Wednesday 30 September 2015

Cape Town religious community joins march against corruption

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba was one of those who addressed the crowd at the end of the march, outside Parliament and the Presidency in Cape Town

Hundreds carried posters protesting against corruption.

The marchers gathered outside Parliament and against the backdrop of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral and Table Mountain.

Corruption entrenches inequality in South Africa, says Archbishop

Remarks by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba to the Anti-Corruption March in Cape Town:

My heart leaps with joy to see so many here who not only share our anger, but mostly our sadness.  Sadness that we have to express our universal frustration for the absence of moral leadership in South Africa by harnessing our collective voices to say, "enough is enough!".

I ask that we now observe a moment of silence, as we recall to mind our various journeys as South Africans, that have lead us here, as individuals, as a community of communities, and as a country.

It's time to stop marching against corruption. 

Yes, you heard me right. 

It's time to stop marching, having discourses and debates, writing and repeatedly speaking about being anti-corruption. Why?

Monday 14 September 2015

Message from the Bishops to the People of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

We, the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, meeting on 13th and 14th September at the Kopanong Conference Centre in Benoni in the Diocese of the Highveld, wish to greet and report to our people across the Province.

At the Consecration of Mthetheleli Charles May as Bishop of the Highveld on 12th September, Bishop Peter Lee of the Diocese of Christ the King took as the springboard for his sermon the words of Jesus in his great prayer : ‘Father, they are your gift to me’ (John 17:26).

It is as the people of God are placed into our hands as gifts, for Bishops to pray for them, care for them and endeavour to lead them, that we find our vocation.

In these few days we have tried to do this in several ways.

On 11th September at the invitation of the Archbishop and of Lonmin, many of the Bishops undertook a pastoral visit to Marikana, where we toured the site of the killings of August 2012 and prayed together for the victims, their families, and the continuing community around the mine. We met some of those involved in working towards hope for the future and saw some of the projects which the company is undertaking to improve living and working conditions. We are invited to engage further and more deeply with that community as time allows.

On 12th September we exercised our liturgical and sacramental functions in the glorious service of Consecration and Enthronement of Bishop May in a vast tent at St Dunstan’s College in Benoni.

Our Synod meeting was brief as we prepare to enter into a two-day planning meeting for the Church, and then to carry the outcomes of those discussions to the Standing Committee on 17th and 18th. These too are part of our calling, to assist in developing vision for the Church and doing the responsible housekeeping which gives effect to such vision.

In our brief meeting the Bishops heard encouraging news –
  • about the process of developing a new prayer book and related resources for transformational worship
  • about education across the Province
  • about theological education for future clergy
  • about Anglicans Ablaze and the launch of a new way of approaching the stewardship of our resources, which is about to be reflected in new study
  • materials for the Church.
  • about the possibility of launching a community-level ministry of mediation across the Province
  • about the next Anglicans Ablaze conference to be held in Cape Town 5-8 October 2016.
We went through all the portfolios carried by each Bishop, adjusted these in light of impending retirements and changes, and sorted out a rack of key dates for 2016.

We continued to wrestle with some of the challenging issues before us, including the best way to introduce pastoral guidelines for parishioners living in civil unions, and challenges to unity in some of the Dioceses.

At the conclusion we bade farewell to Bishop Mark van Koevering as he undertakes a new ministry in West Virginia, to Bishop Jo Seoka and to Bishop Rubin Philip, also Dean of the Province, as they will be retiring before we meet next. We give thanks to God for them and their ministries. 

Saturday 12 September 2015

Consecration and enthronement of the new Bishop of the Highveld

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town leads the Right Revd Mthetheleli Charles May from the service at which Bishop May was consecrated and enthroned as the Bishop of the Highveld. 
Bishop May blesses Archbishop Makgoba after the service, held in a huge marquee in the grounds of St. Dunstan's School in the Diocese on Saturday September 12, 2015.

Bishops pray at site of Marikana mine killings

Eleven bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa visited Marikana Mine in the North-West Province of South Africa on September 11, 2015. At the scene of the killing by police of striking miners in 2012, they were briefed by officials of Lonmin, the company which owns the mine.

After the briefing, the bishops gathered at the foot of Wonderkop, the hill on which miners were killed in the first fusillade of police bullets. A number of bishops prayed for the miners, their families and the police, and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba ended the prayers with a blessing.
[Communicators: downloadable photos available here: ]

Thursday 10 September 2015

Prayer for Refugees and Migrants - by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

On the feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary 2015

O God, give us tender hearts and restless minds,
to pray and act with open hearts and discerning minds.

O Christ, move us to ask profound questions,
about the plight of your people.

You know each one of them by name,
they are all yours.

Our hearts are torn Lord, because
some are running from fighting and violence,
some are running from hunger,
some are running from political persecution.
Why do you seem far off from them?

Holy Spirit of God,
help us to pray and act for refugees and migrants everywhere.
You know each of their situations,
whether forced to flee their homelands,
or displaced within the countries of their birth,

You care equally for every one of them,
whether from Syria or South Sudan,
Afghanistan or Zimbabwe,
Eritrea or Nigeria,
Burundi or the Central African Republic

You call upon us to extend Your embrace to all people,
Guide us, Lord, in opening ourselves to their plight in practical ways,
without fear or prejudice.

For your tender mercy's sake.

Sunday 6 September 2015

Homily at a Prayer Service for Bishop Emeritus Charles Albertyn and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Preached at the Church of the Resurrection, Bonteheuwel, Cape Town:

"Oaks of Righteousness"

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Good News of Deliverance
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
   because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
   to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
   and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
   and the day of vengeance of our God;
   to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
   to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
   the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

Thank you all for coming both to celebrate the presence in our lives of both Bishop Emeritus Charles and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond and to pray for their healing, and the healing of all who are ill.

Both Bishop Charles and Archbishop Desmond are, in the words of Isaiah, indeed "oaks of righteousness" who have brought and -- by the way they live their lives -- continue to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and to comfort those who mourn.

Before turning to our readings, let's reminisce and recall those characteristics they have in common which endear them so much to us.

When one speaks to people around the dioceses of the Western and Northern Cape -- the old, enormous Diocese of Cape Town for which they shared responsibility with their other episcopal colleagues -- perhaps the most striking gift they were known for was their deep spirituality and centredness on God and how they could laugh at themselves and minister to others through laughter.

They are no different in retirement. Visiting Bishop Charles in his ward, there was an RSV Bible prominently at his side, even though he was not able to refer to it at the time I was there. It was the same as soon as I stepped into Archbishop Desmond's hospital room – the Bible was at his side. And the day before he came out, he shared with me the prayer intentions of the Order of St Julian of Norwich -- an order in which he is an Oblate -- which was alongside him on his bed. His life testifies to the power of prayer in helping us to discern what what God is calling us to do and to strengthen our resolve that God's will be done. Prayer and worship remain at the centre of his life, whether he's in hospital or at home, on a plane or a train – he has an unchanging spiritual routine and discipline.

Of course, being Archbishop Desmond, he also had an IPad and IPhone in bed with him -- instruments of modern technology which he uses to continue to reach out into the world to support others:  to encourage them, to joke with them, to make them feel good about themselves, to console them, to inspire them, and to assure them of his prayers.

He and Bishop Charles also share an extraordinary capacity to use laughter to overcome difficult moments, to ease tensions and thus to give glory to God.

There are wonderful stories about Bishop Charles's deep wisdom and quick wit. For example, when he wanted to tell people that they might be right in what they thought, but that pursuing the course they were determined to pursue was perhaps not a good idea, he would tell the story of the man at a pedestrian crossing. If the man saw that he had right of way, but that a car was speeding towards him too fast to stop, and the man decided to obey the little green man and cross, Bishop Charles would say, yes, the man would be right: but he would be "dead right".

Think also of how he joked that when accosted by people at traffic lights in Modderdam Road, wanting to clean his windscreen with a rag and a bucket of dirty water, he would say: "I will pay you NOT to clean my windscreen." Or of how, marching just behind Archbishop Desmond on the streets of Cape Town, he said he preferred protest marches under apartheid, which were always stopped by the police after a few yards. After marches became legal, he complained, he had to walk the whole distance.

And remember how they both laughed during Archbishop's Desmond's 80th birthday celebrations, when Bishop Charles forgot that he was down to preach and came in late in his wheelchair.

Or course, Archbishop Desmond's use of humour and laughter to leaven his message during the most bleak moments of our struggle are legendary, from his Van der Merwe stories to his jokes against himself. And when I visited Archbishop Desmond recently, he laughed so much that he cried. He reminded me that When we buried Archbishop Philip Russell, his predecessor, and he invited me to read part of the liturgy on his IPad, and I declined, he said that "I know that it's because you don't know how to use an IPad." And I have to confess now that he was right!

So as we reflect on how their special qualities of leadership and service sustain and empower us, consider how the words of Isaiah, in stating his confidence that "the spirit of the Lord is upon me," suggest that healing is not only physical. Healing is also liberation from anxiety, it is easing heartache, it is helping us to face in the eye the reality that, in the end, death comes to all of us. That reality was recognised in an exchange with Bishop Charlie and Berenice on June 16 this year. After the diocesan soccer tournament, Father Jerome Francis and I went to visit them at home. As I was leaving, he said, "Archbishop, can you see that old black dial-up phone?" I said "Yes." He said, "It is not connected and that is why the good Lord can't call me back home. But I am ready for him." At which I retorted, "Don’t worry, St Michael has misplaced your file and you will be with us for a long time."

The spirit of the Lord brings us the assurance of God's ever-present comfort, whether we are retired or in active ministry, or both, whether we are ill or healthy. For those of us who are trying to emulate Bishop Charles and Archbishop Desmond in our ministry today, the spirit of the Lord encourages us not to be faint-spirited but to act courageously, to face the challenges of our own times, the most important of which in South Africa today is to usher in justice for all our people, especially those living in the squalid conditions of our vast informal settlements.

In Psalm 121, the psalmist affirms that help will come from the Lord, that we can confidently turn to God for the strength to do what we are called to do, because God watches every step and movement we make, even the pulse of our heart or the movement of our breathing. And the dramatic story that we heard from Mark, in which Jesus, as the Gospel puts it, "makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak", tells us that when it comes to healing, God is in charge.

Of course in these days of modern medicine, God has enabled us, with the gifts he has given us, to offer opportunities for healing we have never had before. And that brings us full circle, back to Isaiah, which urges all of us here, today, now, to bring good news to the oppressed. We need to ask: is it good news for the oppressed when our public health system in parts of South Africa is falling apart? Is it good news for the oppressed when, at the same time, those of us with money or a good private medical scheme can go to private hospitals. Is it good news for the oppressed when some of us can get what Archbishop Desmond describes as medical treatment which ranks with the best in the world, and others must suffer as a result of the failures of management in our hospitals?

Down the main road next to Tokai, down at the bottom end of town and on the main road in Claremont, new hospitals are being built or older ones undergoing massive renovation. Private hospitals are sprouting up everywhere, charging high fees which as a result make them inaccessible to most of our people. Even for clergy, the church is struggling to get to grips with the rising costs of medical care. The difference between the way he is being treated and the fate of most of our compatriots is a deep source of distress to Archbishop Desmond.

As people of faith, let us approach the world with the eyes of God, seeking the mind of Christ in the varied challenges we face. These are myriad, from global warming to the desperate conditions in which so many of our people live. But today, let us re-commit ourselves to working for a public health system which will bring good medical care to all. Following Jesus' example of simplicity, let us work for good primary health care in our clinics. Let us bring our existing public health facilities, the hospitals and the clinics, up to scratch so that they money we already spend on them is used more efficiently. And let's advocate for the national health scheme which our Minister of Health is working hard to introduce.

The spirit of the Lord is upon me. The spirit of the Lord is upon each one of you. Lord, heal our land and people, and begin with me.


Friday 4 September 2015

Archbishop Thabo asks Archbishop Emeritus Desmond about prayer and God

This week we are praying for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Bishop Emeritus Charles Albertyn of Cape Town, who are both ill.

Ahead of a special service for our two much-loved bishops in Bonteheuwel, Cape Town, on Sunday I asked Archbishop Desmond for a message for those who have been praying for and thinking of him and his family.

Please click on the link below to hear our chat.

If you are in Cape Town, please join us at the Church of the Resurrection in Bonteheuwel at 3 pm on Sunday September 6 to pray for them both. More details here >

Archbishop Thabo