According to Amanda Onapito, the public relations officer of the Province of the Church of Uganda, â€œIt is time believers combined their efforts to find solutions to problems that affect Africa.â€ I am hopeful of all attempts to do so.
It is precisely in this spirit that I am taking this opportunity to write to you and to your guests. As I spent almost 30 years of my life serving the Church of Uganda, I feel that my experience and commitment to the Church allows me to respectfully make some comments and proposals. I cannot help but notice that our church leaders on the continent delight in attending conferences where lofty statements, declarations, and resolutions are made.
In my life of 82 years, I have attended many of these church meetings.
Good intention compels church leaders to meet and talk â€“ but then nothing tends really to follow thereafter. For instance, 36 years ago, Church leaders and their representativesâ€”about 500 persons met in Lusaka, Zambia, and after several days of deliberations, issued a statement which called for action. I quote to avoid misinterpretation: â€œâ€¦â€¦Before we can achieve for Africa what is expected of us, before we can become a society which lives wholly and exclusively for others, we must call upon the churches in Africa to allow Christ to set them free, (1) from theological conservatism, so that we can understand, interpret, apply and experience the message of the Gospel afresh, (2) from denominationalism and outmoded church structures, and rigidity and timidity in changing them, so that we may be led by the Holy Spirit in a reality of oneness in Him. (3) from fear to proclaim the new message of redemption and denounce evil boldly, (4) from hypocrisy that leads to denouncing evil abroad and condoning it at home. (5) from selfishness in sharing with one another our resources of manpower, skills, time and finance, so that God may lead us into rediscovery of our missionary role in the use of these resources, (6) from easy dependence upon foreign money and men without making the efforts to educate ourselves for self-reliance.â€
This message was sent to all the member churches of which the Anglican Communion in Africa is a founding member. One would ask, humbly:
Which of the above six points have been implemented by the members of the Conference of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA)? The time has come for the COU to move forward and challenge her guests to be very practical in dealing with the issues confronting Africa. I turn to the issues that have been mentioned above for consideration in the forthcoming â€œconferenceâ€.
These issues are nothing new to many Africans. They experience these problems daily. For instance, the issue of poverty is on the agenda. It is now meaningless to some to even mention this issue. It has become a cliche. For the issue of poverty to have any meaning, one must spell out the many elements of which it is composed. For example, right now, due to extreme poverty, millions of Africans are dying of hunger on the continent. What will the African bishops do practically to help such victims? (Proverb 19:4)
Another agenda item is that of disease. The 400 African bishops of the Anglican Church (CAPA) are aware that medical services on the continent of Africa are in a dire state. Yet, the Anglican Churches have not combined their efforts to establish even one medical school on the entire continent to train medical and health personnel to render health services to the millions of Africans in need. Is it because bishops can continue to access St Lukeâ€™s Hospital in UK when they fall sick?
I plead that this august meeting not become just another talking shop. Whatever programmes that the organizers of the conference may have in mind, I beg to add the following practical proposals for your consideration:
Building an institution for an independent financial base for the Anglican Church in Africa.
Establishment of youth volunteer/ paid corps which could provide technical training and work experience for young people to gain skills for employment.
Anglican bishops, leading by example, and requesting that their followers provide compulsory education for their children. No doubt the conference will also issue yet another awe-inspiring message to match that issued over 36 years ago.
It is my prayer that this time the participants will be given a time-frame in which they will be accountable for the resolutions they craft during their meetings.
The writer is a retired
Anglican Church must be practical