Letter from Revd Andrew to the People of St Pauls 21 November 2020

Update from services

Over the past few weeks a number of people have assisted with our Sunday services, including servers and lay ministers. We thank the following people for particular duties they have been undertaking:

  • Dr Linn Matsebula who has been responsible for keeping our Covid protocols at our services on Sunday.
  • Mark Royappen who has been playing the organ for our services every second Sunday, alternating with Melvin Peters
  • Dr Egerton Hingston for the making up of the slides for our Sunday services and for operating the data projector at the 9.15 service.
  • Our thanks to Richard Roland for operating the data projector at the 7.30 service.
  • Jimmy Ssemafumu for setting up our sound system and data projector in the mornings.
  • Matthew Orangwa for packing away our data projector and closing down the sound system after the services.

    We thank those who have contributed towards All Souls, including the following additional people:

  • NP Lukhozi (R100) in memory of Mamokeona Lukhozi
  • Nombulelo Mqoqi (R100) in memory of Nomathemba & Maphelo Mqoqi
  • Mpila Family (R200) in memory of Jane, Letta and other family members.
  • Ken & Beryl Fynn (R200) in memory of all their family members.
  • Eela Royappen (R200) in memory of her families
  • Adedayo (R100)

Thanksgiving: Dr Hlubi Zibi (R200)

Harvest Festival/Thanksgiving 

We have been making envelopes available at services for people to make a contribution as part of our annual Harvest Festival/Thanksgiving.  If you are not attending services, you can make a contribution directly into our bank account, indicating it is for “Thanksgiving.” See below under “Giving” for banking details.

Ordination of Sabelo Mthimkhulu

Sabelo goes on retreat next week in preparation for his ordination to the diaconate on 28 November. Please pray for him and other retreatants preparing for their ordination.

Looking ahead

  • Next week, 29 November, is Advent Sunday, the start of our new liturgical year.
  • The annual 16 Day of Activism against Violence against Women and Children begins on Wednesday 25 November and runs to 10 December.  In the archbishop’s letter below you will see various resources that we may use.
  • The Parish Council meeting this week set our Vestry meeting for Sunday 14 March 2021, starting after a combined 8.00 service.  Reports to be in by the end of January.

For our prayers

Request for prayers from the diocese, over the past two weeks:

  • The Revd Mdu Zondi the Rector of Umzimkulwana Parish was involved in a motor vehicle accident on Saturday 7th November. He is recovering at home. Xolani Dinde one of his parishioners who was travelling with him is in a serious condition in hospital.
  • The Revd Sizwe Ngcobo is still in hospital. Please continue to pray for his healing and wholeness. We give thanks to God for his wife the Revd Seipati Ngcobo who has been discharged and is recovering at home.
  • Mr Keith Alcock a long standing retired Diocesan Committee member of the Plans and Property Committee lost his wife Jan on 7 November. Please pray for Keith and the Alcock family during this sad, and difficult time as they mourn her death. May her soul rest in peace and rise in glory with Christ.
  • Mrs Gillian Robertson, the mother of the Revd Kevin Robertson (rector of St Martin’s in the Field, Durban North), died this past week.

Joyce Kingham, who celebrated her 97th birthday this week, is now back in her home after a spell at Edenroc for her recovery.

Tribute to South African Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu, issued by Archbishop Thabo on November 12, 2020:

“A great ethical, principled and courageous moral leader has died. Outgoing Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu’s service to South Africa is unparalleled in its commitment to the values of good governance and his determination to make the country accountable for public spending.

“It is a great pity that despite his and his staff’s work, the number of qualified audits remains so high, and that so much money is wasted on expenditure which does not serve the common good. I call on all South Africans, and especially those running municipalities, to commit to serving all of our citizens with integrity.

“Kimi Makwetu addressed Anglican formal events and our Synod of Bishops on a number of occasions and always pressed home the importance of honesty, integrity and courage. We will miss him and send our condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Faith for Daily Living

A number of you read Faith for Daily Living.  See the note below about its availability.  Note that the daily reflections are available on-line (website, email, facebook etc).

Due to increasing costs and restrictions they have had to print lower numbers of their booklets during the lockdown period.  This has also resulted in them not being in a position to send any Nov/Dec and Jan/Feb booklets to churches.

