Sunday, 24 April 2016

VIDEO and PHOTOS: Archbishop awards Leah and Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba on Friday presented the Archbishop's Award for Peace with Justice to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond and Mrs Leah Tutu.

See excerpts from the citations below...

Excerpts from the citations:

Mrs Tutu: We honour Nomalizo Leah Tutu for her lifelong commitment to servant leadership as a courageous opponent of injustice and oppression and as a sustainer, a mother and a supporter of those in her family and beyond who share that commitment. As a role model for students on campuses from Fort Hare to Roma, she helped young women uncertain of themselves in adjusting to their new world. Uprooted from a life of comfort abroad, she came home to fight bravely for the rights of domestic workers, confronting those who would ill-treat some of the most powerless in society. In the face of threats and danger to her husband and family, she nurtured and created a safe haven for them and her extensive network of friends, many of them also leaders in the struggle. Indeed, she does justice, loves kindness and walks humbly with her God.

Archbishop Tutu: We honour Desmond Mpilo Tutu’s extraordinary contributions to the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, to South Africa, Africa and the world as a priest and pastor, prophet and teacher, healer and humourist. Forever caring for his flock as a shepherd, he cajoles people to love one another, to recognise their common humanity and to understand their inter-dependence and equality before God. Angered when he sees those who are created in God’s image subjected to violations of their human dignity, he speaks out courageously for justice in the face of overwhelming odds. With the compassion learned from his beloved mother, he recognises both our strengths and vulnerabilities, always ready to forgive, willing to renew and anxious to reform, resuscitate and rebuild. All this undergirded by a sense of humour—and a loud cackle—which draws us into the all-embracing love of God which he models for everyone whose lives he touches.

Joining the Archbishop in presenting the award were, clockwise from the bottom, retired Bishop Charles Albertyn (back to camera), Bishop Brian Marajh of George, Canon William Mostert, the Provincial Executive Officer, retired Bishops Geoff Davies, Christopher Gregorowski and Geoff Quinlan, and the Revd Jerome Francis, the Archbishop's Chief of Staff at Bishopscourt.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Archbishop Thabo undergoes tests in Lusaka hospital

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba spent some hours in hospital in Lusaka today, but has been released and will return to South Africa tomorrow after the ACC meeting he has been attending.

He reported to his office in Bishopscourt tonight that after experiencing bowel irritation last night he developed non-stop throbbing headaches. He went to a clinic set up for the ACC, from where a doctor sent him to Lusaka Trust Hospital.

Several tests were done and he is now back in his hotel, he reports, "a bit wobbly as I have never spent more than three hours on a hospital bed. I was deeply humbled by +Justin's visitation and prayers at hospital." He sends his thanks to ACC members and to the "superb" doctors and staff at the hospital.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Wrapping up ACC-16 in Lusaka

Archbishop Thabo wraps up his thoughts on the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, which ends in Lusaka on Tuesday:

After burning the “midnight oil” in the ACC-16 resolutions committee last night, the resolutions were passed today, except one calling for the fifth mark of mission, concerning the integrity of creation, to be included as the fifth instrument of communion. The presentations were short and well-researched. 

I am a bit sleepy today and dozed off from time to time. After the resolutions were completed, and following evening prayers I attended my first meeting of the standing committee (which comprises seven members elected by the ACC and five who are members of the Primates' standing committee). We have a young team with a good geographic spread. We proposed that some of our meetings, including evaluating this ACC, will be convened electronically. I am delighted about this—given the nature of our vocation, one less meeting is a blessing.

Today is the anniversary of Zimbabwe's liberation. We congratulated our small group member, Arthur from Zimbabwe. The media headlines here in Lusaka so far have covered the church and politics extensively, the church here being much more in the news than at home. Election fever is in the air as various parties and individuals engage in politicking ahead of the polls in August.

I will soon return to our campaigning climate in South Africa, leading the Electoral Code of Conduct Observer Commission (ECCOC) as I often do in election season. My former high school teacher and later my tutor at Wits, a cabinet member, once warned me, “Arch, at election time, stay out of way, otherwise the power of the Oshkosh engine will  crush you.” She meant my actions and positions should be that of eagles' wings, carrying the country and everyone contesting the election as belonging to one family and rebuking each fairly.
Bishop Tengatenga (Photo: ACNS)

 After supper this evening, I sat with Bishop James Tengatenga, originally from Malawi, the outgoing chair of the ACC, who has just finished 14 years in the ACC. We shared deeply, his story being in the nature of a debriefing after his 14 years of service on the ACC. I thanked God for all he offered in service to this Communion. 
We end ACC tomorrow and travel home on Wednesday, so this is my last note. I pray that we will continue to hold each other under our wings as we work together in service to God in the world.  God be with you till we meet again.

An award for Bishop John Osmers; Sermon at Cathedral of the Holy Cross

Sunday was the day for parish visitations at ACC-16, and I preached at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka. We had two choirs—a formal and a traditional—and a band, and the service went well. The main body of my sermon follows below.

With Bishop John Osmers.
We also decorated the Right Revd John Osmers, the retired Bishop of Eastern Zambia, with ACSA's Archbishop's Award for Peace with Justice. Before he became a bishop, he served as a chaplain to South African exiles, first in Lesotho, then in Botswana and finally in Zambia, losing his hand as a consequence of receiving a parcel bomb from an apartheid death squad. In his reply, he moved people to tears as he explained how he was bombed. At the bring-and-share after the service he shared how the cadres queued to donate blood for him and how this saved his life. He also recalled funerals which he conducted for liberation leaders at St. Peter's in Lusaka, and how in spite of claiming to be communist most came to church and quoted the Bible.

Later we went to a local market, where I enjoyed wandering about and being hustled by vendors. To a bishop who told one vendor, “No thank you, I am just looking,” she replied, “Come in then, because looking is free.” Last night was our deadline in the resolutions committee for drawing up resolutions to be considered today.

The excerpt from my sermon:

John (John 10:22-30) states a most significant detail. He says that this took place on “the Feast of the Dedication,” the remembrance of that heroic event after the humiliating, oppressive reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian ruler who violently suppressed anything Jewish, who destroyed holy sites, banned religious expressions, undermined their identity, and forbade any sign of their ancient culture and above all profaned the Temple, in a horrific rule of tyranny and brutality. At the height of this repression in 170 BC, 80,000 Jews were killed and as many sold into slavery, and 1,800 talents were stolen/looted from the Temple Treasury (a talent is worth about R4000). They were years of bitter and unrelenting oppression.

In time, as with any oppressed people throughout history, the oppressed slowly found their voice, recovered their hope and claimed their dignity despite the tyranny of the times. They began a slow but courageous, resilient resistance that, action by action, eventually overturned their oppression. The high point of their liberation was the restoration of the Temple and the re-dedication of the Altar. This event is what is solemnly remembered on this feast. The Hebrew people knew, as we in South Africa knew, that no matter how demonic the oppression, no people can be suppressed forever. As the old slogan of our anti-apartheid struggle said so powerfully: “Freedom or death, victory is certain!”

This feast was also known as the “Festival of Light.” The liberated people kept a light burning, remembering and celebrating that the light of freedom had come back to Israel. It also recalled the ancient legend that when the seven-branched candlestick was to be re-lit in the Temple, only one cruse of unpolluted oil could be found, yet miraculously there was enough in that cruse to light all the candles; a sign that God's faithfulness was present amidst the celebration of their liberation, in a sense validating the liberatory project.

For me to hold all of this in my heart in this city of Lusaka is doubly poignant. During the armed struggle against apartheid Lusaka was the “head office” of hope for liberation for most South Africans. When we were students, any message from Lusaka came with the feeling that the sunspot of apartheid would disappear. This hope, excitement and dream is fading away now and my earnest prayer is this that this is temporary; that we will once again rise above this period in our country, and rekindle hope and energy for a future in which we all share and our dignity is restored.

Our own struggle was nurtured over many decades in this city. The dream of freedom, the hope that one day South Africa would be a home to all her children, the belief that no people could be oppressed forever and that one day justice would prevail all found a home in this city. This city also paid a heavy price for holding this dream in trust for the people of South Africa. It was the place, if not the Festival of Light, it was the place that reminded us that God was with those who struggled. Just as every Jewish home placed a light in the window of their homes as a sign of hope, this city, symbolically, held the light of hope to those in South Africa at a time when hope was very fragile.

And so it is from this city on this Sunday morning that we too must hold out the candle of hope to those on our continent who continue to suffer, who are mired in poverty, whose democracies are short-changed, those who live under the yoke of marginalisation and in countries whose greedy rulers have robbed them of a decent life. The message is abundantly clear: God never abandons God's people, God is always amongst those who struggle to free people from bondage, encouraging them and strengthening them and making every small or big action a sign of hope that the future will be different. Indeed John adds another detail. He says that “it was winter.” For many on this continent it is winter, not in the meteorological sense but in the political and economic sense.

The outlook is bleak, growth is near zero and the cold of political exclusion freezes the spirit in dehumanising ways. It is incumbent on us to be the Lusakas, the lights for those who are exposed to life’s winters: to shine for them and hold a candle in the window to encourage them. “It is indeed better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Ours is always a ministry of encouragement.

