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Vol 19 No 8


The official gazette of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth:
Anglican Church of Southern Africa

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 •  Lambeth Conference
 •  Hearts on fire in a chilly Bloemfontein

Lambeth Conference
The Bishop writes ....

My Dear People of God,
The bishop’s talk indaba

Greetings from Canterbury in the name of Christ our risen Lord who reigns supreme as Saviour and Redeemer! 

About 600 Bishops of the Anglican Communion and their spouses assembled at Canterbury in the University of Kent, England, from 16 July to 3 August 2008 at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Thanks be to God for one another as we share together the privilege of the leadership of a Bishop in the Church of God! Two themes were deliberately considered, namely: “Equipping Bishops for Mission”, and “Strengthening Anglican Identity”. The Bishops met at a sensitive time in the life of the Communion as you may envisage. For this reason the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote in his invitation letter that acceptance would consequently mean willingness to participate in working the Windsor Report and the Covenant as tools by which the fellowship of the Communion could be shaped. Regrettable was the absence of some 200 Bishops who could not be there for various reasons, particularly those who, out of conviction, could not accept the invitation. 

As we began the Conference with a three-day retreat in Canterbury Cathedral led by Archbishop Rowan, a tense and suspicious atmosphere could be sensed. As the challenge of the word continued for what it meant for the bishop to be a person in whom God reveals Jesus Christ as a Christ who “gathers and unites”, we could feel God’s presence in us in drawing us closer to one another in fellowship. The opening Eucharist was an eye catching “holy display” of God’s worship, full of Anglican cultural diversity – with a song and dance from the Melanesian sisters and brothers as the Book of the Gospels was carried through the ancient precincts and the choir screen area of the Cathedral which is standing Canterbury as a silent spectacular silent witness for the last 1 000 years. Archbishop Rowan presided from the Chair of St Augustine and the sermon, which was preached by the Bishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka. 

Pic: Bishops walk of witness in London to highlight MDG's

The programme had at its centre times of prayer - from the early morning at 06h30, followed by morning Eucharist, then midday to afford a pause from indaba groups and Evening Prayer and concluding with Compline with the chaplaincy team. Bible study would begin at 09h15, with the “I Am” sayings each morning, prepared by our own Professor West from Natal University. The booklet is a good resource to borrow from the Bishop. (Do not forget to return it after use). Indaba groups would take place at 11h00 in different lecture rooms. Both in Bible study and indaba groups, the bishops were afforded times of free reflection and frank talk with one another. This helped defuse deep seated anger, hurts and frustrations to some extent. I am inclined to think though, that for a complete trustworthy fellowship to be realised a lot of time needs to pass, for as long as the indaba process will continue to take place between Anglicans of the Communion. For the rest of detailed information, I wish to commend to you through the archdeacons the Lambeth Indaba document to read along with the Gafcon one for your reflection and comment. You can also get it on website www.lambethconference.org.

Many thanks for sustaining the Lambeth Conference in your prayers. The Anglican Communion is no “homosexuality church”, as some have labelled us. We have demonstrated both in Jerusalem and Canterbury that the Bible should continue to speak to us as the written Word of God (Article XX) to direct our mission to the world and our teaching. If the gospel of Jesus Christ continues to bear the power to transform situations and people, then let us live that gospel both at home and in the market place. Having experienced homosexual orientation, directly or indirectly does not make it right. Jesus never turned anyone away, but people chose either to stay with him and be transformed/renewed (Zacchaeus, Lk 19:1-10), or to go away for the choice and love of earthly possessions, wealth, status (The rich young man, Mtt 19:16ff et //s v.22). Let us live the love and embrace of Jesus to transform people to be like him, including ourselves. The Anglican Church is mostly respected by many of our sister churches for facing the truth and grappling with problems head on.

Homosexuality is going to continue to linger around. Yet this is not so much a social or political issue as some seem to think including the ANC government. This is a moral issue which is far from being biological. It is a sinful condition which the love of Christ should transform like any other sinful condition (1 Cor 6: 9- 11). “And such were some of you, …but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”(Read also: Transformed by an Encounter with Christ, The Zacchaeus Fellowship Publication - Anglican Church of Canada 2006). We must understand that some of our sisters and brothers are struggling with this kind of orientation just like any struggle within us against sinful nature. We should continue to pray for one another with a compassionate and pastoral, loving heart. It is only the gospel of Christ that will free us form the shackles of sin in this post-modern world. When we accept Christ and be “in Christ” we experience transformation within inclusiveness and become living witnesses for a “new creation” and ambassadors of God’s kingdom.

May God continue to make you true witnesses of his transforming gospel.

Hearts on fire in a chilly Bloemfontein
[ Gill Bowman ]

A chilly Bloemfontein couldn’t freeze the Spirit, as the eight delegates from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Ansoc Branch, accompanied by their chaplain, Gill Bowman, experienced a blessed time at the 48th Annual Anglican Students Federation (ASF) Conference.

This year the conference was held in the lovely facilities of St Michael’s School, with students attending from around the Southern Africa Region, making this an international conference. Although temperatures outside plummeted, the worship in the hall and lovely chapel warmed many hearts. The theme of the conference was “Each One, Reach One, Teach One”, and highlights included a day of outreach in local communities, a healing service to remember and give thanks for, a “Graduate Alive” presentation on coping as a young person with peer pressure in the wake of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and a fun afternoon of ASFlympics. Zimasa Groom comments, after the outreach at St Paul’s Parish, “The students worked really hard on the outreaches, and it was wonderful to see how much the people appreciated what they did. They were so happy.” The students not only worked hard weeding and doing maintenance work, but had time to meet some of the local people. Mostly it was all good clean-ing fun! Other outreaches were held at the Mosamaria Aids Centre and St Albans. All the students have returned having been filled spiritually and ready to contribute to the work done in their local ANSOC branch. A special thanks to St Margaret’s Church, Summerstrand, for their generous giving which helped the students to be able to attend the conference, as well as the Diocese for support.

Those who will still be studying at University next year are already looking forward and planning towards the 2009 conference which will be held in Swaziland. 

Pic: Asavela Sitole, Thobani Mvila, Gcinani Mbatha, Thando-kazi Madyibi, Gill Bowman - the chaplain, Zimasa Groom, Phila Jolobe, Sandisiwe Siswana and Siya Mzantsi.

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