Sunday 26 May 2013

Time to ditch the grim legacy of Africa

This opinion piece was published in the Sunday Independent on 26 May 2013.

Time to ditch the grim legacy of Africa

It has been said that, “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” I’ve been thinking about integrity a lot in the last few days.

Last weekend, I spoke with a range of church and community leaders at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Contextual Ministry about what it means to be “prophets and healers in broken communities”. From this serious consideration of our fractured societies, I went to the different context of the 50th birthday party of successful businessman – and former parishioner of mine – Moss Mashishi, a man of high ethical standards. I also found food for thought when I attended the graduation of African fellows of the Aspen Institute’s values-based leadership programme, headed by Isaac Shongwe.

Then on Wednesday the Free Market Foundation honoured me with a Luminary Award and invited me to address them on “Integrity in Leadership”. I was impelled to consider more deeply what it means to “do the right thing, whether or not anyone is watching”, as one definition of integrity puts it.

I found it helpful to go back to the original meaning of the word. Derived from the Latin for being untouched, it conveys a sense of wholeness, completeness, soundness and coherence. And this set me thinking about what makes for wholeness in South African society – and what undermines it.

The wholeness to which we aspire is best described in our constitution, especially its preamble. We find there a commitment to healing past divisions; strengthening democratic values and practices; promoting social justice and fundamental human rights; and improving the quality of life of all citizens, so freeing the potential of each of us. Integrity means coherence between these commitments, our attitudes, our words and our actions, so that at every level the behaviour of each one of us, whether in public or private, takes us closer to the great South Africa of which we have dreamt.

Ten days ago, I sat in on part of the National Assembly Budget Debate on Arts and Culture. There was some fine rhetoric from around the chamber. But I could not help wondering how much of it was grandstanding and political point-scoring, and how much of it would ever be translated into concrete positive action.

And when we think about what undermines wholeness, the list is all too long. There are the grim legacies of the past, the consequential capacity weaknesses across all sectors, and the shortcomings and failings that we continue to generate. And from Guptagate to gender violence, from the secrecy bill to inadequate schooling, we can all name other stumbling blocks, too many of our own making, that litter the path to a better future.

But this is no reason to give up. Being human means being fallible, and our progress will never be perfect. Having integrity gives us, among other things, the honesty to admit and address our failings, and to keep on striving for better.

Yesterday was Africa Day, and we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity. On May 25, 1963, leaders from 33 African states agreed to enhance co-operation and promote the independence of other countries still under colonial rule. Since then, and with the replacement of the OAU with the 54-member African Union in 2002, great progress has been made over a wide front. But at the same time, conflicts still tear nations and regions apart, some leaders have amassed personal power and wealth at terrible cost to their people, and democratic and economic development still all too often has a long way to go.

But these weaknesses do not undermine the best of the earlier vision. And men and women of integrity still arise who are committed to leading the peoples of our continent into a better tomorrow. Our Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma – who, having turned around the Department of Home Affairs, was last year elected the AU Commission’s first woman chairperson – is just such a leader.

The great African author Chinua Achebe said: “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” That’s a high standard, especially in a world where cutting corners and being economical with the truth seem to be becoming increasingly acceptable, as if all that mattered were the so-called eleventh commandment – thou shall not be found out.

But honesty in politics and business matters. Corruption costs continent and country billions.

Integrity is not just a quality we seek in politics and business. This week we have been mourning the sudden, sad death of journalist and broadcaster Vuyo Mbuli. We know he had a colourful life at times, yet he used his media skills to promote the building up of South Africa. His warm, generous-hearted style, and deeper sense of decency, enabled him to challenge interviewees (of whom I once was) with probing questions that would not permit fudged answers or empty platitudes. He demanded the coherence between words and action that characterises integrity. Our country is the poorer for his early death.

Integrity is for every walk of life. And it’s not just about professional conduct either. That’s often just our outer shell. As Confucius said: “The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” It is when we have integrity in our personal lives, going all the way down inside our innermost being, that we will be most able to live a good life, almost automatically. Shaping our character and fundamental attitudes is also best done in the home, from an early age, and it comes through focusing our lives on all that makes for soundness and wholeness.

St Paul recognised this, almost two millennia ago, when he wrote in his letter to the Philippians, “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”.

Integrity oils the wheels of society. It builds trust, trust builds confidence, and confidence builds social cohesion. This helps sustain an atmosphere in which we welcome being held to account by one another, knowing that robust debate is what best furthers our shared commitment to nation-building.

Integrity is for everyone, everywhere. As a fundamental part of our being, it is the necessary foundation for a South Africa where we can all enjoy wholeness in our lives.

The English philosopher Francis Bacon said: “It’s not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity.” Now there’s something worth chewing on in the week ahead.

- Makgoba is Archbishop of Cape Town.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

To the Laos - To the People of God, May 2013

Dear People of God

Our celebration of Easter is completed, as we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus Christ our Saviour, crucified and raised from death, and now seated at the Father’s right hand, where he never ceases to pray for each one of us. At times when I find life threatens to overwhelm me, I remind myself to put Jesus first. For now within the Godhead there is one who understands what it is to be human and to battle with life. And therefore his prayers for me embrace both perfect empathy with what I am going through, and perfect understanding of what I most need in that situation. There is no safer place to be, than held in the prayers of our risen and ascended Lord!

Yet I am also challenged to realise that in answering the prayers of others, God in Jesus Christ may be calling me to be part of his solution in some way. And of course, at Pentecost we celebrate the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, to enlighten our ability to grasp what he calls us to do, and encourage, equip and empower us to carry it out.

Sometimes within the Church we are better at words than action. We can be so caught up with the things of heaven that we prefer to rest there, finding a security away from life’s pressures. But one of the important emphases of the retreat I followed earlier in the year was that if we genuinely come to know and love Jesus more closely, then inevitably this love will find expression in sharing in his mission to the world, and in working for true peace with justice and for kingdom virtues in every area of life.

Here are two areas where I have been pondering how we translate words into actions. First is in relation to gender violence. Our media have been full of terrible atrocities against women and children. It touches every part of our society, though some are better at hiding it than others. So I was heartened to learn recently of the ‘Ringing the Bell’ campaign. This Indian initiative grew from awareness of intolerable levels of domestic violence within homes. The solution is very simple. When people hear noises that sound like something bad is going on, they just ring the doorbell, or knock at the door, or phone. I especially ask men and boys to take this initiative.

It does two things. First, it immediately interrupts whatever violence is taking place. Second, it lets the perpetrator know that the community – especially other men – are watching. We know men listen to other men. We know men care about their reputation with other men. And ringing the bell clearly gets the message across that men who are violent are not socially acceptable. The experience of India is that this is very effective indeed. You can read more on the website

Too often men are only portrayed as perpetrators of domestic and gender violence – whereas initiatives like this help enable us to be partners with women, in working for true equality, fairness and justice, in which we can all live in safety.

In the church too we must avoid any implications, in our teachings or behaviour that men and boys are in any way superior to women and girls, or entitled to dominate them. We know that the Bible was written in cultures where women were not equal. But Genesis is clear that in our creation, equally reflect God’s image and so are worthy of equal dignity and respect (Gen 1:27). The same equality is true in salvation, for ‘there is no longer male and female for all of you are one in Christ ‘(Gal 3:28).

The second area where I have been conscious that words must lead to action is education. This is a particular priority that I feel God has laid on my heart, since I have been so much involved in education through my adult life – and am so aware that it was educational opportunities that came my way which enabled me to follow the path that my life has taken.

When we look at this, and many other, situations, at how much needs to be done, and how little has been achieved, it is easy to be downhearted. As you know, one of my challenges is that we should not be so fixated with what is wrong, that we get dragged down. Instead we must keep our vision for what, by God’s grace, we can become, and let this sure hope be the focus and touchstone for guiding our policies.

Yet we cannot turn a blind eye to what is unacceptable. What we need, is to keep it in perspective by abiding in Christ. As we abide in him, we will grow in his love – and grow in seeing the world as he sees it, and so be caught up into his care and purposes. Looking at the bad from Christ’s perspective is the best way to face it.

And so, having been praying seriously for some time about education (perhaps you might find another area speaks to you), I now find myself caught up into all sorts of action that have really encouraged me in understanding that Christians can make a difference at all sorts of levels. I’m now acting individually, through the Church, and in supporting national initiatives.

On an individual level, a group of us who grew up in Alexandra are helping rebuild Pholosho school, and funding bursaries. Perhaps you can do something similar, or support a school indirectly connected perhaps through someone who works with or for you. But dare to put a human face on the problem. This will help open your eyes to the real needs of communities. Then, in Gauteng, Anglicans have the growing Vuleka school initiative. Our next project is building a boys’ boarding school.

And on a wider level, I’m adding my voice to the call for the Minister of Education to issue proper, decent, minimum infrastructure norms and standards for all schools. These must be specific and measureable, not broad and generalised, as in the latest draft which is a step backwards. As part of this campaign, I visited South Africa’s Eastern Cape last month, with a delegation including academics, writers, and human rights activists. Though we encountered heroic efforts by many educators and learners, we were also shocked and appalled by much of what we saw.

