Posted by: Titus Presler | June 26, 2015

‘The mission of God is . . .’ – Anglican primates and a theologian complete the sentence

During the question period at the panel discussion luncheon hosted by Virginia Seminary’s Center for Anglican Communion Studies (CACS) today during the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, the panelists were asked to complete the sentence, ‘The mission of God is . . .’

‘The mission of God is the cross, which brings life and hope and resurrection,’ replied Bp. Samuel Azariah, moderator of the Church of Pakistan, in a reply that reflected that church’s experience of suffering in persecution.

‘Find God in the face of the neighbor,’ said Bp. Paul Kim, primate of the Anglican Church of Korea.

‘We empty ourselves and are filled by the love and grace of God,’ said Bp. Francisco Da Silva, primate of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, adding later, ‘To be reconciled we must first be emptied of ourselves.’

‘God leads, we follow in his wake,’ said Bp. Graham Kings, newly designated Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion, whose address, ‘The Mission of God and the Future of the Anglican Communion,” opened the panel. The question that prompted these responses was asked by David Copley, mission personnel officer of the Episcopal Church.

An interesting sidebar to the discussion arose in connection with Kim’s statement that he is disheartened when any of the Anglican Five Marks of Mission are emphasized to the exclusion of others and his view that all five should be emphasized equally. When I asked the panelists to reflect on that, they had a consensus that all are equally important but that contextual circumstances might prompt a church to stress one more than others at any particular time.

Picking up on his keynote theme, ‘holistic mission mirrors the co-inherence of the Holy Trinity,’ Kings emphasized that the Five Marks co-inhere with one another.

The event, which was co-funded by the Compass Rose Society, was ably emceed by CACS Director Robert Heaney. It is good to see the center living into its calling to be a catalyst for mutual engagement and reflection on the life of the Anglican Communion. At the moment there is no comparable center or institution in the Episcopal Church, and the role CACS is playing is vitally important.

[Just as a refresher, the Five Marks of Mission are:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth]
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