The Primate of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil and Bishop of Curitiba, The Most Revd Naudal Alves Gomes, provides some background to his Province ahead of this Sunday (26 January 2020), when Anglicans around the world will be praying for the IEAB as part of the Anglican Cycle of Prayer.
The IEAB holds nine dioceses and a missionary district throughout the entire national territory, with parishes, clergy and laity in the most diverse regions of the country. After a few decades of presence of chaplaincies, on 1 June 1890, the mission for the Brazilian people began through missionaries sent by the Virginia Seminary. The ordination of women was approved in 1984 and by 1985 our church had ordained the first woman. In 2018, the first woman bishop was ordained, followed by a second one in 2019. In 1964, the IEAB became autonomous and ceased being a mission of the American church.
The IEAB is deeply committed to follow Jesus Christ faithfully and consistently, guiding its plans and actions based on Christ’s life, His words and examples, for it is the greatest expression of God's love for all people. In the church's path of life and testimony, we believe that the Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion show us faithful paths in this following of Jesus.
The Anglican understanding of Mission is known to all members of the church, it is part of our identity as a Christian church and is part of our Baptism Liturgy (Book of Common Prayer, page 554) in the Renewal of the Baptismal Covenant. This deeply commits us before God, who invites us to “love Him, above all and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves,” “because God is Love.” We are invited to constantly evaluate our community relations, to grow in dialogue, in conflict resolution, in building peace relations, in overcoming our fears.
We are therefore committed to the Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs – especially in the fight against hunger and poverty, gender equality, overcoming inequalities, and peace and integrity of creation.
Mission and Diaconate - community diaconal and solidarity action cannot be removed from the Mission and pastoral care for people. Our model of service is Jesus Christ himself, who, in addition to giving us His example, has left us His teaching of Unconditional Love for all people, especially for the marginalised, vulnerable, for those living on the margins of society and of life with dignity. Through His action He always makes people whole, giving them “full and abundant life” and He left us that path to follow.
Equal Marriage – After decades of discussion, in our 2018 National Assembly – our synod– we approved Equal Marriage, same-sex marriage, almost unanimously. Rather than being imposed on the entire church, this approval provided an opportunity for each diocese to, within its own assemblies, reflect and make a decision. So far most dioceses have approved it. When it comes to human sexuality, the church must continue to reflect and deepen its knowledge, discussions and dialogue on Gender and Rights, the light of the Bible, faith, science and, above all, the “doctrine” of Love.
Public advocacy – Thecountry’ssocial, economic and political context, the fundamental rights of the person, the care for God’s creation, justice and peace, the protection of the vulnerable –native peoples and their lands, the homeless, the poor, black youth, the LGBTI+, the gender violence, the economic injustice through its hunger and exclusion system, have all challenged the church, which has been prophetic in its actions, through its public incidence committee, its episcopal chamber, leading us to denounce and proclaim the justice, peace and mercy of the Kingdom of God and His love revealed in Jesus that challenge our society and world.
Theological Education is a priority for our church which, through the National Board of Theological Education (Junta Nacional de Educação Teológica, JUNET) and the Center for Anglican Studies (Centro de Estudos Anglicanos, CEA) provides ongoing training for clergy and laity through study days, seminars, theological congresses, ministerial exchanges, in all dioceses and Provincial Areas. The Church maintains the Training course in Anglicanism, distance learning, which serves students from Brazil and Portugal and is currently preparing to launch the Undergraduate Course in Theology.
The Anglican Service for Diakonia and Development (Serviço Anglicano de Diaconia e Desenvolvimento, SADD) – SADD leads the church of Brazil in its diaconia service, in loving and merciful care to vulnerable people by developing projects to provide basic care needs and supporting projects that promote autonomy and self-sufficiency for people and their families in all dioceses.
In December 2019, our church concluded its Strategic Planning, with the participation of both clergy and laity, and it will go into its second stage of implementation and operation in 2020. The strategic axes as defined are: Mission, Training, and Management, with the underlying theme of Anglican Identity.
Currently, the Secretary General of the Church is the Reverend Magda Cristina Guedes Pereira and the Primate Bishop is Naudal Alves Gomes.