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Miners strike leads archbishop to issue call to prayer: The Church of England Newspaper, May 23, 2014 June 3, 2014

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The Archbishop of Cape Town has issued a call to prayer to for platinum miners, asking for a just and peaceful solution to the strike in South Africa’s North West Province. Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Lonmin, Implats, and Amplats in Rustenburg and at Northam in Limpopo downed tools on 23 Jan 2014 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500 (£700). The strike has cost the companies over R17.8 billion in revenue and workers have lost more than R7.9bn in earnings. In 2012 47 miners and police were killed in clashes at the Marikana platinum mines in a labour dispute. “Lord, there is something amiss in this economic system and we know it,” the archbishop wrote. “Help us to uphold the dignity of all involved in the current dispute, Give us the courage to stand for all, especially for the miners, Let us hold before us a vision of fairness and accountability as we pursue what makes for peace.”

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Overseas church pleas to free Boko Haram captives: The Church of England Newspaper, May 16, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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Overseas church leaders have joined the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev. Justin Welby in calling for the release of over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. On 7 May 2014 Archbishop Welby denounced the kidnapping as an “atrocious and inexcusable act” and appealed to Boko Haram to “release them immediately and unharmed.” In a sermon given on 5 May 2014 the Archbishop of Cape Town the Most. Rev. Thabo Makgoba called for “all of Africa, and especially South Africa” to rise up and demand their release.  “We are one continent and these girls are our children,” he said. The Archbishop of Canada the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz said the “declared intention” of Boko Haram “to sell them in the market is appalling. It is an abomination against internationally held human rights, and an absolute affront to the efforts of many nations to honour the Millennium Development Goals to empower women and young girls through a good education.” On 8 May 2014 the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the USA the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori said her church was “horrified at the violence perpetrated against innocent schoolgirls in Nigeria, and the willingness of those who should be addressing this to look the other way.  The unfortunate truth is that girls and women are still deemed dispensable in much of the world, or at least of lesser value than members of the other sex.” Bishop Jefferts Schori said the “necessary response” to the kidnappings was “education – of girls and boys, in equal numbers and to an equal degree, that all might take their rightful place in societies that serve all their citizens with equal respect and dignity.”

Lawsuit demands bishop release spending figures: The Church of England Newspaper, April 28, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Corruption.
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The parish council of St Andrews Vicarage Church, Ngangelizwe has filed a complaint in the Eastern Cape High Court seeking an order requiring the Rt. Rev. Sitembele Mzamane, Bishop of Mthatha in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to release the diocese’s income statements. The 1 April 2014 lawsuit further asks that the bishop’s salary and benefits be made public, along with the salaries of all other diocesan employees. Parish Council president Humphrey Lusu stated that although canon law requires the church’s financial statements be made public, the bishop had declined to do so. On 15 September 2009 the 49th session of the synod for the diocese, which had formerly been known as the Diocese of St John’s Kaffraria until 2006, saw protests from the clergy over alleged misconduct by Bishop Mzamane. A petition was circulated calling for his resignation and formal charges were laid before Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba for review. No action was taken, however. The bishop must file an answer to the lawsuit by 15 April 2014.

South African church back Thuli: The Church of England Newspaper, March 28, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Corruption.
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Church leaders in South Africa have defended the country’s Public Protector – the top anti-corruption official – from attacks made by allies of President Jacob Zuma over corruption allegations. In a statement released on 18 March 2014, the Most Rev Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town said: “We in the churches deeply regret that certain clergy have ganged up against the Public Protector in the name of the Church. They have done so without adequate knowledge of her reports and their intervention only serves to undermine the fight against corruption.” On 19 March 2014 Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, reported that almost £24 million of public money had been spent to improve the private residence of President Jacob Zuma. The expenditures were not related to security but were luxurious upgrades to the country estate. “It is shameful to see the dirty tactics being employed” to smear the Public Protector the archbishop said.  The Rt. Rev. Rubin Philip of Natal along with other religious leaders of KwaZulu-Natal released a statement noting the Public Protector’s office is “a vital institution which should be given all the support that it deserves, rather than be undermined. If we are patriots with a genuine love for our beautiful country and willing to see it occupy its rightful place in the world of nations, then we have no option but to unreservedly stand in solidarity with it.”

Makgoba urges Africa to end gay bashing: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013

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The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has lent his support to a campaign launched by the British NGO Human Rights Watch to combat gay bashing.

In a video released last week Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said “Don’t fear … you’ve been given this task of helping the rest of humanity to realize that we are called to respect and we are called to honor each other. People may come and say this is un-African, and I’m saying love cuts across culture.”

The Human Rights Watch campaign seeks to push back against statements and policies put forward by African governments and leaders that it considers homophobic. ”When you violate somebody on the basis of difference you’re not only violating them but you are demeaning yourself,” Makgoba says in the video. He exhorts leaders to take up their “moral responsibility to stop the violence against people who are different.”

“Archbishop Makgoba’s statement should serve as a call to national, religious, and cultural leaders across Africa who support the rights of LGBTI people to speak out publicly,” said Graeme Reid, LGBT Rights director for Human Rights Watch. “And the archbishop’s message of respect for everyone’s rights should challenge leaders who have opposed the rights of LGBTI people to reconsider their positions.”

Teachers’ union denounces church reform plea: The Church of England Newspaper, October 24, 2013 October 27, 2013

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South Africa’s Teacher’s Union has denounced a plea from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to devote itself to teaching and eschew politics, saying the church had become a tool of “imperialist” parasites and an ally of reactionary politicians.

Secular and religious education was among the chief topics of debate at the ACSA synod last week. Delegates gathered in Benoni, a suburb of Johannesburg, urged Anglican members of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) to “either to transform the trade union into a body that truly serves the cause of education, or resign from Sadtu,” a church press release stated.

With 260,000 members the SADTU represents approximately 70 per cent of the country’s state school teachers. A political ally of the ruling African National Congress, the union has been criticized by education reformers for its frequent strikes, poor teaching standards and alleged corruption.

The synod denounced teacher “corruption and laziness which deprives our children of the education they deserve” and called upon the union to “refrain from destructive stay-aways.”

In a statement released last week, Sadtu responded the church’s complaints about the country’s poor state schools were misplaced. “We maintain that the majority of our members are dedicated to the profession but are frustrated by the fact that they are not receiving sufficient support like resources to teach in schools and are not sufficiently developed in order to teach the new curriculum.”

The church should stay out of politics, the union said. Its condemnation was an “opportunist”, “antagonistic” and “reactionary resolution”.

“We reject the synod’s call with the contempt it deserves and its attempt to interfere in labour issues and the rights that we fought for.”

ACSA adopts Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, October 18, 2013 October 27, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
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With little fanfare, and no debate, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has adopted the Anglican Covenant.

Meeting in Benoni, a town outside Johannesburg, the synod adopted a second reading of the covenant, which it had affirmed in 2010.

The motion was introduced by the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba of South Africa and seconded by the Dean of the Province, the Rt. Rev. Rubin Philip, Bishop of Natal.

Bishop Philip told the synod the covenant would not change the existing synodical structures of the communion, but quoting from the document said “we recognise the importance of renewing in a solemn way our commitment to one another, and to the common understanding of faith and order we have received, so that the bonds of affection which hold us together may be re-affirmed and intensified. We do this in order to reflect, in our relations with one another, God’s own faithfulness and promises towards us in Christ.”

The proposed motion asked the synod to note its adoption of the covenant in 2010 and to “confirm” it. It recommitted the ACSA “to playing the fullest possible role at the heart of the Anglican Communion, working to promote its unity in diversity and strengthening of bonds of affection, in a life of mutuality and interdependence, shared between autonomous churches, acting each as we are called in our own particular contexts and according to our own ordering, in response to this common gift and calling we have received in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And reaffirmed the synod’s “belief that this ordering of shared Communion life may be furthered as set out in the Preamble to the Covenant” which called upon the communion “to proclaim more effectively in our different contexts the grace of God revealed in the gospel, to offer God’s love in responding to the needs of the world, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and together with all God’s people to attain the full stature of Christ.”

The motion was adopted without dissent.

The moral (and news) authority of Desmond Tutu: Get Religion, August 1, 2013 August 1, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Get Religion, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Press criticism.
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An article at BBC.com on the launch of a United Nations-backed campaign to promote gay rights in South Africa is a perfect example of the kinds of difficulties that mainstream journalists face when reporting on world figures who have left the public eye.

The name and the work of retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu is known to most educated newspaper readers — but is a reputation built 25 years ago in the anti-apartheid struggle transferable to the modern debate on gay rights? Why should reporters automatically assume that the words of Tutu are major news?

Like Cher, Desmond Tutu has been on a never ending farewell tour. The ebullient archbishop will announce he is withdrawing from public life and then pop up again in conjunction with another cause or campaign. On 26 July the BBC ran a story under the catchy headline “Archbishop Tutu ‘would not worship a homophobic God.’” The article begins:

South Africa’s Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu says he will never worship a “homophobic God” and will rather go to hell. The retired archbishop was speaking at the launch of a UN-backed campaign in South Africa to promote gay rights. Despite same-sex relationships being legal in South Africa, it had some of the worst cases of homophobic violence, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said.

Archbishop Tutu, 81, is a long-standing campaigner for gay rights. He retired as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996, but has remained the moral conscience of the nation, correspondents say.

While it is tempting to focus on the first line of the story in this post, to do so would breach the parameters of this blog by discussing a religious and cultural issue, not journalism. Thus, my focus is on the last line of the paragraph, the “moral conscience of the nation” line.

Should the BBC be making this claim, or is this editorial advocacy? Is the Corporation making a value judgment that equates a struggle over race and politics with a struggle over sex and politics?

Tutu’s role in the transformation of the South African state is part of the historical record, and is rightly honored for his work. Yet he is not universally beloved. The pull quotes from a story reporting on comments made during a campaign rally this week by Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe were unkind — and not unexpected.

“Never, never, never will we support homosexuality in Zimbabwe,” Mr Mugabe said. “Archbishop Tutu said it is nice to be gay, yet he has a wife, he should have begun by getting himself a man for a woman.

“When you are a bishop and cannot interpret the Bible, you should resign and give it to those who can. We will not compromise our tradition and tolerate homosexuality.”

For many years Mugabe has played upon the religio-cultural disapprobation of homosexuality in Zimbaber for political gain. It may be an act — a way of demonizing or scapegoating an unfavored minority to distract the people from the woes of the country. Sources in Zimbabwe, however, tell me that this is not feigned anger — he means what he says.

Being the object of Mugabe’s invective, however, is a badge of honor and would tend to boost Desmond Tutu’s credentials. Yet within the archbishop’s church his post-apartheid actions have made him yesterday’s man.

In 1998 I attended a meeting of the Anglican bishops of Africa held on the margins of the Lambeth Conference. What played out at this dinner was a contest for the unofficial leadership of Africa — who would be the paramount bishop. The new archbishop of Cape Town, a protege of Tutu — who had retired by this point — had his following. But the mantle of authority passed from South Africa to Nigeria. No votes were taken, nothing official occurred but at that dinner the Anglican churches of Africa moved on from apartheid. The culture wars and homosexuality took center stage.

One thing I took away from these encounters with African bishops was their visceral dislike of breaking ranks and of voicing public criticism of their own. As an American clergyman, I was used to one style of church warfare — Smite the Amalekites Oh Lord, smite them hip and thigh — not the African softly softly approach.

Thus when I saw this denunciation of Tutu by the Archbishop of Ghana following the publication of the BBC piece printed above, I was taken aback by its vehemence.

 

“Archbishop Tutu is respected in the Anglican Church and around the world but this time he has misfired and all Anglican Bishops from Africa, Asia and South America condemn his statement in no uncertain terms,” he told Adom News.

The Ghanaian archbishop goes on to say he believes Tutu’ is corrupt — and is now a moral authority for hire.

“We suspect that retired Archbishop Tutu may have collected some moneys from some of the western governments or from gay rights activists to do their bidding but the Anglican Church condemns gay practice,” he said.

This is all by way of background. Desmond Tutu has long been a vocal supporter of gay rights, and it is unlikely he has been swayed by American gold. The question I see is how to inject nuance into a story. Tutu may be a towering moral figure in the newsrooms of the West, but not in the African street or pew. I liken it to the reputation of Tony Blair — a prime minister beloved by American neoconservatives but despised by the British left. Should the BBC report on the launch of the Free & Equal campaign in Cape Town focused on Tutu or on the campaign? The quotes make for a fun story — but are they news?

Newspapers need shorthand ways of explaining issues in order to save space, to use code and symbols readers understand. But it is poor practice to allow historical analogies to frame issues as it distorts the past and does an injustice to the present. We see this sort of thing all the time — conflating the civil rights movement of the 60′s with the gay marriage debate of today, or the apartheid regime of South Africa with the modern state of Israel.

Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results, stockbrokers tell us. Should not newspapers do this too and inject context and nuance when discussing the contemporary comments of historical figures? Or is this asking too much? Did the BBC allow celebrity trump news? Did the BBC’s moral worldview, its conception of heroes and villains, prevent it from telling the true story? I think so.

First printed in Get Religion.

Police seize bishop’s home/cars in corruption crackdown: The Church of England Newspaper, May 19, 2013 p 7. May 22, 2013

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Anti-corruption authorities in South Africa have seized the assets of Bishop Samuel Banzana, charging the leader of Umzi Wase Topiya (the Ethiopian Episcopal Church) with taking kick-backs from a construction company in return for awarding building contracts.

On 8 May 2013 agents of the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions seized the bishop’s home, three automobiles and bank accounts as part of an investigation into corruption and money laundering. Tsepo Ndwalaza, the National Prosecuting Authority’s regional spokesman, told the SABC “this will show communities that the government and law enforcement agencies of this country are working hard to root out corruption”.

An African Independent Church, the Ethiopian Episcopal Church was part of the Anglican church of southern Africa for most of the 20th century. Formed by ministers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1900 the group entered into communion with the Anglican church of southern Africa and was known as the Ibandla laseTiyopia (Order of Ethiopia). Its polity and doctrine were based upon traditional Anglican formularies, but it placed special emphasis on the African experience – seeing in Psalm 68:31: “Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth its hands unto God” a mandate to evangelize Africa by Africans.

In July 1999 the South African Provincial Synod rescinded Canon 48, severing relations with the Order. On 27 August 1999 the bishop and clergy reformed the Order as the Ethiopian Episcopal Church.

Civil war fears for Mozambique: The Church of England Newspaper, April 28, 2013, p 6. May 2, 2013

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Political violence could see a return to civil war in Mozambique, the Bishop of Niassa has warned following clashes between police and members of the ex-guerrilla group RENAMO.

Last week Bishop Mark van Koevering wrote: “We are all saddened by the deaths of innocent people during the recent violence that took place in Muxungue,” adding that: “We call on all to follow in the way of peace, creating space and opportunity for all voices to be heard in a transparent process that renounces violence and serves the common good.”

Over 1 million people died and 5 million were driven from their homes in the 16 year long civil war between the FRELIMO-party government communist and RENAMO guerrillas which ended in 1992. In the worst outbreak of political violence in a decade one woman and four police officers were killed in a police raid on RENAMO meeting, prompting suspected RENAMO gunmen to attack a police post killing five policemen.

Political violence, church leaders note, could destabilize the massive gains made in the past few years in promoting democracy and civil rights. Unrest could also derail the country’s natural resources-based economic boom. Western mining companies, Vale and Rio Tinto, have invested nearly $10 billion in mines in Tete province, home to some of the world’s largest untapped coal  deposits — and a RENAMO stronghold.

Easter messages from across the Communion: The Church of England Newspaper, April 7, 2013 p 6. April 9, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Church of Nigeria, Church of the Province of Uganda, Church of the Province of West Africa, Scottish Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Church.
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Easter messages from the overseas leaders of the Anglican Communion sounded a common theme this year of hope and joy. While the archbishops of the church touched upon issues of local concern, each spoke to the victory of Christ over death and the grave.

The Archbishop of Uganda Stanley Ntagali urged Christians not to lose heart in the face of economic and political uncertainties. “There could be social pressures in the country and many people might have lost hope. Many people no longer trust fellow human beings, but let the risen Lord Jesus whose victory over death we are celebrating this Easter give us a new hope.”

He also warned of the dangers of alcohol. “I urge our people not to celebrate [Easter] by drinking. They should go to church and worship the Lord and return home. This a time to repent and make our homes, offices, schools and business places more enjoyable and suitable to glorify God who gave us the greatest gift of salvation through his Son Jesus Christ,” he noted.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council, also spoke of the joy found in life in Christ. “In his resurrection from the dead there is the glorious ‘yes’ of the fulfilment, actual and yet to come, of the promises and purposes of God. Through repentance and faith we share in his risen life and at its heart, our calling is to simply say the ‘Amen’ and glorify the God who has triumphed over sin and death.”

The GAFCON leader also urged Christians to reject the “ungodly innovations” coming from Western liberal churches which seek to “substitute human effort and speculation for divine grace and revealed truth.  It is a profound contradiction to say this ‘Amen’ and then go on, as some do, to deny the real physical resurrection of Jesus.”

When Christians say ‘no’ to false teaching it is for the sake of truth. “There can be no more positive a movement than one which gives an unqualified ‘Amen’ to the fulfilment of all God promises in Jesus Christ.”

The Archbishop of West Africa Dr. Tilewa Johnson said the Christian’s response to the sufferings was to turn towards God. “Where to start? We have tools and guidelines to hand. One of the greatest tools we have is prayer. Prayer is a means of communication with God.”

“As with so many things, it requires practice. We know what it is like when we become close to another human being – a husband, wife, brother, sister or close friend. In time it is possible to read their thoughts, and know what they are going to say before they say it. It is the same with God. To sit in the presence of God – maybe in silence; maybe with a few words – it is possible increasingly to come to know God and the will of God. Gradually we know the way to go,” the Gambian archbishop said.

The Primate of All Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said that when celebrating Easter it was “important” to “re-emphasize the incontrovertible fact that Jesus has risen from the dead and He is alive for ever. Through His resurrection power, therefore we can overcome all sorts of challenges we might have as an individual, as the Church of God and as a Nation.”

The Archbishop called on “all Christians and Nigerians as a whole to reaffirm their trust in God, and in corporate Nigeria.”

“Let us remain resolute and resilient, having our hope in the strength and power of the Almighty God. Our prayer for our country, Nigeria is that we shall overcome the present challenges of lingering insecurity: bloodshed, destruction of lives and property; poverty and political squabbles. We should keep hope alive of a corporate Nigeria,” he said.

Preaching at the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of St. George the Martyr in Cape Town, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba told the congregation he had just returned from a retreat in “frozen rural North Wales”, staying in an attic room overlooking the Irish Sea in the mountains of Snowdonia.

“I was there to follow the 30-days Full Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola,” he explained “to explore what God was wanting to do in my life.”

But even found that the spiritual journey did not end there as God was leading him “to integrate all I’ve experienced and learnt into my ministry and life” –  “And I certainly came back to find an awful lot had been going on,’ he said.

“The over-riding lesson of my retreat is that God, in his redeeming love, is everywhere. Nothing is beyond his care, or his desire to bring healing and new life to you, to me, to everyone,” the archbishop said.

“If you truly want to know what Easter is all about, look at the places where there are tough challenges, difficult issues, hard wrestling, painful contexts – and where God’s people nonetheless dare to go, and to stay for as long as it takes, witnessing to light and hope and life.” Archbishop Makgoba said.

In in his final Easter message before he retires in July the Archbishop of Sydney Dr Peter Jensen reflected on his tenure in office. “As I think on my time as Archbishop, naturally I look back and try to judge myself – not with much success!” he says. “Like you, I have a real judge. Think how much more God, who knows all the secrets of our hearts, must be able to hold me to account. It should make us tremble.”

But Easter filled him with hope. “What happened at the first Easter reminds me of the love of God. Through the death of Jesus even I, and all of us, can have forgiveness as we turn to him in sorrow and trust him for our lives” he says.

“Our failures are not the last word over our lives. And, through the resurrection of Jesus I have a great and undeserved hope of my own resurrection and future,” Dr. Jensen said.

Archbishop-elect Philip Richardson of New Zealand reminded Kiwi Christians that “life comes out of death; the horror of crucifixion bears the fruit of redeemed and renewed humanity; the worst that we are capable of becomes the access way to that intimacy of relationship with God that Christ makes possible; it is in the bowl and towel of the servant that true power is expressed; it is in losing ourselves that we are found.”

The “heart of the message of Easter,” he observed was not the “passion or the suffering, but the resurrection.”

“As Martin Luther King rightly reminded us, ‘Hate begets hate, anger begets anger, killing only begets more killing. The only thing that can turn an enemy into a friend is the power of love’,” he said.

In a joint message released with the leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada celebrated the bonds of friendship between the two denominations and also urged Christians to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori the Episcopal Church stated: “Easter celebrates the victory of light and life over darkness and death.  God re-creates and redeems all life from dead, dry, and destroyed bones.  We are released from the bonds of self-obsession, addiction, and whatever would steal away the radical freedom of God-with-us.”

At Easter “our lives re-center in what is most holy and creative, the new thing God is continually doing in our midst,” she said, “practicing vulnerability toward the need and hunger of others around us” thereby cultivating “compassionate hearts.  We join in baptismal rebirth in the midst of Jesus’ own passing-over.”

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, writing from Juba where he was standing holy week with Archbishop Daniel Deng of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, wrote: “This Easter I am looking back,” he said – “I am asking, ‘What does it all mean?’ Whether in Juba or in Pittsburgh – and wherever you find yourself – what I testify is that the Gospel is my strength and my song, and that Jesus has become my salvation.”

“Easter is the day that lights and gives meaning to all the others, wherever I – we – spend it and with whomever I – we – spend it.  The tomb is empty.  The world, the flesh and the devil are defeated.  Jesus is alive.  In Him, the alien becomes familiar, loss becomes gain, sorrow becomes joy, and death becomes life.  This Easter I am also looking around and looking ahead,” Archbishop Robert Duncan wrote.

The Archbishop of Armagh Dr. Richard Clarke said what Ireland need this Easter was “confidence – a full–blooded confidence – that we actually want to allow Christ to run loose and dangerous in the world around us. We need to recover that spirited confidence to assert that Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, is not our private property as churchy people, but is truly for the whole of society and the entire world.”

Dr. Barry Morgan the Archbishop of Wales in his Easter sermon preached at Llandaff Cathedral stated that: “If you wanted to sum up God’s work, He is a God who is in the rescue business.  That is the root meaning of the word ‘salvation’ – it means being saved from something or someone.”

“Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we too as members of His body, are rescued from sin, despair, meaninglessness, disaster, and death,” he said, adding that “this offer of rescue, of salvation, by Jesus, is for all people not just for the select few – a bit like being rescued by a lifeboat.   When a life-station receives a distress signal, no enquiry is made about the social status of those who need rescuing, or whether they can pay for the service, or whether they are at fault for having got themselves into danger in the first place by being careless in going out without life jackets when a storm was forecast.  Lifeboats simply go to the rescue.”

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Bishop David Chillingworth of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane stated: “We greet with joy the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We look forward to welcoming many people to worship in our churches at Easter.  We hope and pray that they will experience joy and hope in our congregations.

“As disciples of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are people of the resurrection.  We are Easter people – shaped in our baptism through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We feel deeply the pain of the world and its people.  We bring compassion and care to the ministry which we exercise in our service of others.  We have a passion for justice.  We are also people of hope.  Because of the resurrection, we believe that good will triumph over evil and life over death.”

Prayer Book reform slated for South Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, April 7, 2013 p. 4 April 9, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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Prayer Book reform, theological education, corruption and crime were the focus of last month’s meeting of the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

While the church has seen rapid growth in northern Mozambique — leading to a call for the creation of a new episcopal area Diocese of Niassa — as well as Africa’s first Anglican women bishops, Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland and Margaret Vertue of False Bay, the statement released a close of the 5 – 8 March 2013 meeting in Modderpoort in the Diocese of the Free State acknowledged that “our hearts are deeply troubled as we gather.”

“We have noted with sadness the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor. Many of our people are trapped in the ever deepening spiral of abject poverty. We note the evidence for a close correlation between corruption and poverty. We, as a church, strongly condemn all forms of corruption, whether it is in the church or in civil society or in government or in business.”

“We call upon all of us to strive for a corruption free society and to challenge the governments and businesses in our region to do the same.”

The bishops also said an “area of particular concern is the escalating violence in South African society.” Citing a series of high-profile rapes and murders the bishops said they “condemn any form of violence, whether it is civil or state violence, domestic or public violence. We call upon all our people to strive for a violence-free society and, by so doing, to allow the light of Christ to permeate our society.”

Within the church the Bishop noted that 2013 would be a year dedicated to theological education and would also see the beginnings of liturgical reform.

There was an “inseparable link between the reform of liturgy and spiritual renewal,” the bishops said, adding: “There is a great sense of excitement as we embark on this process, as the Province, of revising the Anglican Prayer Book 1989. We realise that this will not be a hasty process, especially since we want to ensure that it will be a dynamic tool for mission and ministry, which will give expression to our distinctive identity and spirituality.”

“Through our sharing and praying” the bishops said they had become “deeply aware of the hard realities” of South Africa and had heard “the cries of God’s people”.

“We pray that we as the Church will listen intelligently to what God is saying to us at this time; observe diligently the signs of God’s restorative grace that is breaking through in places where our people are struggling; teach faithfully what God commands us to do; and continue to be God’s Good-news people wherever we live and work,” the statement said.

80 dead in Mozambique flooding: The Church of England Newspaper, February 24, 2013 p 6. March 23, 2013

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Church leaders in the Indian Ocean and Southern Africa have launched appeals for aid following flooding across the region.

