Recognising God's Call for Justice and Dignity - Anglican Primates' Meeting 2nd-6th October 2017

Primates from 33 Provinces attended the Meeting of Anglican Primates.  The gathering was hosted at Canterbury Cathedral by the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.  This meeting gave Anglican leaders an opportunity to discuss major issues within their provinces, topics affecting the whole Communion as well as more general global matters.  The message underlying the meeting was God's Church for God's World. 

2017 Meeting of Anglican Primates

The meeting began with internal affairs of the Communion covering a wide range of items, including:

  • Protection of the Vulnerable: progress in implementing comprehensive safeguarding measures to protect children and vulnerable adults and formation of the Anglican Safe Church Commission
  • Understanding Same Sex Marriage: Endorsement of Decision to walk together while acknowledging deep differences in understanding on same sex marriage
  • The Decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church to allow same sex marriage and subsequent restrictions on their representation
  • Archbishop's Task Group: recommendations on common liturgy, principle and practice of pilgrimage and a prayer season of repentance and reconciliation
  • The Communion's sorrow for previous failures to support the LGBTI people and its condemnation of homophobic prejudice and violence

The theme of the remainder of the meeting focussed on the Five Marks of Mission:

  1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  2. To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  3. To respond to human need by loving service
  4. To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
  5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth

(Ref:  Bonds of Affection-1984 ACC-6 p49, Mission in a Broken World-1990 ACC-8 p101) 

There were shared stories of pain and loss, of natural disasters and tragedy, of violence and threat.  However there was recognition of joy, courage and hope because of the light of the Saviour of all, Jesus Christ.  The sense of common purpose underpinned by God's love in Christ and expressed through mutual fellowship at this gathering was profound.

Primates listened to disturbing accounts of the severe impact of climate change, and understood the importance of giving moral leadership due to uneven distribution of its effects.

There were powerful testimonies of the Church's engagement in reconciliation in areas torn apart by apartheid, ethnic-cleansing and civil wars in places such as South Sudan, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo.  The role of reconciliation was discussed at every level, from personal relationships, to communal and societal and to care of our environment.

The group were reminded of God's call for justice and dignity for all humanity - in particular concerning the plight of millions of people facing hunger.  They grieved over the 65 million refugees and people displaced through conflict and persecution.  They heard about the 40 million victims suffering modern slavery and human trafficking.  

The Primates heard of issues arising from living alongside those of other faiths; a painful daily reality in many Provinces.  They committed to seeking ways to develop better understanding on the path to peaceful co-existence, with opportunities for the Anglican Inter Faith Commission working in this area.