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Letter from Revd Andrew to the People of St Pauls 30 January 2021

Greetings in Jesus’ name!

Patronal Festival

The combined St Paul’s service last week was appreciated.

Confirmation

At this time last year we invited people to indicate their willingness to join the confirmation preparation process.  While some people did come forward we did not start the preparation.  We again appeal to those who wish to be confirmed to indicate this to us (by submitting your name to the Parish Office by 12 February).  Following diocesan guidelines the minimum age for confirmation is for those who are at least 15 or would turn 15 in the year they are confirmed.

This year we will hold the course “online” through the distribution and discussion of material through WhatsApp.  We are not sure when a bishop may be available to confirm candidates.

Lent

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on 17 February.  We are not sure if church services will be taking place at that time.  Details will be provided as things become clearer.

As we have mentioned before, the Archbishop, backed by the Provincial Standing Committee resolution last year, asked that all Anglican churches to focus on the issue of Gender Based Violence this year during Lent.  This week the Archbishop announced the following course that is available for use, called “Living Holy and Healthy Relationships”.  We can look at how to use it within the parish.  We are also exploring other ways to respond to this other “pandemic.”  The Archbishop wrote:

Dear People of God

We enter Lent this year at a time of unprecedented suffering as a consequence of Covid-19. But while, thanks to medical science and collective action, we can be confident that this pandemic too shall pass, the “hidden pandemic” of our times – gender-based violence – remains deeply rooted in our society.

It is with that in mind that Provincial Standing Committee commissioned “Living Holy and Healthy Relationships” as the Lent Course for 2021.  As the introduction says, “Given that GBV brings such deep devastation to individuals, families and communities, we are often overwhelmed by the disastrous effects of this violence.” But just as we can overcome Covid-19, so too can we overcome GBV if we dedicate as many resources, both spiritually and through collective action, to uprooting this evil.

I commend warmly “Living Holy and Healthy Relationships” and appeal to you to engage earnestly with it, mustering all the energy you can to working among those in your patch of God’s Kingdom to bring about the changes in outlook and behaviour needed to end permanently this scourge.

To the Provincial Liturgical Committee and the Parish of St Francis of Assisi Parish, Parkview, we extend our thanks for the fine work they have done.

God bless.

†† Thabo Cape Town

Vestry

Parish Council are looking at options on how to conduct this year’s vestry meeting; considering too its possible postponement until conditions are more conducive to holding it.

Donations

We are most grateful to those who continue to keep up their regular giving to the church.

We thank the follow for donations received:

Noloyiso Mancotywa  R500 for prayers for the ending of Covid-19

Dr Hlubi Zibi R500 as “loose plate” collection.

 Diocese – RIP

  • Mrs Florah Ngubane the wife of our retired Priest the Revd Canon Theophilus Ngubane passed on on Sunday 24th January. She was a former President of the Diocesan Mothers Union.
  • Mr Finbar Mosdell, Archdeacon Paul Mosdell’s father who passed on on 27 January.

St Martin’s Children’s Home  A contribution from Dr Claudine Hingston:

St Martins Children Home has sent out an appeal for funds for stationery items and uniforms for the children in their care. St Martins Children Home is one of the oldest children’s homes in South Africa and it provides a safe home, schooling and other required support for abused, abandoned and neglected children.  There are currently over 75 children between the ages of 6 – 16 years living at the home. We are kindly requesting for donations towards this appeal.  It would have been easier to donate gift items, but with the current Covid-19 pandemic, it will be better to give cash donations.  Please donate towards this appeal. Any amount will be appreciated. Donations can be done individually or per guild.  All donations should be made to the following account with St Paul’s Church as the reference.

Account Name: St Martins Diocesan Home For Children NPO

Account Number: 50871208581

Branch Code: 220226

Bank: FNB

Branch: Davenport

Thanks in advance. God bless you all.

Parish contributions

Last week I asked for contributions from parishioners…here is one below. Thank you.

REFLECTING ON COVID

There are 6 things that have intrigued me around Covid since the first lockdown:

  1. The origins of Covid-19?  Was it human engineered, made somewhere on a laboratory table? Is it a weapon to depopulate the world? Is it related to mobile network 5G wireless technologies? Is it deliberately created to sell vaccines/ make us dependent on vaccines? There are more conspiracy theories that continue to flood the social media space.
  2. Is mother Earth revolting? : Outside the conspiracies, I was intrigued by the causal link between Covid 19 and environment.   The assertion is that the earth is revolting against its abuse and degradation by human activity. The earth is “tired “of assault and mistreatment of her essential life systems and is revolting? (I find this theory plausible. We have already experienced the effects of climate change – e.g. catastrophic droughts, wild fires, floods etc-).   On can also listen to ANGLICAN ALLIANCE “Prophetic Indigenous Voices on the Planetary Crisis” videos for a good glimpse!
  3. Are the herbal concoctions useful in fighting Covid- 19? Since the first lockdown, we have been inundated with hundreds of expert advice on concoctions and practises to keep Covid-19 at bay.  Typical grocery lists these days will include some of the following concoction items:  lemons, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cloves, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, bicarbonate, onions, umhlonyane and steaming items like Vicks, eucalyptus, and gumtree leaves etc etc!!!  .   A Minister of Health in South Africa at the height of HIV and AIDS pandemic once advised the nation to use some of the listed herbal products.  The only missing item is beetroot!  Any way I continue taking the concoctions. At least they kept the flu at bay last winter!!!!
  4. Covid and heat issue. We have been convinced (via social media) that Covid-19 and heat are enemies. The 2nd wave in mid-summer must have come as a real surprise!!
  5. Wearing /not wearing of masks.  Most people wear masks. They understand that mask wearing is an essential component to stopping the spread of the coronavirus, including social distancing and hand hygiene. Masks can be uncomfortable. Also, have you noticed that masks also mask our expressions? They hide the facial expression of joy/ pain/anger/friendliness/spite/anguish etc,).  In some cases, it is difficult even to recognise the people you know when they are masked!!!  But we can forgo all these if masks help us to be safe.
  6. While most people (I think) are responsible and wear their masks, we sometimes see people without them in public spaces. What do you do if someone without a mask comes closer to you? Should you remind him/her to be responsible?  Or do you just move away??  Or do you yell at him/her???? Do you sometimes wonder what could be the reasons??  Is it defiance? Is it ignorance? Is it something else?? I remain curious to know. I never gathered courage to ask!
  7. Then comes the Vaccine debate.  The debate has been on the table but it reached a crescendo in November/December 2020.  Anti-vaccine sentiments and doubts are expressed about the speed at which it has been developed, the efficacy, safety, the intentions (conspiracy theories again!).  The debate made me wonder if our parents (I am talking about parents of over 55 -year –old adults here!!) were equally anxious and apprehensive of our first vaccines in the 1950-60’s (remember there was no social media then, even landline telephone was something out of reach for many!!?) I asked a few friends and  here are their unedited direct responses  :

Siwa : “ I do not know how my parents felt about it, however, I do not have any recollection of them anxious about the vaccine. We as children just loved that round stamp on our upper arm after BCG.”

Nelo  “ We got sweets after the stamp—very exciting times for us!!.  Even after the polio drops on our tongues, there was always some reward!!

Rapu :  “ without looking down upon our parents, if something was compulsory according to authorities, they did what they were told. Compliant people those, not too many questions especially if it was sold as something that would help. ( at least I am reflecting on my parents)!

 We will see when the vaccine hits our shores . How many  will want to jump the queue???

May God bless and keep you safe!

Pumza P Tuswa

St Pauls Environment Action Team & Mothers Union

I have written for us the following in support of the Covid-19 vaccine

 Vaccines for All

Yesterday I came across an article in the US based Sojourners Magazine which was entitled “Can Faith Leaders’ Vaccine Selfies Rebuild Public Trust?”  It reminded me of the recent widely distributed photo of the Archbishop of Canterbury receiving the Covid-19 vaccine in his capacity as a hospital visitor.

Whatever the impact of these pictures may be I feel the church should support the roll out of Covid-19 vaccines in this country and that we should be encouraging our members to take up the offer of receiving them when offered.   In my own ministry, I would certainly feel much safer if I received the vaccine.

For the rest of the article see our website.

Birthdays

Please note that David Hughes’ birthday is on 23 February.

 Prayer Diary

The Diocesan Prayer Diary for February may be accessed on our website.

 Giving

We give thanks to those who have returned their giving envelopes for the past few months. Thanks too to those who are giving into the loose plate collection when they attend services. We are grateful to those who have continued to give their Planned Giving directly into the church bank account and to those who have also given loose plate collections and donations in this way.   This enables us to continue to pay staff salaries, our assessment and most of our accounts. Please continue to give. (The St Paul’s banking details are: Account Name: St Paul’s Church; Account Number: 50854628623; Branch Code: 221426; Bank: FNB.)

God bless you and your families in the New Year.

