The Anglican Communion is a precious gift and a rich reality
10 Jan 2016
The bonds of the Communion have the deepest possible significance in our troubled and suffering world, writes the Revd Rachel Carnegie.
As I’ve prayed and reflected over this past week leading up to the Primates’ Meeting, I’ve been aware how precious a gift and how rich a reality the Anglican Communion has always been to me.
Since childhood I have lived in or visited various countries, treasuring the warm welcome at the local church as part of the Communion’s family.
Such encounters have enriched my faith and also my understanding of each member’s unique and varied gifts as part of the Body of Christ.
We see this vividly in the Anglican Alliance, which brings together the churches and agencies in the Communion in seeking to express God’s concern for the poor and vulnerable today, in the work of relief, development and advocacy.
From the perspective of the Alliance, the Communion is a family characterised by a profound interdependence and a shared discipleship, as we jointly participate in God’s mission in the world. These are reflected in our marks of mission: to witness to Jesus’ love for all, to respond to human need, to work for justice, peace and reconciliation, and to safeguard creation.
We belong to a Communion in which each of us has differing gifts – as well as needs. In such a world we can both receive and give, woven together in hope and creativity through God’s love.
The Anglican Alliance sees this generous vision of shared mission and mutual interdependence lived out on a day-to-day basis throughout the Communion.
Whenever a place is affected by natural disaster or conflict, the local church responds immediately and courageously to humanitarian need, while others across the globe reach out to understand how best to offer support in prayer and action.
As one church member in Burundi said recently, facing the current national crisis there: “We know that we are not alone; we are with brothers and sisters around the Communion praying for us.”
In the area of development, the churches around the Communion bring rich and varied gifts - in theological insights, technical skills, time and resources - which can be shared mutually.
One example is the movement to end modern slavery. Each part of the Communion has recognised this as a crisis. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope have joined other faith leaders, calling for collaborative action against what they name “a crime against humanity”.
The Communion is now starting to connect to share its vision, skills and resources in this struggle. Survivors of slavery have said that for them the Church working together across the world is the key hope to ending modern slavery.
Similarly, together the Communion speaks out strongly for justice and peace, uniting the concerns of Anglicans in the most marginalised communities with our national and global leaders. At the recent UN conference on climate change, Anglican leaders lifted up the voices of church members directly impacted by disastrous changes in ocean levels and weather patterns.
It is inspiring, humbling and continually encouraging for us in the Anglican Alliance to witness the Communion in action, speaking of and living out its Christian witness and what it means to be connected by bonds of affection and concern for the most poor and vulnerable.
These bonds of the Communion have the deepest possible significance in our troubled and suffering world. We need them in order to respond in a simple but profound way to God’s concern for all and his longing to see his Kingdom come on earth, as in heaven.
These shared actions in the world are living signs of koinonia - the New Testament vision of mutual sharing and caring, of fellowship, of being in relationship for the common good of the people of God – a visible expression of what it means to be Church.
The Revd Rachel Carnegie is Co-Director of the Anglican Alliance.