Tuesday, December 02, 2008

December 2008

Dear friends

Turning Houses into Homes

In my November “… from the Rector’s Desk” I reflected on our new Diocesan Focus on equipping and supporting family life in our church and society. One of the important questions is what Scriptural resources do we have to draw on as we walk this new journey? It is important that our faith interacts with our daily experience if we are to offer ourselves and the world something that has substance and creates renewed relational abundance.

I recently picked up a copy of The People’s Bible Commentary on GENESIS written by the Professor in the School of Theology at the University of Natal, Gerald West. This is a most marvellous book: normally Commentaries are rather intimidating and dry, but this one is a very different animal! It is written as a collection of daily readings, with a brief prayer attached, in language that everyday Christians can deal with, while retaining a very high standard of scholarship. Gerry was my Teen Church teacher some twenty-six years ago, so for me it’s a bit like dialoguing with an old friend!

What particularly caught my eye was the author’s comment in the introduction: “… Genesis does deal with cosmic matters, but on the whole it is about family matters. Most of the stories are about a family, although this family has had to bear the heavy weight of theological and ideological baggage. They can and do, therefore, speak to each one of us about ordinary but important matters, such as the fear of being unable to have children, the responsibilities of having children, the tensions within family; they speak about jealousy, envy, lust, love, forgiveness and trust; they speak about leadership; and they speak about God’s presence and absence in human life” (page 17).

Gerry comments that Genesis frames our reading of the whole Bible, covering as it does everything from a difficult to determine Israelite ancestral period right through to the shift from Persian rule to Hellenistic colonial control of Judah a couple of centuries before the birth of Christ (pages 13,17).

I am using this Commentary for my Advent reading, and am finding it really useful. It is available on http://www.loot.co.za/ for a frugal R156, and will prove worthwhile reading for the New Year.

Children and Teen Education

Critical to our parish family life is our Sunday Children and Teens worship and classes. Olga Nel – who has done and outstanding job for a number of years – has resigned as our Children’s Church Coordinator due to changes in her family and work life. Belinda Holden, who has been the mainstay of our Teen Church, is also stepping back after four years of dedicated service. We have lost a number of our younger teachers to the rigours of student life and studies. Three of our teachers, out of a needed nine (a coordinator plus two teachers per age group), remain to “hold the fort”.

It is particularly important that we find a coordinator with organisational and educational experience, otherwise we will not be able to reopen our Children’s Church in 2009. Please don’t leave this responsibility to others: if you have the skills, please apply. If you know of other parishioners who may be potential teachers, please speak up!

Youth Activities

Hilary and Lloyd, Shane and Liesel, Steve and Sabine, have made a commitment to re-charging our young people in the New Year: there has been a lot of interest shown by our young people, and we hope parents will also join this initiative.

Assistant Clergy

Our congratulations go to Vernon on his appointment as Rector of Trinity Anglican Church, Lynnwood, as from 1 January 2009. Please keep him in prayer as he prepares himself for this new responsibility and ministry.

Mission Parish

Our “baby” in Willow Glen is beginning to grow up! At Synod the decision was made to amalgamate Silverton and Willow Glen into the Mission Parish of Equestria. We await confirmation from the Bishop as to the appointment of a new Missionary Deacon for this mission. Please keep me in your prayers as continue to give leadership oversight to this important missionary outreach.


Jenny Moser, our own “Mrs Tumelong”, has indicated that she wishes to hand on the baton, and give others the opportunity to give leadership to this important social development focus in our parish. Jenny, you have been a giant in our midst, and held the flag high: thank you for your continued badgering and selfless contribution to the cause of the poor beyond our parish boundaries. We salute you for your dedication and the caring example you have given over the years. We know you will remain involved, but acknowledge your need to take some very well deserved rest!


As a parish we have had a good year. My personal thanks to you all: your contribution, be it just finding time to attend worship, or greater involvement through time and resources, has enabled us to be about the business of building the Kingdom of God in our needy world. Bless you!

A blessed Christmas and New Year to you all!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

November 2008

Dear Friends

Diocesan Synod 2008

Our recent Diocesan Synod was a great event, including a wonderful Diocesan Family Day Eucharist on the Sunday with the celebration of Bishop Jo’s 10th year as Bishop of Pretoria. Among many important areas of church and society addressed by Synod, the following stand out:

New Focus—Turning Houses into Homes

Excitingly, as a Diocese, we have made substantial progress over the last 10 years from maintenance to mission, and this was marked by Bishop Jo’s challenge to the Diocese in his Charge to now focus on equipping and strengthening families by turning houses into homes.


As part of a strategic move to realign our structures towards greater effectiveness in mission a motion was passed in principle (to be ratified by DSC in mid-November) to refocus our parish structures: this included the amalgamation of struggling parishes into clusters, moving some from parish to mission parish status, others to parish status. Excitingly, this included the amalgamation of our mission congregation in Willow Glen with the parish of Silverton into the new Mission Parish of Equestria.

A motion was also accepted to form a commission to review our Archdeaconry structures towards greater mission and ministry effectiveness.

Family Life

Our Bishop’s call to focus on equipping and strengthening families comes at a critical point in our social, political and economic context. While we can find much to bemoan in our present socio-political crisis as a nation, there can be no doubt that the breakdown in family life is a significant factor. Partly a cause of urbanisation, partly the rise of individualism (a negative consequence of Western-style democracy), “community” as a way of life, as a place of belonging, is increasingly rare. Families are communities; villages are communities; churches are communities; God, the Trinity, is a community. Huge, sprawling cities are not.

A house is a place, but a home is a relationship; and homes are relational networks for emotional, Spiritual, as well as economic and social, support. A home is more than just a place to sleep and store our clothes. A home is so much more than just a house.

In past centuries, mothers were often the relational centre around which family life revolved. With women, rightly, increasingly gaining economic and political power, this centre has been lost, and society has been unable to redefine the centre, and reform the nature of family into a viable 21st century social structure. The wider Church also appears largely impotent, and even—with people like Angus Buchan, of “Faith like Potatoes” fame, calling people back to an outdated social concept of family—contributing to further family confusion and chaos.

The Bishop’s Charge is effectively a call for us as Church to become creatively involved in reforming family life. We have resources, but we also need a willingness to interpret these resources in a new way for a new century with new challenges. Scripture is a prime resource, built as it is on communities of Faith over the ages, but a resource that needs to be reinterpreted for the times in which we live, rather than just a “cut and paste” job that takes no account of human evolution over two thousand years and more.

We need to re-explore “community”: we need to define how we choose to “belong” and recognise that some of our present choices may be dangerous to our relational, emotional and Spiritual reality; we need to experiment in finding a new centre, one that is not gender specific; we need to recommit to the centrality of meaningful relationships despite a consumerist global society that focuses us on possessions and teaches us a “throw-away” mentality. We need to be less discriminatory and more discriminating; we need to begin to see the wood for all the trees.

I suspect here is much we can learn from each other if we are willing to share, in particular, the areas of family life with which we struggle. A starting point may be to begin taking inventory of the reality of the family we are presently a part of, honestly and without shame.

We are all a part of this journey.



Thursday, September 25, 2008

October 2008

Dear Friends,

Challenging Times

I spent ten days in the Richtersveld this month, followed by the Men’s Fly-Fishing weekend in Belfast. In this brief time our political landscape has changed dramatically, and I have returned to civilisation to find ourselves in a new phase of political transition. The rights and wrongs of the recent actions of the ANC in recalling President Thabo Mbeki from the Presidency can be debated, but the reality is that we are moving into a transition phase that will only find some resolution after a national election is called early next year.

During times of transition, complexity, confusion and uncertainty, we need to remind ourselves of our role as Christians within the broader society. Firstly and foremostly, we need remember our first loyalty is to God through Jesus Christ, that our confidence and security is in God and not in the material world around us. Secondly, that we are ambassadors for Christ in the World, and therefore need to allow our Christian values—not our very real human fears—to dictate our words and our actions: we are called to be symbols of hope in the midst of uncertainty. Thirdly, we are called to be people of prayer and instruments for God’s divine intervention in our society: our words and actions should at all times flow out of our daily times of prayer and devotion.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:13 (TNIV) says, “… these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” He comments on the nature of love, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:7; TNIV). In these uncertain times let LOVE be our watchword.

The Richtersveld

I spent a wonderful ten days in the Richtersveld with my father-in-law during September. We were with a group of nine vehicles (eighteen of us plus four young children), and spent a great deal of time driving. We entered through Namibia and spent a night under the most massive cliff I have ever seen on the Manchab River Eco Trail. The Richtersveld itself required regular use of 4x4 (I am definitely “shaken, not stirred”) and some “hairy” moments on some very steep and rocky passes. The scenery was enchanting, and so different. One valley would be incredibly lush, and half a kilometre further the next valley quite desolate. Bare mountains, on closer inspection, were full of life, and the most amazing variety of plants survive in gravel. Klipspringer, Dassies and Ground Squirrels were in abundance, and birds—while few—were all new to me. Two of our camps were on the banks of the Orange River, and one high in the mountains. Some intrepid fishermen managed to haul out a Yellow Fish and Cat Fish were in abundance. We covered over 3,500km in the ten days (500km in the Park), set up camp too many times, but nonetheless it was a truly marvellous experience.

Synod 2008

Next time I write we will be on the other side of our Diocesan Synod. Looking through the Agenda Book there are some interesting topics up for debate, and Synod promises to be a productive time. Please keep this time (2-4 October) in your prayers and thoughts.

I look forward to seeing you all at the Diocesan Family Day service on Sunday 5 October 2008, where we will also be celebrating Bishop Jo’s 10th Anniversary as Bishop of Pretoria.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

September 2008

Dear friends

The Anglican Communion: what it means to be “Church”

In my letter to you all last month I reflected on what it means to be Church. Since then, Lambeth, the decadal conference of Anglican Primates and Bishops from around the world, has come and gone. Excitingly, the conference has strengthened relationships within the Anglican Communion, and despite contentious issues around sexuality, the Communion is, it seems, stronger than ever. This is largely due to the nature of the Conference itself, a deeply spiritual event focused on listening, rather than debate and resolutions. There is a renewed understanding among bishops as to the challenges of mission and ministry in the multitude of different contexts in which they find themselves, and a renewed commitment to support the Archbishop of Canterbury as a symbol of our unity. The threat of schism, overplayed perhaps by the media, did not find light of day, and we thank God that we remain in fellowship with Anglicans around the world. In reflection, our Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, says in his Ad Laos communication: “… when I look back, I realise that most of all Lambeth was about relationships – with Jesus, with one another in Christ, and with the world.” This is something to celebrate!

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in a reflection to the Bishops post-Lambeth, notes: “First, there was an overwhelming unity around the need for the Church to play its full part in the worldwide struggle against poverty ignorance and disease. … Second, on the controversial issue of the day regarding human sexuality, there was a very widely-held conviction that premature or unilateral local change was risky and divisive, in spite of the diversity of opinion expressed on specific questions. … Third, there was a general desire to find better ways of managing our business as a Communion. Many participants believed that the indaba method, while not designed to achieve final decisions, was such a necessary aspect of understanding what the questions might be that they expressed the desire to see the method used more widely – and to continue among themselves the conversations begun in Canterbury.” We have a lot to be proud of, as Anglicans!

Diocesan Family Day: Sunday 5 October 2008
10:00 at St Mary’s DSG

This is an important Diocesan occasion where we celebrate being part of the wider Diocesan Family. It is also our celebration of Bishop Jo’s 10th Year as Bishop of Pretoria, so an important day for us. It is likely that the preacher will be Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan.

As has become tradition there will be NO SERVICES at CORPUS CHRISTI on this Sunday. I am also aware of the temptation to play golf, visit neglected family, or generally do something other than be part of these BIG events, so my plea is that you breath deeply, put temptation behind you, and come join us at St Mary’s DSG (one of our Anglican Schools in Pretoria) in Duxbury Road, Hillcrest! These days are always fun once one gets there, so please make the effort to join us and be a participant in this event.

As we will be outside, you’ll need to bring a chair, a hat, maybe an umbrella (for the sun, hopefully not the rain) and a picnic for after the service.



