The head of the Anglican Communion delegation at the Edinburgh 2010 World Mission Conference said today that a “wonderful” conference had been let down by an inability to completely let go of the north-south paradigm.
Rev John Kafwanka, one of the organisers of Edinburgh 2010 initiative, said his time at the conference in Scotland had been a significant moment in his life, and in the life of the global church, a “wonderful moment of listening and learning from one another across church and cultural traditions of the Christian family.” However, he mourned the fact that throughout the conference that ended today it was clear that unhelpful attitudes still lingered.
“There is no doubt that this conference was in a different league to the last one,” he said. “The sheer variety of churches represented, and the presence of people from right around the world across denomination and cultural differences was to be celebrated. The time we shared with one another was most fruitful and blessed. God was without doubt present with us for this momentous and joyous occasion.
“It was, however, clear to me, and to some of my fellow Anglicans that there was still much work for us all to do in banishing the negative mindsets of yesteryear and to address the question of power relations. Greater numbers of Christians in the South has not automatically meant they are having greater influence in the life of the global church.
“This has been evident over the past few days, particularly in the use of default language. For example one of our delegates, the Revd Dr Kapya John Kaoma, asked why people kept referring to ‘third world theologies’ and ‘African Theology’. Isn’t it all just ‘theology’ no matter where it’s from?”
Rev Kafwanka add that Dr Kaoma also noted that the term “missionary” was often only applied to Christians from the West while those from other parts of the world working in Europe or Western countries were not considered “missionaries”.
Caitlin Beck, a Canadian in the Anglican Communion delegation, also spotted that there were fewer women and young people than there might have been. “The number of Latin Americans in the conference also appeared to be disproportionally small,” she said. “It really did appear to me that the voices from the largest group of Christians in the world [those in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America] were limited.”
Nevertheless, Rev Kafwanka said that a lot had been achieved at the conference: a common commitment from a range of global churches to learn from one another about how they can together and individually best witness to Christ today.
“Everyone recognised that they had much to learn from one another, that everyone had something to bring to the table. Everyone was generally open to hearing how mission takes place in different contexts.”
He added: “It was a real joy, and an experience I’ll never forget.”
For more information or an interview with Rev Kafwanka or any of the delegates contact Jan Butter +44(0)7889400889 or email@example.com
Notes to editors