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Anglicans must be bridge-builders, Archbishop Welby tells Toronto conference: The Church of England Newspaper, October 11, 2013 p 1 October 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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Toronto: The Anglican Communion must not lose its vocation as a bridge-building church, the Archbishop of Canterbury said last week in an address delivered at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Toronto pan-Anglican Congress.

In an address via Skype to the “Back to the Anglican Future: The Toronto Congress 1963 and the Future of Global Communion” Conference organized by Wycliffe College of the University of Toronto on 18 September 2013 Archbishop Welby stated his vision for the future of the church drew inspiration from  Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ideal of the Church as “Christ existing as community”.

Archbishop Welby observed that “there never was a generation in the Church that does not see a truck coming at great speed to run it over.”

The 1963 Congress sought to reshape the church to address a rapidly changing world. Then, as now, “do we need to rethink” the ways we are approaching “the problems,” he asked.

The way forward, the archbishop said, is “to start not with what is around us” but examine the issues through the lens of “theology, anthropology and ecclesiology. Who is the God we serve? Who are we? What is the Church for?”

Approaching the divisions within the church today in this way “changes the way we see the Communion,” he said.

He stated he had recently read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s doctoral thesis “Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church” and his views of the problems facing Anglicanism as well as the wider Christian world were informed by Bonhoeffer’s understanding of Luther’s dictum “simul iustus et peccator” – “simultaneously justified and sinful.”

“We focus over and over on the massive damage in our culture over changes in sexuality”, yet in “other parts of the world it is corruption, persecution, complacency or poverty. In many places it is all of these. What is the context the church is facing,” he asked.

“Financial corruption: the church is full of people who are financially corrupt” while in “places sexually corrupt,” he said. “We need to look at our context. We need to look at the Communion in light of our vocation” to change the world.

Greeting the Bishop of Egypt, the Most Rev. Mouneer Anis who sat in the front row of the audience gathered at St Paul’s Bloor Street in Toronto,  Archbishop Welby spoke of his visit to Egypt and Jerusalem in the company of Dr. Anis. There he “saw a small church. A minority of a minority, but one that has extraordinary influence, partly due to its bishop” he said with a nod to Dr. Annis, “but also because it is a bridge-builder.”

Anglicans are “being attacked where we are strongest,” he said. “We have a vocation to bring people together” and that is why we are being attacked by Satan.

“I am optimistic about the Anglican Communion,” he concluded, calling upon Anglicans to “seek the purpose of the church … [to ensure a] future of growth” through “reconciliation” and in this way harness the “energy” given to Anglicans by God to bring humanity into relationship with the living God.

The suffragan Bishop of Toronto, the Rt. Rev. Patrick Yu said he was he was encouraged by the archbishop’s words, and noted that when he had dined with the archbishop earlier this year, the archbishop said his priorities were “reconciliation and evangelism”.

Bishop Yu urged conference participants to “deeply embrace” these words, and by doing so, bring about the reform and renewal of the Anglican world.

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