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Bishop of False Bay Visits York, London on UK Trip

Christian Today reports on the visit of our Bishop, the Right Revd Margaret Vertue to the UK:

Bishop hopes CofE will follow South Africa’s lead on women

Bishop Visits Diocese of York, UK.

Bishop Visits Diocese of York, UK.

A South African bishop shared her wish for the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate during a sermon at Southwark Cathedral on Sunday.

The Right Reverend Margaret Vertue, Bishop of False Bay in South Africa, was guest preacher at the service.

She reflected on the change in attitudes that followed the end of apartheid in South Africa.  There was applause from the congregation as she called upon the Church of England to follow South Africa’s lead and make it possible for women to be bishops.

“As the church we cannot be not doing what the state is doing. So we cannot oppress people, we cannot be prejudiced, we cannot discriminate against people, we cannot do that,” she said.

Our bishop at a Mothers' Union service at Stokeskey Deanery in the Diocese of York.

Our bishop at a Mothers’ Union service at Stokeskey Deanery in the Diocese of York.

“And so the people of Africa are very much open to the process and they elect the person who they feel is the best person for the calling.

“They do not look at colour or gender or anything else. So that’s how I am here before you with great rejoicing, and I do pray that where Africa leads England will follow.”

The Church of England General Synod will be debating legislation to allow women bishops when it meets in York next month.

New proposals are being considered after legislation was defeated at the General Synod in London last November.

Bishop Margaret Preaches at London Cathedral

A sermon preached by the Rt Revd Margaret Vertue, Bishop of False Bay at a Choral Eucharist at Southwark Cathedral, London, on June 9, 2013, the 2nd Sunday after Trinity.

Text: 1 Kings 17.17-24, Galatians 1.11-24, Luke 7.11-17

I want to thank the Dean and Bishop Christopher for the invitation and welcome into your Diocese and Cathedral.  I bring you greetings from my Diocese, the Diocese of False Bay and if you know South Africa, you know Cape Town. Cape Town multiplied into three, so Cape Town itself is still there and then we have the Diocese of Saldanha Bay and the Diocese of False Bay.

So the whole of False Bay is mine, from Muizenberg, all the way up to Simonstown, including Lavender Hill and then all the wine lands – very pleasingly! – and also all the farm lands so that many of the farm lands are also in our Diocese, the whole of Khayelitsha, the black, sprawling townships and the Cape Flats, Mitchells Plain.  So there are 58 parishes in the Diocese, but each parish has about four to six chapelries as well.  We do not have a Cathedral so it’s a great delight to be at yours.  We left the Cathedral behind in Cape Town so hopefully one day we will be able to also have a cathedral but for the moment, where the bishop is, there is the Diocese and when we have big services, we go to the biggest church but we do hope to either appoint a pro-Cathedral or one day build a cathedral but our Diocese is only eight years old.  It was eight years ago when we had the separation.  Bishop Merwyn was the first bishop of the Diocese of False Bay but we are very glad that we can come here today and greet you and be part of your Cathedral, of your community, of your church.

We do pray for you; we really, seriously, pray for you with your journey towards the consecration and ordination of women bishops.  Ours was a long journey and at the Provincial Synod which, was in 1992, at that Synod when it was voted upon, it was overwhelmingly passed that we would consecrate women to the episcopate as well as to the priesthood.  We had one package, whereas you did not. When we said “priesthood”, we said “episcopacy” and then it took us 20 years; it was at the 20th anniversary of women being ordained that the first women were elected and the first one – we are Southern Africa, we include Mozambique and Swaziland and Lesotho – the first women was in Swaziland, Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya. Bishop Ellinah had been a self-supporting priest for seven years, and of course once she was elected the bishop, she had to give up her day job!  For me, I was in my 20th year as a priest and I had been Archdeacon and a rector and Vicar General when the Bishop was out of his Diocese.  I was the senior priest, which is equivalent to the Dean so I don’t even have a senior priest any more because the senior priest became a bishop.  I will be appointing one before the end of the year.

Bishop Margaret preaching at Southwark Cathedral, London.

Bishop Margaret preaching at Southwark Cathedral, London.

