far is very encouraging. Africa is leading the way so far; I think six provinces from Africa have said they will send their full delegations. But we’re also hearing now from provinces in Asia and Latin America. Australia recently communicated that they plan to send a delegation. So there seems to be a lot of interest building, and in addition to the official delegations that have been invited, the networks of the Anglican Communion have also been asked to send representatives, and there are other groups that are related to development issues around the Communion. We have some ecumenical partners that are being invited. Out of the hoped-for 400 people to attend this event, I think there are at this point just about 200 who have accepted. So we’re about halfway there and that is very exciting and encouraging this early on.
The official delegation from the Episcopal Church in the United States has just recently been named and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has asked Frank Griswold to lead the delegation. Also named to the delegation is Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies. We also have the Rev. Pascal Torres from Honduras, who has done amazing work on the AIDS issue in that country. Laura Amendola is going to be the youth representative. The Rev. Eugene Sutton has accepted to attend also from the Washington National Cathedral.
It’s quite a challenge in terms of funding to bring together 400 people to Boxburg, South Africa, from March 7-14 -- so you’re really talking about an eight-day period and you have people flying in and needing to get there a day ahead and so forth. It’s going to cost around $800,000 to bring together that number of people and I am happy to say that at this point we’re at about the $600,000 mark in terms of fundraising -- funding that’s coming from all over the Anglican Communion -- and that’s another part that is very encouraging and very exciting. The Episcopal Church in the United States is doing a lion’s share of that fundraising. Episcopal Relief and Development is a major player in the conference. Bishop Walker of the Diocese of Long Island really helped to launch this effort with a $50,000 gift from his diocese. That has now been followed by many other bishops contributing, so we now have over $175,000 from the bishops of the Episcopal Church. The Church Center in New York has committed to $200,000 as well. So we’re doing our part certainly and we’re glad to see other parts of the Anglican Communion also participating, and I think it’s very probable that we’ll make the goals looking very good.
There is tension that we want to acknowledge within the Anglican Communion right now and I think what is important to understand about this event is that people on both sides of this issue from different provinces within the Communion have decided that we must set aside our differences over the issue of human sexuality so that we can come together to address life and death issues that are of vast importance, not only to Anglicans but to millions of people in the world. If we can do that, then we are being about the mission to which we are called. So I’m encouraged that people have decided, in terms of this conference, to agree to disagree and for all of us to gather together around something that we do agree on, which is that we must address these life and death issues of poverty and AIDS.
I think it’s very important for the Anglican Communion to be able to come together in this way around these issues, and it’s not the conference that is going to be the important thing, it’s going to be what we do after the conference; the strategies that we will develop at this conference by having brought the whole Communion together in this way to address poverty and AIDS in terms of what the Church can do, but also how we can advocate our governments who will have to do the lion’s share of this work. What’s so important about this is that instead of a few provinces addressing this issue, we are calling together the whole Communion, and that is what can really generate a holistic response that has a real chance to achieve something very significant in the life and mission of our Church. That’s what’s exciting to me -- that we’re doing it together.