The first Inter Anglican Mission and Evangelism Provincial Co-ordinators Consultation was held in Resurrection Gardens in Nairobi, May 2002. This was soon followed by an Inter Anglican Conference for Mission Organisations in February 2003 bringing together over 100 people from almost every province of the Anglican Communion. One of the outcomes of these gatherings has been the coming together of mission leaders in various regions of the Communion. Two weeks ago, again in Nairobi the Mission and Evangelism Co-ordinators from the Provinces of Africa met to look at mission in their own contexts and to find a way forward.
With the theme of 'Transforming Mission: Taking our place in mission in God's world' the conference was opened by the Most Revd Benjamin Nzimbi, Primate of Kenya. 'Mission is about transformed lives and we want this for our continent', he said adding that the Church needs to be bold and strong and to take the Gospel to Africa and beyond. The theme was continued 'Transformation is not possible without a personal encounter with God' said Marjorie Murphy in her presentation. If we are to see transformation in mission we need a transformation of our lives by God. Zac Niringiye talked the about social transformation through schools and health services that Africa has experienced through the transforming message of the gospel. But the key question on the issue of transformation, he said, is the crucial aspect of leadership and leadership development of capable people who can engage in political, social, economical and moral issues of the day.
The conference was attended by evangelism co-ordinators, bishops and lay representatives from the 12 provinces of Africa and the diocese of Egypt. All the delegates were involved in mission in their provinces or dioceses and shared their stories in small groups as they discussed issues that both enhance and hinder evangelism in their contexts. The stories varied of encouraging growth in Egypt through church planting going beyond the church walls into the villages and markets, the reconciliation of the peoples in Rwanda, ten years after the genocide, the struggles in Northern Uganda of seeking to reach the needs of the people who have experienced so much fear, hunger and death under the Lord's Resistance Army, evangelism in the new diocese of Zanzibar in a predominantly Muslim country, small group evangelism and pastoral family visits in Madagascar and the peace building in South Africa.
The aims of the conference were:
The CAPA Primates who were meeting simultaneously in their own meeting joined the conference for a few hours one afternoon. They heard the presentations of the small group meetings and later joined in the small group discussion after a presentation on Looking to the Future. The Primates challenged the conference that every Anglican should be an evangelist. 'Fire exists by burning and the church exists by mission and evangelism', he encouraged.
Mission in the Kenyan context was demonstrated as the delegates visited Kibera slum, home to one million Kenyans on the outskirts of Nairobi. There are no legal water or electricity supplies in the corrugated iron single room shacks sometimes occupied by ten people. The Revd Richard W Mayabi, the priest of St Jerome's Anglican Church in Kibera works amongst some of the world's most impoverished people. Despite the shocking surroundings his work is thriving, his congregation growing, and he has high hopes and a vision for the future.
Two services and Sunday school are held each Sunday as well as a very active Mothers' Union and Choir. With assistance from the Church Army, and working together with the Pentecostals, they have set up a training school for evangelism within the Kibera area to train their own church leaders. This centre also includes a discipleship training for local people who have come to Christ through the witness of the Revd Mayabi and his team. You can read more of this story by Michael Craske on Anglican Communion News Service ACNS 3816.
Through the three days of the conference the delegates heard the development of mission in the Anglican Communion from the time of independent provinces in order to see their place in the whole Church. They looked at where they are now, the situation in African today and were challenged by the Chair of CAPA, the Most Revd Peter Akinola on the way forward. Their summary of the Conference came in the form of a list of ideas and actions for the future.
"The Way Forward" - Ideas and Actions for the Future
Summary of Action Points from the Conference