Nairobi, Kenya, 1-4 April 2001
Background to the Formation of the Commission
- The developments that led to the formation of the All Africa Anglican-Lutheran Commission had their beginning in the two Africa Anglican-Lutheran consultations held in Harare 1992 and in Johannesburg 1993. Both of these events were sponsored by the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran World Federation and were considered to be part of the work of the Anglican-Lutheran International Commission (ALIC). The outcome of these events shows a high degree of consistency, both in terms of principles and in terms of outlook and purpose. The reports from these two meetings are in many ways foundational for the later development.
- In 1997 a consultation in Johannesburg brought together a number of church leaders to discuss how progress could be made, building on the agreed basis and goals. The consultation prepared a report which makes reference to various Anglican-Lutheran international agreements forming the wider framework of the African project. The decision was made to establish an Interim Commission that would lay the foundation for the full Commission.
- The Interim Commission met in Harare in 1999 and carried out an overall analysis of the situation and assessed the various strengths and weaknesses inherent in the churches and their religious and social contexts which need to be taken seriously in the continued process. The Interim Commission's report, in substance, drew lines back to 1992 and 1993. One concrete proposal was to seek the establishment of an African office to implement the Anglican-Lutheran dialogue in the continent.
- The Anglican-Lutheran dialogue in Africa, as reflected in its various reports, has been stimulated by the international ecumenical developments between Anglicans and Lutherans, particularly through the work of ALIC. But it has not simply imported ecumenical achievements that have been reached abroad. The African project has from the beginning had the African context as its specific framework. The tough realities that impact on the daily life of the churches have been central in these discussions. Anglicans and Lutherans in Africa are convinced that it is in taking these realities into account in a common, ecumenical way, that the churches will be strengthened, both in service and in witness to Christian unity.
- An important point that has been asserted several times in the previous stages of the project, is that both Anglicans and Lutherans belong to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which we confess in the Nicene Creed. As a consequence, and as there is essentially only one ecumenical movement, an issue at stake in this bilateral dialogue is not only how this particular dialogue can contribute to a closer communion between the churches involved, but also how it can serve the wider cause of Christian unity. The question must be kept alive, therefore, how the positive developments taking place between Anglicans and Lutherans in Africa can contribute to Christian unity in Africa and indeed in the world at large.
The African Anglican-Lutheran developments were presented and discussed at the meeting of the Anglican-Lutheran International Working Group (ALIWG) which took place in Iceland 23-28 March 2001. Bishops Sebastian Bakare and Ambrose Moyo were both present and gave a presentation of the African Anglican-Lutheran dialogue, with particular reference to the Harare 1999 Report. The International Working Group heard the report with great interest - not least because it represents significant new perspectives in a regional ecumenical dialogue.
The Inaugural Meeting of the Commission
- The first official meeting of the All Africa Anglican-Lutheran Commission was held at the Panafric Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya, during the above-mentioned days. It was a time to affirm together once more the direction of the dialogue, to receive and study reports of the various developments pertaining to Anglican-Lutheran unity in Africa and to determine how best to move ahead with this ecumenical project. The members drafted and committed the commission to a plan of action.
- The Commission clarified the various expectations held in the midst of the complexity of the African context. It sought to formulate, analyse and synchronise the different expectations - in view of reaching the best possible coordinated action in the time ahead. It did not shun difficult questions. It is aware that many obstacles need to be overcome in this project as in all ecumenical endeavours.
- The Commission found that there is already active cooperation between Anglicans and Lutherans in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and South Africa. Convinced that this cooperation is in line with the prayer of our Lord that we may all be one (John 17), the Commission proposes:
- that in countries where Anglican-Lutheran cooperation is already experienced this should be intensified and nurtured towards official relationships of communion;
- that in countries where Anglicans and Lutherans coexist but where there are no bilateral relationships between the two churches, that immediate contact be encouraged between the appropriate authorities at the national level to consider ways of cooperation;
- that in both these cases, the following steps be taken by the churches involved:
- to undertake education at grass-roots level to bring about knowledge and understanding of each church as to history, liturgy, doctrine, church order and polity;
- to exchange visits, extend mutual invitations to each other's synods, hold discussions, and engage in other forms of getting to know each other;
- to plan and carry out together joint theological education, lay training, women's and children's programs as a way of deepening cooperation between the two churches;
- to take action in these matters at provincial / synodical level at the appropriate time.
We prayerfully commit our work to our respective churches in Africa, asking that God guide the reflection, deliberations and actions ahead - in Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit.
The Rt Revd Dr Sebastian Bakare: Anglican Co-Chair
The Rt Revd Dr Ambrose Moyo: Lutheran Co-Chair
Commission Members - Anglican
The Rt Revd Dr Sebastian Bakare, Church of the Province of Central Africa (Co-Chair)
The Most Revd Donald Mtetemela, Anglican Church of Tanzania (represented at the Nairobi meeting by the Rt Revd Simon Elilekia Makundi)
Dr Denise Ackerman, Church of the Province of Southern Africa (represented at the Nairobi meeting by the Revd Peter Monageng)
The Rt Revd Moses Njeru Njue, Anglican Church of Kenya
The Rt Revd Kobina Adduah Quashie, Church of the Province of West Africa
The Rt Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon, The Church of Nigeria - Anglican Communion (unable to attend the Nairobi meeting)
Staff: The Revd Canon David Hamid, Anglican Communion Office
Commission Members - Lutheran
Bishop Dr Ambrose Moyo, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (Co-Chair)
Mrs. Amarech Getachew, The Ethopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (LUCCEA)
Bishop Dr Samson Mushemba, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (LUCCEA) (unable to attend the Nairobi meeting)
The Revd Dr Thomas Nyiwe, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cameroon (LUCWA) (unable to attend the Nairobi meeting - visa not obtained)
The Revd Edward R. Ishaya, The Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LUCWA) (unable to attend the Nairobi meeting - visa not obtained)
The Revd Elfrieda Katjezumo, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (LUCSA) - (unable to attend the Nairobi meeting)
Bishop Dr Ndanganeni Petrus Phaswana, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa (LUCSA)
Staff: The Revd Sven Oppegaard, The Lutheran World Federation
Mr Muloko Kongola, LWF Regional Office Manager
LUCCEA = Lutheran Communion in Central and Eastern Africa
LUCWA = Lutheran Communion in Western Africa
LUCSA = Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa
Photographs to accompany this article are available from the "Anglican World" PhotoFile.