[Anglican Communion News Service] An initiative to enable mission by strengthening relationship between parishes, dioceses and provinces has been celebrated by participants and evaluators as “an important tool” and “wonderful gift” for the Anglican Communion.
Continuing Indaba, an official ministry of the Communion, has, for three years, been promoting cross-Provincial/diocesan dialogue, visits and the production of theological resources aimed at supporting the process of enabling “conversation across difference”.
A recently published progress report Continuing Indaba – Celebrating A Journey revealed that those involved considered Indaba to be “an important tool for moving forward together as a 21st century Anglican Communion”.
The report states: “The fruit of Indaba is becoming evident. The consistent testimony of those participating points to a deeper understanding of the unity of the church resulting in common participation in the Mission of God. They are already communicating the potential for Indaba in their own diocese, in their relationships with other Anglicans around the world and for the Communion as a whole.
“Participants do not report that they are now more ‘liberal’ or more ‘conservative’. They are reporting that are being challenged to be more Christ-like, to get on with mission and to discover more of the wonders of being a follower of Christ on a journey with others.”
One such participant, Ghana’s Bishop Matthias Medadues-Badohu of Ho Diocese, said: “Indaba is a wonderful gift to the Communion, bringing people together from every culture, race, language and belief into one fold, acknowledging one another as children of one Father.”
Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samataroy of Amritsar Diocese of the Church of North India said that taking part in Indaba had not been without its challenges: “People came with lots of fear, apprehension and pessimism about the usefulness and outcomes of an Indaba consultation. But those feelings were turned to joy and excitement when understanding stated to be built up through face-to-face Encounter. We came as participants [to the Indaba resource hubs] but returned as partners in the mission of God.”
Daniel Graves, of Toronto said of Indaba, “It is a different way of being together and requires us to take a leap of faith out of some of our old ways, and into being vulnerable, risking really listening and really being honest when we have our opportunity to speak.”
A team of three evaluators were appointed to follow the project, especially the pilot conversations. Dr Paula Nesbitt (USA) headed up the team with her colleagues Dr Mkunga Mtingele (Tanzania) and Dr Jo Sadgrove (UK). The aim was to establish the genuine value of the project and to guide future developments.
Their findings show that the Continuing Indaba model of Encounters and facilitated conversation improved participants’ sense of mutual listening, something and that it was very effective in developing authentic mutual listening and deeper overall understanding across dioceses, as well as a better understanding of how Anglican faith and mission are lived in different cultural contexts.
The evaluation concluded with a strong, positive recommendation to continue refining Indaba, beyond the inevitable practical difficulties, frustrations and learning points of a pilot, as an important tool for moving forward together as a 21st century Anglican Communion.
Continuing Indaba, Celebrating a Journey – Progress Report May 2012 has been commended to the Anglican Communion by Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams “as an important resource for ensuring that all voices can be heard as we seek to be a flourishing Church together.”
To coincide with the publication of the progress report a new Continuing Indaba website has been launched as a place for resources, like the report and Creating Space – a collection of essays produced during the first phase of Continuing Indaba, and continuing conversation. It also features a blog that will be a space for Anglicans and Episcopalians around the Communion to encounter one another and share their thoughts on moving forward together. Visit the site at http://continuingindaba.com/