Photo Credit: Bellah Zulu/ACNS
By Bellah Zulu, ACNS
The Zambia Anglican Council development wing has encouraged the Church in Central Africa to help deliver the development vision at all levels by “engaging the government, the community and congregations in physical ministry.”
Speaking during a workshop presentation preceding the Synod official opening today, Zambia Anglican Council National Programmes Director for Health and Development, Grace Mazala Phiri said “the Church is the only institution in the world that can provide a holistic service to mankind.”
“The top church leadership should envision the lower leadership to unveil their potential in development,” said Mrs. Phiri. “The church leadership also has the Bible as a perfect tool that easily facilitate dialogue within communities.”
Mrs Phiri challenged the Church to continue being the light and salt of the world that will “chase the darkness and restore the salt which the world has lost.” She said Southern Africa and the continent as a whole continues to be plagued by the ills of “poverty, sickness, gender-based violence, corruption and bad governance.”
“The church has a bigger role to restore, heal and preserve the community,” she said. “The church also has another important role to chase darkness and hence bring about community transformation.”
But one delegate from Northern Zambia, Fr Williams Chisanga, wondered how the Church and the priests in particular are expected to bring about change and transformation in their communities when a lot of priests, especially those operating in the rural areas, are not empowered with basic skills such as basic computer skills and access to the Internet.
However, Bishop of Eastern Zambia, William Mchombo explained that the Church in Zambia has started sending priests back to the seminary and given them other training opportunities to make sure that they are empowered with skills and disciplines other than theology.
Commenting on the importance of an effective Church leadership, Us (formerly USPG) Director of International Programmes, Naomi Herbert said good Church leadership could help make the difference and that training would help them “carry out their God-given mandate.”
“We are contributing to the Churches in Africa by training the chaplains in leadership and curriculum development,” she said. “But we are also challenging the Church to go to the wider community to share Christ’s love.”
Bishop of the Diocese of Masvingo in Zimbabwe, the Rt Revd Godfrey Tawonezvi agreed that Church leaders “need to be knowledgeable about the economic, political and social situation of the areas in which they live.”
“It’s only when the leadership is well informed that they can help transform communities,” he said. “For instance, in our Diocese, we realised that a lot of people were dying of malaria. We have since partnered with government to help distribute over 65,000 treated mosquito nets to malaria infested areas.”
Ending her presentation, Grace Mazala Phiri urged the Church leaders to make use of the media and other tools such as arts, music and field visits to help in effectively reaching their audience and enhancing community transformation.
[Editor's note: The Anglican Communion News Service has an Africa section /africa.aspx where Church leaders and members across the continent can share stories of their life, mission and work with the world.]