Fire, passion, creativity, expansion, faithfulness, youthful zeal. These are some of the words that describe what I experienced during my time with the Anglican Church in Brazil, where with much excitement and anticipation, we began the preparations for the Caminemos Junto: Americas conference which will be held there in October of this year. The diocese of Recife (recently renamed the Anglican Church in Brazil-Diocese of Recife) has planted 35 congregations in the last twelve years and is quickly becoming an influential force in the Anglican world and global realignment movement. It is a church that while rapidly expanding is also growing in depth and maturity. What I experienced was truly breathtaking and even at times, frankly, a bit overwhelming.
I’d heard testimonies and stories, but after experiencing first hand what must be one of the most dynamic group of Anglican churches, I’m more excited than ever to gather together there later this year.
I believe that the church in Brazil has a key role to play in the future of the Gospel and of mission throughout the Americas and the rest of the world. There is much those of us from over countries can learn and receive.
In the following I’ll briefly highlight several missional characteristics I observed of the Brazilian church.
Creativity in Mission
What I observed new congregations being planted in a great variety of settings and contexts: in low-income communities, in hotels, on the beach, in “houses of peace”, among youth, children and adults. Art, dance, and the use of innovative styles of music are just some of the examples of creativity in the Brazilian church. One shining example is a church called Comunhão (Communion) which hosts a beachfront English service that is reaching university students eager to practice their English as well as Jiu-Jitsu outreach program with some of the best Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in all of Brazil reaching young people far from the church.
Compassion in Mission
I also had the opportunity to visit House of Hope (Casa da Esperança) a ministry in an under-resourced neighborhood in Recife serving children. It functions as a sort of community drop-in center where kids can be taken care of while their parents are working. Along with the provision of much needed material resources, this ministry is also boldly sharing the Gospel through word. In the middle of this community center is a small sanctuary where Church of Hope meets and holds evangelistic services each week for the families of the children participating in the center. Truly this community is experiencing renewed hope through word and deed.
Technology in Mission
The Brazilian Anglican church is also using technology and social media as a powerful tool to reach those in their society who might now come to church through other means. One great example of this is their Youtube channel and couple’s outreach ministry called Momento A2. This tool, begun by a young couple with a passion for changing the world for Christ, now has a daily audience of over 10,000 and many of their videos have nearly half a million views. Through this ministry and regular public evangelistic couple’s events over 30 small (or cell) groups have been planted where regular evangelism and discipleship takes place.
The History of a Movement
The Brazilian church has a fascinating history not unlike that of the ACNA. In 2004 after decades of fighting to remain true to the Gospel in the midst of the liberal Episcopal Province of Brazil, the diocese of Recife separated from the province and for a period of time came under the covering of the then named Province of the Southern Cone with Archbishop Greg Venables. In 2008, with the formation and the first gathering of GAFCON in Jerusalem, as a diocese they came under GAFCON’s covering as the ACNA was also similarly forming. Finally finding stability within this new orthodox structure, a period of mission and multiplication began. (To read more of this story, see the story on GAFCON’s blog here).
Now, 12 years later, they’ve planted 35 congregations coming to a total of 47 congregations spread throughout Brazil and have begun the process of becoming a province. On June 3rd, 3 new bishops will be consecrated who will be tasked with supervising different regions of the country. Also, at GAFCON’s request the Anglican Church in Brazil (ACB- Diocese of Recife) is beginning to provide episcopal covering for orthodox Anglican congregations in Central America and the North of South America who no longer in good conscience can stay within their dioceses or provinces. The first congregation to enter this new province in formation in this way is Iglesia Anglicana La Vid in Bogotá, Colombia.
Walking Together (Caminemos Juntos) in the Americas
This theme for this year’s conference is: PASSION FOR THE AMERICAS: EQUIPPING, MOBILIZING, PLANTING. The Brazilian evangelical church has a long history and tradition of mobilizing and sending, having recently become the 2nd largest country in terms of numbers of overseas missionaries sent. Part of our hopes for this year’s conference is to learn from Brazil’s example of church planting and multiplication and together learn how to further equip the Global South churches like Brazil and Chile to send missionaries and church planters throughout the Americas and the world.
With all this in mind, I invite you to begin the process of forming the team with which you will be coming to Recife in October for the conference. I believe that this gathering is key for the future of the church in the Americas and will be a profoundly transformational time, not only for each individual but also for each region and country represented. I invite you to begin praying, both for the resources to be able to come, and for the people that the Lord is calling you to bring with you. Maybe you are asking: Who can I bring with me? Who is this gathering for? As a movement we believe that the mission of God is for all the people of God. This year’s conference will be especially powerful for youth, songwriters/worship leaders, for those exploring a missionary call and for those interesting in evangelism, discipleship and church planting.
We encourage you to get the most out of your trip and time. There will be pre-conference events beginning October 3rd and congregational visits after the conference on October 8th. We encourage everyone who can to arrive Monday the 2nd and return Sunday evening or Monday morning the 9th.
For those limited in time who can only attend the actual conference, please arrive Wednesday October 4th and plan on departing Saturday, October 7th. You won’t regret this investment in the future of the Church and her mission throughout the Americas.
-Rev. Jonathan Kindberg
Co-Coordinador of the Caminemos Juntos movement