by Roddy MacKenzie
Friday, November 1, 2013 was very much the day of Archbishop of Canterbury His Grace Justin Welby here at the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, Korea. To give you the clearest possible view of this extraordinary multi-faceted day, I’ve divided it into the subject headings you can see below. It was the most remarkable day, and unquestionably the WCC highlight for the world’s 80 million Anglicans, including of course my wife Ka Hyun! I hope I’m successful in conveying the essence of the day in this message. It was such an awesome day.
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Greetings to the Plenary of the 10th Assembly
The Archbishop’s remarks are important, his words are carefully chosen and his text is brief. Accordingly, the most effective way of communicating to you his message to the WCC is by attaching the full text of his remarks (see below). Take a moment to review what the Archbishop says to the 7,000 here for this 10th Assembly. His words set the tone for the relationship of the WCC and the 80 million Anglicans of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Press Conference
As Accredited Media of the Anglican Church of Canada, my wife Ka Hyun and I were front and centre for the Archbishop’s Press Conference Friday afternoon. Immediately preceding this, the Archbishop was interviewed in a private room by a media representative of The Vatican. Through the window I photographed the interview (see below). At the main Press Conference, our position gave enabled Ka Hyun to take pictures of His Grace at the podium (see below). The WCC now has 140 International Accredited Media, including Ka Hyun and me, and almost 300 Korean Accredited Media. In addition, this Press Conference was televised. It was quite the experience. Read on!
The questions and the Archbishop’s answers are, according to my scribbled and far from perfect notes, as follows:
1. Will you be visiting the DMZ [between North and South Korea] and, given we’re now the only country in the world that’s divided, what should we do?
Archbishop of Canterbury: This is my first visit to Korea. It’s not my role to lecture Koreans on unification. As Christians, we pray for peace.
2. There are protests outside BEXCO regarding Church endorsement of homosexuality. What do you think of the WCC Moderator’s comments on this:
Archbishop of Canterbury: I’m not here to second guess the Moderator of the WCC [The Reverend Dr. Walter Altmann of Brazil]
3. Sweden now has a female Bishop. Given the English vote turning down female Bishops, how will you receive her?
Archbishop of Canterbury: With the same warmth and honour I’ve already received the female Bishops of Norway and America
4. What would you think of England hosting a WCC Assembly?
Archbishop of Canterbury: Whoever was Archbishop of Canterbury at the time has attended every one of the 10 Assemblies of the WCC since the founding Assembly in 1948. This personal presence at every Assembly is to show the strong support of the Anglican Communion for the WCC. That support goes back to William Temple before WWII. it would be a great honour and a great pleasure to host an Assembly and England is the best possible location (general laughter).
5. A Bishop in Norway has been criticized for “sticking his nose into politics“. What are the boundaries?
Archbishop of Canterbury: You can’t put Christianity in a box. Christianity covers every aspect of life. However, the Church must comment from the perspective of Christian theology and the love Jesus has for the lowly and the poor. I will not comment on party politics.
6. It appears that America’s NSA has been tapping phones at The Vatican. Are they tapping your phones, and what are your comments?
Archbishop of Canterbury: Bugging my telephone would be the most unbelievably boring thing they could do. My telephone calls can be mind-bogglingly boring.
7. Any plans to visit China?
Archbishop of Canterbury: No invitations presently, so no plans. It would be a huge privilege to go to China.
8. What hopes and expectations do you have for this Assembly?
Archbishop of Canterbury: Most important of all, a broader vision of our Global Church. Being here is a wonderful experience for me. Being here gives me the profound sense God’s Church is so extraordinary and miraculous globally. Praise God!
9. Concluding Question was asked by The Reverend Ka Hyun MacKenzie Shin of Canada: The understanding of theology is very different between the east and the west. Given these differences, how do we pull together in unity?
Archbishop of Canterbury: That is the work of the Holy Spirit. The work of God, the Spirit of God, brings together the family of God.
