31 July 2009

Anglicans need to emphasise reconciliation

The Church of Ireland Gazette, in today’s edition (31 July 2009) carries the following photograph and report on page 3:

Linda Chambers de Bruijn (centre) of USPG Ireland at the USPG conference with two new USPG area mission advisers from Ireland, Nola Nixon (left) and Declan Barry.

Anglicans need to emphasise reconciliation,
USPG annual conference told

Anglicans need to access their God-given capacity for “forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation” instead of insisting that some people are “not worthy of full respect, dignity or inclusion.” This was the message of Dr Jenny Plane-Te Paa, principal of Saint John the Evangelist Theological College, in Auckland, New Zealand, at the annual conference of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG) – Anglicans in World Mission.

Dr Plane-Te Paa suggested there was a tendency among Anglicans – especially some of those in leadership – to debate issues on impersonal committees rather than engaging in “vulnerable and intimate” dialogue.

In her closing address at the USPG conference held at the High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, she said: “There is a postmodern tendency for shifting moral responsibility away from the self towards socially-constructed agencies or by floating responsibility inside a bureaucratic rule of nobody.” As a consequence, she said, the problems of the Anglican Communion “are managed by disengagement and commitment – avoidance rather than by unseverable vulnerable intimacy and the struggle to understand the other as divinely, albeit differently, created.”

She spoke with disappointment about meeting a very few bishops and archbishops who regarded some people as “not worthy of full respect, dignity or inclusion.”

By contrast, in travelling the world, she had found “there is very little which radically differentiates the ways in which the ordinary every day Anglican people gather in abiding faith and witness.” The way forward was to concentrate on “finding our proper selves in God who is love.”

She said: “It is only in our capacity and willingness to let go of outrage, despair and memories of hurt that we can act with grace. There, and only there, can we fully exercise our God-given capacity for forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation.”

The theme of the annual USPG conference was “Mission, reconciliation and hope.” Representatives from dioceses in Britain and Ireland met representatives from throughout the global Anglican Communion to consider how they could participate together in resolving conflicts, both on their doorsteps and in other countries.

In two seminar-workshops attended by international delegates, Ms Linda Chambers de Bruijn of USPG Ireland and Canon Patrick Comerford of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute spoke of the work of the Hard Gospel Project in the Church of Ireland and the barriers to reconciliation that still remain in Ireland, north and south.

Canon Comerford and the Revd Ken Gibson of the Leprosy Mission were recently elected by the Standing Committee to represent the Church of Ireland on the Council of USPG.

At the USPG council meeting during the conference, the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory, the Right Revd Michael Burrows – who chairs the board of USPG Ireland – was co-opted to the council. Mrs Linda Ali, a lay canon of York Cathedral, was elected chair of USPG in succession to the Revd Dr Alan Moses.

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