Commemorate, Celebrate, Commit to change
Women Priests of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, from the 25 – 27 of September 2017, came together at this 25th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood to:
- Commemorate the years of struggle leading up to the first ordinations of women to the priesthood in 1992
- Celebrate this 25th anniversary as a victory over exclusion, inequality, and injustice in the church
- Cry with lamentation for the exclusion, inequality, and injustice that remains in the leadership, structures and practices of the church
- Critically consider the nature of these practices of exclusion, inequality, and injustice and how they continue to marginalise women
- Commit to work collaboratively for the transformation of church structures and practices to truly become an inclusive and life-giving church
The voices of laywomen and those in the process of ordination were also welcomed into this safe and collaborative space.
This gathering was rooted in daily prayer and worship, contextual bible studies, the sharing of stories, reflections and group discussions. The conference was intentional at reflecting on the past, critically evaluating the present and committing to the call for changes that would enhance the role of women priests in the church, so that our church will become an inclusive welcoming church, where men and women are equally able to serve to their fullest potential, thereby enabling the church to be a prophetic voice in the world.
Through the sharing of stories, we have heard the cry from many, of their journey’s which included, rejection, ridicule, disillusionment, harassment, disempowerment, loneliness and desperation. We have heard the cries and lament of women, who through their desperation, were certain of the grace of God and through Christ, the hope of glory…if not for them, but for generations thereafter.
We listened to stories of how the policies and structures of our church have created tensions within communities, Parishes and Dioceses and have caused vocations to be destroyed.
Challenges confronting the Church
Through prayer, critical reflection and dialogue the following challenges were identified:
- As a church, in all our organisations, policies, structures, and hierarchy, we continue to normalise, regularise and perpetuate exclusion.
- In the continuous striving for equality, we do not deliberately put in place processes to achieve equity.
- Within the province there are no universally set minimum basic standards and criteria for levels of education and skills required for deacons, priests and bishops.
- Academically appropriate theological education as well as ministerial formation must be given greater priority.
- All theological education and ministerial formation should be ongoing and structured mentoring programmes be developed for deacons, priests and bishops in our church.
- The use of language, when teaching about God and human beings, including our worship , must be critically assessed as to how it continues to marginalise and exclude women.
We hereby commit to the following resolutions, which will be tabled at the Provincial Standing Committee meeting from the 27-29 September 2017 for adoption immediately.
A. We respectfully request the metropolitan to enforce previous Provincial Synod Resolutions related to the adequate representation of women at all decision-making bodies of the church and at all Parish, Diocesan and Provincial structures.
B. We respectfully appeal for a transformation of representation within our church that will reflect a 50/50 representation of men and women in leadership and decision making in ACSA.
C. We respectfully request a campaign within ACSA, that advocates for the election and appointment of women as Bishops in all new elective processes, including the appointments made by the Synod of Bishops.
D. We respectfully propose that theological education becomes a priority in ACSA, and that an ACSA universally accepted basic minimum standards of education and vocational training is set for all priests and bishops.
E. We urge all Bishops to send at least 2 ordinands to be sent to the College of The Transfiguration annually.
F. We call for the immediate use of liturgy that does not perpetuate patriarchal leadership and authority but instead uses inclusive, affirming and life-giving language for all of God’s creation.
G. We call on ACSA to allocate adequate resources for the leadership, development and mentorship of women more especially young women in ACSA.
Celebrating 25 years since the ordination of women to the priesthood
We the women, meeting to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women to the priesthood, give thanks to God that we can celebrate this historic event.
Humbled by the wisdom shared as we commemorated the struggle for ordination, while acknowledging that we still have many challenges to overcome.
Commit ourselves to continue to allow women’s voices to be heard in cry and lamentation so that we can continuously seek ways to overcome the limitations that women priests face today.
Humbled that our younger generation of women can draw from the well springs of wisdom of previous generations through whom we can be mentored, moulded and strengthened.
Hereby make the following pledge:
We will, promote, normalise and regularise inclusive practices across our organisations, policies, structures, and hierarchy.
We will continue to strive for both gender equality and gender equity in ACSA.
We will work toward universally set minimum basic standards and criteria for levels of education and skills required for deacons, priests and bishops.
We will prioritise theological education and ministerial formation.
We commit to continuous education, training, development within the church.
We commit to ensure that Deacons, priests and bishops are intentionally mentored in their roles of leadership.
27 September 2017
As Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA), we met in Synod in Benoni from Monday 25 until Wednesday 27 September 2017. We welcomed among us the Vicar General of Khahlamba, the Revd Canon Moses Madywabe.
As always our meeting took place in a framework of worship and warm fellowship as we shared our lives and worked on issues facing the church and our communities. We met as church leaders who are deeply aware of the challenges facing our churches and communities and the desperate need for leadership of the highest quality. At our opening Eucharist we listened to an inspiring homily on the restoration and transformation of the temple in Jerusalem. The message was that this was the mission of Jesus in the world and if Jesus’ then ours too.
Our meeting coincided with the celebration of 25 years of the ordination of women to the priesthood in ACSA. The celebrations took place in the same venue where the Bishops met. This was a historic, memorable and joyful interaction as we celebrated the Eucharist together to mark the occasion.
The electoral college of the Synod of Bishops was constituted on the first evening of Synod. Names of candidates were considered for the election of a Bishop for the vacant See of the Diocese of Mthatha. After a process of thorough discernment and deliberation, Bishop Nkosinathi Ndwandwe, the Suffragan Bishop of Natal, was elected. Plans are afoot to have the Bishop enthroned on the eve of the Second Sunday in Advent, Saturday 9 December 2017.
The former Bishop of Umzimvubu, Geoff Davies now retired, is to be honoured with the Archbishop’s Peace with Justice Award for his extraordinary contribution to the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and to the broader Christian and Interfaith world for the role he played in mobilising churches and communities to act for ecological justice.
Synod also deliberated on the very difficult and painful matter of the situation in the Diocese of Umzimvubu, with which we have wrestled for seven years now and which has involved drawn-out proceedings in the secular courts. In an hour of silent prayer, Synod acknowledged the pain of one of our own and of the whole Diocese. In a tough decision taken with heavy hearts and after much prayer we accepted that the relationship between the Bishop and his Diocese has irrevocably broken down and Synod voted by a two-thirds majority to ask the Bishop of Umzimvubu to vacate his See.
Synod gave attention to a number of areas of mission and ministry in ACSA:
1. The Provincial Secretary Treasurer, Mr Rob Rogerson, gave a presentation on –
- the Pension Fund “Guidelines/What to do” Checklist
- the Duties and Responsibilities of Pension Fund Trustees and
- the need to finalise the Reconstituted Provincial Trusts’ Board
He also gave a feedback on the state of finances at the College of the Transfiguration (COTT). The essence of the feedback concerned the financial viability and sustainability of COTT as an educational institution. After much discussion, the Archbishop challenged the bishops to consider and propose in writing new funding models for the College, and he is constituting a special commission to look at innovative ways of expanding the College’s reach to guarantee its sustainability.
2. A presentation on progress made by the Archbishop’s Commission on Human Sexuality was given by the Revd Dr Vicentia Kgabe. The Chairperson of the Commission is the Bishop of Saldanha Bay, Raphael Hess. The Commission consists of six Commissioners and has invited each Diocese to constitute a Diocesan Liaison Team to facilitate the work of the Commission at diocesan level, with the objective that the voices of all will be heard in a consultative process to hear and discern what every Diocese is saying. The mandate of the Commission is to present to Provincial Synod 2019 a proposal enabling the Church “to minister to those in same-sex unions and the LGBTI Community in the context in which ACSA operates in Southern Africa”. This mandate does not rescind the decision of Provincial Synod 2016: it neither assumes that ministry to members of the LGBTI community will include the blessing of same-sex unions, nor does it exclude that possibility, should that be the mind of Provincial Synod 2019. It also directs the Commission to consider the situation of Dioceses outside South Africa, in which there is no provision in law for same-sex unions. The mandate is in line with the injunction of the 1998 Lambeth Conference and Provincial Synod 2002 to listen to the views of the LGBTI community, and in particular with that part of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 which “calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals.” The Commission asked for prayers for its work and the members of the Commission.
We appeal to members of ACSA and the Communion please to commit these matters to prayer and offer yourselves to God to serve in God’s mission and ministry. We your Bishops will continue to lead as God’s servants and servants of the church, to the best of our ability.
* * * * * *
The citation read by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba upon admitting Shirley Moulder to the Order of Simon of Cyrene during the 2017 Provincial Standing Committee meeting:
For five decades, the name of SHIRLEY MOULDER has been synonomous with the advocacy of dialogue, equality and justice as well as work in the fields of community development, education and social entrepreunership in the Church, the ecumenical community and both government and the non-governmental sector in South Africa.
Shirley trained as a nurse but was not able to pursue her profession as the result of injury. Instead she became involved in community development work, beginning with Kupugani and the Church Agricultural Project. Since then she has become a leading figure in organisations, ministries and initiatives too numerous to mention, ranging from schools and children’s homes to resource organisatons, not-for-profit social housing companies and a peace foundation working in Asia.
In the Anglican Church, she has served as a member of the Council of the College of the Transfiguration, as a member of the Commission on Theological Education and on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Mission and Evangelism. She is an active member of the Parish of St Martin’s-in-the-Veld in Rosebank, Johannesburg, and is a Parish Minister in the church. She has been awarded the Bishop’s Medal for services to the Diocese of Johannesburg.
She is above all a social activist whose activism is rooted in her deep faith, which inspires her advocacy on issues of social justice, reconciliation, the transformation of society, education and growing inequality in South Africa.
The citation read by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba upon admitting Sally Motlana to the Order of Simon of Cyrene during the 2017 Provincial Standing Committee meeting:
Born in the rural area of Moremela in Mpumalanga, SALLY MOTLANA moved to Johannesburg when she was very young and spent part of her childhood as part of the congregation of Christ the King in Sophiatown.
As an adult, she was appointed to the Diocesan Council in Johannesburg by Bishop Leslie Stradling in 1965. She later served as an Anglican representative on the South African Council of Churches, where she became Vice-President, and she is still an Honorary Vice-President of that organisation. At the SACC and as president of the Black Housewives’ League, she is remembered for her strong advocacy of the cause of students and the Soweto community in the 1976 Soweto uprising.
She has been a staunch member of the Church, serving in various parishes and the wider community with great commitment and humility. At St Paul’s, Jabavu, she helped raise funds for the Ipelegeng Centre, which educated young people in life skills and gave them vocational training. At St Mary’s, Orlando East, she assisted financially in renovating the church.
After 1994, with the birth of democracy, she turned her attention to rehabilitating Christ the King in Sophiatown after the massive destruction wrought in that Parish by apartheid. She still serves at Sophiatown, where she is involved in the education and upliftment of young people in the Trevor Huddleston Centre, on those board she serves. She has also been involved in other upliftment programmes, both in and outside the church, aimed at assisting vulnerable families and educating young women.
Sally Motlana has been victorious in overcoming the hostility of apartheid, never losing hope or becoming bitter, nor sacrificing her integrity and credibility. She has stood firm against social injustice, triumphing over adversity by the power of her holy life.
News from the Synod of Bishops, meeting from September 25 to 27:
After a process of thorough discernment and deliberation, the electoral college of the Synod of Bishops has elected Bishop Nkosinathi Ndwandwe, the Suffragan Bishop of Natal, as the new bishop of Mthatha. Plans are afoot to have the Bishop enthroned on the eve of the Second Sunday in Advent, Saturday 9 December.
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The Bishop of Johannesburg, the Right Revd Dr Steve Moreo, has warned that the high levels of poverty in South Africa pose a great danger to the country.
“This country is sitting on a powder keg of hopelessness,” he said, citing the figures recently released by Stats SA that showed that the number of poverty stricken people in South Africa had increased by 53.2% between 2011 and 2015.
Bishop Moreo made these comments when he highlighted a number of critical issues that required the attention of Church and Society as he addressed the opening session of the Synod of the Diocese of Johannesburg this evening.
He noted that one needed to look no further than outside the doors of St Mary’s Cathedral, or on the streets of Johannesburg, to see how dire the situation was. He wondered aloud how long it would be before the situation exploded.
“The authorities seem unable to cope with this,” he said. The Church was called to respond to alleviate the situation as much as it could.
Unemployment was another issue highlighted by the Bishop who expressed disquiet at the high numbers of young men in particular, who were unemployed. Special initiatives were required to mentor young men, who made up most of those who had no work.
Actions were needed by parishes, schools and other organisations to reach out to young people so that the energy of young men could be channelled into fighting evil rather than perpetrating it, noting that there were far more males than women in prison.
Bishop Moreo also singled out state capture as an issue that required the urgent attention of Christians.
“State capture is a wicked, omnipresent manifestation of greed, graft and corruption that has its roots in the highest official in this country, the president.”
He praised those of his parishes that had responded to his call earlier this year to highlight the evil of state capture but said every church needed “to confront this insidious exploitation of our people”.
The issue of discrimination against many marginalised groups, including women, the physically and mentally handicapped, and LGBTIQ groups, also drew comment from the bishop.
Referring specifically to the issue of LGBTIQ people, Bishop Moreo said that the Church still had much to answer for.
“To put it bluntly, there is still division about the rights of marginalised groups, but the question about what Jesus would have done is one that should exercise everyone’s mind here honestly. Jesus accepted us all as we are and we as a Diocese accept everyone.”
The Diocesan Synod continues until Sunday.
Vendetta against women a blot on South Africa
The abuse of women In South Africa, sometimes at the highest levels, was also highlighted by Bishop Moreo in his Charge.
Bishop Moreo said such abuse was a daily occurrence with over 28 000 sexual offences against adult females, nearly 56 000 cases of serious assault against adult females, and 83 000 cases of common assault against adult females in South Africa reported by SAPS in the financial year 2015/16.
He added: “Astonishingly, in the very month of women, our Church’s month of compassion, a deputy minister of state had to resign for striking a woman, but another woman defended this deputy minister for doing this violence. Yet another woman, the wife of the Zimbabwean President, ran from her responsibility, back to her country after striking one of our women citizens.”
He described the situation as too terrible for words, saying that the vendetta against women in this country is a blot on our land.
Turning to the need for care of children and young people in the context of the family, Dr Moreo said there should be investment in family ministry since family life was itself under threat in society.
“We live in a patriarchal society in which women get beaten up, earn low wages, and in which 52% of the unemployed aged between 15 and 64 years old are women. Yet one third (33.4%), or nearly 1.6 million households are headed by a woman. What this does to family life can only be imagined,” he said.
“As a Church that promotes family life, we need to recognise that families are in crisis.”
He added: “In modern times the family structure has collapsed. If we take into account the increase in divorce, and absenteeism from the family unit of one or more parents, young people and children are inevitably affected by this situation as they try to deal with their own crises.”
It was important that each parish, organisation and school supported and equipped parents and families to cope with the demands of modern living.
“I am sure you will agree that all parents try their best and most children rise up and call them ‘blessed’, but there are those children who go wrong, and the Church needs to be there to assure them that their particular prodigals are in God’s hands, and that no one is blaming them. They do not need our condemnation and being blamed for everything that happens in the lives of their children.”
Turning to the prevalence of human trafficking, the bishop said this was nothing more than modern-day slavery.
“Many of us sit back and think the age of human slavery, at least in South Africa, has gone. Not so. Human trafficking is not just sexual assault. Human trafficking is luring girls and boys of a tender age into situations which they are openly tempted to part with precious money and leave their homes on the promise of work being available. On arrival at the “promised land”, they find nothing of substance – and the result is frequently a descent into performing sexual favours, forced marriages or working for a pittance or nothing, or even forced out of their country, as they find themselves alone, bereft and without the support of family.”
Bishop calls for end to racism
Bishop Moreo also called for a renewed commitment to eradicate “the naked sin of racism”.
He confronted an incident which had rocked St John’s College in Houghton, Johannesburg, at the end of July, and noted that something like this could happen “anywhere, anytime, in any of our schools, organisations and parishes”.
He said the St John’s incident had “paraded this naked sin for all to see. We were left wanting as a Diocese and as Christians.”
Reminding delegates to the synod of the process of reconciliation that Nelson Mandela had initiated as president of South Africa, Bishop Moreo said that he had been a true Christian in this respect. Mandela had shown many acts of reconciliation during which he had embraced people who practised racism. Dr Moreo noted that racism was absent in Mandela’s actions.
But now, he added, “I doubt whether any of us could truly say that racism does not exist”.
He said the Church sat back after 1994 and trusted everyone else to keep an eye on good governance. In similar manner, “we as the Church have allowed the dark shadow of the demon of racism to fall over the light of Christian harmony, goodwill, and love”.
Bishop Moreo told delegates that some might doubt the possibility of racism occurring in the various institutions of the Anglican Church in the Diocese. He warned, however, that as parishes became more integrated with different races and people of various nationalities represented, the chances increased of racism occurring.
In this respect he noted that racism had a bedfellow that simmered just below the surface – xenophobia.
“All too easily do the tentacles of the secular, and especially the political world, grip the soul of our parishes, yet point at us as a Church when we fail. In all our institutions therefore we must create initiatives to ensure we reflect the inclusiveness of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
There was a need for intentional discipleship in the world, more than ever.
“My specific charge to each of you is to commit a new, and to work without ceasing to eradicate this naked sin of racism which has actively reared its demonic head.”
The Diocese of Johannesburg is part of The Anglican Church of Southern Africa. The Diocese has 76 parishes (churches) which are organised into ten regions, each of which is headed by an Archdeacon. The Diocese was formed in 1922 from the southern part of the Diocese of Pretoria, and at that time included the whole of the then southern Transvaal. Today it comprises the central part of Gauteng province.
The Cathedral of the Diocese of Johannesburg is the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. The headquarters of the Diocese and the Bishop’s office are at St Joseph’s Diocesan Centre in Sophiatown, Johannesburg.
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