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PHOTOS: Women’s Conference & Synod of Bishops

The Conference marking the 25th anniversary of the the ordination of women to the priesthood and the September meeting of the Synod of Bishops were held at the same venue in Boksburg, near Johannesburg. Both meetings ended with a joint special Eucharist and a photo session.

Participants in the conference which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women as priests.

The September 2017 meeting of the Synod of Bishops.

Bishops join the Women’s Conference participants for a photo.

Diocese of Khahlamba to elect new Bishop

An Elective Assembly will be held to elect a new Bishop for the Diocese of Khahlamba, beginning on Wednesday December 6th.

The assembly will choose a successor to Bishop Mazwi Tisani, who has retired. Please pray for the preparations, for the Assembly and for the Diocese.

Link social justice to climate justice – Archbishop Thabo

Anglican primates discuss action on climate change

October 6, 2017

Disappearing islands in the south Pacific, recent hurricanes in the Caribbean and food security issues in Africa were amongst the items discussed by Anglican church leaders as they discussed climate change and the environment during the Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury, England.

The discussions began on Tuesday when the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop John Holder, briefed his colleagues on recent hurricanes in the Caribbean; and continued yesterday (Thursday) when the primates heard about disappearing islands in the south Pacific and food security issues in Africa.

Later, in an interview with the Anglican Communion News Service, Archbishop John Holder of the West Indies said that he welcomed the primates’ discussion on the environment, saying that it was “very important” for the Church to speak out on climate change. “We are connecting these two devastating hurricanes [Irma and Maria] to climate change,” he said. “We can’t prove it but we think there is some kind of climate change element in there.”

Commenting on the primates’ discussions, he said: “We were hearing the stories from different parts of the world on climate change,” he said. “And I think we are all convinced it is a fact of life.

“Even if you take away the term ‘climate change’, something is going wrong with the weather. The weather is becoming extremely destructive and there must be a reason for that.

“So all of us . . . understand this is a problem and we commit to doing whatever we can to alleviate this problem; or at least help people prepare themselves for the bad weather. And when they are devastated or when they have bad experiences, then chip in to help them to reconstruct and revive themselves.”

On Thursday morning, the Archbishop of Southern Africa, Thabo Makgoba, began the session with a biblical reflection from John 1: 29. He told ACNS that he finished his reflection with “a challenge, as Jesus invites us – as he said to Peter – to feed his lambs, to feed his sheep.

“And I lamented the fact that very often when we discuss things as primates we discuss the social justice issue of feeding the lamb and the vulnerable”. He encouraged his fellow-primates to think about “caring for the where the lambs and the vulnerable are – that is the environment” and to “make the linkage between social justice and climate justice.”

A number of primates spoke about climate change-issues in their region, including Archbishop Albert Chama of Central Africa, who spoke about food security; and Archbishop Winston Halapua, the Bishop of Polynesia in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, who spoke about rising sea levels.

“The design of the Primates’ Meeting is just so overwhelmingly empowering,” Archbishop George Takeli, the Primate of Melanesia, said, “particularly the sessions on reflections on the Scriptures.

“The reflection by Archbishop Thabo was so deeply transforming – particularly in the invitation to see the world through the eyes of God. That was the greatest challenge and the life-transforming invitation that was given to us this morning when he asked how many provinces were affected by food security and climate change – I think the whole house did raise their hand up.”

In a starkly powerful message, he said: “some may see information on climate change on television and take it as interesting reading, as entertainment; some would read it in newspapers and treat it as something to occupy time, but for me – and especially for us in Melanesia – it is actually an urgent matter.”

He said that there were three important issues to consider: “The weather pattern throughout the year is no longer consistent, creating surprise cyclone seasons – we have more cyclones than before causing flash flooding. Some places where there are no floods we are getting flash flooding happening.

“Secondly, the climate change is affecting the soil – the whole overall environment where you could plant two or three times before and you could harvest the same amount of food, is no longer there.” He said that many Melanesian’s live of subsistence farming and can no longer grow crops to feed themselves and their families.

“Thirdly,” he said, “the sea rise: the sea level rise is effecting some of our islands [which are] are now under water. It is a serious issue. It is a serious concern.”

The Archbishop of Southern Africa, Thabo Makgoba, is recognised as a leading champion of environmental concerns. He too welcomed the discussions. “What I hope will come from this meeting is a commitment by each primate to pray for social justice issues but to look at those with the eyes of saying the climate, the environment, the earth where they are happening, ought to be cared for,” he said.

Archbishop George added: “What strikes me is the awareness, as I listen to many stories from my brother primates throughout the world I see that I am being buried deep in their own issues as well. They become part of me.

“Our stories are making the world become a very small world – that we are part of each other. And what I begin to sense from the Primates’ Meeting is that all of us are moving towards creating a strong network to work together between the primates, addressing the issues of climate change and other issues together.”

 

Communiqué from the Primates’ Meeting

Canterbury Cathedral, England, 2-6 October 2017

God’s Church for God’s World

The meeting of Anglican Primates, the senior bishops of the Anglican Provinces, took place in Canterbury between Monday 2 October and Friday 6 October at the invitation of The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.

We affirm that we believe our time together to have been a gift from God, through which we experienced many signs of God’s presence amongst us. The sense of common purpose underpinned by God’s love in Christ and expressed through mutual fellowship was profound.

Primates from 33 Provinces attended the meeting. Three Primates were absent because of a combination of personal circumstances and difficulties within their Provinces. Primates from Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda declined to attend citing what they believed to be a lack of good order within the Communion. We were saddened by their absence and expressed our hope and prayer that all will join us at future meetings.

We welcomed sixteen new Primates attending for the first time, including the Primate from the new Province of The Sudan. They received a briefing on the role of the meeting, within the Instruments of Communion, on the day before the main meeting.

The first morning was spent in prayer. The agreed agenda focussed on the Five Marks of Mission of the Communion, in particular the challenge of sharing the love, compassion and reconciliation of Jesus with those in need around the world. This followed initial consideration of the internal affairs of the Communion

Internal Affairs of the Communion

We welcomed the progress being made towards the 2020 Lambeth Conference (#LC2020) and encouraged all Provinces should seek to find ways to contribute towards the cost of their Bishops and spouses attending.

It was agreed that the Archbishop of Canterbury be invited to regional meetings of Primates and others during 2018 and 2019 so that the vision for the 2020 Lambeth Conference can be shared. The Archbishop of Canterbury will consider whether another full Primates’ Meeting will be held before the Lambeth Conference.

We welcomed progress in implementing resolutions agreed by the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka in 2016; in particular the responsibility of all Provinces to ensure comprehensive safeguarding measures to protect children and vulnerable adults. The creation of the Anglican Safe Church Commission was welcomed and endorsed.

In our last meeting in January 2016 we made a clear decision to walk together while acknowledging the distance that exists in our relationships due to deep differences in understanding on same sex marriage. We endorsed this approach, which we will continue with renewed commitment.

The Archbishops’ Task Group, established in 2016, gave an interim report on its work. This was warmly welcomed, particularly the recommendations around development of common liturgy, the principle and practice of pilgrimage and a season of prayer of repentance and reconciliation.

We listened carefully to the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) and with sadness accepted that the consequences for our relationships agreed in January 2016 would also apply to SEC after its decision on same sex marriage. This means that for three years, members of SEC would no longer represent the Communion on ecumenical and interfaith bodies; should not be appointed or elected to internal standing committees and that, while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they would not take part in decision making on any issues of doctrine or polity. The Archbishop of Canterbury will take steps within his authority to implement this agreement.

We agreed the importance of all Provinces contributing to the operational costs of supporting the communion, but according to each Province’s capacity and potential to contribute.

It was confirmed that the Anglican Church of North America is not a Province of the Anglican Communion. We recognised that those in ACNA should be treated with love as fellow Christians.

We discussed difficulties arising from cross-border interventions, agreeing that the principles were clearly stated from the Council of Nicaea onwards and in the 1998 Lambeth Conference. We recognised that there were opportunities for joint initiatives and mission partnerships for the benefit of the Gospel where these are agreed between Provinces. However consent was critical to any inter-provincial collaboration and it was essential that courtesy and love should be extended to Provinces at all times.

Attempts to deal with breaches of consent and courtesy should be made in regional Primates’ Meetings and only referred to the Secretary General and the Archbishop of Canterbury as a last resort. We recognised that persistent and deliberate non-consensual cross-border activity breaks trust and weakens our communion.

We recognised that there is a need for a season of repentance and renewal including where interventions may have happened without prior permission having being sought.

We reaffirmed commitments made in 2016 regarding the LGBTI community, specifically the Communion’s sorrow for previous failures to support LGBTI people and its condemnation of homophobic prejudice and violence.

We welcomed the news that the Church of England has embarked on a major study of human sexuality in its cultural, scientific, scriptural and theological aspects and anticipated considering the results of this work at a future meeting.

External Issues

For most of the meeting we focussed on external issues including evangelism and discipleship, reconciliation and peace building, climate change, food security, refugees, human trafficking and freedom of religion. On the final day the Anglican Inter Faith Commission was launched.

The world has never felt the need of a Saviour more keenly. We have shared stories of pain and loss, of natural disasters and tragedy, of violence and threat. However in this world we have joy, courage and hope because of the light of the Saviour of all, Jesus Christ. God has poured his love upon his whole Church by his Holy Spirit. The Church lives to proclaim this gospel in word and deed. We therefore commit ourselves afresh to lead those we serve in the joyful announcement of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We pledge to pray for the empowering of the Holy Spirit, that we may witness effectively to the good news. To this end between Ascension day and Pentecost in 2018 we call all those who are able, to join us in praying ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ – that the Holy Spirit may empower the announcement of the Gospel so that many may believe.

We recognised that at least half of the Provinces in the Communion had areas with food security issues. Whilst developing nations suffered more, there were pockets of food insecurity elsewhere, for example, reliance on food banks for many in the British Isles.

As at previous meetings, we were deeply concerned to hear accounts of the severe impact of climate change, including the threat of rising seas to many islands and low lying lands. We understood the importance of giving moral leadership because the effects of climate change are not evenly distributed. Drought and flooding most affect the poorest of the poor, with the least resources to rebuild a home, replant a field or seek medical care for flood-borne illnesses. We recommitted ourselves to advocate for improved stewardship of God’s creation.

We heard powerful testimonies of the church’s engagement in reconciliation in a number of places, particularly by those torn apart by apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and civil wars, historic and on-going: in places such as South Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We pledged solidarity with each other in this sacrificial and often costly ministry.

We are committed to mediating in situations of violent conflict; ministering to the victims of war, including refugees; upholding indigenous rights; supporting the victims of sexual and domestic violence; and maintaining a faithful presence in situations of extreme persecution and terror.

We discussed the role of reconciliation at every level, from personal relationships, to communal, societal and with the rest of creation, including care for the environment. Reconciliation is at the heart of the Gospel – it is because we are reconciled to God in Christ that all are given the message and ministry of reconciliation.

We recognised the vital role of all spouses in supporting bishops and archbishops, and particularly the importance of women placed in front line roles because of the offices held by their husbands. We appreciated the leadership and initiative of Mrs Caroline Welby and others in supporting women in such situations.

We heard of the plight of Indigenous Peoples, resulting from government policies of forced assimilation associated with colonial expansion. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission that addressed this history in Canada grounded its report and calls to action on the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We reaffirmed our commitment to encourage all governments to support the UN Declaration.

We recognised God’s call for justice and dignity for all humanity and raised with profound concern the desperate plight of millions of people facing hunger. We are committed to support actions which end hunger, promote sustainable agriculture and address the root causes of food insecurity.

We grieved for the 65 million refugees and internally displaced people forcibly uprooted by conflict, persecution and violence; the nearly 20 million displaced by natural disasters; and the millions of vulnerable migrants. We committed ourselves to respond with others to ensure protection, meet immediate need, and address underlying causes.

We heard about the suffering of 40 million victims of modern slavery and human trafficking – a crime against humanity which profits from the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable individuals. We committed ourselves to address this issue in our countries and across the globe.

We discussed freedom of religion and belief and heard about particular challenges faced in some Provinces. We endorsed the need to ensure that provisions relating to the freedom of religion are included and upheld in national constitutions, working with ecumenical and interfaith partners, where appropriate.

We heard of issues arising from living alongside those of other faiths; a painful daily reality in many Provinces. We commit to seeking ways to develop better understanding on the path to peaceful co-existence. We are excited at the prospect of the Anglican Inter Faith Commission working in this area.

We were deeply grateful to the staff of the Anglican Communion Office, and especially the Secretary General, to the staff at Lambeth Palace and at Church House, Westminster. We are especially grateful for the warm welcome, generous hospitality and kindness offered by the Dean of Canterbury and all at the Cathedral: their contribution was very important in setting the mood of the meeting in prayer and mutual listening. We also thank the Community of St Anselm for their prayer, help and support.

We leave enriched by the communion we share and strengthened by the faithful witness of Anglicans everywhere. We deeply appreciate the prayers of many throughout the world over our time together.

Canterbury
6 October 2017

PSC speaks out on abuse of liquor, especially by children

The annual meeting of the Church’s Provincial Standing Committee has expressed its concern at the excessive use of alcohol, especially by children, and is calling on governments in Southern Africa to consider raising the legal limit for the purchase of alcohol to 21.

In a resolution proposed by Bishop Carlos Matsinhe of Lebombo, and seconded by Bishop Stephen Diseko of Matlosane (who is also Dean of the Province), PSC said:

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa is a church that believes in good morals in all families and society. The church acknowledges the fact that people consume alcohol from time to time as means of socialization. It is with great concern that the church observed a trend in the community at large that at times alcohol is misused or drunk excessively even by our children. Excessive alcohol consumption destroys families and the future of our children.

We also observed that some of the liquor outlets sell alcohol to children under the legislated age limit. The church takes this opportunity to implore all the liquor outlets in all the countries within our Province to respect and uphold the liquor legislation of their respective countries. We plead with the outlet owners to heed our plea so that we collectively prevent our minor children from purchasing alcohol. The ACSA believes that the whole community should work together towards the agenda of moral regeneration.

Therefore the position of this PSC is that:

  • Enforcement of laws regarding the sale of liquor be strictly applied;
  • All churches should stand together in educating people about the impact of excessive alcohol consumption;
  • Collaborate with NGO’s to assist those involved and affected by the excessive use of alcohol;
  • Ask the governments within ACSA to consider raising the age limit for entering liquor outlets and buying alcohol to the age of 21;
  • We call upon all parents and caretakers to abstain from consuming alcohol irresponsibly so as to become exemplary mentors of a society free of alcoholism;
  • We call upon all whose business is production and promotion of alcohol to be positive by taking such measures that their success does not become a curse to our communities and to the future of our nations.

Lastly ACSA believes that “Together we can build the future of our countries by inculcating good and responsible manners of alcohol consumption in our children and restore and heal families torn by excessive alcohol consumption.”

 

PSC Resolution on the Ordination of Women

The Provincial Standing Committee, which meets annually, is the top deliberative body of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa between Provincial Synods.

Resolution – Ordination of Women

This Provincial Standing Committee:

Acknowledges that the Anglican Church celebrates with joy 25 years since the ordination of women to the priesthood. September 2017 marks the beginning of this 25th year anniversary.

Appreciates the call from the Metropolitan to all Diocesan Bishops to remember this historic moment, and mark this occasion in their Dioceses.

Gives thanks to the ACSA gender programme, and HOPE Africa, under the leadership of Bishop Margaret Vertue and the Reverend Canon Dr Vicentia Kgabe, for facilitating a celebratory conference with women priests from all dioceses in ACSA.

Appreciates the inclusion in PSC of this celebration at the special Eucharist service attended by all delegates of PSC as well as 120 women priests, deacons and some special guests, visitors and lay people.

Noting that while we celebrate 25 years of the ordination of women to the priesthood;

  • We are challenged by the fact that very few women clergy are represented in the leadership and decision making of Dioceses and ACSA in its provincial; structures;
  • There is a need for more theological education and training offered to women, especially younger women in ACSA;
  • Leadership development, ministerial formation and structured mentorship for new vocations is critical for the sustainability and growth of our church.

Hereby resolves to respectfully request the Metropolitan to:

A. Commend the statement from the 25th year celebration conference to all dioceses for their prayerful consideration and implementation.

B. Receive and adopt the statement released by the women priests conference as a component of their programmatic framework within ACSA, in achieving its vision. This will require the collaboration of all relevant programmes.

C. Distribute the conference statement and pledge from the 25th year celebration to all members of PSC, and to all provincial and diocesan structures.

