In 2011 St George's set up a joint Anglophone-Malagasy Group to work to strengthen the ties between our two communities here and to form a companion relationship with an instance of the Anglican Church in Madagascar. Here is the statement the Group produced to help guide their work:
St George’s Anglophone-Malagasy Group
Statement of the Principles Governing our Operation
We seek to build a companion relationship with the Anglican Church in
1.) “A companion relationship” is as the term implies focused on a triangular relationship: Christians at
(i) In a companion relationship we start as equals, not because we are necessarily in equal circumstances, for example, of wealth, or have equal talents, personalities or cultures, but because we are equal in the sight of God, and loved by God.
(ii) In personal relations, we recognise that loving communication is the key. We would seek to build our relations in the first place through such communication, with the exchange of news, of problems and concerns that face us. In the triangular relationship envisaged, communication is always also communication with God. So we aim to join together, not in the same space or at the same time, but in the same Spirit, to pray, with a commitment to pray for each other and pray for our societies.
(iii) In a companion relationship we share with each other, in the first place, our attention and our being, that is, we give of who we are with our talents, our perspective on the world, our experience of life and also our limitations. It is deeply enriching, for example, to see how Christians from other parts of the world interpret the Bible or practice their faith. Such exchange needs to be at the centre of our companion relationship.
(iv) We are wary of the danger of creating one-dimensional relationships built merely on the donation of financial resources. Although, the mutual sharing of resources is an inevitable development of sharing our attention and being, we are cautious of companionship that begins there and has this as its primary focus. The dangers are obvious: instead of personal relationships, we create asymmetrical relationships that can become relationships of dependence that are not challenged to explore the riches of our personal relationship with God.
(v) Any relationship of true meaning is a dialogue. That dialogue is sharing and communicating with people and contexts different to one’s own. Dialogue will inevitably lead to moments in which we struggle to understand the other party and times when we need to exercise patience and forbearance. Dialogue by its very nature involves an interrogation of each other: Why do we think in this way? How can I understand the action and judgement of the other party? Can I be open enough to listen and to receive what the other party is saying to me? Interrogation has the negative connotation of inquisition, but this is not the sense used here. The point is that in any relationship we challenge each other, and our task is to do so in a gentle and loving way. One could say that the Holy Spirit lovingly and gently interrogates us continually, encouraging us to move towards the truth. As such, a really mature relationship is able to accept and value constructive criticism. Although dialogue, at times, shakes us up and unsettles us, true relationship is committed and supportive, and it is within that framework that people have the trust to share and to reveal who they are to others.
We would be wholly inconsistent and contradictory if we communicated these principles of the way we would like to operate in our companion relationship as a closed book, or rules to be imposed. Rather, we open up our principles to be discussed and considered by you, and we promise to listen carefully to what you have to say, so that together we can agree on the principles or guidelines that will govern our companion relationship.