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Warm welcome for Archbishop Welby in Zambia

Posted on: April 7, 2016 7:22 AM
A choir of Mothers' Union members welcome Archbishop Justin Welby to Lusaka
Photo Credit: Neil Vigers / ACO
Related Categories: Abp Chama, Abp Welby, ACC, ACC16, Central Africa, Lusaka

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] A delegation up of bishops, an official welcome from a government minister, a group of journalists, and an 80-strong choir of Mothers’ Union members greeted the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby when he arrived in Lusaka on Tuesday for a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council’s (ACC) standing committee ahead of the start, on Friday, of ACC-16.

The Archbishop of the Province of Central Africa, the Most Revd Albert Chama, was at the airport to greet Archbishop Welby as he stepped down from the aeroplane. Also there to greet him at the steps of the aircraft was the Bishop of Lusaka, the Rt Revd David Njovu; and the acting provincial secretary, the Bishop of Eastern Zambia, the Rt Revd William Mchombo.

Zambia’s Energy and Water Development Minister, Dora Siliya, was also at the airport to greet Archbishop Welby on behalf of President Edgar Lungu and the government.

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Zambian government minister Dora Siliya and the Archbishop of Central Africa, Albert Chama, greet the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.
Photo: Hudson Chirwa / Diocese of Lusaka

“I know that everybody has been looking forward to this day to come; and finally it has come because you have arrived,” the Archbishop of the Province of Central Africa, Albert Chama, said at a welcome reception in front of the media in the airport’s VIP arrivals lounge.

“So we say as [the Province of] Central Africa and for Lusaka which is hosting with the Zambian Church together – we are saying you are welcome; and it is our hope and prayer that your deliberations during ACC . . . will bring such a joy and the building up of our church together.”

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The Archbishop of Central Africa, Albert Chama, welcomes the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.
Photo: Hudson Chirwa / Diocese of Lusaka

He said that the local church was grateful that the ACC accepted their invitation to meet in Lusaka, saying that the meeting was “going to be a historic occasion” because it was the first ACC meeting to be held in Central Africa.

Zambian government minister Dora Siliya was the next to welcome Archbishop Welby, and the ACC, to Lusaka, saying that local Anglicans had been planning for the event “for quite a while now.”

She said: “All Anglicans – and, I think, all Christians in Zambia – look forward to your programme.” The Minister said that the theme for the ACC: “Intentional Discipleship in a World of Difference” was “very, very important and very timely, considering what the world is going through.” She added: “As a country, Zambia will continue to champion peace and co-existence.”

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Zambian government minister Dora Siliya and the Archbishop of Central Africa, Albert Chama, with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at a press conference in Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.
Photo: Gavin Drake / ACNS

Archbishop Welby said that was “a great honour to be welcomed so hospitably, as is always the case in Zambia.”

He explained that this, the 16th meeting of the ACC, was a “very, very big event” because ACC meetings only happen every three years; and that it was “a very important event because [the ACC] is the only body within the Anglican Communion where not only bishops and clergy but also lay people are centrally involved with principle influence in setting direction and encouraging what we do.”

He said that the ACC was gathering in Zambia at a time and in a world “where our diversity leads us so often to conflict. . . My prayer is that as we come to one of those countries in Africa which has been effective in its peaceful development under its leadership over the years – this is a country that has been peaceful and dealt with diversity peacefully and with respect – that the ACC can take that theme and live out the unity of the Church in Christ – disagreeing, doubtless, on many things; but centrally focused on the person and the love and the call of Jesus Christ to discipleship and obedience to him.”

Asked what his hopes for ACC-16 where, he joked: “It is my first ACC meeting, so I hope I understand what is going on – that would be a good start”

He continued: “My hope is that we are deeply attentive, most of all, to the Spirit of God drawing us forward as to what our part in the work of the Church is globally; and in order to achieve that, that we are deeply attentive and loving to one another; those are my two key things: that the way in which act speaks of the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ.”

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Mothers' Union members prepare to welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to Lusaka.
Photo: Hudson Chirwa / Diocese of Lusaka

After the airport press conference, Archbishop Welby was taken to his hotel in Lusaka where he was greeted by an enthusiastic and joyful 80-strong Mothers’ Union choir, who “gave him the type of welcome that only an African Mothers’ Union can give,” an observer commented.

Yesterday (Wednesday), the ACC’s standing committee began a two-day meeting. The ACC-16 itself will get underway on Friday at Lusaka’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross.