A Sacrament of Love: Our Continuing Testimony of Grace
This statement was released by the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue after their third meeting June 4 to 7 in Toronto, Ont. The statement from their second meeting “A Testimony of Grace,” is also available.
Love has been perfected in us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4.18-19)
- This third consultation among Canadian, American and African bishops (June 4-7, 2012 in Toronto, Canada) took place in the context of worship, prayer and the breaking of bread. Through the presentation of papers, continuing conversation, and growing relationships we engaged in dialogue both in sessions and over meals. Our meeting set out to explore two themes. The first of these was our shared participation in the mission of God in and for the world. The second was the question of if and how the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant might hold us together as a Communion in our participation in that mission.
- We were delighted to discover that the depth of our previous encounters could continue after we had been apart for over one year, and even as other bishops joined us for the first time. It is by grace that we are able to continue to build on the foundation of understanding and trust that had grown over our previous two meetings and to abide in the characteristic Anglican gift of unity in diversity.
- We affirm that mission is a meeting-place with God and with others. Mission isn’t something we do to another, but a way of being together in the presence of God as God transforms and reconciles the world to himself. To be in mission is to assume a listening stance – listening for how God is at work in the world, for how others are responding to and participating in that work, and for how we might offer ourselves and our gifts into partnership in that work.
- We began to experience, as bishops together, the key challenge and opportunity that meet us: “How can we support and assist our fellow-bishops in the mission decisions that they make in their context and from their perspective?” We noted those times when we have judged our fellow-servants without taking time to understand the context and perspective that informed their decisions and actions. As we move forward we commit ourselves to consider deeply the impact of our decisions and actions – informed by our own context and perspectives – on the life and ministry of the church in other contexts.
- We heard descriptions of a variety of mission settings in Africa and Canada expressing the Marks of Mission.[i] We acknowledged that God is at work in each of those settings, and that the local church’s vocation is to join God’s contextual mission engagement in the world.
- We affirm that the Church, gathered around the mystery of redemption, fosters and nurtures a specific response to particular mission imperatives, by restoring our human capacity to discern God’s initiative and joining our lives to it. We recognized that mission partnerships are not about shifting resources from a context of abundance to one of scarcity, but rather about combining a range of resources – such as knowledge, trust, experience, discernment, and material wealth – to participate in God’s redemptive work in the world.
- We heard very clearly that authentic Christian mission does not make of one community a project for another. Instead, authentic mission invites communities to gather and pool resources for collaboration in activity that transforms them both even as it changes the world.
- We noted that a significant dimension of our engagement in God’s care for the world involves the work of healing and reconciliation, for example in Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan, South Africa, Kenya, Canada and the United States of America. As we share in this critical work, three questions emerge for us:
- Where are we engaged in the work of healing and reconciliation?
- What do we know, what have we learned about God’s work of healing and reconciliation?
- How can we share our knowledge of God’s work of healing and reconciliation and apply that to the various forms of brokenness in the world?
“May [our] lives together be a sacrament of your love to this broken world, so that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy overcome despair.” (From the rite for the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage, Book of Alternative Services, Canada)
- The Rt. Rev’d Jane Alexander – Diocese of Edmonton, Canada
- The Rt. Rev’d Johannes Angela – Diocese Bondo, Kenya
- The Rt. Rev’d Michael Bird – Diocese of Niagara, Canada
- The Most Rev’d Albert Chama – Diocese of Northern Zambia & Primate of Central Africa, Zambia
- The Rt. Rev’d Garth Counsell – Diocese of Cape Town, South Africa
- The Rt. Rev’d Michael Ingham – Diocese of New Westminster, Canada
- The Most Rev’d Colin Johnson – Toronto & Metropolitan of Ontario
- The Rt. Rev’d Julius Kalu – Diocese of Mombasa, Kenya
- The Rt. Rev’d Sixbert Macumi – Diocese of Buye, Burundi
- The Rt. Rev’d Mdimi Mhogolo – Diocese of Central Tanganyika, Tanzania
- The Rt. Rev’d Trevor Musonda Mwamba – Diocese of Botswana, Botswana
- The Rt. Rev’d David Njovu – Diocese of Lusaka, Zambia
- The Most Rev’d Bernard Ntahoturi- Diocese of Matana & Primate of Burundi, Burundi
- The Rt. Rev’d Robert O’Neill – Diocese of Colorado, USA
- The Rt. Rev’d Anthony Poggo – Diocese of Kajo Keji, Sudan
- The Rt. Rev’d Daniel Sarfo – Diocese of Kumasi, Ghana
- The Rt. Rev’d James Tengatenga – Diocese of Southern Malawi, Malawi