God has given the ailing Nelson Mandela to the nation as a “message for this moment” say South African Church leaders who met in Pretoria yesterday to consider the state of the Church and the nation.
Noting the prayers and good wishes for the former President from all sectors of society, the leaders say that God is “rekindling our spirit of national unity in the consciousness of what Madiba represents, to inspire our hope”.
“Our challenge is in the responsibility that comes with that consciousness,” say the leaders of the SA Council of Churches (SACC), the SA Christian Leaders Initiative (SACLI) and denominational leaders, in a statement. (See full statement)
Future generations will judge us who were privileged to have lived in the times of Mandela by how we used the opportunity to make our country and the world what it should be – and we dare say ‘to make the world what God wanted it to be’.
The statement acknowledges Mandela’s example of reconciliation and statemenship during his Presidency and recognises him as “the Father of Our Constitutional Democracy”.
“When we started as a new nation under Madiba in 1994 every one in the world applauded us. We looked like we were about to create heaven on earth!” the statement says.
First gift of reconciliation
But it says that many people have remarked that Mandela’s “first gift of reconciliation” did not unite South Africans but “made us tolerant of each other at best”.
However God is now using Madiba in his extended illness to challenge us to look at ourselves and ask if we are not beginning to wallow in greed and self interest. He is also using the time to challenge us to unite behind the noble values that Mandela represents, say the church leaders.
They say the churches are calling for united action to make the best of Madiba’s values our pattern of social conduct.
“In the months ahead we shall be unpacking under God, a range of action proposals with our churches, to look at how we each have contributed to the decline of the Mandela Promise, and seek to have us pick up the second Mandela Gift of unity in action for a better South Africa, and a better world,” the statement concludes.
Leaders at yesterday’s meeting were: Bishop Jo Seoka (President: SACC); Bishop Zipho Siwa (Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of SA); Dr Jerry Pillay (General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of SA); Bishop Malusi (Ethiopian Episcopal Church of SA); Rev Moss Ntlha (General Secretary of The Evangelical Alliance of SA and Chairperson of SACLI); Rev Hermy Damons (NEC member of The Evangelical Alliance of SA); Rinel Hugo (NEC member of SACC); Marcus Van Wyk (Coordinator: SACLI); Dr Prince Dibeela (General Secretary of the United Congregational Church of SA).
iafrica.com reports that the church leaders also led prayers in front of the Pretoria hospital where Mandela is soon to mark two months in care. They say that according to IOL, Seoka added that Mandela was conscious.