From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Tutu and Raiser add support to unity drive by African

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Mon, 25 Aug 2003 17:25:37 -0400

church body


Tutu and Raiser add support to unity drive by African church body

by Fredrick Nzwili
Ecumenical News International 

[ENS] Nairobi, 15 August (ENI)-- Desmond Tutu, the former South African
Anglican archbishop, in Kenya to attend an international conference on
truth commissions, has urged African church leaders to support the
efforts of the All Africa Conference of Churches in working towards
church unity. 

At a church service in Soweto on Sunday, Tutu had urged ecumenical
partners to support the Nairobi-based AACC, a grouping of 169 national
churches in 39 African countries representing about 120 million

"As we strive to uplift our people we need AACC as our continental body
to walk with us," said Tutu, a former president of the AACC, and the
winner of the 1984 Nobel peace prize. 

Tutu chaired the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission that
investigated the apartheid era and was to deliver the keynote address at
Friday's opening in Nairobi of the two-day conference on truth
commissions. The conference has been convened by a task force that is
looking into the establishment in Kenya of a Truth, Justice and
Reconciliation Commission. 

"We are thrilled by the Kenyan government's fight against corruption,"
Tutu told journalists after arriving on Thursday at Nairobi's
international airport. 

He cautioned, however, that the South African process should not be used
as a blueprint to be followed slavishly. Tutu said a crucial part of the
reconciliation process was having victims tell their stories to a forum.

On Sunday, in Soweto at the same ecumenical service as Tutu, the general
secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Konrad Raiser
recalled the way in which churches had worked together in South Africa
in the struggle against apartheid. 

"They found far greater strength by witnessing together to the powers
and principalities than they would have had if they had acted
separately," Raiser said in his sermon at an ecumenical service to
induct South African Methodist Bishop Mvume Dandala as the AACC's new
general secretary. 

At the service, attended by South African President Thabo Mbeki, Raiser
expressed support for the "fresh ecumenical vision and mission" of the

Raiser said he had been saddened in his 10 years as WCC general
secretary to find on many visits to Africa that "the local churches live
their separate lives alongside each other, sometimes even in active
competition. Their leaders gather on special occasions, but keep away
from each other. 

"But it is at the local level that our ecumenical commitment and in
particular our efforts to create a united church must find expression,"
said Raiser. 

Making his acceptance speech as AACC general secretary, Dandala said, "I
want to promise that the AACC will fight for justice and social
righteousness." He decried the "wastage of meagre community resources to
sustain a multiplicity of denominations" as "a scandal the Church in
Africa must address." [474 words]

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