Saturday 19 July 2008

Indaba DIY instructions

Got problems? Do try this at home. Here are the official instructions for the Indaba groups that meet next week, based on reflections by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.
Indaba is a Zulu word for a gathering for purposeful discussion. It is both a process and method of engagement as we listen to one another concerning challenges that face our community and by extension the Anglican communion.

An Indaba first and foremost acknowledges that there are issues that need to be addressed effectively to foster on-going communal living. Originally, in the Zulu context, these might be stock theft, poor service delivery but in the case of the Anglican communion it might be questions related to the way we handle the Bible, sexuality, post colonialism, autonomy concerns and the many missional challenges. It is these issues that need to be brought to the “table.”

In Indaba, we must be aware of these challenges (issues) without immediately trying to resolve then one way or the other. We meet and converse, ensuring that everyone has a voice and contributes (in our case, praying that it might be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) and that the issues at hand are fully defined and understood by all.

The purpose of the discussion is to find out the deeper convergence that might hold people together in difference and come to a deeper understanding of the topic or issues discussed. This will be achieved by seeking to understand exactly the thinking behind positions other than my own.

Cautions. Indaba works best when participants do not go nto the discussion with a hidden agenda nor prior solution. When you bring the issues, ohers add with their own voice nd a greater truth is revealed and in the process people grow, learn and understand not only the issue, but each other.

For Indaba to work, Indaba on day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4 etc. must be seen as interrelated even if their themes differ. The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.

At the end of each Indaba session the discussion will be summarised seeking to honour each of the different voices that have been heard. These written summaries will help to shape the communications coming out of the Lambeth Conference.
How else, thinking about it, should faithful Christians seek the will of God in the face of difference? It’s close to the Benedictine tradition of holding a Chapter. It’s a way of ensuring that everyone has a voice, bullies are reined in and the giftedness of God in each is honoured.

Underlying this process and informing it at Lambeth is a sustained discipline of Bible Study, so that we talk in the light of the Scriptures. The authority of any conclusions come from the whole leading of Gos, rather than a ruling from some fantasy El Supremo or a vote following a Westminster style punchup. Why can’t we trust the Holy Spirit to speak through Scriptures, prayer and corporate wisdom quite as clearly as through conventional politics?


Anonymous said...


Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Kind of... In the Pacific world they have a thing called Talanoa (= storytelling space). It's an assembly with no fixed agenda or control, in which decision is reached by consensus. It's like a Benedictine chapter or even, at a pinch, Quaker meeting. In fact the more I find about this stuff, the more I discover that all kinds of peoples outside the West have similar processes: The ighty Westminster Boys debating chamber model turns out to be far less than the only show in town.

Anonymous said...

It sounds similar to some modes of consensus decision making which have become popular in UK activism groups over the past few years. There is a great security, and a great challenge in acknowledging that one may take part in meaningful discussion about such matters not as an individual but as an organic part of the conversation itself.
Thank you for summarising the process - the media's two dimensional perspective has become tiring.

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