So ours was a whole long process and we also are elected into the episcopacy, so for me to have been elected there was a national committee who received the names (anybody can nominate names). We were six candidates and to become the bishop, the elective assembly are all the licensed clergy of the diocese, there are 80 and each one of them comes with two lay representatives so that is the House that elects the bishop and you have to get a two-thirds majority in both Houses to become the bishop.  So I was one of six candidates and it was God’s will but in the first day we had an election and what a glorious day it was.  Neil, is from Balhar which is in our Diocese, he will know that Holy Spirit really was moving and the great excitement and still is and it is very positive so what helped us tremendously was the whole matter of separate development – Apartheid.  We are accustomed to really listening to each other, listening deeply to each other and so when Apartheid fell away, we were very certain that as the Church – and we are not the state church, there is no state church – but as the Church, we cannot be not doing what the state is doing so we cannot oppress people, we cannot be prejudiced, we cannot discriminate against people on any ‘ism’, be it sexism, or whatever else – racism – we cannot do that and so the people of Africa are very much open to the process and they elect their person who they feel is the best person for the calling and they do not look at colour or gender or anything else. So that’s how I am here before you with great rejoicing and I do pray that where Africa leads, England will follow and I hope I will be invited back (and not with a walking stick!), to come to the consecration of your first woman bishop, or if you’re not careful, I will have myself translated into England!

But our readings.  Kings says ‘Now I know that God’s word from your mouth is true’.  Paul in Galatians: ‘I received the Gospel I preached from Jesus’ and Luke: ‘Jesus the healer, the word about him spread’.  So I am wanting to ask us a question this morning: are we trapped in the throes of death like these people we read about, or are we open to a miracle of change?  And so I speak to all of us in our speaking, in our preaching, are we vibrant, effective channels of God’s love and healing?  I know that there are hidden energies in you and in me just waiting to be released.  People in our church and society, they are in the throes of death like the son of the widow in the Old Testament and also in the Gospel, and both widows are in awe as they see God at work and so if we pause there, are people in awe as they see us as channels of God at work?  And sadly in our day, people too often see a pathetic lack of the fire of the Holy Spirit.

I had a curate when I was the rector of a very large parish, as parishes go in South Africa, there were two services and in each service, there would be 500 people coming to the service (that was in Kuils River) but I had an assistant at the time, a curate, and it was the Feast of the Transfiguration, he’s probably forgotten it, but I’ve never forgotten it.  You know he stood up and preached and he said “The Transfiguration is an earth-shattering, paradigm-scattering, somersault-flipping experience”.  I sat up so straight you know – what’s coming?! What’s coming?! but after that it was not so energetic after all, but I have never forgotten.  The primary business of the Church is just that: the primary business of the Church is not to preserve itself as an institution; it is more costly than that.  The cost is that through an encounter with us, not only with those we are in college with, with all of us we to bring people to that earth-shattering confrontation with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Elijah did, Paul did.  People who are trapped in the throes of death are to be shaken-up to know Jesus as their Master and Friend.  We are to give ourselves without reserve to the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.  Then the miracle of change and of new life and healing will happen.

You know that we had that earth-shattering, paradigm-scattering and somersault-flipping experience when Nelson Mandela was released from prison.  I was at Oxford University doing an exchange when that glorious day happened.  I’m just praying that I am not here when his death happens but I am going home tomorrow, so it should be fine.  He has been such a statesman, the country is already in grief as we know that this man is nearing the end of his life and long ago when he became the State President, they already began to build stadiums and whatever else for one day when is his funeral which will be in the Eastern Cape.  But when he was released from prison and the Press interviewed him and they asked him the question whether he is not bitter because of being on Robben Island, having to dig the quarries without protection for the eyes (he sees little with the eyes, sees a lot with the heart) and his response was: “I choose not to be bitter”, so bitterness can have us in the throes of death and he says “I choose not to be bitter”.  Michael Lapsley again, as you know, his hands were blown off by a letter bomb; he has claws as prosthesis, he also: “I choose not to be bitter”.

 

The Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, welcomes our Bishop.

The Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, welcomes our Bishop.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu (great icon), says: “I have no enemies.  If you regard yourself as the enemy, that’s not me” but you know, as we ask ourselves are we open to the miracle of change, we see in South Africa how people are not trapped in the throes of death, people are open to the miracles of change and I get that distinct feeling in this Cathedral, in this community, in this Church, people are open to the miracle of change. And as I walked briefly around your church and I see the wall hangings, I can see very much how socially involved you are, allowing a woman bishop with a mitre on her head to walk in your church speaks volumes and in South Africa, we have many AIDS orphans, a pandemic of AIDS is horrific, and we have what we call Home from Homes, where we have a couple having eight children or eight orphans and we have many of them and we are having to develop many more but that’s one way of the church being involved, in showing these young people there is life and they do not have to be trapped in the throes of death.  We also had the farm workers strikes in our area and again the church brings different people into the church property to let us see how we can have a conversation with each other and throughout, pain becomes a life-giving force.

So my friends, there are three distinguishing features of our calling as Christian disciples.  The  first is expectancy, we cannot stand colourless and powerless before God, are we expecting God to work miracles through us?  When our people come to our church doors, do they have a vivid feeling of expectancy that in this place, Heaven and Earth is going to be meeting?  Is this Cathedral providing a meeting point with heaven?  Again, in context when I was the rector in my last parish, there was a little child who came to me and said: “Reverend, I love coming to church” and for a child to say that was amazing and I said: “Why, would that be, my boy?” and he said: “Because I know here, everybody loves me”.  Is that the experience of children who come here?  I am sure it is.

Another time I was wanting to lock up the church (you cannot leave your churches open for too long) but there was a young man about 20 sitting in the seat there and I said: “Young man, is there anything you want to talk about” he said “I’ve had – I cannot put it into words – but I’ve had such a life-changing experience in this church this morning but when I leave these doors, nobody will believe that I have changed”.  And again do we give people that second chance when they have come to an earth-shattering experience with God?  Do we expect to find grace and strength here to cope with the week ahead – that is one of the reasons we come to church to find grace and strength to cope with the week ahead – but we need to expect that gift.  Our homes and churches must not become too complacent or too comfortable.  God is in action, God is in action in spectacular and also the slender silence.  There would be no spiritual entertainment until something spectacular happens but it is also in the slender silence that we listen to the voice of God.  Faith in God, my friends, humbles and tumbles us, throws out our prejudices and laughs at impossibility.

So are we this morning having that well of expectancy flowing again, even though it has become dried-up or in the throes of death?  Expect great things from God and risk great things for God like Elijah did, like Paul did.

The second feature of our calling as Christians is prayer.  There has become a decline in prayer and the Church needs to get on its knees again to wait upon God.  A very simple prayer: ‘Lord, empty me of all that is not of you, Lord fill me with your Holy Spirit, that vacuum that has been emptied full with your Holy Spirit, Lord use me, Lord empty me, Lord fill me, Lord use me’.  Be still and know that I am God.

Bishop Vertue greeting Southwark worshippers.

Bishop Vertue greeting Southwark worshippers.

The third feature is repentance.  We all of us need to repent of the mere veneer of Christianity, of gross self-sufficiency.  Repent that our spiritual life is a mere shadow of the real thing.

Friends, we have a choice to make: are we going to continue to be trapped in the throes of death or are we going to be open to the miracle of change?  Elijah, the widow of Nain,  Jesus show us that the gateway is open and faith enables us to pass through again and again in the service and joy of love.

Bishop Margaret Calls for White Ribbons in Response to Brutal Rape and Murder

In a pastoral response to the rape and death of Anene Booysen in Bredasdorp – a crime that has shocked South Africa, the Right Revd Margaret Vertue, Bishop of False Bay, has called on churches to wrap white ribbons around a candle at services, and even around trees in parishes.

The two-page pastoral letter included this call:

“This Sunday and on Ash Wednesday, please wrap a white ribbon around a candle and at the beginning of the services, pray that the world may be filled with the tenderness of God our Father and that grace, peace and pardon will be poured into all of our hearts. You may even be moved to tie a white ribbon around a tree, to raise community awareness.”

2013 Diocesan Diary

January
1    NEW YEARS DAY
16    SCHOOLS OPEN
19    CONSECRATION/ENTHRONEMENT @ 10.30AM @ DF Malan Centre
University  of Stellenbosch
19    Bernard Mizeki Guild Exco Philippi @ 2pm
25    Blue Downs Archd. Clergy/spouse Evening
25/26    POT Orientation @ St Raphael’s Faure
26    Fellowship of Vocation
26    CMS Chair/Secretaries meeting Strand @ 10am
26    St Mary Mag. Guild Exe Mfuleni @ 1pm
26    AWF Quiet Day – Breede Valley Archd.
26    CLB/CGB Regimental H Q Reopen
26    Anglican Youth Ministry Council
26    BERNARD MIZEKI OPEN SERV./TRUST FUND     LAUNCH @ WORCESTER @ 2PM
27    K/Bay AYM Back to School Services in parishes
29    POT Rectors Meeting with Bishop @ Som. West
31    DIOCESAN CHAPTER

February

1/2    Bernard Mizeki Strat Plan Gordon’s Bay @ 7pm
1-3    Social Development Agents of Change Camp
2    Kalk Bay Archd. Layministers Training @ Lav. Hill
2    CLB/CGB Council Meeting
2    Ordinands Tutorial Day  All St Belhar @ 8.30am
2    Mothers Union Exe @ Macassar
4    Kalk Bay Archd. Clergy Fellowship
4    Blue Downs Archd Clergy Fell. @ St MM Belhar
4    M/Plain Archd. Chapter @ Tafelsig @ 9.30am
5    Breede Valley Archd. Chapter @ Worcester
5    Post Ordination Training
5    Caledon Archd. Chapter @ Caledon
5    Helderberg Arch Chapter @ St Paul’s Faure
7    Held. Ministries Coordinators Meeting @ Rusthof
9    Caledon Archd. Council @ Hawston
9    AWF Executive @ St Mary Magdalene Belhar
9    Mothers Union Quiet Day
9    Blue Downs Archd. Lay Leadership Training Belhar
9    Kalk Bay Arch AYM Family Fun Day
9    Helderberg Arch Council @ St Andrew’s Strand
11    M/Plain Archd. Council @ Lentegeur @ 7.30pm
13    ASH WEDNESDAY
16    Mothers Union Council Meeting
16    K/Bay Arch Sun.Sch/Confirm Inst. Training @ G/Park
16    St Mary Mag. Guild Opening @ Delft @ 1pm
16    Social Dev. Board Meeting
16    CLB/CGB Music Workshop
17    CMS Exe
17    Breede Valley Clergy/spouse Fellowship @ Bell. Vista
19    Post Ordination Training
21    Diocesan Finance/Trusts Board Meeting
21    Kalk Bay Archd. Chapter @ Kalk Bay @ 7pm
22/23    Bernard Mizeki Prov. Council – Dio. of Ukhahlamba
23    Kalk Bay Archd. Council @Ocean View @ 9am
23    Breede Valley Arch. Lay Training @ Worcester
23    Fellowship of Vocation
23    AWF Fellowship Day – Belhar Sports Field
24    St Mary Mag. Guild Exe Mfuleni @ 1pm
24    CMS Council
28    DIOCESAN CHAPTER

March

1    World Day of Prayer
2    CLB/CGB Annual Returns/Nominations
2    Mothers Union Workshop
2    Ordinands Tutorial Day @ All St Belhar @ 8.30am
3    Bernard Mizeki Guild Exco Harare @ 2pm
4    Blue Downs Archd. Chapter @ All Saints Belhar
5    Post Ordination Training
5-8    Synod of Bishops
9    Bernard Mizeki Guild Council Harare @ 12h00
9    St Mary Mag. Guild Council @ Stellenb. @ 1pm
9    Anglican Youth Ministry Council
9    AWF Council Meeting @ Lotus River
10    Mothering Sunday
11-15    Mothers Union Wave of Prayer
12    Breede Valley Archd. Chapter @ Bella Vista
14    Blue Downs Archdeaconry Council @ Delft
15-17    AWF Executive Fellowship Weekend @ Volmoed
15/16    K/Bay Arch AYM Co-ordinators Retreat
16    Blue Downs Archd. Parish Councillors Training
16    St M Magd. Guild Retreat @ S/fontein @ 7.30am
16    Social Development AGM
16    Bernard Mizeki Guild Retreat @ Delft @ 9am
17    CMS PROCESSION OF WITNESS @ DELFT
19    Post Ordination Training Evening Session
21    HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
23    Fellowship of Vocation
23    MOTHERS UNION LADY DAY @ CERES
24    PALM SUNDAY
28    CHRISM MASS @ Kuils River @ 9.30am
28    SCHOOLS CLOSE
29    GOOD FRIDAY
31    EASTER DAY

April
1    FAMILY DAY/EASTER MONDAY
6    DIOCESAN FAMILY DAY
6    Ordinands Tutorial Day @ All St Belhar @ 8.30am
7    Guild of St Clare Chapter @ 3pm
8    SCHOOLS OPEN
9    Caledon Archdeaconry Chapter @ Elgin
9    Post Ordination Training Evening Session
13    Caledon Archdeaconry Council @ Bot River
13    K/Bay Arch AYM Sun.Sch/Confirm/Youth Co-ord Workshop
13    St Mary Mag. Guild Outreach/Prison
13    AWF Executive Meeting – Mitchell’s Plain Archdeaconry
13    Bernard Mizeki Guild Exco @ Fish Hoek @ 2pm
18    Diocesan Finance/Trusts Board Meeting
20    Social Development Health Open Day
20    Helderberg Archd. Wardens/Councilors Training @ St Pet.Khay
20    Breede Valley Archd. Churchwardens Training @ Robertson
20    CLB/CGB AGM
21    CMS Execo
23    Post Ordination Training
25    DIOCESAN CHAPTER
27    Bernard Mizeki Annual Gospel Festival @ Man.Park @ 10h30
27    FREEDOM DAY
27    Fellowship of Vocation
28    CMS Council
28    St Mary Mag. Guild Exe Mfuleni @ 1pm

May
1    WORKERS DAY
3-5    Ordinands Retreat @ St Raphael’s Faure
4    Mothers Union Exe
5    CLB/CGB Brigade Sunday @ Eerste River
6    Blue Downs Clergy Fellowship @ Sibanye
6    Kalk Bay Archd. Clergy Fellowship @ Lotus River
9    ASCENSION DAY
7    Helderberg Arch Chapter @ St Philip Gordon’s Bay
7    Post Ordination Training
7    Breede Valley Archd. Chapter @ Robertson
11    St Mary Mag. Leadership Workshop
11    Bernard Mizeki Guild Council @ Sibanye @ 12h00
11    Kalk Bay Archd. AYM Music Ministry Workshop
11    Helderberg Arch Council @ St Francis Betty’s Bay
11    AWF Executive Meeting – Blue Downs Archdeaconry
11    AWF Revealing of Prayer Friends
10-12    CMS Provincial Tri-Annual meeting CT
12    Mothers Union Interfaith Service
12    Mother’s Day
13-17    Breede Valley Archd. Evang/Outreach
15    Held. Ministries Co.Ord. Meeting @ Sir Lowry’s Pass
18    Kalk Bay Archd Layministers Meeting @ Grassy Park
18    Mothers Union Council
18    Anglican Youth Ministry Council
18    Social Dev. Board Meeting
18    CLB/CGB Council Meeting
19    CLB/CGB THANKSGIVING SERV.  @ MACASSAR
19    PENTECOST
19    Helderberg Archdeaconry Choral Afternoon
19    M/Plain Archd. Pentecost Day @ 3pm
21    Post Ordination Training
21-23    Kalk Bay Archd. Clergy Retreat
25    Fellowship of Vocation
25    Breede Valley Archd. Council Meeting @ Worcester
25    Breede Valley Clergy/spouse Fellowship @ Worcester
25    AWF AGM – BLUE DOWNS ARCHDEACONRY
26    Caledon Archd. Corpus Christi Service @ Hawston
26    CMS Gospel Afternoon @ Westridge
30    DIOCESAN CHAPTER
30    Blue Downs Archd. Corpus Christi @ Lanquedoc
30    Kalk Bay Arch Corpus Christi @ Ocean View
30    CORPUS CHRISTI
31/
1 June    Mothers Union Feast of Visitation @ Delft

