Pastoral Letter by the Bishop of Grahamstown, the Rt Rev E. S. Ntlali, on the defacing and removal of statues

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23 April 2015

Our country will be celebrating 21 years of freedom this year. We look forward to that joyous occasion. We continue to thank the Lord for blessing us with a country as beautiful as ours. It is to be remembered that God’s creation is always ‘good; for He was so satisfied when He created it. We have been placed as stewards of His world. It is our belief that there is not a single human being who is on earth by mistake. All of us are in this world to enjoy it and praise God for all He has provided us with. We decided to demarcate and .pretend to own the world ourselves; resulting in all the wars and hatred we have seen over ages.
We are suffering the consequences of those actions now because when people conquer they destroy everything that reminds them of the past and erect new symbols that will remind them of their victory. This is found in many places, South Africa is no exception. Our country had an option of destroying all symbols of oppression when we gained freedom but chose not to. The road chosen was that of systematically transforming our country and landscape. Radical change has its advantages and disadvantages.
Gradual change will be accepted by some and rejected by others. The gradual manner in which South Africa has dealt with transformation could be perceived by some as deserting or delaying the broader transformation agenda. The challenge our country faces is that the African National Congress is also a ruling party. She has to take into consideration all the people of this country when moving forward.
The government put into place structures to deal with the transformation of our landscape viz. National Heritage Council, South African Heritage Resource Agency and the National Geographical Name Change Council. These structures are supposed to have implemented the programme of educating, consulting and advocating for a common approach when it comes to matters of heritage. We have seen very little movement when it came to the matter of symbols like statues. It seems as if the route chosen was to allow the old symbols to stand, and add new ones. What we see now is the emergence of a group of people who have adopted a different approach, that of acting independently of the structures and even without consultation. Government, I dare say, was caught napping.
Anything that will be done now would be reactive because of failure by the above- mentioned structures to fulfil their responsibilities. It is possible that they can argue their own cases as to why they have failed to act when it was still quiet.
We need to keep reminding ourselves that the response of people to symbols differs depending on which side you are. Before 1994 we would remember that Black people saw government buildings, schools etc as symbolizing the repressive government that was in power at that time. These buildings became targets during times of uprising. What is happening now is reminiscent of that time. Most probably some of our people destroy buildings because they remind them of a government that has failed to meet their needs. We have imported tools and methods that we used to destroy apartheid into the new and democratic dispensation. What we think is lacking is a strategy to harness and channel this energy towards constructive activities as Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said in his statement: “We must harness the energy being poured into protests into rigorous self- examination and action to expand the current campaigns into a creative, society-wide drive for real transformation.”
As a Diocese we understand and relate to people who feel that certain symbols have no place in the new dispensation. We also understand that these statues are part of our heritage and they are works of art, Our view is that government should establish a civil society commission to engage all stakeholders and forge an approach that will be inclusive and sensitive to the feelings of those affected. These sessions will help to prevent retaliatory actions by those who feel that even the symbols 01′ statues of the new dispensation are not inclusive. We do not support the destruction and defacing of these symbols.
Our main concern is now that (ominous clouds are gathering over our country’ we need leadership that will help dispel all the imminent threat to our country by staying close to people and heeding their call. We would like to ask our government to choose a reconciliatory approach in dealing with these matters. As a church we shall continue to focus people on Christ, and not allow the devil an opportunity to divide our people.
Christ’s message was a message of hope, salvation and reconciliation. Let us not allow ourselves to be divided by these issues. We pray that God provides our leaders with courage and wisdom to confront these matters and stamp out all violence and hatred perpetrated by people who want to reverse the gains we have made in these 21 years of freedom,
We call upon all Anglicans in this Diocese to desist from any action that seeks to divide the people of God. We should participate in dialogue, colloquiums, seminars that seek to find a lasting solution to this challenge.
May God bless you with courage to stand up and be counted, standing on the side of justice, peace and love as Christ’s disciples.
Yours in the service of the Shepherd of shepherds

Bp Ebenezer sig

BISHOP of GRAHAMSTOWN

Pastoral Letter from the Bishop Of Grahamstown, the Rt. Rev E.S. Ntlali, in the wake of the current suffering and pain of our African brothers.