Thursday, July 31, 2008

August 2008

Dear friends

What it means to be “Church”

As I write, Lambeth, the decadal conference of Archbishops and Bishops from around the world, is in the second week of meeting at Kent University in the UK. A major focus of their time together is grappling with the definition of “Church” and “Christian Community”, highlighted by the ongoing concern for many that The Episcopal Church (TEC) of the USA may have stepped beyond the boundaries by electing a Bishop (Gene Robinson) who is in an active Gay relationship. In many parts of Africa and Asia homosexual relationships are considered a criminal act, while in the USA and other parts of the world it is recognised as just another way humans celebrate relationships. It seems over two-hundred Bishop’s may have boycotted the conference due to the perceived “permissiveness” of TEC in particular. An Anglican Covenant is under discussion to try to address “orthodoxy” (sound doctrine and practice), but whether or not this will help bridge the large gap in both doctrine and practice around the issue of sexual orientation is yet to be tested. This is not the only issue under discussion, and our Archbishop’s Blog (http://archbishop.anglicanchurchsa.org/) is instructive, as is a UK site called “Thinking Anglicans” (http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/).

The Nature of “Church”

In a lecture given on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Ripon College, Cuddesdon (UK) in 2004, Archbishop Rowan Williams had the following to say about the nature of the Church: “… the Church is first of all a kind of space cleared by God through Jesus in which people may become what God made them to be (God’s sons and daughters), and that what we have to do about the Church is not first to organise it as a society but to inhabit it as a climate or landscape.” This brings to mind our parish slogan: “Our lives: a place where others meet Christ.” It is a call not just to live out our faith in life, but to live IN our Faith: to immerse ourselves in God.

Archbishop Williams’ thought is a radical one for many of us who possibly prescribe to the view that, “… the Church is essentially a lot of people who have something in common called Christian faith and get together to share it with each other and communicate it to other people ‘outside’.” Williams’ comments that this view is “… harmless enough … but a good way from what the New Testament encourages us to think about the Church.”

The perspective that Church primarily constitutes a place to be inhabited, not organised, shines a fresh light on what it means to be involved with the Church, with the people of God, and again Williams comments, “When Christ calls, he calls, we are told, into a community with diverse roles and tasks, not into a mass of individuals vaguely looking for things to do …
This beggars each one of us to ask the question: what role, what task, am I fulfilling? Or am I just vaguely passing through?

[The full text of this lecture can be found at: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/1185].


The above brings us back to my comment in my last communication that Hilary Davis, in the Stewardship portfolio, has worked hard to distil questions that will prompt us to acknowledge our individual God-given gifts. The second set of questions is available elsewhere in this magazine – please look at them, and perhaps revisit last month’s magazine for the first set of questions. I am always willing to make time to discuss issues of faith and calling with you, and will be happy to include discussion around how and where you are encountering God and the myriad of gifts he places into our lives. Please feel free to phone and book some time with me.

Thank You

Thank you to everyone who made a special effort to make Dawn and I feel special this month as we celebrated our birthdays: we received FOUR birthday cakes (!); we much appreciated spending time with those who could make it around the Braai on Sunday 6 July; we are most thankful for the cards, gifts and fellowship given to us in such abundance!

Web Presence

We are still planning a parish web page, but this seems to be taking a while! In the meantime previous editions of “… from the Rector’s Desk” can be found at
where there is also a link to our parish Picture Gallery, which can also be accessed at
Please feel free to browse!


Sunday, June 29, 2008

July 2008 - It's in your hands

Dear friends

46664 – It’s in your hands

At his 90th Birthday Concert celebration in Hyde Park, London, last Friday Nelson Mandela gave a brief, but remarkable speech: “We say tonight after nearly 90 years of life, it is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now.” Madiba has been inspirational both as a person and as a leader, in large part because he has lived and led with integrity. The political landscape, particularly on the African continent, even in the world, is bleak in comparison. We need God to raise up leaders of integrity, able to inspire public confidence and loyalty. But even more importantly we need to hear Mandela’s words, that it is our hands: we have the wherewithal to make a difference. We need to acknowledge our God-given gifting and stand up and be counted.

Broadening the base - encounter

Parish Council has recognised that as a Parish we rely on the few to carry the burden of leadership, mission and ministry. Hilary Davis, in the Stewardship portfolio, has worked hard to distil questions that will prompt us to acknowledge our individual God-given gifts. The first of these questions appear in this edition of the Magazine, and more will appear in the next few months, and I encourage you to wrestle with yourself, with God, with us, so that together we can increasingly be obedient to the call of God on our lives to mission and ministry. Where are you encountering God – in life, in the church, in the world? Where you encounter God is likely to be where God is calling you to develop your calling and ministry further.

Community development

The Diocesan Mission, Ministry & Evangelism (MM&E) programme is moving us into a phase where we begin to consciously focus outwards into the world, and encounter the communities in which we live. Thobeka Mda, in the Community Needs portfolio, has collated your input via the recent questionnaire circulated in the Pewleaflet. A number of ideas have been put forward including interacting with and supporting the Garsfontein Police Station; parenting support; outreach to the various schools and retirement centres in our neighbourhood; the activation of parishioners geographically for mutual support and outreach initiatives. If you have any further thoughts, either on ideas already mentioned or other opportunities, please feed these into the office or directly to Thobeka.

Journeying in discipleship

The recent visit of the Bishop of Reading to the Diocese highlighted the importance of evangelism & mission as a continuing journey, and more specifically that to be a convert is insufficient: one needs to become a disciple (learner) of Christ as well. My initiative in starting a regular Wednesday evening adult Christian education course is in response to this challenge. We are presently reflecting on and discussing aspects of the Apostles Creed, which participants are finding challenging and exciting. While the course is designed in such a way that you can interact when available, I am really encouraging you to set time aside on a Wednesday and take your growth as a Disciple seriously. Attending Sunday Worship, while hopefully uplifting and encouraging, maintains our Spirituality but is not designed to grow us as disciples – additional commitment of time is needed.

My thanks to Les Rudman, in the Ecumenism portfolio, for our weekly Pewleaflet insert on aspects of Anglicanism. This initiative is part of our education development initiative and has grown out of an awareness that if we are going to seek to interact with other Christians in community outreach, it is important that we know who we are as Anglican Christians; that we are confident in who we are and in why we choose to worship in the way we do.

