At the Consecration of Mthetheleli Charles May as Bishop of the Highveld on 12th September, Bishop Peter Lee of the Diocese of Christ the King took as the springboard for his sermon the words of Jesus in his great prayer : ‘Father, they are your gift to me’ (John 17:26).
It is as the people of God are placed into our hands as gifts, for Bishops to pray for them, care for them and endeavour to lead them, that we find our vocation.
In these few days we have tried to do this in several ways.
On 11th September at the invitation of the Archbishop and of Lonmin, many of the Bishops undertook a pastoral visit to Marikana, where we toured the site of the killings of August 2012 and prayed together for the victims, their families, and the continuing community around the mine. We met some of those involved in working towards hope for the future and saw some of the projects which the company is undertaking to improve living and working conditions. We are invited to engage further and more deeply with that community as time allows.
On 12th September we exercised our liturgical and sacramental functions in the glorious service of Consecration and Enthronement of Bishop May in a vast tent at St Dunstan’s College in Benoni.
Our Synod meeting was brief as we prepare to enter into a two-day planning meeting for the Church, and then to carry the outcomes of those discussions to the Standing Committee on 17th and 18th. These too are part of our calling, to assist in developing vision for the Church and doing the responsible housekeeping which gives effect to such vision.
In our brief meeting the Bishops heard encouraging news –
- about the process of developing a new prayer book and related resources for transformational worship
- about education across the Province
- about theological education for future clergy
- about Anglicans Ablaze and the launch of a new way of approaching the stewardship of our resources, which is about to be reflected in new study
- materials for the Church.
- about the possibility of launching a community-level ministry of mediation across the Province
- about the next Anglicans Ablaze conference to be held in Cape Town 5-8 October 2016.
We continued to wrestle with some of the challenging issues before us, including the best way to introduce pastoral guidelines for parishioners living in civil unions, and challenges to unity in some of the Dioceses.
At the conclusion we bade farewell to Bishop Mark van Koevering as he undertakes a new ministry in West Virginia, to Bishop Jo Seoka and to Bishop Rubin Philip, also Dean of the Province, as they will be retiring before we meet next. We give thanks to God for them and their ministries.