Friday, May 28, 2010

Visit to Dunoon, 26 May 2010

The following account of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba’s visit to Dunoon is drawn from a report, with pictures, that is available on the website of the Diocese of Saldanha Bay, www.dioceseofsaldanhabay.org.za/diocese/currentnews/

Bishop Raphael Hess and the Chapter of the Diocese of Saldanha Bay express their sincere support and sympathy for the community of Dunoon. Bishop Raphael is also deeply grateful for the Archbishop's visit arranged by HOPE Africa, and to the leadership and Parishioners in the Chapelry.

The Chapelry of St Laurence, in the Parish of St Chad's Church Table View is situated in the township of Dunoon (about 16 kilometers from Cape Town). Recently, a fire raised 165 shanties to the ground, killing one person. The shanties are densely packed together, adding heavily to the rapid spread of fires. While no one can say exactly how this recent blaze started, dangerous and illegal electrical wires criss-cross at very low levels over the shanty skies. Candles, paraffin and wood fires are often the only sources of heat, warmth and light.

In support of parishioners and the community, Archbishop Thabo visited Dunoon today (26 May 2010). The Archbishop delivered a message of hope, distributed some clothing, blankets and food and visited part of the affected area. These care packages were made possible by HOPE Africa in partnership with the Warehouse.

On arrival in Dunoon, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba was welcomed by the Revd Anthony Henderson, on behalf of Bishop Raphael and the Revd William Payne, Rector of the Parish. Canon Delene Mark of HOPE Africa accompanied the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, and Zweli Luzipo, chairperson of Ethembeni, assisted in showing them round.

As they walked around Dunoon, it was clear that though townships in South Africa are places of hardship, poverty and despair - they are also places of staggering heart, humanity, resilience and hope. Dunoon is no exception! The Parish and community received the Archbishop with huge smiles, beating cushions and hammering bells - from the oldest to the youngest. In the seriousness and sorrow there was also celebration and tangible signs of care

The visitors stopped in front of a home that had been raised to the ground. They paused as a mark of respect for those affected by the fire – and particularly in the place where a life was lost. A member of the Mothers' Union led prayers. A Cross cuts through the clear of the open sky just above the place where once someone's home stood. At this place of loss, the delegation stood still and, in sacred silence, witnessed to a God who is still God - even and especially on the ground, in the specific situations of human existence, and especially where there is struggle and pain.

In Dunoon, the Archbishop spoke to the community in the following words:

Dear Friends - my brothers and sisters in Christ,

Thank you all for being here. I just want to share the story of Haiti, following the devastating earthquake earlier this year. I have never seen such immense destruction, the incredible pain inflicted on the people and the ‘smell’ of death as one walked through the capital city of Port au Prince. There was a sense of hopelessness that all had been lost, including more than 220,000 human lives. Please pray for Haiti - even in your own suffering.

But thanks to be God that here in this tragedy in Dunoon there was minimal loss of human life. One life was lost and I pray for the family of the man who died as a result of the fire and for the repose of his soul.

I am honoured to be with you today, along with our team from HOPE Africa. It was with much sadness that I learned of the fire which spread through this area on the 2nd of May. We were distressed to learn of the destruction of more than 100 of your homes and the displacement of more than 500 of this community’s residents, including 20 infants. We grieve for the loss of the life of one of your number and for all who lost their homes and belongings.

In Psalm 147 we are reminded of God’s special relationship with us, especially in the difficult times. We hear the psalmist say that God ‘will heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds,’ and that God 'counts the number of the stars and calls them all by name.' And we know that God also knows each of us by name. Therefore we need have no hesitation to approach him at any time – in times of difficulty and pain, and in times of joy as well. He is there to listen to each of us and will give us the strength and courage to carry on.

I know that initially you received support from some sectors of government. We are here together with HOPE Africa, the social development programme of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, to say that you have not been forgotten and to offer some tangible assistance, small though it may be. The scars from such a tragedy run deep and they take time to heal. We continue to hold all of you in our prayers, confident in the promise of our Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus that he will be with us always – to the end of time.

We are also grateful to the chapelry of St. Lawrence for its commitment to reach out to you and others in the community who suffer from tragedies such as this one. One of today’s readings for Morning Prayer is from the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 17:17) 'A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share in adversity.' And as children of God, we are sisters and brothers to one another – we are the family of God. That is the most important part of why we are here today. We are also grateful for the members of this chapelry and others in the Western Cape for the donations which we leave here today.

