Six of the fraternal delegates had the opportunity to speak this afternoon. I was in good company with Metropolitan Hilarion from Moscow, Father Massis Zobouian from the Armenian Church, Bishop Sarah Davis of the World Methodist Council, the Revd. Dr. Timothy George of the Baptist World Alliance and Bishop Siluan from the Romanian Orthodox Church. His Holiness, Pope Benedict was present in the Synod which was an honour for all the delegates who spoke.
The text of my own intervention is below. It’s very much based on what I heard and what I thought could usefully be reflected back to the Synod rather than being a full and balanced approach to the subject. There is a fuller version which will eventually appear in the documents of the Synod, with footnotes!
Holy Father, dear sisters and brothers,
thank you for the opportunity to take part in the Synod and reflect with you on
the vital theme of the new evangelization.
Archbishop Rowan Williams spoke last week
on contemplation as the root of evangelization. I address the fruits of
evangelization in the life of the Church as the Church reflects the character
of Christ, in mature disciples, in new ecclesial communities and in new
First when the Church is renewed in
contemplation of Christ and the word of God, we are transformed into his
likeness and become bearers of the character of Christ, becoming more clearly
the Church of the Beatitudes.
Second, the new evangelization calls for a clear
vision of what it means to be a disciple. The new evangelization is a call to whole
life discipleship: an invitation to follow Christ for the whole length of our
lives, with every part of our lives, and into wholeness and abundance of that
life. In catechesis it is vital to have a clear
goal before us: the formation of mature disciples able to live in the rhythm of
worship, community and mission. We are
called to be with Jesus together and to be sent out.
Third, I would encourage the Synod to reflect
further on the formation of new ecclesial communities for the transmission of
the faith to those who are no longer part of any church. For the last ten years, the Church of
England has actively encouraged a new movement of mission aimed at beginning new
ecclesiola in ecclesia, fresh
expressions of the church, as a natural part of the ministry of parishes or
groups of parishes or dioceses. These ecclesiola aim to connect with the
sections of society the parishes are no longer reaching. They are formed by a process of careful
double listening to the culture of a particular group and to the Holy
Spirit. Contemplation is at the heart of
the methodology. The listening is followed by discerning paths of loving
service. The fruit of the service is
often a new community of young people or families or the elderly. Within the
new community the seed of the gospel is sown and evangelism takes place. Only then can the new group of Christians
begin to offer prayers and worship and continue their journey to the full
sacramental life of the Church. Finally, who will be the new
evangelisers? I commend further
reflection on diakonia and the
ministry of deacons.
This process of going and listening and serving
and forming new communities requires particular gifts. In the Church of England we have named this
cluster of gifts “pioneer ministry”. We have recognized pioneer ministry as a
focus of both lay and ordained ministry in our Church.
Pioneer ministry is rooted theologically in
diakonia and the ministry of deacons:
listening, loving service, and being sent on behalf of the Church. Recent New Testament scholarship has
emphasized the role of the deacons in the New Testament, women as well as men,
as those who carried the message of the gospel to those who were beyond the
churches. In the Church of England
ordinal deacons are described as heralds of Christ’s kingdom and as agents of
God’s purposes of love. The diaconate and diakonia are closely connected with
God’s mission and the service of the kingdom.
May Almighty God continue to bless and
guide this Synod as we reflect together on the ways in which our understanding
of Christ shapes our understanding of God’s mission and the ways in which our
understanding of God’s mission continues to reshape Christ’s Church.
Note: ecclesiola means “little churches” and diakonia means service in mission.