June

31 May1 June
MUnion Feast of Visitation @ Delft
1    CLB/CGB Gen. Officers @ B/dorp
1    Ordinands Tutorial Day @ All St Belhar     @ 8.30am
3    Blue Downs Arch Chapter @ Kuils River
3    M/Plain Archd Chap. @ W/lands 9.30am
4    Post Ordination Training
4    Breede Valley Archd. Chapter @ Ceres
8    M/Plain Archd Coun.  @ P/lands 9.30am
8    K/Bay Arch AYM Serv. Guild Workshop
8    St M Magd. Guild Gen. Meet Mfuleni
8    AWF Council Meeting @ Lotus River
9    Kalk Bay Archd. Clergy Rotation
10-13    Blue Downs Archdeaconry Retreat
13    M/Plain Archd/C/Wardens @ Westridge
16    YOUTH DAY
16    Father’s Day
16    Breede Valley AYM Serv. @ Bella Vista
17    Public Holiday
18    Post Ordination Training
20    Diocesan Finance/Trusts Board Meeting
20    Blue Downs Arch Council @ Malibu Vill.
21    SCHOOLS CLOSE
21-23    AYM Diocesan Leaders Camp
22    Fellowship of Vocation
22/23    Bern Mizeki Comm/Patron.Fest Lwandle
22    St Mary Mag. Guild Fundraising Event
23    CMS EXCO
24-5 July HOLIDAY CAMP
27    DIOCESAN CHAPTER
29    MOTHERS UNION AGM
29    Social Dev. Drug Awareness Seminar
30    CMS Council
30-14 July Bishop Elect on leave
July
30 June -14 July Bishop Elect on leave
24June-5 July HOLIDAY CAMP
3-7    Provincial Youth Consultation
7    CMS Quiet Day @ Bredasdorp
13    St Mary Mag. Guild Council @ Philippi @ 1pm
13    Kalk Bay Arch AYM Liturgical Dance Workshop
13    AWF Executive Meeting @ Grassy Park
13    Bernard Mizeki Guild Exco Philippi @ 2pm
15    SCHOOLS OPEN
15-20    Soc. Dev. Clergy Pov/Dev course Module1/2
20    Kalk Bay Archdeacon Meeting with CMS/AWF/MU @ L/River
20    Anglican Youth Ministry Council
21-23    Post Ordination Training Reading Retreat
23    Breede Valley Archd. Clergy Pastoral Visits Ceres Area
25    Kalk  Bay Archdeaconry Chapter Meeting @ Lotus River 7pm
25    DIOCESAN CHAPTER
27    Fellowship of Vocation
27    AWF MARY & MARTHA SERVICE @ GRASSY PARK
27    Kalk Bay Archdeaconry Council Meeting @ Simons Town 9am
27    St Mary Mag. Guild Exe Conference @ Philippi @ 7am
28    CMS Forum
30    Diocesan Health Care Fund AGM @ Pinelands
August    MONTH OF COMPASSION
3    CMS St Oswald Day De Doorns
3    AWF Executive Meeting – Helderberg Archdeaconry
3    Ordinands Tutorial Day @ All St Belhar @ 8.30am
5-8    CLERGY FORMATION WEEK
6    Breede Valley Archd. Chapter @ Zwelithemba
9    NATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
9    Mothers Union Cluster Event Oudshoorn
10    Bernard Mizeki Council @ Hermanus @ 12h00
11    Guild of St Clare Chapter/ AGM @ 3pm
11    St Mary Mag. Guild Exe Mfuleni @ 1pm
12-16    Helderberg Archdeaconry Clergy Retreat
13    Post Ordination Training
15    Diocesan Finance/Trusts Board Meeting
17    Social Dev. Board Meeting
18    CMS Exco
19-23    Soc. Dev. Clergy Pov/Dev course Module ¾
20    CLB/CGB Conference
21    Held. Ministries Co.Ord. Meeting @St Francis Khay.
24    Fellowship of Vocation
25    CMS Council
25    Breede Valley Archdeaconry Service @ Ceres
27    Post Ordination Training
29    DIOCESAN CHAPTER
31    St Mary Mag. Guild Cluster Activities
31    Bernard Mizeki Ann. Award/Gala Dinner Strand 2pm
31    AWF Day of Compassion

September

1    Anglican Youth Min. Celebration Service
2    Blue Downs Arch Clergy Fell. Blackheath
3    Caledon Archd. Chapter @ Hermanus
4    Secretary’s Day
7    AWF Council Meeting @ Lotus River
7    Ordinands Tutorial Day @ All St Belhar     @ 8.30am
7    Caledon Archd. Council @ Bredasdorp
7    CLB/CGB Gen. Officers Meeting
7    Social Dev Parenting Workshop (1)
8    St Mary Mag. Guild Exe Mfuleni @ 1pm
9-12    M/Plain Clergy Retreat
10    Breede Valley Archd. Chapter @ Ashton
14    Social Dev Parenting Workshop (2)
14    Breede Valley Lay Training @ Robertson
14    Anglican Youth Ministry Council
17/18    POT Urban Exposure
19    DIOCESAN CHAPTER
20    SCHOOLS CLOSE
20-22    Breede Valley Archd. Youth Camp
23-25    Synod of Bishops
24    HERITAGE DAY
25-27    Provincial Synod
25-27    Social Dev Life Skills Training
28    Mothers Union Exe
28    AWF Dorcas – Helderberg Archdeaconry
28    Fellowship of Vocation
29    ORDINATION TO THE PRIESTHOOD     @ Fish Hoek @ 2pm
29    CMS Forum
30    Kalk Bay Archd. Clergy Fellowship K/Bay

October

1    SCHOOLS OPEN
1    Breede Valley Clergy Reading Day @ Temenos
5    Breede Valley Clergy/spouse Fellowship @ Ashton
5    Breede Valley Archd. Council Meeting @ Ashton
6    M/Plain Archdeaconry Family Day
6    St Mary Mag. Guild Council Meeting
7    M/Plain Archd. Chapter @ 9.30am @ Strandfontein
7-9    Social Dev Man & AdminTraining – for projects
8    Post Ordination Training Evaluation @ Diocesan Office
8    Breede Valley Arch. Clergy Pastoral visit Boland College
10    Blue Downs Archd. Layministers Training
10    Held. Ministries Coordinators Meeting @ Macassar
12-13    CMS Tri-Annual @ Grassy Park
12    AWF Executive Meeting @ St Paul’s Faure
12    Breede Valley Clergy/spouse Fellowship @ Worcester
12     St Mary Mag. Guild Council Meeting
15    M/Plain Archdeaconry Council @ Rocklands @ 7.30pm
15    Helderberg Arch Chapter @ All Saints Somerset West
16    Boss’s Day
17    Blue Downs Archd. Layministers Training
17    M/Plain Archd/Churchwardens @ 7.30pm @ Philippi
17    Helderberg Archdeaconry Council @ St Mary Lwandle
17    Diocesan Finance/Trusts Board Meeting
19    Bernard Mizeki Council Mandela Park @ 12h00
20    HEALTHCARE SUNDAY
20    CMS Exco
24    Blue Downs Archd. Layministers Training
24    Kalk Bay Archdeaconry Chapter Meeting @ L/Hill 7pm
26    Fellowship of Vocation
27    CMS Council
28-31    M/Plain Archdeaconry Planning
31    Blue Downs Archd. Layministers Training
31    DIOCESAN CHAPTER

