As you may know, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa last year affirmed a Vision statement for what we believe is God shared calling to us to be and do, across our whole Province of 28 Dioceses.
It is this: The Anglican Community in Southern Africa seeks to be ‘Anchored in the love of Christ, Committed to God’s Mission, Transformed by the Holy Spirit.’
We have also set out our Mission Statement, describing in fuller detail what this might mean for us in practice: Across the diverse countries and cultures of our region, we seek:
• To honour God in worship that feeds and empowers us for faithful witness and service
• To embody and proclaim the message of God’s redemptive hope and healing for people and creation
• To grow communities of faith that form, inform, and transform those who follow Christ
In following this calling, we have identified eight provincial priorities. These are areas which we see as being the responsibility of the Province to take forward, so as to resource and support Dioceses and Parishes as they set their own locally-rooted priorities for mission and ministry.
The eight priorities are: Liturgical renewal for transformative worship; Theological education and formation; Leadership development; Health including HIV and AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis; The environment; Women and gender; Protection and nurture of children and young people; Public advocacy.
Tonight Prof Pityana and I want to focus on theological education and formation, and particularly the way we pursue it through the residential opportunities provided by the College of the Transfiguration.
But before I talk about fund-raising, let me first express my gratitude to you for the generosity so many of you have already shown both to the Diocese of Natal and to the wider Anglican Church in Southern Africa, in a great number of ways. You have made a significant difference to our ability to be the people of God we believe he is calling us to be. In many ways, you here this evening represent the spine, the backbone, of this Diocese – supporting it with financial and human resources, with your time, with your prayers. Let me again say ‘thank you’.
Most of all, our thanks are to God. God’s love for us, God’s care for us, God’s redemptive giving of himself in Jesus Christ – crucified for us and raised from the dead – is more than we can begin to imagine. God’s generosity to us is without limit. And it is for us to respond with grateful hearts, with similar unreservedness. Generosity is at the heart of mission – and so too is thanksgiving.
Yet at the heart of mission we also need good, theologically trained, and spiritually formed, Christian leaders. This is what COTT offers us. Yet its ability to do all that it might is seriously constrained by its limited facilities. We need to improve the environment for learning, for growing in knowledge and love of God.
Since becoming Rector at the beginning of the year Prof Pityana has worked hard for their upgrade – both the physical facilities, and through pursuing formal registration with the Department of Higher Education. Concrete plans are being taken forward.
But these need support – financial support. Tonight I am particularly asking you to help with the renovation of the kitchens. Frankly, they are a health hazard. And second, we are unable to pursue registration while they fall so far short of the health and safety standards that the Department rightly requires.
So, with grateful thanks to Bishop Rubin for his hospitality to us all this evening, let me ask the Rector to say more about his plans for COTT; and may I urge you to support these, and to continue to support ACSA in living out the vision we believe God has entrusted to us.