From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ACNS3311 How to renew vision and restore energy for mission

From "Anglican Communion News Service" <>
Date Mon, 17 Feb 2003 23:53:25 -0000

ACNS 3311     |     CYPRUS     |     17 FEBRUARY 2003

How to renew vision and restore energy for mission

by Margaret S. Larom

Biblical and theological reflection are essential to mission, both on a
personal and communal level, declared two very different mission
practitioners at the opening plenary of the Anglican Mission Organisations
Conference in Cyprus.

The Rt Revd Simon Chiwanga, the bishop from Mpwapwa, Tanzania, whose term as
chair of the Anglican Consultative Council concluded with the Hong Kong
meeting in 2002, delivered a lengthy, reasoned paper on the conference aim
of "renewing our vision for mission through biblical and theological
reflection, worship and prayer."

"What is the 'fire' that ignites us to share the good news of our faith with
others?" he asked. "It is a search for wholeness, the wholeness glimpsed in
the central crucified and victorious figure of Christ. This quest also
drives us to seek to continually renew our vision for mission, to make sure
that our passion for mission is not driven simply by human motives, however
humanitarian they might be. This quest can be the fire that drives us to
participate in the Mission of God in God's world, which is reconciliation
and restoration of all people and the world to himself."

Edwina Thomas, a lay woman from the United States who is the full-time
director of Sharing Our Ministries Abroad (SOMA-USA), responded to his
presentation with a personal testimony, describing her own conversion to
mission as a call to love people "who are not like me," and acknowledging
her absolute dependency on Biblical reflection and intimacy with Jesus
Christ for strength to carry out the work.

The message from both was clear: Don't be so busy doing mission that you
fail to take time for reflection! "Mission is a cycle," said Ms Thomas. "You
can't engage in mission without reflection because it drives us back to God
continually. My challenge daily is to seek God. I firmly believe mission is
about relationships and my first relationship is with Jesus." Using the word
'intimacy,' she said, "We must press in to Jesus, so we understand our call
today. We must sit and hear his voice. If we're not taking time to rest in
Him and find His heart, we'll begin to work out of our own energy, and share
our own vision. We must seek His heart first, then look outward to our

Bishop Chiwanga shared his conviction that our Communion's rootedness in
worship and prayer has enabled us to come through our conflicts in Biblical
and theological understandings "a more vital, more relevant, and more
influential Church."

"Not that we have solved those conflicts in interpretation of Scriptures and
our theological convictions, declaring a victor and a vanquished, and
dividing the spoils of that war. Rather, I see us Anglicans as engaging
together in mission without needing first to 'solve' hot button issues as
such. As a church we emerge from these conflicts stronger than we were
before, because different views grow out of all of our efforts to find the
best way to do mission. They grow out of an intense discernment of God's
mission for us in our respective contexts.

"Mission today is about solidarities in action," Bishop Chiwanga concluded.
"Solidarities across borders of language, experience, culture, wealth,
liturgical expressions; in action, discerning and doing God's mission on the
ground in a particular context. More and more of us are realizing that we
don't need to agree on human sexuality in order to advocate for persecuted
Christians; we don't need to have the same churchmanship to combat poverty;
we don't need to agree on our theology before working for peace and safety
in Sudan.

"Our hope and future as an ecclesial community is our united witness and
participation in God's mission. If we do this we will be effective signs and
instruments of transformation and tradition."

[The full text of Bishop Simon Chiwanga's speech is available from]

The ACNSlist is published by the Anglican Communion Office, London.

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