November
2    Bernard Mizeki Trust Fund Appeal @ Philippi @ 2pm
3    CMS Memorial Service Macassar
4    Blue Downs Archdeaconry Planning
4    ALL SAINT’S DAY
5-7    Kalk Bay Archdeaconry Planning @ Piedmondt
7    Blue Downs Archd. Layministers Training
7    Directors Meeting with Bishop
8-10    Diocesan Ordinands Parish Plunge
9    Bernard Mizeki Guild Exco @ Worcester @ 2pm
9    AWF Executive Meeting @ Woodlands
10     St Mary Mag. Guild Exe Mfuleni @ 1pm
12    Post Ordination Training End of year/Spouse Fellow.
12    Breede Valley Archd. Chapter @ Worcester
13    Blue Downs Licensing of Layministers
16    Anglican Youth Ministry Elective Consultation
16    MOTHERS UNION THANKSGIVING SERVICE @     ROCKLANDS
16    Social Dev. Board Meeting
17    CMS Exco
17-20    Caledon Archdeaconry Reading Days @ Arniston
23    Fellowship of Vocation
23    Mothers Union Council Meeting
23    Bernard Mizeki End of Year Service @ Sibanye 2pm
24    CHRIST THE KING
24    CMS THANKSGIVING SERVICE
24    Breede Valley Clergy Pulpit exchange /Christ the King
28    DIOCESAN CHAPTER
30    Social Dev./Men’s March
30    AWF THANKSGIVING SERVICE @ WOODLANDS
30    St Mary Mag. Guild end of yr/AIDS Event @10am

December
1    AIDS DAY
1    Kalk Bay Advent Carol Serv. S/Town
1    ADVENT SUNDAY
1    Caledon Archd. Carol Serv. B/dorp
4    SCHOOLS CLOSE
8    Kalk Bay Arch Clergy year end @ S/Town
13     Social Dev. OVC Party
13    Blue Downs Archd. End of Year event
15    ORDINATION TO THE DIACONATE @     Westridge @ 2pm
16    DAY OF RECONCILIATION
25    CHRISTMAS DAY
26    DAY OF GOODWILL

Bishop Merwyn Castle’s Sermon at his Farewell Service

Farewell Service Sermon, preached on 18 November 2012 at the University of Western Cape:

Good Morning everyone

God is good, all the time (congregation exchange)

1. Thank you for coming to this farewell celebration –

  • all the bishops,
  • my family,
  • my friends and
  • special invited guests and colleagues from York,
  • all the clergy, and of course,
  • you, the people of God.

You have all sacrificed much to be here and I really appreciate that.

2. A very special thanks to our Bishop-Elect Canon Margaret, and for her leadership of the Diocese as Vicar General during my leave.  She has worked hard and I thank her from the bottom of my heart.

3. She has given leadership to all those who have organised this service today – it’s a huge task and my eternal thanks to all of you.  I hope the service won’t be too long to enable you to picnic on the grounds at lunch time.

4. Music is very close to the heart of God and we thank the Choir and Musicians of FAMWOC and Maureen Petersen in advance.  I know they will enrich the liturgy.  Do participate fully as the spirit leads you.

5. During the service I will bestow on Rupert Bromley, the Order of Simon of Cyrene and on behalf of the Archbishop and Synod of Bishops.  It was initiated locally and fully supported by the Diocese.  Well done Rupert, good and faithful servant.

6. During this year I have visited all the Archdeaconry Councils and said goodbye.  And I have been showered with gifts and well wishes.  On my birthday 2 November, 10 representatives from each pastoral charge and others gathered to share a meal with me in the Strand Civic Centre.  It was a wonderful surprise and a tremendous evening.  Again lots of nice things were said.   I think there might be more at this service.  Moet nie alles glo nie.  I have made many mistakes and offended many.  I am sorry and seek your understanding.

