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Ways of the World

Carol Stone, business economist & active Episcopalian, brings you "Ways of the World". Exploring business & consumers & stewardship, we'll discuss everyday issues: kids & finances, gas prices, & some larger issues: what if foreigners start dumping our debt? And so on. We can provide answers & seek out sources for others. We'll talk about current events & perhaps get different perspectives from what the media says. Write to Carol. Let her know what's important to you:

Monday, November 13, 2006

Archbishop Ndungane

The Most Reverend Njongonkulu Ndungane, Archbishop of Cape Town, visited November 12 at St. Bart's in New York. He preached and also spoke at the "Rector's Forum". Bill Tully, the Rector, moderated the latter presentation. We attended, and herewith follow some thoughts from the Archbishop's presentations.

He talked at length about the division in the Anglican Communion. He is concerned that some of his more vociferous colleagues in Africa are forgetting the very nature of what it is to be Anglican. In both the sermon and the Forum discussion, he described what he calls "the Heartlands of Anglicanism", a modern-day expression for the "Via Media" of Elizabeth's time. The "Heartlands" draws a parallel with the region we would call the Heartlands in this country: "the historic fertile middle ground". In July, the Archbishop wrote to the other Primates of the Anglican Communion some reflections with this title; these ideas formed the core of his sermon. See it yourself here. Rather than diluting the strength of various visions within the Church, the coming together of them in the Heartland, the Middle Ground makes them all the more vigorous as they fertilize each other.

He elaborated on a new version of our famous "3 Legged Stool" which the Archbishop of Canterbury had described earlier in the summer. The Anglican Church has three "strands": "[1] the reformed commitment to the absolute priority of the Bible for deciding doctrine, [2] a catholic loyalty to the sacraments and the threefold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons, and [3] a habit of cultural sensitivity and intellectual flexibility…." Reformed, catholic and culturally relevant strands run through every issue we face together. This makes it complicated for us to grapple with these issues, "messy" to use his word, but ever so rich when we succeed.

Archbishop Ndungane fears the loss of the "middle ground" in the present controversies, and between now and the next Lambeth Conference he hopes to facilitate some movement toward reconciliation. His role at Lambeth in 1998 was as Chair of the commission that dealt with matters of morality and ethics, so he has some experience bringing together diverse voices of the Church on these sensitive issues. Let us pray for him as he moves forward in this work.

For Africa, of course, development is of paramount importance, and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were the other main issue of the Archbishop's discussion. He advocated a tactic that appeals to us: consulting directly with the people who should benefit from these goals. "We don't want a handout," he quoted them. "We have brains and skills, we just need resources." The aspect to which he gave the most emphasis is education, especially for girls. Attention to poverty and disease is also significant, but universal access to primary education seems to be first on his list. Progress on the some of the other MDGs would follow from this one. Anglicans from around the world will gather in his country in the Province of Gauteng (Johannesburg and Pretoria) next March in a meeting intended to create energy toward achievement of the MDGs.

During the "Q & A", a woman in the audience explained that she had just returned from work on a project in Malawi, and she said she was deeply touched by the hospitality of the people there. How could he account, she asked, for such outreach from people who have so little? "Africans always have hope," he replied. "They always believe things will get better."

In coming weeks, here at Ways of the World, we'll pick up on this issue, which has a high priority with our new Presiding Bishop. So Archbishop Ndungane's appearance here in a New York church forms a fine introduction. It was inspiring and encouraging to hear him speak so strongly on issues that matter to all of us.


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