Friday, 3 July 2020

The Need for Steward Leadership in Times of Disruption

Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership

UCT Graduate School of Business


"The Need for Steward Leadership in Times of Disruption” – Webinar in the Allan Gray Speaker Series


The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop of Cape Town

June 30, 2020


Introduction

Thank you, Prof Kurt April, for your kind introduction and welcome. Thank you all for joining me in my reflections as we seek together to make this world a better place for us, our children and their children.

I am an Allan Gray Associate of the Centre who is a spiritual leader. In my daily life as a teacher in the Christian family, I wrestle with the question, “What are the signs of the times?” Even before COVID-19 times, I was asking, what is it that is so profoundly disrupting life as we know it? What disrupts our economic and sociological certainties, and the social practices that we have long taken for granted and accepted as axiomatic? In the light of the disruptions we are experiencing in the 21st century, what are the possibilities of thinking and acting differently?

The coronavirus crisis only intensifies the questioning. The epidemiologsts have been telling us for years that this kind of pandemic was inevitable, and they continue to warn us that there will be new pandemics in future. This means that the sense we developed in the 20th century that the world was coming under our control is illusory. We have to be ready to change the way we live – knowing we will have to adapt without knowing exactly what we will have to adapt to.

On the plus side, the disruption offers space in our understanding of leadership that allows for something new to be considered. Since we don't know what we will be called to make decisions about, my focus as a Christian spiritual leader is on the principles of how we make decisions in disruptive times – principles such as approaching crises with an open mind; on the importance of holding firm to your values, but being flexible on appropriate responses; on the need to convene and listen to experts, including those of differing opinions; and on promoting a consensus response where possible.

I also find it helpful to view our challenges as if we are interacting with our families. Is what I value at family level, congruent with what I value and practise in public? In my work and public life, do I act with the same integrity as I must with the members of my family who know me well? And families are useful at bringing you down to earth, teaching you humility and forcing you to keep your sense of humour. I'll never forget being sent to pray with the Hani family in Dawn Park, Boksburg, after Chris was murdered in 1993. Taking myself seriously, I hesitated over how to minister to a room full of people I assumed were communists, until the Eastern Cape veteran and Rivonia trialist, Raymond Mhlaba, broke the ice by saying, “Please pray, Mfundisi, we may be communists, but we know the Lord’s Prayer!”

Most people, whether they know anything about the Christian Bible or not, do however know and use the term “good Samaritan”. I am reminded of the indigenous healer from Alexandra township, who is said to have told a patient: “Hey, I charge real money, I am not a good Samaritan!“

After recent controversy about a public figure's use of the Bible, allegedly to question Government policy towards Israel, I must be careful to get my hermeneutics – that is, my interpretation of the Bible – correct in the public domain. But the story of the Samaritan – the stranger who in Luke's Gospel goes out of his way to help a Jewish crime victim on the side of the road, despite the distrust between the two groups – is a story that speaks of a paradigm shift born of disruption. The Samaritan's journey is disrupted by the appearance of a victim who is wounded, treated badly and dehumanised by others.

The victim stands for those whom Frantz Fanon has called the wretched of the earth – the poor, the marginalised, those who have been deprived of their means of sustainability, those who have pain of whatever kind inflicted on them by others. We know who they are, and one of the realities of this pandemic is that it has blatantly exposed in a new way the injustices which ravage our world.


The context for Steward Leadership

It is not only the questioning that the COVID-19 crisis intensifies. It has of course also intensified the disruption, and enjoins us to act with new urgency as steward leaders, rooting out the injustices of the past, healing divisions by creating a non-racial country, ending inequality, improving the quality of life for all citizens, freeing the potential of every South African and through God’s blessing building a democratic country.

While disruption did not begin with the coronavirus lockdown, it has opened the lid of a pot under which a cauldron was simmering, a cauldron in which the poor could barely breathe and which had the potential to boil over and blow the lid sky-high. COVID-19 is reminding us of the constitutional value of solidarity with the poor, the unseen, the abused and the powerless.

Long lines of people waiting to vote are a phenomenon of which we are proud in our country, associated as they are with holding our leaders to account. But now the long lines are of people waiting for food parcels, a consequence of the economic lockdown and the growing number of unemployed. The poor have erupted into our sight. I want to argue that steward leadership compels us to see them as a lens through which we must view everything in our post- pandemic world. As the South American philosopher and theologian, Gustavo Gutiérrez, posited, the poor are right there in front of us, in a million ways which we can’t easily explain away. They are in front of us in all their woundedness, bearing the scars of what others have done to them.


