Anglican Communion Office run Companion Links meeting for bishops and share new guidance

Around the world, many Anglican churches and dioceses are partnering in mission and prayer through Companion Links. During the Lambeth Conference in 2022, many bishops also expressed an interest in developing new links.

Companion Link relationships between dioceses are mutually organised by the participating Diocesan teams. Many of these links begin through friendships between bishops or informal parish links which are later ratified at Synod level. They are mutually beneficial in many ways, and they enable parishioners to support one another in prayer, mission and fellowship.

To support this important feature of communion life, the Episcopal Ministry team at the Anglican Communion Office have recently facilitated two online meetings for bishops from around the world to explore the benefits of companion links.

The first Companion Link meeting involved Dr Rosemarie Mallett, Bishop of Croydon in the Diocese of Southwark (Church of England), Archbishop Cyril Kobina Ben-Smith, Primate of the Province of Ghana and Bishop of the Diocese of Asante Mampong, and Bishop Titus Ho-Wook, Bishop of Daejeon in the Anglican Province of Korea. They discussed different models and approaches to Companion Links.

Friendship first

Companion Links have started from friendship between bishops. Archbishop Cyril said: “It starts with a personal relationship and then transcends into the whole life of the diocese. So, in the case of my link with Titus, that represented a couple of visits that Titus made to Ghana. It involved knowing some of the clergy in my diocese, the setting up of a school with support from a parish in Daejeon and involved knowing some people through my visit to Korea and getting to know some of his members, to preach, have fun, meet his family, share, fellowship and friendship. The dioceses have benefited from the relationship through support also to our orphanage in Mampong.”

The Diocese of Mampong is also linked with the diocese of Swansea and Brecon in Wales. Archbishop Cyril explained that communications can be a challenge and stressed that, “communication is the major difficulty that everybody wanting to go into a link should grapple with. You will need an officer who is as passionate as the bishop himself to ensure that the communication moves on,” he said. In the case of the Diocese of Swansea, it is World Mission Officer, Revd Rana Khan. Archbishop Cyril believes they must have experience in mission, but also a yearning for the bigger picture in terms of God’s vision. “This is how I see the Companion Link. It is being part of a bigger picture rather than your own small corner,” said Archbishop Cyril.

Beyond Bishop to Bishop

The Diocese of Southwark is linked to the Diocese of Jerusalem, the Diocese of Bergen and four dioceses in Zimbabwe. Bishop Rosemarie reflected on how technology is bringing parishes across the world together. She said: “New post Covid communications enable us to have those more personal links immediately by being able to meet in parish rooms or houses and speak to each other through Zoom or Teams. I find that this is one of the opportunities that we now have.”

Bishop Eddie Daniels from the Diocese of Port Elizabeth in Southern Africa, spoke about the link that his diocese has with the Diocese of St Helena. He believes that the links need to go beyond bishop, “Ideally, the link needs to go beyond merely bishop to bishop. We have invited their Diocesan Registrar when she comes out to the next Provincial Synod to come and spend a week with our legal officers and to exchange ideas and experiences,” he said. He was encouraged to hear about parishes linking via video calls.

Biblical Basis

Archbishop Cyril explained that the concept behind Companion Links has a “strong biblical basis. This should be the context in which the whole Communion looks at the Companion Links,” he said. He continued, “If you think of Jesus and his disciples, the personal touch that existed among the disciples. There is wisdom in having Companion Links. The opportunity to share personal and spiritual struggles with your brother and sister bishop in companion is priceless. The opportunity to share ministry issues as well all form part of the relationship of walking together. I see the Companion Link as walking together with a brother and sister, having the opportunity to link up, to share good stories, strengths as well as struggles and to have the opportunity to pray together. I encourage strongly the building up of relationships between bishops within our Communion and I think it is something that we should all work at.”

Bishop Titus added, “We belong to each other, and consciousness is very important. When we pray with each other, we can recognise each other’s problems and issues. As a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, this relationship is a process of understanding our identity. I hope my diocese will adopt various relationships and fellowships. This is my hope for the future.

Financial blessings

The Diocese of Daejeon also has links with the Diocese of Peterborough in the Church of England, Tohoku in Japan and is developing a new diocese to diocese link with Tanga in Tanzania. “We experience each other’s churches. We can understand each other. Anglicanism has been broadened by the companion links,” said Bishop Titus. He also explained that because of Japan and Korea’s colonial past, both dioceses have been working together in a reconciliation process. He cited challenges include the long distance and visits between Africa and Korea and high expense. However, he said: “In our case diocesan support is limited. But we report to our parishioners and await their response and amazing miracles and blessings happen. Therefore, and through our history of relationships with overseas churches, we may need a lot of money, but we have never gone without.”

Memoranda of Understanding are drawn up between dioceses, and for Mampong, Swansea and Brecon, the initial MOU was five years and has been renewed many times. The Diocese of Daejeon renews their links every three years.

New Resources and Guidance on Companion Links

To support bishops and dioceses around the Anglican Communion that wish to explore the benefits of a Companion Link, the Anglican Communion Office have published new guidance (available in four languages). It outlines different models that dioceses might wish to explore and how the ACO might be able to guide you in the process.

Download the guidance here:

In English
En Français
En Español
Em Português

Sign up to the Companion Link Community

The Anglican Communion Office maintains a list of Dioceses that are in Companion Links or seeking one. To obtain support in setting up a Companion Link, please complete this form.

Find out more about Companion Links here

open to all:
the Phase 3 webinars