number 4, december 8, 1998

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Church doing well in Africa?

"I don’t take the triumphant view that the church is doing better in Africa." Those blunt words came from Canon Clement Janda, general secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches, when asked what he thinks God is telling the world through Africa today.

"Missiologists sing about the church growing in Africa," says Canon Janda, an Anglican from the Sudan who has lived in Zambia, and now Kenya, these past six years. "I am raising critical questions regarding growth.

"I spoke at three theological college graduations in recent months, and asked the question, ‘If the church is growing in Africa, is it the numbers we are talking about? Is growth to be celebrated when there’s no depth to it?’"

Canon Janda said he asked the graduates, "Why is it in a country like Rwanda where 70 per cent or more of the people claim to be Christian, they can’t see in each other the face of the Christ but only an ethnicity?

"Where is the depth of the church? Why is it in Kenya that land becomes a bigger thing to value than the essence of human life itself and someone can take a machete and chop off someone’s head to take land?"

The AACC head didn’t stop there, but went on to offer his vision. "The church should be prepared to be the new tribe," he said.

"A lot of us find our identity in – or even hide behind – the tribe. A church can be the new tribe. All these ethnic feuds, conflicts we have which easily turn bloody could be eliminated.

"Christian life is about relationships, about the quality of life," he concluded. "Christian life and faith need to be deepened. It’s not just song and dance."

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Read other articles in this issue:

A day of hearings
Attention! Debt to be chained up
Padare' to showcase vitality of ecumenical movement
Harare liturgy marks growth of Orthodox Church in Africa
Invest in human rights education, church told
Assemblies: Nelson has seen them all
Church doing well in Africa?
Decade plenary reveals consensus and division
The topic was sin

8th Assembly and 50th Anniversary

copyright 1998 World Council of Churches. Remarks to webeditor