Anglican Networks gain prominence at ACC

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Kingston, Jamaica
The 14th Anglican Consultative Council meeting today approved resolutions ranging from the establishment of a new Anglican Health Network to a call for the Government of Sudan to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement “without delay.”

For the first time in its 40-year existence, the ACC gave substantial time and prominence to Anglican Networks, whose advocacies include peace and justice, the environment, empowerment of women, and greater support for youth, among other issues.

Jolly Babirukamu, lay representative of the Church of the Province of Uganda, said the idea for an Anglican Health Network grew out of last year’s Lambeth Conference, when delegates talked about the lack of access to health care for the poor. “Faith-based hospitals are doing their best,” she said, adding that in most developing countries, 40 per cent of health care is provided by faith-based groups. She said that the Health Network wishes to pursue the concept of combining micro-credit with health insurance, which would make adequate health care more accessible to the poor.

The ACC approved a total of nine resolutions, including one that urged every province of the Anglican Communion to “take up a special offering annually to support ministries with young people, of which a part would be for the work of the International Anglican Youth Network.”

It breathed new life into the moribund Anglican Refugee and Migrant Network by welcoming its re-establishment, made possible by the Anglican Province of Hong Kong’s contribution of resources that would enable it to open an office and hire a co-ordinator.

“This network died and is now coming back to life. It died not because the issues have died, but because somehow, the co-ordination and some of that stuff required to make it go was missing in this one,” said Bishop James Tenga Tenga, of the diocese of Southern Malawi, Church of the Province of Central Africa, who introduced the resolution. He thanked the Hong Kong Anglican church for its support, saying “It’s quite encouraging that one of our provinces has seen the need that affects all of us.”

The ACC also approved a resolution from the Anglican Indigenous Network, which, among other [things], asks “those member churches whose governments have not yet signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to encourage their governments to become signatories.”

The presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori introduced the Indigenous Network’s set of resolutions, stressing the importance of the U.N. resolution. She lamented that “unfortunately,” her own country, the United States, was among the countries that have not signed it. (Canada is also not a signatory to the resolution.)

The Indigenous Network resolution that ACC approved also asks that, “where there exists indigenous people who are minorities, member churches co-operate with indigenous Anglican leaders to ensure the provision of theological education and ministry training at all levels that takes account of indigenous cultural contexts and traditions.” It also calls on member churches of the Anglican Communion to “value, honour and incorporate the wisdom of the elders of indigenous peoples in their midst in efforts to address global climate change and the sustainability of creation.” It also “recognizes the on-going disastrous effects that colonialism has had on indigenous peoples and their families and calls on member churches, where there exists indigenous peoples who are minorities, to take appropriate and necessary steps to assist the healing of indigenous families, including the protection of women and children from violence and human trafficking.”

“It’s not good enough that this is for English speaking indigenous speakers,” he said. He also questioned the use of the word “indigenous,” saying, “We don’t use that in Peru. I find the whole word vague; it doesn’t apply to my area.”
Archdeacon Turi Hollis, representing the clergy of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, said the resolution is “inclusive of all,” but at the moment, the participants of the Network are “from all English-speaking countries” although their first language is not English. He added that the word “indigenous” is used and adopted internationally by the U.N. and other bodies. “We are people from various parts of the world just as the ACC tries to cut across or incorporate across the globe,” said Archdeacon Hollis.

The ACC also approved a resolution from the International Anglican Women’s Network (IAWN), which “unequivocally supports the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, including trafficking, and encourages all provinces to participate in programmes and events that promote the rights and welfare of women…”

Rev. Ian Douglas of The Episcopal Church introduced an amendment to the resolution, which the ACC adopted, requesting that “appointments to all Inter-Anglican standing commissions, and all other inter-Anglican committees, design groups, or appointed bodies follow Resolution ACC-13.31 [b] to provide equal representation of women on each body.” Resolution ACC-13.31 [b] acknowledges that part of the U.N. Millennium Development Goal is for “equal representation of women in decision making at all levels…”

Mr. Douglas said he felt compelled to move the amendment, “after hearing a presentation from IAWN about how well we’re doing or not” in living out the commitments made with respect to equal representation in governing bodies.
The ACC also approved a set of resolutions from the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN) dealing with post-conflict situations and peace-making dialogues, including one that called for “increased solidarity from member churches of the Anglican Communion with the Provinces in the Great Lakes Region.” It also recommended the establishment of partner relationships, “where common witness and support may help in the prevention of resolution of conflicts in the region and communities may be more immediately rebuilt.”

It also called on the Anglican Communion to “offer continued prayers and advocacy for the cessation of violence in Darfur, for the resumption of peace talks with the Lord’s Resistance Army, and the disarming of marauding groups, for safe passage for aid organizations, and for the protection of civilian populations throughout the country.”

The ACC also approved the APJN’s call for Anglicans everywhere “to be bold in preaching reconciliation and facilitating peace-making dialogues in every situation of war and conflict…” It also asked member churches “to urge the African Union, the United Nations, and their own governments to be more assertive in seeking commitment from the Government of Sudan to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement without further delay.” A resolution dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East is also expected to be put forward to the ACC sometime during its meeting.

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Marites N. Sison
Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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