Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Sermon at St James the Great, Worcester

This sermon was preached at the Patronal Festival of St James the Great, Worcester, on 28 July 2013.

Jeremiah 45; Acts 11:27-12:3, Mark 10:35-45

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, dear People of God of St James the Great, Worcester, dear friends. It is a great joy to be with you as you celebrate your patronal festival!

Thank you, to Fr Victor Adams, for your invitation. Thank you, also, to your wardens; and to everyone else who has contributed to today’s service, and made me feel so welcome. May I also thank you, on behalf of all the other visitors here today. Mr Mayor (Basil Kivedo), I thank you for your welcome – and I am honoured and humbled by the city’s ‘appreciation’ that you are extending to me later today.

154 years is a very long time – and I congratulate you all on celebrating this wonderful anniversary of the founding of St James the Great. When I visit churches such as yours, I am very moved by the knowledge that I am walking in the footsteps of my predecessors – and especially of the first Bishop of Cape Town, Robert Gray himself.

As we all remember, Bishop Robert saw his calling as the three-fold – to Preach the Gospel, Build Churches and Plant Clergy. Here in Worcester he did all three: he preached and confirmed on his first two visits, and he encouraged the church to be built, and brought its first Rector, the Revd John Melville Martine, from England.

His first visit was in December 1848. In his journal, he records that he got up at 3am and set off at 4am, to begin the journey from Swellendam, and arrived at 5pm the following afternoon. Well, I am glad that my journey was considerably easier, and that at 3am this morning I was still fast asleep in my own bed!

I’ve been thinking about Bishop Gray, in relation to our gospel reading.

James and John come to Jesus with very ambitious ideas. Their grand desires are rather modified by Jesus’ questions but they still claim commitment to their ambitious goals – to follow him, share in his life, and stay close to him, in the coming of his kingdom. They really have no idea what they are asking, or what they are letting themselves in for. Yet, in a way, in the end they get what they ask for – to drink the cup that Jesus drinks. For they do follow Jesus in faithfulness, faithfulness even to an early death, in the case of James.

And I wonder to what extent Bishop Gray found himself in a similar position. Did he really have any idea what he was letting himself in for when he agreed to become the first Bishop of Cape Town?

It seems from his letters that he had plenty of grand ideas about how he would go about his ministry. But I suspect he found the reality more daunting than he anticipated! Having arrived in the Cape in February 1848, in August he set off on his first visitation. It lasted four months, and he covered nearly 3,000 miles – that is, just a little short of 5,000 kilometres.

Yet in his journal as he finally reached home, he writes a very moving passage. He had set off, he said, ‘enfeebled and worn’, yet returned ‘in strength and health’. His early discouragement had been transformed into optimism. Why? Because, he records, although it had been an extremely demanding time, both physically and spiritually, he had found God at work at every turn.

He wrote (and I paraphrase slightly)
‘I have seen our people, though long neglected, still clinging to their mother church, ready to make great personal exertions and sacrifices … I have seen very remarkable effects resulting from the mere celebration of our holy services – sufficient to prove them to be of God; and apparently showing that God has been pleased to bless the Church in this desolate land with a double measure of his gracious presence …’

He gives thanks to God, who has clearly encouraged him, and given a fresh vision, for all the difficult and demanding work that still lay ahead, and which he pursued with such energy and diligence for the rest of his life.

But to return to today’s gospel passage: often we read it and we warn ourselves against the hot-headedness, and naked ambition of James and John.

Yet today I think I want to preach in favour of this recklessness!

I support the way that, in moments of rash enthusiasm, we can make great commitments, which have us wondering later, what on earth we were thinking! For it seems that God honours whatever is good in this impulse within us. He will keep this fire burning, and help us channel our energies so that, in the end, we do, in a way, achieve what we had yearned for. Most of all, he helps us achieve it in ways that bring glory to God and build his kingdom, rather than bringing glory to us and building our egos! This is God’s invitation and promise to us all.

Let us go back to the gospel reading: the two brothers come to Jesus, with a request. And Jesus responds ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He invites us to bring to him the deepest yearnings of our hearts.

If we step back from superficial desires, what do we find? We long to matter; we want our lives to matter. We want to be noticed, to be acknowledged and loved for who we are. We yearn to be special.

And God wants all of this for us too – but he wants it for us in ways that are good for us, and good for the world. God sees us – he sees us with his eyes of love. We matter to him. And he wants to help us do great things – not necessarily to achieve wealth and status and power. These are the world’s superficial attempt to acquire the deeper riches, and lasting satisfaction, that only God can give. God wants us to live significant, meaningful, lives, which share his love and build his kingdom.

We can see in James and John’s desire to sit beside Jesus in his glory, how our deeper, spiritual, genuine, yearnings get tangled up with the ambitions of the world. But then we see how Jesus steers their desire into commitments that are more closely aligned with the call to follow him – and to be united with Jesus in our Baptism, and following his example of a life of self-giving and faithful service. As we trace the lives of James and John through the gospel, and into the book of Acts, we see how Jesus continues to teach them, and guide them. As they follow him on his last journey to Jerusalem, through Holy Week, and the Last Supper, we see him lead them into greater understanding of who he is, as the Messiah, the Christ; and of what it means to follow him. Then, of course, they meet the risen Jesus; and the Spirit comes upon them at Pentecost, and they are empowered to become leaders of others in the life of faith.

This is the way that God works with us all, if we let him. For myself, I had no idea when I made my first rash commitments to the Church, that God would lead me to Bishopscourt. Yet when I look back, I see his hand at work, again and again: leading me away from avenues that would have been destructive, and nudging me in the right direction.

We have been thinking so much about dear Madiba in recent weeks – and we can see God at work in his life in a similar way. In the last chapters of Long Walk to Freedom, he writes about how first of all it was personal freedom that he sought; then he realised that he should pursue freedom for those discriminated against by apartheid; and finally he saw that freedom was what everyone needed, no matter what their race. And so he records that he realised his life must be dedicated to ‘preaching reconciliation, binding the wounds of our country, engendering trust and confidence’.

It is gospel-shaped stuff.

But I don’t think it was what he had in mind when he first became involved in politics, and helped found the ANC Youth League. Yet the vision that first fired him, nonetheless held the seeds of what became his life of great service. God plants those seeds, and longs to water them, nurture them, tend them – even prune them when we need it – so they may flourish and bear the fruit that will last!

So do not be afraid to set your heart on ambitious goals for God.

St James, who, in our gospel reading, seems to have got it so wrong, became the first great leader of the Church. And his brother, St John, equally hot-headed and misguided, became the first great theologian, writing his gospel, in which he reflects not just on the actions of Jesus’ life, but interprets their meaning and significance for us and for the world. They wanted to lead – but they had to become servants first. Only then could they give the authentic lead that reflects the Lordship of Jesus, the servant king.

So today, let us not be afraid to embrace the great ambitions that God plants within us. Let us dare to think big, and reach far! Let us not be too afraid of our own mixed motives, our complicated hopes and fears, the grip of our egos, and our insecurities. Let us place them all into the hands of God, so he can thin out the weeds and nurture the good seeds until they bear much fruit.

Today, I am very privileged to be honoured by the city of Worcester. But let us dare to imagine what it might mean for every inhabitant of Worcester to receive ‘the freedom of the city’ – freedom from the shackles of poverty, unemployment, and inequality, and from the emotional and spiritual oppression that can overcome any one of us, rich and poor alike.

Let us ask God to dream in us the sort of dreams he dreamt through Madiba – dreams of reconciliation, unity, non-racialism, and lasting peace and justice. Let us share Madiba’s passion for constitutional democracy – and may our passion drive us to live and work for the fuller realisation of all the hope and promise enshrined within our Constitution.

In just over a week we shall be celebrating women’s day. We know that rural women are among the most marginalised people in South Africa. Let us dare to make wild and rash commitments to pursuing genuine equality for all women, and true freedom – including freedom from all forms of violence, and from fears of violence.

And may God turn these commitments into concrete reality.

Dear people of God of St James the Great, today we celebrate 154 years since your foundation. We don’t know the people who first built this church – no doubt they were much like us, ordinary human beings, each with their gifts and their flaws; their ambitions full of mixed motives. But we know this – that God honoured the risks they took, and the sacrifices they made. And over more than a century and a half, that God has been faithful to the generations who followed them, through all the turbulent history of this town, this country.

This same God will be faithful to us in our turn. Like Baruch in our first reading, we may not get what we think we want, and we may not have an easy life – but we will certainly receive God’s guaranteed gift of life, flowing in us and through us for the good of his world.

So today we thank God for all that has been, and for all that is. And we say our Yes to all he has in store for us!

To echo the words of Robert Gray, after his first visit, May God be pleased to continue to bless this Church with a double measure of his gracious presence …’ Amen

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Death of Archbishop Emeritus Philip Russell

Statement by the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town on the death of Archbishop Emeritus Philip Russell

25 July 2013

The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town, issued the following statement on 25 July 2013, on learning of the death of his predecessor, in Australia earlier in the day.

Today the whole Anglican Church of Southern Africa gives joyful thanks to God for the life and ministry of one of the unsung heroes of our Church – my one-time predecessor as Archbishop of Cape Town, Archbishop Emeritus Philip Russell, who died earlier today.

We remember Philip Russell as parish priest, Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Cape Town, the first Bishop of the new Diocese of Port Elizabeth, and later Bishop of Natal. Then, in 1980, it was clear that the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (as we were known) was moving towards electing its first black Archbishop, but not yet quite ready to take that step. After the electoral assembly failed to reach agreement, he allowed himself to be nominated by the Synod of Bishops to become what was clearly an ‘interim Archbishop’, and was enthroned the following year.

Yet he filled this ministry with great graciousness, and was clearly God’s man for those difficult times between 1980 and 1986. Having long preached and campaigned against apartheid, he brought to Bishopscourt a passion for both human rights, and ecumenical relations, with strong ties to the South African Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

I remember him having a sharp pen, on paper – but a warm heart in personal encounters. Even in old age, retired in Australia following the death of his wife, he has kept in contact with his former fellow-bishops and priests, personally writing letters and Christmas cards. I feel privileged that after I was elected Archbishop, he has also been in frequent touch with me, including phoning from time to time, with wise words of encouragement.

I offer my own condolences, and those of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, to his children, grandchildren, and wider family, in South Africa and Australia, in the loss that his death brings – even as we commit him with confidence into the loving arms of God, who has in Christ broken the chains of sin and death and opened the gate to eternal life.

Now, at the great age of 93, he has completed his long race, which he ran with such faithfulness and godly perseverance. He has fought the good fight, and now the victor’s crown can be his, as he is welcomed home by his Lord, his Saviour, his Friend.

Hamba kahle, dear elder brother in Christ. May you rest in peace, and rise in glory.

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

Archbishop Challenges the Bishops!

I have issued the following challenge, for Theological Education Sunday, to my brother and sister Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa! And there is a challenge also to all other Anglicans ...

A Message from Archbishop Thabo to the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Theological Education Sunday, 18 August 2013, is now approaching! It is the date for Anglicans in Southern Africa to show our commitment to well-trained lay and ordained leaders for today and tomorrow. As part of this, all Anglicans are asked to give R10 – or R100, or R1000, or whatever you can – to a special collection for the Endowment Fund of the College of the Transfiguration. This will ensure COTT’s continuing development: its physical resources, its teaching capacity, and bursaries. Bishops are called to give leadership to the Church, so I am personally pledging R1000 from my own pocket, and I challenge all other ACSA Bishops to match me, or better me!

Good theological education and formation, for clergy and people, is the best possible foundation we can give our church for today and tomorrow. I ask your support, both financial, and through prayer and spiritual commitment, and commend to you all the ‘From Root to Branch’ studies prepared by COTT and available for download via the link at http://www.cott.co.za/roots.html.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Statement on the Death of Pius Langa

This statement was issued on 24 July 2013

Statement from the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town on the death of Former Chief Justice Pius Langa

I learnt with great sadness of the death earlier today of former Chief Justice Pius Langa, and offer my own condolences and those of my wife Lungi, and those of the Anglican Church of South Africa, to his children, grandchildren and wider family. We offer them our love at this time, and our prayers that they may know the compassion and strength of God who is Father of us all, at this sad time.

We have lost one of the most outstanding legal people this country has ever produced. He was an amazing intellectual, yet always ensured his mind was informed by his heart and his soul. He understood, perhaps better than anyone I have ever met, the true meaning of the rule of law, and how the letter of the law must deliver the spirit of the law, in the service of Constitution, country, and all its citizens.

On a personal level, I shall deeply miss this dear, humble, man. I count myself privileged to have got to know him while serving on his Press Freedom Commission, and in the contact we maintained since then.

I give thanks to God for the gift of this remarkable man, at a time when we most needed his insight and judgement, his generous spirit, and his deep wisdom. May this faithful servant rest in peace, and rise in glory.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Celebrating Madiba’s vision of unity

Celebrating Madiba’s vision of unity

This opinion piece was published in the Sunday Independent on July 21 2013

Happy Birthday Madiba. I could almost feel the whole country breathe a collective great sigh of relief – and joy – as Nelson Mandela reached his landmark 95th birthday on Thursday.

How did you celebrate Mandela Day? What did you do for your 67 minutes?

I spent Thursday lunchtime as part of a human chain along the Klipfontein Road in Cape Town. This runs from just under Table Mountain, eastwards across the Cape Flats. In the bad old days it was like a thread, on which sat three separate beads, of white Rondebosch, coloured Athlone, and black Gugulethu. Three different communities, each at a distinct distance from one another.

On Mandela Day, Klipfontein Road became something else – an artery that connects our lives with our neighbours, as we stood together, hand in hand and arm in arm, united in our diversity. Waving our South African flags and singing, despite the slight rain, we made our stand as a way of pledging to break down the old divisions and build up a new connectedness that transcends the gulfs of the past.

When the idea was first put to me, I admit that I thought twice. Was this just “gesture politics”, and a soft way out of spending my 67 minutes on more tangible acts of service? But on reflection, I came to a different conclusion. On Mandela Day we are supposed to take some action that will help change the world, in ways that honour Nelson Mandela’s own example in his life of service for the good of the nation and its people. And what drove Madiba’s servant heart was his dream of a united, democratic, non-racial, South Africa. We must never lose this vision. If we can share his perspective, his motivation, then we can each walk our own journeys, however long, towards freedom, and encourage others along the way.

If we don’t pursue his dream, and uphold the values of the constitution, we risk undermining all our good deeds and acts of service. For we need to be wary of “sticking plaster” charity that provides superficial panaceas without tackling the underlying issues on which our problems thrive.

Our greatest priority still remains overcoming divisions of economic class and race and community, and forging a greater sense of common life – even of shared vulnerability to the fate that awaits us all if we fail to create a single nation. Standing together affirmed our belief in the tangible hope of newness of life – a hope shared by people of all faiths and of none. There truly was a sense of celebration as we held hands along Klipfontein Road.

And I was delighted that all around the country, from country towns to university campuses, others also formed human chains and committed to a common future. We all need to keep on investing in our future in this way, and stick with it for the long haul. There are few quick fixes for the profound wounds of the past – but courage to keep on persevering, and not to lose heart, just as Nelson Mandela stuck to his own principles, will help us get there.

Even if I have to make my apologies for encouraging children out of their classrooms, I was particularly glad that schools along the road brought their pupils to join our human chain. For I hope that they will have learnt this deeper lesson of directing their lives towards the values, now enshrined in our constitution, for which Madiba strove. Madiba himself said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”, and it is so important that our younger generations are equipped with the ethical foundations, as well as the factual knowledge, that they will need for taking our country into a better future.

Madiba’s life reflected the lasting legacy of his own solid education at Healdtown, the Methodist-established college. Another exemplary student of those excellent historic mission schools is Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, our country’s only woman deputy president, and recently appointed executive director for UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women. She too has followed Madiba’s footsteps in demonstrating what it means to serve others and dedicating one’s life to making a positive contribution within the world.

Following his example in our own lives is surely the best way to show our love and appreciation of Madiba, especially now in his frailty. May he know that all he has stood for, all he has done, will not be wasted or forgotten. Let us commit ourselves to making his vision our own, as we continue to pray for him, for his physical comfort, for peace in his soul, and for, in God’s own time, a “perfect end” – and pray also for all who love and care for him.

On Mandela Day we pledged to do this, in the words below. Will you make this your pledge, too?

Mandela Day Pledge at the Human Chain

I, one link in this human chain, pledge to do all I can to build an undivided South Africa, free from poverty as envisioned by Nelson Mandela. I will observe and study his conduct and seek to emulate his actions that have helped to bring peace to our country.
A simple smile, a handshake, kindness, a listening ear, encouragement, spreading hope, giving a helping hand, taking action, not tearing down another – that is the Madiba way.
I reject anything or anyone who sets to demean or divide us and place our focus only on the ugliness that forms part of our lives.
Instead of focusing on ugliness and hatred, I choose to focus on beauty and love.
By doing this, I will have the strength to deal with the difficult challenges that I face to make Madiba’s dream a reality.
I am committed to being the best person I can possibly be. The stronger I am, the more I can help heal my family and my neighbourhood.
I am committed to the values of our constitution, which says that our country belongs to all who live in it. We have in Madiba one of the world’s greatest leaders. It is not always in the life of a people that they are so blessed with inspirational and visionary leadership.
Madiba’s maternal side is Khoisan, the earliest people who lived at the Cape, at least 2000 years ago. His paternal side is Xhosa, whose people intermingled with the khoisan over many centuries.
The merging of these two strong human strands has given us a man who has not flinched in his resolve to set his people free.
I commit to encourage all of those I come into contact with to study and emulate his conduct so that we draw on the positive example he has set for us and never forget that our fragile psyches need nurturing and tenderness to bring healing to this tortured nation.
I am proud of how far we have journeyed on the road to self-determination as a people and will continue always to be inspired by his example.
* Thabo Makgoba is the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town.


Friday, 19 July 2013

Congratulations to Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

A letter of congratulations to Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

My dear Phumzile

I was grateful for the opportunity to speak with you on the phone earlier this week, and offer my personal congratulations on your new position.

But let me now, with great joy, formally join my own congratulations, with those of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, on your appointment as Executive Director for ‘UN Women’, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women.

May our God who has given you so many gifts, and such rich experiences in life, now guide, direct and further equip you in this new calling. May he, who creates men and women equally in his image, enable you to contribute to the freeing of women and girls around the world from all that holds them back, so they may know freedom to pursue their own potential. May he bless you richly in this new chapter of your life, and make you a blessing to others.

Yours in the service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

Joyful celebrations in Niassa and Angola

Let us join in joyful celebration with the Diocese of Niassa, as the first two Mozambican women are ordained deacons within the Anglican Church, on 21 July 2013. Their ordination will take place during the inauguration of the church dedicated to Yohannah Abdallah, the first Mozambican to be ordained into the priesthood 122 years ago. This follows the Diocesan Synod (held once every 3 years), and the celebration both of Diocesan Family day and of the 10th anniversary of Bishop Mark’s consecration. For all this, we praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

Please hold Claudina Cabral and Albertina Mucona, and those who will be ordained alongside them, in your prayers this weekend.

We also congratulate Bishop André on the tenth anniversary of his consecration, thanking God for his life and ministry in the Diocese of Angola. And we pray that God may continue to bless him and make him a channel of blessing to others.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Mandela Day Pledge - Afrikaans and isiXhosa

Here is the Mandela Day Pledge for the Human Chain, in Afrikaans and in isiXhosa



Ek, ‘n skakel in hierdie menslike ketting, belowe om alles
te doen om ‘n onverdeelde Suid-Afrika, vry van armoede
soos beoog deur Nelson Mandela, te bou.
Ek sal sy optrede fyn bestudeer ten einde sy dade na te volg
wat bygedra het om vrede in ons land te bewerkstellig. Deur ‘n
eenvoudige glimlag, ‘n handdruk, goedgunstigheid, ‘n gewillige oor,
aanmoediging, die verspreiding van hoop, en n helpende hand on aksie te neem,
nie om ander af te kraak nie, – dit is die Madiba manier van doen.
Ek verwerp enigiemand of enigiets wat strewe daarna om ons te verneder of verdeel
en slegs ons fokus te plaas op die lelike dele van ons lewens
In plaas daarvan van om te fokus op die lelike en haat, kies ek om te fokus op liefde
en dit wat mooi is.
So doende, sal ek die krag he om die moeilike uitdaagings te hanteer wat ek teekom
om Madiba se droom te bewaarheid.
Madiba is een van die wereld se grootste leiers. Ons is so geseёnd om deel te wees van
sy inspirerende en visioenere leierskap
Ek verbind my daartoe om die beste persoon moontlik te kan wees. Hoe sterker ek is,
hoe beter is ek toegerus om my familie en gemeenskap te help genees.
Ek onderskryf ons grondwet wat se dat ons land behoort aan almal wie hier woon.
Aan moederskant is Madiba Khoesan, die vroegste mense wat in die Kaap woonagtig
was, ten minste 2000 jaar gelede. Aan vaderskant is hy Xhosa, wie oor baie eeue heen
met die Khoesan vermeng het.
Die samesmelting van hierdie twee sterk menslike strome het vir ons ‘n leier gegee wat
nie weggeskram het in sy voorneme om ons te help bevry nie.
Ek verbind my daartoe om almal aan te moedig om hul fokus te plaas op die positiewe
voorbeelde en om nooit te vergeet dat ons brose psige koestering met sagtheid benodig
om genesing te bring aan ons gefolterde nasie.
Ek is gevul met trots op hoe ver ons tot dusver gereis het op die pad van selfbeskiking
en sal aanhou om altyd geїnspireer te word deur sy voorbeeld



Mna njenge nxalenye kwikhonkco loluntu , ndizinikela
ukwenza konke endinakho ukwakha uMzantsi Afrika
omanyeneyo ongenantlupheko ngokombono kaNelson Mandela
Ndakuyiqwalasela, ndiyifunde indlela aziphethe ngayo, de ndizame
ukuhamba ekhondweni lezenzo zakhe ezizise uxolo kwilizwe lethu.
Uncumo, ukubambisandla, ukulunga, ukumamela, inkuthazo, ukwandisa ithemba,
ukunceda, ukuthatha amanyathelo, ukungasengelani phantsi – yindlela kaMadiba leyo.
Ndichasa konke okanye nabanina ofuna ukusithobela ezantsi okanye usohlula–hlula
ngokugxininisa kwizinto ezimbi eziyinxalenye yobomi bethu.
Endaweni yokugxininisa kwizinto ezimbi nakwintiyo, ndikhetha ukugxininisa kwizinto
ezintle nothando.
Ngokwenza oko ndakuba namandla okumelana nemiceli-mingeni endinayo ndiphumeze
amaphupha kaMadiba
uMadiba yenye yenkokheli ezibalulekileyo ehlabathini.
Sibabalwe ngokuxhamla ubunkokheli bakhe obunenkuthazo nemibono.
Ndizimisela ukuba ngumntu ogqwesileyo endinobanguye.
Okuye ndisomelela kukhona ndingakwazi ukuphilisa usapho lwam noluntu ekuhlaleni.
Ndakuwuhlonela umGaqo-siseko othi eli lilizwe lakhe wonke ohlala kulo.
Ikhaya lakulomama kaMadiba ngamaKhoi namaSan, abantu bokuqala ukuhlala
kweliphondo leKapa kwisithuba seminyaka engamawaka amabini edlulileyo.
Kwelakulotata ikhaya, ngamaXhosa, abantu abayebehlalisana namaKhoi kwezi
nkulungwane zidlulileyo.
Oku kudibana kwezi ndidi zimbini zabantu abakhaliphileyo kuko okusinike le nkokheli
engakhange ithingaze ekuzinikezeleni ekusikhululeni.
Ndiyazibophelela ekukhuthazeni wonke umntu ukuba afunde kulo mzekelo mhle, yaye
angalibali ukuba izimo zethu ezibuthathaka zifuna ukunonotshelwa ukuze kubekho
ukuphila kwisizwe sethu esingcikivekileyo.
Ndiyazingca ngendima esiyihambileyo ukuzama ukuzimela, kwaye umzekelo wakhe
uyakusoloko undikhuthaza ukubopha amanxeba kwisizwe sakuthi esingxwelerhekileyo

More on the Human Chain for Mandela Day, and our Pledge

Here is my statement from today's press conference - and below it is the text of the Pledge we shall all make tomorrow.

