Wednesday, 31 October 2012

News from New Zealand - 5

Wednesday 31 October - The breeze is chilly today, so it is just as well that I brought a pullover with me! We ended today’s business with a Festal choral evensong led by the cathedral choir. The lectionary readings included Ps 1:3 (see below) and Isaiah 40:31: those who wait upon the Lord will have their strength renewed, and they will rise up on eagle’s wings, they shall run and not grow weary …

These were encouraging readings, especially when read in conjunction with our Bible Study passage for the day, 2 Corinthians 3:12-18. In this we were encouraged to remember our sacred responsibility to take care to set aside any ‘veils’ or masks of what are, in truth, actually intellectual ineptness or cultural camouflage, which may make us impatient dissuaders instead of patient and generous persuaders . The Isaiah passage above and Psalm 1:3 – those who delight in and meditate on the law of the Lord ‘shall be like a tree planted by the waterside, that will bring forth its fruit in due season’ – summed up the day for me. It is the theme of faithfully waiting upon the Lord, faithfully connecting to the roots, the source, and so being nurtured by his love so that we can bear fruit in apt times.

This rhythm of Anglican spirituality is priceless! It encourages this waiting, this discerning and this ‘chewing the cud’ of our faith. Too often we become unreflective, and this rhythm and spirituality can be taken for granted in our busy world of checklists. So let me outline the day again, so you can see how its rhythm sustained and fed us: we shared together in fellowship at breakfast and in walking (or, today for some in the rain, driving!) to the cathedral where we broke bread together in the Eucharist; we then shared the Word together in bible studies, and then got into the days' hard work in our regional groups and in our reflection groups; and we ended up by sharing these reflections and discussing them in plenary , before then sharing in worship together at choral evening song, and finally eating dinner together.

In our work within the regional groups, we explored ways we could move ‘from words to action’ on the matter of violence and abuse in families. We asked ourselves, what preventative measures, protection and partnership are plausible within the SADCC region, and what might the Anglican Communion do to address abuse through partnering with other groups that are gospel-shaped. The emphasis here was to ‘be both hearers and doers of the Word’ as we strive to alleviate gender based violence and abuse in service to God in the world.

In our session on matters related to service to God within the church, we discussed The Anglican Covenant and received an update of how the different Provinces (ie Member Churches) of the Communion have handled the Covenant adoption process. We are also received reports and messages from our ecumenical partners and these were discussed in groups. Within our Province the long process towards the Anglican Covenant has been discussed at Synod of Bishops and Provincial Standing Committee (see, for example, The final text was formally adopted at our 2010 Provincial Synod, but this decision has to be ratified in 2013 for the adoption process to be completed (

There are concerns about The Anglican Covenant, but you know my take and the provincial position on it! I have written a couple of reflections on the Covenant, and articles in support of it, including a letters to the Archbishop of Canterbury and York. If you wish, you can read these on my blog at,, and

The Covenant is a relational and missional tool, that does not seek to be legislative nor blur Anglican polity. I am reminded of the Council of Nicaea, in AD325, which wrestled with putting a formula to articulate their faith and beliefs about what it meant for Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, and his relationship with God the Father. It may be that, in our debates around Anglican identity and the Covenant, we might be doing something much more profound than we realise. Therefore it is good that we should wrestle together, in the certainty that, as we wait upon the Lord and reflect on his Word to us, our strength shall be renewed and that we shall bear fruit in due season.

More news continues to reach us, including of the devastating effect of Hurricane Sandy in the Caribbean, with many deaths there also. My prayers go out to them too. And I also think of all people who are, in whatever way, going through ‘the storms of life’. Keep your focus on God and not life’s tempests, even as you deal with whatever your challenges are, and you too will be renewed like an eagle.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

News from New Zealand - 4

Tuesday 30 October – I cannot help but weep with the people in the US and Canada as they face the natural disaster, displacement and death that Hurricane Sandy is bringing. I weep as I send condolences over deaths in the US to our American colleagues here, led by the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. I share their anxiety and sadness at this tragedy as this storm continues to impact.

Natural disasters remain a mystery to me, and to us all. Today we passed a motion on the need to care for creation, and the particular calling for us as Anglicans and Episcopalians to be good stewards of our creation. I could not help, in my personal prayers tonight, to beg that creation might also take care of us, asking God to hear our prayers as he always does, but also asking God to incline his ear nearer to hearts for we are pained and overwhelmed by the mystery of these natural disasters. I was particularly conscious that on Sunday I travel to preach in Wellington, not too far from Christchurch, which has suffered so much from earthquakes in the last two years. Bishop Victoria Matthews of Christchurch has been present with us, and I wonder how much she and the people in Christchurch are having sad feelings evoked by this natural disaster.

So at our choral evensong I also quietly poured my soul out as the cathedral choristers, on average 10 year old, lead us in singing the psalms and prayers . I felt them bringing me closer to those who suffer , whether deep in the mines of South Africa, or those affected by the storms , or those facing their family tragedies unnoticed and unknown. Yet they also drew me closer to God, because ‘our hope is in the name of Lord’. In our Bible Studies we have also been reminded that wisdom entails attending to God in our relationships, and that our competence is from God (2Cor:3:5).

Today we also met in regional groups. Our group covered the SADCC countries, and we discussed some of the key development challenges that we faced, and possible relief as well as advocacy strategies. Governance, of governments, corporations and churches, was identified as needing attention in our region, as well as sustainable and practical economic empowerment initiatives for women. These will help make the churches in the region become more self-reliant, and pragmatically grounded. We agreed that we needed to map our resources for effective intervention.

We ended the evening with a challenging presentation on how to stop abuse within families. We were given a very good presentation that powerfully brought home the reality of children and women abuse to this highest chamber of the Communion. The reports of the Anglican Alliance, and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order, the resolutions we considered, and the presentation on stopping abuse all brought the best of our doctrine and theology into engagement with our lived reality, and empowered us with skills to think deeply and plan practical action around these challenges.

On my way home to the hotel I could smell the aroma of jasmine, and spotted the hydrangea, agapanthus, beautiful orchids, ivy and grasses which which I am familiar. So I feel at home and connected with the environment here, and its people in their challenges to connect with their context: with their past and with whatever future they hope for, whether at the centre or the margins of this place. And I also feel connected to God, even as I kneel to pray for those affected by ‘Superstorm’ Sandy. Please join my prayers

Monday, 29 October 2012

News from New Zealand - 3

Monday 29 October – The cloud could not contain the rain today. So after lunch I walked to a shop and bought myself a purple umbrella. The choice of colour, I hasten to add, had nothing to do with episcopal concerns. It was just the most practical the store had.

The cathedral is about 7 minutes, a gentle uphill walk, from the hotel we stay at. So we are not only nurtured spiritually with the word of God and daily Mass, we are also being kept fit. We walk the route at least twice a day, from the hotel to the cathedral and back. And if you want a siesta, like I did today, succumbing to jet lag, you walk four times 7 minutes, up and down to the cathedral.

I have enjoyed walking with Louisa Mojela ,our lay representative, and catching up on Anglican Global South matters , as she also represent our Province in this structure. I also walked with the Bishop of Ceylon and began to understand some more about his context. On another occasion, I walked with a bishop from Tanzania, and really enjoyed connecting with him. Last night, I also spoke to a retired bishop from Tanzania , who, like Judge Albi Sachs and Fr Michael Lapsley, was sent a letter bomb by the apartheid forces and he too lost his hand. He was an amazing man, who talked with no regret nor bitterness for the atrocious act of the past, but spoke fondly of his time in Lesotho, Swaziland and Lusaka as an Anglican chaplain with Umkhonto We Sizwe. I remain grateful for all those who sacrificed their lives and, literally, body parts for our liberation.

This transformative and redeeming spirit was expounded by Archbishop Rowan, when he started today’s morning session with a quiet time and an exposition of 2 Cor 2:14-17. He said the context is that of Paul seeking to respond to his own challenging context, which may have been both similar and uniquely different to that faced by those I mentioned, with its pain, anger, suffering, and marginalization. Paul seeks to respond in a gospel shaped way. This takes the form of acknowledging our deep-seated emotions: in Paul's case his blazing anger in his letter to the Corinthian church. He then has to step back to critically reflect on these emotions. We must ask ourselves too, is our anger at a thing, a person, or a community? Acknowledging that God is faithful to both us and to others, is to reveal God' s passionate faithfulness in us, in that ‘while we were still sinners’, he sent his only son to liberate us, rather than to condemn us. And so we are challenged to ask ourselves whether our anger is more about passionate self-righteousness than faithfulness to God and God’s communion with us and who or whatever is ‘the other’ in our anger. Archbishop Rowan then called for critical faithfulness: critical because we believe in God’s redeeming presence, and faithfulness because ‘He who calls us is faithful and he will do it.’ He is faithful and will not go away, but will always be there. And so the church is called to ‘be there’ in God’s world, not to run away but offer this presence for all in need. This comes at a cost. The fragrance of death of which St Paul writes is an indication that something has to die in us, and the fragrance of life indicates that we are being transfigured into the likeness of Christ as we critically and faithfully serve God in the other.

