The All Africa Conference of Churches 11th General Assembly is being held in Kigali, Rwanda from 1st to 7th July 2018 under the theme of “Respecting the Dignity and God’s Image in every Being”, Genesis 1: 26-27.
The Assembly begun with the women and youth pre-assemblies on 2nd July 2018 held at the Lemigo Hotel.
These pre- assemblies begun with a powerful devotion whose sermon titled ‘We Are Worthy before the Lord’ was delivered by Rev. Dr. Faith Lugazia a Lecturer and Vice-Dean at the Protestant University of Rwanda, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies.
“Human beings have been known for misusing, abusing, and violating human creation” said Rev. Dr. Faith Lugazia at the start of the one day youth and women pre-assemblies.
The pre-assemblies which are part of the 11th General Assemblywere held prior to the start of the assembly, to allow the women and youth have a voice in the assembly. The pre-assemblies were also an opportunity to reflect on the 5 year journey from Kampala, Uganda (2013) to Kigali, Rwanda (2018), which informs the recommendations to be included in the women and youth communiqué to the assembly.
In her reflection of the assembly theme, Rev. Dr. Faith Lugazia went ahead to quote instances in the bible that demonstrate violation of human creation through discrimination on basis of race and status, one’s spiritual gifts, and Gender with examples of Hagar, Paul and Silas, and Zelophehad’s Daughters respectively. She called upon the delegates to look up to God because, in God’s eye all creation is equal, and look at the assembly as an opportunity for self-criticism and freeing ourselves from the yoke of aspects of culture which are discriminative.
A notable emphasis during the pre-assemblies was on the fact that human beings bear the image of God, and ought to be given the opportunity to live as such. Rev. Prof. Diphus Chosefu Chemirion while tackling the topic ‘Gender and God’s Image in Africa’ quoted, “Human beings deserve human dignity because of the simple fact that they are human beings.” He gave illustrations from Genesis 1:26-27, such as, creation of human beings in God’s Image, and God giving them authority and dominion over all creation, as evidences of human beings being dignified by God. He challenged the Church to liberate the reading of the bible from patriarchy, give opportunity to people of all gender in an attempt to achieve gender justice, and get rid of corruption by naming and shaming the corrupt who contribute to the demeaning of human dignity.
The Youth Pre-Assembly
This was led by the AACC Youth and Children Executive Secretary, Ms. Zipporah Mwaura, where the youth delegates engaged with Rev. Joseph Obwanda on becoming an Excellency youth as opposed to mediocre youth. The society has largely branded the young people as mediocres, described by Rev. Obwanda as one who is immature, irresponsible, and immoral. He challenged the youth delegates to endeavour to change this perseption by being virtues driven, enhancing their mentality, and building their capacity. In Psalm 144.12, David quotes “Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.” The text brings out God’s plan for young people that they should be a blessing to, and a critical part of the society. Young people have a responsibility to reflect God’s image in every aspect of life.
In their deliberations, the youth deleagates highlighted the challenge of absence of peace and unemployment among the youth in African countries as one of the causes of migration and human trafficking among the young people. The youth further challenged the Church to be a strong advocate for them as the church’s voice is believed to be prophetic and thus cannot be ignored. They also recommended to the AACC through the youth and children’s office to support the youth activities and forums of member churches through representations.
The Women Pre-Assembly
Women in Africa face a number of issues that violate their dignity and deny them the opportunity to enjoy the fullness of life. These issues informed the deliberations at the women pre-assembly where discussions on reproductive health, gender-based violence, peace-building, leadership, migration and human trafficking took center stage. The women delegates agreed that these issues cut across all nations represented at this meeting though at different levels and in different ways in intensity and form.. In addition to the panel discussion on thematic areas, Mr. Vitalis Mukhebi took the women delegates through the steps of a smart advocacy approach in their quest to advocate for women rights and gender justice in Africa. The training was aimed at ensuring the women are able to meet the Right Decision-makers, with the right message, and at the right time for the achievement of the final goal. “Advocacy is not linear it has many roundabout ways, and thus must be flexible in strategy, tactic, and match them according to the circumstances” stated Mr. Vitalis, while reminding the delegates that the road to attaining the goal of social justice is not a walk in the park, but, is one which requires effort and determination.
The groups commended the AACC for upholding the motto that there cannot be discussions about the women and the youth, without their inclusion in the discussions and came up with communiqués to be presented at the assembly.