May you all continue to know the love and compassion and hope of God as seen in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ as you rebuild your lives in this place and as you reach out to one another.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum

The following statement has been released by the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum (WCRLF)

The Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum Executive and Working Committee met at Bishopscourt on the 25 May, under the Chairmanship of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. At that meeting the forum looked at its own structures, its relationship to NILC and at the same time reflected on the urgent societal issues of this week. The Forum issued the following statement on three concerns which were raised:

1. Concerning the death of infants in the Eastern Cape Hospital -

It is with great sadness and concern that we read in the media of the large number of infant deaths occurring in our hospitals. We call upon the authorities to investigate the cause of these tragedies and that steps be taken to ensure that this does not happen again, and that those responsible are held accountable. We assure the families of the affected of our prayers that they may find consolation in this their time of bereavement.

2. On the import the Zapiro cartoon had on our Muslim brothers –

We were also very concerned to hear of the hurt which cartoons or statements that demean religious leaders cause to members of our community, and urge that all should show respect for other people’s faith beliefs.

3. On the interreligious scene –

We also heard of the continued incarceration and persecution of members of the Bahai community in Iran, and we call upon all Iranians to take action to ensure that this persecution ends.

Issued by Archbishop T Makgoba, Chair of the WCRLF Executive on behalf of the WCRLF.

For more information on the WCRLF contact Fr John Oliver (Convenor) or Mrs Elizabeth Petersen at 021 462 2277 (office hours)

Note to editors: The names of those who were present at the meeting yesterday: Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Revd Canon Robert Butterworth, Moulana Abdul-Khaliq Allie, Revd Mandla D Makha, Lester Hoffman, Mickey Glass, Tahirih Matthee, Sheihk Abdulhamied Gabier, Bongile Mawawa Mose, Guru Krishna, Revd John Oliver, Revd Barry Isaacs, Elizabeth Petersen.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Imprisonment of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga

This Statement from the Anglican Bishops in Southern African on the Imprisonment of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga was issued today

We, the Bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa call upon the Government of South Africa to seek the release of Stephen Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who were recently sentenced in Malawi to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour, after they shared in a traditional ceremony of engagement.

As we have previously stated, though there is a breadth of theological views among us on matters of human sexuality, we are united in opposing the criminalisation of homosexual people. We see the sentence that has been handed down to these two individuals as a gross violation of human rights and we therefore strongly condemn such sentences and behaviour towards other human beings. We emphasize the teachings of the Scriptures that all human beings are created in the image of God and therefore must be treated with respect and accorded human dignity. .

These principles are at the heart of South Africa's own Constitution, whose provisions we see as setting an example for the world to follow. We therefore call on our President and Government to pursue the same values and standards for the upholding of human well-being, dignity and respect, in our external relations; to engage in dialogue with their counterparts on the rights of minorities; and to oppose any measures which demean and oppress individuals, communities, or groups of people. In particular we call on our President and Government to lobby the Government of Malawi at every level to uphold the commitment it shares through the SADC treaty to promote human rights (Article 4). We urge them to press for the swift release of these two individuals, who have committed no act of violence or harm against anyone; for the quashing of the sentence against them; and for the repeal of this repressive legislation.

More generally, we wish to reiterate our deep concern at the violent language used against the gay community across Sub-Saharan Africa, and at the increased legal action being taken against gay individuals, communities and organisations. Even in South Africa we are aware of instances of violence against the gay and lesbian community. We therefore appeal to law-makers everywhere to defend the rights of these minorities.

As Bishops we believe that it is immoral to permit or support oppression of, or discrimination against, people on the grounds of their sexual orientation, and contrary to the teaching of the gospel; particularly Jesus’ command that we should love one another as he has loved us, without distinction (John 13:34-35). We commit ourselves to teach, preach and act against any laws that undermine human dignity and oppress any and all minorities, even as we call for Christians and all people to uphold the standards of holiness of life.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Inquiries: on 021- 763-1320 (office hours)

Note to editors: On 12 February 2010 The Synod of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa issued a statement opposing the draft legislation proposed in Uganda to further criminalize homosexuality. The text of this statement is available at http://www.anglicanchurchsa.org/view.asp?ItemID=265&tname=tblComponent1&oname=News&pg=front

Dialogue is the only way forward

This press statement was released by exChange@Blackburn Cathedral, on 24 May, following the Archbishop's visit last week.

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.”

No link to 'South Africa for the Children of Haiti'

This statement was released on 24 May

Anglican Church of Cape Town denies association with the "South Africa for the Children of Haiti, earthquake relief fund".

Please note that the Anglican Church of Cape Town and the Archbishop of Cape Town, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba have NOT entered into an association with the SOUTH AFRICA FOR THE CHILDREN OF HAITI “earthquake relief fund” and proposed concert to be held in Cape Town in June 2010 organized by the founder and Chairperson of this fund, Pastor Timothy J. M. Chiguvare.

