I thought this month I might just dwell on that for a moment. The Mission to Seafarers is one of the ten formal partners of the Church of England and works in very close partnership with the Anglican Communion worldwide. This is not only a rich part of our heritage but an ongoing daily reality of our work. I see that reality every time I go on a visit.
As I look back over the past month, my diary has been particularly busy with this aspect of our work. I spent a week at the annual synod of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, with whom we have had a long relationship and within which a number of our chaplains are based, all of whom were present.
I have also met with my colleague leaders within the partner mission agencies.We discussed the forthcoming meeting of all global bishops at the Lambeth Conference 2020. Together we are looking at how we might contribute in a way which is both beneficial to the conference and which helps highlight our work within such a vital assembly. I often enjoy meeting so many different Anglicans.
This month, for example, the new Bishop of the Amazon, Marinez Bassotto, came to IHQ – on Valentine’s day. In fact, I commented that she was the first Bishop to give me a Valentine’s day present! We were able to discuss our shared work in Belem and a possible new project further down the Amazon. It was a delightful and fruitful conversation.
It is fascinating for me to see Anglicanism at work across the world in all its amazing diversity. We certainly have our family problems. Recent divisions have been aired very publicly. To some we seem too cautious and conservative, wrestling with things that much of the world now regards as arcane. To others we are treading a path they fear too liberal and compromising. We are indeed a “broad church”. At our best we can celebrate so much enriching variety, surely one of the best things about being Anglican. At our worst we can descend into acrimonious and destructive dissent, undermining our ability to love and serve together. How we need to work and pray for unity and understanding – and I think that our global Mission family has an important role to play in that. As I travel, I see much that can depress but I also see much to inspire – fine examples of transformational and sacrificial love.
At The Mission to Seafarers we value a wide variety of partners, both faith-based and secular - and we are proud of our ecumenical outlook and the sheer diversity of our organisation, our teams and our supporters. However, we remain in no doubt of the Anglican relationship which lies at the heart of so much that we do. Indeed, it is being Anglican that nurtures many of our values and helps us embed a culture which is open and inclusive.
Its global network often gives us access to places where it would otherwise be hard to have a presence. It provides us with many of our best supporters and volunteers – as well as our precious chaplains. It helps ensure oversight of our work. And, of course, it helps keep our focus on that core purpose, our mission to share the love of God with seafarers and their families. We do so in holistic and often so very practical ways, as with so many Anglican initiatives over the years. When we do it well I think we represent Anglicanism at its very best, building on its finest traditions and hopefully making the wider Anglican church proud of their integral role in our work.
May God bless you all.