Evangelism and Formation Through an African Descent Perspective

A professional educator, Audra Ryes dreams of sharing Christian faith with people of color through lessons and stories that affirm the participation of African descent in Anglican history.

She participated in a cross-cultural immersion experience in the Diocese of Southern Malawi, led by her professor the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga. The trip was funded in part by a grant from the Seminary Consultation on Mission (SCOM). She also visited Ethiopia, where she was hosted by St. Matthew’s Anglican Church of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. Along with experiencing the holiness of church and life in the two countries, she was able to compare two cultures with vastly different experiences of colonialism.

She shares that the trip to Africa was life-changing, as it provided the opportunity to understand her identity in a new way. Prior to the trip, she led a formation series to train young adult evangelists in the congregation of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, GA, her field parish. When she returned, she re-convened the group and they led a church-wide storytelling event. Building on Ryes’ experience of exploring colonial evangelism and her vision of relationship-based evangelism that is based on dialogue, respect and reciprocity, they designed a structured yet informal storytelling session event featuring small groups and a shared meal. The discussion centered around how the church lives out the values of community, love, mercy and forgiveness when addressing problems that arise in the church.

The event was so successful that the model will be used for future gatherings in the congregation. The Rev. Ryes dreams of holding similar events across the Diocese of Louisiana when she returns; she hopes that the authentic relationships that result will create an environment for people of all backgrounds to engage God’s mission of liberation, community, repentance and renewal.

Grant Year
Recipient Name
Ryes, Audra
School of Theology, Sewanee