Thursday, November 29, 2007

December 2007

Dear Friends

Mission to the World

There is continual need to grapple with this issue. Mission is the Church’s purpose. Scripture, especially Isaiah along with passages like the one at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, is quite clear that this is mission to the Nations, to the wider world. We all too often get caught up in mission to ourselves as Church and forget to reach out, or find reaching beyond ourselves too threatening. We find excuses – often seemingly valid – to not reach out, to remain in our comfort zone. Sometimes it may be that we feel unprepared, uncertain of what to do or say. Often we are so caught up in Church jargon that when we do reach out we speak a language the world doesn’t understand.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, along with others like John de Gruchy (retired Methodist Minister and Scholar), remind us that our starting point in Mission needs to be our common humanity, not our faith perspective. As Christians our faith perspective clearly needs to inform our humanity, but is a “next step” rather than a “first step” in the Mission journey. In starting at the point of our common humanity we avoid the temptation to create an “us and them” scenario, because our common humanity reminds us that there is just “us” – there is no “them”. Scripture (see Genesis 1 and 2) reminds us that all humanity is made in the image of God, not just those who are people of faith. First and foremost we need to learn to speak clearly and loudly the language of humanity, the language that God spoke in the Incarnation (God’s birth into the world in the person of Jesus). We need to immerse ourselves in the world. And then we need to allow God to be present (Emmanuel – God with us) in the world through God’s presence in us.

Our present language is outdated: it developed in an age when the Church was ascendant and in control of society; it no longer makes sense in an increasingly secular and democratic environment. This requires us as Church to begin to learn a new language, one that does not discriminate: a language that is inviting, life-giving; a language that speaks of belonging, of community, of togetherness; a language that affirms our common humanity; a language that creates room for discovery; a language that moves individuals and communities from a point of broken humanity to wholeness. We need to learn this new language if we are to be effective for God’s Mission in the 21st century.

What is this language, precisely? I don’t know, but we need to explore it together.

There is a growing body of literature seeking to help define this new language. New Testament Scholar and Historian, Tom Wright, has some interesting and useful insights. John Suggit, retired Anglican Priest and New Testament Scholar, has just published a rebuttal to Dawkin’s book “The God Delusion”, which also helps grow a new language as we seek to speak with relevance to the World, and to where the World finds itself.

This need for a “new language” intriguingly is not limited to any one church grouping, but is expressed across the breadth of Church perspective, from fundamentalist to liberal thinkers. Some, like that of retired Anglican Bishop, Jack Spong, is so far out in left field that it becomes heretical, even for liberal thinkers. Excitingly, we are part of a new and emerging paradigm of being Church, and while the boundaries are not clear, and thinking remains fluid, we have the opportunity to be a part of exciting new opportunities for Mission, Ministry and Evangelism, part of exploring new language to express deeply held truths of life and faith that the Church continues to guard.


I blinked somewhere in May. I am scared to blink again in case I find myself in 2009! Christmas is upon us, and we celebrate Emmanuel (God with us), a deeply significant statement of faith. My prayer is that we will find language to express this significant time meaningfully as families and as a Church community in order to impact for God on our world. So many at this time feel so alone, so there is plenty of opportunity to reach out to others that they may discover the reality of Christian belonging, and in so discovering know the very presence of God.


As I write, Vernon Foster, along with four other deacons, is in the throws of preparing himself for ordination as Priest. Vernon has walked a long road, and Corpus Christi has walked much of this road with him. This last year as Missionary Deacon to Willow Glen has been a time of further growth and maturing for Vernon, and he has demonstrated himself a capable minister of God in our midst. I ask us all to set aside Sunday 9 December 2007 to journey with Vernon through his ordination, and I expect to see the parish out in “full force” at St Alban’s Cathedral (237 Schoeman Street, Pretoria) at 9am, please! Vernon will celebrate a brief, said Eucharist at Corpus Christi at 3.30pm followed by a celebratory tea in the Hall hosted by his family, to which we are all invited. Please keep Vernon in your prayers at this exciting, yet anxious, time.

Holidays and Away-ness

School Holidays are upon us, and for many of us this will mean journeys by road and air to be with family and friends in other places. If you are not with us over Christmas, please make the effort to find a church in the area you are visiting and attend either Midnight Mass or the Christmas Day Services. Our attendance, even if among strangers, unites us with the family of God around the World, and our unity proclaims the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Please be assured of my and Dawn’s prayers for you all over this festive season! We look forward to sharing our regained energy in the New Year, as we seek to be God’s instruments of love in Garsfontein and beyond.



Friday, November 02, 2007

November 2007

Dear Friends

A passing Year

This has been a busy year in which we have accomplished a great deal as a parish. We have established a new—and growing—congregation in Willow Glen; extended and substantially renovated our church building; held a most successful mini-Fête. Around all this we have met socially to celebrate “Shrove Sunday” with the Louis Botha Homes children, celebrated our Patronal Festival with a most successful Cultural Evening and Dinner, celebrated my birthday with a Parish Braai, and we’ll end the year with a Christmas Luncheon. Intertwined with all this activity have been weddings, funerals, a baptism or two, our regular Sunday and Wednesday Worship, caring for those in need, visiting the sick, meeting in small groups of one sort or another. I think I blinked in March and found myself in October!


Its around this time of year that one begins to reflect on the past months and ponder on those that lie ahead, especially the New Year. We have successfully elected a new council for 2008, and so our minds are drawn forward: what of the future?

Life & Community

I’ve just returned from the leading our Diocesan delegation to the Diocese of Lebombo’s Family Day at their Cathedral in Maciene, Moçambique. Fifty-two of us attended this amazing event. The journey itself was epic, the experience life-sustaining: over 1,500 people, drawn from all over the Lebombo Diocese and the world (Lebombo, Pretoria, the USA, Sweden), attended the huge outdoor service. We celebrated relationship, community, togetherness.

I always find Moçambique challenging: there is a simplicity of life, of faith. It is discomforting, yet life-giving. I am left dissatisfied with the materialism that marks our South African lifestyle and the superficiality of relationship that wealth engenders. I find hope in Moçambique, in her people, in the church.

And I wonder if we find it here, in South Africa, in Pretoria, in Garsfontein? As others touch our lives, are they excited by prospects of wholeness and community, of belonging and abundance?

Our lives: a place where others meet Christ?

As you reflect …

One of the challenges of living in South Africa is the temptation to become disillusioned on various fronts: the crime, the violence, corruption, political uncertainty as we move towards the ANC presidential elections, all create an environment that leaves us anxious; our growing economy is a light in the seeming dark, but rising interest rates, unemployment, inflation, also add to our insecurity—or at least to mine!

How do we, as people of light, people of hope, overcome, and—in overcoming—help others to find firm ground? I believe it is the role of the Church as community to proclaim Good News. Our presence is Good News because God is present among us! It is the message of “Emmanuel!” (God with us!) that is the source of deep hope from which we as Christians draw.

We need to explore ways to make “Emmanuel!” real in the society in which we live.

At Corpus Christi we are already walking the “Emmanuel!” journey as we reach out to the children at Louis Botha Homes, as we contribute to the life of Irene Homes, as we participate in supporting Tumelong and the Winterveld Hospice and Havens.

I remain concerned as to how we are the presence of God in Garsfontein and our surrounding suburbs. Are we a source of hope, here?



Thursday, October 04, 2007

October 2007

Dear Friends


As many of you will be aware, Bishop Thabo Makgoba (47) of Grahamstown has been elected to take over from Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane. He takes up his position from January of next year. His election marks a new era for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, and we ask for your prayers for +Thabo and his family, the Diocese of Grahamstown as they seek new leadership, and our Anglican Province as we move forward into our future.

Mission & Evangelism: 5 Marks

As you may be becoming aware, one of my growing passions is the question, “How do we do mission & evangelism from an Anglican perspective?” In preparation for the Anglican Decade of Mission in the 1990’s the following five marks were noted:

To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom;
To teach, baptise and nurture new believers;
To respond to human need by loving service;
To seek to transform unjust structures of society;
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

During 1996 these five marks were reviewed, with some pertinent insights noted: the focus of all Mission is announcing the Good News (From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17), and thus a call for Anglicans to be involved in personal and community Evangelism; Mission always happens in context, and is shaped by the great diversity of places, times and cultures in which we live, proclaim and embody it; worship is central to Mission and our common life, a sign that all of life is holy, that hope and meaning can be found in offering ourselves to God; Mission is central to the nature of being Church, and we are called not just to do mission but to be a people of mission; Mission is God-in-action in that Mission is God’s initiative, not ours— we are called simply to serve God's mission by living and proclaiming the Good News.

The Lambeth Conference of 1998 proclaimed: "Mission goes out from God. Mission is God's way of loving and saving the world… So mission is never our invention or choice." (Section II p121). Mission is our duty, and should inform all actions that we take as the people of God.

An Anglican Statement on Mission

In seeking to make a definitive statement on Mission, a statement of the Commission on Mission of the National Council of Churches in Australia was adapted: Mission is the creating, reconciling and transforming action of God, flowing from the community of love found in the Trinity, made known to all humanity in the person of Jesus, and entrusted to the faithful action and witness of the people of God who, in the power of the Spirit, are a sign, foretaste and instrument of the reign of God.

A Response

Much of what is expressed in the five marks, and the insights that came out of the review in 1996 reflect what is already happening within our life, ministry and worship as Anglicans. You will find our liturgy infused with these concepts; the ACSA Constitution and Canons, as well as our Diocesan Rules, reflect these commitments.

The challenge is for us at grassroots level in parish, family and community life, to internalise the understanding that “we are called not just to do mission but to be a people of mission” and that “mission is never our invention or choice”.

Some Questions

How does your life proclaim the message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near!”?

At Corpus Christi we speak of our lives being a place where others meet Christ: who are you inviting into the community of our lives?


Stewardship of our Resources 2007/2008

Dear Friends

“Christian Stewardship is the way in which Christians exercise their duty to administer what God has entrusted to them and to serve him gladly in his Church” (from A Catechism in An Anglican Prayer Book 1989, pg 435).

Making ourselves available for Christian service is an essential part of Stewardship – a way we can all demonstrate commitment to our Church and our community. As we move steadily towards a new year, we urge you all to consider what you can do as members of Corpus Christi to exercise your Christian duty and serve with joy in the year that lies ahead:

Making your Time, Talents and Skills available is one of the greatest gifts you can give – especially in these days of trying to balance crowded diaries, fast-paced working lives and family commitments. We all, however, have something to offer: a skill or talent that can be utilised to the benefit of fellow parishioners and the Church’s Mission. It may be something as simple as offering your services as a driver to the Samaritans Group or as an extra pair of hands to the Catering Committee or helping with tea after services; perhaps you can see where your professional skills could be used to the benefit of the Corpus Christi community.

Please consider what you can do and how much time you can offer, and let us know by filling in the relevant section in the Stewardship Commitment Form. Tell us how you can help, when you can help and what activity you would like to be involved in. We will collate the information and you will be contacted.

The Generosity Giving Scheme is a vital part of the mission, growth and maintenance of parish life. We always appreciate the consideration and generosity of parishioners who support this area of “Tithing” and give steadily, constantly and regularly. It is an unfortunate fact, however, that inflation and rising interest rates impact as much on our mission, ministry and maintenance of parish life as they do on our individual pockets.

The Diocese has set a bench-mark increase of 7% for 2008. This does not take into account the need for us as a parish to increase expenditure in areas of mission and ministry – vital areas of our lives that require ongoing support. Although our budget for 2007 was balanced by a wonderful individual donation of R60,000, which enabled us to support our Missionary Deacon, we need to spread these costs more broadly next year.

Please prayerfully consider your financial commitment to the work of God through Corpus Christi. While “Generosity Giving” covers our general budget, there are many other opportunities open for you to make a substantial contribution to an aspect of growth in mission and ministry which you may find appealing. Please talk to our Rector if there is either an existing or potentially new area you would like to specifically support.

We are fortunate to have as a “home” one of the most attractive churches in Pretoria. Keeping it pristine requires that we continually maintain and develop our facilities. The Buildings and Grounds Improvements Fund is another vital area that can be supported with your “Tithe”. While we run a separate fund-raising effort for our Church Building extension and renovations (“Buy a Building Block”), contributions to the Building and Grounds Improvements Fund in 2007 have helped put new carpeting in the church, and will contribute to the renovation of the tiling around the altar, and the installation of a much needed sound system. This money in 2008 will help continue the ongoing improvement and maintenance needs of our facilities.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God through him” (Colossians 3:17; TNIV).

Yours in fellow-Stewardship

Mark R D Long - Rector
Peter Davies - Churchwarden
Lex Jackson - Stewardship Coordinator
Mary Verryn - Churchwarden

Saturday, September 01, 2007

September 2007

Dear Friends

Questions for Reflection

I closed my last “… from the Rector’s Desk” article with two questions for reflection: “Why do you choose to express you Christian Faith within an Anglican environment?” and “Why have you chosen Corpus Christi as that Anglican environment?” – I wonder if you’ve taken some time to reflect on them? And if you have, what interesting insights your cogitation has raised? I spoke to someone just this morning who is considering joining us: we appear to have a social conscience, and our more traditional approach and leadership structures create a secure spiritual environment. What’s your insight? Please share it!

The Mission of the Church

As you may be aware from my August article, I am grappling with what it means to do mission from an Anglican and Incarnational perspective. Eddie Gibbs, Anglican Priest for a number of decades, and retiring professor of Church Growth at the School of World Mission at Pasadena’s Fuller Theological Seminary, has some helpful insights in his first chapter that I share below:

The nature of doing mission in Southern Africa is complex. In our more rural communities there is still a high level of cultural cohesiveness and a community commitment to traditional values, and the Church still plays a significant role. However, impacted on by Western norms and a global economy, our urban areas are increasingly what Eddie Gibbs in his book Church Next describes as “multiethnic and socially stratified urban societies impacted by modernity and postmodernity, where there is increasing differentiation and fragmentation. Society is splintered into a complex range of groups that collide with one another and reconfigure like the coloured glass shapes in a kaleidoscope. Furthermore, individuals find their own lives compartmentalised among the workaday world, home, leisure pursuits and participation in voluntary organisations.” I see reflections of our Corpus Christi community in these words. For many of us Church (a voluntary organisation) is compartmentalised into Sunday morning: not that we exclude Spirituality and Faith from the rest of our lives, but that the pressures of life are such that time for Church is just not available elsewhere in the week. As Church we need to find new ways of doing things that enable the mission of the Church to do more than survive: we need to enable it to burgeon abundantly into life.

As Anglicans we generally are averse to change, especially those of us who hail from an older generation, and if change MUST happen, PLEASE let it be slow and incremental! Eddie Gibbs says that, “… in the culture of postmodernity, change is discontinuous rather than incremental. It comes rapidly and without warning.” How do we as Church respond – other than putting our heads in the sand like Ostriches? There is a need for flexibility. There is also a need for rapid response, because the next change will be upon us and it will be discontinuous, it will be out of relationship with the previous change attack. Strategies of mission and ministry that worked yesterday won’t work tomorrow, and may not work today.

As Anglicans we are used to people coming to us, we are uncomfortable with going to people. Again, Eddie Gibbs reflects that in our growingly postmodern society “Churches cannot stand apart from society and invite people to come to them on their terms. Rather, churches must go to people where they are and communicate in terms that will make sense to them, addressing issues that shape their lives and speaking their language.” He goes on to say that the Church’s response “… will need to make the transition from an invitational strategy to one of dispersal, with a sustained commitment to infiltrating each segment of this fragmenting world.”

As we grapple with the nature of postmodern society Eddie Gibbs also reflects that effective mission “necessitates an unconditional acceptance of those who are content to live with ambiguity, and it requires humility to communicate in open dialogue with those who hold a pluralistic worldview.” As Anglicans, are we comfortable with this perspective? For those of us who grew up in Apartheid South Africa we grew up in (fabricated) mono-cultural environments that the Church – at parish level – largely reflected. I am reminded of a conversation with the Churchwarden soon after my arrival at Corpus Christi in which Corpus Christi was declared an “English-speaking Congregation”: an effective attempt to avoid the growing multiethnic and intercultural nature of our parish. Yes, we are uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable or not, the approach proposed by Eddie Gibbs is deeply INCARNATIONAL, and if you cast your mind back to my comments in August, Anglicans are by tradition deeply Incarnational in our theology and practice. What is required of us is a willingness to embrace a society in transition, and rather than feeling threatened, to embrace change in all its discontinuity and chaos. We need, in Eddie Gibbs’ words, to “be prepared to witness with vulnerability and humility from the margins of society.” What is our model? – none other than the early Church! We need to re-embrace the Gospels, the Epistles and the history recorded in the Book of Acts, as well as the writings of the early Church Fathers. We need, too, to re-invest in our Anglican traditions and profound symbolism.

Honesty and authenticity are the marks of effective Church mission for both the present and the future; the Gospel of God’s grace, and not the Gospel of traditionalism and legalism. We need to shed the image of judge, and take on the role of “fellow-traveller” with those who are caught up in the uncertainty and often hopelessness of postmodern, urban society … and so draw them gently into relationship and wholeness in Christ.



Sunday, August 12, 2007

August 2007

Dear Friends

Rector’s Birthday Bash Braai

Thank you to all who were able to attend. Thank you, too, for the gifts: I much appreciate your thoughtfulness and care. The weather was great – a balmy winter day – as was the company. It was really just an excuse to get together and share in fellowship with one another!! Life is good!

On being Anglican

In a world where the Christian Faith seems increasingly under attack, be it from Islam in North Africa, or from secularism in the West, there is an increasing move to highlight the importance of Ecumenism (different Christian Denominations/Churches working together) in reaching our various communities with the Christian Gospel (Good News). As Anglicans we are part of the Christian Unity Commission (CUC) that is made up of Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists; we recognise each others Sacramental rites and orders based largely on our joint “Reformed” theological heritage. For example a Methodist Minister can be licensed to serve an Anglican Parish without being “re-Ordained” by an Anglican Bishop. There are some anomalies in the ordering of the CUC relationship that create a certain amount of confusion, such as in the Methodist Church the Minister confirms, and in the Anglican Church it is the Bishop and not the Parish Priest. We recognise Roman Catholic rites and orders, although they do not recognise ours. We work closely with the NG Kerk, although they are not part of the CUC, but also “Reformed” in their thinking. We share many commonalities, even with some Pentecostal Churches, yet we are different.

Is this difference relevant? Why make a commitment to a specific denomination, such as Anglican? Can’t we just be Christian?

For many older members of our community at Corpus Christi being Anglican is part of their/our identity, and as much as we don’t change human families because we may have a disagreement, or think differently, nor do we change Churches – we’ll attend the Anglican Church no matter what it is like. Why? Because we are Anglican! For the younger generation it is different, the “Brand” is less important than the relational environment: we’ll change at the drop of a hat if a move will enhance our relational experience. This is true not only in the Church environment, but also in the social/business sphere. Many of our older generation have been Baptised and Confirmed Anglican. For many of our younger generation Baptism and Confirmation will have taken place in different denominations, and possibly neither Anglican.

Every denomination has an “Ethos” – that aspect that lies beyond the commonalities of simply just being Christian. As Anglicans we have an “Ethos” that defines the underlying spirituality of our life and teaching; that impacts on the manner in which we worship, the way we interact with the wider world. Anglicans are deeply Incarnational, reflecting both the spiritualities of St Benedict of Nursia and St Francis of Assisi. Anglicanism is foremostly about “Presence”, being Christian rather than doing Christianity. For Anglicans Confirmation preparation is not only about being Christian, it is also about the manner in which we as Anglicans choose to practice our faith.


Our Confirmation process attempts to prepare candidates in the Christian Faith, while giving them the opportunity to imbibe our Anglican “Ethos” and explore something of the greater symbolism of our worship practices and opportunities. One of those opportunities is formal Sacramental Confession (An Anglican Prayer Book 1989 page 445). I was made aware, once again, of the importance of this particular opportunity during the Confirmation Camp last weekend: the candidates anxiety levels were high … the relief afterwards palpable, both in terms of now having it behind them, but also in terms of being able to express their wrongdoing and need in an environment that did not lead to punishment or censure; and I appreciated the seriousness and comprehensiveness of each one’s confession.

I am saddened by attempts to shortcut the process, especially when I see the value it adds to the lives of those who have walked the more difficult path. Rumour has it that since we have implemented the Diocesan requirement of a two-year preparation process for Confirmation both here and in Waterkloof young people are choosing to continue worshipping with us, but have been Confirmed through the Methodist Church, a much shorter process. I don’t believe this is acceptable, and am further saddened that there has been no parental consultation with myself as the parish priest, if rumour is true.

Becoming Anglican

An Anglican Prayer Book 1989 reflects our awareness that as Anglican communities we have not all been brought up Anglican, and that our entrance into the Anglican Church may have been more recent than our Baptism or Confirmation events. There is a service on page 399 where, after emersion in Anglican worship and teaching, those who have grown up and been Confirmed in other Church environments can be officially welcomed into the Anglican Church by the Bishop. In other words, there is a difference between being a worshipping and communicant member of an Anglican Parish, and actually being Anglican – the only possible exception being if you have joined from one of the CUC churches, and even then you are welcome to go through this process. I am exploring finding a time to run a course on “Essential Anglicanism” – if you would be interested, please speak to me.

In Conclusion

In closing, some questions for reflection: Why do you choose to express you Christian Faith within an Anglican environment? Why have you chosen Corpus Christi as that Anglican environment?


Sunday, July 08, 2007

July 2007

Dear Friends

I write this as I prepare to take some leave (“Again?!” I hear you cry!). I’m looking forward to having some time to myself, to immerse myself in some gentle reading, to reflect on life and ministry, and to restock my reserves. It is good, too, to be available to my family without the pressures of parish demands. And it will be good to return to you all, refreshed and ready for all the challenges the next few months will hold.

What are you doing where you are?

In my May letter to you I asked the question, “Who are we?” - a question of identity whose answer directs us in our mission. Our Patronal Celebrations, particularly our “Cultural Dinner” gave us an unusual vision of ourselves, a vision of who we really are as the people of God at Corpus Christi—a kaleidoscope of cultural colour and diversity! Let us hold onto the image we saw of ourselves, and continuously bring it alive again and again within the different contexts of our existence together.

With this image in mind, we need to begin to ask what are we collectively doing where we are? Perhaps another way of asking this question is, “Who will miss us if we cease to exist tomorrow?” - Tumelong? Louis Botha Homes? Irene Homes? Those of us who worship together week by week? Yes, yes and again yes! But … would Garsfontein miss us, would Faerie Glen, would Constantia Park, Moreleta?

Hmm … probably not?

The issue is, “What community need in our own geographical area do we meet?”
I can’t answer this question … and I find this of concern. We need to explore our “local” community and prayerfully explore where Jesus wants us to meet him in the wider community within which Corpus Christi physically exists.

As we reflect on our mission in terms of the above questions, we need to hold in mind that a Christian community is missionary in its existence, not in its programmes. Just as finance follows good ministry, so growth follows mission with integrity.

