Life in the midst of HIV/AIDS
“I came to tears when I witnessed the suffering yet saw the love and compassion of Jesus in persons living with and dying from HIV/AIDS and in the women who attended them.” so said Sister Chandrani Peiris of the Society of St. Margaret in Sri Lanka as she visited Katorus, a township 80 kilometers outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. Sister Chandrani was in South Africa attending the first meeting of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism from May 7 to May 18.
Twenty members of the Commission from every corner of the Anglican Communion gathered at the Kempton Park Conference Center in the Church of the Province of Southern Africa for ten days of prayer and deliberation on the Communion’s engagement with mission and evangelism. The Commission’s work was grounded in the context of post-apartheid South Africa where 4.5 million, or one out of every ten, people are HIV positive. In a presentation to the Commission, Lynn Coull of the Diocese of the Highveld’s AIDS Coordinating Committee pointed out that last year 250,000 South Africans died from AIDS. This number will double in six years. Children and young adults are especially hard hit by the pandemic and it is estimated that 50%of current 15 year old youth in South Africa will succumb to the disease. These statistics were given a face when the Commissioners accompanied local Home Based Care givers as they ministered to persons living with AIDS in the sprawling townships that ring Johannesburg.
The mandate of the Mission Commission, given by the Anglican Consultative Council, is to oversee and support mission and evangelism across the Anglican Communion. As this was the first meeting of the Commission, significant time was set aside for sharing of stories about the regions each commissioner represented. Additional in-depth discussions were had on: Theological Education, Justice and Peace Imperatives, Religious Pluralism, Affirming Life, New Church/Transformed Anglicanism, and, Money, Power, and Corruption. Committed to the grass-roots of the church, the Commission called on parishes around the Communion to initiate self-studies on local initiatives in mission and evangelism. In frank discussion, honest sharing, centering worship, and life-giving laughter, the Commission began to envision how , over the next five years, it will challenge the Anglican Communion to respond to and participate in God’s mission. The next meeting of the Commission will be in Scotland in June 2002. Mauricio Andrade, from Brazil, celebrating the new-found solidarity of the group said: “When we leave we will continue to remember that even though each other’s story, context, and realities are different, we are the same family and body in Jesus Christ.”
Sister Chandrani concluded: “Having considered mission and evangelism in the midst of HIV/AIDS, I am prepared to go home and challenge my community as to how we will reach out to those with HIV/AIDS strengthened by the love and life we have found here in South Africa.”
A Call from the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission
on Mission and Evangelism
Jesus said 'I have come that people might have life, life in all its fullness'.
We are writing as twenty-two members of the Anglican Communion's new Mission Commission at the end of our first meeting in Johannesburg South Africa, May 2001.
We came as representatives of all regions of the world-wide Anglican Communion, heard and discussed reports of the mission, life and witness of Anglican and United Churches in many parts of the world.
We heard of the struggles of Christians in situations of life and death- poverty, HIV/AIDS, war and violence, Islamisation and materialism. We also heard of the joys and strengths of congregations growing in numbers and vitality as they reached out to their communities - often in situations of life and death.
We believe that Jesus' promise of fullness of life in all its dimensions is at the heart of God's good news. It is carried into society by all Christian people, as congregations and as individuals -people committed to mission and evangelism.
To follow the Decade of Evangelism and at the beginning of this new century we encourage all dioceses, parishes and local churches to review their mission - the ways they seek to share Christ's life with others.
We offer the following questions to parish congregations to help in this review of mission:
+ Sebastian Bakare
Bishop of Manicaland, Zimbabwe
Chairman on behalf of The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism
Commission Report to the Primates’ Theological Education Working Group
Kempton Park, South Africa, May 2001
At the first meeting of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism (IASCOME), we reviewed the background and the work of past Mission Commissions that referred to theological education and the current mandate given in the Action Plan of the Primates’ Meeting (Kanuga 2001). We identified the need to develop the relationship between mission and theological education in the Anglican Communion today. In our conversations we sought clarification about what is meant by theological education. We distinguished but noted the relationship between:
IASCOME rejoiced that the Anglican Communion is growing rapidly and changing, especially in the Global South. Anglican Mission and other Commissions over the last two decades have noted that this change has brought about challenges and opportunities for theological education. These realities have led us to ask questions about changing paradigms in theological education that force us to look beyond clerical preparation towards mission formation. This Commission is prepared to ask hard questions about church and theological education because God’s mission is larger than promoting Anglicanism.
