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Address delivered by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba to the Conference of Deans and Senior Priests, held in the Diocese of Swaziland

An address delivered to the Conference of Deans and
Senior Priests, held in the Diocese of Swaziland:

Deans and Senior Priests of the Province:

Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. I have just returned from
Washington, attending the inauguration of Bishop Michael Curry of North
Carolina as the new Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church in the United
States. It was a great joy for me to attend this wonderful occasion and it is
also a great pleasure for me to be with you this morning.

As you well know, international flights, especially those to the United States
can be very tedious, and so I read a book, say my daily Office and just try to
make myself as comfortable as possible. On this last flight, I could not bring
myself to relax. Cut off from the world, I was extremely worried about the
state of affairs at the University of the Western Cape where I am the

The day before I boarded the flight to Washington, I had just landed at 11:00am
on a flight from London, where I had attended the annual meeting of the Compass
Rose Society, to be rushed straight off from the airport directly to UWC to
engage with student leadership and university management concerning the spate
of mass action.

I began to listen as a father would to his children, hearing their stories and
committing to understanding them. But at the same time I wanted to help them to
understand, and to see a bigger picture – which is that education is vital. As
I said to them, I too am a parent, paying university fees, and my wish was for
all of them to have the opportunity to write exams. Leaving the university at
10 o'clock that night, I felt I had helped the process – but that ideally I
needed another day at least to make a greater impact. Yet here I was, the next
day, back on an international flight, this time to the United States. I had to
convince myself that I could do nothing, besides commend them to God.

The Province of which you are part, has adopted as its Vision that we should

Anchored in the love of Christ,

Committed to God’s Mission, and
Transformed by the Holy Spirit.

Unpacking that commitment to be A-C-T, to ACT, we say in our Mission Statement,
across the diverse countries and cultures of our region, that we seek:

  • To honour God in worship that
    feeds and empowers us for faithful witness and service,

  • To embody and proclaim the
    message of God’s redemptive hope and healing for people and creation;

  • To grow communities of faith
    that form, inform and transform those who follow Christ.

Our missional priority, “protection and nurture of the young“, is the key peg
that translates our mission and vision statement into a concrete commitment to
provide education for all our people and especially our young people. So
education is one of the mission priorities of the Anglican Church and it is
very close to my heart.

We have reconfigured the Anglican Board for Education in Southern Africa
(ABESA) and we are now planting Anglican schools, through two organisations,
Vuleka Schools and the Archbishop's Education Initiative. I am supporting these
initiatives through a trust called Archbishop Thabo Cecil Makgoba Development
Trust (ATCMDT), which provides bursaries and scholarships to disadvantaged
children. St Mary’s School in Waverley, Johannesburg, has partnered with the
trust to support disadvantaged learners in Alexandra Township. Through the
trust we have also raised funds for CoTT, supported international students from
Sudan and Zimbabwe (five of them so far), donated to two rural schools in Limpopo,
donated to Vuleka for the library of the Archbishop Makgoba Boys' School, which
opens next year, to Mabooe Archbishop High School in Lesotho, which also opens
next year, and to several South African universities, towards the post-graduate
theological education of a couple of women clergy. We have supported equal
education, the student movement, the E-Reader Project in Cape Town and a music
group in Cape Town. These are just a few examples of what can be done if we are
determined and have a vision.

In the Old Testament, the Lord says to Habakkuk, “Write down a vision; inscribe
it clearly on tablets, so that it may be read at a glance” (Habakkuk 2:2). I
have a dream, a vision for Cathedrals at this Dean’s Conference which I want to
scatter before you. You know that dreams, visions and ideas don’t fulfil
themselves. They need committed people. They don’t teach themselves, they need
to be taught and learned by people.

So here is my dream, and hopefully you will help me make it practical.

My dream for you is that you create Institutions of Education at your
cathedrals. Cathedrals must not only be seen as institutions of prayer which
offer the daily Eucharist and Daily Offices but institutions which are at the
forefront of Theological Education. I believe that cathedrals are uniquely
positioned to become centres for Anglican Learning and Leadership Training
Centres for both lay and ordained.

Educational units could be offered for Clergy Education, Post Ordination
Training, Lay Ministers' Training, Sunday School Instructors' Training,
Confirmation Class Instructors' Training, Youth Instructors' Training, Life
Skills courses for Youth and Stewardship Instructors” training. There are just
a few examples – I know you can come up with others.

As I said a moment ago, visions don’t realise themselves. They need to be
fleshed out and give life by people as committed as you are, in your beautiful
Cathedral buildings.

Good education – theological and otherwise – is at the heart of our capacity to
grow into our Provincial Vision, ‘Anglicans ACT’. Education must therefore
include enabling individuals to become competent and skilled in engaging well
with life.

It must prepare young people to tackle wisely and well the ethical and moral
questions that endlessly arise in every area of human activity; and so to
enable them to play a constructive role in wider society. Questions of good
judgement face us at every turn: from how we utilise the finite resources of
our planet through to the way we live as spouses, parents, neighbours,
colleagues, employers, employees – every choice has consequences, for
ourselves, for others.

And it is not enough merely to speak broadly of seeking a world of justice and
fairness for all, which moves towards overcoming inequalities, and strives to
promote conditions in which all may have the opportunity to fulfil their
potential. We also need to have sharp mental tools that help us analyse more
specifically what this means in practice, so we may discern what is tangibly
possible and how we can achieve it.

The task before us is great. As well as dealing with the legacies of the past,
we face new challenges, not least increasing economic disparities and the
inequalities that flow from these. Further, as we have seen in vivid ways in
the last two weeks, we have not yet learnt enough about how to live with one
another’s different and distinctive cultural norms, in ways that affirm all
that is good, and that express mutual respect and uphold the dignity of
everyone. We do not do ourselves any favours if we pretend these challenges are
less significant, less serious, than they are; or that there are simple and
easy solutions. To name the challenges is the first step in facing them,
enabling us to overcome them.

Jesus said ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free’. Above
all else, education is in the business of helping us know what the truth is,
and responding with honesty, and justice, and all that is good and right and

As you know, the word Cathedral gets its name from the bishop’s chair
(cathedra). This is a chair or throne that is a symbol of the Bishop's teaching
authority in his Diocese and also the primary location from where the bishop’s
ministry commences. Traditionally the Bishop is the Parish Priest of the Cathedral
but because he has the responsibility for the whole Diocese, The Cathedral Dean
takes responsibility for this. So you, the deans, have an important role to
play in the church, living out your bishop’s ministry which is called to be
apostolic, prophetic, theological, pastoral, prayerful and educational.

When archbishops ponder education, it is not long before their thoughts are
drawn, as they were with citizenship, to Jesus! For it is crystal clear that he
was a remarkable teacher:

• a teacher who cared for everyone;
• a teacher who educated by walking with humanity in the ups and downs of our
lives; and by walking with each individual he encountered, in their own
• a teacher who encouraged and delighted with his vivid, thought-provoking
parables; and
• a teacher who modelled by the example of his own life.

And he is a teacher who calls us all to follow in his steps.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba
November 5, 2015

Posted By Anglican Media Office, Bishopscourt to Archbishop
Thabo Makgoba
on 11/05/2015 11:29:00 a.m.

Posted: 2015/11/06 (08:00:19 AM)

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