Anglican churches in Canada are getting top marks for the way they interact with people in their communities and how they handle pastoral challenges.
“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,” said Canon Grace Kaiso, general secretary of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA).
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,” said Kaiso in an interview with the Anglican Journal September 25.
CAPA is a faith-based organization operating in 13 Anglican provinces in Africa and the diocese of Egypt. Its goal, according to its website, is “to coordinate and articulate issues affecting the church and communities around the region.” The Anglican Church of Canada supports the core work of CAPA with an annual grant of $10,000.
From September 15 to 30, Kaiso, along with Elizabeth Wanjiku Gichovi, CAPA’s communications and finance director, and Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa, the Anglican Church of Canada’s Africa relations co-ordinator, are meeting with Anglican and ecumenical leaders in the dioceses of Niagara, Edmonton, Qu’Appelle, Rupert’s Land, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.
The gatherings are “for mutual learning and setting priorities for stronger mission together,” according to CAPA.
The delegation had a busy day in Ottawa, starting off with a roundtable at the diocesan synod office, where directors of the diocese’s programs and ministries shared information with their African visitors. On hand, too, was the Rev. Laurette Glasgow, the special advisor for government relations for the Anglican Church of Canada.
That was followed by a noon Eucharist at Christ Church Cathedral next to the Ottawa synod office, lunch at a nearby hotel, a roundtable with government officials at Global Affairs Canada (GAC) to talk about peace and security in Africa and, finally, an evening dinner hosted by diocesan Bishop John Chapman and his wife, Catherine.
The agenda for the roundtable with GAC officials included discussions about the civil war in South Sudan, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed.
“The complexity of that situation is that there are so many players involved in trying to bring about a peace,” said Kaiso. “There is a need to find a framework where we can all bring in our various expertise to contribute to the peace-building effort.”
Glasgow, who served as Canadian ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, accompanied the African delegates to the meeting with GAC. Before the event, she encouraged Kaiso to “take the opportunity to share your own witness, your own experience.”
Canadian officials, Glasgow said, “can become committed to achieving such things as peace and security in Africa and addressing some of the challenges in the Sudan and South Sudan.”
After visiting several dioceses before coming to Ottawa, the delegation agreed a “partnership’ theme had emerged.
“For me,” said Kawuki-Mukasa, “what has been very exciting in the conversations we’ve had is…partnership,” he said. “We can all do our own thing, but I think it’s more effective for us to be walking in partnership with one another.”
When the church’s global relations department came up with the proposal for CAPA officials to visit Canada, “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.
Gichovi called the visit to Canada enlightening. “We find people…walking the talk and actually addressing the needs of the people,” she said.
“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.”
Gichovi added, “Some people may be saying the church in the West is dying. We have actually witnessed that the church is alive. Thank you.”
Editor’s note: The CAPA delegation visited the diocese of Niagara, not Athabasca, and CAPA consists of 13 provinces and the diocese of Egypt, not 12 provinces as reported earlier.