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Anglican Provincial Secretaries issue statement after Hong Kong meeting


A meeting of the Anglican Communionís provincial secretaries -- the chief administrators for each Anglican province -- was hosted by the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (Anglican Church of Hong Kong) August 23-30.

The conference is an informal meeting designed to assist provincial secretaries in their professional development, to increase knowledge and experience of the challenges facing the 38 Anglican provinces and to strengthen bonds within the Communion.

Not every Anglican province employs a provincial secretary. In the Episcopal Church the duties are distributed among senior staff at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City.

The Rev. Dr. Gregory Straub, in his role as executive officer and secretary of the General Convention, and Canon Margaret Larom, as director of Anglican and Global Relations, are among those who fulfill the duties usually carried out by a provincial secretary.

Larom and Straub were joined by the Rev. Canon Anthony Jewiss, deputy executive officer of General Convention, in representing the Episcopal Church at the Hong Kong meeting.

The full text of a statement issued by the Provincial Secretaries at the end of their Hong Kong meeting follows.

The Provincial Secretaries of the Anglican Communion met in Hong Kong from 23 to 30 August 2007 for the sixth in a series of informal meetings started in the 1980s. Provincial Secretaries are key administrators for each province and the conference programme was designed to further their professional development, encourage them in their faith and ministry, increase knowledge and understanding of the challenges facing other Provinces and to strengthen bonds within the Communion.

Representatives from 29 Provinces (see below) and from the Anglican Churches in Cuba and Sri Lanka attended. A number sent regrets. In addition three Provincial Secretaries had to send last minute apologies because of visa difficulties and in one case from illness.

The Provincial Secretaries received a letter of greeting from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Dr Rowan Williams. They were welcomed to Hong Kong by the Primate of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, Archbishop Paul Kwong. The Archbishop was Provincial Secretary for Hong Kong immediately before taking up his present office and had been involved in the earlier preparations for the conference. All who attended were deeply grateful to the host Province for its generous hospitality and superb organisation.

Each representative had time to brief colleagues on their own provinces. Provincial Secretaries from different parts of the world gave presentations on the distinctive roles they play in supporting Primates and Provinces in their decision making, financial management and support and development of ministries and staff. There were presentations and discussions on the particular difficulties facing Churches in places afflicted by civil war, conflict, unrest and disease. A number also spoke of situations where Christians face unjust treatment for their faith.

The Provincial Secretaries reflected on their role at the interface between Church and secular authorities and considered the variety of ways in which the Provinces of the Communion are seeking to manifest the love and mercy of Jesus Christ throughout their societies. They welcomed the strong commitment across the Communion to meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Time was devoted, both in plenaries and workshops, to considering specific issues affecting the mission of the Church, including evangelism, spirituality and changing patterns of ministry.

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Kenneth Kearon, who was present with two colleagues, briefed Provincial Secretaries on a wide range of general organisational and practical issues within the Communion. He also introduced a session on current issues of division in the Communion and the particular role that Provincial Secretaries can play, including in facilitating an orderly discussion within Provinces on the draft Anglican Covenant and timely preparation for the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

Through presentations, Sunday worship in churches in the Hong Kong dioceses and visits to projects run by the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council, the Provincial Secretaries learned much about the social, economic and spiritual challenges facing the Special Administrative Region ten years after reunification with China. They drew inspiration from the continuing commitment of Anglicans in Hong Kong to a range of welfare and educational programmes and the notable impact that a small Church is continuing to make to the life of the region through its commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Those who attended were nurtured in their Christian discipleship through times of worship and warm fellowship. Frank discussions both in the formal sessions and informally served to strengthen bonds of friendship among all those present. These served to reinforce the importance of continuing to seek ways of maintaining unity within the Communion at this time of strain and uncertainty. All committed themselves to pray for each other over the coming days. There was agreement that planning should be put in hand for a further meeting in the series in three yearsí time.

Provinces represented: Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia; Australia; Bangladesh; Brazil; Burundi; Canada; Central Africa; Central American Region; England; Episcopal Church (USA); Hong Kong; Indian Ocean; Ireland; Japan; Jerusalem and the Middle East; Kenya; Melanesia; Mexico; Myanmar; Pakistan; Philippines; Rwanda; Scotland; South India; Tanzania; Uganda; Wales; West Africa; West Indies. The Anglican Churches in Cuba and Sri Lanka were also represented. Congo, Korea and Sudan had to send last minute apologies.


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