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:

In South Africa, we heard last night an impressive commitment from President Ramaphosa to help relieve the plight of the poorest of the poor through additional grants to be paid, as well as multi-billion rand packages to help save jobs and businesses. The size of the overall spending is huge – in the words of one financial analyst, it is a “fiscal bazooka”. We hope and pray that it will all be administered quickly and efficiently, and that the help will end up in the right hands.
Archbishop Thabo in his lockdown office.

Looking for initiatives and people to be grateful for, South Africa's International Relations and Cooperation Department has repatriated thousands of citizens who were stranded abroad when the travel bans were imposed some weeks ago. The efforts of pilots, other airline staff and embassy and consular officials – my sister works in the High Commission in India – have been remarkable, coordinating as they do the complexities of getting clearance for people to travel, finding seats on airlines, chartering aircraft and even using seats on cargo aircraft to get people home.

Our Province's Bishops are drawing on the experiences of clergy and lay people, including the youth, and reflecting on what we are learning during lockdown about how, post-coronavirus, we can develop “e-Parish” ministry in future, especially to the young. Please share with your clergy and bishops how we might do this – not that it will ever replace meeting one another as the people of God, but instead to complement our parish ministries in new ways.

Please support learners and students at universities and schools, considering where possible helping those who need data for studying online. You may recall the anxiety they expressed in my video-conference with them last week.

There are, of course, church activities which we have no choice but to delay until the lockdowns are over, so I have dissolved elective assemblies for the elections of new bishops for four dioceses. After lockdown, we will start the process of implementing Canon 4 from scratch in order to fill the vacancies in the dioceses of Kimberley & Kuruman, Lesotho, Natal and Zululand.

On other matters, the Church has partnered with South Africa's government-initiated Solidarity Fund in two provinces, as well as through dioceses and HOPE Africa, to feed the hungry. Through my family's Development Trust, we have also partnered with the DG Murray Trust, thanks to David Harrison of the trust, to feed God’s people through a voucher system in Duncan Village, East London, and the Mopani district of Limpopo. If this works as well as hoped, we will work with them and others through HOPE Africa and our ACSA Disaster Fund. In Gauteng we have endorsed the Together programme. Thanks in particular to Thusanong in the Diocese of Pretoria and to Fr Grant Thistlewhite and the leadership of St Wilfrid's, Hillcrest, for their role in feeding people. Key is to continue to feed the hungry in accordance with the Gospel imperative, whilst ensuring that none of our parishioners endanger themselves in doing so.

I have recorded a reflection on hope for supporters of St Paul's Cathedral in London, which we will share once they release it. But the essence of my message is: don't drop the ball; stay focussed on prayer, assured that this time will pass, whilst at the same time acknowledging the reality of coronavirus and its likely long-term impact.

Finally, don't overlook small acts of faith and hope that may otherwise go unnoticed. Today I highlight the use of the coronavirus prayer – to be used at noon each day at the time many of us say the Angelus – by the sons of two devoted and faithful Anglicans. To remind you of the prayer, recited in the video below, it reads:

God bless the world,
Give it wisdom at this time,
Grant us relief and release,
Be with those who are ill,
And bless the carers fighting this pandemic,
For Jesus Christ’s sake,

God bless.


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