The Commission recognised that there are a range of theological education models in the Anglican Communion today that are specifically orientated towards the preparation of clergy, often in difficult circumstances. These models need to be supported and encouraged as an important contribution to theological education. Whilst appreciating this tradition, we recognize that this approach does not prepare the whole people of God for mission. And even within the preparation of clergy, the emphasis on contextual and local theological understandings of mission and mission practice are rarely present or fully embraced.
We can imagine that some of the current theological education centres and models could be broadened to be centres for mission formation primarily for all God’s people including the ordained. And secondarily these centres could offer clergy preparation for the furtherance of mission. If this is to happen effectively, theological education needs to be refocused around a formation which is more than just in-formation. Theological education for mission formation is grounded in and shaped by local contexts, and must be about both personal holiness and the affirming of life in wider society and the world. Such centres might form mission educators who could then advance other formation models. We learned of similar mission educators in such diverse contexts as Scotland (Mission 21) and Papua New Guinea.
We further heard about emerging efforts across the Communion to advance theological education committed to mission formation. The Commission commented on and encouraged the development of the consultation for Anglican Contextual Theologians and an International Fellowship of Parish Based Missiologists. We believe that these and other ventures across the Anglican Communion will advance theological education and with strong missiological commitments. We will be inviting others to inform the Commission about similar initiatives.
The Commission is honoured to have been named as a resource for the Primates in their efforts to foster theological education in the Anglican Communion. We are ready to continue to assist the Primates in this important work.
Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism Pursues Policy of Encouragement
"Mission in the Anglican Communion is where it is at." said Miss Marjorie Murphy the Director of Mission and Evangelism in the Anglican Communion Office "We are continually surprised by the many wonderful ways Anglicans around the world are coming together in faithfulness to God's mission."
Miss Murphy was reflecting on the most recent meeting of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism (IASCOME) in St. Andrews, Scotland from June 15th to the 24th. IASCOME is mandated by the Anglican Consultative Council to advance and promote mission and evangelism efforts around the Anglican Communion. The twenty one members of the Commission, from every corner of the globe, meet annually in different churches of the Anglican Communion to learn about and support Anglicans in mission.
In Scotland the Commission heard about the pains and possibilities of Anglicans in such diverse places as the Sudan, Nigeria, the Philippines, Canada and the Solomon Islands. Particular attention was paid to the question of how to pursue God's mission of reconciliation in the face of religious persecution or political and economic oppression. "There are no easy answers . . ." said the Rt. Rev. Sebastian Bakare, Bishop of Manicaland, Zimbabwe and Chair of the Commission. "and there is no one way to be faithful to God's call to mission. But coming together, to communicate the joys and difficulties of our various contexts, builds unity and solidarity. For me, sharing the story of our troubles in Zimbabwe at this time helps us to know we are not alone."
It has become the custom for the Commission to meet in different Anglican churches around the world in order to witness local expressions of mission and evangelism. In Scotland, IASCOME learned about the exciting and successful renewal programme of the Scottish Episcopal Church called Mission 21. After a traditional Highland Celebration, the Commissioners fanned out to the seven dioceses of the Scottish Episcopal Church to encounter mission efforts in various parishes around the country.
IASCOME reviewed many programmes and projects related to mission and evangelism around the Communion. The recent gathering of Provincial Evangelism Officers in Nairobi, Kenya on 6-13 May, sponsored by IASCOME, was heralded as a landmark event in the life of the Communion. Other important projects reviewed by the Commissioners included: the Conference for Mission Organisations ‘Transformation and Tradition in Global Mission’, the inaugural meeting of the International Network of Parish-based Missiologists, steps taken towards a network of Anglican Contextual Theologians, and a plans for a Global Anglicanism Project designed to study the vitality of mission efforts in various churches around the Anglican Communion. Commenting on these and other such ventures, Chairman Bakare said: "Our policy is not one of gate-keeping but rather support and encouragement. Networking the many and various ways Anglicans are involved in mission and evangelism around the world is the work of our Commission and the hope of the Communion."
The Commission concluded its meeting by preparing an Interim Report on its work for the upcoming twelfth meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Hong Kong in September. The Report included work so far on: Equipping and formation for mission; Islam and Islamisation; Developing Anglicanism: A Communion in Mission; Mission as Peace and Justice and Money Power and Christian mission.
The Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Ph.D.
On behalf of IASCOME
The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism (IASCOME) met at Runaway Bay in Jamaica from Monday, 1 December to Thursday, 11 December, 2003. The Commission is made up of twenty-two members from twenty-two different provinces/churches of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Our membership includes women and men who reflect the diverse cultures and contexts of the Communion and consists of: bishops, lay-people, priests, a sister from a religious community, an archbishop and a representative from a mission society.
We are committed to God’s mission of reconciliation, healing and wholeness. The mission of God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, binds us together in the fellowship of love that brings about koinonia – communion with God, communion with one other, and communion with creation as a whole. We understand evangelism to be an integral part of God’s mission that focuses on explicit and intentional voicing of the gospel. In our bible study, worship, prayer, and conversations we explored many of the ways that the Good News of Jesus Christ is being lived and shared across the Anglican Communion today.
As a Commission we heard stories of courage in the face of systemic violence, hope in the face of adversity, joy in the face of sadness, and new life in the face of death. We were particularly moved by stories from members including: the seven Anglican Melanesian Brothers who recently sacrificed their lives to effect reconciliation in the ethnic tensions of the Solomon Islands; the poverty, dislocation and sadness caused by the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where three and a half million people have died as a result, and the reemergence of civil unrest and violence in Sri Lanka.
We have continued to carry out our mandate given to us by the Anglican Consultative Council particularly in the areas of:
We have identified a wide range of specific tasks related to these areas. In our work together, we discussed the ongoing tensions and difficulties for Christians living under the shadow of war and terrorism, violence, and poverty. Stories from across the Communion testify to the variety of creative responses Anglican churches are making to effect peace, justice, and community development. Our discussions drew particular attention to the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS, globalization, United States led military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Islamisation.
We celebrated the Communion’s networking in mission that is being manifested in new ways. We affirmed the importance of the recent Consultation of Provincial Co-ordinators of Mission and Evangelism (Nairobi, May 2002) and the Anglican Mission Organisations Conference (Cyprus, February 2003) both sponsored by IASCOME, as well as the gathering of Anglican Contextual Theologians (Cambridge USA, May 2003). We believe that these conferences and other meetings signal fresh ways of developing mission in the Communion through networking and relationships. These reflect our calling to be a Communion in mission.
We were saddened that the Anglican Communion is currently living with deep tensions and disagreements over certain issues in human sexuality such that there is impaired communion between some of the churches in the Communion. Members spoke honestly about how recent actions by, and reactions to, the Episcopal Church in the United States have caused hurt, anger, and pain to many across the world and the Anglican Communion. We believe, however, that how we relate as a Communion in mission offers hope and healing to this fractured family of churches. We commit ourselves to living together in mission. We offer our stories and relationships in mission to the Anglican Communion as signs of God’s transforming love.
We thank the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands in the Church of the Province of the West Indies for gracious hospitality and opportunities to engage with local parishes. We look forward to meeting again in February 2005 to complete our work and the report to the Anglican Consultative Council meeting later in the same year.
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
10 December, 2003
A Covenant for Communion in Mission was a key proposal that came from the fourth meeting of IASCOME, the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Mission and Evangelism. Meeting in Larnaca, Cyprus, the 21-person commission, drawn from 18 nations and all regions of the Communion, made the proposal of a nine-point covenant as one of the ways in which churches, dioceses and parish/congregations could express their practical commitment to each other in their mission relationships.
The Commission met immediately after the Primates Meeting in Northern Ireland and recognised that for the vast majority of Anglicans, the lifeblood of the Anglican Communion flowed in practice through their meeting and sharing in common mission with others from around the world. It was suggested that alongside the terms partners or companions in mission, the words 'friends' and 'friendship' well reflected the quality of relationship that Jesus offered to those who followed him, and that his followers should offer each other.
This was the last meeting of the Commission. Highlights of its work have been two Communion-wide Conferences on Mission and Evangelism for provincial mission and evangelism co-ordinators in 2002 and for mission organisations in 2003. From these two conferences, significant new mission relationships have developed as important ways of building and strengthening bonds of affection across the Communion.
The Commission will be presenting its substantial report, “Communion: Relationships in Mission”, to the ACC meeting in Nottingham, with plans to publish it for wider circulation as a source for study and stimulus to the wider Communion.
Added point for editors
The Chairman of the Commission is the Rt Revd Sebastian Bakare, Bishop of Manicaland, Zimbabwe and its Secretary is the Anglican Communion’s Director for Mission and Evangelism – Miss Marjorie Murphy. The Commission was the first Standing Commission of the Communion formed in 2000 as successor to MISSIO. It was noted for the breadth of regional representation, the mix of laity, clergy and bishops and with over a third of the membership being women. It has met four times in South Africa, Scotland, Jamaica and Cyprus. Its interim report to ACC-12 ‘Travelling Together in God’s Mission’ is available on the Anglican Communion website.