10 June 2010

‘Surely we can never give up on each other, for God never gives up on any of us’

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town speaking at the USPG conference in Swanwick this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

Patrick Comerford

There are times when it seems The Episcopal Church (TEC) has not listened enough to other voices in the Anglican Communion, especially those in the Global South, the Archbishop of Cape Town told the Presiding Bishop of TEC this morning during the second day of the USPG conference in Swanwick. .

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was present as Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town said there are times when it seems TEC acts in ways that communicate a lack of care for those in Global South.

He said his plea was for TEC to be sensitive to those who are still drinking spiritual milk and not yet eating solids. He accepted that cross-border visitations have also undermined TEC and efforts to handle disagreements in a godly way and that gracious restraint has not been exercised.

The debate undermines our witness and dissipates our energy, Archbishop Thabo said. Paraphrasing the Apostle Paul, he said not everything that is lawful is necessarily right.

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern African was speaking about ‘Mission Realities for Southern African Anglicans – and their Wider Implications.’ He began his ministry in the Diocese of Johannesburg, is a former Archdeacon of Sophiatown, and was the youngest-ever Archbishop of Cape Town.

Referring to the “really difficult question in the Anglican Communion of our differences over human sexuality,” he said the Anglican Church of Southern Africa is a global microcosm of the Anglican Communion, a part of the “Global South,” and faces the same concerns about poverty sickness and injustice. At the same time there are many wealthy, westernised congregations that are typical of the Global North.

Yet that church is still hold together, and managing to do so despite differences over human sexuality that span the whole range of views, including among the bishops.

He said it is no light or easy matter for his church. But none of them says they are no longer in communion with others. The sharing of pain, perceiving the marks of the living Christ who is also the suffering Christ, in one another, can lead too to the experience of the Resurrection.

For Anglicans in southern Africa, their shared opposition to apartheid had helped forge a common identity. But a shared enemy in the past is not a reliable foundation for going forward in the future. But a continuing sense of Christ in and among us in the pain of our divisions, through our suffering, can make us confident of the resurrection.

In Southern Africa, their different views take second place to “our unity around Christ among us. Differences of opinion are acceptable, schism is not.” They are talking and worshipping together, reading Scripture and praying together. Despite their brokenness in their common life and damaged relations, nonetheless they exclude non-one from their common councils and their common life.

“Surely we can never give up on each other, for God never gives up on any of us,” he said.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at the USPG conference this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

He said Jesus is the standard in discerning between authentic cultural expressions and flawed syncretism, and spoke of being witnesses to Jesus Christ is the essential heart of mission.

There are different expressions of the Gospel truth, but he asked what is acceptable diversity and what is unacceptable deviation.

We began the second day of the conference with an early morning celebration of the Eucharist, at which the president was the Revd Dr John Perumbalath of the Diocese of Rochester, a USPG Trustee.

Later today, I am leading two workshops or interest groups on ‘Spirituality and Mission,’ and the Irish participants intend to have a few meetings too.

Canon Patrick Comerford is a member of the Council of USPG (United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) – Anglicans in World Mission, and a director of USPG Ireland

1 comment:

Swaziland said...

This man (Thabo definately has a heart of God). Thank you our Archbishoph for being there for us in such times as this!

My regards to his wife Lungi who is always with him in prayers and support, may God bless you and your children with all His reaches in glory, AMEN!!!!1