The Good Samaritan as model for Steward Leadership in times of disruption

My point is that responsible leadership, steward leadership, servant leadership, attuned leadership, transactional, transformative leadership– that to be credible, any leadership must be leadership that also responds to the poor and to the victims of the world's dominant forces. And we don't need a mandate to be leaders, the Preamble of our Constitution opens with the words, “We, the people of South Africa...”, giving us all the responsibility of realising its aspiration to improve the quality of life of all our citizens and free the potential of each person.

In the story of the Good Samaritan, institutional leaders, for reasons that seem justified to them, will not take on this task, making the story one which sits uncomfortably with those of us whose leadership is born of the world’s institutions. Those leaders gave a wide berth to human suffering, to the cries of the poor. They refused to respond to disruption and so missed the opportunity to serve, or indeed to be remembered. They were like the populist autocrats of today, whether in Poland, Hungary, Brazil or the United States, focused on the interests of the ruling elite and not those of the people. Even now as the pandemic rages across all sorts of institutions, those who benefit from the old order, the old rules and privileges, seek to take our world back in a direction that re-secures their privileges once this hour of disruption has passed.

In contrast, the story of the Samaritan is of a man who came from a marginalised community, from outside institutions, shunned by the power structures of the time, who moved from distant sympathetic observation, who moved from the side lines to the point of making himself vulnerable enough to engage with a victim and to bind his wounds. The story makes it clear that in times of disruption the hour dawns for new leadership to emerge, leadership from the margins, from non-hereditary leadership structures. In our times, the first priority of people of goodwill should be to be attentive to the places that are producing new leaders, to listen to them and to bolster the gift they bring to our societies. Our time calls for the Samaritan approach.

And of course we don't have to rely only on Christian precepts to support the case for a new kind of leadership. All the major religions of the world have, as Desmond Tutu has said, a high doctrine of humanity, and among Gandhi's much-cited seven deadly sins are pleasure without conscience, wealth without work, commerce without morality and politics without principle.


Traits of Samaritan (leadership) post Covid-19

Real meaningful post COVID-19 steward leadership is going to ask for more than just people who express sympathy but who remain distant from the groans of the poor and victimised. Leadership will be good only if it moves beyond comfort zones, safe spaces, disengaged charity, and actually encounters the woundedness, touches it, is dirtied by it, feels the pain and enters it. This involves more than addressing poverty; it also means, for example, addressing the scandal of gender-based violence. We need to hear the words of the great African saint, St Augustine of Hippo, that “charity is no substitute for justice withheld.” This should establish our benchmark for future leaders.

Moving beyond charity inevitably means addressing the economic systems which, as the global financial crisis and the continuing fragility of the global economy have shown us, need to be re-thought for the century we live in. Some years ago, I took part in an Ecumenical School on Governance, Economics and Management in Hong Kong, where theologians and economists resolved to become advocates of a new form of global governance and a new economic model, pledging to seek practical ways to transform the market economy from a self-serving mechanism for elites to one which serves our environment and all the world's people. The need for this was stated bluntly and eloquently by Pope Francis when he said, and I quote: “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or for that matter, to any problems.”

The justice that leaders need to work for includes climate justice: we have to be good stewards of the whole of creation by working to mitigate the effect of climate change, not least for the sake of the poor and marginalised. This was brought home dramatically to me last year when I made two trips to northern Mozambique after Cyclone Idai, where I saw vivid evidence of how helpless the poor and marginalised were to mitigate the deleterious effects of climate change. Again, I quote Pope Francis, this time on the link between ending poverty and working for climate justice: “We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental,” and “There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself.”

I have said many times that corruption of any kind is ultimately theft from the poor. The point doesn’t need elaborating: it is as obvious as how deeply embedded fraud and misappropriation of public money has become in South Africa, where only 20% of people think that business leaders can be trusted to tell the truth and only 13% trust politicians to be honest. The restoration of honesty as both a personal and public value is one of the most crying needs of our time.


Conclusion

I have spoken mostly in the language of my faith tradition, thus essentially reflecting a private position, but my and others' faiths, even on the most superficial readings of them, also offer deep and powerful public consequences.

We have great problems. But we must make the demands of the neediest the highest priority of our nation and every part of society. The solutions are neither quick nor easy. Openness, honesty, transparency and trust are necessary to ease our difficult journey forward. In other words , only the truth can set us free.

I have posited a leadership that is sensitive to new, non-traditional, non-hereditary spaces where different kinds of leadership are emerging; a leadership to be nurtured and listened to and that does not fear proximity to woundedness and the causes of woundedness. This stated, we will be relying on the generation of post COVID-19 leaders to imagine differently, think more compassionately, act more justly and lead more honestly so that future generations will look back and acknowledge that the very fact of disruption in our world also accounted for the greatest eruption in contemporary history of leadership that is pro-poor, pro-justice and pro- a better life for all.

This moment in our history calls for such leaders. To adapt the old adage, “Cometh the hour, cometh the leaders.” May it be so.

	

Monday, 15 June 2020

Transforming Anglican schools - Statement by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba


The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) acknowledges the anger of some in our schools who have once again challenged the church to face the pain of experiences of racism and of feeling that they do not belong.

They urge that we address with new urgency the processes of recognition and reconciliation which have occupied our church and its schools over many years in our journey towards  integrity in our Christian identity, ethos and witness.

We affirm those school leadership teams which have been addressing these painful issues over time. We regret the inequities and consequent pain which continue. We recognise that the pace of both recognition and change needs to be accelerated in many contexts.

We urge schools and dioceses to ensure that policy and practice designed to foster institutional cultures of healing, inclusion and justice are set forward in any place that bears our name.

We ask the Anglican Board of Education to help strengthen oversight and support for journeys of recognition and reconciliation embarked upon by our schools towards transformation and integrity in our identity and witness.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Sermon on the Feast of Corpus Christi in a time of coronavirus

A Virtual Service for Corpus Christi in the Diocese of Cape Town, June 11, 2020

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

1 Corinthians 10: 16-17; Psalm 146

Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to these midday prayers on this wonderful Feast of Corpus Christi. Thank you to the Vicar-General, Father Keith, for convening us, and to the Liturgy Team for developing the form of service for us. Thank you, Archdeacon Mark, and all the readers.

Today we gather online to give thanks for the institution of the Eucharist, the Sacrament in which Christ is made real among us, in which we identify ourselves with Christ's obedience to God and in which we find fellowship with another and are then sent out into the world to be God's instruments of love.

It goes without saying that it is a strange time in which to be commemorating the institution of the Lord's Supper, a time – unprecedented in the last 100 years – when we can't gather together physically to do so because of a pandemic. For Anglicans, it is especially disconcerting, since for us, as Archbishop Rowan Williams has said, ”the Church is most truly itself when it is engaged in sacramental worship; that when above all it meets for the Eucharist, it… expresses its deepest identity.”

But when we celebrate the Eucharist, we are not doing it as an act in itself – we are doing it in remembrance of Christ, who was sent by God to feed, nurture and strengthen us for service, and to assure us that we are part of God's design, part of the eternal dimension of the existence of all creation. Our hope, as the Psalm says, is in the Lord our God. Whether or not we are at the moment physically able, in Paul's words to the Christians of Corinth, to partake of the one bread, we are still one body in Christ. The unity of the body of Christ, the Church, remains.

Contemplating the Eucharist at this particular moment in our lives compels me to address the issue of when we will be able again to resume services in our church buildings. We value deeply the remarkable gifts for innovation that most of you, our clergy, and supportive lay people have been displaying with online services, readings, prayers, reflections, midday prayers, the Angelus and other ministries. You have done a magnificent job. But we all still look forward to the day when it is safe to go back to church.

We may be one body, but as Paul told the church in Rome, the body has a variety of parts and gifts. As I said in my Letter for Pentecost last week, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to re-opening for worship. I've just had morning prayers with the bishops this morning, and different dioceses have differing lockdown regimens, or face differing levels of infection. So each Diocese will have to adjust their approach according to the risk in their areas.

Most importantly, we as a Diocese through Chapter have chosen to demonstrate our solidarity by deciding that for as long as one church cannot re-open for worship, none will. That's a beautiful Pauline principle. Since those parishes with fewer material resources will find it more difficult to prepare for worship, this will encourage those with more resources to partner and share with others. I hope that parishes with the resources will indeed help others with, for example, such supplies as sanitisers, printed service sheets where people don't have their own Prayer Books, tape to enforce distancing inside churches and whatever else they need.

