say "more or less" because in a number of Francophone dioceses French is the second language, still, 4,000,000 Anglicans speaking French is pretty good. They all speak it better than I can.
The Francophone Network - an Anglican Communion network of French speaking Anglicans - meet July 1-4 in Aylesford, England and included representatives from Canada, Europe, Haiti, and seven African dioceses. It was reported on ENS and mostly sits there without comment, a victim of disinterest because there is not blood on the floor.
The meeting is of great interest, however, to those who see continued promise in the Anglican Communion more or less as currently constituted - a fellowship of churches, etc. The seven African dioceses. No doubt the members of the Network are as divided on the many issues in the Anglican Communion as most, but the share an overriding commitment to unity in the Communion.
More, their meeting concerned issues that ought to draw all churches of the Communion together: Christian and Theological Education, economic development and women who have been subjected to violence. This is not, of course the whole list of things they no doubt talked about, but it is at the core of their recommendations to the Communion.
For there to be such a gathering, for them to identify these opportunities and for them to appeal to the whole Communion requires there to be such a Communion.
Below is the communique (I wish people would use some other word). It is worth the read, for it bespeaks a confidence in the life of the Communion we very much need to see expressed.
Congratulations to Bishop Whalon who becomes the new Chair of this Network.
Communiqué of the Francophone Network, Aylesford, England
The sixth meeting of the Francophone Network took place in Aylesford, England, 1 to 4 July, 2008. The group included representatives from Canada, Europe, Haiti, and seven African dioceses. Other representatives were prevented from attendance due to problems with visas.
The bishops and clergy in attendance prayed together, shared their stories, and exchanged ideas.
They experienced a profound desire to reaffirm the primordial importance of the Unity of the Church, especially in the context of the difficulties that the Anglican Communion is currently facing.
It became clear that, despite cultural differences and disagreements on certain important questions, it is only through dialogue and working together that the riches that each brings to the Communion and the accomplishment of the Mission of God can be recognized and enjoyed.
The Francophone Network, which connects four million people throughout the world who celebrate in the French language, is an official body of the Anglican Communion, under the aegis of the Archbishop of Canterbury. At the close of their meeting, the participants reaffirmed their gratitude for his pastoral leadership.
The group also gave recognition to the contribution of those provinces and dioceses of French language in the areas of liturgy and worship.
Several resolutions were passed during the meeting. The Executive Committee received the mandate to:
* Help francophone provinces to find the means to train professors of theological education, using the "Signposts" document and "grids" proposed by the Theological Education in the Anglican Communion commission;
* Gather a team to support the provinces and dioceses in this work;
* Recommend to the appropriate authorities of the Communion that a fund for theological education for all provinces be raised, in particular for those provinces which are not anglophone.
* Find partners in order to develop a fund of US$250,000 for a microcredit program in the Anglican Church of Congo;
* Develop partnerships to help women victims of sexual violence in recent African conflicts.
Also, the meeting decided that a request for proposals should be sent to all the francophone provinces, calling for the establishment of one or two translation centers, so as to furnish timely translations of important documents, as well as brief books destined for a wide public. The Executive Committee will be in charge of the RFPs, and will commit to help find funding.
A new executive committee was elected: President, Bishop Pierre Whalon, France; Vice-presidents, Bishop Zacharie Masimango Katanda, Congo, and the Ven. Pierre Voyer, Canada; Secretary, the Rev. Mary Ellen Dolan, Germany; Treasurer, the Rev. Canon David Oliver; Advisers, Archbishop Ian Ernest, Mauritius, and Muhindo Tsongo Joyce, Congo.
The Network wishes to thank officially the former committee, especially the former President, the Very Rev. Ogé Beauvoir, and Secretary, the Rev. Bernard Vignot. They will continue to work for the Network as Adviser and Archivist, respectively.
And congratulations to the Rev. Canon Jacques Bossière, founder of the Francophone Network, on the occasion of his 89th birthday.
Contact: the Rev. Mary Ellen Dolan, secretary; firstname.lastname@example.org