Thursday 18 September 2008

Statement of the Synod of Bishops

A regular meeting of the Synod of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa in Gauteng this week reviewed the ongoing mission, ministry and witness of the Church and some of the challenges of the context in which we live.

We voiced our renewed concern at the extreme poverty suffered by many in southern Africa, and at the wide gap between those who have excessive wealth and those who are poor. We remain deeply concerned at the prevalence of malaria and HIV and Aids, and we acknowledge anew the brokenness of the nations which we represent. We pledged to continue modelling values in our societies which build integrity, love, forgiveness, peace and reconciliation.

As bishops of a church which spans six nations, we acknowledge also that we have been too quiet recently on issues of social justice, and need to take a stronger prophetic stance towards our governments. Xenophobia continues to strike at the heart of our identity as a church, and in South Africa we need to work with the rest of civil society in holding all of society’s structures accountable both for combatting ethnic hostility and for overcoming the failures of service delivery which contribute to tensions within communities. We call on Anglicans to continue to pray for refugees and economic migrants. We are deeply concerned at the situation in Swaziland and have resolved to send a delegation to express our solidarity with our Diocese of Swaziland and the people of that country as they work for a more democratic society. The 40th year of Swaziland’s independence sharply focusses this concern. At the same time, we give thanks for the recent elections in Angola, and we affirm the role of President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa in mediating a settlement in Zimbabwe.

Dealing with domestic issues within the Church, the Synod:

* Endorsed the formation of a new diocese, to be known as the Diocese of Ukhahlamba, in the northern part of the current Diocese of Grahamstown;

* Affirmed the key role of theological education in building the church, endorsed a formal collaboration with the University of KwaZulu/Natal for theological training, and appointed a new director of the Anglican House of Studies in Pietermaritzburg, all in a bid to foster ecumenical theological education;

* Decided to have the Archbishop’s Charge from the March installation service in Cape Town translated into Portuguese for the benefit of the Dioceses of Lebombo, Niassa and Angola. The Charge will also be the basis of a study series for Lent 2009;

* Agreed to new and/or alternative Collects for the Church;

* Examined the administration and leadership of our Province; and

* Encouraged Anglicans to sign up with the South African Bone Marrow Registry as bone marrow donors.

The bishops also reflected on the implications of the recent meetings of the Lambeth Conference and of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). We agreed to continue working for the unity of the worldwide Anglican Communion through the current instruments of communion and dialogue, including the proposed Anglican Covenant, the Windsor Continuation Group and a possible Pastoral Forum. We agreed to continue to work with all parties in the current debates particularly on our own continent and to share South Africa’s experience of a reconciliation which embraces all.

The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop and Metropolitan

Anglican Church of Southern Africa

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