ENTEBBE: To Rowan Williams: "Listen to the voice of the Anglican Communion in Africa" - Ian Ernest
Opening Address: Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa by the Most Rev. Ian Ernest
All Africa Bishops' Conference, Entebbe, Uganda
by Archbishop Ian Ernest
August 23, 2010
My brothers in Christ Jesus, Distinguished guests,
I wish to warmly welcome you all to the second Conference organised for Anglican Bishops in Africa in the Name of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
You have put aside several other important commitments, travelled long distances and at great financial cost you have come here to Uganda. You honour the Lord with your most precious presence at this most important Conference of Bishops.
On behalf of all of us here and those we represent, we would like to express our profound appreciation and gratitude to our brother, the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Revd Henry Orombi, the Church of the Province of Uganda, His Excellency the President of Uganda and the people of Uganda for accepting the big challenge of hosting this second All Africa Bishops' Conference. The warmth of the hospitality bestowed upon us since we have arrived goes beyond our expectations as it expresses graciousness and a great sense of belonging.
The organisation of this Conference is being superbly handled by the General Secretary of CAPA, Canon Grace Kaiso and the CAPA Secretariat, to whom I am greatly indebted. I wish here to place on record the indispensable role of the two steering committees one in Kenya and one in Uganda and thank them for taking up the challenge and for putting at our disposal all we need to make this Conference a memorable and most fruitful one. I am grateful to God and I pray that this Conference will prove once more that Africa has come of age and that our future is secured for we are able to unlock our potentials.
May I also on your behalf express our profound gratitude to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams for accepting to be here and to share a time of fellowship with us. Your presence your Grace, indicates your desire to listen to the voice of the Anglican Communion in Africa. We do appreciate that you have made yourself available at this most crucial moment in the life of our Communion. We expect that your time here will be fruitful and that you will gain new insights concerning the Church in Africa and our expectations.
I call on all my brother Bishops to participate fully in the planned programme - it is your conference. Your contribution will be crucial as it will enable us to hear the voice, the pains and the expectations of your people facing the realities of their context.
The main objective of this conference is to mobilise the Church Leadership of the Anglican Communion in Africa to deal with the challenges of poverty, corruption, diseases, bad governance - all that hinders the development of our people - and to work towards the restoration of compassionate and accountable leadership. We expect that after this conference, we as bishops will have a clearer understanding of the issues that are an hindrance to the ministry and witness of the Church.
The All Africa Bishops' Conference has its origin in the Meeting of the Council of CAPA, held in Pretoria in 2001. It was then resolved that the need for an African Anglican Bishops' Conference on African Soil would be beneficial for the life and witness of the church in Africa.
The first conference held in Lagos, Nigeria in October 2004 under the theme "Africa Has come of Age" has clearly demonstrated that we as a church of the Post colonial era have gone beyond the stage of Mission from the "West to the rest", to that of Mission "from everywhere to anywhere" It urged every Bishop to work for the transformation of our continent by a relevant proclamation of the Gospel which would fight against nominal Christianity, conflicts, poverty, corruption, human rights abuses, restlessness and hopelessness.
This second conference seizes the opportunity to empower and equip so that from interest we move towards involvement. We aim at working relentlessly towards political maturity, the empowerment of women, youth and children and at keeping the cultural values of our continent which are currently under attack via the media from unbridled individualistic and corrupt western values.
It also aims at making CAPA a powerful instrument that our Provinces may use to enhance the quality of our ministry. CAPA as Pan-Africa body uses this forum as a springboard to mobilise partnership with key players of our continent. This will surely encourage us to wholeheartedly renew our commitment to serve Africa as it seeks liberation from societal issues that halt its momentum to progress and human fulfilment.
This conference has been designed to help us unlock the potential of our Anglican Communion in Africa. If we are able to work together in faith, our church has the capacity to bring to the Continent a transformative energy from which hope and new possibilities for change can emerge. I am looking forward to creating together with you in the next week the space in which we can challenge and inspire one another and also mobilise the required energy to redress the present distressing situation in the Communion and in some parts of the Continent. As we are to celebrate God's word and as we are to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit at this opening service, we should fully surrender ourselves to the Lord. Obedience here is a characteristic of friendship. This is clear for Jesus makes it a required condition if we wish to be his friends and his disciples. He said: "You are my friends if you do what I command" John 15 v 14
Obedience to God is not raised from fear but from the love the trust that we have for him and in him respectively. If this conference is to bear fruits, we as the Anglican Communion in Africa must continue to choose to follow Christ, the way, the truth and the life out of thankfulness and as an opportunity to give him back the infinite goodness manifested to us in various ways. It also urges us to be totally faithful to what his Holy Word reveals and teaches us.
So, as Bishops let us devote ourselves to meeting with one another in a deep prayerfulness and sense of servant hood towards our Lord and towards one another. This I believe will be the key to unlocking the potentials that God has freely given us.
My hope for this conference is that we should engage each other with integrity. This will give birth to numerous initiatives that CAPA will facilitate. Collaborative leadership at all levels within the Anglican Communion in Africa as part of our vision should then become a way of life.
May I therefore wish you all a pleasant stay as we commit ourselves to be true to what the Lord expects of us.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Archbishop of the Indian Ocean
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