1/31/2007

Well, there it is: Dates announced

At least six weeks after various reporters, including the Living Church, opined that the Primates Meeting was beginning on February 12 and at other times on February 15 we have an official statement regarding the dates of the meeting. Part of the question had to do with when the meeting with guests of the Archbishop – now including Bishops Duncan, MacPherson and Epting – was taking place in the context of the wider meeting. It was puzzling to some of us that the Anglican Communion office had not posted the dates.

Well, now we know. The Anglican Communion website published a short statement today. Here is what it said:

Anglican Communion Leaders to meet in Tanzania

The Primates of the world-wide Anglican Communion will gather for their regularly scheduled meeting 14-19 February, 2007, Jangwani Beach, near Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Other Inter Anglican Meetings will be held around those dates at the same venue.

There are 38 Primates (Senior bishops, Presiding Bishops, Moderators) of the Anglican Communion. The Primates come together from the geographic Provinces around the globe. The Archbishop of Canterbury chairs the meetings with the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion (AC), serving as secretary.

As "primus inter pares" - first among equals, the Archbishop of Canterbury gathers his fellow primates together for Bible study, worship and conversation on the current state of affairs and mission in the global church. Archbishop Rowan Williams has stated that he is looking to the Primates for guidance on matters relating to the Lambeth Conference 2008 as well as looking at the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report, in light of a special report to be discussed from a sub-committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and Primates Standing Committee. There will also be reports on the Panel of Reference and The Listening Process work. Also on the agenda is the welcoming of Mrs Hellen Wasanga of Uganda as the new Anglican Observer at the United Nations in New York. She will be installed at services in New York at Trinity Church, Wall Street and in Zanzibar Cathedral.

New primates will be welcomed from including Ireland, USA, Scotland, Brazil, Australia, Korea, Japan, Indian Ocean, Aotearoa, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Burundi. This is the first time an Archbishop of York will officially attend a Primates Meeting. Canon Kearon said, "It is the hope that the presence of Dr Sentamu will allow more discussion of church life in Britain, as the Archbishop of Canterbury's focus is heavily global during these gatherings."

On the Sunday of the meeting the Primates will travel by boat to Zanzibar for a Solemn Eucharist in the Anglican Cathedral, where the altar is built over an old slave trading post, as the people of Zanzibar commemorate the 100th anniversary of the last slave sold in Zanzibar and the 200th anniversary of the end of slavery in the British empire.

The Primates Meetings have always been private. Press and media briefings will be offered as appropriate and if needed. There will be a final press briefing if a communiqué is issued. Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) will be updated on www.anglicancommunion.org with photos on a daily basis.

You can subscribe to the ACNS List here: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/acnslist.html

We do ask press and media to register with us to make certain they receive all news and information items coming from the Tanzania meeting. There is no press facility on site but local hotels, we understand, have internet and wireless access.

A formal public photo call will follow the Eucharist on Sunday in Zanzibar.

Interestingly there is no mention of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Wednesday guests from the west. The only person picked out for special mention is Mrs Hellen Wasanga who will be installed as the new Anglican Observer to the U.N. If the meeting begins on February 14, then the three guests are early on the agenda.

There is, of course, no mention of the pre meeting strategy session of bishops and others in Kenya, reported by the Living Church.

Of particular interest is this comment: (The Primates will be) “looking at the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report, in light of a special report to be discussed from a sub-committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and Primates Standing Committee.” One presumes this is the same committee that was chosen by the Archbishop earlier. They were chosen from among the ACC and Primates, but as far as I know they were appointed by the ABC alone. For a long time the names of those persons were not mentioned and now they are referenced as a “sub-committee.” Well, administration is a strange business.

Also interesting is the note, “As "primus inter pares" - first among equals, the Archbishop of Canterbury gathers his fellow primates together for Bible study, worship and conversation on the current state of affairs and mission in the global church.” This is a clear assertion of the fact that the Primates Meeting is by his invitation and exists for worship and conversation. While I do not particularly like the “primus inter pares” language, that being a little Orwellian, I do appreciate the niceties of this announcement which makes it clear that the ABC is in charge, he is the host, and it is (one hopes) his agenda.

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