A little known link between our diocese and the church in Angola was revealed last week as Bishop André Soares visited St Clement’s Toxteth.
In 1925 Archibald Patterson followed God’s call to spread the gospel to Angola. Not licensed, untrained and only supported by a few members of St Clement’s Toxteth, he established the North Angola Mission, building churches and schools and training pastors, and baptising a certain Andre Soares in 1958
Now Bishop Andre, he is the first Bishop of the Diocese of Angola which was formed in 2002. And his affection for Patterson and the city of Liverpool is clear “Liverpool is a good city, the city of Patterson”
Bishop Andre explained the challenges facing the church of Angola today. In a country trying to rebuild itself following a 42 year war where the majority of people are poor and HIV AIDS and malaria are prevalent problems.
“There are many needs” the Bishop explains “our 45 parishes and hundreds of daughter churches are working to build chapels, train young people, tackle HIV Aids and malaria and offer hope. We have two programmes which rely on support from overseas funders to eradicate these twin diseases. I have a goal to eliminate malaria”
But the church is vibrant. It is a young church populated mainly by young people and there vitality comes across in the music and lively worship. Angolan faith is also infected by a spirit of generosity. For a poor people in a poor nation hospitality is everywhere and giving is joyful.
Bishop Andre has a strong hope for the future while acknowledging it’s “a complicated time and that the future is in the hand of God”. But he is clear that the church needs to grow in Angola, to establish more dioceses, more churches for it is the church that can offer hope to the people of Angola.