I would value your shared insights to these questions.

Caring and Serving

I was reminded this afternoon that we have a “Good Samaritans” group in the parish, presently eighteen people who have offered to help others wherever and whenever needed. Many of them have not yet had an opportunity to help anyone, and others only on one or two occasions. Why?

Most of us are inherently selfish in sharing our need (myself as much as anyone else), and thereby withhold from others the opportunity to experience God’s blessing in being able to help us. Many of us have been brought up to be independent and to believe that asking for help is weakness.

What is your need? How can we help you? Perhaps a lift? Change a light bulb? Visit for a cup of tea? Prayer? Financial help? Baby-sit a child for the afternoon? A movie? Mow your lawn? A lift to church? Home Communion? Advice? Help? HelP? HELP?

… please let the Office know how we can HELP you!


Friday, June 01, 2007

June 2007

Dear Friends

Mission, Ministry & Evangelism

Willow Glen has been our parish growth focus since January, and it is wonderful to see the growth that is happening. May saw the introduction of worship services for that community, and the initial service had great support – thank you! In terms of the Diocesan 3-year programme I have been disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm to visit, but understand the time pressures on many of us, along with genuine fears of travelling the roads at night. However, please consider being brave: Jeanne Jackson (012 348 3505) is coordinating the visiting programme and is looking for further support. Our “Friendship Meals” kicked off with Isobel Holden hosting a meal for some of the single women in the parish, and this was a great success.
The next phase begins in Trinity Tide (now!) and includes a Diocesan Convention on Ministry & Evangelism to be held on 10 June 2007 at 14:00 where we will tell our stories and hear from others. I encourage you to make the effort to attend as it is always encouraging to hear what is happening in other parts of God’s vineyard! As part of this next phase we are encouraged to examine issues of enculturation and liturgy, and our Patronal Festival’s “Cultural Dinner” begins this journey for us – I hope we will see many of you there!


A special parish Vestry meeting has agreed to our plans to do some major maintenance and minor extension to our Church building, as well as erect a bell tower to house the magnificent bell that was recently donated by one of our parish families. Parish Council is finalising our fundraising approach, and we await Diocesan approval, which we hope to have by mid-June. Concept plans are in the parish office, and you are welcome to come and view them.

Youth Fusion (13-18 year olds)

Kerry MacGregor and her team have been working hard to build up our youth, and we held a most successful camp just after Easter (see the April Magazine). After comments last year that our more ad hoc approach was not sufficient, Kerry has committed to holding two Youth events a month during school time. Sadly, attendance is erratic and apart from the first event, has not been well attended despite exciting programmes. We are aware that young people are somewhat fickle and change their minds at the last moment, but I suspect that parent commitment to getting their teenagers to the venue is also an issue. Unless numbers pick up substantially, we may need to review what we can offer our youth outside of Sundays – please, Friends, your support is required!
Please take note that Youth Fusion is for Teenagers (13-18 years) – younger children prove disruptive and are not catered for. There may be a need for a “Tweens” youth group, but we are not able to staff one at this stage.


On an irregularly regular basis I put a reminder in the Pewleaflet that I (and other clergy) are available to visit in your homes. It has been a recent pleasure to have been invited in to meet two families. I spend a lot of time meeting people on the Church property around various personal crises or preparation needs, but it is always a pleasure to build relationship in your homes. High walls, security arrangements, and an increasingly busy urban lifestyle make it very difficult to just “pop in” as one perhaps still can in more rural environments, and used to “in the old days”: an invitation – even for a cup of tea – is always welcome!

Information & the Office

I am aware that Church on Sunday is a good time to catch the Rector or Administrator to deal with various issues, and to float various ideas. Please be aware that any “Yes” obtained from me is agreement in principle, but that if any follow-up action is required it is wise to contact the office during the week to follow up on detail or any other action required: yours is not my only conversation, and by Monday morning has become a vague awareness of a mixture of memories from Sunday’s many interactions!

Please also respect our Administrator’s personal space – on Sundays she is just Gwen, a parishioner of the Parish. On Monday morning she reverts to Administrator! Again, please phone in during the week to deal with “Church Matters”. Please also note the office is closed for administrative purposes on Thursdays – the answering machine will direct you to members of the clergy if you have a crisis that needs urgent intervention.

Crime Prayer Summit

Sadly, it appears that while the crime situation is often part of our conversations, sacrificing a Sunday afternoon to join other Christians to reflect prayerfully on crime is not, and raises the question as to whether we are really serious about dealing with crime and corruption, or just concerned for our own skins. My personal thanks to Nan Muir, Gill Condy and Paul Pretorius for representing Corpus Christi and Willow Glen. As part of the proceedings, those gathered were called to make a commitment to refrain from the purchase of stolen goods as a personal contribution to fighting crime, which was overwhelmingly received. Paul Pretorius will be coordinating this in the parish, and I ask for your support for “Smack Attack”.



Friday, May 04, 2007

May 2007

Dear Friends

Who are we?

A basic human question people have asked throughout the ages is, “Who am I?” There remain many answers, but one that continues to hold my attention is an answer that affirms my existence in the context of relationship. It is an answer that emerges from our African context, one that makes me proud to call myself African: “I am because of others.” This is a powerful statement of community, of belonging, as it speaks to my humanness and to my value as a person.

However, beyond our humanness we need to explore our spirituality, who we are in God. This is an exploration of our core, that part of our existence around which everything else revolves: our essence, our spirit. Our spirituality is partly defined by worship: the way we address God; the manner in which we acknowledge and respond to God; the environment within which we discover God.

The Church seeks to provide a context for such discovery. Too often we approach our faith – our worship, our relationship with God – from the perspective of what we can gain from such encounter, hoping for some cure-all that will magically and instantly make us whole people. When this does not happen we walk away despondent and unfulfilled, often angry. What is it that we are missing?

A beginning of an answer is that we are often overly “I” focused. It is in focusing beyond ourselves that we begin an adventure in faith; it is in immersing ourselves in a spirituality that draws us out, that stretches us, that makes us uncomfortable with being comfortable, that introduces us to God; it is in sharing the adventure and the moments of discovery; it is drawing alongside other people who will mentor us, and whom we can mentor, that the journey of faith gains meaning. Christian spirituality calls us to discipleship, and to make disciples. We are called to give before we receive, and to receive through our giving: in serving we are served; in caring we are cared for; in healing we are healed.


Our parish “Statement of Purpose” declares that at Corpus Christi we are traditional Anglicans. What do we mean by the word traditional? There are numerous legitimate ways to interpret this word: what it does mean for us? Sadly, in the wider Church context, traditionalism has become synonymous with maintenance and a refusal to accept new ways of doing things (e.g. the Ordination of Women). At Corpus Christi we need to beware this danger, and in order to do so we need to explore our interpretation of the concept.

I suspect that at the core what is important to us at Corpus Christi is that we do not lose the sacramental rituals that are richly filled with symbolic meaning. We fear that new innovations, new ways of doing things, will dilute our sacramental heritage; and so we are tempted to cling to those things that we associate with our past experience, such as classical hymnology. However, Christian praxis evolves and we need to recognise that much of what we consider core is just dressing. An Anglican Prayer Book 1989 is very different in perspective from the older South African Book of Common Prayer, and yet it is recognisably based on our earliest Anglican prayer books: Cranmer’s liturgical innovations of the 16th century.

In preparing and experiencing our Lent Course this year I was struck that in terms of the new social paradigm (referred to by some as “post-Christian”, “post-Modern”) – essentially defined by the attitude “anything goes” – that it is sacramental tradition and its complex symbolic imagery that has the power to reach our post-Modern society. However, we need to dress it differently: we need to liberate ourselves of the stuffy image mainline denominations are perceived to carry; we need to discover a greater flexibility in order to be relevant to a new generation who consciously avoid institutionalised religion. This is the challenge on which our future existence as Anglicans hinges.


In our March Council meeting it was agreed that we (Corpus Christi’ians) are content with our values, our sense of purpose (as defined in our Statement of Purpose), and that this gives us a foundation on which to build. What we now need to develop is what Jim Collins in his book Built to Last refers to as a “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal”: something that will draw us into the future with expectancy and enthusiasm. Twenty-five years ago building a parish on the eastern border of Pretoria was such a goal. We now need to develop a new Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (a BHAG) that will guide our purpose for the next ten to twenty years. What is God calling us to? What is the vision God is setting before us? We need to seek God for our direction.

When we seek God, we are essentially asking him to lead us. Joan Chittester in her book The Rule of Benedict: Insight for the Ages says, “The function of leadership is to call us beyond ourselves, to stretch us to our limits, to turn the clay into breathless beauty.” She goes on to say, “But first, of course, we have to allow it to happen” (pg 174). The question must then be: are we willing for God to lead us in directions we may not yet have contemplated, may not be entirely comfortable with? In this regard our comfort zones are often defined by our own limited sense of who we are, and the challenge is to be open to seeing ourselves as God sees us. Chittester says, “The reality is that we are often incapable of assessing our own limits, our real talents, our true strength, our necessary ordeals” (pg 173).

Special Vestry

As a first step we will be holding a special Vestry Meeting on Sunday 13 May 2007 after the 9am Eucharist. We will consider our building – the place we meet to worship (the word “Church” actually refers to the people of God, not the building). It needs urgent maintenance, and this becomes an opportunity to increase its size. The building may sound a strange place to start seeking God’s direction, but it is the one constant in our Christian community life: it is our gathering place; it is the place from which we are sent, Sunday by Sunday, back into the world to serve God and humanity.

Thank you!

A big thank you to you all for the generous Easter gifts I received. Your care and love is much appreciated.



Thursday, March 29, 2007

April 2007

Dear Friends

Church Growth

I attended a two day Church Growth seminar last week. Substantial input was given by Eddie Gibbs, presently outgoing professor of Church Growth at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. Eddie has been an Anglican Priest for over 44 years (longer than I have been alive!) and spoke with great excitement for where the Church finds itself today. There are many challenges as the “landscape” has changed as society moves into a post-modern and increasingly post-Christian mode. Two key characteristics of church ministry in this emerging paradigm are that the context is increasingly multi-cultural and mission becomes increasingly effective when it has an ecumenical base. This, however, requires that we become more centred and aware of our own denominational and faith base, and become more radical within our own denominational environment. I asked Eddie Gibbs how he would define a “Radical Anglicanism” – his reply:

By “radical” I mean someone who is living in conformity with the radical message of Jesus – i.e. The Gospel of the Kingdom. This is helpfully and fully spelt out by Bp. N.T. Wright, bishop of Durham in a series of books on Jesus. I hope this helps.

Our Lent course, for the few who attended, has been helpful in this regard by helping us to understand the breadth of Christian Spirituality, both in giving us clearer understanding of those aspects that shape our more traditional Anglican outlook and in giving us a better understanding of what shapes Christians in other denominational environments. It is important that we develop confidence in who we are as Christians and as Anglicans.

Values, Morality and Ethics

As I write this I am attending our Diocesan Clergy School, hosted and directed by UNISA. We have had some outstanding input from various high-calibre academics, including our Anglican sub-Dean Prof. Barney Pityana (also vice-Chancellor of UNISA). We have been exploring what the church’s role is in helping our society rebuild its value base, while exploring the diversity of our call in dealing with the various moral challenges all South Africans face, asking how we reclaim our prophetic voice. Again, the importance of good ecumenical relationships has been raised so that the church speaks with “one voice”, rather than with a fragmented denominationalism. There is a call to re-explore the message of Jesus, to regain a radical commitment to the Kingdom of God as put forward by Jesus, and as experienced in the early church, to be relational rather than legalistic in our interpretation both of Scripture and Tradition.

We have been reminded that poverty should remain one of the church’s main preoccupations, that an “option for the poor” is preferential and not exclusive (i.e. not an “option against the rich”), and that transforming the plight of the poor includes the transformation of the wealthy. Sadly, excessive accumulation of monetary and material wealth is mostly at the expense of the poor. We were asked, “Is inequality ordained by God?” because our lifestyles as Christian people often suggest that it is! Interestingly, while the USA Constitution enshrines “Freedom” as an inalienable human right, our South African Constitution enshrines “Equality”.

In considering the value-crisis in our society within the context of our Constitution and our Constitutional Democracy, we have been asked as Church to consider three important questions:

What is it that undermines our Christian values in the communities in which we live?

How do we “hold the centre” as a faith community, individually and collectively?

How do we become effective moral agents?

The crisis we face, both as Christians and as South Africans, is that our Constitutional Democracy is deliberately misinterpreted for personal (and financial?) gain. Twelve years into our new democratic society there is no consensus or collective commitment to definitive values, even though key values are enshrined in the preamble to the Constitution that include human dignity, human rights and social justice. In South Africa the centre is falling apart as we as a struggle to maintain the consensus gained in 1994, and this is visible in the corruption, crime and other indicators of moral collapse. As Church, we need to exercise authority in bringing people back to the values of the Gospel and values as defined in the Constitution.

Do we have the courage, as Christians and as Anglicans, to regain our prophetic voice?


Thursday, March 01, 2007

March 2007

Dear Friends

On Parish Renewal

The Diocesan “3 Year Programme on Mission and Ministry”, motivated at our last Diocesan Synod, calls for us to begin at home, and to focus on the renewal of our parish life, starting with our own families and moving on from there. This year, entitled the Diocesan Year of Mission and Evangelism, is all about finding the lost sheep and bringing them back into the fold. I was encouraged by the efforts many put into bringing a family member or close friend – who do not normally attend Church – to Church at the beginning of February. The challenge now is to keep them coming and to integrate them into our parish life. A further challenge is to identify those who reside on our Parish Roll but not in our Parish Church, and to draw them back in.

Love Your Neighbour

Our Archdeaconry focus for Lent is “Love your neighbour”. As a parish we are responding in two ways: firstly we are attempting to understand our neighbour, and our Lent Course focus is on giving us an opportunity to explore different aspects of Christian Spirituality – both to help us discover and deepen our own Spirituality, but also to understand where other fellow Christians come from, and how we interlink with each other as Anglicans and as members of different Christian denominations; secondly we are seeking to build friendship by inviting you as parishioners to hold a meal in your home, inviting a parish family you know and a family you don’t know to share food and fellowship.

Young People

It was exhilarating to find an excited group of young people running around the parish grounds last Friday evening (I believe the T-bone was eventually found … and later devoured!), meeting in the Hall for some Scriptural reflection, and later sharing fellowship around the Braai-fire. It was a wholesome mixture of fellowship, fun and interaction with scripture for our teenagers. Our Young Adults have also had some positive interactions, including a braai at Epiphany House. One of the challenges for our young people this year will be to draw back in those who have been confirmed over the last five-years, but sadly have treated their Confirmation as a form of “Church Leaving” graduation.

Willow Glen Mission

Our missionary Deacon, Vernon Foster, reports elsewhere in this magazine on this exciting mission initiative. I sincerely ask for your prayers for this development, and for Vernon in particular. He has taken up this challenge, and has thrown himself into it with fortitude. Your support – however you are able to demonstrate it – is valued.


Corpus Christi has joined the Garsfontein Proper Residence Association, which links into the Garsfontein Community Policing Forum. The challenges in addressing crime and violence are massive, and although seemingly overwhelming, there is light on the horizon. You may have noticed substantially increased police activity in the last two weeks, and this is a result of the Garsfontein Police Station being able to access significant additional resources since the President’s “State of the Nation” address to Parliament. The key, though, is for us as residents to begin to take back responsibility for the safety of our own areas by working together. So get involved with a Home Owners Association in your area, support the local Community Police Forum: be involved!



