A boycott of next year’s Lambeth Conference by bishops concerned about the issue of homosexuality “would affect the whole relationship of the Anglican Communion,” said Rev. John Kafwanka, research/project officer in the London-based Anglican Communion office of mission and evangelism.
Originally from Zambia, Mr. Kafwanka co-ordinates information about various mission initiatives, (in Canada, one example would be companion relationships between parishes or dioceses). He visited the Anglican Church of Canada’s national office in Toronto on Oct. 15 and also attended the regular fall meeting of the church’s Partners in Mission/Ecojustice national committee.
Having served in the position for a year, he said his current focus is to work on preparations for Lambeth, the decennial meeting of the world’s Anglican bishops, which will be held July 16-Aug. 3 in Canterbury, England.
“The theme of the conference is equipping bishops for mission in the world. We are suggesting some themes and topics and preparing some resource material, also contacting provincial officers around the communion to understand the context of mission,” he said.
Some bishops have talked of boycotting the conference due to current conflicts about the church’s attitude toward homosexuals.
Division within the Anglican church does not send a positive message, said Mr. Kafwanka. “Working together to proclaim the gospel is a statement to the world. By the fact that it (communion) is broken, it is sending the wrong message to the world,” he commented.
His office’s role “is to make sure mission and evangelism is at the top of the agenda in what we do as a communion.”
(The Anglican Communion is comprised of 44 different churches, including 34 provinces, four united churches, and six other churches, spread across the globe.)
Mr. Kafwanka and Ellie Johnson, director of the Canadian church’s partnerships department, noted that the definition of mission has changed in recent years. “One of our tasks is to try to change attitudes, to partnership, not paternalism,” Ms. Johnson said.
Mission does not necessarily mean money flowing from developed countries to emerging countries, Mr. Kafwanka said. “There are guidelines to normalize the situation. Every side can benefit from an interchange of resources; it doesn’t have to be money. It can perhaps be experience.”