These booklets can be accessed via their website.

They will resume sending booklets to all churches for the March/April issue, but these will not be at the original requested number as they have to increase their numbers slowly over time.

KwaZulu Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) response to Covid-19

Over the preceding months, the KZNCC has been working with clergy and pastors of our Province of KZN to enable the church to respond effectively to the pandemic.  Clergy from St Pauls have participated regularly in meetings of the Local Area Ecumenical Action Networks (LEANs). The struggle is far from over.  What follows is a report sent to us on the various actions that have been undertaken.  It makes for encouraging reading.

“Having previously focussed on Relief today we reflect on the work done within the other 4 strategic drivers.

Communications and awareness

Our communications team have worked incredibly hard, and with them, we have been able to share stories of action and hope in local, provincial and national media – getting these stories of the church in action out into the public space is so important for sharing love, building faith and breathing courage. Click here, here and here to read and see some of these remarkable stories of the church in action.

They have also worked tirelessly to produce our newsletters as well as a number of really useful resources. You can see their resources for LEANs here.

This work was supported by an amazing group of creatives who so generously volunteered their time… people who helped us with videos (see the “Join Us” and “Hope Vouchers” videos), branding, photographing LEAN activities, podcast editing and putting together our website, facebook and Instagram pages. All of these resources have played a key role in reaching churches to bring them together in responding to the Covid-crisis and then to further resource them in our joint work.

We owe a huge debt of thanks to all of these wonderful people.

 Pastoral and Practical Care

As the pandemic started sweeping the world it became evident that pastoral and practical care would be an essential role for the church in the coming months. In KZN, church leaders have had an enormous burden placed on them over this time as they’ve cared for their communities. Clergy around the province deserve a round of applause for soldiering on through these difficult months.

Our care team have played an amazing role in providing resources to church leaders over these months. The webinars they organised were attended by over 200 church leaders and included important discussions around domestic and sexual violence, psycho-social stress and trauma and Funerals in the context of Covid-19. All of these were recorded and are available on our podcast. Our care team was also involved in the creation of this great handbook – Covid:19 God’s Way which is available here.

 Advocacy

Our country is plagued by marginalization and injustice. The Covid-19 pandemic didn’t create anything new, but it did amplify what was already there. During the lockdown we saw increases in gender-based violence, a deepening of inequalities in the health and education sectors, in increasing mental health crisis and most obviously a huge jump in poverty and food insecurity… and the list goes on.

The church has a prophetic role in speaking out on these issues, and in creating space for the voices of the most marginalized to be heard. This is where advocacy came in. As a unified church we wrote letters to the President, the Premier and various MECs on all of these issues and have been able to meet with them regularly over the last 7 months around issues of food relief, state violence, GBV, corruption, health and education. These discussions are ongoing and live.

Theology and prayer

Our provincial strategy in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and its related impacts was undergirded by a 5th strategic driver… that of theological reflection and intercession. Theologians and church leaders have provided us with some key insights and reflections to help church leaders reflect on and navigate this space. These have all been captured and recorded and are available on YouTube and on the Podcast.

Prayer has also been central through the incredible work of The Prayer Tree Project. There is now a network of inter-denominational intercessors across the province, praying into areas of need on a daily basis. Ecumenical prayer has been a foundational element in the regional meetings that have taken place, drawing people (who all talk to God quite differently) together to intercede for our communities, province, country, leaders and people. People can submit prayer requests here or join the team of intercessors by emailing Lisa (theprayertreeproject@gmail.com) .

And so in closing today’s email, we once again want to thank all of those who gave more of themselves than they thought possible during those difficult months of lockdown. Your service and love is noted and so appreciated.

If you would like to get involved in any of this work or find out more please do get in touch!”

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 keep you.

Yours in Christ

Revd Dr Andrew Warmback

Rector: St Paul’s, Durban

LATEST LETTER FROM THE ARCHBISHOP

Monday, 16 November 2020

Ad Laos – to the People of God – November 2020

 Dear People of God

As President Ramaphosa gave South Africans a timely warning last week to remain alert and prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus during the Christmas holiday season, I was at the same time reminded by the themes of hope and joy in Psalm 145 that we also need to look to the future beyond the pandemic.

