Conference tackles AIDS, poverty issues

By on April 1, 2007

Boksburg, South Africa
Churches “are fundamental to the effective tackling of poverty,” Archbishop Njon-gonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town in March told an international conference focused on how Anglicans worldwide can address the issues of poverty, HIV/AIDS and education in developing countries.

The gathering, called Towards Effective Anglican Mission, or TEAM, took place March 7-14 in Boksburg, near Johannesburg.

“We meet because God has called us, and we know that those whom he calls, he directs and equips to carry out his purposes,” said Archbishop Ndungane in the opening address.

TEAM brought about 350 delegates and speakers from Anglican churches around the world together to discuss comprehensive approaches to aid and development.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in an interview with Episcopal News Service, noted that such Anglican organizations as Mothers’ Union are involved in development work, “but the Anglican church hasn’t really worked very hard at co-ordinating all this so far.” The conference allowed people “to compare notes, to shape some strategy and to think forward to make the best use of the resources we’ve got.”

A major focus of discussions were the United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals, which include halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education. Archbishop Williams said the goals “don’t exhaust what Christians ought to be doing for their neighbors, but they do present us with the primary challenge of poverty.”

In a conference address, Jenny Te Paa, the ahorangi or dean of the College of St. John the Evangelist in Auckland, addressed the church’s current controversy over homosexuality.

She said that an Anglican women’s delegation at a recent UN conference expressed its concern about whether the church’s mission is distracted by the “incomprehensible” practice of boycotting eucharist at the February primates’ meeting in Tanzania (see related stories). Seven primates who have a conservative view of homosexuality refused to take communion with their counterparts.

Canadians attending the TEAM conference included Bishop Philip Poole, suffragan of Toronto, representing the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund

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