Thursday, 19 April 2018

To the Laos - To the People of God - on Eastertide & Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

My dear People of God

Easter has once again been a busy time for travel: on the evening of Easter Sunday I left to chair a meeting of the Design Group for the 2020 Lambeth Conference. Preparations for the conference are well on their way, and the theme is:  “God's Church for God's World: walking, listening and witnessing together”.

Lambeth is a meeting of all the world's Anglican bishops which usually happens every 10 years, and has been held since 1867, when the controversy involving our founding bishop, Robert Gray, and Bishop Colenso of Natal was one of the reasons it was first called. The 2020 conference will take place from July 24 to August 3 at the University of Kent in Canterbury, and Archbishop Justin Welby will send out formal invitations to more than 900 bishops and their spouses – including our own – later this year.

Archbishop Justin has explained on the newly-unveiled conference website that “It will be a time of addressing hurts and concerns; of deepening existing relationships and building new ones; of grappling with issues that face the Church and the world.” Please support your Bishops as they prepare for Lambeth, and pray for the success of the conference.

I arrived home the day before our son, Nyaki's graduation at the University of Cape Town, and after presiding over a graduation at the University of the Western Cape the day after that, it was off to Rome to a consultation on mining and miners with the Roman Catholic, Methodist and wider Anglican churches. Our own “Courageous Conversations” on the future of the industry in Southern Africa are part of this initiative, begun nearly five years ago when the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace hosted us in Rome. Our dialogue with managements, labour and governments seeks to re-position the sector as one that can be a partner for long-term sustainable development with host communities and governments.

Flying back from Rome to Johannesburg, I arrived just in time to attend the funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. (I responded to her death while in London.) As we commemorated the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Chris Hani, we conveyed our condolences to the Mandela family, and also to the families of former minister Zola Skweyiya, in many ways the architect of our social grants system, to former ambassador George Nene and, in Cape Town, to the property tycoon Pam Golding.

In my book, Faith & Courage, I discuss the national trauma from which we still suffer as a result of the aftershocks of apartheid. The reaction to Mama Winnie's death shows once again that South Africa needs deep healing, and the more we pretend we don't need it or postpone it, the deeper the hurt and the more destructive its impact will be. Around the time of the funeral we saw Stratkom – the strategy which the apartheid system used to turn us against each other – come alive once again, seeking to destroy our social fabric by sowing misinformation and suspicion against our comrades. Whatever allegations and misinformation are sown anew around journalists, activists, respected leaders and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, let us remember we have a nation to build and find socially cohesive ways of dealing with the controversy. With national elections scheduled in South Africa for next year, we hope the mudslinging we have seen will not be abused for political gain. We have huge challenges – the land question foremost among them – to wrestle with without destroying each other.

Looking ahead at challenges in the Province, I am hoping that by the time you read this we will have issued some clear guidelines to help us deal with the allegations of sexual abuse which have been made in three of our Dioceses. The preliminary remarks which I promised in my last letter are available as part of my Easter sermon on my blog. As I write, some of South Africa's leading lawyers have met to discuss the matter, and the Canon Law Council is consulting with our Safe Church network in order to formulate proper protocols which respond to the needs and welfare of survivors.

Looking further ahead, the annual meeting of Provincial Standing Committee in September will focus on theological education and a report from the Commission on Human Sexuality. We will also reflect how to follow up on the celebration this past year of the 25th anniversary of the decision to ordain women as priests.

In this season of Easter, as we anticipate Pentecost, please join me in praying and working for “Thy Kingdom Come”, the initiative to pray for mission and evangelism between Ascension Day and Pentecost - May 10 to 20. Here's a link to a discussion with Archbishop Justin and more information.

God bless

†Thabo Cape Town 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

[VIDEO] Archbishop Thabo responds to Mama Winnie's death

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba says the death of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela marks a “changing of the guard” moment in South Africa.

He was in London, chairing meetings of the design group for the 2020 Lambeth Conference, when he heard the news. He flew home in time to attend her funeral.

He told the Anglican Communion News Service that “The old guards who were the stewards and custodians of our struggle, those who led us into democratic South Africa, are moving on...” He asked: “Are we mature enough, capable enough, to sustain the vision of a non-racial democratic South Africa where all South Africans flourish?”

He said he was “enveloped with a sense of deep pain and sorrow” when her heard that Ms Madikizela-Mandela had died.

“Then I started saying there were good things Winnie did and we need to give thanks to God for those... There are mistakes that she made because life threw a lot of curve-balls towards her... She handled some of those with dignity, but some she really hopelessly failed.

“But we need to remember the good that Winnie did, as a Methodist Christian, as a courageous woman, as a beautiful woman. And we need to say ‘what can we learn from who Winnie is?’”

He sent his condolences to the family, “particularly to the girls who have had to be mature adults while their parents were incarcerated.”

[Excerpted from the Anglican News report, South Africa will “stop and reflect” for funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela]





Thursday, 12 April 2018

[VIDEO] Thy Kingdom Come - Archbishop Justin Welby speaks to Archbishop Thabo

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has asked churches in the Province to join the Thy Kingdom Come initiative, praying for mission and evangelism between Ascension Day and Pentecost - May 10 to 20.

Ahead of this year's events, Archbishop Thabo discusses the question “what does it mean when we pray Thy Kingdom Come?” with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby. During the discussion, he touches on his experiences as a teenager in Alexandra, Johannesburg, when he was chased by troops and feared for his life. 

[Acknowledgements: Anglican News


Monday, 2 April 2018

To the Laos - To the People of God - April 2018

Dear People of God

Usually in Lent I try to cut back on my schedule, but this year the busyness of the time leading up to Lent continued and I took on a number of tasks. While I maintained a discipline of prayer and reflection, particularly on water justice – praying for more rain in Cape Town and less flooding in the Diocese of Niassa in northern Mozambique – I also engaged the Anglican Communion and society equally.

A highlight, just before Lent began, was being invited to address the General Synod of the Church of England, where I brought your greetings and shared something of our experiences with water shortages. After that quick trip to London, I returned to Cape Town for Ash Wednesday, then went off to the Diocese of Matlosane in North-West, where I joined Bishop Stephen Diseko, Dean of the Province, and a number of other bishops at the opening of a new Diocesan Centre – a property renovated after being bought from the Dutch Reformed Church. From there I went to our regular February meeting of the Synod of Bishops, and then on to the consecration and installation of Bishop Moses Madywabe, the new Bishop of Khahlamba in the Eastern Cape.

Later in Lent I travelled to Grahamstown for the 25th anniversary celebrations of the College of the Transfiguration, our only provincial residential training college, which was founded after we had closed its three predecessors, St Paul’s, St Bede’s and St Peter’s. The celebrations were held at this year’s graduation ceremony, which marked another milestone – the first time we have awarded Bachelor’s degrees.

Being with students is always refreshing, and I told those at CoTT of my own theological bias towards the doctrine of the Incarnation, by which we hold that God in Jesus enters the everyday experience of human living to point us to God’s reign. Theological education is not about creating a band of elite clerics; it is meant to equip us with God’s wisdom, enabling us to be loving pastors and shepherds of all, dedicated to peace and social justice, pursued without fear or favour, all the while seeking God and soaking ourselves in prayer.

Back in Cape Town I hosted a delegation of visiting German Protestant bishops and theologians at Bishopscourt. I also presented a paper at the “Together for Justice” conference at the University of the Western Cape, which was organised with UWC to renew the longstanding partnership of the Evangelical Church in Germany and the South African Council of Churches.

At these events, I reasserted my call for a new struggle in South Africa, one aimed not at replicating how the privileged lived under apartheid but rather ushering in a new, more equal society in which equality of opportunity ensures that the wealth generated by economic growth is shared equitably among all. I also warned against thinking that the change in the presidency in South Africa was the solution to our problems: the new struggle is about values and institutions rather than about personalities and will involve building strong systems and institutions which cannot be undermined by one party or person’s whim.

At a ceremony in Christ Church, Constantia, I was invested as a Knight of Justice of the Order of St John and installed as Prior of the Order in South Africa by Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester. And by the time you read this I will have received an honorary doctorate in Theology from Stellenbosch University. I am humbled by these honours and the call to service they embody, and receive them on your behalf.

I hope that you also will be able to share and give thanks to God for your faith journey during Lent. I am grateful for your prayers and support, particularly when the road seems an uphill one. Please soak the church in prayer as we seek to do the right thing in response to the recent reports of sexual abuse in the church in the past. I plan to say more about this at Easter but my first response was to say sorry and seek forgiveness from those who have been victims. Please join me in finding ways of making up for the pain we have caused to others, in all spheres of our common life. For on Ash Wednesday we said, “Turn away from sin and believe the Good News.”

May God bless you richly this Eastertide.

†Thabo Cape Town