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Executive Committee Calls for Task Force on 'Islam and Interfaith Engagement'

Members of the Anglican Church in North America’s Executive Committee wrapped up two days of business sessions with a holy communion service in Ambridge, PA, on August 11.

During the meeting, the elected committee of 12 members (six clergy and six laity) that functions as a board of directors for the Anglican Church in North America, heard reports on the church’s mission, finances and organizational work, called for the formation of a task force on “Islam and interfaith engagement” and approved introduction of a yearly congregational report.

In calling for the creation of a task force on Islam and interfaith engagement, the Ven. Julian Dobbs, a member of the Executive Committee and archdeacon for the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, said “we need to undertake a prayerful, sensitive and honest approach to the issues involved.” Bishop John Guernsey agreed. “The Archbishop didn’t get the applause for his call to engage Islam that he got for the call he gave to plant 1,000 churches, but I know God was in it as well,” he explained, referring to Archbishop Robert Duncan’s address at his service of institution in June, 2009. The Executive Committee unanimously endorsed the naming of the task force by Archbishop Duncan. The task force will report to the Executive Committee at future meetings.

The Executive Committee also approved a draft congregational annual report, which, beginning this year, all congregations of the church will be asked to complete. The yearly congregational report, which was proposed by the records committee, is intended to strike a balance between simplicity and gathering useful information about every church in the province that will allow leaders to understand and respond to what is happening in the church. “The general requirement is to ask for as little information as you need,” said Archbishop Duncan. This year, diocesan bishops will be able to make their reports in electronic format, with the goal to ultimately make it possible for every parish to enter their information online.

Mr. Brad Root, Chief Operating Officer for the provincial office, reported on the budget. He noted that the provincial office finished its first fiscal year with a slight, $30,057 surplus, and has never had a month “in the red.” Over the last year, giving to support the work of the provincial office has shifted significantly, from being primarily funded by individuals and parishes, to being largely carried by the regular contribution of tithes from the church’s dioceses, he added. The shift, which is in line with the tithing model laid out in Canon 9, Section 1, does not mean that individual and parish support will not continue to be important and necessary, said Root. In fact, to make sure that the provincial work of the church is firmly grounded, Root is working to raise $500,000 over the next four months to cover costs associated with the Anglican1000 church planting initiative, provincial communications, outreach to the Sioux Nation and Myanmar, and other provincial level projects. The campaign, called the “Founders Fund,” is already seeing success, but much more needs to be done, said Root. Root also called on the Executive Council to consider closely how they might lead the church in supporting and teaching the tithing model. “People with whom I meet to talk about our needs, ask, almost without exception, what we are doing when it comes to teaching and encouraging the tithe,” he said.

Bishop Bill Atwood, of the International Diocese, reported on international relations in the Anglican Communion. He particularly noted the gathering of the Anglican Bishops of Africa in Uganda August 23-31. A number of Anglican Church in North America leaders, including Archbishop Duncan, have been invited to attend this gathering. The Executive Committee has called for prayer and fasting during the meeting.

The next Executive Committee meeting is scheduled for February 10-11, 2011. In discussing sites for future meetings, Archbishop Duncan said “Wherever we go, we need to ask: ‘Do we build up the church?’ and ‘do we see encouraging signs about what is happening in the church?’”


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