Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Scrap nuclear power, expand renewable energy sources, Church urges

Protesters outside court at a previous hearing (SAFCEI/GroundUp)
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has appealed to the South African government to scrap plans for developing nuclear energy and instead to spend the money on education, training and other development initiatives.

The archbishop said in a statement issued from the church's Synod of Bishops today:

“The Synod of Bishops has revisited the resolution adopted by the church's Provincial Synod last September, in which the church expressed its opposition to the expansion of nuclear energy and urged the government to pursue the path of renewable energy initiatives.

“The Synod acknowledges that President Jacob Zuma committed the government in last year's State of the Nation address to procure new nuclear energy only on a scale and at a pace that the country can afford.

“We also welcome the president's acknowledgement in this year's State of the Nation address that renewable energy will be an important part of the mix of energy sources in the future.

“However, nuclear energy still remains part of the mix, despite the conclusion in the Department of Energy's updated Integrated Resource Plan that additional nuclear power, originally expected in 2023, will not come on stream until 2037.

“In a letter to President Zuma last year conveying the Provincial Synod's appeal, I noted that the country already has progressive renewable energy initiatives that could lead to greater sustainability and flexibility.

“Solar and wind generation of power is becoming cheaper and cheaper to develop. By 2037, the energy generation scenario is likely to have changed completely.

“The priority for our country is the education, training and well-being of its citizens. We should not impoverish the country through incurring unaffordable debt through attempting to obtain loans or providing guarantees for Eskom to raise loans for nuclear power stations.

“We are deeply concerned that an expanded nuclear energy programme will become an albatross around the necks of our children. And we cannot leave to the generations to come the task of disposing of our nuclear waste.

“We believe that South Africa has the potential of becoming a renewable energy hub for Africa, with huge potential for investment in manufacturing and associated employment. We note that overseas investors are queuing up to invest in our renewable energy programme and since the design of the programme is such that they provide the finance, this does not burden our people.”


On Thursday, environmental justice groups will renew their challenge to the government's planned expansion of nuclear energy in a court hearing in Cape Town.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

To the Laos - To the People of God – Lent 2017

Dear People of God

This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women as priests in our Province. Bishop Margaret Vertue of False Bay and the ACSA gender programme have been discussing the impact that women's ordination has had on the church. While they have acknowledged that there is much to celebrate—and I believe we have been immensely enriched by their ordination—it is also clear that the church still has many challenges to overcome when it evaluates the leadership, empowerment, participation and inclusion of women, both ordained and lay, in the church today.

As a consequence, the anniversary in September of the first ordinations in 1992 will be celebrated with a conference on the issue. The theme and venue are still to be confirmed, but I want to take the earliest opportunity to urge you to give the commemoration and the celebratory conference your full support. In this way we can all support and encourage women in their ministries and to take up positions of leadership in the church.

By the time you read this, almost all of South Africa's universities are expected to be open for the 2017 academic year, and students, parents, teachers and staff will be in our prayers as studies are resumed. I have agreed to join a platform, known as the National Education Crisis Forum, which is convened by the former deputy chief justice of South Africa, Dikgang Moseneke, to bring together different stakeholders to ensure, in the forum's words, “that the right to education enshrined in the South African constitution becomes a lived reality for all...” As the forum seeks to broker a long-term solution to the crisis, please support us and commit to helping in whatever way will resolve this educational, economic and also political challenge to the country. Perhaps you could build this concern into your Lenten observances, using the resource that the Province has produced to help you.

In January I spent nine days in the Diocese of Madhya Kerala in the Church of South India, learning how they do mission through markets in particular, and preached at their Convention Eucharist. I was also struck by the commitment to education of the Moderator of the church, Bishop Thomas Oommen, not only in words or feelings but in practical ways. Their church schools educate 35,000 pupils! Most of the offerings at the Sunday Eucharist – generously and spontaneously given – were shared with the schools to encourage them to keep up their high standards of performance. Both parents and the whole community are involved in education through the church. We too can emulate their example, especially by supporting our universities whose vice-chancellors are trapped between students' demands on the one hand and government policies and often inertia on the other.

Last month I helped to launch a worldwide Anglican initiative called “JustWater” in which churches on four continents – Africa, Australia, Europe and North America – are uniting in support of World Water Day 2017. As well as being at the launch at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, I will be speaking during the Water Justice Conference at our own St. George's Cathedral, which takes place from March 23 to 25. If you want to supplement our Provincial Lenten Bible Studies with a focus on water justice during the Sundays in Lent, you will find prayers and other material in a short resource document produced by Trinity Wall Street, St. Paul's Cathedral and St. George's. I commend it to you for reading and discussing. But above all, use water sparingly in your own personal lives by fixing dripping pipes, showering instead of bathing where you can, keeping your showers short and possibly harvesting rain water.

May Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, lead you as you transform educational institutions to serve the public good and even as we use water wisely to be in solidarity with those who lack proper water and sanitation in our country.

Have a blessed Lent!



†Thabo Cape Town

Monday, 6 February 2017

Water is Life, Sanitation is Dignity - JustWater 2017

Cathedrals and churches on four continents have come together to raise awareness and activism about water by launching the JustWater website. This website is part of a new project focussed on celebrating, protecting and ensuring equal access to the gift of water for all, with an international programme organised by St George's Cathedral (Cape Town); St Paul's Cathedral (London); St Paul's Cathedral (Melbourne); and Trinity Church Wall Street (New York). Archbishop Thabo spoke at the launch of the initiative in London.


Water is Life, Sanitation is Dignity
JustWater 2017

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba
London, February 2017

Thank you Dean David and your team for inviting me here to help launch this initiative. Hillary and David are spoiling me at the deanery – thank you for your generous hospitality. Barbara thanks for all the practical arrangements.
As I was preparing for this event, we learned in Cape Town that as a result of diminished rainfall over the past year, the dams supplying water for our metropolitan area are only 29 percent full, this at a time when we cannot expect our winter rains to begin before May. While I won't go here into the linkages between the El NiƱo phenomenon and global warming, our water crisis had the effect of concentrating my mind on how precious water is and on how devastating the effects of scarcity can be.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Sermon delivered in the Diocese of Madhya Kerala, Church of South India

Diocese of Madhya Kerala, Church of South India
Sunday January 29, 2017
Micah 6: 1-8

Good morning! How exciting it is to be with you, here in the Church of South India, a church with such a rich and glorious history, in this vast nation. Coming from a country which finally overthrew its colonial past and achieved democracy only 20 years ago, it is inspiring to be here with you in the largest democracy on earth. Thank you Bishop Thomas for inviting us to your Diocese and for asking me to preach at this auspicious Convention Mass, and warm congratulations to you on your election as Moderator.