Primates' Meeting: Briefing #1

Days 1 and 2

The 18th Primates’ Meeting of the Anglican Communion opened in Dublin on Tuesday evening in an atmosphere of prayer and purpose. After a welcome and introduction, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams asked those present to hold in their hearts and prayers those Primates unable to attend. He also pointed out that at least a third of the Primates in Dublin were at their first Primates’ Meeting.

Before the Primates attended Night Prayers, Archbishop Rowan gave a short reflection on primatial leadership using the text of Mark 10:35-45.

At the start of Wednesday morning Eucharist, Primates placed, at the foot of the altar, symbols (including photos, food, pictures and other objects) that represented the major missional challenges of their Province. This was so that these local issues are front of mind at any act of worship throughout the week.

Following an official welcome from the Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Alan Harper, he read a letter of welcome from the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen in which Mr. Cowen said that churches have “an important role to play in helping us to understand our current society, and to appreciate the significance of the spiritual and philosophical dimension of the problems and opportunities we face.”

The Irish Prime Minister added that Christian churches have an important mission in global dialogue on an interfaith basis, “The message of tolerance and peace must be loudly proclaimed in these troubled times,” he said.

The Primates spent the remainder of the day sharing with one another, in small groups and at plenary, first their thoughts on the big issues facing the Communion, and then their responses to what they had heard from one another.

Topics shared in plenary included those of mission—how to best share the gospel with the world; of diversity—how Communion members could hold different positions but still work together; of the implications and expectations brought about by different models of primatial leadership; and of the need for the Communion to better address Provincial matters. These included HIV infection; anti-conversion and blasphemy laws; persecution of minorities and situations of national division, as demonstrated in Korea.

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