On Tuesday, 14 November 2017, The KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) launched its program to work towards peace and prepare for the 2019 elections. Keynote Speaker, Reverend Frank Chikane, senior vice-president of the SA Council of Churches, spoke of the importance of the program in the current turbulent climate in the country. Reverend Chikane provided a great deal of food for thought. Here are some of the key points he made:
On the role of the church today in KZN and the country:
Reverend Chikane said he did not believe in a church that regarded people’s lives as private. He said that God was about totality: “God cannot be marginalized onto the side. My spirituality is about the totality of the human reality and environment. As a church we must be concerned about the lives of people. That is why we are concerned about what is happening in South Africa.”
State Capture & Treason
He added that the country was in its worst position since 1994 and gave an analysis of the nature of the problems currently facing South Africa. According to Rev Chikane, Pre 1994 the struggle was to give power to the people this has changed to the present scenario where power translates to the capture of the state to serve the interest of a few individuals. He said state capture was not just about fraud and corruption – it is treason: “If you use state power to serve yourself then you have actually committed an act of treason. It’s like a coup. I don’t want comrades to wake up one day and find themselves charged with treason. As the church we need to advise our members who may be involved in state capture that what they are doing is wrong and that they may end up being charged for treason
The Reverend said the fact that there was state capture during apartheid did not make it acceptable now.
On Radical Economic Transformation
“I have no problem with radical economic transformation and I am committed to it. We need radical change in the economy to improve the lives of our people and ensure the participation of Black people,” he added. However, he did not want corrupt people – serving their own interests to tell him about radical economic transformation. He said people in the country were not foolish and were not hoodwinked by people who hid behind slogans. Transformation must serve all and not just the interests of a few individuals.
So what can the church do?
Reverend Chikane said that the church, as with civil society, needed to mobilize to say that we are not going to allow corrupt people to lead us to our own self destruction. He added that the KZNCC’s program for peace and deepening democracy by preparing for elections was part of this process. It was to make sure that the electoral process was free and fair and to alert people to the fact that when they see something wrong they need to take a stand. The Program was about monitoring the situation, ensuring dialogue and above all ensuring peace. “We need to make sure that people are governed properly and there is no fraud and corruption. All of us, wherever we are, we are here to defend the people of South Africa,” he added
But, what about the need for the Church to remain neutral
As a former ANC veteran and senior civil servant, Rev Chikane said he was mindful of the issue of neutrality. He said there was no such thing as total neutrality: “As the church we cannot be neutral to such an extent that we do not talk about justice. Yes, I’ve been a leader of the ANC, but the critical issue is that whatever I say cannot be against a political party. I operate on the level of what is right and wrong, even if my party is wrong, I need to say that it is wrong. I was at a meeting discussing the relationship between the church and the ANC and I said that we were with you because you were on the side of justice, but if you deviate from the path of justice, then don’t blame me for taking a stand that is critical.”
Pastoral Letter on the Zimbabwe Political Landscape – an Ecumenical Discernment
We, the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) as an Ecumenical body in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) note and affirm the liberation of the people of Zimbabwe over the four decades. We further commend the leadership of former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and all the veterans and stalwarts of the struggle that were part of the process of liberating the country.
We affirm the contributions implored by various faith groupings in Zimbabwe and the SADC region. It is on this back drop that we write the Pastoral as a Province and a neighbouring geographical area. The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has over the decades supported the struggles of most of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional peoples including Zimbabwe. KZNCC informed by this historical background that it sends this letter of Pastoral support and discernment to the citizens of Zimbabwe.
We fully commend and support participatory civil society driven processes. The political landscape has changed in Zimbabwe and we commend the peaceful manner in which processes unfolded. We pray that God will further bless the leadership and the peoples of Zimbabwe. We hope for a democratic, economic and socio political social cohesion process unfolding toward the re-ignition of stability and prosperity in Zimbabwe and of course SADC region and the rest of Africa.
We call on all Church leaders ordained and laity to continue to pray for the country. That, our eminent leaders may call for a time of meaningful reflective retreats by individual members, families, households, congregations and various structures of all Churches. We further beseech God to bless, protect and give wisdom to all peoples in the diaspora in various countries both in other African countries and the world over. As we endeavor to read into the signs of the times moving forward; that the Prophetic voice of centuries may continue to be heard and that God may raise Prophets that will act towards life giving biblical imperatives in Zimbabwe, SADC and the rest of Africa and the world.
