CAPA Primates Meeting-Monday 8th November 2010
Dear brothers in Christ,
It is with an immense joy that I welcome you all to this meeting of Primates. I am grateful for your presence and commitment to uphold the calling and mission of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa.
Our gathering here aims at giving substance and a sense of direction to the commitment made by the All African Bishops’ Conference held in Entebbe, in August this year.
May I now present to you apologies from Archbishop Thabo Makgoba from Southern Africa, Archbishop Justice Akrofi from West Africa. Archbishop Mouneer from Egypt is today itself presiding over the Provincial Synod of the Middle East and Jerusalem Archbishop Daniel Deng from the Sudan. They both have sent a representative whom we welcome wholeheartedly.
May I here, once again warmly thank the Church of the Province of Uganda under the able leadership of the Most Reverend Henry Orombi for organizing with a “main de maitre”, with great ingeniousness, the AABCII.
As we prepare to engage in prayer and deliberations we do so with a great sense of responsibility but also with joy. It is wonderful to be here. Our fellowship is blessed and desired by God and it gives us an occasion to celebrate his love.
This meeting has a sense of history to it as we are called to unfold in concrete terms the expectations that were expressed by our brother bishops in Entebbe, Uganda. Our deliberations today will not only affect our lives today, but will contribute to shape the future of the Anglican Communion in Africa.
It is important that we spend some time at this meeting analyzing the expectations expressed in Entebbe. These expectations have as essence the “nissio Dei” entrusted to His church. CAPA as a facilitator and respective provinces and dioceses are to bring into realization this mission as entrusted to us by Christ. Mission is of the heart of our Lord. ( Luke 40:18-19)
I understand mission to be two-fold. Evangelism which is the proclamation of the good news of the transforming power of Jesus Christ in those who accept him as Lord and Saviour; and pastoral and social work among the vulnerable, the poor andm the marginalized by providing economic development, education, healthcare etc.
We engage in serving fellow human beings on the premise of the ‘doctrine of love “ as expressed by Jesus himself on the night before his death when he washed the feet of his disciples. I quote “ if I then your Lord and teacher have washed your feet you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”( John 13:14) This second aspect of Mission follows on the need for us to proclaim the good news of salvation. This biblical approach to mission must be held together because social work without proclamation is dumb while proclamation without social work is blind.
In the context, we as the Anglican Communion on the continent should engage in deep Theological reflection that will enable us to develop a specific approach on how we realize the mission of God in Africa. The current crisis within the Anglican Communion opens to us means and ways to become more creative in our engagement to be faithful to our Lord’s command. The emergence of an aggressive Islamic conversion, multiple independent charismatic Christian groups which are mushrooming on the continent attracting a number of our own parishioners have to be attended to. It is time for us to engage our eminent Theologians to create the needed space to engage theologically with issues that we face. They will help us for the sake of Christ to develop new methods of teaching and new ways of how to be a church. This can bring God’s people to a deeper commitment as disciples of Christ and to be of spiritual maturity with more courageous witnessing and faithfulnesss in worship and service. I suggest that we assess the work that ANITEPAM has done in the past and how it can today serve the theological needs of CAPA and of our respective Provinces. It can become the theological arm of CAPA.
To sustain our vision and to grow the Body of Christ on this continent, there is the great need as it has been expressed over and over again to mobilize our resources. Economic Empowerment should be set as a goal and it is important that at this meeting we can look afresh at how we can reach economic empowerment. Two experts who are African Anglicans have given this definition: “Economic empowerment means having adequate resources and income to maintain the organization’s output and this means to be self supporting that is having enough finances, effective administration and transparent management in various facets of the church. This would imply that the organization is able to carry out its work with the resources it has”.
It is them more that appropriate that at this meeting we insist upon the need to encourage partnership amongst our Provinces with the Global South. We also have to encourage ventures with corporate bodies as mentioned in Entebbe. That will enable us to increase our capacity to exploit what we already have as resources in our respective Provinces. We need to define a policy . I suggest that a taskforce be established.
