Δευτέρα, 3 Ιουλίου 2017

TOWARDS AN AFRICAN ORTHODOXY: A CALL FOR INCULTURATION



Introduction

This article will focus on Inculturation from an African orthodox perspective. The main objective is to bring into account, and especially from a missiological point of view, an argument proving the need to have an “African Orthodox Church”. To have an African Orthodox Church means having orthodox faith imbued within the African worldview and lifestyle. In order to achieve this, this article attests for inculturation of orthodox faith as it grows and spread in South Saharan Africa.
It is a privilege to be requested to contribute to the Finnish Orthodox Church Journal (Ortodoksia) with an article on Inculturation of Orthodox faith in Africa from an African perspective. 
This article will focus on the orthodox faith as understood and practiced in the Eastern Orthodox Churches under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa. Currently, the world is experiencing enormous Christian growth and especially in south Saharan Africa. This phenomenon, where global Christianity is shifting to global south, is also being experienced in the Orthodox Church. For example, in East Africa, from 1958 to 1974 there was only one Archbishopric, by then known as the Archbishopric of Irinoupolisi, which covered Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Today there are three (3) Metropolis and three (3) dioceses in east Africa and twenty one (21) metropolis and five (5) dioceses in rest of the African continent respectivelyii . The growth is experienced in three main areas; namely membership or numbers, (for example in Kenya only, there is an estimate of one million members served by three (3) bishops and two hundred and fifty two (252)iii priests, development in terms of properties, such as church sponsored institutions and spirituality. As the church grows in south Saharan Africa, there is a need to contextualize orthodox faith to become an Africanized faith in order for the African people to understand and live it as their own faith. This is because orthodoxy appears foreign to many Africans despite the fact that there are many similarities between orthodox faith and African religiosity. This motivates this article to call for inculturation of the orthodoxy because through inculturation the orthodox faith will dialogue with the African religious realities. 

Africa is a religious continent, meaning that the inhabiting communities have different religious systems with a set of beliefs and practices that actually, determine their worldviews, lifestyle and connection to the deity (God). According to John S. Mbiti, (1969) all African cultures and societies, traditional (pre-colonial) and contemporary (post-colonial), across the continent and regardless of differences in national origin, language, or ethnicity are deeply religious. This is why religion permeates all their aspects of life so it is not easy or possible to isolate it. In this case, dialogue with these religious systems is therefore a dialogue with the African peoples themselves in all the complexities of traditional and modern way lifeiv. Given the centrality of religious beliefs and practices in African, inculturation is essential for it will facilitate the African people to live the orthodox faith as their own African way of life.

In this paper, the term inculturation will be used to denote a process through which Christian faith already embodied in a given culture is encountering another culturev. In the context of this paper, the orthodox faith which has already been embodied in Hellenistic culture is encountering the African culture(s). The term orthodoxy will be used to mean the orthodox faith as outlined and practiced worldwide. Africa with be used to mean African continent and African will demonstrate African-ness.  

Historical survey of the Orthodox Church in Africa

Although this article focuses on the call for inculturation of the orthodox faith in Africa, it is of paramount importance to give a brief historical survey of orthodoxy in Africa. This will help in understanding how orthodoxy came into Africa and why there is a need for inculturation.  Orthodoxy in African is witnessed in three main categories, name; the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. This article limits itself to the orthodox churches under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa have its headquarters in Alexandria, Egypt and extend its ecclesiastical jurisdiction into the entire Africa. It serves the eastern orthodox churches which comprise Greek speaking and Russian speaking orthodox faithful mainly living and working in major African cities as well as the native African orthodox communities. Most of the native Orthodox Christians are in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Congo, while significant number of Greek and Russian Orthodox Communities are in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.  The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa is ecclesiastically in communion with all eastern orthodox patriarchates, autocephalous and autonomous churches in the world.  It is a member of the World Council of Churches, All Africa Conference of Churches and Middle East Council of Churchesvi.  
According to the history of Eusebious (AD 320) and along tradition well kept by both the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and the Coptic Orthodox Church, St. Mark the evangelist, evangelized Alexandria between AD43-63vii. The authenticity of Eusebius records that John Mark established churches in the city of Alexandriaviii, can be supported  by the fact that St. Mark was a missionary companion of St. Peter, the apostle to the Jew (Gal 2:8). Therefore, Alexandria being a home of the largest Jewish community in diaspora, it was very possible for Peter to have sent Mark his spiritual son (1 Pet 5:13) to evangelise in Alexandria.  Consequently, Alexandria became a source of the gospel of Christ for not only the rest of North Africa but also other places like Ephesus and Sub-Saharan Africa. The book of Acts of Apostle (Acts 18:24; 1Cor 3:4-7) attests that a Christian Jew from Alexandria by the name Apollos, was evangelising in Ephesus at the time of St. Paul.  
St Antony the Great (here)
Throughout history, the Alexandrian church has been known for; a) its involvement in the ecumenical councils and it’s great contribution to the formation of the Christian doctrines through its bishops like Athanasius the Great (AD 298-373), b) formation of the NiceneConstantinople’s creed and Christian doctrines like that of incarnation, c) allegorical method of interpreting of the Holy Scriptures through its famous catechetical school; through which the first Christian thinkers like Clement of Alexandria and Origen successfully explained the biblical faith philosophically and systematically, d) monasticism, whereby ordinary Christians like Antony the Great (251-356) took a total commitment to the following of Christ (Mk 19:17-21) and made it to the desert to live a life of asceticism and contemplation. Monasticism inspired many people like St. Pachomius (292-346) who developed the cenobitical or communal monastic way of life.  The flourishing of monasticism in the Egyptian desert brought pilgrims from all over the world and at the same time the desert become the place of encounter between the Christian monks and the Nubian traders along the river Nile. 

Apparently, through this encounter the historical kingdom of Nubia to become Christian. Although right from the beginning the Alexandrian church witnessed the Gospel of Christ as one united church, the results of the 4th ecumenical council 451AD and that of the 640 AD Arabic conquest have affected the unity and success of the Alexandrian church in inculturation of orthodox faith in Africaix. According to John Baur (2005), the Arabic conquest marked a turning point in the history of the church in Egyptx because the implementation of Islamic policy was discriminative to the minority who opt to remain Christians. This kind of legislative policies affected also the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, and because of persecutions the Patriarch and a large number of Christians fled Egypt. However, after the Turks took Egypt in 1517, and Persecutions were over, the patriarchate re-opened with few Greek speaking followers.
Fr. Ruben Mukasa Spartas (here)
The decline of orthodox Christians in Egypt made the patriarchate look beyond to other orthodox Christians living in Africa. These other orthodox Christians were mostly the Greek communities who had settled in major African cities for trade. They had come into Africa after they fled Greece during the Turkish occupation. The first such community in sub-Saharan Africa settled in Beira, Mozambique in 1899 where they built an Orthodox Church and school.  In most case these Greek communities had their own churches, cultural centres and schoolsxi. Although for years these communities were not open to the native Africans, their presence attracted very few Africans either because of intermarriage or interest in becoming orthodox Christians. Those who showed serious interests were allowed to join the Greek schools and learn the Orthodox faith, Greek language and culture. The best example is the Ugandan students who joined a Greek school in Moshi Tanzania. This school belonged to a Greek community of sisal farmers and they had a Greek priest by the name Fr. Nikodemos Sarikas, who cooperated with Fr. Ruben Mukasa Spartas of the Orthodox Church in Ugandaxii.  

Over the years, both the Greek and Russian communities have opened up and more interaction with the native African Christians is much visible. The best example is in Nairobi whereby the Greek community worship together with the native orthodox Christians living in Nairobi. Moreover the liturgy is mostly in English and Kiswahili and even the priest in charge is a Kenyan, from St. Makarios Seminary.    
Apart from the Greek and Russian communities, there is a vibrant and rapid growing native African church, which actually is the future of the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria. The native African Orthodox Church was through the initiatives of Africans themselves. The best examples are the church in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana. Native African Christians searched for the orthodox faith after they protested against the Protestant Churches Missionaries in 1930’s. Orthodox faith in these countries has grown since they come under the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa in 1946. From that moment, the Orthodox Church in Uganda and Kenya grew rapidly but after few years it was tamed by the political upheavals of 1952-1963. 

The period can be termed as the “dark age” of the Orthodox Church in East Africa. It was “dark age” because the colonial program of arrests and detention did not spare the leaders and the members of the African Orthodox Church.  For example Fr. Gathuna was arrested and detained from 1st June 1953 to 1961. The detention of Fr. Gathuna and other church officials of the Orthodox Church left the 309-congregation spread throughout Kenya, with a membership of about 30,000 followers without a spiritual leader.  Apparently, the few women who survived the arrests could no longer gather for prayers. They feared being killed by the colonial authority which suspected they were gathering taking oath or planning how to feed MauMau men fighting in the bush.   It is only by 1956/7 when the emergency surveillance relaxed, that few women started meeting in different homes, for prayers. They used to call themselves “Mwaki or Utheri” which mean light in Kikuyu language. They were calling themselves “Mwaki” of a given place not to be suspected by the authorities as an oath-taking gathering. They also wanted to maintain the light of Christ in whom they believed and that He was forever with them in those difficult times.  

