Sunday 10 April 2016

'We shall overcome' - blogging from ACC-16

A pattern is forming at ACC-16, where I am finding my table in Holy Cross Cathedral – around which we meet in groups – a source of security. Here we open up and share with one another the missional challenges and opportunities in our different Provinces.

I share what you all know well by now at home, our Provincial Vision and Mission statement, which is that “Anglicans ACT”, meaning that the Anglican community in Southern Africa seeks to be:

The sun breaks through in Lusaka. 
Anchored in the love of Christ,
Committed to God's Mission, and
Transformed by the Holy Spirit.

Within that, I name three key areas which are close to my heart and in line with the Communion's five marks of mission.

The first is education, or the nurture and protection of the young, and I share my pride in the fact we have now officially opened the Vuleka Archbishop Thabo Makgoba School for Boys in Sophiatown, and we will open the Maboee Archbishop High School in Lesotho this month also.

The second area I share is socio-economic concerns, how we have started courageous conversations with mining communities in our region, and how we will use this partnership not only in raising economic justice issues and ethical investing, but will partner too in building schools and other community projects.

I also highlight, as you would expect, the new struggle in South Africa, which I explain briefly as as a prophetic call and pastoral longing for equality of opportunity in a democratic nation. This priority is in line with the mark of mission, “To transform unjust structures of society...” I echo what someone said: “Let's do God, thank God and talk God”.

Lastly, I share our concern for the environment and Matthew Davies from the Episcopal News Service plays for us a video clip which you can see at the end of this entry. The stories from other Provinces were edifying and moving, and I feel encouraged when I hear I am not alone in this journey but that our wider family, including ecumenical partners, experiences the same joys and challenges as we do.

Meeting tables in Holy Cross Cathedral.
Then we listened to the Old Catholics, the Global Christian Forum and CAPA to hear stories of what God is up to in and beyond the Anglican family, and were fed and stretched by these accounts. Later in the day, I had the opportunity as chair of the resolutions committee to introduce my team and explain the procedure to a plenary session.

As you hopefully know by now, in my quest as archbishop of seeking peace with justice, the key values I try to promote are equality of opportunity, acting with courage, and collaboration, stressing “we” as opposed to “me”. Theologically these have focussed on “abundant life” – what does the common good look like, or systemically what is the incarnation?

The stories and sharing from Bible studies here, as well as listening to the new account of Archbishop Justin's paternity reinforce my call, and the need to act with courage in our lives: courage not as the absence of fear but as a willingness to take risks because you are cooperating with God's plan of liberation. At one stage, I quietly sang to myself that song of liberation and courage: “We shall overcome; Deep in my heart, I do believe; That we shall overcome some day.”

We had a great evening last night, with an official welcome from our host, Archbishop Albert Chama, and Vice President Inonge Wina. There were about 800 hundred of us present, including clergy and their spouses from the Central African Province, bishops and ACC members. We had a relaxed time and some fine speeches.

This morning, the sun is trying its best to shine on us, and we have an opening Eucharist in the grounds of the Cathedral.

†Thabo Cape Town

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