Showing posts with label Anglican Communion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anglican Communion. Show all posts

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Statement from the Synod of Bishops, February 2014

Statement from the Synod of Bishops, 3-7 February 2014, Linga Longa Retreat Centre for Healing, Limpopo, South Africa:

“For you shall go out with JOY and be led forth with PEACE; the mountains and the hills shall break forth in singing.” (Isaiah 55:12-13)

The Synod of Bishops met at Linga Longa, in the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist, from Monday 3rd to Friday 7th February 2014.

Integral components that have become part of rhythm and practice of our bi-annual meetings included spending time together in prayer and worship as well as receiving the word of God through the sharing of our colleagues at morning Eucharist.

It was a blessing to be ministered to through music and singing by the Diocesan choir at our opening evening prayers.

The meeting included a pastoral visit and walk of witness to the local Parish in the Phahameng community of Modimolle, where we prayed and engaged in dialogue with parishioners and community leaders.

We use the February meeting of the Synod of Bishops to enhance and enrich our leadership by reflecting on current and emerging issues through contributions by invited guest speakers who assist us to move beyond reflection to praxis in our varied contexts.

General Bantu Holomisa challenged the Bishops through his address on the importance of adequate prior planning if we are to be visionary and effective leaders.

Mzolisi ka Toni from the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities addressed the bishops on the need for churches to be accessible and accommodating to persons with disabilities, while also urging the Synod of Bishops to be sensitised to issues of language and attitudes that discriminate against people with disabilities.

The Revd J P Heath spoke of his HIV positive status as well as the fact that he was in a civil union with another cleric, and now working in the church in Switzerland. His sharing helped us to reflect realistically and openly on guidelines we are drawing up for those living in civil unions. The Synod of Bishops resolved to discuss these guidelines at this year's meeting of the Provincial Standing Committee, since Provincial Synod 2013 urged the Synod to finalise the guidelines.

We reflected on Anglican Communion matters, especially the recent debates on sexuality. We reaffirmed our position of seeking to be bridge-builders within the continent and the worldwide Communion.

The Synod of Bishops also dealt with the issue of “transitional leadership” – that is the need to prepare bishops for the transition from active diocesan roles towards retirement. The Archbishop will assist in this process and ensure that it becomes an ongoing agenda item at the Synod.

Of note was an agreement to give the Diocese of Mthatha permission to have a Suffragan Bishop following its enormous growth over the last years.

The Synod of Bishops also agreed to introduce a second award for both laity and clergy who have distinguished themselves within our Province.

Synod of Bishops warmly and heartily endorsed the forthcoming Anglicans Ablaze conference, under the theme “Hope is Rising”, from July 2nd to July 5th, 2014. All bishops together with their spouses have registered to attend the conference.

We welcomed with joy the news that the diploma at the College of the Transfiguration (Cott) in Grahamstown has been accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority and that the college has now also been conditionally registered. This is an exciting milestone, for which we thank Prof Barney Pityana, his team and God. We have more students than we can allocate places for at Cott this year. We thank the bishops and their dioceses for this support, and the Province for funds raised on Theological Education Sunday.

We also received with excitement and anticipation the news about the upcoming visit of Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby to our Province in July this year.

We ended the Synod of Bishops giving thanks to God for the ministry of Bishop Dinis Sengulane who retires from our Province and his diocese after 38 years as a bishop. The bishops gathered around Bishop Dinis and prayed for him in a very moving service.

We ended by encouraging our faithful to continue to be Anchored in the love of Christ, Committed to God’s mission and Transformed by the Holy Spirit.

As the Synod of Bishops ended, we joined in singing and praying with Deutero-Isaiah as we wish joy and peace to all parishioners and communities within our Province.


Sunday, 3 November 2013

Blogging From Busan - Crossing Bridges for Sunday Worship and Reflection

In Luke 8:22 Jesus says to his disciples, "Let us cross over to the other side." Today, we got onto our denominational buses and went to local parishes. Few crossed to the other side in terms of the "rivers" separating denominations -- I was one of those longing for a "good Anglican Mass" and so instead of going to my allocated local parish we went to the small local cathedral in BUSAN.

The bus literally crossed over a reclaimed part of the sea over to the other side. Structural engineers have constructed quite complex bridges joining the side of town in which we are holding the assembly and the older side of Busan where the cathedral is located. In real life, crossing over to the other side from yours is as complex as building the bridges; although it may not need structural engineers, it can nonetheless be difficult. Anglicans often see themselves as bridge-builders, and our Province in particular sees itself as a bridge-builder in Communion matters. When I saw the bridges crossing over the sea today -- at the same time experiencing changeable weather -- I appreciated the depth and complexity of some of our challenges when acting as bridges to carry others over to the other side.

Unlike a bridge, which will one day collapse if it is not properly maintained on site, we are nurtured and "maintained" by word and sacrament daily, wherever these are preached and celebrated anywhere in the world. This Sunday, we were part of an international congregation which joined the local parishioners to fill the cathedral. Bishop Alan Abernethy of Connor in Northern Ireland was the preacher and the diocesan bishop, Bishop Onesimus Dongsin Park, the celebrant.
Much as we crossed cultural, linguistic and location boundaries, there is something always special about the familiarity of Anglican liturgy and worship. We could join in melody, humming along, and we always knew where we were in the service. Reflecting on the readings, Bishop Alan coined a phrase summing up the essence of the assembly, saying that "God in Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit is at work in unexpected places," suggesting that we need to open our eyes and ears to discern this presence so that, like Zacchaeus, we feel his transformative presence.

It is indeed in those defining moments, transformative moments, when we consciously and unconsciously connect the dots, in life, in worship or our thoughts that we cross to the other side. Like epiphany moments, we connect the dots not for our own sake, but for the other as we join with what God is up to in his world. At lunchtime, Bishop Alan and I connected the stories of Belfast and South Africa; I recalled the 1998 pre-Lambeth Conference international youth conference at Stranmillis, and he recalled our time at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, relating how useful he found the Indaba process. His son works in the Diocese of Natal, and my son, when on a Face to Face/Faith to Faith interfaith youth leadership programme made friends with an Irish team.

Crossing over to the other side is not about bridges, boats and buses but people taking the first step, and maintaining the subsequent ones in engaging at a deeper level, ensuring relationships last and can withstand both the human and natural elements. It my prayer that the WCC assembly will ensure we form deeper and lasting relationships with those of different denominations or no denominations as we all witness for peace with justice in our world.

Back at the assembly, the children's choir at tonight's Korean cultural evening was for me about crossing over to the other side. The Gospel was retold through cultural lenses in a such a beautifully choreographed manner, through both a Western eye and a Korean eye, and the subtle synergies were profound. May the harmony of their little voices and the movements we saw today characterize our ecumenical witness and remind us that ecumenism does not only matter but is the lifeblood of our Christian identity, a bridge which will enable all to cross over difference and serve the common good.

God bless
+Thabo

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Blogging from Busan - Day One of the WCC Assembly in Korea

DAY ONE: After a long journey, we arrived at BUSAN in South Korea for the opening of the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) on Wednesday.

Other South Africans from ACSA include Bishop Jo Seoka of Pretoria, Canon Nangula Kathindi of Namibia, Mrs Lungi Makgoba and Professor Bev Haddad of the University of KwaZulu/Natal, all attending in various capacities.

We had a good "reunion" with other bishops and Primates from the Anglican Communion, as well as some clergy and laity, but the auditorium was too full to accommodate everyone for the opening plenary so we had to sit in the worship space and follow proceedings on a screen.

Jet-lagged and finding screens too impersonal, we decided to go to the conference's market place, where we were struck by many of the exhibitions - but chiefly by the ecumenical work which is being done for the disabled. I don't think that is an aspect of ministry which we as a province have spent much thought on, or are doing much about.

Then to the first business of the assembly, when we listened to the general secretary, the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the moderator of the Central Committee, the Rev. Dr Walter Altmann, and other programme directors present their reports or move for their reception.

What stuck out for me was the call by most for "Just Peace". The reports gave a synopsis of the work of the past seven years and the vision for the next under the assembly theme of “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.”

Parishioners at home should know of the longing by South Korea in particular for reunification with North Korea so that lasting peace is attained.

One objective of choosing Korea for the venue of the assembly was to support this longing, and to amplify the voices of the Christian minority to the majority, hopefully contributing to the achievement one day of lasting peace with justice.

God bless you,

+Thabo

THE PHOTO ABOVE shows a dramatic performance which narrated a history of the national and Christian mission in Korea.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Pastoral Response to Civil Unions

This media release from Provincial Synod was issued on 4 October 2013

Anglican Church considers Pastoral Response to Civil Unions

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has urged its bishops to provide guidelines for giving pastoral care to same-sex couples who have entered civil unions under South African law.

The Church's ruling Provincial Synod, currently meeting in Benoni, South Africa, on Friday adopted a resolution urging its Synod of Bishops to finalise guidelines “as soon as possible”.

The Church neither marries same-sex couples, nor ordains or licenses priests or deacons who live in same-sex unions. This is in line with the practice of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

However, in the words of the Right Revd Martin Breytenbach, Bishop of St Mark the Evangelist, during a debate at the Synod, “civil unions are a reality, whether we like it or not.”

Proposing the resolution, Bishop Breytenbach acknowledged he was on the “conservative” side of the debate. But, he continued, all God's people needed pastoral care and “we have people in our church who are same-gender couples who regard themselves as married, even though I find it difficult to accept.”

The Right Revd Garth Counsell of Table Bay – from the diocese of Cape Town, which is seen as more open to recognising same-sex marriage – said the resolution was “not talking about same sex- marriage or whether we will do that or not.” It was rather about “confronting legal reality”.

“Within our membership we do have people who have exercised their right to be in committed civil unions, and the reality is that they are fully committed members of our church. We have a responsibility to be pastorally caring to people in our pews irrespective of who they are.”

Bishop Breytenbach said the guidelines being worked upon involved “living with tension”.

He referred to the church’s breadth of approaches to the issues it faces: on some, rulings might bind the whole church across Southern Africa. On others, individual dioceses could have discretion to adopt their own guidelines.

There might also be situations in which priests could exercise their own discretion, sometimes in consultation with their bishops, and some matters might be left to the individual consciences of church members.

He also highlighted the need to look at the guidelines within the wider context of the church’s approaches to marriage, divorce, polygamy and other related perspectives.

The Right Revd Jo Seoka, Bishop of Pretoria pointed to the human realities at stake. He referred to the pain expressed to him by a young man who wanted to marry his partner. The man accepted that a priest could not marry him, but he was hurt by the fact that his father, an Anglican parishioner, could not escort him down the aisle without breaching church norms.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman, 021 763 1320 (office hours)
The Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones, 082 856 2082 (during Synod)

The full text of the resolution adopted by the Synod reads:

This Synod

1. Noting

1.1 The progress that has been made by the Synod of Bishops and various Dioceses in developing guidelines for pastoral ministry in response to Civil Unions, and to those who experience themselves as homosexual;
1.2 That we have accepted Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 as the basis for our engagement with the issues of human sexuality
1.3 That we are still not of one mind on these matters.

2. Affirms:

2.1 That God calls us to love and minister to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, while at the same time upholding God’s standards of holiness;
2.2 That this is a highly complex and emotive area which affects many people deeply and has a far reaching impact on the mission of the Church.

3. Commits the Anglican Church of Southern Africa:

3.1 To journey together in humility and mutual respect as we seek God’s mind on the difficult issues of human sexuality;
3.2 To continue to engage in a process of listening to the whole variety of experiences and viewpoints so as to increase our understanding of these issues;

4. Resolves to

4.1 Respectfully request the Synod of Bishops to work towards finalising the Guidelines for pastoral ministry in response to Civil Unions as soon as possible.

Adoption of Anglican Covenant

This media release from Provincial Synod was issued on 4 October 2013

Anglican Church of Southern Africa completes Adoption of Anglican Covenant

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) has adopted the Anglican Communion Covenant.

Its Provincial Synod today unanimously voted to ratify the decision taken at its previous meeting in 2010 to adopt the Covenant. This completes the legal process.

The Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, proposed the motion. Addressing the Synod, meeting this week in Benoni, Johannesburg, he emphasised ACSA’s commitment to being at the heart of Anglican life, often acting as a bridge-builder, and drawing on its own experiences of living with considerable diversity and wrestling with difference.

Seconding the motion, the Dean of the Province, Bishop Rubin Philip of Natal, quoted from the Introduction to the Covenant:
6. To covenant together is not intended to change the character of this Anglican expression of Christian faith. Rather, we recognise the importance of renewing in a solemn way our commitment to one another, and to the common understanding of faith and order we have received, so that the bonds of affection which hold us together may be re-affirmed and intensified. We do this in order to reflect, in our relations with one another, God’s own faithfulness and promises towards us in Christ (2 Cor 1.20-22).

With debate only addressing a minor wording amendment, the motion was passed without dissent.

The text of the motion is given below.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman, 021 763 1320 (office hours)
The Revd Canon Dr Sarah Rowland Jones, 082 856 2082 (during Synod)

This Synod

1. Notes the adoption of the Anglican Covenant at the Provincial Synod of 2010;

2. Recommits the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to playing the fullest possible role at the heart of the Anglican Communion, working to promote its unity in diversity and strengthening of bonds of affection, in a life of mutuality and interdependence, shared between autonomous churches, acting each as we are called in our own particular contexts and according to our own ordering, in response to this common gift and calling we have received in our Lord Jesus Christ;

3. Reaffirms its belief that this ordering of shared Communion life may be furthered as set out in the Preamble to the Covenant:

We, as Churches of the Anglican Communion, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, solemnly covenant together in these following affirmations and commitments. As people of God, drawn from “every nation, tribe, people and language” (Rev 7.9), we do this in order to proclaim more effectively in our different contexts the grace of God revealed in the gospel, to offer God’s love in responding to the needs of the world, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and together with all God’s people to attain the full stature of Christ (Eph 4.3,13).

4. Resolves to confirm its adoption of the Anglican Covenant.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Welcome to Archbishop of Sudan

This media release from the meeting of Provincial Synod was issued on 2 October, 2013.

Anglican Church Welcomes Archbishop of Sudan

The Most Revd Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS), has appealed to Anglicans in southern Africa to help his "traumatised" people to overcome the effects of decades of war.

Addressing the Provincial Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) on Wednesday, Archbishop Deng also appealed to ACSA to lobby the South African government to help resolve outstanding conflicts between Sudan and the new state of South Sudan.

The Archbishop, who is also Bishop of Juba, is a guest of the Synod, which is meeting this week in Benoni, near Johannesburg.

Sharing the mission challenges of his church, Archbishop Deng told of how South Sudan had been founded as a new, separate nation two years ago in the wake of a “bitter war” which had been waged between the north and the south for the best part of 45 years.

“Because Jesus is with us, the church has become stronger and stronger,” he said. About four million of the 12 million people of South Sudan were Anglicans. But because of the war, the ECS was still “an infant church” and its people were traumatised.

“They are wounded spiritually. They need care. They need help,” Archbishop Deng said.

He told the Synod that he had been appointed by President Salva Kiir of South Sudan to chair a committee to promote healing and reconciliation in the country, which was still beset by ethnic tensions and the difficulty of reintegrating people returning home after long periods living abroad.

Southern Africa could bring to South Sudan its experience with education and reconciliation: “We have no tools. We have no capacity. We look to... Southern Africa for help.”

The Archbishop also told the Synod of the continuing tensions between South Sudan and the government of Sudan, based in Khartoum in the north, over the delineation of the border between the two states and over the control of oil fields and exports.

He pointed out that the issue of whether the Abyei region, which lies on the border, should be part of South Sudan or Sudan had still to be decided in a plebiscite.

He noted that former South African president Thabo Mbeki was helping to lead an African Union panel which was mediating between Khartoum and Juba. He appealed to ACSA to support the mediation, and also invited the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, to visit South Sudan.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

4th Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue

This is the Communique from the 4th Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, which was held in Cape Town from 2 to 5 May 2013

A TESTIMONY OF HOPE

THE FOURTH CONSULTATION OF ANGLICAN BISHOPS IN DIALOGUE

The fourth consultation among Canadian, American and African bishops took place in Cape Town South Africa from Thursday May 2nd to Sunday May 5th 2013. We met in the context of worship, prayer, Scripture reading and the breaking of bread. Through the presentation of papers, continuing conversation, and growing relationships we engaged in dialogue both in sessions and over meals. We came from South Sudan, Malawi, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Canada, Zambia and the United States. We continued the same process as in the past of inviting people from different dioceses to reflect on God’s mission in their contexts, this time using the lens of reconciliation, in accordance with Paul’s exhortation:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)

We engaged in theological reflection on reconciliation, and we heard presentations about the reconciliation process in Burundi, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada, reconciliation in The Episcopal Church, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. We heard examples of people throughout Africa and North America intentionally seeking to meet with those from whom they differed.

We heard stories of such pain and of new life that was made possible by God’s grace mediated through compassionate ministry, that many times we were left in silence and tears. We witnessed profound hope in God’s transforming presence in even the most conflicted of situations which the world might call hopeless.

Our time in Cape Town was greatly enriched by the opportunity to visit local ministry initiatives: Fikelela Children’s Centre – part of the diocese’s HIV/AIDS ministry; the Fusion project in Manenberg – a ministry that seeks to inspire, partner with, and equip the church to see high-risk youth restored to Christ and community; Sweet Home Farm – a broad based intervention of the church in an informal settlement of some 17,000 people where ministry includes HIV/AIDS support, forming a church community, a Seniors club, health and welfare initiatives and a restaurant; and The Warehouse – a ministry initiative that provides a place for support, both spiritual and physical, for poorer communities and which equips people from many churches to serve in new ways. We had heard in our theological reflection that the Christological foundation of the Church’s ministry pushes us to pragmatic actions and commitments in the real situations of conflict and division where we live. On our local visits in Cape Town we were humbled by what we saw and our hearts were full as we heard story upon story of sacrificial ministry and steadfast commitment to the work of reconciliation. Our daily eucharists were held in St. George’s Cathedral. We had the opportunity to share in Sunday worship in churches around the city and to meet local congregations. The grounding in the local situation enlivened and inspired our conversations.

We recognized that we have inherited the ministry of reconciliation from our Lord Jesus Christ; that God’s mission is not a human achievement. It is something we are called to live into and to share. We observed that the engagement in the ministry of reconciliation is a costly process because it involves facing positive and negative truths about others and about ourselves with courage, honesty and humility.

We observed that a key part of the ministry of reconciliation is about reclaiming the humanity and dignity of those who have been dehumanized in various ways. It involves the preservation of the identities of those being reconciled to one another in Christ. It gives the powerless a voice to take up the challenge of speaking truth to power.

We observed that one of the dynamics of our group involved the history of colonization; that our present reflects the stories of both the colonized and colonizers. We talked about the dehumanizing parts of our history that fly in the face of our commitment to respect the dignity of every human being. We named many challenges in our contexts as evidence of systemic and spiritual evil in addition to identifying situations where the presence of God’s transforming grace was evident.

We recognized that the church is called to be a place of safety and refuge with an authentic ministry of reconciliation but, regrettably, the church can also be a source of victimization of others. We agreed that we need to acknowledge our part in conflicts that cause pain to people in order to become credible leaders and partners. We reflected on the statement that “To repent is to know that there is a lie in our hearts” of St. John of Kronstadt. We noted the importance of the church’s public apologies and of its participation in healing processes. We shared examples from the South African and Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRC), the reconciliation processes in Burundi, South Sudan and the situation in Kenya following the post-election violence in 2007.

We realized that it is only in speaking the truth in love to each other that we can understand each other’s contexts. We believe that this helps to reduce prejudice and misunderstandings. There can be no reconciliation without truth.

We heard of situations of such conflict that people were afraid to ‘pray with their eyes closed’. We were challenged to transform that phrase so that we could ‘pray with our eyes open’ – not out of fear, but because of a courageous willingness to face the truth. We discussed the role of the Church (as an ecumenical body) in reconciliation and the unique role of the Anglican Communion as a linking factor in many places. We acknowledged that this work of embracing reconciliation continues to be a work in progress within our communion.

We see our dialogue as having grown out of the recommendations of Lambeth 2008 and we believe that our work is important in building towards Lambeth 2018. We committed ourselves to share our learnings from these dialogues with the bishops and dioceses in our provinces and with others we meet. We would encourage similar dialogues across the Communion, dialogues that grow organically with emerging agendas as a way to develop understanding, build trust and foster reconciliation. These may be small regional gatherings. We suggest that such dialogues include opportunities to visit and learn from the ministries of the local church.

We observed that sin infects systems as well as individuals. We reflected on the church’s responsibility to help people to see when the truth has become distorted and to speak out against systemic evil that leads to disrespecting the dignity of human beings which inhibits the proclamation of the gospel in every culture. We noted that the witness of the church is to stand beside people as they tell their stories as well as to listen to their stories with compassionate hearts.

We discovered in each of our contexts that the Church has a unique role in proclaiming and embodying a positive vision of the future. We have found that God has planted the seeds of our positive future in our past.

We started a discussion on how we can be part of the reconciliation of the refugees and outcasts in our midst. We were challenged to consider the role of the Church to engage with the Diaspora of one another’s community, so that the ministry of reconciliation can continue and that these people may be resources to their own homelands for peace rather than the perpetuation of conflict.

We acknowledged that none of us has exclusive ownership of the truth. We understand that when all our stories are told we come to a fuller understanding of the truth. This meeting has confirmed the relational nature of the church and the understanding that all of us bring only a piece of the truth. We affirm once again that dialogue is essential to exploring the nature of theological truth that looks at what God is constantly revealing.

Our meeting in Cape Town had an added depth to it because we were all aware of the enormous work of reconciliation in South Africa following the time of Apartheid. We were blessed by the presence of Mary Burton, former Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) commissioner in South Africa. Hearing the stories of that time and watching footage of the TRC hearing, reminded us as a group that it is in the sharing of the stories of reconciliation by our global brothers and sisters that we are encouraged to pursue all that works for good (Romans 8:28).

We resonated with Mary Burton’s advice to us to ‘be mindful of the degree of hurt that so many people have, and to make provision for those hurts to be heard’. When stories remain untold disintegration follows. This is both an ongoing challenge and opportunity for the Church. In all our relationships we should try to be peace seekers.

We were also blessed and encouraged by the presence of Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director of Reconciliation. Canon Porter observed that Anglicans sometimes have “bad” fights, but need to learn how to have “good” ones, because there will always be points of conflict in our relationships. This gathering has had all the hallmarks of what good conversation should look like. Because we are all in Christ, we belong together.

We agreed that reconciliation is a gift of the Holy Spirit and only by the Grace of God are we reconciled.

We leave Cape Town with great hope. We have heard testimony of new life arising out of the most difficult circumstances and of Christ’s power of reconciliation healing the most tragic situations. We feel encouraged and empowered in our ministry and in our mission.

We extend our thanks to Bishop Garth Counsell and his local organising committee for their hard work and Marion Counsell for hosting us on Sunday evening. We thank Archbishop Thabo Makgoba for his hospitality in welcoming us to Bishopscourt and we extend our thanks to the members of the diocese of Cape Town for the warmth of their welcome. We thank the Rev’d Eileen Scully, although unable to join us, for preparing the handbook we used for worship. To the Rev’d Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa who coordinated our meeting and provided wonderful support, we offer our sincere gratitude.

Cape Town, South Africa, May 5, 2013

1. The Rt. Rev’d Jane Alexander – Diocese of Edmonton, Canada
2. The Rt. Rev’d Johannes Angela – Diocese of Bondo, Kenya
3. The Rt. Rev’d Michael Bird – Diocese of Niagara, Canada
4. The Rt. Rev’d John Chapman – Diocese of Ottawa Canada
5. The Rt. Rev’d Garth Counsell – Diocese of Cape Town, South Africa
6. The Rt. Rev’d Michael Ingham – Diocese of New Westminster, Canada
7. The Most Rev’d Colin Johnson – Diocese of Toronto & Metropolitan of Ontario
8. The Rt. Rev’d Julius Kalu – Diocese of Mombasa, Kenya
9. The Rt. Rev’d Mark MacDonald – National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, Canada
10. The Rt. Rev’d Sixbert Macumi – Diocese of Buye, Burundi
11. The Rt. Rev’d David Njovu – Diocese of Lusaka, Zambia
1. The Rt. Rev’d Robert O’Neill – Diocese of Colorado, USA
2. The Rt. Rev’d Michael Oulton – Diocese of Ontario, Canada
3. The Rt. Rev’d Anthony Poggo – Diocese of Kajo Keji, South Sudan
15. The Most Rev’d Daniel Sarfo – Diocese of Kumasi, Ghana
1. The Rt. Rev’d Stacy Sauls – Chief Operating Officer, The Episcopal Church
2. The Rt. Rev’d James Tengatenga – Diocese of Southern Malawi, Malawi
3. The Rt. Rev’d. Joseph Wasonga – Diocese of Maseno West, Kenya
Observer:
Canon David Porter – The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director on Reconciliation
Staff:
The Rev’d Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa – Anglican Church of Canada

http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2013/05/07/a-testimony-of-hope/

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Change the world in one hour with Earth Hour!

This statement was issued on 20 March 2013.

‘Change the World in one Hour with Earth Hour’ – Archbishop of Cape Town urges Anglicans in Southern Africa and around the World

As people around the world get ready to celebrate Earth Hour on Saturday, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has added his encouragement to turn off the lights.

‘In one hour, you can change the world!’ said the Archbishop of Cape Town, who also Chairs the world-wide Anglican Communion’s Environmental Network. ‘Support Earth Hour – switch off your lights, and switch on to saving the world! Let this be the first hour of a new life of energy saving, and living lightly. We have no other option to preserving our world for future generations. “There is no planet-B”, as is often said. We have no alternative.’

Everyone on the planet is urged to switch off their lights on Saturday evening, 23 March from 8.30 to 9.30 to show their commitment to a sustainable future, and then to make that commitment tangible through making long-term choices for more environmentally friendly living.

For more information, see http://earthhour.org/.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman 021 763 1320 (office hours)

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Synod of Bishops' Statement

Synod of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, March 2013

Jesus spoke to them saying: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

We, as the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, meeting at St Augustine’s, Modderpoort, in the Diocese of the Free State, from 5 to 8 March 2013, greet God’s beloved throughout the length and breadth of this our beautiful Province in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord!

As we gathered, our hearts were filled with gratitude for the many blessings that God bestows on us as a church.

We continue to celebrate the gift of two sister Bishops, Ellinah Wamukoya (Diocese of Swaziland) and Margaret Vertue (Diocese of False Bay), to the Church, as we meet at this historic Synod of Bishops, where we can be both sister and brother Bishops together.

We are also grateful to God for the growth that we, as the Church in this Province, are experiencing at present.

The Diocese of Niassa has borne witness to an amazing outpouring of God’s grace resulting in a process of spiritual and numerical growth that is nothing short of miraculous. In response to a proposal to multiply, the Synod of Bishops gave unanimous approval to the establishment of a new episcopal area and election of a Suffragan Bishop. The Archbishop has set the processes in motion for them to realise this dream.

We were pleased to hear from the Rector of the College of the Transfiguration, the Reverend Canon Professor Barney Pityana, of the positive developments at the College. We applaud the Rector, the Staff and the College Council for the progress that has been made with the accreditation of the academic programmes and registration of the College. We also express thanks to all who contributed generously for the refurbishment of the infrastructure.

The Provincial Standing Committee has declared 2013 a year of Theological Education in our Province. We support this initiative and call upon all Anglicans throughout the Province to make special monetary contributions to the College of the Transfiguration on Theological Education Sunday, which will be on 18 August 2013.

We commend and encourage those educators, officials and concerned citizens, at all levels of the educational system and society, who are working exceptionally hard to turn the situation around and who are doing their very best to ensure quality education for all. There is no doubt that education is a key sector for building the future. However, the state of the education system in South Africa continues to cause great concern and pain. We urge those whose task it is to shape, nurture and educate the next generation of leaders to take their task very seriously. We call for stern action to remedy the situation and for bold steps to be taken even if it requires the dismissal of those responsible for the situation and the replacement of incompetent officials.

We further support the Archbishop’s Education Initiative and commend Bishop Peter Lee, from the Diocese of Christ the King, who drives this process.

At the same time, our hearts are deeply troubled as we gather. Through our sharing and praying we have again become deeply aware of the hard realities of our varied contexts and of the cries of God’s people throughout the region.

We have noted with sadness the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor. Many of our people are trapped in the ever deepening spiral of abject poverty. We note the evidence for a close correlation between corruption and poverty. We, as a church, strongly condemn all forms of corruption, whether it is in the church or in civil society or in government or in business.

We call upon all of us to strive for a corruption free society and to challenge the governments and businesses in our region to do the same.

An area of particular concern is the escalating violence in South African society. It was particularly poignant that our discussions fell on International Women’s Day. The shocking fatal attack on the young woman Keamogetswe Sefularo at Mohlakeng which occurred during our meeting, as well as the brutal rape and murder of the young woman Anene Booysen at Bredasdorp, and also the violence displayed by the police towards a Mozambican national, Mido Macia, at Daveyton, who subsequently died, vividly highlights this crisis.

We condemn any form of violence, whether it is civil or state violence, domestic or public violence. We call upon all our people to strive for a violence-free society and, by so doing, to allow the light of Christ to permeate our society. We urge everyone, ‘Raise your voice! Stand up and be counted!’

We were moved by the homily of the Bishop of Khahlamba, at our Thursday Eucharist, on the inseparable link between the reform of liturgy and spiritual renewal. We, as Bishops, re-affirm our unqualified support for the initiative for the renewal of liturgy. There is a great sense of excitement as we embark on this process, as the Province, of revising the Anglican Prayer Book 1989. We realise that this will not be a hasty process, especially since we want to ensure that it will be a dynamic tool for mission and ministry, which will give expression to our distinctive identity and spirituality.

The problems experienced in the Dioceses of Pretoria and Umzimvubu presented us with particular challenges and we wish to assure our people in these Dioceses that we share their pain and have adopted strategies that, we hope, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit will lead to healing and wholeness in the Body of Christ. We implore you to pray for these pastoral interventions so that we may be whole, in answer to the prayer of our Lord Jesus, who prayed that we ‘may be one’ (Jn 17:11,21).

We acknowledge with gratitude the inauguration of the Canon Law Council of our Province, which was launched from 21 to 24 January 2013, in Grahamstown. We affirm the wide need for a better understanding of when and how to resort to canonically based action, while noting that Canon Law should be viewed as a good servant but poor master; for we also recall that Jesus, who came to fulfil the law, was against legalism, and that God’s people live under grace not law.

We give thanks for the fellowship in the gospel we share with our brothers and sisters around the Anglican Communion, particularly praying in joyful expectation for Archbishop Justin Welby and his family, as he prepares for his enthronement as Archbishop of Canterbury. We also gave thanks for the recent meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, on which the Archbishop reported.

We pray that we as the Church will listen intelligently to what God is saying to us at this time; observe diligently the signs of God’s restorative grace that is breaking through in places where our people are struggling; teach faithfully what God commands us to do; and continue to be God’s Good-news people wherever we live and work.

With these concerns and words of encouragement, and always seeking to follow the light of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, we commend you to the grace of God.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman 021 763 1320 (office hours)

Friday, 9 November 2012

Welcome to New Archbishop of Canterbury, with Experience of Africa

This media statement was released on 9 November 2012.

‘I am delighted at the appointment of Bishop Justin Welby as the next Archbishop of Canterbury’ said the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, after the much anticipated announcement was formally made in London earlier today. ‘The Church of England, with the Anglican Communion, has followed a long and careful discernment process, supported by much prayer around the world. I am glad that they were able to take whatever time they needed to reach their decision – for it is clear that this has allowed them to make a good and wise choice.’

Dr Makgoba has not yet met the current Bishop of Durham, but commented ‘I was particularly encouraged to read of his experience in the secular world, of business and finance, prior to ordination. It is clear that he will bring great gifts to his new role. Each Archbishop of Canterbury is different, bringing their own unique blend of abilities, experience, and character to this tough and stretching responsibility. We have been inordinately blessed through the last decade by the ministry of Dr Rowan Williams, with his combination of profound spirituality, enormous intellect and wisdom, and his courageous voice connecting the challenging essence of the gospel with all areas of life. Bishop Justin comes from a very different background, but will, I am sure, make his own mark, his own significant contribution, as Archbishop of Canterbury. It will be good to have someone with such experience of economic questions which bear so heavily on the church’s primary concerns of overcoming poverty, and promoting comprehensive justice and peace.’ He added that he was very much looking forward to working with the new Archbishop, noting ‘it will be exciting for us in Africa to work with someone who knows our continent, having worked in Nigeria both in the oil industry, and, more recently, in reconciliation. He has faced the tough realities with which so many live, and even looked the possibility of violent death in the face. He knows the harsh daily experience of so many here and around the world.’

The new Archbishop will be enthroned and take up his position early in 2013, after the current Archbishop steps down at the end of the year to return to academic life, becoming the Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Archbishop Thabo said ‘My wife Lungi and I, as well as the whole Anglican Church of Southern Africa, will be holding Bishop Justin, his wife Caroline, and their family, in our prayers, as they prepare to move to Lambeth Palace. We also pray for Archbishop Rowan, Jane, and their children – thanking God for all they have done for us. Our God is above all the God of hope and new life, and I am excited by the prospect of this fresh chapter unfolding both for the Church of England, and the worldwide Anglican Communion.’

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman 021 763 1320 (office hours)

Monday, 5 November 2012

News from New Zealand - 9

Monday 5 November - I do not do well with farewells. Today I kept humming quietly to myself the Lord’s Prayer, which was sung by the choir at St Paul’s Cathedral yesterday. It was sung in Maori, slowly and with deep meaning. I hummed this throughout the day as if protecting myself from what I knew was coming at Evening Prayer tonight. It was the last address by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, as President of the Anglican Consultative Council, at his last ACC meeting as Archbishop.

The moment arrived. We were all overcome by a welter of emotions. He spoke from the heart and it was hard. When he offered the blessing, my eyes were too heavy and my heart as well, and my ears could not hear the words.

Archbishop Rowan spoke about authority: about enabling, life-giving authority, and corrective, reactive, authority within the Communion. (You can read more detailed coverage of his address at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2012/11/5/ACNS5233, and follow the link to the audio-podcast that will soon be online.) I just wanted to record the sense of joy and gratitude for having had the privilege of having worked with him as the Archbishop of Canterbury, ever since I became bishop suffragan right through until now; and also to acknowledge the deep and heavy heart of saying good bye to him as Archbishop. I have been so enriched, and so touched, by listening to his reflections, both to the ‘pins in the skin’ that the office has inflicted on him, and equally to his sense of joy for having served; and his deep gratitude for, and acknowledgement of, the support of others and God's grace that has seen him through. He is a wonderful example to all in Christian leadership.

Let me just repeat the words I said in March, when we learnt that Archbishop Rowan would step down at the end of the year:
“My heart is very full at the news that Dr Rowan Williams will stand down at the end of this year. We in the Anglican Communion, and indeed the wider world, have been inordinately privileged to have such an able theologian and deeply spiritual thinker, as Archbishop of Canterbury over the last decade. He has exercised remarkable gospel-shaped leadership during tumultuous times for our Communion, in which his commitment to consensus seeking, rooted in his refusal to take quick and easy solutions that fail to address the more fundamental issues, has shown great courage and deeply profound rootedness in the faith to which we are called. Again and again he has returned us to the central questions of whose we are, and for whom we are to be – in loving, faithful, obedient, service of God, of God’s church, and of God’s world. I look forward to the fresh contribution he will be able to make in coming years to the Christian voice in the public space, as he moves to Cambridge.
“I personally, and we in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, will miss him very much. He has been a great friend to us, and especially to me when I was first appointed Archbishop and learning the ropes. As Southern Africans we say he is ‘Truly Umtu’, someone who lives and embodies the fullness of ubuntu – that it is through others we find our own humanity, umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu. We wish him, his wife Jane, and children Rhiannon and Pip, great joy and blessing during the rest of their time at Lambeth Palace, and in the new chapter of life that lies ahead. They have the assurance of our fondest love and prayers in the coming months. “

Today that same love, those same prayers, for Rowan and Jane, are echoing in me deeply, and I know I shall continue to carry them in my heart and before God as I return home. Please join my prayers for these beloved servants of God.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

News from New Zealand - 4

Tuesday 30 October – I cannot help but weep with the people in the US and Canada as they face the natural disaster, displacement and death that Hurricane Sandy is bringing. I weep as I send condolences over deaths in the US to our American colleagues here, led by the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. I share their anxiety and sadness at this tragedy as this storm continues to impact.

Natural disasters remain a mystery to me, and to us all. Today we passed a motion on the need to care for creation, and the particular calling for us as Anglicans and Episcopalians to be good stewards of our creation. I could not help, in my personal prayers tonight, to beg that creation might also take care of us, asking God to hear our prayers as he always does, but also asking God to incline his ear nearer to hearts for we are pained and overwhelmed by the mystery of these natural disasters. I was particularly conscious that on Sunday I travel to preach in Wellington, not too far from Christchurch, which has suffered so much from earthquakes in the last two years. Bishop Victoria Matthews of Christchurch has been present with us, and I wonder how much she and the people in Christchurch are having sad feelings evoked by this natural disaster.

So at our choral evensong I also quietly poured my soul out as the cathedral choristers, on average 10 year old, lead us in singing the psalms and prayers . I felt them bringing me closer to those who suffer , whether deep in the mines of South Africa, or those affected by the storms , or those facing their family tragedies unnoticed and unknown. Yet they also drew me closer to God, because ‘our hope is in the name of Lord’. In our Bible Studies we have also been reminded that wisdom entails attending to God in our relationships, and that our competence is from God (2Cor:3:5).

Today we also met in regional groups. Our group covered the SADCC countries, and we discussed some of the key development challenges that we faced, and possible relief as well as advocacy strategies. Governance, of governments, corporations and churches, was identified as needing attention in our region, as well as sustainable and practical economic empowerment initiatives for women. These will help make the churches in the region become more self-reliant, and pragmatically grounded. We agreed that we needed to map our resources for effective intervention.

We ended the evening with a challenging presentation on how to stop abuse within families. We were given a very good presentation that powerfully brought home the reality of children and women abuse to this highest chamber of the Communion. The reports of the Anglican Alliance, and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order, the resolutions we considered, and the presentation on stopping abuse all brought the best of our doctrine and theology into engagement with our lived reality, and empowered us with skills to think deeply and plan practical action around these challenges.

On my way home to the hotel I could smell the aroma of jasmine, and spotted the hydrangea, agapanthus, beautiful orchids, ivy and grasses which which I am familiar. So I feel at home and connected with the environment here, and its people in their challenges to connect with their context: with their past and with whatever future they hope for, whether at the centre or the margins of this place. And I also feel connected to God, even as I kneel to pray for those affected by ‘Superstorm’ Sandy. Please join my prayers

Monday, 29 October 2012

News from New Zealand - 3

Monday 29 October – The cloud could not contain the rain today. So after lunch I walked to a shop and bought myself a purple umbrella. The choice of colour, I hasten to add, had nothing to do with episcopal concerns. It was just the most practical the store had.

The cathedral is about 7 minutes, a gentle uphill walk, from the hotel we stay at. So we are not only nurtured spiritually with the word of God and daily Mass, we are also being kept fit. We walk the route at least twice a day, from the hotel to the cathedral and back. And if you want a siesta, like I did today, succumbing to jet lag, you walk four times 7 minutes, up and down to the cathedral.

I have enjoyed walking with Louisa Mojela ,our lay representative, and catching up on Anglican Global South matters , as she also represent our Province in this structure. I also walked with the Bishop of Ceylon and began to understand some more about his context. On another occasion, I walked with a bishop from Tanzania, and really enjoyed connecting with him. Last night, I also spoke to a retired bishop from Tanzania , who, like Judge Albi Sachs and Fr Michael Lapsley, was sent a letter bomb by the apartheid forces and he too lost his hand. He was an amazing man, who talked with no regret nor bitterness for the atrocious act of the past, but spoke fondly of his time in Lesotho, Swaziland and Lusaka as an Anglican chaplain with Umkhonto We Sizwe. I remain grateful for all those who sacrificed their lives and, literally, body parts for our liberation.

This transformative and redeeming spirit was expounded by Archbishop Rowan, when he started today’s morning session with a quiet time and an exposition of 2 Cor 2:14-17. He said the context is that of Paul seeking to respond to his own challenging context, which may have been both similar and uniquely different to that faced by those I mentioned, with its pain, anger, suffering, and marginalization. Paul seeks to respond in a gospel shaped way. This takes the form of acknowledging our deep-seated emotions: in Paul's case his blazing anger in his letter to the Corinthian church. He then has to step back to critically reflect on these emotions. We must ask ourselves too, is our anger at a thing, a person, or a community? Acknowledging that God is faithful to both us and to others, is to reveal God' s passionate faithfulness in us, in that ‘while we were still sinners’, he sent his only son to liberate us, rather than to condemn us. And so we are challenged to ask ourselves whether our anger is more about passionate self-righteousness than faithfulness to God and God’s communion with us and who or whatever is ‘the other’ in our anger. Archbishop Rowan then called for critical faithfulness: critical because we believe in God’s redeeming presence, and faithfulness because ‘He who calls us is faithful and he will do it.’ He is faithful and will not go away, but will always be there. And so the church is called to ‘be there’ in God’s world, not to run away but offer this presence for all in need. This comes at a cost. The fragrance of death of which St Paul writes is an indication that something has to die in us, and the fragrance of life indicates that we are being transfigured into the likeness of Christ as we critically and faithfully serve God in the other.

The Anglican Communion’s Secretary General, Kenneth Kearon, in his opening address, took a similar line to the above reflection while speaking independently. He drew the analogy of the ACC and communion members as glass. We are required to cooperate and work with one another as we radiate, reflect, refract what communion is about. Doing this, like having stained glass windows in our cathedrals or parish churches, comes with a price. The cost of belonging requires transformation, which entails death to stagnant positions, because none of us can fully capture the whole picture of who God is and what communion is about. He concluded, ‘We each bring our own piece of stained glass and add it to the window alongside that of others, and so reveal the fullness of the glory of God in our broken and hurting world.’

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is in effect a unity of three churches, or three ‘Tikanga’ as they call them: the Maori, Pakeha (ie of European descent) and Polynesian. Even in their negotiated settlement, there is this cost and this value; and so their fuller picture should be seen as a bright collage which is distinctive in its differences and yet one. So tonight we ended the day by having dinner at the Maori church, which displayed its traditional food, lovingly served for the good of the communion and extension of God’s mission. We sat and ate together and shared sweet fellowship. I found myself reflecting that if this is possible, in this place which also faced past divisions, yet came to acknowledge their pain honestly, then it is possible for South Africa to stay on course with reconciliation in spite of the current mining sector and other challenges. In the same way, it is also possible for our Communion, and even the world, with each bringing our unique pieces into forming this picture that is open, loving, transparent, and able to serve God with critical faithfulness, confidently knowing that he will never abandon his church or his world. He is faithful and this is the reason for my joy. What about you? If you examine yourself, what emotions do you have which need to die and be replaced with the aroma of Christ? And what about our church and our country?

God bless, Arch Thabo

Sunday, 28 October 2012

News from New Zealand - 2

Sunday 28 October - I love cathedrals and organ music as well as choirs or orchestras, as most of you know by now. This morning’s opening service was held at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland, and led in Maori, English and Tongan by the three Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached. It all touched me deep in my love for cathedrals with all their aesthetics and well prepared worship. It was not a grand service as we might do in most of our cathedral services, but a meaningful service and just about the right tempo.

Archbishop Rowan broke the word for us, and with a beautiful choice of words explained the passage from John's gospel (Jn 15: 17-27) profoundly to us. He spoke about God’s undeserved love for us, that calls us as church not only to work to share this love, but to be it in the world. We should see the world as not a dichotomy of ‘us and them’ but as existing in us and within the church and deserving of the unconditional, causeless, love of God . This is the overwhelming, unreasonable, reckless love of God which pours into us in spite of ourselves and often we would rather wish it was not the case . The ACC was called and challenged in truth and love to wrestle with what was before us. (You can read Archbishop Rowan’s sermon at http://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/Features/love-without-cause, or watch the podcast at http://www.aco.org/acns/news.cfm/2012/10/28/ACNS5217.)

This afternoon, we will get to experience first-hand the work of the networks, see the displays of information they are providing for us, and learn of the varied nature of the Communion’s engagement with mission. Communion networks include Health, Indigenous People, Colleges and Universities, the Environment, Peace and Justice, Inter-Faith, Families, Women, Youth, and the HIV and AIDS network of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa. I am proud that in a humble way, our Province contributes to these and the global life of the Communion, with Delene in the Peace and Justice network and Rachel in the Environment network. These networks are important, and I am sure you will see the parallels with ACSA’s 8 Provincial mission priorities that seek to give our Anglican identity "flesh" in context. Just as we seek to resource our Dioceses and Parishes through these priorities, so we too can be resourced from the Communion-wide work of the networks. Later in the programme there will be resolutions that will come from these networks, which will encourage the Communion to share the love of God, that Archbishop Rowan spoke about, in Gods world in practical terms.

The communications team has asked me to work with the local radio station to field some questions in an interview about what the Anglican Consultative Council is, and about our meeting’s programme. If there is a link, I will send it tomorrow after the interview.

This morning, I spent some time chatting with a judge from Kenya. He is positive about belonging to a bigger church and also found the sermon this morning affirming and challenging. As a judge objectivity and reasonableness are the tools of his trade. He felt able to sit back and engage with what the Archbishop of Canterbury said, rather than feeling disempowered because he was not a cleric, or sufficiently theologically trained. He also marvelled at how South Africa was able to avert a catastrophe through a negotiated settlement, instead of descending into war against the apartheid regime. This is a miracle that I continue to find that most people around the world still appreciate, while increasing numbers of us in South Africa either take it lightly or forget its enormity. I added that this was a living example of the underserved and reckless love of God of which Archbishop Rowan talked, which we experienced in reality in South Africa’s liberation.

Let me end on a personal note. I put through a call to home and spoke with Lungi and the kids, and shared with them that my room is on the third floor, overlooking Auckland harbour, where there are ships and actively working boats. I feel a bit like I am in Table Bay, in Cape Town, on a day when you can't see the mountain! There is a lot of bird life around the hotel, although I have not been able to identify what type of birds. Their singing and the sounds they make fill the heart with life. The flowers and hedged fence feel more familiar than foreign, and so does the weather with its high veld-type of spring clouds. These sufficiently shield the sun and calm the day, though hold a not so distant possibility of rain.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

News from New Zealand - 1

Saturday 27 October - I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, after midnight today (Friday night/Saturday morning) after almost twenty four hours of travelling, including a lot of waiting in airports – almost a day and a half after setting off, if you include the time difference. This is my first visit across the Pacific as up till now my travelling has all been trans-Atlantic. We landed in Sydney and from the sky I could see that this is a beautiful city. My son knows it better than just a view from the sky, having spent a term here on a school exchange last year. From Sydney it was a flight of 2hr 40min to Auckland, and by the time I arrived, I had technically lost a day.

It is always exciting to be at meetings of the Anglican Communion. Yes, there are concerns about money and the cost of travelling, but nothing can replace the importance of literally putting flesh on what communion is, in all its beauty, with its dignity of difference and yet unity of purpose in mission. This was the feeling this morning, as retired Bishop John Peterson welcomed us and gave us a dry run of the welcome we were to receive from the mayor and the host province. Our team of three ACC reps from the Anglican Church in Southern Africa (myself, Revd Canon Janet Trisk, and Louisa Mojela) has been joined by Canon Delene Mark, CEO of Hope Africa, who participates in the Communion’s Peace and Justice Network, and Revd Canon Dr Rachel Mash, our Provincial Environment Coordinator, who serves in the Communion’s Environmental Network. Together, we form what is possibly the most representative team of them all in terms of ecclesial and social labels.

We have had the most wonderful welcome, as you can see if you follow the news on the Anglican Communion News Service, or Episcopal News Service websites, Facebook or Twitter. I hugely enjoyed being part of a panel, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church, at a youth forum, where the young people asked us a whole range of questions about God, theology, ethics and Scripture. ‘What shoes would God wear and why?’ was, for me, a searching and beautiful question. One question directed to me specifically was what does an Archbishop do and am I happy with my pay?!

Following this, we gathered at the cathedral to be oriented about the program. It was a good start, with warm weather in this lovely, clean, bright, city. I love the architecture of the cathedral, which combines old and modern, using natural light, and chairs that can easily be moved to create an Indaba context for groups. Afterwards, I took a long walk into town and along the harbour, just to orient myself physically too.

In sum, Communion is about God's people sharing the love of God through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in them and in their context. It is less about structural issues, important though these are, and far more about ‘incarnation’: it is about an encounter with God and one another, at God’s chosen place.

Please keep us in your prayers, and follow our news via websites or twitter, and I will send more updates when I get the chance.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

To the Laos - To the People of God, October 2012

Dear People of God

‘To God be the glory, great things he has done …’ This song rang in my heart at the beginning of this month, when, with 1400 of you, I was at the Anglicans Ablaze Conference in Johannesburg. It was a remarkable time together, deeply spiritually moving, and stirring heart and mind with profound teaching from wonderful speakers.

Though we come together in far larger numbers in our Dioceses, this was the largest pan-ACSA gathering anyone can remember. It was all I hoped it might be, and much more – for God never ceases to surprise us, even if we know in our heads that he delights to do ‘immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine’ (Eph 3:20). I have longed for us to find ways to celebrate the best of our traditions, including in liturgy, alongside other forms of faith and worship which equally exemplify authentic Anglicanism; all accepted as part of our legitimate diversity. Well, we certainly enjoyed this, as you will know if you’ve seen pictures of Bishop Martin Breytenbach playing his guitar while wearing a cope! Our worship was both properly dignified, and yet lively and exuberant in our response to God’s love poured out upon us.

It was an amazing celebration of the goodness of God, and of our distinctive though challenging Anglican calling. For it seems to me that our ability to hold together in love, and overcome barriers (whether ‘secular’, of politics, history, race, language and so forth, or ‘church’, of styles and traditions) can be an icon, modelling the societies God calls us to promote across the Province. I left Bryanston a changed person, and believe our church has also been changed, by God’s grace. It was as if God gave us a taste of the holistic renewal he desires to bring to us – across every aspect of the life of faith, from evangelism to discipleship to mission to social justice to the environment. ‘The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it’ says the Psalmist, and there is no aspect of human living that God does not want to redeem and renew.

How shall we take forward this excitement, this teaching, this inspiring sense of newness of life for us all (which feels like a personal challenge of ‘re-evangelisation’ to each of us, to take our faith ‘to the next level’), and share it across our Province? I am sure that those who were in Johannesburg will already have begun to do this. The celebration of the Anglicans ACT Vision (at the heart of Anglicans Ablaze), on 25 November, is another opportunity. I also invite you to read, prayerfully and reflectively, the ‘Message to the Church’ in which the Listening Team summed up so much of what God did for us during our time in Bryanston. This follows on below my letter.

By the time you read this, I shall be heading for New Zealand, to the Anglican Consultative Council, for which I ask your prayers. The ACC is, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, and the Primates’ Meeting, one of our ‘Instruments of Communion’. Meeting every 3 years, it brings together ordained and lay representatives from all 38 Anglican Churches, and so is the only body not made up of just bishops! Revd Canon Janet Trisk and Mrs Louisa Mojela are our other representatives. From 27 October to 7 November we will have a busy time discussing a great range of subjects in the life and mission of the global Anglican family.

The agenda includes the current state of the Anglican Communion, and the decisions made so far by churches on whether to adopt the Anglican Covenant, as well as looking at relations with other churches and the work of a host of global Anglican networks. One of these is the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN), which I chair, and there will be a major presentation around its work. Other major topics on the agenda include inter-faith relations, countering gender-based violence, communications, and Christian witness in contemporary contexts.

The environment has been much on my mind recently – not least the need to plant a growing number of trees to offset my extensive travel (I am fully aware of the irony of this, and the need, highlighted at PSC, to use technology to reduce our travel ‘footprint’). This planting is part of a radical overhaul of Bishopscourt’s gardens, in which, with the help of the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s ‘Early Detection and Rapid Response’ Team, we are steadily clearing out invasive alien species that threaten to overrun us, and to suck up all the ground water. I wish that my predecessors had realised 30 years ago how vital this task is. If it had been tackled then, it would have been a far easier and far cheaper job. I encourage all of you who have any gardens or land, to take special care in your stewardship of them.

Various speakers at an event this week to encourage such ‘weedbusting’ highlighted how poor care of our environment exacerbates poverty in direct and indirect ways. This is a theme in the seven studies ‘Sabbath Reflections: Capitalism and Inequity versus a Gospel Mandate’ which we will formally launch at ACC. In these, my predecessor as chair, Bishop George Browning, considers how contemporary societies must ‘address rapidly growing inequity and ... confront an economic system which operates as if resources are infinite and humanity can somehow exist as if it is not part of an unfolding ecological crisis.’ He explores how a fresh understanding and practice of the biblical concept of Sabbath can reconnect economics to ethics, and shape human society in a manner that is consistent with the creation upon which it depends. These are vital questions we must face, if we are to ensure that it is not ‘business as usual’ in our international financial structures. There needs to be a radical overhaul if we are to reverse the shocking trends of growing inequality and economic injustice through which a small minority can become ridiculously wealthy at the expense of the poorest, and even of the middle classes. If you are interested in downloading these studies, you will find them at http://acen.anglicancommunion.org/resources/documents.cfm.

Yours in the service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

Anglicans Ablaze: ‘Anchored in the love of Christ, Committed to God’s Mission, Transformed by the Holy Spirit’

Message from the Listening Group - Johannesburg, 3-6 October 2012

We came, close to 1400 of us, because we wanted to be, and wanted the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to be, Anchored in the love of Christ, Committed to God’s Mission, Transformed by the Holy Spirit – believing this is not just our vision, but God’s vision for us.

We came with excitement, anticipation, commitment; even if a little unsure of what to expect, perhaps a bit lost or fearful, or aware of obstacles in our lives and in our church. But we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and has done far more than we could ever ask or imagine! God is love, and has met us in love, and called on us to abide in his love.

God offered us a turning point, and we have found it so: a turning point for many individuals, and for our church, which may also go on to become a turning point for our parishes, our communities, our nations.

It has been a time of renewal, of genuine renewal, as God sees it. It brings cleansing, healing, wholeness and newness of life for us, in every aspect of what it is to be human, made in the image of God, sharing in the body of Christ, loving our neighbours and God’s world. It is renewal that is about the abundant life which Christ promised. It is about evangelism and discipleship and integral mission and social justice. This is God’s comprehensive, holistic, renewal, far wider and deeper than we had expected, and he desires it to be at the heart of our church. He has come to us with power, yet he has also dealt with us gently and naturally.

We have been here to learn, and God has blessed us with some wonderful speakers. We have learnt that ‘the plural of disciple is church’, and that we need to move from being ‘welcoming’ to ‘inviting’ churches. We have learnt to have courage in God’s love not to minister from the damaged, wounded, places of our lives (which so often leads us to damage and wound others) but to live out of a brokenness that finds its place in the brokenness of Christ upon the cross, and shares in the weeping of God the Father for his children and his world. We have also learnt that power and authority belong to God, not to us, no matter what position we have. It is God’s gift. We must hold power lightly and share it.

We’ve also learnt that God will hold us, safe in his love, when life brings difficulties or obstacles, as inevitably happens. So we will not be afraid when everything seems to grind to a halt – if God says wait, then we will wait, but keep listening and ready to learn more. We will have courage to see the issues that we battle with as stepping stones not stumbling blocks, believing that God lets them come to us so that he can teach us what it means to take us through them to a better place. We’ve learnt that we should trust God to take us through our fears; to cleanse us from shame; to take our hardness and dissolve it in his cleansing waters of life. We have heard his call to let go of – or allow him to prune – all that holds us back.

We believe our time together has delighted the heart of God. God has given us a fuller vision, not only of being ‘Anglicans who ACT’, but of what we might become if we dare to live into the fullness of all that Anglicanism can be in Southern Africa, under God’s grace. In this way, he is calling us to become more, not less, Anglican! We have been the largest, and most diverse, gathering from across ACSA that anyone can remember: we have enjoyed being together as Archbishop and 12 more bishops and bishops-elect, as clergy, as religious, as laity, and as young people (we acknowledge that we have not had children among us, but affirm that the promise of God’s vision is for our children also). We have experienced God’s love breaking down the barriers of the social, political and historic divisions within our nations, and breaking down the differences of tradition, style, and labelling within our church. ‘God’s love is the glue that holds us together’ the Archbishop told us on our first evening, and we have come to know the truth of this for ourselves.

We believe this holding together in joyful, celebrated, diversity is a precious gift which God calls Anglicans to model to the world around us. It is as if we have experienced a foretaste of what the societies of our nation have the potential to become. For we have found ourselves enriched by one another, and know we have more to learn from each other. We have been delighted to experience something of what it means to live with this ‘mixed economy’ of church identity (as we heard Archbishop Rowan has described the best of our historic traditions alongside authentically Anglican newer forms of worship and church life), as we share together, anchored in the love of Christ. We have heard a clear call to hold on to the new links we have forged across old divides, as we go from here to our homes.

We thank God for the great blessing he has brought us through our times of worship (including our early morning Eucharists), and through our praying with and for one another. We have especially enjoyed having so many young people with us. As was said, their passion and energy, when joined with the wisdom of experience, is a winning combination!

Our time together has been significant. It has truly become a turning point. We have been changed, and our church has been changed. We have received a wonderful vision from God for our future, ‘a vision for the appointed time; and if it seems to tarry, we will wait for it, for it will surely come, it will not delay.’ We know we will face many challenges when we go home, even within ACSA. We are also more than aware of the enormous challenges in our communities and nations, and of the huge and ever faster changes our world is experiencing. But we are not daunted. We know that our calling is to keep listening to God, and to be faithful and obedient, and open to God’s leading, and then to leave it to him to ‘do his bit’, recalling that ‘Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.’

We also believe that God is calling us ‘to bless and not to curse’: to step back from the critical habits of contemporary society and stop complaining about our church, our societies and our governments. Where we see faults and failings, we should instead be beacons of light and hope, and bearers of God’s redemptive promises. ‘Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise’ we will let our minds dwell on, and our mouths speak of, such things.

Deep within us, our spirits speak in the words of the song that has been so significant during our time together: ‘It is well, it is well, with my soul.’ In our listening, praying and speaking, we have felt God offer images of holy fire and living water: flames that blaze, with flying sparks that spread the fire, and a flaming arrow pointing the way ahead; and waters that cleanse like wetlands, or dissolve hardness, or well up in unquenchable life-giving springs.

We are learning we need to be increasingly anchored in the love of Christ. We have learnt not only to say ‘God is good, all the time’, but also ‘God is love, all the time’ and ‘God loves us, all the time’ and ‘God loves me, all the time.’ And, having learnt this lesson, we have heard the voice of God coming to us as it came to Moses and the ancient Hebrew people, ‘You have been in this place long enough – it is time to break camp, and move on.’ Amen.

Some Bible Passages
Deut 1:6 – We have been here long enough: now is the time to break camp, and move on.
Habbakuk 2:3 – ‘… a vision for the appointed time … If it seems to tarry, wait for it: it will surely come, it will not delay.’
Haggai – Rebuilding the Temple
Luke 5:38 – new wine in new wineskins
John 15 – ‘Abide in my love’ …
Romans 12:2 – ‘…be transformed by the renewing of your minds’
I Cor 3:6 – ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.’
Phil 4:6-8 – ‘Whatever is true .. honourable … just … pure … pleasing … commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things’
1 John, especially 3:14–4:21 – ‘God is love’ … ‘We love because he first loved us’ …

Some Quotes from Speakers
Bishop Graham Cray: ‘Mission will never be effective without authentic discipleship; and discipleship will never be taken seriously unless we engage in mission’ and ‘Renewal without mission is self- indulgence; mission without renewal becomes legalistic or triumphalist or disillusioned.’
‘Our theology would improve if we thought more of the church being given to the Spirit, than of the Spirit being given to the church.' John V Taylor

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Global Anglican Meeting, with Environmental Emphasis

This media release was issued on 23 October 2012

Archbishop heads for New Zealand, to a global Anglican meeting with Environmental Emphasis

The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town heads for New Zealand on Thursday, to take part in a global gathering of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Consultative Council, which meets every 3 years, brings together lay and ordained representatives from each of the Communion’s 38 member churches, for ten days of discussions around their global structures, mission, and other shared issues. ‘All Anglicans, around the world, are asked to hold us in their prayers, as we grapple with questions of what it means to be faithful and obedient Christians in our various contexts, at this time’ said Dr Thabo Makgoba. He noted that this will be the last meeting of the worldwide Anglican family at which Dr Rowan Williams will preside as Archbishop of Canterbury, before his retirement at the end of the year. ‘We are so grateful to Dr Williams for his dedication to the global Anglican family’ he said. ‘He has had a very rough ride, and been forced to spend too much time and energy on issues that, though divisive, ought not to be seen as church-dividing. We give thanks to God for the way that he has nonetheless kept his eyes firmly fixed on the question of who we are called to be, in Jesus Christ, and encouraged us all to do the same.’

The agenda includes review of Anglican relations with other churches, and of the work of a host of global Anglican networks. Among these is the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN), which Dr Makgoba chairs, and there will be a major presentation around its work. Dr Makgoba recalled that the Network recently launched a series of seven studies, ‘Sabbath Reflections: Capitalism and Inequity versus a Gospel Mandate’ in which Dr Makgoba’s predecessor as chair, Bishop George Browning, considers how contemporary societies must ‘address rapidly growing inequity and ... confront an economic system which operates as if resources are infinite and that humanity can somehow exist as if it is not part of an unfolding ecological crisis.’ He explores how a fresh understanding and practice of the biblical concept of Sabbath can reconnect economics to ethics, and shape human society in a manner that is consistent with the creation upon which it depends. Dr Makgoba said ‘these are vital questions we must face, if we are to ensure that it is not business as usual in our international financial structures. There needs to be a radical overhaul if we are to reverse the shocking trends of growing inequality and economic injustice through which a small minority can become ridiculously wealthy at the expense of the poorest, and even of the middle classes.’ Other major topics on the agenda include inter-faith relations, countering gender-based violence, communications, and Christian witness in contemporary contexts.

The Archbishop said he was looking forward to enjoying robust debate with other church leaders around the key questions facing the Anglican Communion at this time. ‘All this is, of course, conducted within an atmosphere of prayer, and guided by rigorous engagement with the Bible’ he said. ‘We shall be rooting ourselves in the daily rhythms of worship, to ensure that our focus remains, above all, on listening to God and seeking to discern his good and perfect will for us, so we may faithfully serve the world he loves so deeply.’

Note for Editors: The Anglican Consultative Council is one of Anglicanism’s ‘Instruments of Communion’, alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference (the meeting of all serving bishops, that is held every ten years) and the Primates’ Meeting (of the heads of churches, which meets at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, generally every other year).

For more details on the Sabbath studies, see
http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2012/10/9/ACNS5201.

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman 021 763 1320 (office hours)

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Thanksgiving Service for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

Below are the sermon and blessing from the Service of Thanksgiving to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, held in St Alban's Cathedral, Pretoria, on 17 April 2012, in the presence of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.

The Sermon

1 Timothy 2:1-6

May I speak in the name of God, who desires for us a quiet and peaceable life, lived in all godliness and dignity.

Your Royal Highness, Vice-Admiral Laurence, Excellencies, honoured guests, Cathedral Chapter and Choir, Choirs of Pretoria Girls’ and Pretoria Boys’ High Schools, brothers and sisters in Christ, friends, it is a great privilege to reflect on today’s joyful celebrations of the Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, not only as Queen of England, but also as head of the Commonwealth.

When South Africa finally achieved democracy in 1994, re-joining the Commonwealth was one of our new government’s first priorities. The old South Africa was, of course, among its founders. Indeed, the Afrikaner statesman, Jan Smuts, was among the first to propose such a network of nations, with historic ties to the British Crown.

Yet some asked in 1994 – and some continue to ask – why, after our long struggle for freedom, we should want to link ourselves to this body, with – let us be honest – roots in both colonialism and our own traumatic past. But today’s South Africans, more than most people, know that none of us need remain victims of our past. And at Eastertide, most of all, we affirm that no situation is beyond redemptive transformation, new life, and fruitful growth.

Today’s Commonwealth is vastly different from that envisaged by its founders. Its modern identity – reflected in the Singapore Declaration of 1971 – is a voluntary association of nations who believe that ‘international peace and order are essential to the security and prosperity of mankind’. It is committed to individual liberty, human rights and good governance, upheld by the rule of law within effectively functioning democracies. All this, of course, lies at the heart of the new South African Constitution.

It also lies at the heart of God’s desires for human society – as you read for us, Your Royal Highness. This is the ‘quiet and peaceable life’, lived ‘in all godliness and dignity’, so we might come to ‘knowledge of the truth’. Knowing God’s truth relates not only to our eternal destiny, but is also found in tangibly experiencing the liberty and abundant life promised by Christ Jesus – ‘the one mediator between God and humanity’ – in every area of human existence.

This good news, Christ’s gospel, should touch our souls, certainly; but also our hearts, minds and physical well-being, here and now: as individuals, and in our societies, nations and political systems. As I see it, this ranges from the abolition of material poverty, through to the freedom of speech of individuals and media. It also entails the provision of neutral secular space in which all faiths and none may be freely followed; as everyone enjoys tangible opportunity and encouragement to aspire to the greatest good of all.

When we live like this, says St Paul, ‘it is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.’ Therefore all in authority should expect citizens to hold them to such ideals, even as we also undertake to pray for God’s help – that leaders might have wisdom to know the right path to pursue, and the strength and courage to follow it.

In this, we also look to God, in Jesus Christ, for a true understanding of right leadership. As Holy Week and Easter remind us, it is the leadership of service, the readiness to dedicate his whole life to the responsibilities entrusted to him. We pray that the good example of the Queen – whose life has been so marked by these characteristics, and who says so clearly that she tries to follow Christ’s example – … we pray that her example may be emulated throughout the Commonwealth and beyond: in servant leadership, dedicated to the well-being of nations and peoples, especially those in greatest need.

The Commonwealth is a remarkable body, not least in the diversity of its members. This is both challenge and strength. I am reminded of the Scriptural image of the Body of Christ. St Paul writes of the great diversity – even at times, mutual incomprehension – that there is between seeing eyes and hearing ears, between hands and feet. But all hold together in Christ. Enriched by one another’s presence, they are able to do far more together than they could apart. This is something that a similar international association, the Anglican Communion, would do well to remember!

It is also our hope for the Commonwealth, united through the largely gospel-shaped principles outlined in the Singapore Declaration. We look especially to Britain, to be a servant leader within, and beyond, the Commonwealth – helping us all breathe vibrant life into the principles we share, and further peace with justice throughout the world. Yet South Africa, alongside other members, must also make our contribution to the Commonwealth’s work – of which education is one priority area, very close to my heart. Another is the environment. It is perhaps a happy coincidence that the main Diamond Jubilee celebrations fall on World Environment Day – both point us to faithful stewardship of whatever responsibilities are entrusted to us.

Today we celebrate a long life of faithful stewardship. Indeed, it was more than sixty years ago, when, in 1947, the young Princess Elizabeth first addressed the Commonwealth. And it was here in South Africa – in Cape Town to be exact – where she spoke these famous words: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.’

And so, with great joy in our hearts, we thank the ‘God of Grace’ of whom we earlier sang, for his ‘glorious faithfulness’, and for hers; that as Queen, she has been enabled to fulfil her promise, to such a great degree. We offer her our heartfelt congratulations, and our prayers: both our prayers of thanksgiving for this life of dedicated service; and our intercessions that she may continue to walk in the blessed ways of the Lord in all that still lies ahead. And may, as we also sang, our Great Redeemer continue to guide each one of us, and may we all, throughout our lives, ever give him our songs and our praises.

Amen.

The Blessing

God the Father,
for the coming of whose kingdom we pray,
grant his wisdom and guidance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second,
and to all in authority;

God the Son,
who is the Prince of Peace,
grant all people a quiet and peaceable life,
of godliness and dignity;

God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens our inner being by his power,
grant us the surpassing knowledge of his truth,
and the immeasurable fullness of his love;

Go forth into the world in peace, be of good courage,
fight the good fight of faith, that you may finish your course with joy;
and the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you, and remain with you always. Amen




Monday, 16 April 2012

To the Laos - To the People of God, Easter 2012

Alleluia! Christ is risen! We are risen! Alleluia!

Dear People of God

I wish you a blessed and joyful Easter! Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, has taken away the sins of the world – by his death he has destroyed death, and by his rising he has restored us to eternal life. And so we are delivered from the bondage of sin and the fear of death, into the glorious liberty of the Children of God. Alleluia, indeed!

May God our Father, who, by his Spirit, raised his Son from death, grant us grace to walk with him in his risen life. May we all be people who demonstrate what it is to receive the redemptive power of the resurrection, working within every aspect of our lives. To show in practice God’s on-going work of healing and wholeness, of shaping us in increasing Christ-likeness, is one of the most effective ways of sharing the gospel with the world around. All of us, as individuals, and in our church communities, should be places where the risen Christ is seen to be alive, so others may encounter him. It is not enough for us to preach the resurrection to others – we should also enjoy the fullness of all that Christ has won for us in our own lives and relationships!

We also pray for the fullness of the resurrection to be experienced throughout our world – in Syria, and across the Middle East; and in Mali, in Sudan and South Sudan, in Zimbabwe, and in all the troubled places of our continent. We pray for this also in every country of our Province, especially in situations of material poverty and all other forms of impoverishment (for example, in the provision of education, health services, water and sanitation), where there is injustice and unfairness (including in political structures and/or their implementation), and wherever truth (such as through media freedom) and abundant life are constrained instead of being encouraged to flourish.

Renewed life and hope are God’s ‘theme tune’ for life within our congregations, our churches, our dioceses – calling us joyfully and confidently onwards, through whatever challenges we face. Renewed life and hope are also God’s desire and promise to the world-wide Anglican Communion.

As you may know, the Church of England has voted not to adopt the Anglican Covenant that has been sent to all the Member Churches of the Communion for consideration. This does not mean that the Covenant lapses. Nor does not mean an end to the fundamental underlying questions which the Covenant is intended to address. We still need to ask ourselves: who do we believe ourselves called to be by God, and what does it mean to speak of an Anglican ‘Communion’ – rather than, say, a ‘Federation’ or other form of association. A ‘Communion’ is so much more – a true family of churches, within the body of Christ, as so many of us have experienced, for example, through exchanges with link Dioceses. We feel a closeness through recognising our ‘family resemblance’, even when we are from very different parts of the world, and the frequently used language of ‘bonds of affection’ resonates clearly.

But how can we order our international institutional life, and the relationships between Provinces, in ways that reflect this experience, and our theological understanding of the unity with diversity that is found in belonging together as members of the body of Christ, as Scripture describes? Provinces have always been legally independent (reflecting their separate Constitutions and Canons); while the ‘Instruments of Communion’ have only been advisory, rightly respecting Provinces’ status under canon law. But such legal independence can allow, and even promote comfortableness with, a separateness that has not always been sufficiently balanced by more organic and spiritual interrelationships. We have wrestled over decades with how to get this balance right, for example, in commitments to ‘Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ’ made at the 1963 Toronto Congress. The Communion said then ‘our unity in Christ, expressed in our full communion, is the most profound bond among us, in all our political and racial and cultural diversity’, and therefore ‘our need is … to understand how God has led us, through the sometimes painful history of our time, to see the gifts of freedom and communion in their great terms, and to live up to them.’ The Congress warned ‘if we are not responsible stewards of what Christ has given us, we will lose even what we have.’

My great concern is that the poor handling of disagreements on human sexuality is evidence that we have not learnt the lessons of that time, and have not been ‘responsible’. We have been content to drift apart in our Provinces, on the basis of legal separateness, so that when differences arose we had lost our ability to connect and work through them in love together. If we are serious about living as a global ‘Communion’, we must address this. I still believe that the Covenant offers us an excellent framework for doing so, if we are prepared to work for it to achieve its full potential. Perhaps some of us must take a lead in exploring how it can reach its promise, on behalf of others who are unable to take that step at present. Seven Provinces have already affirmed the Covenant, and we took the first step to do so at the last Provincial Synod. I very much hope we shall ratify this decision next year.

Yet we should not do so lightly, but in full awareness that we are committing ourselves to live in mutual interdependence – even as we uphold non-interference in one another’s affairs. I have written more about the Covenant in two long letters which you can read on line at http://archbishop.anglicanchurchsa.org/2012/01/necessary-covenant.html and http://archbishop.anglicanchurchsa.org/2012/03/anglican-covenant-letter-to-archbishop.html. I know some dioceses have discussed the Covenant. If you have not, please do take time to look at it, and do forward any comments you have to the Provincial Executive Officer, at peo@anglicanchurchsa.org.za.

Meanwhile, I hope you have seen my tribute to Dr Rowan Williams, who stands down at the end of the year. We have been inordinately privileged to have had such an able theologian and deeply spiritual thinker, as Archbishop of Canterbury. (See http://archbishop.anglicanchurchsa.org/2012/03/archbishoip-of-canterbury.html). The Anglican Communion Office is inviting all Anglicans around the world to share their view on the priorities for the ministry of the next Archbishop of Canterbury, through their website at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/communion/abc/comments.cfm. Most of all please pray for all involved in the appointment process.

Yours in the Service of Christ, crucified and raised for our redemption,

+Thabo Cape Town