Meanwhile, in 1958 the Patriarchate of Alexandria appointed a Metropolitan of Irinoupolis (Dar es Salaam) to pastoral Orthodox Christians in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. The creation of the Archbishopric of Irinoupolis brought on one hand a more articulated means through which the Africans could engage and know orthodox faith while on the other opened ways through which the African orthodox Christians connected to the rest of the world. For example; 
1. Fr. Spartas of uganda visited Greece in 1959. His visit had a very strong impact on the Greek Church and from this visit Ugandan students were granted scholarship by the Greek government to study theology in Athens and in Thessaloniki.  Following the presence of African students in Greece, mission awareness and teaching started becoming more interesting in the Greek Church and Greek people started volunteering themselves as missionaries in Africa. 
For example; Fr. Chrysostomos Papasarantopoulos (photo) and Mrs. Stavrista Zachariou among many othersxiii.  A department of mission studies was created in the University of Athens.  Also, missionary organizations such as the Apostolic Diakonia of the church of Greece, formally «Πορευθέντες» (Go Ye Mat 28:19)xiv under the leadership of present Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, Orthodox Missionary Fraternity of Thessaloniki (formerly known as: Οί Φίλοι τής Ούγκαντα Βορείου Ελλαδος, translated as Friends of Uganda Northern Greece) were formed. 
2. Fr. Theodore Nankyamas extended his connections to America in 1965 and later to Finland, where he influenced many parishes and more the youth groups-pledging themselves to prayer and financial help. For several years, Abbess Marina and other Finnish nuns stayed in Kenya, stationed at Muguga from where they were doing mission work. Till today the Finnish Orthodox Church (through its Filantropia office) is actively involved in mission work in Kenya and Bukoba (Tanzania), respectively.  It is through Fr. Nankyamas appeal the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) in U.S.A was formed.   Up to the present day, OCMC has continued to send American missionaries in Africa and offering scholarships to African orthodox students to study theology in Holy Cross Greek Theological seminary in Boston. It is through such grounds some of the African orthodox bishops, priests and theologians have acquired their theological training. 
3. During the state visit of the later president and Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus in Kenya, in 1970, he told the Cypriot newspaper: "…What especially moved me is the fact that in the Eastern region of Africa there are thousands of Africans who follow the Orthodox faith… During my three-day stay in Kenya, I conducted mass baptism of some 5,000 natives in two towns (Waithaka and Nyeri). It can be said that there has been no similar event since the Christianization of the Slavs…"xv  this visit made the church of Cyprus to become very active in missionary work especially in Kenya.  
Since the visiting of Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus to Kenya and opening of the orthodox seminary in Riruta, Orthodox Church growth in Africa although with some challenges has been experienced. This is an indication that the seminary school in Nairobi is playing a key role in training priests and catechists, who later after graduation return back to their respective countries to serve. 

Inculturation Process within the Orthodox Church in Africa 

From a missiological perspective, the term inculturation is use as a concept that denotes the procedural patterns in which the Christian faith manifests itself in a given context, in a given time and placexvi. Inculturation, when understood as a process, demonstrates that manifestation of planting of the Christian faith and the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the soil of the African contextxvii. In the process of inculturation, the energies of the Holy Spirit transform culture and people involved into a new creation. The condition of transformation in inculturation is the willingness of the local community to give up those cultural elements that are not compatible with the Gospel. This happens when the unending dialogical process of inculturation balances culture in the anthropological sense of the word and the divine transforming work of the Holy Spiritxviii. This dialogue should take place as a platform for interaction of the faith and culture through mutual critique and affirmation. 
According to Laurenti Magesa (2004, 5), inculturation is a process whereby faith already embodied in one culture encounters another culturexix. The aim of this encounter is to have the faith become part and parcel of a given “new culture”. As far as the Eastern Orthodox Church is concerned, the orthodox faith is already spreading beyond the traditional, orthodox cultures (Hellenic, Syriac, Slavonic, [non chalcedonian:] Ethiopian and Coptic) into Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Alaska and Americas where the orthodox theology and ethos have to be embodied in these “new” cultural contexts. 

This raises important question on how orthodoxy will be embodied into these “new” cultural contexts.  This calls orthodox theologians and missiologists to creatively come up with authentic method to be applied in the process on inculturation. The need for an authentic method is because inculturation entails acceptance or rejection, giving up or receiving thought forms, symbolic and linguistic expressions, attitudes and practices between the faith and new culture.  Concerning the Orthodox Church in south Saharan Africa, the process of inculturation may not require a systematic planning and arrangement but will require critical study and theological direction. This is why it is crucial to go back to the biblical, liturgical practices and theologies that articulate inculturation, for example that of the local church by John Zizioulas. According to John Zizioulas (2002, 254), to be local means the church has taken roots in a given place with all its cultural, natural, social, and any other characteristic that constitutes the life, values and thoughts of the people involvedxx. The process of becoming “African local church” will easy facilitate the transformation of the Orthodox theological thoughts to meet the African socialpsychological-religious ethos. Consequently, making the Africans uphold orthodoxy as their way of life, living it and apparently, orthodoxy become meaningful by responding to their day-to-day live concerns. In order for this to happen in the Orthodox Church in south Saharan Africa, key areas of orthodox life must be highly considered. These areas includes (although not limited to), worship, sacraments and church leadership. 

