Ecumenical Diakonia in the time of inequality
Stronger Together! This phrase sums up on the importance of working together in unity, in a world which is showing signs of fragmentation. As the world is moving towards becoming one global village, there are numerous emerging challenges: conflicts, discrimination, racism, xenophobia, poverty, rising inequality, climate change and so forth. In order to address the emerging global problems and contribute to the 2030 Agenda, churches and faith-based organisations need to walk together in a journey to promote equal, peaceful and just societies.
The ACT Assembly is being held under an interesting theme ‘Hope in Action’’. In this article I want to reflect on the faith in action campaign in Southern Africa. This campaign has brought churches and faith based actors to walk together in fighting inequality, unjust tax and redistribution systems. To walk together in advocating for just, fair transparent taxation and universal social protection. In a world where the rich top 1% of the world have more income than the bottom 50% put together, the gap between the rich and poor is wide and is still growing. Inequality fuels poverty, abuse of power, and that it undermines social cohesion.
Churches in Southern Africa have taken steps to stand up and demand fairer distribution of wealth, social protection and just tax systems. It is encouraging to see how the church has partnered with other like-minded organisations to identify and understand the key drivers and impacts of inequality and unfair tax systems. It is inspiring to see how the church has created safe spaces for the masses to interrogate and ask political issues on why Africa, which is endowed with abundant and rich natural resources, remains poor without access to basic social services for its people. It has been a journey where the church has been working with other partners to mobilize people to engage in the public space on key policy issues, public debates on governance, tax and social protection.
It is from this Faith in Action journey that I have learnt the potential of the church to use its ecumenical voice to educate, inspire and transform communities. It is from this journey that I see the potential of the church working together in fighting elitist and unaccountable political and government systems that fail to protect their citizens that do not mobilize and share resources for the common good.
Taking diakonia as an integral part of the Church and as an ex
pression of God’s transformative love and care, can allow the church to use its unique voice to respond from a faith perspective using teachings, contextual interpretations as resources to challenge oppression and inequality. It is on this background that the church can successfully mobilize, use its prophetic voice and make substantial contributions to the society and within the public space.
In a world where the population of young people is growing, particularly in Africa as young people we are the largest demographic group. The church needs to tap into this resource by mobilizing young people to respond to the needs of today, and contribute towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.
As a young person, I feel we are at the receiving end of society’s ills, it is my appeal to the wider ecumenical family to work together, using each one’s gifts in different contexts to recognize what society needs, to identify the urgency of addressing inequality and poverty and act towards engaging in public space to address the emerging challenges. The Church working together can be a champion of contributing towards Sustainable Developmental Goals, together the Church can promote an equal peaceful and just society.