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Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
24 February 2000


Christian laity urged to play a greater role in solving Africa's
problems
ENI-00-0065

By Eunice Mafundikwa
Abokobi, Ghana, 24 February (ENI)--Leaders of a major Christian
lay organisation in Africa have called on lay people to make a
greater effort to solve the continent's problems.

Problem-solving should not be left to clergy alone, according to
participants at the 11th general assembly of the Association of
Christian Lay Centres in Africa (ACLCA), which began in this west
African country on 21 February.

"If churches have to make meaningful contribution in society,
lay people, who are 98 per cent of the church, are the people who
should be in the frontline making an impact in society," ACLCA
chairperson Sipho Massemola, of South Africa, told ENI on the
opening day of the assembly.

He deplored the lack of participation of lay Christians in both
social and political issues, a duty now left to the clergy.

ACLCA executive secretary Jonah Katoneene also lamented the
"non-visibility" of lay Christians in resolving problems in their
countries. "In many African countries the people call themselves
Christians, but what does it mean to be a Christian in a
continent plagued by many ills?" he asked.

Katoneene said that lay Christians should view themselves as
God's instruments for building communities of hope in a continent
where the situation looked hopeless.

"The church should be seen as one," he said. "We should not
promote the dichotomy between the clergy and lay Christians.

"Both should work together as a body of Christ which is actually
the church."

Officially opening the seven-day assembly, Professor Enu Kwasi,
a member of Ghana's Council of State, a government advisory body,
applauded the work of churches in supplementing government
efforts to provide social services.

ACLCA is a fellowship of African lay centres run by Protestant
and Orthodox churches. The 80 centres in the fellowship offer the
laity training in leadership to empower Christians to raise
awareness of problems and help solve them. The general assembly
is held every three years to give the member centres an
opportunity to celebrate, share experiences and review policies.

This year's assembly, with 150 delegates, is also celebrating
the association's 30th anniversary under the theme "Being the
Light of the World: challenges and hopes in the new millennium".

Katoneene said the assembly should draw up a clearly defined
policy and programmes allowing for deeper involvement of lay
Christians in actively solving problems in African communities.

He added that six workshops being held during the assembly would
formulate a programme of action to guide the future direction of
ACLCA. The workshops are discussing the church in society;
justice, peace and conflict resolution; globalisation and its
effects; marginalisation of women, children and other minority
groups; the decline of moral values; and land use, ecology and
the environment.