Churches in Africa have a great capacity to inspire their members to be agents of change and transformation, says Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, Associate General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
The comments came in her speech at an international symposium of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) which took place from 2 to 7 December 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Dr Phiri was addressing the theme 'The church in Africa: opportunities, challenges and responsibilities'.
Referring to the Arab Spring, Dr Phiri said these events show that “masses can lead a revolution, but a revolution that is not accompanied by mass implementation of change does not achieve much.”
Therefore, she declared, change can happen when “the God of life partners with humanity for change, and this is reflected in the sermons and Bible studies that people hear every Sunday.”
While Dr Phiri spoke about challenges and accomplishments of the African churches, she made a special mention to the HIV pandemic. “The churches’ diakonial work in the area of HIV and AIDS has forced the church to open up dialogue on human sexuality and gender. Already this has shown to be an issue that is threatening church unity in Africa.”
She went on to say that “members of our churches, the civil society and government institutions will keep bringing human sexuality and gender back on the agenda of the church until it is dealt with. The church has an opportunity at least to set up a study commission to engage the issue and speak from informed theological and human rights positions.”
The guest of honour at the symposium was Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the world renowned Nobel Peace Laureate, human rights campaigners and Christian leader.
The Rev Dr Andre Karamaga, General Secretary of the AACC, the Rev Jose Chipenda, former General Secretary of the AACC, the Rev Dr Setri Nyomi, General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches and Dr Caroline W. Njuki of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church were among other delegates.
* All Africa Conference of Churches: http://www.aacc-ceta.org/