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Anglicans Ablaze, Part II

6 October 2012

For the last couple of days I’ve been attending the Anglicans Ablaze conference in Bryanston, Johannesburg, mainly as part of my research into
the history of the charismatic renewal in Southern Africa.

I’ve already blogged about it here,but here are a few more observations, and some pictures.

There was a sprinkling of old fogeys, like me, who probably remembered the charismatic renewal of the 1970s, but there was a large majority of young
people, most of whom could probably barely remember the apartheid era.

Some of those who attended the Anglicans Ablaze conference this week.

The charismatic renewal is alive and well in the Anglican Church in southern Africa, and probably more healthy than it was in the past.

Many speakers said that the old sense of renewal on the one hand and social justice on the other has been cast into the past.

Also, in the past, outside a few places like Zululand and the Eastern Cape, the charismatic renewal was perceived as predominantly white. Now it
quite clearly isn’t.

One thing that wasn’t explicitly mentioned, but was strongly implicit throughout, is that it is now unashamedly denominational. Back in the
1970s the charismatic movement was strongly ecumenical, with many speaking of the Holy Spirit breaking down barriers between denominations,
especially between Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals.

That went sour in the 1980s, with the rise of the Neopentecostal denominations, which many Pentecostals and charismatics joined. Perhaps it was ironic that the conference was held on the premises of a Neopentecostal church.

I don’t remember anything like Anglicans Ablaze happening back in the 1970s and 1980s. There were ecumenical conferences, but never denominational ones. Yes, groups like IViyo in Zululand held conferences, but they were a particular organisation, and did not include all
Anglicans.

Sisters of the Community of the Holy Name in Zululand at the Anglicans Ablaze conference

And a youth leader reported from the Provincial Youth Council, which had met shortly before, saying that the youth were not the church of tomorrow
but the church of today, and wanted teaching so they could be more certain of their Anglican identity.

Many of those who chaired plenary sessions and introduced speakers were young people, who seemed far more confident than those of earlier generations. The theme was “a generation rising up”, and indeed it is.

A speaker from Nigeria, Grace Samson-Song, pointed out some of the differences between the generation rising up and previous generations:

  • 10 years ago only doctors and drug dealers had cell phones
  • when did you last see a roll of film?
  • green was the colour of a crayon, now it’s a lifestyle
  • how many of you don’t have anything made in China in your house?
  • reality TV – you watch TV differently
  • most viewers of porn on the Internet are boys aged 12-16
  • but social media have overtaken porn as the most popular sites

In spite of this growth in the use of social media by the generation rising up, there were very few tweets on Twitter with the #AnglicansAblaze hashtag, of the percentage of young people there matched the proportions in the populatio0n as a whole.

 

 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 7 October 2012 1:52 pm

    It would be interesting to know what such people do see as defining Anglican identity. Given the photo on your previous post of a band and whatnot, it presumably isn’t the Book of Common Prayer!

  2. Panama permalink
    1 November 2012 12:11 pm

    However, notwithstanding the various expressions of community life to which the new ecclesial movements bear eloquent testimony, the emergence of a vibrant lay spirituality is hugely significant and warrants some detailed analysis and explanation. Undoubtedly Vatican II had a huge impact on the Church’s understanding of the lay apostolate and this was pivotal in enabling the new movements to secure a place in the heart of the Church.Another factor which helps to clarify the place of the new movements in the Church is to situate them within the historical tradition of renewal movements that have been a perennial feature of the life of the Church. In reviewing some of these historical incidences one can detect clearly the tension between conflicting concepts of the Church, concepts which lead to an examination of the relationship between the local and the universal, between the Petrine ministry and the collegiality of the episcopacy, between the institutional and the charismatic, between the Marian and the Petrine. I believe the research clearly indicates that not only did this phenomenon of “movement” stimulate a constant renewal trend within the tradition of Church but it also provoked controversy. The problems and the promise associated with the new twentieth-century ecclesial movements can best be assessed by examining them within an historical framework. Then one can better appreciate their place in the ongoing dynamic plan of the Holy Spirit who continues to animate a constant renewal of the Church.

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