A working group from across the worldwide Anglican Communion has met at Lambeth Palace in London to plan how to turn a proposed Anglican Alliance on relief, development and advocacy into a reality.
Professionals from five continents working on advocacy, relief and community development programmes reviewed responses to a public consultation on the foundational document and the issues arising from them, and worked together to chart a way forward for the first few years of the Alliance.
On the consultation’s final afternoon, the group reported back to both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon.
Their report included inspiring stories of local church action on relief, development and advocacy currently taking place around the Anglican world and comments on how the Alliance could support this work.
Reflecting on his Church’s programmes in areas of HIV and sexual violence, a Congolese participant, Albert Baliesima said: “This is an opportunity to share our experiences and learn from each other in the Anglican Communion.”
Ollie Pokhana, a participant from the Solomon Islands where the Church helps communities adapt to climate change, agreed: “This Alliance can connect me with other people who are engaged in similar issues so we can get better results.”
Delene Mark from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa described her church’s campaign against human trafficking and reflected on what the Alliance could add: “It could strengthen the voice of the individual churches working on key issues such as human trafficking, but also raise the profile of this campaign at the global level, encouraging churches in other countries to engage.”
Ms Sandra Andrade, the representative from Brazil, emphasised the importance of keeping people especially the most vulnerable at the heart of the vision: “We need to put at the centre the people who will be served by this Alliance, particularly our brothers and sisters who most need our support.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury described the proposed Alliance as something he believed “could really allow local understanding, and local initiative to grow and flourish with the best skills and capacities we, as a church worldwide, can offer.”
It was affirmed that a key aim of the Alliance was to work collaboratively to help equip Anglican churches to be more effective partners with other organisations. The working group’s plan is to establish a light provisional structure to facilitate learning and collaboration while the participants developed the most effective mechanisms for learning from and strengthening grassroots initiatives and promoting regional collaboration.
The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Rev Canon Kenneth Kearon, told the group that this consultation was an encouraging move forward, seeing Anglicans coming together on a common vision around a response to poverty.
Dr Williams also stressed that with the Alliance the Anglican Communion was not trying “to create another huge NGO” but rather something that was“more focused, more intentional; something which could genuinely lead to an exchange of wisdom and experience and build the capacity of churches to be a credible partner for governments and NGOs.”