Sunday, 1 October 2017

To the Laos - To the People of God – October 2017


Dear People of God

I am writing this as I prepare to travel to Canterbury, where I will attend a meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion over the next week. Following that I will chair a meeting of the Lambeth Design Group, a body which oversees planning for the next Lambeth Conference, to be held in 2020. Our Province is committed to faithfully showing up and participating in these key meetings of the Communion, doing so because our reward is to be faithful servants of God and God's witness and mission in the world. Please pray for both meetings.

The Communion meetings follow a busy week of debates and decisions, first at the second session of the Synod of Bishops this year, then at the annual Provincial Standing Committee (PSC), at which bishops, clergy and lay representatives from every diocese in the Province are represented. The Dean of the Province, Bishop Stephen Diseko, “embarrassed” me, almost marketing my new book to both meetings by congratulating me on it. I appreciated it but as you all know me, I always try to push attention to Jesus, the church and not me. 

The bishops dealt with a wide range of important issues, including the election of a new bishop for Mthatha, the situation in the Diocese of Umzimvubu, the future of the College of the Transfiguration and the Archbishop's Commission on Human Sexuality. You can read the details in our Pastoral Letter.

At PSC we also considered in detail a very wide range of questions ranging from theological education and the environment to how we should organise our youth work and our role in combating substance abuse. Of particular note was the statement we received from the special conference marking the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women as priests in ACSA, which was held at the same venue and simultaneously with the Synod of Bishops. At the end of their conference, we all celebrated a special Eucharist with arriving members of PSC.

While those who met in conference celebrated the 1992 decision to ordain women as priests as “a victory over exclusion, inequality, and injustice in the church,” they said these features continued in our leadership, structures and practices. They called for a series of changes, including the election of more woman bishops. You can read their statement on the ASCA website, as well as a pledge to which they committed themselves.

Apart from the challenging task of presiding over the deliberative bodies of the Province, the life of an Archbishop is also taken up with difficult pastoral issues. Before the recent Provincial meetings got under way, my ministry and that of a number of my fellow bishops in a number of dioceses in the Eastern and Western Cape were overshadowed by tragedy.

Firstly, I had to preach and preside at the funeral of a senior priest, Archdeacon Lunga Vellem, in Kokstad in the Diocese of Umzimvubu. As someone who held an MBA, he was a valuable asset to the Diocese but was killed when he sustained head injuries in a car accident. Then in Cape Town we had the sudden death of the Revd Mark Abrahams, Rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Heideveld. He died just after undergoing an operation and only a week before his 54th birthday. Large numbers came both to the Church of the Resurrection in Bonteheuwel and to Holy Spirit to commemorate his life and ministry.

Soon after that, I buried a young priest in the Diocese of Mthatha, Archdeacon Sibulele Njova, his wife, his son and his younger sister. They all died in a head-on collision with a van which was allegedly forced out of its lane by a taxi – which then sped off without stopping, apparently realising what it had inflicted on this young family. As we lowered the four coffins into the grave in Mqandule in rural Transkei, not far from the picturesque Wild Coast resorts of Coffee Bay and Hole-in-the-Wall, the wailing of the mourners seemed – very painfully – to be matched by the sound of the sea. After the funeral I went to Mthatha Hospital with the Dean to visit the two surviving daughters, aged 11 and four. The 11-year-old was battling with her injuries but the four-year-old could hold a conversation with me and even gave me a high-five. She was happy that we were in cassocks because we reminded her of her dad. But she had not yet been told her parents had died and thought they were arriving back from a conference later that day. I suspected she must have sensed that her parents had gone – she was, after all, in the car with them – and I felt that I was betraying her by not saying anything. But I was on my way back to Cape Town, so I resisted the temptation to tell her and then to leave her and fly off. If her sister pulls through, they will both be orphans. Their grandparents are ageing, so they will have to stay with an aunt in conditions far inferior to those of a rural Anglican rectory.

As I reflected on the lives of these three clerics and their families, I thought of the Gospel assurance that “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4) – but also of the Psalmist's words: “Why are you so full of heaviness, my soul: and why so unquiet within me?” (Psalm 46) We all have finite lives, and as St Paul says to us, “We do not want you to be uninformed... about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (Thessalonians 4:13) Well done, good and faithful servants, and may you enter into your Father's rest.

Fortunately I can end this letter to the laity on a note of hope and new life. On my return from the Communion meetings, Bishop Martin Breytenbach of the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist will marry Colleen Thomas of Cape Town. After they both suffered the loss of their spouses in tragic circumstances in recent years, we celebrate and rejoice that they have found new happiness and give thanks for this life-giving sacrament, marriage. God be praised!

God bless,

†Thabo Cape Town

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Commemorating Robert Gray

The text of remarks by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at Bishops School in Cape Town:

Today we give thanks to God for our founder Bishop Robert Gray and his wife Sophy Gray. Thank you, the Revd Terry Wilke, for the invitation and thank you, Mr Pearson, educators and students for your warm welcome.

Today we celebrate the 169th anniversary of the arrival on our continent of Robert Gray, first Bishop of Cape Town and the founder of this school. As you will hear shortly, in the prayer the Church prays to commemorate him, we remember today “the constancy and zeal” with which he laid firm foundations for Anglicanism in Southern Africa.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Archbishop's Charge to Cape Town Diocesan Synod

The text of the Archbishop's Charge to the 65th Session of the Synod of the Diocese of Cape Town, delivered during the opening Eucharist at St George's Cathedral: 

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

Monday, 7 August 2017

"Follow your conscience," says Archbishop ahead of no-confidence vote

Remarks prepared for delivery to Monday's civil society march under the banner #UniteBehind, ahead of a debate of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma, scheduled in Parliament for Tuesday. The remarks were delivered by the Bishop of Table Bay, the Right Revd Garth Counsell: 

Monday, 31 July 2017

'Let us not bow to fear and intimidation, but boldly stand for truth'


The sermon preached by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at the funeral of Ronnie Mamoepa at St Alban’s Cathedral, Pretoria, on Saturday July 29, 2017: 

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

At the outset, on behalf of us all, those here in St Alban’s Cathedral and everyone watching this service, let me convey our sincerest condolences, to you, Audrey, to your children and to your family. Fellow mourners, clergy here present, particularly the ecumenical family and specifically the Lutheran family, the President of the country, the Deputy President and the former President, and Mam' Zanele. 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Archbishop Meets SA Deputy President Ramaphosa

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba met South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at Bishopscourt today, where they discussed structured partnerships between Church and State.


Sunday, 4 June 2017

Mothers’ Union March Against Violence on Women and Children

An address to members of the Mothers’ Union in St George's Cathedral, Cape Town, at the end of a march to protest violence against women and children:

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

VIDEO: Celebrating 500 years of the Reformation

Video coverage of the festive service celebrating the Reformation, held at Wittenberg, Germany, on May 28, 2017. Archbishop Thabo was the preacher.

A newsclip from the service. Archbishop Thabo's contribution begins 50 seconds into the clip:




The Archbishop reflects on the service in an interview afterwards:



The full service (102 minutes):


Monday, 29 May 2017

Breaking bread together in Luther's Wittenberg

Archbishop Thabo wraps up his reflections on the German Kirchentag after preaching at the Festive Service in Wittenberg to celebrate 500 years of the Reformation: 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Meeting Merkel & Preparing for Preaching with Precision

Archbishop Thabo continues his blog from Berlin, where he and his wife, Lungi, are attending the "Kirchentag" See photos at the end of his post. 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Archbishop Thabo blogs from Berlin


Archbishop Thabo Makgoba is one of the leading international guests invited to this year's edition of the great celebration of German Christians, the Kirchentag. He will preach to a festive service on Sunday outside Wittenberg, to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. 

On the first days of the celebrations, he blogs from Berlin.

DAY 1

The opening service was beyond my expectations: there were about 20,000 people at our venue and there were two others. The papers say that in total there were 70,000 people present.

Then there was a great reception, addressed by the President of the Kirchentag, Professor Christina Aus der Au, the chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, and Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This was followed by a dinner in which we spent the evening in her company, as well as that of Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and other church leaders. It was a delightful evening, talking about the church in the political life of nations and the church’s vocation to care for all - including a reflection on South Africa.

DAY 2

This morning I led a Bible study in Hall 18, an exhibition  hall. There was a choir from Limpopo, which was very special. They sang Senzeni Na? and Hake Le Tjee Ke Le Mobe, then it was to an exposition of the Bible study. (You can download my notes here.)

Bishop Ebenezer Ntali of of Grahamstown is also here, in the same hotel, but we have not yet had a chance to meet. The crowds here are multitudes beyond measure.

Then we were fetched and whisked to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, where Chancellor Merkel had a discussion on faith, religion and politics with former President Barack Obama. It will remain with me as a most memorable interaction, two world leaders talking opening and sincerely in the public square about faith, willing to be vulnerable, admitting their failures and not pretending to be omnipotent. You can see a recording of the interaction below. 

I am due to pay my respects to our Ambassador, Stone Sizani, later today and to have TV interviews tonight.









Monday, 24 April 2017

AUDIO: Listen to the Archbishop's Easter sermon

A recording of the sermon preached by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at the Easter Vigil at St George's Cathedral, Cape Town, on April 15, 2017.  The full text of the sermon can be found here.


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Archbishop Thabo's sermon for the Easter Vigil

The following is the text of the sermon preached by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at the Easter Vigil at St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, tonight:

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Happy Easter to you all.

We come to this Easter Sunday, to this open tomb, with the dark reality of our country very much at the forefront of our minds. Over these Lenten days we have come to the lowest point in our political life. Like many, I feel that the dream of South Africa sometimes feels more like a nightmare, a prolonged Passiontide, so to speak. Personal interests, corruption, private gain, entitlement, a vicious contempt for the poor and the common good, a culture of blatant lies and cronyism—and possibly worse—dominate our public landscape.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Archbishop prays for "a powerful, united coalition which puts first the interests of the poor"

A prayer offered at the beginning of a memorial service for the late Ahmed Kathrada in St George's Cathedral, Cape Town:

Loving and compassionate God of the Universe, Triune God, Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer,

Whose arm bends the arc of justice towards the poor and the oppressed,
 and whose ear is ever inclined to the cry of those who are burdened under the weight of injustice,

Friday, 31 March 2017

Archbishop's statement on South African Cabinet reshuffle

President Zuma's dismissal of the stellar team at the finance ministry constitutes an assault on the poor of South Africa.


Who stands to lose when we can't raise foreign investment to finance growth in our country? The poor. Who stands to lose when interest rates on the money we already owe gobbles up our nation's resources? The poor.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Archbishop Thabo's prayer at the interfaith funeral of Kathy Kathrada

Prayer at the funeral of Kathy Kathrada at West Park Cemetery, Johannesburg

Let us pray:

Loving and compassionate  God of the Universe, Triune God, Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer,

Whose arm bends the arc of justice towards the poor and the oppressed,
 and whose ear is ever inclined to the cry of those who are burdened under the weight of injustice,

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Archbishop Thabo mourns "gentle giant" of our struggle

Today we mourn the passing of a gentle giant of our struggle for freedom.

But we also celebrate the life of a very courageous and principled leader of that struggle.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Archbishop Thabo prays for foreign nationals

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba lit a candle and prayed for foreign nationals under attack in South Africa, at the beginning of a service in Turffontein, Johannesburg, on Saturday February 25.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Scrap nuclear power, expand renewable energy sources, Church urges

Protesters outside court at a previous hearing (SAFCEI/GroundUp)
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has appealed to the South African government to scrap plans for developing nuclear energy and instead to spend the money on education, training and other development initiatives.

The archbishop said in a statement issued from the church's Synod of Bishops today:

“The Synod of Bishops has revisited the resolution adopted by the church's Provincial Synod last September, in which the church expressed its opposition to the expansion of nuclear energy and urged the government to pursue the path of renewable energy initiatives.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

To the Laos - To the People of God – Lent 2017

Dear People of God

This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women as priests in our Province. Bishop Margaret Vertue of False Bay and the ACSA gender programme have been discussing the impact that women's ordination has had on the church. While they have acknowledged that there is much to celebrate—and I believe we have been immensely enriched by their ordination—it is also clear that the church still has many challenges to overcome when it evaluates the leadership, empowerment, participation and inclusion of women, both ordained and lay, in the church today.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Water is Life, Sanitation is Dignity - JustWater 2017

Cathedrals and churches on four continents have come together to raise awareness and activism about water by launching the JustWater website. This website is part of a new project focussed on celebrating, protecting and ensuring equal access to the gift of water for all, with an international programme organised by St George's Cathedral (Cape Town); St Paul's Cathedral (London); St Paul's Cathedral (Melbourne); and Trinity Church Wall Street (New York). Archbishop Thabo spoke at the launch of the initiative in London.


Water is Life, Sanitation is Dignity
JustWater 2017

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba
London, February 2017

Thank you Dean David and your team for inviting me here to help launch this initiative. Hillary and David are spoiling me at the deanery – thank you for your generous hospitality. Barbara thanks for all the practical arrangements.
As I was preparing for this event, we learned in Cape Town that as a result of diminished rainfall over the past year, the dams supplying water for our metropolitan area are only 29 percent full, this at a time when we cannot expect our winter rains to begin before May. While I won't go here into the linkages between the El Niño phenomenon and global warming, our water crisis had the effect of concentrating my mind on how precious water is and on how devastating the effects of scarcity can be.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Sermon delivered in the Diocese of Madhya Kerala, Church of South India

Diocese of Madhya Kerala, Church of South India
Sunday January 29, 2017
Micah 6: 1-8

Good morning! How exciting it is to be with you, here in the Church of South India, a church with such a rich and glorious history, in this vast nation. Coming from a country which finally overthrew its colonial past and achieved democracy only 20 years ago, it is inspiring to be here with you in the largest democracy on earth. Thank you Bishop Thomas for inviting us to your Diocese and for asking me to preach at this auspicious Convention Mass, and warm congratulations to you on your election as Moderator.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Collect and Prayer Resources for Education Sunday, February 5th

The Anglican Board of Education has prepared the attached sheet comprising a Collect and suggestions for prayers to be used on Education Sunday.

 The Diocese of Natal has also produced a resource document.

See also the Archbishop's appeal for parishes and Dioceses to observe Education Sunday.

Anglican Board of Education - Education Sunday >>

Diocese of Natal - Education Sunday Liturgical Resources >>

Archbishop's appeal >>

[Post updated with Diocese of 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Reminder: Archbishop's Lenten Course - 2017

The link to the Archbishop's Lenten Course, first published in December. Parishes and Dioceses are free to download the PDF and to have it printed or photocopies for local use:


REFLECTING, PRAYING AND ACTING TOGETHER, a series of Bible studies for Lent commissioned by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba is now available online for downloading and printing by parishes and Dioceses.

The course comprises daily readings and six weekly teachings centred on weekly themes for personal and/or communal prayer and meditation. Excerpts from the Archbishop's preface:

READ the original post on the Lenten Course here >>

Monday, 16 January 2017

Call to focus on universities on Education Sunday, February 5

To the Laos - To the People of God - January 2017

Dear People of God,

On January 6th, we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany, reminding us of the manifestation of God to all. For our context today, I want to paraphrase this by expressing it in terms of the liberation, the enlightening, the empowering and the “making able” of all God’s children in order to engage with God in his world and with one another so that none is dominated nor demeaned. Education embodies this vision. Hence, in keeping with our ACSA missional priority of “nurture of the young” this Ad Laos is dedicated to education.

Our Anglican Board of Education (ABESA), the Anglican Students' Federation, the Synod of Bishops and other organisations within our Church have been consulting in recent months on how we can engage with the crisis on our campuses in South Africa and beyond. The South African Council of Churches has also been taking initiatives and a number of our bishops have been responding to developments on campuses in their dioceses, among them the bishops of Pretoria, Johannesburg, Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth and the Free State.

Good education is, as I have said before, at the heart of our capacity to realise our Provincial Vision, “Anglicans Act”. Although the South African matric pass rate has improved, the quality of our school-leavers' education still needs a lot of improvement. And it is critical both for fulfilment in the lives of young people, and for the health of our society, that the burgeoning growth in tertiary education is well managed, sustainably financed, and kept at the highest possible level of educational quality.

As in the 1976 generation, young people today are bypassing their parents and demanding to be treated as adults who can negotiate their own educational destinies. Meanwhile the Government triggered their anger last year by sidelining its own commission on higher education, and announcing a fee increase for 2017 unilaterally. No wonder young people feel abused, marginalised and degraded.

At the same time, many young people speak of their vulnerability when it feels as if their parents’ generation – families, teachers and the churches – seem to have left them exposed to abuse, violence and intimidation, unheard and unaccompanied in deep waters. We need to redress that by standing with our students, listening to them and shielding them from danger.

When church leaders went to pray at Parliament after a student march in Cape Town last year, there was a warm response as if somehow there was a dimension missing in the conflict – something spiritual which many students knew from their upbringing, and which they miss in secular dialogue.

So what can we do?

We already have the first Sunday in February each year designated as Education Sunday across the Province, a time to pray for educators, learners and institutions of learning at the beginning of the school year. We want to urge this year that we observe this day, SUNDAY 5 FEBRUARY 2017 with special events not only at churches but ecumenically at schools and where possible on campuses where we have access through Anglican students, administrators or chaplaincy ministry.

This is a time to listen and to be close to people not only in the tertiary sector but as the crisis extends, as it will, to high schools and across society. Our presence, our prayers and where appropriate, our parenting are needed, alongside our prophecy where the powerful have also been absent and unapproachable, or simply overwhelmed.

We all know how disabled our education systems have been, especially in South Africa but also through the colonial histories of other countries which make up the subcontinent which ACSA seeks to serve. Building healthy education systems in all our nations is a critical priority to which ACSA has long been devoted. As we do so, there are people full of passion and potential for whom we have to care.

Please observe Education Sunday with special intent for universities and colleges in the tertiary education sector this year!

God bless you

†Thabo Cape Town



Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Archbishop of Canterbury supports Archbishop Thabo

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, has declared international Anglican support for Archbishop Thabo Makgoba after controversy between Church and State in South Africa.

The support was expressed in a sermon preached at Evensong in St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town, on December 30.