Let me briefly share my journey to Mtendere this week. There I saw a different Lusaka from the one I am staying in, one no different to the squalor of Alexandra township, Johannesburg, where I grew up. The structural inequality contradicts the meaning of “Mtendere” – the conditions there make for anything but peace. Just as Mark's Gospel describes “crossing to the other side”, let us cross over to Mtendere, plead for its light and hold a bridge for them to cross over, as you did for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia.

As I wrote in my blog this week, the oneness of Communion is a gift for all Christians and all beyond the Christian world. We need more than “Anglicanism” and “Instruments of Communion”, we need faith in the God who liberates and who sends us back to Mtendere to help it “cross over” from squalor to the abundant life promised to us all. Mtendere reminded me that the issues around us are complex and the crisis we face is about inequality of opportunity, access and justice. These are not only justice issues but moral and spiritual matters that we as disciples of Christ need to urgently attend to if we are to flourish together.

Paul in the readings from Acts underlines a testimony of encouragement. We see that despite Paul’s thorn in the side, despite his afflictions, he presses on. He will not allow the dream of God to be deflected and he uses every opportunity to encourage those who are listening to him. Indeed as a personal encouragement, Paul reminds us that he did not allow any personal negativities, any personal shortcomings or even any health challenges to stand in the way of bringing about the Kingdom.

A close reading of the text shows that he is encouraging people to hold onto eternal life, not in the sense of life that knows no end, but in the sense that it is an invitation to live in the never-ending, always unfolding purposes of God. It is an invitation to see beyond the limits of the here and now, beyond life’s ups and downs and hold on to the bigger picture, of growing into God's plan for fully human lives for all of us. Irenaeus once said that “the glory of God is a person fully human, fully alive!” In the light of that, it always worth remembering that our daily acts of justice, our loving attitudes, our right relationships are in themselves instalments in the unfolding of a better tomorrow.

Paul’s second encouragement is the acknowledgement that Christ is the culminating point of history and therefore, unlike the stoics of old, we live with the certainty that history is going somewhere. Contemporary cynics hold that history is nothing more than an inventory of human sin and failure. But in Paul’s insight, history moves towards God's appointed end and that end is being incorporated into and extending loving relationships. We are therefore optimistic about our history and every time we do not, in the face of adversity, fail or falter, weaken or tire we are involved in moving history towards God’s appointed end. William Jennings Bryan once said: “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” There is a similar sense running through Paul's encouragement.

Finally Paul encourages us not to grow weary in doing what is right and in practising justice and in encouraging those bowed down, because as he says, even when human folly and selfishness forces people to make absurd decisions and plunge history into abysmal lows, God will not be defeated. Paul sees the resurrection as the surest proof of God's determination to “love us back into life.” St. Augustine put it well: “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of people. That is what love looks like.”

This is our roadmap for making love real. Real love is surely the candle which holds out to others, it is the content of the hope that we keep alive for those who feel they dare not hope. Lusaka has fulfilled this prophetic role at least once in the history of this continent. Now it is our task to take the candles of our hope, our courage, our commitment to be intolerant of political corruption and wrongdoing, the candles of encouragement, from Lusaka to the towns and the villages where each of us lives and to hold them before the poor but also before the powerful, to ensure that in the end history is indeed His story!

God bless you.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

PHOTOS: Archbishop's Award for Peace with Justice Goes to President Kaunda

Photos from the presentation in Lusaka on Saturday April 16:

You can also see the photos on ACSA's Facebook page. An excerpt from the citation reads:

“His commitment to service found its highest expression in his term as founding president of Zambia and in his unwavering commitment to liberation for others, making exceptional sacrifices as a consequence of harbouring fellow liberation fighters who were branded by white minority regimes as 'terrorists'. At the end of the Cold War, he achieved new distinction as an exemplary leader when he became one of the first leaders to allow multi-party elections and afterwards to step down from power.”

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Youth take the lead at ACC; Archbishop's Award made to President Kaunda

Clergy and laity from the Diocese of Lusaka joined us for workshops and conferences today and the youth led an informative panel discussion.

I then went with Bishop Trevor Mwamba, the former Bishop of Botswana, and our clergy rep, Father Jerome Francis, to see former President Kenneth Kaunda. We went both to his home and with his family to visit the grave of his wife, Betty, where we laid wreaths. In his lounge with some of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, he was visibly moved when I read the citation for ACSA's Archbishop's Award for Peace with Justice.

Of exiled heroes and arguing Anglicans - Blog from ACC-16 in Lusaka

In our Bible study on chapter 4 of Ruth on Friday, verse 10 was the one which stayed in my mind. The equivalent for me is the need to keep preserved, beyond my tenure, my and our heritage at various levels: family, clan, ACSA and the Anglican Communion.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

"Crossing to the other side" - A Lusaka Sabbath

I write these reflections conscious that tomorrow, Friday, is the 20th anniversary of the first hearing of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission—a pilgrimage that sought to take our country from despair to hope.

'Unity is neither conformity nor uniformity but oneness in Christ' – Blog from ACC-16

Continuing our Bible studies on the Book of Ruth* here in Lusaka, we learned in chapter three about the origins of the David lineage, the nature of God and our response. We also continued to discern the mind and heart of Ruth and the “plans” of Naomi.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

What does 'gleaning' mean today? - Blogging from ACC-16

At our Tuesday Bible study, on Ruth chapter 2, we spent time looking at “gleaning” and the modern-day equivalents of collecting and using the leftover grain after the harvest. We discussed church feeding schemes, government social grants, cooperative social responsibility and city planning that is sensitive to parks and open spaces. Without discounting any of these, we considered how such schemes can be corrupted.
ACSA at ACC-16: Louisa Mojela, Abp Thabo, Abp Welby, Jerome Francis

In following the return of Ruth and Naomi to Naomi's homeland, we also discussed and shared the experiences of “returnees” from exile, or from failed ventures, and how it is often difficult emotionally, spiritually and psychologically to return and start life all over again.

In other sessions we received messages from the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and also met in small groups around our tables.

What I took away from the Pontifical Council's message is that living in communion is about care and concern for the well being of each other: that there is no such thing as the Anglican Communion for Anglicans; we all belong to Christ by virtue of our baptism and our decisions or lack thereof have broader consequences for all.

The ACC's financial report reminded me that mission and belonging is costly, that the staff reports I applauded must be funded and that the Communion and provinces, as well as dioceses and parishes, need to prioritise. The Compass Rose Society, the international group of Anglicans who help the Communion, needs to be complimented for its financial support of the Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury's ministry and, as some of you know, our E-Reader project and the Diocese of the Highveld. Those from our Province who can join the Compass Rose Society, please do so and help our beloved Communion. We have our own financial challenges but I invite you also to contribute to something bigger than ourselves.

The small groups gathered for further discussion of the theme of ACC-16, “intentional discipleship”. Based on the staff reports, the groups are generating resolutions for possible adoption next week.

After the last Lambeth Conference's group photo, which involves hundreds of participants, the photos we took here – of the whole ACC-16 group, and of each Province's reps with Archbishop Justin – were no longer daunting, and went smoothly.

After a glitch – as a result of me getting times wrong after a siesta! – the ACSA team had time with South Africa's High Commissioner in Zambia, Ms Sikose Mji, and she will take me on Friday to the graves of South African exiles, for which I am grateful.

Last night we were hosted by parishes in the Diocese of Lusaka, joined by churchwardens of the parishes around the diocese. We were treated to local food, such as mopani worm, cassava, morogo, pap, fish heads and many other delicacies. It was a relaxed evening, with a choir entertaining us and a few mozzies feasting on my legs.

As I end this reflection, the fate of the miners trapped at Lily Mine in Mpumalanga is piercing my heart. I pray that by God's grace they, just like the miners trapped in Chile some years ago, might still be alive. I am not only lamenting them, but writing to those on my staff who handle public policy, the media and my socio-economic vocation, to assist me in taking this up at the highest possible level. Finally, I focus on the murder on the Wild Coast of Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, the activist who was trying to stop the mining of titanium on the coastal dunes at Xolobeni. May God's abundant mercy and care continue to protect us even as we care for his earth and each other.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

'The beauty of Communion: you never arrive...' - Monday's blog from ACC-16

I continue to feed from the pearls shared during our daily Bible study. The book of Ruth touches me deeply and differently from before; it feels as if I am reading it for the first time.**

The focus on Ruth and Naomi as refugees dominates our discussion. The people of the Bible are refugees, migrants and wandering people. We should not be treating refugees as other than this, since we know their pain and later vindication. We share stories of refugees in our different contexts, the risks they are prepared to take for their security and we lament how they are dehumanised. The team at our table has grown – we have been joined by an ecumenical partner who brings a beautiful and helpful mirror for us.
Ecumenical partners.

At a tea break, I wander around the Mothers' Union market. They have wonderful souvenirs – bead works, shirts and hand-made hand bags. I order two bags to support the business. The photographers who swarmed around us at the opening service are back, great entrepreneurs who bring beautifully-framed pictures and start bargaining at 150 kwachas, although they will drop their price to 50 kwachas if you have the patience to negotiate.

