What does being Anglican mean to you? An interview with Andrew Khoo

Andrew Khoo is an Anglican in the Province of South East Asia. He is member of the Anglican Communion Standing Committee and supports a number of Anglican groups and Commissions, the Safe Church Commission, the Inter-Anglican Commission on Unity Faith and Order. He spoke to the Lambeth Conference team about what Being Anglican means to him.

What does Being Anglican mean to you? What are some of the characteristics you feel are important to being Anglican?

I studied law at King’s College London and qualified as a barrister.  After completing my pupillage, I commenced practice in Malaysia in May 1995. Although I became a Christian whilst a pre-teen in Malaysia, I didn’t come into contact with the Anglican Church until university.  King’s College London has a strong Anglican connection, having been founded in 1829 by a group of people including clergymen from the Anglican Church.  In fact, King’s oldest qualification that it awards is the Associateship of King’s College, which started as a qualification for ordination into the Church of England.  The AKC is still awarded today, but more for a study of the history and philosophy of religion in general.  Being able to study for that was one of the reasons I chose to attend King’s.

While a student I joined All Souls’ Church Langham Place, I was drawn to the preaching and writings of Revd. Dr. John Stott, one of its previous Rectors.  Both King’s College and All Souls’ Church challenged me to develop an informed Christian world view.  To look at contemporary issues and frame a Biblically-based response to them.

I was also attracted to that other “trinity” which is a hallmark of the Anglican Church, namely Scripture, tradition and reason.  The ability and sensitivity of a combined approach to the interpretation and application of the Scripture that nonetheless took into account the development of human history and the importance of certain ecclesiastical traditions, and then the God-given intellect to work things through.

In God’s providence when I decided to join a short-term mission programme, supported by All Souls’ Church, I joined an organisation called Emmanuel International and they sent me to work on an internally-displaced persons and refugee resettlement programme in Gulu, in northern Uganda.  Our church partner there was the Anglican Diocese of Northern Uganda.  That brought me into contact with the Anglican Church outside of England, and I had a lot of time to think about what it meant to be an Anglican across a different culture.

This helped me prepare for when I eventually returned to Malaysia and had to build from scratch my Anglican life in my home country.  So to me, the important features of being Anglican are a life of service to the community; an all-encompassing world view, grounded in Scripture and tradition; and the need to connect the Christian message to the challenges of contemporary life and to demonstrate its continuing relevance to us.

Can you share a short reflection on what it means to be in communion and what inspires you about being part of a global family of Anglicans?

As the poet John Donne once wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”  In short, we are all inter-connected.  As Chancellor of the Diocese of West Malaysia, a position I was invited to take up in September 2001, it would be all too easy to focus purely on the issues facing my own diocese, or the Province of South East Asia to which the diocese belongs.  But just as the love of Christ is too precious and wonderful to be kept to oneself, the meaning of being in communion is to share our learning and experience with others, and to care for the concerns of others.  Being in communion means sharing both problems and solutions, approaches and expertise, teaching and being taught, and journeying together.

Part of my vocation as a barrister has been to speak truth to power, and to call out violations of human rights and fundamental liberties, and to work for changes in the law.  To me, being in communion means working in tandem to address situations where people are not being treated with equality in dignity and rights.

Working alongside colleagues both at home and abroad, we seek ways to overcome breaches of human rights and transgressions of the rule of law, safeguarding the environment and sustaining livelihoods.  We can do this by using various mechanisms, both domestic and international, including the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the United Nations.

Being part of a global family of Anglicans means the ability to share insights and resources with other Anglican dioceses and provinces and support them as they undertake advocacy on their particular issues with their governments.  But also to journey with other communities of faith or even those of no particular faith.

Just as God gave his Son because He so loved the world, I am excited and inspired that the global family of Anglicans can also be a channel of service to the world.

Supporting Information:

  • 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.


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