You’ll note that, as it happened, Ka Hyun asked the last question of this Press Conference. Then it ended, the Archbishop left the podium, approached Ka Hyun, shook her hand and spoke briefly with the two of us before departing. Ka Hyun’s was the only hand he shook, and the two of us were the only people with whom he spoke.
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Eucharist Service for Anglicans
Next came the Archbishop’s Eucharist of All Saints Service. There was an element of controversy given that this Service and Dinner were moved off site away from BEXCO. The 200 of us invited to this event and the other 50 who showed up instead convened several miles away in the Grand Ballroom of a hotel on the beach. Our Ballroom featured huge picture windows disclosing dramatic views of Busan’s ocean waterfront. We were told we represented 150 countries. The Anglican Primate of Korea, Archbishop Paul Kim, specifically sat the Ecumenical Orthodox Christian Primate of Korea next to Ka Hyun [see picture below] for the Eucharist Service and the dinner. The Orthodox Primate is Metropolitan Ambrosios. He and Ka Hyun shared a remarkable time together. A moment the sacredness of which deeply touched Ka Hyun occurred when the Archbishop of Canterbury approached Metropolitan Ambrosios to invite him to participate in the Eucharist. The Metropolitan replied sadly he was unable to. During the Eucharist, the Archbishop of Canterbury knelt before him. Ka Hyun was deeply affected by this interaction between these two Men of God.
The Eucharist of All Saints Service was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby; the Anglican Primate of Korea Archbishop Paul Keung San Kim; and the Bishop of Busan, Onesimus Dongsin Park. The Order of Service was classic — Processional Hymn, The Gathering, The Greeting, the Prayer of Preparation, Prayers of Penitence, Gloria in Excelsis, The Collect, Liturgy of the Word [Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18], Psalm 149, New Testament Reading [Ephesians 1:11-23], Gospel Reading [Luke 6:20-31], SERMON, The Nicene Creed, Prayers of Intercession, The Peace, Offertory Hymn, Preparation of the Table, Eucharistic Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer, Breaking of the Bread, Giving of Communion, Communion Hymn, Prayer After Communion, The Dismissal, Recessional Hymn, and concluding with The Blessing of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Sermon
My notes of the Archbishop’s Sermon are far from perfect or complete, but my hope is they will give you my sense of the essence of his remarks. What follows are my imperfect scribbled notes of my summary of the Archbishop speaking to the assembled 250 Anglicans and guests:
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby: Our Church exists to express the radical love of God. We seek not just our own survival as a Church but instead the radical love of Jesus Christ. If we set what we want in place of what God wants, our Church becomes an idol and it will fade. The difficulty we face as Anglicans in a global Church is that we live in so many different contexts and continents. The answer to division within our Church is not to compromize principles, but instead for us to all pray continually to Jesus Christ leading to a new radical reality that challenges the world. In Christ we find our unity. Nothing else will do. Daniel [of the Lions Den in the Old Testament] speaks to us [in this evening’s Eucharist Scripture reading] from a vision of demonic forces. These demons terrified Daniel. But Daniel’s vision shows they are temporary. And the Beasts that terrify us today are also temporary. Our loyalty is not to that which we can see, but rather to that which we can not see — God. The world has always tempted the Church to participate in power and status — especially the Church of England. Anglicans in South Africa however showed great courage in opposing the Beast of Apartheid. The heart of the faith of all Christians must be in the Truth of Jesus Christ. St. Paul speaks of our inheritance [Ephesians 1:11] and the shift that is called conversion [2 Corinthians 5:14]. We must see the world not as our society and culture sees it, but instead through the lens of Jesus Christ. We need to discern what is truly Christian and not simply tradition or culture. Too often we fall into both errors at the same time. God put all power above all earthly authority to work in Christ [Ephesians 1:20-23]. In the Body of Christ, we are tied together whether we like it or not. We are all stuck with one another for all eternity. So long as a person names Jesus as Christ, they are part of the Body of Christ. Our answers are to be found in the Christ who loves a broken Church and brings new healing. It is Christ who makes us holy. The Holy Church is in radical identity with those Jesus loves, the ones the world puts to one side, and too often so do I. The poor, the persecuted, the hated, and those held in contempt. Luke’s Sermon in the Field is terrifying, especially to those of us in the affluent west. However, the Empty Tomb is our call to justice and passion for love. Anglicans do not fear — we are one body by God’s choice, not ours. So we must work with all the problems this gives rise to. Anglicans have a unique vocation in bridge-building in the Body of Christ. We are called to be a Church courageous, Holy and Christ obsessed.
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Time Friday Evening With Me
The Archbishop’s Secretary for Anglican Communion Affairs Joanna Udal whom we’d first met at Busan Cathedral [see picture below] needed a chair close to the front to properly record His Grace’s words. There being none, I gave her mine. Thus Ka Hyun and I ended up at different tables at a considerable distance apart for the Eucharist Service and the Dinner. When I looked for a place to sit, I found the Grand Ballroom was packed. Then I spied what appeared to be the only empty seat in the Ballroom. People there said YES it was available for me. After I was seated, I discovered that the Archbishop’s wife Caroline Welby was also seated at that table. She thanked me for relinquishing my seat to Joanna. Then one of our seatmates vanished and the Archbishop of Canterbury sat down for the first course of our meal. At my request, he told us in detail of the Baptism of Prince George, including both rehearsals. He said it was remarkably similar to the other 300 Baptisms he’s conducted, with the exception of course that it involved the participation of three future Kings and the present Queen. I said that’s quite the exception, and everyone laughed. I also said I think Catherine is a treasure for the Royal Family and has the makings of becoming the quality of the late Queen Mother. The Archbishop agreed. He said the turning point of the Baptismal preparation happened half way through the second rehearsal. He’d come alone for the first rehearsal. For the second rehearsal, he brought an aide. She’s hard of hearing, and so sometimes unwittingly speaks louder than she intends. Half way through the second rehearsal, his aide said in a loud voice: “Oh Justin, you’ve got it all wrong!“. The Royal Family was so caught by surprise by this outburst that they burst into laughter. That broke the ice, and from then on that rehearsal and thereafter the Baptism itself were a joy.
Archbishop of Canterbury’s Time Friday Evening With Ka Hyun
Following the Eucharist of All Saints Service, the 250 of us were given a magnificent dinner by the Anglican Church of Korea, hosted by Korea’s Anglican Primate Archbishop Paul Kim. As mentioned, Ka Hyun and I found ourselves seated at separate tables a great distance apart. Ka Hyun was seated between the Bishop of Burundi, The Right Reverend Martin Blaise [see picture below] and, as mentioned, the Orthodox Primate of Korea, Metropolitan Ambrosios. Ka Hyun and Bishop Martin had such a great time together — their continuous laughter was infectious. He’s a fine person and a great Christian. He asked about Ka Hyun’s conversion experience and shared with Ka Hyun his story, and that of his family. The Metropolitan Ambrosios is a profound Biblical scholar who taught Ka Hyun much about Orthodox Christianity. His whole body reflects his holiness. During the entirety of the long Eucharist Service, Ambrosios stood to show respect for the Anglican Eucharist. Then the Archbishop of Canterbury sat down in the chair I originally occupied. He looked across at Ka Hyun and said: “I just had my first course with your husband, and now I find myself dining with you!” Later Ka Hyun approached the Archbishop of Canterbury for a blessing because she’s feeling overwhelmed with her Canadian assignment to create a Canadian Korean Ministry. The Archbishop replied he understands because he was completely overwhelmed when the Prime Minister of the UK phoned to advise that he’s the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Then ensued a private time between the two of them that Ka Hyun will treasure always.
Today’s Been An EXTRAORDINARY Day!
Today’s been extraordinary. Another day Ka Hyun and I will never forget. And so we conclude by again extending Christian Greetings to you all, and particularly so by Ka Hyun to her beloved Congregation at St. Stephen The Martyr Anglican Church in Burnaby, Canada.
Yours faithfully, Roddy