Bishops build Communion ties

General Synod has released a series of seven video interviews with Canadian and African bishops, capturing the highlights from the Toronto meeting of the Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, June 2012.

The Right Rev. Mdimi Mhogolo, Diocese of Central Tanganyika, Tanzania, in conversation with the Right Rev. Linda Nicholls, Toronto. ANGLICAN VIDEO
The Right Rev. Mdimi Mhogolo, Diocese of Central Tanganyika, Tanzania, in conversation with the Right Rev. Linda Nicholls, Toronto. ANGLICAN VIDEO

The consultation is a fluid group of bishops—from Canada, the U.S., and various African countries—who seek to build common understanding and respect among different parts of the Anglican Communion. It began at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, at a time of great tension within the Anglican Communion over issues of same-sex unions and larger questions of scriptural interpretation.

At Lambeth, Archbishop Colin Johnson of Toronto and the Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa, a Ugandan-Canadian, began conversations with African bishops. African and Canadian dioceses then gradually started theological correspondence, first on human sexuality and later mission.

The consultation has met in person three times, most recently in Toronto last June, and is continuing its work together.

“After Lambeth 2008, our church hasn’t been the same, but some of us have been thinking that we need to keep together despite the divergent views,” said Archbishop Albert Chama in one of the posted video interviews.

“For the first time in our conversations, bishops from Canada and from Africa were able to ask difficult questions…. Why did this church come to the point that they’re accepting gay and lesbian people? Why didn’t they wait? And the bishops from Canada were very open to go further and explain the context for their ministry.”

These conversations are a sign of hope, said Canon Kawuki Mukasa, who now serves as General Synod’s coordinator for dialogue and is the primary convenor of the consultation.

“At a time when relations in the Anglican Communion seem to be deteriorating to a breaking point, it is refreshing to see a group of African and North American bishops who choose to stay at the table and continue talking to one another,” he said.

“The bishops’ journey is a reminder that continuing to talk to one another enables us to see Christ at work even among those with whom we may strongly disagree. These videos invite us to reflect on the challenge of embracing brothers and sisters in different contexts and to recognize the authenticity of callings in the different mission fields of the Communion.”

Canon Kawuki Mukasa recommends the following reflection questions for those watching the videos:

1. What do these conversations teach us about doing mission together in the context of ethical or theological disagreement?

2. What does this practice of talking and listening to each other teach us about our own values and assumptions? What can this process bring in the midst of strained relationships?

The video interviews feature the Right Rev. Michael Bird, Diocese of Niagara; the Most Rev. Albert Chama, Archbishop of Northern Zambia and Primate of Central Africa; the Most Rev. Colin Johnson, Archbishop of Toronto and Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario; the Right Rev. Mdimi Mhogolo, Diocese of Central Tanganyika, Tanzania; the Right. Rev. Trevor Musonda Mwamba, Diocese of Botswana, Botswana; the Right Rev. Anthony Poggo, Diocese of Kajo Keji, Sudan; and an introduction by the Rev. Canon Dr. Isaac Kawuki Mukasa.

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