Speaking after a dialogue week at Blackburn Cathedral with Anjum Anwar MBE and Canon Chris Chivers, the Archbishop of Cape Town, The Most Reverend Thabo Makgoba commended the cathedral – the first in the world to employ a Muslim dialogue development officer to work alongside a canon who focuses on interfaith and community cohesion issues – for its “outstanding attempts to engage one community with another.”
The dialogue explored themes of poverty and justice that emerge from the Archbishop’s own life and context, and touched on difficult issues in the life of the Anglican Communion, the political turmoil in Zimbabwe, xenophobia in South Africa and the economics of the World Cup.
The Archbishop who is one of the youngest archbishops in the Anglican Communion was clearly struck by the presence of many students – trainee imams – from the Muslim College, Moss Street, Blackburn, and the ecumenical and multi-faith diversity of audience. Commenting, he said, “The world, the Anglican Communion, South Africa, our continent of Africa: all need more dialogue on issues like human sexuality, Zimbabwe, equity, economic development and inter-religious relationships. This is the way forward. I was very struck by the power and depth of my dialogue experience in Blackburn.”
Canon Chris Chivers, Canon Chancellor at Blackburn Cathedral and formerly Canon Precentor of St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, added: “Having interviewed the archbishop for sixteen hours last year for a forthcoming book of conversations about his life, it was no surprise to me that he was such a natural in this environment. He spoke with great thoughtfulness and eloquence. The audience clearly responded to his magnetic personality. The sight of so many young Muslims animatedly huddled around him with their questions is one we will recall for a long time.”