Arms of the Cathedral of St Michael and St George Anglican Compass Rose

Cathedral of St Michael and St George


Ad Laos - To the People of God, February 2012

Dear People of God

Though it is only February, it has already been a busy year, and this will be one of my longer letters, including the statement from the recent Synod of Bishops.

But let me begin by thanking you for all your prayers, especially for the time that Lungi and I spent in Davos at the World Economic Forum last month. It was a very stimulating and stretching few days, considering how best to insert values-based thinking into a context which is primarily marked by 'worshipping the financial bottom line'. Please do continue to hold in your prayers all who seek to promote ethical perspectives in politico-economic debates. This is so vital at this time of global rethinking of our financial systems.

On the plane, I read John Suggit's new book 'A Breath of Fresh Air'. It lives up to its title, offering key tools for biblical interpretation in John's typically simple, accessible, yet profound, way. I recommend it to you all, perhaps as something to take on for Lent. It is available from the ACSA Publishing Committee. For further details see this link, and you can order it via publish@anglicanchurchsa.org.za.

In similar vein, I highly recommend the Lent Bible Study course, 'People of the Way'. Produced by the Diocese of Johannesburg it is a valuable resource to us as we seek to live as God's faithful people in Southern Africa.

Another resource I commend to clergy and all who preach or are involved in preparing Services, is 'Word and Worship'. This is a collection of suggested sermon outlines and liturgies based on the Revised Common Lectionary, produced by a South African ecumenical team with strong Anglican participation! The first volume, for Year B, is available through Dioceses, and from Ekklesia, the Ecumenical Centre for Leadership Development and Congregational Studies at Stellenbosch University. Year C will be available before Advent begins (for more information, contact ekklesia@sun.ac.za).

I know from personal experience it is hard to make time to read good books and pursue theological study, but it is vital we make this a priority; and parishes must encourage clergy to invest time in this. The whole church benefits from such studies, and I commend those who persevere, especially with higher degrees and research, and offer congratulations to those who have recently passed this hurdle, including Canon Sarah Rowland Jones, my researcher, who has been awarded a PhD by Nottingham University. I encourage clergy and laity alike to consider further training, and to take advantage of the opportunities offered, for example, by our Anglican House of Studies at the University of KwaZulu Natal for postgraduate study, or the Theological Education by Extension College (TEEC) for other courses. Diocesan Directors of Training should also know about courses in your area, or have resources you can follow.

There is also the opportunity to pursue Continuing Ministerial Education as groups - with support from the College of the Transfiguration. There is money available in the Provincial Budget for this, but it is very rarely drawn upon. Please contact COTT if you need more information, or have a proposal to put. And may I ask you to keep the college, and the Rector, Revd Prof Barney Pityana in your prayers, and to support them and their work as you can. We give thanks for his leadership, as he works to set the college on a firm foundation for the future, through the registration process, upgrading infrastructure, and pursuing an Endowment Fund to support longer term sustainability.

Very sad news for the Province is the death of the Very Revd Lubabalo Livingstone Ngewu, Dean of Pretoria, Provincial Trustee and former Rector of the College of the Transfiguration. I extend heartfelt condolences to his family, on the death of this remarkable and gifted man, and dear friend of me and so many. May all who loved him be consoled and comforted by the love of Jesus, who died to bring us life, and find hope and strength for the future.

Wishing you all a blessed and holy Lent

+Thabo Cape Town