Anglican Diocese of Grahamstown


Letters from Archbishop Thabo Makgoba to the People

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Archbishop Thabo backs #Justice4Vernie campaign

A message recorded for the #Justice4Vernie rally held in St George's Cathedral, Cape Town, to honour the memory of Vernie Petersen, a former church worker and later a senior civil servant, whose stand against corruption before his untimely death has been highlighted at a commission of inquiry into government corruption. Below the full text of the message is the news release convening the rally, which gives more details.

Dear Friends, Family and Comrades of Vernie Petersen

On behalf of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town and indeed of the whole church, it is my great privilege today to support the campaign for Justice for Vernie.

Many in the Diocese still remember Vernie's dedicated work for justice and liberation while working with the Diocese's Board of Social Responsibility during what I call the “Old Struggle” – the struggle against apartheid.

It's therefore with a sense of pride that we celebrate how Vernie went on after the advent of democracy to become an equally dedicated public servant, indeed by all accounts a model public servant, committed to the proposition that the people's money should be spent on the people's welfare, and not to enrich a few, no matter how admirable the role of those few may have been during the Old Struggle.

It is also with sadness that we acknowledge how Vernie came to be at odds with another former stalwart at the Board of Social Responsibility, in the person of Ngconde Balfour.  Now  I do not wish to rush to judgement – Ngconde has not yet had his opportunity to account at the Zondo Commission for his time as Minister of Correctional Services. But allow me just to note for the record the particular pain that we have all experienced in recent years, when we have seen too many comrades in the Old Struggle part ways as they have faced the difficult task of transitioning from fighting against the system to trying to transform it to serve all the people of South Africa.

This task, and the growth of the corruption and bad governance that have penetrated so deeply into the heart of our new democracy, constitute a call to all of us to re-dedicate ourselves to the noblest objectives of the struggle, in short to embark on what I call the New Struggle – the struggle to ensure that the sacrifices that so many made for our liberation are not wasted, the struggle against greed, corruption and nepotism, the struggle against the pursuit of narrow self-interest, personal gain, status and material wealth – in short the struggle for true justice, including economic justice, which will ensure that all, in the words of the Christian sacred text, “may have life and have it in abundance."

God bless you, God bless Vernie's family, and may we achieve #Justice4Vernie.

Campaign to honour late Vernie Petersen's brave stance on corruption

Friends and family of the late Correctional Services national commissioner Vernie Petersen have started a campaign to honour his memory and to give due recognition to his brave anti-corruption stance in the face of death threats to himself and his family.

The campaign, #Justice4Vernie, was started after the revelations at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture showed how Vernie was threatened by the Bosasa company to approve dodgy tenders.

Vernie tried in vain to ensure that the correct procedures were followed in re-advertising the food contract rather than being forced to extend the existing Bosasa contract.

Neither his colleagues in senior management nor then minister of correctional services Ngconde Balfour supported him.

After several clashes with Balfour and the senior management, Vernie was moved to the Department of Sport and Recreation.

In a letter of support to the state capture commission, #Justice4Vernie said the testimonies by former correctional services portfolio committee chair Dennis Bloem and Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi “reminded us of an awful period that Vernie and his family had to endure simply because he did the right thing”.

"He served our country and government with the utmost dignity and ethical behaviour, and should not have been vilified, victimised and subjected to death threats in the way that he had been”.

Vernie matriculated from Modderdam High School in 1977. He was an activist in Cape Town in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. He started his activism through youth and church associations that fought to end apartheid.

Vernie obtained a diploma in social work from UWC. Later he obtained an Honours and Master's in social science from UCT.

After the 1994 democratic elections, Vernie joined the public service, where he held several senior positions.

After being in hospital for a week, undergoing a routine procedure, he fell ill and died in Pretoria on Sunday.

He is survived by his widow June, sons Ruari and Dylan, and three grandchildren.

The organisers of the #Justice4Vernie campaign will hold a rally at St George’s Cathedral this Saturday, where speakers will reflect on Petersen’s life and legacy. The rally will start at noon.

Speakers will include former finance minister Trevor Manuel; former Cape Town mayor and ambassador Theresa Solomon; and Sithembiso Garane, son of the late Lennox Garane, who was a parliamentary officer at the time of his death.

There will also be tributes from Petersen’s June and son Ruari, and messages of support from, among others, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke and Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.


Friday, 8 February 2019

Lambeth Conference: Archbishop of Cape Town calls on bishops to “express your difference”


[Anglican News] The Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, has called on Anglican bishops to attend the next Lambeth Conference despite differences within the Anglican Communion. 

Archbishop Thabo chairs the international Design Group, brought together by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to plan the once-in-a-decade gathering of Anglican bishops, which will take place in Canterbury, Kent, in 2020. 

“I know people talk about the fabric of the communion as torn”, he said, “but we are all fallible human beings in need of God’s love and grace, and we need each other.”

Archbishop Thabo made his comments in a video on the Lambeth Conference website. In it, he says: “As said in Sepedi [the language of Northern Sotho]: one bangle doesn’t ring, two bangles will make a beautiful noise. So we are never alone in this journey.

“Whether you agree with where the communion is, whether you don’t agree, come and express your difference in this beautiful space which is a gift from God. Don’t just stay at home and say ‘I’m not going’.

“We want to hear that voice. It’s not a conference of like-minded people; it is a conference of Anglicans. I mean, for God’s sake, Anglicans, from our inceptions, we’ve always had push and pull. So push and pull should not be a distraction, but it should be celebrated.

“It’s what I call at home, ‘celebrating the gift of difference’. So I encourage all bishops and their spouses to make every possible effort to come and see what God is doing through us in his world.”

Speaking about the shape of the Conference, Archbishop Thabo said that it would begin with a spiritual retreat, a time to say to bishops and their spouses “hey, shut up . . . and listen to God; and listen to one another in silence.”

He said that after the retreat, “we will worship together; we will walk together; we will talk together; we will love together; we will wrestle together; break bread together; reflect theologically and in mission bring ourselves and bring our dioceses and provinces into that space.

“And then, as my predecessor but one used to say, ‘God is not finished with us’; and God will actually continue his work in us and through us for the Anglican Communion.”

In a separate video on the website, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, spoke of how bishops can prepare for the Lambeth Conference, beginning with prayer. “My vision for this conference is that, if nothing else, we emerge as a Communion that is visibly more deeply committed to prayer and the reading of scripture.

“So pray, and read scripture together; get into the swing of it in a new and fresh way. For example, between Ascension and Pentecost, there will be the fourth 10-days of Thy Kingdom Come. . . Get involved in that. It’s a time for prayer for mission; prayer for God to warm the hearts of those who need to hear the good news of Jesus.”

He continued: “Pray for those you disagree with and resist the urge to be swayed by gossip and rumour. So when you hear something, don’t necessarily believe it, turn to God and say ‘if that’s true, I pray for him or her’. But also, try and find out the truth.”



Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Sermon at a Confirmation Service of churches in the Parish of Wynberg, Cape Town

Confirmation Service: Christ Church, Kenilworth
The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba
Archbishop of Cape Town
Sunday, 3rd February 2019 

Jeremiah 1:4-10; 1 Corinthians 12:31b -13:13, Luke 4:21-30

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

Thank you Rob for the warm welcome we received on our arrival here this morning. Thank you for the refreshing worship and testimonies from the confirmation candidates during this service.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, dear people of God, the ministers in charge of the churches in this Parish, friends and families of those to be confirmed, it is a great joy to be with you today and share in this important milestone in the lives of these candidates.

Thank you to the Rector of this parish, to Rob Taylor of Christ Church, Doug Kirkpatrick of St Luke’s, Diep River, and Natalie Simons–Arendse of St Philip’s, Wetton and all the retired ministers present here today. I was not aware that you have so many ministers and I wish we could deploy them to the vacant parishes in the diocese. Thank you for inviting me to this service and also for ensuring the preparation of the candidates. Thank you, Rob, for planning the service.

A warm welcome to you all – and thank you most importantly to those who prepared the candidates for confirmation. A special welcome to the parents, godparents and friends of those to be confirmed during this service.