Sunday worship

In case what I’ve said above gives the impression our Sunday worship may not be as important as we think, let me share with you the Benedictine perspective on Sunday Worship from Joan Chittister: “The Rule of Benedict – insight for the Ages”:

It is a day full of tradition and rhythm and rememberings of the simple but important concepts of existence. It is a return to basic truths that are never to be sacrificed for variety and always reinforced through repetition. … the Sabbath is the moment for returning to the surety and solemnity of life, for setting our sights above the daily, for restating the basics, for giving meaning to the rest of the week so that the mundane and the immediate do not become the level of our existence. [page 80]

Willow Glen developments

Diocesan Standing Committee has taken the initiative in expanding the mission to the wider Willow Glen area by encouraging the parishioners of Silverton, who have become unsustainable as a Parish due to various factors, to merge with the congregation developing in Willow Glen. Additionally, Diocesan Trustees have made a decision to sell the Silverton Church plant and property and invest this money in building a new Church and community facility on the Diocesan property in Stellenberg Road in Equestria. Our hope is that in October we will receive Diocesan Synod’s permission for this area to formally become a Mission Parish, centred on Willow Glen/Equestria, but stretching from Silverton in the West through to Silver Lakes in the East, filling the corridor on either side of the N4. Please keep these ongoing initiatives in prayer, and especially Fr Vernon who presently carries this missionary responsibility.

Thank you

It is encouraging in these tough political, social and economic times - with increasing interest rate hikes, fuel prices, and electricity costs - to see our Parish finances still looking so healthy. Parish Council appreciates the sacrifice we know many of you are making to keep to your Generosity Giving commitments. Thank you!



Tuesday, May 27, 2008

June 2008 - Transformation, Identity & Xenophobia

Dear Friends

from Transformation to Identity

The theme I have constantly returned to during the Easter to Pentecost journey has been “Transformation”: the transformation of Life itself through the death and Resurrection of Jesus; the transformation of the Jesus of History into the Christ of Faith through the Ascension; our transformation through the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. The Feast of Corpus Christi (The Body of Christ) takes us the next step: identity.

Transformation, Identity and Xenophobia

I have grappled with the resistance I have had even to using the term “Transformation” in relation to our parish life. In reflection I realise that underlying this resistance is the issue of identity: who am I, who are we? What is it to be Human, African, South African? What is it to be a person/community of Faith, Christian, Anglican, a member of the Body of Christ? What is it that primarily defines who I am, who we are?

It strikes me that often we define ourselves not in the more universal terms of being human or Christian, but in terms of particular aspects of our existence: we highlight ethnic priorities or specific traditions; and these have led, ultimately and sadly, to Xenophobic violence in our country. This “Us” verses “Them” dichotomy leads to the breakdown in community relationships. This is true in South African society and in the Church, even at Parish level.

Somehow we need to embrace a concept of “Us” that does not create a “Them”; an “Us” that revels in embracing different perspectives in creative balance; an environment where “They” are “Us”. Perhaps this ultimately is the source of transformation, a transformation where, from a Christian Faith perspective, we become ever more Christ-like, and in so doing become ever more human, recognising that we all are made in God’s image, in the image of the Creator.

Xenophobia and a new Way of Living

The horror of recent and ongoing Xenophobic events in our country point to a failure in Government – but also to the failure of the Church – to build a truly democratic, free society. Yes, the number of refugees from other parts of Africa has reached intimidating levels with the statistic of up to 25% of informal settlements being made up of foreigners. Yes, service delivery has not impacted on the poor in ways they find meaningful. Yes, crime is sometimes perpetrated by foreigners. However, it is largely our own children, the so-called “Born Free” generation – who are estimated to make up 70% of all unemployed people in our country – that are perpetrators of much of the recent upheavals. We as Government, as Civil Society, as Faith Communities, have failed to instil a moral core into our young people; we have failed to give them an identity of which they can be proud; an identity onto which they can build a solid moral code.

And so it hurts that we at Corpus Christi, we who carry the name “Body of Christ”, are so resistant to facing up to the call to be transformed. Within our Parish life we have a wonderful opportunity to explore our diverse cultural heritage, to experiment with what it means for “Them” to be “Us”; to build transformed relationships and community in a way that offers HOPE to our wider society, to our Nation. I hear, “Don’t rock the boat”; I hear, “Things are going well – don’t spoil it”. But what do I see?

What do I see?

Despite verbal resistance, I see transformation in action; I see greater involvement from groupings in the Parish that previously were less visible; I see people who struggle with change reaching out across perceived barriers; I see new relationships germinating; and I feel … yes … sense a new ownership of Parish life growing in people’s hearts. I see a community struggling to find a new path, a transformed identity. We are not there yet, but we have begun a journey. Let us persevere, together.



Saturday, May 03, 2008

May 2008 - An East African Journey

Dear Friends

An East African Journey

My trip to Southern Sudan was a growing experience. The cheapest flight was via Ethiopia, which enabled me to spend a day with a friend from the Lowveld who has been living and working in Addis Ababa for the last eighteen months doing agricultural development work. It was good to catch up with him and the development work he is doing. Then it was on to Juba in Southern Sudan for a week.

The Episcopal Church of the Sudan

The Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) gathered in Juba for the enthronement of their new Archbishop, Daniel Deng Bul, along with partners from the USA (Virginia and Chicago) and the UK (Salisbury and Bradford), Canada, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. The occasion marked the beginning of a new era for the Church and her people. Over twenty years of civil war have left most Dioceses decimated, and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005 remains very brittle. Refugees are beginning to return, but are finding few resources in place and many end up at the door of the local Bishop who has little capacity to be of any material help. There are four geographically huge dioceses in the North, and a further twenty dioceses in the South, with at least seven new dioceses planned. Few Dioceses can offer their Bishops much in the way of resources, and many live in grass huts, there being no house for the Bishop, no office, no Cathedral, and no car. Where structures did exist, many have been destroyed during the war, and most Christians worship under trees. Dioceses on the southern borders, such as Ezo, continue to be attacked by the LRA (Uganda) losing seed, communication equipment, even people in these raids. During the war the economy was largely a cashless one, but with the advent of peace and the arrival of various Aid organisations – including the UN – the church is losing professional people to better salaries in these organisations. Clergy (referred to as pastors in the ECS) go largely unpaid and under-trained, and at least one Bishop I spoke with had not received a stipend since December. The ECS is acknowledged by the Government of the Southern Sudan as the largest civil society organisation in the South, and with this acknowledgement comes expectation. The Church finds itself needing to involve itself with agriculture, health and education.

