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Faithful in South Africa
Dave Doveton and Gavin Mitchell Evangelicals Now September 2013
The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (Southern Africa) was born after the GAFCON 1 meeting in Jerusalem in 2008, with the aim of standing for Biblical Orthodoxy in Southern Africa. FCA has two constituent parties, members of the Church of England in South Africa (CESA) and members of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA).
Among the Dioceses of the ACSA, Port Elizabeth Diocese, the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist, Zululand and Niassa Dioceses would probably all count themselves as evangelical. So are clusters of parishes in Kwazulu Natal. In the Western Cape about 4 – 5 parishes including the very big St John's Wynberg, a conglomerate of 7 churches are evangelical and charismatic in varying degrees. A good strong parish within the diocese of Cape Town is St Martin's Bergvliet. In Johannesburg there are 4 – 5 strongly evangelical parishes, generally the larger ones.
The situation at present:
In Southern Africa the narratives of liberation and reconciliation have been powerful and effective bases from which to engage the idol of apartheid and with the challenge of social reconstruction, respectively. However they have proven totally inadequate to cope with new idols of death and the hegemonic false gospel currently threatening the Christian church in Africa . This false gospel with its Gnostic anthropology reinforced by narcissistic Western individualism is borne by American and Canadian bishops and missionaries into our midst who are welcomed at conferences in Cape Town and other African cities. This is in stark contrast to the Anglican Churches of East and West Africa who have recognized the threat of a false gospel and the power it has to deconstruct the institutions of family and church and to unravel the very fabric of African community.
Because of this gradual undermining of orthodox faith and ministry, we believe it is imperative that Biblically orthodox and doctrinally sound training in a genuinely reformed Anglican tradition is needed.
Another major weakness in our church is biblical illiteracy among the laity despite a genuine thirst among many of them for a deeper knowledge of God’s word. Ecclesiologically we have inherited a maintenance based and inwardly focused church. So we have formed a voluntary mission society to develop theological training programs especially for the laity. These programs are discipleship based and mission and development focused, to deal with these weaknesses and impart a vision of the church’s mission in which every member is involved. This society, the Southern Mission Society is under the oversight of a bench of bishops from Anglican Provinces in the Global South.
Church Plants under SMS
As church planting and community development are two of the fundamental aims of the SMS mission we have encouraged those who are planting new churches and we are trying to help them with resources. The Franschhoek Fellowship is one such church plant in the Western Cape. This congregation continues to grow in numbers and ministry to the local community. They are presently negotiating to buy a property to convert into a worship sanctuary and youth centre.
In late June we offered the first SMS course in Mission and Ministry to 18 enthusiastic people in the diocese of Port Elizabeth. This is the first in a 10 module course to equip people with a sound biblical foundation, and skills in practical ministry (eg preaching, church planting and leading bible studies)and Christian leadership. This course is available at certificate level or a fully accredited degree level.
SMS offers training in conjunction with its partners at both the lay and ordained levels. This training is done on a distance learning model, including intensive "contact times". This model dramatically reduces the cost of training and allows candidates to continue in ministry while being trained. This can result in the advantage of mentorship by senior clergy while getting quality, practice focussed theological training.
Stellenbosch Theological Institute (STI)
STI is a joint initiative between SMS /FCA SA , the Oxford Centre for Religion in Public Life and the Shofar Church (an independent charismatic church). It offers high quality evangelical theological courses at post graduate level which are fully accredited. We currently offer an Honours course – this year we have 25 registered students. These courses are distance learning courses offered online – we hope that African Provinces to the North of us will consider taking advantage of these mission oriented courses.
Through all these means we are seeking to develop a new generation of biblically grounded, doctrinally sound, faithful Anglicans.
Date Added: 2013-08-25
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