Categories
News

PSC calls for action against GBV, empowerment of women

Vigorous efforts were made at the 2020 session of ACSA’s Provincial Standing Committee to improve the representation of women in church leadership structures, in part as a way of addressing more urgently issues affecting women in the church such as patriarchy and gender-based violence.

In one motion, it was suggested that male-only delegations to PSC and synods be disqualified from attending. In another, a three-year moratorium on the election of men as bishops was proposed. However, the Provincial Chancellor, Adv Ian Farlam SC, said these moves would contravene the Canons, and PSC instead adopted language strongly urging better representation of women.

A motion on gender-based violence (GBV), proposed by Bishop Margaret Vertue of False Bay and seconded by Bishop Nkosinathi Ndwandwe of Mthatha, said inter alia that “All male delegations to synods and PSC should be disqualified until they [the delegations] meet the required level of representation.” But the sentence was withdrawn after Adv Farlam’s intervention.

The final resolution adopted called for the elimination of GBV to be adopted as a Lenten theme in 2021, that all dioceses develop programmes for combating the scourge, that relevant liturgies be adopted and that the Province’s Theological Commission identify doctrines, beliefs and practices – such as theologies of male headship, female submission and codes of purity – “that need to be eliminated to ensure that our teachings and practices are life-giving for both women and men.”

An amendment, proposed by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and seconded by Bishop Ebenezer Ntali of Grahamstown, resulted in the final resolution on women in the episcopate encouraging Elective Assembly committees to “prayerfully and intentionally search the length and breadth of the Province to seek out to be nominated women clergy who fit the profile for consideration for the bishopric.”

In a third resolution, PSC acknowledged the leadership of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba “in strengthening the efficacy of Church procedures to ensure that all forms of abuse in our churches, and schools and institutions are addressed and eradicated.” It expressed gratitude to him and his family “for absorbing the public criticism levelled against the… Church with gentleness and grace, and his pastoral heart in seeking justice, healing and restoration for all.”

The full text of the three resolutions follows:

MOTION ON GENDER BASED VIOLENCE

Noting with urgency that women are being murdered daily and that Gender-based violence is increasing in society at alarming levels. GBV is a cause of consequence of gender inequality and injustice.

Noting that Gender Based Violence is primarily violence perpetrated by men on women. These men are quite often a loved one, trusted leader or close relative.

Noting that in the context of this global pandemic, occurrences of GBV have increased making GBV a shadow pandemic.

Noting the presence of a Gender programme in ACSA with a comprehensive strategy, however without substantial resources to ensure effective implementation of the programme, which includes dealing with the scourge of GBV, Gender sensitisation and addressing the issues of masculinity.

Acknowledging the role of the church in being complicit in allowing GBV to go unchallenged and that GBV flourishes in an environment of silence, shame and stigma, of unbelief and avoiding so called difficult conversations and justice.

Acknowledging that patriarchy is evil, a sin and a heresy, especially when interpreting scriptures to reinforce concepts of male dominance and headship. It is evidenced in our teachings on the sanctity of marriage, family values and the subservience of women. It is also evidenced in our liturgy and language that excludes women.Acknowledging that as a province we have passed many resolutions on GBV, inclusive language, diversity and representation. It is time now to act.

Acknowledging the presence and work of the Safe Church Commission

This PSC hereby resolves:

1. That all dioceses revisit the communication from Synod of Bishops February 2020 that declared a state of emergency on GBV and immediately put in place a programme to deal with the scourge of GBV.

2. That each diocese has a dedicated gender officer or task team that liaises with HOPE Africa as well as all provincial organisations involved in training and programmes on GBV, so that these programmes get to diocesan and parish level.

3. The Provincial Liturgical Committee create a Season that focus on GBV, with Readings, Prayers, Liturgical materials, Sermon outlines and materials for Small Group Bible Studies.

4. That we ensure that all our liturgies are transformed to be gender inclusive and all dioceses request that each Parish uses these gender inclusive liturgies.

5. That we immediately stop referring to male priests as “Father” and begin to use more gender inclusive titles like Reverend, Moruti, etc.

6. That we respectfully request the Metropolitan to request the Anglican Theological Commission to identify doctrines, beliefs and practices that need to be eliminated to ensure that our teachings and practices are life-giving for both women and men. These should include but not be limited to theologies of male headship, female submission, family values, codes of purity, discourses of protection and pity.

7. That we respectfully respect the Archbishop to declare a theme for Lent of 2021 to focus on GBV.

8. To strive to have equal representation of women at all leadership and decision making levels of the church.

9. That the ACSA budget includes an adequate financial allocation to deal with GBV.

10. That all Dioceses adopt and promote the “Thursdays in Black” campaign against GBV.

11. That the liturgical committee write a prayer for women (like the Prayer for Africa) to be prayed at every Eucharistic celebration.

12. That men become more involved in challenging patriarchy and GBV. This should begin with a men’s webinar, where men speak about their experience of male privilege.

WOMEN IN THE EPISCOPATE

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa profoundly recognises the right of all Baptised Anglicans in our Province, irrespective of race, culture, language, gender or sexuality to be full Members of ACSA with all its rights and privileges. This baptismal/sacramental experience allows women the opportunity for serious and prayerful consideration for both the priesthood and the episcopate; and the Bishop of Grahamstown, at this Session of PSC, reminded the Committee that, notwithstanding the slow progress of ACSA in respect of women to the episcopate, that there is definitively “light at the end of the tunnel.”

This PSC calls on:

The Synod of Bishops and Dioceses to encourage that where there are vacancies of bishoprics, that the Elective Assembly committees prayerfully and intentionally search the length and breadth of the Province to seek out to be nominated women clergy who fit the profile for consideration for the bishopric.

LEADERSHIP OF ARCHBISHOP THABO MAKGOBA

That this PSC:

● Acknowledges the leadership given by Archbishop Thabo in strengthening the efficacy of Church procedures to ensure that all forms of abuse in our churches, and schools and institutions are addressed and eradicated;

● Wishes to appreciate his humility in seeking advice and for his gentleness in dealing with our human failures and frailty as well as his own;

● Expresses its unequivocal support for the Archbishop in the exercise of his leadership role in Church and Society;

● Assures the Archbishop and his family of our love, prayers and gratitude for absorbing the public criticism levelled against the Anglican Church with gentleness and grace, and his pastoral heart in seeking justice, healing and restoration for all.

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may take a few days to appear. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *