I bring you very warm greetings from the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC). As we are at the beginning, we look back and see how great and fruitful last year, 2019 was. Indeed, we were blessed in many ways, ending the year full of joy and celebration. We thank our members, our partners, governance structures and all we were able to work within the last year. We have a lot to look back to with gratitude. For me, it was the first year in my role as General Secretary, and I cannot thank God enough for the guidance, blessings and experiences. The number of members of AACC increased from 193 churches and councils to 200 after seven new members were admitted.
The Lord has given us a new year and offered us a new opportunity to serve in furthering the Kingdom of God. Every new day brings new chances and new challenges. As we look ahead, we expect a very vibrant year indeed.
We intend to continue our very active engagement in peacebuilding and peaceful resolutions of some conflicts in Africa. We hope South Sudan crisis will be resolved so that development can start. We are grateful that the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to be stable and we hope the few remaining trouble spots will also end conflicts. We pray that Zimbabwe will again stop going down and rise again to its former glory. The conflict in Cameroon continues to be a concern of the ecumenical movement, and AACC plans a very dedicated engagement to accompany the churches there.
We are getting increasingly concerned about the regressive developments in democratic processes in some countries in Africa. As we expect many countries to hold their elections, we look forward to encouraging churches in every country to, at any cost, work for and maintain peace.
I would like to share with you just a few major activities we are envisaging in the current year.
Pan African Youth Congress: Africa’s youth are a driving force of events and constitute the majority of the population. AACC plans to hold the first Pan African Youth Congress in Ghana around September. We will be sending invitations to all member churches to encourage the youth to come together and inspire each other to invest, succeed and develop the continent. The motto is:” Africa: My Home. My Future.” We expect around 5,000 young adults to gather, celebrate and deliberate on the future of Africa. Most of them should be able to raise their travel funds.
Silencing the Guns: Africa is increasingly progressing towards peace. Only a few armed conflicts are remaining. African Union in its Agenda 2063 declared this year, 2020 to be the year of silencing the guns. The AACC youth are running a campaign to collect signatures from the whole continent to demand that the politicians abide by their commitment to silence all guns in Africa by the end of this year.
Challenge of Climate Change: We are going to focus very much on the crisis of climate change, knowing that Africa is suffering severely from the effects of climate change. The churches have a strong network and their leaders have strong acceptability in communities than any other leaders in most countries.
We want to galvanize the energy of the churches and their grassroots presence to bring practical actions to mitigate the trend and find sustainable localized solutions.
Symposium on Misleading Theologies: After a very successful symposium last year, we plan to hold the second symposium in November. As a follow up on the first, this year the focus will be on theologies of wealth and development. We should not always complain and blame others about “prosperity gospel”, without looking carefully at appropriate theologies of wealth and development.
Sustainable Population Growth: As we led the participation of faith-based actors at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Nairobi last year, it became very clear that there is a lot of distortions about the issue. The role of churches in promoting discussions and programs on a sustainable population is crucial. AACC believes, without sustainable population growth, sustainable development is not possible. We will be looking for influential religious leaders to show the link between population and development, from a family point of view. Therefore, we will be talking about sustainable families as a bridge to sustainable development and demystify the political overtones on the global debate. The responsibility of raising a family of four and a family of eight falls on the same shoulders, but the life of those families is naturally different.
The Plight of Widows: Last year we launched the campaign on the plight of widows, to encourage churches to take a closer look at the plight of widows who suffer under unjust, primitive harmful cultural practices. We want to spread this campaign, which has June 23, the International Widows Day, as a significant rallying time.
Migration and Human Trafficking: We are laying a high emphasis on the problem of migration and trafficking in persons, which affects Africans more negatively than others. The dignity of Africans is at stake because of what we see happening, even among Africans themselves. We are going to focus more specifically on Western and Central Africa, basing our program in our regional office in Lomé, Togo.
Advocacy at the African Union: We are repositioning the AACC as a strong player in advocacy at the African Union. This year is going to be the most vibrant we have had, as we are gratefully getting more and more alliances and resources. We want the AACC to continue being a very active, knowledgeable and effective voice of the churches in continental, political discussions and activities at the AU.
It is difficult for me to mention every exciting program and activity we have on our plans. But I hope these few examples show that we are very determined and ready to go. At the same time, we want to ask for your cooperation and support. We will be communicating through various medians our plans in a timely fashion. We ask all members and partners to simply be looking forward to joining us and preparing adequate resources for participation.
Our message to our members and partners: “We need you. If you are not there, you are missing out.”