The five Anglican Primates of Oceania issued the following statement following their meeting at Tweed Heads in Australia last week:
We offer our profound thanks and praise to Almighty God whose faithfulness, throughout generations, has brought us to this place of fellowship and trust.
We are four Provinces covering many nations, more than 1000 languages, with rich and diverse cultures. We are surrounded by the oceans that define our lives and we are united through the interweaving of history and long friendships. In all our diversity and across our many differences we continue to find our unity in Christ, who binds us together despite our failure and sinfulness.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing. John 15.5 (NIV)
We gather at a time when the rhetoric of nationalism, ridicule, fear-mongering, and hatred is so prevalent. In such a climate where “me first” or “we first” dominates, we affirm: “we together.”
We will be judged by our failure to support our weakest part. We celebrate that what the world views as weak is in fact strength, what the world views as folly, is indeed wisdom. We rejoice at the fruits of the Spirit we see in each other, and we give thanks for the faithfulness of our forebears who sowed the seeds of the Gospel in our lands.
We had a rich and deep talanoa (robust conversation over time) covering many topics of mutual concern and common mission:
We agreed that as whole nations of ocean people lose their island homes, climate justice advocacy and action must become the most urgent priority for Oceanic Anglicans.
We committed ourselves to extending our partnership in theological education and leadership development and to encouraging relationships between our Anglican schools and development and welfare agencies.
We addressed the challenges of seasonal workers and labour mobility across our Provinces and how we could respond both pastorally and politically.
We discussed the work being undertaken across our Provinces to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable and particularly those in our care.
We considered the way our growing relationships with the Anglican Provinces across Asia could be deepened and looked forward to the meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in October 2017.
We found common ground in our strong commitment to working for the continuing unity of the Communion.
We heard harrowing stories of human rights violations in West Papua, which were poignantly focussed for us by Archbishop Clyde Igara, who said: “I am West Papua. I am Papuan” – such is the arbitrariness of national boundaries and the historical circumstances that have defined them.
We committed to welcoming each other regularly into our Provinces and to formally meeting again as the Oceania Anglican Fono (gathering) to be held in Suva, Fiji Islands in March 2018.
Archbishop Philip Freier (the Anglican Church of Australia)
Archbishop Clyde Igara (the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea)
Archbishop Winston Halapua (the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia)
Archbishop Philip Richardson (the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia)
Archbishop George Takeli (Anglican Church of Melanesia)