The Anglican Church regrets that it cannot support this venture as it is directly involved in Haiti with others, and is supporting the efforts of the ‘Africa for Haiti’ initiative.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Statement on Human Trafficking in advance of the World Cup

The following statement was issued today.

Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town thanks those addressing human trafficking ahead of the FIFA World Cup

I wholeheartedly endorse the preparations made by South Africa’s civil society organisations, following the announcement made in 2006 that we would host the FIFA World Cup 2010, to address the societal issues which accompany such global events, regardless of location.

Chief among these concerns is human trafficking, which parts of civil society have worked hard to address ahead of the World Cup. Workshops have been held; teachers and students have been trained to recognise the signs of someone who is in danger from human trafficking; comprehensive legislation has been introduced into Parliament (and though, sadly, it will not be passed in time for the World Cup, it will nonetheless provide comprehensive protection and benefits in the near future); and organisations have developed programmes which provide safe spaces for children in the extended school holidays during the World Cup.

One such programme, developed by HOPE Africa (the Social Development Programme of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa), in cooperation with the Scripture Union and TUG (the Ultimate Goal), is the ‘holiday club’ which encourages churches and schools, in partnership with volunteers, to use their facilities to provide safe spaces, meals and interesting activities for children aged 6 to 13. The programme is being piloted in the Diocese of False Bay in the Western Cape. At present over 70 clubs are planned, offering safe space for more than 5000 children. I also want to commend the Peninsula School Feeding Association, with whom the Anglican Church has had a longstanding relationship for over 35 years, for their support of the ‘holiday club’ programme.

The format for this programme has been circulated to all the dioceses of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, so that, wherever appropriate, it can be implemented country-wide. It can also be adapted for use in conjunction with other events.

I want to commend HOPE Africa and its partners for this effort, and for the other projects which have been developed around South Africa during the FIFA World Cup. We can never do ‘too much’ to protect our children from potential harm which takes from them their right to be children.

My hope is that the FIFA World Cup will be a time of joy and celebration of all that is good and wholesome in the sport of football and its enjoyment by football fans – and I invite everyone to join me in praying that this may indeed be so, in the words at the end of this statement. May we all extend to our many visitors and fellow citizens the welcoming spirit of ubuntu – and make ourselves truly proud to be South Africans.

The Archbishop's Prayer

God bless the 2010 World Cup:

bless those who compete, and those who watch,

bless those who host, and those who visit,

and help all who love the 'the beautiful game'

grow in the love you have given us to share. Amen

A Prayer for the FIFA 2010 World Cup

The following statement was issued today.

Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town proposes prayer for the 2010 FIFA World Cup

‘Let us all pray that God will bless the World Cup!’ said Archbishop Thabo Makgoba on Monday as he launched a special prayer for the tournament.

‘It is a short and simple prayer which is easy to learn, and I hope many people, of many backgrounds, will join me in praying it daily in the coming weeks’ added the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town. ‘We are asking for the well-being of everyone who is in any way associated with the FIFA 2010 World Cup: players, spectators, South Africans as host nation, and everyone who travels here. Apart from the Olympics, this is the most widely supported sports event in the world – countless millions, even billions, love “the beautiful game” and we want to share this love with one another, for the good of the world.’

Dr Makgoba went on to say ‘We know from experience that sport is potentially a tremendous catalyst for good. Sport can bring people of different races and religions together, building the confidence of young people and promoting social cohesion, both within this country and across the whole human family.’

This, he said, was probably the greatest, and most lasting, benefit that could be gained from the World Cup. ‘We do not know what long-term material improvements there will be to the average South African as a result of the tournament, though the infrastructure developments should lead to lasting gains. I hope it will be a catalyst for change in other ways, and also prompt the South African Football Association to set up better football education, training, and health clinics, for young boys and girls.’

‘Yet this I do know’ he stressed, ‘the World Cup will lift the spirits of this country of soccer-lovers, and we can harness this for nation building, which is of more fundamental value. I believe it will also touch the hearts of those whose first love is another sporting code – the success of holding Super-14 rugby games at Orlando Football Stadium shows vividly how support for skilful play in a good match enthuses us all, and how sports-lovers of very different backgrounds can find they have a common bond!

‘I know I have to say “may the best team win”, but in my heart I am certainly hoping that Bafana Bafana prove to be this “best team”!’ concluded the Archbishop, who will be attending the Algeria-England match in Cape Town on 18 June. ‘Most of all, I am praying for a good competition and entertaining football – and for God’s blessing on us all.’

The Archbishop’s prayer reads:

God bless the 2010 World Cup:

bless those who compete, and those who watch,

bless those who host, and those who visit,

and help all who love the 'the beautiful game'

grow in the love you have given us to share. Amen

Thursday, May 20, 2010

50th Anniversary of the Southern African Church Development Trust

Sermon preached at St Martin in the Fields, London, at a service celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Southern African Church Development Trust.

1 Peter 2: 4-9, Gospel Luke 4: 16-21

May I speak in the name of God, the Father who sends his Spirit upon us, so that we may proclaim the Good News of the gospel of his Son, our Lord and Saviour.

Dear friends, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, thank you for your invitation to address you on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the founding of the Southern African Church Development Trust. It is a great privilege, as well as a great joy, to be with you today – as well as being Patron of the Trust. As Patron, I want to give thanks for all that you have done, even as we gather together to give thanks for God’s faithfulness to us over the last fifty years.

We give thanks to God for the vision that was first implanted in the hearts and minds of Arthur Spencer-Payne and Harold Wilson, and we give thanks for the way that it has been nurtured and sustained through the subsequent decades. May I personally express my thanks, and those of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to you, their families and friends, here today.

We also give thanks that today, in very changed circumstances, the Trust continues to make a tangible and lasting difference to the lives of countless individuals. So thank you – thank you to all of you, for your involvement with the Trust. And special thanks to (Revd) Jack Mulder, as the Trust’s Director.

Thank you also to Revd Nick Holtam and for all at St Martin’s in the Fields, both for hosting us today, and for the partnership in the gospel that we share with you, particularly with your link to St Mary’s Cathedral, Johannesburg – where I served my curacy. This link has always meant that somehow I feel particularly at home here, even if it has just been sliding into a pew anonymously for a service, when I have been in London. Indeed, in 1991 I preached my very first sermon outside of South Africa from this pulpit where I now stand! Well, I would never have guessed then that I would be back here today, on such an occasion as this!

The Southern African Church Development Trust may be only a small body, in the grander scheme of things – but what you do has an impact far greater than one might at first imagine. Through reliance on the transformative power of God – which is exercised through the possibilities of partnership that we enjoy within the body of Christ – it is fair to say that you have achieved far more than the founders could ever ‘ask or think’, to misquote St Paul somewhat!

This is the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ – that, as our first reading says, turns stumbling blocks into stepping stones. It might be easy to look around and see challenges, and more than challenges – difficult and even intractable problems. But the eyes of faith allow us to look with optimism.

We know that it is the unfailing habit of our God to bring good news to the poor, freedom to the oppressed, sight to the blind. And so, wherever we see poverty and impoverishment, whether material or otherwise; wherever we see oppression and limitation – well, we can expect that our blind eyes will be opened to look beyond the surface problems and difficulties, and instead to find opportunity, to find expectation.

For the transformative power of God will delight to be at work, if only we are ready to play our part too. The part which we are called to play is one that changes, with the changing of the years. The challenges that we face today are very different from half a century ago. Yet, at the same time, the vision of the prophet Isaiah, the vision of Christ’s gospel, still burns within us, and finds fresh expression. And God continues to fulfil his promises among his people – especially when we work together as the body of Christ.

I am sure that it is this partnership in the gospel that allows us to achieve so much with so little, relatively speaking. We not only build with bricks and mortar – in establishing schools and hostels and churches and community centres and parish halls. More than this, we lay the foundations for many lives to be touched and changed, to be nurtured and grown – and, in turn, to bear fruit of their own. The bursaries and health care projects, the clinics and crèches and educare centres, are all in the business of multiplying the investment for a rich harvest – just like the sower of Jesus’ parable.

There are important lessons for the wider Anglican Communion, and the wider world, to learn from the way we have learnt to walk together – in mutual respect, in mutual learning, in mutual support, in mutual sharing together of the abundant life that is ours in Jesus Christ our Saviour. This abiding, and vibrant relationship is one of trust – and it is trust, it seems to me, that makes all the difference.

In baptism, in confirmation, we speak about believing and trusting in God. Within the body of Christ, we need also to believe and trust in the relationship that we have with everyone else who is ‘in Christ’ with us. When we have such a deeply rooted relationship, it supplies the courage to give and keep on giving, even sacrificially.

But more than this, it supplies the courage to give of our very selves. And it may be that this is the area on which we need to concentrate in the future – building links, as Jack has done, with individual bishops and parishes, and then allowing these relationships to develop substance in all manner of ways, not only our financial giving. I would like to hope that these relationships in Christ are part of the fabric that binds us together within the Anglican Communion.

On the face of it, an orphan in Lesotho may not seem to have much in common with many of you here today. But the Trust is a vehicle for us discovering one another, and finding that we are one in Christ. For our experience is this – when we stand together, under the umbrella of the words of the one who came to bring good news to the poor and proclaim the Lord’s favour – when our common ground is the ground we share in him – then, we will know that we are indeed members together of the same chosen race, and royal priesthood, and holy nation.

In Christ, sharing together in spreading his gospel good news wherever there is impoverishment, oppression, blindness – then we truly recognise one another as God’s own people. More than this, it is when we stand together that we are best able, as St Peter wrote, to ‘proclaim the mighty acts of him who called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.’

So, today, we give thanks for this – we give thanks that the Southern African Church Development Trust is a way of shedding God’s marvellous light in the darkness of this world. We give thanks to the God, who makes this possible. And we ask him to continue to pour his grace, and – in this week as we await the feast of Pentecost – his Spirit, upon us to that we in our turn may continue to share this light, this good news, this abundant life, with those around us who are in greatest need. So thank you – thank you again.

However, I must sound one final note of caution about our relationship, and the partnership we share: and that is to say that next month, I will most definitely be praying for Bafana Bafana to win the World Cup; while I really have my doubts about England!

And second, more seriously, in the light of today’s gospel passage, let me say that though I offer my congratulations to the new British Government, it is my hope and prayer that in tackling the budget deficit, they will not cut back on overseas aid and other assistance to the poorest of the poor. And you, as God’s church, have a responsibility to ensure that your voices are heard in this regard.

So, may God bless you, and continue to make you a blessing to others – so that the promises of God may indeed be fulfilled in our lives, and the lives of others around us. Amen

Thursday, May 13, 2010

To The Laos - To the People of God, May 2010

Dear People of God

Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost – once more we pass through these seasons. And once again we see how all of them speak to our changing circumstances.

St Paul wrote to the Philippians, ‘I want to know Christ, and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in death if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead’ (Phil 3:10,11). It is as if St Paul, at one and the same time, shares in both the suffering of the cross and the joyful triumph of the resurrection. This is so often our experience too, living at a time when, as we often say, ‘the kingdom both is, and is yet to come’. All around us, we see both death and life at work in many different ways – and our call is to join in wherever God is bringing about the abundant life of resurrection promise.

I saw this in a big way last week, when Fr Michael Lapsley SSM, whom many of you know, held a service of thanksgiving twenty years after he was blown up by a letter-bomb sent to him by the agents of the apartheid government. He lost both hands and an eye. To watch him preside at the Eucharist, holding the bread between articulated metal claws as he repeats Christ’s words ‘This is my body, broken for you’ is to be challenged to a deeper appreciation of the cost of the cross and what it means to share in it, without which we cannot share in resurrection. But resurrection comes, if we are prepared to let it. So we gave thanks that Fr Michael’s life was spared – and, far more than this, that out of the great evil perpetrated against him, God by his grace has brought a far greater and more lasting good. Fr Michael established the Institute for the Healing of Memories which conducts significant work among victims of violence and torture here and all around the world, including Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, and further afield. Fr Michael has said, it ‘is not to say that I will not always grieve what I’ve lost … Yet I believe I’ve gained through this experience. I realise that I can be more of a priest with no hands than with two hands.’

His example gives us courage to let God work in and through us in the worst possible circumstances, to bring to fruit a good that is greater than the evil that went before – to cooperate with resurrection in the place of crucifixion.

We need to learn to see death and life at work not only in big dramatic situations, but also in the far more subtle circumstances with which democratic life often presents us. This can be far harder to do, when many of the options are such a mix of good and bad, constructive and destructive. I’ve been pondering what this means in relation to water. Safe water is fundamental to human existence. But in many regions ground water is at risk from industrial pollution. Yet these same industries provide livelihoods to many people. We see the cross in the threats to human well-being, and to the health of our environment (one of our priorities in our Vision 2020 planning). We must also look for the possibilities of resurrection – of working with NGOs and others to call governments to implement regulations that will both support job-sustaining industry but ensure environmental standards are upheld. We can pray, with the ascended Saviour who is at the Father’s right hand interceding for us, for opportunities to speak life-giving words; and ask the Spirit to give us the right words (perhaps through leading us to experts to guide us) whenever we God provides these chances to lobby and advocate for good. There may be no easy, simple answers – but the promise of cross and resurrection, Passion and Easter, is that in every situation, no matter how complex, we can be part of the wrestling to find good solutions. This is what St Paul means when he says that in all things, God works for good, for those who love him whom he has called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28). As Fr Michael shows us, there is no situation so bad that God does not provide an opportunity for us to work for good in it.

The challenge is to have such ‘eyes to see’ in whatever our circumstances – and to work for live in taking public stances where democracy is not what it might be, in marches to raise the profile of local issues, in putting the weight of the church behind social justice questions in our communities, and so forth.