The Anglican Communion’s Secretary General, Kenneth Kearon, in his opening address, took a similar line to the above reflection while speaking independently. He drew the analogy of the ACC and communion members as glass. We are required to cooperate and work with one another as we radiate, reflect, refract what communion is about. Doing this, like having stained glass windows in our cathedrals or parish churches, comes with a price. The cost of belonging requires transformation, which entails death to stagnant positions, because none of us can fully capture the whole picture of who God is and what communion is about. He concluded, ‘We each bring our own piece of stained glass and add it to the window alongside that of others, and so reveal the fullness of the glory of God in our broken and hurting world.’

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is in effect a unity of three churches, or three ‘Tikanga’ as they call them: the Maori, Pakeha (ie of European descent) and Polynesian. Even in their negotiated settlement, there is this cost and this value; and so their fuller picture should be seen as a bright collage which is distinctive in its differences and yet one. So tonight we ended the day by having dinner at the Maori church, which displayed its traditional food, lovingly served for the good of the communion and extension of God’s mission. We sat and ate together and shared sweet fellowship. I found myself reflecting that if this is possible, in this place which also faced past divisions, yet came to acknowledge their pain honestly, then it is possible for South Africa to stay on course with reconciliation in spite of the current mining sector and other challenges. In the same way, it is also possible for our Communion, and even the world, with each bringing our unique pieces into forming this picture that is open, loving, transparent, and able to serve God with critical faithfulness, confidently knowing that he will never abandon his church or his world. He is faithful and this is the reason for my joy. What about you? If you examine yourself, what emotions do you have which need to die and be replaced with the aroma of Christ? And what about our church and our country?

God bless, Arch Thabo

Sunday, 28 October 2012

News from New Zealand - 2

Sunday 28 October - I love cathedrals and organ music as well as choirs or orchestras, as most of you know by now. This morning’s opening service was held at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland, and led in Maori, English and Tongan by the three Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached. It all touched me deep in my love for cathedrals with all their aesthetics and well prepared worship. It was not a grand service as we might do in most of our cathedral services, but a meaningful service and just about the right tempo.

Archbishop Rowan broke the word for us, and with a beautiful choice of words explained the passage from John's gospel (Jn 15: 17-27) profoundly to us. He spoke about God’s undeserved love for us, that calls us as church not only to work to share this love, but to be it in the world. We should see the world as not a dichotomy of ‘us and them’ but as existing in us and within the church and deserving of the unconditional, causeless, love of God . This is the overwhelming, unreasonable, reckless love of God which pours into us in spite of ourselves and often we would rather wish it was not the case . The ACC was called and challenged in truth and love to wrestle with what was before us. (You can read Archbishop Rowan’s sermon at, or watch the podcast at

This afternoon, we will get to experience first-hand the work of the networks, see the displays of information they are providing for us, and learn of the varied nature of the Communion’s engagement with mission. Communion networks include Health, Indigenous People, Colleges and Universities, the Environment, Peace and Justice, Inter-Faith, Families, Women, Youth, and the HIV and AIDS network of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa. I am proud that in a humble way, our Province contributes to these and the global life of the Communion, with Delene in the Peace and Justice network and Rachel in the Environment network. These networks are important, and I am sure you will see the parallels with ACSA’s 8 Provincial mission priorities that seek to give our Anglican identity "flesh" in context. Just as we seek to resource our Dioceses and Parishes through these priorities, so we too can be resourced from the Communion-wide work of the networks. Later in the programme there will be resolutions that will come from these networks, which will encourage the Communion to share the love of God, that Archbishop Rowan spoke about, in Gods world in practical terms.

The communications team has asked me to work with the local radio station to field some questions in an interview about what the Anglican Consultative Council is, and about our meeting’s programme. If there is a link, I will send it tomorrow after the interview.

This morning, I spent some time chatting with a judge from Kenya. He is positive about belonging to a bigger church and also found the sermon this morning affirming and challenging. As a judge objectivity and reasonableness are the tools of his trade. He felt able to sit back and engage with what the Archbishop of Canterbury said, rather than feeling disempowered because he was not a cleric, or sufficiently theologically trained. He also marvelled at how South Africa was able to avert a catastrophe through a negotiated settlement, instead of descending into war against the apartheid regime. This is a miracle that I continue to find that most people around the world still appreciate, while increasing numbers of us in South Africa either take it lightly or forget its enormity. I added that this was a living example of the underserved and reckless love of God of which Archbishop Rowan talked, which we experienced in reality in South Africa’s liberation.

Let me end on a personal note. I put through a call to home and spoke with Lungi and the kids, and shared with them that my room is on the third floor, overlooking Auckland harbour, where there are ships and actively working boats. I feel a bit like I am in Table Bay, in Cape Town, on a day when you can't see the mountain! There is a lot of bird life around the hotel, although I have not been able to identify what type of birds. Their singing and the sounds they make fill the heart with life. The flowers and hedged fence feel more familiar than foreign, and so does the weather with its high veld-type of spring clouds. These sufficiently shield the sun and calm the day, though hold a not so distant possibility of rain.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

News from New Zealand - 1

Saturday 27 October - I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, after midnight today (Friday night/Saturday morning) after almost twenty four hours of travelling, including a lot of waiting in airports – almost a day and a half after setting off, if you include the time difference. This is my first visit across the Pacific as up till now my travelling has all been trans-Atlantic. We landed in Sydney and from the sky I could see that this is a beautiful city. My son knows it better than just a view from the sky, having spent a term here on a school exchange last year. From Sydney it was a flight of 2hr 40min to Auckland, and by the time I arrived, I had technically lost a day.

It is always exciting to be at meetings of the Anglican Communion. Yes, there are concerns about money and the cost of travelling, but nothing can replace the importance of literally putting flesh on what communion is, in all its beauty, with its dignity of difference and yet unity of purpose in mission. This was the feeling this morning, as retired Bishop John Peterson welcomed us and gave us a dry run of the welcome we were to receive from the mayor and the host province. Our team of three ACC reps from the Anglican Church in Southern Africa (myself, Revd Canon Janet Trisk, and Louisa Mojela) has been joined by Canon Delene Mark, CEO of Hope Africa, who participates in the Communion’s Peace and Justice Network, and Revd Canon Dr Rachel Mash, our Provincial Environment Coordinator, who serves in the Communion’s Environmental Network. Together, we form what is possibly the most representative team of them all in terms of ecclesial and social labels.

We have had the most wonderful welcome, as you can see if you follow the news on the Anglican Communion News Service, or Episcopal News Service websites, Facebook or Twitter. I hugely enjoyed being part of a panel, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church, at a youth forum, where the young people asked us a whole range of questions about God, theology, ethics and Scripture. ‘What shoes would God wear and why?’ was, for me, a searching and beautiful question. One question directed to me specifically was what does an Archbishop do and am I happy with my pay?!

Following this, we gathered at the cathedral to be oriented about the program. It was a good start, with warm weather in this lovely, clean, bright, city. I love the architecture of the cathedral, which combines old and modern, using natural light, and chairs that can easily be moved to create an Indaba context for groups. Afterwards, I took a long walk into town and along the harbour, just to orient myself physically too.

In sum, Communion is about God's people sharing the love of God through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in them and in their context. It is less about structural issues, important though these are, and far more about ‘incarnation’: it is about an encounter with God and one another, at God’s chosen place.

Please keep us in your prayers, and follow our news via websites or twitter, and I will send more updates when I get the chance.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

To the Laos - To the People of God, October 2012

Dear People of God

‘To God be the glory, great things he has done …’ This song rang in my heart at the beginning of this month, when, with 1400 of you, I was at the Anglicans Ablaze Conference in Johannesburg. It was a remarkable time together, deeply spiritually moving, and stirring heart and mind with profound teaching from wonderful speakers.

Though we come together in far larger numbers in our Dioceses, this was the largest pan-ACSA gathering anyone can remember. It was all I hoped it might be, and much more – for God never ceases to surprise us, even if we know in our heads that he delights to do ‘immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine’ (Eph 3:20). I have longed for us to find ways to celebrate the best of our traditions, including in liturgy, alongside other forms of faith and worship which equally exemplify authentic Anglicanism; all accepted as part of our legitimate diversity. Well, we certainly enjoyed this, as you will know if you’ve seen pictures of Bishop Martin Breytenbach playing his guitar while wearing a cope! Our worship was both properly dignified, and yet lively and exuberant in our response to God’s love poured out upon us.

It was an amazing celebration of the goodness of God, and of our distinctive though challenging Anglican calling. For it seems to me that our ability to hold together in love, and overcome barriers (whether ‘secular’, of politics, history, race, language and so forth, or ‘church’, of styles and traditions) can be an icon, modelling the societies God calls us to promote across the Province. I left Bryanston a changed person, and believe our church has also been changed, by God’s grace. It was as if God gave us a taste of the holistic renewal he desires to bring to us – across every aspect of the life of faith, from evangelism to discipleship to mission to social justice to the environment. ‘The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it’ says the Psalmist, and there is no aspect of human living that God does not want to redeem and renew.

How shall we take forward this excitement, this teaching, this inspiring sense of newness of life for us all (which feels like a personal challenge of ‘re-evangelisation’ to each of us, to take our faith ‘to the next level’), and share it across our Province? I am sure that those who were in Johannesburg will already have begun to do this. The celebration of the Anglicans ACT Vision (at the heart of Anglicans Ablaze), on 25 November, is another opportunity. I also invite you to read, prayerfully and reflectively, the ‘Message to the Church’ in which the Listening Team summed up so much of what God did for us during our time in Bryanston. This follows on below my letter.

By the time you read this, I shall be heading for New Zealand, to the Anglican Consultative Council, for which I ask your prayers. The ACC is, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, and the Primates’ Meeting, one of our ‘Instruments of Communion’. Meeting every 3 years, it brings together ordained and lay representatives from all 38 Anglican Churches, and so is the only body not made up of just bishops! Revd Canon Janet Trisk and Mrs Louisa Mojela are our other representatives. From 27 October to 7 November we will have a busy time discussing a great range of subjects in the life and mission of the global Anglican family.

The agenda includes the current state of the Anglican Communion, and the decisions made so far by churches on whether to adopt the Anglican Covenant, as well as looking at relations with other churches and the work of a host of global Anglican networks. One of these is the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN), which I chair, and there will be a major presentation around its work. Other major topics on the agenda include inter-faith relations, countering gender-based violence, communications, and Christian witness in contemporary contexts.

The environment has been much on my mind recently – not least the need to plant a growing number of trees to offset my extensive travel (I am fully aware of the irony of this, and the need, highlighted at PSC, to use technology to reduce our travel ‘footprint’). This planting is part of a radical overhaul of Bishopscourt’s gardens, in which, with the help of the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s ‘Early Detection and Rapid Response’ Team, we are steadily clearing out invasive alien species that threaten to overrun us, and to suck up all the ground water. I wish that my predecessors had realised 30 years ago how vital this task is. If it had been tackled then, it would have been a far easier and far cheaper job. I encourage all of you who have any gardens or land, to take special care in your stewardship of them.

Various speakers at an event this week to encourage such ‘weedbusting’ highlighted how poor care of our environment exacerbates poverty in direct and indirect ways. This is a theme in the seven studies ‘Sabbath Reflections: Capitalism and Inequity versus a Gospel Mandate’ which we will formally launch at ACC. In these, my predecessor as chair, Bishop George Browning, considers how contemporary societies must ‘address rapidly growing inequity and ... confront an economic system which operates as if resources are infinite and humanity can somehow exist as if it is not part of an unfolding ecological crisis.’ He explores how a fresh understanding and practice of the biblical concept of Sabbath can reconnect economics to ethics, and shape human society in a manner that is consistent with the creation upon which it depends. These are vital questions we must face, if we are to ensure that it is not ‘business as usual’ in our international financial structures. There needs to be a radical overhaul if we are to reverse the shocking trends of growing inequality and economic injustice through which a small minority can become ridiculously wealthy at the expense of the poorest, and even of the middle classes. If you are interested in downloading these studies, you will find them at

Yours in the service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

Anglicans Ablaze: ‘Anchored in the love of Christ, Committed to God’s Mission, Transformed by the Holy Spirit’

Message from the Listening Group - Johannesburg, 3-6 October 2012

We came, close to 1400 of us, because we wanted to be, and wanted the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to be, Anchored in the love of Christ, Committed to God’s Mission, Transformed by the Holy Spirit – believing this is not just our vision, but God’s vision for us.

We came with excitement, anticipation, commitment; even if a little unsure of what to expect, perhaps a bit lost or fearful, or aware of obstacles in our lives and in our church. But we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and has done far more than we could ever ask or imagine! God is love, and has met us in love, and called on us to abide in his love.

God offered us a turning point, and we have found it so: a turning point for many individuals, and for our church, which may also go on to become a turning point for our parishes, our communities, our nations.

It has been a time of renewal, of genuine renewal, as God sees it. It brings cleansing, healing, wholeness and newness of life for us, in every aspect of what it is to be human, made in the image of God, sharing in the body of Christ, loving our neighbours and God’s world. It is renewal that is about the abundant life which Christ promised. It is about evangelism and discipleship and integral mission and social justice. This is God’s comprehensive, holistic, renewal, far wider and deeper than we had expected, and he desires it to be at the heart of our church. He has come to us with power, yet he has also dealt with us gently and naturally.

We have been here to learn, and God has blessed us with some wonderful speakers. We have learnt that ‘the plural of disciple is church’, and that we need to move from being ‘welcoming’ to ‘inviting’ churches. We have learnt to have courage in God’s love not to minister from the damaged, wounded, places of our lives (which so often leads us to damage and wound others) but to live out of a brokenness that finds its place in the brokenness of Christ upon the cross, and shares in the weeping of God the Father for his children and his world. We have also learnt that power and authority belong to God, not to us, no matter what position we have. It is God’s gift. We must hold power lightly and share it.

We’ve also learnt that God will hold us, safe in his love, when life brings difficulties or obstacles, as inevitably happens. So we will not be afraid when everything seems to grind to a halt – if God says wait, then we will wait, but keep listening and ready to learn more. We will have courage to see the issues that we battle with as stepping stones not stumbling blocks, believing that God lets them come to us so that he can teach us what it means to take us through them to a better place. We’ve learnt that we should trust God to take us through our fears; to cleanse us from shame; to take our hardness and dissolve it in his cleansing waters of life. We have heard his call to let go of – or allow him to prune – all that holds us back.

We believe our time together has delighted the heart of God. God has given us a fuller vision, not only of being ‘Anglicans who ACT’, but of what we might become if we dare to live into the fullness of all that Anglicanism can be in Southern Africa, under God’s grace. In this way, he is calling us to become more, not less, Anglican! We have been the largest, and most diverse, gathering from across ACSA that anyone can remember: we have enjoyed being together as Archbishop and 12 more bishops and bishops-elect, as clergy, as religious, as laity, and as young people (we acknowledge that we have not had children among us, but affirm that the promise of God’s vision is for our children also). We have experienced God’s love breaking down the barriers of the social, political and historic divisions within our nations, and breaking down the differences of tradition, style, and labelling within our church. ‘God’s love is the glue that holds us together’ the Archbishop told us on our first evening, and we have come to know the truth of this for ourselves.

We believe this holding together in joyful, celebrated, diversity is a precious gift which God calls Anglicans to model to the world around us. It is as if we have experienced a foretaste of what the societies of our nation have the potential to become. For we have found ourselves enriched by one another, and know we have more to learn from each other. We have been delighted to experience something of what it means to live with this ‘mixed economy’ of church identity (as we heard Archbishop Rowan has described the best of our historic traditions alongside authentically Anglican newer forms of worship and church life), as we share together, anchored in the love of Christ. We have heard a clear call to hold on to the new links we have forged across old divides, as we go from here to our homes.

We thank God for the great blessing he has brought us through our times of worship (including our early morning Eucharists), and through our praying with and for one another. We have especially enjoyed having so many young people with us. As was said, their passion and energy, when joined with the wisdom of experience, is a winning combination!

Our time together has been significant. It has truly become a turning point. We have been changed, and our church has been changed. We have received a wonderful vision from God for our future, ‘a vision for the appointed time; and if it seems to tarry, we will wait for it, for it will surely come, it will not delay.’ We know we will face many challenges when we go home, even within ACSA. We are also more than aware of the enormous challenges in our communities and nations, and of the huge and ever faster changes our world is experiencing. But we are not daunted. We know that our calling is to keep listening to God, and to be faithful and obedient, and open to God’s leading, and then to leave it to him to ‘do his bit’, recalling that ‘Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.’

We also believe that God is calling us ‘to bless and not to curse’: to step back from the critical habits of contemporary society and stop complaining about our church, our societies and our governments. Where we see faults and failings, we should instead be beacons of light and hope, and bearers of God’s redemptive promises. ‘Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise’ we will let our minds dwell on, and our mouths speak of, such things.

Deep within us, our spirits speak in the words of the song that has been so significant during our time together: ‘It is well, it is well, with my soul.’ In our listening, praying and speaking, we have felt God offer images of holy fire and living water: flames that blaze, with flying sparks that spread the fire, and a flaming arrow pointing the way ahead; and waters that cleanse like wetlands, or dissolve hardness, or well up in unquenchable life-giving springs.

We are learning we need to be increasingly anchored in the love of Christ. We have learnt not only to say ‘God is good, all the time’, but also ‘God is love, all the time’ and ‘God loves us, all the time’ and ‘God loves me, all the time.’ And, having learnt this lesson, we have heard the voice of God coming to us as it came to Moses and the ancient Hebrew people, ‘You have been in this place long enough – it is time to break camp, and move on.’ Amen.

