Gathering in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, as the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO), at the invitation of the Rt Revd Dr Howard Gregory, Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, we have been acutely aware of the season of Advent and the promise of Isaiah and John the Baptist that God is doing a new thing: ‘A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots’ (Isaiah 11.1); and ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’ (Matthew 3.2). We have been enlivened and enriched by our anticipation of the coming of the Christ and in our receiving from one another.
We give thanks for the life of Nelson Mandela, whose death occurred while we were in Jamaica, a land which, like many others, was inspired by his courageous leadership. As we consider the obligations of leadership in church and society, we see in him a model of how to pursue peace and reconciliation with justice.
Encouraged by reports of the 15th Anglican Consultative Council in Auckland, New Zealand, and the 10th World Council of Churches Assembly in Busan, Korea, we welcome the new energy for ecumenical relations and in our life together within the Anglican Communion. We also look forward to what God will do through new leadership in the world Church, asking God’s blessing on the ministry of the Most Revd Justin Welby as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Tawadros II as Patriarch of Alexandria and Pope Francis as Bishop of Rome.
Meeting in the context of daily prayer and the Eucharist, we have valued the shaping of our discussions by our Bible studies on the Epistle to the Ephesians. We have been emboldened by Christ’s breaking down of the dividing wall (2.14) and the Church’s calling to make known ‘the wisdom of God in its rich variety’ (3.10). We have been challenged to steadfastness and maturity and to pursuing our calling to build up the body of Christ in love (4.14-16).
To this end we commend engagement with the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Faith and Order Paper The Church: Towards a Common Vision. The fruit of twenty years of consultation among Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, Evangelical, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic churches, it offers a high degree of common understanding of the theology of the Church. We welcome this publication overseen by the Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut, Director of Faith and Order for the WCC and himself a member of IASCUFO, and believe it offers a rich resource for the understanding of our common mission as Christians.
We also received reports of ecumenical dialogues including the draft text of the final report of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission (AMICUM) and various local initiatives. We rejoice at the re-convening of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission after 12 years and note its agreed statement on Christology which has been sent for consideration by the churches of the Anglican Communion.
In successive meetings, we have returned to the theology of the human person, known as theological anthropology, exploring what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God in the language of Genesis 1. 26-27. In the face of the challenges and opportunities offered by globalisation, migration and developments in the human and natural sciences, we are seeking to articulate a coherent theological understanding of the human person and human society to support our theological work and toengage our churches in a serious study of what it means to be human in the 21st century.
Continuing our efforts to deepen our common life within the Anglican Communion, we recalled the importance of our lived communion for our prophetic engagement as reconciled reconcilers in the world. Focusing on the inter-connectedness of mission, ecclesiology and life in the Spirit, we have committed to on-going work which will seek to addressthe global situation and the tensions and divisions within our Anglican family and to witness to the advent of God’s reign in our midst. On-going work will explore the foundational role of the Holy Spirit in our common life. We recognise the need to discern and embrace new and life-giving interventions of the Holy Spirit in our Communion worldwide during the past half-century, with particular reference to the churches in the southern continents.
Reflecting on the discussions and resolutions of ACC-15, IASCUFO has focussed on the need to strengthen Communion relationships in the 21st Century and has again noted the importance of the Instruments of Communion as signs and servants of our common life. We believe face-to-face encounters are essential for the well-being of our Communion and that the Lambeth Conference, in particular, constitutes a crucial part of our life together in taking common counsel and in expressing our common identity.
Daunting as our task is, we take heart from the repeated exhortation of Scripture, ‘Do not be afraid… for nothing will be impossible with God’ (Luke 1.30,37). Therefore we place our confidence and trust in the One who makes all things possible.
‘Now to him, who by the power at work in us, is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever, Amen.’ (Ephesians 3.20-21
Present at the Jamaica meeting
The Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, Primate of the Anglican Church of Burundi, and Chair of the Commission
The Revd Canon Professor Paul Avis, Church of England
The Revd Sonal Christian, Church of North India
The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut, World Council of Churches
The Rt Revd Dr Howard Gregory, The Church in the Province of the West Indies
The Revd Dr Katherine Grieb, The Episcopal Church
The Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones, Church in Wales
The Rt Revd Victoria Matthews, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
The Revd Dr Charlotte Methuen, Scottish Episcopal Church/Church of England
The Revd Canon Dr Simon Oliver, Church of England
The Rt Revd Prof. Stephen Pickard, Anglican Church of Australia
Prof. Andrew Pierce, Church of Ireland
The Revd Canon Dr Michael Nai Chiu Poon, Church of the Province of South East Asia
The Revd Dr Jeremiah Guen Seok Yang, The Anglican Church of Korea
The Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Director for Unity, Faith and Order
Mr Neil Vigers, Anglican Communion Office
The Revd Canon Joanna Udal, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs
Unable to be present
The Rt Revd Dr Georges Titre Ande, Province de L’Eglise Anglicane Du Congo
The Rt Revd Dr Dapo Asaju, The Church of Nigeria
The Rt Revd Kumara Illangasinghe, Church of Ceylon, Sri Lanka
The Revd Canon Clement Janda, The Episcopal Church of the Sudan
The Revd Dr Edison Kalengyo, The Church of the Province of Uganda
The Rt Revd William Mchombo, The Church of the Province of Central Africa
The Rt Revd Hector (Tito) Zavala, Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America (Anglican Communion)