Follow- Up To The Anglican Consultative Council Meeting
REPORT FROM THE ANGLICAN CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL MEETING--ACC meeting concludes on hopeful note by Mary Frances Schjonberg
The ACC is the Anglican Communion's most representative decision-making body and includes bishops, clergy and laity. While the 40-year-old council has no jurisdiction over the provinces of the communion, it makes policy and encourages the communion's members to engage together in mission and ministry.
Members of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) ended their May 2-12 meeting in Kingston, Jamaica with a sense of hope and commitment to the Anglican Communion, rather than, as one delegate put it, with "an answer about sex."..."We are leaving here hopeful, and very committed to each other and very committed to the communion,"
Episcopal Church lay representative Josephine Hicks said, describing the final reflections of her discernment group that met nearly every day of the 11-day meeting, "Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said at a closing news conference that while the gathering hasnít necessarily dealt with the problems that face the communion, once and for all," it did "deepen our sense of obligation" to and with each other. Episcopal Church clerical representative Ian Douglas described as "absolutely real" the representativesí "sense of understanding, and mutuality and common commitment to God's mission, and the sense that there's so much more that holds us to together than divides us."
The two documents that made representatives the most tense during their time in Kingston were the proposed Anglican covenant and the Windsor Continuation Group's final report that includes a continuation of bans on same-gender blessings, the ordination of partnered gay and lesbian people to the episcopate, and cross-border interventions. The covenant is proposed as a way to maintain unity amid differing viewpoints, especially on human sexuality issues and biblical interpretation.
The ACC acted on both documents May 8 after a day's worth of often-tense debate and often confusing votes. It postponed, by a vote of 33-30, releasing the proposed covenant to the communion's provinces for adoption, until Section 4 ("Our Covenanted Life Together") with its dispute-resolution process could be scrutinized and possibly revised.
During the May 2-12 meeting the council also:
* supported an expansion of the communion's process of listening to homosexual persons and those who struggle with the full inclusion of such persons in the life of the church;
* endorsed a new effort to bring Anglicans together to explore various methods of biblical interpretation;
* endorsed requests to add to the Five Marks of Mission a sixth calling Anglicans to work for peace, conflict transformation and reconciliation, but with specific wording to come to the 2012 ACC meeting in Auckland, New Zealand;
* called attention to conflicts around the world, commended Anglicans' efforts to alleviate them and reconcile opponents and called for continued peace-making efforts, including Israel-Palestine, the Korean peninsula and Sudan;
* called the communion to even greater environmental stewardship, carbon-footprint reduction and called for a "Season of Creation" to be "an integral part of the church's yearly pattern of worship and teaching.