The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a good frame for the Anglican Communion's mission and ministry because they are ''real evidence of what it means to love your neighbor as yourself,'' Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the morning after her arrival at the Towards Effective Anglican Mission conference in Boksburg, South Africa.
''When Jesus calls us to feed the poor and water the thirsty and provide clothing to the naked, visit the prisoner, visit the sick, heal the sick – the Millennium Development Goals are about all of those,'' Jefferts Schori said during an interview on March 13. ''They are concrete images that people can wrap their minds around. They are a specific way of addressing the Gospel challenge to care for our neighbors. They're achievable in our own day if we have the will to do it and, increasingly, this church is vested in that.''
Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori arrived on the evening of March 12. She participated in TEAM events on March 13 and will address the conference's closing luncheon on the 14th.
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town, Primate of the Province of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, welcomed Jefferts Schori to the TEAM conference at the March 13 morning session.
To the applause of participants, he said that the TEAM conference ''reflects the Anglican Communion at its best and we say without any shadow of doubt that the Anglican Communion is alive and well.''
''For seven days there's been much enthusiasm and much 'oomph' for God's mission and I hope that you will be part of our deliberations,'' he said. ''We know how busy you are and that you are with us in these last two days and look forward to your contribution as we winding up our proceedings, ready to go out into the world to make real what we have been deliberating here. And we know your own commitment to the MDGs.''
Jefferts Schori flew to Boksburg from the Episcopal Diocese of Hawai'I, where on March 11 she was the chief consecrator of the Rev. Canon Robert L. Fitzpatrick as the fifth bishop of Hawai'i.
Episcopal Church dioceses have entered in MDG partnerships with other Anglican Communion provinces, dioceses and congregations, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori said, and ''people are going back and forth and beginning to learn more about each other, beginning to see how the Gospel's expressed in different contexts.''
She said she hoped that people at the conference are getting a ''sense of what the church looks like in different contexts -- of the variety of contexts around the globe -- and that people who have been part of this conference have some incarnate examples of what Anglicans look like around the world -- what their joys and passions and sufferings are, where they're invested in doing mission and ministry around the world and how we might partner together to that work.''
The Presiding Bishop said that her prayer for both the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church is that its members can see God in the face of their neighbors. ''When we can experience the image of God among and within people across the globe, we have a far richer understanding of what God is like,'' she said.
''My prayer for the world is like that of many throughout history, that we find peace. Poverty is not going to be relieved as long as we are struggling with wars and armed conflicts,'' she added. ''The reality is that in this day and age there are no bystanders to war. If we can make peace among neighbors then we can begin more effectively to address issues of poverty.''
More than 400 people from 30 of the Anglican Communion's 38 provinces are attending the March 7-14 TEAM conference to review the Communion's response to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and how the church can do more as one of the world's largest grassroots development networks. The TEAM conference is in part a follow up to the first-ever pan-Anglican conference on HIV/AIDS, which was hosted by Ndungane in Boksburg in 2001.
The conference is also meant to "encourage a prophetic articulation for an Anglican theology which supports witness and action for social justice."
More information about TEAM is available at the conference website. Continuing ENS coverage is available here.