Three members of the Scottish Episcopal Church are on their way to Ghana to take part in the 18th session of the Anglican Consultative Council, a week-long gathering which starts on 12 February.
The Rev Lee Johnston, Diocese of Glasgow & Galloway, and Alistair Dinnie, a member of St John’s, Princes Street, Edinburgh, will attend as SEC representatives, and they will be joined in Ghana’s capital Accra by Amie Byers, another SEC member, who is the youth representative of the Europe region.
Here the Rev Johnston, Priest-in-Charge at St Andrew’s in Ardossan and St Peter’s in Dalry, looks ahead to the conference and its purpose.
“If you’ve never heard of it, the ACC is a global conference held every three years,” writes Rev Johnston, pictured right. “The purpose of meeting together is to foster unity and collaboration between the 44 member churches or ‘Provinces’ of the Anglican Communion, which span 165 countries. These churches share an Anglican heritage of liturgy and prayerbooks; the ministry of Bishops, Priests and Deacons; and theological thinkers. The ACC is one of four ‘instruments’ or expressions of the Anglican Communion that reminds us: we are not alone, but belong to a worldwide family which is as much familiar as it is different.
“At the conference, before any meetings or deliberations, we’ll read and discuss passages from Mark’s Gospel that express the Five Marks of Mission reimagined as: Tell, Teach, Tend, Transform and Treasure. We’ll regularly worship God in the Eucharist and be welcomed by local churches on two Sundays.
“The 14 discussion sessions on critical topics such as intentional discipleship, climate issues, and gender justice will be shaped and enriched by our collective encounter with God as one body of Christ, formed by God’s word and nourished at God’s table. In doing so it seems to me that we are inviting God to set the agenda and inspire our collective action.
“It’s difficult to predict what conversations will take place, as the full papers are yet to be published at the time of writing, but I can tell you what I hope for: Hearing and joining new voices in worship, being church in a different (much warmer!) setting, and listening to what God is up to in other provinces that we can learn from.
“Through conversations with new friends I also hope to share the story of the SEC, our church which steadfastly follows God’s mission agenda and remains united in reading the scriptures and celebrating the sacraments, despite our diversity of opinions on marriage, liturgy, and other significant issues. Our small province is one expression of the (sometimes elusive) unity and collaboration that the ACC strives to achieve on a larger scale, so we have good news to share. We’ll keep you posted as the conversation unfolds at ACC-18.”
The SEC’s two delegates hope to send updates back to Scotland during the conference, which will be published on the provincial website and social media channels.