This Preamble gives an account of the decisions that led to the drawing up of the Anglican Communion Covenant. It also outlines the raison d’Ãªtre for the Church of the Province of South East Asia’s agreement to sign the Anglican Communion Covenant. The historical events of the past decade which caused the ”˜torn fabric of the communion’ set the context in which the Province and the constituent Dioceses see the need for this process. It follows that this Preamble also expresses our expectations that the background which has given rise to the need for this are recognised by the Churches of the Anglican Communion and provides the milieu in which it is signed.
Category : The Anglican Church in South East Asia
The concept that government should exist separately from religious beliefs is an ideal one according to an Anglican priest.
Systems where the line between state and religion was unclear have historically been open to ”˜blatant’ abuse, The Rev. Ng Koon Sheng expressed.
He was teaching a course organised by St. Andrew’s Cathedral (SAC) titled ”˜Sharing Our Faith in a Secular & Plural Society’ held on Tuesday.
Referring mostly to Christianity, the priest highlighted cases in which the Church either abused its authority or was abused by the state.
Stricken with schizophrenia 30 years ago, [Mr Harris] Ng recovered from the illness and overcame its stigma by a combination of medication and faith.
“Medication alone can only help us to stabilise,” he said. “We need the strength to carry on to be financially independent and to reintegrate back into society, to lift up our face, smile at people, and not to feel the stigma that we are a mental case.”
For Ng, believing in a God of love gives him strength, confidence and purpose.
It was his Christian faith that helped him come to terms with his mental illness.
Feeling very shameful about his condition, Ng would once deny that he was mentally ill and reject medication.
The turning point came when he went for counselling over 20 years ago with the Singapore Anglican Community Services, then known as the Anglican Welfare Services.
And not only do we need a big picture, we need a ”˜long’ picture. In today’s world, it is an ”˜instant’ world. Yes, you be able to get something done now, but it may cause damages in the long run. So we need have the big and long picture.
It is not going to be easy. When the first Prime Minister of China was asked about his evaluation of the French Revolution, which happened two hundred years ago. He was well-educated and serving in the very difficult cold war years of the 50’s and 60’s. And he said, gently and quietly, “It is too short to tell.” And many of those in the West and us are living under the shadow of 1789. The world has changed but it is “too soon to tell.” Taking the big and long perspective of things will help us to see things clearer. It may be slower but it will help us to see clearer and hopefully, in the end, do things in a more constructive way. Yet it is not an excuse for procrastinating.
This “both-and” thing is always difficult. That is why I put on this bi-focal spectacles. You see near and you see far. Sometimes it is blur in the middle, but if you know how to adjust yourselves….and today, it is not a uni-polar world anymore. The powers-that-be have come to learn that they cannot call the shots any more, It is a multi-polar world. But for us, the tremendous thing is we have a call that holds us united together in spite of our different cultural context. It is because of the pillar of the centrality of the cross of Jesus Christ, we have the same thing and yet can see our different context in the light of a common call.
This is very precious, something which the world does not have. They have either this or that. Now our challenges is how to strengthen ourselves, both within and without. We must be focus in the journey ahead.
Archbishop John Chew Hiang Chea has been elected head of the majority Global South Anglican bloc.
The announcement was made yesterday by outgoing Vice-Chairman Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda.
Archbishop Chew, who heads the 100,000-member Province of South East Asia, will succeed retired Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola of Nigeria.
Previously Honorary General Secretary of the Anglican Global South, he was elected at the Primates’ Meeting on Wednesday night. His new official title is: Chairman of the Global South Primates Steering Committee (GSPSC).
“We covet your prayers together as a team,” said the Singaporean archbishop.
Covenant is obviously a very key central biblical concept. Our intent is however specific and limited for our gathering.
My intention is to try digging into the deep core pulse of the covenant reality in the God-Israel relationship and its working out or otherwise of its vocational existence.
While the paper’s focus is not on the challenges and crisis of the Anglican Communion, it is inevitable some reflections and comments would be made to it, with particular reference to the vocation of the Global South as our evolved existence since 1994 has defined it, and now in its fellowship with the wider orthodox family in the Communion….
In our time together, we will begin each day by gathering in communion with the Lord and one another around the Lord’s Table and His Word before the business of the day. Then there will be the daily Thematic Addresses expounding on the Gospel, the Covenant, the Light for the Nations and explicated by the Plenary Presentations on Global South Structures, Missions and Ministry, and Economic Empowerment through Capacity Building.
Even as we do so, we are keenly aware of the current issues and deepening crisis and challenges facing our Communion. There is no denying that these issues will inevitably be of great concerns in our minds, prayers and conversations. We have the challenge of how we will respond to the Anglican Covenant. It is important that we can share our respective views, even if we differ.
Whatever the responses, it is imperative that the Global South stays on course in what the Lord has called us to since the mid 80s. This movement has evolved by the grace of God in many amazing ways. In recent years, our orthodox Western associates have also grown closer in fellowship and partnership with us. We need to see clearly all that the Lord is seeking to do through this movement. We need to be discerning, staying focused on the key tasks before us. We need to faithfully and collegially grow our unity on the basis of mutual trust and respect. From that position, we will be able to exercise our God-given stewardship of the historic faith and order, and other related issues in and for our Communion and His Church.
The Rev. Tong himself struggled with the need for the law in his teenage years. In his talk, he expressed he had wondered why he needed to pray ”˜The Prayer of Humble Access’ during Holy Communion.
The prayer taught that Christians “do not presume” to go to the table. In addition, they “are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs” under it. At the same time he had been taught that Christians were children of God.
If Christians are tested by the message of grace, they may also be emotionally ”˜torn down’ by the law.
But obedience is not a matter of reward and punishment, the Chapel of the Resurrection vicar argued.
It is about the renewal of minds, transformation of lives and the formation of a community of service. Christians are called to put aside idolatry, overworking, immorality, dishonesty, despair and embrace a better mode of living.
Speaking today in an exclusive interview with The Christian Post, the retired archbishop said the covenant will not solve the essential problem of the Anglican Communion, which he identified as a crisis of biblical orthodoxy where the historic Anglican counterpart in America has embraced immorality and refuses to repent of it
The Anglican Covenant, which calls upon archbishops and presiding bishops leading the 38 Anglican provinces worldwide to promote unity within the denomination, “will not help convert the sinful,” he said.
Ultimately, it is the Anglican leaders themselves, not a committee, who have to be responsible for the spiritual life of their churches.
“It’s (the success of the Anglican Covenant) dependent on their willingness to repent, but they (the leaders of the American Anglican Church) have no fear of God,” he said, comparing them to Eli, a priest in the Bible whose sons died because he failed to discipline them.
“None of the resolutions have worked. None of the committees have worked,” said archbishop Tay. He described the Anglican Consultative Council, a ”˜major decider’ in the Anglican Communion, as ”˜U.S.-controlled.’
The Episcopal Church’s protestation that it has not ended the ban on gay bishops or blessings has not found support outside its borders.
After strong international reaction against the decisions of the recent General Convention, US Church leaders moved quickly to claim that the Church had not changed its position.
But critics said that this was the inevitable outcome when the Episcopal Church opened the discernment process for new bishops to gay clergy and permitted dioceses to compile and develop rites for the blessings of same-sex unions None of the American church’s allies among the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion have publicly spoken up in support of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s claims that nothing has changed, while several sharp statements have been released by overseas provinces and dioceses charging that the Episcopal Church had walked away from the Anglican Communion.
On July 18 Bishop Jefferts Schori stated that “in 2009” there are “more and deeper relationships with parts of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion than five or 10 years ago.”
We are of the view that the passing of these 2 resolutions, when on a plain and ordinary reading, constitutes an abrogation by TEC of the agreed-to moratorium on the consecration of practising homosexual clergy as bishops and rites of blessing for same-sex unions. This effectively moves TEC irretrievably away from the orthodox position of the rest of the Anglican Communion as a whole on these issues. This is a negative development. It is also a repudiation of the listening and consultation processes put in place in an attempt to resolve these issues.
We reiterate that the basis of the common heritage shared through membership of the worldwide Anglican Communion is best reflected by the proposed Anglican Covenant, which we wholly support. The proposed Anglican Covenant encompasses our basic shared beliefs and traditions. It represents the most basic statement of what we consider to be acceptable for resolving the present predicament facing the Anglican Communion and moving forward. We hope that the Anglican Covenant will be endorsed by the provinces in the Anglican Communion within the next 12 months.
The Communion has repeatedly asked TEC to make pastoral provisions and avoid steps that will alienate further those within TEC who wish to live by the Anglican faith which they believe to be true and remain in fellowship within the Anglican Communion. Even as recent[ly] as at the recent Lambeth, the great majority of Bishops present, including those from TEC, have expressed sincere desire for healing and reconciliation and to observe restraints on contentious issues for the Windsor-Covenant process to proceed.
The HOB has instead proceeded to depose a faithful bishop of the Gospel and the diocese under his care. This raises serious questions yet again, and more strikingly so soon after Lambeth, as to how sincere TEC and some of its bishops are in wanting to bring reconciliation, healing and resolution to the Communion crisis at hand.
