Sunday 30 September 2018

Infuse land debate with Gospel values: sharing, reconciliation, healing and taking care of neighbour

Members of the Provincial Standing Committee of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have appealed for the full text of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba's op-ed piece in last week's Sunday Times, Johannesburg, to be made more widely available. The text, as sent to the newspaper, appears below. At the end of the page is a link to a scan of the piece as it was published.  

The Makgobas and our clan, baTlou of Makgoba’s Kloof, Limpopo, know all about the pain of having our land expropriated without compensation.

To the Laos - To the People of God - Appeal for the people of South Sudan

Dear People of God

The suffering and challenges of the church elsewhere in Africa turned my schedule upside down for a week last month. Returning from a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council in London, I had to urgently fly to Nairobi at the request of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA).

There I joined other church leaders at the headquarters of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) for an emergency meeting on the situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Both countries have been plagued by instability and strife in recent years, and both face huge challenges in the coming months. In the DR Congo, President Kabila has at last agreed to step down and hold elections in December, and now unity and reconciliation are an important priority of the church.

When I first became a bishop, I did my month-long “baby bishop” training course in Malawi with the person who now leads the church in South Sudan, Archbishop Justin Badi Arama. Ever since, I have prayed for him, his church and for the freedom of his country. I rejoiced when they attained independence in 2011, but the promise soon evaporated. Two years later, after they had only tasted freedom and independence, two factions of the ruling alliance fell out, and I have previously mentioned the civil war which broke out as a result.
Anglicans in South Sudan (Photo: Jesse Zink, Montreal Diocesan Theological College) 

A few days before we gathered in Nairobi, the national youth coordinator for the Episcopal Church of South Sudan was shot and killed when his vehicle was sprayed with bullets. At the meeting I listened to stories of interventions by local dioceses to try to end the conflict in this resource-rich country. The refrain was that all those born after 1955, when the first of the civil wars started, are children of war, that they have lived in war but they are determined not to die in war. As we met, peace talks had resumed in Addis Ababa and there was great expectation that a new agreement would be signed. This indeed happened soon after we wrapped up our meeting but in the past agreements have come unstuck so there is still great trepidation – there are international, regional and local actors who do not want peace, because conflict has better dividends for them. At our meeting in Nairobi, we looked at ways in which the region could accompany the church in South Sudan and how the AACC can help the county understand and live in freedom. 

Upon my return to Cape Town, I asked clergy – and now through this Ad Laos I ask you as parishioners: please help me put together prayers, Bible verses and pictures as a resource for daily prayer for peace and freedom in South Sudan, beginning at Advent and running for a full year through to Advent 2019. You don’t need to be a professional, or ordained, or a leader in your parish to contribute: whether it's a line, a poem, a sentence, a song or a picture, just write it down and help your archbishop to pray effectively for this country.

The Ven Terry Lester is ACSA's official representative on South Sudan, so you may want to arrange a special meeting or day of prayer with him or others. Since I arrived at Bishopscourt, I have had a group of intercessors who join us regularly for worship – you may also want to also explore having a group of intercessors from the Diocese to pray for peace, justice and progress in South Sudan in their and our lifetimes. Yes, we have our own unresolved social issues of poverty, land, racism, unemployment, inequality of opportunity, crime and others, but I am asking that we also focus on and include these children of God in our prayers. Prayer enables peace within and then we can share this with South Sudan.

At a personal level, I am happy to have Manala, my wife Lungi, back after she did a 30-day individually guided retreat with the Jesuits at their retreat centre at St Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal. I have burnt a couple of her pots as I attempted to cook whilst focused on reading, answering emails etc at the same time. I now appreciate her ability to multi-task without burning things!

Please continue to pray for our church and its response to what God is up to in his world. Also pray not only for South Sudan and the DR Congo, but for other conflict areas as well, and especially Syria.

†Thabo Cape Town

[As published in the October issue of Good Hope, newsletter of the Diocese of Cape Town]

Saturday 1 September 2018

To the Laos - To the People of God - Church must be in the forefront over land reform

Dear People of God

The debate over land reform in South Africa came to mind on a trip to Chile recently, where I represented the Archbishop of Canterbury on an Anglican Communion delegation investigating whether to recognise the church in that country as the 40th Province of the Communion.