Lent: our Journey to Easter / Vastyd: Ons Reis na Paasfees

A Sermon explaining the Lenten Season

My hope is to share with you today some insight into today’s (Sunday!) celebration of “Shrove Tuesday” and give you some understanding of why the Church calls us to the journey of Lent.

Ek hoop om saam met u insigte te deel van ons vieringe vandag. Ons vier Pannekoek Dinsdag, en dit is my hoop om u insig te gee waarom die Kerk van ons verlang om hierdie reis te geduurende Vastyd te onderneem.

Lent is an important journey of faith for many Christians around the world, and one that Anglican Christians take very seriously.

Vastyd is ’n baie belangrike geloofsreis vir ons Christene reg rondom die wereld, en een wat ons as Anglikaane baie erenstig moet opneem.

What is Lent, where does this journey of faith begin, where does it end? To help us understand what it is all about, I am asking you, to travel backwards along this journey with me.

Wat is Vastyd? Waar begin hierdie geloofsreis? Waar eindig dit? Om ons uit te help om hierdie konsep te begryp, vra ek u om saam met my agteruit te beweeg tydens hierdie rit.

Where does the journey end?
Waar eindig hierdie reis?

It ends with the celebration of Easter, a weekend festival that the church begins with a service where we remember the Last Supper, the dinner where Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and encouraged them to remember him whenever they shared bread and wine together. At the end of this meal they go together to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prays for his Father’s help to face the difficult time ahead of him. Late that night Jesus is arrested and most of his disciples run away in fear. The next day, Friday – we call it Good Friday – Jesus is put to death by Roman soldiers on a cross, a very cruel and painful way to die. That night Jesus’ body is placed in a cave, and the entrance closed with a huge rock. Everyone is very sad, and for many who were Jesus’ followers, their dreams are crushed. But something most unusual and very exciting was about to happen: early on the Sunday some women go to clean Jesus body and wrap it in a fresh burial cloth. What do they find? Yes, an empty tomb! And as they are wondering who has stolen his body, Jesus himself, alive and well, appears to one of the women, and asks her to go and give the good news to his disciples that he is alive! He has overcome the power of evil, wrongdoing, and death – he is alive again!

Dit kom ten einde met die Paasfees vieringe. ’n Naweek fees waar die kerk die “Laaste Avondmaal” herdenk. Die aandete waar Jesus eerste die voete van sy dissipels gewas het en hulle gevra om hierdie maal van Brood en Wyn tot Sy gedagtenis te herdenk. Ten einde van hierdie maal, beweeg hulle na die Tuin van Getsemane, waar Jesus bid na God Sy Vader, en vra om Hom by te staan in hierdie tyd van beproewing. Laat daardie nag word Jesus gearresteer en sy dissepels het hom in die steek gelaat en van hom af weggehardloop, omdat hulle bang was. Di volgende dag, Vrydag – ons noem dit Goeie Vrydag – word Jesus deur die Romeinse Soldate gekruisig, ’n baie pynlike manier van sterf. Daardie selfde nag word Jesus se ligaam van die kruis verwyder en in ’n grot begrawe, en die toegang van die grot is met ’yslike groot klip verseel. Almal was baie bedroef en vir baie van Jesus se volgers was dit ’n baie tragiese dag. Maar iets baie opwindend was besig om plaas tevind. Baie vroeg die Sondag oggend toe ’n paar vroue by die grot opdaag om Jesus se ligaam skoon te maak en vars begrafnis lappe om sy ligaam te draai, wat het hulle gevind? Die klip was verwyder en die grot was leeg. Toe hulle nog wonder wie die ligaam van Jesus gesteel het, het Jesus vris en gesond aan hulle verskyn. Eers aan die een vrou aan wie Hy die opdrag gee om die ander te vertel dat hy opgestaan het en weer lewend is. Hy het die dood oorwin en die krag van sonde gebreek.

All this happened over two-thousand years ago, and through all these centuries Christians have celebrated year after year Jesus’ death and his rising to new life. Why? Because he shares with us this amazing gift of new life and new hope!

Alles dit het gebeur meer as twee duisend jaar gelede, en van daardie tyd af oor al hierdie jare vier ons Christene die dood en opstanding van ons Heer en Meester Jesus Christus. Waarom? Omdat HY hierdie wonderlike gawe van nuwe lewe en nuwe hoop met ons deel.

Let us now walk back along the journey.
Kom ons gaan voort met ons agteruit rit.

The early Christians began to prepare themselves for the celebration of Easter from the previous Sunday – we call it Palm Sunday, and make crosses out of palms to welcome Jesus. And so the tradition of Holy Week began, a week during which new Christians were prepared for baptism on Easter day, and the older Christians would fast – only eat very plain food – and pray with the new Christians as they looked forward to the exciting events of the Easter weekend.

Die vroe Christene het hulself voorberei om hierdie dag van Paasfees te herdenk die vorige Sondag. Ons noem dit Palmsondag. Ons maak kruise van Palmtakke on Jesus te verwelkom. So het die tradiesie van Heilge Week begin. ’n Week wanner ons, ons voorberei vir die doop op Paassondag, en die ouergade so vas – eet net dood eenvoudige kos – en bid saam met die nuwe Christene soos hulle uitsien na die opwindende gebeurtenisse van die Paasfees naweek.

Soon, Christians began to fast for a longer time in preparation and they added another five weeks to the time of preparation for Easter, the time we now call Lent. Lent became forty-six days during which Christians put extra effort into fasting – often giving up special foods and meat and not drinking any alcohol – and putting extra effort into prayer and caring for the poor. The forty days of Lent also remind us of the time Jesus spent fasting and preparing himself for his ministry in the desert just after he was baptised. Hold on! Didn’t I just say lent was actually forty-six days, not forty? Each of the six Sunday’s during Lent is not considered a day of fasting because on a Sunday we celebrate a mini-Easter as we remember Jesus death and rising to new life as we share in Holy Communion. So, although Lent is forty-six days, we only fast for forty of them.

Na dit het Christene vir langer periodes begin vas in voorbereiding, en hulle het nog fyf weke bygevoeg om reg te maak vir Paasafees. Ons noem hierdie periode Vastyd. Vastyd is ’n periode van ses-en-veertig dae wanneer Christene ’n spesiale poging aanwend om te vas. Dit behels die opoffering van sekere kosse en vleis, en geen alkoholiese dranke te drink nie. Ons spandeer dan meer tyd aan gebed en skenk meer aandag aan die armes. Die veertig dae van Vastyd herrinner ons aan die tydperk wat Jesus in die Woestyn deurgemaak toe hy geen kos ingeneem het nie en himself voorbereir het vir Sy bediening, net nadat Hy gedoop was. Wag ’n bietjie! Het ek nou net nie gese het dat Vastyd ses-en-veertig dae behels nie? Die ses Sondae gedurende Vastyd word beskou as klien Passfeeste, soos ons die dood en opstanding van Jesus vier soos ons die Nagmaal ontvang. Nou soos Vastyd ses-en-veertig dae bevat, vas ons net vir veertig van daardie dae.

Now, how do we begin this journey?
Nou hoe begin ons met hierdie reis?

How do we know that Lent has begun? We have two special events to mark this beginning. The first is “Shrove Tuesday” – which we are celebrating today as on Tuesday we’ll all be at work or at school – where we gather up all the rich food in the house (such as milk, eggs, sugar and flour) and eat it all because from Wednesday we are only going to eat plain, unexciting food during Lent. Now, what can one make if one mixes eggs, milk, sugar and flour? Why, yes, of course: pancakes! After church this morning we are going out into the garden where we will eat pancakes – lots of them – and we are going to play games and have fun. Why have fun? Why not! We are going to be very serious for the next six weeks! In many parts of the world, especially the Spanish speaking world, Shrove Tuesday is celebrated with a Carnival or “Madi Gras”. The name “Shrove” means to confess, and reminds us that the journey of Lent that we are about to begin, is a time of making our lives right with God, and links us in the second special event: Ash Wednesday.