The current situation of the Orthodox Christianity south Saharan Africa calls for a new mission paradigm that would facilitate inculturation. However, in order for this to happen, the Orthodox theology of mission has to develop and moreover, identify crucial areas for inculturation. This proposes a dialogical process between African religious way of life and the main Orthodox faculties such as dogmatic and liturgics, biblical and pastoral theology.  Apparently, this would result to Orthodox theological ethos be incarnated within the Africa way of life.
Inculturation in the Orthodox Church in south Saharan Africa is a necessity, a mission and a call. Looking back to the history of the Orthodox Church in East Africa, this call started in 1930s, when the African Independent Churches broke away from the “Mission Churches”. The breaking away from the mission churches was because of cultural imperialism, evangelising methodologies and the collaboration of the mission churches with the colonial authoritiesxxi. The founding of African Independent Churches (AICs) or the so-called African Instituted Churches or African Initiatives in Christianityxxii has to be understood as a call towards a mission of inculturation within the churches in East Africa. This quest for inculturation was initially understood as a problem for the mission of a church by the Western European and North American mission churchesxxiii. However, the emerging of the AICs is primarily an extension of the need to inculturate mission Christianity to fit into by the African spiritual realities. The AICs aspired for an “African Christianity” that would contextualize the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be good news for Africa and in addition contribute to the world Christianity.  

The need for contextualized African Christianity made Africans like Reuben Mukasa Spartas who by then had broken with the Anglican Church of Uganda to search for Orthodoxy. For Spartas’, he was searching for a true faith that would satisfy his people’s social-religious and economic-political dissatisfaction experienced in their former Mission Churches.  This brings into account the inculturation process seeking for identity. For Africans and especially in the AICs, both cultural and ecclesial identities were paramount, for they wanted to remain true African Christians something that was denied in their former mission churches. For one to be regarded a true Christian, has to adopt western lifestyle as practiced in mission stations. The seeking for cultural and ecclesial identities is one of the key aspects of inculturation process. This informs the peculiarities of one culture and how they can be incompatible with Christian faith which is an identity by itself.  This is why Spartas sought affiliation with African Orthodox Church in America (AOCA) and in 1925 he wrote to Archbishop George Alexander McGuire the primate of AOCAxxiv requesting for admission to AOCA and instructions on how to read the bible and preachingxxv. In answering Spartas, McGuire did put him into contact with Archbishop Daniel William Alexander, whom was in charge of AOCA in South Africa. Archbishop William Daniel Alexander extended his mission to Uganda in 1931 - 1932 where he ordained Reuben Spartas and Obadiah Kabanda Basajakitalo (photo) into priesthood. He also extended his mission to Kenya where he trained and ordained Arthur Gatung’u Gathuna of Kikuyu Karing’a Education Association (KKEA), which later became the Orthodox Church of Kenya.  It can be concluded that by training and being affiliated to AOCA, the AICs in Kenya and Uganda go an ecclesial identity that enabled them to profess that they are orthodox in faith. 
Having gotten this identity the Orthodox Church in East Africa spread rapidly. For example from 1937 to 1952 there were 309-congregation spread throughout Kenya, with a membership of about 30,000 followersxxvi. The rapid growth is a clear indication of inculturation process.  Whereby there is the keeping of one’s cultural identity and values on one hand and on the other professing the true Christian faith. The same need for identity made Fr. Spartas to seek affiliation with the Greek Orthodox patriarchate of Alexandria when he realized that AOCA was not canonical Orthodox Church. Some of the things that Fr. Spartas questioned were: first the Apostolic Succession of Archbishop George Alexander McGuire who had ordained Daniel William Alexander and secondly the liturgical rites of AOCA. For example analysing the text and comparing it with the other mainstream Christian liturgies, its formal structure is that of Roman Catholicism, with a mixture of textual prayers borrowed from the Anglican and its rituals from the Eastern Oriental Orthodox ritesxxvii.   

In the inculturation process, the issue of keeping one’s cultural identity and at the same time professing Christianity can bring confusion. However, a mechanism of balancing the two is paramount. For example, when the Orthodox Church started in Kenya, members of this church were referred to as the “Agîkûyû Karîng’a” meaning pure Kikuyu i.e. those who never wanted to abandon their cultural values and substitute them with the Christian lifestyle as taught by the protestant missionaries.  As a mechanism of balancing one’s identity the Agîkûyû Karîng’a maintained that they never said they would have nothing to do with God; they were anti- western lifestyle, not anti-God or Christianity.  They state that they are Christians and no way would they be termed heathen simply because they are Kikuyu. They justified themselves with the several similarities and parallelisms drawn from the newly Kikuyu translated Bible. First, and in general Kikuyu never had a different concept of Ngai (God) than that of Biblical God. Neither did the missionaries who translated the word of the Biblical God as Ngai in Kikuyu language. Kikuyu concept of God is monotheistic just as it is in the Hebrew Bible. Further, Agîkûyû Karîng’a argued being Kikuyu Christians did not justify the mission to deny them Holy Communion due to practicing cultural practices such as circumcision because St. Paul states that circumcision is nothing and no circumcision is nothing but obeying the commandment of God is everything (1 Cor 7:19, Gal 6:15).  Rather, in the inculturation process, this is clear test on how far should faith in Jesus Christ replace the Kikuyu traditional customs & practices. This test forms a beginning of the most appropriate way of incarnating Christianity; thus facilitating a dialogue between biblical Christianity and African cosmologies.
Drawing similarities and parallelisms from the bible and Christian tradition and imbuing them to cultural practices results to one of the authentic measures of inculturation process. Such authentic measures resulted to bringing assurance to the adherents of the Orthodox Church in East Africa. From this assurance they start to draw new meaning and self-understanding within the faith. When AICs started, these churches understood themselves as “New communities of faith” who draw their beliefs and practices from the Bible, while functioning structurally like a traditional African family or homestead. 

Such self-understanding occurs because faith does not exist in a vacuum of space and time but holds on cultural systems expressed rituals and symbols of a given cultural context. Specifically, when the Orthodox Church started in Kenya, the Kikuyu people understood the church as a family. This is based on the principle of common kinship, where by the kikuyu people are one big family tied and united together by the family norms and values of Gikuyu and Mumbi their ancestors. In this understanding, a transformed African family would perfectly image a new family of God that brings together those who are born again in water and in spirit (John 3:5). Therefore, according to St. Paul this family becomes a household of God (Gal 6:10, 1 Tim 3:15).  Today in the inculturation process, Christian baptism can adopt the African notion of being born in a family, which demonstrates strongly the sense of belonging. In Christian understanding belonging to a community of believers i.e. the church.    
Inculturation facilitates contextualized reading and interpretation of the word of God. Contextualized reading and interpretation of the scriptures enables adherents of a given culture understand the Gospel of Christ (Evaggelion) and its meaning to them.  For Example, the AICs interpreted the biblical stories and especially the Old Testament to reflect the experiences of the colonial era, schism with the mission churches and cultural-religious orientations of African Christians. Interestingly, for the Africans to be under colonial powers was interpreted as being in slavery. This metaphor was understood as similar to the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt (Exodus 118). The story of Israelites’ exodus from Egypt become very popular, many similarities were drawn, for example leaders in the AICs were acknowledged as “Moses” who would lead God’s people out of slavery to the freedom. The hardships encountered both in colonial slavery and in the process of forming the African Orthodox Church were very similar. Such experiences by then were internal conflicts, hunger, diseases and alienation from ancestral lands (Lam 5:1-5). The hope of new land was the formation of an African Church that would liberate its members and deliver them into “Canaan” (Kingdom of God) through faith in Jesus. 

 Bishop Innocentios of Rwanda & Burundi (see here)

During the early years of Christianity in Africa, mutual collaboration of the mission churches and the colonial government gave an impression that the western culture and lifestyle is a Christian culture. This limited the possibilities of facilitating dialogue between the gospel and the African culture and lifestyle. There is a great disconnect between the biblical culture and the Western European culture and lifestyle. For example, during the colonial times, western missionaries enhanced the concept of the “Lord or Master” which was negative to the Africans, and in the process of inculturation the native African Christians opt for “Savior or Liberator” instead.  This proves that inculturation process facilitates reading the bible as one’s story and at the same time answering problems and challenges experienced. Apparently, as the native people were  reading the newly translated bible, their stories were becoming even more close to the social- political and cultural-religious notion of the Hebrew bible especially on religious ritualism and symbolism, sacrifice and offerings, prophesy and healing, circumcision, marriage and family. 
 Inculturation enables the gospel and its’ truth to be meaningful to the African needs, life-view and life-style. One of the key areas of the African religiosity that this is experience is worship. Worship in African understanding brings that acute consciousness of the unity between humanity and visible and invisible universexxviii.  For most Africans, art and music accompanied by instruments and rhythms in worship brings forth a wonderful concentration of both the psyche and body, energizing the persons involved to communicate with God.xxix In this case, however, the orthodox liturgical worship as the center of the orthodox life has to be communicated through
the African linguistic framework and thought, symbolism and color, dances and lyrics. Abbess Marina, a Finnish missionary in Kenya once observed: For the Kikuyu, it was very easy to accept the Orthodox Christianity because in some respects, it is very close to his own traditional religion. For Example, when an Orthodox priest lifts up the Holy Gifts in the Holy Eucharist, the African who belongs to the Kikuyu tribe remembers at once the way his forefathers, the tribe´s priest, offered the lamb to their own godxxx.  For the African Orthodox Christians to enjoy the Eucharistic cerebrations introduction of African rhythms, dances, drums and clapping is necessary. Because this has not been done, what is happening in most African orthodox churches is African songs and dances, clapping and dancing are coming after the liturgy. This is showing the need to inculturate the liturgy to become part of the African way of worship.  

