Pentecostals 'have much to teach us'
by Nan Cobbey and Randall Lee
Rapidly expanding Pentecostal ``emerging churches'' are at the centre of ecumenical discussions at the Conference. ``I want to underline the significance of this,'' said Bishop Stephen Sykes (Ely, England), vice-chair of the section on dialogue with other churches.
Bishop Sykes added that for the first time Anglicans from all parts of the Communion wanted ``to evaluate this vast phenomenon... and what [it] signifies for world Christianity.'' He said the bishops in the Conference subsection looking at the growth of Pentecostalism and its ramifications ``have taken a generally positive view of our relationship with them.They have a lot to teach us,'' he said. ``And we have a reason to be penitent for our failure to be more responsive to the needs of men and women across the world.''
At the same time,Bishop Sykes said,``we want to find ways of entering into constructive dialogue with them without dismantling our heritage.'' Maintaining other ties These new directions will not lead to a drift away from the Roman Catholic Church,the press conference heard. A reporter had asked whether the growing emphasis on dialogue with Pentecostals, Lutherans and other Protestants meant Anglicans are ``going to lose more and more the catholic side of your history?''
``No!'' was the immediate,forceful reply from Bishop Christopher Hill (Stafford,England),editor of the subsection draft report. ``There is a very long dialogue between the papacy and the Pentecostal churches, from the 1970s onwards, ''Bishop Sykes added. ``So the fact that we are taking this group very seriously means we are following the example of the papacy.'' Virtually every part of the Communion has indicated significant challenges in dealing with these new churches, said Bishop French Chang-Him (Seychelles), chair of the subsection.
The fact that many of these churches have rejected the ecumenical movement makes the challenge even greater, Bishop ChangHim added. Questioned by reporters about the impact of the Conference's discussion on homosexuality for interchurch dialogue, Bishop Jabez Bryce (Polynesia), chair of Section Three, had an immediate and precise answer: ``The section wants to make very clear that no province of the Anglican Communion has changed its standing on this matter. ``They still endorse the marriage between a man and a woman.They have not changed that at all and we want to reaffirm that in our section.''
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