[Anglican Communion News Service] The first thing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will face at the Anglican Consultative Council’s (ACC) opening ceremony Oct. 27 will be a guttural challenge from the young people of New Zealand.
On entering the Telstra Events Centre in Manukau, Williams and ACC members will be greeted with a wero (challenge) from a young Maori Anglican brandishing a taiaha (spear).
But the youth challenge won’t be just ceremonial. The opening event includes an unscripted conversation between young Anglicans and Williams on any topic they think the church should care about.
Given that the kapa haka groups and choirs alone make up more than 800 Maori, Pakeha and Polynesian Anglican students, there’s potential for a few curly questions.
Archbishop David Moxon, senior bishop of the New Zealand dioceses, is pleased for the youth have first say. “It’s fitting that students, some of the youngest voices in our church, show a flavor of our mission in the Pacific, in what is a key moment for the church now and for the future.”
Those students have bussed into Auckland from Waikato and Tai Rawhiti. Diocesan and independent Anglican schools will be represented, along with Te Aute and Hukarere colleges.
Right now they’re hiding out at an undisclosed Anglican school campus, putting the final touches on their welcoming acts.
Anglicans from around Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia will support the bishops and people of Tai Tokerau and Auckland in offering hospitality to the ACC. The city of Auckland has stepped up, too, with a civic welcome.
Williams flew into Auckland on Oct. 25 to a warm but low-key welcome from Bishop Kitohi Pikaahu (Tai Tokerau) and Bishop Ross Bay (Auckland) plus a team of Tikanga Maori clergy and lay people.
In the care of Bishop Kito, the archbishop and his wife, Jane Williams, made a low-key entrance to the conference venue where he was met by Anglican Communion Office staff.
Williams’ first public engagement was to lead the unveiling service for Sir Paul Reeves’ headstone at St. John’s College on Oct. 26.
This 15th session of the Anglican Consultative Council is the largest and most representative Anglican gathering ever held in New Zealand. Youth stewards spent the morning of Oct. 26 registering ACC members from all corners of the Anglican Communion.
Moxon said: “It’s an honor for us as a church to host this gathering and it is also significant as it is the last international engagement for the archbishop of Canterbury. As we welcome the delegates we will also be strengthening our own ties to them from this part of the world, bonding in our diversity and our common commitment to the kingdom of God.”
The ACC is an advisory and policy-making body that draws together more than 80 lay and ordained delegates from 38 provinces across more than 165 countries.
They are meeting in Auckland’s Holy Trinity Cathedral from Oct. 27 to Nov. 7 to discuss the now and next of the Anglican Communion.
Topics include the threat of environmental change and the elimination of domestic and gender-based violence around the globe, as well as issues of ecumenism, mission and theology.