The Diocese of Singapore, in its teaching on biblical faith and order, is firmly committed to this orthodox position on sexual ethics. I need to express as clearly as I possibly can; that what the church here believes (in essential beliefs and moral ethics) needs to be taught and upheld personally and publicly by all our clergy, lay leaders and members of the Diocese. While we can continue to discuss the pastoral challenges on the ground, we need to remain faithful to the teaching of the Church by virtue of the trust committed to us by the Lord and our love for our fellow human being
We believe and hold that the Bible is clear and authoritative in bearing witness to God’s will regarding human sexuality; namely that sexual relations are to be expressed only within the life-long union of a man and a woman in holy matrimony. All forms of sexual promiscuity, including homosexual practices, between men or women, as well as heterosexual relationships outside marriage are incompatible with the divine vision and design of human life. The Bible describes them as sinful practices that are contrary to God’s good purposes. They dehumanise God’s image in humanity and need to be repented of. At the same time, we hold that there is divine grace of forgiveness, healing and transformation for all who repent of homosexual or other illicit forms of sexual practice. We do not condone inhuman and unsocial acts against homosexuals nor do we discriminate against them. Rather, we extend to them God’s love, compassionate ministry and true freedom through Jesus Christ.
More seriously, this second Presidential Address showed a worrying misreading of the ground realities of the Communion. Together with many who come from churches outside the Anglo-American axis, I cannot identify myself with either side the Archbishop portrayed. It put me at a loss. What is the “generous initiative” am I supposed to take in the Communion? More poignantly, am I expected to take any generous initiative at all? Even more pointedly, has the Archbishop ”“ with his best intents ”“ completely ignored the realities outside the familiar Anglo-American perceptions? And so, the many generous acts of love from churches in the southern continents have been dismissed by the sense of “superiority and dependence” in the West, as Gregory Cameron has pointed out. This is to say, British academics and US financiers have the rest of the world all figured out and neatly configured from the vantage points of sanitised settings in the West.
For Canterbury does speak (unconsciously) from a centre: the centre of a domineering Western framework that has proved ineffective and burdensome to the rest of the Communion. The present crisis is not merely a clash of two opposing theological positions: liberal and conservative. The emerging voices from the South are stifled, misunderstood, and misrepresented by all sides in the West in the current debates. What has been expected of the rest of the world is often merely in conforming to set roles in screenplays that are scripted by (well-meaning!) westerners. What American and British Anglicans have often failed to appreciate is this: despite human folly and weakness, and often quite aside from institutional efforts, the Word of God has given birth to new spiritual movements in the wider world. God has kept for himself a people in the southern continents, that they may be able to save the Anglican Communion in the present dark hour (alluding to Rabbi Jonathan Sack’s exposition on Joseph in his plenary address to Lambeth).
“Sudan came out with the statement for reasons of their own, and felt they had to say something. It was important for them to make that statement, and we appreciate them for that. I don’t think you will find any of the Global South provinces disagreeing with what they say. The way they put it will be coming from Sudan, but the essence ”” yes.”
Archbishop Chew had not studied the statement, but there was nothing new in it, he suggested: it repeated Windsor and was consistent with the Primates’ statement from Dromantine. “They are not calling for anything new, which would have been unfair. They are saying that if we do not take up what we have committed [ourselves to] seriously, then even in the eyes of the secular world, our credibility is reduced.”
The Global South comprises more than 75 per cent of the total membership of the Communion. It was speaking what the whole Communion should be speaking in its good times, the Archbishop suggested. Although nothing could be solved in the two weeks of the Conference, and even the Covenant would have to undergo the lengthy constitutional process of being returned to the provinces, the dragging out of the issue would be unfair on the Windsor group and the Covenant group, and could not continue.
“We have more priorities in our home provinces than in the Communion: we cannot think of it as the thing more important than the diocese,” he said. “It is taking a big toll on our time. This is the fifth time I have been in the UK on a working trip. I can’t afford that. It isn’t fair. So I hope and don’t think that [the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ] words can be taken in isolation.
2. RECALLED that the Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution 1.10 on Human Sexuality expresses the mind of the Communion, as further endorsed in the Statement of the Primates’ Meeting (Lambeth, 15-16 October 2003) “as having moral force and commanding the respect of the Communion as its present position on these issues.” The Diocese of New Westminster, Canada (DNWC) authorized the Public Rite of Blessing for those in same sex relationship (May 2003) and the 74th General Convention of ECUSA confirmed the election of a priest in active same-sex relationship to the episcopate (May 2003), clearly against the letter and spirit of the abovesaid Resolution. Of particular grief was TEC’s decision to proceed with the consecration of Gene Robinson (Nov 2003) notwithstanding the unanimous agreement and plea of the Primates (Oct 2003) that if they go ahead with the decision, “the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy” and that it will “tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level.”
3. NOTED TEC’s and DNWC’s further failure to adequately adhere or respond to the call for repentance by The Windsor Report (2004), the Communique of the Primates’ Meeting at Dromantine (Feb 2005) and in particular the various requirements in the most recent CommuniquÃ© of the Primates’ Meeting at Dar es Salam, Tanzania (Feb 2007) i.e. that TEC to unequivocally comply with moratoria on the consecration of persons in same-sex unions and on authorising any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions, to cease all legal action against those who feel unable to accept the direct ministry of their bishop or Presiding Bishop, and that TEC make provision for a Primatial Pastoral Council and Pastoral Scheme for pastoral care;