Published: January 2009
I was rooting in one of my book cases because it is time to pare down a bit, and I found a set of ten copies of a four page paper marking the Anglican Congress of 1963. That event now seems a lifetime ago. I debated what to do with them and then thought it might be interesting to see what we have indeed accomplished in this world, or did not accomplish since then. I have mostly offered the headings from the pages as an overview of what was to come, and sometimes with a few comments. The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Arthur Michael Ramsey was then Archbishop of Canterbury.
The first issue was very much optimistic at the beginning of the congress. For some reason Toronto was seen as not typical of the Canadian Church, while American Bishops were backing civil rights action. Those days seem so long ago and yet have not been put completely to sleep. Cardinal Leger was leading Canadian Romans in prayer for the Congress, and American Episcopal Bishop Stephen F Bayne discussed the needs of the Anglican Communion. Today Darfur comes to mind.
In the second edition we discover that 600 women volunteers were serving breakfasts and teas during the Congress. That might be a little harder to do in 2009 since many of the women now would be more actively involved. There were almost 1,000 drivers shuffling people about. The unified witness from far lands has radically changed, since now the greater numbers of Anglicans come from African and other emerging third world countries. Canadian, Archbishop Clark, in his address suggested that Christians must be ready to see God's name hallowed outside the Church as well as inside by philosophers, scientists and social scientists. He felt religious folk were in trouble, but yet God remains at work. God seems terribly patient with us. The Archbishop of Canterbury said that each nation must have churches that reflected that nation, and yet there needs to be both giving and receiving. He called for full union in the Catholic Church of Christ. Then, as now, The Church of England is the only state Church, but the controls seem fewer and fewer, no doubt because Parliament has a decreasing interest in the Church.
By the third day the focus was on the great Service of Witness, held at Maple Leaf Gardens the day before. It was the largest religious event ever held in the Gardens. It was stupendous, as I remember it, seated about half way on the right side. There were bishops galore and at the top end sat archbishops and dignitaries before an enormous altar over which hung a cross with the Communion wide symbol of Anglicanism at the centre. The procession into the Gardens took 35 minutes, while 15,500 were seated and several hundred stood. It would certainly be very hard to produce such an event in 2009. Canon Max Warren declared there was no Anglican Monopoly in God. Who could deny that statement? Quebec Nationalists ignored the Church, and this has become a separation of church and state. Anglican influence was seen as strong in Modern African history, due no doubt to the English Missionary Societies. The figure of a few short of 1,000 registrants was impressive for the time.
By the fourth issue, American racial tensions reached the Congress floor and change begins to happen. In 2009 as the first African American President of the United States takes office we are seeing the fulfillment of that transformation. American Francis West of South-western Virginia censured the American Bishops' endorsement of the anti-segregation march on Washington. There was discussion to discover English was essential in India because there were so many languages and dialects. The Philippine Independent Church looked to the days when it would be drafted into the Anglican Communion. Women delegates met to discuss their role in the Church....
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