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KINGSTON, Jamaica: Anglican Consultative Council - 14 Day One

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Anglican Consultative Council - 14 Day One

By Chris Sugden and Robert Lundy

Leaders and representatives from around the Anglican Communion have gathered in Kingston, Jamaica and will spend the next 11 days working to make their Communion a healthier one. The 14th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) occurs in the middle of what's turning out to be a turbulent year for the Communion's 55-million active participants.

Most of the delegates arrived yesterday and were greeted with a reception that lasted till around 10:00 pm. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, began this morning by leading the delegates in a quiet time of reflection. Archbishop Williams will also address the delegates at the first plenary session, which is tonight. However, consideration of the main agenda item, the proposed Anglican Covenant, won't begin until Monday.

The 14th meeting of the ACC will consider the Ridley Draft of the Anglican Communion Covenant, and make comments on it, but is not expected to make any alterations to the text. "The text is mature enough to send on to the provinces who will make the decisions," said Secretary General Kenneth Kearon at the opening press conference. Canon Kearon confirmed that the covenant will only be operative for those churches which decide to sign on to it. However, he admitted that ACC-14 will need to decide whether it will be individual dioceses or provinces that will sign up to the Covenant. So it appears that ACC 14 needs to decide whether individual dioceses can sign up to the Covenant even if their province does not.

Bishop John Paterson of Auckland New Zealand, the chair of ACC -14, hoped that the conference would "build on the experience of how people worked together to achieve understanding if not a common mind on everything at Lambeth 2008 and... come to some decisions in the best interests of the Communion." The management of ACC-14 is hoping for a common mind at the conference that will help the delegates make critical decisions. However, it is ironic that the managers of the Lambeth Conference, a three-week Conference designed to make no decisions, will be the same ones overseeing the processes of the 10 day meeting of the ACC. How they make the shift from a process designed not to make decisions to one that does will be interesting to see. It is also interesting that, according to its managers, the ACC can make decisions while we note that Lambeth Bishops were not allowed to.

The conference will also consider the report of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG). While organizers did not say what the delegates would be considering, Canon Kearon said that the report's view of the three moratoria was that the moratorium on the consent to the consecration of a bishop in a same sex relationship had held, that the moratorium on the public rites of same-sex blessings had held by and large, but that cross-border interventions had not ceased but had gotten worse. It was not expected that the meeting would consider the development of a new Anglican province in North America.

During the press conference, a reporter from The Episcopal Church's news service asked a procedural question about the absence of Archbishop Orombi of Uganda who had been elected to represent Africa on the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC but had not "participated in his role." The reporter asked if there was an alternate for that voice. Canon Kearon indicated that on each of the occasions of his absence, Archbishop Orombi had sent his apologies and that there had been good communication with him. Steps had been taken for there to be an alternate but the person chosen, Archbishop Akrofi of West Africa, declined because notice for this current meeting had been too short.

The Secretary General confirmed that the cost of the conference was £330,000 and was fully covered by provision made for it over the last four years, even though it had increased in cost because of the change of the relative values of the United States dollar and the British pound.

The Conference will gather with 10,000 Jamaican Anglicans and the Bishops from the Province of the West Indies at the National Arena tomorrow morning. Many Anglican Churches on the island are closing tomorrow and will be joining the celebration and worship service led by mass choirs and steel-drum bands. The event promises to be a very Caribbean-style event.

---The Rev. Canon Dr. Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream and Mr. Robert Lundy of the American Anglican Council contributed to this report.

The following is a video of the Archbishop of Canterbury's opening remarks at the ACC Conference in Jamaica: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/81231_ENG_HTM.htm#global_top

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