Some Bible Passages
Deut 1:6 – We have been here long enough: now is the time to break camp, and move on.
Habbakuk 2:3 – ‘… a vision for the appointed time … If it seems to tarry, wait for it: it will surely come, it will not delay.’
Haggai – Rebuilding the Temple
Luke 5:38 – new wine in new wineskins
John 15 – ‘Abide in my love’ …
Romans 12:2 – ‘…be transformed by the renewing of your minds’
I Cor 3:6 – ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.’
Phil 4:6-8 – ‘Whatever is true .. honourable … just … pure … pleasing … commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’
1 John, especially 3:14–4:21 – ‘God is love’ … ‘We love because he first loved us’ …

Some Quotes from Speakers
Bishop Graham Cray: ‘Mission will never be effective without authentic discipleship; and discipleship will never be taken seriously unless we engage in mission’ and ‘Renewal without mission is self- indulgence; mission without renewal becomes legalistic or triumphalist or disillusioned.’
‘Our theology would improve if we thought more of the church being given to the Spirit, than of the Spirit being given to the church.' John V Taylor

Weedbusting at Bishopscourt and Promoting Biodiversity

The following media release was issued on 25 October 2012

Weedbusting Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Promotes Biodiversity

The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) yesterday jointly hosted a party to celebrate ‘weedbusting’ in his Bishopscourt garden. Dr Thabo Makgoba welcomed representatives from conservation community of Cape Town and the Western Cape, as well as from the faith communities and others who, as he put it, ‘share my belief that we are called to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the earth’. To this end, he said, more than R200,000 has already been spent clearing invasive aliens from his large, historic, garden, and work still remains to be done. ‘If this had only been tackled 30 years ago, the work would have been far easier and cheaper’ he added, saying that he hoped others would learn the lesson not to let the problem worsen.

The Archbishop has been working with representatives of SANBI’s ‘Early Detection and Rapid Response Team’ to rid Bishopscourt of a number of invasive alien plant species, ranging from the spreading ground cover of morning glory to pines that deplete ground water.He also told the invited guests how much he used to like morning glory, with its large purple flowers, until he realised it was taking over vast areas of the garden and suffocating all the other plants it covered.

Speaking of the need to be a good steward of the property, the Archbishop underlined the need to plant alternatives that are not only beautiful, but are good for the environment. SANBI’s EDRR programme agreed that a team will be dispatched to assist the Archbishop in his endeavour to weed out the alien plant species.

Carmel Mbizvo, SANBI’s Deputy Director General applauded the Archbishop, and called on others to emulate him, especially in the Bishopscourt area, where tributaries which flow into the Liesbeek are being invaded by the purple loosestrife. SANBI, the City of Cape Town, and the Friends of the Liesbeek are now battling together to eradicate this. Louise Stafford, Head of Invasive Alien Species Management at the City, described some of her department’s work, and said their Early Detection and Rapid Response Team would be glad to assist the Archbishop and any other gardeners who wanted to follow the Archbishop’s example.

Ms Mbizvo also noted that invasive alien plants cover an estimated 10 million hectares of South Africa, and consume approximately 7% of its water resources, in addition to being high fire risks, promoting soil erosion, reducing agricultural productivity, and disturbing the natural balance of ecosystems. This impacts not only on biodiversity, but also on human livelihoods. Bishop Geoff Davies, Director of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute, also drew attention to the link between environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, and poverty.

‘Going “green” isn’t merely something that is fashionable to do’ said the Archbishop. ‘It has to be more than words on paper or a status symbol, but be exemplified in how we live, if we are to save our planet from human-induced destruction.’ Dr Makgoba will be taking the same message with him later this week, when he goes to an international Anglican Consultative Council meeting in New Zealand. ‘As chair of the Anglican Communion’s Environment Network, I shall be reminding our churches around the world that care for our planet is not optional. It is part of our calling to be faithful Christians, and good stewards of God’s creation.’

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman 021 763 1320 (office hours);
and Ms Alex Marsh, SANBI EDRR communications manager (021 799 8743 ,, who can also supply pictures.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Global Anglican Meeting, with Environmental Emphasis

This media release was issued on 23 October 2012

Archbishop heads for New Zealand, to a global Anglican meeting with Environmental Emphasis

The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town heads for New Zealand on Thursday, to take part in a global gathering of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Consultative Council, which meets every 3 years, brings together lay and ordained representatives from each of the Communion’s 38 member churches, for ten days of discussions around their global structures, mission, and other shared issues. ‘All Anglicans, around the world, are asked to hold us in their prayers, as we grapple with questions of what it means to be faithful and obedient Christians in our various contexts, at this time’ said Dr Thabo Makgoba. He noted that this will be the last meeting of the worldwide Anglican family at which Dr Rowan Williams will preside as Archbishop of Canterbury, before his retirement at the end of the year. ‘We are so grateful to Dr Williams for his dedication to the global Anglican family’ he said. ‘He has had a very rough ride, and been forced to spend too much time and energy on issues that, though divisive, ought not to be seen as church-dividing. We give thanks to God for the way that he has nonetheless kept his eyes firmly fixed on the question of who we are called to be, in Jesus Christ, and encouraged us all to do the same.’

The agenda includes review of Anglican relations with other churches, and of the work of a host of global Anglican networks. Among these is the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN), which Dr Makgoba chairs, and there will be a major presentation around its work. Dr Makgoba recalled that the Network recently launched a series of seven studies, ‘Sabbath Reflections: Capitalism and Inequity versus a Gospel Mandate’ in which Dr Makgoba’s predecessor as chair, Bishop George Browning, considers how contemporary societies must ‘address rapidly growing inequity and ... confront an economic system which operates as if resources are infinite and that humanity can somehow exist as if it is not part of an unfolding ecological crisis.’ He explores how a fresh understanding and practice of the biblical concept of Sabbath can reconnect economics to ethics, and shape human society in a manner that is consistent with the creation upon which it depends. Dr Makgoba said ‘these are vital questions we must face, if we are to ensure that it is not business as usual in our international financial structures. There needs to be a radical overhaul if we are to reverse the shocking trends of growing inequality and economic injustice through which a small minority can become ridiculously wealthy at the expense of the poorest, and even of the middle classes.’ Other major topics on the agenda include inter-faith relations, countering gender-based violence, communications, and Christian witness in contemporary contexts.

The Archbishop said he was looking forward to enjoying robust debate with other church leaders around the key questions facing the Anglican Communion at this time. ‘All this is, of course, conducted within an atmosphere of prayer, and guided by rigorous engagement with the Bible’ he said. ‘We shall be rooting ourselves in the daily rhythms of worship, to ensure that our focus remains, above all, on listening to God and seeking to discern his good and perfect will for us, so we may faithfully serve the world he loves so deeply.’

Note for Editors: The Anglican Consultative Council is one of Anglicanism’s ‘Instruments of Communion’, alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference (the meeting of all serving bishops, that is held every ten years) and the Primates’ Meeting (of the heads of churches, which meets at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, generally every other year).

For more details on the Sabbath studies, see

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman 021 763 1320 (office hours)

Friday, 19 October 2012

Further Update on Diocese of Pretoria

The following media release was issued by the Synod of Bishops on 19 October 2012.

As has been made clear in earlier press releases, the Synod of Bishops has appointed a small team from among its members to work through the Report of the Task Team (appointed in terms of Canon 21.3 by the Archbishop, on the recommendation of the Synod of Bishops) and to address and take forward the recommendations it makes, in accordance with the provisions of Canon Law and with the church’s best pastoral practice. In doing this, the team are continuing to hold meetings with both the Diocesan Executive and the Representatives of the Cathedral Parish. The Report of the Task Team has been shared with both groups, with the clear agreement by all sides that it would remain confidential while the process continues, and would only be released after this has been completed, and then only by mutual agreement of all the parties.

It is therefore a matter of considerable regret that, either selectively or in totality, the contents of the Task Team’s Report has been made public and shared more widely in various ways. This is damaging of the creation and sustaining of an atmosphere of trust and good faith, which is so vital to the processes of mediation for which the courts have called, to which the parties have agreed, and which the Synod of Bishops is supporting through its team appointed to take forward the recommendations of the Task Team’s Report. The Synod of Bishops takes this opportunity to reaffirm its wholehearted commitment to continuing with this process, in an atmosphere of confidentiality appropriate to ensuring the integrity of its pastoral relationships and personal well-being of all concerned, and the interests of justice.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Sermon at Funeral of Zwelakhe Sisulu - The Truth Will Set Us Free

This sermon was preached at the funeral of Zwelakhe Sisulu on 13 October 2012.

1 Pet 1:3-9; Matthew 5:3-10

May I speak in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, dear President Zuma and Deputy-President Motlanthe, dear Sisulu family, clergy and all distinguished people, I greet you all in the precious name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Saviour, our Redeemer. Let me also thanks program directors Comrade Duarte and Mr Makhura. In his summation Mr Makhura reminded us of the refrain from Zwelakhe’s poem, ‘Lest we forget’. Comrade Duarte mentioned the cost of apartheid. In the light of these, I want to adjust the theme of my sermon: I want to speak about ‘Lest we forget’ the human face to the cost of apartheid in our times, and ‘Lest we forget’ that the truth will set us free.

We have just sung Zwelakhe’s favourite hymn: ‘This is my story’. And it is in the story of Jesus Christ that we find a place for our own story. Within the story of his birth, his life and ministry and teaching, his death on the cross, his resurrection and his ascension to heaven where he now prays for us – in this story of his, we find a place to make sense of our own story, our lives and our deaths.

As St Peter wrote in his first letter, ‘By God’s great mercy, he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.’ It is kept in heaven for us, it is kept in heaven for Zwelakhe. Zwelakhe’s story is now one with the story of Jesus Christ.

