Young Anglican Leaders Thinking the Marks of Mission Globally, and Acting Locally: A Review of the VTS Young Leaders Mentorship project in Kenya
On September 15th 2022, Virginia Theological Seminary and St. Paul’s University, Limuru launched an Anglican young scholars and leadership project in Kenya with the title “Strengthening and Connecting our Anglican Leaders.” The project comes against the backdrop of Lambeth 2022. This conference will be remembered for introduction of the ‘Lambeth Calls.’ The calls captured declarations of the Anglican fundamental beliefs, affirmations of current priorities and invitations for further work through walking, listening and witnessing together. The way in which these calls dialectically engaged obligation of fidelity to tradition with the equal obligation to contemporaneity is of great importance to young Anglican leaders. It opens room for creativity, for re-imagination, and for dialogue on how Christian life should make sense in its own time, become truthful and authentic, and to promote life in abundance in whatever context we find ourselves. The Anglican young scholars and leadership project provides a great opportunity for young leaders to concretize this Lambeth 22 vision into practical usefulness. These leaders in this program have eight unique projects that they will implement in their local congregations during this year’s Advent season.
The aim of this project, funded by Trinity Church, Wall Street, is to train, support and connect lay and ordained young people involved in various areas of Christian leadership and ministry so that they are better equipped to take on the wide variety of challenges and opportunities that leadership provides in both a local and global Anglican context. In this project, eight selected young leaders are taking part in six, two-hour sessions for three months on Zoom with leading Biblical and practical theologians from Virginia Theological Seminary, St. Paul’s University, and distinguished Anglican leaders and theologians across the globe. Sessions include Bible studies on leadership qualities and the five marks of mission, and a range of topics covering issues around family system theory, conflict management, gender, ecological concerns, interfaith relations, faith and science, as well as reflection on actual leadership projects. These leadership projects are described below.
Alfred Mbai, a youth mobilizer, communicator, and visualizer will initiate an intergenerational and inter-professional ministry forum within his local church to deal with rampant teenage pregnancy. Godfrey Adera, an Anglican priest in Kenya will launch the ‘Wholesome Youth for Wholesome Society Deanery project’ as a wellness program to deal with mental health issues among the youth. Vivian Wanjiku, a Sunday school teacher will conduct a two day seminar to talk to parents about children’s psychology, and how to deal with children’s different emotions and conflicts from a biblical perspective. Paula Kodia, a communications officer of the National Council of Churches in Kenya will be engaging youth in a rural setup on issues of Christian youth involvement in governance processes. Lauzi Hannan, an Anglican youth leader in an Islamic dominant region will conduct an interfaith outreach to an orphanage. Brian Muyunga, an ordinand from Uganda, will conduct a four days training of trainers’ workshop on transformative masculinities and femininities for youths in his parish. Magdaline Chepkirui, an Anglican youth minister will take youth to a rehabilitation center for drug addicts and initiate a chaplaincy program for the center. Guyo Jarso, a priest in an arid area dominated by Muslims in Kenya will conduct a youth retreat to train on evangelism.
It is hoped that these projects and the leadership training program will contribute significantly to development of comprehensive sets of practical skills and tools to rely on through leadership practice in implementing the Anglican five marks of mission within a context of specific lived realities.
The Rev. Adera Godfrey Owino is a priest in the Anglican Church of Kenya and a Ph.D. student at St. Paul’s University.