Yours in Christ

Revd Dr Andrew Warmback

Rector: St Paul’s, Durban

Letter from Revd Andrew to the People of St Pauls 8 January 2021

Covid-19 and Prayer

Yesterday Archbishop Thabo Makgoba made “a renewed and urgent call for prayer after the news that coronavirus infections reached a new daily record high in South Africa on Wednesday.”

He said in a note to the Bishops of the Province: “The second wave of Covid-19 is harsher and fierce. It calls for us to be more vigilant and perhaps make a call to our respective dioceses for a day of prayer again or to intensify soaking our countries in prayer.”  The Archbishop encouraged the use of the following prayers which he composed last year during the first wave of the pandemic. Let us use them regularly.

Daily noon-time prayer

God bless the world,

Give it wisdom at this time,

Grant us relief and release,

Be with those who are ill,

And bless the carers fighting this pandemic,

For Jesus Christ’s sake,

Amen

Prayer to conclude worship

Lord God, in this season of fear and uncertainty, 

as we face the threat of the coronavirus,

Grant us the wisdom and determination to walk in one another’s shoes,

The confidence and the humility to draw closer to you and to those affected,

Empower us to pastor those who are ill, to weep for the dead, to support the healers and to care for and love one another.

And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with us all, now and always. 

Amen

Praying for one another

Some of our members have had Covid and have recovered, some continue to struggle with it.  This past week I have been aware of some of our members who have lost family members and close friends. Let us continue to pray for one another.

On Sunday I communicated that Timothy Nsereko, a lay minister, was very ill in Uganda.  Thankfully his health has been improving.

Gifford  Sparks, a retired lay minister, AGAIN tested positive for Covid-19.

 Rest in Peace

We pray for the families of those who have passed on – both within the parish and beyond.  Naureen Craig passed aware on Monday this week in Nazareth House.  Some of you will remember her helping out in the church office.  David Hughes was able to take her communion on her 90th birthday last month.

Parish member Thoko Elizabeth Gumede passed on on Tuesday this week. Her funeral is planned to take place at St Pauls towards the end of next week.  Purley Samuels passed on this morning.  See In Memoria

 The following clergy from our Diocese have passed on this year.  Revd Mvuyo Ndenze a Self-supporting Priest of the Cathedral Parish of the Holy Nativity (2nd January); Revd Tabitha Makhathini, Assistant Priest of the Chapelry of St John’s, Indaleni (1st January).

Dealing with Stress

In his Epiphany letter below the Archbishop offers some helpful tips in dealing with stress, something we are all feeling to some extent at this time. It is a topic we will revisit in the weeks ahead.

Electing a Bishop

This week the names of the candidates for our Diocesan Elective Assembly to be held on 5-6 February (virtually or in person) were made known.  They are:

The Very Reverend Xolani Dlwati (Dean of Johannesburg)

and the following clergy of the diocese

The Revd Mlungisi Hadebe

The Revd Barnabas S Nqindi

The Revd Sithembiso Ntshangase

Call to Prayer for the Assembly

In the formal notice of the Assembly the Archbishop calls us to prayer: “[W]e counsel all within your Diocese to give themselves to prayer and fasting, as we shall not fail ourselves to do, so that being of one heart and of one mind, and drawing near to God with one voice, we may obtain from God, for the filling of this office, the blessed gift of a Ruler and Pastor stained by no fault, deserving no blame, but approved of Christ, accepted by people, who shall by his/her life and doctrine witness truly for his/her Lord, exercise godly discipline, feed in faith and love the flock committed to his/her care, and at length present it faultless before God whom he/she serves”.

Attendance and Electing

The Elective Assembly is attended by the following: the Archbishop, who presides over the Assembly; members elected by the Provincial Synod last year to the Advisory Committee with the right to speak but not to vote (they are really present as observers); all clergy licensed in our diocese (essentially stipendiary clergy only); two lay representatives per parish, elected at Parish Vestry meetings last year (Judo Saane and Raphael Mdepha are our reps);  lay persons elected at the previous Synod of the Diocese to serve on the Advisory Committee. (The Chair of the Advisory Committee is Prof Bonke Dumisa.)

In the Assembly the candidates are each presented followed by discussion and voting (by secret ballot). To be elected bishop a candidate needs to receive two-thirds of the vote from both the laity AND the clergy (counted separately but voting at the same time). At any stage, by a two-thirds majority, the Elective Assembly may delegate the choice of a bishop to the Bishops of the Province.  This is also what must happen if no candidate obtains a two-third majority of the vote from both the laity and the clergy. All proceedings are confidential.

Other Dioceses

Elective Assemblies will be held during February for the following dioceses: Kimberly and Kuruman (9-10th); Lesotho (16-17th); Zululand (19-20th).  (For the Zululand Diocese the two candidates are currently priests in the Natal Diocese: The Revd Lewis Eisenhower Stevenson Gumede and The Revd Vikinduku Victor Mnculwane)

God bless you and your families in the New Year.

Yours in Christ

Revd Dr Andrew Warmback

Rector: St Paul’s, Durban

Saturday, 2 January 2021 –  Ad Laos – to the People of God – A Message for Epiphany

Dear People of God, 

2021 is more than a new year: it presents us with a new dawn. The introduction of Covid-19 vaccines will help return our country to a base of normalcy that will allow us to address the inequality of equality and the inequality of opportunities. But even before that, 2021 gives us the breathing room to reflect on the lessons we need to remember about the year we’d like to forget, 2020. 

For a start, life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving unless we make the effort to become morally and emotionally stronger and mentally more resilient. At Christmas, I said that if nothing else, we need to stop and reflect seriously on “What have we learned about ourselves during this Covid-19 crisis?”

Firstly, I believe that we learnt that no one has proved tougher than South Africans. Sadness is often the result of thinking in one context and acting in another. During the pandemic, we learned that it is essential to acknowledge your thoughts, emotions, and circumstances for what they are, as they are, not as you wish them to be. We learnt about the importance of emotional resilience – as young people’s T-shirts say: “Stay Calm.”

We learned to tolerate uncomfortable feelings; to remember the importance of being authentic and true to yourself; that it’s okay to express what you feel and to ask for help. Announcing the Level Three lockdown, President Ramaphosa expressed his anguish for South Africa publicly and we are grateful for his gift of tears.

We also learned the need to be realistic, that bad things happen and although they are setbacks, they create the opportunity for comebacks. Comebacks happen when you don’t allow a crisis to steal your calm.

Lastly, despite what we faced, we learned always to feel gratitude. Jesus was always thankful and we can follow his example by focussing on what we have, not what we’ve lost. If we are to come out of this crisis less selfish than when we went in, we must let ourselves be touched by others’ pain.

Opening the door to 2021 gives us a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities — what we value, what we want, what we seek — and to commit to act in our daily lives to realise what we dream of. God asks us to dare to create something new. We cannot return to the false securities of the political and economic systems we had before the crisis. They have not fulfilled their promises. We need a New Struggle that gives to all access to the fruits of creation, to the basic needs of life, to land, lodging and labour. We need a politics that can integrate and dialogue with the poor, the excluded and the vulnerable, that gives people a say in the decisions that affect their lives. We need to slow down, take stock and design better ways of living together on this earth.

To come out of this crisis better, we must remember an essential truth, that as a people we have a shared destination. We all have scars from our Covid-19 experiences. Scars remind us where we’ve been. They don’t have to dictate where we are going because you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. My father always used to say to me, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” We are a nation of resilient souls. We have had to be, to get this far.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Yes, I am personally the victim of deferred dreams, of blasted hopes, but in spite of that I close today by saying I still have a dream, because, you know, you can’t give up in life. If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all. And so today, I still have a dream.”

My prayer for 2021 is to see a South Africa where the horrors of Covid-19 and the lessons we have learned about ourselves become the genesis of a realisation that we are all children of God, and begin to enjoy historic levels of the equality of equality and the equality of opportunity.

A closing thought: 2021 should be the dawning of a decade of trust. It is up to each of us to hold those we elect to public office accountable, able to demonstrate that they acknowledge that 2020 has closed a decade of distrust. Despite the hardships of this past year and past decade, 2021 demands that we stop focussing on self-preservation (the ME) and ask, “What can I do for my neighbour? What can I do for my community? What can I do for my country? How can I contribute to the benefit of the WE?”

From my family to yours, a very happy New Year. God bless you and your family. God loves you and do I.

†† Thabo Cape Town

Giving

We give thanks to those who have returned their giving envelopes for the past few months. Thanks too to those who are giving into the loose plate collection when they attend services. We are grateful to those who have continued to give their Planned Giving directly into the church bank account and to those who have also given loose plate collections and donations in this way.   This enables us to continue to pay staff salaries, our assessment and most of our accounts. Please continue to give. (The St Paul’s banking details are: Account Name: St Paul’s Church; Account Number: 50854628623; Branch Code: 221426; Bank: FNB.)