CACS is called to promote and practice deeper community for the Communion through three imperatives; to reflect, resource and reconcile. In an effort to deepen our own personal and professional understanding of this mission and to strengthen our efforts to forward the mission, we were fortunate to spend one week in the United Kingdom.
In London we met with staff at the Anglican Communion Office. The purpose of the visit to the Anglican Communion Office was to better understand the breadth of work that this office does for the global Anglican Communion. Indeed, an incredible amount of work is accomplished by a relatively small, but highly dedicated and qualified staff! We learned about ongoing efforts related to global mission, youth development, empowering Anglican women’s leadership, furthering the Communion-wide focus of the Anglican Communion News Service, and additionally supporting the development, relief, and advocacy work of the Anglican Alliance. We also learned about more administrative aspects of information management, like the tremendous work that goes into planning major events such as the Anglican Consultative Council and Lambeth Conferences. The following day, we joined CACS Director Robert Heaney (on sabbatical) for a meeting at Lambeth Palace with Rev. Dr. Sarah Snyder, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation.
As we look toward the 2017-18 academic year, which will mark the 20th anniversary of CACS and an even longer history of VTS’s engagement with the wider Communion, these conversations provided a helpful framework to think about how the work and goals of the ACO, CACS, and VTS might support and resource each other now and in the future.
The second part of our trip was a short pilgrimage to Coventry Cathedral in connection with VTS having joined the Community of the Cross of Nails (CCN), an international reconciliation ministry based at Coventry Cathedral. Our pilgrimage actually started before we even got to Coventry. Haley Jones, an intern from the United States, met us in London to visit another CCN member site, St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. St. Ethelburga’s was an old Anglican church in the heart of London’s financial district that was destroyed by a bomb in 1993. They now run a dynamic center for peacebuilding and interfaith dialogue. Once in Coventry, we met the rest of the Reconciliation Ministry team; Alice Farnhill, CCN Officer, and the three interns, Rahel (Germany), Haley (USA) and Emma (Cambridge, UK). The entire staff provided wonderful hospitality, was a wealth of information, and gave us great hope for the future of the hard work of lasting reconciliation. Our pilgrimage included a tour of Coventry Cathedral (the ruins of the old cathedral as well as the “new” cathedral), choral evensong, morning prayer, the Friday Litany of Reconciliation that all Cross of Nails member sites (VTS included) have committed to praying, a walking tour of other holy sites throughout the city of Coventry, and time for prayerful reflection and conversation. We were also asked to give a brief presentation about VTS and CACS to a small group of local supporters of the Cross of Nails. What started with a relatively straightforward sharing of our work and context turned into a rich conversation about the challenges of different types of division that the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Anglican Communion are all facing right now, and how we each might be called to respond.
We returned from the trip energized and ready to continue leveraging international relationships to forward the work of CACS and VTS within the context of the wider Anglican Communion.