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Synod gives thumbs-down to plastic

Provincial Synod, meeting online from September 21 to 24, approved the following resolution on plastic pollution:

This Provincial Synod,

Noting that:

  1. Across Southern Africa only 16% of plastic is recycled. The bulk of discarded plastic ends up in landfill locations, scattered across the countryside, blocking drains or littering street verges. If not buried or burnt, it finds its way into rivers (due to wind, littering, improper waste management or overflowing landfills) and eventually into the ocean;
  2. It is estimated that eight million metric tons of discarded plastic end up in the ocean annually;
  3. South Africa, the 11th worst plastic polluter in the world, has indicated that the government is not willing to sign the draft Global Plastic Treaty, proposed by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP);
  4. Provincial Mothers’ Union passed a resolution in Lesotho (2015) to ban polystyrene at parish events;
  5. Informal waste pickers play an important role in recycling waste;

Acknowledging that:

  1. The practice in some rural communities is that families bring their own dishes to parish events from home;
  2. To us as people of faith, the well-being of the planet is more important than short-term financial gain;

Resolves to:

  1. Call for a ban of the use of polystyrene at all church events and requests that representatives of the executive of each Provincial organisation have a discussion about the implementation of this ban and that ACSA Environmental Network prepares posters with information for churches;
  2. Respectfully request the Archbishop to write to the Ministers of the Environment (or the relevant office) in each of the countries within in ACSA, encouraging them to sign the Global Plastic Treaty, and encourage the bishops of IAMA to consider doing the same.
  3. Recommend that where waste pickers service urban communities, Anglican households should separate their waste to help uphold the dignity of the waste pickers.

Proposer: Lulama Ntuta, Diocese of the Highveld

Seconder: Maria Van Staden, Mothers’ Union

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Synod urges Anglicans to build bridges between Muslims & Jews

Provincial Synod resolved today to call on dioceses and parishes to “commit to being peace-makers by intentionally building bridges between Muslim and Jewish communities in South Africa.”

In the third of three resolutions dealing with Islamaphobia, anti-semitism and the conflict in Palestine and Israel, the synod also said Anglican churches should take steps to educate parishioners on Jewish-Muslim relations and in particular, the situation in Palestine and Israel.

The full text of the resolution follows.

The address of Bishop Luke Pretorius seconding the resolution can be found here >>

Motion: Peace in the Middle East (as amended)

This Provincial Synod, noting that:

1. We grieve at the ongoing cycle of violence in Palestine, Israel and in many parts of the region that has displaced people through state sanctioned actions, civil wars and violent extremists;

2. We yearn for the peace and wholeness of God to be made manifest in Palestine and Israel as well as in neighbouring countries in the Middle East; and

3. Jesus Christ commanded us to love one another and pray for those who persecute us;

Calls on every Diocese and every Parish therein to:

1. Affirm that Antisemitism and Islamophobia have no place in the Anglican Church;

2. Take steps to educate parishioners on Jewish-Muslim relations and in particular, the situation in Palestine and Israel;

3. Commit to being peace-makers by intentionally building bridges between Muslim and Jewish communities in South Africa; and

4. Pray a special prayer for the people of the Middle East

God bless the people of the Middle East;

Protect its vulnerable children;

Transform it’s divided leaders;

Heal their wounded communities,

Restore their human dignity,

and given them lasting peace.

Amen.

Proposer: The Ven Forbes Maupa of the Diocese of Natal

Seconder: Bishop Luke Pretorius of the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist (in Limpopo)

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Synod calls for Lambeth Conference to act on Palestine

Provincial Synod resolved today to call on next year’s worldwide meeting of Anglican bishops, the Lambeth Conference, to initiate a process, in collaboration with international organisations and global faith bodies, to lead to “a negotiated settlement that will bring justice and peace in Israel and Palestine within a set timeframe.”

