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Fresh energy and enthusiam at IRAD talks in South Africa

Members of the IRAD group which met in Durban, South Africa
Members of the IRAD group which met in Durban, South Africa

Theologians from the Anglican and Reformed/Presbyterian traditions gathered in the South African city of Durban last week (31 August to 7 September 2017) for the third International Reformed–Anglican Dialogue (IRAD). Their focus was to seek ways to grow closer in unity and mission around the world.The Revd Helene Steed, Rector of St Mark’s Church of Ireland Parish, Dundela, Belfast, is a member of the group.

The initial meeting of IRAD in 2015 marked the first time that the Anglican and Reformed Communions met in a formal dialogue at the global level since 1984, when the Anglican–Reformed International Commission completed its agreement statement, ‘God’s Reign and our Unity’.

Anglican Communion Director for Unity, Faith and Order, Canon John Gibaut, was positive about the Durban meeting.

‘There was a fresh energy and enthusiasm which I found very encouraging,’ he said. ‘I believe it has set the tone for what will be avery interesting period of engagement between the two traditions.’ 

He said IRAD had reflected on what the gift of God’s communion with us meant, and its consequences between the two communions and their common mission to be the signs and servants of God’s design for the world.

Report from ACNS. Communiqué below:

The International Reformed–Anglican Dialogue
Durban, South Africa

The International Reformed–Anglican Dialogue (IRAD) between the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) and the Anglican Communion met for its third meeting, at the eBandla Hotel, Ballito, KwaZulu–Natal, South Africa, 31 August to 7 September 2017. The Co–Chairs are the Revd Elizabeth Welch (Reformed) and the Rt Revd David Chillingworth (Anglican).

The current series of bilateral discussions is the first that the Anglican and Reformed Communions have had globally since 1984, when the Dialogue released the report, God’s Reign and our Unity. In 2011, this new Dialogue was mandated to study the nature of communion (koin?nia), and the pressing issues which emerge for both Communions out of such reflection. During this third meeting, the Commission has deepened its exploration of communion as an unbreakable gift and calling, within the context of our diverse world Communions.

Papers were prepared by members of the Commission over the last year as an initial contribution to the first draft of an Agreed Statement. They were presented in plenary during this meeting. The Commission is also grateful for other papers from expert theologians in related fields. This work formed the basis of intense small group analysis, covering areas including the essence of koin?nia, scriptural and historic testimony to its character, how communion is lived and responded to, as well as identifying and critically engaging with diversity in the church and the wider world. A drafting group has been tasked for the next stage of the Commission’s work.

The South African context offered a profoundly influential focus for the Commission’s reflection, as it heard of the churches’ roles during the apartheid and post–apartheid democratic eras. In particular, the group is extremely grateful to have heard the incisive analysis of Dr Jerry Pillay, immediate past President of the WCRC, and Professor of Church History and Church Polity at the University of Pretoria. Additionally, the group enjoyed the hospitality of the University of KwaZulu–Natal, Pietermaritzburg, at a seminar led by faculty members and students, reflecting contextually on the dynamic of koin?nia and social transformation. En route, the Commission was privileged to pause for poignant reflection at the site of Nelson Mandela’s capture in August 1962.

The Dialogue opened with a celebration of Holy Communion in the Anglican tradition, and closed with a celebration of Holy Communion in the Reformed tradition. The members of the dialogue prayed together each morning and evening.

This third meeting of the Commission was generously hosted by the Anglican Communion. It was warmly welcomed by Bishop Dino Gabriel of Natal, and greatly encouraged by Bishop Nkosinathi Ndwandwe, Bishop–Suffragan of Natal. On Sunday morning, the Commission attended the Eucharist with the Anglican Parish of All Souls’, Umhlali.

The Commission will reconvene at the end of August 2018.

Members of the Dialogue present at this meeting

The Rt Revd David Chillingworth, The Scottish Episcopal Church
Dr Clint Le Bruyns, The Anglican Church of Southern Africa
The Revd Dr James Hawkey, The Church of England
The Revd Prof Dr Renta Nishihara, The Anglican Church in Japan
The Revd Helene T. Steed, The Church of Ireland

The Revd Canon Dr John Gibaut (Co–Secretary), Anglican Communion Office
The Revd Neil Vigers, Anglican Communion Office

The Revd Elizabeth Welch, United Reformed Church in the UK
The Revd Dr Peter Donald, Church of Scotland
The Revd Professor Priscille Djomhoué, Eglise Protestante Unie de Belgique/ Cameroon
The Revd Professor Roderick Hewitt, Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa
The Revd Professor R Gerald Hobbs, United Church of Canada
The Revd Aimee Moiso, Presbyterian Church (USA)
The Rt Revd Dr Royce M. Victor, Church of South India

The Revd Dr Hanns Lessing (Co–Secretary)

The Revd Dr Nadia Marais, Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa
The Revd Thulani Zikhali, The Anglican Church of Southern Africa

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