I am delighted to lend my support to this exciting initiative to create a Human Chain on Mandela Day, linking previously divided communities of our city.

At the heart of all that Nelson Mandela has done for this country, was his dream of creating a new, united, democratic, non-racial South Africa. We must not lose sight of this vision – and there can be no better way to honour him and all he has done for us, on his birthday, than to commit ourselves afresh to making this the foundation of our lives, the touch-stone of all our policies and actions, the lens through which we speak and act.

If we do not have this as our overarching goal, as the firm foundation on which we build, then all our other acts of service risk being undermined and diminished.

Cape Town has such a divided history, so clearly demonstrated along the Klipfontein Road, running between separated communities of Rondebosch, Athlone and Gugulethu. Our Human Chain is a living demonstration that we are breaking down past divisions and building a new reality in which we all belong to one another – joined in the common life of our city, and in the shared future we create together.

At 1.30pm we will all join in declaring this commitment in the words of the Pledge that is being publicised today.

So I invite everyone who shares Madiba’s dream to join with me, and those spearheading this initiative. Here let me thank the core organising team - The Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum, The Cape Cultural Collective, the Athlone and Gugulethu Advice Offices.

Bush Radio 89.5fm – a community radio station, reaching 275,000 people – is acting as our media partner, for the human chain. They have brought other community stations such as Voice of the Cape (100.4 fm) on board the organising team. They – and we hope, many other radio stations across the city – will be broadcasting the Pledge, at 1.30pm.

So let us all be part of this. Come, tomorrow – to Gugulethu Police Station, to Athlone Stadium, to Rondebosch Common! Come, if you can, waving the South African flag, or wearing its bright colours! Come and stand up for the new South Africa for which Madiba dreamed and gave his 67 years of service.

And to those who cannot come to the Klipfontein Road, I say – make a human chain wherever you can; and make your own commitments to this pledge.

Together we can break down the barriers of the past, and build a new nation of hope.

Bishopscourt, Cape Town 17 July 2013

For further information
Imam Rashid Omar, Claremont Main Road Mosque at 021 593 8998
Ruschka Jaffer (Co-ordinator) 072 964 081; Zubeida Jaffer 076 983 1893
The Office of the Archbishop of Cape Town: Ms Wendy Kelderman 021 763 1320 (office hours)
Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones 082 856 2082 (Archbishop’s Office, out of office hours)


I, one link in this human chain, pledge to do all I can
to build an undivided South Africa free from poverty as envisioned by Nelson Mandela.
I will observe and study his conduct and seek to emulate his actions that have helped to bring peace to our country. A simple smile, a handshake, kindness, a listening ear, encouragement, spreading hope, giving a helping hand, taking action, not tearing down another - that is the Madiba way.
I reject anything or anyone who seeks to demean or to divide us and place our focus only on the ugliness that forms part of our lives.
Instead of focusing on ugliness and hatred, I choose to focus on beauty and love.
By doing this, I will have the strength to deal with the difficult challenges that I face to make Madiba’s dream a reality.
Madiba is one of the world’s greatest leaders. We are so blessed to have enjoyed his inspirational and visionary leadership.
I am committed to being the best person I can possibly be. The stronger I am the more I can help heal my family and my neighbourhood.
I will uphold our constitution which says that our country belongs to all who live in it Madiba’s maternal side is KhoiSan, the earliest people who lived at the Cape, at least 2000 years ago. His paternal side is umXhosa, whose people intermingled with the Khoisan over many centuries.
The merging of these two strong human strands has given us a leader who has not flinched in his resolve to set us free.
I commit to encourage everyone to draw on his positive example and never forget that our fragile psyches need nurturing and tenderness to bring healing to our tortured nation.
I am proud of how far we have journeyed on the road to self-determination and will continue always to be inspired by his leadership.

Monday, 15 July 2013

From Root to Branch - Study Guide for the Year of Theological Education

2013 is the Year of Theological Education for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

The College of the Transfiguration has coordinated a Study Guide, 'From Root to Branch' to help all Anglicans engage more deeply with Theological Education, as a means of helping us all - whether ordained or lay - in our calling to 'grow in knowledge and love of God, and of his Son, Jesus Christ'.

I wholeheartedly commend to you these Studies, confident that God will bless us as we use them to help us grow in the life to which God calls us.

The studies contribute to our prioritising of Theological Education during 2013. Our aim is to affirm and consolidate the central role it plays within the Province, for it is at the heart of our fundamental strategy of ensuring both ordained and lay leaders are equipped for guiding, directing, and encouraging the life of ACSA and its members, in our ministry within our parishes and in our mission to God's world at every level.

More than this, I am sure you will enjoy following these carefully constructed studies - and also using the special liturgy created for Theological Education Sunday on 18 August. Reading them, I have found my own heart and mind stirred to appreciate in new ways how much God does for us, not only in calling us to faith, but in leading us forward through all the adventures of life, as we respond to Jesus? call "Follow me!"

You can discover more about the Year of Theological Education, and find the link to download the studies, through the COTT website, http://www.cott.co.za/.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Human Chain for Mandela Day

If you are in or near Cape Town, I warmly urge you to join our human chain on Thursday, 18 July - Madiba's 95th Birthday. And if you cannot join us, then make your own human chain wherever you are.

Media Statement - 13 July 2013


Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba today called on churches, mosques and synagogues to join him in forming a human chain on Thursday to commit to the Mandela dream of a united South Africa free from poverty.

He also called on all young people of the Cape to come forward and commit to take up the baton that Madiba’s generation is handing over to them. “This is a time that we must continue to sow the seeds of love and not destruction so that we can give hope to all in our beautiful country,” he said. “It requires us all to roll up our sleeves and conduct ourselves in a dignified way,” he added.

The Human Chain for Madiba will snake its way from Gugulethu through Athlone to Rondebosch on Mandela Day between 1p.m and 2p.m. The organising team convened by Bush Radio this week is made up of a team of youth from a host of organisations including individuals committed to finding a way to demonstrate their love to Madiba as he lies ill in hospital. Some of these organisations include the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum, The Cape Cultural Collective, the Claremont Main Road Mosque, the Gugulethu Advice Office, the Athlone Advice Office and a number of community radio stations.

A logistics meeting will take place with the City on Monday to wrap up the organisational process. Marshalls are needed to manage the chain and organisers are calling on volunteers to come forward. Members of the public can call community radio stations lobbying for public participation to volunteer their help. A facebook page(www.facebook.com/HumanChainMandelaDay) and twitter account will go live today. “We want this to be a major community effort including all who wish to participate,” the Archbishop said. “If you are too far from Klipfontein Road, make your chain around your school or your factory or your church.”

The committee is drafting a pledge which will be released to the public on Monday. “We have in Madiba one of the world’s greatest leaders,” said Makgoba. “It is not always in the life of a people that they are so blessed with inspirational and visionary leadership. It will be a shame if we squander his legacy.”

*Please note that this event is dependent on permission from the City of Cape Town.

For further enquiries, contact:
Imam Rashid Omar, Claremont Main Road Mosque at 078 271 4440
The Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town: Ms Wendy Kelderman 021 763 1320 (office hours), or Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones 082 856 2082 (out of office hours)

Email: humanchainmandeladay@gmail.com

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Time to Reap the Fruits of Philanthropy

This opinion piece was published in the Sunday Independent on 7 July 2013

With the school holidays in full swing, there has been a lot in the media this week about family life. Enjoying time away with my family, it was ironic to read online about research which reveals we tend to enjoy time with friends more than time with family. On the other hand, I also came across reports which said growing up with siblings could give children greater opportunity to develop inter-personal skills, conflict handling, appreciation of fairness and even the ability to defer gratification (through being taught to “wait your turn”).

And is it not true that our “nearest and dearest” can be both our closest, most reliable allies in times of need, and also those with whom we fight the most fiercely when we disagree.

The difference between the two often arises from the way we see the issue at stake.

We all know from our own childhoods or those of our children, the sort of rivalries and competition which can arise when it is time to share. We know there is only one cake, and if someone else gets one percent more, then I will get one percent less. So we fight for our fair share – and sometimes we fight for that little bit more!

But sometimes life is less about cake and more about candles. If I have a lit candle, and I share my flame with you, we double, rather than halve the light. That is the win-win approach. Some sharing can multiply, rather than divide. More than this, by choosing our attitudes and actions, we can often turn division into multiplication. For example, love shared is love multiplied.

And whatever builds up relationships, whether at the level of families, communities, workplaces, or even nations, puts us into the win-win dynamic, where everyone stands to benefit. The same is true of the attitude at the heart of the film Pay it forward. This encourages people to do good turns without expectation of anything in return, other than that recipients in turn act with similar generosity towards others.

It is also the case that when we risk partnering our experiences and skills with those who are most different from us, often we generate ideas and solutions far greater than could have been achieved through working separately The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Sadly, however, we can also turn positive momentum into negative. One individual, withdrawing co-operation, can sometimes harm everyone concerned.

This is true in the economic field too. For example, public investment aimed at bringing job creation and the improved delivery of services should be a generator of benefits for all. But corruption can reverse the whole cycle. It is not just stealing the icing off the cake – the whole cake gets smaller, with less for everyone, whether it be through worsening services or jobs lost.

All this has set me pondering how we can promote win-win over zero-sum dynamics more broadly within South Africa. Every way we look at it, all of us stand to benefit.

