The following is an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ACC, due to meet in Auckland from this coming weekend. It is penned by my friend and colleague, Bosco Peters, Liturgy, and I support it. It is now noted at Thinking Anglicans.
Dear Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Anglican Consultative Council,
This open letter is a passionate request that you revise the Anglican five-fold mission statement and explicitly include worship/liturgy.
The five-fold mission statement is regularly used as a starting point for the life and mission of the church. It is good, but inadequate. I ardently advocate that our worship, our liturgy, be central, and be seen to be central, to the church’s mission. Its omission from the five-fold mission statement affects our church life and integrity.
The Anglican five-fold mission statement from the Anglican Consultative Council has:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
(Bonds of Affection-1984 ACC-6 p49, Mission in a Broken World-1990 ACC-8 p101)
I propose that worship, liturgy, is not a means to further the mission of the church. It is not a means to further any or all of the dimensions in the five-fold mission statement. Worship, in and of itself, is an essential dimension of our mission and should find its place in our accepted mission statement.
Worship, liturgy, especially the Eucharist, is understood, by the majority of Christians, to be “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 11). St Ignatius Loyola understood “The human person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God” (The Principle and Foundation in his Spiritual Exercises).
Although worship is not a means, giving it centrality does lead to desirable effects. On the other hand, I would argue, the loss of the pivotal place of worship and liturgy leads to consequences, such as the loss of the unifying power of common prayer, of common worship.
I would suggest that as Anglicans unity has been a gift to us through common prayer which has been at the heart of Anglicanism. We neglect our shared spiritual disciplines, and our common unity in God through Christ in the Spirit, at a cost to our unity. Lex orandi, lex credendi, (“the law of prayer is the law of belief”); lex vivendi, in fact. Prayer shapes belief which shapes our life.
In this province, as just one example, during the last three decades we have seen the removal of the clergy’s requirement of Daily Prayer
and a diminution of study, training, and formation in liturgy, worship, spirituality. Stressing the centrality of worship and liturgy in a revised Anglican mission statement I hope will be part of returning training formation and study of liturgy, worship, spirituality to be foundational to our life as church. I would love to see contemplation, spirituality, prayer, worship, liturgy as being foundational to formation of our clergy and our communities. Placing worship/liturgy as central to a revised, updated, mission statement will, I hope, aid renewal. The contemplative dimension provides a solid foundation in our new often-post-modern, often-post-Christian context, where many are unnecessarily disconcerted by change and also new conclusions in scientific, ethical, and even theological endeavours.
I understand that the Anglican Consultative Council has previously discussed having worship as a dimension of church mission, and this letter advocates that revising our five-fold mission statement, to place worship at the heart of church mission, be once again progressed.
Be assured that my prayers are with you as you gather for your meeting in Auckland
Rev. Bosco Peters
Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand