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Education a key theme for 2013 Anglican synod

TOMORROW, the Anglican Synod, which takes place every three years, begins. This year it takes place in Grahamstown, at St Andrew’s College.

While the synod is usually held in East London, “with its large venues and good facilities”, Dean of Grahamstown, the very reverend Andrew Hunter, says the choice of venue is based on historical reasons, with 2013 being the 160th anniversary of the founding of the diocese of Grahamstown, and St Andrew’s College being “one of our significant church schools”.

At every synod, key themes are addressed, the outcomes of which determine church policy for the next three years.

Hunter said that this year, “the issues are sharper than three years ago. We are part of a country full of hope and expectation, but also a country and a province with serious issues around service delivery, corruption, and abuse of power, wealth and privilege. We as the Anglican Church have a voice, and concerns to raise about these matters”.

Historically, Hunter said, the church had played a key role in investing in education, through the establishment of schools by the church.

“There are strong appeals from many quarters for the church to regain its place at the heart of education, and to provide the moral and spiritual life that our schools need.”

This is also the year of theological education for the entire Anglican Church of Southern Africa. As such, “education, and the church’s involvement in our local schools” will be one of the core themes of this year’s synod.

“The life and well-being of the church, our witness and service, is always part of what synod is all about,” Hunter said.

The Anglican Church has a long history of supporting social and community issues and addressing and confronting issues pertaining to human rights. Attendees of synod will be encouraged to participate in the “Breaking the Silence” event to be held at the Grahamstown Cathedral, this Friday.

It is an annual event organised by Rhodes University, “to highlight the silence around rape and abuse. It has always been a deeply moving, life-changing and powerful event, and we are glad that synod will be part of it”.

The hot topic in the Anglican Communion, human sexuality, “has led to some sad divisions and splits”, and will be discussed at this year’s synod, Hunter said.

“There will be a diversity of opinion. We are not of the same mind on this.”

He does not anticipate there being any changes on church policy relating to same-sex marriage, which currently affirms the heterosexual definition of the union.

With Friday also being the anniversary of the 1819 Battle of Grahamstown, issues of “dealing with our past as well as finding a future together” will also be a key theme of this year’s synod.

Hunter hopes that one of the outcomes of synod will be that we are “reminded on how vital our work and witness is. And to know, at the deepest part of our being, that God loves us, that we are instruments and channels of God’s love”. —


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