“[The] time is ripe for us to acknowledge the potential for transformation that we possess.”
We, therefore, need to recapture our love and confidence for God’s Word.
Address by the Most Reverend Ian Ernest, Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean and Bishop of Mauritius at the Provincial Council of the Anglican Church of North America – June 21, 2011.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I am delighted to be with you and to share fellowship as it enables me to affirm the ties of friendship that hold us together. As we meet here, I would wish to address on issues of importance that we face as a Communion. It will certainly enable us to look for new perspectives and new opportunities in mission and evangelisation.
It seems that for a long time the Anglican Communion is in crisis – but what is a Crisis? We are in crisis. But what is a crisis? According to Scriptures, a crisis is a divine, opportune moment for appropriate action. We are in crisis and things will never be the same again.
The emerging role of the Primates, the priority given to theological education, the changing shape of the Anglican Communion with the powerful voice of the Global South and the advent of a Covenant give to us a good moment at which we can consider a new vision for world mission. In fact, there is in this moment of crisis, a moment of decision that we must be ready to meet.
Time is ripe for us to understand what kind of community the Anglican Communion is. Time is ripe for us to acknowledge the potential for transformation that we possess. This will compel us to recognise, in the midst of present tensions and challenges that the only thing that matters is for our Church to be faithful to God’s mission, which is our vocation.
Part of the problem in the Anglican Communion today results from the lack of clear understanding that Mission belongs to God and that the Church – The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church to which we all belong – is an instrument of that Mission. This Church, as Body of Christ, is the expression of the work of the Holy Trinity in the world. The action of the Holy Trinity can be witnessed in such places where the people of God are visible.
The first three centuries witnessed the glorious days of Christianity and at that time the Church consisted of scattered little groups of insignificant people, many of them slaves, persecuted and threatened on all sides. Yet, they turned “the world upside down.”
So, we must not permit ourselves to think that the present crisis and difficulties that we face as a Communion is an indication of failure or defeat. Nevertheless, it is certainly a factor that we have to consider honestly if we are to play our role in God’s Mission within the Universal Church.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we are given a picture of the Church as a community that makes Christ visible. We are an “apostolic” Church and we trust that the acts of the Holy Spirit among the people within the Anglican Communion who have been called together in Christ make Jesus visible. So in spite of the awareness of the problems that threaten our unity as a Communion and of the bitterness and fear that this can bring us, it is good for us to trust the Holy Spirit and to let him bring Christ into the situation to make a Christ-like difference.
At times, we are not fully aware of the potential for transformation that the Church possesses. We are therefore called to recognise that this potential is a gift from God and thus as a Church we have something to offer to the world.