Christians have a mission to transform society and this includes transforming the Church, a Malaysian Anglican bishop says. “Within the Church itself, we face challenges - people can be from two extremes,” Bishop Andrew Phang said at the Anglican Church’s second South East Asia Provincial Gathering held February 22-24 in Penang.
Elaborating on the gathering’s theme, “Rising Above the Storms,” he said within the Church there is a cold and orthodox group which refuses to have anything to do with society or politics. At the same time, there are “liberals” who pick some scripture and act on it. They base their actions on their emotions even if the act is wrong.
The Church in Southeast Asia faces great challenges as it is a small minority in Muslim and Buddhist countries, he added.
Finding burial grounds and places of worship are a continual problem, he told some 500 Anglican Church leaders. Often we “have to use shop houses as places of worship,” he said.
He later said: “The Church hopes to be the catalyst of favorable changes which are meaningful and beneficial,” noting that “globally there is a cry for change. However, changes are hard to predict as there are good and bad outcomes.”
Archbishop John Chew of Singapore said although the Anglican Church is a small voice “amidst the storms,” it can rise to transform society together as a province.
The Anglican South East Asia Province comprises four dioceses - West Malaysia, Singapore, Kuching and Sabah. They are all based in Malaysia or Singapore, but they also oversee small communities in Nepal, Myanmar, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia.
The 500 delegates also included some from South Africa, Zambia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
The first provincial gathering was held in 2007 in Sabah, eastern Malaysia.