We spent most of Monday hearing stories about the Communion from staff members of the Anglican Communion Office in London. The Secretary General, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, started, stating the need for a healthy Communion that remembers that it does not exist for itself but in service to the needy in the world. He shared the tensions that exist between the national and global, the particular and the general, and the call for the ACC to be prophetic and yet administratively prudent. He appraised us of developments in the Communion: new Provinces, the exploration of  Portuguese and Spanish translations for documents as well as where the Anglican Covenant stands.
Archbishop Idowu-Fearon (Photos: ACNS)

Staff from the following areas also gave reports: Mission, Women and Gender – on gender justice, Continuing Indaba, the United Nations Office,  the Anglican Alliance and Communication. I heard all of them saying that the mission is huge, the workers are few and resources are scarce. The good news is that the Communion is alive with challenges, determined to walk together and to continue the Indaba, giving hope to those advocating for gender justice, climate justice and the varied humanitarian crises which God's people face. We were encouraged to communicate our stories and, as St. Paul says, if needs be, use words.

I ended the day with deep and profound discussions with the Dean of the Cathedral and the Archbishop of Central Africa. We spoke about their ministry to exiles from South Africa while the exiles were based in Lusaka. They recalled how the church offered support to the exiles – remembering Chris Hani's time here – and how faith played part in ensuring the exiles did not despair.

This is the beauty of Communion: you never arrive, you are on a journey toward full realisation of Communion. Growing up in South Africa as a youngster, I would not have owned, nor would I have spoke about what was happening in Lusaka – even as I write, I am filled with past emotions, feeling as if I will be arrested on landing back at home. On Thursday, I may take a journey to some of the graves of exiles who died in Zambia and we may pay the ambassador a courtesy call. 

Being here is also a story of liberation for me, a story of redeeming past fears and of a determination to start reconciliation within whilst encouraging it without. I ended the day with a FaceTime connection with home, checking if homework and assignments were going well.

** Readers can find the ACC-16 Bible studies here [PDF file] 

Monday, 11 April 2016

'God shone' at Lusaka Cathedral - Blogging from ACC-16

Photo: Green Anglicans
The rain heard our prayers for Sunday. As the opening Mass was held outdoors, it could have placed a dampener on the service but it held off.

Words can't describe the beauty of the service held outside the Cathedral – the various attires and vestments, and people of all ages. Green Anglicans have posted pictures which give a glimpse of this beauty. It was good to see Rachel Mach and some of the young Green Anglicans from our Province there.

I can only sum up the glorious Mass by saying, “This is the day of the Lord and we rejoiced in it.” From where the Primates sat, we saw tent after tent filled with people. The series of processions were an Anglican pageant at its best, led by various bands and servers. I was tempted to say those verses in Revelation, “who are these, robed in white...” After an hour of well-executed processions, four and more if the many bands are included, the Mass began.

The ululating and applause at various parts of the Archbishop of Canterbury's sermon and the speech by President Edgar Lungu characterised the day. I lost count of how many different choirs sang; we experienced a variety of beautiful song and dance. I love Anglican liturgy, it was what drew me to the ordained ministry, and the flow enabled by its structure held everything together, including the song, the dancing and the speeches. God shone.

Photo: Ian T Douglas
Reflecting on the lessons, and the context of Britain, Zambia and the global church, Archbishop Justin reminded us of the righteousness of the God who calls us to go into the world, not to flatter the strong but to serve among the poor and weak. We were to go out in joy and tell the story of Jesus and his saving love.

After five hours, we finally sat down for lunch. As President Lungu left, I spotted one of my favourite leaders, Zambia's founding president, Kenneth Kaunda. I managed to stand to shake his hand, thanking him for his courageous leadership that led to our liberation in South Africa. He has aged and is visibly bent now.

The leak of the Panama Papers has been on my mind and I hope to follow how the British Parliament will deal with Prime Minister Cameron's  acknowledgement that he held offshore investments. I also want to learn what the resignation of Iceland's Prime Minister means. This learning is key to our public theology, as we in South Africa hold President Zuma to account. What can we learn from other nations on kingdom values and political values?

I had a long siesta and much-needed break after the service, recalling the prayer I said during the Mass:

Photo: Green Anglicans
“Righteous Lord, thank you for the fellowship and ministry that we share together as your servants. Give us strength, humility, wisdom and courage to share with all your story of peace with justice. Enable us to speak where others fear to speak, to walk where others dare not tread and to act where others do not. 

Thank you Lord, for our unity in Christ. Give us joy and determination to maintain this unity of purpose within our Anglican Communion. Make us celebrate our diversity even as we continue in intentional discipleship. 

We pray for all Anglican Communion networks and for countries where the Communion is present, especially countries in conflict. Give us renewed courage to radiate your love, care and  compassion and to seek your righteousness. Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer.”

