Anglicans in the Diocese of Recife, Brazil, based here are using stories in the Bible to help them reach out to their community through social campaigns and look after their environment.
The project ― called “Disciples of Peace and Citizenship Theology” ― uses Bible studies and liturgies to strengthen the faith and commitment of church members and enable them to be key actors in the social realm.
They have learned that the Christian faith can be involved in politics ― “we need to work together for the common good.”
Lay Minister Wescley Ronis explained, “Our traditional reading of what it is to be a disciple no longer responds to the current questions we have in our contexts.
“It is important to nurture new members of our church in their learning but there is more. It is now a fundamental requirement to encourage Christians to be effective witnesses of the Gospel in a world marked by greed, violence and exclusion. A public and prophetic theology is once again required from our faith.”
The community has a focus on eco-theology, human rights and social campaigning, and recognizes that only people who are steadfast in their responses can change the face of the world.
They are striving to not be “conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can know what God's will is ― what is good and pleasing and mature.” (Romans 12:2).
Their journey has been influenced by “mystagogy.” Mystagogy is the fourth stage of the “Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults',” and comes from the Greek words meaning “to lead through the mysteries.”
Traditionally mystagogy takes place throughout the Easter season, until the feast of Pentecost. It is a period of accompaniment for new Christians as they discover what it means to fully participate in the mission of God and the mysteries of the sacraments of the Church.
By addressing what is happening in the context of the community the project intends to address violence against women, religious intolerance, biblical fundamentalism/literalism and help to shape Christians based on models found in the Gospels. These include the stories of the good Samaritan, the persistent widow looking for justice, Zacchaeus, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary of Magdala, Cleophas and his wife Mary, and the centurion soldier looking after his servant.
Participants in the project have become involved not only because it has a religious face, but due to the prevalent need for transformation that society and the world are longing for. People of faith and faith-based organizations are equipped to point towards this transformation.
The communities are particularly keen to engage in their local contexts ― not to belong to the world but still to live faithfully in it. They see this as the best way to collaborate with the Kingdom of God and to see God’s will be done.