Monday, 8 February 2010

Briefing Note - Meeting of the Synod of Bishops, Swaziland, 8-11 February

The Synod of Bishops is a consultative meeting of all the Bishops and assistant (or ‘Suffragan’) Bishops of the 27 Dioceses of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, at the invitation, and under the chairmanship, of the Archbishop of Cape Town. The Synod generally meets twice a year, and may be held anywhere within the Church’s geographical area, which also includes Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha. It has previously met in Swaziland, most notably in 1992, when the Provincial Synod (the Church’s legal decision-making body, which also includes clergy and lay people) was held alongside, and took the historic decision to ordain women to the priesthood.

The agenda for a Synod of Bishops may range widely across matters of concern to the life and mission of the Church within Southern Africa and beyond. As well as questions of theology and Christian practice, these may include, for example, the life of the world-wide Anglican Communion, and political and economic developments within the countries of the Church, as well as globally.

This meeting will particularly consider relations with other Churches in Southern Africa, theological education, management issues including pensions, and preparations for the Provincial Synod that will be held in October 2010. Two key tasks are to review development of the Church’s ‘Vision 2020’ initiative, and the appointment of a Bishop for the new Diocese of Ukhahlamba. The Bishops will be addressed by Professor Peter Mtuze on African Spirituality, and Professor Jonathan Draper on The Bible and Hermeneutics.

During the gathering, the Archbishop, together with the Bishops, will officially open and bless the refurbished Meeting Room of the Thokoza Anglican Conference Centre, owned and run by the Diocese of Swaziland. The Bishops will also meet representatives of civil society to listen to their stories of life in Swaziland, and have other opportunities during their visit to affirm and encourage the Anglican Church in Swaziland in their journey of faith and in their mission.

The Archbishop requests prayers that the Synod may be guided by the Holy Spirit in all its deliberations, and especially over the choice of the first Bishop for the Diocese of Ukhahlamba. He also asks for prayers for the Bishop and people of the Diocese of Swaziland, and the particular challenges that they face.

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