Being a Bishop is not easy as Margaret will experience after her consecration on the 19 January.  Pray for her and support her as you have done me.  I have received many messages of support and well wishes.  One wise retired bishop warned me of a time of emptiness after retirement and a waiting on God for guidance into a new way of being.  So pray for me.  It’s been a great blessing working with and for you.  You have made my ministry meaningful and worth every struggle and time of great delight.

Bishops are only as effective if their clergy and people know and trust them and have their hearts and the hands of God.  Then all things shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.

Jn 20: 21 “As the Father has sent me, even so send I you”.  

Mutual trust is a hard and difficult quality to win and achieve.  How many of you in this huge gathered congregation can tell your own stories of children who have succumbed to drugs and who have failed you miserably, who have lied and stolen for tik or may have had to carry out a hit on someone to gain entry into the local gang:  Who let you and the entire family down and brought shame to your good name.  But maybe your parish priest urged you to show that son that you still trusted him that you would never again mention his failure and continued love and encourage him.  Soon something happens in the young person’s life and he asks for help and an opportunity for rehabilitation.  He shows immense courage and persistence and soon finds a job – gives up the bad company he used to hang out with and begins to conquer the bad habits and anti-social behaviour.  When congratulated by his priest and the local prayer circle of the congregation he said ‘what else could I do’, I failed my mom but she trusted me.”

Jesus’ disciples in our Gospel for today received very similar but much greater trust from Christ whom they had forsaken on Good Friday – when he came to them on the evening of that first Easter Day.  In the reading, they are locked in the Upper Room: frightened, ashamed and disorientated.  First Jesus reassures them by offering his peace and showing his wounds.  His greetings ‘Peace be with you” – is the conventional Jewish one Shalom, but rich in meaning, really saying, “May you be entirely whole”.  But the devastated disciples would remember his bequest of three days ago: “my peace I give to you”:  he wanted for them the unique wholeness he himself had.  Then he showed them his crucifixion wounds.  It was proof of identity, but much more.  Whatever form the resurrected, eternal person of Jesus had, it carried the marks of his complete suffering, self-sacrificial love./What he was for them so lovingly in his passion and death, – he still was for them – and for all the future generations – and forever – to the end of days.  Jesus is always self-giving love.

No wonder that this reassurance made the disciples glad.  Then he commissioned them: As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.  The commission was to them in their ‘togetherness’ as his faith community. And together (in community) they were to continue his mission of love.  Their mission was an extension of his and came straight out of the gracious heart and healing mercy of God the Father.  God’s saving work comes first in the incarnate life of Jesus and so continues through the risen life of Jesus present in his body the Church – his faithful followers.   It was all one and the same work – God has placed this great commission into our unworthy hands.  But with the call and commission came the equipping.  He breathed on them and said  “Receive the Holy Spirit”.  As it had been with Jesus, so it has to be with them and us; constant dependence on the spirit of God.  The spirit came on Jesus at his baptism, led him in his temptation, filled him as he began his ministry, and always held him in the will and power of the Father.  If it was so crucial for our Lord how much more for his disciples and for us.

As St Paul put it, ‘God puts his treasure in pots of clay’.  Christ’s gift of the Spirit makes us his people – a royal priesthood.  Without the Spirit we can do nothing: with Him all God’s purposes are possible – so all is possible in spite of the strikes and pessimism of our political figures – in spite of the outcome of Mangaung.

Jesus then gives authority to his Church to pardon and judge.  An awesome task but necessary.  To speak out for justice and right.  Sometimes to pass judgement, aware that Christ came not to condemn but to save the world.  Unless we bring divine forgiveness to people – they remain crippled by guilt.  Humankind always needs inner healing and peace and the Church is appointed to minister it.

At this Eucharistic celebration – the risen Christ is present here, now to reassure us with his peace and love; to send us, empowered by the Spirit, into our broken world with the Father’s forgiveness and His transforming grace: to tell people that they need it.  I hope our appropriate response is the one of Thomas ‘My Lord and my God” Jesus is here, our Lord is to be obeyed, our saviour to be adored.

I shall miss you all very much.

Keep me in your prayers.

Bishop Merwyn Warns on Breede River Valley Uprising

Bishop Merwyn has called for mediation and political support for oppressed people in rural communities.

In a letter to Western Cape Premier Helen Zille on November 16, he said that “unless the underlying causes [of recent uprisings in the Breede Valley] are comprehensively dealt with, the anger and resentment may result in more bitterness and the loss of more lives.”

Read Bishop Merwyn’s letter to Premier Helen Zille.