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ACNS - African conference proposals to empower both clergy and
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Mon, 26 Apr 2004 11:43:17 -0700
ACNS 3815 | AFRICA | 19 APRIL 2004
A photograph for this article can be found at:
African mission conference closes: proposals to empower both clergy and
>From Michael Craske in Nairobi
Archbishop Akinola: "Fire exists by burning: the Church exists by
A major conference held in Nairobi last week for representatives from
across the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) has called for
an Anglican renewal in the continent, both through prayer and a dynamic
approach to mission and evangelism.
In a key note address on the third day of the conference, the Most Revd
Peter Akinola, the Primate of All Nigeria, also issued a challenge to
the delegates for a five-year evangelism strategy, in which everything
in the African Church should be committed to mission, as he believed
that "there cannot be any other goal other that of 'Africa for Christ.'"
The CAPA Mission and Evangelism Conference, held between 12-15 April at
a retreat centre outside of Kenya's capital city, heard a wide range of
views from across Africa with delegates sharing their experiences of
mission work. It reviewed how African evangelism had been successful and
challenged itself to analyse its current efforts and weaknesses. At the
conference's close a series of proposals were finalised in a summary
document after a succession of increasingly focussed group debates. The
Most Revd Peter Akinola, Marjorie Murphy, the Director of Mission and
Evangelism at the Anglican Communion Office in London, and the Africa
Director of the Church Mission Society (CMS) the Revd Dr Zac Niringiye,
gave key note presentations to the delegates before each session. The
CAPA Primates and others from the Global South also joined some of the
discussion groups while attending a meeting held alongside the
The conference summary document stated that in order to develop a
universal vision for African evangelism, CAPA should follow the example
set by the Apostles and the early Church. The goal, it said, would be
for every African Anglican to be an evangelist and that congregations
should no longer be passive receivers of communion, but should openly
promote Christian values and call people to Christ. But it also warned
that this could only be achieved by leadership. "Church leadership -
Primates, Bishops, Clergy - must be catalysts and role models in
proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel. 'Every Anglican an
Evangelist' is a feasible objective but must commence with 'Every Clergy
member an evangelist,'" the summary stated, adding that a key to success
would be a realignment in the role of theological colleges. Several
delegates expressed concern during the debates that colleges were
academic before being spiritually aware and that they were not placing
emphasis on the "training of the Christian character."
The document also outlined a major concern for all African churches,
that of nominalism - where a member of a parish claims to be Christian
yet fails to live out Christianity in their lives. "Too many African
Anglicans say they are Christians but do not take part in Church
events," said one delegate from Nigeria, who highlighted the Church of
Nigeria's method for combating this problem. The method, which was
adopted in the summary document, ensures that the community has an
active role in their church by promoting stewardship in Church affairs.
In future, Church projects - such as building, Church planting, and
pastoral care - should be owned and empowered by members of a
congregation so each would feel part of the Church community.
Pastoral care was also a key concern, with many feeling that this was
why many other denominations were more successful in retaining members.
A newly-converted Christian should feel their spiritual lives and health
were of absolute importance, it said, not only to their congregation,
but also to their pastor, bishop, and primate.
The report also talked extensively of Africa-specific problems for
evangelism that might not affect the larger Anglican Communion. In
particular the report highlighted tribalism. Many delegates expressed
great concern that tribal considerations influenced the election of
bishops and clergy, and said that any cultural practices that were
inconsistent with God's word - and therefore evangelism - should be
discarded. A suggestion to eliminate such tribal preferment included a
request that all bishops and clergy be periodically moved across
diocesan boundaries, even where congregations wanted to keep particular
clergy in place. "In this way," stated a delegate from Rwanda, "good
ideas and work in keeping with God's word would be spread throughout the
African Church. What a member of clergy learns from his parish, and what
he has - in turn - taught them, would be spread to enrich an entire
During the conference Church Army Africa took the delegates to visit one
of Nairobi's largest slums - with more than one million inhabitants - to
show the good work undertaken by the organisation to spread the Gospel
and alleviate poverty. Many were impressed by the scale of the projects
and the strong spirit of unity, peace and energetic evangelism shown by
those that directly benefited. Delegates also visited the city's
cathedral All Saints.
Reports were also presented on the Church in various African provinces
and stories shared showing the excellent work of laity and clergy in all
aspects of Church work, especially efforts for peace and reconciliation
in Burundi and Rwanda.
Archbishop Akinola, when issuing his challenge after hearing of the
ideas brought up in the discussion groups, also warned the delegates of
other possible problems. He said that evangelism must be properly
planned and administered through evaluation and monitoring, adding that
each evangelist should report directly to their church hierarchy and
constantly inform them of progress and difficulties. He also implored
them to take up the spirit of evangelism in the right attitude and put
aside secular concerns, highlighting that Africa was abundant in
god-given resources and that too many people excused the lack of mission
work by having too little money.
"Until the continent is won for Christ, the Church cannot claim any
justification for its existence in this part of God's world," he said.
The summary document of CAPA's Mission and Evangelism Conference and the
key note addresses - which have been incorporated - will now be taken by
delegates back to their provinces for further consultation with their
clergy and congregations. CAPA is to follow up these consultations and
assess needs and resources for the five-year evangelism plan to start in
Photographs from the conference and Primates meeting in Nairobi will be
available later this week. The speech of the Most Revd Peter Akinola
will be available tomorrow on the ACNS Digest
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