The timing of the Task Force is significant, in light of the growth of the Anglican Churches in the Global South (Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Middle East) and the contemporary crisis in the Anglican Communion. Both contexts demand that theological formation and education be accorded top priority by the Episcopal leadership of the Anglican Churches in the Global South. The time has come for the Anglican Churches in the Global South to initiate and take responsibility for theological formation and education programmes, in order to be faithful to God’s call as salt and light to the communities and nations, and contribute effectively to theological reflection in the Anglican Communion.
Among other recommendations, we are proposing to the Global South Anglican Primates to upgrade the Task Force to a Standing Commission, which will among other tasks be a resource and think-tank serving the Global South Primates, as well as supporting them in monitoring the implementation of agreed priorities in theological formation and education. We recognize that there are other doctrinal commissions, theological formation and education initiatives in the Communion, such as the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Theological Education for the Anglican Communion. However, the uniqueness of this proposed Commission is the fact that it is born of the Global South Anglican movement to serve the Anglican Churches in the Global South and therefore directly meets a need to build their capacity to contribute meaningfully to theological formation and reflection within their specific context as well as the wider Anglican Communion.
In this light, the task force recognizes that its mandate is to specifically address the theological needs for the Global South, and that in line with the proposed terms of reference the Task Force identifies its task as mainly twofold:
- Theological formation and education, which encompass discipleship and to encourage the development of post-graduate levels of theological education and leadership training for the GS
- Identifying resources and establishing networks. This is task encompasses two aspects: First, to identifying and recommend ways in which either new networks could be established or existing networks of theological institutions could be strengthened. Secondly, to provide resources for the GS ‘policy instruments’ e.g. the Primates by developing ‘policy documents’ conducting research, recommend action points, etc.
The following specific areas were discussed and recommendations made:
The following preliminary questions were raised for the sake of clarification:
- Is the catechism inherited by the Anglican churches in the GS any longer functional and/or relevant for these various contexts?
- Is it realistic to development and/or recommend one document for the whole of the GS?
- How about if we identify and recommend a common framework e.g. in areas that can generally be shared in common by different contexts such as the historically accepted creeds, the affirmation of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the authority of the Scriptures, etc.?
- We noted also the significance of the catechism and the catechetical method of discipleship
The task force acknowledges that there are in existence varieties of catechisms as opposed to one generic catechism and that there is need to identify what already exists. It is important, therefore, to affirm the significance of each catechism and acknowledge the different historical, social, cultural and political contexts that have given birth to these diversities.
- Recommend the setting up and/or reviving and strengthening of Provincial organs charged with the review or development of liturgies and catechisms in accordance with the need and relevance to each of our specific context.
- The Task Force will establish a small working group to recommend a theological framework that incorporates common elements for each catechism reflecting Biblical faith and historic Anglican heritage.
II. Post-graduate level theological Education and leadership/ministerial formation
- Identify centres of academic excellence that offer quality theological and leadership programmes at a higher level of learning. These can be regional resource centres for both lay and ordained Christians, in partnership with one another for effective resource management and to avoid duplication of efforts and programmes. This could be linked with existing initiatives like ANITEPAM where possible and if need be, but also enter into partnerships and joint projects (e.g. exchange programs) with institutions of academic excellence that may be outside the GS but share common theological concerns, visions and values and are faithful to the Holy Scriptures.
- Raise and allocate financial and other resources for the continued support of these centres, the coordinating and generally to help bring the initiative to fruition. This calls for the establishment of a theological fund dedicated for the support of theological education and formation in the GS
The task force recommends:: The setting up a GS Theological Formation and Education Commission to provide resource and guidance particularly in the following areas:
- Evaluate/monitor curricula issues and ensure standards and programmes offered are in line with the GS-TFEC objectives
- Encourage relevancy, networking and identify resources, and generally provide continued support
- Hold the ‘stakeholders’ (GS) accountable and especially through encouraging continued commitment to the pursuance of set goals.
- Encourage establishing of regional consultation forums among existing Anglican networks in the GS
- Provide resource persons for the GS leadership and the GS churches as need may arise
IV. Resource Group
The task force will work as a resource team to research, write and generally make resources available to the primates on issues of significance that needs theological reflection and response as and when needed.
The task force identify areas of urgent need for attention and challenges that face the church such as in the areas of Islam, conflict, economic empowerment, secularism, etc. and initiate theological studies and responses as may be needed. In this regard, two matters that may need immediate attention include Islam and conflict. The group recommends:
- That the GS commissions a study on the challenges presented by the increasingly rapid spread of Islam. The study could establish trends, specific challenges and appropriate responses by specific churches in their different contexts.
- That the group gathers available resources, document and make available such resources for use within the wider context of the GS churches
- Support theological institutions within GS that offer Islamic studies and Christian-Muslim relations
- Strengthen or recommend establishment of Mission and Evangelism Boards within different Provinces that can give special priority to address challenges presented by Islam and map out appropriate cause of actions in their specific contexts
In light of the Rwanda genocide the GS could also commission a study on ‘the genocide and the churches’ experience and response.’ Specific task of such a study must incorporate:
- Lessons learnt from this tragedy of such magnitude and its continuing implications for human life and relationships
- Identify the ongoing effects and challenges
- What needs to be done and especially what should be the churches’ role in the post-genocide Rwanda.
- We also propose that each province establish within their dioceses active boards that can monitor situations of conflict and facilitate conflict resolutions and management, as well as proactively work for the creation of an environment that promotes social transformations.
We propose that the meetings of this proposed commission be held in such a way that they take place alongside the Primates meetings and that the members’ travels are facilitated by the Province from which members come but that the host church(es) share the cost by providing hospitality. The commission recommends if the work of the regional networks is also supported in a similar way.