‘Stronger together than apart’

From the Anglican Communion News Service this morning comes a report of a meeting of 19 bishops from around the world who met in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, at the end of February.
The essence of the meeting: “We really need each other. We are stronger together than apart.”
The essence of relationships, of community, of being created in the Image of God: We really do need each other, because we are stronger together than apart.
Any time a group of people gathers, there is the opportunity to build the community for which we were created. Any time those people take the time to listen to each other, to hear each other’s stories, to learn about each other, there is the opportunity to build that same community. As the bishops point out in their statement: “Dialogue is about turning to one another with openness.”
Talking with each other is not always easy. Even when a so-called “common” language is used, there is the opportunity for misunderstanding, willfully or unintentionally. That’s why dialogue – not just the conversation between two or more people, but the “exchange of ideas or opinions … with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement,” as the dictionary defines it – is so important.
When you tell me your story, you express you understanding of that story, you teach me to see the world through your eyes. When you then let me do the same with you, we have created a relationship. We may not see things the same way, we may not agree, but at least we will know how each other thinks, how each other approaches an issue or situation, and that understanding alone can be enough to build community.

A world map showing the Provinces of the Anglican Communion (Blue). Also shown are the Churches in full communion with the Anglican Church: The Nordic Lutheran churches of the Porvoo Communion (Green), and the Old Catholic Churches in the Utrecht Union (Red).

These bishops deserve kudos for their work in building up the beloved community of God.

From the ACNS report:
By ACNS staff

Nineteen bishops of the Anglican Communion this week announced that the Communion was stronger together than apart and that its members needed one another.

In a joint statement issued after a “Consultation of Bishops in Dialogue” meeting held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania the church leaders said they had shared testimonies about partnership mission work.  Through this a common thread had emerged “our experience of finding ourselves in each other.”

“Across the globe, across the Communion, we actually really need one another,” the bishops’ statement said. “We are stronger in relationship than when we are apart. This, we believe, is a work of engaging in Communion building rather than Communion breaking. In the words of the Toronto Congress of 1963 we are engaged in living in ‘mutual responsibility and interdependence’ (Ephesians 2:13-22)”.

The bishops hailed from Sudan, Botswana, Malawi, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Canada, the United States and England. They met at the end of February as a group of partner pairs and triads and discussed a range of issues including human sexuality, slavery and tackling poverty . …

“We have been engaged in a process of patient and holy listening, as Anglicans, coming from a wide diversity of contexts and theological positions, who have chosen to listen to one another (Colossians 3:12-17). …

“We have found that in the wider context of conflicts around sexuality in the Anglican Communion, the conflict has provided us an opportunity to build bridges of mutual understanding to us as we choose to turn face to face with each other. We know that this topic requires the best of us in our dialogue: our mutuality and humility and prayer in listening and in speaking as we seek together for God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). ….

“We are aware that when we talk, the words we use may not be heard in the same way as we intend and we do not always understand language in the same way. We are engaged in a quest for language that will bring us to common understanding and to better dialogue. That does not mean that we agree or that we seek an agreement on particular issues. …”

To read the ACNS story, with the full text of the statement attached, look here.

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About Lauren Stanley

All my life, it seems, I’ve been on mission. And it’s all my mother’s fault. You see, when I was a child, my mother was adamant: We were to help those in need, those who had less than we did. We were to speak for those who could not speak, feed those who had no food, give water to those who were thirsty.

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