Mar 13, 2018 by Ruairidh Waddell
The above play on the title of the famous hymn, “The Church’s One Foundation,” is intentional. In our previous newsletter we mentioned, and Steve has already alluded to, our November forum. This gathering of all our partners from across the region
focused on the opportunity and responsibility the church here has to be a primary agent of transformational change. The church IS the foundation upon which change must be built within our respective nations.
Nowhere is this more true than in Zambia, where our three partner organizations collectively serve a third of the country’s population that congregate in their churches and prayer houses every Sunday. To influence and lead over five million people is both an astonishing privilege, but also a massive responsibility. The discussions we had in November could have gone on for days as we tackled the silence of the Church on many issues affecting the most vulnerable in society, as well as the impact of poor governance on not just the poor, but also the country as a whole. In mid-December, following the partners’ forum, we received word that the leaders of our Zambian partners — The United Church of Zambia, The Reformed Church in Zambia, and the Presbyterian Church of Central Africa — were having an initial meeting focused on collaborating to raise and strengthen the collective voice of the church and how best to use this combined strength to provide national guidance, advocacy, and restorative justice for the poor, marginalized, and most vulnerable in society.
Over two subsequent meetings, the church leadership and diaconal staff drafted and agreed upon a Memorandum of Understanding that officially announced their partnership:
“Responding to God’s call to mutual ministry, mission, and witness that express Jesus Christ’s prayer for the Church that is one, and in recognition of the Holy Spirit’s movement in the Churches, the CCAP, RCZ and the UCZ enter into a partnership.
This partnership is informed by and reflects the common heritage of the Reformed tradition around the world. This is a shared history of Christians, who have struggled to overcome the barriers of colonialism, nationalism, race, and culture, and tireless efforts of Christians to establish ties, in order that as individual denominations and working together, the Churches may be more faithful and effective in the witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The CCAP, RCZ, and the UCZ share the same space and environment in Zambia. Their members therefore experience similar challenges in many spheres, including the political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and spiritual aspects of life. The partnership between CCAP, RCZ, and the UCZ is voluntary and is a mutual relationship that aims at enabling the three Churches to more effectively witness to the most poor, marginalized, and vulnerable in society.”
The three churches plan to retreat together for three days in March to discuss and confirm the form this relationship will take and how it will seek to actually bring about true and lasting change that will influence and transform the lives of those it seeks to serve. It is a real privilege for me to be able to walk alongside these churches and their leadership as they seek to deliver this ministry to their nation. World Renew will be there to support them in any way we can and to live out that famous hymn’s lesser known verse:
’Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of her war
She waits the consummation of peace for evermore;
Till with the vision glorious, her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious, shall be the Church at Rest.
Until next time,