Photo Credit: Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Facebook
[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] Angola was officially inaugurated as a new Anglican Diocese this week, following 16 years as a missionary diocese and after more than 40 years of war.
The Primate of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba led the special service of inauguration and also installed Bishop André Soares as the Bishop of Angola.
The Archbishop said it was an inspiring event: “What an experience and enriching time.
What a joy! We inaugurated a fully-fledged diocese and installed Bishop André as diocesan.”
Supporters from partner dioceses and organisations joined in the ceremony, which included a blessing of the church land in Luanda, where the new Anglican Cathedral will be built. The Archbishop blessed the boundary, laid the foundation stone and named the Cathedral St Andrew the Apostle on St Andrew’s day. Soil from the site will be taken back to Angola's partner Diocese of London.
After years of civil war in Angola, which started in 1975, the fighting eventually ended in 2002 and the Anglican church has been a key player in helping re-build the country’s shattered infrastructure.
The Church of the Province of Southern Africa (CPSA) began plans to establish a new diocese in the war-torn country in 1995 when the Church's provincial synod adopted a resolution to create a missionary diocese in Angola.
The CPSA and other partners including USPG, Manna and the Diocese of London’s Angola London Mozambique Association, supported the development through backing church projects to tackle HIV, train clergy, and rebuild churches, clinics and schools.
The new Bishop of Angola, Andre Soares, said: “The Anglican Church is working in all areas of Angola and we are thankful that God has given us the opportunity to develop the country.”
André Soares was born in Angola in 1956, but had to flee with his family to the Democratic Republic of the Congo when war broke out in 1962. After studying under Alexandre Luís Domingos, who later became the first Episcopal Delegate of the Anglican Church in Angola, André Soares was eventually ordained priest in 1991. At 35, he was the youngest priest and the Bishop nicknamed him ‘cassula’, which means ‘smallest in the family’. He is married to Janete João and they have six sons and two daughters.
He said: “I have carried on the work, determined to overcome the problems of a country torn apart by 40 years of war ... Thanks be to God the church is now a diocese in its own right.”
One member of the clergy, Maria Domingos, whose ordination training was supported by USPG, said the Province of Southern Africa has helped them with training on church growth.
She said: “This is a significant challenge that has required hard work and dedication, both on the part of local priests and local evangelism groups, often working in remote areas without transportation. But we have seen growth, with the creation of many new congregations.”
Despite hardships, poverty and many health challenges including malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB, she said the church is maintaining its focus. She said: “we now have congregations in areas where the church did not exist before. There is hope.”