Hi-Tech solution planned for PSC, church meetings

The Church is to set up a sophisticated video-conferencing facility which will enable Provincial Standing Committee (PSC) to meet online this year. In future, the system will also enable smaller meetings to be held virtually, saving on the Province’s travel budget.

A meeting of the PSC Service Committee, which plans the Committee’s meetings, heard details of the facility this week. It will enable Diocesan PSC delegations across Southern Africa to be in video contact with Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and Provincial office-bearers in Cape Town and elsewhere.

Agenda papers are expected to be available online next week. The meeting will begin on the afternoon of Tuesday September 22 and continue until Thursday September 24.

The meeting will include a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the constitution of the Province, which was formed by the Dioceses of Cape Town, Grahamstown, Natal and St Helena in 1870.

PSC includes episcopal, clerical and lay representatives from each Diocese in the Province and meets annually. It comprises about 120 people, including representatives of organisations.

During the Service Committee meeting, Archbishop Thabo reported that a number of clergy or their spouses had died of COVID-19 since the last meeting, and a priest had been shot dead in the Diocese of Natal the previous night. He sent condolences to the families of all clergy and members of their families who had died.

The Service Committee asks parishioners to use the following prayer for PSC:

Almighty God, our refuge and strength;
as we face the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic,
keep us mindful of your saving power,
strengthen us to care for one another, and
teach us new ways of protecting your planet,
for you led your people out of exile,
you walked the road to Calvary,
and you continue to equip us for ministry with your Holy Spirit,
One God, world without end.


Statement on Gender-Based Violence – Diocese of False Bay

In a powerful statement on gender-based violence (GBV), Bishop Margaret Vertue and Canon Cheryl Uren declare:

“We have to first undo, then to build. We need to capture the hearts, souls and minds of the people, this must become the dominant thought, the hegemony of our day: the safe-keeping of women and children. It can never be an issue amidst other issues.”

Read the full text of the 5/6-page statement:

In English >>

In isiXhosa >>

In Afrikaans >>


Schools are good for children NOW

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s response to the Department of Basic Education’s announcement on Sunday 31 May 2020, that the planned reopening of schools on 1 June is to be postponed.

When the Minister of Basic Education announced that schools in South Africa were to be reopened on 1 June 2020, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa on 19 May, welcomed her decision and urged all stakeholders to put the interests of the country and its children ahead of their own, for the time being.

We are living in a formally declared National Disaster and we all need to act in light of that.

The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, at the time of the Minister’s mid-May announcement, lent its support to the call from Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi for all countries to prioritise the good of children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course the Church supports the call for the country’s schools to be made safe, as indeed we have supported efforts to supply water and safe toilets to all schools for many years.

However in South Africa, children who are not at school do not vanish into thin air; thousands of them are left wandering the streets, unprotected and unsupervised by parents who may be absent at work or otherwise. South Africa’s children are safest in the care of educators. Out of school they are exposed to all kinds of infection, abuse and accident.

The guidance of independent bodies like the Paediatric Association of South Africa in this regard should be heeded.

Bringing the nation’s children back into school is not a casual matter, a political football or a ho-hum. It is a pressing moral imperative, a duty of care, an educational priority and practically critical.

As the Minister observed in May, many children especially from poorer backgrounds who became disconnected from school during the 2010 strike never reconnected with the educational process; those young citizens, and the country, were the losers. It would be all too easy to commit that mistake again if we do not, as a country, bend our best efforts to the urgent readmission of our children to their schools. That has implications for all stakeholders who should now be doing all they can to co-operate, develop common plans, and work actively to fulfil them – even if this means going beyond their prescribed minimum obligations as officials or employees.

We must all work to prevent a crisis becoming a disaster.

Provision for home schooling during the lockdown has been partial, difficult to access, inequitable, and increasingly stressful for families who are emerging from lockdown into work and legitimately expecting society to provide a safe place for their children.

The emotional damage of constant chopping and changing of public plans, especially to children who are excited to return to school and to their friends, is significant.

Minister Motshekga’s apology today is appropriate and we accept it; but the confusion and miscommunication of the past few days is unfair to our children and unworthy of our democracy. It suggests that the overwhelming priority of caring for the children of our society is not pressing with sufficient force on the minds and hearts of the parties to this process.

The work required of education departments nationally and provincially is clear and urgent.

Likewise, the moral priority upon our educators is to bring our children into the care of schools as soon as possible and to bend every effort to care for and educate them.

We are living in a National Disaster. This means that all of us, government officials, educators, principals, parents and citizens should be working side by side, not wasting effort on squabbling, point-scoring, or defending ourselves. It is scandalous that debates over procurement should prejudice the children’s welfare.

We should all assist wherever we can to ensure the safe and urgent reopening of all our schools to accommodate the young of this country who must not be left at a loose end any longer. If that means lending a hand with deliveries, cleaning, or helping children to manage their lives in these strange times, so be it. We are above all citizens, adults with a new generation to care for, not rivals competing to make gain from a messy situation.

In our Church we offer our support to Anglican schools and urge our Bishops to visit and encourage our schools wherever they are located in their dioceses, and we urge the Church at large to find ways of lending support to public schools in their vicinity in whatever ways they can.

We urge –

– That no further delay in reopening is permitted beyond 8 June 2020

– That outstanding work to enable schools to open is undertaken urgently across the country

– That any school which is ready to reopen, and meets the criteria, be allowed to do so without delay

– That children in additional grades other than Grades 7 and 12, especially those in the Foundation Phase, should be readmitted as soon as possible, subject to the necessary health protocols but on a flexible timetable aimed at drawing all children into the protection of the school environment as quickly as possible

– That school feeding schemes open immediately and serve any child registered at any school in a quintile where such schemes operate, utilising the budget, facilities and personnel already in place for the purpose; even before such children are permitted to re-enter classrooms

– That all social partners set aside their own agendas and join hands to fulfil the goal set by Nobel Laureate Kailash Sathyarti, of prioritising the wellbeing of children globally through the current pandemic.

We cannot risk another lost generation.

Issued by the Anglican Board of Education in Southern Africa

Bishop Emeritus Peter Lee, Chairperson


South Africa’s National Day of Prayer – A Liturgy

DOWNLOAD a liturgy from the Diocese of George for South Africa’s National Day of Prayer for relief from the coronavirus, held on Sunday May 31.


Summary of SA’s Level 3 coronavirus regulations

This PDF published by South Africa’s Presidency summarises the regulations with effect from June 1, 2020.


PSC, Bishops to meet ‘virtually’ this year

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has announced that the September 2020 sessions of the Synod of Bishops (SOB) and the Provincial Standing Committee (PSC) will be held virtually using video-conferencing software.

In a letter to the Province’s bishops and members of the PSC, the Archbishop said there was a real prospect that in a number of countries in the Province, lockdowns would still be in force in September. In addition, some members of PSC had a heightened vulnerability to becoming seriously ill if they contract the virus.

“It is imperative under the Canons that we hold a PSC meeting, inter alia because we have to approve the 2021 budget, and the Legal Team has advised… that such a virtual PSC meeting will be legal in terms of the Canons,” he said.

PSC includes episcopal, clerical and lay representatives from each Diocese in the Province and meets annually. It comprises about 120 people, including representatives of organisations.

The PSC Service Committee, which is responsible for planning the Committee’s meetings, met on May 20 to discuss detailed arrangements for this year’s meeting, to be held on September 22-24.

It is proposed that members of each Diocese’s delegation will meet in a central venue, such as a Diocesan Centre, where physical distancing can be implemented, and that they will be able to view proceedings on a screen and contribute to discussions via audio links. The Service Committee urged that each Diocese ought to have an IT expert available to ensure an uninterrupted connection.

The Service Committee asked for a draft liturgy for opening worship to be prepared and is seeking ideas for how the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Province can be celebrated during the meeting.

The Archbishop and the Service Committee urges everyone to use the following special Collect for PSC in the months leading up to the meeting:

Almighty God, our refuge and strength,
As we face the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic
Keep us faithful to you,
Strengthen us to care for one another and your planet,
For you led your people out of exile,
You walked the road to Calvary,
And you continue to equip us for ministry with your Holy Spirit,
One God, world without end.

Do you have questions about a virtual meeting of PSC? Please let us know in the Comments section below, which we will publish and do our best to answer within a few days.


‘Schools are good for children’ – ABESA response to reopening of SA schools

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s response to Minister Motshekga’s announcement about reopening of South Africa’s schools, issued 19 May 2020

The Anglican Church welcomes the announcement made by the Minister of Basic Education, Minister Angie Motshekga on 19 May 2020, especially as it reflects wide prior consultation and care to address the concerns of all parties.

The Minister’s mantra, ‘Schools are good for children’ was bolstered by citations from UNICEF and emphasised the place of schools in providing not only educational building blocks but a framework for children’s daily life, mental health, physical security and socialisation. The tension between needing to bring South Africa’s children off the streets back into this environment, and the need to protect the health of children, families, educators and school employees constitutes our dilemma.

The Minister’s statistic that 1577 schools have been vandalised during the national lockdown points to both a malaise in our society which needs to be understood and addressed, and practical security issues for School Governing Bodies and the Department to address.

The Anglican Church pledges its support to the reopening process both in the many detailed discussions which are still required, and in the local implementation of the plan at community level where we work.

In this context of co-operation the Church would plead for the following:

1: While caution around the reopening process dominates communication at this stage, the overall tone of the process should be one of actively moving forward with readmitting children to schools as soon as possible. This is because ‘schools are good for children’ and while it may be true that some village and township schools are said to be not yet ready for reoccupation, the streets in which the very same children will play until the schools are open to them, are much more dangerous – in terms of food security, physical safety, and infection by COVID-19 among other winter diseases.

We would plead that the proposed phasing programme is kept under constant review with a view to being accelerated in every way, even if this means geographical and other anomalies. Bureaucratic compliance in lockstep to keep officials happy must come second to flexibility in getting children into safe educationally supervised spaces. Educators are good at managing children, even if they have to teach them hygiene measures and distancing, and children are much safer in their care than wandering free while their parents are out at work.

Minister Motshekga’s pointed reference to the strike of 2010, following which many learners in poorer communities are known never to have returned to school, is a solemn warning and a call for justice in our current context.

There must be a clear code of requirements for admitting more grades, but any school which declares itself ready and willing to proceed with readmitting more children, whether public or independent in terms of the Constitution and the Schools Act, should be allowed and actively encouraged to do so, provided they demonstrate compliance with the code. Ideally no school should go ahead without all being able to do likewise but the spectrum of schools in this country and the chaos caused by vandalism rules out the delays and consequent injustice which this would cause for the majority of children. It goes without saying that the Minister’s assurances about water and toilets are welcome and she should be supported in her efforts to secure compliance from all Provincial Departments in this regard.

Particular attention must be paid to the smallest children. According to some drafts of the phasing programme, Grades 1, 2 and R may only return to school as late as August 2020. But the Minister announced that in consultation with the Minister of Social Development, efforts would be made to enable ECD centres to reopen in June. This is a recipe for township parents to enrol their Grade R children in those centres for safe-keeping until August, when they would be better off in the care of qualified educators. The architecture of most primary schools ensures distancing already between the Foundation and Intermediate Phases; we suggest that thought be given to bringing a Foundation Phase grade into the premises in parallel with a higher one, for example Grade 1 returning with Grade 6 and so on. This should create no difficulty with space or distancing.

2: The educator body in this country are mostly public-spirited and professional people who have chosen their profession out of care for children and a desire to build our society. They should be honoured and supported in the present process. It is good that pleas from educators and their unions for safety in the workplace have been heard in the Department’s consultations and attended to, even if this has delayed reopening. Safety concerns for all parties are paramount.

However these concerns should not paralyse well-planned and executed strategies to care also for the country’s children, and to obviate gaps in the acquisition of essential building blocks of learning. Some draft schedules of the planned phasing of the return to school, showing deficits of 82-102 days of teaching for some children, are of deep concern especially when the physical safety of smaller children out of school is considered. Everything must be done to close these gaps.

Therefore we must appeal to educators for flexibility in their professional response at this time – to adjust willingly to modifications in working patterns or the curriculum, to co-operate with requests for platooning or stepping into grades they do not normally teach, and to place the needs of children ahead of labour demands at least until the end of 2021 while the catch-up process goes on.

3: All school feeding schemes should reopen and feed all children registered at schools in the relevant quintiles.

There is an acute food security crisis under way in this country, but distributing food parcels and increasing child grants in the hands of adults are erratic means of addressing the nutritional needs of children. The best way to feed children is to feed them. When the schools were closed in March 2020, some 9 million children depended on these schemes in school premises for a daily meal. The infrastructure remains in place – kitchens on school grounds, pots and spoons, experienced people contracted to prepare food, and budgets which Provincial Departments have not utilised for 8 weeks. These schemes should be reopened immediately and empowered to feed all children at their schools without application of a means test. School Management Teams which will be under-utilised in the early phases of reopening should manage access of their school’s children to the grounds at fixed hours when the readmitted learners are in class and ensure distancing is taught and practised while children eat – and if not yet readmitted, leave the premises.

This simple step would eliminate about 20% of the country’s hunger crisis at a stroke.

‘Schools are good for children’, and we need our children back in the schools.

The Anglican Board of Education on behalf of ACSA.


Archbishop’s News & Reflections for Holy Week

Archbishop Thabo is posting News and Reflections for Holy Week on his blog. See his updates at



Resources for Coronavirus Lockdown, South Africa

This page will be updated as new Resources arrive. Please email your resources to:

Latest Update: June 23, 2020

Changes for this update: New material is added at the top of each section

  • Green Anglicans weekly service
  • Prayers for Corpus Christi
  • Litany in a time of COVID-19
  • Guide to Online Liturgies
  • Pentecost Moments – A Reflection

Text resources

Green Anglicans

Green Anglicans is posting a weekly service onto YouTube each week. Join this WhatsApp group to receive it as soon as it is up:

Corpus Christi Prayers

Three sets of prayers for Corpus Christi, the last pertaining to this time of the lockdown, from Betty Govinden, Parish of St Aidan’s, Durban

Litany in a time of COVID-19

A Litany by Melvin Soriano of Pasadena, California, adapted for South African use by Wilma Jakobsen:

Guide to Online Liturgies

From the Diocese of Saldanha Bay:

Pentecost Moments and Soul Food

Poems, readings and writing by Bob Commin and friends:

St Mary’s Church in the Parish of Kingsburgh, in the Diocese of Natal, offers a virtual Stations of the Cross online:

A LITANY FOR THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC – there have been a number of requests for this litany, used by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba in Holy Week:

Bishop Michael Nuttall reflects on the lockdown:

The Revd Bob Commin on the Road to Good Friday:

The Revd Adeline Domingo, Chaplain to the Mothers’ Union in George Diocese, makes available a prayer “Building hope and confidence”:

HOPE Africa is providing a way in which you can help vulnerable people to access basic necessities such as food and hygiene packs:

By Bob Commin and Jane Dean, Meditations on the way of the Cross for Holy Week 2020:

The Revd Duncan McLea, Rector of St John’s Parish, Wynberg, recommends this Prayer for Deliverance from the Coronavirus from the 24-7 prayer movement, written by Pete Greig:

The Warehouse in Cape Town offers this guidance for offering & preparing your church site for use during lockdown:

The South African Council of Churches has drawn up a Coronavirus Pastoral Plan, which can be downloaded here:


Resources from the Episcopal Church in the USA

The Revd Wilma Jakobsen points us to these resources:

For families with or without kids, for Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. Though from the Episcopal Church and not South African, there are some excellent and easy ideas for people to do church at home, with or without kids.

This one from Wendie Barrie, Children’s Minister and national leader of FORMA formation committee in the Episcopal Church, USA:

More resources for Holy Week and Easter:

This one from Shannon Kelly and team, Shannon is the national liaison for youth, young adult and college students in the Episcopal Church, USA:

Resources and Recommendations from Green Anglicans:

During Holy Week we will have an environmental meditation each evening from one of our Environmental Coordinators –  you can go to the Green Anglicans Facebook or Green Anglicans YouTube.

Online Easter story – for Sunday School children here are some Easter story books for free download.


You can go here for other languages and other stories

Free Lenten Book

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lenten Book “Saying Yes to Life” by Ruth Valerio is an excellent book on Care for Creation. SPCK are kindly letting us have it for free until Easter because of #lockdown. Don’t miss out!

The Very Revd Michael Weeder, Dean of Cape Town is posting a daily POEM & PRAYERS IN THE TIME OF COVID-19:

The Scripture Union has published a 7-day Easter Family devotional to be used by parents with their children during Passion Week (6-12 April). Find it among our downloadable resources:

The Revd Steve Verryn advises that Corpus Christi Church, Garsfontein in the Diocese of Pretoria, will be sharing the Palm Sunday (and possibly other) Eucharistic home service/s via a series of soundbites in WhatApp, as used by the Eluvukweni church, Crossroads [see details below].

People will be invited and shown how to make palm crosses through links and text instructions and sketches. The church will follow Bishop Geoff Quinlan’s suggestion of consecration by intention, for the Eucharist. There will be contributions from people at their homes for choruses, readings, etc. They will also bless the Palm crosses by intention.

To join the worship group click on

The Revd Rachel Mash shares how Eluvukweni Church, Crossroads, in Cape Town worships on WhatsApp [April 3 – Note the change in the link below:


Aware that data is expensive, we are using whatsapp for our worship

Set up a Whatsapp group for the 21 days
(Go to the WhatsApp group chat, then tap the group subject; Tap Invite via link..)

Evening prayer
Every evening a lay preacher/ lay minister prepares a short message on the readings of the day

(go to attachment – press audio)

A song is prepared in the same way by one of the families who has several singers in the house

Sunday Services
Matins. The families are sent the readings and hymn number a few minutes in advance and asked to gather and light a candle and say the morning prayer together

Recorded hymns by families are sent

A short sermon is sent

For Good Friday we will have seven words by seven preachers and seven hymns.

Retired Bishop Geoff Quinlan writes:

Dear friends,

I have begun celebrating the Eucharist on line in a way that allows participants to make their communion. I use the full Eucharistic service with the Consecration Prayer and ask participants to have bread and wine with them at home for consecration. In the Eucharistic prayer I then consecrate, by intention, the bread and the wine before me and also that in the homes of communicants. ONE IMPORTANT INSTRUCTION, WHICH I GIVE THOSE TAKING PART, is to only have the amount of bread and wine that can be consumed during the service so that nothing is left over afterwards. In other words, a small piece of bread and only a sip of wine.

Blessings to you all during this demanding but creative time,

+Geoff Quinlan

The Revd Robert Penrith of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth is publishing Daily Devotions by 7.30 am each morning on his blog (If his latest entry does not appear in the main section of the page, see the headline list on the right):

The Warehouse in Cape Town, a church-based NGO, seeks to inspire, equip and connect churches to become a transforming and transformative presence in their communities: See their guide for preparing your church:

St Monnica’s Church in Halfway Gardens, north of Johannesburg, shares a resource – The Scattered Body of Christ in Worship and Prayer – made specifically for their parish, but invites others to tailor it to their own needs. You will find it listed on this download page [Updated for Mar 29-April 5]:

Bishop Peter Lee has produced extensive readings and meditations for Holy Week, which you can also find on the download page:

Other resources on the download page include:

  • The Angelus in isiXhosa (a scan)

Guidelines for holding funerals have also been drawn up and are listed on our download page:

The USPG offers wide-ranging prayers for the world-wide church, which you can find here:

Video & Audio resources

We have got Sunday school lessons on line (for Ryan the Rhino – care for Creation) 

Ryan the Rhino Sunday School Session One

Ryan the Rhino Sunday School Session Two

Ryan the Rhino Sunday School Session Three

Ryan the Rhino Sunday School Session Four

Most audio resources – mainly prayers and short homilies or reflections – have been moved to a SoundCloud channel. You can listen online or download the content to your mobile phones or computers for later listening. Video files appear in the Video/Audio folder of the main Resource page (as listed below under each item). YouTube videos will appear at the end of this folder.

(To see all the SoundCloud audio resources click on ACSA Coronavirus Resources below.)

A sermon for the 3rd Sunday of Easter – The Revd Dr Barney Pityana:

Sister Vusisiwe Adonis, Provincial President of the Guild of St. Mary Magdalene reflects on a reading from the prophet Jeremiah:

The Revd Rus Bassoples, the Rector of St Stephen’s Church, Pinelands in Cape Town offers prayer and worship resources, including a Spiritual Communion:

The Ven Mark Long of Newlands, Cape Town records a Thought for the Day on YouTube:

The Revd Allen Goliath of All Saints Church, found helpful this Church of England guide for beginners “going live” on the internet

The Revd Martha Gordon of St Laurence’s Church, Discovery in the Diocese of Johannesburg, leads an Eco-Eucharist in her garden (27 minutes):

Various videos of blessings and the Angelus in different languages, including one with the bells of St Saviour’s, Claremont, Cape Town pealing out) are in this folder. The filenames identify the resource:

Bishop Luke Pretorius and others in the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist in Limpopo are posting devotions to their YouTube channel and Facebook page. Find the links here:

The Very Rev Andrew Hunter, Dean of Grahamstown, is using Facebook to share worship regularly. Find them on his Facebook page:

The Revd Nobuntu Mageza says a blessing in isiXhosa: (VIDEO):

The Revd Moeketsi Motojane from Lesotho shares the Archbishop’s prayers in Sesotho (VIDEO):

The Revd Mkhuseli Lujabe,Rector of All Saints, Plumstead in the Diocese of Cape Town, reflects on the reading from Exodus set for March 28 (VIDEO):

The Parish of Kirby-Hilton in the Diocese of Natal is producing short services and various resources for parishioners on YouTube and their website. The Revd Paul Mosdell writes that they will post a service every Sunday morning during the lock-down. They also have Morning and Evening Prayer, and will release material on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. To see their full range of resources:

On YouTube (please subscribe to their channel):

On their website,

Fr Timothy Lowes is streaming services from St Michael and All Angels, Observatory, Cape Town to the Parish Facebook group. This is a closed group, but anybody may ask to join it. It is hoped that services will take place daily. Dates and times will be announced on the group’s pages:

An Angelus Prayer for the coronavirus lockdown:

Archbishop’s blessing for home services:

An international service for Passion Sunday:

Posters & Graphics

Green Anglicans is making available a range of posters in different languages giving hygiene advice to those who use in toilets in areas where people have to share taps. Find them in the relevant section of the download page:

Further abroad

With another break reported on March 28 in the West African Cable System, it is unclear whether other fibre-optic cables running up the east and west coasts of Africa have enough bandwidth to give us good internet links abroad. But if you would like to try watching or listening to overseas services:

The Ugandan-born Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, led a national worship service from the front room of his home on Sunday March 29. This exciting service can be viewed on the Church of England Facebook page:

Trinity Wall Street in New York livestreams (and later archives) its daily services at 18:05 (Central African time) Monday to Friday and at 17:15 (CAT) on Sundays:

  • St Martin in the Fields St Martin in the Fields, London, streams its Sunday service at 11 am (CAT) and archives it for later viewing:

St Martin in the Fields Facebookpage>>

  • The Church of England publishes a list of churches which livestream services here:

Image on Facebook page and Twitter

unsplash-logoFusion Medical Animation


Join Anglicans Across the World for a Passion Sunday Service

Produced by the Anglican Communion Office in London, it features Archbishop Thabo Makgoba reading the Psalm.

The service is led by the Revd Neil Vigers from the Anglican Communion Office’s Department for Unity Faith and Order. Readings by Archbishop Philip Freier (Melbourne, Australia); Archbishop Thabo; in French by Archbishop Ian Ernest, (Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome); and in Arabic by Dean Hosam Naoum (St George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem). The homily is given by Bishop Moon Hing (West Malaysia, South East Asia).


Coronavirus – Updated guidelines from the Archbishop – As at Thursday April 2

Archbishop Thabo is posting News and Reflections for Holy Week on his blog at

Logo credit: CDC

UPDATE: APRIL 2, 14:00

Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops

My update is late today because we were racing to put together a 30-minute Easter service, recorded by Newzroom Africa for DStv, at the Church of the Good Shepherd, in the shadow of Table Mountain. We’ll let you know when it will be broadcast.

Yesterday, I asked that we lament, and perhaps some of the cries of lamentation are around the loss of our usual rituals and practices leading up to Easter: our retreats at this time; confession; the washing of feet and stripping of the altar; the energy with which we are led through the seven last words; the moving Mass on Holy Saturday with the bare altar; the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.

I already miss these as I write to you and acknowledging the loss is also healing me. I am finding ways to recreate the feelings and the experience with family with the broadcasters who will record an excerpt from the Easter service. I am already humming the Easter songs as I allow them to heal me and help me deal with the loss. I have tithed what I would have given in the collection to a project that feeds the hungry, and I urge others to work at ways in which through others you also can find ways to supplement the feeding of the destitute.

A number of COVID-19 teams are being set up on a Provincial, regional and Diocesan basis. By regional, I mean the Gauteng Dioceses, the Western Cape Dioceses, the Eastern Cape Dioceses, the KwaZulu-Natal Dioceses and the following groupings: Kimberley & Kuruman, Free State, Lesotho and Matlosane; Mpumalanga, eSwatini and the Mozambican Dioceses; and Nambia, Angola and St Helena.

The teams have been asked to share information and experiences; to report if they have parishioners infected; and to keep us informed on what is happening in their regions. Our Provincial team, the COVID-19 ACSA advisory group, has been exceptional – with support from our legal teams also. The group has been engaged in vigorous daily consultation on everything from general advice and Government information to feeding schemes, food vouchers and the availability of hand sanitizer. Thank you to all of them for their efforts.

During this time of restrictions on the number of people who attend funerals, I want to record at the end of these updates the names of parishioners whose funerals have been held under restriction, in order that we may remember their families in our prayers.

Today we remember:

In the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist

  • Layminister Albertina Letsoalo (94), Parish of Tlhatlaganya
  • Mr Mongatane, Chapelry of St. Simon of Cyrene, Cyferskuil

In the Diocese of Cape Town

  • Katie Louw, the mother of Bishop-Elect Joshua Louw

God bless.


As we go forward, updates will be reflected on this page, and dates and times of each update published.(If you are not sure an update has loaded, “break the cache” on your computer by pressing Ctrl/F5 to reload the page.)

UPDATE: APRIL 1, 06:40

Yesterday we asked men’s and women’s groups in the Church, as well as religious communities, to join us in praying during this time of the coronavirus. Mothers’ Union, can you please also devote your Thursday prayers to the crisis, over and above other times? We also asked the youth and servers, as well as other young people’s formations, to create prayer platforms. Perhaps our young people could add their voices to the calls for the cost of data to be reduced during this period of shutdown?

Multichoice (DStv) has approached the churches with their plan to launch a special Easter channel to bring Good Friday to Easter to God’s people across the continent. They will create a pop-up channel – Channel 344 – from Thursday April 9 to Monday April 13, accommodating denominations including ours. We will share more information when it is available.

The Bishopscourt staff, including the Provincial Executive Office and the Media Office, continue to enable my ministry during this time, for which I am thankful to God. The Media Office has added to and re-arranged our Resource page, and asks you to keep on sharing your Facebook pages and any tweets that you send out. Let’s use the hashtag #acsaworship on what we publish so fellow Anglicans at home can follow and share. You can find the Resource page here:


Please support the Government in the crucially important mass community tracing, screening, testing and treatment programmes, announced for South Africa by President Ramaphosa on Monday. If asked, please help the health authorities in whatever way you can. I am spending these days in a “semi-retreat” and come out only in the evenings to work on those updates. It is for me a period of intense prayer and lament.

In the past, Jeremiah has for me best described what it is to lament. ‘Cry aloud to the Lord!’ he writes in his Lamentations, ‘Let tears stream down like a torrent day and night … Arise, cry in the night, at the beginning of the watches. Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord!’ (Lam 2:18,19).

But lamenting does not only have negative connotations. Denise Ackermann has written that lamenting “…is a refusal to settle for the way things are. It is reminding God that the human situation is not as it should be and that God as the partner in the covenant must act.” In exploring lamentation, we trust that the incarnate, second person of the Trinity, God who took human form, is always with us as we discern his way in struggling with the contemporary issues of our day. We must thus act courageously, “recklessly confident” that nothing will separate us from God’s love.

Lamenting helps us build hope – as I wrote in my book Faith & Courage:

“I am not speaking of hope in the sense of an anaesthetic administered to dull the throbbing pain of the everyday reality of inequality and indifference to suffering. As… Denise Ackermann says, hope ‘is not that blithe sense that all will end well… because human progress is guaranteed’. No, hope is a determination, a conviction that seeks to name our problems and highlight our differences, precisely in order to mobilize people to overcome them. As Ackermann adds: ‘To live out my hope is to try to make that which I hope for come about – sooner rather than later.’ It is ‘never to surrender our power to imagine a better world’.”

These updates will become shorter and shorter as I spend more time in the next few days listening to God rather than talking and writing. I hear God saying daily to me, “Thabo, be still and know that I am Lord,” as I lift up mine eyes daily to God from whence my hope comes.

Do pray for those who have died COVID-19 related deaths in Southern Africa, and for those infected and under treatment.

God bless you, and keep safe.


UPDATE: MARCH 31, 05:30

With Day Five of South Africa’s lockdown – and Day Two of Lesotho’s three-week lockdown – beginning today, Tuesday, our people and parishes are starting to look ahead to Holy Week and Easter.

But before I write about that, a reminder about following the South African Health Department’s basic guidelines, including those on staying at home, on social distancing when you shop for food or medical supplies, on hand-washing (for 20 seconds) or sanitizing, and sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then throwing it away. You can find comprehensive advice on the Department of Health’s special website>> Please read it and follow the advice and the compulsory regulations.

We managed to get a special ACSA Resources page up on the website at the weekend, with a range of advice, ideas, prayers, forms and examples of service etc. in text, audio, video and poster format. By Sunday, the Resources page was offering links to a number of services webcast live, and archived for later viewing, including services run on the principles of social distancing. You can find the Resources page here:


Please share your own ideas and practices with others, at . Our staff resources are stretched, so the quickest way of getting your ideas onto the page – and of readers seeing them – is if you send links to your own blogs, Facebook pages, YouTube or SoundCloud channels.

We’ll continue to update the Resources page with any new links to services we find for Palm Sunday. On Monday of Holy Week, the Bishops of the Province will connect using video-conferencing software to say the Angelus together, as well as to offer prayers for our countries, our continent and the world.

Through Holy Week, I appeal to the Anglican Women’s Fellowship, the Mothers’ Union, the Bernard Mizeki Men’s Guild and similar groups to don their uniforms, and for members of religious houses their habits, and to organise WhatsApp and other social media groups for prayer until Easter.

On Maundy Thursday, the clergy in the Diocese of Cape Town, instead of gathering to renew their vows, will also join a video-conference to say the Angelus and offer prayers for the Diocese, the city, South Africa, Africa and the world. I appeal to you, the clergy and people of our parishes, to link up via groups such as those on WhatsApp and elsewhere and do the same during Holy Week.

Led by the South African Council of Churches, the country’s religious leaders have reached an agreement with the SABC to step up their religious programming in the coming weeks. We Anglicans are on the schedule for a service on Easter Sunday – I’ll share more details with you when I know them. In your own parishes, perhaps you can consider opportunities for joint ecumenical and interfaith worship.

Let me end on a note on ministry, and then with an invitation.

As clergy and laity, we need to reflect on the meaning of ministry in “a time of coronavirus” and on what it means for the future, covering a number of scenarios. If the lockdown has to be extended, how do we plan for that? If that graph showing the exponential growth in the spread of the virus continues to shoot up, what preparations do we need to make? Could we help the Government by opening churches for testing or other purposes? If the curve flattens – and we pray that it will – how has this crisis enabled us to rethink our pastoral plans and our vision of ministry? What have we been missing, how has the world changed, and how do we respond?

Now the invitation: I challenge you all, clergy or lay people, to explore your own creativity as you pray, meditate and worship at home in the coming weeks. Is there a new Collect that you’ve had in the back of your mind for a while? Write it down and hone it for use in your parish. Or a song, or a hymn? Consider working on new contextual liturgies and prayers for this season and beyond. The key is: be imaginative! Be bold! Be original!

God bless


UPDATE: MARCH 27, 06:25

Today, a prayer that you can use when you observe the Angelus at noon, and a blessing that you can use at the end of devotions at home. The video versions will appear first, followed by audio versions which, if you click on the links through to Soundcloud, can be downloaded to your phone or computer.


UPDATE: MARCH 26, 15.10

A link to the audio version of the Archbishop’s eve-of-lockdown message, available to download to your phone or computer:

UPDATE: MARCH 26, 08:05

With effect from today, the eve of the coronavirus lockdown, we will be focussing in links on this Provincial website not only on publishing guidelines, but also sharing resources for worship, prayer and ministry in a time of the coronavirus, COVID-19 and the lockdown in South African dioceses of our Province.

First up, my eve-of-lockdown message, shared on our YouTube video page. Please share widely. Later today we shall add links to YouTube videos of an Angelus prayer for this time and a blessing that can be used to end worship. Also coming: audio links enabling you to download the prayers and use them on your mobile phone.

Archbishop Thabo addresses parishioners, clergy and bishops across the Province on South Africa’s lockdown to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.


UPDATE: MARCH 25, 07:51

Those of us in South African Dioceses tend easily to forget our Dioceses in Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and St Helena.

The enormity of the lock-down announced by President Ramaphosa should not blind us as South Africans to the different challenges around services and other ministry elsewhere in our Province. In many areas, the spirit has been one of “Let us move on and get into a congregational mindset, doing our own thing.” Sharing our collective responses is key to keeping together, and we can learn from and hold in our prayers those in the Province whose churches are still open.

Please pray for the Dioceses of Angola; Lesotho; Lebombo, Niassa and Nampula in Mozambique; and the Dioceses of Namibia; Swaziland; and St Helena. Also, please give generously to our Province-wide Lenten Appeal for Mozambican Dioceses still recovering from the cyclones which hit them last year.

Across our Province, I want to suggest today that since many people are not on computers or mobile phones able to reach the Internet, each parishioner or cleric should phone at least three vulnerable people a day as a continuation of your ministry.

Many of you are taking innovative and creative steps to continue ministering to your people. Please share them with us, so that we can perhaps create a page on our website devoted to best practices. Send them to:

One of the innovations has been to reach people through videos online, an example of which you can see here – it is produced by St. Laurence’s Church in Discovery, in the Diocese of Johannesburg, where the Revd Martha Gordon presented a short service. Of course not all parishes have resources to do that, so South Africa’s church leaders are exploring whether we could have more live services broadcast on television.

Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury will be joining Pope Francis and many other Christians today, Wednesday, in saying the Lord’s Prayer at noon. Do join them, and also ring church bells and use the Angelus prayer I sent yesterday.

God bless the world,

Give it wisdom at this time,

Grant us relief and release,

Be with those who are ill,

And bless the carers fighting this pandemic,

For Jesus Christ’s sake,


You can also end your worship, at home or in services in countries where they can still be held, with the prayer that I shared with you last week:

Lord God, in this season of fear and uncertainty,

as we face the threat of the coronavirus,

Grant us the wisdom and determination to walk in one another’s shoes,

The confidence and the humility to draw closer to you and to those affected,

Empower us to pastor those who are ill, to weep for the dead, to support the healers and to care for and love one another.

And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us all, now and always.



UPDATE: MARCH 24, 06:00

The national “stay-at-home” lockdown that the Government will impose in South Africa from midnight on Thursday will test as never before our capacity as a church to innovate and share with one another.

But it will not prevent us from ministering to one another, and since our churches are now effectively closed, I have a simple request if at all possible:

At midday, every day, please could we ring our church bells around Southern Africa for 10 or 15 seconds as a signal to those, in every country in our Province, who are ill or live in fear, despair and perhaps anger, assuring them that God is here, that He loves us, that we are not alone and that this too shall pass.

It would also be a wonderful way of demonstrating our presence, our solidarity with our communities, and the fact that we are praying and worshipping at home.

If you are at home, pause whatever you are doing, and clink a glass or cup to ring the same message out to yourselves and your loved ones, resurrecting the use of the Angelus and saying this prayer:

God bless the world,

Give it wisdom at this time,

Grant us relief and release,

Be with those who are ill,

And bless the carers fighting this pandemic,

For Jesus Christ’s sake,


This time of great anxiety and stress in the world, where tomorrows are not certain for so many, is one when we need God’s presence more than ever. We need to acknowledge to ourselves that the fear and anxiety created by the novel coronavirus and by COVID-19 will have long-term effects on us.

We will never be able to know now what the psychological effects on us will be in the future – on how we view ourselves – and on society at large. That is why in my messaging I am asking people to take seriously their psychological and emotional well-being.

Develop a spirituality of caring for yourself and those around you. Regard what health officials are calling “self-isolation” as a form of retreat in which you can pursue a ministry of prayer. Meditation and prayer are also a way of feeding the people of God.

And please reach out to others, especially the vulnerable and those who live in parishes which are materially poorer than yours. It is not clear as I write what leeway the Government will allow clergy, lay ministers and devoted parishioners to minister outside their homes, but please reach out by phone, by WhatsApp groups and chats, by Skype or other means to a parish in your Diocese which may not have as many resources as yours, and see whether you can find a way of meeting their needs.

Bishops and clergy, please do say Mass with one or two others in your household, or even alone, for the people of God wherever you are and especially if your Rectory is on or next to your Church premises. If you can, find a way of transmitting this electronically for those who want to watch or listen at home.

I have asked the Bishops to form diocesan teams, and parishes their own teams, to consult with one another to develop and share ideas for ministry. These will be received by a Provincial team so that we can derive by shared effort best practice for the church instead of pulling back in fear. And there may be practical steps we can take for the health authorities in future, such as opening our churches as testing centres or simply to feed the homeless and the needy.

Keep safe, take good care of yourself,

Wash your hands often and thoroughly,

and God bless you and keep you.

PS: I have learned reliably overnight that we will continue to be able to hold funerals, under the strict guidelines previously announced: no more than 100 mourners and strict adherence to the new public health practices – social distancing, hand-washing or sanitizing, no hand-shaking etc.


UPDATE: MARCH 20, 05:10

Yesterday I recorded this video message to motivate you to offer ministry in such a time as this, and not to fear.

Update continues after video

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on parishes in the Church of England to light a candle this coming Sunday, as a symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, shining through our turmoil. I ask you to do the same. There are various liturgies and litanies that you can download from the CofE website and use.

I am grateful to Bishop Allan Kannemeyer of Pretoria, who represented me at a meeting the President held with religious leaders yesterday. (You can read the President’s address to the leaders on his website.) Let us continue to work together and pray together. We shall over overcome, for He has overcome.

I note that, as in Swaziland, the Church in Nambia has had to impose a limit of 50 congregants on its services. Read the Diocese of Namibia’s pastoral plan here.

This morning at the prayer service with clergy of the Diocese of Cape Town, we shall light a candle and say a short prayer. Please join me in praying:

Lord God, in this season of fear and uncertainty,

as we face the threat of the coronavirus,

Grant us the wisdom and determination to walk in one another’s shoes,

The confidence and the humility to draw closer to you and to those affected,

Empower us to pastor those who are ill, to weep for the dead, to support the healers and to care for and love one another.

And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us all, now and always.


Note: On Saturday and Sunday, we shall take a break from issuing these updates to be still, reflect and pray more. The next update will be on Tuesday morning.

If you have not read these guidelines before, please continue to read the earlier updates; they are meant to be read as a whole.


UPDATE: MARCH 19, 05:10

In the worst days of the struggle against apartheid, we cried together, we sang together and we prayed together, and God brought us through our tribulations. In places such as Edendale, Empangeni and Table Mountain in KwaZulu-Natal, and in Kagiso, Katlehong and Sebokeng in Gauteng, faithful priests were present with their people in their townships even when threatened nightly with violence and petrol-bombings.

Our current crisis is different. In Mozambique, the President has decreed that no more than 200 people [this figure was lowered to 50 on March 20: Updated here on March 21] should gather at a time. In South Africa, the limit is 100. In Swaziland, it is even lower: only 50. Even when we gather, the medical experts say we must practise “social distancing”, meaning that we must stay a metre apart from one another.

But common to both situations is the fact that at no time is ministry – and the presence of those who minister – more critical than at times like these. We mustn’t be negligent with people’s lives, but neither is panic and fear the way forward.

That is why I say “Alleluia” when I hear of a parish which has a comprehensive plan for how they are going to connect people and give them a sense of community during this crisis. And it is why I am distressed when the main focus of debates in the church is shutting doors and keeping people away.

Then I have to ask: are you copping out, or do you have a pastoral plan with a positive message for your congregation? Is there not a way of making your church available for private prayer or prayer groups? Do you actually have practical, implementable ideas for using modern media to connect people who can’t or who prefer not to attend services?

As I said with my predecessors, Archbishops Emeriti Desmond and Njongo, earlier this week: “Only mutual love and care for one another will get us through the crisis… Let us take the opportunity to respond by choosing life over death; by choosing knowledge over ignorance; by sharing that knowledge; and by caring about others through taking care of ourselves.”

Of course, we don’t need to congregate to pray. No stigma should be attached to parishioners, lay ministers or servers who choose not to attend services we hold. If parishioners are ill, elderly or otherwise vulnerable, they should be encouraged to pray at home on Sunday, with appropriate ministry extended to them at other times in the week. Whether we worship at church or at home, we have to be one in solidarity.

A special word to young people, drawn from our joint Archbishops’ appeal:

We know you are not scared for yourselves, and some of you may feel that coronavirus is not an African problem. But you might be carriers of the virus without even knowing it. So we appeal to you not to put at risk the lives of those who cared for you when you were children. We know that you are being asked to sacrifice the most for your old people. But please protect those of your parents’ and grandparents’ generation.

Numbers of you have come up with practical suggestions in emails to me, in comments on our Provincial website and via social media. One of them is to hold days of prayer, during which we don’t necessarily need to congregate. On March 22, the Diocese of Swaziland will hold a day of prayer. Tomorrow, Friday March 20, the clergy of the Diocese of Cape Town will meet at St Thomas’ Church, Rondebosch, to devote the hours of 10:00 to 11:30 to prayer.

I encourage other similar initiatives, and I have resolved to establish a Provincial COVID-19 Team to come up with a pastoral plan to look at the practicalities of bringing us together, recognising that there is no “one-size-fits-all” plan.

Now to elaborate on some of the guidelines we have published earlier – and which you can see below on earlier posts:

  • Confirmations and weddings – Try to postpone them, but if you can’t, limit the participants to families or other small groups;
  • Ordinations – Postpone them, or if you can’t, limit them to families, a small parish delegation and Chapter;
  • Funerals – We just have to encourage families to do their best to limit numbers;
  • Sunday School – Consider drawing circles on the floor to keep children at least a metre apart, and build social distancing into your arrivals and lesson plans;
  • If a child has been where an infection is suspected, they should not come to church;
  • Baptisms and anointing with oil should be performed either with the appropriate implements or using hand sanitiser, or soap and water, before and after the act; parents rather than clergy should hold babies being baptised and there should be no baptism by immersion;
  • There should be no foot-washing;
  • Clergy are human beings too! If you show signs of contracting the virus, you must test and self-isolate yourself if need be.

If you have not read these guidelines before, please continue to read the earlier updates; they are meant to be read as a whole.


UPDATE: MARCH 18, 06:00

Since the updated guidelines on our Province’s response to the coronavirus were published yesterday, a debate has arisen over whether we should suspend our services and close our churches. Parishioners have made useful contributions on social media and Diocesan Chapters have had creative discussions. The Diocese of Johannesburg decided to suspend all services until Easter, and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued advice that public worship is suspended until further notice.

My own ecclesiology goes back to the Early Church as recounted in the Acts of Apostles, where Christians always met for fellowship, even in house groups. The issue of numbers is not that important: what is important is creating opportunities for Christians to worship in the way they wish to worship, insofar as that is practically possible.

We will not as a Province be advising the closing of churches nor the suspension of services. My own preference is that we keep our churches open and continue to hold services.

However, we recognise that there are local challenges, and my advice, in order of preference, is the following:

  • That we keep our churches open and hold as many services of no more than 100 as we can within our parishes’ resources; and that we follow strictly the guidance on social distancing – keeping at least a metre apart, and for example, occupying every second row of pews. If you can’t find hand sanitizer, use soap and water. (See also yesterday’s guidelines further down this document.)
  • That if you do suspend services, you arrange to have churches opened for times of prayer for those who want to attend.
  • That as well as allowing for times of prayer for individuals within your churches, parishes organise house groups for worship and prayer, fulfilling our Lord’s promise that “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20)

The key is not to forget the Lord of the Church as we do the work of the Church. We need to proclaim the Gospel, we need to teach, we need to heal and we need to feed the multitude. As we look at the practicalities, we need to return to our Anglican heritage of seeking guidance from scripture, experience, reason and tradition.

The Season of Lent leading up to Holy Week is about moving towards breaking through the cloud of darkness, dispelling fear and birthing light; it is about bringing hope to a seemingly hopeless situation. Let us seek to do that at this challenging time in our history.

PS: This fascinating study on the spread of viruses illustrates Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve”


UPDATE: MARCH 17, 06:45

This version of the guidelines replaces all previous guidelines.

