Thursday 29 May 2014

To the Laos – An Invitation to Hear the Archbishop of Canterbury - May 2014

To the Laos – To the People of God, May 2014
Dear People of God
In just over a month’s time, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd. Justin Welby, will be visiting Johannesburg as one of the stops in a series of visits to Primates across the Anglican Communion.
His initial purpose was to visit Lungi and me as part of a “getting to know you” trip to a number of African archbishops. However, wanting to share our time with Archbishop Justin with our bishops, their spouses and at least some clergy and lay people from around the Province, we asked him also to give the keynote address to the Anglicans Ablaze Conference and to join a dinner with the bishops, and he generously agreed.
Anglicans Ablaze will take place from July 2 to 5, and I warmly encourage you to join the conference. In particular:
• All our clergy are invited to join me and all our bishops;
• You are urged to bring a team along – including young people;
• Parishes, please help with fund-raising; and
• Please announce this invitation from the pulpit.
To help the organizers with their planning, I urge you to book early. For details, go to: or call 021 763 1315 / 021 797 9997. If you are from Gauteng, and you simply cannot make it to the whole conference but want to hear Archbishop Welby, please call the organisers to register for a shorter visit. If you are from outside Gauteng, never fear: we will be inviting the Archbishop for a formal visit to the whole Province just as soon as he can accommodate us in his schedule. 
Talking of archiepiscopal visits, by the time you read this I will be on my way to the Diocese of Zululand for a visit during which, among other things, I will be blessing the diocese’s new Mothers’ Union Hall and Skills Centre – a great achievement. We congratulate the MU, Bishop Dino, his Chapter and the whole diocesan family on this milestone.
Then, later in June, I am asking for your prayers as I visit northern Mozambique, where we will consecrate the Ven. Manuel Ernesto as the new Bishop Suffragan of Niassa on Saturday June 14 and commission him at a celebration on Sunday June 15. We congratulate the Diocese at being able to elect their new bishop.
Back in South Africa, please continue to pray for the Diocese of Mthatha and the candidates who offered themselves for election as suffragan bishop in the recent election. Sadly the Diocese was unable to elect and after seven ballots they have used their right to refer the matter to the Synod of Bishops.
Still in South Africa and on an ecumenical note, I ask every parishioner to soak theMarikana area in North-West Province in prayer. A human disaster is unfolding there as a consequence of the crippling strike, and the hardship will continue even after the strike is settled. Together with ecumenical and academic leaders in Gauteng, I have joined an appeal for food donations for the Marikana community. If you are outside Gauteng, you can make donations to the Provincial Disaster Relief Fund. Details of how to donate appear below.
Finally, do join me, the Province and the Diocese of Niassa in praying – as we will pray at the consecration of Bishop Suffragan-Elect Manuel Ernesto – that “by the indwelling of [God’s] spirit he may grow in holiness and serve [God’s] people in wisdom, truth and love.”
God bless you,
+Thabo Cape Town

Marikana appeal:
Food parcels can be donated at:
1. Gift of the Givers (call toll-free 0800 786911 for details)
2. SkyNet courier branches anywhere in South Africa
3. All campuses of the Universities of Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand
4. Khotso House, 62 Marshall Street, Johannesburg
5. St George’s Cathedral and Anglican Church Warehouse, 12 Plantation Road, Wetton, Cape Town
6. Alternative Information and Development Centre, 129 Rochester Road, Observatory, Cape Town
7. St Alban’s Cathedral, Frances Baard Road, Pretoria
Further drop-off points will be announced on the Gift of the Givers website:
Monetary donations can be deposited in this account, using "Marikana" as the deposit reference number:
ACSA Disaster Relief Fund
Standard Bank of SA Ltd
Thibault Square
Branch code: 02 0909 00
Account number: 07 007 8394

Friday 16 May 2014

A Prayer for Platinum Miners

A Prayer for Platinum Miners

Lord, we have travelled this journey before,
We have seen and tasted death, anguish and despair,

Lord, we are still mourning and grieving,
We are still searching for the full truth about Marikana.

Lord, we cannot go there again,
We can't kill and maim to sustain inequality,
Nor can we allow the fight for equality to kill others.

Lord, there is something amiss in this economic system and we know it.
Help us to uphold the dignity of all involved in the current dispute,
Give us the courage to stand for all, especially for the miners,
Let us hold before us a vision of fairness and accountability as we pursue what makes for peace.

May owners, investors and shareholders feel the pain and longing for peace,
May workers and mine-owners find one another,
May further hurt, pain and killings be averted, and
May politics serve the people for the sake of peace.


Tuesday 13 May 2014

Anglicans Unite in Outrage, Prayer for Schoolgirls Kidnapped in Nigeria

London (ACNS) - Primates from countries including Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa have joined the worldwide outcry the abduction of more than two hundred young girls from Chibok, Nigeria.

Over the past week Church leaders on five continents have added their voices to the multitude of others calling for the safe return of the girls.

Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Thabo Makgoba condemned abductions of Nigerian Schoolgirls as an 'outrage'. He called for "all of Africa, and especially South Africa" to rise up and demand the release of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls who were abducted from their school three weeks ago.

Primate of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Francisco da Silva issued a lengthy statement condemning the “terrible act”.

“It was with a heavy heart that the Brazilian people, along with the rest of the world, learned of the kidnapping of over 200 young girls in Nigeria, at the hands of extremist group Boko Haram,” he wrote. “Many of us, especially in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, have remembered the girls, their families, and the Nigerian people with prayers, tears, and compassion during this time.

“Nigeria, like so many countries, has of course had its trying and difficult times as a multi-religious society – but it is in times of difficulty like these that we set aside our differences, and stand together—in solidarity, in demanding peace, and most importantly, demanding the safe return of these young women. Not simply a return to their families – but their return to the lives they knew, their ability to go to school and be educated, to have a better future, and to be beautiful, active members of a future Nigerian society.”

Canadian primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz called the Anglican Church of Canada to pray for the situation in Nigeria, “The group behind the schoolgirl kidnappings, Boko Haram, and its declared intention ‘to sell them in the market’ is appalling. It is an abomination against internationally held human rights, and an absolute affront to the efforts of many nations to honour the Millennium Development Goals to empower women and young girls through a good education.

“I am asking Anglicans to offer prayers of special intent in the coming weeks with people of all faiths who are appalled by these crimes,” he added.

The Anglican and Roman Catholic Archbishops of New Zealand called on people to pray for the release and protection of the 200 schoolgirls. Anglican Archbishops Philip Richardson and Brown Turei, and Roman Catholic Archbishop John Dew said this Sunday is an opportunity for churches across the country to pray for, and so stand with governments and churches across the globe, wanting a safe return of the young women.

Primate of the Episcopal Church the Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a statement that the Church was “horrified” and what was taking place. “The unfortunate truth is that girls and women are still deemed dispensable in much of the world, or at least of lesser value than members of the other sex,” said the Presiding Bishop. “The necessary response is education – of girls and boys, in equal numbers and to an equal degree, that all might take their rightful place in societies that serve all their citizens with equal respect and dignity.

Calling what happened “an atrocious and inexcusable act” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said, “My prayers and thoughts go out to the young people and their families at this upsetting time. I appeal to those who have taken these schoolgirls to release them immediately and unharmed.

"This is in a part of Nigeria I have visited and in a country whose people are close to my heart. Let your hearts be open in compassion and mercy to those who have suffered so much.” - Anglican Communion News Service

Thursday 8 May 2014

King Letsie III Renews Family Ties With Bishopscourt

King Letsie III of Lesotho renewed family ties with Bishopscourt going back more than 150 years when he paid a courtesy call on Archbishop Thabo and Mrs Lungi Makgoba in Cape Town on May 2.

He had visited Bishopscourt previously, but said he learned for the first time on this visit that two of his ancestors - the younger sons of King Moshoeshoe I, Tlali and Tsekelo - had studied there. He had known they had been educated in Cape Town, he said, but not that they had been at Bishopscourt.

Tlali and Tsekelo were among the sons and daughters of southern African leaders, among them Maqoma and Sandile of amaRharhabe, who were taken to Cape Town in the late 1850s as part of a project of the British colonial authorities.

They received an education at Bishopscourt in an institution which was first established at the residence of the first Bishop of Cape Town, Robert Gray, and which later became Zonnebloem College in District Six.

According to a history of Zonnebloem College by Janet Hodgson, Gray described the aim of the Cape colonial governor, George Grey, in starting the school as being "That England might exercise, through means of an institution which conferred great benefits upon them, her due influence over the native chiefs around us, and at the same time give a high education to those who are likely to influence the destinies of the various tribes within our reach."

For his part, Robert Gray hoped that the students might become "witnesses for Christ to their fellow-countrymen, and, if we qualify them for the work, as schoolmasters, catechists, and we trust also, even as ordained ministers".

Bishop Gray also said the aim of the initiative had been to bring the students into "contact with the highest intelligence and the most striking proof of England's power, and of the advantages of civilization to be got in this country".

PHOTOS by Shaun Cozett: Top, Archbishop Thabo and King Letsie III; Middle, the Archbishop and the King with Mrs Lungi Makgoba; and the King's delegation with Archbishop and Mrs Makgoba and Bishopscourt chief of staff, the Rev Margaret Heyns.

Sunday 4 May 2014

Sermon Preached at the Church of St John, Bellville South

The text of a sermon preached at the Church of St John, Bellville South, on the occasion of its Sesquicentennial Anniversary and Festival Service. During the sermon, the Archbishop repeated his call on South Africans to vote on May 7, and expressed concern at the abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria:

Isaiah 6:1-8; Ps 97; 1 Jn 1; Jn 21:20-24

I greet you all in the name of God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen. It is also still appropriate, this being Eastertide, to say “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed! Alleluia!!”

It is an honour and a privilege to have been asked to share with you the Word of God for this historic milestone in the life and witness and ministry of the parish of St John. Thank you to Father Fred, Dorothea and the parish leadership for inviting me. Thanks to Bishop Hess and Myfawny also for welcoming us, Lungi and my staff present this morning in your diocese.

If I want to dodge taking responsibility for my failings, I can say blame them – warts and all – on Fred and Dorothea, who helped to guide my formation and foundation, theologically and spiritually. Father Fred, for those who don’t know, taught me New Testament and Spirituality at St Paul’s College as a raw first year student, still full of Science theories from University.

Once again, thank you Father Fred for who you are and what you bring into this parish, diocese and our church. Your close, deep connection with God and with others, as well as with nature, maintained by rhythmic and regular retreats, silences, reading and teaching of the mystics and theology, ignited in me, those 27 years ago, an insatiable quest; a holy longing for seeking always to expose my inner life to God’s Holy Spirit. Strengthened in this way, I am able to confront the external world; to be a witness of God in his world and then to return to the inner world, not to run away but to expose it further to God’s love and lavishing – or as I said on one occasion, to be “disinfected by God”.

Today, I join with you in thanking not only Father Fred but in thanking God for all those faithful clergy and people who have served within your church and your community through these 150 years. Indeed, I congratulate the parish for 150 years of unceasing prayer, witness and service. It has not always been easy but it has been a time of continual and often radical change. For example the statement made by the vestry of the Church of the Transfiguration, where you were birthed, at their meeting in Easter 1957, bears testimony to this where it reads, and I quote: “That the vestry meeting fearlessly bears witness that we do not accept racial discrimination in the churches of our parish…”

However, as the theme for your sesquicentennial patronal festival attests, God has been faithful and has seen you through the ups and downs of life and will continue to strengthen and encourage you in all the changes and challenges that lie ahead. Today’s celebration is thus also a recommitment of ourselves to God’s mission and to extend God’s love to all of creation.

At the beginning of this homily I read “The Lord gave the Word,” and you responded “and great was the company of preachers.”

Sandra further read: “Grant Lord, that those who preach in this place may proclaim the crucified and risen Christ and interpret your word with sensitivity and insight.”

And we responded: “Enable us to hear that word inwardly and to respond to it generously in all our lives, this we ask in name of Jesus Christ, your living word. AMEN.”

How do we do that? And how do we, like the vestry of the Parish of the Transfiguration in 1957, not only say these words with our lips but also enact them through the service of our lives as “we fearlessly bear witness that we do not accept discrimination” in all its forms?

