[ACNS, by Bellah Zulu] Thousands of Anglicans – mostly young people from Southern Africa and around the world – are meeting in Cape Town, South Africa for the biennial Anglicans Ablaze conference. The primary focus this year is to “open the way to a decade of intentional discipleship and disciple-making.”
The conference theme and focus is in line with the decision taken at the recent Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-16) meeting in Zambia at which it was unanimously decided to call the whole Anglican Communion to a season of intentional discipleship.
“The diversity – both in terms of age, cultures and languages – has been impressive this year, with the youngest participant being 12-years-old and the oldest one being 91-years,” said the Revd Trevor Pearce, the director of Growing the Church (GtC), the main organisers of the conference. “Anglicans Ablaze is now being regarded as one of the strategic movements happening within the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA).”
Pearce also explained the high participation of young people at the conference. “The youth are a priority group for us and we can only ignore them at our own peril since we are preparing to give them the button,” he said.
Ashleigh Clozett, a 15-year-old young Anglican from St Cyprian Retreat in Cape Town could not hide her excitement at the conference. She told ACNS: “It’s a great experience because am able to mix with a lot of people from different countries and cultures. I think more young people should have an opportunity to attend events like this.” She added: “I expect to grow my faith because I will be able to see the Bible and who Jesus is from a different point of view.”
Anglicans Ablaze participant Ashleigh Clozett described the conference as a “great experience”.
Photo: Bellah Zulu / ACNS
First time attendee, 17-year-old Lance Williams was impressed with the selection of speakers at the conference. “When sharing the message on intentional discipleship, the speakers are able to come down to our level and tell their stories in a way that I can easily relate to,” he said.
The Revd Mike Pilavachi, an author of Greek-Cypriot descent and co-founder and leader of the Soul Survivor charity based in Watford, United Kingdom, challenged the participants when sharing on intentional discipleship. “Jesus gathered people but he specifically picked those that were thought of being the worst to work as his disciples. He invested in them and these are the same people that changed the world,” he reflected.
“If the Church of Jesus is to survive and thrive, our main job is to raise leaders and love them by sharing our lives with them,” he added. “Discipleship is about giving people a chance because change happens over time and not overnight.”
But perhaps it was the Bishop of the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist and chairperson of the GtC board, the Rt Revd Martin Breytenbach, who laid a solid foundation for the entire conference when he shared on intentional discipleship.
“How many young people are part of sharing in your ministry because most of those close to Jesus where young people?” he reflected. “Jesus calls us to join him and also bring others with us which could be hard and costly but also joyfully rewarding.”
This year’s international Anglicans Ablaze conference runs from 5 to 8 October under the theme “Vulindlela – Opening the way”. It is being held at the Bishops Diocesan College, in Rondebosch, Cape Town.