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Margaret Larom of The Episcopal Church, in Sharpeville with Bishop Roger.
Photo No. : P070317-2
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Archdeacon Dinkebogile and Mrs. Tau of South Africa at Sharpeville with Bishop Roger.
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Delegates from Sudan with Bishop Roger.
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Conference gives fresh impetus to justice, poverty, human rights issues
By Bishop Roger Chung
March 17, 2007

[Diocese of Antsiranana - Indian Ocean] Bishop Roger Chung Jaomalaza, along with three other delegates, the Rev Brian Volcere, Dr Zoe and Mrs Jeanine Randriambola from the Province of the Indian Ocean, attended the Towards Effective Anglican Mission Conference, known as the TEAM Conference, in Boksburg, South Africa.

The conference was held in the well-equipped Birchwood Hotel in Johannesburg. The rumbling sound of planes landing at the Oliver Tambo International Airport often disturbed the sessions, as the hotel is in the path of the planes. However, the 400 delegates from all over the Anglican Communion had a most-intensely charged program for the seven days of the meeting from 7th-14th March.

The vision of the meeting was to gather ?People of the Anglican Communion meeting in the context of prayer and theology, sharing diverse experiences and views on specific social issues, and renewing the Church's commitment and capacities to respond to God's call to service in the 21st Century.?

Among the 7 objectives listed are mentioned the need to encourage a prophetic articulation for an Anglican theology which supports witness and action for social justice; to review critically the response of the Anglican Communion to the Millennium Development Goals (the MDGs), to encourage further collaborative efforts towards achieving the goals; and to explore resource mobilisation opportunities and management with range of partners.

Among the eight outcomes expected from the conference are: to draw strength from and inspire confidence in the Gospel tradition as we seek to address the Millennium Development Goals; to strengthen platforms for information-sharing and networking within the Anglican Communion; and to create a sense of urgency and possibility for action to achieve the MDGs.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Rowan Williams set the tone for the Conference at the opening Eucharist at Tsakane .

In his sermon he mentioned the two women African saints, PERPETUA AND FELICITY, ?who were executed in Carthage by the Roman authorities for their allegiance to Jesus Christ. Perpetua was a rich young lady and Felicity was her slave. They had been baptised together, they had been imprisoned together.

?We are told that Perpetua and Felicity walked into the arena where they were to be attacked by wild beasts, hand in hand....it is as if in that moment an image of what the new creation was, new creation in which slave and the slave owner had to drop their old identities, and move into a world, not only of freedom, not a freedom for the individual but freedom for one another, freedom to build up one another's humanity as those two women built up each other's courage and endurance in that terrible moment... but when we labour for justice, for reconciliation, for peace between nations, for justice and liberty for the slaves of our own day that is what in Christ's Spirit we are seeking to do.?

The Archbishop of South Africa, the Most Rev Njongonkulu Ndungane said how this conference provided us with an opportunity to rally around issues of poverty and to position ourselves as a significant partner in the global development agenda.

He mentioned that ?it was not the gathering of the high and mighty, who in their pomp and glory, tend to pontificate to little tangible effect about solutions for the very complex issues we face in our world... we have here gathered under one roof young people, women and men, priests, bishops and archbishops... there are also people living with AIDS, people from poverty-stricken areas, people experiencing discrimination and other forms of exclusion... We have here development practitioners who are committed to the eradication of poverty. This augurs well for possible strategic interventions that will make a real difference to millions of people living in dire poverty.?

He reminded us of the definition of mission in our catechism, ?the mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and with each other in Christ,? so this mission is pursued as we pray, worship, and as we proclaim the Gospel, and as we promote justice, peace and love.

Mission is about comprehensive salvation, he said, quoting the South African missiologist, David Bosch.

?We are made in the image of God which cannot be measured in monetary terms. The world has to rediscover how quality of life matters far more than quantities of dollars.... yet half a century on, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Article 25, remain a mocking dream for half of the world's population who live on two dollars a day or less.... It is for us us to stand up together, it for us to declare loud and clear that we stand by these standards of justice, integrity, dignity and humanity..."

With such challenging words to the conference, rang the call Towards Effective Mission in the Anglican Communion.

The intensely-charged program, with worship services, Bible studies, plenaries, sessions and group meetings and refreshment breaks were as motivating as ever.

The experts in each field of the eight Millennium Development Goals were excellent in their presentations. A mass of information-gathering to back up the projected follow-up of the MDGs were collected for the Anglican Communion mission agencies and all the recipient Provinces, Dioceses and church partners in the various projects. The networking recovery during this conference has been beneficial to all the parties concerned as face-to-face encounters humanise this electronic communication age.

On Sunday 11th, two busloads of delegates attended a special church in Sharpeville. Bishop Peter Lee and Archdeacon Dinkebogile welcomed us at St Cyprian's Church for a specially lively incensed Eucharist service.

Sharpeville is famous in South Africa as it was there that a massacre took place on 21 March 1960, when the police fired indiscriminately on women, men and children, killing a large number. This sparked a violent rebellion against the apartheid regime at that time, finally ended by the setting free of Nelson Mandela in 1992 for a new South Africa.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury met President Mbeki, Mr Mbeki acknowledged the role of the Anglican Church, both domestically and in the rest of the world during the struggle against apartheid, and said the relationship will be maintained so as to address the new challenges of the day.

The TEAM conference will be a landmark in the life of the Anglican Communion as this renewed focus on the MDGs has reunited the energy of the ever-expanding Anglican Communion.

The closing Eucharist was celebrated by the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA and Primate of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is the first woman primate of the Anglican Communion.

She induced the TEAM Conference into the reality of a different contextual situation, extending the limits of Christian Doctrine and ethics into this challenging age for the Anglican Church . ECUSA, having consecrated the openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson in this millennium, has been the root of major fragmentation and discomfort internally in the USA and in many of the Provinces across the Anglican Communion.

This issue is still to be considered, as recommended by the Primates meeting in February in Dar es Salaam.

The focus on the MDGs has given fresh impetus to justice, poverty and human rights issues and this can be a fresh invitation for praying to our Heavenly Father so that the Anglican Communion will find new hope for its future even through of our frail, impoverished humanity.

The Missio Dei confronts us again in our broken and sinful world.