We need to be especially careful about the return to worship of parishioners and clergy who are over 60. Professor Karim, the chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, has warned church leaders that the death rate for COVID-19 patients between 60 and 70 is three times higher than for others, and the risk is particularly big if conditions such as diabetes and hypertension are not well managed. For those above 70 with pre-existing conditions, the risks of having COVID-19 are very high, and he says they should self-isolate and stay at home until a vaccine is found. This morning the Bishop of Grahamstown shared that three of his clergy have already died and three of his laity have died. Bishop Margaret shared that a deacon and a deacon's family as well as the wife of a priest are COVID positive, and we know that as a Diocese we are in what is called a hotspot.

I hope you are meeting with your Church Wardens and lay leaders in order to plan your return in detail. The SACC has issued detailed guidelines, drawn up by a group of national church leaders which I led, which you need to study to ensure that we meet all the requirements that need to be observed. We are still awaiting advice on the legal liability of parishes and dioceses should parishioners contract COVID-19 in church. Many parishes in the Province are designating Coronavirus Compliance Officers to ensure that safe conditions are met. In the meantime, I hope you are all managing to minister to your parishioners by phone, emails, WhatsApp and in other ways.

As many elements of the lockdown continue, it is important that we keep up hope for the future – but hope not as a paracetamol that will take away the headache of the coronavirus. Hope is rather about acknowledging our fears and dealing with the pain and uncertainty generated by the pandemic. Hope is the story of our salvation, our lives lived with the assurance that “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.” (1 Thess. 5:24) Let us commit to taking the journey of hope even as we work through the reality of COVID-19, however long it takes.

We give thanks to God that through his Word and, as we celebrate in particular today, his Sacrament, we are constantly nurtured, formed and sent out into the world to go and live out the justice, the peace and the unity Christ proclaims.

God bless you.



Monday, 8 June 2020

Religious leaders hold 'Black LIves Matter' prayer vigils

At St George's Cathedral, Cape Town (Photo: Craig Stewart)
Religious leaders in Cape Town and Pretoria held prayer vigils on Trinity Sunday in solidarity with people who have died at the hands of law enforcement officers during lockdown in South Africa and abroad.

The vigils took place outside St George's and St Alban's cathedrals. The full text of a message Archbishop Thabo Makgoba delivered at the end of the Cape Town vigil can be found beneath this SABC news report.



Message by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Black Lives Matter Silent Vigil, June 7, 2020

We are gathered here because Black Lives Matter, whether in South Africa, the United States, France, Australia or elsewhere.

Our prayers here today have been for Collins Khoza and all those he represents in South Africa who have been killed by forces deployed by the State to enforce lockdown regulations. They have been for George Floyd and all those he represents in the United States, for Adama Traore and all those he represents in France, and for David Dungay, an indigenous Australian who died saying “I can't breathe”, and all those he represented.

We are here because we are tired..... sick to death..... exhausted.... at the seemingly never-ending struggle that people of colour still face, well into the 21st century, 50 years after the American civil rights struggle, 25 years after the end of political apartheid, to be treated equally by arms of the State. We are here because we protest against the wanton, unnecessary use of violence by police and soldiers who break the laws they are entrusted to uphold and assault protestors of whatever race who declare that Black Lives Matter.

We are shocked at the way in which the SA National Defence Force, with the most rudimentary, inadequate reasoning imaginable, has exonerated its soldiers of any culpability in Mr Khosa's death, and at the repudiation of their minister's statement that the matter has not been finalised.

We are shocked at the blatant disrespect for law and order shown by members of the Buffalo, New York police squad, 57 of whom resigned from their unit not because two of their number were implicating in assaulting a 75-year-old man, inflicting head injuries, but because the two were suspended.

In South Africa, when President Ramaphosa announced that he would send law enforcement forces to our communities, he made a clear plea to both the police and the military that this should not be a time for “skiet en donder”. His words have fallen on deaf ears.

In our own backyards, at least 12 people are reported to have died at the hands of the police and army troops. We recognise that investigations are still ongoing, but we are deeply concerned that the plight of our sisters and brothers is going unnoticed and forgotten.

So we pray for and stand in solidarity with the families of the following people: [moment of silence after each name?]

    • Collins Khosa, 40, who died in Alexandra, Johannesburg on Good Friday

    • Petrus Miggels, 55, who died in Ravensmead, Cape Town on 27 March 2020

    • Sibusiso Amos, 40, who died in Vosloorus, Ekhurhuleni on 29 March 2020

    • Adane Emmanuel, who died in Isipingo, Durban on 2 April 2020

    • Robyn Montsumi, 39, who died in Mowbray police station, 12 April 2020
    • And for all others who have been brutalised during the lockdown.

We pray too for the families of the following Americans:

    • George Floyd, 46, killed on 25 May 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

    • Ahmaud Arbery, 25, killed on 23 February 2020 in Glynn County, Georgia

    • Breonna Taylor, 26, killed on 13 March 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky

    • Atatiana Jefferson, 26, killed on 12 October 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas

    • And for all those who have been brutalised in the protests of recent days.

God bless South Africa. God bless Africa and God bless the world.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

A Letter for Pentecost - Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

A Letter for Pentecost

.... that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” – 1 Cor 1:10

That SACC-affiliated churches be granted the opportunity to self-regulate for COVID-19 compliance... This we would ask for any other formation of religious communities (of any faith tradition) that can satisfy appropriate COVID self-regulation measures...” – From the representations by church leaders to President Cyril Ramaphosa

It’s an important shift, from control to collaboration.” – Comment on South Africa’s Level 3 lockdown regulations by Marianne Merten, Daily Maverick.


Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

I love the words of the 2nd century bishop, Iranaeus, when he said: “In every language they sing a hymn to God in unison, for the Spirit brought the scattered people together in unity and offered to God the first fruits of the nations.” It has always struck me that it is only when the hard work of unity, of solidarity, is accomplished that we can truly offer a hymn to God, and there is no greater need for building unity and solidarity than at this uncertain, confusing and contested time in which the world struggles to comprehend the challenges of the coronavirus.

Since before South Africa's first lockdown came into effect, leaders of member churches of the SA Council of Churches have met regularly to discuss our role in the pandemic. As we worked through the issues and listened to the medical scientists, we heard that we will have to live with this virus for months, even years, and that it might return again and again to disrupt our lives. Moreover, it became clear that the question we faced was not whether worship would be resumed – we will not be closed in perpetuity, the question is rather when and how we will re-open. It also became clear that we cannot expect the Government to legislate in all the detail needed as to how to re-open, neither is it desirable to allow them to do so.

As a result, a sub-committee of church leaders that I led compiled detailed representations, based on the principle that we should regulate the re-opening of worship and other activities ourselves. (An excerpt from the representations which outlines steps to be taken before worship can resume can be found here. Later, the SACC released a comprehensive report, including some amendments, which can be found here. See pages 3-8.)

We held a number of discussions with Government, at the end of which President Ramaphosa announced publicly that they had accepted our representations. It has to be said that he acted unexpectedly quickly, and it is a pity that we were unable to co-ordinate our communications because his announcement led to unnecessary panic. But we welcomed the trust which the Government had placed in us, albeit in trepidation at the enormous responsibility placed on our shoulders.

Now we need to decide the when and the how. But we must be cautious and act prudently. The Spirit of Pentecost is also one of wisdom. Paul, who rejoiced always in the Spirit alive in him after years of ministering and exercising oversight of the churches, had to remind the Galatians that a fruit of the Spirit was also self-control.

As I said in my first response to President Ramaphosa's annnouncement, the conditions we have proposed for resuming worship are comprehensive and detailed. The detail, laid out in the documents I referred to above, needs to be studied carefully, but they require, for example, a limit of 50 people in services, disinfecting surfaces between services, physical distancing in churches, the avoidance of shared hymnals and prayer books, the wearing of masks during services, restrictions on singing, avoidance of the common chalice at Eucharist, no gatherings after services and rigorous hygiene in toilets and elsewhere.

Among those within ACSA whom I consulted on the SACC representations were members of the Provincial COVID-19 Advisory Team, which comprises medical, legal and theological experts, and is co-ordinated by Dr Arthur Manning assisted by the Deputy Provincial Registrar, Rosalie Manning. In response to South Africa's Level 3 lockdown, I asked the team to come up with a consenus view on how to move ahead. A number of Bishops have also consulted with their Dioceses and taken preliminary decisions themselves.

The COVID-19 Advisory Team gave me a preliminary report yesterday. From that, and the reports from Dioceses, the following main points have emerged:

  • The Advisory Team reports a consensus that it is not yet time to resume worship.

  • No Diocese so far has pronounced that it is ready to resume worship;

  • Most reports suggest that it will take a month or two – or longer – to gather the data needed before a decision can be made.

  • There is no one-size-fits-all approach to re-opening for worship. Dioceses outside South Africa have differing lockdown regimens. Within South Africa, different Dioceses face differing levels of infection and will have to adjust their strategies according to data on the level of risk in their areas (just as Government is doing).

  • The Advisory Team suggests that Dioceses should show solidarity by agreeing that either all parishes within a Diocese should resume worship, or none should. Since parishes with fewer material resources will find it more difficult to be ready for worship, this would encourage those with more resources to partner and share with others.

  • There is a need for legal clarity on levels of approval for coronavirus readiness plans and the legal liability of Dioceses and parishes in the event of infections contracted in church. Some Dioceses suggest that parishes need to be accountable to Dioceses for meeting conditions enabling them to return to worship, with designated Coronavirus Compliance Officers ensuring that safe conditions are met.

Apart from the steps to be taken to prepare for a return to worship, once services resume there will be other challenges. For example:

  • How should leaders in a parish respond if more than 50 worshippers arrive for a service?

  • How should they respond if congregants begin singing or mingling spontaneously?

  • There is very serious concern about the return of parishioners and clergy who are over 60 years old. In a consultation church leaders held last weekend with Professor Salim Abdool Karim, who chairs South Africa's Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, he warned us that the death rate for COVID-19 patients between 60 and 70 is three times higher than for others, and the risk is particularly big if conditions such as diabetes and hypertension are not well managed. For those above 70 with pre-existing conditions, the risks of having COVID-19 are very high, and they should self-isolate and stay at home until a vaccine is found.

All these issues, and others in the SACC guidelines, need to be addressed before we can return to worship. My hope is that we can develop a phased process of planning and return to worship, linked to significant festivals in the calendar, such as:

  • Trinity Sunday

  • Corpus Christi

  • The Feast of the Transfiguration, and

  • The Commemoration of Robert Gray.

There are also matters other than worship to address. Churches can be open for private prayer, for feeding the hungry, for helping with the overflow from schools and for testing where this is possible. Clergy who are teachers, school chaplains and professors will be walking alongside pupils as schools open, hospital chaplains will continue their ministry under guidelines laid down by hospitals, and police and military chaplains should continue supporting these men and women who ensure our safety and security. The National Church Leaders' Forum of the SACC continues to meet to review and study together all the areas which call for mutual action and joint articulation.

New, shared leadership and energy is emerging amidst the uncertainties of the pandemic. This is truly Pentecostal for it is what the Spirit always does; it calls to newness and to transforming power. Together, let us seize the opportunity to work with the challenge and come out of this time a better church and better Christians. As President Ramaphosa has reminded us, let us also remember Madiba's exhortation: “It is in our hands.”

God bless you.

††Thabo Cape Town




Tuesday, 2 June 2020

The killing of George Floyd shocks South Africans too

Many of us in South Africa have been shocked by the death by homicide of George Floyd, when a policeman crushed his neck with a knee for more than eight minutes in Minneapolis last week.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Archbishop Thabo's message on returning to worship

Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

It is with awe and trepidation that I welcome President Cyril Ramaphosa’s acceptance of the representations made by religious leaders that faith communities will be responsible and careful enough to return to worship under conditions which will not allow the spread of the coronavirus.

In the next few days, once the government has published its new regulations, we will, with the help of our COVID-19 advisory team, consolidate the regulations and the guidelines that religious leaders have drawn up and update our own ACSA guidelines accordingly.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Archbishop's Eastertide News & Reflections – May 18, 2020

(Credit: Nelson Mandela University)
Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

With no end in sight to coronavirus lockdowns, we are having to plan ahead for Provincial meetings to take place online. Already, retired bishops are communicating on WhatsApp, as are members of the Synod of Bishops. Other groups are being encouraged to connect and pray together online, and Liaison Bishops are meeting with bodies such as the youth, Provincial organisations and the like.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Online Homily for the Fourth Sunday in Easter

A homily preached during an online service of worship produced by the Anglican Communion Office for worshippers around the world. The full service can be viewed at the end of the text below.

Psalm 23; Acts 2:42 to end; John 10: 1-10
May I speak in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Welcome to you from the chapel at Bishopscourt in Cape Town, the home of Anglican Archbishops of Cape Town for 150 years, and a place that reflects the suffering, the struggle and the hope of South Africa over its history. This was an estate where colonisers once kept slaves, it was the the place from which my predecessors opposed apartheid, and it was the home which hosted Nelson Mandela on his first night out of prison 30 years ago. The crucifix behind me, commissioned by Desmond Tutu, was the one on which Mr Mandela gazed when he first received Communion here.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Archbishop's Eastertide News & Reflections – St Joseph's Day

With KK after presenting him with the Archbishop's Peace & Justice Award.

Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

Today being St Joseph’s Day, we remember and pray for all the workers of the world, particularly because of the anxiety so many are experiencing as a result of the coronavirus, their loss of income and even their jobs. Pray especially for essential service workers who are caring for COVID-19 patients, emergency workers, the police and army and those who continue to grow, harvest, deliver and sell food to us. We also give thanks for the great epidemiologists and other medical exports which we have, and for the acquisition of supplies of personal protective equipment for our health workers.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

[VIDEOS] In 12 languages - Archbishop's Midday Prayer for the time of the coronavirus

From the Bishopscourt chapel in Cape Town, Archbishop Thabo recites - in 12 of the languages used in the Province = the Midday Prayer he has composed for the time of the coronavirus:

A Midday Prayer on the Coronavirus - isiZulu



A Midday Prayer on the Coronavirus - isiXhosa



A Midday Prayer on the Coronavirus - siSwati



A Midday Prayer on the Coronavirus - Sesotho



A Midday Prayer on the Coronavirus - Sepedi



A Midday Prayer on the Coronavirus - Portuguese



A Midday Prayer on the Coronavirus - Setswana



A Midday Prayer on the Coronavirus - Afrikaans



A Midday Prayer on the Coronavirus - isiNdebele



A Midday Prayer on the Coronavirus - Xitsonga



A Midday Prayer on the Coronavirus - Tshivenda


A Midday Prayer on the Coronavirus - English





[VIDEO] Reflections on keeping a balance in a time of coronavirus

Speaking from the chapel at Bishopscourt in Cape Town, Archbishop Thabo shares his thoughts on the principle, learned from his experience of centring prayer, of balance in processing what is happening to us. He reflects on four broad categories of applying balance. He also explains his focus on providing midday prayers in as many languages of the Province as possible.




Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Archbishop's Eastertide News & Reflections – Wednesday in Low Week

Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

In our multi-lingual Province, it is important that we share worship resources in as many languages as we can during the coronavirus lockdowns. It's for this reason that in the past few days I've reached out to isiXhosa- and Sesotho-speaking listeners to SABC radio stations in South Africa, seeking to minister via uMhlobo Wenene and with the popular host, Thuso Motaung, on Lesedi FM.

You can hear the interviews below:

Saturday, 18 April 2020

[VIDEO] Archbishop Thabo addresses the trauma of COVID-19 & lockdown

The Archbishop responds to a request to make his latest Eastertide reflection available for viewing and listening:


Thursday, 16 April 2020

Archbishop's Eastertide News & Reflections – Thursday in Easter Week

Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops


Amid current controversies around the coronavirus lockdown, I want to look at a new topic today: our mental health.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Archbishop's Eastertide News & Reflections – Tuesday in Easter Week

A Zoom meeting with young people
Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops


On Easter Monday I had a wonderful discussion with the youth of our Province, from Angola to South Africa to Mozambique, which they joined on the Zoom video-conference facility.

The young people, including those involved with the Provincial Youth Council and the Anglican Students' Federation, as well as others, were exuberant and irreverent, demonstrating a sense of purpose and energy. They believe this time of the coronavirus will come and it will go, and that it will in the end be resolved. I was also touched by a number of their concerns – for example, that priests will continue to be paid despite lockdowns, and that parishioners ought to keep up their giving.

Monday, 13 April 2020

[VIDEO] How the Church complied with Easter lockdown

Archbishop Thabo discusses with the SABC's Morning Live programme how the Church celebrated Easter online:


Sunday, 12 April 2020

A Homily for Easter Sunday, DStv Easter channel

The text of a homily preached in the Church of the Good Shepherd, Protea Village, at a service pre-recorded for the DStv pop-up channel for Easter 2020

Let me again welcome you very warmly to this broadcast service, which as I said in my introduction comes to you from a historic place closely associated with South Africa's oppressive past, with our elders' heroic struggle for freedom and now with our hope for the future.

At Easter, we emerged from the long days of Lent – no longer than usual in terms of days or hours but rather in the way it has reached into the depths of our anxiety, our fears, our sense of powerlessness and the limits of our knowledge, as the coronavirus runs rampant across the globe and into every community.

Homily for Easter Sunday, SABC Television

The Crucifix at Bishopscourt
The text of a homily preached in the Bishopscourt chapel and pre-recorded for broadcast by SABC 2 on Easter Sunday 

Readings: 2 Chronicles 7 verse 14; John 14 verse 1

Good morning!

And it is a good morning, because Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

A Happy Easter to you all, and a warm welcome to the chapel at Bishopscourt, the home of Anglican Archbishops of Cape Town.

The Bible readings I have chosen for today's homily, from the Second Book of Chronicles and the Gospel according to John, evoke images of the pestilences and plagues that have been inflicted on the world throughout history, but also speak of God's promise that if we humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways, God will hear us and heal the earth.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Archbishop's Holy Week News & Reflections – Holy Saturday

Nyaki, Karabo (Pabi), Mrs Lungi and ++Thabo Makgoba
Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

“Dad, have you been ‘zooming’ again today?” There you go, a new verb born out of lockdown.

For me Holy Saturday is typically much quieter than today was, a time when I am still full of the emotions and animation of Good Friday and its message. Usually we are laid back as a family and take a siesta from 3 till around 6 pm, then have dinner around 7 in preparation to go to St George’s Cathedral for the 10:30 Easter Vigil.

Friday, 10 April 2020

Archbishop's Holy Week News & Reflections – Good Friday



Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

The busy-ness of Holy Week took an unexpected turn yesterday, Maundy Thursday. During the week I had prayed with President Cyril Ramaphosa over the phone and crafted special collects for him, reflecting a meeting of our minds. Then, late in the day, it was confirmed that he and Mrs Ramaphosa had accepted an invitation to join us from Gauteng in a virtual Good Friday service with my family and an online congregation.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Archbishop's Holy Week News & Reflections – Maundy Thursday

Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops


Sixty-six clergy from the Diocese of Cape Town, including four retired bishops, joined me in the Bishopscourt Chapel on Zoom video conferencing software for a most moving prayer service at midday today. 

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Archbishop's Holy Week News & Reflections – Wednesday April 8


Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

Around the Province, clergy and lay ministers are adapting their Good Friday and Easter services in many innovative ways, including through Facebook, WhatsApp, Zoom and other platforms. While online media can never replace our gathering together physically to worship our Lord, the coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to catch up with our young people and learn new ways of being church in the modern world.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Archbishop's Holy Week News & Reflections – Tuesday April 7

(Image: Brand SA)

Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

We may be confined to our homes on lockdown, but in a time of pandemic the lives and ministries of the clergy seem to be busier than ever, whether we are calling our parishioners to check in on how they are – particularly those who are elderly or who live on their own – or addressing unforeseen difficulties in our communities.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Archbishop's Holy Week News & Reflections – Monday April 6

Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

At noon today 21 Bishops of the Province began Holy Week by sharing in a Litany for the Coronavirus Pandemic on a video conference call. It was, as a number of Bishops said afterwards, a very special gathering, a precious and touching moment of being united in prayer amidst crisis and uncertainty, as well as an invitation to deep theological reflection on the time we are living through.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Join Anglicans around the world - and Archbishop Thabo - for a Passion Sunday service

Join Archbishop Thabo Makgoba - reading the Psalm - and other Anglican leaders for a service on Passion Sunday (the fifth Sunday in Lent) prepared by the Anglican Communion Office in London for house-bound Anglicans across the globe.



Thursday, 26 March 2020

Message from Archbishop Thabo on eve of SA lockdown

Archbishop Thabo addresses parishioners, clergy and bishops across the Province on South Africa's lockdown to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

[VIDEO] Ministering to God's People in a time of crisis

@ArchbishopThabo Makgoba appeals to the Church and especially to ordained priests and deacons to focus on drawing up pastoral plans for ministering to parishioners in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.