Report to ACC 16
Indaba is a process of honest conversation that seeks to build community, energize mission, and provide a context in which conflict can be resolved.
ACC – 14 launched Continuing Indaba as a project to develop Mutual Listening in the Anglican Communion
ACC – 15 received the project report and called for the principles to be offered to all across the Communion
“Continuing Indaba is a relational dynamic through which the Anglican Communion learns to be in dialogue with itself and with the world.”
Bishop David Chillingworth – Primus of Scotland
Continuing Indaba is a distinctive Anglican contribution to conflict transformation.
Biblical – Consciously founded on Scripture.The great act of reconciliation of Christ on the cross is the basis of all reconciliation. The journey of Jesus and his companions on the way to the cross and many other stories of conflict transformation form the basis of Continuing Indaba.
Contextual – Defined by non-western traditions.
Over 100 theologians – mainly from Africa, and Asia, shaped the understanding of Continuing Indaba. They worked in communities to and interpreted the Bible from their cultural perspectives.
Effective – A proven tool for mission
In places where Continuing Indaba process has been applied, relationships have been intensified, genuine conversation occurred, and mission has been energised.
From Project to Process
Continuing Indaba is a process available to anyone to use.
Process Guides are available on a dedicated website and can be accessed through the Reconciliation pages of the Anglican Communion website.
The change has happened over the last 3 years and the first part of the story relates to how those who participated in the Pilot Programme applied it in their own dioceses.
1. Mbeere – Kenya
The Diocese of Mbeere travelled with partners from South Africa and Ghana on the pilot phase of Continuing Indaba. Bishop Moses participated in the Theological Consultation where theologians saw the potential for Indaba to ethnic conflicts. He engaged clan elders in an Indaba resulting in the transformation of a conflict dating back to 1964.
They rescinded oaths of division in tribal ceremonies and then gathered at the Foot of the Cross in an act of mutual repentance and forgiveness (pictured above). Two years later the elders told Phil Groves about the transformation. Ongoing application of Indaba in towns and villages resulted in economic advances and Church growth.
Bishop Eraste from Burundi and Bishop Emmanuel from Rwanda heard of the story and have visited to learn from the Kenyan team.
2. New York
The Episcopal Diocese of New York (EDNY) participated in the pilot phase with dioceses from England and North India. The team was lay led with support from clergy.
Andrew Dietsche became the new Bishop of EDNY and immediately called on the church to be confident in proclaiming the gospel and announced a ‘Diocesan Indaba’.
The EDNY includes some of the wealthy parishes in Manhattan, as well as economically depressed rural areas to the north and in the socially deprived neighbourhoods marked by new immigration, poor housing and unemployment.
The Parishes did not know one another. They could not engage in common mission because they were strangers.
Phil Groves worked with others from the core team and the local team. Together they drew on the learning in the pilot phase to plan and deliver a remarkable Indaba.
When the process was over they were friends: partners in the gospel.
The Indaba has enabled tough choices to be made over funding and priorities on the basis of mutuality. In particular it has deepened the resolve to break down walls of division and a renewed commitment to challenging racism.
3. Hong Kong
Christians form Hong Kong participated in an Indaba journey with partners from Jamaica and Toronto. They had interpreted Indaba in terms of Harmony – understanding scripture from a Chinese perspective. Harmony within Hong Kong was challenged in 2014 with the emergence of the ‘Umbrella Movement’ calling for greater democracy. It caught the imagination of young people, with elders being fearful of the response.
In the church tensions arose between young and old and clergy trusted by both groups were commissioned to bring reconciliation and restore harmony. They used Continuing Indaba process to enable all to be heard and conflict to be understood and aired. The aim is to bring wisdom and energy together and inspire passion for the gospel of liberation.
Continuing Indaba is an effective tool for reconciliation
The Continuing Indaba Process Guides are clear, informative and practical you can download them for yourself and apply them in your parish, diocese and province.
Continuing Indaba across the Communion
The Kenyan experience of handing on Continuing Indaba to partners in Burundi and Rwanda is being replicated and Continuing Indaba plays a role in the life of many provinces. Here are some examples:
Anglican Church of Australia applied Indaba principles at the General Synod. Marylyn Redlich (a facilitator for the Continuing Indaba pilot programme) and Garth Blake adapted and developed process to enable the synod members to engage with one another and with serious subjects in a productive non-confrontational manner.
This occurred through a daily small group process that included bible study and engagement with particular issues.
Church of England has adopted Continuing Indaba as an essential element of its strategy for global partnership. Phil Groves wrote the theological paper underpinning the ‘Shared Conversation’ process.
Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil adopted Continuing Indaba to engage in listening to the experience of gay and lesbian people in response to Lambeth 1998 I.10.
Church of North India Moderator – Bp Samataroy led their Continuing Indaba hub and used the process to heal a rift between ‘tribal’ peoples and ‘dalit’ in a diocese in conflict. This resulted in an evangelistic event.
The processes are being used in many Provinces
When the process materials of Continuing Indaba are applied they result in difficult journeys, with honest conversation that often result in new energy for mission. Here are just two examples:
Anglican Women’s Empowerment
These women met in 2013 facilitated by Alice Mogwe and Janet Marshall of our core team. Though painful sharing they returned to their own communities across the USA and from different nations in Africa with renewed commitment to gender justice.
Claudeline Mukanirwa is enabling victims of gender violence to find a voice in DR Congo. Her work is supported in prayer by other women and partnerships not reliant on funding have emerged.
Black Clergy Indaba – TEC
The 2013 Black Clergy Conference in TEC was run as an Indaba. One lay participant wrote this:
I was convinced that this would just be another “Church Conference” with the same old information I had already heard, but I was in for a real surprise. The networking opportunities, the information and stories that were exchanged, and the wealth of knowledge that were passed along were immense. Specifically, we were fed with the information that we need to revitalize our church. We learned that adaptation and change are essential to the Life of the church, and that a church-wide openness to change is what it will take to transform and continue to live.
She and a parish team have gone on to run Indaba in their own parish and transform their ministry and mission.
Phil Groves and Angharad Parry Jones wrote Living Reconciliation to let people know that there is a tool available for them to use in their parish, diocese and province that can transform conflict.
The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote the Introduction.
It has an accompanying website with an 8 week Bible Study.
Archbishop Justin Welby: ‘An extremely good book’
Winnie Varghese: ‘Feels like the deep breath of the Spirit finding an instrument within our Communion.’
Colin Patterson – Bridge Builders: ‘I felt both challenged and inspired to be an agent of reconciliation.’
Bishop Paul Bayes: ‘Please buy, use and share this resource. You and your community need it. We all need it, if we are to make the journey of reconciliation our own.’
Archbishop Desmond Tutu: ‘I commend this book to you, my fellow workers in the kingdom, as a tool and encouragement in living your life of reconciliation.’
Monica Lawrence says Living Reconciliation:
- Shows how God calls us to live in a renewed relationship with him, looking outwards with him in love to others
- acknowledges vulnerability, offers hope, and a way to live
- is active mission that involves us in conversation and listening with an open mind
- helps us to bring about change in ourselves that enables us to move forward
Continuing Indaba: the Future
Jeanne Samuel – a peace activist in Sri Lanka – read Living Reconciliation. Like the Archbishop of Canterbury, she found it removed her excuses for not engaging in reconciliation. Like Monica she found it began with her.
The church is the place where both Tamil and Sinhalese are together and she has a vision for the beginning of healing in a post war conflict. But in the church there is also conflict between those who want new forms of worship and traditionalists. We have to begin with ourselves and face the big issues – including the ongoing gender based violence toward Tamil women in the North East of the country. We are beginning to design a programme to help using the Continuing Indaba tool in order to inspire many to live reconciliation.
Over the next three years Continuing Indaba and Living Reconciliation will focus on:
- partnering with Provinces to strengthen relationships in local churches around the Anglican Communion, enhancing capacity to transform conflicts involving deeply-held differences
- encouraging engagement between the provinces of the Anglican Communion to encourage new approaches to renewing relationships and our commitment to shared life and witness
- exploring and communicating how Anglicans understand and practice reconciliation so we can better help transform conflict and end violence between communities and among peoples where we find it around the world.