When I read the first words of today’s Epistle reading from Romans, “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves,” I thought immediately of the theme of the 1963 Toronto Anglican Congress, “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ.” I remembered the excitement that theme brought to the Churches of the Anglican Communion when the delegates reported to their Churches throughout the world.
I was living in Japan at that time. I remember reading the report sent to Anglican Missionaries in Japan. I think we all shared the excitement and hope expressed in that report; “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ.”
Last week as I read through the reports written in 1963 and those written this past summer at the Jubilee held in Toronto, I found reference to the reaction of Edmond Browning (our retired Presiding Bishop). In 1963 he was a missionary priest serving in Okinawa. To him the report of the Primate of the Church in Japan was one of the most moving things he had ever read.
Especially moving were the two sentences, “We are no longer a receiving Church. We have something to contribute to the whole Communion.”
In the next few years those Churches that had previously been “receiving Churches” found ways to make contributions to other Provinces of the Anglican Communion.
I can remember when I was living in Japan a young Japanese priest and his wife spent a period of time as missionaries in East Africa in response to “MRI”, as the theme of that Anglican Congress came to be called, “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence”.
Groups of young people from the Philippines participated in the “Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project” (known as KEEP) bringing both Christian teaching and suitable modern agricultural methods to the mountain people of Mid-Japan.
As I reviewed the reports of the 1963 Anglican Congress and the 2013 Jubilee I saw how what had begun with great enthusiasm and a wider vision of Christian responsibilities has become sidetracked by various “issues” perceived as threatening the unity of the Anglican Communion.
The last verse of our Epistle, “Each of us will be accountable to God” is a reminder of our responsibility. (Rom.14:12)
Pray for a return of the vision of 1963; for renewal of the excitement with which it was received; for hope and zeal to carry it out and to deal with “issues”!
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