Provincial Synod votes on Israel sanctions, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia
Provincial Synod has voted to support
non-violent action to end Israel’s military occupation of Palestine, especially
“well-directed Boycott, Divestment and Sanction actions”.
In a resolution adopted on Thursday, Synod also:
- Condemned “all forms of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia… in the strongest terms”;
- Described the situation in Israel and Palestine as “in some respects… worse than apartheid”; and
- Urged church members who travel on pilgrimages to Israel include Palestinian Christians in their itineraries.
The full text of the resolution, which was adopted unanimously, follows:
This Synod noting that:
1. This is the 10th year anniversary of the Palestine Kairos document, a document written by Palestinian Christians for our reflection and action (www.kairospalestine.ps);
2. The South African government has withdrawn its ambassador from Tel Aviv;
3. It is reported that each year a few hundred Palestinian children are held in Israeli jails and there is evidence of human rights violation.
4. Prime Minister Netanyahu has recently said that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens”, a statement which accurately reflects the nation-state law they adopted in 2018;
5. There is considerable environmental damage through injustice in the access to and distribution of water, the uprooting of olive trees and home demolitions, which in turn has led to environmental displacement, adding to the already large number of refugees.
1. The situation in the Holy Land demands the attention of the Christian church precisely because that is the place where Jesus the Christ was born, nurtured, crucified and raised;
2. The current political nation state of Israel and Israel in the Bible should not be confused with each other, and neither should the ideology of Zionism and the religion of Judaism be conflated;
3. Many Christian pilgrimages to the current state of Israel often ignore the Christians living in Palestine;
4. Israel was one of the very few states that continued to support the Apartheid State in South Africa until the very end;
5. There are possible similarities between Apartheid in South Africa and what is happening in Israel and Palestine and that in some respects the situation there can be described as worse than apartheid;
6. Several NGO’s draw attention to the plight of those who suffer in Palestine and Israel, especially Kairos Southern Africa as well as the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), for whose work we are grateful;
7. Southern Africans have a special responsibility to stand by the oppressed in the same way that others in the international community stood with us during our own oppression.
1. Palestinians and Israelis both deserve to live in peace and harmony as this will contribute to peace not only in that region, but globally;
2. Non-violent solutions underpinned by faith, hope and love, to the challenges there are the only solutions that the Church should actively pursue;
3. Current efforts by the International community are not enough and new initiatives towards peace, justice and reconciliation should be pursued;
4. The presence of the Christian community in Palestine and Israel is something that we should strengthen;
5. The military occupation of Palestine must end as soon as possible;
6. All forms of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia should be condemned in the strongest terms;
7. Jerusalem should be a place where all the nations are able to gather and it should not be for the exclusive use of one group over another.
1. Encourage every Diocese within ACSA to pass this or a similar resolution at its next Synod and to work with the South African Council of Churches and its affiliates who have adopted resolutions on Palestine and Israel to seek ecumenical action towards maximum justice and peace for our sisters and brothers there;
2. Educate and inform ourselves as much as possible on the daily reality of the situation and to encourage members of ACSA who travel in the Holy Land to choose an inclusive and balanced itinerary that includes establishing contact with Palestinian Christians;
3. Support any non-violent action, especially well-directed Boycott, Divestment and Sanction actions against the Israeli state until they end their military occupation of Palestine.
4. Pray the following prayer for Palestine: “God bless Palestine, Free all from oppression; and bring justice and peace. Amen.”;
5. Respectfully request ACSA delegates to Lambeth 2020 to pass this resolution on to the Anglican Communion Office for possible consideration and inclusion in the Lambeth 2020 Agenda.
6. To respectfully request ACSA to appoint a Palestinian Study Group to prepare and disseminate study material for use in parishes and dioceses and that will prepare a report on the progress of implementing this resolution at the next Provincial Synod;
7. Pass this resolution on to the Ambassadors of Palestine and Israel who are based in Southern African countries as well as to the Palestinian church leaders, SABEEL and Kairos Palestine.
Proposer: Bishop Luke Pato of Namibia
Seconder: Bishop Charles May of the Highveld
Province asked to pay Growing the Church director’s stipend in future
Provincial Synod has voted to ask the Provincial Finance Board to pay the stipend of the director of Growing the Church in future Provincial budgets.
Explaining the import of a resolution before the Synod, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, President of the Synod, explained that the Finance Board would have to consider the request for 2021 at the earliest. The budget for the Common Provincial Fund for 2020 had already been approved when the resolution was discussed.
The resolution that was passed, with some opposition and a number of abstentions, read as follows:
ACSA to cover the cost of the GtC Director’s stipend in future.
