The conference gathered Anglican representatives from across the Americas in Recife, Brazil the week of October 5 – 7
“Passion for the Americas” was the theme of the Caminemos Juntos 2017 conference, a conference with more than 200 Anglican representatives from the Americas (North, Central and South America) and Europe, held in Recife, Brazil, with the objective of being a catalyst for the advancement of Mission and the planting of new Anglican churches all throughout the continent.
This second annual gathering in Latin America brought clergy, lay ministers, and diverse leaders of churches from more than 9 countries together. The focus this year was on Mobilizing, Equipping, and Planting, in order to walk together as the Anglican Church in the Americas in this missional move of God.
The conference was organized by the Greenhouse Movement, together with the ACNA, the Diocese of Recife in Brazil, the Anglican Church in Chile, and GAFCON.
It is important to note that this year’s gathering included a visit from Charles Raven, Secretary of Membership Development for GAFCON, who shared about the anglican movement worldwide.
The gathering was held over three days, being hosted by Parróquia Anglicana Espíritu Santo (PAES), one of the largest anglican churches in Brazil and Latin America, with more than three thousand members. The program was comprised of plenaries, workshops, and small task groups, along with a special worship and prayer night on Thursday, which was attended by more than 800 people.
For the first time this year, there were pre-conference equipping sessions over 2 days prior to the main conference gathering. One of the workshops was led by MOCLAM and was focused on teaching the panorama of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Similarly, there was a training for potential church planting leaders and global missionaries to be sent out from Brazil and other latin American countries. Adoremos Juntos (United Adoration) led a retreat for songwriters where new songs for the movement were written and then sung throughout the conference.
Rev. Jonathan Kindberg, co-director of Caminemos Juntos, said that being in Brazil for a few days, participants were able to experience first hand the spontaneous growth and revival being experienced in Brazil, dynamics similar to what has happened in the Anglican church in East Africa. This fire and passion that God is awakening, is not only for Brazil but is spreading throughout Americas.
PASSION FOR MOBILIZATION
The first day focused on Mobilization. The focus was how to mobilize the Latin American church on global mission. One of the key questions was: “How can the Anglican Church in Latin America shift from being a mission field that simply receives missionaires to being a church that sends throughout the world?” The day began with a talk by Carlos Scott, former president of COMIBAM international (a consortium of Latin American mission and sending agencies) and the current facilitator of an organization called Glocal Mission in Argentina. In his presentation, Scott explained the evolution of the Latin American missionary movement in recent years and how we are experiencing an enormous paradigm shift in how mission is seen and practiced.
As Scott emphasized, if at the end of the 90’s there were 4 thousand missionaries, today Latin America has a total of twenty five thousand missionaries both in Latin America and being sent from Latin America throughout the world. He said there is a growing missionary expansion and that the Church in Latin America is understanding its purpose of extending the Kingdom of God to all nations.
Rev. Jonathan said that this awakening is happening in the anglican church. In recent years there has been a growing reciprocal sending and receiving of Latin American Anglicans to and from the US. “Today we are seeing how Chile, for example, is sending missionaries to serve in Latino or Central American communities in the United States. We also have the example of Chilean missionaries like Verónica Vega who is serving in India.”
This first day of the conference also included a talk by Filipe Santos, mission pastor of City Church in Sao Paulo (the largest Baptist church in Brazil), who spoke on how to develop a culture of mobilization in order to creatively reach the key cities of the world.
An example that was shared at the conference of this culture of mobilization is the Anglican Diocese of Recife, which since separating from the Episcopal Church in 2005, has planted more than 30 churches in only 12 years, thanks to missional strategies such as Casas de Paz (“Houses of Peace”).
As Bishop Miguel Uchoa explained, “Houses of Peace is a lay-led initiative that has become an evangelistic tool in non-Christian homes and has led to the planting of new congregations and the mobilization of the entire church.” Some of the other innovative missional initiatives of the diocese are: social ministries aimed at reaching the poor and marginalized like House of Hope, church-based outreach Karate classes, planting congregations inside prisons and a evangelistic marriage ministry for couples.