Diocese of Juba

As the Diocese of Pretoria we are looking to develop a relationship with the Diocese of Juba, the host Diocese of the Archbishop. I met with the assistant Bishop, Micah Laila Dawidi, of Juba and some of the Diocesan staff to get some idea of the challenges. The real need for Juba – and other dioceses – is for capacity building. The Diocese of Juba is made up of three areas: the Archdeaconry of Terekeka (to become a new Diocese); the Archdeaconry of Wonduruba (reached via the neighbouring Diocese); and the Archdeaconry of Juba Town. The Archbishop is keen that Pretoria journey with Juba in the area of education. Juba has nineteen church schools – 8 pre-schools, 10 primary schools and 1 secondary school – catering for over six-thousand learners. There are two teachers per classes of ninety to one-hundred and fifty children. Government is busy withdrawing financial support for teaching staff in church schools even though results show these schools are producing a higher level of excellence than government institutions. Fees are around USD$60 per year, and salaries range from USD$250 per month for a primary school teacher to USD$600 per month for graduate teachers in secondary schools. Juba has a Theological College with resources for training up to fifty pastors, but this is presently closed due to lack of funds. There is a shortage of medication and many clergy and laity live with untreated diseases such as high blood-pressure due to lack of treatment or lack of funds for treatment. The Diocese runs a health centre – the Clinic of St Luke – but this is often closed due to shortage of both funds and medication. It is estimated that around one-million people now live in Juba, many of whom remain traumatised by the war. There is a lack of manpower, with many intellectuals having been targeted and killed during the war, and training of both clergy and laity is priority. The Government is not helping with the reconstruction of Church buildings, although some effort is being made with schools and clinics. The Juba Diocese owns a few buildings which are rented out to NGO’s, which along with small projects such as the sale of eggs provide limited income to meet the Bishops’ stipends (USD$200 per month) and salary costs (USD$100 per person per month) in the Diocesan Office. The Diocese has one vehicle, a motorbike that is used by the development officer. The Diocesan Office is in need of repair, and additional space.

It seems the Youth is strong in the Juba Diocese, but with peace has come greater expectations: modern musical instruments, a club for youth to meet. A Sunday School syllabus has been produced and printed, but remains in storage as no money or vehicle is available to transport this resource to the parishes. HIV/AIDS is a growing problem, and forty-two councillors have been trained in Street Theatre and counselling skills through a UK grant, and are working with Provincial Church structures as well as the Southern Sudan Council of Churches.

I raised the idea of Pretoria providing a sabbatical option for clergy and bishops. The general response was that, despite the trauma war has caused, the needs on the ground are too great to allow people substantial time-out, and that many have only recently returned from exile and are needed to help rebuild the country and the church. There was a positive response from Bishop Micah of Juba to short-term, experiential visits that would build capacity through specific training events, but greater interest in our sending individuals to Sudan for periods of two weeks to a month to run intensive training/capacity building courses.

Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)

The CPA caused me to miss an opportunity to be shown around the Diocese of Juba, as the Census – due to be taken the week before, but due to the exclusion of a question on ethnicity and one on religious affiliation, was nearly aborted but agreed to for the following week – required all Sundani to remain “inside” for the duration. This meant we were tied to the Lodge for the day. The American delegation arranged for the American Consul, Christopher Dada, to address the Bishops in the afternoon, a very interesting interaction. The Census is the first of three important steps in the implementation of the CPA, which includes elections in 2009 and a referendum as to whether Southern Sudan will separate from the North in 2011.

Local Custom

In east Africa everyone drives on the right-hand side of the road, a little off-putting as I was nearly squashed on a couple of occasions looking right and stepping out blithely into traffic coming from the left! Also, instead of a family name, people (men and women) in east Africa use their father and grandfather’s names, which leaves one feeling a little lost as to who belongs to whom, but explains why everyone uses three names. In the Sudan one greets with a hand to the left shoulder, followed by a hand-shake, although Westerners are often just greeted with a handshake.


Accommodation in Juba is hugely expensive: I was privileged to stay at the White Nile Lodge along with the Sudanese Bishops. There is a government tax of 25% on such accommodation, and all electricity is provided by generators that chug into the night, providing air-conditioned bliss in temperatures of 36˚C and high humidity. This said, USD$120 got one a prefab sauna (room) - the other option was a tent – with bathroom: cold water, a shower that leaked through the bedroom wall, and a toilet so close to the wall one needed to detach one’s legs at the hip to use it! The mattress was new and of sturdy foam! To sit, sipping bottled water, watching the White Nile flow past, was a treat!


I presented the Cathedral of All Saints, Juba (the Cathedral in Khartoum is also called “All Saints”) with a Prayer Book as a gift from all of us at Corpus Christi. This gift was much appreciated, especially as the Sudan is in the process of reviewing and hopefully publishing its own Prayer book in the near future. I was presented with a wooden carving of a Rhinoceros as a symbol of the people of the Sudan and a locally made hand-bag for Dawn. I was also presented with a ornate walking stick for Bishop Jo, and a wooden cut-out map of the Sudan as a focus for prayer.



Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April 2008 - The Transformation of Resurrection

Dear Friends

The Transformation of Resurrection

In my letter to you all last month I spoke of transition. Easter speaks of something more: transformation! Some may say, “Yes, yes, it’s all words …” and you’d be right. However, each word gives us a different perspective, highlights a different facet of the diamond that is life in God. How has your life been transformed, how is it being transformed, as you grow in relationship with God and God’s people? Are you encountering God in life, in worship, in relationship? Where are you encountering God in your involvement with Corpus Christi? Do people encounter God as they encounter you? You and I, we … are called to be instruments of transformation in our families, our friendships, our society and our nation, our world. To be transformed by the resurrected life of Christ is to be the same, but different; to be aware that as we accept Christ into our lives we, too, are risen! At Corpus Christi our primary core purpose is to be a place where others meet Christ: how is your life an instrument of love in the world of others?

I encourage you to dwell on these questions as the answers may not always be immediately obvious, but they are there.

A Dream

In my reflection last month on our need to be a community in transition towards greater inclusivity I shared that for me it is “a dream” that as yet has no great clarity. In further reflection I realise that the exposure I have received as an Anglican Priest forms the foundation of my vision for our future. Perhaps I need to share something of my journey …

… a Stretching Journey

I was dragged up in a largely liberal-English fashion in a home where people were always acknowledged as people, no matter their creed or colour, and a grandmother who had been an active Black Sash member. My early life was, however, marred by Apartheid in that few opportunities arose in Apartheid South Africa to meet and interact meaningfully with so-called “non-Europeans”. My exposure to other South African cultures was sadly lacking. I became conscious during my two years of mandatory National Service in the mid 1980’s that for me black people had no individuality, and that I needed to set this right. This led to an overnight move at the end of my two years in the South African Defence Force to living in Garankuwa (North-East of Pretoria) and sharing a mission house together first with Kabelo Thlokoe (who sadly never made it to Priesthood) and then with Gilbert Mashiane (from Mamelodi) and Johan Viljoen (the son of an Apartheid Ambassador), while studying Missiology part-time in Pietermaritzburg with some very radical young black fellow-students.

This move was probably the most stretching of my life as I was immersed in anti-apartheid structures and conscientised for the first time in my young life to the realities of life on the other side of the Apartheid coin, a painful place. My worldview was transformed, and left me in a lonely place: my friends no longer understood me, and seemed uncomfortable with my new perspective on life; my new environment was an uncertain and uncomfortable place; a position in which I had chosen to immerse myself. This journey also absorbed me in the breadth of Anglicanism, and especially in the invigorating worship environment of township communities; and new friendships in a new environment; new, different insights into what it means to be a Christian in South Africa. A stretching journey that began to inform my desire for a comprehensive, broad Southern African Anglican inclusivity.

In White River, my first posting as Rector, I had responsibility for a largely English-colonial community in town, and responsibility for the township parish in Kabokweni made up largely of Swazi people, as well as mixed African-cultural groupings in Bushbuckridge and Shatale. I was then posted to Nelspruit, a largely English and Indian parish, while also having responsibility for Kanyamazane. I was in Nelspruit towards the end of the 1990’s and we saw a number of black folk move into town and into the parish during this time, which for some reason was more threatening to the Indian community than the English. As Chaplain to Uplands College I encouraged tutor groups to lead the prayers, and individuals had the right to use any language they chose – the most challenging (and creative) moment being when a Muslim student stood up and prayed the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic! Now at Corpus Christi, the most integrated Sunday community I have ever served, I also carry responsibility for the Anglican community in Stanza Bopape.

Stanza Bopape, as those who occasionally join me there from Corpus Christi will attest, is an amazing experience of inclusive language: the Psalm is said antiphonally, the odd verses in Setswana/Sepedi and the even verses in isiZulu/isiXhosa. The Eucharistic responses happen in all four languages at the same time, and the Lord’s Prayer in English (I think for my benefit).

The point I am making is that in twenty years of ministry my weekly/monthly worship-life has always been diversely inclusive, even if in quite culturally-specific congregations; regular worship in different languages and cultural patterns is “normal” for me.

Ministry in the Anglican Church and specifically in the Diocese of Pretoria has given me, from the earliest days of my training, a vision for what we can be as the people of God, for the unity that is possible in the midst of our huge diversity.


As I look out over our Sunday congregation at 9am I see for the first time in twenty years, in a congregation I serve, a real possibility of being reflective of the unity we find in Christ in our fuller diversity as Anglicans and as Southern Africans. And thus my pressure on us to reach out towards a greater inclusivity in worship styles and cultures. I am aware that this is a stretching vision for us, one with which many in our community are not comfortable, and that even limited use of other languages has created distress. I am an eclectic at heart, which possibly adds to the discomfort, as my desire to piece together the best of our diversity often lacks specific focus and so appears to raise its head in creative disorder.

We have the building blocks; each of us is resourced with language and cultural experience and a relationship with God through Jesus Christ; do we have the will to make it work? And do we have the courage?

It requires a letting go … of what has been “normal” at Corpus Christi … and what has been “normal” in our diverse congregations-of-origin. Do we have the courage to let go … and be transformed?

POST SCRIPT – Thank you

Thank you to all at Corpus Christi and Willow Glen for your generous Easter gift to me – I greatly appreciate your love shown in this very concrete manner!


As the Chairperson of the Diocesan Companion Links Committee I will be attending the enthronement of the new Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) in Juba. As a Diocese we are attempting to develop a Companion Link with the ECS Province, and so I will hopefully also be able to explore possibilities for this relationship – one the recently retired former Archbishop was keen to develop – with them while I am there. Please keep the new ECS Archbishop, Daniel Deng Bul, in your prayers as he leads the ECS during a critical phase in the national life of Southern Sudan. Please keep me in your prayers, too. I will be away from 16 to 24 April 2008.


A Response to the Eucharistic Prayer

Our physical response in prayer is an important symbolic response to God and his love for us. As Anglicans we are used to kneeling for prayer, a sign of complete submission before God. I was struck, recently, while watching a documentary in which the Queen Elizabeth II was bestowing a knighthood that as this person knelt before her it would have been as easy to whip off his head as it was to tap him gently in the shoulder! Kneeling is the most vulnerable physical position the human body can adopt … and so rightfully our attitude in prayer.

We adopt this position during the Eucharistic Prayer, generally after the Sanctus (Holy, holy, holy Lord …). The question, though, is why?

There are perhaps two responses: we respond to the word “prayer” and fall on our knees; in our previous Book of Common Prayer the Eucharistic Prayer was understood to be the work of the Priest, not the congregation, and so we meditated in prayerful attitude while this work was completed.

The (almost 20 years old!) new Prayer Book, An Anglican Prayer Book 1989 (APB) presents a different attitude to the Eucharistic Prayer, describing the Priest – in the bishop’s absence – as the one who “presides” over the Eucharist Service. The Priest is no longer described as the “Celebrant”, a term used in the Book of Common Prayer. The implication of this change is that the Priest now presides over the congregation, and the congregation celebrates: the Eucharist is now the work of Priest AND congregation, no longer just the Priest.

This changed (dare I say “transformed”?) attitude to the Eucharistic Prayer is backed up by the words in the first Eucharistic Prayer, “… we your people celebrate before you …” (APB pg 119) and in the second Eucharistic Prayer, “… we celebrate with this bread and this cup …” (APB pg 121) and in the third Eucharistic Prayer, “We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you.” (APB pg 124) and in the fourth Eucharistic Prayer, “… we offer/bring before you this bread and this cup…” (APB pg 126) and “… giving thanks that you have made us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you” (APB pg 126).

And so the Eucharistic Prayer is transformed from meditative prayer to celebration. And how do we celebrate? – very rarely on our knees!

The Parish Ministry Team and Council have discussed this at length, and believe it is right that we should adjust our physical response from kneeling after the Sanctus to standing, and to kneel for the first time at the Lord’s Prayer or Prayer of Humble Access (We do not presume …). This said, we also recognise that for some members of the Parish, kneeling for the Eucharistic prayer may be a deep part of one’s spirituality developed over decades, and so while we are encouraging everyone to stand, it is not obligatory! Additionally, we are aware that for some it is physically difficult to stand for long periods and a medical condition may require one to sit.

In Scripture we see a number of physical responses to encounter with God from falling on one’s face prostrate, to kneeling, to standing, to standing with one’s hands uplifted. Rarely, however, does anyone ever seem to sit in response to a Divine encounter – and so perhaps should only be a response if a medical condition applies!

Hopefully the above is helpful, particularly to those who were not present when this was discussed at our various Services in early March.

The Rector

Thursday, March 06, 2008

March 2007 - Transition towards a greater inclusivity

Dear Friends

Transition …

Transition is another word for change, but one that reflects a journey: a move from one state of being to another. Life in the 21st century is full of change on a complexity of levels, often leaving us “changed out” and desperately seeking constancy. One place that we seek this constancy is in the Church, and yet the church itself is only a microcosm of the greater world. The Church is impacted by the society in which it exists, and is drawn into the transitional journeys of the communities it serves.

… a journey toward Christ-likeness

Corpus Christi is in transition, we are on a journey. This journey primarily should reflect a movement towards deeper Christ-likeness; our Christ-likeness embracing the transitional journeys of our society. One of the ongoing transitions in our society is a move away from racial discrimination towards a greater wholeness of relationship on the basis of our humanity, and while our new Constitution embraces this, we still struggle with unchanged attitudes (as seen recently on the campus of the University of the Free State). There are other areas of concern in our wider society, including the disturbing growth in xenophobic behaviour with its basis in ethnic discrimination given increasing momentum by the huge influx of refugees from Zimbabwe in particular, not to mention the draw-card our economy is to others within the African continent.

… a greater inclusivity

As our South African society struggles to deal with these complexities a real opportunity develops for the Church to give leadership in this arena. One of the defining imperatives of the Church is to be inclusive in embracing all of God’s people. Mission and Evangelism from an Anglican perspective is to invite people into the Christian community and for them to be converted through involvement (rather than insisting people should be converted prior to being welcomed into fellowship as happens in some other denominations).

Being inclusive is an Anglican value. It is one of our Corpus Christi values as well: “… we offer inclusive, flexible, reverent and dignified worship opportunities”. What does it mean for us to be “inclusive”? Our roots as a parish are in the English speaking, high-church Anglican tradition. We began our parish life as a largely “white” Christian community in the early 1980’s. However, the picture has changed and we find ourselves in 2008 an increasingly diverse multi-cultural community with a broad representation of African cultural origins from both within and beyond the borders of South Africa. There is need for us to find ways to reflect this increasing diversity in our worship if we are to be true to our value of inclusiveness.

How to be inclusive is the challenge we face. Use of different languages, while being an option, is a difficult one due to English being the only language common to us all. The use of any other language automatically excludes someone from fully participating, yet says to those who do understand, “You are welcome in our midst!” The Liturgy in our Prayer Book is another uniting factor that offers room for creativity. Perhaps the answer is not in language, but in creatively exploring our set Liturgy from different cultural perspectives. Music can also be a powerful instrument of unity in the midst of increasing diversity, but requires a willingness to move beyond the British Colonialism of Hymns Ancient & Modern (even if revised!).

… constancy a barrier

All of this, however, undermines our deep and compelling desire for constancy. The response at our Annual Vestry to my Rector’s Report underlined this desire, and was reflected in the comment, “Why change what’s working well?” - A valid question. A question, though, that seeks to maintain; not a question that grapples with the imperative of our Diocesan call to become more mission focused, more evangelistically orientated.

The crux of the matter is that we are in transition: we seek to give Gospel values to this transition, making it a journey that we seek to direct and form. It is not a journey that we can control because it is a transition whose imperative is driven by the society in which we live; a society itself made up of a variety of cultural perspectives, themselves in transition. As a Christian community we are moving from a place that we understand and can define to a future that is emergent, but not yet clear. Our fear is letting go of what we know and have come to trust, and stepping out in faith to a future that is glimpsed dimly.

… a call to “Go!”

Even as I encourage us towards greater inclusivity in our worship (which will translate into greater inclusivity in other areas of our Parish life) I am not sure what this greater inclusivity looks like, I have no clear picture of where I want us to go. What I do know is that I have a deep desire to find out, to explore the possibilities, to move beyond our current boundaries.

The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you …” (Genesis 12:1-2b; TNIV).

I hear the call for us to go to a new place – a new place of greater inclusivity, greater unity within our growing diversity – and I hear that we will be blessed. That was enough for Abram to comply and to be obedient. Is it enough for us?



Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rector's Report to Annual Vestry 2008

We live in a Western-orientated world that Eddie Gibbs, former professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary, describes in his book Church Next as unpredictable and filled with discontinuous change, a plan-do environment in which management, particularly in the realm of the Spirit, is a discerned art rather than hard science. South Africa, with its developing nation status and multi-cultural environment, interesting political developments and economic uncertainties, adds to this chaotic wider context within which we meet to review the year that has passed, and prepare for the year that lies before us. While we need to measure our performance, perhaps more important is the need to evaluate how we have grown in knowing God, and whether our lives and service reflect such intimacy (cf Gibbs: 105, 111, 121).

In today’s Psalm we hear the important reminder of faith: “The Lord protects my life. So why should I be afraid?” (Ps 27:1b; NCV). These words are a reminder that no matter the chaos of the present or the uncertainties of the future, our hope as people of faith lies in our relationship with the Divine. Isaiah’s words, “They lived in a dark land, but light has shined on them.” (Is 9:2b; NCV), remind us that even Eskom cannot inhibit the purposes of God! What then should we fear? The challenge of our Christian faith is not to focus on events around us, but on God. This is not to ignore reality, but to infuse reality with Life.

As Christians we give concrete reality to our faith through our actions. The growth in our social responsibility commitments during 2007 is one such act, and is visible in our ongoing commitment to Irene Homes and Tumelong, Louis Botha Homes and Women against Rape (WAR). Although our Audited Accounts show a meagre R10,000 commitment to Outreach, we need to add the substantial cash value of the approximate 375 food parcels contributed to Tumelong, and the ongoing monthly collections of items for WAR. In addition, we have given away monthly Sunday collections to various causes from the Bishop’s Training Fund to Mosquito-nets for Mozambique, bringing the cash value of our outward giving during 2007 to around R60,000. In addition, admittedly through one extremely generous donation, in partnership with the Diocese we have funded the Missionary Development in Willow Glen in the person of Vernon Foster. Also, a substantial portion of our Diocesan Assessment contributes to the mission of the Church within the Diocese. We can hold our heads high when it comes to our participation in, and our support of, mission.

