On Wednesday, May 25, the Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston will join other bishops and primates from across the Anglican Communion in Accra, Ghana, for the 7th Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue. The Diocese of Virginia hosted the 6th Consultation in Richmond last year, and Bishop Shannon has attended previous meetings in Africa and England. The dialogue group was formed in 2008 at the Lambeth Conference when the Anglican Communion was split over issues of same-sex unions and larger questions of Scriptural interpretation. Membership has grown and shifted over time, and includes bishops from The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church of England, and from dioceses and provinces from all over the continent of Africa. There are 25 bishops expected to attend this year, including Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry.
The bishops meet to listen, to understand each other’s context of shared ministry in the Gospel, and to facilitate healing and reconciliation. Bishop Shannon describes the consultation as a unique group that does very important work for the Anglican Communion. The testimonies published from each meeting are widely read, discussed, and referenced across the Communion. Bishop Shannon states that, “Over the years, since the second consultation meeting that I attended in Dar-es-Salaam, it has been most gratifying to see the growth in commitment to each other’s place and role in the Communion. Whether or not we come to agreement is not the point. The mutual commitment to each other drives the relationship and is vital. The often cited ‘bonds of affection’ are quite real when the group gathers.” Seeing that commitment continue to grow is what he most looks forward to experiencing in Ghana.
The 7th Consultation continues through Sunday May 29. Bishop Shannon asks for your prayers during this time for this important work.