​The Church of England’s recent decision to move its model of mission from one of dependency to mutuality has been warmly welcomed by the Anglican Communion’s Continuing Indaba team.

The resolution passed at the General Synod in York last month was not only a major step for Church of England, but also a boost for everyone involved with the Anglican Communion’s efforts to encourage dialogue across difference.

“This vision of a new way of doing mission has far reaching consequences for the Church of England and the Anglican Communion,” said Continuing Indaba's Canon Phil Groves. “The World-Shaped Mission report endorsed at the Synod asks dioceses to commit to principles of partnership that encourage the continuation of a journey from former patterns of dependency towards mutuality.

“That means a move away from a model where Anglicans in the North are simply giving resources to those global South, to one where members of the Communion are genuinely giving and receiving to one another.”

Continuing Indaba is a project focusing on developing the relational bonds of affection in the Anglican Communion. Its aim is to make real a common bond of working in mission as equal partners in the Gospel. The use of the term “Indaba” indicates a desire to use non-Western models of working and “continuing” indicates an unfinished task (see continuingindaba.com).

The report also contains commitments to partnership through listening and learning, listening across cultures through Indaba, and using Continuing Indaba and similar processes.

“All of this spells one of the biggest changes to the Church of England’s vision of global mission for more than 50 years,” Canon Groves said.

“Everyone knows there’s lots of work to be done to change the current model, but we are excited Continuing Indaba will be a fundamental part of that. Those who were involved in the Pilot Conversations know that Continuing Indaba certainly isn’t a quick fix for addressing contentious issues. It is, rather, a developed, theologically grounded resource for a healthy, vibrant church that values transcultural diversity and is seeking to be faithful to Christ. It will, and already has, proved itself to be an immensely useful tool in challenging people’s perceptions of one another.”

Speaking in favour of the report, the Venerable Christine Wilson, Archdeacon of Chesterfield, described her experience of Continuing Indaba encounters to the Synod: “With Indaba, there is a really deep listening process that brings back a challenge to us about how we do mission back at home.”

In their open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the bishops of Gloucester, El Camino Real and Western Tanganyika described their “grace-filled journey” together as three partner dioceses engaged in Continuing Indaba. One of the fruits of these relationships is each diocese developing further their local mission because of the insight gained from the others, as well combined mission projects.

“The Indaba experience has produced within us an awareness of how we can realistically assist each other in ministry and mission through our international ties now developed at a more grassroots level,” the bishops said. “We have learned quite independently about ‘doing church’ in our own local context.”

A number of dioceses around the world have already made a commitment to deeper engagement in transcultural mission through Continuing Indaba. Such commitments have led to programs to counter divisions of ethnicity in the Anglican Church of Kenya; to engaging young people in the life of a diocese in Southern Africa and the Province of Hong Kong; to further development of a sense of common mission in dioceses across the Episcopal Church; and the process also has had an impact on how the Diocese of Derby in England is approaching local mission.

The next stage in working out how the contents of the report is to be applied throughout the Church is at the Partners in World Mission’s 2012 Conference on Becoming Cross-Cultural Christians from 5-7 November.

The hope for the conference is that many will people will attend and take part in the planning so that Church of England dioceses can fulfil the commitment to World-Shaped Mission. Members of the Church of England and the rest of the Anglican Communion are invited to attend, and several participants in Continuing Indaba are expected to be present to share their experiences.