Aloha is more than a greeting. It has many layered meanings. One meaning is “love”. Love is Jesus’ measure of a christian community.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Christian communities are most often loving places. Clear leadership and structure assist a community to grow in loving ways. Anglican churches have a Conciliar structure. The basic meaning of the word “conciliar” is “coming from a council” The Anglican Conciliar approach involves people of all orders of ministry in decision making. This includes Lay (everyone who is baptized) and ordained (Bishops, Priests, and Deacons). Aloha ensures everything runs smoothly.
Conciliar decision making involves broad consultation and you would be right in thinking it takes some time and requires good relationships. Conciliar churches assume everyone is acting out of Aloha. Bonds of affection maintain the fabric of community and give rise to consensus.
How Things Work
Anglican Churches have Bishops, Priest and Deacons. In most of the world, Anglican Bishops are elected by their diocese. Each congregation or parish sends a group of laity plus their clergy to an electoral convention (sometimes called a synod). Typically the laity greatly outnumber the clergy at such meetings. Upon election the Bishop elect is approved by the college of bishops, ordained, and installed.
Conciliar Churches have lay boards elected by the congregation. In an Anglican Church this is called the Vestry. The Rector (Sr. Pastor) also sits on the Vestry. A typical Vestry will have 6-12 lay members and the rector. When there isn’t a rector, the Vestry is responsible to search for a new one and make a recommendation to the Bishop who then appoints the new Rector who enjoys immediate tenure.
So in a Conciliar Church laity choose the Rector. The Rector is then appointed by the Bishop and expected to lead and exercise their authority regarding spiritual matters. The Rector decides who teaches, how services are run, etc.. But the Vestry manages the budget, buildings, insurance, etc… As the Rector is a member of Vestry this has the practical effect of ensuring that everything that impacts the congregation is discussed at Vestry. So the Vestry is the principal Conciliar structure within an Anglican Church.
Clergy Led and Lay Driven
I like to describe Anglican Churches as “Clergy Led and Lay Driven.” Clergy are expected to be the primary vision casters but not the exclusive vision casters. The church goes nowhere without determined committed lay people. The role of Clergy is to equip the church for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). So the real work of the church is done by the laity equipped and supported by the clergy. Of course the clergy also need support so they can get on with their work of preaching and teaching.
A little History
At the time of the Reformation Anglican Churches tried to pattern their structure on what they saw in the early church. In the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) the Apostles, particularly Peter, exercise authority. In the many writings of the early church we see bishops chosen by the laity. Popular election of Bishops was a feature of the church for close to a thousand years before it gave way to a more hierarchical model.
Anglican Churches are delightful to be around when everyone is seeking to live out the new commandment. When things are going well, which is most often the case, everyone gets to express their ministry in a collegial supportive environment.
Underlying every healthy church is a spirit of Aloha. What makes Conciliar churches different is that they are organized in a way that relies on Aloha.