Anglican identity and contemporary relevance : a critical study of the Partners in Mission process within the Church of the Province of Southern Africa

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This is a church historical study and critical theological analysis of the Partners in Mission (PIM) process in the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (CPSA), which uses methods appropriate to such a study. Chapter 1 examines the background against which the PIM process and CPSA's PIM 'Vision' must be seen: Anglicanism, its origins, intentions and mission - and the tension between Anglican identity and contemporary relevance. Chapter 2 traces the process of renewal which has been described as the Anglican Communion's 'coming of age', and identifies some of the themes which were later to become 'The Vision'. The Anglican PIM process emerged out of the church's efforts to adjust to the rapidly changing post-colonial world of the nineteen-fifties and sixties, when Anglican provinces within newly-independent nations could no longer be regarded as inferior to and dependent on the Church of England. A watershed in this quest was the Anglican Congress in Toronto in 1963, when for the first time the equal partnership was articulated in the statement Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ (MRI). MRI became a Communion-wide programme which evolved into the PIM process, and together they constitute the Anglican Church's programme of contemporary reform and renewal. The CPSA is a full participant in this PIM process and has held three PIM Consultations, the third of which took place in November 1987 when the church was given the vision to engage in the struggle for the eradication of apartheid and the building of new societies of justice and peace in southern Africa. .In Chapter 3 we examine the Provincial 1987 Consultation, the process which led up to it and the making of The Vision. In Chapter 4 we examine publications and records of the CPSA and correspondence with the Bishops of the Province which describe the implementation of The Vision in the life of the CPSA and its contribution to the church's mission. Chapter 5 is a critical evaluation of the CPSA's PIM process, based on the evidence of the previous chapter. Our conclusion is that The Vision has been only partially implemented because of the church's persistent failure to transform words into actions, poor communication, the failure to focus on priorities, a lack of resources, traditionalism and clericalism in the CPSA, the fear of loss of identity, and a spiritual crisis - much of which points to a lack of appropriate leadership. The consequences of ineffective implementation include the failure of the CPSA as a whole to engage relevantly with the crisis in southern Africa, to express appropriate penitence and make restitution for its part in the sin of apartheid, and to engage in effective evangelism. Chapter 6 is an attempt to see how the CPSA could be renewed by means of a revitalised PIM process, in order to be relevant in southern Africa today. We explore a possible pastoral plan and ways in which the CPSA would benefit from engaging more fully in the 'Kairos' process. The CPSA will contribute to the life and future direction of the Anglican Communion insofar as it is true to its ecumenical calling to witness to the kingdom of God as a part of the church in southern Africa, and the Communion will best serve its members and enable them to discover their true identity by setting them free to be faithful to their mission in their various contexts. Throughout this study we have used primary source documents from the Anglican Communion and the CPSA which tell of the birth, progress an implementation of MRI, PIM and The Vision.

Bibliography: leaves 436-444.