JOHANNESBURG: The churches of South Africa, under the South African Council of Churches (SACC), held a church service to reaffirm the SACC’s commitment to all South Africans, to pray and work for sustained hope in humility and faith for the country. The service, attended by representatives of all the member churches of the SACC, brought Christians from all provinces together in prayer, to officially launch the nationwide campaign –The South Africa We Pray For.
In opening the service, SACC Senior Vice President of the SACC, Reverend Frank Chikane outlined the context for The South Africa We Pray For, emphasizing the need for holistic and sustainable reconciliation, in a nation that does not yet enjoy this. The symbolism of the service, held on national reconciliation day was not lost on the congregation of women, men and children.
In his sermon Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa, President of the SACC, spoke passionately about the need for one nation, reconciled under one flag, beyond the racial lines of blacks and whites. Siwa called for healing and reconciliation that addresses the themes of poverty and inequality; economic transformation; the fabric of family and anchoring democracy. He added that there was a need for honesty and truth in the process of reconciling with one another, and this can only be achieved in the spirit of national progress and development.
The service was punctuated with fervent prayer, led by the leaders of the member churches. The prayers represented the needs and desires of the people of South Africa, communicated through the churches, in their hopes for a truly reconciled nation, marking the year in which the churches soaked the nation in prayer. Representing all ethnicities and racial backgrounds, the church leaders stood in union under the umbrella of hope – interceding for the nation and the challenges currently faced by the country today.
Lead by the General Secretary of the SACC, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana; the representatives of churches stood as the declaration and statement of intent was read out loud.
“We, the South African Council of Churches reaffirm our commitment to the people of South Africa, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, whose mission in the world is our solemn mandate,” declared Mpumlwana, on behalf of the SACC. “We rise, at a time such as this in our nation, to proclaim the message of Him who said: “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly; I am the Good Shepherd”! (John 10: 10 – 11).”
The churches declared that they would:
Pray and act for Healing & Reconciliation, healing the past, and engaging the challenge of gender, ethnicity and race.
Pray and act for the destruction of Poverty and inequality, addressing the need to reverse poverty and inequality in order to reconcile the lot of marginalized poor people with the fortunes of the country.
Pray and act for Economic transformation, by dealing with long-standing need for economic transformation and identifying the trade-offs necessary to address the fundamentals that result in a reconciled economic dispensation.
Pray and act for the restoration of the Family Fabric, by facing up to the tattered family fabric which has been caused by the impact of transition of especially the African family life, in order to nestle a reconciled existence for future generations.
Pray and act toward anchoring democracy, where corruption, maladministration and the decline of trust in public institutions is interrogated to promote a transparent and functional democracy.
Today, we commit to a just, reconciled and equitable and sustainable society, free of racial, tribal, xenophobic and gender prejudices, free of corruption and deprivation and with enough food and shelter for every citizen; and for each child born to grow to their God-given potential.
This is the South Africa we believe God intends for us.
This is the South Africa We Pray For, and shall work for.
The declaration was signed by the leaders of the churches – and witnessed by 46 church leaders in attendance.