Sharing each others' gifts for the growth of the church

Published: 5th April 2024

Lichfield Diocese was well represented at the second Intercultural Church conference, hosted this year by Bishop Martyn Snow in Leicester Diocese just before Easter.

The Anglican Network for Intercultural Churches (ANIC) was launched last year, with the hope of enhancing the capacity and understanding for effective intercultural mission. 

The focus of the conference was to advocate for Racial Justice, promote global culture awareness, to champion God's great commission to all nations, and encourage rehearsals for the heavenly worship.

Among attendess were Revd Gilbert David, a member of our Racial Justice and Inclusion Task Group and Jules Smith, our Strategic Ministerial Development Officer. Revd Ray Gaston. vicar of St Chad & St Mark Wolverhampton was among the speakers and Canon Sharon Prentis (another RJITG member, Deputy Director of the Cof E Racial Justice Unit and Canon Theologian at Lichfield Cathedral) gave one of the keynote talks, emphasising the importance of unity in diversity, bringing people together from different backgrounds under one roof, and sharing each others' gifts for the growth of the church.

"I personally think it was a successful conference" says Revd Gilbert "as it fully outlined and explained the goals and objectives set by the organisers. It was a good networking exercise through which people built new connections and learned many skills to help build Intercultural churches, which are now needed more than ever now that the United Kingdom has become a multi-cultural country, and people from all over the world have come here."

Bishop Tim Wambunya, the Chairman of ANIC Training and Consultancy, Intercultural Mission Events, and Affirmation for Intercultural Ministries, welcomed people from the wider Anglican Communion from around the country. The Conference was sponsored by the Racial Justice Unit of the Church of England. The Conference was hosted by the Bishop of Leicester, Bishop Martyn Snow, together with Bishop Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy, Bishop of Willesdon, and Bishop Saju Muthulay, Bishop of Loughborough. Many Intercultural Clergy and Lay leaders who are actively involved in the promotion of Intercultural Mission were invited to share their views.

The conference concluded with thriee Mission Actions Points which could be adopted by parishes:

  1. To promote an environment of unity and fellowship within diverse church communities, based on biblical principles.
  2. To encourage genuine and authentic relationships based on love, respect, and understanding, whilst challenging injustice by being intentional about it.
  3. to promote a better understanding of intercultural community life, recognising the strengths and limitations of concepts like Communitas (the spirit of community), Ubuntu (humanity to others) and I-Thou (treating others as unique and equal), and how they might apply in Intercultural Mission.

Following the conference Regional Teams have been formed and a team has been appointed to create a training tool for the development of Intercultural Churches. The first follow-up Zoom meeting is schedule for the 10th April 2024.

Jules concludes: "This was a very insightful and deeply encouraging conference. I learnt what intercultural church could look like, as well as embracing the stories and cultures of others as Anglicans."

[compiled from reports from Revd Gilbert and Jules: photos from the conferecnec organisers]

Jules full report follows:

A report about the ANIV Anglican Intercultural Mission Conference 2024

The Anglican Network for Intercultural Churches (ANIC) held their second Anglican Intercultural Mission conference at St Martin’s House Conference Centre in Leicester from Wednesday 20th – Friday 22nd March. The goal of the Anglican Network for Intercultural Churches is that it exists to enhance capacity and understanding for effective intercultural mission. ANIC do this through networking opportunities, establishing an Intercultural Learning Community, through research and publications, training and consultancy, intercultural mission events and affirmation for intercultural ministries. ANIC was launched in April 2023 during the inaugural Anglican Intercultural Mission Conference at St Paul’s, Slough. ANIC’s focus is this:

‘We advocate for racial justice, promote global cultural awareness, champion God’s great commission to all nations, and encourage rehearsals for heavenly worship’.

The context behind this conference is this:

According to 2021 census data, approximately 18% of the UK population describe themselves as belonging to Black, Asian, mixed, or other ethnic groups. If you add in the Gypsy and other European minorities, the UKME/GMH total is around 20% of the UK population. As the United Kingdom grows in ethnic, cultural and racial diversity, the Anglican church needs to explore how it can be more effective in Intercultural Mission.

  • How are Anglican Diocese implementing the ‘From Lament to Action Report’ and embracing intercultural mission opportunities?
  • How can the Anglican Church be better equipped to promote mission across ethnic, cultural and racial communities in future?
  • How intentional is the Anglican church in reaching and integrating UKME/GMH people?
  • To what extent is the Anglican Church strategic about building intercultural worshipping communities?

This conference provides a platform to inspire movement that will champion intercultural worshipping communities.

(ANIC Conference 2024 Handbook, pg. 17)

The focus of this year’s conference was to ‘Build a Greater Capacity and Understanding for Effective Intercultural Mission.’ The topics included Racial Justice, Global Cultural Awareness, God’s Great Commission to All Nations and Rehearsals for Heavenly Worship. Bishop Martyn Snow, Diocesan Bishop of Leicester was the host for the entire three days, along with the Conference Chair, Bishop Tim Wambunya, who is also an Honorary Assistant Bishop and the incumbent and project leader at St Paul’s, Slough.

What was clear from the time of arrival was the very warm welcome that was offered by everyone. This set the tone for the two days in which I was able to attend. There were many opportunities to sing and worship in different languages that were simple enough to learn and join in with. One of the most powerful moments during worship was when we all said the Lord’s prayer in our own languages. It was so very moving and something that I will not forget.

Topics and information were delivered in thirty-minute seminars, led by someone who was passionate about the area they were speaking of or by someone who had vast experience both academically and missionally. There was then another twenty to thirty minutes for anyone listening to ask questions or share their own experiences of intercultural mission. I was able to attend four seminars on Thursday –

  • Seminar 1 - Nathaniel Jennings: An Intercultural approach to Christian Witness & Mission
  • Seminar 2 - Revd Dr Carlton Turner: Discovering the Theology of Intercultural Ministry
  • Seminar 3 - Adam Martin: How do we develop leaders for Intercultural Church
  • Seminar 4 - John Plant & Frances Clemson: Intercultural Bible Study Methodology

The main points made were these:

Mission is to give people a foretaste of heaven now and we can’t separate church mission from God’s mission

We are in an age of Global Christianity: one quarter of church in the UK is filled with people from global majority heritage, so we are called to engage with all cultures within the UK

Our churches need to move from mono-cultural, to multi-cultural then to intercultural by seeing all people as family and being curious about each other and getting to know each other.

An intercultural approach to mission requires – encouraging people to be and make global disciples – our identity is found in Jesus, we are in allegiance to his church and our purpose is sharing the world with him

An intercultural approach to mission requires ‘V-shaped’ leadership. Leaders hold the bottom of the V and enable and grow others to flourish in their callings and ministries

An intercultural approach to mission requires partnership with other Christian organisations that already exist to serve churches so that they can support and resource church in their mission and witness

An intercultural approach to mission requires a posture of humility and kingdom partnership. Christ-centred intercultural communities are themselves the most powerful missional witness to a broken world

Interculturality calls for the affirmation of three basic principles:

  • Contextuality
  • Multiple perspectives
  • Authentic participation

Intercultural leaders need to remain humble, have a commitment to unite and have an unapologetic passion and desire to make disciples. This was linked to the biblical model and leadership, considering how Jesus led – vision, invitation, instruction, community, authority and review.

Others spoke of their experiences of interculturality – Rev’d Geoff Yung in a Cantonese church in Maidenhead, our own Rev’d Ray Gaston, who leads St Chad’s and St Mark’s Church, in Central Wolverhampton talking about ‘Sanctuary, Solidarity and Sacrament’ and how he has supported asylum seekers and refugees.

Rev’d Dr Israel Oluwole Olofinjana spoke passionately and powerfully about Intercultural Church as a Framework for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation. He spoke about the healing of breaches, redressing of imbalances and restoration of broken relationships and acknowledged that both the oppressor and the oppressed need for liberation. He believes that society is not truly healed until the oppressor and the oppressed are healed and it is only the cross of Christ that can speak into this.

The final session was an opportunity for the Eido Research Team to share what they hoped to achieve from the ‘Lament to Action Report’. This team have set up an Intercultural Mission Learning Community and it is hoped that each national area can take part in this. It is an opportunity for people to:

  • Participate
  • Gain education from each other
  • Support training and mentoring of others
  • Focus on young people especially
  • Look at structures and governance – improving them where possible

They propose to formulate and test intercultural toolkits that can be adapted for diverse ministry contexts within the church through mapping, drafting, testing, evaluating and finalising resources for intercultural mission

We have been invited into a WhatsApp message group to share ideas, learn from each other and continue the conversation around intercultural mission. All regional areas were invited to meet and discuss any issues they had. This was then fed-back to the ANIC steering group and committee. Details of all of these will be sent out later.  In the Group A of Anglican Midlands Regional Group the main issues raised were:

  • It was felt that Training Institutes need to make ‘Intercultural Mission’ modules compulsory for future ordinands
  • Sound finances need to be available for all ordinands and clergy from discernment to retirement, but especially UKME
  • It was felt that DDO’s and Training Institute Principle should be present at the next ANIC Anglican Intercultural Mission Conference

This was a very insightful and deeply encouraging conference. I learnt what intercultural church could look like, as well as embracing the stories and cultures of others as Anglicans.

Jules Smith
Strategic Ministerial Development Officer, Diocese of Lichfield

Page last updated: Friday 5th April 2024 5:18 PM
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