We bring a special focus across Southern Africa this month to the importance of training Anglicans for ministry, leading up to Theological Education Sunday on August 23. But in South Africa, we also mark Women's Day, so a word about that also.
At the Elective Assembly we held in the Diocese of Natal last month - where the diocese elected Bishop Dino Gabriel, currently the Bishop of Zululand, as Natal's new bishop - an articulate young woman challenged us never to forget the needs of women in the elective process. We would do well to heed her words as we select leaders and make other choices as the leadership of the church.
On Theological Education Sunday last year, we raised about a million rand for the College of the Transfiguration (COTT), our full-time training institution for the ordained ministry. This year, we are appealing to all of you again to give generously.
In times such as these, we need theologically trained leaders who will in turn encourage everyone in the church - clergy and lay people - to be theologically attuned. With a sound theological grounding, we can approach the world with the eyes of God, seeking the mind of Christ in the varied challenges we face, from those posed by the changing earth system, seen in global warming, to those which result from the inequality of our societies, experienced in the desperate conditions in which so many of our people live.
In a rapidly-changing world, most people are not finding the meaning and happiness they seek. Nor do we find it easy to interpret our role in such a way that we can balance the pursuit of personal benefit with the pursuit of the common good of us all. In this situation, it is the theologically-trained mind which is able to instil hope and see the hand of God holding us in the midst of everything.
Your college, COTT, has come a long way since it and its predecessors were established more than a century ago. I say "your" because the college belongs to all of us. I am happy to say that our dream of having an Anglican university is becoming a reality, thanks to the work of Prof Barney Pityana in ensuring that we can offer a bachelor's degree and a higher certificate in theology as well as a diploma. We now have a School of Ministry headed by the Revd Mike McCoy. The leadership development programme is an excellent partnership of the college with the United Society (US, formerly USPG) and the NGO, HOPE Africa, as is the course on theology and development. We still have a disproportionately high number of men as clergy but the growth of women in leadership - notably the appointment of Dr. Vicentia Kgabe as Rector - helps us in our efforts to encourage women to train for ordination and to assume positions of leadership in the church.
However, we have financial challenges in growing COTT. We need bursaries for woman students and to fund the work of woman theologians. Dr Kgabe is ensuring that we move from provisional to full registration as a degree-awarding institution, and to remain registered we need to meet certain standards. We need to have a library and staff offices, for which we need to build an administration block, and we need to meet health and safety regulations. We need to maintain old buildings and convert them to new uses.
So while we have achieved much, the road ahead is long. We must develop the college not only for the future of our Province and the Anglican ethos in Southern Africa, but for the church in Africa - for we accommodate students from Sudan, Zimbabwe and Mauritius, as well as exchange students from abroad and, previously, from Haiti.
Whether you give R10, or R100, R1000 or a million, please give whatever God moves you in your heart to share for our Theological Education Fund and to ensure the sustainability of the church. Details of how to give appear below. Thank you in advance!
In the words of verse 23 of the book of Philemon:
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."
God bless you,
+Thabo Cape Town
Please send your contribution to:
ACSA - Theological Education Fund
Thibault Square Branch
Branch code: 020 909
Account number: 07 056 2423