By Joyce Mwangi of the Anglican Church of Kenya
China's Delegation visits ACK to learn from the relationship between church and state
A delegation of twelve from the Ministry of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) People's Republic of China, visited the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) to learn on how the church relates with the state.
The delegation was headed by Minister of the State Administration for Religious Affairs in China,Minister Wang Zuoan, who was accompanied by Directors from the Ethical and Religious Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Policy and Regulation, Religious Research Centre and Catholicism Affairs in his department.
The visit was courtesy of the Primates of Global South Anglican Communion which includes South America, Africa and Asia, coordinated by the Archbishop of Singapore; seeking to establish a relationship between the Kenya's and Chinese Church and strengthen each other in mission and social transformation.
In his introductory remarks, Minister Wang said that for many years the linkage between Kenya and China has been on policy, economic and cultural sectors yet no formal relationship with religion had been established. “As we learn from each other during this visit, we hope a friendship between the two countries will be created,” he said.
More than spiritual nourishment the Anglican church engages in social transformation to offer holistic ministry. Some of the development sectors the church engages in include water, health and sanitation, food security, education and care for the needy and the orphans. The ACK has emphasis on provision of knowledge liaising with the Government in the education sector. This active role has been recognized by the Government thus involving ACK in policy formulation and the ongoing revision on the education system in Kenya. The major way that the church gets involved to the grassroot level is through the pastoral network which gives feedback on the community needs which are integrated in the education system.
Social transformation is done with resources from the Kenyan government, foreign government, local mobilization and the church. Environmental sustainability is also emphasized and national reconciliation has been one of the biggest milestones of the Anglican Church of Kenya,” remarked Archbishop Wabukala as he gave a review of the church's role in the nation.
To learn from the diversity of the church‘s engagement, the areas visited include Limuru Girls which is an Anglican sponsored school, Mothers' Mercy Children's Home, Christian Industrial Training Institute and St. John's Community Centre among others. In addition, the team had a diplomatic visit to the Chinese Embassy as a gesture of the good relations between the two countries.
Notably of the 1.3 billion population in China, only 23 million are Christians whereas Kenya records 80% Christianity, thus there is a great need for evangelism. “I'll encourage Christians back home to play an active role to improve the society since social services is paramount for witness,” said Minister Wang.
At the farewell dinner, Archbishop Wabukala said the lessons from the visit will form a basis for interactions in future, creating a lasting relationship between the two countries and possibly identify specific areas of collaboration.
The ACK church is 167 years old whereas the church in China is 200 years old.