Anglican churches in Africa to have theological arm

March 19, 2013

[Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa — Press Release] The African Network of Institutions of Theological Education Preparing Anglicans for Ministry (ANITEPAM) and the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) have agreed to a merger in which ANITEPAM would – as envisioned by the Most Revd Ian Ernest, Archbishop of the Indian Ocean, when he served as the Chair of CAPA – become CAPA’s ‘theological arm.’ With the final transfer of funds, and the completion of a transitional issue of the ANITEPAM Bulletin, this important step has now been finalized.

Canon Victor Atta-Baffoe of Ghana, who chairs ANITEPAM’s Governing Council, joined with the Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi, who now chairs CAPA, in signing the agreement at CAPA’s Primates and Standing Committee meeting in Mukono, Uganda, in August.

“ANITEPAM becoming CAPA’s theological department is a dream come true in our lifetime!” the Rt. Revd Chad Gandiya, Bishop of Harare who for many years headed ANITEPAM’s Council, stated. “It is an answer to prayer.”

CAPA and ANITEPAM have had a long relationship, but the final steps to this new development took place in Nairobi in April, when representatives of the two groups met to consider more formal ties. Together they agreed on general principles, and a Memorandum of Agreement was hammered out shortly thereafter. CAPA and ANITEPAM’s Governing Council ratified the agreement in July.

Memorandum of Agreement

The agreement is consistent with CAPA’s strategic plan 2011-2015, which involves the ‘advancement of critical theological reflection and action,’ and it calls for the two to establish a common working agenda on theological education in Africa. To accomplish this objective, ANITEPAM has now ceased to exist as an independent entity and has become ‘CAPA’s theological department both in structure and programming.’

ANITEPAM’s Chairperson will be appointed to CAPA’s Board of Programs, and its Governing Council will be appointed to CAPA’s Reference Board of Theology. Its resources have been transferred to CAPA theological education accounts. Bishop Gandiya urged that we “all pray that adequate resources will be found to enable [CAPA’s Theology Department] to meaningfully serve and support the African Church, its theological institutions and the men and women who teach in these institutions.”

The programmes of the ANITEPAM Theology Department of CAPA will “provide a framework for advancing and enhancing theological education in Africa through the Anglican provinces, diocese and institutions…; mobilise theologians, theological institutions and networks at regional, national and local levels towards effective and contextual theology; and strengthen provincial and diocesan capacity to engage in theological reflection, training and formation….”

The two anticipate that the outcome of the Agreement will, among other things, increase engagement of theological institutions in continental ministry efforts; increase contribution to theological knowledge by African theologians; develop relevant models of pastoral and theological ministry responding to communities’ needs; and increase opportunity for the ‘growing Church’ in Africa to continue to provide its prophetic leadership in a diverse socio-economic, political, cultural and spiritual context.

To implement the programme, CAPA plans to recruit a ‘resident theologian’ to advance ‘the theological mandate of ANITEPAM and CAPA.’

History of the relationship

Following a 1991 consultation of Anglican theological educators from throughout Africa and overseas, ANITEPAM began, and it immediately turned to CAPA to outline its vision and seek its endorsement. This was given at a CAPA gathering in Harare in 1992.

ANITEPAM kept CAPA informed of its ministry throughout the coming decades of its independent existence, especially by including all African bishops in its circulation of the ANITEPAM Bulletin. It also provided leadership of workshops on theological education at CAPA’s new bishops conferences.

During the past 20 years, ANITEPAM has continuously published the ANITEPAM Bulletin – 63 issues – with information about library resources, study opportunities, scholarships and news from the Communion and from theological educators, and the ANITEPAM Journal, with special issues on contextual theology, Christian-Muslim relations in Africa, African women in the Church, and the African Church in the new millennium. It developed a resource on theological education by extension (TEE) for residential theological institutions in Africa. It also regularly published a prayer calendar for African theological education, and most recently, a directory of African Anglican theological education institutions—the first such comprehensive listing.

ANITEPAM introduced a faculty exchange program, by which African theological educators in one region of the continent gained experience in other regions of Africa. It hosted the first consultation of French-speaking Anglican theological educators and church leaders (in Kenya in 1996), the first consultation of African Anglican women theological educators (in Zimbabwe in 1998), and the second Anglican Contextual Theologians’ Consultation (in South Africa in 2004). It sent a deputation to advise the Church of Rwanda about theological education in post-genocide Rwanda. It also maintained a book donation programmes for African theological institutions.

In recognition of changing times, its Governing Council invited Canon Grace Kaiso, CAPA’s General Secretary, to meet in 2009 to explore ways of working together. Canon Kaiso responded graciously, acknowledging what ANITEPAM had done for God’s mission in Africa and calling for commitment to work together more closely.

In his opening address to the CAPA Primates meeting in November 2010, Archbishop Earnest invited ANITEPAM to work with CAPA: “It is time for us to engage our eminent Theologians [to] help us for the sake of Jesus Christ to develop new methods of teaching and new ways of how to be a church.’ ANITEPAM, he suggested, ‘can become the theological arm of CAPA.”

Toward a formal relationship

In response, ANITEPAM’s Governing Council met in Lagos early in 2011 to consider possibilities, and this year it decided to explore a more formal relationship with CAPA. That led to CAPA’s invitation to representatives from ANITEPAM to meet in Nairobi in April 2012. Participants included Ms Grace Wambua (CAPA Treasurer), Elizabeth Gichovi (CAPA Staff), Dr Dickson Chilongani (the Anglican Church of Tanzania’s Provincial Secretary serving on ANITEPAM’s Governing Council), Prof Esther Mombo (on ANITEPAM’s Governing Council), Emmanuel Olatunji (CAPA Staff); the Revd Dr Leon Spencer (Liaison Director of ANITEPAM Partnership and the first Corresponding Secretary for ANITEPAM in the 1990s), Bishop Gandiya (a founder of ANITEPAM), and Canon Kaiso.

In his opening devotion at that gathering, Canon Kaiso spoke of CAPA’s “seeking to forge a partnership with ANITEPAM, so as to enhance each other in fulfilling the mission of God especially with regard to ensuring that the Anglican Church in Africa is living out her mission from a sound theological base.”

Prof. Esther Mombo of St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya, invited participants to reflect upon some theological issues facing the Church in Africa, including leadership (“How well are we prepared?”); stewardship (“Are we good stewards of our institutions?”); and education (“What values are being inculcated?”)

Mr. Emmanuel Olatunji of the CAPA staff briefed the group about CAPA’s ministry, and Bishop Gandiya and the Dr Chilongani, about ANITEPAM’s. After an extended brainstorming session, CAPA and ANITEPAM participants agreed upon the foundation that became the Memorandum of Agreement.

Ms Grace Wambua, a member of CAPA Standing Committee, called the consultation an ‘historic moment in the life of the Church in Africa.’ She concluded with a reading from Ephesians 4: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”