Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Ad Laos - to the People of God - August 2019

The text of Archbishop Thabo's June Ad Laos, also to be published in the Cape Town diocesan newsletter, Good Hope:

Dear People of God

I am writing this Ad Laos as soldiers of the South African National Defence Force deploy in our communities to help deal with the emergency precipitated by the spiralling violence in our Church’s – and South Africa’s – beautiful mother city of Cape Town.

The decision to call in the army in response to the desperate pleas of residents who do not know where to turn after years and years of escalating drug-pushing, gangsterism and violence – demonstrated shockingly by the killing of six young people on one day, and five the next – is a judgement on us all. We should not have to be calling for the intervention of troops to deal with crime: that is the duty of the police, for whom the use of force is a last resort. If the police had been successfully investigating and prosecuting crime, with the help of communities – including the people of our and other churches, we would not be at this point.

But this is now where we are, facing the dangers that come with using soldiers for police work. I read that the troops involved are from an infantry division with experience in peacekeeping in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and I pray that it means they will be hesitant to use force before it is absolutely necessary. As I have said in the media, in this deployment the army must follow police rules of engagement and use minimum force as a very last resort. If disproportionate force is used, angering the community, there is a real prospect of people losing the last vestiges of their faith in the authorities, which could lead to vigilantism and the complete breakdown of any kind of law and order.

As the army goes about its work, it is desperately urgent for the police to resolve their leadership issues in the Western Cape and to use the resources freed up by the use of the army to focus on investigating the violence thoroughly, arresting perpetrators and bringing them, the gangsters and the drug dealers to justice. Once the immediate crisis is addressed, the way to go is to focus on policing, with our help, not to use the military. Panic and fear are legitimate responses but are not useful – all of us, in all communities, need rather to direct our energies on dealing with the economic and social issues that are the root causes of this emergency.

August is Women’s Month and we have also in the past observed it as the Month of Compassion. I appeal to all to focus on how our individual parishes and communities can mobilise intentional prayer for an end of our economic woes, crime and hunger, and let us never undermine the importance of acts of charity, such as feeding people, in combating the challenge of crime. Above all, we cannot say that this crisis does not affect me and so remain indifferent to it. Nor should we be so scared that we forget that even in such trying times God, through Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, is at work, using us, protecting us and walking with us in our pain.

In the wider church in Southern Africa, it is election season in my pastoral and archiepiscopal role in our Province. An elective assembly in the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist, which covers the far north of South Africa, has just filled the vacancy left by the departure of Bishop Martin Breytenbach, who has retired to Cape Town. We congratulate Dean Luke Pretorius of St Mark’s on his election as bishop.

Following the assembly, which was convened in Tzaneen in Limpopo, I visited the Diocese of Zululand to consult with the diocese and interested parties on its readiness to hold an elective assembly to fill the vacancy for a bishop there. Please soak that diocese in your prayers as we discern the way ahead.

And in Cape Town, as I write this the diocese is praying for the elective assembly convened for the end of July to elect a bishop suffragan, the Bishop of Table Bay. By the time you read this, I very much hope we will have elected the new bishop. Right now I am praying for the diocese and all who have offered their names for the assembly to discern the individual whom God is calling to be God’s faithful shepherd to lead God’s flock at this time. We thank God for this responsibility and look forward soon to a consecration and installation service during which we can give thanks for the shepherd so chosen.

There is still a vacancy in the Diocese of Mzimvubu, on the border between the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, after an elective assembly was unable to elect a new bishop. As provided for in the Church’s Canons, if no candidate can secure the requisite number of votes at an assembly, the choice of a bishop is delegated to the Synod of Bishops. Please pray for Mzimvubu as the synod elects the new bishop for that diocese in September. And pray also for Bishop Adam Taaso of Lesotho, who is incapacitated by illness as I write, and for Dean Tanki Mofana SSM, who is acting as Vicar-General.

In other news:
  • The College of the Transfiguration is now fully registered as a higher education institution – good news after a long journey; thank you for your prayers.
  • Our three-yearly Provincial Synod convenes in Gauteng next month. We will be receiving reports on theological education, the Archbishop’s Commission on Human Sexuality and the Safe Church Network, as well a spending time on legislative, financial and policy issues. Please pray for all the delegates.
  • A group of Anglican leaders from Africa, comprising the Primates of a number of provinces, will meet in Lusaka from November 2 to 7 to reflect on ways in which we can make our Provinces more sustainable. Pray too for that meeting.
  • Preparations are well advanced for the Lambeth Conference which brings together Anglican bishops around the world next year. Please pray for the Lambeth design team, which I chair, and for the success of the 2020 conference.
I thank God daily for each of you. To God be the glory.

†Thabo Cape Town

See Archbishop Thabo's recent interviews:

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Discussing 'Faith and Courage" with the BBC

Sunday the weekly religious news and current affairs programme on BBC Four, one of the British broadcaster's domestic radio channels, has interviewed Archbishop Thabo Makgoba on the publication of the UK edition of his book, Faith and Courage: Praying with Mandela.

The full interview, conducted by one of the programme's hosts, William Crawley, can be found on the BBC Sounds website (click past the sign-in request if you don't want to visit regularly, and use the "Try again" button if you initially can't access the page):

A shorter edit of the interview was carried in the live broadcast of the programme on Sunday July 14, halfway through the programme:

Friday, 28 June 2019

'Lambeth 2020 boycotts will not help anyone'

From the Church Times, London, of June 28, 2010

The Archbishop of Capetown speaks to Anli Serfontein

THE Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, has urged bishops and Provinces in the Anglican Communion — including members of GAFCON — not to boycott the Lambeth Conference in 2020. Instead, he has said that they should “all come around the table”.

You can read the full report on the Church Times website at:

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Archbishop Makgoba lauds “inclusive” Cabinet, urges Parliament now to step up

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba today welcomed the appointment of a Cabinet including women and young leaders but urged the next Parliament to play its proper role in holding the executive to account.

He said in a statement issued in Cape Town:

“The new administration has kicked off on a hopeful note, and I commend the President for appointing a Cabinet reflecting the values of inclusiveness and gender parity.

“Now we as citizens must hold politicians accountable. I call on the new Executive to put ethical leadership and serving the poorest of the poor at the centre of their efforts.

“Parliament too must step up its game. It has been falling behind the Judiciary and, more recently the Executive, in fulfilling its constitutional mandate and I hope it will be vigorous in holding the new President and Cabinet to account.”

Monday, 27 May 2019

Ad Laos - to the People of God - June 2019

The text of Archbishop Thabo's June Ad Laos, also to be published in the Cape Town diocesan newsletter, Good Hope:

This month I have the bittersweet privilege of giving God our profound thanks for the ministry of Bishop Garth Counsell as Bishop of Table Bay, and also of saying farewell to him and Marion on his retirement from that position.

Bishop Garth's retirement leaves me bereft because in my heart and the hearts of many others he is irreplaceable. He has served our Diocese with distinction as bishop for 15 years, first as Bishop-Suffragan and regional bishop in the old Diocese of Cape Town. Then, after we “multiplied” into three dioceses, he became Bishop of Table Bay, and in time was granted “the powers, rights and authority” of a diocesan bishop. It was in that capacity that he was serving when I joined him upon being installed as Archbishop in 2008, and it is that capacity that he has done superbly well.

Of course I knew Bishop Garth before I came to Cape Town. Our spiritual bond was formed when, by God's grace, Archbishop (now Archbishop Emeritus) Njongo Ndungane asked me to preach at Bishop Garth's consecration when I was still in the Diocese of Grahamstown. A little while after that, we went for bishops' training in Johannesburg together, where we were prayer partners and did exercises together, strengthening the bond. Then we shared time at the twice-yearly meetings of the Synod of Bishops and the annual meetings of the Provincial Standing Committee, where I found his inputs to be engaging, profound and thoughtful. What also struck me was how supportive and loyal he was to Archbishop Njongo and how relaxed he was in the Archbishop's company.

He has a real gift of relating to others and forming and sustaining relationships, and I saw this again when we were among a group of African and American bishops who met in Spain ahead of the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Bishop Jo Seoka of Pretoria was also there and both his and my names had gone forward for the Elective Assembly to replace Archbishop Njongo. It could have been awkward but Bishop Garth related to us both in a beautiful way, open to the prospect of either of us being elected and making us feel comfortable with one another.

In Cape Town, our relationship strengthened as I came to terms with the complexity of serving both as Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Church throughout Southern Africa and as Bishop of Cape Town. Historically, the bishops-suffragan of the Diocese have been exactly that: they have helped the Bishop and Archbishop but not had the powers of a Diocesan. But as the regional and international commitments of an Archbishop grew over the years, that became unsustainable, hence the change to the Canons giving the Bishop of Table Bay more power.

That change gave Bishop Garth the unenviable task of pioneering a new arrangement: that the Bishop of Table Bay has the authority of a Diocesan but in relation to me he is a Bishop-Suffragan! As he said at his farewell service in St George's Cathedral, he found himself in a somewhat schizophrenic position. But thanks to his gift of relating to others, he had the skill and wisdom to navigate the relationship with aplomb, running Chapter meetings, making sure the necessary decisions were taken but regularly checking in and consulting with me. He and I have different temperaments but we found a middle road, learning how to run the Diocese in a way in which we complemented one another. It has taken enormous generosity for him to do the work without worrying about the title, and that has been a rare gift.

As Bishop Garth retires, I also want to pay tribute to Marion. There is a Sotho phrase which translated says “a mother of the child holds a knife on the sharp side” and just as Garth has supported me, so Marian has been a strong pillar, supporting him in turn when the emotional weight of office threatened to wear him down. Their children have also been a wonderful support.

My only glaring failure with Bishop Garth was my inability to make him excited about social media! But he really is a great son of our Church. I think our journey together was genuinely ordained by God, and I will miss him. As we go into an Elective Assembly later this year, I hope that God will again send to the Diocese someone who will be a trusted friend and a fellow spiritual pilgrim in the same way.

As we prepare to elect a new Bishop of Table Bay, please hold the Vicar-General, the Ven Keith de Vos, and Diocesan Chapter in your prayers, and use regularly the words in the Anglican Prayer Book which we use at this time in the life of a Diocese:

God our Father
the giver of every good gift
graciously regard the needs of your Church
and guide with your heavenly wisdom
the minds of those responsible for choosing
a bishop for this Diocese:
send us a faithful pastor to feed your flock
and to lead us in the way of holiness;
through Jesus Christ your only Son our Lord.

In my capacity as Metropolitan of the Province, I also want to urge all of you to keep in your prayers the Dioceses outside South Africa, in particular the Diocese of Namibia which is suffering a drought, the Dioceses of Lebombo and Niassa as they recover from Cyclone Idai, and more recently the Diocese of Nampula, which has been devastated by Cyclone Kenneth since I first issued an appeal to all of you for contributions to help Mozambique recover.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

A New Dawn - Reflections on South Africa's Democracy

(Photo:  Jiayi Liu/Amherst College)
An address delivered at Amherst College in Massachusetts, ahead of a graduation ceremony in which Archbishop Thabo received the degree of Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa):

Today being Africa Day, and also the feast day of the Venerable Bede and the 18th anniversary of my consecration as a Bishop, I am honoured to be with you.

And in the year in which we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the liberation of my country, I have great pleasure and joy in bringing greetings to you, the citizens of one of the world's older democracies, from your sisters and brothers in South Africa, one of the world's younger democracies. In my mother tongue, Sepedi, on an occasion like this we say: "Rea lotjha. Ke tagwa ke le thabo." (Greetings. Today I am intoxicated by joy.) Your reply is: "Agee" or "Thobela." (Meaning: We agree and we can see your joy.)

I thank the President and the other leaders of this great institution warmly for inviting me here this weekend. I hardly feel worthy of the honour that is to be bestowed on me, especially if you consider the credentials of our “greatest generation” – the leaders of our country, such as Nelson Mandela, whom my generation has replaced. In the Church, I have been fortunate to follow in the footsteps of a series of church leaders renowned for their advocacy of justice and peace, notably my predecessor-but-one, the 1984 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. Archbishop Tutu lives within 30 minutes of me in Cape Town, I see him regularly, and he is well – although ageing – and asks me to send you his greetings, and also his special thanks to those of you who campaigned so tirelessly in the 1970s and 1980s for an end to apartheid in South Africa.

Our democracy may be a lot younger than yours, but our nations share a great deal in common. We were vividly reminded of this half a century ago when a member of a prominent family with deep roots in Massachusetts came to South Africa at the height of apartheid. In the words of one of our newspapers at the time, the visit of Robert F. Kennedy was like a gust of fresh air sweeping into a stuffy room. In the highlight of his tour, he gave a stirring speech at one of my alma maters, the University of Cape Town. I learn that in the United States, it is best known as his “ripples of hope” speech, because of his stirring declaration that every time someone “stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice,” that person sends forth “a tiny ripple of hope,” and that coming from a million different places, those ripples “build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

In South Africa, however, it was the opening words of Robert Kennedy's speech which first resonated with us. Allow me to quote from them. He began:

“I come here because of my deep interest and affection for a land settled by the Dutch in the mid-seventeenth century, then taken over by the British, and at last independent; a land in which the native inhabitants were at first subdued, but relations with whom remain a problem to this day; a land which defined itself on a hostile frontier; a land which has tamed rich natural resources through the energetic application of modern technology; a land which was once the importer of slaves, and now must struggle to wipe out the last traces of that former bondage.”

Of course, we thought he was talking about us. But we were taken completely by surprise when he continued with these words: “I refer, of course, to the United States of America.” Such are the many parallels you can find in our different countries' histories.

I had cause to reflect on the similarities of our respective heritages last year, when I spent a few days staying in lower Manhattan, the guest of our friends in the Episcopal Church. There I first visited the New York branch of the National Museum of the American Indian, where I found the ceremonial rituals and dance of the earliest inhabitants of the Americas interestingly similar to those of my rural forebears back at home. Also similar was the way in which European missionaries had conflated Western culture with the Gospel, outlawing the traditional cultural practices of indigenous peoples after branding them as “dancing with the devil”. But what affected me the most was reading  about how, just as settlers from another continent fought and dispossessed the original inhabitants of Southern Africa – including my ancestors – during the 18th and 19th centuries, so had they done the same in the United States.

On another day, a visit to the African Burial Ground National Monument on Broadway reminded me of the later similarities between the South African and the American experiences of colonialism and slavery. Thirty years after the Dutch West India Company colonized Manhattan, the Dutch East India Company colonized what is now Cape Town. The main source of enslaved Africans shipped into New York by the Dutch was Angola in southern Africa and when the British took over the colony, they spread the slaving net to incorporate West Africa and – at one stage – Madagascar. Under Dutch rule, Cape Town initially received shipments of enslaved people from Angola and West Africa; later they came from Madagascar, the East African coast, India and the Indonesian archipelago.

Of course much has changed since Robert Kennedy's visit to South Africa in 1966. Helped by pressure from people overseas such as yourselves, and especially by young people on college campuses, we overthrew apartheid in a peaceful revolution. And then we addressed the evils of the past by establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which Desmond Tutu headed after his retirement as archbishop.

The commission sat for three years, took more than 20,000 statements from the survivors of human rights violations under apartheid, and held 140 televised hearings across the country, in which the survivors could tell the country their stories. Those stories were often horrifying and the acts they described almost beyond comprehension.

We also did something unique in the world; unlike in Germany after the Second World War, we did not hold the equivalent of Nuremberg trials – we did not have the resources. But nor did we let the perpetrators off scot-free, as happened in Chile and other countries. Doing that would have further victimised the survivors, by silencing their past and so denying the awfulness, and the lasting legacy, of their experiences. Instead we developed something unique in the world, which has set a new example for other countries – we chose a middle path by offering amnesty to perpetrators of human rights violations, but only if they made a full confession of their crimes. In that way, we learned the truth, and the truth opened the way for a degree of reconciliation. I learn that there are those in this country who advocate a similar process to address the legacy of slavery.

But in another respect, since the end of apartheid, we have become more like you in the United States, in that we abolished the old, minority government, which denied the right to vote to black South Africans, and adopted a new Constitution, with a Bill of Rights, giving everyone the right to vote. In our case, we have what we like to describe as one of the most progressive constitutional orders in the world: we have abolished the death penalty, and the constitution recognises LGBTQ rights, including the right to marry under civil law. (Although, as an aside I have to  acknowledge that in that respect the State is more progressive than the religious community; church law in most denominations still adheres to the position that the sacrament of marriage is only for a man and a woman.)

In government, like you we have three branches: the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, and we have a vigorous fourth estate: the press and the media, whose rights are also protected by the Constitution. The strength of this system has been demonstrated vividly in recent years. As many of you might have read, for nearly a decade, until early last year, our executive was badly corrupted by the actions of the president at the time, who allowed his friends and allies to seize control of major state institutions, awarding government contracts to corrupt payers of bribes, and undermining the justice system to prevent them from being prosecuted. Unfortunately, some of the world's biggest names in accounting and management consultancy, including a leading American consultancy, were complicit in these activities.

But a combination of the media, vibrant non-governmental organisations in civil society, and outstanding work by the judiciary, has held the executive to account, bringing so much pressure to bear on the governing party that it was forced to act on its own to fire the president before the end of his term.

I have recently been critical of the failure of our Parliament to hold the executive accountable, and a battle for control by opposing factions of the governing party is still being waged, but just a few weeks ago we elected a new administration and today our new president, Cyril Ramaphosa is being inaugurated. There are still some bad apples in the barrel but President Ramaphosa has vowed to bring us a “new dawn”. He has initiated a series of public inquiries into the corruption, which are exposing the rot in live television broadcasts, and he is acting to restore the integrity of the police and prosecution agencies.

So as a result of the strength of the institutions of our young democracy, I am not only hopeful but optimistic about our future. Indeed, I am on record at  home as saying that these recent elections have the potential to be the genesis and catalyst of our nation's renewal, thus writing the beginning of not only a new chapter in our history, but an entire new book that will define our children's and our grandchildren's lifetimes.

May it be so in South Africa, and I make bold to say, may it also be so in the United States. At a time when the threat of war is on the horizon, I pray that you will be able to avoid unnecessary conflict and that in the years to come you too will realise the enormous potential which your nation, with its enormous inner strengths, has for renewal and rebirth in the years to come.

God bless you, God bless South Africa, and God bless America.  God loves us all, Americans, South Africans and the whole of humanity, as well as God's whole creation. May we fulfil God's desire that we preserve and protect all God's children, and all God's creation, for our children and grandchildren to come.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Archbishop Thabo's message on inauguration of SA's President

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba is in Massachusetts in the USA, receiving the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Amherst College. He was invited to receive the degree a year ago, before the date for the inauguration of President Cyril Ramaphosa was set. He has sent his apologies for the inauguration and issued the following message:

On behalf of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, its Synod of Bishops and on my own behalf, my warm congratulations to the new Members of Parliament and to the President upon his inauguration.

Having been critical at Easter of the failure of past Parliaments to hold the Executive accountable, I am particularly pleased to see that a number of people on party lists against whom serious allegations have been made have withdrawn their names from consideration at this stage.

I hope others will follow their example, not because they have been found guilty but because their names need to be cleared before they can credibly represent our people.  We need morally astute parliamentarians who represent our country's finest values and who will act in the interests of the nation as a whole.

God bless the new Parliament, the new President and his new Executive.

Pray that God will give wisdom to those in authority, and direct this and every nation in the way of justice and peace, that all may honour one another and seek the common good. Amen  

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

"A space that speaks of our shared worship, shared dreams..." - St Paul's Chapel, New York City

A sermon preached on the Fifth Sunday of Easter at St. Paul's Chapel in the Parish of Trinity Church Wall Street, New York:

Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 148:1-3, 7, 9-11, 13; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35

We hear these incredible words of possibility in our foundational texts today in a wonderful space, in a chapel and a parish that have towered over the city’s and the nation's history, whose graveyards hold the bones and the memories of some of its founding parents; a parish located in an area that once boasted a barrier, usually described as a wall, to keep out those seen as “the other”; a parish that witnessed the struggle to establish your democracy; and a chapel in which your forebears and your founding president thanked God for his inauguration. [Continues below the video...]

And of course more recently the inner sanctuaries of the churches of this parish provided refuge and ministry during and after that fateful day when the Twin Towers were attacked and then collapsed, a day forever etched in our memories as evil was let loose. Today, at a time when there seems to be a renewed threat of war involving this nation, I count it a particular privilege to be preaching here in St. Paul's, which in the difficult months and years after nine-eleven represented to the world the best of American values – values of hope and healing as you brought to your city and nation a ministry of pastoral care, of reconciliation and of peace.

Speaking of your contributions to the nation and the world, I cannot continue without referring to what you have meant to us in the church in Southern Africa, and indeed across the whole continent of Africa. We too were colonised by the Dutch, and people of my heritage were kept out of the suburb where I now live by a barrier – in our case an impenetrable hedge – by the Dutch. In our case too, the church has played a part in bringing about democracy, and you made a direct contribution to the inauguration of our own founding president, Nelson Mandela, by responding 30 years ago to the pleas of Archbishop Desmond Tutu to divest from companies which did business with apartheid South Africa. Responding to our plea for help probably ran counter to the instincts of Wall Street financiers, but you put your relationship with us, your partners, first and for that we are deeply grateful. I see in the congregation an honorary canon of our Province, Canon Jamie Callaway, and acknowledge the role he played in supporting us.

It is with pride and pleasure that I can report to you that the young democracy you helped us establish is  flourishing. It is true that until 15 months ago, we had a president whose influence badly corrupted the executive branch of our government, and that our legislature failed to hold him to account. But the combined power of the media, civil society and the judiciary forced his party to remove him from office before the end of his term, and our new president has begun to clean up our government. So we have faced huge challenges in recent years.

Beyond your contribution to our liberation, you have enabled and continue to enable important ministry in dioceses of the church in Southern Africa, and in other Anglican provinces in Africa. As the longest-serving Primate on the continent, I make bold to speak on behalf of all of us, and to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you have enabled the church in Africa to be and to do. By sharing your resources, you demonstrate that you are following Jesus' new commandment.

Returning to the witness of this chapel and of Trinity –   through the unfolding of the layers of history, amidst the contestation of ideologies and memories of walls, this place has continue to maintain its rhythm of prayer, to contextualise the sense of the Holy, to explore God's words and to discern its echo in the community of lower Manhattan. Above all you hold out, day in and day out, the promise of God which we pondered today: “See, I am making all things new!” “To the thirsty I will give water…” and “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

What an awesome sacred space! I feel that deep emotion that Jacob felt when he sensed that despite the limitations of his own history, he had a dream of a God who promised a new beginning, crying out: “Surely the presence of God is in this place, it is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven!” It is for that reason, as well as the shared elements of our histories and of your sharing in love that I feel at home here today, in this space that speaks of our shared worship, shared dreams and a shared commitment to the work of making all things new.

The implications of our faith are that you do not need to engage the secrets of heaven, or fathom out deep theological propositions, or speculate endlessly on eschatological nuances. That won't help us see and understand God. It is much easier than that: experiencing God, to the degree that we humans can do so, is quite simply done in acts of love, even just in random deeds of kindness.

You carry in your parish's name a commitment to live out practically and contextually our Christian understanding of the Trinity. At the heart of that understanding is the abiding truth about three persons in every way equal. It is the metaphor that the Gospel writers seek to express in different ways, but always by returning to a fundamental notion of “self-gift”. As that great African saint, Augustine, argued time and again, God loves because that is the divine nature, not because creation deserves it. In parable after parable, statement after statement, the “meaning of God” is revealed as the “One who is perfectly self-giving”. Thus the Trinity is also the story of self-giving in love and of belonging in love. We become more fully what we are meant to become by entering into loving and life-giving relationships. In Africa we express this in what we call ubuntu, or in the languages to which I am closest, botho. We hear this at the very heart of the Gospel today.

The Lutheran theologian, Samuel Torvend, asks the question that we who gather for prayer must ask. He asks: “Who is hungry at the feast?” and then answers it for himself. “To be honest,” he says, “I think I am. I yearn for, I am hungry for the word, the image, the lyric and the prayer that will invite many others and me to redress the terrible injustices, deprivations and imbalances that surround us.” “Who is still hungry at the feast?” he asks again, and answers for himself: “The many who will never hear this sermon or read this text because they must work two or three jobs each day, six days a week in order to feed their children in a society that rewards the wealthy and stigmatises the working poor.” Who is still hungry at the feast? “The people of this world deprived of food, capital employment and land.”

One could and should add to that litany the victims of domestic violence, the women and children who suffer abuse, refugees from conflict in places such as Bangladesh, and – as we have seen in our own sub-continent of Southern Africa in recent months – those who are refugees as a result of the devastating effects of climate change.

In the last few years, the people of the three dioceses of our Province which lie in neighbouring Mozambique have been hit alternately by drought and by flood. Twice during April, I had to pay emergency visits to two of the dioceses and witnessed  the aftermath of Cyclone Idai. Homes, churches and schools in settlements and towns across the countryside were destroyed, people's crops were swept away and families had to climb trees to escape the water and wait for helicopters to rescue them. Hundreds died, many of them people who survived the hurricane but not the wait for rescue. Swathes of rural countryside were turned into vast lakes, and scattered rural villages have been replaced by concentrated tent townships to which people have been relocated. These agrarian communities are at risk of losing their identity and their way of life. Those who are worst affected by climate change are not the citizens of the materially wealthy countries who contribute most to it; no, it is those who are already poor and vulnerable.

Wherever we are in the world, in our churches every Sunday, let us remember that our worship is not merely an act of forgiveness, a spiritual sacrifice, a moment of thanksgiving, an intimate union with Christ, but that it is  an ethical practice that expands outward into the world, offering life in the midst of diminishment and death. St. Theresa of Avila captured this call to love, to be about the business of making all things new and providing fresh water, when she wrote: “Christ has no body but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassionately on the world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, the feet, yours are the eyes. You are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” That’s the challenge of love.

The key moment in the post-Resurrection story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus came when, after recognising the Lord, they were faced with the choices that we all face. They could have sat back, finished their meal and congratulated themselves on the special epiphany they had received from the Lord. They could have created a safe, comfortable, spiritually warm place of personal intimacy and memory. Or they could have taken fright. After all, the Jesus whom they had just encountered was a wanted man in Jerusalem. It was a very dangerous moment and they might have decided to run away.

But no; instead they got up straight away and returned to Jerusalem, to the place where their dreams had been shattered, where hope was in short supply, and where their friends were locked in the Upper Room, imprisoned by fear. It was to Jerusalem they returned with their word of hope, with their testimony of new possibilities, with their vision raised beyond the exigencies of the moment, to proclaim that something new is possible. They did not have a blueprint and could not provide firm assurances but they could keep the good news alive.

Each of us can do that much. We do not know precisely who all those who are hungry at the feast are, and we certainly cannot do everything. Maybe like those disciples in Emmaus, all we can really do after every service of worship is go back into the city and look upon it and our fellow human beings with new eyes, so that our perceptions of generosity, humanity, justice and mercy become clearer and freer. For when that transpires, slowly will we become known by our love for one another.

God loves you and so do I. God bless each one of you. God bless America, and God bless Africa.


Monday, 6 May 2019

Mission of Mercy, Hope and Solidarity to Mozambique - A Report


A report for Archbishop Thabo Makgoba by Mrs. Matlotlisang Mototjane, Provincial Executive Administrator and a former Manager in the Lesotho Disaster Management Authority.

Download here (PDF-15 pages) >>

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Human sexuality issue sparks "good energy", "robust debate" at ACC

Basetsana Makena (centre) with Joyce Liundi and Dean Hosam Naoum. 
Archbishop Thabo wraps up his reporting on the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Hong Kong: 

The final closure of ACC-17 happened yesterday, Saturday.

In the morning, three new members were elected to the ACC's standing committee, a body which meets between the three-yearly sessions of the full ACC.

The three were Joyce Haji Liundi from Tanzania, Hosam Elias Naoum, Dean of St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem, and our own Basetsana Makena, who represented Africa as one of the new regional youth members of the ACC. She is the first ever to be elected to this high office. Congratulations to all, especially Basetsana.

Otherwise, the final day's proceedings mainly concerned finance, preparations for next year's worldwide Lambeth Conference of bishops, and then resolutions.

A resolution calling for affirmation of those who feel discriminated against because of their sexuality, and calling for feedback on the section of Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference in which the Church committed itself to listening to gay and lesbian members, created good energy and a robust debate – a feature which had been missing until now. 

This was the best part: we argued, we shared real emotions and the issues briefly became real. It was a deeply touching and proud moment for me which was not “manicured”. The Archbishop of Canterbury and a team suggested an alternative motion to that originally presented, which was broad and referred to human dignity instead of human sexuality. This was a safe alternative and was passed without much debate. [See the text at the end of this report.]

The next motion, which called for a theological study of the identity and limits of the Anglican Communion because of the absence of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda from the Communion’s common life was defeated. My sense is that it was limited in scope and did not relate to the other “Instruments of Communion” (the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference and the Primates' Meeting), nor did it take cognizance of what the Communion is currently engaged in. The resolution assumed that we had already concluded that the absence of these three Provinces was a theological matter, and passing it would have meant spending energy and time on Communion navel-gazing and internal problems instead of prioritizing the poor, the marginal etc.

We ended with a fanfare, a big reception and good byes, as Archbishop Paul Kwong of Hong Kong, the chair, declared that “ACC-17 is dissolved.” Then we held the first meeting of the new ACC standing committee, affirmed certain matters and agreed on September 19th as the date of the next standing committee meeting.

Later today, Sunday, we will go to different parishes. I go to St. Andrew's Church, Kowloon. Then we will go to the Cathedral for the final closing service and a meal afterwards. After that I have a meal and meeting with Paul Yung from Trinity Wall Street to talk about our building projects, following which I head for the airport.

Thank you for reading my prayers of recent days, bringing our Province to Hong Kong and the Communion to our Province. Thank you for your prayers for us. To South Africans, happy voting on Wednesday May 8th. In the coming days, pause to think: what values are key in making South Africa the best it could be in service to the poor? Then vote. 

Friday, 3 May 2019

Networks share the lifeblood of the Communion today

Archbishop Thabo blogs on his Friday at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Hong Kong:

Today we had a salad and were able to choose which presentations on the Anglican Communion's various networks to attend. (An authorised Network of the Communion connects Anglicans globally and creates a cluster of energy around a particular area of mission, ministry and concern.)

The sessions started with an input on communication in the Communion, raising the questions of what we communicate and why, after which we viewed a video on what networks are and what they do. 

This was followed in turn by a video on our response to the cyclones in Mozambique, made from Bishopscourt through the help of the Revd Rachel Mash of Green Anglicans and Frank Molteno of St George's Cathedral in Cape Town, which you can see below and on our Facebook page.

Then I joined the session of the International Anglican Women's Network, followed by the Youth Network and lastly the Anglican Church Planting Network. (See photos below the video.) Amazing work is done through these, showing that even when we disagree on some issues, at the heart of the Communion we are all involved in God‘s mission and as his broken body we are doing all through his grace.

Later we passed resolutions and I was moved to pray in isiXhosa when I felt the love and deep concern ACC members had for those countries affected by natural disasters or which were in conflict. I remembered and celebrated why am an Anglican – because of our ability to recall that even as the broken body of Christ, the Communion is called to offer others who are broken to God in Jesus Christ so that we are all healed.

This evening I will swim, have dinner and just enjoy the view from my room as I connect the dots. (Also below, see where we are staying.) And talking about the Health Network, I am sending my prayers to Bishop Adam Taaso of Lesotho, who was admitted to hospital yesterday. We wish him a speedy recovery. 

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Intentional Discipleship in action in Hong Kong

On Thursday afternoon, members of the Anglican Consultative Council members left the ACC-17 meeting venue to see intentional discipleship in practice across the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui – the Anglican Church in Hong Kong, the host of the meeting. Archbishop Thabo writes:

 We went to see and hear about love in action through service. 

I joined a group to visit Holy Trinity Cathedral in the Diocese of Eastern Kowloon, where we learned the history of the cathedral from the Sub-Dean, the Revd Chan Kwok-keung.

Then we were shown a church-run primary school, which is in blocks of flats - unusual for us to see.

After that we went to the Centre for Joy, which is for children and adults with special needs. 

All these ministries are run by the Cathedral, with their mission defined by John 10:10: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

Holy Trinity Cathedral 
Hearing an overview of the Church's welfare services
A warm welcome was given to....

The visitors from ACC-17

Bonus photo by Canon Jerome Francis: Hong Kong at night

Also at ACC-17, we met up with Pumla Titus of the  International Anglican Women’s Network 

Archbishops face a "grilling" at ACC-17

Archbishop Thabo continues his account from Hong Kong on the work done on Wednesday and Thursday by the Anglican Consultative Council: 

In further sessions, we heard a report from the Communion's Safe Church Network, which was set up to develop guidelines to enhance the safety of all persons in the church, especially children, young people and vulnerable adults.

Though time was limited, we started digging deeper into the regrettable pain of past and present abuses in the church, hearing voices from Africa, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. The discussion has been reframed to recognise that the abuses have hurt and negatively affected the mission of the church and the imperatives of the Gospel. The key development is that we have received guidelines, liturgy and a resolution on how we can move together to make the church safe and inclusive.

We then listened to an intervention and study commissioned by the Church of England called “Living in Love and Faith,” which is intended to provide Christian teaching and learning about human identity, sexuality and marriage. This is work in progress.

Before dinner, I again went for a swim to keep up with my exercise regimen. The meals are too good and one cannot do without physical activity as well – after all, physical activity is also part of my spiritual and prayer life. Sea bass is my favorite fish and today I had sea bass with veggies for dinner. (I am careful about sharing my favorite meals publicly. In one diocese, I foolishly did that and almost every parish responded by preparing it abundantly until I announced that I was off that. So sea bass is my favorite only as a treat and when I say so!)

At an after-dinner session, we had an hour-long event called “grilling the Archbishop” in which we could ask Archbishop Justin anything we liked, from what made him happy or sad to decisions about Lambeth, Brexit, his prayer life, Donald Trump and his vision for the church in 25 years, including what his prayer needs were. This was useful, as it eased the frustrations of working in a highly-structured ACC meeting, allowing some informality and including voices that would otherwise not be heard.

On Thursday, there was time for photos, of the whole meeting, the Standing Committee, the Primates on the Standing Committee and of the tables around which we are grouped. If you scroll down below the video which follows, you can see the community I have spent more time with than anyone else here, in Bible study and group work at Table 3, including ACC members from South Sudan, Singapore, Tanzania, Australia, Spain and Chile (two people from each) as well as Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the Secretary General.

We also listened to theological feedback, of which the graphic - also below the video - gives you a flavour, and I joined Archbishop Justin and Bishop Jane Alexander, the Bishop of Edmonton in Canada, to face a grilling from a panel of Anglican Consultative Council youth members. That's the photo you see at the top of this entry, and the video which follows records the session.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

ACC-17 focuses on ecumenical relations with WCC, Reformed and Catholic churches

Archbishop Thabo blogs on proceedings during the third day of the 17th meeting of the worldwide Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-17), being held in Hong Kong: 

We are halfway through ACC-17. Today, besides the rhythm of worship and Bible studies, we received reports and listened to greetings from ecumenical partners: His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, and (from left in the second photo below) the World Council of Churches General Secretary, Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the Revd Chris Ferguson, and Fr Tony Currer from the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.

They all affirmed the Communion and appreciated our polity, especially our diversity and provisionality in polity as we continue walking together, seeking possible final answers to ecclesial and other questions.

We also adopted an enabling resolution that created a body within the Communion called the Reception Committee. This is a critical body which will receive ecumenical documents for the Communion instead of the Lambeth Conference, where time is at a premium. The committee will review the documents on behalf of, and with a select group from the ACC. This is an issue on which I have had robust discussion with the Communion’s Director of Unity, Faith and Order, Dr John Gibaut, who is sadly retiring.

Correction: The above report has been corrected since first published by clarifying that the Reception Committee will receive documents instead of the Lambeth Conference (not Lambeth Palace).

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

ACSA's youth rep does us proud in Hong Kong

Archbishop Thabo continues his reflections on the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council being held in Hong Kong: 

The sessions at ACC-17 are progressing well and the daily rhythm is now established. Hong Kong's weather changes at any time – today is cloudy.

Today's main presentation is on intentional discipleship. In the photo you can see Fr Jerome Francis, our clergy rep to the ACC, and our youth rep, Ms Basetsana Makena, with me, and down the page you can see Basetsana doing us proud, interviewing the Anglican Communion Office directors of mission cluster group this afternoon. Below that you can see her at her meeting table and engaging others during tea breaks.

We listen to stories of faith around the globe and how, although there are challenges of money and lack of growth in some parts of the Communion, on the whole there is growth and excitement about mission in most provinces.

We also looked at a framework for catechesis for intentional discipleship in the Anglican Communion. Full of energy today, we were told that although we see longing, hurt and pain in the world, we are called to bring life, to change lives and to make disciples. The Holy Spirit will give us the heart of Jesus, the heart of discipleship, we also heard.

In the discussion of the Anglican Communion's five marks of mission, key issues raised were: a call for a prophetic voice on Argentina, where the number of women murdered is high; respect for the rights of refugees and migrants; and the challenges of climate change.

Monday, 29 April 2019

ACC-17 opens in Hong Kong - and an appeal to ACSA Dioceses

The ACSA delegation to ACC-17:
the Archbishop, Ms Louisa Mojela  and Canon Jerome Francis
Archbishop Thabo reports on the opening of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-17): 

#ACC-17 has officially opened with great fanfare and fine music, preaching and liturgy and worship. Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury preached powerfully, urging us to look beyond our bounds as we participate in God’s mission in the world.

Archbishop Paul Kwong, our gracious host and chair of the ACC standing committee, spoiled us with a reception of many courses, attended by numbers of people, including local leaders of other churches. A great day, full of energy although we went through it at a pace.

I could not help but note the plight of many domestic workers here in Hong Kong, who are on the whole migrants, sitting on the pavements of the city during their day off. They reflect the two diametrically opposed faces of Hong Kong.
With Sr. Patricia

Today we listened to various presentations and continued our Bible studies – on the road to Emmaus – and explored our theme of going deeper into international discipleship. The Secretary General, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, also presented his report to ACC.

I ended the day with a swim as the gym was full this evening. I also had a long chat with Sister Patricia of the Community of the Holy Name, a delightful and brilliant religious. It really is my wish and hope that each diocese in our Province should have a religious order.

A choir from Hong Kong
ACSA lay delegate Louisa Mojela

The opening service of ACC-17

Friday, 26 April 2019

Archbishop Thabo blogs from an Anglican meeting in Hong Kong

ACC-17 is being held at a hotel outside central Hong Kong. 
Archbishop Thabo blogs from a meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). The council is one of the four "Instruments of Communion" of the world-wide Anglican family, the others being the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference and the Primates' Meeting. The ACC is the only body which includes bishops, other clergy and lay representatives.

After a two-hour delay at OR Tambo, we have arrived safely. Louisa Mojela from our Province and I are both on the council's standing committee and so have a meeting tomorrow before ACC-17 starts. It is labelled ACC-17 because this is the 17th time the body has met. The first meeting took place in Kenya in 1971 and the last time it happened in South Africa was when ACC-9 met in Cape Town in 1993 during the archiepiscopate of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The ACC is the most representative Anglican body in the Communion and receives reports of commissions, networks and the Anglican Communion Office in London. It also passes resolutions on Mission, Ministry and Anglican polity. The last meeting was in Zambia in 2016.

Louisa Mojela is our lay representative, Canon Jerome Francis is the clergy rep and I represent the episcopate. Louisa's and my terms both end now, and Canon Jerome has another three years. This time round, we will be joined by a youth rep, the Provincial Executive Officer, the Ven Horace Arenz, who will represent us on matters of administration, and Canon Rachel Mash of Green Anglicans, who will represent us on environmental matters.

It is warm here and it drizzled just a bit when I took my walk after dinner this afternoon. We have a full programme and ask for your prayers for our Province's delegation and everyone meeting here.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Responding to widespread flooding in South Africa

Archbishop Thabo today sent messages of solidarity and condolence to Dioceses affected by flooding in different parts of South Africa: the Diocese of Johannesburg after flooding in Alberton, Mthatha because of the dire situation in Port St Johns, Natal after floods in areas around Durban and Zululand over those in Empangeni.

He writes: "Our hearts go out to those affected and those who have lost loved ones. We send our love and prayers to them, our condolences to the families of those who have died, and wish a speedy recovery to those injured or displaced. We are concerned about the weather patterns in areas where there is not usually as much rain as they have experienced.

"We appeal once again for Anglicans to pray for those affected and and to show practical support and solidarity through food, shelter and other assistance that is needed."

Sunday, 21 April 2019

[VIDEO] eNCA reports on Archbishop Thabo's Easter homily

Read the full text of the Easter homily at St George's Cathedral, Cape Town

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba's Easter sermon

(File photo)

Easter Vigil – St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town
Ez. 36:24-28; Ps 114; Rom 6:3-11; Lk 24:1-12

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Ever since I was a little boy, I have continually felt attracted by all the details of our Easter celebrations and of the Easter service, and am especially inspired by the pervasive feeling of optimism and hope that characterises Eastertide.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Archbishop calls on South African politicians to “tone down” election rhetoric

Election observers from religious and civil society groups are calling on political parties in the Western Cape to “tone down their campaign rhetoric,” warning that “character assassination is as devastating as physical violence.”

In a statement released today by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who chairs the Electoral Code of Conduct Observer Commission (ECCOC), he said:

Graduates' achievements are built on the sacrifices of the 70s generation

A graduation address at the University of Cape Town: 

Good morning, greetings to you all, and thank you so much for the honour and privilege of allowing me to address you. Thank you to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, and your  executive for inviting me.  Congratulations to the parents, relatives, sponsors of those graduating, and to you, the graduates. on your achievement. We are immensely proud of you.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Displaced and living "like wild animals' – a neglected place where only the Church is visible

Delivering supplies

Archbishop Thabo travels to an isolated area in the Diocese of Niassa where there are no NGOs, no post-Cyclone Idai assistance and where the plea is for "comido" (food):

DAY THREE: At 6:40 am Bishop Vicente gathers eight of his clerics and church wardens to join us for Morning Prayer. We are later joined by two cathecists, and afterwards pay a courtesy call on the district governor, as has become the norm.

Then we drive to the marketplace to buy seed and rice, as we did last week in Sofala Province when I visited the Diocese of Lebombo. As in Sofala, I learnt that solidarity has to be accompanied with food. The marketplace is busy and when the vendor realizes we are buying in bulk and for what cause, he gives us a good discount.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Bishop McKenzie’s grave has drowned

Archbishop Thabo continues his visit to the Diocese of Niassa in northern Mozambique, visiting the Bishop, the Right Revd Vicente Msosa, and his people after Cyclone Idai:

DAY TWO: After breakfast and Morning Prayer – and reading Jeremiah 28:17ff – at our Quelimane guest house, I return to my room to catch up and study the disaster intervention plan from Niassa Diocese. As intimated yesterday, this diocese has dealt with flooding, food and health disasters before. They are amazingly well organized and deserve all the support they can get.

Our departure to a district 30 km outside Quelimane city is delayed because of past conflict in the area, which means we need special permission to travel and a dispensation from the Governor. We get this and it commends us to the three district governors whose areas through which we will travel.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Visiting the Diocese of Niassa in the wake of Cyclone Idai

Bishop Vicente gives a briefing on the visit
Following a visit to Beira and surrounds in the wake of Cyclone Idai last week, Archbishop Thabo has this week been in the Diocese of Niassa in northern Mozambique, visiting the Bishop, the Right Revd Vicente Msosa, and his people. His reflections:

DAY ONE: The alarm rang at 4:20 and by 5 am Uber is here to pick me up and take me to Cape Town's airport, where we board for Johannesburg at 5.50. Heavy mist delay the flight – fortunately all flights, and we were in Maputo by 11:20. Along the way we meet Bishop Zipho Siwa, the Methodist Church's Presiding Bishop, and his team, who are also visiting congregants affected by Cyclone Idai. Boarding for Quelimane is scheduled for 11:30 but we finally depart at 14:15 and while waiting I read a piece in the Anglican Theological Review on preaching.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

'Archbishop, we are hungry' – An appeal from Mozambique

Engaging people, via a translator, on their experiences.
Archbishop Thabo blogs on the final day of his visit to the disaster-stricken area around Beira in the Diocese of Lebombo:

Wednesday April 3: The words, “Archbishop, we are hungry,” stayed with me overnight as I battled with sleep even after a long day on Tuesday. The instruction from Jesus replayed in my mind, especially during Compline – “Feed my lambs,” and “Feed my sheep,” (Jn 21:15-17), as did Jesus's words in Matthew's Gospel that when we feed those who are hungry, we feed him. (Mt 25:37-40).

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Visiting the hidden and forgotten in cyclone-devastated Mozambique

With Bishop Carlos Matsinhe, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba is visiting areas of the Diocese of Lebombo hit by Cyclone Idai. Transport is being provided by a helicopter of the South African National Defence Force, which is helping Mozambican authorities with relief efforts. Also in the party were the SANDF Chaplain General, the Revd Brigadier General Monwabisi Jamangile, and Matlotly Mototjane of the PEO's office, formerly a senior disaster management official in Lesotho. The Archbishop continues his blog: 

Tuesday April 2:  We started the day with breakfast together and said a shortened Morning Prayer, reading from Jeremiah 17:19-27. The dining hall was full of all sorts of NGOs' reps and rescue people.

How to help the people of Mozambique >>

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Visiting Sofala Province, Mozambique in the wake of Cyclone Idai

St. George's, Beira, on Monday
 Archbishop Thabo blogs from Mozambique, where he is visiting Bishop Carlos Matsinhe and the Diocese of Lebombo: 

Monday April 1 - After waiting for four hours to get clearance to enter Mozambique airspace, we left Pretoria for Beira, accompanied by the SANDF Chaplain-General and the Administrator in the PEO's office, Matlotlisang Mototjane (who is also a disaster management expert).

We were received in Beira by a representative of the governor of Sofala Province and Col Zurich of the SANDF, and then were whisked into St George’s Anglican Church, where Bishop Carlos Matsinhe was leading Mass.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

"Theology from Below: A Personal Journey"

An address to the "Theology from Below Conference" at the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University: 

  • Fellow theologians (all of us here are theologians, no matter how far along the journey we are);
  • Fellow students of the Gospel (because all of us, no matter how well qualified, remain students all our lives);
  • Sisters and brothers in Christ:

Good evening. And for those from other parts of our country, our continent and the world, welcome to the beautiful Western Cape. It is exciting for me to be among all of you, postgraduate students and researchers from many different backgrounds and contexts, here in Stellenbosch tonight.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Archbishop appeals for donations after Cyclone Idai hits Mozambican dioceses

Message from Archbishop Thabo Makgoba to the People of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe & Appeal for assistance

On behalf of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, and on my own behalf, I offer our deepest condolences and express our heartfelt pain at the loss of life and property caused by the destructive effects of Cyclone Idai across Southern Africa.

We want to assure the affected Dioceses in Mozambique - the Diocese of Lebombo led by Bishop Carlos Matsinhe and the Diocese of Niassa led by Bishop Vicente Msosa - of our prayers. Please pray also for the Dioceses in Malawi and Zimbabwe in our neighbouring Province of Central Africa which were affected.

I appeal to Anglicans across Southern Africa to donate generously to ACSA's Disaster Relief Fund in order to provide relief to those in devastated areas.

(NASA PHOTO shows the cyclone sweeping across from Madagascar to hit the Mozambique coast.)

Bank details 

Bank: Standard Bank of SA Ltd
Branch: Thibault Square
Branch code: 02 09 09
Account number: 07 007 8394
Account name: Disaster Relief Fund

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Sermon preached at the Inauguration of the Missionary Diocese of Nampula

Bishop Manuel Ernesto blesses the Archbishop after his licensing.

Readings: 2 Chronicles 7:11-18; Psalm 122; Rev 21:1-4; Luke 19:1-10

May I speak in the name of God, who is Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Your Excellencies, Bishops, distinguished guests, clergy and people of God, it is a great joy for me to welcome you to this service as we give thanks to God for this very important milestone in the history of Niassa – the birth of a missionary diocese of Nampula.

It is also an honour and privilege to celebrate with you at this historic moment. Thank you everyone for the wonderful, warm welcome we received on our arrival here. Thank you, Bishops Vicente Msosa and Manuel Ernesto, together with your entire teams, for envisioning and planning this day. Thank you to the Provincial teams for the visits here and their guidance in ensuring that all the requirements for the new Diocese are met. Thank you also to those who gave off their time and were involved in the preparations for this service.

We thank God for the faithful who have kept the Gospel light burning here through their lives, their zeal, their prayers and their service and witness. Today, I especially thank God for his faithfulness to you who have made it possible for this Diocese to be inaugurated as a missionary diocese. We are able to gather here today because the Provincial teams that have visited have looked carefully at the challenges you face and have recommended the formation of the new Diocese as the appropriate way to help you meet those challenges. I also want to acknowledge with gratitude the efforts of our mission partners [the Mozambique and Angola Anglican Association (MANNA) and the Angola London Mozambique Association (ALMA) in the Diocese of London]. And of course our thanks must go also to the Bishops of Niassa who have laid the foundations for today over the past 30 years – Paulino Manhique, Mark van Koevering and Vicente Msosa – as well as the grandfather of the new Diocese, Bishop Dinis Sengulane of Lebombo.

In approving the new Diocese of Niassa and the Missionary diocese of Nampula, we have taken note of the huge area in which you as the Church in northern Mozambique minister. We have also noted the large number of chapelries that your parishes have and the impressive number of Catechists who help your Clergy to minister to your people. The last team which visited you found overwhelming support for establishing a missionary diocese of Nampula, and believed that such a step would enhance the work of the Anglican Church, and enable it to grow and flourish in this part of Mozambique.

So we thank all those involved in many different ways in getting us to where we are today. But above all, our thanks go to God for his sustaining care for you, particularly during the turbulent times of the past, and for affording you this time of great hope and opportunity, even though of course it comes with its own challenges. 

In our first reading today (2 Chronicles 7:11-18), the Chronicler gives us God’s comforting words to Solomon yet again. When he appeared to Solomon, the Lord emphasised the importance of obedience to the covenant in order to experience its blessings, rather than to suffer its curses. Obeying the covenant was particularly necessary as Solomon’s kingdom grew in influence and wealth, since prosperity brought with it a lot of potential for breaking the covenant.

So God needed Solomon to walk before God and observe God's decrees and laws in order for Solomon to establish his royal throne. This happened after David had gathered all the Israelites before him and before God and narrated how God had chosen Solomon to continue the work of building the Temple for God after him. Just as Moses received the plans for the tabernacle from God, so also David received the order from God that Solomon should build the temple. David gave Solomon definite directions on how he should erect the temple and ensure that the sacred vessels were carefully constructed. He was careful to mention that these were not his own ideas, but that he had been guided by divine revelation.

As you and I today, in the new Missionary Diocese of Nampula, continue with God’s work, just like David and Solomon we too need God's authority and to be led and encouraged by His Spirit. So, Friends as we inaugurate this diocese it is my prayer that you continue to seek authority and guidance from God at all times and in all situations.

The Gospel reading (Lk 19:1-10) also gives us another picture of a wonderful God whose love has no boundaries. The action of Jesus in recognising Zacchaeus is an example of what is possible as a result of God's unmeasurable love. As a tax collector, Zacchaeus collected as much money as he could so that after paying over to the government their share of the taxes, he would have a handsome payoff for himself. But he is clearly interested in Jesus, known as a friend of tax collectors, so climbed a sycamore-fig tree in order to see Jesus when he passed by.

Whether he hoped to be hidden from Jesus’ view is not certain, but whatever the case, Jesus summoned him with a request that he provide lodging. The command was obeyed and Zacchaeus showed both repentance and joy as he welcomed Jesus to his house. Outside there were great murmurings about Jesus’ fraternizing with such a man, but Jesus was able to justify his actions – salvation had come to the house of Zacchaeus, a son of Abraham who was as entitled to receive and to hear the Gospel as any other Jew. This act fully and finally summed up the purpose of Jesus’ coming; as a shepherd seeks the lost sheep, so the Son of Man seeks and saves the lost of humanity.

The question I want to ask here today is: who is Jesus here and now? What is his message to us as we seek to overcome the challenges that we face today, whether they concern corruption in central government, or challenges closer to home – moral decline in our communities, access to markets for farmers and both the potential and the difficulties which come with economic growth and more people moving into the towns in this Diocese? What is Jesus saying to us as we face the reality of the cruel attacks we have seen, apparently carried out by religious extremists, in Cabo Delgado over the last 18 months – attacks which we must condemn strongly? (We also condemn the actions of the extremist who murdered Muslims at prayer in New Zealand yesterday – we pray for the conversion of those who hold such beliefs and for atrocities such as this to strengthen inter-faith bonds against religious extremism.)

John in the Book of Revelation (21:1-4) gives us a picture of how life will be beyond the judgement – a happy and triumphant state of the redeemed church, when all its conflicts shall have ceased and all its enemies shall have been destroyed. This state is depicted by John in the imagery of Jerusalem – for Jerusalem was regarded as a peculiar place for the dwelling place of God, a symbol of a heavenly world. The apostle saw a new Jerusalem coming down from heaven, the church of God in its new and perfect state, beautified with the perfection of wisdom and holiness, as appropriate for the coming of Lord Jesus Christ in glory. The apostle says: “Behold! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them…”(21:3).

Friends, the blessed presence of God with his church is the glory of the church. You might have been in tears due the heaviness of the load on your shoulders, or faced  by afflictions or calamities in one way or another – the apostle assures you that tears are wiped away in Jesus. God himself, as your tender Father, with his own kind hand shall wipe them away.

The Revelation of John captures the imagery of the redeemed living in a world with Jerusalem as their abode. Friends, as we launch this new Diocese, I challenge you to see this positive act as the first step on a path towards a world in which you will live as the redeemed, a world in which all tears will be wiped away, all sorrow will cease and God will be with you.

However, belief in Christ is the keystone essential to the completion of that promise: without that belief, there can be no church. As we gather here to inaugurate this Diocese, you are crucial to the building of the Kingdom of God in this area; without you to remind this community of the presence of God in and around Nampula – wonderful though it is – all human efforts become meaningless. 

You are persons who derive your life from Christ; Christ who is the original living stone from whom you have come, the life-giving spirit. The whole body of Christ, priests and believers, are to reflect the holiness of God and that of their high priest, to offer spiritual sacrifices, to intercede for people before God and to represent God before humanity. May the Holy Spirit which brought back the resurrected Christ, the Spirit which changed the life of Zacchaeus for the better, and the Spirit which God's people experienced like a rushing mighty wind at Pentecost – may that Spirit transform your lives to be living stones for the foundation of God's church and this Diocese.

As the psalmist says, may we be that Jerusalem built as a city where pilgrims gather in unity (Ps 122). As Jesus lives, and because he lives, we shall live also. From grateful hearts, from lips touched by holy fire, let the glad song ring out, Christ our Foundation stone.

He lives to make intercession for us. As one writer says: Grasp this hope, and it will hold the soul like a sure, tried anchor. Believe and you shall see the glory of Incarnate Christ.

God bless you.

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba
Archbishop and Metropolitan
16th March  2019