Emphasizing Communion life and unity, bishops and rectors of Communion Partners met in Orlando Nov. 15-17 to discuss interprovincial partnering possibilities. The conference drew 90 participants from across the United States and Canada. International guests spoke of mission opportunities open to individuals, parish teams, and diocese-to-diocese partnerships.
Participants from North America said they arrived feeling challenged by a fast-changing mission context and left feeling empowered for worldwide mission endeavors with global partners in Africa and Asia. The conference tone was hopeful about the Anglican Communion’s future.
“We have to think differently than a simplistic North/South divide. We must get beyond that approach,” said the Rt. Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Bishop of the Diocese of Kaduna, Nigeria, and former Archbishop of Kaduna Province. “Most Anglicans are committed to evangelization of the world.”
Idowu-Fearon speaks more often of an Anglican family than of a Communion. “We have much to learn from our brothers and sisters here in America. We are a baby church,” he said in an address that emphasized mutuality and interdependence. “Africans are still working out Christological and ethical issues. Episcopalians have something to offer us.”
He issued an invitation: “Just come and be with us. Come because you wish to be gospel friends with us.”
Archbishop Peter Carnley, retired archbishop of Australia, greeted the conference on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
“We’re not here to talk issues,” said the Rev. Chuck Alley, rector of St. Matthew’s Church, Richmond, Va., and a member of the group’s Rectors Advisory Committee. “We’re committed to the mission of our Lord as members of the Episcopal Church and as full members of the wider Communion.”
The focus of Communion Partners gatherings is missional rather than not organizational. Communion Partners has a board but has stayed away from organizational structures that might deter its missional and relational purposes.
“Globalization and the Asian financial crash has opened many doors for unprecedented ministry partnerships in southeast Asia,” said the Very Rev. Canon Kuan Kim Seng, of Singapore.
The dean of the Anglican Church in Thailand, the Very Rev. Yee Ching Wah, described how doors are wide open for English-speaking Anglicans who wish to evangelize through working in schools and prisons.
(The Rev.) Geoff Gwynne, in Orlando