Categories
Provincial Notices

Bishop Thomas Stanage, RIP

The Right Revd Thomas (Tom) Shaun Stanage, formerly Bishop of the Diocese of Bloemfontein (since renamed the Diocese of the Free State), died on March 19.

Bishop Tom Stanage, as he appeared in the 1992 Synod newsletter

Bishop Tom was born in Ireland in 1932 and was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford. He served in South Africa from 1970, becoming Dean of Kimberley in the 1970s. There he became known as the “Flying Dean” – he was a trained pilot who flew a light aircraft.

He was later elected Suffragan Bishop in Johannesburg and was translated to Bloemfontein in 1982.

Known for his opposition to the ordination of women, he and the Revd Wilma Jakobsen, then a deacon from the Diocese of Cape Town, charmed members of Provincial Synod in 1992 when, after the Synod decided to ordain women as priests, they sat down at a piano and played a duet together. Wilma was ordained priest a few months later.

After retiring, Bishop Tom lectured in theology at the University of the Free State. He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity honoris causa from Nashotah House in 1986.

(With acknowledgements to Sandy Botha of Bloemfontein and Wikipedia)

The Revd Wilma Jakobsen and Bishop Tom Stanage at the piano
Categories
Provincial Notices

Bishop Edward Mackenzie, RIP

The Right Revd Edward Mackenzie, former Bishop-Suffragan in the Diocese of Cape Town, died in California on Saturday March 14.

Bishop Mackenzie and his wife, Sylvia, moved to the United States after his retirement, where his daughter, the Revd Vanessa Mackenzie, served as rector of the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Los Angeles.

Bishop Edward, like his daughter, was ordained in the Diocese of Johannesburg, and later moved to Cape Town, where he was elected suffragan to Archbishop Desmond Tutu at a time when the original Diocese – which stretched to the Namibian border and halfway to George – decided to appoint a third suffragan.

Bishop John H. Taylor of Los Angeles visited Bishop Edward in hospital, where he was battling cancer, a few days before his death.

Bishop Taylor wrote on his Facebook page that Bishop Edward was “in good spirits under the circumstances,” telling stories of the church’s involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle. Bishop Taylor added: “While we talked, the bishop, always a pastor, kept an eye on the young man in the next bed, Carlos, to make sure he was all right. As I left, I whispered to Carlos, ‘He’s a very great man.’ Carlos smiled and said, ‘I know.’”

It is planned that after a private cremation in the USA, his ashes will be interred after a funeral service in Johannesburg.

Bishop Edward with his wife, Sylvia, and Vanessa.
Categories
Provincial Notices

W Cape Dioceses Postpone Lady Day celebrations

Postponement of Aqua Cluster  Mother’s Union Lady Day Celebrations in George

In the light of the on-going developments resulting from the corona virus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a consultation between the four Bishops of Cape Town, Saldanha and False Bay we,  the Diocese of George,  as hosts to the planned Cluster Lady Day celebrations on Saturday, 28th March 2020 ,  wish to announce the postponement of this event. 

We are doing this simply in compliance with the protocols and guidelines issued by our National and International Church Leaders and in accordance with President Ramaphosa’s statement on Sunday March 15. We are also following the mandates of health professionals and local leaders, while preparing for any possible developments without causing premature panic or introducing unnecessary measures. 

Ultimately it is our concern for the health and well-being of our people that has led us to this decision. 

May God, almighty, infinite in His mercy and mighty in His healing power protect and heal those infected and all of us as we are affected. 

Your servant in Christ, 

+ Brian Marajh

Bishop of George

Categories
News

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 https://archbishop.anglicanchurchsa.org/

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.

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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:

/coronavirus-resources-for-prayer-and-worship/

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.

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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:

/coronavirus-resources-for-prayer-and-worship/

Please share your own ideas and practices with others, at anglicanmediasa@gmail.com . 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

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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.

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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.

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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: anglicanmediasa@gmail.com

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,

Amen

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.

Amen

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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,

Amen

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.

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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.

Amen

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.

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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.

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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”

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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

Categories
News

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:

Peace:

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.

Categories
Provincial Notices

Clergy & politics – draft guidelines from the Bishops

The Synod of Bishops has discussed a draft set of pastoral guidelines to apply when Clergy want to participate in party political activities. They are a work in progress, and they are published below for public information.

DRAFT

The Pastoral Guidelines for Bishops to apply when Clergy assume Public Pastoral Office along Party Political Lines

Preamble

We recognise the vocation to ministry of the Whole People of God through Baptism. Sacred Scripture uses various images to give us an understanding of the inner nature of the Church.

The Church is a sheepfold whose single and necessary gate is Christ. (c/f John 10:1-10). It is the Holy Temple; it is the Home of God in which God’s Family dwells.

It is from our understanding of the Church as the Body of Christ, made up of the many and diverse members, who need the care of the Bishop and all the Clergy working together with the Laity to maintain the bonds of unity and affection, that we recognise the need for oversight and pastoral care.

We recognise and accept that the Church must be a Place of Sanctuary for all People in their diversity.

Civil Society is made of a complexity of political affiliations held by citizens. The Church needs to embrace them all in her care.

We recognise that formal public affiliation to any Political Party could lead to Conflict of Allegiance for a licensed cleric in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. For example, in Mozambique political campaigning along Party Political lines, is prohibited from taking place in Churches. Clergy, in fact, are invited to Chair Election Process Meetings, precisely because of their neutrality.

We believe, therefore, based on our ecclesial and theological understanding of our vocation as Ministers of the Church of God, certain Guidelines ought to be put in place to regulate our common calling to this ministry.

Therefore, based upon the existing Canons in ACSA and in other ecclesial bodies governing the life of the Clergy in respect of taking on secular employment. Furthermore, in the party-political sphere, we recommend that the following guidelines be applied.

The Guidelines

  1. It is incumbent that a Cleric shall always without exception, in the first instance, arrange for an interview with the Bishop to discuss the possibility of “entering the arena of public office and to be in involved in party politics”.
  2. This conversation shall be deemed NECESSARY before any decision is made by the Cleric.
  3. Failure to have this discussion (and only informing the Bishop afterwards, or the Bishop discovering in the media or in other ways that the Cleric has entered politics) shall lead to revocation of the Cleric’s license.
  4. Provided that a full discussion has taken place and full disclosure made of the Cleric’s intentions in the arena of Public Office, the Bishop may in consultation with the Synod of Bishops, grant the Cleric to hold a Permission to Officiate (POT) with the following conditions.
  • 4.1 The Cleric shall not be licensed to any formal office of ministry in the Diocese but may function on an occasional basis.
  • 4.2 The Cleric may exercise such ministerial duties, only when invited to do so by competent ecclesiastical authority, on an occasional basis.
  • 4.3 The Bishop shall inform the Diocese of the new status of the Cleric concerned i.e. that the Cleric holds a PTO and may be invited to exercise legitimate priestly ministry on an occasional basis.

Categories
News

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.
Categories
News

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.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE POSTER HERE>>

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.

Categories
News

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.

Worship

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.

Inspiration

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
Categories
Provincial Notices

New Bishop of Table Bay elected

The Ven Joshua Louw, Archdeacon of the Waterfront in Cape Town, has been elected the new Bishop-elect of Table Bay.

Bishop-elect Louw was chosen on the third ballot in an Electoral College for the Diocese of Cape Town, held at the Synod of Bishops in Gauteng.

The Bishops considered seven candidates for election, four of them women.

Provincial Executive Office