The story of the call of Jeremiah is one of my favourite passages in the Bible because it speaks to me. “Before you were born I knew you” - God knew us even before our existence and called us to be his own. Even you, confirmation candidates, God knew you and the testimonies you shared this morning are indicative of that.

Today we come in the presence of God to give witness to this special gift with which God, out of his goodness, will endow you, the candidates: the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into your lives. The rite of passage that you pass through today will empower you to practise your faith more effectively in every aspect of your existence, deepening your relationship with God and strengthening your spiritual lives.

Jesus says in our Gospel reading: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” As you have learned in your preparation classes, at your confirmation you receive the seven gifts of the spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of God. These gifts, as we will hear in the introduction to the confirmation service, are given to you to fulfil three important purposes: you receive the power of the Spirit for worship, witness and service.

Let us look at our lives of faith through each of these three lenses and ask ourselves: what insights can we draw from each as we prepare to fulfil our confirmation vows in our Christian lives today and beyond?

Of the three, worship comes first. Everything else we do flows from this. Worship is what we do through praising and paying homage to God. It begins with fear of the Lord, which is one of the gifts of the Spirit. Fear of the Lord of course doesn't mean we should be shivering in terror, it is more positive than that – it means we should stand in awe of the Lord. But today’s reading from Luke’s Gospel (4:21-30) gives us a picture of how, instead of being in awe of God, people sometimes reject the manifestation of God in their lives.

In the synagogue in his home town, Nazareth, Jesus was presented with a scroll from Isaiah 61:1ff to read, in accordance with the custom of the time. That passage, declaring as it does that “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me,” anticipates the coming of Christ, and on reading from the scroll, Jesus gave a discourse on its fulfilment. Here we find present fulfilment, personal fulfilment and gracious fulfilment: “present” in that what the prophet foretold was now finally coming true; “personal” in that the person of Jesus was the One anointed with the Holy Spirit, and “gracious” in that the era of God’s salvation had arrived.

Jesus’ listeners were at first amazed by what he said. But they quickly turned hostile, taking strong exception at him making what they saw as such a pretentious claim – not believing it was possible that a young man from their town was the fulfilment of the promise of Isaiah. Jesus in turn saw their attitude as being one of disbelief, that because they didn’t see him perform miracles in their sight, they failed to see him as the fulfilment of prophecy. So all Jesus could do was remind his listeners of what the prophets of Israel did when they were faced with similar challenges: they had performed their wonders amongst the heathen.

Jesus implied that when Israel rejected God’s messenger of redemption, God sent God’s messenger to the Gentiles, and that this would happen again if the people of Nazareth refused to accept him. His listeners saw that this applied to themselves and that as a result he would direct his attention to others and not to them; also that God’s compassion was more for the Gentiles than to the multitude of Jews. This ignited more wrath and anger against him.

This Gospel reading invites us to reflect on how we would respond in our context to such a message. If you were Jesus, what would you have done? What else could Jesus have done to draw these people closer to the fountain of Life? What can be done in regard to those who still do not believe in this day and age?

This is where we can bring witness and service into the picture.

If we fear God, holding God in awe, then the closer we come to God the better our lives will reflect the values of God's Kingdom as true witnesses. A witness is one who testifies to what they see, to what they know and to what they experience. Our lives – through our words, actions and attitudes – should witness to our God, the Creator of all that is, seen and unseen, the God who knows every hair on our heads, who cares for us more than we can ever imagine. Above all, all of us who are here today – but I particularly address you, the confirmation candidates – must witness to the God of love. St Paul in, 1 Corinthians 13:1ff, says even if we can speak in the languages of the angels – if we do not speak of love, it is nothing but a noise. This is the love of Christ that manifested on the Cross.

Sisters and brothers, we are called to live out God's love in the world, to love our neighbours as ourselves. This is the greatest gift that God has ever given to humanity. Paul concludes this chapter by highlighting faith, hope and love – but emphasising that of these three, the greatest is love. Because God is love and has communicated his love to us, we are commanded to love one another. Love supersedes the other gifts because it outlasts them. Long after these sought-after gifts are no longer necessary, love will still be the governing principle that controls all that God and God's redeemed people are and do.

