Friday 27 February 2015

ACSA’s e-Reader project Goes Live

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s e-reader project goes live today. The project was launched last year to promote electronic learning and academic dialogues throughout the Province. It is the project’s intention eventually to give theological students across Africa easier access to online lectures and electronic libraries.

With physical libraries being rare, remote and increasingly unaffordable in the African continent, the e-reader project will enable us in future to provide access to online theological journals and books to clergy, ordinands and laity.

The users of the e-reader programme will be able to do the following once the project is rolled out fully:
  • Read key texts integral to their theological education and formation,
  • Research their sermons and other forms of public address,
  • Deepen their awareness of the Christian tradition and contemporary challenges,
  • Access new information,
  • Support the vision, mission and priorities of the ACSA and the Centre for Reflection and Development (CRD), and 
  • Raise literacy levels and develop skills for reading critically and creatively.
The project is being implemented in collaboration with the College of Transfiguration in Grahamstown and will serve as a major electronic resource for students and clergy involved in academic reading and research. 

The e-reader project is housed at the Centre for Reflection and Development in Bishopscourt; ordinands, clergy and laity will be allowed to download readings by appointment only.

For those interest in exploring the e-reader project, kindly submit your email addresses to Maropeng Moholoa on e-reader {at} or call 021 763 1300 / +27 21 763 1300.

We thank the Compass Rose Society, the Anglican Communion Office, Trinity Church Wall Street, the Motsepe Foundation and The Archbishop Thabo Makgoba Development Trust for the support they have given us thus far for this project.

Thursday 26 February 2015

Listen to a Reflection for Lent II - Bishop Raphael Hess

In the second of our Lenten series, Bishop Raphael Hess reflects on the Second Sunday in Lent, an Ember Day on which we remember vocations to the ordained ministry. (Reading: Mark 8: 31-38)

Next week: Canon Janet Trisk

Archbishop appeals for prayers for peaceful Lesotho election

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has appealed for prayers for a peaceful election in Lesotho on Saturday.

The Archbishop will join the Bishop of Lesotho, the Right Revd Adam Taaso, and other church representatives in Lesotho as an election observer.

The delegation will include Bishop Molopi Diseko of Matlosane, Bishop Dintoe Letloenyane of the Free State and four lay members of the church. 

The Diocese of Lesotho is part of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

Friday 20 February 2015

Listen to Online Reflections for Lent - Lent I - Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Four widely-known Anglican figures are to join Archbishop Thabo in offering reflections on each Sunday in Lent. The Archbishop begins the series this week, and in the coming weeks there will be contributions from:

Bishop Raphael Hess of the Diocese of Saldanha Bay,
Dr Vicentia Kgabe of the College of the Transfiguration,
Bishop Rubin Phillip, Dean of the Province, and
Canon Janet Trisk of the Diocese of Natal.

Listen online below, or download the podcast for later use on mobile phones or computers. Please also tweet links and post them to your Facebook pages and other social media.

Next week: Bishop Raphael

To the Laos – To the People of God, Lent 2015

Dear People of God

Your bishops started 2015 with a busy meeting, just before Lent, of the Synod of Bishops, the highlights of which you can read about in the statement we issued afterwards. One agenda item of particular note was the workshop we had on the comprehensive revision of the Anglican Prayer Book, the working title of which excited us: Under Southern Skies: In an African Voice. Bishops Mark van Koevering and Carlos Matsinhe gave us moving accounts of the floods in Mozambique, where many have been displaced, and we are appealing to you all for help for them. We wrote to King Letsie III of Lesotho, expressing our concern at tensions in the country and the hope that the elections at the end of the month will be peaceful, free and fair. We also said farewell to the Bishop of Namibia, who is retiring, and confirmed elective assemblies to choose new bishops for the dioceses of the Highveld, Namibia, Natal and Pretoria.

From Durban, I travelled to Sweden, where I took part in the Uppsala Festival of Theology. The main reason I was there was to join an international interfaith panel to discuss “Human Dignity In Relation To Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity”. On the panel, Jewish, Muslim and Christian scholars and practitioners shared rich insights on a deeply challenging issue facing people of faith. The debate resonated with me especially because the Synod of Bishops had just agreed to ask all Dioceses to consider in the months ahead a set of draft pastoral guidelines regarding Civil Unions in our Province. Both in our own church, and again in Uppsala, I have said that this is a sensitive issue which calls for patience and tolerance as we seek to discern together God’s will for the way ahead. Our Province has shown the Anglican Communion in the past that we can hold together as we work through potentially divisive issues, and I pray that we can set an example to the world again on this matter.

Also in Uppsala, I held a bilateral meeting with Archbishop Antje JackelĂ©n, elected in 2013 as Sweden’s first female archbishop, and her team on the issue for which she is best known: climate justice. This too resonated, since in the coming days a number of Anglican bishops from dioceses impacted by climate change will meet in Cape Town. These “eco-bishops” from around the Communion face challenges ranging from the rise in sea levels on Fiji in the Pacific to deforestation in Argentina, droughts in Namibia, tsunamis in the Philippines and storms in New York.

After concluding the Uppsala festival by taking part in a transformative Mass, I returned to OR Tambo and dived straight into the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Diocese of Christ the King. This kicked off with visits to St Martin’s School and to Orange Farm — where we saw an Early Childhood Development Forum, Lesedi la Kreste School and Masibambane College. The state of Orange Farm says that much has been done in South Africa to bridge inequalities, but much more still has to be done. However, I was very proud of the growth in the Diocese and of its work in education and development, and was particularly touched by a diocesan worker who is looking after immuno-compromised children. We also celebrated a combined Eucharist in the Parish of Evaton on the Sunday, and – in the liturgical highlight of the opening of a year of celebration – a glorious Anniversary Eucharist at the Church of the Transfiguration in Eldorado Park. Congratulations to Bishop Peter Lee and the whole Diocese!

I have recently been re-reading a book which helped shape my spiritual journey as an ordinand: Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. In the book, the protagonist, Christian, hears a conversation between two fellow pilgrims, named Faithfulness and Talkative. Afterwards, Christian remonstrates with Faithfulness about Talkative’s views, impatient of those who talk eloquently about Christian ideals and virtues but do not practise them. Christian reminds Faithfulness that the heart of true religion is living it out in practice, and cites James 1: 22-27 in support:

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

I found the insights provided by Bunyan profound when applied to our situation in South Africa today, faced as we are by corruption, the undermining of good governance, and political and racial controversies and divisions. I have been writing and reflecting recently in the public media on the values of God’s Kingdom, and the need for incorruptible leaders who assume their moral duty to fight to overcome inequality to help bring about social cohesion.

The picture is not totally bleak. Not all our leaders are corrupt; many of them, and most of our people, are doing their best in difficult circumstances. But we need to be courageous and, as Christian urges, ensure that we are faithful in acts more than in words. So as we begin the year and go into Lent, I urge all to be “doers of the word, and not merely hearers...” Let us re-commit ourselves to pleading, to marching in the streets if necessary, for the cause of justice, to demanding that all are treated equally, regardless of race, gender or class. This is what I have called “the new struggle” – to rekindle the message that we are called not to live in fear but, as those who share in Christ’s life, death and resurrection, to breathe this hope and belief into every aspect of our lives.

Finally, as we go into Lent, we are taking the next step in the fledgling audio ministry we have started at Bishopscourt. Beginning this weekend, four articulate interpreters of our faith will join me in giving a series of short reflections – between four and six minutes – for each Sunday in Lent. I will begin on the first Sunday, and on the other Sundays we will hear from Dr Vicentia Kgabe of the College of the Transfiguration, Bishop Raphael Hess of the Diocese of Saldanha Bay, Bishop Rubin Phillip, Dean of the Province, and Canon Janet Trisk of the Diocese of Natal. So come either to our SoundCloud channel or to my blog to listen online, or download each reflection for listening to later.

May your Lenten observances be blessed!

God bless you,
+Thabo Cape Town

Photo: The Archbishop reading the Gospel in Uppsala

Thursday 19 February 2015

Thursday 12 February 2015

Pastoral Letter from the Synod of Bishops

To the People of God,

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (Luke 2:22)

As your bishops we met at the Glenmore Pastoral Centre in Durban from 2nd to 5th February 2015. As always, our time together was characterised by a rhythm of worship and prayer, word and sacrament, formal meetings and informal fellowship, wrestling with issues, and receiving ongoing training for leadership and ministry.

In our opening Eucharist we commemorated the presentation of Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:22-40), when Simeon recognized and blessed him as the promised Messiah and the prophetess Anna praised God for this child who would bring about the redemption of God’s people.

We are deeply aware of our high calling from God as well as our human frailty. We shared the joys and pains of seeking to live, with our families and in our communities, as disciples of Christ in these challenging times. Our time together was enriched by reflections on Paul’s theology of the body, led by Canon Janet Trisk. This teaching has deep implications for the way we see and relate to one another and how we understand the church. Mr John Brand introduced us to a process of conflict resolution through mediation and began to train us for this ministry.

We recognise that our society, and often the church as well, needs to learn more creative, life-giving ways to resolve conflicts – rather than the destructive, violent and litigious approaches we often experience. We call on all the people of our nations to turn away from violence, abuse and destruction, and to seek constructive ways to address our differences and challenges. We also reject the rampant evil in many parts of the world that kidnaps, massacres and persecutes defenceless people in the name of religion.

Dr Isaias Chachine presented a paper on ethical considerations around death and dying. We  reflected in particular on the excessive amount of money spent on funerals, and the exclusion of some people from funeral services in church are a great concern. We learned of, and condemned, the practices of a funeral parlour that allegedly kidnaps bodies and releases them for burial at prices which are exorbitant for poor families.

We also heard accounts of the suffering as a result of the floods in Mozambique, and each of us committed money from our Dioceses towards relief work there. We invite our people, parishes and organisations to work with Hope Africa or the ACSA Disaster Relief Fund.* We were saddened to hear of renewed conflict and shootings in Lesotho and have written a letter of support and concern to King Letsie III.

Turning to internal church matters, members of the Liturgical Committee led us in a creative and energising workshop to take forward the process of revising the Anglican Prayer Book. We were excited by the working title, Under Southern Skies: In an African Voice. We commended a planned consultation with Diocesan representatives in June this year and the ongoing process in regions. We look forward to the publication of an experimental resource for Sunday worship in the near future.

We also agreed on a way forward for the pastoral guidelines regarding Civil Unions in ACSA, which we now have in draft form. All Dioceses are asked to consider these issues of mission and ministry during 2015 and the first part of 2016. The aim is to present a resolution on them to Provincial Synod in 2016.

We welcomed the arrival of Dr Vicentia Kgabe as Rector of the College of the Transfiguration. We affirmed Theological Education Sunday on 23rd August this year, and encourage all our people to give generously to “the Great Collection” for theological education. As bishops we noted with joy the progress being made by the Anglican Board of Education and the appointment of Mr Roger Cameron as Chief Executive Officer.

We also heard about progress in the training of “Pioneer Ministers” for Mission Shaped Ministry and the development of Fresh Expressions of Church. We will continue to monitor our progress and reflect on our experiences.

We bade farewell to the Bishop of Namibia and confirmed elective assemblies to elect new bishops for the dioceses of the Highveld, Namibia, Natal and Pretoria. We sent our congratulations to Bishop Libby Lane of the Church of England on her consecration as a bishop in the church of God.

Finally, we noted and give thanks for the 25th anniversary of Madiba's release from prison.

We pledged to be God's instruments, as God equips and empowers the Church to be a source of life and healing for the people and nations of Southern Africa.

* Please contact the Treasurer’s office for details of how to donate: terry [ at ]

Synod of Bishops
February 2015

Thursday 5 February 2015

Archbishop calls for commemorations of anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town has called on people of faith to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela by committing to “a new struggle... for social cohesion and the end of inequality.”

He called for events to be arranged at 4.14 pm next Wednesday, February 11, at High Courts or prisons around the country.

In a statement issued from a meeting of the Synod of Bishops in Durban, Archbishop Makgoba said:

“In my capacity as chair of the National Church Leaders' Consultation and after discussion with the General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, I am calling on church leaders and their faithful to honour and mark the 25th anniversary of the release of Madiba, our icon and the father of our democracy, at 4.14 pm on February 11.

“I request interfaith groups around the country to spend 67 minutes converging on either their local High Court or a major prison, conducting a short march and holding prayers.

“I appeal to people of faith to celebrate Madiba's release by committing themselves to a new struggle, a struggle for social cohesion and the end of inequality.

“Whether it's a few of you, or hundreds of you, be as creative as you like in what you do – just mark the day and the moment, and commit to the new struggle.”