Monday, 22 May 2023

Ad Laos - to the People of God - May 2023

 As published in the May issue of Good Hope, the newsletter of the Diocese of Cape Town:

As we look ahead to Youth Day on June 16, when we celebrate the contributions of young people to winning freedom in our country, I want to extend the “Archbishop's Ballot Challenge” which I issued to the youth at Easter, and urge Rectors, all our clergy and Parish Councils to take a lead in this campaign.

Please make our houses of worship “voting sanctuaries”, where young people can be inspired to follow the example of previous generations, and use the freedom denied to their forebears to transform South Africa into the country we want.

As I said at Easter, I understand the attitudes of young people who are disillusioned with politics and public life, and scornful of the self-dealing and corruption of some of our politicians. But most of us neither can nor want to leave the country, and the only way to turn the situation around is to do something about it ourselves.

So in the lead-up to next year's national and provincial elections, I urge parishes to adopt your Archbishop's Ballot Challenge (ABC) and to provide voter education for young people. Perhaps using the slogan, “Registering to vote is as simple as ABC”, you could facilitate voter registration for both those who have become eligible to vote since 2019, as well as those who have not bothered to register in the past. You could also host workshops on voter education and provide instruction on our electoral system, if necessary partnering with local businesses to finance such an effort.

Then encourage young people to campaign for the parties, the candidates and the policies of their choice, and help them get to polling stations. In that way we can bring about a peaceful revolution in which we eliminate corruption, ensure good and efficient governance and save our country.

This month I also urge clergy to take care of themselves by joining “Caring for the Shepherd”, clergy wellness meetings being organised by our Safe and Inclusive Church initiative on May 20th. After the devastation and intense pastoral pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to say to our clergy in particular, “Sawubona! We see you and we are anxious for your welfare.”

And of course, load-shedding now brings its own pressure to bear on clergy, causing serious disruption and emotional distress to many of us. At Bishopscourt, we have assumed our Sawubona Archdeaconry teas, to which we invite the clergy of the Diocese to meet and share tea with one another and their archbishop. Please come and be welcomed when you receive the date for your Archdeaconry tea. I look forward to seeing you.

Looking ahead to an important Provincial event, the College of the Transfiguration in Makhanda celebrates its 30th anniversary from August 2nd to 6th this year. Please pray for the College, and visit them if you can make it. If you are a New Testament scholar and feel called to share your expertise, there is a vacancy for a lecturer there, so you might offer yourself to teach.

But whoever you are, clergy or lay, please donate generously to CoTT for their 30th anniversary – residential theological education is a powerful instrument of our church, and the College needs your financial support.

As we celebrate our Lord's Ascension and look forward to the celebration of the empowering of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, please keep in your prayers those who have been bereaved this Eastertide, including the family of Dean Michael Weeder, who lost their mother, Sheila (Sarah) Weeder at the age of 90 on May 6th. May the souls of the departed rest in peace and rise in glory.

God bless you.

† Thabo Cape Town

Monday, 15 May 2023

Opening remarks for “Existence is Resistance” - An Exhibition of Images from Palestine

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop and Metropolitan

Opening remarks for “Existence is Resistance”

Images from Palestine

Sunday May 14th, 2023

Sisters and Brothers, Friends,

A very warm welcome to the launch of this exhibition, which, with its illuminating photographs documenting the plight of the Palestinian people, is a fitting commemoration of Nakba Day. Our congratulations go to Jimi Matthews for this important contribution to publicising the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the process in which Palestinians have been uprooted from their homes, forced to flee as refugees and continue to suffer in the Occupied Territories and elsewhere.

Jimi, there are many in Cape Town who recall the courage you and your fellow television journalists displayed in Cape Town and elsewhere in the 1980s, when you sent out into the world graphic footage which exposed to an international audience the oppression of apartheid. This exhibition reflects your continuing commitment to documenting the truth about oppression, one which is in the best traditions of the craft to which you have dedicated your life. 

As men and women of faith who are concerned about the injustices of the Middle East, who are distressed by the pain of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and who long for a just peace for Palestine and Israel, the people of the wider Cathedral family have been on a long journey. It goes back many decades, to the visits of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu to Palestine and Israel in the 1980s and 1990s, to my own visits to the Holy Basin, and more recently to the declarations of the ruling bodies of the Anglican Church. During Lent this year, we heard a series of very good Bible studies which led us into a deeper understanding of the relevant theological issues. 

Both our Anglican forums and the South African Council of Churches have highlighted the situation in the Holy Land, firstly because, for Christians, it is the place where Jesus was born, nurtured, crucified and raised. Our hearts ache for our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine, whose numbers are rapidly declining. If Palestinian Christians disappear from the Middle East, what does that say about our commitment to our heritage? We dare not allow the agenda of Christian Zionism, which seeks to conflate the Biblical Israel with the 20th century political state of Israel, to prevail, the more so because many Christian Zionists envisage the ultimate demise of Jews as well as Muslims. 

But of course our concern for Palestine and Israel goes beyond the narrow interests of Christians. People of all faiths in South Africa have both a deep understanding of what it is to live under oppression, as well as experience of how to confront and overcome unjust rule by peaceful means. And so people of all faiths can identify with the words of Desmond Tutu: “People of religion have no choice... Where there is injustice and oppression, where people are treated as if they were less than who they are, those created in the image of God, you have no choice but to oppose, and oppose vehemently... that injustice and oppression...”

In expressing our concern for the plight of Palestinians, we have experienced push-back from both Jewish and Christian Zionists. But as Desmond Tutu reiterated time and again, we are opposed not to the Jewish people but to those policies of the governments of Israel which oppress Palestinians. 

I think particularly of the growth of Jewish settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan. Last year at the Lambeth Conference the world's Anglican bishops endorsed a statement by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East stating that a two-state solution remains the best hope of ending the occupation and fulfilling Palestinian aspirations for self-determination. But speaking for myself, I have to say that the expansion of settlements, combined with changes to Israeli law, are increasingly rendering the idea of a two-state solution as one that is unattainable.

As a civil society consultation organised by the United Nations concluded just a few weeks ago, the Palestinian people continue to experience, and I quote, “increasing levels of dispossession, displacement, violence, human rights violations and insecurity.” Indeed, the consultation described their current plight as “an ongoing Nakba”.

Faced with such a situation, if we stand by and keep quiet, we will be complicit in the continuing oppression of the Palestinians. Last year, our church's Provincial Standing Committee urged Europe and North America to take stronger action to ensure that Israel is held accountable for its actions and that Palestinian rights are upheld. In the spirit of the PSC resolution, I urge the government of the United States to ensure that Israel is held fully accountable for the killing a year ago of the Palestinian American journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh of Al Jazeera. The statements of Democratic senators in the U.S. Congress suggest that the Biden administration is an accessory after the fact to a cover-up of her shooting by an Israeli soldier. As Senator van Hollen of Maryland has said, “we need to make sure that this isn’t swept under the rug.”

Will we ever celebrate peace for Palestinians in our life time? If we are to do that, we need to pray and work for the land we call holy, for an end to the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and for full recognition of their inalienable right to self-determination.

We yearn for the peace and wholeness of God to be made manifest in Palestine, in Israel and among their neighbouring countries. And so I conclude with a prayer we adopted at the last meeting of our Provincial Synod:

Lord God,

Bless the people of the Middle East;

Protect their vulnerable children;

Transform their divided leaders;

Heal their wounded communities,

Restore their human dignity,

and give them lasting peace.  Amen

* * * * *

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Address to the 2023 Western Cape Synod of the Ned Geref Kerk

 Address to the 2023 Western Cape Synod 

of the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Monday May 8th, 15h30

Voorsitter – my vriend, Dominee Nelis,




Ander lede van die Moderatuur, 

Susters en Broers in Christus:

 Ek groet julle in die heilige naam van onse Here en Verlosser, Jesus Christus: Goeie Middag! 

Dit is vir my 'n besondere groot voorreg om hierdie nege-en-veertigste sitting van die Sinode van Wes Kaapland aan te spreek. En dit is nie net 'n groot voorreg nie; as 'n mens die lang geskiedenis van verhoudings tussen ons twee kerke inagneem, is dit miskien 'n historiese gebeurtenis. Baie, baie dankie vir die uitnodiging. Namens die hele Anglikaanse Kerk van Suidelike Afrika, ons waardeer die uitnodiging meer as wat ek in my swak Afrikaans kan sĂȘ. Ek is net jammer dat ek nie fisies by julle kan wees nie. Alhoewel hierdie nuwe tegnologie ons help om meer verpligtinge in ons skedules in te pas, kan dit nie persoonlike kontak tussen ons vervang nie.

Saturday, 22 April 2023

Thanksgiving Service for Dr Brigalia Bam OSC

 The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba

Metropolitan of ACSA

Thanksgiving Service for Dr Brigalia Bam OSC 

on her 90th Birthday (April 21 2023)

St Alban’s Cathedral - Pretoria

22nd April 2023 @ 09h00

Readings: Acts 6: 1-7; Psalm 33: 1-5, 17-21; John 6: 16-21

May I speak in the name of God, who is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Amen.

It is good to be with you again at St Alban's. I am always grateful to be here, but no more so than at a celebration such as this, a celebration of the extraordinary life of one of the great South Africans of her generation, Ntombemhlophe Brigalia Bam, OSC. 

Thursday, 20 April 2023

Homily for St George's Grammar School 175th Anniversary Service

 The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop of Cape Town

St George's Grammar School

175th Anniversary Service

St George's Cathedral, Cape Town

20th April 2023

May I speak in the name of God, who is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. 

Wow! Our school is 175 years old! What an extraordinary achievement, from your humble beginnings – which I learn were in a shoe shop – through the years when you were housed in this Cathedral precinct, to your campus in Mowbray. On behalf of the Diocese and on my own behalf, warm congratulations on this anniversary. Thank you, Mr Cameron, teachers, staff and learners for all that you do in the school and in our community, and especially for inviting me to this prestigious occasion, and thank you to everyone, including the Cathedral staff, who have helped to plan this service.

Ad Laos - to the People of God - April 2023

As published in the April issue of Good Hope, the newsletter of the Diocese of Cape Town: 

A happy and blessed Easter to you! 

As I said in my homily at the Easter Vigil in St George's Cathedral, we in South Africa today can draw hope and courage from the Easter story. The reading from Matthew's Gospel about the women at Jesus' tomb related how, after hearing the baffling news that the tomb was empty, the women overcame their fear and conflicting emotions to pluck up the courage to defy the religious and political establishments who had crucified Jesus. As the women grew in confidence, they began to shape an almost defiant narrative of new life emerging in unlikely places, encouraging others with the good news of Jesus' resurrection.

Translating the hope of Easter into tangible form for our country, the key to our future is the potential offered by the young people of South Africa. They are, like the women at the tomb, eminently capable of defying the forces of greed, corruption and stagnation, and of bringing about real transformation, a transformation which will bring about equality of opportunity and realise the promises of our Constitution. In my Easter homily, I used a phrase coined by the American civil rights leader, Bayard Rustin, to urge young people to become “angelic troublemakers”. 

What would angelic troublemakers look like in South Africa today? They would be young men and women, of all races, who would come together and organise at all levels of society, beginning in their own communities. They would register to vote, and they would campaign to rejuvenate our politics on a sound ethical and moral basis, guided by the highest ideals of our religious convictions. To this end, I invite representatives of all our youth formations to ask their executives to engage with this challenge. 

It is not only South Africa that has the capacity to bring people to despair. I was shocked to read recently that there are around 40 armed conflicts being waged across the world today. Some nations such as Ethiopia and Myanmar are plagued by numerous conflicts in different regions of their countries. If you are in a church youth or student group, I urge you to look up the Wikipedia entry “List of ongoing armed conflicts“ on the web, to choose a country in which there is fighting and to soak that country in prayers for peace. 

Another source of hope for me recently was visiting the families of those who were killed in the violence at the Marikana mine in North West Province in 2012. Sibanye-Stillwater, the new owners of the mine – with the support of others – are committed to providing housing, education and jobs for the families of victims. A few weeks ago I travelled to Gauteng and rural areas of the Eastern Cape and Lesotho to visit widows and families, where a delegation  representing the groups involved handed over the keys of new houses to widows and families. It is a commendable effort which has generated hope out of tragedy. 

You will know from the past that one of my passions – and a real source of hope – is giving our children a good education. So it always pains me when parents miss the deadlines to apply for the placement of their children in public schools, causing the children to suffer anxiety and tension until they get placements much later. The initial deadline for admission to Grades 1 and 8 in the Western Cape has just passed, but since there is provision for late applications, I ask parish leaders to please urge parents to act soon, and to help parents with applications. 

One of our own historic schools, St George's Grammar School in Mowbray, celebrates a very significant anniversary this month – it is their 175th birthday! School records show that it is our oldest school, established at St George's Cathedral when Bishop Robert Gray came to Cape Town as the church's founding bishop. Warm congratulations to St George's, the learners, teachers and staff and parents! You can expect to see coverage of their anniversary service at the Cathedral next month.

As you celebrate the Season of Eastertide, I pray that you, in the words of our Lectionary, will encounter the Risen Christ, and that your encounter will help you discover the new life which Christ's victory assures.

God bless you and God bless your families and communities.

† Thabo Cape Town