Hoe weet ons dat Vastyd begin het? Ons het twee spesiale gebeurtenisse wat ons laat weet dat Vastyd begin het. Die eerste is “Pannekoek Dinsdag” – wat ons vandag herdenk omdat ons almal in die werk of op skool sal wees Dinsdag – Ons sal al die ryk kosse in die huis bymekaar maak (byvoorbeeld, melk, eiers suiker en meel) en dit alles opeet, want vanaf Woensdag gaan ons net gewone, oninteresante kosse eet. Wat kan ons maak as ons meel, eiers en melk meng? Pannekoek! Na kerk van oggend gaan ons baie van hierdie Pannekoeke eet, en ons gaan speeletjies speel, op die gras daar buite. Ons gaan baie prêt he, omdat vir die volgende ses weke gaan ons baie erenstig word en onsself dissiplineer. Pannekoek Dinsdag word gevier met feesvieringe. Die engelse woord vir Pannekoek Dinsdag, “Shrove” beteken om te bely en herrinner ons dat die reis geduurende Vastyd het begin. Dit is ’n tyd wanneer ons ons lewens reg maak met God en ons invoer na die tweede geleentheid, As Woensdag.

On Wednesday we get serious about our fasting for Lent, and we meet in Church where we pray, and tell God we are sorry for our sins, all the wrong and nasty things we have done, all the times in the past year where we have been hurtful and spiteful to others, all the times when we have even ignored God, or not trusted God to look after us or provide for us. We call this “Ash Wednesday” because we repent before God in dust and ashes like they did in Old Bible times – well, not quite like they did, but we receive a mark on our foreheads from the priest, this mark is a cross marked with ash. This ash is made from burning the palm crosses we made to welcome Jesus last year when we celebrated Easter. On Ash Wednesday we make a decision as to how we are going to fast – we can’t completely give up eating for forty-six days – but we can give up certain foods or types of drinks that will help us eat and live more simply during Lent, perhaps something that we are addicted to, like sweets or ice-cream, maybe coffee or fizzy-drinks, even alcohol and cigarettes, maybe TV. Lent is a good time to break a bad habit, and replace it with a good one. Then we try to live out, with God’s help, this commitment to a more simply lifestyle for the duration of Lent. More than likely we will be tempted to give up this commitment along the way, either by just being forgetful, maybe on purpose; but when this happens, we apologies to God, and start afresh. Everyday is part of the journey.

Woensdag word ons erentig omtrent ons Vastyd. Ons vergader in Kerk en ons bid en vra God om ons ons sondes te vergewe en sê dat ons jammer is oor ons sondes. Al daardie tye die afgelope jaar waar ons andere seer gemaak het en waar ons dinge gedoen het wat ons nie moes doen nie. Ons bely hulle op As Woensdag omdat soos die mense van ouds bely ons in stof en as, en ons word met ’n as kruis gemerk om ons te herrinner om te bely. Die as is gemaak van die Palm Kruisies wat ons verlede jaar op Palm Sondag ontvang het. Op As Woensdag besluit ons hoe ons gaan vas – ons gaan nie sonder kos vir die hele dag nie, maar ons besluit om iets op te gee waarvan ons baie hou. Bv. Roomys, koeldrank, sekere kos disse, siggerette, alkohol, ens. Vastyd is ’n tydperk wanneer ons ontslae kan raak van slegte gewoontes, en hulle met goeie gewoontes te vervang. Met God se hulp probeer ons ’n meer eenvoudige lewenstyle aan te kweek. Ons sal versoek word om nie voort tegaan met ons vas nie, deur te vergeet, of miskien doelbewus in te gee vir die versoeking. Maar ons moet net bely en God te vra om ons te vergewe en weer vars begin met ons vas. Elke dag is ʼn deel van die reis.

I hope that this has helped you understand this special Lenten journey of faith that many Christians walk every year in preparation for Easter, and I hope it has encouraged you to participate in the journey. It is, as I said at the beginning, a journey that ends in the wonderful celebration of Easter, a celebration of new life and new hope!

Ek hoop en vertrou dat ek u gehelp het om hierdie geloofsreis geduurende Vastyd te verstaan. Al ons Christene word jaarliks uitgedaag om hierdie reis aan te pak in voorbereiding vir Paasfees. Ek hoop dat ek u aangemoedig het om self hierdie reis aan te pak. Ek het aan die begin gese dat dit ’n reis is wat op Pannekoek Dinsdag begin en op Paassondag eindig. ’n Wonderlike fees wat lei tot nuwe lewe en nuwe hoop.

Mark R D Long
Lent 2007
Vastyd 2007

with thanks to Canon Reynard Schovell for the Afrikaans translation

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rector's Report to Annual Vestry January 2007

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and to tear down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:9-10)

These words from today’s Old Testament reading are a part of God’s word to me as I struggled a few years ago with a ministry “midlife crisis”. I am intrigued that they are repeated today. A reminder, perhaps, to me as I reflect on my ministry in your midst, and to us all as we reflect on our ministry together as God’s people in this place, this parish, that God is a creative God, and that “destruction” as much as “building” is part of the creative process. Personally, these words define a key aspect of my purpose and mission, and in reflection I realise also define how I put God’s call on my life into practice.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus, having declared the words from Isaiah to define his purpose and mission had the courage to declare,

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)

I, too, like Jesus, need to declare concerning the words from Jeremiah that these words are fulfilled in your hearing. I know many of you speak well of me, and perhaps – on occasion – are amazed at “the gracious words that come from my lips” (Luke 4:22). I hope, most sincerely, that none of you are of mind to drive me out of town and find a convenient cliff from which to hurl me (Luke 4:29). Yes, I joke, but humour often reflects the burden of deep truth that we can only hear when we laugh. I am aware that just by being myself in your midst I bring change and challenge to your lives. Find comfort that these changes – whether consequential or seemingly insignificant – are not brought about without thought or prayer, and mostly they are purposeful. Often I seek to apologise for change, or attempt to give it a different name to make it more palatable for those of you who struggle with it, but I am realising that change, be it sudden and destructive, be it a gentle process of adaptation, is – none-the-less – change. I believe sincerely in a transforming Church, a Church actively seeking to instil God’s values in the world. There is nothing gentle about transformation.

This time last year I named four priorities on our agenda for the year that is now behind us:

* The further development of structures to give priority to young people in this parish, including more regular Youth Fusion meetings, and the development of support groups for young adults and young married couples.

* The further creation and development of Home Fellowship and Support Groups to provide a fuller environment in which pastoral support, caring, fellowship, worship, and study are encouraged.

* A greater integration in our worship to reflect the multi-cultural nature of our community and more youth-friendly music.

* An intentional focus, along with other parishes in the Archdeaconry, to lay the foundation for at least two new Anglican parishes in the fast expanding East of Pretoria.

None of the above has seen exponential growth, but significant steps have been taken on which we will continue to build in the year ahead.

In terms of Young people, Youth Fusion has continued to struggle as we seek to find meaningful ways to minister to our Teens outside of Sunday worship, but plans are afoot to work in tandem with Scripture Union in this regard. The Young Adults have begun to meet under Vernon Foster’s mentorship. An attempt will be made this year to draw our young married couples together as there are a number of couples on our parish roll who have married in the last three years. Excitingly, perhaps for the first time in our history, we have elected a 21 year-old onto our Council for 2007 – this is deeply significant.

We have three more Home Fellowship groups up and running: an afternoon and evening group in Garsfontein and an additional evening group in Faerie Glen. Meeting outside of Sunday Worship is not something Anglicans easily adapt to, and the groups remain small, leaving the facilitators occasionally despondent and somewhat non-plussed as to why many of those who indicated interest never arrived, despite email and sms communications. We take courage from the Scriptures where we are reminded that “where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20). It is encouraging to see the monthly Comfort Group drawing together those who have been bereaved, and although not officially a Home Fellowship Group, important pastoral support and caring is shared.

I was informed on my arrival in the parish that, “We are an English-speaking congregation!” and was left in no doubt that we should remain so! However, it is Diocesan policy that no service in the Diocese should be of only one language, and it seems that my “gentle adaptation” of the greeting in four of our eleven national languages has not created too much upheaval. My recent inclusion of more substantial paragraphs in Setswana and Afrikaans may not be as comfortable to some, but I have appreciated positive comments in this regard. This is all part of greater integration: English remains the main form of communication in the Parish, but acknowledgement of other language and cultural perspectives that may and do exist in our midst is very important in order for all to feel welcome and at home. Another aspect of integration relates to our music, and both Council and I were amazed at your response to the purchase of a new Hymn book, and it will become a growing asset to our worship. As the Choir becomes more comfortable with this book, we will, hopefully, begin to increasingly use some of the more modern music it contains.

We are in process of laying the foundation for a new parish in the East of Pretoria: land has been purchased in Willow Glen, and Vernon Foster appointed by the Bishop as a Mission Deacon under our care to head up this important development. The plan is to have a viable Chapelry up and running by June this year. As we speak, the Diocesan wheels are being put into motion and a plot of land beyond Mooikloof (about 15 km’s east of the Pretoria East Hospital) has been identified with the view to beginning parish development there in four to five years time, once Willow Glen is fully up and running.

In each of these four areas of challenge that I laid before you, we have seen progress. To these we need to add the Diocesan priority for Mission and Ministry, and the three year programme presented two Sunday’s ago. I await in expectation to see whether you will take up the challenge to bring a family member or friend who has not been to church for sometime to our services next Sunday.

Finance should never take centre stage, but it is a good indication of spiritual health. I hold close to my heart the concept that finance follows ministry, and I thank you all for your huge financial generosity in the past year – for many of you given in addition to massive contributions of time and energy! We have not only been able to pay off our loan on the Hall, but also able to do some much needed property development, and give money away to those in need. Our financial report does not show that which has been given in kind, but the food-parcels for Tumelong alone conservatively add R30,000 to our Outreach budget, not to mention the substantial value of the paving stones donated for the parking area upgrade. Staff changes in the office and complex Excel Spreadsheet programming have added substantial stress to those who have prepared our Audited Accounts for today, but I am confident that these substantially reflect our financial health. We are in process of moving onto Pastel Express (Accounting package) in order to conform to Diocesan needs for reporting to the South African Revenue Services, so life in the office remains interesting, and Gwen is without doubt learning to swim in the deep-end!

One of our values as a parish is broad-based parishioner involvement. As in any organisation it is often 20% of the people who do 80% of the work. But as we reflect and report on the year that lies behind us I am aware that those who stand out do so only because of the many who stand behind them in support and action. My appreciation and thanks to you all.

In trepidation of not mentioning some who may be very involved (I had a “flea in the ear” from the Servers last year), I need to express our thanks as a parish community to the following:

- Bonita Brukman for her sterling work in centralising the Parish Administration on the Parish Office over the past few years. We wish her and Trevor and their growing family well in their relocation to Port Elizabeth.

- A special welcome onto our parish Staff to our new Missionary Deacon, Vernon Foster, and our new Administrator, Gwen Heathfield.

- Mary Verryn, Peter Davies and Kevin MacGregor who all stepped in “fresh” to the responsibilities of Churchwarden – I have valued their sincere council and willingness to add action, effort, and time to their word (and to remain on board for the year ahead).

- Our outgoing councillors for their time and contribution over the last year.

- Olga Nel, Belinda Holden, Steve Verryn and Shane Smith and their willing helpers who have shown continued dedication and commitment to our ongoing Children’s & Teen Church and Youth activities.

- Gillian Sole and her team of Sacristans who somehow always manage to have everything just right around the altar, and do so in quiet dedication.

- Jeanne Jackson and Sabine Verryn, our Choir and Music Group members and musicians who give leadership to our music and singing Sunday-by-Sunday.

- The Lay-ministers and Lay-ministers-in training (formerly Cup-bearers) who have contributed to our common life out of their own spirituality and relationship with God in leading our worship from week to week.

- Peter Vieyra and Collette Martin and our wonderful team of Servers at our 9am Services, and to parents for getting them here, mostly in time!

- Our Healing Group, Prayer Chain, and Wednesday morning Prayer Group for their gentle ministry of healing and prayer in our midst, and to Margaret Acres for the huge amount of effort in contacting every parishioner for pastoral prayer.

- Our Sidespeople who welcome us service by service, see that we have a pew leaflet and a seat, and conscientiously count and record the collections.

- Our flower-arrangers who weekly remind us of God’s creative beauty.

- Our readers who keep God’s Word in Scripture before us.

- Our tea makers and snack providers who give sustenance to our bodies after the rigours of our worship.

- Those who facilitate and those who attend our various Home Fellowship Groups.

- Nan Muir and those who work with her in visiting the sick and housebound, keeping tabs on those in need in our community.

- Lex Jackson and Margaret Acres who are hugely faithful in getting Communion to the hospitalised and housebound.

- Mary Verryn for her vision and action in motivating and maintaining the practical helps ministry of the Good Samaritans, and the Samaritans themselves.

- Penny Craven for keeping our sponsorship of Louis Botha Homes always before us, and to her and Ed for their caring involvement in Miriam’s life (our sponsor child).

- Trevor Wilson and his team for organising a very successful and enjoyable 25th Anniversary Dinner.

- Lettie Harris for her coordination and selflessness in organising and providing food for various functions this year, and we wish her well in her retirement from this responsibility.

- Deacon Steve Verryn for his ongoing commitment to the preparation of Baptism and Confirmation candidates.

- Dawn Long for her leadership of our monthly parish Quiet Days, and help in preparing our Confirmation candidates.

- Father Robin Heath and Father June de Klerk for their availability to preside over our worship every third Sunday, allowing me to be with our Chapelry in Stanza Bopape.

- Father Danny Adonis and Steve Njiro for being available to Diocesan needs at Ekangala and St Wilfred’s respectively.

- Jeanne Jackson for compiling our monthly newsletter and keeping us in touch with the ongoing life of the parish, as well as her coordination of the Comfort Group.

- Jenny Moser and all who contribute so generously to the monthly Food Parcels for Tumelong.

- Peter Davies and Trevor Wilson, for their incredible dedication and commitment to improving our property, from watering systems to parking, and the ongoing oversight of our site and gardens.

- Our Parish Cleaner, Cynthia, and parish Gardener, Gilbert, for their efforts in making sure our worship and fellowship environment is clean and neat, and Patrick and David who came in to help with the site renovation.

- Our Treasurer, Colette Martin, for her dedication in overseeing our finances, together with Bonita Brukman, and recently Gwen Heathfield, who took on the challenges of doing the book-keeping and Lex Jackson who has continued to oversee our generosity giving and hall pledge schemes. My special thanks to Lex, as our previous Treasurer over many years, for being willing early in 2006 to make way for an extended Finance Team and “young blood”.

- Our parish Administrator, Bonita Brukman, and recently Gwen Heathfield, for their positive attitude in keeping our administration in order and our Rector mostly under control.

- To our incoming Churchwardens and Council for availing themselves for these responsibilities, and for the work and ministry they will perform in our midst.

- To my wife, Dawn, and my children for their ongoing support of my ministry, and their willingness to share me, especially of many an evening and weekend, with the Church community.

- And finally, to all who labour without demand for recognition or reward for the growth of God’s Kingdom through this parish.

I thank you.