Spirit of unity descends on ecumenical plenary
by Susie Erdey
The first Conference plenary to consider debatable resolutions proceeded with such a remarkable spirit of consensus yesterday afternoon that bishops completed their scheduled work on resolutions from Section Four (``Called to be One'') and moved on to the reports and resolutions of Section Two. The material from Section Four dealt with ecumenical relations between the Anglican Communion and other churches throughout the world. Bishop Jabez Bryce (Polynesia), the moderator of Section Four, introduced the section report by stating: ``We affirm...that every Lambeth Conference has had a deep concern for unity both of the Church and the unity of human community.
``Section Four hopes that the provinces of the Anglican Communion will in the next 10 years respond with fresh enthusiasm to our ecumenical vocation in a spirit of humility, patience and loving tolerance.'' Bishop Bryce noted three main themes in the report, identified from regional responses and from direct experience of contemporary ecumenical engagement.
Drawing further from the Section Four report, Bishop Bryce noted: ``In each theme we were aware that our ecumenical vocation is carried out in the context of the encounter with people of other faiths and none. If our witness is to be credible it requires that Christians are united.'' He continued: ``As we receive God's gift and respond to God's call our mission will be more credible and the praise of God become a united chorus increasing in thanksgiving to the glory of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.''
Two of the three resolutions presented for debate--IV.1, on commitment to full, visible unity, and IV.3, on an inter-Anglican standing commission on ecumenical relations--passed by vote of hand with no debate and no visible objections. A third resolution---IV.13, on unity within provinces of the Anglican Communion---also passed, after Bishop Wilson Mutebi (Mityana, Uganda) tried to add an amendment clarifying the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury.The amendment failed, and the resolution was approved overwhelmingly as originally submitted in the Section Four report.
All 20 resolutions presented by Section Four for assent were passed by votes of hand, with no requests for resolutions to be transferred from the assent list to the debate list. Moving to Section Two, the plenary received the section's report, approved the list of four resolutions on the ``agreed list,'' and adopted an amended version of Resolution II.6, which addresses future priorities in mission. Bishop Christopher Mayfield (Manchester, England) submitted a successful amendment adding language that emphasises the need to pursue mission in partnership with Christians of ``all traditions.''