This need and call for inculturation of Christianity made the first African Orthodox leaders like Fr. Spartas Reuben Mukasa to seek affiliation with the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria. This affiliation has been essential for both the African church and the entire Orthodox Church worldwide. Despite many unprecedented mission shortcomings, the meeting of Orthodox missionaries and the African Orthodox Church created a platform for dialogue between orthodoxy and African religiosity.  This dialogue can be done in the spirit of witness which guides us into the whole truth (John 16:12-14).  Guidance to the whole true would apply to the totality of African aspect of life; social, economic, political and spiritual. In the African traditional religion, there are no indications where the religion ends and where the social, cultural and political aspect of life begins. This can also be witnessed in early religion of ancient Greece, whereby today the relation between religion and polity in Orthodox Christianity has its roots in ancient Greece, where religion was understood as the cultic life of the polis, never conceivable outside itxxxi. Therefore, the coming and accepting of Christianity especially within the AICs was not practically viewed as something separate from the social, political organization of the society. This was rather a call to the entire Christianity in Africa to facilitate inculturation of African religious values, like communal life. This could have made African Christianity to be deeply rooted into the day-to-day life.  

From traditional Orthodox circles  inculturation  may  be considered new and strange, however for two thousand year Christianity has undergone “cultural surgeries”, meaning it has been incultured in different world cultural contexts. For example, Jesus Christ became incarnate and grew within the Jewish culture, apostle paul preaching to the gentile, Cappadocian fathers integrated the gospel of Christ and communicated it to their followers in images and symbols of the Hellenism, Cyril and Methodius, inculturated orthodoxy to the Slavic culture while St. Herman and St. Innocent (Veniaminov) of Alaska brought Orthodoxy too close to the native customs and believes of the Aleutian peoplexxxii.To this regard, it has come a time the Greek patriarchate of Alexandria as the fountain of Orthodoxy in Africa to unwrap its “Greek-centered cultural monism” and open more towards communities in Africaxxxiii. This will start by initiating the process if inculturation; starting with leadership and especially having more native African bishopsxxxiv, then theological education that will guide the process of the localization of the Orthodox Church in Africa. To be local means the church has taken roots in a given place with all its cultural, natural, social, and any other characteristic that constitutes the life, values and thoughts of the people involved. This is well justified in the  orthodox Eucharistic worship where people offer to God as the body of Christ all that is “His Own”, (Your own of your own we offer to you).  Therefore, the Alexandrian church has to become truly African church by absorbing and using local characteristics of Africa that are compatible with the gospel.    In order to archive this, the orthodox seminary in Nairobi has to deepen its theological training and seek new theological hermeneutical approaches to interpreting and translating orthodox ethos into African context. This will aim at stabilizing Orthodoxy among the Africans and creating platform from which Orthodox faith can give answers to social problems that are affecting Africa society.  Africa is a home of diverse religions practices and it is therefore important for the Orthodox seminary schools to introduce in their African religious and cultural studies. Such studies would equip the graduates with knowledge of African culture and skills to constructively engage in dialogical process of inculturation. 

Conclusion 

Out of this study, it has been noted that right from the beginning the AICs, inspired for an Africanized Christianity. Native Africans like Fr. Spartas of Uganda searched for ecclesial identity and that is how he ended up being Orthodox. To be African Christians was to happen through inculturation. This is why read the biblical stories as their own stories, drawing similarities and parallelisms in order to have ecclesial identity on one hand and on the other hand maintain their African cultural values.  

Given the phenomenological growth of Orthodoxy in south Saharan Africa, Africanization of Orthodox faith is necessary. In order to Africanize the orthodoxy it is important to ask how orthodox faith will be embodied into African cultural contexts? This calls orthodox theologians and missiologists to creatively come up with authentic method to be applied in the process on inculturation. The need for an authentic method is because inculturation entails acceptance or rejection, giving up or receiving thought forms, symbolic and linguistic expressions, attitudes and practices between the faith and new culture. Concerning the Orthodox Church in south Saharan Africa, the process of inculturation may not require a systematic planning and arrangement but will require critical study, theological direction and dialogue between orthodox ethos and African religiosity. This is why it is crucial to go back to the biblical, liturgical practices and theologies that articulate inculturation.

