[Anglican Communion Office] A newly authorized official network of the Anglican Communion, the Anglican Health and Community Network, has launched April 7, 2021, on the U.N.’s World Health Day. A proposal for a new Anglican health network was endorsed by members of the Anglican Consultative Council at their triennial meeting in Hong Kong in 2019. Since then, a small international group has worked to develop a network, which was approved by the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee earlier this year.
The archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, and the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, approved the new network’s three co-conveners. The Rt. Rev. Michael Beasley, bishop of Hertford in the Church of England’s Diocese of Saint Albans, is a former epidemiologist at Imperial College, London. He has extensive international experience in issues of health, nutrition and child development. In 2019 he supported churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo in their Ebola response. The Rt. Rev. Luke Pato, bishop of Namibia in the Church of Southern Africa, is a champion of national and regional initiatives for malaria elimination and a lead member and advocate in the Isdell Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative with other Anglican dioceses in the region. Janice Tang is a specialist in medical oncology and the honorary clinical assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong.
Welcoming today’s launch of the Anglican Health and Community Network, the deputy secretary general of the Anglican Communion, the Rev. Will Adam, said: “For more than a year the attention of the whole world has been primarily focused on health and health care, as countries across the globe respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. And during that time, the value and appreciation we place on health care workers has also increased, as we rightly recognize the incredible hard work they have done – particularly those on the front line in critical care – to support patients with coronavirus and other illnesses.
“The new Anglican Health and Community Network – launching on World Health Day – will support Anglicans working across the world in health care, whether in clinical settings or in the community. It has long been recognized that, in many parts of the world, churches are best placed to reach ‘the last mile’ in hard-to-reach communities – whether it is in disseminating disease prevention education or organizing community clinics.
“And so on this World Health Day, I am delighted that the new Anglican Health and Community Network is launching, with the backing of the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee, to connect, prepare and equip Anglicans around the world to provide health care, accompany the sick and advocate for equitable health care, combining trust in science and hope in God.”
Beasley, one of the co-conveners, said: “Anglicans around the world contribute extensively to the health and wellbeing of the places where they live, work and worship. In many places, this is through running hospitals and health centers. Just as much is the role that Anglicans play as trusted members of their communities, able to engage with local health issues so that solutions and ways forward can be found.
“As someone with a background in public health, I’ve been enormously encouraged to see the work that local church members and churches are doing in different places to contribute to this work – from supporting mental health in my own area of Hertfordshire to responding to the outbreak of Ebola that took place in the D.R.C. to supporting efforts to eliminate malaria in Angola and elsewhere in Southern Africa.
“The aim of the Anglican Health and Community Network will be to enable experiences of understanding and everyday practice such as these to be shared, learned from, built on and grown. Our hope is that the work of Anglicans in health around the world can be strengthened and supported.”
Pato, another co-convener, said: “There is an African proverb which says: ‘If you want to walk fast, walk alone; but if you want to walk far, walk with others.’
“The decision by the Anglican Communion to initiate the Anglican Health and Community Network affirms this African proverb. One of the many lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic is that we need one another at the local and international level to support each other and to exchange experiences.
“We need one another to exchange data – theological, pastoral and spiritual. There is nothing painful and uncharacteristic of the essence and fibre of the church like lonely suffering and death. It is my sincere hope that this network will, among other things, strive to achieve this goal.”
More information about the new Anglican Health and Community Network can be found on the website of the Anglican Alliance: anglicanalliance.org; or by contacting the AHCN coordinator, Sally Smith, by email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.