Peace internships and a five point advocacy plan for migrants were among the proposals from the weeklong meeting which included site visits to church programmes for children with disabilities and people living with HIV. The strategy also included plans for a regional steering group for the Anglican Alliance.
Aiming to tackle the sharp inequalities within a region that has experienced dramatic economic growth and severe conflict, the strategy set out plans to:
- Work with TOPIK in Korea as a key partner on peace and reconciliation, documenting the best practice of Anglicans in conflict-affected countries such as Sri Lanka, identifying teaching resources for church schools, and seeing how Anglican health and other basic services can help bridge divides between communities.
- Identify development problems resulting from conflict and focusing especially on those affecting women and children. Recognising and affirming the role of women in peace and reconciliation and advocating for their inclusion in negotiations.
- Establish peace internships through exchange or placement programmes with churches working for peace and reconciliation in their communities.
- Build on the best practice in St Johns Cathedral, Hong Kong, and elsewhere, developing work on access to testing and treatment for HIV and Aids.
- Provide capacity building tools to develop community awareness of HIV, starting with a simple tool on the community empowerment page of the Alliance website, and in the longer term developing this as a more substantial distance learning module.
- Provide a theology to underpin support for people living with HIV and Aids.
- Work with the Anglican Refugees and Migrants Network and the Ministry at St Johns Cathedral, to advocate at regional and global meetings for migrants and trafficked people focusing on five key areas: pay, abuse, recruitment, status and services.
- Build on the strength of the Church in providing a safe space for migrants, extending hospitality, inclusion, justice and equity.
- Work with Amity Foundation in China to extend its internship programme to Anglicans, in line a similar scheme being developed by the Anglican Board of Mission in Australia.
The forum meeting recognised that whilst countries in east and south east Asia have some of the most dynamic economies in the world, there are also areas of profound and complex social and economic disadvantage. People and communities may be excluded or marginalised by political factors, bad governance, or because of gender, different abilities or stigma attached to their health or social status. The forum reflected on the mission of the Church to bridge the inequalities within the region so that everyone could share in community and economic development, and prioritised:
- Focusing on economic empowerment of marginalised and excluded communities to enable them to participate in the region’s emerging economies, ensuring that migrants and people who are living with HIV can take part in access to finance programmes.
- Sharing best practice in education and training for people excluded because of their disabilities.
- Working with churches to provide spaces for vulnerable and marginalised groups to meet, speak out and find support.
The forum also agreed proposals for engagement in Alliance governance structures – the global board and Advisory Council – and for a regional steering group to include input from women and young people. The steering group would provide support and guidance for the Alliance’s regional facilitator, and ensure engagement between the Alliance and Anglican churches and agencies in the region.
Participating in the forum were: Fr Desmond Cox from St John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong, and Ms Elijah Fung from the Cathedral’s HIV and Aids ministry, Mrs Laura Ocampo of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, Rev John Lee, of TOPIK, Most Rev Shantha Francis, presiding bishop of the Church of Ceylon, Ms Annamaney Arumanayagam of the Diocese of West Malaysia, South East Asia and She Hongyu of Amity Foundation China. Rev Catherine Graham, of the Anglican Refugee and Migrants Network contributed by Skype, as did Nagulan Nesiah, of Episcopal Relief and Development in Sri Lanka. A representative from Myanmar was unable to attend due to visa problems. Rev John Deane, Executive Director of the Anglican Board of Mission, participated in his capacity as the chair of the Anglican Alliance’s Advisory Council, and Sally Keeble, Anglican Alliance Director and Michael Roy, regional facilitator attended.
The forum was kindly hosted by the Diocese of West Malaysia, and the Diocese’s Bishop, Most Rev Moon Hing, provided advice and guidance.
The strategy will go to the church’s regional forum, the Council of Christian Churches of East Asia, to consider the structural proposals, and the Advisory Council will take forward the long term workplan. Meanwhile work on some of the most immediate goals has already started: during the site visit to a centre for men living with HIV, a message was recorded by an HIV positive church worker as part of a video being prepared for World Aids Day.
The Forum dedicated its work to the greater glory of God and the betterment of the lives of people in east and south east Asia.
Sally Keeble, Anglican Alliance Director said: “This regional strategy draws from the experience of churches and partner agencies on the ground and roots the Alliance’s work in this region in the life and ministry of the Church. The result of deep reflection, it will take forward the Alliance’s programme in line with the five marks of mission to work for a world free of poverty and injustice.”
In the picture: Bishop Moon Hing in discussion with (from left) Ms Elijah Fung of St Johns’ Cathedral, Hong Kong, Revd John Deane, Executive Director of the Anglican Board of Mission Australia, and chair of the Anglican Alliance Advisory Council and Most Rev Shantha, presiding bishop of the Church of Ceylon.