 

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23 April 2015

I, Ebenezer, Bishop of Grahamstown call upon all Anglicans in our Diocese and all God- fearing people to join us in prayer during this difficult time in our country. We cannot be silent when people are being displaced and killed. Our communities could be quiet now but, nobody knows when things like these would reach our communities. It is opportune for us to make our voice heard and together stop these unacceptable behaviours. I would like to draw your attention to Exodus 23: 9, “You shall not oppress a stranger; you know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
We therefore cannot detach ourselves from misery and pain that we see before us. Our beloved country has lately taken centre stage globally, unfortunately for the wrong reasons. The defacing of statues has not helped our national unity and social cohesion programmes. It has led to even more gruesome incidents where the target now shifted to foreign nationals with looting of their businesses as well as unprovoked and unwarranted physical assault directed at them which have resulted in loss of lives – with the grim picture of the callous murder of the recent victim of such attacks -Mozambican national, Emanuel Sithole (may his soul and all others departed in like manner, rest in peace and rise in glory on the Day of the Lord), indelibly imprinted in the minds of the people of this Land and reminiscent of the murder of Abel by his brother Cain instigated by jealousy. In these circumstances the voice of the church has to be heard and registered, in accordance with her dynamic prophetic and voice of conscience mandate accorded her by the gift of the Holy Spirit from the Risen Christ!
We are encouraged by the remarks of the Primate of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who registered that our brothers and sisters from neighbouring African States are also created in the image of God ,in whom we are as well. There can be no justifiable or defendable reason for taking life in the manner it is happening; we also add our voice of concern and alarm at these happenings in our country. We have been fortunate, so far, that there have not been incidents reported in the Province of the Eastern Cape yet. The pro-active attempts by the leadership across the Political, Religious, Business and Community Structures are highly appreciated and lauded.
We now join forces to also add our own voice of reason in cautioning the people of God in the Land, to please, in the Name of the Prince of Peace, desist from these acts of violence that have now assumed unacceptable proportions, and to harness their anger and lay down all weapons restoring peace within the communities, and to embrace our .foreign national brothers and sisters in keeping with the Great Commandment to love one another. This enjoins all of us to truly be our brothers’ keepers! The impact of this wave of violence has far-reaching implications for the country as a whole, impacting on the economy, community stability and the global image of the country, as well as detracting from the gains of democracy in the last two decades, Unabated, this could escalate and reach proportions that have the potential to plunge the whole country into a conflagration that will be impossible to extinguish. The country took the noble stand in doing away with the Death Sentence. Amongst the limitations God imposes on His people in the Decalogue are: “Thou shall not kill, Thou shall not steal. Thou shall not covet thy Neighbour’s belongings.” These lynchings and kangaroo court justice practices constitute a contravention of God’s Commandments.
In these situations it also behoves leaders, in all spheres, to exercise caution and restraint when on public platforms, so as not to add fuel to the fire but rather quell the damage. As South Africans we are a great nation well known for being tolerant with one another, having entrenched a Constitutional framework that is an envy of the world, embracing values based on Ubuntu, fundamentally being a God Fearing Nation!
Let us, for the Love of God and His sake, relent and humble ourselves before God and repent of this grievous sin. God made this promise to the children of Israel which could apply to us as well: “If my people who are called by my Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive them their sin and will heal the Land.”
I implore all of you to actively participate in all attempts to prevent this from happening in our communities and also pray that this wave of xenophobic attacks be silenced and calmed in the Name of Christ. Let us dedicate the first Sunday- in May to a Diocese-wide prayer day for end to Xenophobia.

Yours in the service of the Shepherd of shepherds

Bp Ebenezer sig

BISHOP of GRAHAMSTOWN

The death of Professor Beth Dickerson

It was with sincere regret that the Cathedral Parish has learned of the death of Professor Emeritus Beth Dickerson, at about 02.30 on the morning of 22 April 2015.

Beth has been a Cathedral parish stalwart for many years, known and loved by all with whom she came into contact.

She died in the Settlers’ Hospital and was at peace and free of pain. Our prayers are with her family and friends at this time.

Further details, concerning funeral arrangements and some pertaining to her remarkable life, will be made known as and when they come to hand.

May her soul rest in peace and rise in glory.

