Joint Standing Committee plans for 2009 ACC meeting
By Matthew Davies, November 26, 2008
[Episcopal News Service, London] The Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) has devoted much of its November 24-26 meeting to discussing budgetary issues and planning the next meeting of the ACC -- the communion's main policy-making body -- set for May 1-12, 2009 in Kingston, Jamaica.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was among those attending the JSC meeting, which was held behind closed doors at the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace in London. She noted that a November 26 report in The Times of London newspaper, that suggested the JSC had discussed plans to discipline the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone for its recent incursions into other provinces, was untrue. "The subject has not come up," she told Episcopal News Service.
The committee heard a report about the 2008 Lambeth Conference budget "and the deficit is much lower than was originally anticipated," said Jefferts Schori, who was elected to the Primates Standing Committee in February 2007.
Although a deficit of up to £1.2 million ($1.83 million) had been projected, Lambeth Conference manager Sue Parks told ENS that the shortfall was less than had been anticipated because fewer bishops than expected had attended the once-a-decade gathering in Canterbury. The budget had been compiled "in the hope that as many people as possible would attend," she said.
The committee, which usually meets annually but has met biannually for the past two years, is the interim body that oversees the day-to-day operations of the Anglican Communion Office and the programs and ministries of the four Instruments of Communion: the Lambeth Conference; the Anglican Consultative Council; the Primates Meeting; and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
At its 2009 meeting, the ACC is expected to review a yet-unreleased final draft of the proposed Anglican covenant, a set of principles intended to bind the Anglican Communion amid differing viewpoints on human sexuality and biblical interpretation.
The Rev. Canon Gregory Cameron, deputy secretary general of the Anglican Communion, addressed the committee on what he expects in the next version of the covenant. "The first two sections will be relatively unchanged," said Jefferts Schori, "but he's expecting some significant changes in the third section and an almost completely new [appendix]."
The first two sections of the second version, known as the St. Andrew's Draft, are called "Our Inheritance of Faith" and "The Life We Share with Others: Anglican Vocation." The third section, "Our Unity and Common Life," contains a series of affirmations about how Anglican provinces operate within their own boundaries and commitments about taking actions that might impact the larger communion. The appendix suggests a procedure for churches that breach the covenant.
Anglican Communion provinces have until the end of March 2009 to respond to the St. Andrew's Draft. The Covenant Design Group will next meet in London in April 2009 and is expected to issue another draft which will be reviewed by the ACC during its May meeting. The ACC could decide to release that version to the provinces for their adoption.
Jefferts Schori told a recent meeting of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council that if the ACC decides to do so, she will "strongly discourage" any effort to bring that request to the 76th General Convention in July.
"My sense is that the time is far too short before our General Convention for us to have a thorough discussion of it as a church," Jefferts Schori told the Executive Council on October 21.
JSC members spent some time reflecting on the Lambeth Conference and reviewing its indaba process -- a Zulu work meaning "purposeful discussion" -- that formed the basis for groups of around 40 bishops that met each day during last summer's gathering.
Jefferts Schori said committee members discussed ways the ACC could use the indaba process and "the discoveries of how Lambeth worked in terms of ensuring that all voices are heard."
In its discussions of the Lambeth Conference, the committee members recognized that the anxiety levels at the gathering diminished and "that the relationships are the most important part and that they were strengthened," Jefferts Schori said.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams acknowledged in his August 26 pastoral letter to the bishops of the Anglican Communion that there had been "a general desire" at the Lambeth Conference "to find better ways of managing our business as a communion.
"Many participants believed that the indaba method, while not designed to achieve final decisions, was such a necessary aspect of understanding what the questions might be that they expressed the desire to see the method used more widely," he said. "This is an important steer for the meetings of the primates and the ACC [Anglican Consultative Council] which will be taking place in the first half of next year, and I shall be seeking to identify the resources we shall need in order to take forward some of the proposals about our structures and methods."
The Primates Standing Committee includes Archbishop Rowan Williams of England (chair), Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Australia, President Bishop Mouneer Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the United States, and Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales.
The ACC Standing Committee includes Bishop John Paterson of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (chair), Professor George Koshy of South India (vice chair), Philippa Amable of West Africa, Jolly Babirukamu of Uganda, Robert Fordham of Australia, Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe of Ceylon, Canon Elizabeth Paver of England, Bishop James Tengatenga of Central Africa, and Nomfundo Walaza of Southern Africa.
Orombi and Anis did not attend the meeting. The committee will next convene immediately prior to the ACC meeting in Jamaica.