Letter from Revd Andrew to the People of St Pauls 9 July 2020

Dear People of St Paul’s

Greetings in Jesus’ name!

The Church as Hope bearers

In his latest letter the Archbishop shares something of the role of the church in these times: “Most important, in the Church we should strike a note of hope as we steer our way through the pandemic: hope in facing the challenges with eyes of love, sensibility and as much certainty as we can. We need to be asking, who is my neighbour and how do I care for her or his welfare? What can I do to alleviate hunger? How can I help those in quarantine? And we must be disciplined about wearing masks outside the home, observing distancing and generally behaving as Christians with loving hearts, acting lovingly towards others.”

The full text of his letter is given at the end.  He refers to various other matters of significance in church and society; always worth reading, by someone who has broad and well informed perspective on the matters he writes about.

Sithole Family

You may remember that on 11 June the Dean/Vicar-General wrote of the “tragic death of Mrs Nomthandazo Cynthia Sithole.” There has now been a further tragedy in the family with the death of her husband.  The Dean/Vicar-General wrote on 7 July:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ


It is with great sadness that I inform you about the tragic death of the Revd Sandiso Sithole, the Rector of St John’s Parish, Tongaat.

He was shot and killed last night. His death has left me and the Diocesan family numb with shock.

Funeral details are to follow once they become available. [The Requiem Mass of the late Fr Sandiso Sithole will be held at St Paul’s Parish, NKWENKWE at Melmoth, in the Diocese of Zululand on Friday 10th July 2020 at 10:00(am).]

Please remember the Sithole family and the wider Diocesan family in your prayers during this sad and difficult time.

Your brother and servant in Christ

The Very Revd Ndabezinhle Sibisi

The Dean/Vicar-General

Diocese of Natal”

Sea Sunday 12 July

This Sunday is Sea Sunday, which is observed each year on the second Sunday in July.  One of our lay ministers, David Hughes, with a long involvement in The Mission to Seafarers, will bring us the message this Sunday.

There will also be a message for the Durban Station Chaplain, Revd Thami Tembe, and made available on Sunday on The Mission to Seafarers website and Facebook page.

There will be an ecumenical virtual Sea Sunday service offered by the Durban Port Chaplains.  This service will be broadcast on the Facebook page of the Durban Seafarers Mission at 11.00 on Sunday 12 July.  At that time (or after).

The Collect for this Sunday is:

Almighty God, you led your people through the sea,

and made a path for them in deep waters:

be near all those who face the dangers of the seas;

protect them from disaster, help them on their way,

and bring them safely to their desired haven with hearts thankful for your mercy.

In Jesus name


St Pauls – Some local news:

  • Our staff has returned to work at the church (in preparation for the possible reopening of services).
  • We have been asked by the Denis Hurley Centre if they can use our car park as a feeding site for those who are homeless.  Please tell me if you would like to assist with this.
  • Surgery that Portia Nodangala was supposed to have had has been postponed. Please continue to pray for her ongoing healing.
  • Gifford Sparks, one of our senior lay ministers, has moved to Frail Care at Parkview
  • I received a message that Dr Soji, who had been a member at St Pauls, has passed away.
  • Our thanks to Keith Mbambo for distributing food parcels and toiletries on behalf of our AWF (and Shantel Mbambo for buying these items)
  • One of our members, Danita Hingston, was recently on national television commenting on a Labour Force Survey, research which she had been involved in through her work with the Poverty and Inequality Institute.  Well done, Danita!
  • Our newly formed Finance Committee will meet for the first time next week (via Zoom).
  • The following week, 19 July, is Men’s Sunday.

Lectionary readings for this week

Morning Prayer (MP) and Evening Prayer (EP), Psalm (Ps):

Sunday 12th          MP  Ps 60             Joshua 1:1-18                     Acts 21:3-15

EP Ps 62, 63         1 Samuel 17:50-18:5           Mark 1:21-27

Monday 13th         MP  Ps 91             Joshua 2:1-14                      Romans 11:1-12

EP Ps 92, 93          1 Samuel 18:6-30                Matthew 25:1-13

Tuesday 14th         MP  Ps 94              Joshua 2:15-24                    Romans 11:13-24

EP Ps (95), 96,97   1 Samuel 19: 1-18               Matthew 25:14-30

Wednesday 15th     MP Ps 98, 99, (100), 101   Joshua 3:1-13          Romans 11:25-36

EP Ps 102               1 Samuel 20:1-23               Matthew 25:31-46

Thursday 16th       MP Ps 103              Joshua 3:14-4:7                  Romans 12:1-8

EP Ps 104               1 Samuel 20: 24-42             Matthew 26: 1-16

Friday 17th            MP Ps 105:1-22      Joshua 4:19-5:1,10-15        Romans 12:9-21

EP Ps 105:23-45     1 Samuel 21:1-15                Matthew 26:17-25

Saturday 18th        MP Ps 106:1-24       Joshua 6:1-14                     Romans 13:1-7

EP Ps106: 25-50      1 Samuel 22:1-23                Matthew 26: 26-35


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. (The St Paul’s banking details are: Account Name: St Paul’s Church; Account Number: 50854628623; Branch Code: 221426;  Bank: FNB.)


But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

Do not fear, for I am with you; (Isaiah 43:1-2; 5a)

Yours in Christ

Revd Dr Andrew Warmback

Rector: St Pauls, Durban

PS I went to the doctor yesterday and I was  diagnosed as having Shingles, so I will be taking it easier over this next week.


Tuesday, 7 July 2020

The Challenges of COVID-19, Gender-Based Violence and Conflict in Mozambique & the Holy Land – To the Laos, the People of God

Dear People of God

More than three months into the coronavirus pandemic, we are beset by ever-changing challenges as governments ease lockdowns to help save jobs and the economy, while at the same time the incidence of COVID-19 cases is rising in parts of our church Province.

Since I issued my Pentecost letter, hardly two days go by without reports of people known by name in the Church dying, being hospitalised or going into quarantine after being tested positive – parishioners, clergy, clergy spouses, bishops and their families. As I write, the number of cases in South Africa alone has exceeded 160,000, with the number of deaths heading towards 3,000. As Bishop Brian Marajh of George says in an Ad Clerum, “These numbers are no longer just statistics made up of numbers, the numbers have faces, and it is persons known to us or to others that are close to us.”

The financial implications of the pandemic are also afflicting the church, notably bringing about the sudden closure of the Bishop Bavin School in Bedfordview, Gauteng. The school, founded in 1991, was having difficulties already when the pandemic and lockdown hit us, putting paid to efforts by the school and the Diocese of Johannesburg to rescue it.

At a time such as this we are all called upon to be leaders, helping guide our congregations and our communities to make decisions which both keep them safe and allow them to live their lives as normally as possible. But with changes coming so fast, we don’t always know in advance what we will be called to make decisions about. Asked at a recent webinar hosted by the Gandhi Development Trust about leading in times of crisis, I emphasised the importance of how we make decisions in disruptive times: approach problems with an open mind; hold firm to your values but be flexible on the policies and actions you adopt; listen to experts with differing opinions; follow the data and the science; seek to find a consensus response; and then communicate your course of action early and often. I repeated this call in an address to the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.

Most important, in the Church we should strike a note of hope as we steer our way through the pandemic: hope in facing the challenges with eyes of love, sensibility and as much certainty as we can. We need to be asking, who is my neighbour and how do I care for her or his welfare? What can I do to alleviate hunger? How can I help those in quarantine? And we must be disciplined about wearing masks outside the home, observing distancing and generally behaving as Christians with loving hearts, acting lovingly towards others.

I have written before of the shocking occurrences of gender-based violence during lockdown, not only here but across the world. In an important initiative, the authorities in South Africa want to create a National Council for Gender-Based Violence and Femicide which would have as its objective “amplifying the national response to GBV” by building “a strengthened, survivor-focused, resourced and coordinated strategic response” to the problem. Such developments challenge us: what is our response as a Church to the problem, which affects us also? Please pray for the Sithole family in the Diocese of Natal, where Mrs Nomthandazo Cynthia Sithole, the wife of the Revd Sandiso Sithole, Rector of St James Parish, Tongaat, died tragically recently. (Since writing this has come the tragic news that Father Sithole was shot and killed overnight.)

Pray also for the Revd June Major, formerly a priest in the Diocese of Cape Town, who at the time of writing was camping and on a hunger strike outside the gates of Bishopscourt after alleging that she was sexually abused in 2002. Our Canons, Pastoral Standards and the Charter for Safe and Inclusive Church now lay a firm basis for dealing effectively with allegations of abuse – you can find full details here (Also since writing this, we have issued this statement.)

Please pray for the people of northern Mozambique, and especially the Diocese of Nampula, where an insurgency that has grown in recent months and years is bringing terror to people’s lives. Bishop Carlos Matsinhe of Lebombo reports that last weekend the town of Mocimboa da Praia, in the province of Cabo Delgado, was invaded and 30 people were butchered, and their bodies set on fire with petrol from motorcycles in the town. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes and Bishop Manuel Ernesto is living in fear.

Pray too for the people of Palestine and Israel, where the Israeli prime minister is threatening to annex the West Bank. Already the establishment of Jewish settlements there has undermined the viability of the long-promoted two-state solution (one supported by the Lambeth Conference) to the ongoing conflict in the Holy Land. Annexation would finally put paid to it.

God bless.

†† Thabo Cape Town