More than 130 global delegates gather to discuss Church's future
By Yen Feng
AN INTERNATIONAL meeting of Anglican churches is under way here to discuss the future of the Church.
The group, known as the Global South Anglican Communion, comprises churches in more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It represents 75 per cent of the global Anglican Church.
This is the fourth such meeting and the first held in Singapore. The week-long conference, whose theme is 'The Gospel of Jesus Christ: Covenant for the People and Light for the Nations', ends on Friday.
More than 130 delegates are expected to discuss how the various churches can support one another in missionary work and church-building.
Also on the agenda will be the impact that the consecration of a lesbian as bishop next month in The Episcopal Church of the United States will have on the Anglican community, and its response to the Anglican Covenant - a document put together last December that outlines the theological identity of the Anglican Church.
On Friday, a summary of the meetings is expected to be sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who leads the 75 million-strong Church.
The Anglican faith is one of the largest Christian denominations in the Protestant Church.
Dr Williams was invited to the meeting but he could not make it, said event organisers. He will, however, be speaking to delegates via a pre-recorded video message that will be played today at the St Andrew's Cathedral in Stamford Road.
In his opening address yesterday at St Andrew's Cathedral, Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, who heads the Global South group, spoke of the importance of the ways in which the faith can be more effective in varying cultural contexts.
He also spoke out against The Episcopal Church in its decision to approve Reverend Mary Glasspool, a non-celibate lesbian, as bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles.
Citing the struggle for a theologically unified Church, which some say intensified in 2003 with the ordination of an openly gay man as bishop in The Episcopal Church, Archbishop Akinola said: 'I am troubled, I am sad, and in fact I am confused. Eight years have gone by without a global communion, and this doesn't seem to bother some leaders of the Church.'
Singapore's Archbishop John Chew, in his welcome address, called on delegates to stay focused amid the 'deepening crisis and challenges facing our communion'.
'There is no denying that these issues will inevitably be of great concern in our minds, prayers and conversations,' said Dr Chew, who heads the Province of Southeast Asia and is also general-secretary of the Global South Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Mouneer Anis, who heads the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, said yesterday that he hoped the meeting would persuade Dr Williams to 'discipline churches which have gone the wrong way', adding that the issues of gay clergy and same-sex unions were 'the only things keeping the global Anglican community from coming together'.
Referring to the breakdown of traditional family structures in the US, Archbishop Mouneer said: 'American culture has influenced the Church and its morals. In fact, the opposite should be true.'
Source: Strait Times