From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ACNS - Council of the Churches of East Asia promote peace,
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Fri, 06 Dec 2002 18:28:27 -0800
ACNS 3210 | EAST ASIA | 2 DECEMBER 2002
Council of the Churches of East Asia promote peace, justice and understanding
A resolve to promote peace, justice and real understanding between faiths
was the main outcome of the meeting of the Council of Churches of East Asia
(CCEA) which met in the Diocese of Grafton, New South Wales, Australia, in
This annual meeting brings together bishops of the Anglican Communion from
the Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Taiwan,
Japan, Myanmar (Burma) and Australia.
CCEA meets in a different country within the group each year. This year it
was Australia's turn, its representative on the council being the Bishop of
Grafton, the Rt Revd Philip Huggins.
Thirty Bishops attended, many accompanied by their spouses who participated
in the retreat and were observers at some of the later business sessions.
While the overwhelming feeling of the meeting was one of hope and
encouragement, two incidents cast their shadow over the proceedings and
served to emphasise just how important groups such as CCEA are in terms of
fellowship and support.
The first was the refusal of the government of Myanmar to allow its Anglican
Archbishop the Most Revd Dr U San Si Htay to attend the conference.
Head of the Anglican Church in Australia, Archbishop Peter Carnley, who
attended part of the conference, joined with CCEA Chairman Archbishop Peter
Kwong of Hong Kong in expressing disappointment at the decision.
"It is regrettable that at a time when the Australian Government has been
promoting the benefits of 'constructive engagement' with the Burmese
Government, that same Government has refused permission for Archbishop Htay
to attend a meeting in Australia," they said.
"Archbishop Htay was able to attend the meeting of the Primates of the
Anglican Church in Canterbury in April this year but we have not been
advised of any reason for denying him permission to travel to Australia for
what is a non-controversial gathering of church leaders."
The second incident to overshadow events was the terrorist attack in Bali.
This has had a profound effect on Australia, both in terms of the number of
its citizens killed and injured, and in caring for the wounded who were
flown to hospitals in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Condemning the attack, Archbishop Kwong said killing was intrinsically evil
and no way to solve any problems. "We have to put our love into its place,"
he said. "Love is positive; love brings people together; love brings
reconciliation; love is the only way to solve our problems; love is the
opposite of what happened in Bali.
"We may feel upset, even angry, but I think right now, unless we keep calm
and give away our hate, our hostility, our wish for retaliation, we will
have endless troubles.
"If we really want to keep our lives in tact and our nations surviving we
have to really learn to forgive and to accept each other."
The role of forgiveness in peacemaking also under girded the conference and
the opening days of retreat which were led by former Primate of the
Australian Anglican Church Bishop Keith Rayner.
Bishop Rayner said that while self-centredness lay at the heart of sin, it
also lay at the heart of conflict between nations.
"To be a peacemaker you have got to know first what it is to be forgiven, to
accept that forgiveness and then to be able to pass it on to others," he
"Love of enemies is the real test of distinctive Christian love, desiring in
our hearts what is best for them, wanting them to be transformed."
The conference heard reports from each province on the state of the Church,
its strengths and challenges.
These were illuminating for the Australians present and helpful to all the
bishops. They offered insights into what were common concerns and
challenges - of people anxious for hope in troubled times.
They also highlighted the challenges of evangelism and mission faced by a
minority religion in a region where religion is central to human existence
and national cultural identity.
All bishops spoke of how re-energised and focussed they felt after CCEA
conferences. During the final days of the gathering the sometimes
conflicting roles of priest and prophet were mirrored in the members views
of the future of CCEA.
Some believed it should remain more or less as it has been - a fellowship
which allowed for sharing, for growth and the strengthening of
relationships, while others believed it should tackle some of the more
challenging issues the church is having to confront today.
At the suggestion of Bishop Philip Huggins, incremental rather than radical
growth was agreed upon, prompting Archbishop Kwong to remark at the closing
dinner that if all nations could discuss their differences and reach
agreements in the same way as CCEA members, the world would be a more
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