Grahamstown

Dean’s Letter, October 1 2017

I had the privilege, just over a week ago, of attending the annual Neil Aggett memorial lecture, arranged and hosted by Kingswood College each year, around the time of Heritage Day (24th September). Dr Neil Aggett was a former Kingswood pupil who had matriculated there in 1970. He trained as a doctor at UCT, and worked at Baragwanath hospital and for the Food and Canning Workers’ Union, before being detained by the Security Police towards the end of 1981. He was found hanging in his cell on 5th February 1982. No charges were ever laid against him. He was 28 years old.

The guest speaker this year was Mr Trevor Manuel, former Minister of Finance. He spoke with wisdom and insight about the choices that Neil Aggett had made: to serve others, to live simply, to move away from materialism and possessions. Manuel reflected on the values and intentions of our SA Constitution, and noted with sadness the way in which a number of those in high government office had flouted or ignored their oaths of office to uphold the values and purposes of the Constitution, and had thereby failed so badly to do all in their power for the good of our country. And he drew our attention to the particular failure of two of the arms of government – the Executive and Parliament – in this regard, leaving only the Courts to keep our country on track.

Why am I telling you this? Because as the church, as Christians, we are called to work for the extension of the kingdom of God, to do all we can to promote the rule and reign of Christ – the values of the kingdom of God – in our lives, in our communities, in our country. We are called to be truth-bearers, witnesses to the transforming love of Christ. We as the church are salt and light, yeast in the dough, the community of grace and transformation, the place and space where we meet with the Risen Lord, and receive new eyes, a new heart. We gather in worship to hear and receive the word of God to us, to keep us on course, on track, to challenge us and shake us up, to make us think. And we receive the Eucharist, the life of Christ, into our hearts and souls, so that we may be life-bearers, life-givers, signs of hope. Like Neil Aggett.

Today is the start of our month of stewardship. I hope that it will be a time of deepening, awakening, commitment, new understanding. We do need the support and faithful giving of all who worship at the Cathedral. I know that in these difficult times this is not an easy thing to ask. Nevertheless, we worship God who is faithful, and who sustains us – and that we are called to give and respond with love and faithfulness. Please let us commit ourselves to faithful financial support of the life and work and ministry of the Cathedral, and the wider church, for the year ahead.

Thank you to Kingswood College for the annual Neil Aggett lecture, and its call to faithful Christian living. Thank you, Trevor Manuel. Thank you, Neil Aggett.

My love to you all