The Anglican Communion
The Rectory, January 2001
A very Happy New Year to everyone. I have no idea whether I should also be wishing you a good new millennium as well. I have been asked that a number of times, but I think we’ve probably done the celebrations now, and we simply need to get on with it!
In the middle of this month we are going to mark Anglican Communion Sunday. Sadly it does not get very much publicity, but it has been set for the second Sunday of January for some years now, deliberately set in the midst of the season of Epiphany, and just before the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. On 14 January, we shall be welcoming Bishop Mano Ramualshah, the General Secretary of USPG (the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) as our preacher at the Sung Eucharist. That is doubly appropriate as we begin the tercentenary celebrations of the founding of USPG. We are also hosting an International Supper party on Saturday 13th, at which Bishop Mano and his wife Benita will be present. This will be just a relaxing ‘fun’ evening, and I hope many of you will be able to come.
Our membership of a worldwide church is not just an ‘interesting extra’. It is - or should be - fundamental to our understanding of church membership and its responsibilities, and always at the heart of our thinking as we seek to continue on our pilgrimage of faith. I am glad to be a part of a group which, strongly encouraged by the Bishop, is pursuing the idea of forming a companion link between the Diocese of Southwell and one or two dioceses from Anglican provinces in other parts of the world. This is something that the vast majority of dioceses in England already have, although the quality and substance of these links are quite varied. The potential for deepening our faith, and learning at first hand from the culture and experiences of others is enormous, and we will be greatly enriched by it.
Of course, I have a vested interest. My last six years before coming to Nottingham have been intimately involved in the worldwide church; and I believe in it! Especially the Anglican Communion! But I am not romantic about it. The Communion is under great strain at the moment for many reasons. We need one another, and we cannot afford to have Anglicans who opt out of relationships with one another. The only way we will resolve the current tensions - liberal versus traditionalists, rich versus poor, evangelical versus catholic, whatever and wherever the problems are - is by drawing closer to one another, by learning and understanding why different people react in different ways to the challenges the modern world lays before us.
The world has desperate need of a church - alongside other faith communities - which is not tearing itself apart over internal matters, but rather which is focussing its heart, its mind, all its energy and all its prayer on the future of this world which God has given us to care for. And to do that we need to value one another in all our diversity.