Organization of African Instituted Churches

The Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) is an association of African Independent and Instituted Churches (AICs), which has its origins in the work of HG Bishop Markos of the Coptic Orthodox Church (Egypt) with AICs since 1976, in Kenya. In 1978, HH Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church invited leaders of AICs from seven countries for a conference in Cairo, where the OAIC was founded. The basic aims of the organization were teaching and training. On purpose, development work and political involvement were left out. The main activity was Theological Education by Extension (TEE ), which received much support from ecumenical partners.

The second conference of the OAIC, in 1982, was attended by representatives of AICs from 17 countries. The conference approved a constitution which required member bodies to be Trinitarian, based on the New and Old Testament, and confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. In terms of organization, the constitution placed ultimate authority with a general assembly to be convened every four years, and composed of representatives of the member churches. This model proved not to be suitable for the OAIC, which was lacking the resources to implement adequately such constitutional requirements. In spite of these shortcomings, the conference stimulated conciliarity among AICs. It sought to establish an AIC identity, distinct from the other church groupings in Africa, such as the All Africa Conference of Churches, the Association of Evangelicals in Africa, and more conservative groups.

In the early 1980s, the international headquarters of the OAIC were established in Nairobi, Kenya. The TEE programme continued to spread throughout the continent and became the support structure of the organization. As of 1990, three new departments were set up: Rural Development, Women, and Research and Communication. A serious review of the organization was conducted which resulted in a regionalization, whereby churches would first adhere to one of the OAIC regions, or chapters, and the general assembly would be composed of representatives of these regions. The internal administration would be re-organized. The new structure was put in place in 1997, when the assembly was able to meet, in conjunction with a joint OAIC-WCC consultation on the relationships between the AICs and the mission-founded churches in Africa.

The OAIC has made a significant shift in the direction of a more ecumenical profile. This is mainly due to the growing self-confidence of the AICs in their own identity. There are now chapters in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Ghana, Madagascar, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mission of the OAIC continues: "to bring African Instituted Churches together in fellowship and to equip and enable them to preach the good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed."