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.

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  
 

Monday, 6 May 2019

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

MISSION OF MERCY, HOPE AND SOLIDARITY TO MOZAMBIQUE (LEBOMBO AND NIASSA DIOCESES) AFTER CYCLONE IDAI

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).