PASSION FOR EQUIPPING
A second focus of the conference was “passion for equipping.” One of the sessions this second day of the conference was led by a team from Chile, led by Diocesan Bishop Héctor (Tito) Zavala, who spoke about “passion for formation,” and how this has facilitated the ongoing growth and maturity of the Chilean Anglican Church.
On this topic, some of the leaders from Chile spoke about their seminary which is called the Center for Pastoral Studies (CEP), created in 2003, and also about other Chilean equipping initiatives for leaders, which have led to the planting of 19 churches and the ordination of almost 50 clergy in the past 17 years.
Bishop Zavala said, “I believe that the reason we have had this fruit these last years is that we have been seeking to be evangelical, in the fullest sense of that word, which means being centered on teaching the Word, the formation of leaders, and the empowerment of the entire local church for mission.”
Along these same lines, the importance of being able to share equipping resources between the different countries in the Americas thanks to Caminemos Juntos was highlighted. One example of this is the exchange that has taken place between Mexico and Chile. Chile this last year brought their highly successful Anglican Marriage Encounter program (EMA) to the fledging ACNA deanery in Mexico. Also this last year a leader from the Chilean seminary came to the church of Iglesia del Gran pastor in Fresnillo, Mexico todo a week long intensive course on Anglican Mission and Identity.
“The Anglican church in Mexico today is weak in terms of equipping and these kinds of exchanges greatly motivate us because without formation there is no vision” said Juan Manuel Herrera, one of the lay ministers of Gran Pastor, one of the larger ACNA churches in Mexico.
PASSION FOR CHURCH PLANTING
The Greenhouse Movement (known as Sociedad Misionera San Pablo in Latin America) presented on the third focus of the conference: “passion for church planting.” Greenhouse’s Missioner General, William Beasley, along with Bishops Marcio Meira and Flavio Soares of Brazil, spoke on the work of lay church planting both in the US and in Brazil.
The Greenhouse Movement has been deeply shaped by Anglican Church in East Africa which has also experienced explosive growth thanks to the move of God through lay leaders. William Beasley explained that we are seeing God pour out this same fire of revival in Latin America. While holding firm to the gospel and the historic roots of Anglicanism, lay leaders throughout the Americas are engaged in a creative missional effort that opens the door for the spontaneous expansion of the church that is able to reach all kinds of cultures and communities.
Adrian Torres, a lay leader at San Pedro, a church in Buenos Aires Argentina, similarly iterated: “Today we are seeing a thriving movement that grows through the laity. It is crucial that we shift our missional paradigm to include this new reality. Argentina needs this missional effort because we yearn new church plants.”
A NEW REFORMATION
One of the main emphases during the conference was that the Global Anglican Church is currently in the midst of twin reformation: a doctrinal reformation and a missional reformation.
Charles Raven, who led a workshop on this very topic, explained that this year, as the Church celebrates the 500th year since the Protestant Reformation, we have come to grips with the fact that we are not simply celebrating a historical event. The Church has always been and is always reforming. Today, we are working to recover and restore the truth of the Gospel. It is this Gospel of grace rooted in the Bible that ultimately drives us to fulfill the Great Commission.
Rev. Jonathan Kindberg, co-director of Caminemos Juntos, referred to this same theme of reformation:
We are continuing to work alongside GAFCON to expand our network to share resources and training in all 35 countries of the Americas and the Caribbean. We are striving towards mission centered unity, while also holding firmly to our biblical foundations, knowing that it will result in the formation of new Anglican church plants all across the Americas and the world.
We expect that this vision will continue to spread, and, at our next conference in Chile (Oct 4-6, 2018), we hope to witness even more countries walking together under the same vision and passion of reaching all the Americas with the love of Christ.