The Revd Mzinzisi Dyantyi
Sub Dean

From the Dean’s study

My dear friends
We have received with great sadness the terrible news of the terror attack, during Holy Week, by Al Shabaab, at a university campus in Garissa, Kenya, with 148 students killed, shot, beheaded. The killers appeared to have been targeting non-Muslims – so there would have been many Christians among the dead. Our hearts go out to the families and communities of all who died and we hold them in our prayers and love.
We continue to remember and to pray for the more than 200 Nigerian school girls, Christians, kidnapped by Boko Haram in April last year, forced into sexual slavery, forced to convert to Islam, with no prospect of release. We pray for their families. We pray for the new President of Nigeria, elected last week.
On Good Friday the National Church Leaders Forum called all Christians to pray especially for all in our communities who are victims of rape and domestic violence; for abandoned families and children without care; for those (especially women and children) who are held hostage through crime and violence; for all who live in poverty and deprivation. And we pray for an end to corruption and dishonesty in government and business.
As the diocese of Grahamstown, we also have a particular focus on building up families. During Holy Week, and especially on Good Friday, we acknowledged the struggles that face many in the context of the most intimate relationships: the scourge of domestic violence; the effects of verbal abuse, rejection and betrayal – all this as we remember the betrayal and violent death of Jesus. During the foot-washing on Maundy Thursday, we remembered Christ’s servanthood. We pray that pain and heartache that family members do face at times be transformed through the death and resurrection of Christ.
We are invited to see the crucified Christ amongst us; we are called to take up our cross and follow Jesus to Calvary. God enables us to share in the resurrection life, the new life, that Jesus came to bring – for “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not die, but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16). As Jesus said to his disciples, “I came that they may have life, and life in all its fullness.” (Jn 10:10a).
Today is informally known as Graduation Sunday – the Sunday after the series of graduation ceremonies held at Rhodes University. It is a time of great celebration, some serious partying, reunions, families rejoicing, graduates exulting in all that they have achieved. A number of those graduating have been members of the Cathedral during their time at Rhodes University and in Grahamstown. We extend our very warm congratulations to them, to their families, to their lecturers, and to all who have encouraged and nurtured them on their way. A very big part of what Grahamstown does – in some ways central to its existence – is to welcome, encourage and mentor young people, at school and university, during these immensely formative times in their lives; and then after a few short years, to send them out. That is certainly part of what we as the Cathedral have been doing over the past several years. Teenagers and students arrive here, are with us for a few years, and then leave. We have this incredible privilege and opportunity to be part of their lives, to sow seeds, to love and welcome and encourage them, to help them find their feet, to be there when they stumble and fall, to nurture them in their life of faith and trust, to demonstrate God’s love for them – and then to send them on their way, knowing that we have invested in their lives and given them some of the tools that they will need.
Our ministry as the Cathedral to our students is one of the highlights of what we do. The work of Paul Daniels, our YASCer student worker, with the Cathedral Student Ministry (CSM), and the work of Revd Monwabisi Peter as ANSOC chaplain, is of immense value: we thank them very warmly indeed for all that they do in the lives of our students. We thank God for them, for all our students; for Titi Morobe, our CSM chair, and for Lazola Kati, ANSOC chairperson and a Parish Councillor.
We also have a significant number of pupils from local schools who are worshipping members of the Cathedral during their years in Grahamstown. A large number of them are boarders, and we certainly feel their absence during the holidays! I am so thankful that at least some are day girls or boys living here in Grahamstown. A number of our young people are active as Choristers, as members of the Altar Servers, in our various marimba bands and as readers. And they are wonderfully and faithfully supported and trained by Cathedral parishioners. Our Director of Music, Dr Andrew-John Bethke, our Altar Servers co-ordinators, Sally Terry, Lunga Dongwana and Lynette Marais, our readers’ trainers, Jeanette Eve and Beth Dickerson, and our marimba team leader, Penny Whitford, all do an immense amount to teach, train and disciple our young people. So when we see and hear a superb choir, or appreciate a focused and on-the-ball servers’ team, or hear the marimba players give it stick during our service, or listen to the scriptures being wonderfully read, often in a language that is not a reader’s mother tongue, then we say a heart-felt thank you to those who have trained them and guided them.
There are so many signs of new life, signs of the resurrection, which we hold onto in the midst of darkness and evil. Let us not despair or give up.
My love to you all
Andrew Hunter sig

People and Places, April 2015

The Annual Vestry meeting was held on 15 March, and we welcome the newly elected churchwardens and parish councillors, and pray for them: churchwardens Jane Bradshaw and Wayne Jayes, alternate churchwarden Paul Walters; councillors: Claire Cordell, Paul Daniels II, Lunga Dongwana, Cathy Euijen, David Greybe, Duma Myemane and Patrick Pringle. They were admitted to their offices on 22 March, and at the same service our two new lay ministers received their licences, Thelma Maloko and Namso Nyamela.

After some months of filling the post of Parish Secretary on a “temporary” (but most efficient) basis, Chris Walwyn was among those who applied for this vacant position, and his appointment was announced at the Vestry Meeting. We give thanks, and pray that he will have a long and happy sojourn in the Parish Office.

At the beginning of March we were introduced to the College of the Transfiguration placement team for 2015: Bruce Woolley, Qabuka (Theo) Tshazi, Marlon Porter, Zinzile Mdululwa and Deon Manuel. We welcome them and their families as they share in the ministry here and gain practical experience. Congratulations to the members of last year’s module who graduated at the ceremony on 18 March: Naomi Alexander and Matthew Wright received the Certificate in Anglican Ministry, and those who passed the Diploma of Theology were Bertha Gowera, Ronald Dias, Nobuntu Mageza (with Distinction) and Shaun Cozette, who not only achieved a Distinction but also won awards both as Most Improved student and for Academic Excellence in the Diploma.

A very warm welcome to Ann Greybe, who has now arrived from Scotland to join her husband David here on a permanent basis. Other newcomers to the Cathedral include John Murray, who has moved to Grahamstown from George, and Lorraine Cassim, a long-time Associate of the CR Sisters, who has taken the decision to move from Port Elizabeth to live with the Community. A joyful occasion at the CR was the celebration of Sister Dorianne’s 100th birthday on 14 March. Seventy or more friends of all ages came to celebrate, some from as far afield as the UK. The party took place in the St Peter’s common-room on the morning of the big day. Sister Dorianne was happy to see them all, and to read all the many cards and messages which arrived for her.

More visitors from the UK over the same weekend were Christopher Helyer from Dartmouth, and one of the young volunteers for the Mayenziwe Project, Joseph Partridge. They were in the country to help with the construction of school classrooms in the King William’s Town area, and were able to join the Cathedral Choir for the morning Eucharist on the day of our Vestry Meeting.

Brother John OHC spent some time in hospital in Cape Town recently, for an operation on his brain which hopefully will cure his epilepsy. The surgeon who operated on him is a world leader in this relatively new procedure, and we pray that it will be a success. Pasha Alden had an operation on 17 February, and we pray for her complete recovery. Patrick and Cathy Pringle give thanks that their daughter Janet was spared serious injury in the accident which saw her car written off. Fiona Coyne spent more than a week in Settlers’ Hospital with pneumonia, and prayers are asked for her and her husband Basil.

We pray for Uminathi Anthony, one of the young tenors in our choir, whose father Theo died quite suddenly, and for Eunice Ncwadi our Verger, whose sister-in-law Irene Gawe Ncwadi has died. Prayers also for Jane Bradshaw on the death of her cousin George Barbour, and for our former Director of Music, Barbara Stout, whose father died in the UK in February.

Congratulations to Tyreece Burger on being chosen as Head Girl of Victoria Primary School for 2015. Her photo appeared in Grocotts, and in the same issue the front-page picture featured Ongamela Peter and Nikilitha Gabavana, two of the young violinists of VP who played in a concert on 6 March. This was to raise funds to take the violin group to Cape Town for workshops, and a performance with the Buffalo Suzuki Strings from New York. And congratulations to Andrew Meiklejohn on being selected for the Rhodes first rowing team, and awarded full University colours.

Readers of the Sunday Times should look out for the by-line of Asha Speckman, a former Grahamstonian, Rhodes journalism student and Cathedral server. On 15 March an interview appeared in the Business Times which Asha had conducted with Mimi Mahlasela, who plays the part of Aggie Ngwenya on the soapie 7de Laan.

A former Cathedral Director of Music, Christopher Cockburn, has been honoured by the Royal School of Church Music by being made an Associate of the RSCM. The citation calls him a “leading organist”, mentions his academic posts and composing, and that he “has spent many years training both choristers and young organists and has dedicated much of his working life to the causes of the RSCM and church music.” Congratulations to Christopher, and also to our current Director of Music, Andrew-John Bethke. One of his compositions, “In the tender compassion of our God”, has been chosen to be featured in the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music in May, where it will be performed for the first time. Well done!

In the week before Palm Sunday the choirs of St Andrew’s College, DSG and the Cathedral combined to perform an “Easter Cantata” in the Cathedral, accompanied by organ and small orchestra. This was actually a service of nine readings and various musical items, taking us on a journey from Palm Sunday through Passiontide to Easter. This collaboration with our Anglican schools was something special, and the Cathedral was packed on both evenings.

Dean Andrew Hunter and his daughters Rachel and Nicola all took part in the Cape Town Cycle Tour on 8 March. Because of the huge fire which had only recently been extinguished in the Cape Peninsula, the tour was shortened to 47 km, less than half its normal length. The girls were probably relieved not to have to cycle the whole route as they were riding a borrowed tandem bike. Their “practice” on this machine was a mere quarter of an hour, just long enough to decide that they did better with Rachel in front and Nicola behind! As usual they sought sponsorship from friends and parishioners for the Bumble Bee Fund (for children with disabilities) and were delighted to raise more than R4000.

People and Places is compiled by Maggy Clarke. Please give her items of news at 046 622 7803 or mjclarke@imaginet.co.za