Saturday 29 February 2020

Of the new Bishop of Table Bay and his ministry - To the Laos, the People of God

The Archbishop writes in the March 2020 issue of Good Hope, the newsletter of the Diocese of Cape Town, about the election of the Ven Joshua Louw as Bishop-Elect of Table Bay:

It is my great joy this month to congratulate our new Bishop-Elect of Table Bay, the Venerable Joshua Louw, on his election by the Synod of Bishops, sitting as an Electoral College of the Diocese of Cape Town.

You will recall that the election was delegated to the bishops after the Diocese of Cape Town was unable to elect a candidate last July, no candidate having received the necessary two-thirds majority at the Elective Assembly. The provisional date for Archdeacon Joshua's consecration is May 2, so that a year after Bishop Garth Counsell's retirement, we will finally have our new Bishop.

I am thrilled to welcome Archdeacon Joshua, a deeply faithful son of this Diocese, steeped in its history and its quirks, to the Episcopal Bench. As many of you know, he grew up in Ravensmead (Tiervlei) as one of seven children, and has been immersed in the church's life since childhood – in Sunday School, the Brigade and as a youth worker. After life-changing experiences beyond the Diocese in the National Youth Leadership Training Programme, and in the Taize community in France, he did secular work for two years, then went to theological college – firstly to the old St Bede's and then to the College of the Transfiguration in Makhanda.

He was ordained deacon in March 1995, served his curacy at St Aidan's, Lansdowne, and St George's, Silvertown, and after being priested 10 months later, became Rector of the Church of the Reconciliation, Manenberg. He has since served as Rector at St George's, Silvertown, and St Paul's, Bree Street, as well as Archdeacon of Ibongolethu, of Athlone and of the Waterfront. He has spent a sabbatical in Washington, DC, and with other clergy has been on a preaching tour to Michigan in the USA.

As Bishop of Table Bay, there will be three distinct areas in which the future Bishop Joshua will be required to perform: the teaching ministry of a bishop of the Church; the liturgical ministry, or modelling; and then the pastoral ministry. Those are the three areas in which, with your help, he and I will be sharing as we do mission and ministry together, putting special emphasis on the Gospel as a model for hospitality Of course there is also administration, but that can be delegated to others.

For me, Bishop Joshua's arrival will be a boon, helping me with the heavy load of licensing and institution which is the lot of any bishop. I also believe he has the skills to negotiate the complexity of the curious position in which the Canons place him: that he has the “the powers, rights and authority” of a diocesan bishop, but that at the same time I remain the Bishop of Cape Town, and in relation to me he is a Bishop-Suffragan!

At heart, the vocation of a bishop is to:

    • Love the people of God,
    • Teach them about God and Jesus Christ, and
    • Then care for them.

Bishop Joshua is equipped to do that, and more. We and Chapter will work as a team, one of my aims being that the Diocese should move from maintenance and into mission mode. I have been eager for us to invest more in the theological formation of all God's people and to remind each one of you, the parishioners, that you are the place where Christ is revealed, and that each one of you is called to be a missionary in the best sense of the word.

So I dream that our partnership will enable us to revive missionary groups, perhaps recruiting a retired cleric to be our Canon Missioner to help us bishops in our apostolic vocation. I would, for example, love for us to re-evangelise the Atlantic Coast and Waterfront as well as plant new parishes and new communities.

Please join us as we embark on this exciting new journey with Bishop Joshua.

† Thabo Cape Town

Homily at the Ash Wednesday Eucharist, 2020

Ash Wednesday Eucharist, St George's Cathedral, 26th FEBRUARY 2020:

Readings: Isaiah 58:1-12, and Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

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

This Ash Wednesday service gives us an opportunity to re-consider our dependence on God’s grace in transforming our lives for the better. It invites us to dig deeper, to attempt to imitate the Holiness of God in our moral and ethical living. As I have said before, it is a time for stock-taking, for deepening our faith, for repentance and renewal, for focusing on God rather than seeking praise, and for recalibrating our “service odometers”.

Both today's Isaiah passage, written in captivity in Babylon, and the passage from Matthew, remind us that we need to be “making the main thing the main thing”. As the refrain goes in the chorus: “It is all about you, it's all about you, Jesus.” That touches the essence of Ash Wednesday, Lent and the Passion through to Easter.

Our efforts to fast and pray during Lent are important and necessary, however both passages ask us not simply to reduce our chocolate consumption but pose deeper questions: to what end are we fasting and praying? They challenge us to stop being pretentious, to reconsider memorized rituals. They call on us to put God first, and in South Africa today to speak up and speak out against injustice, exploitation, inequality, darkness and oppression, and then to do something about it. We need to be restorers, repairs, like well-watered gardens fed by springs whose water never fails.

Bringing these eternal values into our daily lives, let us condemn violence against women and children with renewed vigour. Please pray for the soul of Tazne van Wyk and for her grieving family. Pray for her  community in their shock and anger, pray for the justice system of our country; pray for all victims of gender-based violence; and pray for the safety of our schools, especially our girl children. Further afield, pray for an end to the right-wing terrorism we have seen in Germany in recent days, and for a just and lasting solution to Europe's problems.

You all know that Church and State have previously expressed our abhorrence of gender-based violence. We have marched, we have lamented at vigils, but the brutality continues. At the recent sitting of our Synod of Bishops, we declared Gender-Based Violence to be a “state of emergency’’. We committed ourselves to act and to forge strong partnerships to stop this violence. Its perpetrators need to know that their total disregard for the laws of this country and their complete disrespect for the sanctity of human life has consequences. Politicians, musicians, religious leaders and international figures must abandon language and actions that denigrate women. This is what Isaiah calls us to do if we are, in Matthew's words, to find our true treasure.

  As we look forward to the presentation of the annual Budget, and having witnessed the State of the Nation Address by President Ramaphosa, we need to ask ourselves: do we have what it takes to put in place a budgetary framework to assist curb the scourge of GBV? Can we recover the noblest aspirations of our struggle against the injustices and oppression of the past, to look beyond commissions of inquiry and to heal and rebuild our country on sound moral values? If our leaders are falling short, will we act in the areas in which we have influence to make up for the shortcomings? Can we confidently say, yes, we can be trusted to take South Africa forward?

        Let us re-dedicate ourselves to the struggle against greed, corruption and nepotism, to the struggle against the pursuit of narrow self-interest, personal gain, status, power hunger and material wealth – in short let us commit ourselves to the struggle for true justice, including economic justice. Put simply, I invite you to turn to Christ’s loving ways and become channels of His peace.

        God loves you, and so do I. God bless South Africa. Amen.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Archbishop Wins American Christian book award

The US edition of the book.

The US edition of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba's biographical memoir, Faith & Courage: Praying with Mandela, has won an American book award.

The publishers, Forward Movement, have announced that the book has been recognised as among the year's best Christian books in the US. It won a bronze medal in the category “biography/memoir" of the Illumination Book Awards.

Gold medals went to books devoted to American subjects, one to Child of Grace: A Death Row Story, by Dr. Chris Brown, and the other to Praying On Empty: A Female Pastor's Story, by Marjorie Weiss. A silver medal went to A Walking Disaster: What Surviving Katrina and Cancer Taught Me About Faith and Resilience, by Jamie Aten.

Faith & Courage was among five published by Forward Movement which won awards in categories including theology, Bible study, ministry and mission and devotional.

Responding to the award, the Archbishop said: “I hope the book shows that reconciliation is possible in the most difficult of situations and will point to the hope and the grace that is in store for us as Anglicans, as Christians, as people of God, when we work at forgiveness and reconciliation within the Communion."

The book was published in South Africa in 2017. The American and British editions, published late last year, include an additional chapter on reconciliation in society and in the Anglican Communion.

The South African edition is not available electronically but the paperback is available on

The Forward Movement edition is available on Kindle in and in hardback and paperback here on

The UK edition, published by SPCK, is available on Kindle and in hardback and paperback on

Thursday 13 February 2020

Message to a Kathrada Foundation rally, St George's Cathedral, Cape Town

Archbishop Thabo contributed a video message for social media, and a longer written message, in support of a rally held on the eve on President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address on Thursday February 13.

"As you gather here today to reflect on our beautiful country ahead of the State of the Nation Address, I want to reiterate my call - first made from this Cathedral at Christmas - that for South Africa, this must be the "The Year of the Orange Jumpsuit" for those implicated in state capture.

"Tomorrow the President must draw a line in the sand and make it clear that there will be consequences for those in politics, for those in government, for those in the private sector and for anyone else in South Africa who has corrupted the country and stolen from the poor.

"Ensuring that the corrupt go to jail is not being vindictive - their greed has driven the country to the brink of disaster, and they must pay the price if the law is to be the basis of the healthy and sustainable development of our nation.

"I also want to urge all of us to give the National Prosecuting Authority the space to do their jobs properly and to prepare watertight cases. As I said at Christmas, rushed and therefore botched prosecutions, followed by widespread acquittals would be a disaster, sending the wrong signals to the corrupt and plunging the country into despair.

"From today, may we move from words into action. I stand in solidarity with you all."

Make 2020 a year of action - Polity interview with Archbishop Thabo

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba was interviewed by Polity ahead of a rally held in Cape Town while he was at the Synod of Bishops.

Monday 10 February 2020

Archbishop Thabo's appeal to President Ramaphosa of South Africa

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to use his State of the Nation Address on Thursday to "send a clear signal that attacks on judges have to stop." 

In a statement and in a separate videotaped appeal from his office, the Archbishop said the country would "descend into chaos" if judges were not respected. He appealed to the President to "draw a line on the sand" over attacks on the judiciary. 

The full text of the statement follows below the video.

“Mr President, if judges are not respected in South Africa, we're going to descend into chaos. When you speak on Thursday, you speak not as leader of the ANC, but as the leader of the nation.

“I appeal to you, out of respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, please send a clear signal that attacks on judges have to stop. It would give confidence to the judges that they can do their jobs without interference, and it would give confidence to all of us.

“It is critical to the future of our nation that we keep our hands off the judicial system. The courts must be respected. And we must give the NPA space to do their work in a thorough, unrushed way, so that we don’t have botched convictions which are overturned on appeal." 

Saturday 8 February 2020

Archbishop urges learners to work for the common good

The Installation of Mrs Shelley Frayne as Head of St Cyprian’s School, St Cyprian’s School Chapel, 7 February 2020

Readings: 1 Kings 3: 5-10; Psalm 18: 32-34, 48-52; Matthew 13: 44-52

May I speak in the name of God who calls, informs and transforms us. Amen.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, dear family of St Cyprian’s School, it is a joy to be with you this morning and celebrate this day – the installation of our new school head.

Our schools need to reflect the diversity of society - Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Installation of Mrs Heather Goedeke as Head of Herschel Girls School, Claremont, Cape Town, on 6 February 2020

Readings: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 and  Hebrews 11:32-12:2

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

Sisters and brothers in Christ, dear people of God, the heads of schools present here, the Chairperson and members of Council, educators, Mrs Goedeke and your family, friends, parents and learners: it is a great joy to be with you today to share in this important milestone in the life of this school.

Saturday 1 February 2020

A message to the Diocese of Lesotho

A video message recorded for the retirement service of the Right Revd Adam Taaso, Bishop of Lesotho, on February 1.