And so today we celebrate the life of Zwelakhe Sisulu, we mourn his death, we commend him to the everlasting love of God, and we share our own grief. As we do this, we also place ourselves within the story of Jesus Christ, so that we too may know that death has been defeated, and find the comfort that he offers to all who seek his solace in their mourning. Finding our story and Zwelakhe’s story in God’s story gives us confidence, and allows us to be honest in our joys and in our sadnesses, as we remember this special man, this child of God, and give thanks for him, even as we grieve his passing.

As the tributes have reminded us, Zwelakhe packed a great deal into his 61 years. When I think of him – as I think also of Tata Walter and Mamma Albertina Sisulu, and so many of your family – other words from our first reading, strike a loud chord. St Peter writes of us suffering various trials, in which we dare to rejoice, because, he says, the genuineness of our faith is being tested, and is being found, through this fiery testing, to be more precious, more valuable, than gold.

Zwelakhe’s faith, Zwelakhe’s life, were ‘the real deal’ – they were certainly tested, but, by God’s grace, the quality of this man kept shining through. I am reminded of that saying that our characters are like tea-bags: we only discover their strength in hot water. Well, in one way or another, hot water – or at least, the heated politics of the last half century and more – shaped Zwelakhe’s life as they have shaped so many lives. And he was found to be strong in rising to the challenges, even when it came at personal cost.

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled’ said Jesus. Righteousness is a word we don’t hear very often outside of church – but it is a word we could do with more of, especially in public life. Righteousness (very different from self-righteousness) is about reflecting the character of God, of Jesus – reflecting Jesus’ story in our story. It is about promoting God’s best, in all circumstances. It is about all that is upright, virtuous, just and good, excellent and true.

Zwelakhe showed us that to live in pursuit of excellence, justice, goodness, truth, certainly does bring a deep and lasting fulfilment and satisfaction – those who hunger for righteousness will be filled. And though he was in many ways larger than life – as I well remember from the time when he was running the New Nation out of rooms in our church complex – he was also content to be active behind the scenes. He let his life speak for itself – just as, as a journalist, he let the words speak for themselves, as he sought to make the truth known.

Jesus said that the truth will set us free (John 8:32). Today I want to emphasise, ‘Lest we forget – it is the truth that sets us free.’ Zwelakhe fought for the truth, as a means of fighting for freedom and for justice – so that our whole country could be set free. He inspired a generation of journalists, both in the written press; and across the entire media, as he took the helm of SABC. He demonstrated the value, the importance, the absolutely vital role, of an independent, intelligent, engaged media in the development and sustaining of healthy democracy through open, informed, debate.

My prayer is that we will never forget this.

Truth and transparency are the most effective tools we have for building the society, the nation, for which so many gave so much, even their own lives. Open and honest debate is our most powerful weapon, in combatting all that threatens to undermine the vision of our Constitution. It is indispensable for creating a united nation, in which we can find healing for the divisions of the past; and pursue a just and equitable society, based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights: a society which delivers a decent quality of life for all citizens and frees the potential of each person.

Truth will help us all pursue this. Because truth is the corner-stone of trust. And without trust, the different sectors of society cannot work well together – as the National Development Plan rightly tells us we must work together – in order to achieve the vision of the Freedom Charter, and of the Constitution.

For all of us need to stand together and play our part. Politicians, government, have their spheres of responsibility and action. Others of us have ours – Zwelakhe showed us something of the best contribution that the media can make. Business, academia, civil society, the church – all of us have our places, our responsibilities, our roles. And while none of us can do government’s job for them – we must all be ready to ‘stand in the gap’ and ensure that where politics and government fail, our people and our nation are not failed.

Truth helps show us what is needed; and helps us highlight that need, to ensure it is not forgotten, overlooked, ignored. And truth will help us all find the best way forward.

Truth, about how difficult this task of nation-building is, and about what can realistically be achieved – rather than inflated promises designed merely to win votes – will help our politicians to be the people we need them to be, and to do the job our Constitution asks of them.

Truth about the nature of problems we face, will help us find realistic, workable, solutions, that are rooted in the reality before us.

Truth around financial and commercial dealings – everything from tender processes to wage settlements – are the necessary first step to defeating the scourge of growing corruption – and also to overcoming the corrosive effect that suspicion increasingly has, even where due process is followed.

The humorous playwright, Noel Coward said ‘It is discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty, how few by deceit.’ We might laugh, but this is not the sort of society for which Zwelakhe strove. It must not become a valid description of the new South Africa.

Truth in the financial sector is necessary for overcoming international structural distortions, that fuel global instability in the economic sector that overflows into social unrest – for example over food stability.

Truth about our economic practices is also the foundation stone to reversing increasing inequalities between rich and poor, and in ensuring that the wealth of this country is made to serve those who are in greatest need.

US President, Franklin D Roosevelt, in his second inaugural address, said ‘The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.’ Mr President, sir, if you should, post-Mangaung, find yourself making your own second inaugural address, we trust that you too will make the alleviation of poverty your first priority, in your words and actions.

Truth is what brings the cries of the hungry, the lament of the poor, the grieving of the bereaved, the voice of the oppressed, to the ears of those who have: who have power and influence and material well-being, and the capacity to make a difference that benefits those who are without.

Truth is what will touch our hearts, change our minds, and shape our actions – so that we might become channels of blessing to those who are in greatest need.

Truth is the oil in the wheels of genuine democracy, which allows the voice of every citizen to be heard, and treated with dignity and respect.

Truthfulness in debate is what will rebuild relationships across the chasms that have opened up around Marikana, and the wider mining sector. We pray for Judge Ian Farlam and the Commission of Inquiry, that they may deal in the truth that sets people free – free from the ignorance about what happened, what went wrong, how we can do better in our employment practices, in our policing, in our dealings with disputes.

Truthfulness, and the trust it can bring, are also needed for spanning the gulfs between service providers and those who need – and who have a right to – these services.

Truth is the bridge across which we will have to walk if we are to meet with one another again, and find common solutions to the ills of our nation.

Truth is also the basis of education – of bringing understanding at every level of society. Above all else, our children and young people need to learn. We need to overcome the shocking standards of education which far too many receive (and too often in wholly inadequate facilities); and which leave them with so little hope of finding stable employment, with a decent wage, so they can support a family with dignity.

And though truth puts the spotlight on those areas where we are failing – truth is to be welcomed, because truth truly does set us free. We must never fear truth – even if it may be painful to hear at first. Because truth will take us forward to a better life.

Truth lights the banner of hope – because truth is what tells us the good news stories, of what is being achieved, by so many people, even with such few resources.

Truth tells us that we can make it: with hard work, with effort, with commitment, with perseverance, with cooperation and collaboration.

Truth can bring a smile to our faces, and joy to our hearts, when we hear of triumphs against the odds; of generosity of spirit; of communities uplifted; of courageous men and women, young people and old, who have stood up for what is right and seen good triumph.

Truth tells us that we need not despair – that we are not condemned to lives of uselessness in a failing society.

Truth is the signpost to a better future.

This is the truth for which Zwelakhe stood, the truth for which he strove. And though it breaks our hearts that he has died, facing the hard truth of his passing will help us deal with our sadness and sorrowing.

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted’ said Jesus. If we dare to face our grief with honesty, and bring it before God, opening our hearts to him, then he will reach out to us with his tender, loving touch. Zodwa – our hearts go out to you, your children, to all the family, and to everyone who loved Zwelakhe. We mourn with you, we grieve with you. And we pray with you also, that God’s eternal arms of love will surround you with their compassion, so that you might know his full consolation, even as you are not afraid to weep and mourn. May you find his blessing, his comfort, in your sorrow and sadness.

God the Father watched his own son die on the cross – he knows what it is to mourn. Jesus himself wept at the death of his friend Lazarus – and then himself experienced dying, in pain and suffering. He has gone before us through those gates that lie at the end of the valley of the shadow – and he holds his hand out to us all, in our mortality, assuring us that we need not be afraid.

We know that Zwelakhe is now safe, in the eternal love of God. He has run the race, he has finished his course. I am sure that he will hear the words ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’ Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord – and let light perpetual shine upon him. May he rest in peace – and rise in glory. Amen

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Message for our Times: God Listens, God Saves

This is the opening devotional reflection shared with the Church Leaders' Consultation on 15 October 2012

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let me share some reflections on what it might mean to ‘read the signs of the times’ through God’s eyes, at this time in our nation.

I shall begin with a verse which was part of the Old Testament passage set today within the lectionary of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. As you might know, we have a two year cycle of readings for Morning and Evening Prayer, which takes us through the whole of the Bible – well, apart from a few genealogies, and some of the more duplicative parts of the books of Kings and Chronicles! Today, we were reading from the book of the prophet Micah – and chapter 7, verse 7, says this: ‘As for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.’

There are two key points to note here. First, God listens. Second, God is the source of our salvation, our redemption. They are obvious – but they bear repeating, and applying to our own context.

Recent months have been very hard. I have been to Marikana a number of times – as have some of you. Though I grew up in dire conditions in Alexandra, I was shocked - my stomach was turned – at the conditions in which workers and their families are expected to live. And though I found a deep desire for solutions to be found, I also felt my soul deeply troubled. It was as though the very ground cried out, with all the sorrow, the despair, the anger, not only at recent deaths and violence, but at a long, long history of inhumanity and inequality, oppression and exploitation – not always by the employers, but also by loan sharks and others who feed off the needy and vulnerable.