The process of becoming “African local church” will easy facilitate the transformation of the Orthodox theological thoughts to meet the African social-psychological-religious ethos. Consequently, making the Africans uphold orthodoxy as their way of life, living it and apparently, orthodoxy become meaningful by responding to their day-to-day live concerns. In order for this to happen in the Orthodox Church in south Saharan Africa, key areas of orthodox life must be highly considered. These areas includes (although not limited to), worship, sacraments and church leadership. Orthodox liturgical worship being the center of the orthodox life it is necessary to introduce African rhythms, dances, drums and clapping. This would result to making the liturgy part of the African way of worship.  

Click

The Orthodox Church in Uganda, an outgrowth of indigenous self discovery
The Orthodox Church in Tanzania
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
How “White” is the Orthodox Church?
Pioneers of the Orthodox Church in Uganda!
Natives Africans bishops in the Orthodox Church

Hope for the Kikuyu (Kenya) / "The caves along the Tana River became the refuge for freedom fighters..."
"THE WAY" - An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life
LIVE, BEYOND THE LIMITS!
«African needs to be helped, to find his divine roots, for his soul to be at peace, to become united with God...»
 
NOTES

i Translated from Greek as city of peace,  likewise taken from Dar es Salam (capital city of Tanzania) which in Arabic means the city on peace
ii Tillyridis (Metropolitan Makarios of Kenya), 2014, 74-78.
iii Tillyridis (Metropolitan Makarios of Kenya) 2014, 93-100.
iv Mbiti 1969, 1
v Magesa 2004,5
vi Njoroge 2014, 327
vii Baur 2005, 21
viii Groves 1964, 35 ix Njoroge 2014, 328 x Baur 2005, 25
xi Njoroge 2013, 292 xii Welbourn 1966, 88,   Tillyrides 2002, 152
xiii See related articles « Οί Φίλοι της Ούγκαντα Βορείου Ελλάδος» (which later changed its name to Orthodox Mission Abroad) no.42, January- March 1974
xiv Papathanasiou, 2004, 302
xv Tillyrides (Metropolitan Makarios  of Kenya) article, Makarios Legacy in Kenya. Last accessed on 21st Feb 2016. Available at http://www.Orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/church_history/makarios_tillyrides_makarios_legacy.htm, 
xvi Sauca 1996, 3
xvii Bosch 1991, 447
xviii Njoroge 2011, 406
xix Magesa 2004,5
xx Zizioulas 2002, 254
xxi Njoroge 2011, 408
xxii Pobee and Ositelu 1998,3
xxiii Hayes, Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa. Last accessed 21st Feb 2016. Available at  http://www.josephpatterson.wordpress.com/2008/08/19/orthodox-mission-in-tropical-africa xxiv Alexander, address to the first annual synod on the Uganda Diocese of the African Orthodox Church on April the 23rd 1932.  This Address is found in the Archives of the African Orthodox Church of America in the Pitts Theological Library. xxv Ibid. xxvi Githieya 1997,104 

xxvii See the original liturgical text of the African Orthodox Church in America Liturgy found at Pitts Theological Library, Emory University U.S.A. Natsoulas 1981, 81-104.
xxviii Magesa 2004, 203
xxix Mbiti 2000, 17
xxx See article by Abbess Marina (Igumenia) Lintula Convent: “Mission and Diakonia: tools of witness: An experience from Kenya” presented at International Conference on the Social Witness and Service of the Orthodox Churches on 30.4.-5.5.2004 Valamo, Finland. xxxi Vassiliadis Petros, Article on Politics on Orthodox Christianity. Last accessed 21st Feb 2016. Available  at  http://users.auth.gr/~pv/Politics%20in%20Orth.%20Christianity.htm xxxii Ware 1997, 181
xxxiii Papathanasiou 2004, 306
xxxiv The current Patriarch Theodore II has so far ordained four native African Bishops (H.E. Ieronimos, Metropolitan of Mwanza, H.G. Innocentios Bishop of Rwanda and Burundi, H.G. Neophytos, Bishop of Nyeri and Mt. Kenya and H.G. Athanasios, Bishop of Kisumu and Western Kenya) 


Bibliography
 
A.Tillyridis (Metropolitan Makarios of Kenya) 2014 Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa; Orthodox Archbishopric of Kenya. (Yearbook and Review 2014)  -  2002 Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa; Orthodox Archbishopric of Kenya and Irinoupolis. (Year Book Review 2002) 

Baur John,  2005  2000 Years of Christianity in Africa: An African Church History. Paulines Publications: Nairobi

Bosch J. D.,  1991 Transforming Mission; Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. Orbis Books: New York.

