[Anglican Communion News Service] The primate of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) said there is need for personal sacrifice from Christians in Africa if the Anglican Church there is to become self-sustainable.
“Christians themselves need to sacrifice a lot by offering their expert services at low or reduced costs to help the church become self-sustainable,” said the Most Rev. Albert Chama, archbishop of CPCA and bishop of Northern Zambia, during a Sept. 28 special ground breaking ceremony to mark the beginning of a large executive housing building project by the Anglican Church in Zambia. “But self-sustaining does not mean doing away with partners. We need to continue working and walking with others as Christ meant us to be.”
Speaking during the same event the Rev. Jim Cooper, rector of Trinity Church, Wall Street, U.S., said his parish was helping finance the project because it was “a good fit” and one way of helping the Church in Africa become self-sustainable. He encouraged the Zambian Church not to relent in their quest for sustainability because “God will help them through.”
“Since the Church in Zambia has the expertise in housing projects, they have to continue taking positive steps. This is a big step for them and they have to draw from their expertise and see the project to fruition,” said Cooper.
The Rt. Rev. David Njovu is the bishop for Lusaka diocese where the project will be carried out. He said the Anglican Church in Zambia has a big piece of land, which it can use to raise resources.
“In the past we have experimented by leasing out land to developers but a recent feasibility study that we carried out revealed that we could use our already existing expertise in real estate to invest in the field,” he said.
Henry Mwenda, head of the technical committee tasked with the responsibility of spearheading this task, outlined the rationale for this project and how it will be achieved in the long run.
“This project will definitely increase Zambia Anglican Council’s property portfolio,” he said. “This will help increase the church’s financial income to supplement money from offerings and donations to the church.
“We will approach the project in phases because this will help reduce the pressure by spreading it out over a long period of time. The committee plans to benchmark best practice from other churches in Africa that have been successful in this area.”
He added, “We are going to use members of the church who are experts in various architectural and development oriented fields to help accomplish the construction works thereby reducing costs.”
Chama assured both clergy and laity that once the church is able to raise sufficient funds, it will be able to increase its action in many areas including mission and evangelization.
His comments were in response to suggestions by some priests that the church is bringing too few people to faith despite having resources such as cars and other gadgets which early missionaries did not.
“We don’t have enough manpower,” the archbishop said. “We need finances to pay the clergy so that they can take care of themselves and their families, and even more funding in order to increase evangelization.”
Delivering a reflection at the event, Bishop William Mchombo of Eastern Zambia said the issue of self-sustainability remained top on the agenda of the church in Zambia “especially in the face of reduced income from traditional sources.”
“As the church continues to grow so are the competing needs such as support for evangelistic and social work, support to various church groups such as youth and children, women and men ministries, and not forgetting provision of clergy and church workers’ stipends and pension,” he said.
The bishop added, “What we are starting in this place is a journey of faith like our ancestors of old. In faith they acquired this land, which is a great resource for the church, [second] only to human resource, which the church is endowed with.
“And in faith this current generation wants to soldier on in maximizing the use of this land for the sake of the work of the church of God. God’s promise has mostly been the pledge of land. We bless our forefathers for their foresight in acquiring this land. We pray that the next generation will also bless us for our foresight with what we have embarked upon today.”
The project will cost about US$1.5 million and is expected to be carried out over a period of three years. The church hopes to raise funds through donations, other local income-generating activities and bank loans.