Staying with your theme for the celebrations: How do we – like those who have come before us – bear witness in our time? How do we bear witness to God’s steadfast love and goodness and our life together as God’s people in the here and now? Is this possible or is it desirable? If so, why so?

In the Old Testament lesson set for this morning, (Is 6:1-8), the prophet Isaiah in his dream or vision unveils and sets a useful pattern to follow. Isaiah remembers the burden of personal frailty and sinfulness, and yet being called to declare otherness, the apartness and holiness of God to rulers who had strayed from God’s ways. As aptly also captured in 1 John 1 v 8 -9, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

Isaiah says: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!” One of the seraphs touches his mouth with a hot coal, cleans his mouth or absolves him, and later we are told he is sent on behalf of the heavenly hosts. Isaiah bears testimony because amongst other things he had this vision of God cleansing him and sending him. He was also in a context where he could observe and as an eyewitness see the atrocities God’s people were suffering.

Anointed, transformed by the experience and encounter, he then goes out into a hostile world. He testifies or bears witness, boldly and fearlessly, to God’s message of restoration and deliverance of his people from oppression. He risks being ridiculed as someone of whom people could say: “Is it not the man with unclean lips?” He does not let this inner feeling of unworthiness or past sinfulness deter him. This vision leads to inner transformation and outward courage in confronting his own ills and those of his society.

Again in today’s gospel passage, especially in John 21:24, we hear the gospel say this about your patron saint: “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them and we know that his testimony (that is, his witness) is true”. This dearest disciple, who was loved by Jesus, was not educated in writing on complex Torah matters. He may have not written these things, but what is key for me is that he saw and heard and tasted the presence of Jesus in his life. He now shares this eyewitness account with the Hellenistic Jews in Asia.

Don’t let anyone discount your testimony of what the Word of Life – that is God in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit – is up to in your dreams and visions, in your life and your community. Equally do not be embarrassed or be afraid to declare his good news, his love, wherever you are sent to be. Archbishop Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, said at the last Lambeth Conference, make every opportunity an opportunity wherein the good news is revealed. Dare I add, including to yourself.

The second lesson, 1 John 1, again highlights the theme of testimony or witness. In verse 3, “…we declare to you what we have seen and heard...” and verse 2, “...and [we] testify to it”.

What have you seen and heard and are testifying to as we celebrate your sesquicentennial service? John Suggit, in a beautiful book he named “The Wonder of Words”, phrases this question differently. He asks: “What is this text saying to you today; and what is our response to the Word of God today?”

On Friday, I invited two young families to join me in welcoming the King of Lesotho on a courtesy visit to Bishopscourt. One of the families had three young children and after the king left, their eldest - a nine-year-old - started engaging Lungi and an ordinand in a series of questions - not about the king but about the archbishop. “What does an archbishop do?" was his key question. They tried to answer and after a while he said, “I get it, he is a fire fighter." Then they explained further, and after a pause he said, "Oh!! I get it now, he is a super fighter.” The conversation continued, to be followed by another pause, then he said: "He is actually like superman."

At that stage a gap appeared, and Lungi and the ordinand said, "There's the archbishop. Ask him what he does." He came to me and said, "Archbishop, what does an archbishop do? What is your work? I said, "I pray." "Pray?" he asked, as he looked at me in exasperation and squinted his eyes. I said, "Yes, I pray when there are fires, and for people, for schools, for kids, for an end to drought, for rain, for more food when there is a lack of food, for those in prison and those who are hurt by those in prison. I pray for university lecturers and for students, for mine bosses and for striking workers, for presidents, kings and rulers, and for them to be honest and transparent, and for the powerful and the powerless.” He looked at me and then he was whisked to my chapel to be shown where I pray. As he and his parents left, he rolled down the car window and said, “I will be praying for the archbishop so that he may continue praying for all of us." This youngster responded by acknowledging the need and importance of prayer for the archbishop. What is your response to God’s love for you, to his Word and his cry through others or creation?

Simon Peter in today’s gospel responds by asking, possibly with self-doubt as to his role and importance and closeness to Jesus, or with envy or understated jealousy: “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus seizes this opportunity to point Simon beyond himself to eternal ideals, to life beyond the here-and-now and Simon’s “sent-ness”. Are you still following or do you now have your personal agenda? Follow me.

In the past while I have been reflecting deeply on what it means to follow Jesus and to be a witness to God’s love in the world. One way is to acknowledge and confess in the hope of being restored like Isaiah or Simon Peter. Assured of the steadfast love and transformation we are promised, I have in recent weeks joined others in what we have called a “walk of witness” – in which like John we testify to what we have seen with our own eyes and what we have been told. We encounter the pain, the stench, the hopelessness and fear, of God’s people. We come face to face with forces of darkness and encounter the helplessness of those who are made to suffer for being different. We live with that tension and acknowledge our part in people’s pain and our silence in not declaring the God who is light and in whom there is no darkness.

Let me return to where I started. How do we witness to the love of God in our context, especially at St John’s today? To witness is to attest, to vouch, to guarantee, to show, to profess, to reveal and to testify; it is to respond to the Word of God in your life and context.

The parish leadership wants you to recommit to God’s mission and extend God’s love to all of Creation. The Anglican Church of Southern Africa, as we say in our mission statement, wants you to be Anchored in the love of Christ, Committed to God’s mission and to be Transformed by the Holy Spirit. I want to share a few examples of where these may find tangible expression.

1. In three days’ time, we will be exercising our hard-earned privilege of voting. As archbishop and as the chair of the Electoral Code of Conduct Observer Commission, I have been telling people: Go and vote on May the 7th. Too many people have suffered and died for us to stay away out of apathy. There will be 29 parties from which to choose on the national ballot. Examine the policies of the parties and the behaviour of their leaders and vote your conscience; make a choice of the one that best represents your values.

2. I want to re echo the 1957 vestry statement: Do not fear. Act in ways that acknowledge your own shortcomings and ask God to forgive, but don’t end there. Like Isaiah, speak out against all that demeans, corrupts, is not transparent and lacks accountability.

3. Call for and join walks of witness as we demand action for the sake of peace.

4. Give voice to your outrage at the killings in northern Nigeria, and at the recent abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls there. It is deeply shocking that 276 girls between 12 and 17 are reported still to be missing, three weeks after being abducted. We are one continent and these girls are our children. Why has the world not erupted in outrage at this crime? Where are our Ubuntu values when girls are kidnapped at such a tender age? All of Africa, and especially South Africa which has benefitted from the hospitality and generosity of other nations, must rise up and demand their release.

May you be touched by God this day as we receive the body and blood of our Lord Jesus. May his Word be a light for our earthly pilgrimage until that day when we shall see him face to face. May this parish and diocese and each one of you be strengthened for service as you recommit to be his witnesses in the Lord. May God engrave a legacy of love and service through you in this parish, his world, and forever more.

A blessed 150th anniversary celebration to you all.

Friday 2 May 2014

Political Intolerance Ahead of Elections Condemned by Religious, Civil Society Leaders

Election observers from religious and civil society groups have deplored the levels of political intolerance in the Western Cape.

"Political parties are complaining to us that some party leaders are unable to control their followers," said Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town in a statement released today.

The statement was released after meetings during the past week between the Electoral Code of Conduct Observer Commission (ECCOC) and political leaders in the region.

Archbishop Makgoba, who chairs the Commission, said: "Speakers are being shouted down, violence is being threatened and meetings are being disrupted.

"A leader who cannot control his or her followers is not worthy of the name. The commission deplores the levels to which political intolerance have risen.

"We all have to live together after this election. We urge leaders, party members and the whole community to show respect and tolerance for other views, and to remember that we are all working towards the common good."

ECCOC has had a number of meetings with party representatives since it decided last week to approach political leaders on how to lower what it said were unprecented tensions during the election campaign. The commission or its representatives have met the African Christian Democratic Party, the African National Congress, Agang South Africa and the Democratic Alliance.

ECCOC comprises civil society leaders drawn from the legal, academic, business, media and health sectors. Many Commissioners represent multi-religious communities. Its task is to assist political parties to uphold the commitment to the Electoral Code of Conduct and also to contest the elections in accordance with the spirit of the code.