This Synod noting:
1. ACSA established Growing the Church as a Provincial Ministry, contributing to the basic mission and ministry of the Church;
2. Growing the Church was added to the CPF Budget at the request of Provincial Synod of 2007;
3. Growing the Church, through Anglicans Ablaze Conferences, The LEAD programme and its other programmes is making an enormous contribution to ACSA;
4. Growing the Church is increasingly being established in the Dioceses, but a central coordinating function is essential;
5. Growing the Church is already raising about 60 – 70% of its budget from sources other than the Common Provincial Fund for mission and ministry activities;
Request the Provincial Finance Board to include at least the stipend package of the Growing the Church Director in its future budgeting.
Proposer: Bishop Tsietsi Seleoane
Seconder: Very Revd Sharon Nell
COMMUNIQUE FROM THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
ANGLICAN CHURCH OF SOUTHERN AFRICA
To the beloved People of God,
Grace and peace to you!
The Synod of Bishops met in Kopanong, Benoni, from Monday 23 to Tuesday 24 September 2019. The Synod was preceded by the meeting of the Electoral College for the Diocese of Mzimvubu, where the Rt Revd Tsietsi Seleoane, currently Suffragan Bishop of Natal, was elected as Bishop of Mzimvubu.
Synod began with the celebration of the Eucharist, where we heard a refreshing homily from the Rt Revd Steve Moreo, Bishop of Johannesburg, on the passage in the book of Ezra about the return of Israel. Ezra’s ministry, to help a people returning to rebuild, renew and reform their social, religious and physical lives, resonated well with the commitment of ACSA – expressed in the theme of Provincial Synod – to review, renew and restore with a view to reconnecting our faith to our daily lives.
The Archbishop welcomed the Bishop of Port Elizabeth, the Rt Revd Eddie Daniels, and Bishop-elect Luke Pretorius of the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist, who were attending Synod for the first time. Also in attendance were two Vicars-General, the Ven Keith de Vos from Cape Town and the Very Revd Tanki Mofana from Lesotho.
Synod met against the backdrop of confusion in the South African political landscape, of fresh outbreaks of xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans from other nations and of renewed activism over the scourge of violence against women, children and other vulnerable people. This situation is very disturbing and cause for major concern, and we endorse our Archbishop’s appeal to the Church to join civil society in mobilising to end these evils.
We urge girls in our Church to demand an end to the way in which too many boys and men in our society treat women. We urge boys to set an example to the rest of society by treating all, especially girls and women, with respect, dignity and compassion. Let Anglican youth groups throughout our Province become renowned for being safe spaces in which young women feel valued and young men are admired in their communities for their caring and respectful treatment of girls and women.
We also urge people in our parishes to stand up for other vulnerable people such as migrants in South Africa. As disciples of Christ we are bound to be sensitive to God’s people who happen to come from outside our borders. We condemn the violence meted out against them, we express our condolences to those who have lost members of their families and we share our prayers for the traumatised.
We remind all of the words of Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
In our discussions on situations outside South Africa, our hearts were warmed as we heard the good news of the successful peace initiatives in Mozambique and prayed for that country as they prepare for elections.
Bishops shared the sadness and pain around the resignation of the Bishop of Natal, the Right Revd Dino Gabriel. The Bishops accepted his resignation and resolved to show their love, care and support for the Diocesan family and for Bishop Dino and his family. The Bishops resolved that Pastoral Letters on the situation should be sent to the Diocese and to the Bishop.
Further reflection ensued on the Diocese of Zululand, where the Rt Revd Monument Makhanya resigned last year. The Archbishop reported that he had asked the Archbishop of the Province of Central Africa to minister to Bishop Makhanya for three months. The Vicars-General of the Diocese, retired Bishop Funginkosi Mbhele and Canon Hamilton Mbatha, will continue their ministry of oversight and pastoral care in the Diocese.
Synod discussed ways of ministering to the Rt Revd Adam Taaso, the Bishop of Lesotho, who has suffered an incapacitating stroke, and his family. In consultation with the Diocese, it was agreed that he should go on retirement with effect from 31 January 2020.
We noted that no women clergy have recently been elected as bishops and agreed that there should be an intentional effort to investigate why this is the case. The Archbishop has established a commission to do this work.
A report was presented by Lay Canon Rosalie Manning on ensuring a Safe & Inclusive Church in which no one suffers abuse of any kind. Professor Barney Pityana presented a preliminary report on the Archbishop’s Commission on the College of the Transfiguration. We also heard a report on the Archbishop’s Commission on Human Sexuality. All three reports were scheduled to go before Provincial Synod.
Synod also discussed the issue of clergy who are active card-carrying members of political parties. It was agreed that the practice should not be encouraged as it has potential to polarise congregations. We also reflected on the way in which we could emphasise the importance of saving the environment by moving towards holding paperless synods. Bishops also expressed concern for the sustainability of HOPE Africa.
The Bishops bade farewell to Bishop Oswald Swartz, Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman as he goes on retirement. Bishop Ossie was thanked for his wonderful episcopal ministry in ACSA.
We commend you to God’s love and keeping and ask you to remember us in prayer as we meet in Provincial Synod to discern God’s will as we grapple with some of the critical issues that face us as Church.
“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” — Jude 24-25