From the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (CPSA)
An intense three-day planning meeting of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa this week has resulted in a call to action to all Anglicans to address meaningfully some pressing issues affecting our society.
In his concluding remarks after the meeting (on Thursday 17 March) the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, Archbishop of Cape Town and the Primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, has reminded Anglicans that the church is perhaps the only society that exists primarily for its non-members, for those on the margins of society - the poor and the excluded. He has asked a representative body of church clergy and laity who attended the meeting to avoid falling into patronising attitudes towards those worse-off and to look on all people with respect, honouring their right to be treated with dignity.
The meeting reflected firstly on the state of the Southern African Anglican Church, drawing parallels between the challenges it faces and those faced by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as a whole. Some of these challenges are captured in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the recently released Commission for Africa Report and supported by the philosophy and objectives of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
"Clearly, pledging commitment to either MDGs or NEPAD is not sufficient. It is for this reason that the majority of discussion in this meeting has focused on the topic of development," said Archbishop Ndungane.
The Archbishop summed up subsequent discussions, which covered the challenges of women's emancipation; improving levels of education; making public services accessible to the poor; tackling HIV and AIDS, Malaria and other infectious diseases; implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other challenges specific to the Anglican Church such as sharing a common vision and building institutional capacity in all church dioceses.
Various action plans have been recommended to address these challenges:
- Firstly, to create a pool of resources in the form of a human development fund which is well co-ordinated and distributed with proportional equity to all dioceses across Southern Africa. Archbishop Ndungane proposes that this fund be used to strengthen infrastructure and capacity in the poorer dioceses to enable them to facilitate more effective social development and outreach programmes towards the achievement of the MDGs.
- Secondly to popularise the MDGs within the church in order for it to develop people-centred and community-driven social development programmes that seek to achieve the MDGs. The Archbishop suggested that this awareness and education process happens simultaneously with the roll out of the HIV/AIDS programmes in the church, given that the MDGs prioritise HIV/AIDS and disease in a specific goal. A timeline-related plan has been called for in this regard.
- Thirdly, the Archbishop said that the church must commit to further discussion on the issue of Anglican schools and the improvement of access to education.
- Fourth, all dioceses must be involved in the creation of a poverty and development training course - which currently has pilot programmes scheduled for October 2005 - in order that it be a home grown, credible integrated and holistic training tool for the Anglican Church.
- Fifth, existing HIV/AIDS and malaria programmes as well as TB programmes should be embraced and enhanced across the region.
- Finally, there are three essential pillars for sustainable growth and development. These are government, business and civil society - which includes all faith-based organisations. Partnerships between these must be encouraged and developed that establish common vision, develop models for collaboration and strategies for implementation without negating any existing relationships at a diocesan level. Proposals as to how this could be facilitated will be discussed
"Let us make hunger history. Let us strive intentionally for a generation without AIDS. Let us rise up and build," said Archbishop Ndungane at the conclusion of the meeting.
For further information, please contact Penny Lorimer, Media Liaison for Archbishop Ndungane, on 082 894-1522