ALL AFRICA CONFERENCE OF CHURCHES
THE MESSAGE OF THE GOLDEN JUBILEE ASSEMBLY,
Kampala, Uganda, 3-9 June 2013
“If the Lord had not been on our side…the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away. Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth” - Psalm 124.
We delegates to the Jubilee Assembly of the All Africa Conference of Churches, AACC, meeting in Kampala, Uganda at Munyonyo Commonwealth Resorts from 3 to 9 June 2013 under the theme, “God of Life, Lead Africa to Peace, Justice and Dignity”. We thank God to have enabled Africa to welcome the Gospel on its land, and to have raised the founding fathers to set up the All Africa Conference of Churches, 50 years ago. We thank God for the Ugandan people and their government, the Land of Opportunities and of martyrs to have been instrumental in the forging of the AACC.
The theme of the inaugural AACC Assembly in 1963 was Unity in Christ while the theme of the OAU (now AU) was Unity and Freedom. About the same period, the first Pan African Youth conference was held under the theme, “Freedom under the cross.” These themes encapsulated the agenda and the vision of the churches and the continent then. They were aimed at uniting and liberating the continent of Africa. The agenda and vision have been realized: all countries in Africa have been liberated, we have a continent which is better integrated than before, and the churches are more focused, growing although the process of unity is ongoing. The commitments by AU towards democracy, human rights and justice to name a few are commendable. We should therefore consolidate and deepen these gains.
Despite the gains achieved over the past 50 years in our continent, we still have situations of poor governance, some countries still have bad and autocratic leadership, corruption is still a major obstacle to development in some African countries, there are misuse of state resources by some leadership at the expense of the poor, religious conflicts, resource based wars fanned by outside powers but promoted by local greedy leaders, unethical and indiscriminate extraction of natural resources such as crude oil, minerals, timber…by multinational companies without the real benefit to the citizens. Poor and prohibitively expensive travel networks within the continent, brain drain, xenophobia, homophobia, and Afro phobia, climate injustice, food insecurity and many more.…
Africa however still remains a continent endowed with abundant natural resources such as crude oil, minerals, bio-diversity (both fauna and flora). We are also endowed with the longest coast, abundant space strategically located near the equator, abundant solar energy that can be exploited, and a rich cultural heritage that encourages unity and interdependence. The church which is the carrier of hope in Christ is growing with an opportunity to exert its influence and this must be judiciously utilized. The Church and the continent must therefore consolidate on the gains and have bigger visions for the future.
Focusing on the Future
The AACC resolves to be a strong advocate and commits itself to foster common actions in collaboration with the AU, for the attainment of a continent which is more solidly integrated economically, politically, and infrastructure- wise, and further committed to the preservation and maintenance of God’s good creation.
In this regard the Church must lead in the identification of obstacles, and properly define the challenges facing Africa. The theme of this Jubilee assembly highlights the areas of challenges which include: Justice, Peace and Dignity. We must note that Justice, Peace, and Dignity are mutually reinforcing.
In examining the situation of our continent and the vision for the next 50 years we seek to focus on at least three areas…
1. Consolidation of the Protection of Life
• We need to ensure that ALL LIFE is protected. This means in absolute terms no life is lost through war hunger, disease, and poor facilities for expectant mothers
In our theological understanding reinforced by our African values we are compelled to uphold the sanctity of human life irrespective of age, gender or social status.
• Wars are the worst form of violence that lead to loss of lives of the innocent and further create fertile ground for other abuses such as rape, armed robbery and other forms of dehumanization. AACC must in very strong terms call on all warring factions to seek peaceful resolutions and refrain from using child soldiers who are consequently deprived of their God given lives now and in the future.
• Violence in Africa which has become diabolic must also be stopped because it targets women who are carriers of life, and children who are sacred and normally protected in African society. We need to affirm that all those against whom the violence is targeted are created in the image of God, and their divine appropriated dignity must be protected.
• Justice, Peace and Dignity should be seen in the living situation of people, especially the marginalized. That is women, differently- abled, children, the poor and the sick. We must emphasize that the greatness of a society is measured in the way it takes care of and empowers the marginalized. It must be stressed that the greatness of Africa will not be measured by statistics of World Bank or International Monetary Fund, but in how it treats the marginalized. The Lord Jesus said “whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.”
2. To Promote and Enhance Life
We need to promote and enhance life to ensure holistic growth for everyone. That means, education, good living conditions, proper shelter and all that promotes abundant life must be accentuated:
• We need a Church with a clear focus on holistic mission which should include the preaching of the saving gospel of Christ to all humanity and seeking justice peace and dignity for all by vigorously fighting the enemies of life, and so fulfill the mission of Christ who declared “I have come that they may have life in its fullness” John 10:10;
• We need a Church which is not afraid of asking hard questions on what is going on, a church that speaks the truth to itself as it seeks to speak the truth to the world; a church that refuses to be corrupted, and a Church whose members serve as salt and light by setting better examples for the world to emulate;
ª Africa needs a “second liberation” from irresponsible leadership. There is the need to promote and encourage democratic elections, and appropriate the gains of good governance;
• Likewise other practices that violate not only the dignity of women, but also the holistic dignity of humanity, such as the use of women in advertising industry must be stopped.
3. We Should Celebrate Life…
With the attainment of protection and promotion of life we are able to have abundant life and really celebrate life:
• The Church must celebrate the providence that centre of Christianity has moved to the South Atlantic with a strategic focus on Africa, but what kind of Christianity are we experiencing? Can our theological schools, churches, and ecumenical bodies answer this question?
• There must be emphasis on proper theological education in order to fight ignorance, heretical teachings, proliferation and schisms within the body of Christ. A theological education that is christocentric and pragmatic;
• As Africans God has always been at the centre of our being. Our theology should therefore be informed by and expressed in African life and thought;
• We need a Church that is not afraid of confronting critical issues that affect the lives of people no matter how controversial these issues are, these include issues of sexuality, and sexual orientation;
• Corruption is endemic, and dangerous. It is one of the major challenges to poverty reduction in Africa. Consequently, it should be tackled in the relationship of churches and governments and must be rooted out of the continent.
50 years ago we were under the burden of the theology of the cross, with its suffering, humiliation and degradation. Now we have to move to a new level the Theology of the resurrection. We arise with Christ without resentment and with a sense of forgiveness and deep fellowship which must be palpable.
The suffering of Christ on the cross led to glory…in Africa we have been experiencing the suffering of the cross, through our experience of slavery, colonialism and exploitation. This suffering can breed anger and hatred. But we need to hate and fight the sin and not disgrace into hatred. Our fight for dignity is not from theory but from experience of our suffering.
With deep commitment and hope we the delegates gathered in Kampala on behalf of our member Churches, echo the prayer of our theme “God of life lead Africa to Peace, Justice, and Dignity”.