The other expectation expressed is that we need to discuss how we can adequately respond to emerging continental issues. The situations in Congo, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Madagascar need to be discussed at length and see how CAPA can become a mediator and facilitator at continental level. These expectations expressed should be our concern as CAPA Primates – I do hope that we shall do justice to them. The items on the agenda set the pace for a deep reflection on the challenges facing leadership in our parts of the world.
Recently, I attended the Council of Churches of East Asia which brings together the Anglican Diocese from Korea, Japan, West Malaysia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Kuching, Sabah. I had the priviledge, upon the invitation of His Grace, the Most Rev. John Chew, to share about the life of the Anglican Church in Africa, and of the role that CAPA plays. They all have been impressed by the work of CAPA and its capacity to act as a facilitator. It is our duty as Leaders of the Communion on this continent to strengthen and reaffirm CAPA’s role so that it can respond more effectively to the challenges that hinder God’s people to experience abundant life.
I have always valued the contribution of the Global South to the life of the Communion. Because of its mandate and geographical coverage, I think that its responsibility is to guide us in matters of faith and doctrine. CAPA should focus on its role as a facilitator to foster fellowship among Provinces and a voice of Africa which defends the rights and priviledges of the most vulnerable. Its contribution to the life of the Global South is indeed inestimable.
Saying that, CAPA because of its experience and potentials is unique within the Anglican Communion. It should keep to its independence and work closely with all the provinces of the Anglican Communion in Africa. This is a challenge that we need to face with wisdom and the right discernment.
Since August 2010, in spite of the different opinions that have been expressed by the Provinces of Southern Africa and Central Africa, I do feel that there is room to build CAPA in spite of the diversity of opinions on certain issues. We should not loose view of this. I am glad of the expression of support offered to us recently by the Archbishop of Cape Town. He invites us to consider having a meeting of CAPA in Cape Town or Johannesburg.
As regards the Primates Meeting hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury due to take place early next year, we shall be able to express ourselves but the decision to attend rests solely on the individual Archbishop.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has invited me in my capacity of CAPA Chairman to be part of a preparatory committee. He is also anxious that a small group of primates meet with him. I would like to have your opinion and thoughts about it. I wish here on behalf of all CAPA Primates to thank the Most Rev Emmanuel Kolini for supporting me during these past 3 years as CAPA Vice-Chairman. We should value his great contribution made towards CAPA. Archbishop Kolini, I will certainly miss you wise insights but you will remain for a long time in my heart as a mentor and a committed and loyal servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
May I also thank the CAPA General Secretary and the secretariat for enabling this meeting to happen.
The Bishops have given to us a mandate when we met at AABCII. I hope that as CAPA we can bring this mandate to concrete terms. We need your support as Primates. We need your involvement so that the information can reach the grassroots. Talking about grassroots, it would be unfair for us not to take into consideration the voice of the Laity. We have a women core group but it is time that our young men and women share with us their vision for the future. I therefore ask of your support to my intention in organizing a youth gathering for 2011. I intend to invite 3 young people from each Province. Giving them a voice will strengthen our role and asking them of their vision of the Church in Africa should be part of our responsibility as leaders of this present generation. I hope that we can discuss about it and take a decision.
My proposition also is to encourage CAPA to hire 3 persons who have the expertise in the field of Economic Empowerment, Theological Issues and Communications. This will sustain our quest to reach our objectives and to fulfil the expectations of our church on the Continent.
So, to us whom God chooses to stand in as leaders of the Church, Jesus promises all the help that we may need. He understands our frailty and fears. No task would be too great, no opposition too strong. At this meeting, the Lord will certainly provide us with the power of the Holy Spirit to equip and empower us. My brothers, let us stand up together for Africa and for the Lord’s Honour and Glory
God bless Africa
God Bless CAPA
Thank you for your Kind attention.
The Most Revd. Ian Ernest, G.O.S.K
Chairman of CAPA
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