The Global South-to-South Encounter entered into its third. What does it mean for the Churches in the Global South to be a “Light for the Nations?
The day started with Archbishop Robert Duncan presiding at Holy Communion. In his homily, Abp Peter Jensen reminded us that we, who are “deeply, truly and permanently loved” are truly free. We do not “go our own way” to find freedom, but we come to Jesus, the bread of life. Assistant Bishop Rennis Ponniah, led the Bible Study, sharing from Isaiah 42:1-9. Bp Ponniah emphasized the vital need for a fresh vision of the Church. The scope of the Church’s ministry has to include the bringing forth of God’s justice in society, by modeling covenantal relations and by teaching society the keeping of God’s moral law. The nature of the Church’s presence is as a servant to the world’s needs; Anglican ministers are not celebrities, but celebrants. Finally, Bp Ponniah once again reminded us to look to the Holy Spirit as the source of the Church’s power, to give us an indefatigable constancy to do God’s work every day.
In the third thematic address, Revd Dr Paul Swarup put the idea of the church as light in the context of the Servant’s work on justice. The Servant will establish justice on earth, and people will put their hope in the Servant’s teaching. (Isa 42:4) In following Jesus’ example we can only be a light to the nations by following God’s instruction and pursuing justice. As light, we illuminate the way to God, give directions for life, and shine in the midst of darkness. Dr Swarup encouraged the Encounter delegates to pursue justice by calling people to be accountable, speak the truth in love and expose what is not of the Lord.
The plenary session saw two presentations on missions and ministry, dealing with spiritual and practical issues on how to shine the light for Christ as brightly as possible. Because Archbishop Henry Orombi could not be present, Bishop Stephen Kaziimba representing Archbishop Henry Orombi presented a paper on Mission and Evangelism in East Africa. Noting how we are in the “Eleventh Hour” of mission work, the paper outlined the various obstacles and opportunities to mission in East Africa. It concluded by urging the Global South to make the next ten years a Decade of Mission: by furthering mutual collaboration, harnessing of the potential of professionals and youth, and developing intentional mission strategies for overlooked communities.
Following Bishop Kaziimba was Bishop Ng Moon Hing, who focused on one’s mindset towards mission, noting how mission was not a job or task, but rather a calling, a lifestyle and a service. He stressed on the importance of the twin aspects of human and financial resources, with mutual co-operation in both areas. By the sharing resources, provinces can move towards the goal of being self-reliant and self-supporting.
One participant, Revd Dr Timothy Harris from New Zealand has this to say, “I have been encouraged by the depth of the papers presented. They ask the hard questions, going deep, with a focus on the Gospel. If things are not right with God, they cannot be right. We have been sharing about what unites us; we have got a pretty strong sense that we share the same Gospel.”
The participants broke up into small groups in the afternoon to continue praying, discussing and sharing on what they had heard and seen. Their thoughts and feedback are being gathered and passed on to the Communique Drafting Committee, chaired by Abp Eliud Wabukala of Kenya.
The day ended with an Evensong service taken also by the Western Associates.