KZNCC and the eminent leaders of Churches pray not only for the people of Zimbabwe residing in the province only but of all that are spread in our country and other continents as they continue to be part of economic stability in South Africa. At the dawn of a new dispensation towards the advent of the 2018 elections in Zimbabwe, that all need to pray for peaceful, free, fair and credible elections and results that will be accepted by all its citizens, SADC and all African citizens.
We highly recommend that the SACC in collaboration with its Provincial offices may contemplate sending a well-trained team of observers; pre – on election and post-election days. That it will be commendable of the KZNCC member Churches to hold a Provincial day of prayer prior the Zimbabwean elections led by our eminent leaders and our co-stakeholders. We also call on Zimbabwean Council of Churches to humbly pray for the 2019 South African elections, that negotiations be held with SACC and provinces to contemplate sending a delegation of observers to South Africa as well.
In conclusion: We beseech God to bless Zimbabwe and its citizens and those in the diaspora.
PRAYER FOR OUR NATIONS
Lord, we humbly come before you in repentance. Your Word says, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Lord, we are the people called by your name. We are Christians and like so many others today, we come before you in repentance for the sins of our nations. At present the very souls of our nations are grievously ill. But Lord, we believe your love and compassion is greater than the darkness of injustices, inequality, greed and corruption that surrounds us.
We commit ourselves to be change agents in our communities and in our countries. Use us Lord to bring Light where there is darkness. We commit to living your Word by loving our neighbors and to ensuring that justice flows like a river. This we ask in the name of your Son our Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!!!
- GOD BLESS AFRICA
- GUARD OUR CHILDREN
- GUIDE OUR LEADERS
FOR JESUS CHRIST SAKE WE PRAY!
KZNCC on Theology of sexual gender based violence
The situation at the present moment about the Sexual Gender Based Violence
Sexual violence refers to any act; attempt or threat of a sexual nature that results in, or is likely to result in physical, psychological and emotional harm.SGBV has affected our society and increased orphans in our families. It has violated the rights of women. Women are not empowered to exercise their right in dealing with this issue. It has created stigma and abuse of the rights for women .most women are inferior and forced to accept it because they are bound by the culture and beliefs which states that if a man bits his wife that a sign which demonstrate the affirmation of love. Some church leaders quote the Bible verses out of context when addressing the issues of status of women. There is a need for biblical contextualisation about SGBV. Cultural beliefs and practices are disempowering and humiliating the dignity of women.
There are many biblical text of sexual gender based violence we found in the in the scripture for example, the one which is found in the book of 2 Sam.13-33 .The story of Tamar is an explicit account of orchestrated sexual violence taking place in the house of God fearing man ,David. The blame lies with half –brother who is full of lust towards his half sister, Tamar. He admits to his passion for Tamar and advised to create a story that would make it easy for him to have access to Tamar. The sexual violence that results has a severe effect on her. She tears her dress and covers herself with ashes as symbol of mourning that she has been violated.
Unequal power relations
Men and woman relate in a differentnway, experiencing power differently in their relationships. These different powers occur within the church too, as can be clear in the way particular passages are taught .it is important to note there are conflicting messages in the bible on the issue of gender roles, for example in the verses bellow :
In Galatians 3:28, the opposite is demonstrated where the full equality of woman is affirmed: ‘there is nether Jew no Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all equal in Christ’.
1 Timothy 2:11-12: ‘a woman must be a leaner, listening quietly and with due submission .I do not permit woman to be a teacher, nor must a woman dominate over man, she should be quiet.’
Unfortunately, relatioship between men and women are not equal, because most societies give men more power over woman. These influences shape the way women and men relate to one another in society. Individuals in positions of power can abuse leading to psychological, emotional and physical violence. For example, a teacher may adhere to student to have sex with him in exchange for good grades.
Gender and socio-political, religion-cultural inequalities
“What about gender issues in the time of Jesus? His society was patriarchal; male and female roles were sharply differentiated, with women’s roles cantering on the family and home. A woman who could not have children felt deep shame (as in I Sam. 1: 12) Widows were especially vulnerable. Divorce was easy (for the man)”.
“A rabbinical custom was to thank God daily, as a man, that you had not been born a woman, slave or foreigner. Religions leaders were not permitted to speak to women in public; religion did not value women’s spiritual contributions” (initiative). “Jesus broke with these assumptions and traditions. He extended honour and respect to all women. Women experienced the power of His miracles. He taught that women were equal to men in the sight of God. Jesus taught that women could also receive forgiveness of sin and the gift of salvation by grace. Jesus taught that women can be his followers and fully participate in the Kingdom (sic) of God. In an era where women could not be legal witnesses Jesus caused that they be his witnesses (Lk. 24: 9 – 11).
Gender Based Violence: A Problem
Gender Based Violence is: “Domestic violence (also domestic abuse, spousal abuse, intimate partner violence, battering or family violence) is a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. Intimate partner violence is violence by a spouse or partner in an intimate relationship against the other spouse or partner. Domestic violence can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships, and sometimes also involves violence against the children in the family.
Domestic violence can take a number of forms including physical, verbal, emotional, economic and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse that results in disfigurement or death. Domestic murders include honor killings and dowry deaths” (Wikipedia).
Gender Based Violence has crossed the traditional boundaries as mentioned above. Observation is made that misogynic attitudes display themselves in public spaces where men in most cases abuse women for the sake of their gender. Some just stop women they do not know for some reason and when they do not respond react violently on them. Our society must get rid of Gender Based Violence as well.
To avoid and to manage conflicts and deep misunderstanding among churches, this project should be introduced in phases.
A). the first phase:
– The Ecumenical Movement together with strategic partners should convene Church Leaders Consultative meeting to discuss and find each other on this subject.
– The purpose of the dialogue is to get inputs from the clergy and Christians in churches in the three provinces namely; KZNCC, Western Cape SACC and SACC Gauteng.
– Provinces should facilitate dialogue sessions, to listen with open mind, listening to people in and outside the church that are directly or indirectly affected.
b). Second phase:- – Follow up to dialogue sessions, we should establish if churches can serve as a sanctuary where both men and women can feel to be loved as they are; to make them feel accommodated, loved and not being judged for who they are.
– To establish if there is a need for the Ecumenical Church to teach and discourage individuals who would simply want to switch or change their sexual orientation to male or female for the fun of it.
- c) Have biblical studies
The Bible study can be used as a tool to engage churches and communities with the issue of sexual violence. In those gatherings we must allow participants to relax and express themselves freely without being judged.often, broaching the subject of sexual violence meets with deafening silence, the aim is to break the silence.
The Key is allowing free expression and opening a way to restoration for those affected by sexual violence.
Create an awareness of sexual violence and impact
Explore what the bible says about it and how its teaching can be applied
Identify if sexual violence happens in their churches and communities
Understand their role and responsibility in relation to sexual violence
Create a safe environment in churches for survivors of sexual violence
Advocate for appropriate support for survivors as they struggle to come to terms with the consequences of sexual violence.
Pastoral Letter on Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Communities
19 October 2017
Introduction: Greetings to the entire ecumenical movement, communities of the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Communities. The KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) recognises the dignity of all humans created in the image of God. KZNCC respects the sanctity of life and the dignity bestowed on all human beings. This pastoral letter is to all of us who cherish social justice and uphold of human rights. The KZNCC calls communities to treat one another in a way that does not degrade the dignity of all human beings. The KZNCC further calls for humankind to protect one another in a society which is homophobic.
This pastoral letter is informed by the motivation, the recommendations and the continued commitment of the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) to conscientise faith communities on the plight of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Intersex (LGBTI) programme. This pastoral letter is calling for safe spaces where constructive discussion on the church and homophobia can take place.
Platform for constructive Discussion: In one instance one of our facilitators found himself in a situation which turned hostile to the discussion on homophobia. He records that the participants caused a rowdy unconstructive discussion. He has this to say:
“No, they had started their own discussion. Even the establishment of context (of Romans 15: 7) for the stated reading did not help. Nobody picked on any of the points presented in the reading. One prominent member, again, dominated the discussion and become almost the co-facilitator, dwelling on the first chapter of the Romans, which he deemed to be stipulating clearly that we should not even be talking about such people (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Intersex (LGBTI) community, as Christians, since they are already condemned and deserve no acceptance in the Christian community” (Dlamini B D 2016). But then a question arises that what if the LGBTI are Christian themselves. It is known that many LGBTI communities are not repugnant to religion. We suggest that the subject of homophobia itself must be treated with respect.
