A delegation of young adults from the Diocese of Lusaka helped a regional consultation on families under pressure to “revisit our thinking about the place of young people in our families, communities and churches”. Each of the 15 dioceses in the Church of the Province of Central Africa sent one male and one female participant to the six-day consultation, which was organised by the International Anglican Family Network (IAFN). They were joined on one day by 26 young people from the Diocese of Lusaka, who challenged them to think about the tensions between “digitally native” young people and older BBCs – people Born Before Computers.
The consultation, “Families under pressure: How can churches respond?” was a celebration of the family as a foundation for human flourishing and the place where Christians can build up resilience to cope with change and challenge in society. The participants looked at a number of issues, such as economic hardship, inter-generational poor parenting, substance abuse, child marriage, domestic abuse, and technology and the generation gap, which can put families under pressure.
They shared information about what steps they are already taking in their dioceses to respond to these issues and reflected on what steps might be taken at diocesan and provincial levels to strengthen families in such a way that every member flourishes.
“Consulting with youth challenged us to revisit our thinking about the place of young people in our families, communities and churches”, Canon Robert Sihubwa, the Provincial Youth Coordinator for Central Africa, said. “They reminded us that not all parents are good role models and sometimes the church is the only place they can run to.
“In families there is often tension around the use of technology and cell phones”, he said. “Our youth are ‘digital natives’ and it is sometimes hard for the BBCs to understand how information technology and mobile communication have become normal and integral to their lives.”
“So together we looked at the potential of IT, and the communication it makes possible, to assist in building and strengthening our families, and in building Christ’s Church and serving God’s mission in the world.”
A youth delegation from the Diocese of Lusaka take part in the International Anglican Family Network regional consultation in the Church of the Province of Central Africa.
The Bishop of Southern Malawi, Alinafe Kalemba, was the Province’s episcopal representative at the consultation. He said: “Meeting the young Christians challenged us and told us things we hadn’t noticed. They said, ‘you don’t pay attention to us; you want us to live like you but we are us.’
“We have said ‘your time will come’. We haven’t allowed them to participate. But now we have discussed how they can minister to us. My approach will be different now.”
The Chair of the IAFN is David Rossdale, the former Bishop of Grimsby in the Church of England’s Diocese of Lincoln. “The family is always under pressure”, he said. “This is nothing new. When under pressure, as Christians we can’t simply turn away, but we can try to understand how to face the challenges which the modern world brings, recognising the pressures and how to moderate them, whilst at the same time celebrating what is good in and a blessing in what the future offers.”