Anglican Diocese of Grahamstown

Anglican Church of Southern Africa


Monday, 16 November 2020

Ad Laos - to the People of God - November 2020


Dear People of God 

As President Ramaphosa gave South Africans a timely warning last week to remain alert and prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus during the Christmas holiday season, I was at the same time reminded by the themes of hope and joy in Psalm 145 that we also need to look to the future beyond the pandemic. 

Yes, it is true that Covid-19 infections are increasing in a number of areas, especially the Eastern Cape. And as other issues reduce the dominance of reporting on the virus on our TV screens and radio channels, we need to remember it is real and in our communities. We must please keep up the distancing, we must maintain health protocols, wear our masks and pray for equitable access to vaccines once they become available. 

Yet I want to repeat what I said a couple of years ago – that social scientists caution us against too much focus on crisis, negativity and fear, since they can easily beget the very outcomes we seek to avoid. Both hope and joy are twinned in Psalm 145, and perhaps a good way to stare the pandemic in the face and ensure we flatten the curve is not to deny its impact, not to deny the science, but to look to a future promised by a God who has always, and will always, provide for our sustenance, even into that future. 

In remaining hopeful, we need not discount the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the poor, who have in the main been those who have lost jobs and livelihoods. We must continue to intervene with relief measures even as we find ways of living joyfully and hopefully in the midst of the challenges we face: the emotional stress, the anxiety, the fatigue and the uncertainty. Looking back at the 234 days of lockdown, when last did you smile and laugh or talk about things such as care for others and for the environment? 

There have been some differences in the way dioceses are dealing with singing hymns during worship. Our legal experts tell us us that there is some uncertainty in the law, so our advice is either not to allow congregations to sing, or to allow them to sing only wearing masks, observing the 1.5 metre distance rule and keeping to the legal limits on the number of worshippers. My advice is: If in doubt err on the side of safety, especially if older congregants insist on coming to church. 

In recent weeks we have held innovative meetings on Microsoft Teams to take the steps required by Canon 4 to fill episcopal vacancies. I am happy to report that candidates have been nominated and I will make their names known soon. We are looking beyond the time of closed doors at how we can put episcopal leadership in the vacant dioceses to continue God’s mission in the world through God’s church. 

Also in recent weeks, 37 of the 41 Primates of the Anglican Communion – the heads of the churches across the world, including those in Africa – have met online [Communique - PDF] to reflect on the impact of coronavirus at the Communion level and to receive an update on the Lambeth Conference of Bishops and their spouses in 2022. We welcomed plans for an 18-month process leading up to Lambeth which will be an ongoing “virtual” Anglican Congress, drawing in bishops and their spouses, young and old, lay and ordained, ahead of the face-to-face conference. 

Discussing the work of the Communion’s Safe Church Commission, we re-committed ourselves to making the Church a safer place for all those who are vulnerable. We also heard stories of the impact of Covid-19 across the Communion and of new Provinces, the restructuring of the Anglican Communion Office in London and of the establishment of an Anglican Communion Science Commission, which will deal with matters of science and faith. We were addressed by senior World Health Organisation officials on Covid-19 and progress on a vaccine. The Archbishop of York, Dr Stephen Cottrell, briefed us on Living in Love and Faith, a new teaching resource from the Church of England designed to help discuss issues of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage in a biblical context. 

Turning back to our own Province, we have declared the youth and Theological Education Sunday as priorities of our church, but declarations alone – important as they are – are no substitute for action. The parish is the basic unit of any diocese and of the Province, and as such we rely on you in the parishes to take such broad and general declarations and translate them into concrete action applicable to your own circumstances. 

Please pray for our sisters and brothers in northern Mozambique, where more than 50 people have been reported beheaded in a vicious attack by militants on a village in Cabo Delgado province. We urge Mozambique's government to act firmly to root out this form of terrorism, and for the international community to devote as much attention to this conflict as to others in the world. On a more positive note for ACSA, Bishop Carlos Matsinhe of Lebombo reports good progress in setting up working committees to plan for new dioceses in Tete and the Púngue River area. 

Lastly, following a decision of the Provincial Standing Committee, I am declaring through this Ad Laos that Lent 2021 will focus on combatting gender-based violence (GBV). The liaison bishop on GBV, Bishop Margaret Vertue, Hope Africa, the Provincial Liturgical Committee, the Southern African Anglican Theological Commission and their teams will provide us with more details and the necessary liturgies and study materials. A guide to some resources follows to help you devise contextually relevant material for your parishes and dioceses, and I commend to you the full PSC resolution on GBV for your prayers and action. 

God bless you. 

† Thabo Cape Town

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba's weekday reflections - August 10-14, 2020


 These readings and reflections are shared daily on ACSA's Facebook page and Twitter feed.



Saturday, 8 August 2020

Archbishop hopes Church will declare GBV "evil"


 Amid the Covid-19 lockdown this National Women's Day in South Africa, gender-based violence has become a “second pandemic” as serious as the coronavirus, in the words of President Cyril Ramaphosa. The South African Council of Churches has responded by launching a process to guide and train church leaders to address the crisis, and the St Bernard Mizeki Men's Guild in the Diocese of Cape Town has marked Women's Day by marching to the Provincial Government to show their  commitment to hold themselves, the Church and the broader community accountable. 

As ACSA, we lament the incidence of this violence and we recommit ourselves to just, fair and transparent processes to root it out. We recommit to celebrating and respecting women, as we are called to do by the example Jesus set in his interactions with women. We hope and pray that our Synods and PSC will declare gender-based violence as evil and contrary to the will of the One who calls us and promises us lives of fullness.

To the women of the Province and the world, we will walk alongside you as we change the policies of Church and State to reflect our commitments. The road will be painful as we search for the life-transforming truth of Christ, but we shall overcome and will celebrate with you when together we end this scourge. To all the women of our church, we wish you a blessed Women's Day. 
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Weekday Reflections by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba - August 3-7, 2020


These readings and reflections are shared daily on ACSA's Facebook page and Twitter feed.



Sunday, 29 March 2020


Join Anglicans around the world - and Archbishop Thabo - for a Passion Sunday service

Join Archbishop Thabo Makgoba - reading the Psalm - and other Anglican leaders for a service on Passion Sunday (the fifth Sunday in Lent) prepared by the Anglican Communion Office in London for house-bound Anglicans across the globe.


Thursday, 26 March 2020


Message from Archbishop Thabo on eve of SA lockdown

Archbishop Thabo addresses parishioners, clergy and bishops across the Province on South Africa's lockdown to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.


Thursday, 19 March 2020


[VIDEO] Ministering to God's People in a time of crisis

@ArchbishopThabo Makgoba appeals to the Church and especially to ordained priests and deacons to focus on drawing up pastoral plans for ministering to parishioners in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.


Tuesday, 17 March 2020


Three Archbishops - Desmond Tutu, Njongonkulu Ndungane & Thabo Makgoba issue unprecedented joint statement on coronavirus






17 March 2020


Joint statement from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba


The three living Archbishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have issued an unprecedented joint statement appealing to people across Southern Africa to beat the coronavirus by working closely together.


The text of the statement follows:


The three of us, as former and current Anglican Archbishops of Cape Town, welcome and encourage the strong evidence we are seeing of all Southern Africans working together to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus across our sub-continent.


If proof was required of the oneness and interdependence of the human family, the threat posed by this virus – and people's response to it – is providing it. To stop the virus spreading will demand fundamental changes in the behaviour of all of us.


The virus has no boundaries – it cuts across all communities, rich and poor, in north, south, east and west. Only mutual love and care for one another will get us through the crisis.


But there is no need to panic. As President Ramaphosa has said, we do have the knowledge, the means and the resources to fight this virus, and if we act quickly and collectively, we can limit its effects. We are resilient and in the past we have overcome challenges by remaining calm and being strategic in our responses.


To young people we say we know you are not scared for yourselves, and some of you may feel that coronavirus is not an African problem. But you might be carriers of the virus without even knowing it. So we appeal to you not to put at risk the lives of those who cared for you when you were children. We know that you are being asked to sacrifice the most for your old people. But please protect those of your parents' and grandparents' generation.


Let us take the opportunity to respond by choosing life over death; by choosing knowledge over ignorance; by sharing that knowledge; and by caring about others through taking care of ourselves.


As President Ramaphosa has also said, this epidemic has the potential to bring us closer together. But, in his words, it demands  “cooperation, collaboration and common action. More than that, it requires solidarity, understanding and compassion.” We know that we can rely on people of all faiths and of none to bring those qualities to this struggle.


May God bless Southern Africa, and God bless all her people,


The Most Revd Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town

The Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town

The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town


Monday, 10 February 2020

Archbishop Thabo's appeal to President Ramaphosa of South Africa

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to use his State of the Nation Address on Thursday to "send a clear signal that attacks on judges have to stop." 
In a statement and in a separate videotaped appeal from his office, the Archbishop said the country would "descend into chaos" if judges were not respected. He appealed to the President to "draw a line on the sand" over attacks on the judiciary. 
The full text of the statement follows. 
“Mr President, if judges are not respected in South Africa, we're going to descend into chaos. When you speak on Thursday, you speak not as leader of the ANC, but as the leader of the nation.

“I appeal to you, out of respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, please send a clear signal that attacks on judges have to stop. It would give confidence to the judges that they can do their jobs without interference, and it would give confidence to all of us.

“It is critical to the future of our nation that we keep our hands off the judicial system. The courts must be respected. And we must give the NPA space to do their work in a thorough, unrushed way, so that we don’t have botched convictions which are overturned on appeal." 

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Archbishop urges learners to work for the common good

The Installation of Mrs Shelley Frayne as Head of St Cyprian’s School, St Cyprian’s School Chapel, 7 February 2020

Readings: 1 Kings 3: 5-10; Psalm 18: 32-34, 48-52; Matthew 13: 44-52

May I speak in the name of God who calls, informs and transforms us. Amen.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, dear family of St Cyprian’s School, it is a joy to be with you this morning and celebrate this day – the installation of our new school head.

I extend a warm welcome to you all – parents, guardians and learners, and thank you for inviting me.   A special welcome to Mrs Shelley Frayne, her husband Gary and Catherine their daughter as they join the St Cyprian’s community. After spending nearly 11 years at DSG in Grahamstown, we welcome you back in Cape Town.

Thank you, the Revd Andrew Weiss, and all who worked tirelessly preparing for this service. Thank you also to the Chair of Council, Mr Hugo Nelson, for gracing this day.

The Book of Kings is presented in terms of God’s relationship with Israel as a nation, and in particular with its leaders. Its purpose is to direct attention to the beginning of the monarchy, with all its high hopes and potential. Today’s passage captures a narrative at a time when when King David has retired into the background and Solomon is coming into prominence.

It is not hard to understand the pressure under which King Solomon must have been when he was asked to rule over the Israelites. At Gibeon, this prompted him to open his mind, body and soul before God as he prayed. When God invited him to make a request, he grabbed the moment with both hands and said: “…give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong”. (1 Kings 3:9).  Your school Council probably prayed a very similar prayer when you were looking for the successor to Mrs Redelinghuys – particularly given the competition that there is out there for good school principals.

Just as God gave Solomon the wisdom of discernment, I hope you will feel your prayers for a wise choice have been answered in the person of Mrs Frayne. At the beginning of his reign, King Solomon  lacked experience when he assumed the responsibility of office. He knew that he would need God's help to lead the Israelites. Shelley, you do not lack experience but you too will nevertheless need assistance from God in order to advance his will for St Cyprian’s School. As you take up your new responsibilities, Shelley, on behalf of of the Diocese and the wider church, I bring you congratulations on your appointment.

As you all know this school seeks to challenge and inspire learners to intellectual excellence through the curiosity and freedom of thought that builds character and promotes courage. To achieve that objective requires a discernment that produces good decisions based on divine principles. It is therefore our shared prayer and hope that you, together with your team, will discern the common good in whatever decisions you take in this school.

More than that, we rely on all of you – teachers, learners, and all staff – to learn here to work for the common good of all humanity. The concept of the common good is one which is rooted in God's desire that humans may flourish, each according to their own particular circumstances, and that all will have a liveable standard of material well-being. In its widest sense, a society organised for the common good is one which is stable, safe and just, a society which accords everyone respect materially, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually.

Today's Gospel passage stresses the infinite worth of God's kingdom. The two parables we heard in that reading teach us that the kingdom is of such great value that we should be willing to give up all that we have in order to gain it – it is a kingdom for which any sacrifice is not too great. We also learn that recognising the kingdom involves recognising and drawing a distinction between the good and the bad, the new and the old. This is the Lord’s business.

And God chastens us in order to correct our faults. His discipline is evidence that we are his children. Far from being a reason for despair, discipline is a basis for encouragement and perseverance. Received in the right spirit, discipline provides a framework for wholesome and beneficial individual and corporate lives. Looking beyond the school and school life, discipline lays down the basis of succeeding in the world for which you are being prepared. Discipline is part of life, and divine discipline is superior, is always imposed in the interest of all humanity and aims to make us share in the very holiness of God Himself.

Part of establishing that framework in which we can grow and flourish both at school and beyond involves creating an environment in which you can cope with the challenges you face as young women today. We in the Anglican Church have paid special attention to developing what we call the Safe Church initiative, which is designed to protect people – and especially women and girls – from abuse and exploitation, whether in our parishes or in church schools. This involves protecting you – and showing you how to protect yourselves – from abuse, violence and behaviour that is not wholesome, whether in consenting relationships or not. It involves helping you to learn how to deal with the pressures society will bring to bear on you – pressures to chase after material things, pressures to put others down instead of building them up, pressures to put yourself ahead of your responsibilities to the community.

The Church's vision and mission requires us to be involved in education and nurturing the young in order to be transformed ourselves and to transform the society around us. But if we are to transform our country in accordance with the common good, we need our schools to reflect the diversity of the society in which we live, and therefore I hope that you as the St Cyprian's family will intensify your efforts to do this.

As I conclude, I wish once again to congratulate you, Mrs Frayne, on your appointment, and as I install you in this office I pledge my support for your ministry. You all know by now that education is at the centre of my heart.

God loves all of you and so do I.  Amen

Our schools need to reflect the diversity of society - Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

Installation of Mrs Heather Goedeke as Head of Herschel Girls School, Claremont, Cape Town, on 6 February 2020

Readings: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 and  Hebrews 11:32-12:2

May I speak in the name of God, who is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Amen.

Sisters and brothers in Christ, dear people of God, the heads of schools present here, the Chairperson and members of Council, educators, Mrs Goedeke and your family, friends, parents and learners: it is a great joy to be with you today to share in this important milestone in the life of this school


Monday, 27 January 2020

Mourning those who died in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash

The news of the death of Kobe Bryant and all who were with him, including his daughter, is devastating.

We may be a long way from the United States, but sport breaks barriers and his electrifying performances on the basketball court thrilled us wherever we were (and reminded me of my own short stint at Turfloop dabbling in basketball).

The tragic deaths in that helicopter crash sadden us in South Africa and we send our condolences to all the families affected. May those who died rest in peace and rise in glory.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

January 28: Since this message was first published, it has been drawn to my attention that a serious allegation of sexual assault was made against Kobe Bryant 16 years ago, when he was 24, and later settled out of court. We take such matters very seriously in our church and pray for healing for the victim. At the same time, the episode should not detract from our focus at this time on the pain of the families of all nine people who died in the crash. ++Thabo

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Appeal to Bonhoeffer Conference - Help us face the reality of sin in society

A homily delivered to the International Bonhoeffer Congress at the Stellenbosch United Church on 19th January 2020

John 1: 29-34

May I speak in the name of God who is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Amen.

Fellow students of the Gospel;
Sisters and brothers in Christ;

Good evening!  And to those who have travelled here from afar, welcome to our country!

It is a great honour for me to have been invited to speak at this 13th International Bonhoeffer Congress, hosted and organised here at Stellenbosch and the University of the Western Cape.

 Bonhoeffer statue at Westminster Abbey

You will, I hope, find as scholars in your particular field that our welcome is especially warm. This is because Dietrich Bonhoeffer – as one whose theology was centred on the fact that Christ is the one in whom the world and God are reconciled, as one who presented a suffering God, and as one who was disillusioned by the weakness of the church in challenging the status quo – for all these reasons and more, Bonhoeffer has inspired and continues to inspire Christians in South Africa. Our excitement at you bringing your conference here this year reflects our reverence and deep gratitude for the life and witness of this extraordinary Christian and human being.

I have to admit being nervous about addressing such a distinguished and expert audience on what Bonhoeffer has meant to us and, as I will argue, what Bonhoeffer should continue to mean to us. Just looking at our own John de Gruchy, I question what I can say that is of value to you. As the British say, me telling all of you about Bonhoeffer is a bit like teaching one’s grandmother to suck eggs.

But let me put that nervousness behind me and tell you why, as a practitioner of our faith on the coalface, as someone exposed on a daily basis to the everyday challenges, problems and opportunities experienced by ordinary South Africans, I believe that Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theology can indeed help us to discern, as your conference theme says, “How the coming generation is to go on living”.

