The Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) has appointed its first ever Youth and Children's Council at a conference where young Anglicans were described as "the backbone of the church".
The Council was formed on the final day of a Provincial Youth Leaders Conference held in the Lusaka, Zambia, on the 5 and 6 December. The Council's mandate will be to oversee issues affecting children and young people across the Province.
Bishop of the Diocese of Upper Shire in Malawi Brighton Malasa is in charge of youth across Province. He told the more than 50 delegates gathered at Lusaka's Gospel Outreach Centre: "There are a lot of issues affecting the people in church and most of these affect mostly the youths because about 60% of the people that come to church are youths."
He added that young people "play an important role in helping the church move to greater heights because they have the energy and potential". The bishop urged them to "use their energy and potential to build the church of God."
Diocesan Youth Co-ordinator for Northern Malawi Tiyanjana Banda said the "whole church should be founded on the youths because they are the backbone of the church", adding that "if not for the youths, the church would be gone by now."
He said, despite the challenges that the youths face in the church, "we have managed to live to the church's expectations, but if we are given more chance and room to fully participate in church life, we can do more."
Youth Co-ordinator for Zambia and conference co-ordinator Fr. Robert Sihubwa said "Investing in the youths on spiritual issues of the church will ensure that we have a society that walks in the fear of God, and a society that will preserve what God has given to it".
To this end, the youth conference formulated and adopted a Youth and Children's Policy to ensure consistency in youth and children's ministries across all the countries and dioceses in the Province and it also saw the election of an Interim Executive Committee. The conference also created a Provincial Youth Fund that will be maintained through donations from young people in the different dioceses.
Fr. Sihubwa said "We have decided to introduce a Provincial Youth Fund because we have noticed that accessing resources for youths and children has not been easy, so we would like a system where the youth themselves begin to generate their own resources to run their programmes."
The conference delegates were so excited and enthusiastic about the formulation of a new Provincial Youth Office with many of them pledging contributions of money and other resources to make sure that the office is operational as soon as possible.
The CPCA's Bishops Conference decided to organise the conference, Growing the Church Through Youth and Children Ministry in order to assess how much the youths have contributed to the church and also address the shortage of mission and evangelism that the church faces in the Province. Prayer, singing, dancing and sharing of experiences and challenges faced by youths in the province, characterised the event.
Highlighting the importance of the conference to youths in the Province, a young Anglican from the Diocese of Botswana Tumisung Fifing said the conference had helped them "create links with the different dioceses in our province." She added, "The conference has also given us a chance to exchange cultures and ideas."