Tuesday 31 July 2012

Celebration of the Anglicans ACT Vision - November 25

Important news about a big Celebration of the Anglicans ACT Vision, on 25 November 2012!! See this letter from the Provincial Executive Officer to the Bishops.

Dear Bishops

Greetings in Christ.

The Provincial Standing Committee resolved in 2011 that a celebration of the ACSA Vision and Mission Statement, Anglicans ACT, is to be held on the feast day of St Andrew this year. The Celebration Committee has met, and I write to share the plans around which we are working to celebrate Anglicans ACT.

First and foremost, we are grateful that Anglicans Ablaze will kick start these celebrations at their conference from 3-6 October 2012. This group, under the leadership of Bishop Martin has done sterling work on the vision and mission statements of our province. They have produced sermon resource / small group material on each section of the vision and mission statements as well as a suitable collect. Our recommendation is that parishes should be encouraged to engage with these excellent resources in the run-up to the Conference. The conference speakers will then take each aspect and expand on it. The feedback from Anglicans Ablaze will be invaluable for our celebration of life together amidst our many missional challenges.

The second and main event will be in the format of a service which is broadcast via the DSTV platform to select venues throughout the Province. This DSTV platform will see us distributing special cards for use in an ordinary DSTV decoder. The user would then be able to tune in to the St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town from where the Metropolitan would address the Province in live time on Sunday November 25, 2012 (it is a known secret that the Archbishop' dream is one day to have an ACSA Radio station or TV channel, for communication is key for him).

More information about this celebration of our common life through our shared mission and vision will follow as soon as the arrangements are firmly in place. We would appreciate it much if you could insert this date in your diocesan diary and also inform parish clergy and all about this important Provincial activity. We have also asked Loraine to write about it in the next issue of the Southern Anglican.

By end of July, we will send to the Bishops and parishes special liturgies for the morning of November 25 to celebrate the Anglicans ACT vision and mission.

In addition to the above, souvenirs, and communications material such as pamphlets, brochures and posters will be available by August.

In the love of Christ

Revd Allan Kannemeyer
Provincial Executive Officer

Monday 30 July 2012

Anglicans Ablaze Conference: 3 - 6 October 2012

For those who have not already seen it, here is a letter about the Anglicans Ablaze Conference later this year.

Anglicans Ablaze Conference – ‘A Generation Rising Up’
3 - 6 October 2012 at New Life Conference Centre, Bryanston, Johannesburg

I am greatly looking forward to the Anglicans Ablaze Conference, and am writing to encourage you to join me there! It will be a wonderful opportunity of enjoying, and building up, the common life we share together in Christ, within the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. We shall especially be celebrating and exploring more deeply the Provincial Vision and Mission Statement (enclosed), which we believe our Lord has drawn us to adopt through Provincial Synod in 2010. The Bishops of our Province join me in commending this gathering to you.

Our prayer is that the Conference will help us draw on the Vision in more concrete ways, so that God may transform us, and our own circumstances and contexts, as he desires. To help guide and inspire us, we have invited an impressive list of speakers from within ACSA, from elsewhere in our Continent, and from various corners of the globe.

The more of us who are there, the better the Conference will be! So I am taking this opportunity to invite all clergy and other leaders, key members of Provincial and Diocesan organisations, and especially our young people, to come – and when you come, bring a group with you! This is not just for ‘leadership’, this is for Everyone! This is a wonderful chance for each of us to come and let God’s Spirit breathe renewed life into us, so we can live out our baptism calling and confirmation promises of worship, witness and service with a new freshness and power, in a struggling and hurting world that desperately needs God’s transforming touch.

This is ACSA’s Conference, but most of all we want it to be God’s Conference, shaped by God in all its planning, as well as led by God in all that we do and share together in Bryanston. Therefore, whether you will be able to join us or not, I strongly urge you to pray regularly for it, and for everyone involved. Bishop Martin, who is the Liaison Bishop for Growing the Church (GtC) which is organising this conference on behalf of Anglicans Ablaze, has prepared this beautiful collect, both for church services, and our private prayers. Please do make use of it.

Almighty God, consuming fire of love,
You have given us the vision to be:
- Anchored in the Love of Christ,
- Committed to Your mission, and
- Transformed by the Holy Spirit;
We seek:
- To honour You in living worship,
- To embody and proclaim the Good News,
- And to grow communities of faith;
Set us ablaze with Your power and love,
To build up Your Church and serve You in the world
To Your praise and glory,
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

GtC has coordinated resources focussing on the Vision and Mission, for use in a sermon series, and mid-week Bible studies in small groups. These can be downloaded from the website, www.anglicansablaze.org, in a format ready for printing at home, in the parish, or at any copy-shop. You can also order printed copies from GtC – details on the website, or phone 021 712 0408. I encourage all our clergy to find ways of using these studies in Parishes so everyone can get to know the Vision and Mission Statements, and be helped by them in the life of their own Diocese and Parish. The studies will be especially relevant in helping those coming to the Conference to prepare more fully, and to let their conference experience bear rich fruit on their return. The studies also encourage exploration and strengthening of links with diocesan and parish visions and priorities, for we believe that God has called us to a broad provincial vision which can complement, support, and work in synergy with, the great diversity of our vast Province. Please do use it.

We are encouraging GtC to deliver a first class conference at an affordable price. The financially challenged should not be excluded. GtC will therefore soon make available fund-raising letters which conference attendees can use, if appropriate, to encourage contributions towards the cost of the conference from family, friends and others. And if you can help sponsor a participant who might otherwise not be able to attend, such financial support would be gratefully appreciated.

We also ask those of you who live in and around Johannesburg please to consider whether you can help conference attendees with accommodation and/or transport. We would also welcome any help that organisations can give to visiting groups.

In summary, I am asking you please:
• to pray for the Anglicans Ablaze Conference: that God would breathe life and excitement into our ACSA Vision and Mission Statements and inspire a great variety of creative outcomes.
• to prepare for the Conference by using the Bible Study / Sermon Resource material.
• to come to the Conference and bring a large group, including young people
• to help the conference by offering financial support to financially challenged participants, and/or, if you live in Gauteng, accommodation, transport, or simply to be a helper at the Conference.

If you can offer practical or financial help, or if you want more information about the Conference, please contact the GtC office, info@anglicansablaze or 021 712 0408.

I look forward to seeing you in Bryanston in October. There are only 2000 places, so please book early!

Yours in the service of Christ,

+Thabo Cape Town

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Sermon at the Requiem Mass for Dr Deane Yates

This sermon was preached at the Requiem Mass for Dr Deane Yates, at St John's College, Johannesburg, on 21 July 2012

Ps 139: 1-11, Rom 8: 31- 39, John 6:37-40

May I speak in the name of God, from whose love, nothing in life nor death can ever separate us.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, dear friends, let me say again what a privilege it is to preside at this Requiem Mass for such a remarkable man. Let me especially welcome Deane Yates’ sister, Margaret Smith, and the wider family. Our love and prayers are with you. I also wish to thank you, Headmaster Roger Cameron, for hosting us today, as we honour your illustrious predecessor. I am also glad to acknowledge the presence of past chairs of Council, including those I worked with when I was myself a member of Council: Dru Gnodde , Stuart Morris, and Michael Spicer. I also welcome the clergy who are present, including the Dean of St George’s Cathedral in Windhoek – the Very Revd Michael Yates, no relation, who was a pupil here when Deane was head. And of course we welcome the wider circle of St John’s friends and family.

Two years ago, it was my great privilege and honour to speak at the funeral of Dot Yates – and it is an equal privilege and honour to speak of Deane today. When I look back on Deane’s life, perhaps the phrase that most springs to mind is ‘Holy courage’. He would have stood shoulder to shoulder with St Paul (and Dot would of course have stood with them), in saying, as we heard in our first reading, ‘If God is for us, who is against us?’

Deane lived that message through and through – he could not be daunted. When he knew what was the right thing to do, he went ahead and did it. We have heard so many examples of this Holy Courage in the tributes. And such energy too! For most of us, retirement means the prospect of putting our feet up and relaxing. But not for Deane and Dot. After a distinguished teaching career, culminating with 15 years as headmaster here, relaxing was the last thing on their mind! In full maturity, their response to God was the same as that of the young prophet Isaiah, ‘Here am I, Lord! Send me!’

It is a reminder to all of us that we are never to young nor too old to become a precious instrument in the hand of the Lord, to be used for his good purposes. Perhaps some of you here today are facing a cross-roads in your life, and wondering what turn your lives should take next. Well, the example of Deane and Dot is to put yourself into the hands of the living God, and let him guide you. And their advice would be to remember the words of St Paul: ‘If God is for you, who can be against you?’

Of course, this is no guarantee that life will be easy. There were many challenges in moving to Botswana and setting up Maru a Pula. We have heard how, in order to get the school built on time, Deane and Dot had to live in a tent on site. There was even the prospect of failure, when at first so few pupils enrolled. But they were not daunted. They did not give up. They knew that, whatever it was to which God called them, he was the one who would see it through, and who would make their efforts count in the eternal balance. For even when we appear to fail in the eyes of the world, God takes our faithful obedience and uses it as a solid stone in building his kingdom, in ways that earthly eyes cannot always see. And Deane’s heroic determination paid off – Maru a Pula became a success. It was a living testimony to another verse from St Paul, by which we should be encouraged when the challenges before us seem great: ‘I can do all things in him who strengthens me’ (Phil 4:13).

In remembering Deane and Dot, it is not just what they did, but how they did it, and why they did it, that sticks with me. We remember Dot’s individual care for boys who battled, at St Johns – some with learning or hearing problems; or for lonely staff for overseas. We remember her support for the Community of the Resurrection, and her Wednesdays distributing peanut butter sandwiches in Alexandra. And, I need to add, my wife Lungi – here today – still claims that she has yet to meet the equal of Dot’s pecan pie.

We remember Deane for his great selflessness; for the way he was so appreciative of everyone, and everything. We remember him as such a clear communicator. We remember him not only as a mentor, but someone with a gift of radical hospitality. For example, after retiring from Maru a Pula, he and Dot lived in his successor David Matthews’ house in Houghton. It was a time of great tensions in the townships, and they made that home a refuge, where young men like me could go and stay, and read banned or censored material, and talk with others, in ways that were otherwise not open to us. It was a real sanctuary – a safe place, a place where God was honoured and his spirit dwelt.

For God is always with us, and for us, and working through us for others, above all so that we might truly come to know his love; and grow in experiencing that love and in sharing it with others. It was the love of God that motivated Deane and Dot. For Deane knew, as all the best teachers know, that education is about far, far more than filling heads with knowledge. Real education – the sort that helps produce maturing individuals, who can engage with the world with true wisdom, and become part of life’s solutions, societies’ solutions – this real education is of the whole human person. It is about our hearts, and about our innermost beings – it is about those parts of us which the love of God touches most profoundly.

We see how Deane understood this, in the way he set up Maru a Pula, and, even more clearly, in his formation of the New Era Schools Trust. For his desire was to transform our nation, through transforming young people – by letting them encounter one another as equals, on neutral ground. By creating new schools, where none had been before, in places that provided equal access to all pupils from all backgrounds. His dream was for everyone to find this new way of relating to one another – his desire that no child of Southern Africa should be, to echo the words of our gospel reading, ‘lost’ to the destructive system of the past. It was as though he was in a small way creating a space that could be a model for the new South Africa – which, at that point, still remained just a dream. Yet he knew it was a dream worth working to create. As he said then ‘It is only by growing up together in their formative years that the boys and girls of the emerging South Africa will remove apartheid from their hearts.’

I thank God that Deane and Dot lived to see the dawn of the New South Africa. Yet the task of removing the malign influence of apartheid remains a challenge. It is our hearts, our innermost beings, that must be touched, that must be changed. And working with the new generations of girls and boys is the most urgent and necessary part of that task – for we cannot afford to let the impact of apartheid continue to fester within our societies.

The challenge is vast and daunting – but we too should not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by it. We must not let fear take us over. Instead we should hear the words of God that Deane recalls for us today: ‘If God is for us, who is against us?’ And God will help us, as he helped Deane, to work for to provide quality education for all, especially those who are the inheritors of historic exclusion, and those who are excluded by the circumstances of today.

So today we say thank you – to Deane, for all he was (and especially for all he was, with Dot by his side). We give thanks to God for all that he enabled Deane to do and to be. And we give thanks that Deane, with Dot, has now gone to that place of rest and peace and joy which is for all God’s faithful ones.

We comfort ourselves, in the face of the mystery – the daunting, fearful mystery – of death, with those words Deane chose for our service today: ‘In all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angles, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

Nothing in life, nothing in death, can separate us from God’s love. It is the same message as the words of Jesus, from our Gospel: that all who believe in him will have eternal life; and he will raise them up, he will raise us up, on the last day. And so, with great confidence, in this Mass we commend Deane into the eternal arms of our loving God, believing that he will be raised up on the last day: and hear those words of his beloved Lord saying ‘Well done, good and faithful servant … enter now into the joy of your master.’ May it indeed be so.

Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord – and let light perpetual shine upon him. May he rest in peace – and rise in glory. Amen

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

Dear People of God

Many of us have enjoyed time with our children during the school holidays, despite the cold and wintry weather! Talking with my own children, and listening to their hopes and aspirations, has again underlined for me the importance of education – both in schools, colleges and university, and nurturing within the family of the church. We are called to be trained in living the Christian life, in following Jesus’ call and example in faithful obedience, in ‘growing in knowledge and love of God and of his Son’, and in reflecting all that God is in Christ for us by his Spirit, in the totality of our lives. In Jesus, the Teacher, we see how we too should teach and mentor those who are young in years or young in the faith: listening to their concerns, carefully explaining, and also giving them ‘parables’ to prompt them to learn for themselves how to apply the principles of faith to the many and varied circumstances of life that come our way.

One of the NGOs with which I am proud to be associated is ‘Equal Education’, which works for quality education to be made available to every South African child. They are one of many bodies working across our Province in this important area. Earlier in July I was privileged to speak at EE’s first ‘Congress’, which marked a new phase as those who launched the NGO bring those whom it is designed to help into consultations about how to focus its work, and into its leadership structures. A wide range of people, including educators and learners, were at this energy-filled gathering.

We should always go forward with hope, despite the many problems within our education systems. It is tragic that there are still schools without adequate buildings or other facilities, and scandals like the delivery of Limpopo’s textbooks. It is also shocking to hear of teachers who turn up late or drunk, or fail their learners in other ways – and then even boast of being protected by their unions against any form of discipline for their inadequacies. But instead of getting downhearted, we should roll up our sleeves and do what we can to make a change for the better. Most of all, we should not lose the vision of educational excellence for every child of our Province. This must be our goal, and we should encourage our societies to insist that we will not settle for anything less.

In all life, if we keep our vision at the heart of our thinking, talking, planning, it will be the magnet that draws us in the direction in which we want and need to go. Behavioural scientists today tell us that to focus on our goals is far more effective than letting what is holding us back dominate our lives and drag us down. This should come as no surprise: St Paul said much the same, in his letter to the Philippians, writing: ‘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, let your mind dwell on these things’ (Phil 4:8).

This principle underlies our Provincial vision – our desire that to be a Christian community ‘Anchored in the love of Christ, Committed to God’s Mission, and Transformed by the Holy Spirit.’ Holding the vision before us will help PSC guide our common life, as we meet in September. Do pray for PSC, and consider coming to the Anglicans Ablaze conference in October. For both those who are coming, and those who cannot make it – for ALL of you! – I commend the ACSA Vision and Mission Study Guide produced by Growing the Church, which can be used for a sermon series and in small groups, to help us all explore the rich fruits the Vision promises within our own contexts. The materials can be downloaded at http://www.anglicansablaze.org.

Theological education, for training ordinands, and supporting those already ordained, and lay people too who are the bedrock of so much of the life of the church, is also one of the key priorities in planning for the future. We need to consider our targets, strategies and tactics – learning from the effective approach of Equal Education. I have been heartened by the positive initial response to appeals to support the work of COTT, as well as to local initiatives such as the Archbishop’s Educational Endowment Fund in the Diocese of Cape Town. But strengthening theological education is a long term project, and will need support for many years to come: so, thank you to those who have made donations; and may I encourage many more of you to include this in your giving.

The coming months see 4 elective assemblies: I’ve just returned from Swaziland where Revd Ellinah Wamukoya was elected – the first woman in our Province, indeed in Africa, to be chosen as Bishop! We congratulate her! Please prayer for her as she prepares for this great responsibility. It is particularly apt that Swaziland should take this step, as it was in Swaziland in 1992 that Provincial Synod opened the door to the priesthood and episcopate equally to men and women. There are then elections in the Free State in August, Johannesburg in September, and False Bay in October. These underline the need for ably trained men and women to lead our Province at every level. Please pray for the elective assemblies, and the life of our Dioceses.

As I travel around, I never cease to thank God for the ways in which the priorities we discerned for Provincial action are so often reflected and being implemented in Diocesan life, strengthening the synergies between the various levels of the life of the Province. I’ve just had the delight of sharing with the Diocese of George in their centenary celebrations. Though they have faced serious challenges in recent years, the diocese is alive and building on strong foundations as it moves forward. I congratulate Bishop Brian and his team. I am looking forward to visiting Angola in August.

Please continue to pray for those Dioceses facing difficulties, especially Umzimvubu and Pretoria, as we seek to support them through the careful pastoral frameworks set out in our Canons. I’m happy to say that next year our newly revived Canon Law Society will hold a summit to look at how we can best use the Canons to serve the life of the Church, and consider producing a manual to guide us all. Canons should be our ‘good servants’, supporting prayerful, pastoral discernment, indaba and dialogue, when problems arise. They are not there to promote taking legalistic stances – as St Paul warns the Corinthians (1 Cor 6)! In wider society too, legal battles too often provide answers that divide, rather than building up, communities and nations. I’m therefore glad to be part of the ‘Finding ways to walk together’ initiative that promotes dialogue for handling difficult questions, including race, class, sexuality and so on. We need to maintain the biblical vision of nations united in seeking the good of all, which speak out against corruption and all that demeans us.

Yours in the Service of Christ,

+Thabo Cape Town

Monday 23 July 2012

Centenary of the Diocese of George

The following sermons was preached at the special service on 15 July 2012, celebrating the Centenary of the founding of the Diocese of George.

2 Sam 7:18-29; Eph 1:1-10; Mk 6:7-13

May I speak in the name of God, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing, choosing us before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

Dear people of God of the Diocese of George, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let me say again what a delight it is to share with you in celebrating the centenary of this Diocese. Thank you, Bishop Brian and Lynn as well as your family, for your invitation and warm welcome. Thank you, to everyone involved in the celebrations of this weekend, and in today’s service – whether in preparations, taking part, or in those invaluable but often invisible tasks behind the scenes. Thank you too all of you.

Especially in winter, it is, I know, a standing joke amongst Capetonians, that the car number-plates of George, CAW, describe the weather: Cold And Wet. But no matter what the weather, it is always a joy to find oneself here – or anywhere along the Garden Route – and in the astounding beauty of the Southern Cape. God has certainly blessed this part of the world! And we are here today to give thanks for so many blessings from his hand, over the last century, to this diocese.

In our first reading, we heard how King David asked the question ‘Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?’ We in our turn, might ask ourselves a similar question – as a way of recalling the faithfulness of God in bringing us ‘thus far’, over the last one hundred years. God has done so many great things in the time since the establishment of the Diocese on St George’s Day 1911; and since Henry Bindley Sidwell, then Archdeacon of Pretoria, was elected as the first Bishop of George – and so became the first South African-born person to become a Bishop in South Africa.

There are so many blessings, achievements, and highlights, for which to give thanks. While the boundaries have changed from time to time, the Diocese has grown enormously since a mere 21 clergy attended the very first Synod in 1912 – whether counted in terms of clergy, parishes, churches and other buildings, mission schools, Boards or other organisations. Would those few people – few men, indeed – ever have imagined such a vast and diverse gathering as we are today!

Over the years, this has been one of the strongest, most populous Dioceses, in terms of the numbers in our pews. We thank God for the great faithfulness of so many people, over so many years, through so much change and challenge. In the midst of turmoil – turmoil in the nation, and sometimes turmoil also within the Church – God has cherished this Diocese, and blessed it, and made it, and its people, a blessing to the wider church and to the world.

And so today we remember, with thanks, Bishop Derek Damant, who was such a key figure in the Liturgical Commission of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, as we then called it. We owe a particular debt of gratitude to his contribution in steering the Anglican Prayer Book of 1989 to completion. We also give thanks for Bishop Donald Harker, for his time as principal of St Bede’s, which shaped the formation of so many faithful clergy across our Province. We are grateful indeed to this diocese for its contribution to the Province.

I especially, recall in 1987, addressing about 500 youth members of this diocese as ASF President, in Hartenbos, where I met some of you then when we were all young and courageous. I learnt a lot from that conference and was even asked to share my experiences of here with the provincial team that went to an International youth conference in Belfast. We give thanks too for another son of the Diocese, Justus Marcus, who became the first black dean of Kimberley Cathedral, and then, though briefly before his early death, Bishop of Saldanha Bay. Anyone hearing his interventions in Provincial Synod or Standing Committee would have gone away touched by his ability to combine intellectual insight with spiritual depth.

Of course, the impact of George and its people goes far beyond the Church, and the beauty of the Garden Route – it extends, let me say, even as far as Idols winner Elvis Blue!

And it is not just for the last century that we have much cause to be grateful. We can also look further back. George Town was one of the few villages in which the Government had placed a Colonial Chaplain to serve the English-speaking community, though they held services in the Dutch Church. In 1848 the congregation opened a subscription to collect funds for their own church. That was the year Bishop Gray arrived in the Cape. The next year he and his wife Sophy made their first visitation to George. Not only was the Archdeaconry of George established, but Sophy laid the foundation stone of what is now St Mark’s Cathedral – one of the many churches that Bishop Robert and Sophy Gray encouraged and established across the Southern Cape. Indeed, we can look back even further, and give thanks across two centuries – to the founding of the district of George itself, on 23 April, St George’s Day, 1811.

Thank you Lord, for your journey with us over these 100 yrs. We all know that the last few years have been difficult for this Diocese; and that Bishop Brian was elected and consecrated after a very painful period. And so it is entirely right that these celebrations should have been scheduled only once he – and all of you in the Diocesan family – had time properly to make a good new beginning. It is my fervent prayer that today’s celebrations should be part of that good new beginning. They should be part of acknowledging, not hiding our painful past, but accepting that God can work his purposes even through our difficult past. We can trust in our faithful God who not only is ‘the same: yesterday, today and forever’, but who is also the one who ‘makes all things new’. His redemptive work is endlessly at work among his people, and within his church.

This is the assurance contained within our second reading. God has indeed blessed us – but, more than this, in love he has chosen us, to be his children through adoption. This is ‘the good pleasure of his will’. You, the people of George Diocese, are special in his sight. In love he has chosen you; in love he has redeemed you through the blood of Jesus Christ; in love he forgives all your trespasses. And, having done all this, he does more! He lavishes on you – he gives without measure, without holding back – he lavishes on you the riches of his grace!

This is his promise, as you look ahead. Perhaps you can grasp the concept of a coming century across which he will make manifest that blessing of glorious grace. But perhaps it is the coming year or two which seem to bring the biggest challenges, as all of you together find a new sense of belonging together, and together learning how to live out this calling to be holy and blameless before God in love.

Dear people of God of George Diocese, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, do not be troubled. Remember the promises of God, who will indeed continue to pour out every spiritual blessing; who will reveal to you the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure. Remember that, whatever else, you need only trust in him.

This is the lesson of the gospel reading. Our gospel reading tells how Jesus, after calling his disciples, sent them out, two by two; ordering them to take nothing with them, but to live by faith. Later on, when Jesus sent them to make disciples of all nations, they would go with staff and bread and bag and money and spare clothes. Yet – as we know from the recording of this first sending out in all three of the synoptic gospels – they never forgot their beginning, the foundation of their calling and vocation. They never forgot that, though these other things would help them, they were not what was central; they were not where the disciples found their identity, they were not what they truly relied upon. It was Jesus himself – he called them, he sent them, they went on his terms to share his message of good news for the world.

It is the same for us – it is the same for you in this Diocese. What matters most, for all of you, is God’s call, God’s sending and equipping; and, through it all, God’s love and God’s faithfulness. For you are his chosen ones, according to the good pleasure of his will – so go forth, and live, as he has called you, for his praise and for his glory! Amen

Friday 20 July 2012

Revd Ellinah Wamukoya - Bishop Elect of Swaziland

The following media release was issued on 20 July 2012

‘The election of Revd Ellinah Wamukoya as Bishop of Swaziland, the first woman to be a Bishop in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, is a great joy’ said Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. ‘When it was announced that she had received the necessary votes, there was great rejoicing both that a person of undeniable skills and personal qualities had been chosen, and that it was Ellinah herself, who obviously commands considerable respect and affection across the Diocese of Swaziland.’

Revd Wamukoya was one of five nominated candidates. She obtained the necessary two-thirds majority among both clergy and laity in the twelfth ballot, as the electoral assembly met late into the evening of 18 July. ‘It is rather fitting that the Diocese of Swaziland should elect our first woman to be a Bishop, since it was here, 20 years ago, that, amidst both tears and joy, our Provincial Synod agreed that both the priesthood and episcopate should be open to both men and women’ the Archbishop noted. ‘We have waited a long time for this moment!’

With a Master’s degree in Town and Regional Planning, Revd Wamukoya, aged 61, was until recently the Town Clerk of Manzini Municipal Council, overseeing an organisation with some 380 employees, having previously served as the City Planner. She returned to Swaziland in 1990, having worked as a Planning Officer for the Government of Kenya from 1978 to 1990. She met her Kenyan husband, Okwaro Henry Wamukoya when, after completing a BA in Geography and African Languages at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, she furthered her studies in the Netherlands. The couple have three married adult children, and a fourth younger child.

Having long been active in the Anglican church, she was ordained in 2005, and has served as assistant priest, then priest-in-charge, at UNISWA (the University of Swaziland). Bringing her planning and people skills to bear, in the difficult financial situation of a country where so many live in considerable poverty, she helped her congregation develop a strategic plan, which has led to their numbers growing beyond staff and students to include also members of the surrounding community. In this, she has been a firm believer in developing lay ministry across the life of the church. ‘She is someone who will set a direction, both operational and spiritual, and develop a vision for the future’ said a friend, of her potential to provide leadership as a Bishop. ‘She is a restorer of hope, faith and love in the hearts of God’s followers, who has helped believers to connect to Christ, the church and their communities.’

Her election must now be confirmed by the Synod of Bishops. With further episcopal elections within the Anglican Church of Southern Africa due before the end of the year, it is expected that all the new bishops will be consecrated at a service early in 2013.

Revd Wamukoya is set to succeed the Rt Revd Meshak Mabuza, who retired at the end of 2011, as the fifth Bishop of Swaziland, the Diocese having been created in 1968. Both Diocese and country have faced difficult times recently, with the Synod of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa frequently calling for political reform, and for open dialogue between government and civil society to decide the nation’s future. ‘We ask for the prayers of all for Revd Ellinah and her family, as she prepares to take on this new and particularly challenging calling, to lead the Diocese of Swaziland into a new chapter’ said Dr Makgoba, ‘yet we are confident that wherever God calls, he also equips and provides.’

‘I am humbled by the trust and confidence placed on me by the people of Swaziland, a person like me of humble beginnings’ said Revd Wamukoya after the election. ‘My prayer is to be able to listen and be guided by the Holy Spirit in everything I do. My vision is to see that the people of God are restored and transformed, in order for them to be a church in mission, for, as it is said, “a church that does not reach out, passes out”.’

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

Note for editors: The Anglican Church of Southern Africa comprises Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha.

Monday 9 July 2012

Equal Education National Congress

This address was delivered to the Equal Education National Congress on 8 July 2012.

Honourable guests, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, first, let me begin by thanking you for your invitation to speak to you today. Education is a subject very close to my heart.

It is education, as much as anything, that brought me from the townships of Alexandra to where I am today. As a child, I always loved books, and the ideas they contained – and my family will tell you that I haven’t changed, and still spend far too much time (at least in their opinion!) with my nose between the covers of some book or other. I was very fortunate, in that, even in those turbulent times of the 1970s, at Orlando High School I had teachers who encouraged me – not merely in academic study, but who also mentored me and helped me find a good course for my life.

Today, eighteen years into democracy, with the political turmoil behind us, it is a tragedy that good educational opportunities are not available to every single boy and girl in our country. Not only that, but it still costs young, activist, lives to register our despair at this current system. (May the soul of Ingubo – that courageous Equal Education activist, killed recently – rest in peace. I call for a police investigation into his killing).

We know that it is not an easy task to overcome the legacies of the past – but even taking that into consideration, there is far too much within our current education system that is a crying shame. We all know about the textbooks scandal in Limpopo. We also all too often hear of teachers who turn up late, or drunk, or who fail their learners in other ways – with many of these even boasting of being unionised and protected from any form of discipline for such ill-doing. What an indictment on quality teaching, and on being a union member, this attitude reveals! This should be halted.

Beyond all these is the added problem that even where teachers and learners are striving to do their best, it is often in the face of inadequate facilities: working with deficient classrooms, without electricity or water, with next to no toilets, and other significant lacks. This is to say nothing of those learners who come to school battling with hunger.

Yet it is easy enough to list the problems and throw up our hands in despair. It is another matter to roll up our sleeves, and work, so that we can be part of the solution.

So today I want to pay tribute to Equal Education; to Doron Isaacs, to your colleagues, to your board, to all the "Equalizers" and to all who work in partnership with you. In a short time, you have come a long way, and are making a difference where it is needed. I was proud to have been part of your ‘One School, One Library’ activism, I certainly hold that this is a worthy cause.

Thank you, for all you have done, and for all you are doing. Thank you for setting before us a vision of a better educational system – and not just offering a vision, but providing concrete ways of how we can advocate and work to make it a reality.

Therefore it is entirely fitting that now you should hold this National Congress. Now is a good time to review how far you have come, and of all you have achieved – and to consider together where and how you should focus your resources in going forwards from here. I am delighted to see the range of people present here today. For, as we well know, when it comes to making changes for the better, our efforts are most likely to bear fruit, where those whose situation we desire to improve are fully involved in the debate, in making the plans, in formulating policies, and in implementing the programmes. I am encouraged that one of the tasks of this Congress is to elect a new leadership – a leadership fully representative of all those who are concerned to improve the state of education in this country, especially amongst our poorest communities.

The challenges ahead are great. I am sure you will find that you cannot do everything you would like; and that many of the tasks have no easy solutions and will require perseverance. So now is the time to take stock, and consider how best to focus the resources you have: your time, your energies, your financial and other assets. How can you best direct these, so that they have the maximum lasting impact?

So it is not just a matter of looking at what are the biggest issues facing young people, and facing education, in today’s world, and in our nation. That question must be asked – for it sets the context of your work. But then comes the sharper, more strategic, questions: what are the biggest issues facing Equal Education? Where can you make a unique difference? What are the areas which you should make your priority? What are the specific, tangible, goals that you should set yourselves? And then come the tactics: what needs to be done so you can go forward in achieving these goals?

Let me say again what I said at the beginning – it is easy to be disheartened. But we should not let the problems become our central focus. That will only weigh us down and distract us. We need to keep our eyes on the vision of quality education for all. If this is at the heart of our thinking, talking, planning, it will be the magnet that draws us in the direction in which we want to go and need to go.

Behavioural scientists today tell us that to focus on our vision is far more effective than letting what is holding us back dominate our lives. This should come as no surprise. Almost two thousand years ago, St Paul said much the same, in his letter to the Philippians, writing: ‘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, let your mind dwell on these things’ (Phil 4:8).

So then, in the coming days, in your speaking, your planning, in your electing a fresh leadership, and in finalising your Constitution, I offer you my heartiest encouragement, and the assurance of my prayers. May God bless you, and make you a blessing to others. Thank you.

National Summit on Social Cohesion

This message was delivered at the National Summit on Social Cohesion, held on 4 July 2012 at Walter Sisulu Square, in Kliptown, Soweto.

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, friends, first, may I offer my apologies for not being with you, in person, this afternoon. Second, let me express my thanks that, despite my absence, I am able to share a few words.

It gives me great pleasure to give my wholehearted endorsement of the objectives of this summit, and to offer my encouragement to you – and the assurance of my prayers – as you meet today and tomorrow. Gathering in the historic venue of the signing of the Freedom Charter can only remind us of how far we have come in the last half century. We should never forget how much has been achieved – even if we are sometimes disheartened at what remains to be done.

For it is true that the Charter’s goals of a non-racial society, with true equality, and tangible freedom of opportunity for all, still lie beyond us. We always knew the journey would be long and challenging. But perhaps we did not fully appreciate how long, how challenging, would be the task not only of overcoming the divisive legacies of the past, but also dealing with the pressures of growing inequality (particularly in the economic sphere) that are common to nearly all countries of the world.

It can be too easy to become preoccupied with weaknesses and failings – and of course, these must be acknowledged honestly if they are to be faced and overcome. But they should not become our focus, dominating the way we look at our country and ourselves. For that will only drag us down.

Rather, we must commit ourselves to the highest of the aspirations of those who went before us – from those who signed the Freedom Charter, and those from all other walks of life, whether political or from faith communities or other sectors of society, who dreamed of a better South Africa, and strove to bring it about. We should learn from them to place this goal, this vision, at the centre of our lives. For it is this which should shape our talking, our acting, our policy-making, our working.

Our best hopes for our nation, not our worst fears, should drive us. And this is especially important when it comes to building social cohesion – which we so vitally need. For it is far easier to unite us, in our diversity, around such a positive goal – the goal of a caring society of which we can be proud. Behavioural scientists today tell us that to focus on where we want to go is far more effective than letting what is holding us back dominate our lives.

This should come as no surprise. Almost two thousand years ago, St Paul said much the same, in his letter to the Philippians, writing: ‘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, let your mind dwell on these things’ (Phil 4:8).

So then, dear friends, my wish for you as you meet in Kliptown is this – that, whatever the difficulties that must be named and analysed and countered, never take your eyes off the prize that lies ahead of us: never doubt that we can direct our lives to all that is good.

Let all that diminishes our nation, our peoples, our societies, take second place, and be overcome and consumed by a burning vision of hope and light. This is the legacy of our forefathers. This is the promise of 1994. This is the treasure that is ours to earn, if we have the courage to reach for it together. So may God bless you. Thank you. Amen.

Diocese of Johannesburg 90th Anniversary

The following sermon was delivered on 24 June 2012 at a service to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Johannesburg.

2 Sam 5:1-12; 2 Cor 5:18-6:2; Mk 4:35-41

‘We are ambassadors for Christ.’

Dear Bishop Brian, dear People of God of the Diocese of Johannesburg, dear sisters and brothers in Christ, what a delight it is to share in today’s celebration! Thank you for your invitation to preach and preside today.

Thank you for the invitation to ‘come home’, to the Diocese of my birth and my baptism, of my raising and my confirmation, of my answering the call to ordination, and of my journey into the priesthood, that has now taken me to the far end of the country. I have to say, I love it there – but it is also so very good to come home! Thank you for making me and my family so welcome.

I know that at the end of the service, there will be a formal vote of thanks. But let me also add my own gratitude to the large team, both evident in this service, and in preparations and behind the scenes. And, dear Brian – dear brother Bishop and dear friend – especial thanks to you, for all you have been, for all you have done. May God bless you richly as you prepare to retire, and in all that lies ahead.