Yes, it is true that Covid-19 infections are increasing in a number of areas, especially the Eastern Cape. And as other issues reduce the dominance of reporting on the virus on our TV screens and radio channels, we need to remember it is real and in our communities. We must please keep up the distancing, we must maintain health protocols, wear our masks and pray for equitable access to vaccines once they become available.

Yet I want to repeat what I said a couple of years ago – that social scientists caution us against too much focus on crisis, negativity and fear, since they can easily beget the very outcomes we seek to avoid. Both hope and joy are twinned in Psalm 145, and perhaps a good way to stare the pandemic in the face and ensure we flatten the curve is not to deny its impact, not to deny the science, but to look to a future promised by a God who has always, and will always, provide for our sustenance, even into that future.

In remaining hopeful, we need not discount the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the poor, who have in the main been those who have lost jobs and livelihoods. We must continue to intervene with relief measures even as we find ways of living joyfully and hopefully in the midst of the challenges we face: the emotional stress, the anxiety, the fatigue and the uncertainty. Looking back at the 234 days of lockdown, when last did you smile and laugh or talk about things such as care for others and for the environment?

There have been some differences in the way dioceses are dealing with singing hymns during worship. Our legal experts tell us us that there is some uncertainty in the law, so our advice is either not to allow congregations to sing, or to allow them to sing only wearing masks, observing the 1.5 metre distance rule and keeping to the legal limits on the number of worshippers. My advice is: If in doubt err on the side of safety, especially if older congregants insist on coming to church.

In recent weeks we have held innovative meetings on Microsoft Teams to take the steps required by Canon 4 to fill episcopal vacancies. I am happy to report that candidates have been nominated and I will make their names known soon. We are looking beyond the time of closed doors at how we can put episcopal leadership in the vacant dioceses to continue God’s mission in the world through God’s church.

Also in recent weeks, 37 of the 41 Primates of the Anglican Communion – the heads of the churches across the world, including those in Africa – have met online [Communique – PDF] to reflect on the impact of coronavirus at the Communion level and to receive an update on the Lambeth Conference of Bishops and their spouses in 2022. We welcomed plans for an 18-month process leading up to Lambeth which will be an ongoing “virtual” Anglican Congress, drawing in bishops and their spouses, young and old, lay and ordained, ahead of the face-to-face conference.

Discussing the work of the Communion’s Safe Church Commission, we re-committed ourselves to making the Church a safer place for all those who are vulnerable. We also heard stories of the impact of Covid-19 across the Communion and of new Provinces, the restructuring of the Anglican Communion Office in London and of the establishment of an Anglican Communion Science Commission, which will deal with matters of science and faith. We were addressed by senior World Health Organisation officials on Covid-19 and progress on a vaccine. The Archbishop of York, Dr Stephen Cottrell, briefed us on Living in Love and Faith, a new teaching resource from the Church of England designed to help discuss issues of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage in a biblical context.

Turning back to our own Province, we have declared the youth and Theological Education Sunday as priorities of our church, but declarations alone – important as they are – are no substitute for action. The parish is the basic unit of any diocese and of the Province, and as such we rely on you in the parishes to take such broad and general declarations and translate them into concrete action applicable to your own circumstances.

Please pray for our sisters and brothers in northern Mozambique, where more than 50 people have been reported beheaded in a vicious attack by militants on a village in Cabo Delgado province. We urge Mozambique’s government to act firmly to root out this form of terrorism, and for the international community to devote as much attention to this conflict as to others in the world. On a more positive note for ACSA, Bishop Carlos Matsinhe of Lebombo reports good progress in setting up working committees to plan for new dioceses in Tete and the Púngue River area.

Lastly, following a decision of the Provincial Standing Committee, I am declaring through this Ad Laos that Lent 2021 will focus on combatting gender-based violence (GBV). The liaison bishop on GBV, Bishop Margaret Vertue, Hope Africa, the Provincial Liturgical Committee, the Southern African Anglican Theological Commission and their teams will provide us with more details and the necessary liturgies and study materials. A guide to some resources follows to help you devise contextually relevant material for your parishes and dioceses, and I commend to you the full PSC resolution on GBV for your prayers and action.

God bless you.

†† Thabo Cape Town

Guide to resources: https://anglicanchurchsa.org/16-days-of-activism-resources/