My dear brothers and sisters
“And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18)
I write to you in my capacity as Vicar General, during the six weeks that Bishop Ebenezer is on sabbatical. He returns to the diocese on July 10th. We thank God for his ministry, his witness, and his leadership. We pray that he, together with maNoncedo and the family, may be strengthened during this time of rest and study, for all that lies ahead.
I write, also, as the nation celebrates Youth month, with the commemoration of June 16th at the centre. Youth month is a time to remember the events of June 1976; it is a time for sorrow and compassion, when we see the closed doors that many young people face, the closed doors of poor education, or poverty, or unemployment; it is a time to look forward in hope and expectancy; it is a time for us to resolve to create a future and a country not only for our own children, but for all young people in South Africa.
We are also, as a nation, in a time of waiting, as we watch the news for the latest on Tata Madiba’s failing health. I don’t think any of us believe that he will live for ever, and the reality is that we shall be facing his death, sooner rather than later. He became an icon of the struggle for freedom during his 27 years of imprisonment and, following his release from prison, and subsequent election as our first democratically elected President, he stood out as a symbol of reconciliation and hope. Far from the angry, embittered person who could have emerged from those years in jail, he reached out with words of peace to all communities, including to former enemies, and enabled the new South Africa to be born and take shape. He was and is a symbol of wise leadership, a gift to the nation at a particular time in our history. We shall grieve his passing, immensely.
I have two quite personal memories of Madiba: the one is that my father-in-law, Bishop Mark Nye, hosted Madiba and the other Treason Trialists to daily lunch at the rectory in Pretoria, while the trials were taking place. The other is that while Madiba was in prison at Victor Verster, outside Paarl, towards the end of his imprisonment, I was the parish priest at Mbekweni. We decided to write to Madiba for his birthday, which we did – and we received a handwritten reply from him, which I still have. And together with thousands of others, I was on the Grand Parade in Cape Town to witness his release and his first public appearance to the nation and to the world.
We give thanks to God for the gift that Madiba has been to our country. And when the time comes, I hope that we shall grieve his passing with dignity and with honour, in a way that brings our communities together, and reminds us of who we are meant to be, as brothers and sisters.
In an open letter issued on June 13th, Archbishop Thabo wrote:
“Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, dear
friends of South Africa everywhere, I invite you to join with me in praying
for God's tender merciful hand to be upon our former President, Nelson
Mandela at this time, and for his love to enfold dear Madiba, and all who
are close to him. The Bible reassures us that 'God is our refuge and our
strength, a very present help in trouble' (Psalm 46) and it is often when we
feel most weak and vulnerable that God's reassurance comes to us most
powerfully. It reminds us that in life, and in death, nothing can ever
separate us from his love, and that his everlasting arms will never let us
slip from his safe grasp.”
All this, and much more besides, forms the context for our worship, and the reminder from our reading (2 Corinthians 3:12-4:6) at a weekday Eucharist recently, that we are being transformed from one degree of glory to another. We are being changed. There is also the Gospel reading (Matthew 5:20-26) – to “first be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” Don’t be angry, or insult others, or call them names (Matt 5:22). Be the first to reach out to make peace. Don’t wait for the other person to come to you.
How good are we at doing that, in our life together? In our parishes? In our families? How often do we hear someone say, “I’m not talking to him.” How often do we give others the silent treatment – because it is easier to do that, to show our anger by ignoring them, than to go to them? To what extent do we live with low-level conflict, unresolved issues? Are we able to model a life of peace-making, a ministry of reconciliation? It is in our shared life together that we are being transformed from one degree of glory to another. It is in our parishes, and in our communities, that we are called to heal the wounds of the past, and help one another be carriers of God’s peace.
We congratulate the Revd Professor Barney Pityana GCOB, as we gather to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his ordination. The service to mark this will be held on Saturday 6th July, at St Stephen’s, New Brighton, PE, starting at 11 a.m. We thank God for his involvement in so many areas of our nation’s life, his prophetic voice and witness, his life as a priest, and for his leadership of the College of the Transfiguration, Grahamstown.
Together with this Ad Clerum we shall find the details for the forthcoming Clergy School, to be held on Thursday 25th July, in Grahamstown. There is also the colloquium at the College of the Transfiguration, Grahamstown, 7th – 9th August (please contact the College for further details – the colloquium is open to all, and there will be several outstanding speakers and theologians); and the special focus and appeal on Theological Education Sunday, 18th August. Information on this has already been sent out to all our parishes. We congratulate the Diocesan Youth Executive, together with their chaplain, Revd Themba Phillip, on the recent Youth Conference, held at St Francis Mdantsane, and we thank Archdeacon Penrose Mpumlwana, together with churchwardens and parish council of that parish, for hosting this. Our prayers are with the Mothers’ Union leadership (their Executive, together with their chaplain, Archdeacon William Fobosi) as they plan for their Diocesan Conference, to be held at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, 11th – 14th July.
Finally, my very sincere thanks to Bishop Ebenezer for entrusting the diocese into my care for these six weeks. I am grateful for this privilege, and thank you all for your support, love and prayers for me and my family during this time. May God bless us in our life and journey together.
My love to you all
The Very Reverend Andrew Hunter
Dean and Vicar General
Bishop Graham Cray, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Missioner and leader of the Fresh Expressions (FX) Team, will conduct Clergy School on the 25th July 2013 at the Cathedral. To ensure a place at the Clergy School, please deposit R140 registration fee to the Diocesan Trust Account by the 20th July 2013.
First National Bank
Account Name: Diocesan Trust Board
Account Number: 5232 1147 269
Reference: Name-Clergy School
The following retreats have been arranged for clergy and their spouses at a cost of R300 per person.
Conductor: The Rt Revd Funginkosi Mbhele, Bishop Suffragan of Natal
Conductor: Mrs Ntlali
Venue: to be announced
Conductor: The Very Revd Michael Weeder, Dean of Cape Town
Parishes are encouraged to assist the clergy and their spouses towards the retreat costs. Please contact the Bishop’s Office to confirm which retreat you will attend. Places will be limited to 22 people per retreat.
Please remember to contribute towards Theological Sunday on the 18th August 2013. For the Bishop’s Theological Sunday appeal, click:
We encourage all current church and chapel wardens to attend this one-day conference
Date: Saturday, 20 July 2013
Venue: University of Fort Hare, Bisho Campus
Time: 09h00 – 16h00
Please pray for the diocesan Mothers’ Union as they prepare for their bi-annual conference starting Thursday, 11 July – Sunday, 14 July 2013 at Rhodes University.
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