Yet, most of all, today, our thanks are to God – for his great faithfulness to us, through 90 long years. This Diocese was formed from the Diocese of Pretoria in 1922. This city, this country, has seen remarkable changes since then. In good times and in bad, our God has been our strength and our hope.

There have been times when we have known all too vividly, the need for great endurance, such as recounted by St Paul: in ‘afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights and hunger’. Yes, this Diocese and its people have seen all of these. There have been times when we felt like those disciples in that storm-tossed boat – when we wanted Jesus to wake up, and focus on our suffering; and to bring us instant and total relief. Perhaps we too worried that he did not really care – that he was content to sleep through all that threatened to overwhelm us.

But today we look back, and we see that Jesus was there for us. We look back and we recognise God’s hand at work. We look back and we give thanks for the courage and strength that he gave us. For all of this, we, the people of the Diocese of Johannesburg, give our grateful thanks.

And now, let me speak not as a son of this Diocese, but as one who now looks in from outside – let me speak from the perspective of the rest of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. On your ninetieth birthday, we too express our deep gratitude. For we also have much to thank God for, as we thank you for all you have been, and for all you have given: to the rest of this Province, and indeed to the Anglican Communion worldwide and to the whole ministry of God’s people to God’s world.

We give thanks for great church leaders – not least those courageous Bishops who travelled from here to Cape Town: Geoffrey Clayton, remembered as Bulldog; and Desmond Tutu, our dear ‘Emeritus’, of whom I am sure all of us still first think when we hear people refer to ‘the Arch’! And of course, other sons and daughters of this Diocese have found their way across our Province, and our Communion, and made a godly difference. Thank you, for them, and for their abilities and gifts which you have nurtured, and then freely shared.

Thank you also, for the many people – raised, and then resourced within our churches – who have gone on to play, and continue to play, significant roles beyond our walls. Thank you also for all those who have been leaders in the struggle, leaders in shaping this new nation, leaders in politics and in business, in academia and the media, in civil society and in every conceivable walk of life. We give thanks to you all; and we give thanks to God for you all.

Yet above all, whether we are from this Diocese or beyond, we give thanks today that God’s word to us remains steadfast and true, for the future as well as for the past. As we look into an unknown future, once again we must hear Jesus’ reassurance that we need not be afraid. He does not turn his back on us or abandon us in times of difficulty. We have achieved so much, and come so far, but we know that the challenges that lie before us remain great, and in many ways are very different from what we faced before.

The hardships of today are both similar and different to those of the past. Under democracy, poverty tragically persists, and is felt in every avenue of life: especially in housing, education, health, sanitation, employment … But today the dynamics of poverty are often different from in the past. Most shocking of all, inequality is worsening; and we seem content to stand by and allow this to happen through the socio-economic systems we are promoting.

Freedom has brought us choice – but the powerful do not always use it wisely or well. Too often narrow self-interest and greed are given free rein; and too many have lost sight – or chosen to ignore – the vision for which so many strove for so long, at such great cost, even at the cost of their lives.

What is our answer? It is that we should all be ‘ambassadors for Christ’.

It does not matter whether we are clergy or laity; whether our lives are mostly lived within the community of faith, or we find ourselves called to be salt and light in the world. Sharing Christ, is our central task, so others may encounter him, and find his answers to all the important questions of life. This is the same ‘ministry of all believers’ in which every Christian shares.

So we need Jesus at the centre of our lives. And as we battle whatever the challenges we face, we also need what St Paul describes as the ‘weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left’. If we are to overcome the evils of poverty in all its forms, the evil of greed and selfishness that result in the exploitation of the poor, the weak, the powerless, the voiceless, the marginalised, the excluded – then we need God’s weapons, of ‘purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God.’ These will help and guide us, wherever God calls us.

Perhaps it will be in initiatives through the churches – such as the Vuleka schools. We can also be partners with others. For example, I have just been in the United States, promoting ‘the Archbishop’s Global Economic Indaba’. Through local and international partners, this aims to foster a global network not only for dialogue on economic emancipation of the poor, but for practical means of empowering them to participate in economic activities, particularly through small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). We hope this will have a greater social impact, improving health, education, and access to skills, and will be of especial help to young people, who often have such great potential and initiative.

More locally, we have the Y-AGE programme for training and mentoring young entrepreneurs in Gauteng, in which Hope Africa is working with the Department of Economic Development and various private sector partners. (And let me here encourage young people to consider signing up for this!) Or perhaps it will be through the contacts and influences that you already have – through work, in schools and colleges, in communities and neighbourhoods, wherever you happen to find yourselves.

And I hope that all of us will encourage one another in finding effective ways of overcoming the terrible gulf between rich and poor – a gulf which pains me deeply. All Anglicans should also work in whatever ways we can to bridge the gap in practical ways.

Finally, wherever you are, remember, Jesus Christ is Lord of all – wind and waves, and all the universe obey him. Every day is a day of promise – a day when we can share and know and experience his salvation, his redemption, his best answer to the struggles of humanity. So today, we give thanks for all that has been, and we go forward, in confidence, as ambassadors for Christ.