From the desk of the General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana
22 October 2021
The South African Council of Churches (SACC) was in conference from 19-21October 2021; convened under the theme, The Church: An invitation to be life giving water. Ezek: 47:1-12
“Our collective intention in gathering has been to seek the face of God, and apply the spirit of discernment in reviewing the work of the SACC in the last four years, and in identifying the direction to move in going forward as a moral compass for society,” said Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, General Secretary of the SACC. The last SACC National Conference of the SACC was in 2017.
The SACC National Conference took a critical look at the role of the Church in society to ensure that the Church still remains a beacon of hope and life for all. Outgoing SACC President, Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa, reminded the National Conference about what the impact of united Christian witness can look like if viewed in the context of the collective work of the member churches, and how this impact on the lives of ordinary South Africans can shake the world towards an alternative reality. “This is the true meaning of the theme of our conference – to become that life-giving stream that transforms the life we will experience and shapes the future experiences of generations to come,” said Bishop Siwa.
Speaking in the opening address, outgoing SACC Senior Vice-President, Rev Frank Chikane quoted the words of Frantz Fanon, who said: “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, and fulfil it or betray it.” The SACC National Conference therefore, encouraged its member churches to make sure that its work remains aligned with the vision of God. “Our generation requires of us, the ability to decode God’s mind in order to understand our purpose,” said Rev Chikane. “As member churches, we each have a clear duty to apply our minds to the word of God, and decode the messages in the word which are life-giving, and which will direct our steps in the fulfilment of our individual and collective callings as the SACC to be that life-giving water for society, according to Ezek: 47:1-12,” he added.
In a message that was dedicated to the work of former SACC General Secretary, Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Bishop Mpumlwana extended the theme of introspection for the church, by outlining what he described as the “me-at-any-cost” mindset.
“Our society has been bathed in the dye of a “me-at-any-cost” mindset, colouring everything we do. The prevalence of rape and brutal violence against women is the gruesome manifestation of this “me-at-any-cost” by boorish men,” said Mpumlwana. “We live in a state of social disintegration; where individuals are a law unto themselves; everyone doing just what they want to do, any time, anywhere, and with little or no regard for what impact that has for others, as long as it works for me! Can we have people of conscience stand up to build an alternative vision of South Africa?” he asked.
Over the two-day period, the SACC National Conference, among other activities honoured the work of women leaders – past and present – who have served on the SACC Praesidium, with particular mention to the 93 year-old Mrs Sally Motlana who was the first female Vice-President of the SACC in 1978. A total of eight women have served on the SACC Praesidium since the 1970s. They are Mrs Sally Motlana, Mrs Sheena Duncan, Mrs Virginia Gcabashe, Ambassador Sheila Sisulu, Mrs Thabisile Msezana, Prof. Puleng Lenkabula, the current Vice Chancellor of UNISA, Rev. Joy-Faith Kronenberg, and Ms Nomasonto Magwaza, re-elected at this conference as 1st Vice President.
One of the responsibilities of the SACC National Conference was to elect a new SACC Praesidium that will serve for the next three years. The newly elected Praesidium is:• New SACC President: Archbishop Thabo Makgoba• New SACC 1st Vice President: Ms. Nomasonto Magwaza• New SACC 2nd Vice President: Rev Ian Booth
“The responsibility that has been set before us as the new Praesidium, is to safe-guard the reputation of the Body of Christ in our collective service to humanity,” said newly-elected President, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba. “We have accepted our duty of ushering the SACC from its current heights to new levels; we are conscious that we are standing on the shoulders of the leaders who have given of themselves fully in the execution of their duties, and we express our thanks for their service,” he added.
The SACC National Conference congratulated Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on reaching the venerable age of 90, and dedicating the conference to his honour, SACC reinforced it’s role as a champion for social justice, by unanimously agreeing on the following calls to society:
•The SACC calls for a church that is the medium for the weak and the marginalised in every locality, through which God intervenes; the Church must be the trusted eyes and ears, not only for the sake of the people, but for the sake of God in whose name we exist.• The SACC calls for the existence of a social justice media, that will, in the spirit of National Press Freedom Day of Black Wednesday, shine the light on the goings on in every sector, especially in government, to help hold leaders accountable. This media must look at the plight of the excluded and the marginalised, for the sake of an informed population, which is critical for a truly democratic nation.• The SACC calls for a society of people of conscience, who are willing to stand up to build a South Africa which, in the aspiration of Steve Biko, has “a more human face”. Let us reject the blurred lines between reality and fantasy, between truth and untruth that have become our reference points via social media, reflecting the brokenness of our families and the lack of positive reference points for children.• The SACC, responding to the need for formation of positive values in youth, commits to create a Youth Associates Programme to develop young people for a comprehensive approach that includes marketable skills and intellectual development; social and environmental conscience; a social justice orientation; and expanding their horizons to be worthy citizens of their communities, the country, the continent of Africa and the world.• The SACC resolved to launch two initiatives for national transformation and healing: The Initiative for Economic Transformation to be chaired by the outgoing SACC 1st Vice President, Rev. Frank Chikane; and the Initiative for Nation Building to be chaired by SACC General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana.• The SACC calls on the governing party, in the light of the July unrest, to uphold the interests of the entire country, and not to allow its internal divisions to become the main threat to public order.• The SACC appreciates the government’s efforts to strengthen public institutions, especially the investigating and prosecution systems; but urges for the speedy trial and imprisonment of those responsible for gross crimes against the people of South Africa, of corruption and theft from the publicpurse. “As long as there are no big names in our courts and prisons, so long will impunity prevail for the spread of corruption”.• The SACC decries the daily reports of the murder of election candidates, and calls for a political environment where political candidates can make it to the polls for the public to decide their fate, and not live in fear of perishing as a result of merciless and senseless killings. And for all people of faith to pray for the 1 November local government elections.• The SACC reminds society of the unabating scourge of the deadly gender-based violence and calls on the public to be vigilant of and act on any indication that there might be abusive and violent relationships that threaten women and children. The Council extends sympathy to the Mooti family whose four children were kidnapped in Polokwane; and calls for the development of a dedicated police unit for both women and children’s safety, to address this new threat of the kidnapping of children.• The SACC re-committed itself to redoubling its effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. It adopted #VaxuMzansi campaign as its current strategy in the vaccination efforts with others in society where churches and faith communities are called to vaccinate 70% of their members.
• On international matters the SACC also resolved to:• Extend a prayerful hand of support for the churches Council of Swaziland Churches of eSwatini in their endeavours to resolve the burning national issues, and calls on the SADC delegation to support the churches’ effortsfor a national dialogue.• Reject Israel’s illegal measures to annex Palestinian land in the WestBank, undermining the two-state solution; and calls on the world community and the churches to heed the cry of the Palestinian Churches and people to intervene for a just and lasting peace and security for all.• Support the Mozambican Christian Council and the people of Mozambiquein the face of insurgency in Cabo Delgado, and expresses appreciation forthe SADC mission to help Mozambique overcome this deadly challenge.
“We need to find a way of giving direction and giving a measure of hope; to recover our best self, of which we are capable. Everything we are seeing in the rot and disintegration of our society is not really us, not what we can become. There is a cry for a leadership for hope; a leadership for the emotional security of all in South Africa,” concluded Mpumlwana.
Media enquiries:Khuthalani KhumaloSACC Communications ConsultantSouth African Council of ChurchesTel: 084 074 1285 | Email: email@example.com