A delegation from the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) is meeting Canadian church leaders this month “for mutual learning and setting priorities for stronger mission together.” Canon Grace Kaiso, CAPA’s general secretary, and Elizabeth Wanjiku Gicovi, from the organisation’s communications and finance team, have been joined by the Anglican Church of Canada’s Africa relations coordinator, Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa, for the past two weeks during which they have met Anglican and ecumenical leaders in the dioceses of Athabasca, Edmonton, Qu’Appelle, Rupert’s Land, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.
The two also met officials from Global Affairs Canada, the country’s diplomatic and foreign affairs service, where discussions included the on-going civil war in South Sudan which has led to the deaths of an estimated 300,000 people and where around half the Anglican dioceses are operating in exile in Uganda and Kenya.
“The complexity of that situation is that there are so many players involved in trying to bring about a peace,” Kaiso said in an interview with the Anglican Journal newspaper. “There is a need to find a framework where we can all bring in our various expertise to contribute to the peace-building effort.”
Present at the meeting with the foreign ministry officials was the Revd Laurette Glasgow, a former Canadian ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg who now works as special advisor for government relations for the Anglican Church of Canada. She had urged Kaiso to “take the opportunity to share your own witness, your own experience,” saying that Canadian officials could “become committed to achieving such things as peace and security in Africa and addressing some of the challenges in the Sudan and South Sudan.”
Kawuki-Mukasa said that conversations about partnership that had taken place during the visit had been “very exciting”.
“We can all do our own thing, but I think it’s more effective for us to be walking in partnership with one another,” he told the Anglican Journal. He explained that the invitation for CAPA officials to visit Canada came about because “we simply wanted to play the role of connectors and provide the opportunity for us Canadians to hear what the provinces in Africa are attempting to do in terms of mission, but also for officials to hear what we are doing here,” he said.
Gicovi called the visit to Canada enlightening, saying: “We find people . . . walking the talk and actually addressing the needs of the people.
“We have visited parishes where the needs are fellowship for the elderly, a lunch where people are able to come together for food and fellowship and have time together, and we have witnessed the use of music and arts as a way of bringing the youth to church.
“Some people may be saying the church in the West is dying. We have actually witnessed that the church is alive.”
Kaiso was equally positive about the mission of Anglicans in Canada. “Instead of following the usual African tradition of waiting for people to come to church,” the churches in Canada are “going to the people wherever they are gathering, wherever they are meeting,” he told the Anglican Journal.
Kaiso noted that the churches are reaching out to people in areas such as the arts and sports, and are engaging with government around issues that impact the life of the people such as housing and refugees.
“The church is very much alert and awake to the issues and facing them head on, very creatively and trusting in the spirit of God to guide them and to provide for them,” he said.
- This article draws heavily on an original report by Art Babych for the Anglican Journal.