On 1 Feb 2013 Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean asked for support for the Diocese of the Seychelles after the island was hit by Tropical Cyclone Felleng. The “country and the diocese have suffered heavy losses from the floods,” as “church buildings and other important structures have been destroyed. However we give thanks to the Lord as there has been no loss of life.”

Bishop Brighton Malasa of the Diocese of Upper Shire in Malawi reported his country had been hard hit by floods. He estimated that 33,000 people had been dislocated by flood waters in his diocese.  “We would appreciate humanitarian support such as soap, clothes, cereals, sugar, blankets and tents,” he said.

While floods are common in the early part of the year in southern Malawi, the “oldest people in our communities are saying they have not seen such rains in the past 50 years,” the bishop said.

In the Diocese of Lebombo in southern Mozambique approximately 70,000 people have been displaced by flood waters, Bishop Dinis Sengulane said. “The situation is dramatic and it calls for our response if we are to avoid more damages to the lives of people”.

The flooding had destroyed crops and left “stagnant waters [that] will become favorable places for the proliferation of mosquitoes that bring malaria,” the bishop wrote to supporters in the West in an appeal for “mosquito nets to prevent malaria” as well as “seeds and school materials for children.”

On 31 Jan 2013 the United Nations reported severe flooding in southern Mozambique has affected a quarter of a million people, while heavy rains buffeted the north of the country as Tropical Cyclone Felleng made landfall after passing over Madagascar.

The floods have killed at least 48 people in the south of Mozambique, the UN reported while government officials put the death toll at 80.

South Africa reaches tipping point on rape: The Church of England Newspaper, February 17, 2013, p. 6. March 15, 2013

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Bishop Rubin Philip of Natal

The gang rape and murder of 17-year old Anene Booyson has galvanized South Africa, focusing attention on the county’s culture of rape.

On 2 Feb 2013 a security guard discovered the dying girl at a construction site close to her home in the rural town of Bredasdorp in the Western Cape. Before she died, the girl was able to identify one of her three attackers – a family friend.

According to United Nations statistical reports, Southern Africa (South Africa and Lesotho) lead the world in incidents per capita per rape. The Crime Report 2010/11 published by the South African Police Services stated 66,196 rapes had been reported to the police – however, women’s rights activists claim the number of rapes could be eight times higher as most women do not report to police.

However, the rape of Anene Booyson may have “become a tipping point” for South Africa, said Albert Fritz the Western Cape provincial minister of social development, that leads to change.

President Jacob Zuma denounced the crime saying: “The whole nation is outraged at this extreme violation and destruction of a young human life,” he said. “This act is shocking, cruel and most inhumane. It has no place in our country. We must never allow ourselves to get used to these acts of base criminality to our women and children.”

The president called on the courts to “impose the harshest sentences on such crimes, as part of a concerted campaign to end this scourge in our society.”

The Bishop of False Bay, the Rt. Rev. Margaret Vertue, paid a pastoral call on the dead girl’s family after preaching in the Anglican Church in Bredasdorp on 10 Feb 2013.  “Anene is the victim of the social ills and loss of moral values of our society,” the bishop said, adding that what “happened to Anene and others who have died a violent death is a symptom of brooded evil.”

The Dean of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA), Bishop Rubin Philip of Natal stated: “Anene Booysen is a name on the lips of almost every South African this week. She has become the visible image of a deathly scourge that haunts us all – the scourge of rape.  As happens more and more frequently, Anene’s rape was accompanied by extraordinary levels of violence.”

“Anene has been robbed of her life. Her mother has been robbed of a child. But it is not only Anene who has died brutally this week. The hope of our rainbow nation dies, agonising cry by agonising cry, every time a woman is raped – approximately 3500 times a day.   How is it that the dream nation has become the rape capital of the world,” Bishop Philip asked.

The leaders of ACSA had called upon all Anglicans to “use the season of Lent to recognise that every time we fail to act against gender based violence, we are complicit in its perpetration. Anglican churches are being requested to light a candle on Wednesday in memory of Anene and all women who have suffered the violence of rape. Male members are being asked to declare ‘not in my name. This violence may not continue’,” the bishop said.

Hopes for Bible Study’s return to Namibia: The Church of England Newspaper, December 9, 2012 p 5. December 12, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Biblical Interpretation, Church of England Newspaper, Education.
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The Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) has called upon the Namibian Ministry of Education to re-introduce religious education in state schools to reinforce moral values among learners.

The New Era newspaper reports the youth wing of Namibia’s ruling government party and former liberation movement last week endorsed a resolution calling for the return of Bible classes in schools to combat the “escalating crimes of passion and other related domestic violence incidents” in society.

In 2010 the Council of Churches of Namibia prepared a Biblical Studies and Moral Education curriculum for the state.  The current religion curriculum in state schools taught religion from a historical perspective, CCN general secretary Maria Kapere told The Namibian.

The CCN’s curriculum “is to use the Bible as source for moral education.  This will help prevent the growing threat of moral decay in Namibian society and strengthen Biblical instruction in the school curriculum,” she said.

Following independence from South Africa, Bible study at state schools was ended.  However, no moral or ethical curriculum had been put in its place. “Children are obliged to go to school, but are not obliged to go to church. Without them knowing it, they are being withheld from the truth written in the Bible,” she said.

The endorsement of the ruling party’s youth wing for a return to religious instruction tied to moral and ethical development of young people, strengthens the chance for the return of the Bible to the classroom, observers from the Diocese of Namibia tell CEN.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop warns of agricultural “uprising” over low wages: The Church of England Newspaper, December 2, 2012 p 6. December 7, 2012

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The Bishop of False Bay has called upon government to respond quickly to the “uprising” in the Breede Valley of South Africa’s Western Cape, saying that unless the root causes of the violence are addressed more lives will be lost. Labour unrest was but “another example of the ticking time bomb of poverty and unemployment in our province,” Bishop Merwyn Castle said on 16 Nov 2012.

The South African press reports that police have closed roads into the valley, while farmers have blocked the roads into the town of Ceres to prevent labour activists from Cape Town joining the strike. Grape harvesters in the Hex River Valley had been protesting for over a week about their wages, demanding their wages be doubled to R150 a day.

Farm workers have set tires alight, staged protest marches and clashed with police.  On 13 Nov 2012 police fired rubber bullets at a group of 70 farm workers after they began throwing stones at the police lines.

In a letter to the premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, Bishop Merwyn Castle of the Anglican Diocese of False Bay said that “unless the underlying causes [of recent uprisings in the Breede Valley] are comprehensively dealt with, the anger and resentment may result in more bitterness and the loss of more lives.”

“People have for too long in our agricultural communities been oppressed by the situation of unemployment and poverty,” the bishop said, urging the government to step in to prevent further violence.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Second Anglican woman bishop for Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, October 21, 2012 p 6. October 22, 2012

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Bishop-elect Margaret Vertue

The Archbishop of Cape Town reports the Diocese of False Bay has elected Africa’s second Anglican bishop. Archbishop Thabo Makboga reports that on 3 Oct 2012 the diocesan synod elected the Rev. Canon Margaret Vertue as second bishop of the diocese in succession to the Rt. Rev. Merwyn Castle.

“In the last few months, we have had four episcopal elections, electing two women and two men,” Archbishop Makgoba wrote. “It seems the Holy Spirit is not finished with us, but is taking us further onwards into this new stage of our Church’s life. We give great thanks to God.”

Bishop-elect Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland will be the first Anglican African women bishop following her consecration on 17 Nov 2012. In recent weeks the Ven. Steve Moreo was elected Bishop of Johannesburg and the Rev Steven Letloenyane was elected Bishop of the Diocese of the Free State. They, and Canon Vertue, will be consecrated in early 2013.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop of Pretoria cleared of misconduct: The Church of England Newspaper, October 14, 2012 p 6. October 19, 2012

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Bishop Johannes Seoka of Pretoria

The Bishop of Pretoria, the Rt. Rev. Johannes Seoka, had been exonerated by an investigatory committee of misconduct. The task force convened by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa found there was no truth in charges brought by members of the chapter of the Cathedral of St Alban the Martyr the bishop had stolen R500,000 of Diocesan Trust funds.

“The task team’s report states clearly that allegations that the Bishop of Pretoria, Dr Jo Seoka, had acted improperly regarding a loan for housing are groundless, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba reported. “The bishops call upon those making these unfounded allegations to desist.”

In June, the church initiated an investigation into the charges and convened a task force of the House of Bishops charged under  Canon 21.3 with investigating the claims.  The initiating of an investigation was not an indication of guilt or a finding of a prima facie case of misconduct, but is the proper canonical response to allegations of misconduct, a South African bishop said.

Bishop Seoka had protested his innocence from the start, telling The Church of England Newspaper the charges of theft were “ridiculous”.

In a statement released at the close of the 23-26 September 2012 meeting of the House of bishops in Pretoria, the bishops said they had received reports on “the internal crises affecting the life of the people of God in our dioceses (most notably those in the Cathedral of Pretoria and the Diocese of Umzimvubu).”

The bishops said they also discussed the “formation and training of new bishops, and ways in which we could better guide and mentor those experiencing difficulties within their dioceses.”

Sources in the South African church report that in private session the bishops received private briefings on the situation in the Dioceses of Umzimvubu and Pretoria.  At the close of their February 2012 meeting, the bishops said that at the invitation of the Bishop of Umzimvubu, the Rt. Rev. Mlibo Ngewu “we dealt at length with the complicated issues presently affecting his Diocese. After extensive discussions, we unanimously resolved the diocese should be placed under the care of a provincial administrative team.”

Elected in 2003, Bishop Ngewu has been charged by his clergy with simony, nepotism, embezzlement, fraud, sexual harassment and bullying.  In August 2011 two-thirds of the diocesan clergy had written to the Archbishop of Cape Town requesting his intervention.

The provincial administrative team overseeing Umzimvubu gave their first report to the House of Bishops at last week’s meeting. While its contents have not been made public, sources tell CEN the investigations continue.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Civil insurrection warnings from South Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, September 23, 2012 p 7. September 24, 2012

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The Archbishop of Cape Town has urged the government of President Jacob Zuma to take immediate steps to address the unrest in Marikana in South Africa’s North-West Province following last month’s police shooting of 34 striking miners, warning the community is on “knife edge” with the situation set to spin out of control.

On 5 September 2012 Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, accompanied by the Bishop of Pretoria Johannes Seoka – the president of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) – participated in talks between management, labour and the government to resolve the tensions.

“Finding a peaceful way forward was the prime concern of almost everyone present, though the atmosphere of hope was accompanied by the sort of robust speaking that can sound threatening, even terrifying, to those not used to South Africans’ frank talk,” the archbishop said.

As he drove home from the meetings past the Markana Mine where the shootings took place, the archbishop said his heart was telling him “all is not well.”

“I could not help but fear we are living in the calm before a storm.  We are on a knife edge. The dire states of everything from living conditions to issues in the mining community are the stuff from which revulsion follows and revolution is too easily made.”

In an interview with the Daily Mail, the Bishop of Natal, the Rt. Rev. Rubin Phillip said he was afraid the situation would get worse.  The African National Congress government’s failure to address poverty, substandard health and education programmes, and communal violence had left the country unsettled.

“The feeling on the street is one of very deep anger and you don’t want an angry people for too long,” he said.

Unless the politicians and businessmen address the imbalance in the economy, we are going to see many more Marikanas coming up. Not just in the mines, but in the informal sectors as well.

“I think we are sitting on a powder keg situation and we need to address that,” the bishop said, and unless the government fulfilled its promises to the electorate, South Africa “could end up with a scenario that would be very tragic for all of us”.

Archbishop Makgoba said that he, nevertheless, remained optimistic. “Because I have faith in the living God, whose word to us is peace and hope and new life, I am optimistic that a better future is possible.”

But his visit to Marikana “left me with the sense that this country is like a smouldering log that, left unattended, lies ready to ignite at the slightest wind.   There is real urgency in these matters.  This is not a message of doom – it is a call to wake up and act.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Priest’s wife accused of murdering her husband: The Church of England Newspaper, September 9, 2012 p 7. September 10, 2012

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The wife of an Anglican priest in South Africa has been arrested in connection with the murder of her husband, the Rev. Canon Ongama Xuba, who last month was found stabbed to death in his rectory in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape.

Last week police detectives announced that Mrs. Lungiswa Xuba (40) had been arrested as an accessory in the death of her husband.  The police reported they had also taken into custody Mr. Vuyo Mehlo (40) and have charged him with killing Canon Xuba.

On 3 August, Mrs. Xuba and her two small children returned to their home from a shopping excursion.  The children ran into the house and then rushed back, telling their mother that their father was badly injured.  Canon Xuba the rector of St Peter’s Church in Butterworth in the Diocese of Mbhashe, died at the scene.

Mrs. Xuba’s relationship to the accused killer has not been revealed by the police.  Butterworth police spokesman, Captain Jackson Manatha stated:  ”After their arrest on Friday last week they were detained by police until they appeared in court yesterday. They made a brief court appearance and are expected back in court next week for a formal bail application.

