Tuesday 24 December 2019

Archbishop's Sermon for Midnight Mass, Christmas 2019

Midnight Mass – Christmas Eve
24th December 2019
Cathedral Church of St George the Martyr
The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba
Archbishop of Cape Town

Isaiah 62:6-12, Psalm 97, Titus 3:4-7, Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20 or John 1:1-14

May I speak in the name of God who is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Amen.

It’s been a difficult year for South Africans, and two recent encounters have highlighted this for me. First, when we marked the retirement last month of the Diocese’s Vicar-General, Keith de Vos, some of his parishioners brought home to me how many people, instead of seeing the “new dawn” being proclaimed for our country, are instead sensing that, actually, a dark cloud is hanging over us. And that was even before the Eskom power cuts reached Stage Six.

Second, as our family shared a meal around the table in Makgobaskloof last week, my daughter – who is a university student – to my surprise and I admit my chagrin, challenged me by asking, “Daddy, what kind of world, what kind of South Africa, am I going to grow up in?” I was at a loss for words to respond – not such a good condition for an Archbishop. Unpacking her concerns, she explained that she felt on the edge of a precipice, distressed by the lack of trust in the world and by the pressures on her and her peers, hopeful at the end of the Zuma era but upset by the pervasive greed in South Africa, jubilant at the success of the Springboks but despairing at the continuing lack of equality of opportunity for people of her age.

These exchanges shook me. Here we are on the cusp of a new decade and the worries being expressed represent the questions many South Africans are  asking. So I forced myself to focus on Christmas, on the readings for tonight, and on the carols we sing at this time of year.

Beginning with that beautiful passage from Isaiah: it tells us that until Jerusalem is established here on earth, all of us ought to be sentinels (in the older translations, they use the words “biblical watchmen”); that we ought to be citizens of God who have a sense of duty not only to God, but who also have a responsibility for the public welfare. And the writer of the passage assures us that even if things are tough, God will remove the shackles that bind us, that salvation is assured and that God will ensure that Jerusalem will not be forsaken. Then the Psalmist talks about a God who reigns, who is the one who designs the whole world, the whole cosmos. I found this image of God as a designer very powerful – a designer of the world, the values of whose reign are values of justice and righteousness.

Finally, the reading from John’s Gospel set for tonight has a beautiful way of describing the Incarnation – the coming of God into the world. It portrays the Incarnation as a form of light. In an interesting twist, it says the Incarnation is light shining into the darkness. Note that it doesn’t say darkness will go. Darkness survives, it continues to exist, but where the light shines, where Jesus comes, it dispels the darkness. The concentration is no longer on darkness, but instead it’s on God’s people who need to be saved. And although God is particular to Jerusalem, and in the psalms God is particular to the Israelites, the Incarnation, the light, says that our God is also universal. God is a god of all, not just for Christians,  and the Incarnation calls us to witness to God in almost everything; to bring God’s light to where there is darkness, and to witness to the light wherever we are.

Turning to the carols, I was drawn again to that carol originating in mid-19th century America called “It Came upon the Midnight Clear”. The composer,  Edmund Sears, wrote it as he was wrestling with the harsh paradox of celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace at a time when the United States had been at war with Mexico and as it was still gripped by the demonic force of slavery. Sears in his carol recognises that the slaves of that time, as is still true today, live “beneath life's crushing load”, that they are those “whose forms are bending low, Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow.”

At the time he wrote, it was night for those slaves in America. Tonight, as we enter a new decade, it is night for so many in our land, for many around the world, for those who hunger and thirst for food and water, and curl up at night hungry. It is night. It is night for those who hunger and thirst for some kind of peace in places of deadly conflict, who hunger and thirst for justice in places where human rights are either ignored or abused. It is night for those who have been the victims of violence and so horribly of gender-based violence. It is night for the 26 million refugees and 41 million people displaced from their homes in their own countries who face untold dangers. It is night for all of them.

But Sears’s carol recognised that amidst that cauldron of human wrong in America, the hovering angels and their celestial songs were in fact words of deep challenge to the status quo. They were intimations of liberation and signs of a new historical epoch, and thus words of hope. He encourages those bowed down: “Look now! For glad and golden hours, Come swiftly on the wing.”

Sears’s hymn, and the other Gospel reading from Luke tonight, tell us that we don’t have to live beneath life’s crushing load. We don’t have to accept the low opinion others might have of us. We don’t have to internalise negative self-images. Listen to our hearts, hear what God is saying, what heaven is ringing out tonight. We can get up. We can walk away from the marginalisation others impose on us. We don’t have to accept other people’s darkness. We can do what the shepherds did on that original Christmas night. They were people without any security, with very meagre belongings, no permanent abode and lacking in any social status, yet they summoned up their courage and did what Christmas always challenges us to do: to leave the familiar, to leave our comfort zones and be vulnerable enough to journey to the margins, to the places of no regard and to discern there the new thing that God is doing that is of such great joy. God bids us find what that new-born Baby represents – a new humanity, our full worth, our incomparable dignity that no one can take from us.

Christmas is always essentially about something new, something unthought of, unheard of, that comes to offer a new dawn. As we enter this new decade, the words “Twenty-twenty” have such a landmark ring to them, marking the beginning of a new decade which invites us to think bigger thoughts, to dream bigger dreams and to scale up our ambitions for what we can achieve, for ourselves, our communities and our society in the next 10 years.

What is for certain is that 2020 will not be short of drama. Many see it as a year of judgment. Certainly in the U.S., the world is in for a roller-coaster year as Americans go back to the polls to pass judgement on President Trump. Brexit in the UK will be resolved, one way or the other – or will it? Whatever happens, it is likely to leave that country divided, damaged and diminished.

Here in South Africa, we hope it is “the year of the orange jump-suit”, a year of reckoning for those whose greed has driven the country to the brink of disaster. On this night, of all nights, I don’t want to appear vindictive. Nor do I want to join the ranks of those who would put undue pressure on prosecutors to rush their work. Shamila Batohi, Hermione Cronje and their teams at the National Prosecuting Authority need to be given the space to do their jobs properly and to prepare watertight cases which secure convictions. Botched prosecutions and widespread acquittals would be a disaster, sending the wrong signals to the corrupt and plunging the country into despair. But there must be consequences for corruption, both for those in the private sector who facilitate it and those in the public sector who take advantage of it. The justice, the peace, the reconciliation and the abundant life which a flourishing democracy promises will be achieved only if those who threaten to subvert it are held accountable. So I pray that our hope is not misplaced.

The leaders of our government have had nearly two years to get their act together, rebuild national and international trust and begin to keep the many promises they’ve made to us. Much as I respect our  President, and have said he can’t bring about change with a magic wand, it remains true that he, his Cabinet and Parliament are excellent talkers, good enough to talk a dog down from a meat truck. But when it comes to improving service delivery, delivering basic healthcare and bringing our education system up to global standards to ensure equality of opportunity for all our children, their words are empty and actionless. As Freddy Mercury of Queen once sang:

All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio blah blah
Radio, what's new? 

We need to believe we can do better. We need to believe we must do better. We need to believe we will do better. And let us start by examining ourselves: instead of complaining about what the government hasn’t done for us, ask what it is that you can do for your neighbour.

Looking ahead to the next decade, I hope we will abandon old shibboleths and begin to take economically rational decisions about our country. Not only in South Africa, but internationally, the last decade has shown that neither unbridled capitalism and globalisation, nor a centralised command economy will produce the growth and the jobs we need. Across the world, the economic ordering of society and the question of how we develop our material resources is central to the crises that afflict us. In South Africa I have said that the old economic order must go. But inequality is not confined to South Africa, or Brazil, or the United States – it affects us all – and I am a strong supporter of an initiative by the international faith community to advocate a new form of global governance and a new economic framework, one which would transform the market economy from a self-serving mechanism for elites to one which is less exploitative and both serves our environment and distributes resources and income more equitably.

For our Church, 2020 will also be an historic year. For the first time in more than decade, archbishops and bishops from across the world will gather at the 2020 Lambeth Conference in Canterbury to discuss the future of our Church and its role in global and local society. For the past four years, I have chaired the Lambeth Design Group as we have worked collaboratively to build a framework around what we call “Pillars of Relevance”, which reflect the key issues facing our global Church in the next decade.

These pillars challenge us in South Africa to ask a number of questions: What do young people really want out of their church experience? How can the Church motivate and inspire our leaders to focus on creating a South Africa where there is a genuine equality of opportunity? How can we draw families, neighbours, communities and our country into Courageous Conversations around our family dinner tables, boardroom tables and parliamentary cafeteria tables to become a country of active listeners, openly debating differences with the intention of finding bridges of common agreement? And one of the most important questions facing our children and grandchildren today: what leadership role can the Church play in shaping the future in a climate changing world?

Lastly, how do we in the Church restore trust in our institutions, our leaders and ourselves? We are living through an era of historic distrust, in which we are challenged to examine how we can rise up above the clamour of hate and intolerance and address the atmosphere in which people don’t want to listen to opposing views or consider ideas different from their own. It is our responsibility to to look both inside and outside the stained glass windows of our churches and ask: if we don’t work to re-establish trust in society, who will? And if we don’t do it now, then when will it happen?

Despite our challenges, as we close out one decade and open the door to another, I am hopeful. Not because, to quote the eminent South African feminist theologian, Denise Ackermann, I have a “blithe sense that all will end well (or alles sal regkom) because human progress is guaranteed.” No, I am hopeful because to hope is to be determined to name our problems and highlight our differences, precisely in order to mobilise people to overcome them. As Denise adds: “To live out my hope is to try to make that which I hope for come about – sooner rather than later.”

We believe and trust in a God of hope. So let us reflect that in our personal lives, in our Church’s life and in the life of the country as we enter the twenty-twenties.

God bless you, your family and God bless South Africa. God loves you.  And so do I.

Amen

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Sermon preached at the Institution of the Rev Timothy Lowes


Institution of the Rev Timothy Lowes as Rector of the Parish of St Michael and All Angels, Observatory, Cape Town

Readings: Psalm 122; Isaiah 22:1-14; 1 Peter 2: 11-3:7

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, people of God in this parish, and your new Rector, Father Timothy,  Nina and your family: it is great to be with you this evening and to share in your joy as you receive your new incumbent.

Let me begin by thanking you for your wonderful welcome on our arrival here. Thank you for inviting me, and many thanks to Fr Tony, who with the assistance of other priests here, has kept the fires burning during the interregnum. Thank you Fr Tony, for who you are to God’s church and also for taking me through the progress you have all made during the interregnum. When I was here on Mothering Sunday in March, I shared my apology to the Churchwardens and to you all for the length of time it has taken to appoint your new Rector, and indicated that I had put out feelers in the Communion which I hoped would enable us to interview potential candidates soon. Today I have come to fulfil that promise as we institute Father Timothy as your new Rector.

Isaiah speaks of “the valley of vision” which is a symbolic title emphasising that the prophet’s own base, from which he has surveyed the nations, is not exempt from judgement. This was at the time of the final Babylonian siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, from about 588 to 586 B.C..

Here Isaiah gives us early warning of a crisis for Jerusalem. He predicts where the escapism – and the contempt for God's wrath and justice – which he sees will end. He foretells the fall of Jerusalem a century away, with its casualties of famine, its fugitive leaders and its houses torn down to strengthen the wall. However, God’s design was to humble his people and bring them to repentance. Their lack of belief displeased God, who viewed it as sinful, shameful and something for which they were not likely to repent.

As members of this Parish and Diocese, what lessons can we draw from this passage? How could we respond to God’s reaction to the Israelites? Considering what they might have done differently, what could we do differently to meet the challenges and the warnings of our times?

My own experience of receiving an early warning of a societal crisis came in the 1990s, when, arising from clinical work I did as a psychologist, I began to volunteer at a shelter for abused women in Johannesburg, operated by a project called Women Against Woman Abuse. That experience exposed me early on to a phenomenon, the seriousness of which was only just beginning to be recognized in the church as we began to move away from apartheid. Counselling the women who lived in that shelter, I couldn’t believe that human beings could be so evil towards one another. I have written elsewhere of how I heard stories of men inflicting burns on women, kicking pregnant women, inserting objects into their orifices and stabbing them in their genitals. I wept with women and children as I heard of obscene phone calls, of incest, of a boy allowing a friend to rape his girlfriend and of children being raped in front of their parents. That ministry, as I have written previously, was profoundly depressing and made me realise that man, if left to his own devices, could wipe out the whole of humanity.

And of course in recent months and years, the depth and breadth of this crisis have become increasingly apparent. So as this year's 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence come to an end, I appeal to us all: let us not allow this crucial matter of urgent – no, more than urgent – this matter of desperate concern to our society not to fall off our agenda as we struggle in our daily lives how to overcome practical everyday problems such as loadshedding.

Turning to another of our day's readings, Peter in his first letter (1 Peter 2:1-10), clearly gives the Christian position before God and surveys the richness of the salvation that believers enjoy when they are in communion with God. This, perhaps, may be the answer to the problem highlighted by Isaiah. Peter here mentions that Christians are born anew by the mercy of God and are being guarded by the power of God and look forward to obtaining complete deliverance from evil.

Earthly trials, no matter how challenging and difficult, help us sift out what is really genuine in our faith. So we should rejoice that if we face up to and meet our personal and societal challenges, we will come to rejoice in how God blesses us for doing so. Triumphant faith in the unseen Christ has two results for the believer: in the present, an expressive joy even in the midst of adversity; and in the future the prospect of the fuller realization and enjoyment of salvation.

Sisters and brothers, Christ is mentioned as a ‘living stone’ that is rejected by humankind but chosen by God (v.4). And so believers are not literal pieces of rock but persons, Peter maintains.  They derive their life from Christ, who is the original living ‘stone’ to whom they have come. Also the house is spiritual in a metaphoric sense but also is formed and indwelt by the Spirit of God. We have to understand that every stone in the house has been made alive by the Holy Spirit, sent by the exalted living Stone, Jesus Christ.

As we gather here this evening, in this church with such a rich and unique history in this Diocese, we celebrate the institution of Father Timothy as the new Rector of this special parish. As we commit him, Nina and the family to you and the church, we also commit him to this community of Observatory. It now becomes your responsibility to strive to work together in building the kingdom of God here.

I urge you, Father, to lead courageously the people who are under your care. May you be that window through which they who are under your care see God, since you are ultimately answerable to God for the quality of that care.

You are all called to reflect the holiness of God, to offer spiritual sacrifices, to intercede for humankind before God, and to represent God before all people. Therefore, choose the precious cornerstone on which to build a strong foundation for the Church in the here and now. 

And so Father Timothy, as you take up this new ministry, you are called to reach out to those who have sinned and call them back to God. You have to keep your spiritual integrity intact, resisting becoming like those who resist God. You are called to reach out to everyone, whether they accept God’s message or not. That is the essence of your call to this ministry and parish.

May all of you work together to transform this parish, this community, the city of Cape Town and the world.

God loves you, and so do I.

Amen 

Monday 9 December 2019

An update on Archbishop Desmond's condition


Dear Parishioners

Many of you will have read that it is hoped that Archbishop Emeritus Desmond will be out of hospital early this week. 
The Archbishop giving Desmond and Leah Tutu his award for peace and justice.

I went to see him yesterday after our Advent ordinations at St George’s Cathedral. I found him sitting up on a chair after saying his Evening Office. He was looking physically much better than when I last saw him – he is in a good space. During the ordinations, the tassles of my mitre got stuck at its apex and stuck out from my head like a pair of bunny ears until the Dean stepped in and fixed them. Archbishop Desmond laughed so much I think he would have been rolling around had he been younger.

He said he was healing and hoped to be home soon, and as always also expressed his appreciation for his medical team and his doctor. But he spent much more time asking about the health and welfare of our bishops and clergy, expressing anxiety at our heavy schedules as bishops. I had the impression that he spends a good deal of his time praying for us all, and I know he deeply values the various intercession lists that many of you send him.

I passed on the greetings to him that I had received from parishioners and he asked me:

“Please write and say that you passed on their love and prayers for me, and that I have received these with great appreciation and I send my love and prayers to them too.”

He then asked me to lay my hands on him and bless him. I did, he said “Amen”, then took off his glasses and wiped his eyes. He insisted on standing, with difficulty, to see me off at the door.

I know you will all keep him and all his family in your prayers.

God bless

++Thabo Cape Town

Wednesday 4 December 2019

A letter to Parishioners from Archbishop Thabo on Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu


Dear Parishioners

Many of you will have heard that Archbishop Emeritus Desmond has been admitted to hospital for the treatment of what Mama Leah described as a stubborn infection. He has been hospitalised a number of times over the past few years for such infections.

I went to see him this evening, where I found him lucid and engaging. He said he is as good as he can be for an 88-year-old, especially in view of his ill-health in childhood.

When I told him that I had told Leah I was coming to scold him out of hospital, he chuckled warmly, which is a good sign. He also said he apologised for  making me do so many hospital visits!

Before leaving, we said the Lord's Prayer together and I gave him a blessing.

Please pray for him, for Mama Leah, for Trevor, Thandi, Nontombi and Mpho and their familes, and for the doctors treating him.

God bless

++Thabo Cape Town

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Saturday 30 November 2019

WATER IN TIMES OF CLIMATE CHANGE - A Report

Mrs. Matlotlisang Mototjane of the Provincial Executive Office recently represented the Archbishop at the International Water Week (IWW) Conference and the Water Symposium in
Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Her report can be downloaded here:

WATER IN TIMES OF CLIMATE CHANGE [PDF]

Friday 15 November 2019

Archbishop appeals for prayers for refugees after church attack

(Photo: CMM)

Archbishop Thabo today appealed for prayers for asylum seekers and refugees after being attacked by some of those who have taken refuge in Cape Town's Central Methodist Mission (CMM).

“The key is to focus on their plight and how South Africa can be more welcoming,” he said in a comment released after visiting the mission's church on Greenmarket Square.

The Revd Chris Nissen of the South African Human Rights Commission told the Mail & Guardian that some refugees had attacked him, a Congolese pastor and Archbishop Thabo. They had hit the archbishop and “threw bottles at him.”

The archbishop confirmed that he had been hit on the forehead. He told the Mail & Guardian, “We were clobbered... I have a bump on my head, but I’ll be alright...

“If I were to put on my psychologist's hat, I would describe this as termination anxiety. We were delivering the hard truth. Things they didn’t want to hear. So they expressed some level of anger,” he added.

The newspaper's report said the attack followed a reportback on options available to those who had occupied the church, which fell short of what they had been demanding.

The Revd Alan Storey of the CMM said in a report on the mission's website that the group which met the refugees included the Human Rights Commission, the Africa Diaspora Forum, More than Peace, Archbishop Thabo and pastors to the refugee community.

“The hope was to inform everyone of the discussions that had taken place over the last week that had been facilitated by the South African Human Rights Commission as well for me to request that people begin to vacate the Sanctuary.

“The chair of the Human Rights Commission and myself were able to speak to everyone. But when one of the Pastors (known to the refugees) tried to speak – some people refused to allow him to do so and thereafter the Pastor and other members of the above-mentioned group were assaulted.

“A semblance of calm was restored with the help of some refugee leaders and many of the refugees intervening to protect people. Thereafter we were able to get members of the group out of the sanctuary into safety. It is very concerning that three people of this group were injured while everyone else is obviously in shock.

“The whole situation is very sad and troubling, not only because of where it took place or who was hurt, but because any violence anywhere against anymore is self-defeating. Violence does not solve anything. It just causes more hurt and more problems.”




Wednesday 13 November 2019

Archbishop sends prayers and condolences after KZN tornado


To God’s People in the Diocese of Natal, and to Bishop Tsietsi,


The TV coverage of the wreckage left by the tornado in your Diocese has shocked and devastated me. Weather patterns are definitely changing and whether or not we agree that we face a climate crisis, the changes are hitting God’s people, more especially those who haven't the resources to mitigate the severe consequences on their lives.


I reassure you of my prayers and condolences, and those of our whole Church, for the relatives and friends of those who died, for those who were injured, and for those whose property was destroyed. I appeal to our parishioners who were not as badly affected to please assist those who have suffered the most.


Be assured of our love and prayers


God bless


Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Thursday 10 October 2019

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba condemns anti-semitic attack on German synagogue

Archbishop Thabo today condemned the attack on a synagogue in Halle, which took place on Yom Kippur:

"Yesterday's attack on a synagogue in Halle comes as a triple shock to the conscience, and must be condemned with all the vigour we can muster.

"Firstly, it reflects the deeply disturbing rise of anti-semitism and extremist nationalism to levels unprecedented in recent European history, moreover in a country responsible for the horrors of the Holocaust.

"Secondly the attack is all the more shocking in that it was directed at a place of worship, and thirdly - compounding the evil - it was carried out on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year.

"We grieve for the victims of the attack and pray for the survivors. We also pray for our Jewish sisters and brothers everywhere, for whom centuries of persecution make any such attack anywhere in the world profoundly worrying and distressing."

Thursday 3 October 2019

An address to Taize pilgrims in Cape Town

(Photo: Ricky Kleinhans)

TaizĂ© Pilgrimage
28 September 2019

Good evening. Bonsoir. Molweni. Guten abend. Dumelang. Boa noite. Goeienaand. Sanbonani. Buena noches. Habari za jioni.

A very warm spring welcome to all of you! Palaeontologists tell us that all human life as we know it started here in the southernmost part of Africa, so welcome home. You are all Africans!

Thank you, young people from across South Africa, from the rest of Africa and from other parts of the world, for coming on this Pilgrimage of Trust and for gracing us with your presence. I am sorry that I could not join you earlier – I have just returned from the three-yearly meeting of my church's legislative body. But you were in good hands.

Thank you to the host families and hosting congregations. Thank you for making us proud with your gifts and skills of hospitality! Julle skrik vir niks! Baie dankie. Enkosi kakhulu.

Thank you to the members of the Taize community – to Brother Alois, Brother Luc and your whole team (to Brothers Norbert, Claudio – I hear you have an angelic voice – to Paolo, Herve, Parfait, Kombo and all the others). Thank you all for your hard work over these last two years.

Thank you for what your community represents and for reminding us that we draw our strength from God's first language, which is silence. I know that these two years during which you have planned this Pilgrimage have not been an easy time for you. But you have laboured on despite the challenges. You therefore deserve a standing ovation.

There is a young man here from the Moravian Church who has given an enormous amount of his time to help organise this. His name is David Daniels. The Moravian Church provided the first Christian missionaries for South Africa and you are living up to that legacy beautifully. Thank you, David, for your hard work.

We also thank those such as Baruti Wilma Jakobsen and Chris Ahrends from South Africa and Mona Okelo from Kenya for their hard work in helping and encouraging the brothers in their work. Asante sana. Thank you very much.

Thank you too to my twin brother, Archbishop Stephen, for your constant support – ke
leboha haholo, Archbishop Stephen – and also a very special thanks to my brother Dr Gustav Claasen of the NG Kerk for your support and wonderful contributions – baie dankie, my broer in Christus. Thank you also to all the other church leaders. And a huge thank you to another very special brother in Christ from the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, who is very close to the Taize community and who brought a group of young people from the UK to this pilgrimage.

Before I say anything more, please allow me to convey through you, our sisters and brothers from other parts of our continent, my profound apologies, and I am sure the profound apologies of other South Africans here, for the violence inflicted in recent times on migrants and refugees from other parts of Africa. We are appalled and ashamed by the actions of those of our compatriots who attacked your compatriots. All of us, including our government, need to adopt new attitudes and new laws so we can truly live the spirit of ubuntu. The church affirms that we are Catholic, in the best and widest sense of that word. We embrace all as Christ embraces all. Let us continue to aspire to that.

I believe that this pilgrimage has begun to re-energize us from below, so helping us South Africans to reimagine the ecumenical movement at the grassroots. I hope that the Church Unity Commission, the South African Council of Churches, the South African Christian Leadership Initiative and other ecumenical structures have taken note of what happened here this week. You, the young people have shown us what unity in Christ really means.

Unity in Christ cannot happen instantly, but is a movement of the Spirit. So we must ask:

  • Will the seeds that have been planted here fall on fertile ground and grow? Or will they fall on hardened hearts?
  • If we can grow them, are we ready to nurture the young plants? Or will our disunity be like weeds that strangle what has been started?
  • And is the church on this continent ready to be the answer to the prayer of Jesus in John 17: “Father, may they be one, even as you and I are one”?

The work of building unity is often approached with anxiety, as an issue of complexity. But what would happen if we rather approached it with simplicity, building friendships and trust, just listening to each other's stories? Can we imagine what might happen?

Please, young people, don't wait for the rest of us. Show us the way as you have always done. Show us what unity in action means. Show us what hope means. Show us what just economic relationships mean. Show us the way on climate justice. Show us that there is no Planet B. Show us that the poor will suffer most when water levels rise. Show us that serving Mammon will only lead to our destruction and that we should speak out on behalf of the trees and the birds and the animals. Ecological destruction is all around us and if we are not careful, we will soon not have enough fish and clean air and clean water. Help us to defend and preserve this.

Young Christian men: you have a special responsibility to stop the violence against women. When God sees the violence being perpetrated on women and girls, then God weeps over God's creation. God has created us all equal: now live that out in your everyday lives. We must, through our lives and our love, make God smile again.

Christian young people: you have a special responsibility to build and strengthen community for other young people. Many of our young people are traumatised and wholesome Christian community is needed for their healing. If we don’t do this in our schools, in our communities and on our campuses, we leave a vacuum which those with evil intentions will fill. We need to strengthen our youth ministries and young people must lead the way.

Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for the hope of the Resurrection! This is a hope that is not here today and gone tomorrow, but it is a permanent hope, which we will celebrate tomorrow. Just when we fear that evil is overwhelming us, God gives us new hope and new joy. Just recently, the Ndlovu youth choir from Limpopo raised our spirits by inspiring America with their story of hope and joy. They did so not representing only South Africa, but the whole of Africa.

We all can and must live that same hope and joy every day. We light candles where we are every day. Don't stop doing that even if you are not acknowledged. God sees your action and God rejoices. Be assured that such small acts will multiply and grow.

Please take our love back to your homes, your families, your friends and your congregations. Please pray for South Africa as we battle the forces that corrupt the vision of Nelson Mandela.

When he was inaugurated as our president, he declared that “never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.” Tonight, let us adapt and repeat those words as our declaration of commitment:

Never, never and never again must our disunity be a stumbling block for others;
Never, never and never again should we suffer corruption and the abuse of power in Africa or elsewhere;
Never, never and never again must one person think of him or herself as more important than others;
Never, never and never again must young people beg us adults to care for creation.

Always live the joy and the hope that Christ has planted in your hearts through the Resurrection. And let me conclude with a prayer we adapted from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu:

God bless our world
Protect our children
Transform our leaders
Heal our communities
Restore our dignity
And give us peace
For Jesus Christ's sake,
Amen.

God loves you and so do I. God bless you, and travel safely when you return home. 

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Sunday 29 September 2019

Archbishop issues Pastoral Letter to Diocese of Natal after Bishop's resignation

The text of a Pastoral Letter sent after the Synod of Bishops meeting in Benoni last week:

26 September 2019

PASTORAL LETTER TO THE DIOCESAN FAMILY OF NATAL

Resignation of the Rt Revd Dino Gabriel as Bishop of Natal

To the People of God in the Diocese of Natal,

Greetings in the name of our blessed Lord.

I write to you, lay Anglicans and clergy in the Diocese of Natal, in consequence of the sudden resignation of your Bishop, the Right Revd Dino Gabriel, and after a discussion of his decision to resign by the Synod of Bishops on Monday 23 September.

It is my duty to inform you that Bishop Dino has made clear that his decision is irrevocable and that I have accepted it.

In summary, his resignation was precipitated by the consequences of pressures on Diocesan finances. Those pressures do not involve any financial wrongdoing, but rather are the result of an ambitious growth projectory which could not be sustained.

There is a sense in which Bishop Dino's resignation is an unexpected bringing forward of the inevitable, since he was due to retire soon. Nevertheless, I am heartbroken over this development and its implications for the Diocese.

Ever since I was Bishop of Grahamstown, the second oldest diocese in our Church, the Diocese of Natal, as the third oldest, has held a special place in my heart. You have produced many of our best theologians and teachers of theologians, and you continue to be one of the greatest supporters of the College of the Transfiguration and the future of theological education. Your last two bishops have served as Deans of the Province, Bishop Michael Nuttall as “Number to Tutu” and Rubin Phillip to me.

But precisely because of the inherent strengths of your Diocese, I am hopeful for the future, in particular for your capacity to come together, soberly and prayerfully, to reach out to one another across the differences you will experience and to chart the way forward with integrity and compassion.

The Synod of Bishops wants me to assure you of their deep concern and care for all of you. The appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that the Diocese is administered in accordance with the Church's Canons in the interregnum and that the spiritual well-being of the Diocese is attended to.

A detailed plan of pastoral oversight for the Diocese will be developed to ensure that pastoral, liturgical and administrative ministry is exercised with love and care. The Synod of Bishops will also ensure that pastoral and personal care will be provided for Bishop Dino and his family.

It is the Synod of Bishops' sincere prayer and desire that you will find God’s will and one another as you continue to seek resolution to the challenges you are facing as a diocesan family. At a time which is appropriate to meeting those challenges, I look forward to presiding over an Elective Assembly.

May almighty God, in His infinite love and mercy bring peace and wholeness to each one of you, members of God’s family.

Yours in His love and service,

++Thabo Cape Town

Saturday 28 September 2019

Archbishop responds to Synod debate on ministry to LGBTQI Christians

Responding to debates at this week's meeting of Provincial Synod, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba - who is on record as saying that ministry to the LGBTQ community should be dealt with as a pastoral matter in local communities - gave the following comments:

 “Because the Archbishop’s Commission has sensitised more people to the issue and got the broader church to think and reflect, there has been movement forward since 2016. At least we are now engaging with one another. 

“But the discussion is still painful for everyone, and emotion, prejudice and fear rather than theological substance dominated this year’s deliberations on both sides.

“I am obviously disappointed in this year’s outcome, but take heart that (1) we now have a permanent commission, (2) we have tangible suggestions that we are sending to the faithful, and (3) that we have a year to review the situation. I will continue to soak everyone involved in prayer.” 

A report on the debates -- including the Archbishop's comments in their context -- appears here:
https://anglicanchurchsa.org/provincial-synod-resumes-debate-on-human-sexuality/


Tuesday 24 September 2019

Archbishop's Charge to Provincial Synod 2019

Review, Renew and Restore: Reconnecting Faith to Daily Life Inside and Outside the Stained Glass Windows
 
Charge of the Archbishop and Metropolitan, the Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba to Provincial Synod 2019 


A PDF version of this Charge is available here >>

Readings: Esther 5:1-14; Psalm 124 and Luke 8:19-21

Greetings and Appreciation

May I speak in the name of God who creates, redeems and sustains us. Amen.

Wednesday 11 September 2019

Archbishops of Nigeria and Southern Africa issue joint statement on attacks on migrants

Joint statement by the Primate of Nigeria, His Grace the Most Revd Nicholas D. Okoh, and the Metropolitan of Southern Africa, His Grace the Most Revd Thabo C. Makgoba

As the Archbishops of Nigeria and Southern Africa, we condemn the breakdown of law and order consequent upon the xenophobic attacks carried out on Africans from other parts of the continent, including Nigerians, who live and work in South Africa. No matter what grievances people have, mob violence is no way to respond, and we condemn the violence outright. We express our sympathy to those who have been injured in the attacks and our regrets at the loss of property and businesses.

Within and between our respective churches, we commit to opening dialogue with all involved with a view finding lasting solutions to the tensions. As two leading nations on the continent, Nigerians and South Africans should be working together to the mutual benefit of friendship and productive economic relations between our peoples. We pray for peace among our peoples, and for God's blessings on Nigeria, South Africa and all Africans affected by these deplorable attacks.

We prayerfully task our two Presidents (Nigeria and South Africa) to seek a diplomatic solution to the issues causing tension and bitterness.

++Nicholas Nigeria ++Thabo Cape Town    



Sunday 8 September 2019

Sermon for a Combined Confirmation Service for Anglican schools in Cape Town

Sermon for a Combined Confirmation Service for Anglican schools in Cape Town, St Saviour's Church, Claremont:


Readings: Jeremiah 18: 1-11; Psalm 139:1-5,12-18; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14: 25-33

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

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, dear people of God, heads of participating schools – Mr Stewart West of Herschel, our host school this year; Mrs Sue Redelinghuis of St Cyprian’s; Mr Guy Pearson of Diocesan College; and Mr Julian Cameron of St George’s Grammar School – also friends and families, it is a great joy to be with you today and share in this important milestone in the lives of the confirmation candidates. Let me also greet Bishop Garth and Marion, whom I saw as I entered the church today. Indeed, there is life after retirement!

Saturday 7 September 2019

Archbishop Thabo issues message condemning South African attacks on other Africans




Transcript of the message:


I am Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, and on behalf of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, its Synod of Bishops and its people, drawn from Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, St Helena and Swaziland, as well as across South Africa, we are deeply disturbed by the recent orchestrated attacks on citizens from outside our country – sadly called foreign nationals, for no one is foreign, all are all God's people and all are Africans.

Tuesday 3 September 2019

Archbishop Thabo writes to South Africa's President about attacks on migrants


In 2017, then Deputy President Ramaphosa at Bishopscourt.

His Excellency M. Cyril Ramaphosa
President of the Republic
TSWHANE

Dear Mr President,

We know that you are as distressed as we in the churches are at the injury to people and the wanton looting of the property of those perceived to be migrants that we have seen in recent days. In a number of areas, the police seem to be overwhelmed.  One fears for the chaos that will ensue if this spreads completely out of control of the law enforcement agencies.

Monday 2 September 2019

Statement on the death of Uyinene Mrwetyana

On my own and the Anglican Church's behalf, my deepest condolences to the family of Uyinene Mrwetyana, to her friends and fellow students and to staff at UCT. May her soul rest in peace.

As the father of a daughter at the same institution, I feel this loss especially painfully. Society must rally against the dreadful prevalence of violence against women and children, and the quick investigation and arrest in this case is to be commended.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Background: https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2019-09-02-breaking-missing-uct-student-was-bludgeoned-with-a-scale-in-post-office/

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.

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):

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07gqfvp

A shorter edit of the interview was carried in the live broadcast of the programme on Sunday July 14, halfway through the programme:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qnbd/episodes/player

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: https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/28-june/news/world/makgoba-lambeth-2020-boycotts-will-not-help-anyone

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:

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.

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.)

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.

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