Magazine article The Christian Century

African Church 'Could Be Better,' Official Says

Magazine article The Christian Century

African Church 'Could Be Better,' Official Says

Article excerpt

African churches give hope to many desperate people, but they have a long way to go in bringing relief and renewal to a continent hard-hit by poverty and conflict, regional ecumenical leaders say. "The church in Africa is on track, but it could be better," said Methodist H. Mvume Dandala, who started his new job as general secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) in September.

The church has "slipped back" from providing social services--schools, health care structures, agricultured programs--the general secretary told Ecumenical News International. "The church has got to see those not as optional extras, but rather as things that are integral to the life and challenge of the church," said Dandala, 51, the immediate past presiding bishop of the Methodist Church in South Africa.

The AACC held its eighth assembly in Yaounde, Cameroon, November 22-27 with new hopes of ecumenical drive after years of management and budget problems. Contributions from its 169 member denominations have flagged and donations front abroad have likewise declined. An interim general secretary served for 18 months before Dandala took the post ill the AACC's Nairobi office.

The assembly committed itself to a ten-point plan of action on HIV/AIDS, approved a process to restructure the organization and resolved to promote good government practices in African nations rife with corruption.

"This may mean speaking out to those in power in ways that will not always make us popular, but we have a responsibility to God and to the continent to do so," said Dandala in an assembly report that drew a standing ovation. …

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