Life and death are at work in our Province in other ways. We were shocked by the murder of Revd Manuel Ferreira, in the Cassexe commune in Uige province in Angola, on his way home after celebrating the Eucharist on 2 May. This is a tragedy for his family, his parish and the wider diocese. Do pray or his wife, Rosa Nunes Ferreira, their 6 children, and all who loved him.

We have also just heard of the death of Bishop John Ruston, on 27 April in the UK. He was suffragan Bishop of Pretorial from 1983, then Bishop of St Helena from 1990 to 1999. He had been ill and frail for some time. We hold his family and friends in our prayers, and give thanks for this faithful servant of God.

Yet alongside these deaths, we join with the Diocese of Zululand in celebrating its 140th anniversary this month. We offer Bishop Dino, his clergy and people, our congratulations. We have much to thank God for, in his faithfulness in a place that has seen considerable trauma, both in the Anglo-Zulu War, and more recently in the later years of the struggle. Yet it was also where Alphaeus Zulu was elected the first black Diocesan Bishop (having previously been the first black suffragan, in St John’s, as Mthatha was then known).

We also give thanks for the election of Archdeacon Daniel Kgomosotho as the second bishop of the Diocese of Mpumalanga, following Bishop Les Walker’s death last year. Please pray for him, his wife and family, as he prepares for his consecration will be on 24 July. We also congratulate Bishop Tisani, enthroned on the 24th April as the first bishop of Ukhahlamba diocese as well as the inauguration of St Michael's Queenstown as a new cathedral. Another Bishop who needs your prayers is Mark van Koevering of Niassa, who was in hospital last month with pneumonia and a kidney infection, but is now home. Please pray for his complete recovery.

As the collect for the Fourth Sunday after Easter puts it, ‘Sovereign Lord, through the death and resurrection of your Son, all creation is renewed and by faith we are born again: make us grow up into him and bring us to the fulness of Christ’. Amen. May it indeed be so.

Yours in the Service of Christ

++Thabo Cape Town

Statement on the Afriqiya Airways Plane Crash

Issued on 12 May 2010

News of the horrific plane crash that took place Tripoli this morning has come as a great shock to us all.

We are sad and sore at the thought of the more than one hundred passengers and crew who lost their lives. I offer my own condolences, and those of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, to all those who are affected by this tragedy of our prayers. We hold them, and those who have been killed in this tragedy, in our prayers. I am sure that our places of worship will be available to all those who have lost loved ones, whether for memorial services, or to receive the care and support of our clergy as they deal with their deep sense of loss and honestly face the depths of their grief.

We do not know the cause of the crash – and even if we did, it would not alter the way that our hearts weep within us. We call for the relevant aviation authorities to determine and declare the cause soon, so that others can learn from this tragedy.

We thank God for the sole survivor, a young boy. In his survival, we see that even in this dark cloud of death, there is this ray of hope. More than this, in this season of Easter, I pray that the knowledge that Jesus Christ died and was raised to new life so that all who trust in him can share in this same life beyond death, may be a source of comfort, hope and strength, to all those affected by this disaster.

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba

Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town

Restoring Hope for Haiti - Africa for Haiti

These are the reflections shared at an Inter-Faith Special Service for Haiti that was held at St George's Cathedral, Cape Town, on 8 May 2010 It is almost 4 months since the overwhelming devastation of the earthquake that hit Haiti at 4.53pm on 12 January. Yet people still live in tents. People still beg for food. Classrooms are not rebuilt and for some ,their dearly departed loved ones are decomposing, under yet to be removed rubble, if removing the rubble should be the focus after such devastation. You will recall that close to a quarter of a million people are said to have died, 300,000 were injured and millions left homeless. Behind these numbers lies human tragedy on an almost ungraspable scale. Some of what we saw is almost impossible to put into words and on the last several occasions when I had an opportunity to do so, words just overwhelmed me. The devastation is overwhelming. Today, I speak as one of the Patrons of Africa for Haiti. Our resolve is to Rebuild Hope in Haiti through some of the following: to get Africa to care in a practical way, a loving and Ubuntu way; for Africa to be committed to long term reconstruction projects, such as infra-structure, economic activities; and for us to journey with the Haitians over a long period of time, beyond the current crisis intervention. There are however, serious immediate needs which if not attended to will compromise the credibility of any long term plans. The people of Haiti need food now, they need shelter now, they need water now and need our solidarity now. That is why we are here today, and we are very grateful to Gift of the Givers and our partnership with them in attempting to bring help now. I travelled to Haiti, with Dr Sooliman of Gift of the Givers and Revd Butterworth of our church, early in March. I have never seen such devastation in my life before. All was lost, all gone. The emotional pain of knowing and seeing your loved one buried in a precariously supported building, smelling his decomposing body every day, stabbed my inner-most part. It was sore. These are the 3 vivid pictures which were ingrained in my body, mind and soul:

1. A group of 8-10 year olds, dressed neatly, their parents dead – and these girls, posing as if saying, we are ready to be adopted and rescued from this mess. These children are crying for help: they want to be children, to play and learn. Their schools are gone. University students want to learn, yet their universities are gone and their friends are buried in rubble or mass graves at entrances of the university. 2. The second picture is of when I addressed a group of disabled children. They too touched me most deeply. Most of them are in wheel-chairs, living in small tents in a church yard, after their children home fell. Some were killed because they could not rush quickly to their wheel-chairs while others did not mentally comprehend the urgency to do so. 3. The third picture is that of hope. Everywhere we went it was the same: devastation, pain, distress. Yet, if you cared to look deeper and closer, a thin line, but deep ray, of hope was evident even in the midst of such hopelessness and loss. In some, the devastation was like a severe extension of their existential reality. They knew that as with corrupt leaders and previous devastation, this too, though not to the same extent, will also pass, and they will return to the 'normal' challenges of living in Haiti. As we know, no amount of evil, darkness and devastation will annihilate good, light and hope. Let us help the Haitians rebuild. Yes, we have our fair share of poverty, our hunger and disease in Africa but we must care beyond ourselves. We must reciprocate, for we have been recipient of the world's love, compassion and resources. We must share in the spirit of Ubuntu, especially corporate Africa, which benefits from our rich soil.

We can do more, especially in longer-term reconstruction – because creating much out of little is the area where we have worked so hard within our own countries in Africa. Building capacity, developing skills, growing expertise – these are the stuff of life on so much of our continent. Many individuals have given from their pockets, and please continue to do so. But now the time has come for Corporate Africa to come to the party in a big way. The call is especially to African multinationals.

In summary, I am asking:

1. Give money to relief agencies such as the Gift of the Givers

2. Give Money to Africa for Haiti and support its continental efforts and events.

3. Corporate Africa, think of investing in Haiti; Multinationals in Africa, give in a big way to the efforts of individuals, churches and Africa for Haiti.

4. Here in Cape Town, an individual priest is heading an innovate program of rebuilding a classroom in partnership with our Anglican schools. Please support her.

5. The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has adopted a theological student to study, free of charge at our theological college. We need to raise travel and subsistence money.

6. The devastation is immense; any little contribution goes a long way. I encourage each one of us to seize the opportunity to make a difference for others, especially those who will not repay us when we will not receive personal returns – for that is the core of sacrificial giving.

Thank you for coming here and listening. God bless.

Statement following the Bus Accident on the Hex River Pass

(Issued on 5 May 2010)

We learnt with great shock and sadness about the horrific accident that claimed the lives of so many people yesterday.

We extend our sympathies to those who have lost loved ones. We pray for those who mourn the injured and the medical teams that are assisting them.

We abhor the callous and irresponsible approach of transport operators who, in trying to make a few Rands, compromise the safety of our people. We appeal to the authorities to deal firmly with the owner and driver if negligence on their part can be proved, or if it can be shown that the vehicle was unroadworthy.

++Thabo Cape Town

Statement on the Death of Sheena Duncan

(Issued on 5 May 2010)

On behalf of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of Sheena Duncan, as I thank God for the gift of her remarkable life.

The Psalmist wrote, “Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against the evildoers?” (Ps 94:16) We are grateful that Sheena dared to take that stand on behalf of so many in this country who were oppressed. A voice for the voiceless, her readiness to speak up, no matter what, made an exceptional contribution to the life of our nation. Not only was she a fierce campaigner of human rights and the reign of God, she was a dedicated member of our church and the first lay canon in the diocese of Johannesburg. A clear thinker and a woman of integrity and strength, she will long be remembered by all who benefitted from her courage.

May the comfort and strength of the eternal God, who is love, surround you as you celebrate her life and mourn her passing.

++Thabo Cape Town

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mass of Thanksgiving - Fr Michael Lapsley SSM

Note: On 28 April 1990, Father Michael Lapsley, SSM opened a letter bomb. On 1 May 2010 Archbishop Thabo Makgoba preached and Archbishop Desmond Tutu presided at a Mass of thanksgiving for his survival and for all that God has enabled him to do during these last twenty years, including through the Institute for the Healing of Memories, and to pray for all victims of violence and torture.

Readings and Collect from the Feast of St Michael and All Angels: Job 38:1-7; Rev 12:7-12; Mt 18:1-10

May I speak in the name of God, who sends his angels to watch over us.

