(For those who couldn't read this document from +Geoff when he sent it as
an attachment in MSWord format here is a copy in plain text form: NETMAN)
THE BISHOP'S CHARGE 6th October 2000
We welcome you to the Third Session of The Synod of the Diocese of
Umzimvubu. It is sometimes difficult to believe that we have been in
existence for ten years. Our existence at times has been financially
precarious - none more so than now - but at the same time, miraculous when
we reflect on what has been accomplished. We shall celebrate our Decade
through our Millennium Cross Pilgrimage of which you will hear more in due
First, we give thanks for the lives of former members of Synod who are now
Canon Bernard Matima; The Revd. Jack Mantshongo; Mr. M. Smale.
We also remember our brother clergy who are at present studying overseas and
so cannot be with us for this Synod: Archdeacon Mlibo Ngewu and Father
William Fobosi. We rejoice that they can have this opportunity.
We give thanks for the ministry of those now serving the church elsewhere or
have retired, notably Archdeacon Trevor Hubble and Samia who accomplished so
much in Matatiele, including the establishment of St. Monica's Diocesan
School, and Bob and Nelda Thelin who launched the Sustainable Agricultural
Project and did much in ecumenical work and theological education . In turn
we warmly welcome The Revd. Elizabeth Huether who has joined us from the
Anglican Church of Canada and will be involved in theological education,
among many other tasks. It is also a great pleasure to welcome Mr. Jaco
Pieterse, Principal of our Diocesan School of St. Monica in Matatiele. I
only wish that other parishes would follow the example of Matatiele in
establishing church schools.
I also take the opportunity at the outset of thanking the Parish of Holy
Trinity and their Ladies Guild for not only providing but giving us our
supper tonight, which we look forward to.
Oaks of Righteousness
During the 1980's when I was Director of the CPSA Department of Mission, one
of the resources we were circulating among churches was the slide show "The
Promised Land", a powerful and moving expose of the horrors of the
relocation policy of the Apartheid government.
The show ends on a positive and even deviant note, quoting Isaiah 63. It
was a prayer that the people of our land would fulfil their potential to
become "Oaks of Righteousness". In the Xhosa this is translated as yimithi
eyomeleleyo yobulungisa (or yimiterebhinti yobulungisa)
Since then, in this last Decade, we have seen a dramatic change in this
country, for which we give thanks to God, as the iniquities of Apartheid and
racial oppression have been overturned.
Recently I have been led to this passage again and I pray that our people -
you and I - the Christians of our country will develop as "Oaks of
Righteousness" and that we recognise our responsibility to do that.
For so long, we have expected others to tell us what to do, whether that has
been the chief or the white baas or the policeman. But Jesus came to set us
free, that we may be responsible for our own lives. It seems we have still
to realise that freedom carries with it responsibility and it is for us to
uphold that which is just and right - and not expect others to do it or
It is now the task of us Christians to establish justice and show the love
of God. However, instead of becoming "Oaks of Righteousness", we seem to be
a nation of scrub wattle, sneaking its way across the land, concerned only
with self and the destruction of the indigenous plants and vegetation. Our
indigenous culture, our traditions, our respect for others, our very Ubuntu,
is being destroyed. (Ubuntu is the African understanding of sharing our
common humanity and care for one another)
There are two tests we could apply:
1. The way we treat our fellow human beings - and I may add - the way we
care for other living creatures. In that sense the Apartheid regime was
profoundly uncivilised inspite of its claim to be upholding civilisation,
because there was no respect shown or dignity accorded to fellow human
2. The development of Ubuntu also requires that people are able to direct
energies beyond their survival needs. We need food, water, housing, clothing
to survive, but in a civilised society where we care for one another, we
need time and energy to develop our music, art, poetry, religion, and we
need to do it in an atmosphere of security and peace. We can not develop as
civilised people when you don't know when your vehicle is to be hijacked or
your life taken - sometimes for a few paltry cents. The converse is that we
must ensure that survival needs of people are met, so that we are able to
develop the full potential God has given us.
In this sense, our country is now profoundly lacking. The levels of crime,
violence, rape, murder are among the highest in the world. I don't believe
that it is just because of poverty. There are far poorer countries north of
our borders. It is because people are demanding and taking what they
believe they are entitled to without recognising the work and knowledge
required and the responsibility involved. For civilisation and Ubuntu to
develop, there must be the maintenance of the rule of law. What we see
happening north of our borders needs to be roundly condemned - not because
people don't need land in Zimbabwe - but because of the grossly unjust and
illegal way it is happening. It could easily happen here if political
leadership got into the wrong hands, and we need to be aware of the
consequences which are already evident in Zimbabwe - the collapse of the
economy. It is a disappointment that the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has
not spoken out about the situation.
It is said that people don't learn from history. This is a pity because
there is much we could learn. One lesson is that whenever an economic
group - be it the Jews, or Muslims in Spain or Indians in Uganda, were
expelled, there was serious economic decline. If skilled members of our
country continue to "pack for Perth", we are all going to be the losers in
the long run.
I used to ask myself what lessons could be learnt from the Apartheid
experiment of the Transkei. Certainly people could walk freerer, but one
saw the collapse of the infrastructure of the villages of the Transkei.
People came to Kokstad for their postal and telecommunication needs, for
their wholesale shopping and to get their vehicles repaired. In saying
this, it does not mean that people in the Transkei could not run things. It
does mean that people need to be trained. I could not run the electricity
or sewerage system of a town. I could if I were trained.
Our President, Thabo Mbeki, talks of an African Renaissance. I strongly
support him in this, but I believe that the area where Africa can really
make a contribution to this world is in the sphere of religion. It is
therefore all the more regrettable that the Government does not seem to be
more supportive. Because Religious Education is no longer taught in
schools, the Department of Divinity at Rhodes University has had to close.
When one considers the important role played by the Churches in bringing
this country to a peaceful democracy, one would hope that the importance of
the Christian witness would be recognised. It means all the more that we
Christians must be seen and heard and known as "Oaks of Righteousness".
We must set an example in being: Honest
Taking responsibility for our world
Taking responsibility for life we bring into this world, that is our
children. The most irresponsible act is to bring an unwanted child into
The purpose of the Bishop's Charge is to challenge the people of the Diocese
with their work for Christ as well as giving an account of the work of the
Diocese and the work of the Bishop. I have to tell you that your Bishop is
saddled with too much, so there isn't time for many important things.
Everyone in the Diocese needs to take on more responsibility. One thing
that irritates me is when people say "Oh, I thought the Bishop only did
Confirmations". That is almost the least demanding part of the work. It
is not good for me or the Diocese that I do too much - otherwise there will
be a large vacuum when I retire, and my time will come. We have just said
farewell to Bishop Lawrence Zulu who has been a Bishop for 25 years. The
time comes for all of us!
I want to tell you some of the work of the Bishop: I am involved in the
pastoral care of the clergy and appointments to parishes and oversight of
the Parishes (and resolution of conflicts in parishes), as well as
involvement in the finances, training, property development, youth,
maintenance at Glenthorne, the development of the training centre and the
chapel, arranging overseas scholarships for clergy - and even booking their
flights - and fund raising, to mention some. I really don't need to see that
vehicles are licensed or telephone accounts paid, which I have had to do!
Some question whether we should continue involvement in sustainable
agriculture and environmental education. I think it essential. Ever since
coming to this Diocese, we have talked about helping people help themselves,
so that the Church is not just asking people for money, but is helping
people support themselves. Likewise, we all have to live in this world -
on this planet - and breathe the air and till the soil and drink the water.
If we continue to pollute and destroy the natural environment in the
short-sighted, selfish and reckless way we are going at present, our own
survival is threatened. [Copies of the booklet written by the Bishop,
"Save our Future" are available for sale at R5.00 each. The Xhosa
translation will be available soon.]
I also have responsibilities within the wider body of the CPSA. The
Archbishop has asked me to go with the Bishop of Pretoria to northern
Mozambique at the end of this month to try to resolve the conflict in Niassa
Diocese. It seems to be a tribal issue, with one tribe being dissatisfied
with their Bishop because he is not of the same tribe. I ask your prayers
for Niassa and Bishop Paulino.
Before we move onto wider issues involving our Church, I want to say that I
need more support. I need to delegate more and we need to train people to
take on more responsibility.
Training must continue to be a priority for this Diocese. Training is for
the public generally, for church members and the clergy. The clergy are a
great asset of a diocese. They therefore need to be trained and developed.