The Synod resolution, adopted with three abstentions, reads:

LAMBETH CONFERENCE SUPPORTING PALESTINE

This Provincial Synod,

Noting that:

1. The 2019 Provincial Synod unanimously expressed its support to act in “solidarity with Palestine” (Resolution 4: “Time to Act: Solidarity with Palestine”);

2. It is the continued and growing impunity and lack of accountability by the State of Israel over the areas they are occupying shown, for example, by delaying vaccination of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, continual illegal settlement building, and by not co-operating with the work of the International Criminal Court;

3. The 2020 Provincial Standing Committee’s resolution (Resolution 11.1.7 – “Support for Palestine”) further supported the need for education about “the daily reality of the situation” and that this was further supported by the February 2021 deliberations at the Synod of Bishops;

Acknowledging that:

1. The “daily reality” for Palestinians continues to be oppressive, illustrated, for example, by the statement of the “Leaders of Historically African American and South African Churches” (Group Pilgrimage Statement on Israel and Palestine, March 5, 2019), a pilgrimage in which one of our bishops participated, which was distributed at the 2019 Provincial Synod, and included the following experiences:

“d. We visited Palestinian communities and homes where people are not allowed to have freedom of movement or self-determination.

“e. We visited a refugee camp of displaced persons who still hold the keys to their homes that were confiscated over 70 years ago. We met and heard stories of men, women and children who have themselves or family members been victims of state-sanctioned violence in the form of detention, interrogation, teargassed, beatings, forced confessions and death.

“f. We met with families who are fighting to keep their homes from being taken for Jewish settlements and developments.

“g. We heard the stories of how Palestinians within the occupied territory of the Gaza Strip must contend with a perpetual blockade, the excessive use of force by Israel to subject the people to collective punishment of the whole population and the debilitating confinement that renders Gaza as one big densely populated prison.

“h. We heard of the acute shortage of fuel and electricity, seriously affecting daily life and the provision of especially health services in Gaza; and the heavily polluted and undrinkable water, aggravating child mortality rates;”

2. The Human Rights Watch report of 27 April 2021, entitled “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution”, adds further evidence in respect of the long-held belief that Israel is an Apartheid regime.

Affirming that:

1. The ACSA Palestinian Study Group, under the leadership of Bishop Luke Pato, remains committed to carrying out the resolutions on Palestine passed by the Provincial Synod, the Provincial Standing Committee and the Synod of Bishops;

2. The five studies, “Justice for the Palestinian people”, made available by the Archbishop to our Province, will help in raising awareness and increasing understanding among our members of the Palestinian context and theological perspectives on it;

3. The non-violent struggle for freedom in Palestine is being furthered through initiatives taken by other faith and ecumenical bodies, a significant one being that of Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos for Justice, “Cry for Hope: A Call to decisive action – we cannot serve God and the oppression of the Palestinians” (1 July 2020), in which they make an urgent appeal: “We call upon all Christians and on churches at congregational, denominational, national, and global ecumenical levels to engage in a process of study, reflection and confession concerning the historic and systemic deprivation of the rights of the Palestinian people, and the use of the Bible by many to justify and support this oppression”;

4. The South African Council of Churches’ (SACC) solidarity work strengthens our own efforts, such as in their statement on the “Imminent annexation of Palestinian West Bank by Israel,” (25 June 2020) which observed that “the illegal Israeli settlers on the West Bank are already executing acts of violence against Palestinian citizens and destroying their olives and livestock,” which it stated “goes against the best prophetic tradition and teachings of both Judaism and Christianity;”

Resolves to:

1. Mandate our Archbishop to place solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for a just peace on the agenda of the Lambeth Conference in 2022, using the South African experience to hold the Apartheid regime accountable to the human family as a possible template;

2. Respectfully request the Lambeth Conference to initiate a process, in collaboration with international organisations such as the United Nations (UN) and global faith bodies, to lead to a negotiated settlement that will bring justice and peace in Israel and Palestine within a set timeframe.