“Both are charged with the murder of Xuba,” Captain Manatha said.

Bishop Elliot Williams of the Diocese of Mbhashe told reporters he was profoundly saddened by the murder and the news of Mrs. Xuba’s arrest was “terrible”.

The accused are scheduled to appear before the Butterworth magistrate court this week to answer the charges of murder and conspiracy.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Action demanded in the wake of SA police shootings: The Church of England Newspaper, September 9, 2012 p 6 September 10, 2012

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The President of the South African Council of Churches, the Anglican Bishop of  Pretoria Jo Seoka has published an open letter calling upon President Jacob Zuma to investigate the 16 August 2012 police killing of 34 striking miners.

“The coming investigation into the shootings must commence promptly and consist of an impartial commission that will be able to establish responsibilities for the incident at all levels within the police force and government, and the top management of Lonmin,” Bishop Seoka said.

Last month police fired into a crowd of 3000 miners gathered on a hillside close to the Lonmin Platinum mine near Rustenburg after miners attacked police lines.

The mines have been the scene of labour tensions between two rival unions: the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union for the right to represent the mine’s 28,000 employees.  In early August ten people, including two policemen, were killed in skirmishes between the unions who are also calling for a £600 a month wage increase from the British owned company.

Lonmin had a poor reputation the bishop said. “Communities in the area say that mines’ corporate social responsibility programmes are ‘lies’ as they make a lot of promises when they enter a community but often do not deliver,’ Bishop Seoka said, adding “the majority of the projects are done to satisfy their public image and rarely do they consult with workers to find out what they actually need.”

However, he announced that in his talks with management, “we are pleased to announce that Lonmin have finally agreed to meet with representatives of the strikers,” Bishop Seoka reported, adding that Lonmin had backed away from its threat to sack the striking workers.

At the first of four funerals held for the dead on 23 Aug, Bishop Seoka told the congregation the shootings brought back memories of the apartheid struggle.  “We are shocked as a nation about what happened. None of us ever thought it would happen again.”

The Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba warned political leaders not to exploit the tragedy for their own purposes telling the congregation “These are God’s people, we need to respect the dignity and sanctity of their lives.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Archbishop “appalled” by police massacre in South Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, August 26, 2012 p 6. August 29, 2012

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The Archbishop of Cape Town has called for a “strong, but measured and proportionate” response from the South African government after police opened fire on striking miners killing 34.

Speaking to the press on August 17, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said the police were compelled to use deadly force against striking miners at the Lonmin Platinium mine, located 62 miles northwest of Johannesburg, after 3000 miners gathered on a hillside overlooking Marikana to call for a pay rise of £600 a month.

Police sought to surround the striking miners and the melee began after shots were fired at the police and the miners charged police ranks wielding machetes.

Molaole Montsho of the Sapa news agency said he saw police use water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades to break up the protest.  “And then in the commotion – we were about 800m [2,600ft] from the scene – we heard gunshots that lasted for about two minutes,” he wrote.

Commissioner Phiyega reported that 34 miners were killed, approximately 78 were injured and 259 taken into police custody.

The mine workers union, a political ally of President Jacob Zuma’s African National Congress, has called for a government investigation into the shooting – the deadliest police clash since the end of the apartheid era. Some activists have likened the shooting to the 1960 Sharpesville massacre, where police opened fire on demonstrators killing 69 – an event credited with radicalizing the anti-apartheid movement.

In a statement released on 17 August, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said he was “stunned and appalled” by the shootings.

“Whatever the merits of the various disputes – whether between employees and employers, between unions, between workers and union leaders, between miners and police – whatever the legality of the strikes or the responses to them, this death toll is unacceptable,” the archbishop said, as “even one death is one too many.”

The archbishop called upon the Ministers of Justice, and of Mining and Mineral Resources to give “strong, but measured and proportionate, interventions to end this warpath and stop the killings.”

“We must also make resoundingly clear that common sense must prevail, and that sincere, mature, negotiation must always be the route to solving our differences. Violence is never the answer,” Archbishop Makgoba said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Slander suit splits Pretoria cathedral: The Church of England Newspaper, August 26, 2012, p 6. August 28, 2012

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A libel suit has been initiated against a lay leader of the Cathedral Church of St Alban the Martyr in Pretoria after writing in the cathedral’s newsletter a diocesan administrator had stolen money from the cathedral.

The law suit is the latest scandal in the dispute between the cathedral’s lay leaders and the diocese.  Last month the Bishop of Pretoria was charged with assault.  Police in Pretoria are investigating the claim that the Rt. Rev. Johannes Seoka struck Mr. Albert Wright, verger at the Cathedral Church of St Alban the Martyr on 30 June 2012.

In June the Anglican Church of Southern Africa initiated an investigation into charges of misconduct by Bishop Seoka and convened a task force of the House of Bishops charged under Canon 21.3 with investigating the claims. Bishop Seoka told The Church of England Newspaper the charges aired in the South African press by his critics that he had embezzled R500,000 from church coffers and that he had bullied his opponents were “ridiculous”.

On 14 June 2012 the Pretoria diocesan administrator, Mr. Paul Pretorius, filed suit in Pretoria High Court against Cathedral warden S’khumbuso Sibiya, saying Mr. Sibiya had uttered and published defamatory statements about him.

In February the cathedral chapter notified the police that R145,000 was missing from its accounts, and said they suspected Mr. Pretorius was responsible for the defalcation.  Mr. Sibiya is alleged to have also published in the 12 Feb issue of the cathedral newsletter this claim.

After Mr. Sibiya declined to retract his charges, Mr. Pretorius brought suit saying: “The innuendo, inter alia in the context of the defamatory matter, being that the plaintiff was a thief, a common criminal, dishonest, corrupt, a fraudster and untrustworthy.”

In May Bishop Seoka and the diocesan standing committee suspended worship services at the cathedral after infighting amongst the congregation led to the resignation of the priest in charge.

The decision to temporarily suspend worship services was prompted by a desire to restore order and bring calm to a distressed congregation, the Bishop of Pretoria explained.  “The truth is that all that is happening at the cathedral conflicts with the gospel, and the teachings of the Church.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Swaziland elects first women bishop for Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, July 29, 2012 p 6 August 4, 2012

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The Diocese of Swaziland has elected Africa’s first Anglican woman bishop.  On 18 July 2012 the Diocesan Elective Assembly meeting in Mbabane elected the Rev. Ellinah Wamukoya as fifth bishop of the diocese.

Bishop-elect Wamukoya (61) will be the first female Anglican bishop in Africa and one of only two serving women bishops among the continent’s mainline churches – in 2008 the Rt. Rev. Joaquina Nhanala was elected the Methodist bishop of Mozambique.  The first woman bishop in Africa was the Rt. Rev. Purity Malinga, a Methodist bishop in South Africa.

Educated at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (now the University of Swaziland), the new bishop has exercised a bi-vocational ministry.  She serves as Anglican chaplain at the University of Swaziland and at St Michael’s High School in Manzini.  Bishop-elect Wamukoya is also the Town Clerk and CEO of the City Council of the town of Manzini and is a skilled and seasoned financial administrator and has also worked as a planning officer for the Government of Kenya.

Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who oversaw the election stated, “When it was announced that she had received the necessary votes, there was great rejoicing both that a person of undeniable skills and personal qualities had been chosen, and that it was Ellinah herself, who obviously commands considerable respect and affection across the Diocese of Swaziland.’

‘It is rather fitting that the Diocese of Swaziland should elect our first woman to be a Bishop, since it was here, 20 years ago, that, amidst both tears and joy, our Provincial Synod agreed that both the priesthood and episcopate should be open to both men and women’ the Archbishop said. ‘We have waited a long time for this moment!’

“I am humbled by the trust and confidence placed on me by the people of Swaziland, a person like me of humble beginnings” said Mrs. Wamukoya after the election. “My prayer is to be able to listen and be guided by the Holy Spirit in everything I do. My vision is to see that the people of God are restored and transformed, in order for them to be a church in mission, for, as it is said, ‘a church that does not reach out, passes out’.”

The new bishop enters the stage at a difficult moment in the political and ecclesial life of Swaziland.  The diocese had been led by vicar-general since the resignation last year of her predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Meshack Mabuza.

Bishop Mabuza had been a sharp critic of King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa. King Mswati has ruled the landlocked mountain kingdom since 1986 and has been denounced by church and civil society leaders for mismanagement of the economy.  The king also has earned a public image as a profligate ruler unconcerned with his subjects’ poverty.

Last year Bishop Mabuza told the BBC “the answer [to Swaziland’s problems] really lies in regime change in terms of the traditional, feudalistic, archaic form of government,” and “has to be replaced with multi-party democratic rule.”

The Diocese of Swaziland has also been rocked by internal dissension. In 2011 Bishop Mabuza was investigated and cleared of charges that he had mismanaged money given to the diocese by its overseas partners, the Dioceses of Brechin and Iowa.

The financial misconduct charges were only part of the bishop’s worries. On the evening of 21 February 2011, traffic officers from the Lobamba police station stopped Bishop Mabuza while he was driving along the Manzini-Mbabane freeway. The Bishop failed a breathalyzer test and arrested him for driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Following his archiepiscopal visitation in January 2012, Archbishop Makoba released a pastoral letter stating that he believed the diocese was “in a healthy state in spite of all the challenges it went through. Bishop Mabuza must be congratulated and complimented for his effective leadership.”

Women clergy have stood for election as bishop in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa before, but Saturday’s election marks the first time a woman has been elected bishop since the ACSA synod voted to ordain women to all orders of ministry in 1992.

Of the 38 Provinces of the Anglican Communion, 7 do not ordain women: Central Africa, Melanesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia, and Tanzania.

Two provinces ordain women to the diaconate only, Congo and the Southern Cone while 26 provinces and the extra-provincial Church of Ceylon have ordained women to the priesthood: Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Central America, England, Hong Kong, North India, South India, Indian Ocean, Ireland, Japan, Jerusalem & the Middle East, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Scotland, the Sudan, Uganda, Wales, West Africa, and the West Indies. Southern Africa becomes the fifth province to elect a women bishop, joining the Episcopal Church, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and has the extra-provincial diocese of Cuba.

Pretoria bishop charged with assault: The Church of England Newspaper, July 22, 2012, p 6. July 26, 2012

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The Bishop of Pretoria has been charged with assault after allegedly attacking a cathedral verger.  Police in Pretoria are investigating the claim that the Rt. Rev. Johannes Seoka struck Mr. Albert Wright, verger at the Cathedral Church of St Alban the Martyr on 30 June 2012.

The Sowetan newspaper reports that police spokeswoman Sergeant Anne Poortman confirmed that a case of common assault had been opened at Pretoria Central police station.  It is alleged that the bishop assaulted Mr. Wright for having made public documents concerning the dispute between the bishop and some members of the cathedral chapter.

Last month the Anglican Church of Southern Africa initiated an investigation into charges of misconduct by Bishop Seoka and convened a task force of the House of Bishops charged under  Canon 21.3 with investigating the claims.  The initiating of an investigation is not an indication of guilt or a finding of a prima facie case of misconduct, but is the proper canonical response to allegations of misconduct, a South African bishop told CEN.

Bishop Seoka told The Church of England Newspaper the charges aired in the South African press by his critics that he had embezzled R500,000 from church coffers and that he had bullied his opponents were “ridiculous”.

In May Bishop Seoka and the diocesan standing committee suspended worship services at the cathedral after infighting amongst the congregation led to the resignation of the priest in charge.

The decision to temporarily suspend worship services was prompted by a desire to restore order and bring calm to a distressed congregation, the Bishop of Pretoria explained.  “The truth is that all that is happening at the cathedral conflicts with the gospel, and the teachings of the Church.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Africa elects first Anglican women bishop: Anglican Ink, July 19, 2012 July 19, 2012

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Africa has elected its first female Anglican bishop. On 18 July 2012 an Elective Assembly meeting in Mbabane elected the Rev. Ellinah Wamukoya as fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Swaziland.

Bishop-elect Wamukoya (61) will be the first female Anglican bishop in Africa and the continent’s second serving female bishop of a mainline church – in 2008 the Rt. Rev. Joaquina Nhanala was elected the Methodist bishop of Mozambique.

Educated at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, the new bishop has exercised a bi-vocational ministry. She serves as Anglican chaplain at the University of Swaziland and at St Michael’s High School in Manzini. Bishop-elect Wamukoya is also the Town Clerk and CEO of the City Council of the town of Manzini and is a skilled and seasoned financial administrator.

The new bishop enters the stage at a difficult moment in the political and ecclesial life of Swaziland. Her predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Meshack Mabuza has been a sharp critic of King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa. King Mswati has ruled the landlocked mountain kingdom since 1986 and has been denounced by church and civil society leaders for mismanagement of the economy. The king also has earned a public image as a profligate ruler unconcerned with his subjects’ poverty.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Pretoria bishop under investigation for misconduct: The Church of England Newspaper, June 17, 2012 p 6. June 21, 2012

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The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has initiated an investigation into charges of misconduct committed by the Bishop of Pretoria, the Rt. Rev. Johannes Seoka.

Last week Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba’s office confirmed to the South African press that a committee of the House of Bishops had been formed under the terms of Canon 21.3 to investigate claims made against the bishop.

The terms of reference for the investigation will be set at the first meeting of the committee, a spokesman said, and once the investigations are complete it will submit is findings to the full House of Bishops for review.

The bishop told The Church of England Newspaper the charges aired in the South African press by his critics that he had embezzled R500,000 from church coffers and that he had bullied his opponents were “ridiculous”.

Last month Bishop Seoka and the diocesan standing committee suspended worship services at the Cathedral of St. Alban the Martyr in Pretoria after infighting amongst the congregation led to the resignation of the priest in charge.

The decision to temporarily suspend worship services was prompted by a desire to restore order and bring calm to a distressed congregation, the Bishop of Pretoria explained.  “The truth is that all that is happening at the cathedral conflicts with the gospel, and the teachings of the Church.”

The initiating of an investigation under Canon 21.3 is not an indication of guilt or a finding of a prima facie case of misconduct, but is the proper canonical response to allegations of misconduct, a South African bishop told CEN.

Bishop Seoka told the South African press that he welcomed the investigation.  “There is nothing uncommon about the process. At the moment I cannot confirm who the people sitting on the task team will be or any further information,” the bishop said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Cathedral closure an act of Eucharistic discipline, bishop reports: The Church of England Newspaper, June 3, 2012 p 7. June 4, 2012

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The bell tower of the Cathedral of St Alban the Martyr in Pretoria

The decision to temporarily suspend worship services at the St. Alban’s Cathedral was prompted by a desire to restore order and bring calm to a distressed congregation, the Bishop of Pretoria told The Church of England Newspaper.

Last week CEN reported that Bishop Jo Seoka of Pretoria suspended services at St Albans after its priest in charge, the Rev. Rudolph Paulse, resigned after receiving death threats from some members of the congregation.

One faction within the congregation, however, went to court to overturn the suspension and received an injunction on 18 May 2012 from Justice Winston Msimeki.  The court ordered the premises be reopened with immediate effect for worship; that no party should disrupt services; that Fr. Rudolph Paulse be names caretaker for the church and that mediation be instituted between the parties within 30 days.

Charges of misconduct were also filed with the Archbishop of Cape Town against Bishop Seoka, charging him with embezzling R500,000 from church coffers – accusations the bishop said were  “ridiculous” and without any foundation.

In a letter to CEN, Bishop Seoka said he was required to take drastic action as the cathedral was in the midst of a spiritual battle. “The truth is that all that is happening at the cathedral conflicts with the gospel, and the teachings of the Church,” he said, as one faction within the cathedral congregation has “undermined the priestly ministry” of the church’s appointed ministers.

“Since September 2011 we have been very patient and tolerant in hoping that sense will prevail and that there will be a change of attitude and behaviour in the Cathedral. Unfortunately we have received hostility, lies, insults and defamatory remarks from some members of the Cathedral. We have become email gossip news from faceless people who have malicious intentions.”

The bishop reported that over the last six weeks, there have been “ugly” incidents at the church.  “Services have been disrupted” the bishop said, since 11 March 2012.

“Archdeacon Palo was interrogated by people who claimed to be leaders of the Cathedral when he arrived to conduct the service, and during Archdeacon Lowes’ pastoral visitation remarks were made insinuating that he is not welcomed as some people were questioning his presence.”

“The same interrogation was experienced by both Canon Long and Venerable Mariri and this time worship was disrupted and chaos erupted inside the Cathedral.  These aggressive acts inside the Cathedral have not only traumatised some Parishioners and the Priest-in-Charge, but desecrated the Holy Eucharist so badly that Fr Rudolf Paulse resigned from his pastoral responsibilities on the 13th May 2012. The reports given to us have shocked us beyond belief and compelled us to act against the perpetrators,” the bishop said.

To deal with the crisis, Bishop Seoka said that he and the diocesan standing committee were compelled to “close the Cathedral and suspend all forms of worship, with immediate effect,” and “take disciplinary action against those who have been identified as leaders in disrupting worship.”

However, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria intervened, the bishop said, adding “our efforts to create a peaceful atmosphere and restoration of order at the Cathedral so that services are conducted for worshippers have been undermined.”

In a letter to members of the congregation in response to the court ruling, Bishop Seoka stated that the conduct of worship in an Anglican Cathedral was regulated by the church, not the state.

“Access to the microphones is given only to those who I authorise to conduct the service and not the churchwardens or other members of the congregation. Any notices must therefore only be given by the persons I have authorised to conduct the services.”

The bishop wrote that “as Fr Paulse was caused by you to resign, and as there is no priest immediately available, services can be conducted by [three lay ministers]. The services at 07:30 and 09:30 on Sundays will therefore again have to be Morning Prayer until I can appoint a suitable priest.”

Churchwarden Sibusiso Mnguni told the Sowetan newspaper her faction rejected the bishop’s decision to appoint lay ministers to say Morning Prayer for the time being.  “We will ask our lawyers to send him a letter asking him to refrain from doing things the parish does not want. If he does not withdraw the letter, we will quietly walk out and when they are done we will hold our own service.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

SA court overturns bishop’s order to close cathedral: The Church of England Newspaper, May 27, 2012 p 6. June 4, 2012

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Bishop Jo Seoka

A South African court has handed down an emergency order overturning the Bishop of Pretoria’s decision to close St Alban’s Cathedral to its congregation.

The intervention last week by the Pretoria High Court into the dispute between Bishop Johannes Soeka and the cathedral congregation is the latest installment in a dispute that has seen charges of misconduct leveled by both sides.

On 17 May 2012 Bishop Soeka announced he was temporarily closing the church following the resignation of its priest in charge, the Rev. Rudolph Paulse. Fr. Paulse had resigned earlier in the week claiming he had received death threats from members of the congregation.

The congregation has long been at odds with its bishop, and last year the bishop suspended for four months its late dean, the Very Rev. Livingstone Ngewu, for contumacy.

The dispute captured local attention when the bishop clashed with the Ngewu family after the dean died in February.  The cathedral scheduled the memorial service for 14 February 2012, but the bishop intervened stating that he wanted the funeral to be held on 16 February.

The congregation and the dean’s family responded by moving the memorial service to the Roman Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral, while the bishop – who also serves as the president of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) — held his own service two days later at the Anglican Cathedral.

It is not known whether the dispute with the cathedral lies behind death threats made against the bishop in March.  On 17 March 2012 the SACC released a statement saying “five men armed with guns arrived at Bishop Seoka’s Pretoria home, declaring their intention to kill the bishop and his wife. The bishop and his wife were not at home at the time, but the intruders returned later in the day looking for them.”

The latest dispute was a continuation of the power struggle between the bishop and the congregation, a member of the congregation who asked not to be named told The Church of England Newspaper.

A nominee of the bishop, Fr. Paulse was unpopular with one faction in the congregation and was finally forced out of the church last week.  The bishop responded by closing the church until order was restored.  However, the congregation received an injunction late on 18 May 2012 from the Pretoria High Court overturning the bishop’s order.

Charges of misconduct were quickly leveled by partisans for both groups in the local newspapers.  Members of the congregation told The Sowetan the bishop was corrupt and had misappropriated cathedral funds.  “He is a rascal bishop and we believe that he has lost his mind,” one parishioner said.

However, the bishop said the accusations were “baseless.”

“If indeed I stole R500,000 I should be in prison. They should have reported the matter to the police because anybody who steals that much money should be arrested. They should also come up with proof that indeed I stole that money,” the bishop said.

Formal charges of misconduct by Bishop Seoka have been filed with the primate, Archbishop of Thabo Makgoba by two priests and two church wardens.  The bishop’s assistant told CEN Bishop Seoka was traveling and unable to respond to a request for clarification.  However, last week the bishop told The Sowetan the charges were nonsense.

The bishop stated his critics were “trying to character assassinate me and discredit my leadership.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church support for Kennedy Road squatters: The Church of England Newspaper, April 13, 2012 p 6. April 18, 2012

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A squatter’s settlement in Durban that has been a flashpoint between the ruling African National Congress and pro-democracy activists has been badly damaged by a fire of unknown origin.

On the night of 3 April 2012 fire swept through informal settlement.  A spokesman for the Durban fire brigade said that upwards of 100 homes were destroyed, but only two people were injured.

The Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, offered his condolences and assured residents of his continued support.  In a letter given to the Bishop of Natal, the Rt. Rev. Rubil Phillip, Archbishop Makgoba said “We are deeply saddened in Holy Week to learn of the fire which has ravaged the little which the people and community still possessed. I understand that it is estimated that at least 1000 people are now homeless.”

“I know of the journey of the people of Kennedy Road: of their struggle for descent housing, for dignity and respect and the realisation of their constitutional rights. As we weep with them at this time, we continue to support their call for dignity and justice, and we appeal to our leaders and to the general population to help provide people with proper houses, and to improve the provision clean water and decent sanitation.

“May the message of Easter bring consolation to the community and a resolve to continue their fight for better housing, sanitation and water, as well as for safety.”

The Kennedy Road settlement was the scene of a violent confrontation when on the night of 26 Sept 2009 a group of approximately 40 men armed with machetes and automatic weapons surrounded a building where the members of the AbM — Abahlali baseMjondolo (Zulu for “people based in shacks”) Youth League — were gathered.  In the battle that ensued a dozen people were injured and four members of AbM were killed.

When the police arrived at the scene of the battle, they arrested 8 members of AbM for the deaths of their comrades. The next morning the gang returned to Kennedy Road and looted two dozen shacks – the homes of leaders of the shack-dwellers governing council, the Kennedy Road Development Committee (KRDC).  Local leaders of the ANC accompanied the gang as they looted the homes.  Police observed their actions but did not intervene.

“We are under attack,” the AbM and KRDC said in a press release. “We have been attacked physically with all kinds of weapons – guns and knives, even a sword. We have been driven from our homes and our community. The police did nothing to stop the attacks despite our calls for help.”

“What happened in Kennedy Road was a coup – a violent replacement of a democratically elected community organization. The ANC have taken over everything that we built in Kennedy Road,” the AbM said, charging local political leaders with seeking to evict the residents of Kennedy Road so as to develop the land for their personal profit.

The police subsequently arrested five members of the KRDC and charged the 13 activists with the murder of their colleagues killed by the ANC.

Bishop Phillip intervened in the affair, and spearheaded a campaign by democracy activists to free the “Kennedy Road 13”.  Following trial the 13 were acquitted, but charges have not yet been brought against those accused of organizing the attack.

The origins of this week’s fire is unknown and is remains under investigation, the Durban fire brigade has reported.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Umzimvubu bishop facing provincial investigation: The Church of England Newspaper, February 24, 2012 p 6. March 1, 2012

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have begun an investigation in to the internal affairs of the Diocese of Umzimvubu.  A “process of reconciliation” between the bishop with his estranged clergy has been initiated — along with a review of its finances for the troubled diocese.

In a statement released at the close of their 6-10 February 2012 meeting at the St Augustine’s Centre in Modderpoort, in the Diocese of the Free State, the bishops stated that at the invitation of the Bishop of Umzimvubu, the Rt. Rev. Mlibo Ngewu “we dealt at length with the complicated issues presently affecting his Diocese. After extensive discussions, we unanimously resolved the diocese should be placed under the care of a provincial administrative team.”

Elected second bishop in of the rural diocese in South Africa’s Eastern Cape in 2003, Bishop Ngewu has had a rocky episcopate. Charges of simony, nepotism, embezzlement, fraud, sexual harassment and bullying of his clergy have been leveled against the bishop and by August 2011, two-thirds of the diocesan clergy had written to the Archbishop of Cape Town requesting his intervention.

In July 2011, the bishop’s wife, Nompumelelo Ngewu, allegedly assaulted a lay member of the diocese during a service at the Nompumalanga Special School.  Police Captian Mlungisi Matidane told the Daily Dispatch Mrs. Ngewu “has been charged and she will appear in court on 20 July” to answer charges of assault brought by Mrs. Bulelwa Mgilane.

Selected by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, the administrative team has been tasked with resolving “specific legal and financial issues; to offer pastoral care for the people, clergy and the bishop; and to initiate a longer term process of reconciliation,” the bishops said. A forensic audit is also expected to be undertaken.

Archbishop calls for rejection of state secrets bill: The Church of England Newspaper, February 24, 2012 p 6. March 1, 2012

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church, political and civil society leaders have called for a legal challenge to the state secret’s bill should South Africa’s National Council of Provinces (NCOP) endorse the African National Congress-backed legislation.

The Protection of State Information Bill has drawn wide spread political and civil opposition since it was proposed last year, and is currently under public review across the country’s provinces.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town has urged the government to redraft the bill while the Helen Suzman Foundation this week urged the NCOP to reject the document in its current form, while the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party has called for the NCOP review process to be scrapped.

In a submission to the NCOP, the pro-democracy foundation said the bill was open to manipulation and political interference.  “The Bill, in its current form, is an arbitrary exercise of state power based on the Bill’s dismally poor governance framework and ambiguous use of definitions,’ the Foundation said.

Archbishop Makgoba concurred; writing last year to President Jacob Zuma to say the bill brought back memories of the apartheid era.  “The passage of the Protection of State Information Bill has stirred up in me vivid memories of my time as a student in the 1980s at Wits, and the traumatising experience of police ransacking our residence as they looked for classified material,” the archbishop said.

“The undercurrent of fear running through our lives that this created is so totally in contradiction to the open atmosphere of constructively critical readings of our life and times which we so much need in South Africa today,” he said.

While the state has the duty to classify and protect state secrets, the current bill lacks “an adequate public interest clause” to punish government officials who cloak their personal actions under the guise of state secrets.

The proposed law would “create an atmosphere similar to repressive apartheid censorship, and thereby gag the truth; hide corruption; conceal maladministration, incompetence and unjust practices; and stunt our open society at every level from the national and international to the most local,” the archbishop said, urging the president to send it back to the cabinet for review.

On 17 Feb 2012 the IFP has called for the “urgent and immediate suspension” of the NCOP hearings as they were being “used to mobilize ANC supporters and silence the opposition.”

Prince MMM Zulu, the IFP’s representative in the NCOP, stated the IFP could not “sit back and allow this constitutionally mandated process to be abused by the ANC especially in KwaZulu Natal, who are bussing in their own supporters to various venues to silence critics of this Bill. The ANC is abusing their power to make a mockery of the process.”

Missing millions trial underway in S.A.: The Church of England Newspaper, February 17, 2012 p 6. February 23, 2012

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Trial has begun in South Africa of a former diocesan bookkeeper accused of stealing over R2.3 million (£200,000) from the Diocese of George.  Gwendoline Leyd (45) is scheduled to appear for trial before the George Regional Court in the Western Cape on 28 February 2012 to face 10 counts of theft.

The scandal has far led to the resignation of the Bishop of George, the Rt. Rev. Donald Harker, and to the dissolution of the diocese’s Board of Finance.

In a 12 Aug 2010 letter to the diocese, Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba wrote that a Port Elizabeth auditor firm was investigating over 1000 suspect transactions in excess of R6 million that had been brought to the church’s attention in 2009.

The auditors found that “significant fraud and theft had been taking place and that a forensic audit was required to ascertain the extent of the amount embezzled.”

“After visiting Bishop Harker, he agreed to step down as Diocesan Bishop with effect from 10 August 2010,” the archbishop said.

Bishop Harker was not accused of malfeasance. “I resigned as head of the church as this is the honourable thing to do as I accept responsibility and thereby take the liabilities on me,” the bishop later told his clergy.

Ms. Leyd served as the diocese’s accounts clerk for 16 years until 2009.  Following the audit the Commercial Crime Unit arrested the bookkeeper on 10 charges of theft in excess of R2.3-million.

Southern Cape police spokeswoman Captain Bernadine Steyn stated the suspect allegedly moved funds from the church’s accounts into her personal account via the internet and also claimed false medical expenses, allowances and additional salary.

“Fictitious beneficiaries were allegedly created to receive church money, and money was allegedly paid into Leyd’s brother’s personal bank account, and then used by the suspect,” Captain Steyn said.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 25: January 24, 2012 January 27, 2012

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Communion, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury.
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Anglican Unscripted.

Not sure how to translate English to American? Kevin and George offer their years of experience in interpreting MISC 1011. They also take a gander at the news of AMiA, PEAR, and Moving Forward. And then there is that History thing.

Cape Town covenant plea: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2012 p 7. January 18, 2012

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The Archbishop of Cape Town has published an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury that urges the provinces of the Anglican Communion to adopt the Anglican Covenant.

On 10 January 2012, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba released a letter offering a theological rationale in support of the Covenant saying it was “necessary” ingredient for Anglicans “in recalling us to ourselves.”

Whether Dr Makgoba’s plea will find a receptive audience is uncertain, however, as strong objections to the Covenant have been voiced by liberals and conservatives. Although a number of smaller provinces have endorsed the Covenant, primarily out of local considerations, within the larger Churches the momentum appears to be moving towards rejecting the document.

Within the Church of England four dioceses have endorsed the document, and four have rejected it. The Church of Ireland has given a qualified endorsement, as has the Province of South East Asia. Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Mexico and the West Indies have signalled their approval.

However, sentiment in the Episcopal Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and Australia is running against the Covenant, while the Global South primates group has called for its rejection as has the House of Bishops of the Philippine Episcopal Church.

In his letter, Dr Makgoba argues salvation comes not through the working of institutions, but through the actions of Christ. The Covenant supports this end as it is an instrument that “places God’s vision for God’s Church and God’s world centre-stage; and then invites us to live into this as our ultimate and overriding context and calling.”

He rejects claims the Covenant will impose an institutional straightjacket on the Church, arguing the document does not have that authority. Dr Makgoba also notes that the concerns raised about autonomy are a due to a failure of trust and theological imagination.

The identity of the Communion’s member Churches “should not principally be conveyed through legal prisms, whether of some form of centralising authority, or of Provinces’ constitutions and canon law which must be ‘safeguarded’ from external ‘interference’.”

“The provisions of the Covenant – which neither create new structures nor interfere in Provinces’ life – should be understood,” Dr Makgoba concludes in terms of “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”Adopting the Covenant means “constraining ourselves through the same sort of mutuality of love St Paul had in mind when he wrote ‘all things are lawful but not all things are beneficial – all things are lawful but not all things build up’,” Dr Makgoba said.

He acknowledged the work would be difficult, but commended the agreement to the Communion as a way forward through its present divisions.a

Natal nuns arrested for abuse: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2011, p 6. November 23, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Three sisters of the Community of Jesus’ Compassion (CJC) – an Anglican religious order based in Natal, South Africa – have been arrested for child abuse and assault charges.

On 9 Nov 2011 Mother Dumazile Manqele, Sister Thokozile Zondo and Sister Thelma Ngobese were arraigned before the New Hanover Magistrates Court after five children in their care lodged complaints with the social services department that they had been beaten by the nuns.

The religious order, which operates an orphanage and has a convent in New Hanover near Pietermaritzburg in Natal, has been closed by the government while an investigation is under way into charges the nuns abused the 27 children, aged between 9 and 15, in their care.

The KwaZulu-Natal social services department has removed the children from the home and suspended the convent’s licence.  A member of the Natal executive council, Dr. Meshack Radebe visited the convent after the arrests and told a local radio station he was shocked by the conditions in the home.

“When we checked inside, we discovered that there are no bedrooms, there is no kitchen, and you don’t even have a dining hall. When you look at the size of the rooms, you’ll find they can’t even house 10 children, but there are 27 here. I can imagine, if it was my child, or your child …  to find them living in this state is shocking,” Dr. Radebe said.

Founded in 1993, the CJC is a religious order recognized by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.  According to the Anglican religious orders yearbook, the CJC has a mission to educate and support children.  The Episcopal Visitor for the order, Bishop Rubin Philip of Natal, did not respond to questions about the oversight of the facility.

The sisters have been cautioned and ordered to appear before the court on 23 November 2011 to answer the charges.

Bishop calls for regime change in Swaziland: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2011 p 7. November 22, 2011

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Bishop Meshack Mabuza

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Swaziland has called up King Mswati III to relinquish power to prevent the political and economic collapse of the Southern African kingdom.

The last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, King Mswati has ruled the landlocked mountain kingdom since 1986. Mismanagement of the economy and a public image as a profligate ruler unconcerned with his subjects’ poverty has led to calls for political reform.

Bishop Meshack Mabuza, who steps down from office at the end of the year, told the BBC’s “Focus on Africa” programme Swaziland “has really reached the point of collapse.”

While he did not call for the King to abdicate, the Bishop said “the answer really lies in regime change in terms of the traditional, feudalistic, archaic form of government,” and “has to be replaced with multi-party democratic rule.”

Neighboring South Africa has offered to loan £218 million to pay its immediate obligations – the Swazi press has reported that the salaries of civil servants will not be paid this month due to the cash shortage. However, Pretoria has demanded political and economic reforms from the King in exchange for the loan which the king’s ministers have so far refused to accept.

Government claims that the cash crisis had been caused by the global economic slowdown, were merely “excuses”, the bishop said.

“The economic constraints were here even before the global economic meltdown because there has hardly been any economic growth,” Bishop Mabuza said.

 

S.A. churches denounce government spying: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 28, 2011 p 6. November 1, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in South Africa have denounced the government of President Jacob Zuma for its attempts to spy on the country’s faith groups and turn them in to vassals of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

On 18 Oct 2011 the National Church Leaders’ Consultation issued a joint statement saying they “resent the efforts” of the ANC’s chief parliamentary whip Dr Mathole Motshekgato muscle in on and manipulate Church Leadership Structures.”

However, the chief whip’s office rejected the charges as being “absurd,” saying this was “nothing but a storm in a teacup.”

“We are leaders in our own right and lead by Biblical mandate,” the leadership council said, stating they were “deeply offended by efforts by [Dr. Motshekga’s aides] to infiltrate our meeting in Johannesburg without invitation.”

“This is an unwarranted intrusion on our discussions and compromises our freedom of association and of religion,” they said, noting “Dr Motshekga does not enjoy our confidence” and should “back off.”

The consultation is an umbrella organization comprising the leaders of the South African Council of Churches, and the Anglican, Catholic, Reformed, Evangelical, Independent and African churches in South Africa.

The Chief Whip’s office responded that theaccusation stems from an innocent mistake today, in which the Chief Whip’s Political Advisor mistakenly walked into the hall where the National Church Leaders’ Consultation was meeting. The meeting, which the Political Advisor was due to attend, happen to be taking place at the same venue” in Johannesburg.

The Chief Whip’s office added that “after being informed by the chairman of the meeting that he was in the wrong hall, he duly apologised for the confusion caused and proceeded to the next hall, the correct venue for his meeting,” adding that “walking into the wrong meeting is a simple mistake that anyone can make.”

“We are therefore taken aback that the church leaders are turning this little, innocent incident into something major,” Dr. Motshekha’s spokesman said.

However, Cardinal Wilfred Napier told the Associated Press that three of Dr. Motshekha’s aides were discovered rifling through the church conference’s papers when they were discovered. “This is direct interference by a political party in the affairs of the church,” he said.

Long a supporter of the ANC’s leadership, relations soured in 2008 when the South African Council of Churches attempted to mediate the internal ANC leadership dispute between President Thabo Mbeki and then Vice President Jacob Zuma.  During the leadership struggle, Mr. Zuma moved away from the South African Council of Churches after he accused them of backing his rival.

The break also came in a transition in leadership among the country’s churches, with alliances formed during the anti-apartheid era between the ANC and churches superseded by a new generation of leadership.  The current generation of leaders has challenged the government on social and economic policies, and no longer gives their automatic support to the ruling party.

Cape Town archbishop denounces hate speech: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 14, 2011 p 6. October 19, 2011

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Julius Malema, Photo:Gary van der Merwe

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Cape Town has stepped into the African National Congress (ANC)’s political civil war, obliquely chastising the leader of the party’s youth wing, Julius Malema, for racist speech.

In a speech printed in the Cape Times on16 September, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba called on South Africans to join him and “denounce” inflammatory language. “Hate speech, racist talk, sexist language only oppresses and imprisons,” he said.

The Archbishop’s comments follow last month’s court ruling that ruled Mr Malema was guilty of hate speech for his singing of “Shoot the Boer” at political rallies. The refrain in the Zulu language song popularized during the apartheid era — “the cowards are scared, shoot shoot, shoot shoot, shoot the Boer” — was found to be hate speech under South African law.

A political rival to President Jacob Zuma, Mr Malema denounced the court’s 12 September ruling as racist saying “once again we find ourselves subjected to white minority approval. Apartheid is being brought through the back door.”

He called for songs from the apartheid era to be protected as free political speech. “These were the songs of resistance and they will never die,” he said.

In 2009 Mr Malema helped President Zuma gain the top spot in the ANC, but he has since broken with the president. He faces an internal ANC disciplinary hearing for bringing the party into disrepute after he called for the Botswana government to be overthrown, calling it “puppet” of the West.

He has also clashed with the president on economic policy, applauding Robert Mugabe’s regime and has called for the state to nationalize South Africa’s mines and seize white-owned farms.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba stated that freedom of speech “is entrenched in our Constitution” and was a “necessary bed-rock of democratic life.”

“But this does not mean we can and should say anything, anywhere, merely on the grounds that we claim it is ‘truth’. Nor should restraint merely consist in establishing the maximum we can get away with when arguing before the courts. No, freedom of speech touches on the very essence of what it is to be human, and to be committed to the well being of other human beings.

“Hate speech is not merely a legal category. It is, as I have said often before (when people have been called ‘snakes’ and ‘dogs’ and worse), any utterance that diminishes and degrades other human beings, other children of God. More than this, it diminishes and degrades not only its target, but also the speaker – for it demonstrates a general failure to understand and respect people at large,” the Archbishop said.

“The same is true of those who resort to racial epithets, or demeaning sexual slurs,” he said, adding that such language “undermines our capacity to ‘fulfil the promise’ of democracy, through building the sort of individual character and mature society which will help create the opportunity for every citizen to flourish.”

SA church not heretical: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 9, 2011 p 8. September 14, 2011

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Southern African House of Bishops

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

There has been no change to the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s (ACSA) teaching on human sexuality, a press release from the Provincial Executive Office has confirmed.

The announcement confirming the Southern African church’s fealty to traditional moral teachings comes shortly before the bishops and provincial standing committee debate pastoral guidelines for Anglicans in civil gay marriages—and as the Church comes under attack for heresy.

“ACSA remains committed to upholding the moratoria of the Anglican Communion on the ordination of persons living in a same gender unions to the episcopate; the blessing of same-sex unions; and cross-border incursions by bishops. Similarly, our Church has affirmed that partnership between two persons of the same sex cannot be regarded as a marriage in the eyes of God. Accordingly, our clergy are not permitted to conduct or bless such unions; nor are they permitted to enter into such unions while they remain in licensed ministry,” the 5 September statement said.

The clarification of the Church’s stance on gay bishops and blessings came in response to an “Anathema” pronounced against by the Church by the Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, which accused South African Anglicans of heresy.

The ACSA provincial office noted this church was a schismatic group that had broken off from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, an Eastern Rite Catholic Church under the jurisdiction of the Pope. It noted this group had also issued anathemas against Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, President Barack Obama and “some 20 or so Anglican, Lutheran and other Protestant Churches alongside our own!”

However, the accusations of abandoning church teaching on human sexuality were “riddled with distortions and untruths,” the ACSA provincial office noted.

The ACSA’s discussion of gay civil unions was not a move to affirm the innovation but a pastoral response that needed to be seen in the “context that we are currently exploring appropriate Guidelines to respond to the changing pastoral realities that have followed the Government of South Africa’s introduction of Civil Unions between people of the same gender.”

In his 30 August pastoral letter to the province, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba stated the forthcoming provincial standing committee and Synod of Bishops meetings would address the Pastoral Guidelines question. “Let me underline that this document is not directly about the continuing debate around human sexuality,” the Archbishop said. It sought to affirm the Anglican moratoria on gay bishops and blessings as well as focus “on the human and pastoral realities that we inevitably face in parishes following South Africa’s new legislation.”

He also noted that an advocate and opponent of changing the Church’s teaching on human sexuality would be present at these meetings. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the United States and Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean would join the bishops’ meeting and share their views on these issues.

It is unlikely however that the South African bishops will be able to move forward on the pastoral guidelines, one bishop — who asked not to be named — told CEN.

At the close of their 7-12 February, 2011 meeting in Natal, the Southern African bishops deferred taking action on adopting guidelines for the blessing of same-sex unions, citing legal difficulties and theological divisions within their ranks.

A draft document entitled “Pastoral Guidelines in Response to Civil Unions” was reviewed by the bishops at their September 2010 meeting and distributed to the dioceses. The February 2011 meeting, however, stated the bishops were not able to approve the document. “It is difficult to give blanket guidelines [on same-sex blessings] because the position is starkly at variance in the legal systems of the seven countries where we work,” the bishops said in February.

“We continue to work on creating guidelines in several areas of difficulty raised by the issue of civil unions,” the bishops said. However, the dynamics within the Synod of Bishops have not changed since February, CEN was told, and it is unlikely a document would garner support at this time.

Swazi bishop cleared of misconduct: The Church of England Newspaper, July 14, 2011 July 16, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper.
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Bishop Meshack Mabuza of Swaziland

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Swaziland has been cleared of charges of financial misconduct. However, the Rt Rev Meshack Mabuza told members of the diocesan synod gathered on 9 July at the Thokoza Anglican Centre in Mbabne that he was standing down as bishop.

In 2010 the Rev Bhekubuhle Mbatha, vicar of St Augustine’s church in Mpaka filed charges against the bishop alleging misconduct. While the allegations were never made public, the Times of Swaziland reported that a “team of investigators” sent by the Archbishop of Cape Town were reviewing charges of “mismanagement of moneys” sent by the Dioceses of Brechin and Iowa.

Last week’s announcement clears the Bishop of the misconduct charges. The Bishop has declined to say, however, why he was stepping down.

The financial misconduct charges were only part of the Bishop’s worries. On the evening of 21 February, traffic officers from the Lobamba police station stopped the Bishop while he was driving along the Manzini-Mbabane freeway. The Bishop failed a breathalyzer test and arrested him for driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Bishop Mabuza’s hearing was held in camera the following morning before the Mbabane Magistrate’s Court. While the outcome of the proceedings is not known, under Swazi law a first drink-driving arrest is most often punished by a fine and an admonishment.

The Bishop’s drink-driving arrest followed a February 2010 Swazi media storm centring round Anglicans and alcohol. Local newspapers had a field day when the bar bill for the Southern African House of Bishops meeting, which was held in Swaziland, was given to the press.

Asked to comment on the propriety of imbibing bishops, Bishop Mabuza told the Times of Swaziland the church does not require its clergy to be teetotalers but took a dim view of public intoxication. “To us, it is not a crime when you take alcohol, but getting drunk is a vice,” the Bishop explained.

Chinese Church leaders conclude African tour in Cape Town: The Church of England Newspaper, June 3, 2011 p 9. June 6, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, China, Church of England Newspaper.
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Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and Wang Zuo'an in Cape Town

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Cape Town has played host to a delegation from China’s Ministry of State Administration of Religious Affairs (SARA) on a four day visit to South Africa.

The head of SARA, Mr. Wang Zuo’an, accompanied by a ten member delegation from China and Archbishop John Chew of Singapore, met with Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and other church and state leaders in Cape Town and Johannesburg from May 20-24.

The purpose of the meeting was “two fold” Archbishop Makgoba explained: “to reflect on models of church and the role of the church within local communities; as well as the church’s relationship with the state and how that is conducted.”

The South African visit by the Chinese delegation follows upon their meeting with the leader of the Gafcon movement in Nairobi on May 14, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, and is the final leg of their tour through Africa organized by the Global South coalition of Anglican provinces.  It also coincides with the larger Chinese diplomatic offensive underway in Africa to foster relations with the continent’s political and religious leaders.

At the close of the South African meeting, Mr. Wang stated that “China is going through massive change and we are keen to learn from our friends in South Africa where you have experienced amazing changes yourselves. We are looking for good role-models.”

The delegation met with government leaders in Johannesburg to discuss church-state relations and toured Soweto.  In Cape Town the delegation attended the May 22 installation of the Very Rev Michael Weeder as Rector of the Cathedral Parish of St George the Martyr, met with Cabinet Minister Trevor Manual, visited an HIV/AIDs clinic and a number of local ministries, and concluded with a tour of the Bible Society of South Africa, which now prints 90 per cent of its bibles in China.

Archbishop John Chew of Singapore said “enormous changes have already taken place in China. We have been building a relationship with the Chinese state for about twenty years and are seeing the fruit thereof. A few years ago they permitted the establishment of a printing press in Nanjing. The press has already printed about 53 million bibles in Chinese languages.”

Trouble for Swaziland bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, May 27, 2011, p 7. May 27, 2011

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Bishop Meshack Mabuza

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Swaziland has been presented on misconduct charges by his clergy.

While the allegations leveled against Bishop Meshack Mabuza have not been made public, they are understood to centre round the use of funds donated to the church in Swaziland from the Dioceses of Iowa and Brechin.  The financial misconduct charges follow upon the bishop’s February arrest for drink-driving.

The divisions within the church in Swaziland come at an especially inopportune moment in the life of the country, which is in the midst of a political and constitutional crisis over the powers of King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Last week the Times of Swaziland published reports of a dispute between Bishop Mabuza and the Rev. Bhekubuhle Mbatha, vicar of St. Augustine’s church in Mpaka.  The newspaper stated that a “team of investigators” sent by the Archbishop of Cape Town were reviewing charges of “mismanagement of moneys from the Anglicans of Iowa in the United States for the construction of a church hall, classrooms for orphans and a church structure.”

Control of the project appears to have been at issue between the bishop and the vicar.  According to an extract of a letter from the vicar to the bishop, Fr. Mbatha demanded the bishop stop “frustrating, embarrassing, and insulting” him in public or else he would “spill the beans” about the bishop’s conduct.

“I don’t want to embarrass the Anglican Church in Swaziland, outside Swaziland and overseas.” Fr. Mbatha wrote, but “I have reported to my brothers in South Africa and the Swaziland police and in the King’s Office that if I die mysteriously they will know whom to investigate.”

In November, Bishop Mabuza suspended Fr. Mbatha from office–a move the vicar charged was unlawful.  The bishop has declined to comment on the case pending an adjudication of the dispute by the Archbishop of Cape Town and is on a leave of absence.

The dispute over the alleged misuse of Scottish and American donations presents a second issue for review by Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, as Bishop Mabuza was arrested earlier this year for driving while intoxicated.

On the evening of Feb 21, traffic officers from the Lobamba police station stopped the bishop while he was driving along the Manzini-Mbabane freeway.

The bishop’s erratic driving prompted the police to give him a breathalyzer test to assess the level of alcohol in his bloodstream.  After the test was administered, the bishop was taken under arrest to the Lobamba police station where he spent the night.  The following morning he appeared before the Mbabane Magistrate’s Court, and as a courtesy the bishop’s case was conducted in a closed session in the judge’s chambers.  While the outcome of the proceedings is not known, under Swazi law a first drink-driving arrest is most often punished by a fine and an admonishment.

In Africa drinking is frowned upon by most sections of the church.  A local Swazi media storm centering round Anglicans and alcohol erupted after the Southern African House of Bishops meeting in 2010, when local newspapers reported on the size of the bishops’ bar bill during their five day meeting in February.

Asked to comment on the propriety of imbibing bishops, Bishop Mabuza told the Times of Swaziland the church does not require its clergy to be teetotalers but took a dim view of public intoxication.   “Kitsi nawutinatsela kute licala kepha kulicala nase udzakwa” (To us, it is not a crime when you take alcohol, but getting drunk is a vice), the bishop explained.

Death threats may be linked to chaplain’s murder: The Church of England Newspaper, April 1, 2011 p 8. April 2, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Crime.
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Bishop Jo Seoka of Pretoria

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Death threats made against the Bishop of Pretoria, the Rt. Rev. Jo Seoka, may be linked to the unsolved January murder of the bishop’s chaplain.

On March 15, the South African Council of Churches reported that “five men armed with guns arrived at Bishop Seoka’s Pretoria home, declaring their intention to kill the bishop and his wife.”

“The Bishop and his wife were not at home at the time, but the intruders returned later in the day looking for them,” the SACC said.  The following day “two different people telephoned the Bishop’s home enquiring from those present about the Bishop’s whereabouts. The callers reiterated their threats against the Bishop and left a message that he should pack and leave the house.”

The SACC speculated the death threats may have been politically motivated.  It noted that Bishop Seoka, who is president of the SACC, “has long been an outspoken advocate for social and economic justice and a courageous opponent of corruption and unethical business practices in his capacity as a leader of the ecumenical movement.”

However, the Pretoria News reports the death threats may be linked to the murder of the bishop’s lay chaplain, Ntombekaya September.

On Jan 7 the body of Ms September (45), a prominent property developer who recently became the first lay chaplain to the Bishop of Pretoria, was discovered in her home by Bishop Soeka and her maid.

The police have withheld details of the murder, but police are seeking a Congolese man who worked for a security company and was known to the dead woman.  Following her death, a number of people close to the murdered woman began receiving spam emails from her email address—it is unknown if the emails are related to her murder.

The bishop discovered the body of Ms. September, after he was contacted by her servant, who was unable to enter her home.  The bishop and the servant searched the home and found Ms. September, lying face down on her bed, fully clothed.

Bishop Seoka said “we have tried to identify who our enemy might be but we cannot come up with anybody.”

“People are also saying these threats might be related to the murder but I do not want to believe that,” the bishop said.

Southern African bishops chided for their indecision on gay blessings: The Church of England Newspaper, March 25, 2011 p 8. March 25, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
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Southern Africa House of Bishops

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Evangelical leaders in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have called upon the church’s Synod of Bishops to clarify their ambiguous statements on human sexuality.

On March 17, the Fellowship of Confession Anglicans (FCA) in South Africa published an open letter on the internet, making a “plea for clarity on the position and teaching of our faith” in light of bishops’ February pastoral letter.

At the close of their Feb 7-12 meeting in Natal, the Southern African bishops deferred taking action on adopting guidelines for the blessing of same-sex unions, citing legal difficulties and theological divisions within their ranks.

A draft document entitled “Pastoral Guidelines in Response to Civil Unions” was reviewed by the bishops at their Sept 2010 meeting and distributed to the dioceses.  The February 2011 meeting, however, stated the bishops were not able to approve the document.  “It is difficult to give blanket guidelines [on same-sex blessings] because the position is starkly at variance in the legal systems of the seven countries where we work.”

“We continue to work on creating guidelines in several areas of difficulty raised by the issue of civil unions,” the bishops said—which are legal in South Africa, but illegal in the six other nations in the province.

The FCA called upon the bishops to be faithful to their mission to “guard the faith.”

By failing to make a clear statement, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa appeared to have aligned itself “with the dying (revisionist and liberal) minority” within the Anglican Communion and failed to heed “seriously the concerns of the orthodox majority.”

“Sexuality is the touchstone in this Anglican fragmentation,” the FCA said.

However, the issue is not “sexuality per se” but a “rebellion against our creator and his ways which he gives to us” as found in Scripture.  Sexuality was not a dividing issue in itself, “but a leadership in the church which chooses to ‘play at being god’ is a much more serious issue,” they said.

Offering encouragement to people to engage in behavior “which is unacceptable to God (which the Bible describes as sin) is not a pastoral role that God can endorse,” the FCA said, adding that they were concerned the Southern African bishops “find it hard to call sin, sin.  We are answerable to God not to a human-centred ideology.”

The February bishops’ statement displayed a failure of “godly pastoral leadership,” the FCA said.

“It matters not what the legal position may be in the seven states in which our Province is represented. God’s standards call all laws into question” that do not conform to his word, the FCA said, urging their bishops to take their place with the majority of the Anglican Communion against unbelief and error.

Cape Town Archbishop calls for action on Gaddafi: The Church of England Newspaper, March 11, 2011 p 8. March 15, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Politics.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Cape Town has denounced his government’s inaction over the “humanitarian and political crisis” in Libya, and has called for the African National Congress (ANC) government “for the sake of humanity” to speak out against Col. Muamar Gaddafi’s “violations of international humanitarian law.”

“We as South Africans cannot be silent in the face of these atrocities,” Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said.

During the apartheid era, the ANC had close relations with the Gaddafi regime, which provided weapons for its armed wing, the Umkhonto we Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation.  Nelson Mandela twice travelled to Libya to thank Col. Gaddafi for his support.

On Oct 23, 1997 President Mandela travelled to Libya over the objections of the Clinton administration.  “Those who say I should not be here are without morals,” Pres. Mandela said upon his arrival in Libya.  “I am not going to join them in their lack of morality.”

He noted Col. Gaddafi “helped us at a time when we were all alone, when those who say we should not come here were helping the [apartheid regime].”

During a visit to South Africa in 1999 by Col. Gaddafi, Pres. Mandela stated South Africa “would never turn its back” on the Libyan strongman, and according to a report in the Sunday Times, donated several million pounds to the ANC’s political coffers.

However, in a statement released on Feb 24, Archbishop Makgoba urged the South African government to reconsider its support for the dictator.

“Seen from Bethlehem, where I am participating in a conference with our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters, it looks as if Colonel Gaddafi is intent on murdering his own people in a bid to outstay his welcome as their leader. Moreover, many Libyans report that he is using mercenaries from other parts of Africa to gun down civilians indiscriminately in the streets,” the archbishop said.

“People of faith who uphold the belief that humanity reflects the spark of the divine, cannot watch helplessly as Libyans are killed like flies by those who are supposed to be looking after them.”

“The South African government looks as if it is paralyzed, numb with fear of offending the ‘Brother Leader’,” he said, urging “for the sake of humanity” the government to “speak out more strongly against his violations of international humanitarian law. Even the African Union has condemned Libya for using ‘indiscriminate and excessive use of force and lethal weapons against peaceful protesters’.”

“Will the South African government not at least follow suit?”, the archbishop asked.

Welsh dean appointed African bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, March 4, 2011 p 5. March 3, 2011

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Dr. Richard Fenwick

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has appointed the Dean of Monmouth to serve as Bishop of St Helena.

Dr. Richard Fenwick was elected bishop of one of the communion’s most remote dioceses, which covers the South Atlantic islands of St Helena and Ascension Island, at the Feb 7-12 bishops’ meeting held at the Mariannhill Conference Centre in the Diocese of Natal.

Dr. Fenwick,  who has served as Dean of Monmouth and vicar of Newport Cathedral since 1997 and is the chairman of the St. Helena Diocesan Association in Britain, will succeed Bishop John Salt OGS, and will be consecrated in Cape Town in May.

The Bishop of Monmouth, the Rev. Rev. Dominic Walker OGS, congratulated Dr. Fenwick on his appointment, stating he was “delighted with the news.”

“It is a unique diocese and I know the people there will benefit from his pastoral care and friendship,” Bishop Walker said.

Dr. Fenwick noted St. Helena had a “wonderful church tradition, and through the 152 years since it was founded, it has sent so many Saints, both clergy and laity to serve the people of the world. It makes me very proud, and very humble, to think that I will be taking part in that long history of service.”

God wants you to vote for the African National Congress: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 18, 2011 p 8. February 22, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Politics.
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South African President Jacob Zuma

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Vote for the African National Congress (ANC) and go to heaven, South African President Jacob Zuma told a political rally last week in the run up to the 2011 municipal elections.

Faced with 24 per cent unemployment and a sagging economy, the ruling African National Congress is expected to fare poorly in the national municipal elections which will be held sometime between March and June of this year.  The opposition Democratic Alliance is expected to consolidate its hold in the Western Cape Province and may pick up the Northern Cape Province.  Port Elizabeth, Pretoria and Johannesburg are in play as well may join Cape Town in forming non-ANC coalition governments.

In a speech to in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape Province, President Zuma stated that when you “vote for the ANC, you are also choosing to go to heaven.”

“When you don’t vote for the ANC you should know that you are choosing that man who carries a fork, who cooks people,” the president said in Zulu to the rally..

“When you are carrying an ANC membership card, you are blessed. When you get up there, there are different cards used but when you have an ANC card, you will be let through to go to heaven,” he added.

A spokesman for the Democratic Alliance denounced the president’s remarks as “offensive,” saying President Zuma’s words were “incendiary and dangerous, in that they seek to mobilise along religious lines, and sow seeds of division in our communities.”

ANC party spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the president’s words should not be taken literally.  He told the South African Daily Mail the speech had been “figurative and metaphoric.  We are, therefore, in agreement with the president that not voting for the ANC is tantamount to throwing your vote in hell.”

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town responded that action, not talk, was what was needed from political leaders.

“Let us change the discourse,” the archbishop said.

“We are approaching municipal elections and once again we are hearing words and words and more words. At the same time we see very little action which shows that the poor are being cared for and that service delivery is evident in many parts of our country. “

Jesus told Peter to “feed my lambs” Archbishop Makgoba noted, adding this “instruction is to serve and not run to eschatology (concerns about the end of time).”

“The command is to love oneself as you would want others to love you and not to have all interest focused on self and family but rather on your neighbours who are without even the most basic services,” he said.

No action on gay blessings in Southern Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 18, 2011 p 8. February 20, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.
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The Southern African House of Bishops

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Southern African House of Bishops has deferred taking action on adopting guidelines for the blessing of same-sex unions, citing legal difficulties and theological divisions within its ranks.

Meeting from Feb 7-12 at the Mariannhill Conference Centre in the Diocese of Natal, the bishops released a pastoral letter at the close of their meeting confirming they were at an impasse.

They noted that Archbishop Thabo Makgoba had “taken a lead in bringing concerns to us from the dioceses in the Western Cape with regard to the pastoral care of persons who have entered into civil unions or are considering doing so.”

However, they noted this was “not a matter of legitimising same-sex unions but of care for worshippers who are already in them,” the bishops said, adding that “our Church does not consider any relationship to be marriage unless it is the historic relationship of a man and a woman uniting, ideally for life.”

At their Sept 2010 meeting, the bishops reviewed a draft document entitled “Pastoral Guidelines in Response to Civil Unions” and asked the church’s 25 dioceses to review the protocols for discussion at the bishops’ Feb 2011 meeting.  At the close of their Sept 2010 meeting the bishops said they were “acutely aware of the need to act pastorally and prudently on this sensitive matter,” but were also “committed to remaining within the accepted teachings of our Church on marriage and the ongoing dialogue within the Anglican Communion.”

In the letter released at the close of their meeting last week, the bishops stated they did not “regard sexuality as a church-dividing issue” and would “draw upon our experience of holding together by the grace of Christ in a time of acute tension and disagreement.”

However, the bishops said they were not able to give their approval to the draft document at this time.  “It is difficult to give blanket guidelines because the position is starkly at variance in the legal systems of the seven countries where we work.”

“We continue to work on creating guidelines in several areas of difficulty raised by the issue of civil unions. A draft for discussion in dioceses is in development. However, we note that guidelines in other areas could also be useful – such as supporting and acknowledging those who choose celibate singleness in their Christian discipleship, whether pending future marriage or for life,” the bishops said.

Last week’s pastoral letter builds upon letters released at the close of the 2004 and 2007 meetings.  Following the April 2004 session, the bishops stated the Southern African Church was “committed” to Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference and to the Primates’ call “not to solemnise same-sex marriages but to continue in dialogue on this and related issues.”

In a statement released at the close of their Sept 2007 meeting, the bishops reaffirmed Lambeth  Resolution 1.10, but stated that they did not “believe sexual orientation” was a “barrier to leadership within the church.  However, maintaining as we do, that Christian marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, we hold that clergy unable to commit to another in a Christian marriage partnership are called to a life of celibacy.”

The 2007 statement followed a request to the bishops by the Cape Town synod for “pastoral guidelines for ministering to those who are in committed same-sex relationships.”

The year before the South African Parliament voted to allow same-sex couples to “solemnize and register a voluntary union by way of either a marriage or a civil partnership,” after the South Africa’s Constitutional Court Appeal held the common-law definition of marriage should be changed from a “union between a man and a woman” to a “union between two persons.”

Archbishop urges government compassion for illegal immigrants: The Church of England Newspaper, Jan 14, 2011 p 7. January 17, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.
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Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The South African government has acceded to the pleas of church and civic leaders to extend the deadlines for migrants to register to avoid deportation back to Zimbabwe.

Statistics South Africa estimates the number of migrants from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi in South African at two million, while the police service reports three million and NGOs such as a Médecins Sans Frontières  place the total at four million.  All agree the bulk of the migrants have come from Zimbabwe following the economic and social collapse of the country under President Robert Mugabe.

In May 2008 riots erupted in the townships around Johannesburg with residents voicing anger at the influx of foreigners in their midst whom they blamed for a rise in crime and competition for jobs.  Periodic xenophobic attacks in the poorer black townships continue to be reported in the South African press, while political pressure has been growing to force the government to take a stand against illegal immigration.

However, in September, the government announced it would halt the deportation of Zimbabweans who had entered the country illegally, and allow them to regularize their status by applying for work, business or study permits.

The migrants were given until December 31 to submit their applications, and approximately 275,000 applications were submitted before the deadline.  However the International Organization for Migration estimated that “only about a sixth of the estimated Zimbabwean irregular migrant population applied for legal status.”

In a Dec 30 letter to the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town urged the state to exercise compassion.

He thanked the government for its forbearance, but noted that “because of the very great numbers, because of the need to apply when people can take time off work, and because many have faced problems in obtaining Zimbabwean papers, there are great fears that, for reasons largely beyond their control, not all will be able to complete the process timeously.”

Following the intervention by the archbishop and other civil society leaders, the government announced that it would extend the deadline to March 31.  “There will be no deportations until the end of March,” said Ricky Naidoo, spokesman for the South African Department of Home Affairs.

However, the extra 90 days may not prove to be enough time for most migrants to return to Zimbabwe to gather the necessary documents.  Last month, the Zimbabwean registrar general’s office said it was suspending the production of passports, national identity cards and birth certificates.  An electrical fault had disabled its database, the government said.  However, the Harare Herald reported the government would begin processing passport applications on Jan 10.

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, head of the refugee and migrant programme at Lawyers for Human Rights told the IRIN agency that before the shutdown the Zimbabwean government had only issued 500 passports a day.  At its past rate of production, it would take over a year to process the current applications, before any applications were received.

In his letter, Archbishop Makgoba said he agreed the government should not extend its deadlines for “those who continue to fail to get their act together. But my great concern is that no-one who is wanting and attempting to normalise their presence in our country should be penalised because of capacity constraints or delays that are not of their own making.”

“What matters most is that throughout the period ahead, true humanitarian standards are upheld. Every individual must be treated – and feel themselves treated – with dignity and respect,” the archbishop said.

South Africa will be judged on how it handles this issue, he noted, and urged the government to “not shirk the opportunities we have to promote peace and prosperity at this time of year – so that God’s promises of peace and goodwill may be truly known by all.”