Johannesburg, South Africa -12-14 December 2007
“Now is the time to re-kindle the work of this Commission.” This statement from the Rt Revd Musonda T S Mwamba, Bishop of Botswana, set the tone for the first meeting of the All Africa Anglican – Lutheran Commission (AAALC) since 2001. The Commission met 12-14 December 2007, in Johannesburg, South Africa, with the Lutheran side serving as hosts.
Members of the Commission are:
Anglican: The Rt Revd Musonda T S Mwamba, co-chair (Botswana), Prof Dr Denise Ackermann (South Africa), Rev Canon Joyce Kariuki (Kenya), and Rev Canon Nangula E Kathindi (South Africa);
Lutheran: Bishop Ndanganeni P Phaswana, co-chair (South Africa), Bishop Edward R Ishaya (Nigeria), Rev Titus Mbango (Namibia), Rev Dr Chiropafadzo Moyo (Zimbabwe), Rev Dr Elieshi Mungure (Tanzania), and Rev Dr Péri Rasolondraibe (Madagascar).
In addition, Rev Dr Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of The Lutheran World Federation, provided leadership in the meeting. Prof Dr Kathryn Johnson, interim Ecumenical Officer of the LWF, also participated.
The Commission began its work by affirming the goal of seeking a relationship of full communion between African churches belonging to the Anglican Communion and to The Lutheran World Federation. This goal had been identified by earlier meetings of the Commission, and after a hiatus in activity since 2001 this renewed Commission affirmed this purpose with enthusiasm.
Participants described current relations among Anglicans and Lutherans in their home countries. They discovered considerable diversity but also identified a number of practices which already reflect mutual recognition, support, and common mission. They reviewed the work of earlier meetings of the Commission, particularly from Harare in 1999. They discussed Dr Ishmael Noko’s analysis of steps that would lead toward a full communion agreement: mapping current relationships among our churches; analyzing the contexts; taking account of the changing ecumenical landscape; developing common projects; and giving responses to historically divisive issues, both making use of ecumenical resources and speaking from African contexts.
The Commission decided to move ahead simultaneously along several lines. First, it will seek to work with bishops to plan a joint regional meeting of Anglican and Lutheran bishops in 2009: movement to full communion will require that the bishops deepen their networks of personal relationships, commit the resources of their churches, and endorse the theological vision in their communications. Second, it will ask the LWF and CAPA offices, with other structures, to seek ways to bring together sub-regional groups from all areas of the churches’ life - youth, women, theologians, etc.: movement to full communion will require staff support from appropriate international bodies. Third, members themselves will continue to develop the narratives of local relationships which were shared during the meeting in order to contribute to the process of mapping. These narratives will form the basis for the work of a group of theologians who will meet before the next full Commission meeting. This theological reflection will allow a proposal for full communion to emerge from the life of these communities in Africa.
The co-chairs will bring a report from this meeting to the April 2008 meeting of the Anglican – Lutheran International Commission. The Commission plans to meet again in 2009.