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I contend worship of God is primary and central to our Christian life and mission. Most of us, I think, understand that, and so Christian community mission statements (and individuals’ ones) normally include – and regularly lead off – with a commitment to worship.
Hence, my astonishment when significant mission statements do not. The Anglican mission statement, good as far as it goes, is one that immediately springs to mind as one that does not include worship in the mission of the church:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
(Bonds of Affection-1984 ACC-6 p49, Mission in a Broken World-1990 ACC-8 p101)
I understand that the Anglican Consultative Council has discussed incorporating worship into the mission statement, but has not come to any agreement. Worship, liturgy, was once regarded not only as central to the mission of the Anglican Church, but one could argue, that in Anglicanism, more than any other denomination, it was worship that was the glue that held it together. Worship within Anglicanism was a shared, agreed, common spiritual practice – common prayer, common worship – and one might have various interpretations held around the agreed common practice. In my opinion, the diminution of the focus on worship and the increasing fragmentation of Anglicanism are causally related.
In my own province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, I understand it was Archbishop Brian Davies who encouraged the inclusion of worship in our province’s constitution with declarations that the church
is called to offer worship and service to God in the power of the Holy Spirit
and a reworking of the five-fold mission statement in the constitution to read
the mission of the church includes
teaching, baptising and nurturing believers within eucharistic communities of faith.