Proposer: Bishop Luke Pato of Namibia

Seconder: Bishop Charles May of the Highveld

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Provincial Synod

Peace in the Middle East

The following motivation for the Synod resolution on Peace in the Middle East was presented by the Right Revd Luke Pretorius, Bishop of St Mark the Evangelist, who seconded the resolution:

It is my understanding that in the matter of Israel and Palestine many have taken sides. They are either for Palestine and against Israel or are for Israel and against everyone else.

The situation is however far more vexed and complex that which can be decided by a taking of sides; of drawing a line in the sand and demanding that people join you on your side of the line.

I support this motion, because it does not deny the observable fact that people are suffering and that human right’s abuses have and are taking place, nor does this motion present a simple solution by blaming one or the other; I support this motion because it strives to take seriously the wisdom of listening to all sides, of prayer and reflection, and of then being led to an opinion which is far more considered and based on the requirement of justice for all – and which therefore would be willing to point fingers at all involved in this violence and human rights’ abuses.

The risk of taking this course of exploration of the situation, of listening and querying and of prayer, is that it is slower and that those suffering are thereby expected to suffer longer while we do our thinking.

I have no easy answer to this valid criticism, except to suggest that it is our inaction to date which is more to blame rather than the proposal contained in this motion being at fault. I would rather do the right thing slowly than ‘take sides’ quickly having been led by any group opinion simply to show my support for justice.

It is, Your Grace and members of Synod, for these reasons I support this motion. I yearn for peace and justice; I yearn to be educated on the matters affecting he Middle East so that I may arrive at a considered opinion which permits me to care for all the oppressed and challenge all oppressors without fear or favour or bias which fails to recognise there may be wrong on both sides.

This motion calls us as the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to be peace-makes and bridge-builders through drawing together different religious and social communities in order to learn from one another, to hear their experiences and to acknowledge their fears. To creating an open space to listen and learn and facilitate the true Peace and Shalom of God.

I thank you.

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Provincial Synod condemns anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

Provincial Synod today approved a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and adopted formal definitions of each.

The full text of the resolution follows.

The address of Bishop Brian Marajh motivating the resolution can be found here >>

4.1 DEFINING ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ANTI-SEMITISM

This Provincial Synod,

Noting that:

  1. The 2019 ACSA motion Solidarity with Palestinians affirms that “all forms of Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia should be condemned in the strongest terms”,
  2. Muslims and Jews are small minority groups in South African society and therefore vulnerable to actions arising from Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism,
  3. Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia share in common a racism based on perceived racial features, ethnic appearances, cultural practices or political allegiances,
  4. In South Africa there is a casual Islamophobia that manifests in different social contexts such as towards a Muslim woman wearing the hijab, and
  5. Globally there is a rise in Anti-Semitism leading to attacks on Jewish places of worship, Jewish schools, individual Jews on the street, the defacing of Jewish cemeteries and use of Nazi imagery on social media,

Acknowledging that:

  1. Defining Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia will help identify more clearly what the Anglican church is taking a stand against and condemning, and
  2. There are no perfect definitions as academics have made plain,

Resolves to adopt the following internationally accepted definitions:

  1. ISLAMOPHOBIA is a fear, prejudice and hatred of Muslims or non-Muslim individuals that leads to provocation, hostility and intolerance by means of threatening, harassment, abuse, incitement and intimidation of Muslims and non-Muslims, both in the online and offline world. It is motivated by institutional, ideological, political and religious hostility that transcends into structural and cultural racism which targets the symbols and markers of being a Muslim.
  2. ANTI-SEMITISM is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Proposer: Bishop Brian Marajh of George
Seconder: Bishop Tsietsi Seleoane of Mzimvubu

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Provincial Synod

“Defining Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism”

The following motivation for the Synod resolution on Islamophobia and anti-Semitism was presented by the Right Revd Brian Marajh, Bishop of George, and Bishop-Elect of Kimberley and Kuruman:

Your Grace, members of Provincial Synod, 

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa has gone on record many times, including at this Synod, to state that “all forms of Antisemitism and Islamophobia should be condemned in the strongest terms”. But what is Islamophobia and Antisemitism and what are we condemning in the strongest terms?

In many respects, Islamophobia cannot be separated from modern Antisemitism because they share similar traits, most noticeably racism based on perceived racial features, ethnic appearances, and cultural practices. 

Black South Africans know all too well what it is like to be profiled on this basis, something that was formalized under Apartheid, but continues to this day in many spaces dominated by a White gaze, like historical Whites’ only suburbs. Many of us sitting in this Provincial Synod from South Africa have experienced racism so can sympathize with the motion set before us. But other countries in ACSA have had their share of colonial oppression, so can also relate to the problem of discrimination based on race or religion.

September 11 this year marked twenty years since planes were flown into the Twin Towers and Pentagon buildings in the United States of America. Muslims in America and many other parts of the Western world faced increased Islamophobia. Political and social reactions to September 11 fueled ignorance, bigotry and violence towards Muslims. Young Muslims have experienced being bullied and intimated in schools and universities, often with the taunt to “Go back to your country”, despite being born in, and citizens of, their home country.  

Before September 11 (2001), Muslims were like many others in a random melting pot of cultures in Western countries. After September 11, they felt as if they were viewed as terrorists simply because they were Muslim. Muslim’s reported being treated with suspicion or called names in public spaces, or repeatedly singled out by airport security to this day. Sikh men (who wear turbans as part of their religion) were mistaken for being Muslim and so also became a target, because they conformed to a Westernised concept of Muslims.  You do not therefore have to be Muslim to be a victim of Islamophobia, you simply have to look like somebody else’s concept of one.

All the countries in ACSA have a Muslim presence.  Yet Muslims, in many respects, battle to be treated as equal citizens in these countries. In some countries Islam is not recognized as an official state religion.  Muslim women experience being ridiculed for wearing the hijab. Muslim young people encounter resistance to them wearing a head scarf or sporting a beard in schools. In South Africa, a mosque in Kalk Bay was smeared with pig’s blood and one in Simon’s Town had a pig’s snout placed at its entrance. 

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance defines Islamophobia as,

“a fear, prejudice and hatred of Muslims or non-Muslim individuals that leads to provocation, hostility and intolerance by means of threatening, harassment, abuse, incitement and intimidation of Muslims and non-Muslims, both in the online and offline world. Motivated by institutional, ideological, political and religious hostility that transcends into structural and cultural racism which targets the symbols and markers of a being a Muslim.”

No definition is perfect, yet this definition is recognized by the United Nations as a good starting point and we can therefore surmise it is also a good starting point for this Provincial Synod.

In regard to Antisemitism, Jewish people have been a very small minority in Southern Africa from the earliest days of colonialization. Within the British Empire they were treated as second class citizens. This did not change with the rise of Afrikaner nationalism and the same ideology that gave rise to Apartheid racism also fueled Antisemitism.  Although Jews were accorded the status of “Europeans”, they were not accepted as equals in White society and several sports club, for example, had an exclusive “Europeans Only and No Jews” policy. Speaking about South Africa, DF Malan, in an interview with a newspaper in 1931, said, “it is very easy to rouse a feeling of hate towards the Jews in this country.”  

Despite the tragedy of the Holocaust and an international commitment to fight Antisemitism, antisemitic incidents have recently risen to levels not seen since World War II. Extreme Antisemitic content is found across a range of social media platforms, with comments such as ‘#HitlerWasRight’, ‘Happy Holocaust’, and ‘Peace be upon Hitler’.  

Jews in recent years have been intimidated for wearing jewelry that is identifiably Jewish or religious clothing associated with being Jewish. Even non-Jews have become victims because of being mistaken for being Jewish. For example, a Lebanese Christian was attacked in Los Angeles earlier this year – this is like a Sikh person being attacked for looking like a Muslim! The largest percentage of hate crimes against a minority in America are now against Jewish people.

