[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) has been challenged to conduct a study to find out exactly why young people are leaving the church and the extent to which it is affecting the different communities within the church.
In a motion raised at the recent annual Provincial Standing Committee meeting held in Johannesburg from Sept. 21-24, the proposer, the Rev. Jacques Pieterse, said that a study should be conducted to “establish the extent to which young people are leaving the church, and their reasons for doing so.”
The conversations that ensued after the motion saw different points of view being raised with others suggesting that such a study should also include older members among those that may be leaving the church.
Barney Pityana, committee member and rector of the province’s College of Transfiguration, raised another important perspective when he suggested that trends might be different in the white and black communities revealing that when he visited parishes in the black areas, he found “a burgeoning ministry among young people” and that the phenomenon may “only affect white Anglicans.”
He added that there should be a study of whether there was “a flight of white people from the Anglican Church, and if so, we need to come to an understanding of why this is happening.”
In an interview with ACNS, Tony Lawrence, the provincial youth coordinator, said, “It is imperative that the study is done. One needs to regularly evaluate our effectiveness as an organization and people leaving would be one of the key indicators of our efficacy,” he said.
Lawrence also suggested that a reputable institution be approached to do the study. “I would be very interested in the question list that will be developed to determine why people are leaving, as well as what approaches will be taken to get the information from the people who have left.”
The question was also put out to members of the church through the youth Facebook page. Most of those that responded agreed that a study is needed.
Demakatso Malele Mashile, a young person from the province, said from what she has seen in her parish, “the youth leave because of the elders failing to address or talk to them.”
Recently, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, primate of the province, agreed that “the church now realizes that young people need to be given an opportunity [to take part in mission]” but challenged the youth not always to seek permission from adults all the time but rather take the initiative to get things done.
He concluded, “Young people should not be undermined because they are also equally called as a child of God.”