Let me say at the outset that – as I have said at Stellenbosch before – I speak simply as someone who is a Christian and remains a Christian because our faith begins with a young Palestinian on a donkey. I expressed it this way in a memoir I have written about my ministry to Nelson Mandela in his last days:

“... [S]ince Roman times we have perverted the Word and the mission of Jesus Christ, and its message about what God is up to in our world. Over the centuries we’ve allowed ourselves to be pointed to imperial agendas. Christ’s message has been attached to national flags, to military might and to the AK-47.”

To that I might add, Christ’s mission was perverted by the German Christians of the 1930s and 1940s, and by those who found theological justification for apartheid. However, as I continued in my memoir:

“But that is not the Gospel. Christianity is not imperialism. Christianity is not colonialism.”

To that I would also add: Christianity is not National Socialist ideology. Christianity is not apartheid.

For me, my own life and faith experience – including all I know and have read about Dietrich Bonhoeffer – tells me that:

"Christianity is how do I love my neighbour as myself and as others. The man who links us to God is he who enters Jerusalem a nonentity, riding a borrowed donkey. He is humble and he is marginalised but his message of love and simplicity is powerful; powerful enough to challenge the perversion of common humanity that empire engenders."

You’ve all no doubt heard before of the areas in which South Africans identify with Bonhoeffer’s ideas:

    • Of how the concept of a status confessionis, retrieved by Bonhoeffer, became central to the South African Reformed churches’ rejection of apartheid in the 1980s.

    • Of how Bonhoeffer’s willingness to join a plot against Hitler’s life resonated in the debate in South Africa whether taking up arms against the apartheid regime was justified.

    • Of how strongly South Africans have identified with Bonhoeffer’s contrast of “cheap grace” with “costly grace”. (As John de Gruchy has written, “This contrast, perhaps more than anything else in Bonhoeffer’s writings, provided the language we... have so often used to distinguish between the costly reconciliation of restored justice, and cheap reconciliation without justice.”)

    • And you’ve heard of our explorations of how  Bonhoeffer’s emphasis on, as as Nico Koopman has described it, “the communal character of humanity” can help us renew and enhance ubuntu.

But what I want to highlight tonight is the relevance of Bonhoeffer’s work on forgiveness to “how the coming generation is to go on living...”

You don’t have to visit South Africa for very long today, especially on university campuses, to learn that forgiveness and reconciliation have become discredited concepts for many. Nelson Mandela is seen as having sold out to white interests and having failed to take those oppressed under apartheid into the Promised Land.

In response I have argued that when Mandela began negotiations for bringing about democracy, our country was at war, our liberation armies had no prospect of imminent victory, and that if we had not compromised by reaching a negotiated settlement, the civil war would have intensified. As a result many of those now criticising their fathers' and mothers' generation would probably not have been alive to do so.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that we have one of the most unequal societies in the world today. The analyst and writer Moeletsi Mbeki has calculated that only 12 percent of South Africans of working age earn more than 800 US dollars a month. Of the rest, 38 percent are blue collar workers earning less than that. And fully 50 percent – half of those of working age – comprise the unemployed and what he calls an "underclass".

That is an unsustainable situation, and although we can blame our government for many failures, we also have to acknowledge that a large part of the problem is that our society has indulged in what Bonhoeffer has referred to “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance...” Apartheid was a sin, but too many of those who implemented it or benefitted from it have tried to get away with “cheap grace”, and with holding onto the privileges which the transfer of wealth across generations endows them with.

Listen to these words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, quoted by Gregory Jones, dean of the Duke Divinity School in the United States in his book, Embodying Forgiveness:

“[T]he preaching of forgiveness must always go hand in hand with the preaching of repentance, the preaching of the gospel with the preaching of the law. Nor can the forgiveness of sin be unconditional – sometimes sin must be retained. It is the will of the Lord himself that the gospel should not be given to the dogs. He too held that the only way to safeguard the gospel of forgiveness was by preaching repentance. If the Church refuses to face the stern reality of sin, it will gain no credence when it talks of forgiveness. Such a Church sins against its sacred trust and walks unworthily of the gospel. It is an unholy Church, squandering the precious treasure of the Lord’s forgiveness.”

As you meet this week to reflect on Bonhoeffer's life, his work and his theology, and ponder ways in which generations to come can fulfil his dream of a society that is Christ-like, I appeal to you: please help us. Please help South Africa at this critical time in our history.

We need you, our theologians, to help us face up to the stern reality of sin in our society. We need you to help us preach repentance. We need you to help us to work out what that means in practical steps so that we transform our society to fulfill the vision of Jesus promised in John’s Gospel – that “I came so that you may have life and have it in abundance.”

Will you help us do that?

Allow me to conclude this focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer by weaving in the core of the lessons set down in our lectionary for today. How do we describe our identity in Christ, and what the are the values that characterise our lives and witness?

The humility of John the Baptist, his clarity in pointing others to Christ and his witness to who Christ was, and is for us today, set before us a vital example to us as we are called to account before God for how we live out our faith. And Paul's message to the spiritually arrogant Corinthians is relevant for us if we are to speak with confidence and authority to erring followers of Jesus today. Like Isaiah, we are called to acknowledge our inadequacy and recognise the power of being able to draw on God’s strength as we embark on his mission to restore the world.

What is our clear message today? Does God’s message of salvation ring true against unjust structures, arrogant leaders and spiritually inept and arrogant churches? In our current context in South Africa, I believe we as church leaders are called to challenge church and society to come out in active opposition to the forces of greed and what we call “state capture” in order to prevent our country from sliding into economic ruin. In my Christmas sermon, I said I hoped 2020 would be the “year of the orange jumpsuits” – the year in which those who drove our country to the brink of disaster – will start going to prison. In the coming weeks, we hope that in his annual State of the Nation address, our president, President Ramaphosa, will give us a clearer vision of how he intends to deal with the erring politicians and civil servants – as well as the business people who corrupted them – who as we speak are conducting a fight-back to try to defeat our efforts to root out corruption.

Let us all renew our vocations and, like John, give a bold, united witness and testify that Jesus is the lamb of God who takes upon himself the sin of the world; that we did not know him, nor have we seen him, but we nevertheless believe in him and seek to be in alignment with and intimate with him in our prophetic ministry.

Congratulations on the successful preparations for this 13th International Bonhoeffer Congress and I wish you the best of times together.

God loves you and so do I.


Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Anglican Primates meet in "spirit-led, forward-looking, inspiring" meeting in Jordan

Archbishop Justin Welby leads a service at the River Jordan
The Archbishop has issued the following comments on the recent meeting of the heads of churches of the world-wide Anglican Communion, held in Jordan in the Middle East:
We had a good Primates' Meeting, spirit-led, forward-looking, inspiring and held in a cordial atmosphere.

We met in the context of the Middle East, and the biblical historical context reminded me of God’s presence in our lives and throughout history.

In my Twitter feed and Facebook account, I asked for the prayers of the people of our Province as well as their wishes for what the Primates' agenda should touch upon, and most of their wishes and suggestions were indeed covered.

I now look forward, and invite your prayers, for the meeting of our Province's Synod of Bishops, to be held next month, from February 9 to 14.

The full text of the Communiqué issued by the Primates follows:

Communiqué of the Primates’ Meeting
Jordan, 13-15 January 2020

Glory be to God on high, peace and good will to all people. Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1. The Primates of the Anglican Communion met from 13 to 15 January 2020 in Jordan at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, and hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and their Archbishop, the Most Reverend Suheil Dawani;

2. Our meeting was grounded in prayer, in the sacrament of the Eucharist and in sharing through Bible study the treasures of God’s word. We rejoiced in the unity that was expressed in our sharing of Holy Communion together and, in our last act of worship together we will renew our baptismal promises in the River Jordan at the site associated with the baptism of Christ;

3. The location of our meeting was of profound significance. We gathered in Jordan, in the lands of the Bible. We were close to Jerusalem where Jesus died and rose again. At the end of our meeting we will make pilgrimages in groups to places such as Mount Nebo, where Moses glimpsed the Promised Land, to Jerusalem and to Bethlehem. We were conscious in our time together of the long history of Christianity in this region and the pressures that face Christians in the Middle East today. We were pleased to meet and to receive the greetings of His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and we continue to ‘pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ (Psalm 122. 6). It was our privilege to be received in audience by His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan. His Majesty spoke powerfully of his commitment to enable people of different faiths to live together  despite their differences and of his support of the Christian communities in the region. We were grateful also for the warm hospitality of the Salfiti family, who welcomed us into their home in Amman;

4. As we gathered as Primates we were acutely aware of the ongoing tensions within the Anglican Communion. However, we were also profoundly conscious of the Holy Spirit in our midst, drawing us to walk together. We heard compelling testimony from the Primate of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Anglican Church in Japan) of the gift of reconciliation between peoples and nations and we leave the meeting glad that we were here;

5. Primates from 33 of the 40 provinces were present. We lamented the absence of those three primates who chose not to attend and those four who, by virtue of vacancy, illness or other difficulty, were not able to attend. We are always greatly diminished by the absence of colleagues;

6. We welcomed twelve new primates, attending this meeting for the first time; welcomed into our midst the primate of the newly formed province of Chile; and bade farewell to those whose term of office was coming to an end. As we gathered together we received news that the Right Reverend Dharmaraj Rasalam, Bishop of South Kerala, had been elected as Moderator of the Church of South  India. We assure him of our prayers as he takes up this new ministry and we look forward to welcoming him to our next meeting. We approved the formation of a new Province of Alexandria, covering Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa and we noted progress towards a province in Sri Lanka;

7. When we come together from around the world we bring our varied situations with us and are able to share, and pray for, the countries and churches from which we come. In various parts of the world Christians face great pressure that makes Christian life and ministry difficult and, sometimes, unbearable. We are, as a body, strengthened by the resilience and faithfulness of these, our brothers and sisters. As Primates we express our heartfelt prayer for peace, justice and reconciliation throughout the world and remember particularly the people of South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Hong Kong, Bolivia and Chile. We express our concern for the people of Australia in the midst of fire and continue to pray for all those affected by migration and displacement in Latin America and elsewhere. We note with concern the taking over by the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, of Edwardes College: a Christian foundation more than a century old and we urge the Government to enter dialogue with the Diocese of Peshawar, Church of Pakistan with a view to restoring management of the College by the Church authorities;

8. The safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults remains a topic of acute concern. The fact of past and present abuse is a matter of lasting pain and regret. We heard a report on the progress of the Safe Church Commission. We repent of those times when the Church is and has been culpable and has failed to protect those entrusted to the Church’s care. We reaffirm our commitment to listen to and to work with all survivors of abuse and our determination to provide a safe environment in our churches;

9. We heard about and commend the work of the Anglican Environmental Network, noting that climate change is not a future threat but, for many in the world today, a present, lived reality;

10. We reaffirm our commitment to evangelism and endorse the work of the new Anglican Church Planting Commission;

11. We agreed that all members churches should contribute to the Inter-Anglican Budget according to their means and we commend the transition to new arrangements for determining member church contributions;

12. In 2016 the Primates’ Meeting asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to set up a Task Group to look at how we might walk together despite the complexities we face. At this meeting we affirmed our continued commitment to walk together; we received the work of the Task Group and commended it to the other Instruments of Communion – the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Consultative Council. We recommended that a group be appointed to continue the work of the Task Group to explore how we live and work together in the light of the Lambeth Conference. We invite the Churches of the Anglican Communion to set apart the Fifth Sunday of Lent (29 March 2020) as a day to focus on the Prayers of Repentance produced by the Task Group;13.

The Lambeth Conference will take place in Canterbury this year. We were updated on plans for the conference, both practical and programmatic. We discussed how the fruits of our discussions at the Lambeth Conference might be widely communicated and we explored how the bishops, gathered together in conference, might ‘invite’ the church and the world to join us as we collaborate in God’s mission of building God’s Church for God’s World. As we continue to explore what it means to walk together in our differences we recognise that the Lambeth Conference is a vital part of the journey, and one for which 650 bishops and 506 spouses have now registered. The Task Group’s work reminded us of the story of the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24. 13-35) where the two disciples, walking together, unknowingly meet the risen Christ. In meeting and, ultimately, recognising him in the breaking of the bread, they are changed forever. They remain the same people but are transformed and, in their new-found joy return to Jerusalem to proclaim the good news of the resurrection;

14. We are grateful to those staff from the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace who provided practical support to our meeting, to the Community of St Anselm and Chemin Neuf community, who supported and surrounded us with prayer and to the Archbishop and staff of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem for their hospitality and support;

15. Throughout our meeting we were strongly aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit calling us to be together, to walk together and to remain together. We deeply appreciate the prayers of those throughout the world who prayed for us during this meeting and commit ourselves, our provinces and the Anglican Communion to the care and guidance of Almighty God.
15 January 2020

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