They also need to take greater responsibility in their parishes and the
The Rector of the College of the Transfiguration telephoned yesterday to let
me know that all the fees for our student, Nomveliso Mhlanga, had been taken
care of by the Provincial Mothers Union and the College. We are most
grateful. Canon Ngewu then asked me to let you know that the College will
be launching an appeal for bursaries for students from poorer Dioceses, and
it would be in our interest to support the appeal! He is making an
important point - we need to support the training of our people and that is
actually more valuable than building churches.
One of the ways of training clergy is through the clergy conference or
school. We had an important conference with Bishop Robin Briggs this July.
I consider it essential - particularly for stipendary clergy - that they
attend such conferences. Those who failed to attend missed out seriously
and they and the Diocese are impoverished as a result. I mention this as
there were two aspects I want you all to know about:
1. It is essential that we have good, sound preparation for Baptism and
Confirmation. This should not be left to an old preacher. Every parish
priest should be involved to ensure that the next generation is being
solidly instructed, not only in the knowledge of the Christian Faith but in
the knowledge of Jesus and God's love for us.
2. The laying on of hands and healing. How many take part in this? How
many of you - not just the clergy - pray for and lay hands on the sick. It
is an integral part of our Christian Ministry and we should all be involved
There were a number of resolutions at the recent Synod of Bishops and the
CPSA Provincial Standing Committee which I need to communicate to you, so
this serves as a report from PSC as well as the Bishop's Charge. You will
find the PSC resolutions attached.
The recent Racism Conference has been much in the news. PSC passed the
While I wholeheartedly endorse this resolution and call on all of us to
eradicate all forms of racism in our life as a "Christ-centred community",
I need to affirm strongly the vision held out by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of
a "Rainbow Nation". A rainbow is all colours - it is not all black. While
there continue to be distressing cases of racism by whites against blacks,
there is an increasing assumption that we all need to conform to the pattern
and expectations of the black majority of this country. We need to rejoice
in our diversity while upholding our unity. To succeed as a rainbow
nation, there needs to be great sensitivity to protect the rights of the
many fragile minority colours of the rainbow. We all keenly want our new
South Africa to succeed and develop. It will flourish if it is a rainbow
2. Anti Corruption Ecumenical Pledge Service
Attached to this Charge you will find a copy of the proposed Ecumenical
Pledge Service. Corruption destroys all confidence in the growth and
development of our country and could negate all efforts to build a new South
Africa. It is right that Christians take a lead in the anti-corruption
campaign. We know that it is not only enrichment with government funds or
school funds or business funds that is taking place. It happens, all too
frequently, within the Church itself. I hate to admit it, but we have had
our own share of embezzlement from the church, thereby endangering the very
survival of the Church that is helping people. We have irresponsible debts,
we had misdirection of church funds - and even theft from the Bishop's
account - and we had gross abuse of Diocesan telephones which ran into
thousands of Rand.
We also have a serious dereliction of duty and responsibility on the part of
some clergy and some churchwardens. In the Canons the Clergy and the
Churchwardens have responsibility for the finances of the parish. In one
parish, where we have had to devote an enormous amount of time and energy
trying to sort out the muddle, the Rector claimed ignorance and denied
responsibility, the Churchwardens say they didn't know what was happening,
but the parishioners know that R15 000 raised at a Ngqungquthela and R5 000
raised by the Bernard Mizeki is not accounted for.
We, the clergy, and all Christians need to set an example and pledge to
3. Code of Conduct
The CPSA has now established a Code of Conduct for all ministers. Let me
stress that this is not only for ordained clergy, but all who hold the
Church's Licence to function within the Church and are therefore entrusted
with a ministry within the church. This includes sunday school teachers,
youth workers, sub-deacons, treasurers.
With immediate effect I am including in the Declaration priests and lay
ministers make on licensing the following:
I hereby declare that I have not been convicted in a court of law and any
charge of assault, rape, bribery, child abuse, fraud, theft, or any related
I hereby subscribe to the pastoral standards prevailing in the Church of the
Province of Southern Africa and undertake to exercise my ministry in
accordance with those standards.
You may have already read in the press the decision of the Synod of Bishops
that all the Bishops will undergo an HIV/AIDS test in the near future and
that they encourage the clergy and lay leaders of their diocese to be tested
with them. Because of its importance, I attach a copy of the full
resolution on AIDS. Of course there is a danger in this which the Bishops
are aware of. Either we could sound very self-righteous, declaring that we
have been tested and found negative, so aren't we good! Alternatively, if
we choose not to declare the result of the test, it is bound to be presumed
that the Bishop is HIV positive!
Now I want to say in advance that I would expect to be HIV negative. If I
am not HIV negative, then I would think it very unfair as I don't quite know
how I could have contracted it! However, that is part of the horror of this
disease. People contract it not only because they have been naughty.
People have become HIV positive from contaminated blood transfusion. A
close relative of mine is a theatre sister at Grey's hospital. On one
occasion a nurse knocked a scalpel off the tray which penetrated her shoe
and foot. Had the patient been HIV positive, she could have become
infected. There are also the horrific stories of wicked old men who think
they can be cured of AIDS by lying with young maidens. In doing so, they
give innocent young girls a death sentence, without doing a thing to cure
themselves. This is an horrific disease and that is why Provincial Standing
Committee has strongly encouraged "education and the promotion of the values
of abstinence and fidelity as a primary way of addressing HIV/AIDS".
The position is that I am now to encourage you, my clergy and the lay
leaders of this Diocese, to come at an appointed time to be tested with me.
The reason - to stop playing games with this virus and to come out in the
open to combat this most horrific scourge which is set to decimate five
million of our people over the next few years.
5. International Day of Solidarity Against Violence Against Women
Almost as a parallel resolution, because the spread of Aids is assisted by
violence against women and children, the Archbishop has called the men of
Cape Town to join him on a march on 25th November 2000, which is the
International Day of Solidarity Against Violence Against Women. PSC
requested the other Diocesan Bishops to consider initiating similar action
in their own dioceses on that day. I need to put it to you:
Do you wish the Bishop to organise such a march? He does not wish to march
down the main street of Kokstad all on his own carrying a banner. I am
happy to do something if I am joined by the men of this Diocese.
6. Conscription and Community Youth Service
I think this is the last of these heavy subjects! The Bishops were
strongly against the re-introduction of military conscription. We do not
believe militarism is the way forward. Logically, I cannot see how the
expenditure of R30 billion on Defence creates jobs. Military expenditure
is totally non-productive. I grant that it is essential that our navy is
well equipped to protect out natural sea resources from illegal fishing, but
otherwise do we need to spend R30 billion on armaments? If we were to direct
even R10 billion towards building schools, clinics, roads, conservation of
water and combating soil erosion, it would do our country and its people far
greater good in the long run. Every Rand we spend on armaments is a Rand
less we can spend on development. Soil erosion is said to be one of the
most serious environmental problems facing us in South Africa, with millions
of tons of top soil washed away annually. This is abundantly obvious in the
Eastern Cape and needs massive Government support to combat it.
So instead of military conscription, it could be of inestimable value to
develop a volunteer Community Youth Service and I call upon the Government
to explore doing so. I am delighted that Geoff Doidge our MP from Kokstad
and Deputy Chief Whip is with us tonight and I hope he can catch the vision
for a Community Youth Service and share that with the Government.
As I travel the Transkei, I see its greatest asset being its young people,
yet at present their energies and abilities are wasted. Ninety percent are
unemployed. Young people are idling their lives away. What a tremendous
work force could be used to help build our schools, clinics, and roads and
combat soil erosion by building dams or by being involved in the Work for
Water Programme, eradicating alien vegetation which sucks dry the natural
springs of our land. I would really have thought that the ANC Government
would be the government well placed to organise a community youth service.
It should be volunteer in terms of not being paid though they should of
course be fed and possibly receive pocket money. Even if they receive a
very small amount, that would be better than nothing and it would give them
something to do and a sense of purpose in their lives.
Youth Ministry continues to be a priority for this Diocese and for
Provincial Standing Committee. However, we are no longer going to operate
on a Provincial basis, but on a cluster basis, with the Dioceses of St.
John's, Umzimvubu, Natal, Swaziland and Zululand operating together as a
I want to repeat that I believe Youth Ministry to be essential and a top
priority for us in our Diocese. I also confess to a sense of disappointment
and frustration. Some of you will know that a meeting was held to try to
improve Youth Ministry in our Diocese. We were told that "many resolutions
would be coming to Diocesan Synod as well the Youth Constitution".
Unfortunately, nothing has been forthcoming. I would now like to suggest
that the Youth Constitution be put to our forthcoming Special Synod. I will
add that in many Dioceses, the Bishop appoints the Youth Chaplain. In some
Dioceses the youth make a recommendation.
If we follow the request of the Diocesan Youth Council in the Constitution
that each Archdeaconary should have a Youth Chaplain, who serve on Diocesan
Youth Council, we will then have a good representation of clergy working
with the youth on the Youth Council and I hope that progress could then be
made. I have also asked that members of the Diocesan Youth Council
undertake daily Bible reading. It is essential that they - and all of us -
get to know our Bible better.
8. CPSA Women's Congress
A CPSA Women's Congress is to be held in December 2001 in Cape Town.
Representatives from the various groupings of the Diocese are encouraged to
attend, such as Youth, GFS, Bernard Mizeki as well as Mothers' Union. I am
asking the assistance of the Mothers' Union to help to meet the costs for
travelling and accommodation.
9. Michaelmas Embertide Prayers
I remind you again that the Embertide Prayers at the Feast of St. Michael
and All Angels in September is for Vocations to Religious Communities. It
is our prayer that a Branch House religious community be established in the
Diocese of Umzimvubu - soon!
10. Diocesan Liturgical Resource Team
All Dioceses are encouraged to establish a Diocesan Liturgical Resource Team
and I hope we can do that. We are also asked to send at least three people
to a Provincial Liturgical Consultation to be held on 9th-11th May next year
in Durban. The aim of the consultation is "Seeking an Authentic Liturgy for
the CPSA". I really pray we can become more actively involved in liturgical
development in this Diocese. It is an important part of developing
meaningful worship. Our worship is rich. It could be even better.
This is the last subject I introduce, and I regret having to do so as we
should be considering the Mission and Ministry of Christ. However, we know
that Jesus constantly preached on the responsible stewardship of money and
resources. Finances are also the means of enabling us to do our Mission and
Ministry. We therefore have to have sound financial viability within the
Church and sound financial administration. We also have to look at our
precarious financial position and this Synod has to agree on the budget for
next year. I am proposing that we move into Conference tomorrow and that we
should have a small group to look at the finances of the Diocese. We know
that the country is in a difficult financial position. Thousands of people
have been retrenched and economic growth has not taken place as hoped.
The position could become far worse, with the impact of AIDS and the fuel
price increases. We need to count the cost of every journey we take in a
We are not the only Diocese in a difficult position. Having come from the
Synod of Bishops, I can report that Dioceses, like parishes, go up and down
in their financial viability. Swaziland at present is on the verge of
bankruptcy. In Lesotho, clergy get paid R800 per month. On the other hand,
the Diocese of Klerksdorp, established shortly before the Diocese of
Umzimvubu, is poised on raising a million Rand for the Diocese.
There is much we can do when we are seriously committed in our lives to
Jesus Christ. I am amazed and horrified when I hear some people speaking
against tithing and fund-raising - even some of clergy who stand to benefit!
I would like to believe that the leadership of our church tithe. Certainly
your Bishop does and I know that some of my clergy do so. I believe it
God-given. Consider Jacob's oath to God when God blessed him (Genesis 28)
"For all that you give me, I will give you back a tenth". It is also a
source of great joy. God does not want a reluctant giver. Remember the
words of St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 9: 6-7: "The point is this: the one who
sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully
will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your
mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver".
You need to want to support the work of Jesus. I am working hard to make
this Diocese viable. If you work hard, we shall succeed.
However, while I encourage you to tithe, you need to be assured that there
is sound financial administration. It is a priority that our clergy and
churchwardens are trained in financial administration. I no longer believe
it is a matter of people not knowing what to do. I think it is sometimes a
matter of people not wanting to be accountable. I am now proposing what a
number of dioceses have already introduced, namely an agreement between the
parish and their rector. Before a priest goes to a parish, the Parish
Council meet with the prospective Rector and the Diocesan Secretary and
agree on conditions of service and responsibility. I have a copy of the
agreement used in Bloemfontein Diocese. In that it is agreed that if the
Assessment is paid by the 15th of the month, the priest receives a R300
bonus! If the assessment is not received by the 20th of the month, no
stipend is paid until the assessment comes in. And that happens monthly -
they don't wait for three or four months wondering whether anything will
come in. I would like this Synod to consider introducing such an agreement
in this Diocese. I believe it has got to the point of being necessary.
I conclude where we begun - with Isaiah 61. The key to all we have to do is
found through our commitment and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ. Then
we will find that:
The spirit of the Lord God is upon us,
because the Lord has anointed us; ....
to provide for those who mourn...
to give them a garland instead of ashes,.....
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.