Then, on Saturday, I presided at the funeral of Zwelakhe Sisulu – a man of high principle, a son of all that was best about the struggle. His death seemed to me to represent how so much of the values, the standards, the excellence, of the past are being lost to the present and the future.

Well, these are just two instances of what we face in South Africa today. We could compile a long, long, list of all that is wrong. It is easy enough to do. Journalists do it, commentators do it, opposition politicians do it – and so often, we do it too.

Criticism is easy. But then what?

Christians are called to something more. We are called to bring another narrative to bear: one that is not content to rest with the stories of all that is going wrong; all that is undermining the best for which so many strove.

Our task is to say God listens, and God saves. For we know that while our God is a God of both judgement and hope, ‘mercy triumphs over judgement’ as St James writes (Jas 2:13). Though God judges, the message of redemption that comes with judgement is always greater, louder, stronger. When I recall John 3:16, I always want to add John 3:17: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.’

God is love – and it is through love that he implacably opposes all that diminishes humanity; and it is through love that his overwhelming desire is for the redemption, salvation, renewal, healing and wholeness of all humanity, and all human society.

This is what our country most needs to hear from us now. It does not need to hear how bad things are – everyone knows this. People want to be reassured that there can be a better way; and that things are not inevitably going to get worse and worse and worse.

St Paul wrote to the Philippians ‘Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’ – or, as another translation puts it, ‘let your mind dwell on these things’ (Phil 4:8). Behavioural science tells us the same as St Paul: when the positive vision is central, it becomes magnet that draws us forward. If we always focus on problems, we lose sight of where we are going, and get dragged down.

So we should encourage people not to be focussed on the failings to uphold the values of the Freedom Charter, and the Constitution – but rather to continue to ensure that the vision they encapsulate remains the centre of their lives and the life of this country. We must let this be the touchstone that shapes all our words, our actions, our policy-making, and that draws us all forwards.

I started preaching in this way about two months ago – before the shootings at Marikana – and I was surprised at the strength of the response I received. People are hungry to hear us state God’s promises of new life, new hope, so clearly. People express such a sense of relief, when we say that ‘Yes, there can be a better way – and this is what God wants to bring. All we have to do is align ourselves with this, and God will help us.’

Earlier this month, we had a large conference of Anglicans from across Southern Africa, called Anglicans Ablaze. It was a wonderful time, with a sense of God’s comprehensive renewal in ways far broader than the evangelistic terms in which we often see renewal. It was as if God was wanting to breathe new life into us in a holistic way that encompasses evangelism and discipleship and mission and social justice.

As part of this, it seemed his message to us was that we must step back from criticism – from criticising and pulling down those who are different within our church, but also from criticising and pulling down our nation. We should ‘bless and not curse’, as St Paul writes to the Romans (Rom 12:14). In these dark days, our calling is to be beacons of hope and channels of blessing – to remind the world of God’s better way; and to say that this is a tangible, realistic, achievable, option before us.

Perhaps this is seems like a ‘big ask’ in these troubled times. But I am reminded that today, many of us celebrate the life of St Teresa of Avila. This visionary woman of the sixteenth century said this: ‘You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.’ So let us dare to pay him the compliment of asking him to help us be these beacons of hope, channels of blessing, to our nation.

Let us not be afraid to proclaim, with the prophet Micah, that God listens, and God saves. Let us be confident, and share our confidence with our nation – even if we feel ourselves challenged by the ways he calls us to live out this faith, in tangible and concrete ways.

And let us also pray with confidence, the famous prayer which St Teresa wrote:
‘Christ has no body now, but ours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but ours.
Ours are the eyes through which
Christ looks with compassion on the world.
Ours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Ours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world. Amen’

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Church Leaders Engage with National Development Plan

The following statement was issued by South Africa's National Church Leaders on 16 October 2012

Church Leaders engage with the National Development Plan

An opportunity to deal with the wounds and the healing of our country.

The National Church Leaders’ Consultation gathering at Kempton Park from the 15 -16th October 2012 addressed many concerns and needs related to Religion and its input into addressing and making a difference in matters of Education, Public Health, Welfare, Economics and the implementation of the National Development Plan. Although we became deeply aware of the woundedness of our nation and the cry of our beloved country, we firmly believed that the unity of believers in SA can create an enormous opportunity and be a beacon of hope.

The Consultation was privileged to have the Minister of National Development and Planning, Mr. Trevor Manuel, address the meeting offering considerable reflection on the Plan and its implementation. He stressed the need for Church Leaders to not wait for government alone to address issues in our country but to take the initiative to encourage all citizens to become actively involved in the full realization of democracy.

At the meeting the Church Leaders agreed on the following:
1. We are a wounded nation facing poverty, distrust, racism and the breakdown of society which impacts negatively on the moral fiber of our country. For example, Marikana sent out a stern warning to us which show that this is a kairos moment requiring transformational leadership and action.
2. We commit as Church Leaders not only to exercise a prophetic and lamenting role in addressing the issues and struggles in South Africa but to get actively involved in making a difference in the lives of the poor, sick and suffering in our land today and to play a role in effecting healing, reconciliation and wholeness. In the same breath we call on government to more seriously recognize that Religious bodies are key partners in bringing about change in South Africa. In as much as we helped in dismantling apartheid we are called to play a vital role in the reconstruction of our beautiful land. We need integrated efforts of people, groups and institutions in making a difference. In this, Christian leaders readily avail and commit themselves to these initiatives.
3. We recognize the need for ecumenical cooperation and collaboration in addressing these giants and we appointed a group of people to take this conversation further and to bring concrete plans to the Consultation.
4. We are concerned about the state of education in South Africa and feel that Church Leaders need to assume a more proactive role in this area and not necessarily wait on government to take the lead. Consequently, a special Conference on Religion and Education will be held from 1-2 November 2012 in Bloemfontein chaired by Bishop Siwa and Prof. Jansen.
5. In addressing social issues, we believe that we not only need good economic policies but also social policies that will restore human dignity, moral fabric, work ethic and discipline in our country. We are seriously concerned that the National Lottery is seen as the major instrument in funding social development and welfare initiatives. What does this say about the low values and political priority we attach to social and welfare programmes?
6. We are concerned about racism on all levels in our society and believe that it must still be addressed by Politicians, Religious Leaders and the country as a whole.
7. We are concerned about the current political climate in our country and the escalating violence due to political intolerance, and call on the Mangaung Conference to take seriously the need for political stability and quality leadership.
8. We need to foster leadership which serves the needs of our people and the most vulnerable in our society. We commit ourselves to pray for all political parties and leaders in our country.
9. We call upon the people of South Africa to be constructive and responsible as agents of social change, rather than leave everything to government. We do so as servants of God who are called to exercise grace and truth.

The Conference concluded on a high note of practical suggestions and initiatives to address our current concerns, setting in place the necessary structures to ensure the continuity of our conversations and actions in our role to make a difference for the good of the people in our land.

Participating leaders
Archbishop Dr. Thabo Makgoba – Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Bishop Lunga ka Siboto – Ethiopian Episcopal Church
Rev. Motlalentwa Betha - Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa
Archbishop Dr. Zandisile Magxwalisa – Jerusalem Church in South Africa
Prof. Jerry Pillay – Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa
Fr. Richard Menatsi – Catholic Church in South Africa
Pastor Dr. Butisi Yakobi – Assemblies of God South Africa
Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa – Methodist Church of Southern Africa
Rev. Vuyani Nyobole – Methodist Church of Southern Africa
Rev. Braam Hanekom – Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa
Rev. Willie Van Der Merwe – Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa
Dr. Kobus Gerber – Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa
Rev. Hermy Damons – International Federation of Christian Churches
Canon Desmond Lambrechts – Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Rev. Vasco Da Gama Seleoane – African Enterprise
Rev. Moss Ntlha – The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa
Rev. Marlene Mahokoto – Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa
Dr. Renier Koegelenberg – National Religious Association for Social Development
Dr. Welile Mazamisa – National Religious Association for Social Development
Mr. Miles Giljam – African Enterprise
Mr. Marcus Van Wyk – National Dialogue Initiative for Social Change

Monday, 15 October 2012

Sermon on Marikana and 'Towards Carnegie 3'

This sermon was preached at St George's Cathedral, Cape Town, on 9 September 2012, following a visit to Marikana, and the 'Towards Carnegie 3' Conference - its themes are still relevant over a month later.

Proverbs 2: 1-8; Ps 119: 129-136; James 1: 17-27; Mark 7: 31-37

May I speak in the name of God, who makes the deaf hear and the mute speak. Mr Dean, thank you for your invitation to preach this morning. As I shall be back again this afternoon, I was tempted to bring a picnic basket and camping stool with me to the pulpit!

But let me turn to more serious matters.

On Wednesday I returned to the North-West Province, with the President and General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC). We visited Marikana and then attended the talks at the Rustenburg Civic Centre, between worker representatives, unions, mine management, and the Department of Labour. Almost everyone present was committed to finding a peaceful way forward, and, overall, there was an atmosphere of hope – notwithstanding the ‘robust’ language that many used! I found this very encouraging.

But at the same time, my heart was sore, and my spirit grieved. Driving away later, we went past the Karee West informal settlement, and past the mine area: past Nkaneng camp and Wonderkop and the shaft head. It felt that the land was crying out to me, deep in my soul, saying ‘All is not well, all is not well.’ It felt like the calm before the storm, the eye of the hurricane.

