A symposium on mission and church growth, held in Toronto on June 22, heard about two new initiatives for the Anglican Communion.
The first is the creation of an award that recognizes and supports innovative youth work in the fields of evangelism and discipleship. Up to $20,000 will be given to an individual or team that is involved in an “emerging initiative” with youth in those areas.
“We’ve noticed that in many places, people have the creativity and innovation but they don’t have the resources to carry out their work, so we’re hoping this award will help them do that,” said the Rev. Robert Sihubwa, a priest and youth worker in Lusaka, Zambia, and a member of Anglican Witness, a group that supports evangelism and church growth in the Anglican Communion.
The award will also honour an individual or team that has achieved success with a youth program in evangelism or discipleship. The person or a representative of the team will be flown to the next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka in 2016 to make a presentation about their work.
“We want them to share their story, and that can go out across the Communion so that others can learn from it,” said Mr. Sihubwa, who came up with the idea for the award.
He said the award will give youth work and youth in general a higher profile in the Communion. “I think it will give a lot of people encouragement that the church is recognizing young people and putting their work more and more on the agenda.”
An announcement about the award is expected to be made in fall.
The symposium, which was held at St. Paul, Bloor Street, also heard that Anglican Witness is proposing that the Anglican Communion adopt a 10-year period of “intentional discipleship.” The group is drafting a paper that will be sent to the Anglican Consultative Council, which is expected to vote on the proposal when it meets in Lusaka in 2016.
“Every season has its own needs, and this is the time that we need to revisit the whole idea of discipleship,” said Bishop Moon Hing Ng, bishop of West Malaysia and chair of Anglican Witness. He described discipleship as “basic Christian life. It’s not a course or a module or a certificate. It’s the life of a person. A disciple must be able to know the Gospel and articulate it; to know the scriptures and feed themselves from them; to know how to pray to the point that he or she can hear from God; to serve God with no expectation of return; and to see the needs of others that will spur us into social concern.”
The symposium was held after three days of meetings by Anglican Witness in Niagara Falls. Anglican Witness, which is made up of clergy and lay people from around the Communion, was formed in 2010 at the request of the Anglican Consultative Council and has met in different parts of the globe. Since its inception until recently, the group was chaired by Bishop Patrick Yu, the area bishop of York-Scarborough in the Diocese of Toronto.
Bishop Ng praised Bishop Yu’s leadership, saying that under his direction the group has accomplished a number of things, including the creation of a webpage and Facebook page to share information and resources throughout the Communion.
During the symposium, Bishop Ng spoke about the challenges of evangelism and church growth in the Communion and the work of the discipleship in West Malaysia. Mr. Sihubwa spoke about youth work in Zambia. Mark Oxbrow spoke about the work of Faith2Share, which fosters discipleship around the world, and Archbishop Johnson spoke about missional direction and initiatives in the Diocese of Toronto. After all four talks, those in attendance broke into small groups to learn more from the speakers.
The symposium was attended by members of Anglican Witness from the United Kingdom, Canada, Malaysia, Kenya, South Africa, Pakistan, Nigeria, Zambia and Peru. Bishops and clergy from the Diocese of Toronto also attended.