Europe Partners in Mission Consultation
Madrid, 16-18 May 2003

Report

Received as EPC 2004/3 at the European Anglican Provincial Consultation, Paris, 17-19 February 2004


1 Introduction

Bishops, clergy and laity from the four Anglican jurisdictions in Continental Europe have come together in the presence of partners from Anglican Churches in the USA, Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, Scotland, Wales and England, partners from Old Catholic Churches and Lutheran Churches in Communion, and ecumenical partners representing the Roman Catholic Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in Madrid from 16-18 May 2003. At this Partners in Mission Consultation, we have come together to pray, to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, to tell the stories of our Churches’ histories, life and mission, to share with each other the results of conversations and consultations held at local and regional levels, to explore our similarities and differences and to rejoice together for the many gifts we have received from God. We also acknowledge the ways our separation has hindered common mission as Anglicans in Continental Europe.

We are aware that the time has come to move forward together in response to both the challenges of the Lambeth Conferences of 1968, 1978, 1988, and 1998 and those that have emerged from the consultations sponsored by the College of Anglican Bishops in Continental Europe (COABICE) in 1998, 1999 and 2000. We recognize that the issues identified by the Lambeth Conferences regarding overlapping jurisdictions must be addressed within the context of seeking to be faithful to God’s call to mission as lived out by Anglicans in Continental Europe. This has been the focus of our analysis and agreement in this Partners in Mission Consultation. On this basis we must now address the serious issues that restrict our common life in Christ.

We acknowledge with deep gratitude the role of our parent churches, our historic partners, the encouragement from the instruments of the Anglican Communion and the generous and continuing support from mission agencies.

We are indebted to the assistance of the partners at this consultation who have offered us objective comment and reflection, and gracious and gentle challenge, in the spirit of our wider partnership in the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

From our discussions over the past two days, we wish to share the following agreed statement with the faithful of our jurisdictions, with the authorities of the Churches with whom we are in Communion in Europe and with our ecumenical partners. We also agree to submit this report to the appropriate authorities within our jurisdictions for assent and implementation.

2 Converging understandings of our mission in Continental Europe

¶ We are Anglican Churches
We are all Anglican Churches, in communion with the See of Canterbury, bringing to our mission distinctive contributions in ecclesiology, spirituality, theology, and liturgy. We are united in our worship of God the Father, in the proclamation of the Good News of his Son Jesus Christ; and empowered and led by the Holy Spirit. Our doors are open to the wide variety of peoples who can find their spiritual home in our churches.

¶ We are Churches committed to making disciples and nurturing discipleship
We are committed to baptising, teaching, and nurturing disciples within eucharistic communities of faith. We offer within our churches a space for people to worship, to grow in prayer and discipleship and to engage in social action in the community. The fellowship is based on our common Christian life, often enhanced by community with those of the same linguistic tradition, but not exclusively founded on this.

¶ We are servant Churches
Our experience as minority and small churches especially calls us to ministry among the vulnerable and marginalized in our countries and contexts, as also, to the rich and powerful amidst the diversity of our congregations.

¶ We are committed to engaging youth
We share a common concern to engage with youth, and we are committed to developing ways of nurturing youth in a multicultural and pluralistic Europe.

¶ We are Churches engaged in environments subject to powerful secular pressures
Our context for ministry is a continent where people are increasingly alienated from organised religion, yet many are seeking faith, even if they choose not to belong. We are called to be a prophetic voice in an evolving Europe.

¶ We are Churches with an ecumenical vocation
We affirm a vocation to be a “bridge church”, fully committed to ecumenical life and relationships. We minister alongside Churches with whom we are already in communion as well as those with whom relations of full, visible communion have not yet been restored. We are challenged to explore the nature of evangelisation in the context of existing ecumenical commitments.

We rejoice in the 18 February 2003 Paris Statement of our Bishops, which provides an inspiring summary of our future commitment.


3 Diverging Patterns of Ministry and Mission

Please note: Numbering below is for ease of reference only, and does not indicate priority.

1. The basic divergent patterns for ministry and mission stem from the fact that for historical reasons, 4 distinct jurisdictions have come into existence independently.

2. There is a divergence in outlook between those jurisdictions that are focussed in one country and those that are spread across many countries with a consequent difference in the makeup of their congregations.

3. There is a difference between the jurisdictions in the primary focus of their mission. Two jurisdictions focus more on the English-speaking peoples, and two jurisdictions on their nationals.

4. Two of the jurisdictions are extra-provincial dioceses, governed locally, while two are integral parts of large provinces to which they are accountable.

5. There are different binding ecumenical agreements affecting different jurisdictions and variations in the ecumenical relationships with other historic churches.

6. Fears and prejudices about each other still linger, reinforced by institutional and organisational cultures.

7. There are huge differences in financial resources available to the jurisdictions.


4 Next Steps

Please note: Numbering below is for ease of reference only, and does not indicate priority.

As members of this consultation we commit ourselves to mutual prayer focused on our common mission and ask our churches to join us in this commitment. In addition we ask the appropriate authorities within our jurisdictions to —

1. affirm our commitment at local and jurisdictional level to embrace a common future, building on our rich variety of God’s gifts within our distinctive heritages; gifts which will enrich our common life, enhance our communion, even as we put behind us differences stemming from our separated histories.

2. strengthen and continue the COABICE Commission to continue and pursue the implementation of common mission in Continental Europe by regular meetings starting as soon as possible;

3. implement a rotating presidency of COABICE;

4. develop structures for common decision making regarding mission and ministry, resources, planning, policy and strategy;

5. foster progress in our congregations in a move from awareness of each other’s existence, to a trust and willingness to share and co-ordinate particular programmes, to truly common life;

6. urge clergy to show leadership in making contact and developing partnerships with churches of other jurisdictions;

7. explore the implications of considering Europe as special area of Anglican mission in which there can be complete interchangeability of all Anglican clergy;

8. provide for common programmes and courses for ordained and lay leaders, taking into account the suggestions from the theological education focus group [an addendum to this main report];

9. establish clear communication among those responsible for training and youth work, taking into account the suggestions from the communications focus group [an addendum to this main report], and to explore common mechanisms to combine boards and programme offices responsible in these areas;

10. ensure maximum consultation with appropriate jurisdictions and Churches in communion, in the establishment of new congregations and activities;

11. explore the establishing of a common fund for joint projects;

12. develop common policies among Anglicans in Continental Europe for ecumenical engagement, including a common policy on our approach to historic churches and an agreed understanding and formal disavowal of proselytism. (On this point we recommend taking into account the work done by the Conference of European Churches and the Joint Working Group between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches).

In order to facilitate all these developments, improved communication among the 4 jurisdictions is vital. We pray for the blessing and guidance of the Holy Spirit as we undertake these commitments.

return to home page