That part of North-West Province teeters on a knife edge. The dire state of everything from living conditions to the issues in the mining community, stirred up revulsion inside me. This is the stuff from which revolution is far too easily made, if we allow it. Whether in the mines or anywhere else, living and working conditions that – 18 years after the coming of democracy – still deliver neither human dignity nor economic justice, have become like a cancer spreading across our country.

Poverty and its consequences are clearly portrayed in scripture as evil. And this evil all too often arises from structural deficiencies rooted in moral failings. Of course, the problems can be complex. If there were simple, easy answers to poverty, to inequality, to unemployment, someone, somewhere, would have found them by now. This is why we need good research on strategies to overcome poverty and inequality, as encouraged at this week’s conference at UCT, ‘Towards Carnegie 3’. This is why we need comprehensive policy initiatives like the National Development Plan.

But the essence of the problem lies elsewhere – it lies in within us. Jesus cured the deaf and the blind. But he also warned of spiritual deafness and blindness. To the Pharisees, Jesus said ‘Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear?’ (Mk 8:18).

This is our problem: the failings of political will, of moral strength, of ethical courage. We see the injustice, we hear the cries of those who are oppressed. Even if we do not know all the answers, there is always plenty we could do. But we do not do it – and we sit back while others, in politics, government, business, and across society, do not do it.

The tragedy of Marikana did not come from nowhere. It arose because we have been content to let things slide. They have slid in policy-making and implementation; in attitudes that allow economic inequalities to grow; in acceptance of high and low level corruption and in ineffectual implementation of good governance and the rule of law. They have slid in the worsening trust between government and citizens, politicians and people.

It is, as Mamphela Ramphele has said, above all a failure of leadership: in politics, but also in business, and in the cosy relationship they too often enjoy. Our leaders are the deaf, who cannot hear the loud cries of the hungry, the homeless, the needy, the oppressed. Our leaders are the blind, who cannot see what is right in front of their faces.

And what of us? Are we the mute, who, despite all this evidence, say nothing? As we heard from St James this morning, we must be doers of the word, not hearers only. We cannot remain silent. What we see and hear, we must speak out.

This is what I, and so many of us, try to do in supporting the task of the Carnegie conference and the National Development Plan; in opposing corruption; in aligning with NGOs and initiatives like Equal Education, the Social Cohesion Summit, and Social Justice Coalition; and through the Church’s own projects, like those at the Cathedral, or the Global Economic Indaba which I am promoting.

It is what I have tried to do, in calling for President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to visit the platinum mining area of North-West Province together. It would be of great symbolic importance for our country's leader and a former union general secretary to be seen working closely together to address the issues of workers and local communities.

We also call for Judge Ian Farlam – our own Provincial Chancellor – to receive every assistance, every prayer, as he chairs the Commission of Inquiry. We also wish the peace efforts ‘Godspeed’, upholding all those involved, and those like the SACC and local clergy who are doing so much to support the process.

For the prophetic voice of the church must proclaim what is wrong, but, more important, we must always announce the possibilities of God’s redemptive grace into every situation. And although we are frustrated and grieved by all that is wrong, we must not become fuelled by anger. As we heard from St James, our anger cannot produce God’s righteousness, which is what our country, our people, most desperately need.

Rather, our attitude must be of sharing freely, as we have freely received, from God’s generous hand. God’s promise of salvation, in every area of society, must be our vision – our goal, and the touchstone of all we say and do.

Recently, I’ve become very hooked on St Paul’s wise words to the Philippians:
‘Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’ – or, as another translation puts it, ‘let your mind dwell on these things’ (Phil 4:8).

Behavioural science tells us the same as St Paul: when the positive vision is central, it becomes magnet that draws us forward. If we always focus on problems, we lose sight of where we are going, and get dragged down.

The book of Proverbs puts it another way: live in fear – or better, in awe – of God, if you want to know how to live. Cry to God for insight and you will discover what to say and do and find the will to do it. Or, in the Bible’s own words:
‘The LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk blamelessly, guarding the paths of justice ...’

May God indeed grant wisdom, so we may live upright and blameless lives, and guard the paths of justice so all may walk in them. And each one of us, whether or not we are involved in policy making and implementation, can live in awe of God; and strive so that in our own contexts, and in all our dealings with others, human dignity is upheld, justice ensured, equality promoted, and moral courage encouraged. We must also press for governments internationally to take more courageous steps towards fundamental restructuring global economic and financial systems, so we can ensure that the needs of the poor and the planet are put before profit and politics.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, my time in Marikana left me with the sense that this country is like a smouldering log that, left unattended, lies ready to ignite at the slightest wind. There is real urgency in these matters. Yet I remain an optimist, for I have faith in the living God, whose word to us is peace and hope and new life. His gospel promises that a better future is possible.

Therefore, this is not a message of doom – it is a call to wake up and act. All South Africans must rekindle the vision of a free, fair, just, South Africa which inspired the peaceful transition to democracy; and we must work and pray to bring it about. Never again must talk of ‘blood bath’ become a possibility within our country.

And so, dear sisters and brothers in Christ, let our prayers be that God will open the ears of the deaf among our leaders, so they may hear and act. May God help us all, who are so often so mute, to open our mouths and speak out. Amen.

For useful background, see

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Installation of Revd Duncan McLea

This is the sermon preached at the Installation of Revd Duncan McLea in the new position of Parish Rector and Team Leader of the Parish of St John's, Wynberg, on 14 October 2012.

Micah 6:1-8; Matthew 15:21-28

May I speak in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Dear Duncan; dear Andrew and the rest of the clergy team; dear people of God of St John’s Parish, Wynberg; dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let me say again what a joy it is to be with you this afternoon, and to share in asking God’s rich blessings on this new chapter in all of your lives. Thank you for inviting me to conduct the induction not only of your Wardens, but also of Duncan as your first Parish Rector and Team Leader. (And I’ll try not to embarrass him by calling him ‘Father Duncan’, as I generally do on such occasions!)

This has been a long, careful process, of revising your constitution and your oversight structures, so that they can better serve you as you strive to become more fully the people, the churches, the parish, you believe God is calling you to be. Today is formally the start of this new beginning.

It is about so much more than constitutions and structures and appointments and inductions. For, as the Psalmist puts it, in Psalm 127, verse 1, ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, the workers labour in vain.’ Today is certainly not about us coming up with our good ideas, and asking God to bless them, and then stand back while we get on with what we think we ought to be doing on his behalf!

No, today is a far more radical new beginning. Today we seek the Lord’s renewing for the whole life and ministry of this parish, for the sake of all the communities he calls you to serve: for the sake of the gospel, the sake of the kingdom, and the sake of the glory and praise of God’s holy name. Only God can bring such renewal; and it is to God that we come today – offering all that we have, all that we are, so that, through his Spirit, and by his grace, we might become all that he calls us to be.

I have been reflecting a lot on renewal in the last ten days. Quite a number of you were, like me, at the Anglicans Ablaze conference. It was an amazing time (and thank you to all of you involved in preparing for, and leading, the conference – and here I have to give special thanks to your music group, who made a wonderful contribution to our worship, and our time together!)

I don’t know what you were expecting from Anglicans Ablaze. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting. But I know this: that God did more – far, far, more – than I could have asked or imagined! Well, the letter to the Ephesians (Eph 3:20), tells us that doing ‘immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine’ is one of the characteristics of God. But even if we know this in our heads, he still overwhelms and surprises us, again and again, in ways we do not expect. And I have no doubt that he will overwhelm and surprise all of you, in ways you do not expect, as you answer the call of Christ, who says ‘follow me’ into this new phase of the parish’s life.

One thing we can be sure of, though, is that ours is a God of new beginnings, a God of renewal. At Anglicans Ablaze, he challenged us to see renewal with new eyes – and gave us a taste of what his concept of renewal is all about.

It seems to me that genuine renewal is about God’s total love, total compassion, total redemptive desire, for all of creation, all of society, and of the entire human person, heart and soul and mind and body. It is a far greater, far more comprehensive, vision than we sometimes have.

Evangelism, we were reminded, presents a poor shadow of the life of faith, if it does not go hand in hand with discipleship. And discipleship – which is less studying about God, and more about being a community of apprentices of Jesus – is intricately bound up with mission. Bishop Graham Cray, who bravely managed to fit a busy few days in Cape Town between addressing both Synod of Bishops and Provincial Standing Committee, and then Anglicans Ablaze 5 days later – Bishop Graham was quoted as saying ‘Mission will never be effective without authentic discipleship; and discipleship will never be taken seriously, unless we engage in mission.’ Bishop Graham also told us that ‘renewal without mission is self-indulgence; while mission without renewal becomes legalistic, or triumphalist, or disillusioned.’