Githieya K. Francis.,  1992 The Freedom of Spirit: African Indigenous Churches in Kenya. Scholars Press: Atlanta.

Groves C.P.,  1964 The Planting of Christianity in Africa, Vol. 1. Lutterworth Press: London    Magesa L. 2004.  Anatomy of Inculturation; Transforming the church in Africa. Orbis Books: New York.

Mbiti John S. 1969 African Religions & Philosophy. Heinemann: Nairobi  - 2000  Introduction to African Religion. East African Educational Publishers: Nairobi 

Pobee S.John & Ositelu II Gabriel 1998 African Initiatives in Christianity: The Growth, Gifts and Diversities of the African Indigenous Churches – A Challenge to the Ecumenical Movement. WCC Publications: Geneva

Sauca I,  1996 Orthodoxy and Cultures; Inter-Orthodox consultation on Gospel and Culture, WCC Publications: Geneva.

Ware T.  1997  The Orthodox Church. Penguin Group: London.

                                                                                                                                                                                           Welbourn  F.B.,  1966 The East African Rebels; A Study of Some Independent Churches. SCM Press Ltd: London

Wentink, D. E.,  1968  The Orthodox Church in East Africa, The Ecumenical Review, Vol.20. WCC Publications: Geneva.

Zizioulas J. D.,  2002 Being as Communion; Studies in Personhood and the Church. St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press: Crestwood, New York.

Articles, Journals and E-sources
 

Marina (Igumenia) Lintula Convent:  2004. Article “Mission and Diakonia: tools of witness: An experience from Kenya” presented at the International Conference on the Social Witness and Service of the Orthodox Churches on 30.4.-5.5.2004 Valamo, Finland.

Njoroge John.   2014.   Article: Ecumenical Dialogue in the perspective of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Orthodox Handbook on Ecumenism; Resources for Theological Education. Volos Academy Publication: Volos (in cooperation with WCC publication, Geneva and Regnum Books International, Oxford) 327 - 332  -  2013  Article: Theological Training and Formation in the Eastern Orthodox Churches in Africa in the Handbook of Theological Education in Africa. Cluster Publication: South Africa 292- 300 - 2011  Article: The Orthodox Church in Kenya and the Quest Enculturation: A Challenging mission Paradigm in Today’s Orthodoxy, St, Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly Vol. 55 N0.4, 2011, p. 405 – 438

Natsoulas T. 1981 Article “Patriarch McGuire and the spread of the African Orthodox Church to Africa”, Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol. 12, Fasc. 2. p. 81-104.


Papathanasiou N.  2004 Missionary Experience and Academic Quest; the Research Situation in Greece. Published in European Traditions in the Study of Religion in Africa ed. F. Ludwig and A. Adogame, Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden 


Basileiadis Petros, 
                                                                                                                                                                                          Article: Politics on Orthodox Christianity. Last accessed 21st Feb 2016. Available at http://users.auth.gr/~pv/Politics%20in%20Orth.%20Christianity.htm

Hayes Stephen Article: Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa. Last accessed 21st Feb 2016. Available at  http://www.josephpatterson.wordpress.com/2008/08/19/orthodox-mission-in-tropicalafrica    Kigogno Dam Tibajjwa J.R.,  Article: The Life of Archpriest Reverend Father Spartas R.S. Ssebanja Mukasa, The Founder of The African Orthodox Church in Uganda, Politician and Educationalist

Pitts Theological Library Archives  Archbishop Daniel William Alexander address to the first annual synod on the Uganda Diocese of the African Orthodox Church on April the 23rd 1932.  This Address is found in the Archives of the African Orthodox Church of America in the Pitts Theological Library.

Archbishop Daniel William Alexander address to the first annual synod on the Uganda Diocese of the African Orthodox Church on April the 23rd 1932.  This Address is found in the Archives of the African Orthodox Church of America in the Pitts Theological Library.

Bishop Daniel William Alexander’s ordination certificate found in the archives of the African Orthodox Church in Pitts Theological Library U.S.A

Document outlining the beginning and the Apostolic Succession of the African Orthodox Church in South Africa found in the archives of the African Orthodox Church in Pitts Theological Library U.S.A.

Original liturgical text of the African Orthodox Church in America Liturgy found at Pitts heological Library, Emory University U.S.A. 

Orthodox Mission Fraternity of Thessaloniki  « Οί Φίλοι της Ούγκαντα Βορείου Ελλάδος» (which later changed its name to Orthodox Mission Abroad) no.42, January- March 1974

His Eminence metropolitan Nicolaos of Axum, Mission report to His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria christophoros and to the Holy Synod.

Δεν υπάρχουν σχόλια:

Δημοσίευση σχολίου