Another piece of online trivia this week revealed that living with gratitude and treating others with kindness are symptomatic of the habits which make us happier. In fact, science proves this! Performing selfless acts generates serotonin in our brains – the chemical hormone associated with feelings of well-being. It also boosts our immune system, with likely positive health spin-offs. And this is on top of the way treating others well, with warmth and care, with dignity and respect, also builds stronger relationships, which also bring a wealth of benefits. Narrowly drawn calculations may suggest that zero-sum competition can serve us in the short term, but when we take a broader perspective, it is clear a win-win co-operative attitude will reap far greater and more lasting benefits.

The Bible gets it right when it tells us: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

It may seem counter-intuitive, but giving away to others some of what we enjoy actually makes us feel better than hanging on to it ourselves. This is certainly the experience of great philanthropists, from Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, to our own Patrick Motsepe who has joined their “Giving Pledge” challenge. Being generous makes us feel good. By being selfless, we benefit ourselves. In fact some studies suggest that the more we give away, the happier it makes us. This is true of all societies around the world, and is not dependent upon our income levels.

So we do not have to be as rich as Patrice Motsepe to benefit ourselves and others. We can be generous with our money, our time, or our skills. Many donors prefer to remain anonymous, having found a more solid satisfaction comes from knowing what they are doing is truly helping those in need, than is derived from others’ praise.

Our satisfaction at giving can be further enhanced when: we have genuine choice over what to give away (instead of feeling coerced, or acting out of an imposed sense of guilt), or when we have some connection with those we help, and when we see what we do makes a tangible difference.

Reading this has got me thinking afresh about how we can best encourage this sort of giving across our nation to tackle some of the economic inequalities and burdens of the past – including the burdens of guilt and shame – and help us find “win-win” ways to move forward.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu stirred up considerable controversy (as he is unafraid to do) a couple of years ago when he raised the question of a reparations tax or fund. Well, nothing much has happened since then. Yet I continue to come across people who really do want to do something or give something to help redress the wrongs of the past. But they are still looking for a suitable vehicle, seeking assurances their assistance will get to those who most need it and not be syphoned off along the way, or get lost in government coffers, wanting guarantees that it will truly make a difference.

Why can we not create such a fund? Perhaps we need a structure with religious leaders providing oversight and others donating time and skills to set up the right mechanisms so it does not become one of those bodies where nearly all the money is spent on salaries and administration, and very little on the situation on the ground.

Being a churchman, money is not my area of expertise. But matters of the heart and soul are – I know that doing the right thing, out of generosity of spirit, is the best way to make us all happier and better off. Let us say goodbye to the zero-sum mentality which upholds division. Let us instead embrace the win-win way ahead for our rainbow family, and multiply our well-being.

Who will help me to make it happen?

Thursday, 4 July 2013

On the Death of Fr John Oliver

Archbishop Thabo has sent this message, following the unexpected death, in his sleep, of Fr John Oliver, recently retired after 18 years at St Mark’s Church District Six, and Acting Chair of the Western Cape Religious Leaders’ Forum, with which he was also long associated.

My dear Emma,

From our holiday in Turkey, Lungi and I and our children send you, Sarah and Joseph our heartfelt condolences at John’s sudden death. It is hard to take in, and I wish so much that I were able to come in person and share the love and the prayers that we have for you. May our God surround you with his tender love, his comfort, his strength, at this time. Do not be afraid to weep and bring your grief before the throne of God, who bears our sorrows, and walks with us in all our pains and sadness.

As we visit the sites of the early Church, retracing the steps of St Paul who so powerfully taught that nothing in life nor death can separate us from the love of God that is ours in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, we shall be carrying you in our hearts and thoughts and prayers. I shall be weeping for John, as Jesus wept for his friend Lazarus, even in my certainty that he now knows the fullness of joy of resurrection life. His is surely the welcome of a good and faithful servant. He has devoted so many years, and given so much energy and dedication, to his unstinting love for God, for God’s people, especially the poor and needy, and for God’s creation. I thank God for all he has been for us in Cape Town and beyond – for his long service at St Mark’s in District Six, for his unflagging socio-political commitment, for his music ministry, for his ever-ready camera!

I also thank God for John’s vision and drive in his work for inter-faith cooperation, and for so much he has achieved there. He has done more than we can measure in encouraging us all to stand together, in our commitment to upholding all that is good and true and just and holy, and opposing all that diminishes the flourishing of all God’s children. John will leave a lasting legacy across the City, the Western Cape, and beyond, having positively impacted so many lives.

On a personal level, I am so aware that I have lost a brother in Christ, a respected colleague and fellow-labourer in the vineyard of the Lord (as well as in the muddy Vleis of Cape Town!), and a dear friend. I shall miss him greatly, even as I thank God for all he was, and all he has done for so many. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Yours in the Service of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer

+Thabo Cape Town

[Message sent by the Archbishop and signed in his absence]