So we will not rest, but keep up the dialogue, keep up the pressure, with Provincial and National government. And the really good news is that this works. Within days of our visit, there was an official statement saying the President had directed the relevant department within the Presidency to look into the matter. Now we must ensure this is followed through – and every South African can join in sending letters to the President, Ministers, MPs, MECS, and newspapers; and phone radio stations, and blog, and post on Facebook and tweet. Let’s make a big noise!

Earlier this month I was in Canada, where Huron University College conferred on me an honorary doctorate. I said then, it is by God’s grace that I had the educational opportunities that allowed me to become who I am now – and so I receive this in acknowledgement of the many millions who struggled, and still struggle, with inadequate education. I hope that in saying this, I may contribute to the fight for decent education – as well as housing, sanitation and other basic needs, for all.

In other news, I am delighted that the Very Revd Willie Mostert, Dean of the Highveld, has agreed to be the new Provincial Executive Officer, in succession to Revd Canon Allan Kannemeyer. Willie, who takes up the appointment in October, brings extensive administrative skills, as well as deep pastoral experience. Do pray for him and Ursula as they prepare to relocate to the Cape. Pray also for Allan and Connie as they settle back into the Diocese of Pretoria. In the meantime, the Revd Keith Griffiths has kindly agreed to come out of retirement and help in the PEO’s office from June to September, and will act as Manager for Provincial Synod. Pray for him, and Gail Allen, Provincial Executive Administrator, and everyone else who will help in preparations for this important meeting in the life of ACSA.

Yours in the Service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

Integrity in Leadership

This address was given on 22 May 2013, in response to the Free Market Foundation's Luminary Award “…for lifelong dedication to all the peoples of South Africa and for ceaselessly demonstrating the highest level of integrity”

May I express my thanks to the Free Market Foundation for this award, and say how honoured I am. (And may I also express my gratitude for your patience in waiting for me after I missed my earlier flight today.)

I am particularly humbled to be honoured in this way by the Free Market Foundation, as we all know that those of us within the religious sector are not generally the strongest champions the free market! But I take it as a sign of your recognition that the market is just one player among many; and that all of us must have our place, and adequate space, to flourish freely – each playing our complementary roles – if we are to contribute to a nation of flourishing individuals within flourishing communities.

For, to put my entire talk into a nutshell, this is the essence of what I believe leadership, and integrity of leadership, is all about. It is about our commitment to promoting contexts and processes for human living that are in service of the people of this and all nations, and of our planet. And it is about paying particular attention to the well-being of those who are in greatest need, and least able to help themselves.

Furthermore, this is the task of all of us, not merely those who are most obviously in the business of caring for society’s needy. And this is not just a moral question – though it is this. But in addition, when everyone has a chance to live decently, this creates a context where business too does better. Therefore, taking the moral course is actually in the best, long term, interests of the private sector.

Let me now unpack these assertions in greater detail.

My starting point is, not surprisingly, to consider what we mean by integrity. It is often said that ‘integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching.’ True indeed. The dictionary provides a richer interpretation of what ‘doing this right thing’ is. ‘Integrity’ comes from a Latin word which literally means ‘untouched’, and so conveys wholeness, completeness, soundness, coherence.

From the perspective of South African citizens, therefore, this means that integrity, doing the right thing – whether in our personal or professional lives – is whatever contributes to making South Africa a ‘whole’ country, a country of wholeness. After the woundedness of the past, our desire should be to work for greater healing and wholeness, in the lives of individuals, in the lives of communities, in the life of the nation as a whole.

How do we recognise such wholeness, so we may pursue it? One of the first places I go looking for answers is the Constitution, and particularly to its Preamble. I hope you know what it says. I’m very supportive of the proposal that every learner should recite it regularly at school, so they know it off by heart. We need the values it upholds, and the goals it sets before us, to become an automatic part of every citizen’s self-understanding of what it means to be a good South African. It is something I would like us all to ‘read, mark, learn and inwardly digest’ so that it becomes an integral part (there’s that ‘integrity’ concept again, in a different form!) – an integral part of the way we look at the world, and the way we automatically act.

As the English philosopher, Francis Bacon, said, ‘It's not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity.’

The Constitution’s Preamble begins by recognising the injustices of the past, and that many suffered and struggled for justice, freedom, and to build a new nation. It then affirms that we ‘believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.’ A whole country has a place for everyone, with all our distinctive differences – so we may be enriched by all the latent potential among us.

It then describes the nation which we aspire to build, through our constitutional democracy. Together we commit ourselves (and I quote):
• to ¬heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;
• to lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;
• to improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person;
• and to build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.’
And it ends, ‘May God protect our people.’

So then, what makes for wholeness? What should we pursue if we want to be leaders of integrity?

Our Constitution gives us the following touchstones for our policy-making, for our business plans, for our programme setting:
• what helps heal past divisions?
• what strengthens democratic values and democratic practices?
• what promotes social justice and fundamental human rights?
• what improves the quality of life, not of some citizens, not of the privileged few, but of ALL citizens?
• what frees the potential – what provides tangible, realisable, opportunities – to each and every person; not merely those who already have a good start in life?
• what helps us grow in a sense of unity, of belonging to one another, while respecting and valuing our differences, whether they be linguistic, cultural, and racial, or educational and economic?

All of these contribute to the sort of society I described earlier – of flourishing individuals in flourishing communities. It is about healthy living. I don’t just mean physically health but also emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social, cultural, health and wholeness – which we should each be able to live out in our own ways, provided that we also allow equal space and opportunity for others.

Now perhaps you were surprised when I mentioned the Constitution before I turned to the Bible! But I hope that you are now realising why the faith communities throw our weight so much behind the realisation of all that the Constitution promises. For we too want to promote these healthy, wholesome, ways of living. Jesus himself said ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’ (John 10:10).

The mark of integrity in leadership is the preparedness to commit one’s life, in whatever field one finds oneself, to pursuing this abundant life for all.

So let me now look at the other side of the coin – what undermines abundant, flourishing, wholesome life, within South Africa? It is easy to think of candidates for a long, long list! There’s the whole Gupta saga and the attitudes that let it happen. There’s the Marikana tragedy and too many stories of police brutality – what makes them possible? And what about Anene Booysen and the thousands and thousands of cases of gender violence that never make the newspapers? What about the scandal of undelivered text books, mud schools, and teachers who don’t know their subjects or won’t pull their weight? What about the apparent tender irregularities in Gauteng at City Power? We could go on and on.

But where are all these rooted?

We must start by naming our inherited lacking wholeness – not least so that we do not compound it now.

For example, given the way that the apartheid regime drove wedges between all South Africa’s communities, I am concerned by the increase in what some have called the ‘zulufication’ of political rhetoric. We don’t want to send ourselves down the path trodden by Hutus and Tutsis.

We also need honesty around the interplay of past legacies on the one hand and current weaknesses and failings on the other. I don’t want to get into the polarising row that engulfed Trevor Manuel recently, so let me say, very carefully, that these two biggest issues are inextricably linked. We must acknowledge that the past has left us with terrible legacies of poverty and inequality. And at the same time, government has not done all that it might, to overcome them.

There are practical reasons for this – we have inherited appalling skills shortages and capacity constraints. And sometimes politicians and civil servants at all levels of government from national to local have just felt overwhelmed by what they face and at a loss to know where to begin. In this they need our encouragement, far more than our condemnation.

But we also know that corruption is a massive problem. It comes hand in hand with a wider loss of moral compass. This creates an atmosphere in which all sort of dubious practices somehow become accepted. Leaders with integrity, across all sectors, must join forces, to face down this scourge at every level, including through the protecting of whistle-blowers within our own organisations.

Integrity means creating contexts, promoting cultures, where those who do good, who uphold moral high standards, are rewarded – even if it sets them against more narrowly self-serving practices that have become normative. There is a huge challenge to us around questions of what is merely getting away with the extremes of what the law will allow.

We see this in the current rows about tax being paid by multinationals like Amazon and Apple and Google in the US and various European countries. Now, in one sense, they are not only within their rights, but entirely sensible, to arrange their affairs within the law so that they pay the absolute minimum taxes that they need to. But having the right to do something does not make it the right thing to do. We need to ask more fundamental questions about whether the sort of schemes that companies and government treasuries have allowed to develop, are truly moral in the sense of serving not merely shareholders, but the societies in which they do business.

There is a quote going the rounds on Facebook at the moment that highlights the heart of the problem. It says, ‘People were created to be loved, and things were created to be used: and the reason why the world is in such chaos today is that things are being loved and people are being used.’ It’s a bit simplistic, but we have to ask ourselves whether it does reflect a pernicious and growing attitude.

And it challenges us also to ask ourselves whether we are behaving with integrity when, as global and national economic actors, the financial, business and government sectors develop ways of behaving that exacerbate the gulfs between rich and poor. All around the world, the Gini coefficient (measuring the disparity between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’) has been rising – and South Africa is among the worst.

Integrity in leadership cannot just stand idly by and allow this to continue. Martin Luther King Junior put it this way, ‘Every man [and also, of course, every woman] must decide whether he [or she] will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.’ The challenge is how you serve not only owners’, and share-holders’ interests, over the short term – but how you do so in ways that also serves the interests of nation, and all (and I mean ALL) its citizens, in the mid- and long- term.