Sadly, Jewish people in Southern Africa have not been exempt from this ugly trend.

Like Islamophobia, a definition of Antisemitism is equally hard to quantify, but the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance recommends the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

These two definitions are set before this Provincial Synod in the motion “Defining Islamophobia and Antisemitism” so that the Anglican church is empowered to identify and condemn Islamophobia and Antisemitism in the strongest terms, as stated at our previous Provincial Synod.

I therefore propose this motion for adoption.

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Honours awarded to laity & clergy at Synod

The following honours and awards were presented or announced by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at the opening Eucharist of Provincial Synod:

AWARDS AND DECORATIONS

  • Honorary Provincial Canons:
    • The Ven. Horace Arenz – Former Provincial Executive Officer
    • The Ven. Keith de Vos – Former Vicar General of the Diocese of Cape Town
    • The Revd Canon Hamilton Mbatha – Vicar General of the Diocese of Zululand
    • The Right Revd Funginkosi Mbhele – Retired Bishop and Vicar General of the Diocese of Zululand
    • The Very Revd Tanki Mofana SSM – Vicar General of the Diocese of Lesotho
    • The Very Revd Ndabezinhle Sibisi – Dean and Vicar General of the Diocese of Natal
    • The Revd Carol Starkey – Vicar General of the Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman
    • The Revd. Janet Trisk
  • Archbishop’s Peace with Justice Award:
    • The Revd Courtney Sampson
    • The Revd Canon Dr Rachel Mash
  • Order of Cyrene:
    • Adv. Raynold Bracks
    • Ms Diana Oliver
  • Lambeth Decorations:
    • The Revd Canon Dr Rachel Mash
    • The Right Revd Luke L. Pato
    • The Right Revd Ellinah N. Wamukoya
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Provincial Notices Provincial Synod

Full text of the Archbishop’s Charge to Provincial Synod 2021

Read the Archbishop’s Charge online here:
https://archbishop.anglicanchurchsa.org/2021/09/archbishops-charge-to-provincial-synod.html

A PDF version of the Archbishop’s Charge is available here:

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Provincial Synod

2021 Provincial Synod Agenda books

1st Agenda Book [pdf] >>

2nd Agenda Book [pdf] >>

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Provincial Notices Provincial Synod

Appeal for proposals for Provincial Synod Resolutions

Dioceses and Synod representatives who wish to submit motions to be debated at Provincial Synod in September are notified to submit them by Tuesday July 13.

Provincial Synod will be held online from September 21-24 this year. Under the rules of Synod, notices of motion have to be submitted 10 weeks before Synod begins.

After that deadline, only motions arising from the Archbishop’s Charge, or concerning urgent matters which have arisen after July 13, may be considered.

Speaking at the most recent meeting of the Provincial Synod Advisory Committee, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba urged those wishing to submit matters for debate at Synod to do so timeously.

The deadline for submitting notice of Measures (legislation) has already passed.

REVD DR MAKHOSI NZIMANDE

Provincial Executive Officer

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Provincial Notices Provincial Synod

Collect for Provincial Synod 2021

Please pray for the proceedings of Provincial Synod, to be held from September 21-24 this year:

Merciful God,

You call us to be your disciples,

Fill us and the Members of Provincial Synod with your love,

So that our faith may transform 

the world’s grief and pain into hope

For you live and reign 

in the unity of the blessed Trinity,

One God, now and forever.

Amen.

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Provincial Notices Provincial Synod

Theme for Provincial Synod

The theme adopted for Provincial Synod 2021, to be held in September:

ACSA Discipling Communities for a Changed World

Office of the Provincial Executive Officer

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Provincial Synod

2019 Provincial Synod Acts and Resolutions

Download the Acts and Resolutions of the Thirty-Fifth Session of Provincial Synod, held in 2019, below: