Held in Nairobi, Kenya, last week, the inaugural assembly of the Anglican Alliance for Development, Relief and Advocacy reached a consensus on three immediate mandates. Proposed by the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, the agreed-upon priorities are:
1 Economic empowerment. This includes support for microfinance and the first steps toward developing an Anglican bank for saving and loans, as well as a public education campaign on financial rights and literacy.
The conference heard presentations on microfinance from Peterson Kamau of Five Talents, the church’s microfinance institution, and Moses Ochieng of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, a consortium of donors and development agencies offering basic financial services to people in impoverished countries.
2 Peace and reconciliation. Learning from the experience of the church in countries affected by conflict.
3 Governance. Improved economic governance through participatory budgeting.
Attending were representatives from African provinces, South America, the Caribbean, South and South East Asia, the Pacific, Canada and Australia. Representatives from The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (Canada) and Anglicord, its Australian counterpart, provided valuable guidance and insights on the role of church-based development agencies.
Participants from Haiti, Pakistan and Kenya described how the church had responded to disaster emergencies in those countries, followed by a discussion of developing an Anglican Communion-wide strategy for response to disasters, to be considered at a future regional consultation.
The conference’s vision of advocacy for 2011 encompasses providing a voice for the voiceless, promoting economic empowerment and food security, and financing basic services such as health, sanitation and water. Climate change will be the top priority for 2012.
South America has volunteered to host the next consultation in October, while the Pacific and South and South East Asia will discuss within their respective regions options for consultations between September and December 2011.
First proposed at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the alliance was pioneered by a steering group from across the Anglican Communion. In January 2011, Sally Keeble, a former U.K. international development minister with a theology degree, became the alliance’s first director.
The alliance is holding consultative conferences this year to identify development priorities and to set strategies for advocacy and emergency relief. The alliance is run by a secretariat based at the international Anglican Communion Office in London.
Adele Finney, executive director of the Primate’s Work Relief and Development Fund, was one of two representatives from Anglican funding agencies. “My distinct impression was that the representatives from more than 13 countries in Africa, Haiti, Uruguay, Brazil, Solomon Islands, Hong Kong, India and Pakistan have picked up the development agenda for the Anglican Communion and are charting its course,” she said. In closing remarks, Archdeacon Allison Taylor of Anglicord called this a seismic shift for the Anglican Communion.
“Several of us named the conference a moment of kairos—holy time—and I would add temenos—holy place,” said Finney. “At the closing worship, we all took home a seed. You will know and judge this Anglican Alliance consultation by its fruits.”