Proposed: The Reverend Dalcy Dlamini

Seconded: The Rt Reverend Margaret Vertue

ADOPTED BY PSC, SEPTEMBER 29, 2017, AT ITS MEETING IN BENONI

Statement of conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women

Commemorate, Celebrate, Commit to change

Conference Statement

Preamble

Women Priests of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, from the 25 – 27 of September 2017, came together at this 25th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood to:

  • Commemorate the years of struggle leading up to the first ordinations of women to the priesthood in 1992
  • Celebrate this 25th anniversary as a victory over exclusion, inequality, and injustice in the church
  • Cry with lamentation for the exclusion, inequality, and injustice that remains in the leadership, structures and practices of the church
  • Critically consider the nature of these practices of exclusion, inequality, and injustice and how they continue to marginalise women
  • Commit to work collaboratively for the transformation of church structures and practices to truly become an inclusive and life-giving church

The voices of laywomen and those in the process of ordination were also welcomed into this safe and collaborative space.

This gathering was rooted in daily prayer and worship, contextual bible studies, the sharing of stories, reflections and group discussions. The conference was intentional at reflecting on the past, critically evaluating the present and committing to the call for changes that would enhance the role of women priests in the church, so that our church will become an inclusive welcoming church, where men and women are equally able to serve to their fullest potential, thereby enabling the church to be a prophetic voice in the world.

Through the sharing of stories, we have heard the cry from many, of their journey’s which included, rejection, ridicule, disillusionment, harassment, disempowerment, loneliness and desperation. We have heard the cries and lament of women, who through their desperation, were certain of the grace of God and through Christ, the hope of glory…if not for them, but for generations thereafter.

We listened to stories of how the policies and structures of our church have created tensions within communities, Parishes and Dioceses and have caused vocations to be destroyed.

Challenges confronting the Church

Through prayer, critical reflection and dialogue the following challenges were identified:

  1. As a church, in all our organisations, policies, structures, and hierarchy, we continue to normalise, regularise and perpetuate exclusion.
  2. In the continuous striving for equality, we do not deliberately put in place processes to achieve equity.
  3. Within the province there are no universally set minimum basic standards and criteria for levels of education and skills required for deacons, priests and bishops.
  4. Academically appropriate theological education as well as ministerial formation must be given greater priority.
  5. All theological education and ministerial formation should be ongoing and structured mentoring programmes be developed for deacons, priests and bishops in our church.
  6. The use of language, when teaching about God and human beings, including our worship , must be critically assessed as to how it continues to marginalise and exclude women.

We hereby commit to the following resolutions, which will be tabled at the Provincial Standing Committee meeting from the 27-29 September 2017 for adoption immediately.

A. We respectfully request the metropolitan to enforce previous Provincial Synod Resolutions related to the adequate representation of women at all decision-making bodies of the church and at all Parish, Diocesan and Provincial structures.

B. We respectfully appeal for a transformation of representation within our church that will reflect a 50/50 representation of men and women in leadership and decision making in ACSA.

C. We respectfully request a campaign within ACSA, that advocates for the election and appointment of women as Bishops in all new elective processes, including the appointments made by the Synod of Bishops.

D. We respectfully propose that theological education becomes a priority in ACSA, and that an ACSA universally accepted basic minimum standards of education and vocational training is set for all priests and bishops.

E. We urge all Bishops to send at least 2 ordinands to be sent to the College of The Transfiguration annually.

F. We call for the immediate use of liturgy that does not perpetuate patriarchal leadership and authority but instead uses inclusive, affirming and life-giving language for all of God’s creation.

G. We call on ACSA to allocate adequate resources for the leadership, development and mentorship of women more especially young women in ACSA.

 

Women celebrating ordination to the priesthood make a pledge

Celebrating 25 years since the ordination of women to the priesthood

Pledge

We the women, meeting to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood, give thanks to God that we can celebrate this historic event.

Humbled by the wisdom shared as we commemorated the struggle for ordination, while acknowledging that we still have many challenges to overcome.

Commit ourselves to continue to allow women’s voices to be heard in cry and lamentation so that we can continuously seek ways to overcome the limitations that women priests face today.

Humbled that our younger generation of women can draw from the well springs of wisdom of previous generations through whom we can be mentored, moulded and strengthened.

Hereby make the following pledge:

We will, promote, normalise and regularise inclusive practices across our organisations, policies, structures, and hierarchy.

We will continue to strive for both gender equality and gender equity in ACSA.

We will work toward universally set minimum basic standards and criteria for levels of education and skills required for deacons, priests and bishops.

We will prioritise theological education and ministerial formation.

We commit to continuous education, training, development within the church.

We commit to ensure that Deacons, priests and bishops are intentionally mentored in their roles of leadership.

We commit to the use of affirming and inclusive language, when teaching about God and about human beings and in our liturgy and worship.

Pastoral Letter from the Synod of Bishops – September 2017

27 September 2017

As Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA), we met in Synod in Benoni from Monday 25 until Wednesday 27 September 2017. We welcomed among us the Vicar General of Khahlamba, the Revd Canon Moses Madywabe.

As always our meeting took place in a framework of worship and warm fellowship as we shared our lives and worked on issues facing the church and our communities. We met as church leaders who are deeply aware of the challenges facing our churches and communities and the desperate need for leadership of the highest quality. At our opening Eucharist we listened to an inspiring homily on the restoration and transformation of the temple in Jerusalem. The message was that this was the mission of Jesus in the world and if Jesus’ then ours too.

Our meeting coincided with the celebration of 25 years of the ordination of women to the priesthood in ACSA. The celebrations took place in the same venue where the Bishops met. This was a historic, memorable and joyful interaction as we celebrated the Eucharist together to mark the occasion.

The electoral college of the Synod of Bishops was constituted on the first evening of Synod. Names of candidates were considered for the election of a Bishop for the vacant See of the Diocese of Mthatha. After a process of thorough discernment and deliberation, Bishop Nkosinathi Ndwandwe, the Suffragan Bishop of Natal, was elected. Plans are afoot to have the Bishop enthroned on the eve of the Second Sunday in Advent, Saturday 9 December 2017.

The former Bishop of Umzimvubu, Geoff Davies now retired, is to be honoured with the Archbishop’s Peace with Justice Award for his extraordinary contribution to the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and to the broader Christian and Interfaith world for the role he played in mobilising churches and communities to act for ecological justice.

Synod also deliberated on the very difficult and painful matter of the situation in the Diocese of Umzimvubu, with which we have wrestled for seven years now and which has involved drawn-out proceedings in the secular courts. In an hour of silent prayer, Synod acknowledged the pain of one of our own and of the whole Diocese. In a tough decision taken with heavy hearts and after much prayer we accepted that the relationship between the Bishop and his Diocese has irrevocably broken down and Synod voted by a two-thirds majority to ask the Bishop of Umzimvubu to vacate his See.

Synod gave attention to a number of areas of mission and ministry in ACSA:

1. The Provincial Secretary Treasurer, Mr Rob Rogerson, gave a presentation on –

  • the Pension Fund “Guidelines/What to do” Checklist
  • the Duties and Responsibilities of Pension Fund Trustees and
  • the need to finalise the Reconstituted Provincial Trusts’ Board

He also gave a feedback on the state of finances at the College of the Transfiguration (COTT). The essence of the feedback concerned the financial viability and sustainability of COTT as an educational institution. After much discussion, the Archbishop challenged the bishops to consider and propose in writing new funding models for the College, and he is constituting a special commission to look at innovative ways of expanding the College’s reach to guarantee its sustainability.

2. A presentation on progress made by the Archbishop’s Commission on Human Sexuality was given by the Revd Dr Vicentia Kgabe. The Chairperson of the Commission is the Bishop of Saldanha Bay, Raphael Hess. The Commission consists of six Commissioners and has invited each Diocese to constitute a Diocesan Liaison Team to facilitate the work of the Commission at diocesan level, with the objective that the voices of all will be heard in a consultative process to hear and discern what every Diocese is saying. The mandate of the Commission is to present to Provincial Synod 2019 a proposal enabling the Church “to minister to those in same-sex unions and the LGBTI Community in the context in which ACSA operates in Southern Africa”. This mandate does not rescind the decision of Provincial Synod 2016: it neither assumes that ministry to members of the LGBTI community will include the blessing of same-sex unions, nor does it exclude that possibility, should that be the mind of Provincial Synod 2019. It also directs the Commission to consider the situation of Dioceses outside South Africa, in which there is no provision in law for same-sex unions. The mandate is in line with the injunction of the 1998 Lambeth Conference and Provincial Synod 2002 to listen to the views of the LGBTI community, and in particular with that part of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 which “calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals.” The Commission asked for prayers for its work and the members of the Commission.

We appeal to members of ACSA and the Communion please to commit these matters to prayer and offer yourselves to God to serve in God’s mission and ministry. We your Bishops will continue to lead as God’s servants and servants of the church, to the best of our ability.

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