SA church leaders announce plans for united action to deal with national challenges

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba... heading up think tank
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba… heading up united ecumenical think tank.
Vavi seeks forgiveness from church leaders for extra-marital affair

The National Church Leaders’ Consultation (NCLC) met at the OR Tambo International Airport on October 15 and 16 to address a number of critical challenges facing South Africa, NCLC says in a press statement.

A think tank of senior church leaders under Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, will guide the process of closer collaboration between different initiatives and networks, and with other ecumenical organisations in South Africa in a bid to achieve a united ecumenical witness and action in dealing with the national challenges, says NCLC.

The meeting considered how the challenges, including education, social and welfare policy, children and early childhood development (ECD), primary and affordable healthcare, sexual and gender-based violence, and the National Development Plan, can be tackled by the church in partnership with others and with specific emphasis on promoting active citizenship and participation at the grassroots level of communities and local congregations across the country.

At the two-day meeting the Church leaders agreed on the following issues:

1. Education: the meeting re-emphasised its serious concern about the poor state of education delivery and output –especially in basic education – and called for a special national, church-based campaign in 2014 to address this challenge. The meeting resolved to continue working with all stakeholders (government, unions, civil society, etc.) to bring about the necessary and effective change. As part of this, the meeting decided to engage with the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and other unions, as a matter of urgency.

2. Social and Welfare Policy: the meeting expressed deep concern about the possible detrimental effects of the current under-funding of social welfare services delivered by NGOs, including FBOs, in South Africa. During the meeting a report was tabled highlighting the fact that approximately 71% of all social welfare services in this country are delivered by the NGO sector. Over the last few years, however, 122 NGOs had to either downsize certain programmes or shut down some programmes completely as a direct response to the under-funding. Very recently the Financial and Fiscal Commission of the national parliament also alluded to the fact that social welfare services to children and families are largely under-funded and the Department of Social Development was requested to take up this matter urgently.

Because of the crisis dimensions of this matter, the Church Leaders’ Consultation commissioned the National Religious Association for Social Development (NRASD) to urgently draft a position paper on this matter to be used for further deliberation on this looming crisis in social welfare services delivery.

3. Early Childhood Development and Children: the meeting recognised the critical importance of early childhood development and the need for adequate nutrition of a pregnant mother and her foetus. A sound foundation for the emotional, intellectual and physical development of children between the ages 0-5 is very important.

“As national church leaders we commit ourselves to utilising our institutional capacity and teaching and programmes to focus our energy and the attention of our congregations and our parishes on the importance of early childhood development.” says the Press statement.

4. Health: The Minister of Health, Dr A Motsoaledi, was the keynote speaker – focusing passionately on the challenges of quality and affordable health care for all South Africans – which is the main intention of the National Health Insurance plan. The meeting agreed on strengthening the partnership with the Department of Health. One of the initiatives flowing from this meeting will be the implementation of a national Health Literacy Programme with church networks – as part of strengthening primary, preventative health programmes.

The meeting of the church leaders received a report from the SANAC religious sector and affirmed the ongoing work in the Provinces.

5. Sexual and Gender-based Violence: Dr Catherine Sozi, South African Director of UNAIDS, reminded church leaders of the plight of women and children who are violently and sexually abused. She appealed to church leaders to play an active role to stop this scourge in South African society. The meeting committed itself to work in support of the challenges outlined by Dr Sozi, particularly in engaging men and boys on their attitudes towards and views on women and girls.

6. The National Development Plan: this meeting was addressed by Commissioner Pascal Moloi on the NDP. The meeting noted the intensive debates around key aspects of the NDP and to seek partnerships in the implementation of the plan around issues and challenges of mutual concern.

7. Zwelinzima Vavi: Suspended Congress of South African Trade Union boss Zwelinzima Vavi  addressed the meeting at his request to seek forgiveness for his well-publicised extramarital incident. Church leaders prayed for him as well as all the other affected parties.

8. Election 2014: the meeting urged members to pray for the upcoming elections and encourage citizens to register and vote, and to engage in policy debates in a tolerant and peaceful way. The meeting emphasised the need for the IEC to ensure that the elections are managed in a credible manner.

The consultation concluded by agreeing in principle on a social action plan, which will be launched during Pentecost in 2014. The intention is to seek the involvement of other churches to participate in this church-based initiative as we seek to improve the quality of life for all people. A pastoral letter on this initiative from church leaders will follow in due course.

Leaders who participated in this week’s consultation are:
1. Archbishop Dr. Thabo Makgoba – Anglican Church of Southern Africa
2. Archbishop Dr. Zandisile Magxwalisa – Jerusalem Church in South Africa
3. The Rt Rev. Rod Botsis – Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa
4. The Most Revd Bishop Lunga ka Siboto – Ethiopian Episcopal Church
5. Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa – Methodist Church of Southern Africa
6. Bishop Purity Malinga – Methodist Church of Southern Africa
7. Rev. Motlalentwa Betha – Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa
8. Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana – Ethiopian Episcopal Church
9. Bishop Sithembele Sipuka – Catholic Church in South Africa
10. Bishop Melumzi Norhushu – Ebenezer Christian Church
11. Fr. Richard Menatsi – NRASD / Catholic Church in South Africa
12. Dr. Jerry Pillay – Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa
13. Dr. Kobus Gerber – Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa
14. Dr. Braam Hanekom – Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa
15. Dr. Donald Katts – Volkskerk van Afrika
16. Dr. Renier Koegelenberg – NRASD
17. Dr. Welile Mazamisa – NRASD
18. Rev. Luxolo Plaatjie – Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa
19. Rev. Mkhuseli Dukwana – Presbyterian Church of Africa
20. Rev. Vuyani Nyobole – Methodist Church of Southern Africa
21. Rev. Willie Van Der Merwe – Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa
22. Rev. Vasco Da Gama Seleoane – African Enterprise
23. Rev. Marlene Mahokoto – NRASD / Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa
24. Rev. Moss Ntlha – The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa
25. Rev. Canon Desmond Lambrechts – Anglican Church of Southern Africa
26. Pastor. Hermy Damons – International Federation of Christian Churches
27. Rev. Sipho Mahokoto – NRASD
28. Rev. Senamo Molisiwa – CAIC
29. Rev. Luvuyo Makalima – Baptist (Calvinist)
30. Rev. Peter Tarantal – SACLI
31. Pastor Xola Skosana – Way of Life
32. Rev. Edwin Arrison – Kairos South Africa
33. Ms. Shirley Moulder – NRASD / Anglican Church of Southern Africa
34. Mr. Marcus Van Wyk – SACLI
35. Mr. Miles Giljam – SACLI

4 Comments

  1. Always great to hear of leaders meeting together. How about fewer conferences and more action on the ground?

  2. Assie Van der Westhuizen

    Thanks, church leaders. for a positive step. But none of the good-intended programmes will succeed, unless it is based on the infallible Word of God.

  3. So good to hear this. Very encouraging that different Churcher’s have met and agreed to act on these issues in unity. Praise our Lord. Message to Mr Vavi though, it is not the Church leaders who you should be asking for forgiveness.

  4. A good initiative, but Christian Leaders should be asking what specifically is the CHRISTIAN response to these challenges, and not simply parrot the usual well-meaning secular humanist angles. For instance: in education promote a world-view and ethic compatible with Christian Values; re Sexual Violence, promote Faithful Marriage as the context for sex. We can promote these Values without overtly stating their Christian source (because of our secular constitution) because we will find them in most religions and in the values of Traditional African Society. And why did they not address CORRUPTION? Especially in this week when internationally Christians are “shining the light on Corruption” which is a major cause of endemic Poverty in the world. Google EXPOSED 2013 and UNASHAMEDLY ETHICAL for further information. Let’s pray for a positively Christian contribution to our nation’s moral wellbeing!