What then, do we mean by mission? Alison Morgan spoke about mission as being sent by God, as Jesus was, through the Spirit coming upon him – as we can read in Luke 4. We are sent by God, to do the things that Jesus did. She also reminded us of the ‘5 Marks of Mission’ of the Anglican Communion, which are:
• To proclaim the good news of the kingdom
• To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
• To respond to human need by loving service
• To seek to transform unjust structures of society
• To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain the life of the earth

Authentic, godly, mission addresses God’s concern for the whole of life, of human individuals, of human society, and of the planet which is our only home. So we cannot pursue mission without pursuing social justice, political integrity, sustainable development, economic equity, and environmental well-being, to name just a few aspects. We have to combat not only material poverty, but emotional and intellectual and spiritual and societal poverty. And we need to be alert to anything that impoverishes, or increases the gulfs of inequality, in all these areas.

Furthermore, just as renewal encompasses all of God’s creation, it also encompasses all of us. So today is not only about Duncan, nor only about the clergy (plus, of course, Craig at The Warehouse). It is about everyone. Duncan is being appointed to lead a team – a team that, though it has clergy and lay leaders, actually includes all of you. For being a Christian means being a member of the body of Christ – and as far as I can tell from Scripture, none of us are called to be an appendix, the only part of the body which seems to have no useful function!

Instead, as St Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians, ‘to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good’ (1 Cor 12:7). God’s Spirit dwells in every one of us, and enables us all to play a significant role in the life of the Church, and in God’s mission to the world. It may be low-key, it may be behind the scenes – but in God’s greater plans, it is significant, and what you do matters, and makes a difference.

So, when we come to the induction in a few minutes’ time, in each section of commitment, I shall begin by asking you, the people, to make your response. Then I shall ask the parish leadership team to make their response; and only then will I ask Duncan to make his commitment – a commitment to leading you in these paths to which God calls you. He cannot lead, unless he has people to lead! So, you are all in this together – and so is God, who desires to pour newness of life onto you all.

Let me turn now to a second point – what are these paths ahead to which God calls you, and in which Duncan is to lead you? Our two Bible readings have something to teach us here – something that can be summed up in words of Jesus, who said ‘every teacher of the law, who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven, is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old’ (Mt 15:52).

New treasures and Old: let me start with the Old.

The book of the prophet Micah is full of both warnings and encouragement – oracles of judgement and of hope. In this particular passage, he warns the people that if they want to respond rightly to God’s call to repent and turn again to him, God is not interested in overblown public acts of religiosity. He doesn’t want grand gestures that appear to convey vast spiritual devotion. He just wants them to get back to basics, and not forget the foundations of their faith. In other words, they must return to the Old Treasures. So instead of much public ceremony or fancy services, or excessive sacrifices of animals – or even of children – he wants them to do the simple stuff: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with their God.

And yet this is also very challenging – because it is not about our outward acts, it is about our inward attitudes that direct and shape the whole of our lives. It begins with deepening our relationship with God, so that we might increasingly see the world as God sees, and respond with his compassion. For, above all, God is love – and we need to be anchored in his love: so that we, in whatever way we need it, may find his tender touch making us more whole. We need to let God sort us out, so we are better able to share his love with others, without the distortions of our own brokenness, weaknesses, failings and hang-ups.

Being ‘anchored in the love of Christ’ is – as those who are wide awake will have spotted – the first part of the Provincial Vision of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. Being anchored in Christ’s love is the starting point for the other two parts of the vision: being Committed to God’s Mission, and Transformed by the Holy Spirit. Anchored, Committed, Transformed – A, C, T: Anglicans who ‘ACT’!

And what are the basics, the foundations, the Old Treasures, which help us do this? Well, we find them in the commitments we shall make in the induction. We find them in dedication to discipleship, to the Word of God, to daily prayer and reading of the Bible – whether through the discipline of the Offices of Morning or Evening Prayer, or some other systematic reading of, and reflecting on, Scripture. We find them through regularly receiving the bread and wine, as Jesus told us to do ‘in remembrance of him’: we might think of it as
• the Lord’s Supper – the foretaste of the heavenly wedding banquet of the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world;
• or we might think of it as Communion – our being drawn into intimate closeness with our Lord and Saviour;
• or as Eucharist, which means ‘thanksgiving’ – a celebration of all Jesus Christ has done for us;
• or even as the Mass – being ‘sent’ into the world, so that having been fed and strengthened by all that Jesus Christ has won for us, we can share all this with the needy world around.
In fact, we probably ought to think of it as a combination of all of these!

We also find ourselves ‘doing the basics’ in what we describe as the life of ‘worship, witness and service’ of which our Confirmation service speaks. Serving others comes not merely through charitable acts, but also through working to change the world so that God’s justice and mercy might be better known and experienced by all.

I am especially glad that, in today’s service, we have added a new section, which picks up on God’s call to pursue justice and mercy. I am hoping that we might adopt this, as a matter of course, in future installations in our Diocese and Province. It is quite something when an Evangelical parish teaches the Province about liturgy!

Today, let me also thank Craig Stewart, who has agreed to take over the leadership of the Micah Challenge in South Africa, and breathe new life into it. This is an important initiative, which Archbishop Njongo helped launch in 2004, to encourage Christians around the world to lend their support to the Millennium Development Goals, and all that they stand for, for the alleviation and eradication of poverty. Governments alone cannot do it. They need all the encouragement – and pressure – they can get, if they are to take the hard decisions that are necessary if we truly are to defeat poverty. Christians standing together lend important weight to these efforts. So, thank you, Craig.

But let me now turn to the New Treasures. For Old Treasures must always find expression in the ever changing circumstances of contemporary life – and, let us face it, our world is changing more rapidly than ever before.

Our reading from St Matthew’s gospel records a step into a whole new way of spreading God’s kingdom. Commentators disagree on Jesus’ motivation and understanding through his dialogue with the Canaanite woman, and I am not going to try to untangle it here. But this is certain: St Matthew records that, as a consequence of this encounter, the old understanding of the role of the Messiah had been completely overturned and rewritten. From now on, Jesus was to be seen as the Messiah not only for the Jews, but also for those who were not Jews, and who had previously been assumed to be excluded from God’s redemptive promises.

The challenge this passage of Scripture presents to you, Duncan, and to the parish, is, I think, this: that as this new chapter opens before you, you should be open to seeing who, or what, might previously have been excluded in some way, from your ministry and mission – and whom God will now challenge you now to include. It is a reminder that we must not only stick with the Old Treasures, but must always have our hearts, our minds, open to the New Treasures that God may put before us, even in unsettling ways. In Morning Prayer, we have been reading through the Acts of the Apostles, and we see there how unsettling it was to the early church to realise that the gospel was also for the Gentiles! Yet we today are the direct beneficiaries of Jesus’ conversation with the Canaanite women, St Peter’s vision at Joppa, and St Paul’s call as apostle to the Gentiles.

So, let me sum up: God is in the business of renewal – and this his desire and promise for the Parish of St John’s Wynberg, for the leadership team, and for Duncan as its head. And because I know that parishes like yours are fond of ‘three point sermons’, let me underline three aspects of this promise of renewal!

First, it is all-embracing: God’s renewal is for the sake of all of God’s creation: all of humanity, all human society, our entire planet. And for him to achieve his purposes, his renewal is for all of you – for all the people of all the congregations of all the churches of this parish, and for all the leaders, lay and clergy alike, and for Duncan. And so we seek God’s renewal, on God’s terms, in God’s ways and by God’s strength, for this parish and for all its people, lay and ordained alike.

Second, God’s renewal is about the Old Treasures. It is about building on the firm foundations of Scripture, and two millennia of Christian tradition that attests to the faithfulness of God, through all the changing times and places of our planet. Do not despise the good old ways, the basics: especially not prayer, Bible reading, Holy Communion. May these be the cornerstones of your life, that help you anchor yourselves in Christ’s love.

Third, God’s renewal is also about the New Treasures, where he will take you outside of your comfort zones, as he calls you to spread the good news of Jesus Christ in new places, in new ways, in the unfolding circumstances of our times. As long as you are anchored in Christ’s love, and steeped in the Living Word of God, do not be afraid to go wherever God calls, to live out your commitment to God’s mission, through the transforming power of his Holy Spirit. This is the heart of what I believe is God’s vision for our Province – and I invite you to pray our collect, on a regular basis.

All this is, of course, God’s gift, which he desires to pour on us in abundance. God does not promise us an easy future – but he promises to be with us, every step of the way; to provide all we need to navigate the challenges; to set before us a clear path; to offer us strength and encouragement; and to give us his joy as our strength.

So then, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us in confidence now proceed with the Admittance of the Wardens, and the Induction of your new Parish Rector and Team Leader. And may God bless you all richly, and make you a blessing to others. Amen

Anglican Church of Southern Africa: Vision, Mission Statement and Collect

The Anglican community in Southern Africa seeks to be:
• Anchored in the love of Christ
• Committed to God's Mission
• Transformed by the Holy Spirit

Mission Statement:
Across our diverse countries and cultures, we seek:
• To honour God in worship that feeds and empowers us for faithful witness and service
• To embody and proclaim the message of God’s redemptive hope and healing for people and creation
• To grow communities of faith that form, inform, and transform those who follow Christ

Almighty God, consuming fire of love
You have given us the vision to be
Anchored in the Love of Christ
Committed to Your mission, and
Transformed by the Holy Spirit;
We seek
To honour You in living worship
To embody and proclaim the Good News, and
To grow communities of faith:
Set us ablaze with Your power and love
To build up Your Church,
And serve You in the world
To Your praise and glory,
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen