Thursday 29 September 2011

Archbishop to Visit Zimbabwe - Comment on Synod of Bishops

The following press statement was released on 29 September 2011, following the meeting of the Synod of Bishops from 26 to 28 September (see their statement in the previous blog post).

Southern Africa’s Bishops have reaffirmed their support for Anglicans in Zimbabwe, as Archbishop Thabo Makgoba prepares to accompany the Archbishop of Canterbury on his pastoral visit there next month.

At their twice-a-year meeting held in Benoni this week, the Synod of Bishops repeated their concerns at the difficult situation faced by Anglicans in Zimbabwe, and voiced their continuing support and prayers. Dr Makgoba will travel at the invitation of Dr Rowan Williams, who will also go to Malawi and Zambia during his visit to the Church of the Province of Central Africa. Dr Makgoba commented ‘I am glad of this opportunity to be able to demonstrate in person our support for and solidarity with Bishop Chad of Harare, and the wider Anglican Church in Zimbabwe. In Southern Africa’s troubled past, our Church was enormously strengthened and encouraged by the continuing expressions of support we received from around the Anglican Communion.’

In response to a presentation by the Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (centred mainly on the USA), the Bishops acknowledged some deep differences, including over human sexuality, but affirmed the value of continuing dialogue, in a spirit of truthfulness and sensitivity. The Bishops also underlined their African heritage and commitment to continuing engagement with the Church in the rest of the continent, and welcomed the participation in their meeting of Canon Grace Kaiso, General Secretary of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa.

The Bishops stressed the need for considerable sensitivity in the cultural expression of the Christian faith, and for vigorous debate around inherited cultural values ranging from the ethos of ubuntu to honouring God, respecting the elderly and virginity testing. They noted that some practices, such as isangoma training, were incompatible with Christian beliefs.

Other matters which the Bishops discussed included a range of pastoral and theological issues. Among these was a recent CCMA ruling affirming that in South African law, licenced clergy are not viewed as employees of the church, as such, but in line with their vocation as ‘servants in God’s vineyard’. Other visitors to the Synod included theologians Professor Denise Ackerman and Dr Nomboniso Gasa, and Mrs Jeanette O’Neill, the first woman and layperson to be appointed General Secretary of USPG, the Anglican mission agency based in Great Britain and Ireland, which this year celebrates the 300th anniversary of its founding

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

Note to editors - The Anglican Church of Southern Africa encompasses Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, St Helena, South Africa, Swaziland and Tristan da Cunha.

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