While we have given outwardly, we have not neglected ourselves, and this is visible in the major extension and refurbishment we have undertaken of our Church building, and we owe a huge dept of gratitude to Peter Davies for driving this project. Thanks to many of you contributing over and above your normal giving, along with various fundraising efforts, a project that has cost us in the region of R250,000 has left us with a loan debt to the Diocese of only R120,000 and has not inhibited us meeting our other financial obligations.

Our dream of establishing a new congregation in Willow Glen has excitingly come to fruition, and our support for our Missionary Deacon, now Priest – Vernon Foster – has been a catalyst for this process. The Bishop’s decision to leave Vernon with us for the foreseeable future, despite pressing needs in other parts of the Diocese for clergy, speaks of the wider support this vision has within our Archdeaconry and Diocese. Seventeen families have made a firm commitment to membership of the Willow Glen initiative, and will carry a substantial portion of Vernon’s running costs during 2008. We are hugely appreciative of the Willow Haven Retirement Centre’s willingness to provide space for the new Willow Glen community to be birthed during 2007, and for their ongoing support in providing nurturing space during 2008. We are thankful for Willowridge High School’s willingness to provide space at minimal cost for Willow Glen to enjoy regular weekly Sunday Morning services during 2008.

In terms of spiritual growth within our parish I am encouraged by the large group of parishioners who have made themselves available to serve on Council in the coming year. This willingness to put aside time in the midst of very busy lives speaks of a deepening commitment to both Christ and the Church. The Planning Day earlier this month demonstrated a motivated and energised Council for 2008. The day itself birthed a number of new ideas and plans for the year ahead, of which we will hear more in the coming months. No large projects are planned for the year, but the focus will be on consolidating the mission at Willow Glen, and attempting to raise enough money to pay off our Diocesan loan for our building extension and refurbishments.

I remain concerned by the seeming lack of interest in small group involvement and the small attendance at our Lent Course last year, which I think is likely to be repeated this year. Perhaps this perceived lack of interest is a sign of the busyness of our lives, rather than a lack of commitment, and I remain thankful that on the whole Sunday attendance is good.

I am encouraged that there is a fuller participation by parishioners in the life of the parish and that the power base in the parish appears to be broadening beyond the small group that maintained control on my arrival here three years ago. We need to continuously be aware of the need to involve others, and I specifically wish to encourage those of you who remain on the periphery to be proactive in finding room to be more involved. I am hugely appreciative of the work put in by our new catering committee around our Patronal Festival last year with the focus on our cultural diversity: the Cultural Dinner opened our eyes in new ways to each others lives.

Our sense of identity continues to evolve. Our Statement of Purpose continues to play an important role in this process. At our recent Council Planning Day it was agreed that our core purpose is threefold:

Priority 1: To be a place where others meet Christ

Priority 2: To build the Kingdom of God in the wider community through outreach and service

Priority 3: To sustain traditional Anglican practices

This marks an important development in our self-awareness, and a move in our thinking from maintenance to mission. Three years ago the priority was to maintain (at all costs?) a traditional Anglican environment. While sustaining traditional Anglican practices remains a priority, our first priority now is to be a place where others meet Christ, and this is exciting!

In terms of parish “issues” the only one that we have been unable to resolve during 2007 is the ongoing concern around our music. During 2006 we purchased the Songs of Fellowship Hymn book. Concern has been expressed that apart from the family service we rarely use or learn some of the more contemporary music it contains. Also, despite our growing cultural diversity in the parish, we have not managed to move beyond an older traditional Eurocentric style in our music. This is despite one of our core values stating that while our worship should be dignified, it should also be inclusive, flexible and reverent. I think the use of the words “dignified” and “reverent” are incorrectly interpreted to maintain an outdated status quo by those whose comfort zone is severely challenged by contemporary and African cultural musical expression.

My vision for worship includes encouraging the use of solid traditional Anglican Liturgy infused with “treasures old and new”. An Anglican Prayer Book allows for such rich liturgy. It is time for those who seek to maintain a comfortable Eurocentric mind-set in this parish to relinquish control and allow the rainbow cultures of Africa to infuse our worship. In this regard, there are plans afoot to invite one of the Mamelodi Parish Choir’s to come and expose us to a different experience. Isaiah says, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:18-19; TNIV). Without losing the value of the past, we need to explore the variety of experience offered in our Diocese, and reflective of whom we are becoming. This takes courage, perseverance and commitment from all quarters of our increasingly diverse community here at Corpus Christi.

On a Diocesan level 2007 was an unsettling year as we waited with baited breath to see the outcome of the archiepiscopal election in which our Bishop was a candidate. I was certainly among a number in this Diocese who felt shattered at the result. I was in no doubt that Bishop Jo was the best candidate for the position, believing that his experience, gifting and skills base exactly fitted the redesigned job description. It seems the mind of the electorate was not where I believed the mind of the Spirit of God to be. This said, many speak well of our new Archbishop-elect, Thabo Makgoba, and he brings youthful energy to the position. It is important that we continue to keep Bishop Jo in our prayers as he re-engages with the Diocese as we enter into a new phase, one driven largely by the Diocesan 3 Year programme for Mission, Ministry and Evangelism.

The wider Anglican Communion remains in crisis around issues of sexuality, specifically a Christian response to homosexuality. The decadal Lambeth Conference of Bishops meets this year, and it is clear from recent press releases that a massive amount of energy is being focused on building and sustaining positive relationships around the globe. We are a church that seeks to build unity in the midst of diversity … some would have us shun diversity in order to push a specific agenda. We need to hold Archbishop Rowan Williams embedded in prayer as his ministry is a fulcrum in our global life.

In the past I have listed specific thanks. Today I wish to be more general: we have all contributed to the life of the parish in the past year to a lesser or greater extent, whether you have just attended services or renovated and extended our building, whether you have been house-bound and allowed us to visit you or led aspects of our worship, whether you have enabled fellowship or enjoyed fellowship, and everything in between and beyond these activities; thank you for being a contributor, and thank you that you have played a creative part in allowing us to be, to continue to become, all that God desires for us.

I do pray for God’s rich blessing on us as a Christian community in all the challenges that 2008 will hold!

I thank you.