In Parishes

  • Services should be limited to 100 people. This will mean that many clergy will have to spend longer hours, presiding at more services, on Sundays and popular weekday services – and especially on Good Friday and Easter. We rely on the ingenuity of clergy and Parish Councils as to how you work with regular worshippers on deciding who attends what service (whether by signing up to rosters or some other method).
  • Hand sanitizers should be made available for congregants arriving at and departing from services.
  • Since churches will be emptier, spread yourselves out to keep distances of at least metre between you and your neighbour. I realise that “social distancing” seems a drastic, even unChristian way of behaving towards one another. But the best advice we have from coronavirus experts is that people who are infected but do not show symptoms – including young people who may never have symptoms – may be among those who spread the virus the most. Therefore, keeping physical distance from others – whether or not they have symptoms – is one of the surest ways to slowdown rates of infection.
  • Suspend physical contact with one another at the Peace – don’t shake hands or embrace – instead wave hands to acknowledge the other instead.
  • Develop ways of making the collection without passing around a collection plate.
  • Keep your distance from others while waiting in line to receive the host.
  • Do not touch the Communion rail with your hands. Where possible, stand when receiving Communion.
  • Clergy must use hand sanitizer before they distribute the host/ wafers.
  • Only the priest should consume the wine. This is theologically sound practice and does not invalidate the Eucharist for those who receive it.
  • As you leave, wave to your clergy instead of shaking hands.
  • Parishioners who are ill should stay at home to recover and request home communion or a pastoral visit.
  • No pastoral visits should be undertaken to people who are self-isolating or in quarantine. However, do offer phone support.
  • Ensure good regular cleaning of surfaces which people touch regularly including such things as door handles, light switches, etc.
  • Ensure a good supply of soap or sanitizer in cloakrooms, kitchens etc.
  • Suspend catering (tea/coffee, etc) where multiple people touch mugs, utensils and foodstuffs.

Clergy, Pastoral Workers and Lay representatives

  • No meetings of more than 100 people will be held.
  • Avoid travel unless there are exceptional circumstances. Hold audio or video meetings on Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom and other devices.
  • Clergy should not make direct physical contact with congregants when they bless or lay hands on them. Bishops should not make physical contact when confirming or ordaining congregants.
  • When visiting parishioners at home, wash hands before and after giving the sacraments.
  • If you are making pastoral visits to hospitals or homes for the aged, be strict about disinfecting yourself, washing hands etc before and after your visits. Follow the advice of staff on infection control.
  • Educate yourselves and your congregations on your Government’s guidelines on hygiene and follow them when not dealt with in these guidelines. For example, wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face unless you’ve washed your hands.
  • Matters such as clergy becoming ill and needing leave or sick leave to be handled at Diocesan level under the authority of the Bishop.

These guidelines do not cover every imaginable situation. I rely on you and your Parish Council’s wisdom to develop detailed steps as you face new situations — and do listen to your national and local health authorities. Shortly, I will make available for the clergy appropriate guidance which the Southern African Anglican Theological Commission is helping us develop.

I know these measures sound drastic, and they are, for good reason. We face an emergency. The world is so interconnected that we cannot avoid the virus, so we must do everything we can to educate ourselves to minimise its spread. The prospect of it spreading among the aged, people with TB and other vulnerable groups is too awful to contemplate.

Please take care of yourselves, your loved ones and everyone in your community. We can minimise the spread, but we have to take it seriously to succeed.

I pray that our common life in worship and pastoral care will be rooted in the compassion of Christ and appropriate care for one another in a time of uncertainty.

God bless you.

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba

Archbishop and Metropolitan

Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Scroll down for the latest Responses from readers, which appear at the end


Five pilgrims to Bernard Mizeki birthplace die in accident

Five pilgrims, including a child, who were travelling to the birthplace of Bernard Mizeki in the Diocese of Lebombo at the weekend, have died as a result of a tragic road accident.

The following is a slightly edited excerpt of a report to the Province by the Bishop of Lebombo, the Right Revd Carlos Matsinhe:


I regret to inform you that on Saturday afternoon, as members of the Diocese were flocking to the Bernard Mizeki Birth Place Sanctuary at Guambene in the Province of Inhambane, the front tyre of a 15-seater minibus blew out and the minibus overturned several times, killing three women and one child instantly.

The remaining passengers were all injured, four of them very severely. Later one of the four died in hospital, raising the number who died to five.

We are diligently working to bring the bodies back to Maputo, since the bus was from one of our parishes in Maputo. We are now engaging with respective family members for arrangements for the memorial and burial services, most probably for this coming Wednesday.

All of the other injured have been discharged from hospital, except one lady who is still in intensive care.

The pilgrimage event went ahead, with a turn-out of more than one thousand participants. All of the others have now arrived home safely.

Please pray for us as we give pastoral care to bereaved families.

+Carlos Lebombo

The photo displayed in links to this page is an icon of Bernard Mizeki displayed in Southwark Cathedral, London, in 2018.


On ACSA’s 150th anniversary, new Province mooted

ACSA is celebrating its 150th anniversary as a Province of the Anglican Communion with the news that dioceses in Angola and Mozambique are planning to “multiply”, with plans eventually to form a new Province.

Since Portuguese is an official language in both countries, such a development would create the Communion’s second Lusophone province, after the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil. (The Lusitanian Church in Portugal is an extraprovincial diocese under the metropolitical authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.)

There are at present four dioceses in the two countries: one covering the whole of Angola, and three – Lebombo, Niassa and Nampula – in Mozambique.

A communique released after the February session of the Synod of Bishops said that after a comprehensive overview of these “vast” dioceses, “the vision to multiply the number of Dioceses in Angola and Mozambique was motivated with conviction.”

The communique added that the plea for expanding the number of dioceses “was enthusiastically received and endorsed by us. In time it is envisaged that growing the number of Dioceses in both areas will enable them to apply to form a united new Province.”

ACSA was formed as the Church of the Province of South Africa in 1870.

In other news from the recent Synod of Bishops:

It agreed to declare a “state of emergency” both over the scourge of gender-based violence and climate change. The bishops said both crises should be addressed urgently by putting strategic programmes in place at provincial, diocesan and parochial level.

The Synod heard from an Archbishop’s Commission on the election of women to positions in the church and noted that there is a “large number of ordained women in contrast to the few ordained women in senior positions.” The commission was set up by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba after voicing concern last year at the paucity of women nominated in recent episcopal elections.

The bishops resolved to support an initiative of Zimbabwean church leaders called the “The Final Sabbath Call”, which appeals for a moratorium on all elections to create space for “re-imagining a new future for the country and its people.” ACSA will take a number of steps including making solidarity visits to Zimbabwe.

LENTEN APPEAL FOR POST-CYCLONE MOZAMBIQUE – Posters available for download

HOPE Africa has produced special posters for parishes and organisations for this year’s church-wide Lenten Appeal.

The appeal is dedicated to helping Mozambican Anglicans to rebuild their lives, homes, schools and churches after last year’s Tropical Cyclones Idai and Kenneth.


The Appeal was mandated by Provincial Synod last September. Relevant paragraphs of the Synod resolution follow:

Synod Acknowledging that:

(a) International aid agencies only intervene in crisis situations for a limited time and are not part of longer- term reconstruction in the community.

(b) The church belongs to the community and will be a part of the longer-term reconstruction, recovery and healing of the community.

(c) Disasters of the magnitude of cyclones Idai and Kenneth need a longer intervention with a holistic developmental plan for the communities.

Synod hereby resolves to respectfully request the Archbishop to:

(a) Declare that the Lenten collections for 2020 be taken in all Dioceses and Parishes for the reconstruction and development work in Mozambique, and that materials for Bible study and discussion to be disseminated throughout the Province.

(b) Request HOPE Africa to support the work of reconstruction and development in collaboration with the three Dioceses in Mozambique.

(c) Request HOPE Africa to produce information on the relief work to be communicated to ACSA and our partners in collaboration with ACSA media.

The poster appearing below is not the full-sized version. Download the full-sized version for printing from the link above.


A Communique from the Synod of Bishops – February 2020

To the beloved People of God,

Grace and Peace to you!

The regular February session of the Synod of Bishops convened in The Outlook Lodge at Kempton Park, Gauteng, in the Diocese of the Highveld from Sunday 9 February to Thursday 13 February.

Bishop of Table Bay

On Sunday, an Electoral College to elect a Bishop for Table Bay was constituted, during which the Bishops considered the unique challenges facing the Diocese of Cape Town. After discernment the Venerable Joshua Louw, Rector of St Paul’s Church and Archdeacon of the Waterfront in Cape Town, was elected as Bishop of Table Bay.

States of Emergency

The Synod of Bishops met from Monday 10 to Thursday 13 February. Formal sessions of the Synod were preceded by a unique first: a joint meeting of the Provincial Guilds and Organisations, Hope Africa, and Green Anglicans. This historic gathering reflected on ways to implement the resolutions of Provincial Synod 2019. We agreed to declare a “State of Emergency” with regards to Gender-Based Violence and Climate Change, which must be addressed by putting strategic programmes in place as a matter of urgency at Provincial, Diocesan and Parochial level.


Our worship, as always, was inspiring and challenging at the same time. We were made to think hard about the creation of “holy spots” in our churches (Mark 6:53ff); Then we were invited into the reality of “doubting certainty” as reflected in Solomon’s prayer (1 Kings 8:23ff) and a consideration of the tensions between reason and faith, often being tested by hard questions requiring great wisdom to answer, just as Solomon was tested by the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10.1). Finally we were challenged both to recognise the power of humble faith to courageously break through barriers to reach those among the marginalised who are seeking healing, as in the case of the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30, and to overcome our own prejudices by God’s grace to open the way for healing to take place.

Welcomes and recognition

The Archbishop welcomed everyone, especially the Bishop of St Mark the Evangelist and the Bishop of Mzimvubu, who were attending the Synod of Bishops for the first time as Diocesan Bishops. The Vicar-General of Kimberley and Kuruman, the Revd Canon Carol Starkey, and the Vicar-General of Natal, the Very Revd Ndabenzinhle Sibisi, were also especially welcomed. A moment of silence was observed in memory of Bishop Mlibo Ngewu.

After evening prayer on Monday, the Archbishop honoured Ms Tricia Sibbons with the Archbishop’s Peace with Justice Award for her service to the Diocese of Johannesburg spanning thirty years.

The Role of Women in the Church

We valued assistance given to us when we considered our role as transformational leaders. Findings arising out of the Archbishop’s Commission on the election of women highlighted the large number of ordained women in contrast to the few ordained women in senior positions. An appeal was made to the Synod of Bishops to forward more comments, suggestions and questions to the Commission to assist them in carrying out their work, to chart a more proactive way, subject to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, of getting women elected as bishops. The Bishops concurred that gender equity is not about women but about justice.

The theology and vocation of the Episcopate

Synod spent some time reflecting on the theology and vocation of bishops. The physical endurance, depth of spirituality and mental strength required of the bishop was brought into sharp relief by exploring an example of surviving solitary confinement and complete reliance on God as the supreme source of hope and strength in adversity through a presentation by Mr Thabo Ndabeni. He highlighted the importance of self-care. Bishops were given time for personal sharing and asked to support each other in the exercise of the onerous responsibilities the episcopal office demands of them. Bishops were made to realise that weakness is not a sign of failure and to seek help when needed. The sharing gave rise to the adoption of a Mutual Accountability Pro-Forma to be shared at every Synod of Bishops meeting.

The Final Sabbath Call

The Revd Dr Kenneth Mtata addressed Synod on “The Final Sabbath Call” issued by the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations. Zimbabwe’s tortuous history has created deep insecurity within those with power who hold political office. This insecurity has led to years of oppression. The past has not been dealt with and all leaders are haunted by the past, resulting in a nation in pain.

Zimbabwe’s fortieth anniversary is seen as symbolic of Israel’s journey in the Wilderness. The Sabbath calls for a moratorium on all elections in order to create space for re-imagining a new future for the country and its people. Synod responded to the call for ACSA to stand in solidarity and support of the Sabbath Call by appointing a liaison Bishop to the Zimbabwe Council of Churches; by agreeing to make prayer and action a standing item on the agenda of Synod of Bishops, by participating in solidarity visits and by sponsoring an ordinand to attend the College of the Transfiguration.

Liturgical development

A discussion on the experience of using the revised Ordination Liturgies was engaged in. Although they were widely used and enthusiastically received, written responses requested by the Liturgical Committee were still awaited. The pressing need for succession planning to identify and train future liturgists was noted as an urgent need that must be addressed. The report from the Advisory Board on Theological Education highlighted the need for lifelong learning and ministerial formation. The key goal of the Board was the ongoing professional, ministerial and spiritual development of the clergy.

A new Lusophone Province

We were given a comprehensive overview of the vast Dioceses of Angola and Mozambique. The vision to multiply the number of Dioceses in Angola and Mozambique was motivated with conviction. This deep plea by the Portuguese-speaking Dioceses was enthusiastically received and endorsed by us. In time it is envisaged that growing the number of Dioceses in both areas will enable them to apply to form a united new Province. Significantly our agreement to set the process in motion comes when ACSA is celebrating its 150th anniversary as a Province.

Further Synod Business

Hope Africa

After an overview of the social development programmes and projects run by Hope Africa, and the dire financial situation within which Hope Africa finds itself, the Bishops were asked to consider proposing a Provincial Synod Resolution that all Dioceses contribute 0.7 percent of their annual income to Hope Africa, and making it a development resolution of permanent force.

Youth Ministry

The Bishops grappled with the funding of Youth Ministry after a comprehensive report on the challenges experienced by our Provincial Youth structures.

Resolution on Palestine

Resolution 4 of Provincial Synod 2019, declaring solidarity with Palestine, caused consternation in many quarters. A sobering presentation was given by Mrs Dudu Mahlangu Masango, World Council of Churches’ coordinator for the Southern African Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. She gave us a heart-rending description of what Palestinians go through as seen through the lens of the Accompaniment Programme.

Pastoral guidelines on human sexuality

The preparation of these Pastoral Guidelines is ongoing. A small committee was formed to do preliminary work to develop terms and references in line with last year’s Provincial Synod resolution.

Safe Church

Recognising the devastating detrimental effects of abuse, including sexual abuse, on the lives of vulnerable children and adults, the Bishops have spent a great deal of effort in recent years on putting systems in place to deal with this scourge. Apart from the overriding importance of ministering to the victims and disciplining the perpetrators of such abuses, the cost to the Church if found wanting in the case of a law suit could be crippling financially and reputationally. Ensuring that all churches in our Province are Safe and Inclusive Church compliant is a matter of great urgency. By September this year all ministers, ordained and lay, must be compliant or their licences will no longer be valid.

Clergy in political office

The Bishops have crafted a set of pastoral guidelines to apply when Clergy want to participate in party political activities. We agreed they were a work in progress and they will be published in due course.

Expropriation of land without compensation in South Africa

We were reminded that land expropriation without compensation is a burning issue potentially affecting our parishes. Dioceses must ensure that they have an up-to-date register of church properties and note whether they hold title deeds or permission to occupy these properties. Theologians will be requested to produce a theology underpinning Church ownership of land. We also need to develop practical guides on how to develop land which is owned by the Church.

Amendments to the Canons

The Bishops spent time making sure that the Canons amended at Provincial Synod are understood. These include Canons 4, 34, 35, 38, 39, and 42.

The Bible Society

The Bible Society, celebrating its two-hundredth anniversary this year, made a presentation to Synod detailing the impressive milestones they have achieved in their ministry of Bible translation and making Bibles accessible to more and more people. ACSA was thanked for its ongoing financial support and an appeal was made for us to continue our support of the Bible Society.


The leading South African social and business entrepreneur, Mr Isaac Shongwe, chairman of Letsema Business Management Consultants, gave an inspiring concluding presentation on “Journey on Management, Administration and Leadership”. It was stimulating, thought-provoking and challenging in terms of what is expected of Bishops and the roles they have to fulfill in the exercise of their episcopal ministry and the many demands on their time. It highlighted the need to be equipped with skills that high-level leadership requires to be effective and efficient, given the demands of the challenges we face in today’s world.

The Dean of the Province, Bishop Stephen Diseko, proposed a vote of thanks. Archbishop Thabo Makgoba gave the Benediction and declared the Synod of Bishops dissolved.

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you as long as I live. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.”Psalm 63:2-4

A printable PDF copy of this Communique is available here >>

Synod of Bishops 2020