Well, Fr Michael, you have caused your Archbishop to find himself in a state of confusion! First of all, today is the Feast of St Joseph, but you choose the readings for the Feast of St Michael and All Angels, almost 5 months away – though we do understand that St Michael is the patron saint of the Society of the Sacred Mission. Second, you invite us to a service of thanksgiving. But how are we to greet you? Normally on such an occasion, one would say Happy Birthday, or Happy Anniversary or something similar. But somehow Happy Bombing really does not sound right!

But it certainly is a privilege to be here today. Thank you, Fr Michael, for inviting me to share with you – and with the many people around the world who are holding us in their thoughts and prayers. As the many messages in the service booklet bear witness, we have so very much to give thanks for. We give thanks, dear Fr Michael, for your survival of that terrible deed of premeditated violence, perpetrated upon you twenty years ago by agents from within the apartheid government. So perhaps our greeting is Happy Survival!

And we give thanks that God – through the subversive triumph of the cross and resurrection – has enabled you to turn that act of evil into a stepping stone to redemption: not only in your own life, but to others, through your testimony, through the witness of your living example, and through your vision for the Institute of the Healing of Memories and the work in which you have led it so effectively.

For myself, I give thanks for many years of friendship and collaboration in the gospel which we have shared. I particularly remember the time, 18 years ago, when you stayed with me, and Lungi, my new bride, in the Rectory that had previously been your diocesan offices, Archbishop Tutu. Fr Michael, you should have known the uncertain ways of old church buildings and their plumbing. But you used the spare shower that we had never tried out – and we soon found ‘living water’ seeping through the ceiling of the kitchen, the dining room, the lounge ... No, Lungi and I, will never forget that visit! Thank you also for our partnership as chaplains to Anglican students, where I succeeded you as Provincial; and for the many blessings I have received from the Society, for which I am privileged to be Visitor.

Today I want to reflect on the glorious mysteries of God’s transformative love and power, through which he has turned an act of deliberate hatred and cruelty reflecting all the evil of the apartheid regime, into a beacon of compassion and hope that shines far, far brighter; far, far wider. Around the globe, wherever evil and violence are perpetrated, we know they will not have the final word.

Yet even so, our hearts grieve that brutality and torture still continue today. We do not understand why it is that our all loving, all powerful, heavenly Father, does not step in and thwart such evil in its tracks. Nor do we understand why it is that one man survives devastating explosives, deliberately intended to murder; while a student who walks in on a burglary in his own home, is stabbed to death, as happened in this city two days ago.

The purposes of God are beyond our ability fully to grasp. Job recognised this, when, after wrestling to find answers to his own suffering, he encountered the Lord speaking out of the whirlwind. He received a glimpse into the unknowable – enough to see that there is a whole spiritual realm where ultimate truths of good and evil, life and death, are played out.

There is deep mystery here. We cannot fathom it all – but we can encounter enough to know that it is so, and that, as is recorded in the Revelation to St John, ‘now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah’. We do not need to understand – we need only to believe and trust.

As our gospel tells us – we need to become like children: not childish, but child-like. When my children were small, they used to love to run and throw themselves into my arms. They knew I would catch them. They didn’t worry about how, they just trusted that I would not let them fall.

Fr Michael – in your life, you are a vivid challenge to us to do the same, to trust ourselves unconditionally, as little children, into the hands of the living God, who will not let us fall. We do not know what life will bring – I don’t suppose that when you first left New Zealand, you had even the smallest idea of how events would unfold. But you dared to say an unconditional yes to God’s future for you.

Any of us may find that terrible things do happen. But you are a living demonstration of the truth of Romans 8:28 – that ‘all things work together for God for those who love God’. This is not to say that all things are good. By no means. But nothing is so terrible that God cannot work in it for good, if we let him.

Indeed, I want to go further and say, however great the evil, the good that God can bring is greater. Easter shows this. The glory of the resurrection more than trumps the devastation of the cross.

And you, Fr Michael, show us this is true in your life. The good that has followed – because you dared to keep on trusting God as his little child – the good that has followed has been far greater than the evil that began it all.

We thank God for his amazing goodness at work within us all – and especially as we see it displayed in your life, Fr Michael. Therefore, let us in turn entrust ourselves into the hands of God even as we boldly root out mediocrity, corruption, greed, malice, inequality, racism, and anything that undermines, demeans and marginalises God’s people and harms our planet in our lifetime.

So we thank God for his angels that watch over us, and – in the words of the collect – we ask that as they inspire us in our worship, they may also strengthen us as they have strengthened you, dear Fr Michael, in our fight against evil.

Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip us for every good work, so that we may always live ‘to the glory of God, in the doing of God’s will’. Amen