The Bible says that we are called into communion with one another through our relationship with Christ (1 John 1:3). The community of the people of God was formed through journeys of exodus and exile. In the New Testament Jesus established his community by taking his followers on a journey. Paul not only travelled to establish churches, he revisited them, and linked them together through fellow travellers. Paul’s communities faced their differences in order to be effective in mutual mission.
Journeys of conversation strengthened relationships for mission.
Indaba is a Zulu word describing a community process for discernment on matters of significance. Such processes are common throughout Africa, Asia, the Pacific islands and the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Their aim is to further community life, not to solve issues.
Continuing Indaba uses journeys to establish relationships and build community so that genuine conversation on matters of significance can energise mission.
Participants on these journeys are encouraged to worship and read the Scriptures together as they encounter each others’ mission context. The community then becomes a safe space in which the participants can enter into a facilitated conversation. Here they are able to face differences and to listen to one another, and most importantly to listen to God together.
The aim is to enable one another to be faithful followers of Christ and to find how all can participate in mutual mission.
The model was developed in consultation with theologians from Africa, Asia, North America, the West Indies and the UK. They gathered in nine hubs to reflect on the Scriptures and processes of decision making in their own cultures. They then produced written material to guide the development of Continuing Indaba.
The resulting process was tested and refined in four Pilot Conversations, each one between three dioceses.
Evaluation of the Pilot Conversations found that the Indaba method and experience is worthwhile because it strengthens understanding and supports mutual mission.
The Indaba process also encourages genuine conversation across differences. It seeks to build trust and models a way of decision-making that is not confrontational or ‘parliamentary’, rather it emphasises mutual and intense listening to deeply held opinions and a willingness to dig deeper in order to find the shared values that lie at the root of our common faith.
Archbishop Paul Kwong – Primate, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui
In 2009 the Primates’ Meeting in Alexandria accepted the report of the Windsor Continuation Group that said: ‘We need to move from intransigence and the conviction that ‘our’ interpretation is the right one to a shared waiting upon God. There is something profoundly important about the Anglican Way here – a readiness to acknowledge that Christian disciples discern God’s truth by learning to wait upon one another and that it takes the whole Church to know the whole truth.’
In response, Continuing Indaba has established a model of ‘shared waiting on God’ for the Anglican Communion through developing relationships that create the space for dialogue to emerge that enables ‘the whole Church to know the whole truth.’
The Anglican Communion is grateful to Revd Marta Weeks who trusted us to use her donation to develop processes of consensus drawn from Scripture, understood by tradition and reason, in order to strengthen mission throughout the world. We also thank the Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) at Morehouse School of Medicine who administered the funding that came without preconditions on design or outcomes.
We are grateful to the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui and the Diocese of Toronto for donations that enable us to take our next steps.