Fire and Faithfulness: The Anglican Church in Brazil
Fire, passion, creativity, expansion, faithfulness, youthful zeal. These are some of the words that describe what I experienced during my time with the Anglican Church in Brazil, where with much excitement and anticipation, we began the preparations for the Caminemos Juntos: Americas Conference which will be held there in October of this year. The diocese of Recife (recently renamed the Anglican Church in Brazil-Diocese of Recife) has planted 35 congregations in the last twelve years and is quickly becoming an influential force in the Anglican world and global realignment movement. It is a church that while rapidly expanding is also growing in depth and maturity. What I experienced was truly breathtaking and even at times, frankly, a bit overwhelming.
I’d heard testimonies and stories, but after experiencing firsthand what must be one of the most dynamic groups of Anglican churches, I’m more excited than ever to gather together in Brazil later this year.
I believe that the church in Brazil has a key role to play in the future of the Gospel and of mission throughout the Americas and the rest of the world. There is much those of us from other countries can learn and receive. In the following I’ll briefly highlight a few missional characteristics I observed in the Brazilian church.
CREATIVITY IN MISSION
In Brazil new congregations are being planted in a great variety of settings and contexts: in low-income communities, in hotels, on the beach, in “houses of peace”, among youth, children, and adults. Art, dance, and the use of innovative styles of music are just some of the examples of creativity in the Brazilian church. One shining example is a church called Comunhão (Communion) which hosts a beachfront English service that is reaching university students eager to practice their English. This church has also started a Jiu-Jitsu outreach program with some of the best Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in all of Brazil reaching young people who would normally never darken the door of a church.
COMPASSION IN MISSION
I also had the opportunity to visit House of Hope (Casa da Esperança), a ministry serving children in an under-resourced neighborhood in Recife. It functions as a sort of community drop-in center where kids can be taken care of while their parents are working. Along with the provision of much needed material resources, this ministry is also boldly sharing the Gospel through word. In the middle of this community center is a small sanctuary where Church of Hope meets and holds evangelistic services each week for the families of the children participating in the center. Truly this community is experiencing renewed hope through word and deed.
TECHNOLOGY IN MISSION
The Brazilian Anglican church is also using technology and social media as a powerful tool to reach those in their society who might not come to church through other means. One great example of this is their Youtube channel and couple’s outreach ministry called Momento A2. This tool, begun by a young couple with a passion for changing the world for Christ, now has a daily audience of over 10,000 and many of their videos have nearly half a million views. Through this ministry and regular public evangelistic couple’s events, over 30 small (or cell) groups have been planted which focus on evangelism and discipleship.
THE HISTORY OF A MOVEMENT
The Brazilian church has a fascinating history not unlike that of the ACNA. In 2004, due to insurmountable theological differences with the Episcopal Province of Brazil, the Diocese of Recife separated from the province and for a period of time came under the covering of the then named Province of the Southern Cone with Archbishop Greg Venables. In 2008, with the formation and the first gathering of GAFCON in Jerusalem, as a Diocese they came under GAFCON’s covering as the ACNA was also similarly forming. Finally finding stability within this new orthodox structure, a period of mission and multiplication began.
Now, 12 years later, the Diocese of Recife has planted 35 congregations coming to a total of 47 congregations spread throughout Brazil, and they have begun the process of becoming a province. In June 2017 three new bishops were consecrated who are tasked with supervising different regions of the country. Also, at GAFCON’s request, the Anglican Church in Brazil (ACB- Diocese of Recife) is beginning to provide episcopal covering for orthodox Anglican congregations in Central America and the north of South America who no longer can stay within their dioceses or provinces in good conscience. The first congregation to enter this new province in formation in this way is Iglesia Anglicana La Vid in Bogotá, Colombia.
The Anglican Church in Brazil is an amazing example of a creative church filled with compassion and mobilized by a zeal for mission. There is much we can learn from our brothers and sisters about church planting and multiplication, and together we can partner to further equip the global south churches, like Brazil and Chile, to send missionaries and church planters throughout the Americas and the world.
The Rev. Jonathan Kindberg is co-coordinator of Caminemos Juntos and the dean for the ACNA deanery in Mexico. He was born in Peru, and grew up in Chile and Panama, and currently resides in Chicago, where he pastors Iglesia de la Resurreccion and has helped plant several other Latino congregations. You can contact Jonathan here.