A number of Irish clergy, including the Rev Robert Simpson, Ballywillan parish, travelled to Johannesburg to attend the launch of Growing the Church in the Province of Southern Africa.
At the invitation of Archbishop Thabo, SOMA (Sharing of Ministry Abroad) teams from Australia, Canada, Kenya, Nigeria, Singapore, Uganda, USA, Latin America, Indian Ocean, South Africa, England as well as two from Ireland attended.
They were joined by two teams from New Wine and commissioned by Bishop Martin Breytenbach of the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist to go out into 18 of the dioceses of the province to help launch Growing the Church there.
The Irish teams were lead by the Rev Ian Ballentine, director of SOMA Ireland, and the Rev Peter Murray of Ballyholme and Primacy, Bangor Methodist Churches.
Robert Simpson said afterwards: “The Growing the Church conference was a wonderful experience, although very intense and challenging. We were privileged to have some wonderful speakers address us: Dr Michael Cassidy; The Rev Dr Aldo Fontao, a former moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Brazil; the extremely witty and challenging Bishop of Sabah, Albert Vun, christened Bishop Fun by the Irish; and Bishop Martin.”
In the course of two days the group had 11 addresses, five worship sessions; and three group sessions. Robert stated: “We left behind a Church strong in faith, focused on growth, determined under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit to advance the Kingdom of God.”
Robert’s full report can be downloaded here.