Looking at that horizon, I must mention the National Development Plan, with its visions for where we could be by the year in 2030. I believe that this, and other planning exercises, like the Dinokeng scenario, are entirely right when they say that we can only become the healthy, whole, society of which our Constitution speaks, if we go forward together.

We need to ‘fly as flamingos’. If we do not act together, we are bound to fail.

Government, business, civil society – none of us has the capacity to make the necessary differences on our own. We must each pull our weight, and contribute what we can, in constructive cooperation.

Now, constructive cooperation does not mean that we must give up criticising, and criticising sharply, when we believe government, or the private sector, or civil society, has got it wrong. Government, in particular, needs to beware of promoting a culture where it is unacceptable to speak out – whether by means of the appalling Protection of Information legislation, or through the stick and carrot of only granting contracts to friends.

For all of us need the perspectives of others, if we are to be helped to become the best that we can be. I hope that by speaking here today as, I trust, a constructive critic, a critical friend, I am being a good example of this!

All of us need to hold one another to account. The private sector and civil society must hold government to account, but they too can ask the same high standards of us. We all need to be held accountable, above all else, to the standards and aspirations, of the Constitution. This helps us understand what it is for each of us to pursue integrity in our own sectors, and in our own leadership. Does what we do contribute to bringing our nation closer to the picture the Constitution paints, or is it directed towards some other goals – that may help some, but actually hinder others in ‘freeing the potential of each person’ as the Constitution puts it?

As Archbishop, but also as a professional psychologist, I want to stress the importance of us not losing sight of the wonderful vision of our Constitution. For we risk becoming so focussed on all the problems and negative stories around us, that we lose sight of what we should truly be aiming for. And this just drags us further down.

We should instead be deliberate and intentional in ensuring that a vision of a healthy, flourishing, engaged citizenry, becomes the magnet that draws us – towards which our business plans, our programme-setting, our short, medium and long-term goals and planning are directed. If the good is at the centre of our imagination, our very souls, then it will find expression in our attitudes, in our thinking, our speaking, our acting. This is what it means to live lives of integrity.

The Bible understood these psychological dynamics close on two thousand years ago. St Paul wrote, in the letter to the Christians at Philippi, in today’s Turkey, ‘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).

Let us be clear in analysing the difficulties that we face, and the obstacles that need to be overcome. But in doing so, let us never take our eyes off the prize that lies ahead of us. Let us never become downhearted, and doubt that we can direct our lives to all that is good, all that promotes wholeness, all that reflects integrity.

For all of us can be leaders of integrity – people who promote the wholeness and flourishing of those around, and across wider society and nation. It is becoming fashionable to talk about ‘thought leaders’, and certainly, I believe that we need to get right our thinking, and more than that, our deep-seated, often unspoken, attitudes. And right attitudes and right thinking will inevitably lead to right words and right actions. Mental, moral and spiritual, integrity breed trust, breed confidence, breed social cohesion – they breed the building blocks that are necessary to deliver wholeness in our nation.

This applies as much to our personal lives as to our professional lives. As Confucius said, ‘The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.’ We too can pursue integrity at every level.

Let me give an example from my own life. As you may know, having spent time in academia as well as the church, I’ve always had a deep concern for education. I now find myself caught up into all sorts of action that have really encouraged me in understanding that all of us can make a difference at all sorts of levels. I’m now acting individually, through the Church or other community action, and in supporting national initiatives. So, on an individual level, a group of us who grew up in Alexandra are helping rebuild Pholosho school, and funding bursaries. Others I know support schools where employees children go. It puts a human face on our problems, and helps open our eyes to the real needs of communities. In Gauteng, Anglicans have the growing Vuleka school initiative, with which I’m also involved. Our next project is building a boys’ boarding school.

And on a wider level, I’m adding my voice to the call for the Minister of Education to issue proper, decent, specific and measurable, minimum infrastructure norms and standards for all schools. As part of this campaign, I visited the Eastern Cape last month, with a delegation including academics, writers, and human rights activists. Though we encountered heroic efforts by many educators and learners, we were also shocked and appalled by much of what we saw. So we will not rest, but keep up the pressure on Provincial and National government. And the good news is that this really works. Within days of our visit, there was an official statement saying the President had directed the relevant department within the Presidency to look into the matter. Now we must ensure this is followed through, by keeping up our lobbying.

Chinua Achebe said that ‘One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.’ But we know this is a tough ask, and none of us will get it right all the time. Sometimes we may find our decisions have negative consequences that we had failed to foresee. Sometimes we will exercise poor judgement in other ways, perhaps taking risks that we always knew were unwise. We may also make poor choices out of weakness.

But we can still aspire to integrity, and we can still encourage integrity in one another. Indeed, in today’s world, we have a great need for people who can stand up and admit that they have made mistakes; and take responsibility for them, and say they will make reparation and commit themselves to do better in future. This is a model of which we need to see more – so that all of us, when we fall short of what we might be, can nonetheless take heart, and make a fresh start, and persevere. This too is demonstrating integrity in leadership.

So then, to conclude: let our commitment to integrity find expression in commitment to pursing the glorious vision of healthy, whole, flourishing individuals, in a healthy, wholesome, society. This is the true legacy of our forefathers – for all that we battle with our difficult social and economic inheritances. 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. This is what integrity in leadership is all about. Let us strive for it together.

I’ll end with words from the Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius. ‘Waste no more time arguing about what a good man – or woman – should be. Be one.’

Monday 20 May 2013

Prayers on the death of Vuyo Mbuli

This statement was issued on 20 May 2013.

The sudden death of Vuyo Mbuli has come as a shock to us all, and deprives South Africa of a gifted journalist and broadcaster. It also deprives his wife and family of a wonderful individual - generous-spirited, warm-hearted, intelligent and full of joy. Our hearts go out to Savita and all who loved him, and I assure them of my own personal prayers and those of so many Anglicans across our country.

I thank God for Vuyo, and for his dedication to building up our nation and gently and good-humouredly challenging us to become the best we can be. His death will leave a hole in so many lives, personally and professionally. I knew him in both capacities: as the son-in-law of an Anglican priest, and as someone who had interviewed me, and who also gave his time to chair a fund-raising dinner in East London to raise awareness about AIDS, at which I spoke. I hope our country will find some way of honouring this faithful son and servant.

When Jesus said 'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted', he was not belittling the enormity of death. He himself
wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus. Understanding the pain that death brings us, he invites us to bring our grieving to him, so that we might know the comfort and strength that only he, the one who has conquered death, can bring us. So as I grieve for this life cut short, I also thank God that death, though terrible, does not have the final word, for Vuyo or for any of us. May he rest in peace.

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

‘Prophets and Healers in Broken Communities’

This address was given on Saturday 18 May 2013, at the Annual Certificate Celebration, at the Centre for Contextual Ministry, Pretoria

Good morning everyone. Let me begin by greeting the Dean of the Theology Department, Prof Johan Buitendag, and Deputy Dean, Prof Dirk Human, together with all who are present today. I express particular thanks to Dr Stephan de Beers, Director of the Centre for Contextual Ministry, for your invitation and warm welcome.

This morning I want to address our theme of ‘Prophets and Healers in Broken Communities’ by reflecting on how this connects with my own spiritual and personal contexts. I shall draw on Scripture and church teaching, and set this alongside my own journey as a member of the broken community of Makgobas of Makgobaskloof. The challenge of dealing with these past pains has opened up new possibilities of redemptive grace, shaping me as a channel of prophecy and healing to others. I hope that bringing my own experiences into conversation with the Bible and Christian tradition will help you to find your own ways of engaging with hurt and brokenness in service to others as healers and prophets.

Yesterday, as I was preparing to come here today, I was prompted to reflect further the last chapter of St John’s gospel, after reading the part that was set for Anglicans for the daily Eucharist. It is the account of Peter and six other disciples going fishing, and meeting Jesus. This happens after Easter, after the resurrection. The seven of them have returned to Galilee, where they take a boat out on the Sea of Tiberius.

They catch nothing, and then encounter the risen Jesus on the shore, though at first they don’t recognise him. He tells them to throw the net on the other side of the boat, and they get a huge catch – at which point they recognise him. He invites them to breakfast; and though they know it is Jesus, they are very shy to speak openly with him. Finally, Jesus and Peter have a conversation by themselves. Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him – and in response to Peter’s affirmation, Jesus tells him ‘Feed my lambs’ then ‘Tend my sheep’ then ‘Feed my sheep.’

All of us are in the business of tending and feeding God’s lambs and sheep. All of us, whether ordained or lay, in full-time or part-time ministry, are engaged with showing God’s love to God’s people, and teaching and encouraging them in their faith. It is our task to help them to grow in knowledge and love of God, and in sharing that knowledge and love with the world around, through lives of faithful witness and service.

We should teach our people to integrate the good news of Jesus Christ into their daily life, whatever that is. God is the Lord of all creation – and so we should never fall into the temptation of dividing life into two separate compartments, the religious and the secular. Not at all – God has an interest in every part of his creation and every activity of human life.

We know that God does not call all Christians to be clergy or pastors. We know that instead God calls for his people to lead godly lives as teachers, doctors and nurses, civil servants, politicians, business leaders, entrepreneurs, factory workers, bus drivers etc; and as family members, neighbours, friends. Whatever people do, wherever they find themselves, they are to be God’s salt and light in the world.

I am reminded of the words of one of my heroes: William Temple, who was Archbishop of Canterbury during the second world war, 1942-4. He was a great Christian, and a great social reformer, who was criticised by both Christians and politicians for taking stands on political and social questions. In response, he argued that the church was ‘bound to “interefere”’ in these issues, because, he said ‘it is by vocation the agent of God’s purpose, outside the scope of which no human interest or activity can fall.’

Furthermore, he said, ‘nine-tenths’, 90%, of this ‘interference’ by Christians in political, social and economic questions, should and would be done, not by the church formally – but through the influence of individual Christians in their capacity as engaged citizens. They would bring Christian values to bear in every area, through their work, and through their involvement in the networks of their communities. And therefore, said Archbishop Temple, it was the job of the churches to equip their people to do this, by teaching Christian principles which Christian citizens can then apply in whatever circumstances they find themselves.

How then are we to do this? The passage from John 21 points us in the right direction. For Jesus makes clear that loving him comes before tending and feeding his sheep.

As some of you may know, I spent almost 40 days earlier this week away on retreat. At the heart of the retreat was a period of 30 days spent in near silence, following a programme of guided meditations and prayer that were developed by St Ignatius of Loyola. He was the founder of the Jesuits – the order of Catholic priests of which the new Pope, Francis, is a member. All of us around the world have been impressed by this man – by his holiness and simplicity of life, and by the way his deep, deep, spirituality is also matched with a deep, deep commitment to the poor and needy. This is the life that St Ignatius tried to help people discover, through this long retreat, known as the Full Spiritual Exercises. Its aim is to help people come close to Jesus. By reflecting on God’s creating and redeeming love; and by reflecting on Jesus life and ministry and self-offering on the cross, we find ourselves drawn into the love of God, and therefore also drawn to share his love wherever it is needed.

We too are called to self-offering: offering ourselves in love to Jesus, and in service to the world. This is the two-fold action at the centre of this passage. We have to love Jesus first, in order to be able to feed his sheep.

During my retreat, through spending time reflecting on various passages from the gospels, I felt myself shaken to the core by encountering Jesus with a new freshness and depth. And through this – though it may sound odd for an Archbishop to say this – I felt refreshed, and I feel renewed, in my vocation as a Church leader in ordained ministry. It was a call that I needed to hear again, as Peter needed to have those hard questions ‘Do you love me?’ I too needed to put myself back in that place where loving Jesus and receiving his love came first of all.

For, looking back, I came to realise see that I had often been trapped in understanding ordination too much as being about ‘doing’, about being a ‘professional’. And so I worked hard at the best presiding at the Eucharist with every detail correct, making the best pastoral visits, conducting the best funerals… At times, it was as if I saw myself as a sort of NGO in the religious sector. It felt as if I’d got my mandate from God, and now he could step back while I got on with it myself.

It is like the disciples – they had encountered the risen Jesus for themselves, but now he had ascended, they went back to running their lives the way they knew best – by being professional fishermen. They all, like Peter needed to realise that being a Christian was not merely doing their own professional thing, and saying they were dedicating it to God. Instead they needed a radically new way of living, which was entirely focussed around following Jesus, and obeying his call.

My retreat helped me to see clearly what I had been doing – that I too had fallen into that same trap. But it also turned me round, and radically changed my perspective, I hope, for ever. God touched my heart with an amazing sense of the privilege of ordained ministry. This is something of course I’d known in my head – but I’d never integrated my head with my heart in this way before.

God calls all of us here today in this same remarkable way. He invites us to allow ourselves to be set apart, for a particular life of faithfulness. It is above all, fidelity to God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity. We are to abide in God’s love, shown in Jesus Christ – and letting it burn in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whose coming we celebrate again tomorrow. Through abiding in their love, we come to see and hear and feel, more clearly, more dearly, the God who is Trinity.

We also come see and hear the Trinity in ourselves, and in other people who are also made in God’s image. When we truly see the beauty of God in others, and in nature, we can serve God in them in new ways. Indeed, it is as if I and the other are together caught up into the love of the Trinity, as the ‘God in me’; and ‘God in the other’ resonate together in holy love. This is a very precious mystery.

Yet to abide in such love is demanding. Most of all it demands that we live with an attitude of openness and vulnerability, before God and even before one another, before those we serve as Christian leaders. For if we are to be ‘Prophets and Healers in Broken Communities’ – the title which I was given for this address, then we need to experience for ourselves God’s compassionate touch on our own brokenness; and we need to share what this means for us. In this way we can be living models of how God deals with us in our woundedness and pain.

During my retreat, I found myself drawn to acknowledge and explore how deeply I am wounded by the past history of the Makgobas. I knew it mattered, but had not realised how scarred I was, bearing deep anguish within me at events of the 1880s. After the first Anglo-Boer war, which the Afrikaaners won, they came into conflict with many of the local people. They fought the Makgobas between 1883 and 1885. Finally the king was captured and beheaded, and the clan was scattered. Today we are still wrestling to get out land back; and we are still trying to find the King’s missing head.

I need to acknowledge the woundedness of my whole family, my ancestors, over more than a century, and the pain that we cannot live on our own land, with the freedom we ought to know. Even with land returned, and the head found, we would still remain scarred and traumatised.

We need God’s compassionate touch upon us continually. And if we – if I – can be open to receive from him in this way; then, I show others what it means to live like this – so they also can receive his compassion.

It is as St Paul writes in the first chapter of 2 Corinthians:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.

So then, let me sum up: to be prophets and healers in broken communities, we must reject secular styles of ‘strong man’ leadership. We are to abide in Christ, above all else – to immerse ourselves in the sort of prayer that helps us rest in him, and grow in receiving his love, and especially in the most wounded and broken places of our lives. For in our own woundedness and brokenness we will then receive the consolation of God, which we can then share with the wounded and broken people, communities, and country, to which God sends us.

So may he bless you with this fresh call upon your lives; so that you may grow in his love, and be a blessing to others. Amen

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Honorary Degree acknowledging Southern Africa's Struggling Millions

The following statement was issued by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, on 14 May 2013, following his return from Canada

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ. I have just returned from Canada, where I was humbled to receive an honorary doctorate from Huron University College.

Archbishop Emeritus Tutu often says that it is because he stands on the shoulders of giants that he is able to achieve so much. I, for my part, am aware that it is by the grace of God, that I have come to the place I am now – while at the same time there are so many millions of South Africans who in other ways are just like me, who struggle with inadequate schools and teaching, with sub-standard housing and appalling lacks of healthy water provision and sanitation, and who battle against near-insurmountable obstacles in their daily lives. Therefore, as I said at the graduation ceremony, I ask that each one of them be acknowledged, as much as I am acknowledged, in this award. It is as the representative of those countless individuals – whose names and faces are known and loved by God – that I received the honour.

My particular thanks go to Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of Canada and his wife Lynne, for his welcome, and to Bishop Bob Bennett, Bishop of Huron, and his wife Joyce, and to the Principal of Huron University College, Dr Stephen McClatchie and the Council of the College, for their invitation and for conferring this award

Convocation was celebrated on Ascension Day, a celebration that not only is God with us (as we recall at Christmas, naming Jesus Christ as Emmanuel), but that we are now also with God – the incarnate Jesus Christ for ever praying for us at the right hand of Almighty God. Above all, we know that he prays for the good of all God’s children. This year, Huron University College celebrates its 150th year, and to them we offer congratulations, and prayers that the gift of education may be used wisely and well. We pray for them, as we pray for our own nation, that education may serve for the building up of individuals, communities, and nations, in the service of the good of all.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Sunday Independent Opinion Columns

This opinion piece was printed in the Sunday Independent on 12 May 2013. Below it are some earlier columns.

Revolution we need starts with you

May 12 2013, By Thabo Makgoba.

Are politicians or preachers, those of us who speak or write in public, aware that our words may one day come back to bite us? This happened to me after I returned last month from looking at school infrastructure in the Eastern Cape. Our group of academics, writers, human rights experts and others found atrocious conditions in many places, as had been widely reported. But then a friend challenged me. “Why so many bad news stories, Archbishop? Haven’t we had enough of falling down schools and stinking toilets? You always remind us that dwelling on negativity pulls us down, and that we need to keep focused on the positive vision of what South Africa can become.”

She is right, but she is also wrong. Too much bad news truly can be bad for us. It can breed what social commentators call “learned helplessness”. When we are bombarded with news of situations far removed from us, or where we have no capacity to be engaged, we easily become overwhelmed. We start to feel powerless about everything, even where we could make a difference.

But the answer can never be to close our eyes to bad news. We need to see it, just in its right perspective. While focusing on our vision for our country, as the touchstone for policy making and implementation, we must also be aware of what is holding us back. We need honesty about our problems, and my friend is not alone in finding this uncomfortable, even painful.

Her reality is very different from the Eastern Cape’s mud schools. She grew up with a good education, as one of the privileged in the old South Africa. She still enjoys a comfortable life far removed from the stranglehold that poverty has on the great majority. Yet she gives to her church and to NGOs to help alleviate poverty’s grip, pays her cleaner a decent wage, and would do “more” if only she knew how to make a difference. But she is at a loss to know what would be effective. So she feels helpless and guilty, and doesn’t enjoy it when TV and newspapers keep reminding her of this other reality.

Some of us have managed to exchange that stark reality for one more like my friend’s. We may have grown up in deprivation, but we are determined our children will know a different life. And we also may find it easier to keep our distance from what we have left not so far behind. But this will not bring socio-economic freedom for all, to match our political freedom. The struggle must continue for equal opportunity and a decent standard of living for everyone.

We need to bridge the gap between the two realities. And we need to do so at a human level, if we are to do so at an economic level. We need to dare to be literally “in touch” with poverty, for ourselves – to go there and see, and smell, and taste, and touch the bad news stories that are the stuff of others’ daily lives. We cannot be like the past, where it was possible for some people to say they didn’t know how others lived. We must refuse to live at such cold distance from one another, and instead harness human empathy to give us the urgency to press for tangible change.

Choose not to be overwhelmed. Choose a particular focus. One I’ve chosen is education. I’m acting individually, through my church, and supporting a national campaign.

A group of us who grew up in Alexandra are helping to rebuild Pholosho School and funding bursaries. The Anglican Church has long supported the Vuleka initiative, and our next project is building a boys’ boarding school in Gauteng. Nationally, I’m adding my voice to the call for decent school buildings and facilities. This was the motivation behind the Eastern Cape visit. Though we encountered heroic efforts by teachers and pupils, we were also appalled by much of what we saw. We will not let it rest, but will keep up the dialogue, keep up the pressure.

And the good news is that it works. Within days of our visit, the government issued a statement saying the president had directed the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency to look into the matter and let him know what was being done to address the problems of sanitation in three schools we’d seen. So I encourage you not to be afraid to write letters to the president, to ministers, to MPs, to MECs, and to newspapers. Phone radio stations. Blog. Post on Facebook. Tweet. Demand that Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga issues proper, decent, minimum infrastructure norms and standards. Let us bombard her with letters, pleas, prayers, even poems. Speak out when what you see is unacceptable to you and your children. You are taxpayers. It is your money being squandered. Hold the government to account. Demand urgent action.

The SA Democratic Teachers Union must also be held to account. Where it promotes better education, we support it. Where it puts its members’ narrowly defined interests above those of our children (inevitably affecting those already most deprived) and our legitimate education goals, or promotes unhealthy politicisation, or prioritises financial issues, we will demand better. We cannot allow past fears to dictate our future by holding us back. They may explain our unwillingness to get involved today, but they cannot justify it.

Festering wounds need to be opened up and exposed to the light, so they can be dressed – and addressed – and healed. We all have to take a stand. If we do not, our inactivity becomes complicity. Then we all become party not only to the continuance of mud schools without toilets, but also the passage of the still fatally flawed secrecy bill, and the ethical mess of which the Gupta wedding saga is just the tip of the iceberg.

Reject helplessness. Choose hopefulness. And be encouraged – you will make a difference.

From 28 April 2013

Deeds, not words, are what count

We have much to celebrate, and should never underestimate the miracle that was our peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy, made possible by the courageous, visionary initiatives of a remarkable few, and by the dignified act of marking ballot papers by the determined many. We continue to thank God that this, and not civil war or bloodbath, became the fate we dared to dream and work for. Since then, we have seen 19 years of changes that were unimaginable when I was young, through the slow but steady progress towards restoring the dignity that apartheid sought to remove from so many. Through three subsequent national elections we have furthered our commitment to democracy in the service of all. We do not have to look far beyond our borders to recognise that peaceful ballots cannot be taken for granted.

Yet, as we are all too aware, we still have a long way to go. And no matter which way politicians and pundits spin it, the legacy of apartheid and the track record of the ANC have some part to play in the continuing failures adequately to overcome poverty in all its manifestations. So we certainly do need “mobilisation towards consolidating democracy and freedom”.

Above all, this means getting our foundations right: our conceptual foundations and attending to the fundamental basics of tackling our greatest needs. Conceptually, we need to remind ourselves of what we aspire to, of the covenant we made to one another and to our nation as a whole, when we chose the path of democracy. We signed up to build a country based on sound ethical principles, good governance, and all that goes with them. Without these, we have no hope of being, and more fully becoming, the nation we like to think we are – the nation to which others around the world look as a model for solving conflict, building bridges and relishing the riches our diversity brings.

Yes, this is the vision that lives in our hearts still, today. We should know this, and therefore take heart, whenever we are tempted to disillusionment or despair by all the bad news stories of corruption and failure – for our frustrations are fuelled by our deep inner convictions that we should do better, and our strong beliefs that indeed we can.

Two particular areas where we can and should do better are housing and education. We have always known we need to get these right, if we are to create a society of true opportunity for all. And we also know that both are vulnerable to poor governance and absent ethics, which allow for tender fraud and corruption and failure to deliver on promises: with shoddy work, collapsing buildings, textbooks not supplied and general failure of service delivery manifested in widespread ways. Almost never do we hear of anyone being brought to book. Such scams are doubly shameful, for they most hurt those in greatest need, and draw them into heartbreaking deceptions.

We have all seen those who have waited long years for housing shed grateful tears when finally given the key to a place of their own – only to find that a few years later, their leaking, cracking home is fit for little more than demolition. Too often irresponsible contractors close old companies to avoid the consequences of one lot of shoddy work, while simultaneously opening new ones to bid in the next round of juicy tenders. As we know, sometimes government officials participate in these debacles, even fraudulently “selling” building land to the innocent and unsuspecting. It is outrageous.

And then there is schooling – and here I am not even going to address the processes of learning, but the contexts in which it happens. Not only are there similar problems to the housing sector when it comes to building and upgrading schools. There is also the far more fundamental problem of failing to bring all schools up to anything like an acceptable standard in the first place. Presidents, ministers and MECs have long been promising a swift end to mud schools and studying under trees, by deadlines that have come and gone. Both persist, in considerable numbers.

Finally, forced by court action, we now have the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative. We have also seen the publication of new draft Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure. These, however, are a great disappointment, in their broad generalisations and failure to give specific, measurable criteria to which the government can be held accountable. They are even weaker than the 2008 draft, which contained greater detail, tangible goals and clear time frames. They are an unacceptable step backwards.

A few days ago I embarked on a ‘Solidarity Visit’ of several days to the Eastern Cape, to witness first-hand the extent of the school infrastructure crisis there. As we suspected the picture we found was rather worse than that which government is attempting to paint. How can we justify a situation where over 100 grade 9 children share a classroom in near sub human conditions? This is something that personally devasted and saddened me. It is more hurting to see such levels of inequality and poor material conditions of the poorest of the poor.

And here we face another ethical conundrum. For if the government is serious about wanting to “mobilise society towards consolidating democracy and freedom”, then they need our partnership. This means they need our trust and our confidence. Yet nothing undermines trust as successfully as failing to be honest about the true situation, and refusing to take the citizens of the country into their confidence. And little undercuts confidence as surely as the production of revised policies that actually move us backwards rather than forwards.

It is well known that the future of a country depends, more than almost anything else, upon the quality of its education. Where our children do not even have adequate schools within which to pursue education, we are already putting them – and, in consequence, the whole country – on the back foot. So another Freedom Day has come and gone. We say to the government, we are ready to be mobilised, but we need you to demonstrate that you, too, are truly committed to the vision of a country founded on ethical principles.

From 14 April 2013

Why Tutu deserves the ‘Nobel of Religions’

Once again, that most irrepressible of South African pensioners, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, is in the news. This time, he has won the Templeton Prize, awarded to “a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension”. It is given for his “life-long work in advancing spiritual principles such as love and forgiveness which has helped to liberate people around the world”.

Though sometimes known as the “religious Nobel”, intriguingly the Templeton Prize is linked to no particular faith or view of God. Furthermore, alongside such usual suspects as Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama, winners also include philosophers, astrophysicists, biologists and other scientists, some of whom are not people of faith in the everyday sense of the word. But that hasn’t bothered the Templeton Foundation, set up in 1972. Its founder, British-American investor and philanthropist John Templeton, who died in 2008, launched the prize to identify “entrepreneurs of the spirit” who help “expand our vision of human purpose and ultimate reality”.

Rightly, they see no inevitable conflict between science and religion. Better understanding about the origins and functioning of life, and what it means to be human, can only help us do better in tackling questions of morality, ethics and meaning in today’s complex world. Hand in hand, the best of science and of religion offer invaluable resources for seeing clearly the issues that are at stake, and tackling them wisely and constructively. Neither can do this as well alone, and neither should be fearful of the other. Both are in pursuit of truth.

This complementarity blows a hole in the old philosophical adage that “you can’t get an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’.” It is surely evident that, knowing that poverty is destructive of flourishing life in individuals and communities, inescapably means we ought to do away with it. Justice clearly is a foundation-stone of stable, healthy society and governance, and therefore ought to be pursued. So, too, is honesty and so on. Whichever way you look at it, justice, good governance, fighting poverty and corruption, are what science and religion alike demand of government, politicians and civil servants. It is what makes sense from whatever angle you care to look at it. Therefore we should have no qualms about demanding the highest standards, the most wholehearted commitment and true accountability, from our political leaders.

The Arch is not the first South African Templeton Prize winner. That honour went to UCT Professor of Cosmology, George Ellis, honoured in 2004 for a lifetime’s work that embraces not only the origins of the universe but also the human brain and behaviour, and the relationship between science and religion. A Quaker and activist, his social writings were condemned by the apartheid government. Like Tutu, he has spoken and written about the over-riding need for humanity to live with faith, hope and love – even loving your enemies.

Questions around loving our enemies and the power of forgiveness have been in my mind for other reasons this week, which has seen the death of Margaret Thatcher, the anniversary of Chris Hani’s assassination and news that Clive Derby-Lewis has again been denied parole. No one can deny that Britain’s first woman prime minister was a remarkable individual. But that is about as far as agreement seems to go – 20 years after she left power, she still divides opinions. In South Africa, she is mostly remembered for calling the ANC a “typical terrorist organisation” and opposing sanctions, though others have described her as a positive influence on constitutional transformation.

Stirring up strong emotions is one thing, but I was shocked to hear of parties organised to celebrate her death – and was glad these were condemned even by her strongest political opponents. It’s not that we must uncritically “love” all that Thatcher was and did. But it helps no-one if we dehumanise those with whom we disagree. The Arch has often told us that we must not reduce others to “monsters”, however awful their actions: first, because it actually makes them less responsible for their actions, and second, because it denies the possibility of redemptive hope. Accepting that redemptive hope exists everywhere enables us to deal with life honestly, maturely, constructively, and rationally – in the best and fullest sense of this word, as the Templeton Prize supports.

For we can step back and look at Margaret Thatcher and admire her drive and determination, even if we think it was often wrongly directed. We can admire her achievements as the first woman to hold such high office. Then we can take what we admire, and build on it: daring to think big and be bold, and pressing towards greater gender equality. We can also analyse rationally what we oppose, and why, so that we can draw both useful lessons and the energy to do better.

These are lessons for South Africa, too, as we continue to recall the past, whether through specific anniversaries or the daily legacy of history upon us. Polarisation – painting people as wholly right or wholly evil – undermines our ability to engage constructively and go forward creatively. We need a similarly nuanced approach to political parties and policies, as well as personalities: affirming the positive; learning from and working to overcome the negative. None of us is perfect, and others always need to look on us with a level, honest gaze, free of fear. Then we can see what is good and pursue it further. We can learn from what went wrong, and work for better. And we can identify what can now be let go, set to one side and left in the past so that it does not hold us back.

Chris Hani’s death remains a tragedy, but it must not hold us back from a better future. The best of what he offered to us can still live on, if we heed his words. Just a couple of weeks before he died, in calling for a comprehensive, just peace, he warned against corruption and the greed of the gravy train. “What we need in South Africa is for egos to be suppressed in favour of peace. We need to create a new breed of South Africans who love their country and love everybody, irrespective of their colour.” These words are as apt today as they ever were.

And what of Derby-Lewis? I do not know what is in his mind and heart. But I do know that Tutu and the TRC taught us that reconciliation only comes with truth. It requires the scientific truth of full honesty around the facts, and the spiritual truth of recognising the human cost of actions and so knowing true remorse. Such truth can indeed set us free.

This is a personal lesson, too. For myself, I know that when I honestly acknowledge what scars I carry from the past – the harrowing facts around them, the painful emotions they stir up, the wounds they have left on my soul – then I, too, know that I am taking the first steps towards a freer future.

Come, walk with me on this journey of hope.

From 31 March 2013

Spread seeds of hope and dignity

As Christians celebrate Easter, the casual observer would be forgiven for asking how on earth we can declare God’s victory over sin and death when there is so much suffering and destruction all around. Let’s face it. The first three months of this year read like a violent horror story. Details of events at Marikana unfold in drawn-out agony at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry. More recent incidents of police brutality, like the death of the Mozambican taxi driver, Mido Macia, have left us, and observers round the world, reeling with shock.

There was, for a while, outrage at the brutal rape and murder of teenager Anene Booysen in Bredasdorp, and the so-called satanic killing of schoolgirl Keamogetswe Sefularo in Mohlakeng. But attacks keep occurring, and often go unreported as we have become numbed to their frequency. How has such violence, including rape and sexual assault, become part of the fabric of our lives? How can we move from expressing anger and indignation, in marches and vigils, to deeper conversations about social cohesion, and take the necessary steps to rebuild society on the basis of true humanity – rooted in the dignity of being made in the image of God, of being ubuntu people, whose identities are shaped through belonging to one another?

We have been suffering from a wider loss of confidence, affecting everything from our public broadcaster to our national carrier. And this is not just a domestic question. Last weekend, rebel forces in the Central African Republic (CAR) left 13 of our soldiers dead and 27 injured. We are now embroiled in conflict in a place that was previously little more than a sound bite or a football team.

Lent, the six-week period from Ash Wednesday to Easter, invites us to look at ourselves with an honest eye. We need to recognise that too often our world is a mess. But our response should not be to despair. Two Christian leaders who arrived on the global stage this month show us a better, more hopeful, way, of tackling challenges. The media have been fascinated by the new pope, who, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, lived in a small flat, cooked his own meals and took public transport. He is the first pope to choose the name of Francis, after Francis of Assisi, renowned for his simple life-style and care for the poor. Since becoming head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, he has made his priorities clear – whether in sitting on a plain white chair, instead of a golden throne on a scarlet platform, or in preaching that we should all be “discreet, humble, faithful protectors’ of God’s creation and all people”. True leadership is to care for those who need it most.

Last week I was in England, for the enthronement of a new Archbishop of Canterbury, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Justin Welby is another fascinating character, who gave up a successful career in the oil and finance sectors, to become a priest. He has since been involved in conflict resolution around the world, and on more than one occasion came within a whisker of being murdered.

Lasting, just peace and reconciliation are in short supply, as we can see in the CAR, and in frequent unrest between Sudan and South Sudan. We see it especially in Syria. This week I added my voice to calls on the leaders of the Brics nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), meeting in Durban, to press Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to allow the UN to bring humanitarian aid into his country. The tragedy is that when the Brics leaders met a year ago, they called for “an immediate end to all violence and violations of human rights in that country”, but their call went unheeded. Since then, the death toll has risen from about 9 000 to over 70 000. Today there are 4 million people in urgent need of aid, half of them children.

In our letter to our leaders, political and civil society figures from Brics countries wrote: “The people of Syria are living a nightmare of death, injury, illegal detention, rape, torture and displacement. Schools and hospitals have been targeted, children as young as eight have been used as human shields, and one in every three Syrian children has been injured or shot at… “Extensive food aid distribution and shelter are urgently needed… the basic humanitarian needs of millions of Syrians are not being met.”

Achieving lasting, just peace and reconciliation – whether of military conflict and civil war, or violence across society – requires risk-taking, perseverance and selfless commitment, especially from our leaders. This, in a nutshell, is the message of Lent and Easter. Jesus faced the full horrors of suffering and death head-on, in order to bring resurrection and life. They cannot be ignored or brushed aside, since they only fester and worsen. The enormity of injustices, past wrongs, woundedness, oppression and discrimination, have to be brought into the open and acknowledged in honest dialogue, no matter how painful, if we are to sow the seeds of hope that bring new life.

In South Africa we discovered the truth of this, in our transition to democracy, even if there is still unfinished business to be tackled. We must not lose sight of this vision, which gave us such courage, such hope, to begin building a great nation anew. Nor must we forget the other lesson that came with it – that in recognising the inherent dignity of each and every human person. We cannot afford the luxury of losing hope, because then we will pay the price of continuing downward spirals. But the good news of Easter is that the seed of hope is always there, ready for us to nurture, if we only take courage, take the risk, and persevere. I wish you all a blessed Easter.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

4th Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue

This is the Communique from the 4th Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, which was held in Cape Town from 2 to 5 May 2013



The fourth consultation among Canadian, American and African bishops took place in Cape Town South Africa from Thursday May 2nd to Sunday May 5th 2013. We met in the context of worship, prayer, Scripture reading and the breaking of bread. Through the presentation of papers, continuing conversation, and growing relationships we engaged in dialogue both in sessions and over meals. We came from South Sudan, Malawi, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Canada, Zambia and the United States. We continued the same process as in the past of inviting people from different dioceses to reflect on God’s mission in their contexts, this time using the lens of reconciliation, in accordance with Paul’s exhortation:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)

We engaged in theological reflection on reconciliation, and we heard presentations about the reconciliation process in Burundi, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada, reconciliation in The Episcopal Church, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. We heard examples of people throughout Africa and North America intentionally seeking to meet with those from whom they differed.

We heard stories of such pain and of new life that was made possible by God’s grace mediated through compassionate ministry, that many times we were left in silence and tears. We witnessed profound hope in God’s transforming presence in even the most conflicted of situations which the world might call hopeless.

Our time in Cape Town was greatly enriched by the opportunity to visit local ministry initiatives: Fikelela Children’s Centre – part of the diocese’s HIV/AIDS ministry; the Fusion project in Manenberg – a ministry that seeks to inspire, partner with, and equip the church to see high-risk youth restored to Christ and community; Sweet Home Farm – a broad based intervention of the church in an informal settlement of some 17,000 people where ministry includes HIV/AIDS support, forming a church community, a Seniors club, health and welfare initiatives and a restaurant; and The Warehouse – a ministry initiative that provides a place for support, both spiritual and physical, for poorer communities and which equips people from many churches to serve in new ways. We had heard in our theological reflection that the Christological foundation of the Church’s ministry pushes us to pragmatic actions and commitments in the real situations of conflict and division where we live. On our local visits in Cape Town we were humbled by what we saw and our hearts were full as we heard story upon story of sacrificial ministry and steadfast commitment to the work of reconciliation. Our daily eucharists were held in St. George’s Cathedral. We had the opportunity to share in Sunday worship in churches around the city and to meet local congregations. The grounding in the local situation enlivened and inspired our conversations.

We recognized that we have inherited the ministry of reconciliation from our Lord Jesus Christ; that God’s mission is not a human achievement. It is something we are called to live into and to share. We observed that the engagement in the ministry of reconciliation is a costly process because it involves facing positive and negative truths about others and about ourselves with courage, honesty and humility.

We observed that a key part of the ministry of reconciliation is about reclaiming the humanity and dignity of those who have been dehumanized in various ways. It involves the preservation of the identities of those being reconciled to one another in Christ. It gives the powerless a voice to take up the challenge of speaking truth to power.

We observed that one of the dynamics of our group involved the history of colonization; that our present reflects the stories of both the colonized and colonizers. We talked about the dehumanizing parts of our history that fly in the face of our commitment to respect the dignity of every human being. We named many challenges in our contexts as evidence of systemic and spiritual evil in addition to identifying situations where the presence of God’s transforming grace was evident.

We recognized that the church is called to be a place of safety and refuge with an authentic ministry of reconciliation but, regrettably, the church can also be a source of victimization of others. We agreed that we need to acknowledge our part in conflicts that cause pain to people in order to become credible leaders and partners. We reflected on the statement that “To repent is to know that there is a lie in our hearts” of St. John of Kronstadt. We noted the importance of the church’s public apologies and of its participation in healing processes. We shared examples from the South African and Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRC), the reconciliation processes in Burundi, South Sudan and the situation in Kenya following the post-election violence in 2007.

We realized that it is only in speaking the truth in love to each other that we can understand each other’s contexts. We believe that this helps to reduce prejudice and misunderstandings. There can be no reconciliation without truth.

We heard of situations of such conflict that people were afraid to ‘pray with their eyes closed’. We were challenged to transform that phrase so that we could ‘pray with our eyes open’ – not out of fear, but because of a courageous willingness to face the truth. We discussed the role of the Church (as an ecumenical body) in reconciliation and the unique role of the Anglican Communion as a linking factor in many places. We acknowledged that this work of embracing reconciliation continues to be a work in progress within our communion.

We see our dialogue as having grown out of the recommendations of Lambeth 2008 and we believe that our work is important in building towards Lambeth 2018. We committed ourselves to share our learnings from these dialogues with the bishops and dioceses in our provinces and with others we meet. We would encourage similar dialogues across the Communion, dialogues that grow organically with emerging agendas as a way to develop understanding, build trust and foster reconciliation. These may be small regional gatherings. We suggest that such dialogues include opportunities to visit and learn from the ministries of the local church.

We observed that sin infects systems as well as individuals. We reflected on the church’s responsibility to help people to see when the truth has become distorted and to speak out against systemic evil that leads to disrespecting the dignity of human beings which inhibits the proclamation of the gospel in every culture. We noted that the witness of the church is to stand beside people as they tell their stories as well as to listen to their stories with compassionate hearts.

We discovered in each of our contexts that the Church has a unique role in proclaiming and embodying a positive vision of the future. We have found that God has planted the seeds of our positive future in our past.

We started a discussion on how we can be part of the reconciliation of the refugees and outcasts in our midst. We were challenged to consider the role of the Church to engage with the Diaspora of one another’s community, so that the ministry of reconciliation can continue and that these people may be resources to their own homelands for peace rather than the perpetuation of conflict.

We acknowledged that none of us has exclusive ownership of the truth. We understand that when all our stories are told we come to a fuller understanding of the truth. This meeting has confirmed the relational nature of the church and the understanding that all of us bring only a piece of the truth. We affirm once again that dialogue is essential to exploring the nature of theological truth that looks at what God is constantly revealing.

Our meeting in Cape Town had an added depth to it because we were all aware of the enormous work of reconciliation in South Africa following the time of Apartheid. We were blessed by the presence of Mary Burton, former Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) commissioner in South Africa. Hearing the stories of that time and watching footage of the TRC hearing, reminded us as a group that it is in the sharing of the stories of reconciliation by our global brothers and sisters that we are encouraged to pursue all that works for good (Romans 8:28).

We resonated with Mary Burton’s advice to us to ‘be mindful of the degree of hurt that so many people have, and to make provision for those hurts to be heard’. When stories remain untold disintegration follows. This is both an ongoing challenge and opportunity for the Church. In all our relationships we should try to be peace seekers.

We were also blessed and encouraged by the presence of Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director of Reconciliation. Canon Porter observed that Anglicans sometimes have “bad” fights, but need to learn how to have “good” ones, because there will always be points of conflict in our relationships. This gathering has had all the hallmarks of what good conversation should look like. Because we are all in Christ, we belong together.

We agreed that reconciliation is a gift of the Holy Spirit and only by the Grace of God are we reconciled.

We leave Cape Town with great hope. We have heard testimony of new life arising out of the most difficult circumstances and of Christ’s power of reconciliation healing the most tragic situations. We feel encouraged and empowered in our ministry and in our mission.

We extend our thanks to Bishop Garth Counsell and his local organising committee for their hard work and Marion Counsell for hosting us on Sunday evening. We thank Archbishop Thabo Makgoba for his hospitality in welcoming us to Bishopscourt and we extend our thanks to the members of the diocese of Cape Town for the warmth of their welcome. We thank the Rev’d Eileen Scully, although unable to join us, for preparing the handbook we used for worship. To the Rev’d Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa who coordinated our meeting and provided wonderful support, we offer our sincere gratitude.

Cape Town, South Africa, May 5, 2013

1. The Rt. Rev’d Jane Alexander – Diocese of Edmonton, Canada
2. The Rt. Rev’d Johannes Angela – Diocese of Bondo, Kenya
3. The Rt. Rev’d Michael Bird – Diocese of Niagara, Canada
4. The Rt. Rev’d John Chapman – Diocese of Ottawa Canada
5. The Rt. Rev’d Garth Counsell – Diocese of Cape Town, South Africa
6. The Rt. Rev’d Michael Ingham – Diocese of New Westminster, Canada
7. The Most Rev’d Colin Johnson – Diocese of Toronto & Metropolitan of Ontario
8. The Rt. Rev’d Julius Kalu – Diocese of Mombasa, Kenya
9. The Rt. Rev’d Mark MacDonald – National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, Canada
10. The Rt. Rev’d Sixbert Macumi – Diocese of Buye, Burundi
11. The Rt. Rev’d David Njovu – Diocese of Lusaka, Zambia
1. The Rt. Rev’d Robert O’Neill – Diocese of Colorado, USA
2. The Rt. Rev’d Michael Oulton – Diocese of Ontario, Canada
3. The Rt. Rev’d Anthony Poggo – Diocese of Kajo Keji, South Sudan
15. The Most Rev’d Daniel Sarfo – Diocese of Kumasi, Ghana
1. The Rt. Rev’d Stacy Sauls – Chief Operating Officer, The Episcopal Church
2. The Rt. Rev’d James Tengatenga – Diocese of Southern Malawi, Malawi
3. The Rt. Rev’d. Joseph Wasonga – Diocese of Maseno West, Kenya
Canon David Porter – The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director on Reconciliation
The Rev’d Canon Isaac Kawuki-Mukasa – Anglican Church of Canada

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Diocese of Cape Town Family Fun Day

This sermon was preached at the Diocese of Cape Town Family Fun Day, held at 'Bishops', Diocesan College, on 1 May 2013.

Deuteronomy 33:13-26; Psalm 89:1-8; Philippians 4:5-8; Matthew 13:53-58
(Lections for St Joseph)

May I speak in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ – what a joy it is to see you here. Let me repeat the Chaplain’s welcome to you all. You are all very special. And a particular welcome to Donald Grant, MEC for Education. Thank you for being with us. It is good to see so many of you here – and so early in the morning on a public holiday!

You are certainly not like the rector who woke up early on a Sunday morning, and the weather was SO beautiful that he felt he just HAD to play golf. So he phoned the curate, and said he was feeling unwell, and that the curate must take the services – and then he drove to a golf course where no-one knew him, and started his round. But he should have known that Jesus was watching, with St Peter at his side. ‘You’re not going to let him get away with this, are you?’ said St Peter. ‘Wait and see’ said the Lord.

The rector hit the ball off the tee on a par 4 hole. It was the perfect shot. It went straight down the fairway, bounced on fresh springy grass, and just kept on going, until it reached the green and rolled right into the hole. It was the most amazing ‘Hole in One’. St Peter was appalled. ‘Lord?’ he said ‘How could you let that happen?’ The Lord smiled, and answered ‘But who is he going to be able to tell?’

Well, here we all are! So let me first thank everyone who is working hard on their day off, to organise today. Thank you to Mpho Mashengete and your team for all your preparations. Thank you, Fr Terry, and Bishops, for your hospitality. Thank you, Bishop Garth, for enabling the whole process. Thank you to everyone participating in this service, and to everyone helping with all the other arrangements.

It is wonderful to share this celebration of the life of the Diocese of Cape Town. It is a celebration, first of all – as every Eucharist is – of new life in Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, which we are called to share. And it is a celebration of God’s faithfulness and presence among us, in the Diocese of Cape Town and in the life of his Church.

It is a celebration too, of the faithfulness of so many of God’s people, in this Diocese: not just in the past, but today also. Through the faithful lives of ordinary Christians – you, and people like you – God continues to build his kingdom, and spread the good news of Jesus Christ that is for the whole world.

This is the faithfulness we commemorate today, of St Joseph – often called, St Joseph the worker. We think less of him as a carpenter, however, and more as a fellow-labourer in God’s vineyard. This is the work in which all sons and daughters of the living God share. And whoever we are, we can make a great and significant difference to God’s world – even if, like St Joseph, most of what we do is behind the scenes. St Joseph’s openness to hear God’s voice, and his readiness to respond in obedience – even when he was taken way outside his comfort zone – made all the difference.

As St Matthew tells us, he was an ordinary man, a righteous man – just an every-day decent chap, like so many here today. Suddenly, his life seemed to go pear-shaped. The woman he was engaged to marry was pregnant, with a child he knew was not his. It takes a better man than most to decide to break it all off, very quietly, without public scandal. But then God, through a dream, challenged him to go one step further – to marry, and raise this child, who, God told him, was from the Holy Spirit. Later, in another dream, the angel of the Lord told him to take his wife and child to Egypt. Can you imagine the upheaval? And yet he went, at once.

In St Luke’s gospel we read that Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover each year, and that, when Jesus was about 12 years old, they took him with them. St Joseph saw to it that Jesus was raised in a safe, settled, home where faith was woven into the whole of life. He provided the context in which Jesus was able to discover what it truly meant to be the Son of God, the anointed one, the Messiah.

What can be more important than to provide contexts in which others can grow to become the people God created them to be?

This is the every-day faithful obedience to which all of us are called, in the home, in our communities, at work, wherever we find ourselves. For the most part, it is not very spectacular – in fact, it is easy to take for granted, and even look down on. Simple habits of daily prayer, reading our Bibles, Sunday worship, and following Jesus’ example, all help form the foundations on which everything else is built.

In our gospel reading, we heard how the people of Nazareth felt they knew Jesus well, took him for granted, and looked down on him. I think that there is something about being an Anglican that connects with this. People look at us, and see an old, familiar, historic church. They think that we are just ordinary and boring, and nothing special. They may even think that we have lost our spark, lost our life.

And it is true that our primary concern is not to lay on a big and exciting show.

But our critics fail to see that we aim for something far more important!

We want to promote deepening, maturing, lives of faithful obedience: of individuals and communities who grow in knowledge and love of God, and in making God better known and loved. Such faith in action is what makes the biggest difference in the long term.

Jesus too, was not in the business of performing miracles to satisfy the curious, or ‘prove’ his identity to sceptics. Rather, as we read through the gospels, Jesus’ words and actions are so others might recognise what it means for the kingdom of God to come among them; and so they might respond to the invitation to follow him, as their Messiah.

Jesus calls us for the ‘long haul’ – to persevere in a life-long experience of growing in his love and joy, and in sharing it with others, so his kingdom of justice for all, and true peace, may increase in our world. This is what our second reading, from St Paul’s letter to the Philippians, is about. ‘Let your gentleness be known to everyone’ St Paul writes. ‘The Lord is near.’ Doesn’t St Joseph’s life, as a righteous man, remind us of such characteristics?

St Paul then writes ‘Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made know to God.’

Life has many challenges – as Joseph found – even tough ones of having to flee the country. But, with God in control, we can take even the toughest situations in our stride, if we trust in the Lord. For – as the next verse says – when we entrust everything in prayer to God, then: ‘The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ This is not a promise that our problems will be solved in the way that we want. But it is a promise that God will see us through – as individuals, and as his Church.

We have a lot of issues to face in the Diocese at the moment.

Some of these challenges, we are rising to meet, with great joy and confidence. We are making wonderful progress towards building up an Endowment Fund, to ensure resources for training future clergy. We still have a long way to go – but we are firmly headed in the right direction. We are already over R800,000, so, close to our first million. Thank you! to everyone who has contributed! Mind you, we still have quite a way to go to reach our goal of R20m. But long slow steady giving of small amounts will ensure we get to our target. What I call ‘boring faithfulness’ of the sort that the people of Nazareth despised, is the best way to reach our goal!

Within the Diocese there are other big challenges.

We have been carrying a big deficit in running costs, as you know. We have been reviewing all we do through a long process – discussed for some 3 years, through Diocesan Synod and Diocesan Standing Committee meetings, and the Budget Review Group and various Boards, and of course Chapter. The biggest challenge arises from the multiplication of the Diocese. We need to look not only at staffing levels, but, more fundamentally, at how to integrate the old inherited structures of the suffragan bishop with those of the diocese as a whole.

Yesterday, Tony Hillier retired as Diocesan Secretary. We had a wonderful service of thanksgiving at Zonnebloem yesterday. With his departure, we are now grasping this painful nettle of restructuring the Diocesan Office, and embarking on a period of consultation and discernment. It is going to be a difficult and painful process, with some very hard decisions along the way, and the potential for redundancies.

Let me say the same as I said yesterday: all you who are here today, I cannot ask you strongly enough, to keep us all in your prayers. Pray that God may guide us all, and give us a double measure of wisdom. Pray especially also for Bishop Garth, whom I am asking to lead the pastoral processes that must happen alongside the more technical management tasks. Most of all pray for those who are most directly affected.

It is always especially hard to take such decisions within the church – when employees are also brothers and sisters in Christ, parishioners alongside us, part of God’s family. Pray that, as St Paul teaches in today’s reading, we may act with gentleness. Pray we may do everything ‘by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving’. Pray that God’s peace, which ‘surpasses all understanding’, may fill this situation.

May this peace guard our hearts and minds, so that it may protect our feelings, our thoughts, so that we are held in the will of God, and don’t get tossed about with destructive emotions, or words or actions, as we work through the various steps still before us. And may we focus on ‘whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable’.

This is God’s call to all of us, not just for restructuring the Diocesan Office, but also in faithfully following the example of St Joseph. Lives of faithful obedience, of growing love and joy and peace and hope, are best served by ‘thinking about these things’: everything that is excellent and worthy of praise.

As some of you may have heard me say before, it has taken psychologists and others two millennia to catch up with this powerful Biblical truth. It is a truth in our own lives. It is a truth in the life of the Church. And it is true when it comes to politics and nation – for example, in relation to the terrible problems of education in the Eastern Cape which I saw on my visit last week.

If we focus most on the problems, on what is wrong, on everything that stands in our way and holds us back – then, studies show, we are likely to be dragged down, become pessimistic, feel helpless, and be overcome by negativity.

But if we focus on the good things around us, and God’s wonderful promises – then they become a magnet, pulling us upwards. If we put aside our fears about deficits or restructuring or even our own mortality, and let God’s vision shape our future planning, we are far more likely to go forwards, living and acting positively, and we are far more likely to go forward, growing into all that is good.

And this is the heart of our celebration today – our belief that God has good plans for our Diocese and good plans for each one of us. As the prophet Jeremiah writes, the Lord says ‘I have plans to prosper you not to harm you, plans to give you a future and hope’ (Jer 29:11). This surely is the life to which our Diocese, and all its people, are called. Let this vision take root within us, and grow and flourish!

So, to conclude: today is a day of celebration – of the life we share as the family of God’s children in the Diocese of Cape Town. We do not have to live spectacular lives. The great miracle of God is that he does marvellous things through ordinary people, living ordinary lives of faithful obedience.

So, with confidence and joy we can live out this steady calling to be good Anglicans! We can stand firm in our heritage of supporting God’s work through lives of faithful worship, witness and service. We can build one another up in gentle, loving fellowship. We can also live for others outside our walls – engaged in the daily business of promoting healthy society; contributing to democracy; standing up against corruption in small and big ways; calling government to account at every level from local council wards to nationally.

And in all of this, through a rhythm of grateful prayer and Bible study, we can allow God to shape our lives so that we too may be righteous people, used by God for the building of his kingdom and the glory of his name.

It is my humble and deep prayer that it may be so for this Diocese. Amen