Magazine article Anglican Journal

Companion Relationships Tell a Different Story

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Companion Relationships Tell a Different Story

Article excerpt

Bishop David Torraville of the diocese of Central Newfoundland first met Bishop Francis Loyo of the diocese of Rokon, South Sudan, at Lambeth in 2008, and they established a companion relationship between their dioceses. The two bishops have also built a friendship that, Torraville said, was a joy to renew in person when they met at the first Companion Diocese Consultation in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from May 14-17.

When they saw each other, Loyo presented Torraville with a cane--for his dad. "Over the years, in chattering back and forth in email, we've talked about one another's families," Torraville said in an interview after his return to Canada. "My dad was ill a little while ago." The cane, said Torraville, was "a wonderful, wonderful gift!"

It was also a manifestation of what Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, had noted about the nature of relationships that exist within the Anglican Communion. "For some people, when they think of the [Anglican] Communion, they immediately think division, dissension," but a very different picture was evident in the companion relationships represented at this consultation, Hiltz said. He described these relationships as honest, healthy, vibrant and growing.

Although Bishop Jackson Matovu of the diocese of Central Buganda did not attend the meeting, owing to tensions between the church in Uganda and other parts of the Communion, Hiltz said that other clergy within that diocese attended "enthusiastically, really looking forward to the opportunity to be together and to talk across relationships." Differences over contentious issues such as human sexuality weren't part of the discussion "or even the subtext," he said in an interview.

The meeting was the first time that representatives of Canadian and African companion dioceses have come together to discuss their relationships, which date back 52 years to a congress on the future of the Anglican Communion, held in Toronto in 1963.

A common theme that emerged from the meeting was the desire for companion relationships to grow beyond connections between bishops and steering committees into one involving "the diocesan family," said Hiltz.

The merits of parish-to-parish connections were discussed. Bishop Donald Phillips of the diocese of Rupert's Land noted that almost all the parishes in Central Buganda in Uganda have a sister parish in his diocese. …

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