Section Three: Call to unity has 'fresh urgency'
by Katie Sherrod
Section Three's report says the call for all God's diverse people to be held in unity is heard with fresh urgency today because of the opposing forces of fragmentation and globalisation. Each has positive and negative effects. Fragmentation awakens liberating self-awareness in indigenous and other minority groups but also stimulates tragic and violent separatist conflicts between cultural minorities. Globalism, driven by the world market and communications technology, brings dreams of inclusion for ``all'' but too often at the expense of ``each.''
Within this context the report holds up special concerns of women, youth and the poor as they exist in the interstices between global economic forces, the media, technology, science and religion. Because Christian tradition emphasises both the contextuality and catholicity of the gospel, and the Anglican Communion stresses ``both the one and the many, held together through the sacramental life of the Church,'' the Church can be the new creation in which ``all'' and ``each'' are held together.
It lays out areas of common ground, among them the affirmation of baptism as the foundation of all Christian ministry; the necessity of the orders of bishops, priests and deacons to the wellbeing of God's Church; the importance of a broadly interpreted lay ministry; and the five commitments directly related to all ministries: worship, proclamation/evangelisation, forgiveness or reconciliation, service, and working for justice. It rejects lay presidency and affirms the diaconate as a distinct order. It upholds the centrality of scripture while acknowledging and honouring differing approaches to scriptural interpretation. It affirms it is possible to be a faithful Church while encompassing these differences: ``The gospel is one, though the Church hears and responds to it in multiple forms.''
Worship is held to be so central that liturgy is addressed with a statement appended to the report. As participants in the Church's story, the report says,``we cannot expect those who have gone before us to bear the witness that only we can make.'' This responsibility lies on the resources of the whole Communion;we cannot rely on a centralised juridicial authority. It affirms a standard of loving faithfulness in marriage, family and sexual relations, urges that men be supported in renewing their parental and family commitments, and calls for the gifts of girls and women to be upheld in family, work and ministry. It also calls Christians to an ``appropriate simplicity'' of living that enables responsible stewardship of resources; encourages them to engage in dialogue with at least one other faith, and to affirm the principle and practice of religious freedom.
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