Sunday, 10 April 2016

'We shall overcome' - blogging from ACC-16

A pattern is forming at ACC-16, where I am finding my table in Holy Cross Cathedral – around which we meet in groups – a source of security. Here we open up and share with one another the missional challenges and opportunities in our different Provinces.

I share what you all know well by now at home, our Provincial Vision and Mission statement, which is that “Anglicans ACT”, meaning that the Anglican community in Southern Africa seeks to be:

The sun breaks through in Lusaka. 
Anchored in the love of Christ,
Committed to God's Mission, and
Transformed by the Holy Spirit.

Within that, I name three key areas which are close to my heart and in line with the Communion's five marks of mission.

The first is education, or the nurture and protection of the young, and I share my pride in the fact we have now officially opened the Vuleka Archbishop Thabo Makgoba School for Boys in Sophiatown, and we will open the Maboee Archbishop High School in Lesotho this month also.

The second area I share is socio-economic concerns, how we have started courageous conversations with mining communities in our region, and how we will use this partnership not only in raising economic justice issues and ethical investing, but will partner too in building schools and other community projects.

I also highlight, as you would expect, the new struggle in South Africa, which I explain briefly as as a prophetic call and pastoral longing for equality of opportunity in a democratic nation. This priority is in line with the mark of mission, “To transform unjust structures of society...” I echo what someone said: “Let's do God, thank God and talk God”.

Lastly, I share our concern for the environment and Matthew Davies from the Episcopal News Service plays for us a video clip which you can see at the end of this entry. The stories from other Provinces were edifying and moving, and I feel encouraged when I hear I am not alone in this journey but that our wider family, including ecumenical partners, experiences the same joys and challenges as we do.

Meeting tables in Holy Cross Cathedral.
Then we listened to the Old Catholics, the Global Christian Forum and CAPA to hear stories of what God is up to in and beyond the Anglican family, and were fed and stretched by these accounts. Later in the day, I had the opportunity as chair of the resolutions committee to introduce my team and explain the procedure to a plenary session.

As you hopefully know by now, in my quest as archbishop of seeking peace with justice, the key values I try to promote are equality of opportunity, acting with courage, and collaboration, stressing “we” as opposed to “me”. Theologically these have focussed on “abundant life” – what does the common good look like, or systemically what is the incarnation?

The stories and sharing from Bible studies here, as well as listening to the new account of Archbishop Justin's paternity reinforce my call, and the need to act with courage in our lives: courage not as the absence of fear but as a willingness to take risks because you are cooperating with God's plan of liberation. At one stage, I quietly sang to myself that song of liberation and courage: “We shall overcome; Deep in my heart, I do believe; That we shall overcome some day.”

We had a great evening last night, with an official welcome from our host, Archbishop Albert Chama, and Vice President Inonge Wina. There were about 800 hundred of us present, including clergy and their spouses from the Central African Province, bishops and ACC members. We had a relaxed time and some fine speeches.

This morning, the sun is trying its best to shine on us, and we have an opening Eucharist in the grounds of the Cathedral.

†Thabo Cape Town

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Blogging from Lusaka - ACC-16 "walks together"

The clouds forming on Thursday did burst, and we had rain yesterday. It's still cloudy and, thank God, not hot.

We were warmly welcomed by the Diocese of Lusaka and the ACC was duly constituted. We are seated in round tables and will remain so throughout the meeting. I always enjoy the real expression of communion in the diversity of small groups - I am in a group with Irish, Tanzanian, Cypriot, Zimbabwean, West Indian and a Malawian representative now residing in the USA.

We started with a beautifully crafted Bible study on the book of Ruth. I call it an inter-racial, inter-cultural, cross-cultural and cross-class account of the foundation of God's elect. We share deeply and find each other and God in our sharing.

Archbishop Justin gave a brilliant and theologically-balanced account of the Primates Meeting in January and explains the concept of “walking together”. His report was accepted by ACC-16, confirming that we will walk together, with our blemishes and all.
Archbishop Justin speaks.

The cathedral choir soaked our Mass with their beautiful voices as the filled the huge Holy Cross Cathedral with melody. We end the day with an orientation of how ACC works. As with most elective assemblies and synods at home, there are more and more new people - it's my third ACC and I felt old when almost two-thirds of people raised their hands to indicate that it's their first ACC. Hence orientation was key.

We say Evening Prayer together and walk to our hotels. Please continue to soak us in prayer: pray for the West Indies representatives, prevented by a cyclone from attending, and also those who have decided not to come. We belong with each other in this reformed Catholic, Anglican family.

