• The Bishop writes ...
• All Ablaze
• Sudan Outreach 2012
• Lord God, we live in disturbing days
The Bishop writes ...
My Dear People of God,
What builds a Nation
Most of us, if not all, have emerged out of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) Provincial Synod convinced that Education is the basis on which to build any nation. For those who have eyes to see and minds to perceive, it is more than clear that State Education in South Africa is collapsing. This is mainly due to the gross lack of good administration, continued absenteeism of undisciplined teachers, incompetent administrators, neglect of infrastructure, poor conditions under which teachers toil, uncaring and selfish self-centred strikes that disrupt learners’ ability to achieve their best, while the children of the very striking teachers are sent to the “model C schools” to continue in an undisrupted learning. Our Eastern Cape is the worst and continually produces poor results, with the embarrassing situation of Grade 6 children who cannot read IsiXhosa properly, let alone Grade 12.
What must we do under these circumstances? Surely the situation has to change. The City Church Leadership Group in Port Elizabeth has begun to share its frustrations. For a number of years they have expressed their concerns and have communicated these with all levels of government from local to provincial and central, from Executive Mayor to the President of the land. This is to no avail, but instead political infightings, killings and burning of homes of councillors have manifested themselves to be the order of the day. The selfless leadership style of Tata Nelson Mandela that put people first in order to improve their lot has not been cherished by any one, particularly after all the stalwarts of liberation, who are mostly products of Mission Schools, are gradually being called to Eternal Rest. Even those who emerged to our admiration are pushed to the oblivion of invisible voiceless back-benchers. In the fore-front are self-centred reckless fraudulent leaders with huge unaccountable spending ranging from hiring a glass for R200 a night to 3,5 Billion Rands disappearing in tenders and dishonest practices in Public Works.
The time has come for the Church to resume her place and occupy her space in communities. Let us remind one another that the gospel of Jesus Christ brought by the Missionaries to Africa carried not only salvation of souls from sin and death, but also salvation from disease, poverty and ignorance. Next to every mission church, a hospital was established and a school built with fields to cultivate and gardens to plant vegetables. Being the product of a mud built rondavel of a church school, we continue to cherish that learning from the visibility of hard working teachers who caused us, with two others, to obtain a first class pass in Std 6, seven second class passes, and six third class passes - all sixteen learners passed. There was morning assembly every day of the week, with a priest visiting at least once a month to strengthen moral standards and connection with the Creator. Community people and the children themselves would come and fix the mud built class rooms. We had no government to wait for to bring us brick and mortar classrooms. The concern to be addressed was the learning of poor children. We are where we are as a result of such efforts - for which we are grateful today.
Since our Diocesan Synod in 2003 we continue to make a call to parishes to twin-up with nearby schools and begin to provide spiritualities; influence good godly work ethic; encourage unity of purpose; after school learning in churches creating learning spaces for homework to be done; ensuring the welfare of educators; create more co-educational excellent schools for all; establish regular contacts with education officials. Our focus is raising up boys and girls side by side with mutual respect, care and protection of one another. It is my humble belief that we need, as the Church, to claim back to the godly standards which we established and fought for ie Education and Health, which, after 1994, we confidently handed over to what we envisaged trustworthy politicians. As taxpayers, resources to do such is our entitlement and responsibility. Our children deserve better than what we see in most schools throughout various parts of our lands.
The Provincial Synod and Gafcon report back on these issues, especially education and Canon Law, takes place at St Nicholas in Charlo on Tuesday 29 October at 09h00 for clergy and 18h00 for the laity. You are all welcome!
May God bless our lands and people for a better future for our children.
Respectfully yours in Christ,
Pic: Bishop Bethlehem is surrounded by the confirmants from the Cathedral and from St Mark and St John after a combined service on 1 September.
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[ Zukiza Jeyi and Xhantilomzi Mhlontlo report on the Anglicans Ablaze Conference ]
Zukiza Jeyi and Xhantilomzi Mhlontlo were blessed by being able to attend the Anglicans Ablaze Conference in Johannesburg from 3 – 6 October 2012 where 1 300 Anglicans from around the Province met for four days to listen, learn, worship and discuss many issues of faith and growth.
Zukiza says of the time there, “The level of the talks was mindblowing, exciting and life-changing. The Spirit flowed throughout the conference and I was excited as I witnessed Jesus in the people around me. The venue was ideal and everything was so well organised.”
Xhantilomzi said, “What an amazing time of worship, fellowship and teachings or shall I say reflection on the Word of God. Our time was so blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit touching every moment, which led to the conference being a memorable experience for us.
The conference unveiled the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s vision: to be, Anchored in the love of Christ, Committed to God’s Mission, Transformed by the Holy Spirit. Archbishop Thabo Makgoba gave his address focusing on the first pillar of our vision.”
Quoting from a two page report issued after the meeting: We have learnt ‘the plural of disciple is church’, and that we need to move from being ‘welcoming’ to ‘inviting’ churches. We have learnt to have courage in God’s love not to minister from the damaged, wounded places of our lives (which so often leads us to damage and wound others) but to live out of a brokenness which finds its place in the brokenness of Christ on the cross, and shares in the weeping of God the Father for his children in his world. Indeed now is the time for fellow Anglicans to “Rise and Shine”.
… It has been a time of renewal, of genuine renewal, as God sees it. It brings cleansing, healing, wholeness and newness of life for us, in every aspect of what it is to be human, made in the image of God, sharing in the body of Christ, loving our neighbours and God’s world. It is renewal that is about the abundant life which Christ promised. It is about evangelism and discipleship and integral mission and social justice. This is God’s comprehensive, holistic, renewal, far wider and deeper than we had expected, and he desires it to be at the heart of our church. He has come to us with power, yet he has also dealt with us gently and naturally”.
Bishop Graham Cray: ‘Mission will never be effective without authentic discipleship; and discipleship will never be taken seriously unless we engage in mission’ and ‘Renewal without mission is self- indulgence; mission without renewal becomes legalistic or triumphalist or disillusioned.’
John V Taylor: ‘Our theology would improve if we thought more of the church being given to the Spirit, than of the Spirit being given to the church.’
ACSA is hoping to have such a conference every three to four years.
visit www.anglicansablaze.org to order conference DVDs (various teachings) - R40 each.
Pics: Top - Holding their ‘Rooted in Jesus’ certificates are Greg Moses, Glenis Jacobs, Cherolyn Amery and Siya Tshatshu. Behind them are David Stansbury, the rector of Holy Trinity, Central, and Bishop Bethlehem.
Bottom - Bp Bethlehem (4th rt) with a group of young people who attended the Anglicans Ablaze Conference.
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Sudan Outreach 2012
[ David Stansbury ]
Two of our clergy, Robert Penrith and David Stansbury, were joined by Kirsten Roux, Lynne Axon and Kim Harmse on a visit to Sudan from 28 September to 5 October 2012. The purpose of our Mission was to strengthen and encourage the Church in Northern Sudan which is really under fire at the present moment.
We visited a number of key Christian leaders and churches who are making a strong stand for our Lord in trying circumstances. We were able to sow into their work and pray over them and their ministry. From each of these key leaders and churches we gathered information which we have brought home to set up a prayer support base. We were also blessed to visit a Christian school of which we had taken part in the setting up and on-going development. It was encouraging to see the growth in both numbers and in the teaching staff and facilities. It was humbling to know that we have been able to contribute in a small way towards this.
The greatest part of our mission was given to leading a ‘school of leadership’ for Christian Leaders in Northern Sudan. These leaders were drawn from every part of that area, especially the parts where the church and Christians are isolated and under fire. The school addressed key areas of Christian Leadership using biblical models with which church leaders in Sudan could pick up and run. We were also very privileged to be able to minister to and pray over each of the individual leaders.
At the conclusion of the school many of them commented that they were encouraged and motivated again to lead their churches and communities in the difficult times that lay ahead. Each day we had spent time praying with the leaders about the situations and circumstances that are impacting the Church’s life and mission in Northern Sudan.
It must be said that though we were sent to encourage and equip the Church and Christian leaders, we ourselves came away greatly challenged and encouraged. We learned so much from them which we believe will enable us to continue journeying with them in the years that lie ahead.
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Lord God, we live in disturbing days
Lord God, we live in disturbing days:
across the world,
jobs are taken away,
and fragile security is under threat.
Loving God, meet us in our fear and hear our prayer:
be a tower of strength amidst the shifting sands,
and a light in the darkness;
help us receive your gift of peace,
and fix our hearts where true joys are to be found,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
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