Hospitality should be our Christian distinctive: The Secretary General on Communion Life
The Right Revd Anthony Poggo is the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion and oversees the work of the Anglican Communion Office – the Secretariat to the Anglican Consultative Council. He spoke with the Lambeth Conference team about what being an Anglican means to him – and what inspires him about the shared life of Anglican churches around the globe.
As an Anglican, what does it mean to be ‘in Communion’ with other churches?
Being ‘in communion’ is about living a shared life with Anglicans around the world. The Anglican Communion is a global family. Present in over 165 countries, we are diverse, in language, culture and Christian tradition. One of the wonderful things about this shared life is the opportunity to walk together in faith with Christians both locally and globally; to pray for one another; to partner in sharing the Gospel and to advocate for justice and peace.
Your role as Secretary General involves travelling to many dioceses around the Anglican Communion. How do your visits encourage you about Communion life?
As Secretary General, I devote time each year to visiting different Anglican provinces and dioceses around the globe. Each visit is a time to build relationships, listen and learn from the hosting church communities. I often think of the verse from Hebrews 10:25. It talks about not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another. It inspires me because this is what I so often see on my travels. Anglicans around the Communion are meeting together, serving their local communities, and working for the common good.
How does the Anglican Communion Office support Communion Life?
The Anglican Communion Office are an enabling team, here to strengthen the life of the Anglican Communion. We do that in different ways. As the official Secretariat to the Anglican Communion, we organise meetings that help to strengthen communion relationships – like the Anglican Consultative Council or Primates meeting. We also support communion conversations on church and world affairs, which include Mission, the Environment, Peace and Reconciliation, Science and Faith, amongst others. In all things we seek to collaborate with Anglican Networks, Commissions, and other groups, so that we can share resources, providing training and build relationships around the world.
What would your encouragement be to fellow Anglicans around the world?
We are living at a challenging time, where issues of poverty, inequality, and injustice continue to impact the most vulnerable people on our planet. Our societies are becoming increasingly polarised. There is much to discourage and divide us. But Christ calls his Church to be one, as we share the hope and good news of the gospel.
I think ultimately being in communion is an invitation to offer hospitality. This is not a soft hospitality. It’s a challenging and costly hospitality that calls us to go beyond our own comfort levels and capabilities, in the strength that Christ provides.
Hospitality is one of the key things that I notice every time I visit somewhere in the Anglican Communion. I see the strength and resilience of people facing cyclones, drought and even war. Yet in all of this, they still show the love of Christ to those around.
I am reminded of the verse in Hebrews 13:2 that says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
My prayer for the Anglican Communion is that hospitality will be our Christian distinctive. May we show love for our neighbour, care for God’s creation and be the light of Jesus to those around us.
- This article is part of our wider ‘Being Anglican’ series, where Anglicans from around the world share what the Lambeth Call on Anglican Identity means to them, and how this theme supports the life of the Anglican Communion. Find the ‘Being Anglican’ reflections shared so far here.
- For more information on our next webinar about Being Anglican and the Lambeth Call on Anglican Identity click here.