†Thabo Cape Town

Friday, 8 April 2016

Archbishop Thabo blogs from Lusaka on ACC-16

The Anglican Consultative Council begins its 16th meeting (ACC-16) in Lusaka today, and Archbishop Thabo is heading ACSA's delegation to the sessions. The ACC is one of four “instruments of Communion” for the worldwide Anglican Church, and the only one in which laity and clergy other than bishops are represented. Every Province in the Communion is represented by a bishop, a clergyperson and a layperson. The other “instruments” are the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference and the Primates Meeting.

I have arrived in Zambia for ACC-16 and I will try, God willing, to update our Province on what happens here through brief reflections. There will be no Ad Laos or Good Hope articles from me this month.

Landing in Lusaka, I felt nostalgic. My first cousin, Peter Makgoba, spent time here during the armed struggle against apartheid. In those says, Lusaka was the “head office” of hope for liberation for most South Africans. When we were students, any message from Lusaka came with the feeling that the sunspot of apartheid would disappear.

This hope, excitement and dream is fading away now and my earnest prayer is this that this is temporary; that we will once again rise above this period in our country, and rekindle hope and energy for a future in which we all share and our dignity is restored. We dare not, I pray we will not, have another Marikana. We must not have another Marikana.

I came here following two two beautiful and hope-inspiring days in Joburg. First came the launch of the Archbishop's Vuleka boys' school in Sophiatown, in line with our missional priority to nurture the young. The Anglican Board of Education has taken our aspiration and delineated three practical areas for action:
  • To support existing church schools,
  • To galvanize parish and community involvement in schools, including schools run by governments, and
  • To establish high-quality, accessible Christian schools.
On the second day, I went back to my alma mater, Wits University, and asked my fellow alumni to be part of the solution we want to see for students who cannot afford to pay their fees. We established the South African Student Solidarity Foundation for Education (SASSFE), and already have pledges for donations. Our aim is to respond in tangible ways to ensure access to for poor students.

Here in Zambia, they had elections last year and are scheduled to hold them again in August. I am told President Lunga will celebrate them with fanfare. It's a great example.

The ACC's Standing Committee met on Wednesday and Thursday. I couldn't join them because when I was elected to serve this year, the events in Johannesburg had already been planned. Many ACC members are arriving and the mood of the Communion is forming like the clouds outside – which may bring rain.

I look forward to our time here, learning from others around the globe and experiencing personal growth. The Revd Jerome Francis from Cape Town is our clerical representative and Louisa Mojela of Gauteng, who also serves on the ACC's Standing Committee, is our lay rep.

God bless you,

†Thabo Cape Town

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Former Wits students launch fund to help students in need

Archbishop Thabo, who chairs the Board of Trustees of the new foundation, with Justice Richard Goldstone, another Wits alumnus, at the launch. (Photo courtesy of Kenneth Creamer/ Engineering Week.)
The South African Student Solidarity Foundation for Education (SASSFE) is a network for all universities’ alumni to support students in need.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Opening of Vuleka St Joseph's Archbishop Thabo Makgoba School for Boys

Official Opening and Blessing Service of the Vuleka St Joseph's Archbishop Thabo Makgoba School for Boys in Sophiatown on 5 April 2016:

Good morning boys! Good morning parents, teachers, clergy of the Diocese, and the whole school community!
    Bishop Steve, bishop of the Diocese, Melanie Sharland, the managing director of Vuleka Schools, Bishop Peter, chair of the Anglican Board of Education, Roger Cameron, the CEO of the board, board members present, heads of schools, ISASA  and all of you who are with us today, allow me to acknowledge in particular President Kgalema and and Mrs Gugu Motlanthe. As some of you may know, President Motlanthe started school at St Michael's Anglican School in Alexandra, which became Pholosho after the Bantu Education Act was passed. He never supports to fail me in educational endeavours as a fellow Pholosho/St Michael's alumnus.

    What a joy it is to be here, celebrating the foundation of a new Vuleka school in Johannesburg. Thank you, Bishop Steve, for incorporating this opening service into the life of your Diocese. And, boys, how exciting it is to see you, the learners, here at this historic site, continuing a tradition established down the road, when the Diocese of Johannesburg, supported by the fathers of the Community of the Resurrection, operated schools in Sophiatown as part of our mission here.
    Looking back on what has happened since that tradition was smashed in 1955, when our schools were closed by the Bantu Education Act, and on the historic significance of re-establishing church-sponsored education in Sophiatown, we can truly say, as we heard in the lesson from Isaiah, that the Holy One of Israel has been our Saviour. Truly, he was with us when we passed through the waters; he did not allow the rivers to overwhelm us; when we walked through the fire we were not burned, nor did the flame consume us. No, we need not have feared because he has redeemed us.
    The official opening of this school today marks an important milestone in the revitalisation of education as part of the church's mission in Southern Africa. Invoking memory – remembering our past, both its strengths and its weaknesses – can be a tool of education, an instrument of critical analysis which helps us plan effectively for the future. In that spirit, I want to call to mind the origins of our educational tradition, which in the case of the Anglican Church goes back to the beginnings of the church in these parts, when my predecessor, the first bishop of Cape Town, established both Diocesan College, a sister school for girls, and Zonnebloem College in the outbuildings of Bishopscourt 160 years ago.
    This outreach continued with the mushrooming of schools across the sub-continent under colonial rule, serving the sons and daughters of both black and white. Although interrupted by the devastation of Bantu education, the mission was continued by visionaries such as Deane Yates outside South Africa, and picked up again within South Africa by people such as Deane and the founders of the Vuleka initiative, Susan Germond and Joy Chilvers.
    And now the Province has again formally identified education as one of its top mission priorities. We say in our Provincial Vision Statement that “Anglicans ACT”. When we say “Anglicans ACT,” the A in ACT is for being Anchored in the love of Christ. When we say “Anglicans ACT,” the C is for being Committed to God's Vision. And when we say “Anglicans ACT,” the T is for being Transformed – by the Holy Spirit.
    Let's try this together: boys, teachers, parents, clergy, everyone, please say after me:
    Anglicans ACT!
    That's right: Say after me again! Anglicans ACT!
    Now let's say each part together:
    A is for being Anchored /
         in the love of Christ! /
    C is for being Committed /
        to God's Vision!
    And T is for being Transformed /
         by the Holy Spirit.
    Under that Vision Statement, we have eight missional priorities, one of which is “protection and nurture of the young.” But that on its own is just an aspirational statement. What the Anglican Board of Education, under the leadership of Bishop Peter and Roger Cameron, does is to unpack it by focussing on three very specific objectives:
To support existing church schools,
To galvanize parish and community involvement in schools, including schools run by governments, and
 To establish high-quality, accessible Christian schools.
All three objectives are important, and we should be careful not to neglect the second objective: to help improve and revitalise state schools. On that note, as we reflect and act on educational needs in South Africa and our neighbouring countries, please join me in praying for children who are forced to use long-drop pit latrines, remembering particularly the young lad in Limpopo who fell into one and died recently.
    However, it is the achievement of the third objective that we are here to celebrate today. As Bishop Peter has stated, our ideal is to establish, and I quote, “strong, high quality, accessible Christian Schools with teachers who have a sense of vocation, who create a disciplined learning environment and enable boys and girls to reach their dreams...” This initiative is not confined to South Africa; we want to carry it into every diocese in southern Africa, demonstrating that we are truly ACSA, the Anglican Church of Southern, not just South, Africa. As a first step, at the end of the month, we will be opening the Archbishop Maboe High School in Lesotho, and the Diocese of Swaziland has a large plot and will be starting the process of building a school there.
    For my part, my dream and my desire is that each young person may grow into a contributing member of society, an effective citizen of the world, who can help provide solutions to life's challenges at every level, personally, professionally and in his or her community. If we are to do this, we need to go beyond replicating the kind of education our children are receiving at too many government schools, where teachers don't turn up for work on time and who often turn out matriculants whose skills do not equip them to meet the needs of the economy. I will not comment on the negative influence of SADTU in those schools, because the last time I did I got into trouble!
    For this task ahead, I know that Vuleka is well equipped. We have a vision for what we want to achieve with this missional priority. We are analysing the needs and identifying the gaps that need to be filled. But we still need two more qualities if we are to achieve our goal. The first is courage. Courage, because our project is an ambitious one, which we will not realise without thinking big and aiming high. The second quality is more down-to-earth: having summoned up the courage to think big, we need to sell our project, to find and deploy the marketing skills that will enable us to succeed. The task is not impossible: here at Vuleka, by establishing a small trust, the Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Development Trusts, a few years ago, we were able to raise some funds to help towards a library and a classroom. Today we are presenting a further cheque of R30,000 towards the school and encourage you and your friends to give to this amazing project. No amount is too small or too huge.
    So we need resources, but we have faith, we have a vision, and we have the sure knowledge that the resurrected Christ gives us, that in Him all things are possible. I know that God is smiling on our efforts and on our celebrations. Our warm congratulations to you all on this momentous day; to Melanie, to all who work at Vuleka, to Bishop Peter and Roger, to Bishop Steve and all who support this project. May God bless it and every boy who passes through this school.
    To finish by invoking the sentiments of your school prayer: may this be a place in which all feel secure and are able to learn, in which true friendships are formed and people know themselves, in which people learn to apply their minds and where values are set and lived out.
    To God be the glory!  Amen.