And service is about demonstrating – in the here and now – God’s love and care in very practical ways. Some of us are called to do this through ordination and special ministries. But all of us are called to serve others, in every part of life – by being loving and honest and generous-hearted, in all our dealings with others. This Parish has a proud history of witness and service, from when you gave succour to the people of Crossroads after their homes were destroyed in the dark days of apartheid to your continuing work through ministries such as The Warehouse.

Looking at South Africa today through these three lenses of worship, witness and service, I urge each of you, in your own context, to reflect on and examine, what kind of witness and service should your worship be leading you into today? To what can you witness? And how best can each of us, individually and collectively, be of service to God and God's people in the world today, remembering that our struggle is against the principalities of this world?

What witness and service are we called to as we approach national and provincial elections which will be bitterly contested? How can we support the work of Western Cape religious leaders who are part of the Electoral Code of Conduct Observer Commission (ECCOC), which is monitoring the behaviour of political parties and their supporters and working to ensure peace during the electioneering and on polling day?

And our prayers, and our reflections on witness and service, need not be limited to South Africa. I have been especially distressed in recent weeks at the plight of our sisters and brothers in the whole Southern African region. After the hope which flared up with the transition to a new president in Zimbabwe, we have seen and heard of peaceful protests being broken up violently, of a prominent pastor being detained, and of people being dragged from their homes and night and beaten up. We have to ask: is President Mnangagwa actually committed to reforms in the way the country is governed? We have seen precious little evidence of legislative reforms so far. If he is so committed, we have to ask: is he fully in control of his security forces?

But today is about you, the confirmation candidates, so let me turn again to you as I conclude. As I lay hands upon you, as you begin your new life with Christ, I urge you  to embrace this special gift, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which you receive today.

May you grow in faith and in the love of God, as you obey his commandments to be faithful servants within his church and in his world, and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

God loves you and so do I. God bless, Amen


Monday, 4 February 2019

Religious leaders meet Western Cape political leaders to urge peaceful elections

W. Cape religious and political leaders at Bishopscourt.

With an eye on the pending national and provincial elections, the Electoral Code of Conduct Observer Commission (ECCOC), chaired by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, met with representatives  of nine political parties active in the Western Cape on Tuesday 29 January at Bishopscourt.

The purpose of the meeting was to introduce ECCOC to political leaders.  One of ECCOC’s tasks is to ensure that political parties and their leaders understand that they should not incite violence and instability at election times when tensions could be running high.

“We help to defuse tense situations where they arise or seem likely, by playing a mediating role at times of stress or potential violence. We hope that political parties and the electorate see our presence as helping to ensure that there is a moral presence on election day,” said the Archbishop.

He said that ECCOC will have a strong presence at polling stations, acting as an observer. Its presence will stress the need for a moral and value driven election and ECCOC will report any irregularities and inappropriate behaviour by parties to the IEC.

The parties present at the meeting indicated support for ECCOC and thanked the Archbishop and his ECCOC team for acting as an independent and impartial influence prior to and on election day.


Friday, 18 January 2019

Homily for licensing the Revd Monwabisi Peter as Chaplain of Diocesan College

(Photo: Bishops Facebook page)
The text of a homily delivered by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at the licensing of the Revd Monwabisi Peter as Chaplain of Diocesan College in the Bishops Memorial Chapel, Cape Town, on 18 January 2019: 

Reading:  Matthew 11:25-27

In the name of God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, dear people of God, Mr (Guy) Pearson, heads of departments, educators, friends and families, it is a great joy to be with you today and share in this milestone in the history of Diocesan College.

        I always refer to this College as my second home from Bishopscourt. It was in this chapel that in September 2007 I was elected the Archbishop of Cape Town. Entering this chapel always bring those memories when the church asked me at take this responsibility at a young age.

A warm welcome to you all – and thank you for inviting me. Also, thank you to all the chaplains who are here for your supportive presence. A special welcome to Fr Monwabisi Peter, to your dear wife, Nolubabalo, and to Ongamela and Onathi. Welcome to the Diocese of Cape Town and to Bishops.

Today, we commemorate the Confession of St Peter in the Anglican calendar. According to today’s Gospel reading for the Eucharist, Matthew, Jesus and his disciples were at Caesarea Philippi (Matt.16:13ff). This city was rebuilt by Phillip, Herod’s son and was to the north of the Sea of Galilee, near the slopes of Mount Hermon. Originally it was called Paneas in honour of the Greek god Pan, whose shrine was located there and the region was mainly pagan.

It was there that Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” and it was God’s work that Peter was able to recognise Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus in turn affirmed that Peter would have the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and would be the rock on which Jesus would build his spiritual house. Peter would become the major steward of the future Kingdom to be set up on earth. He would bind or set loose, he would forbid or permit; only what he would decide would be rectified in heaven. What a task to set upon the shoulders of one man!

If the same question was asked of us today, what would be our response? What is Fr Monwabisi being called to do, what are all of us, teachers and boys, called to do in the here and now? Would we, like Peter, respond to God's call?

In your Vision Statement, Bishops is committed to a value-driven education and strives to embrace and celebrate the diversity in the communities of the school and nation. How best can these be applied to our society? How, using Peter’s Confession, the Gospel reading we heard today, and the values the school promotes, can we help and enable others to build a society which confesses the Prince of Peace?

In my Christmas sermon, as has been referred to by Guy in his welcoming remarks this morning, I raised as a major concern for our country the high levels of aggression we see in many areas of our society. I said that it is crucial, and necessary, to eradicate corruption and improve the efficiency of government, but it is not sufficient on its own to ensure better lives for our people. I addressed in particular the violence among young people in some of our public schools, the violence taught to the young by adults, on picket lines strikes, and violence in politics.

If we were able to export the values of tolerance and respect for diversity for which Bishops stands, and to spread it through society, South Africa could be transformed. We would not, for example, be seeing the violence and total disregard of the people of Xolobeni we are currently seeing in the Eastern Cape, where the mining authorities seem hell-bent on ignoring the wishes of the local community by allowing an Australian mining company to exploit their resources and destroy that beautiful cost. I will be writing a note to my colleague, Archbishop Philip Freier of Melbourne, asking the church to intercede with his government. Please join me in support of this community and encourage the initiative for courageous conversations in the mining industry which I am engaged in.

You also aspire in the school's Vision Statement to address global issues. If South Africa could export the values of tolerance, the settlement of disputes by negotiation and a willingness to pursue the common good, we could help counter the distressing tendency of people elsewhere – for example, those in Kenya, Somalia and Zimbabwe – to opt for violence and aggression, whether it is to suppress opposition or to protest over injustices.

We learned in the Gospel passage that was read today that God reveals himself to us and at the same time hides far more than he manifests. God reveals himself to those who are as spiritually dependent on him as babes; and to those whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Sisters and brothers, Christian revelation addresses itself to our hearts, to a love of truth and goodness, to our fear of sinning and our desire to gain God’s favour. We are all accountable to Christ as our judge and so all must seek his favour and have him as our Friend. When we believe in him, we shall be justified by him – Christ, our Righteousness. The forgiveness of sins lays a foundation for all other favours and blessings and so if sin is pardoned, all is well and shall end well.

Fr Monwabisi, as you take up this new ministry, you are called to reach out to those who have transgressed and to call them back to God. You have to keep your spiritual integrity intact, resisting becoming like those who resist God. You are called to reach out to everyone, whether or not they accept God’s message. That is the essence of your call to this ministry and institution.

I invite you all, with Monwabisi as your Chaplain, to transform the society and the church, this school, this city and the world.

God loves you, and so do I. Congratulations and we wish you well.

God bless.




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Archbishop of Cape Town, Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Thabo Cecil Makgoba - World Economic Forum on Africa 2012 crop.jpg
Makgoba at the 2012 World Economic Forumon Africa
Church Anglican
See Cape Town
In office 2007 – present
Predecessor Njongonkulu Ndungane
Successor incumbent
Ordination 1990
Consecration 2002
Personal details
Born 15 December 1960 
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