So at the end of such disruption the facilitator said: “We ended up discussing the acceptance of gays, and I mean, not lesbians or any other queers, but just men. The discussion again shifted to focus on culture, customs and mores of the society around, which do not permit love relationships between two men, let alone the Christian community which should know what an abomination this is in the sight of God. No text was used in discussing this abomination” (Dlamini B D 2016)”. The difference that can be made by the constructive discussion of homophobia is to shift the ‘focus on culture, customs and mores of the society around’ to social justice and human rights. As we grow and mature, and have affirmed the rights on all human beings we can then begin to look at the intricate matters of belief systems, philosophies of life, theologies, interpretations, and diverse cultural issues where we can learn from each other and accept our differences without degrading one another. Remember that human sexuality is a gift from God.
Human Sexuality as a Gift from God: Approaching the subject of human sexuality in the context of the abhorrence of LGBTIs for some and in the context of Gender Based Violence (GBV) unleashed to LGBTIs in the form of ‘corrective rape must take into cognisance that the subject may be discussed for a negative or positive premise. In this pastoral letter we suggest that those who want to enter this discourse must have done self-inspection or introspection of their latent perception on the subject. Human sexuality and the experiences of LGBTIs is perceived reality as we cognitively assume and wrestle with it. One among other realities is that it is estimated that 10% of the people of God on earth are LGBTIs. LGBTIs from time immemorial have never threatened the extinction of the human race. Sexual orientation in itself is not an abomination to God. The abuse of sexual conjugation can be looked at as something to frown on.
In the perceived reality we realize that the whole of the human being, body, experience, perception, spirituality and all that constitute it is intrinsically and inextricably sexual. Sexual emotions and feelings are experienced both in the spirit and the body of a human being whether so called straight or LGBTI person. The gift from God that is human sexuality is indestructible in humans. Human beings are holistically sexual beings.
Theologisation and Theological Training: Theological trainings, contextual bible studies and reflections remains as crucial and critical tools on transforming minds and attitudes of clergy and communities towards LGBTI and sexual minorities. Theological trainings can assist much more clergy and communities in addressing LGBTI and theology of sexuality from an informed position. Therefore, the KZNCC is encourages clergy and communities to do such informative theological educational sessions.
Recommendations: Faith communities (Church leaders, congregants) are encouraged to establish church support groups within church structure for LGBTI TO:
o Offer solidarity to survivors and victims of GBV, LGBTI and Victims and Survivors of Rape.
o To roll-out educational awareness campaigns to sensitize communities with the issues of GBV, Inequality, Gender injustices, LGBTI etc.
o To encourage the church to provide safe secure environments and,
o To emphasize to church leaders to advocate for vulnerable people (LGBTI, Women and Children’s rights), and educate victims of crimes through workshops hosted in churches other concerned and interested organisations
Conclusion: This pastoral letter made a contribution towards how we can address the subject of LGBTI, within the topic of the church and homophobia. The letter is suggesting that the subject can be addressed through ‘constructive discussions. The question of human sexuality as a gift from God was addressed to remind us that a human being is a sexual being. This pastoral letter encourages us to do theological reflections and contextual bible studies so we can discuss the subject from an informed position.
Dr L M Ngoetjana
Deputy CEO: Theology (KZNCC)
DEMOCRACY AND THE ELECTIONS
A PASTORAL LETTER FROM CHURCH LEADERS OF KWAZULU-NATAL
This year marks the 20th anniversary of that great day when many South Africans of all races stood in long lines filled with hope to cast their vote for the first time in their lives. This year presents the 5th opportunity for all of us to cast our votes in a “new” South Africa.
As we reflect on this, we affirm that the country has remained peaceful, and is relatively stable. The economy is still one of the strongest on the continent, and South Africa has played a leadership role on the continent. We acknowledge that there is, to a large degree, political freedom of expression and the ability to make choices at the ballot box. We acknowledge that the goal of political freedom has been attained. We must also, however, recognise that political freedom was not followed by economic freedom, nor by increased gender and environmental justice. The poverty gap has increased, the provision of quality housing remains woefully inadequate, service delivery is non-existent in many areas, and education and health are two major areas of concern. It is deeply distressing that too often, the pleas of the communities are ignored until they resort to protest action, which is met by violence, and then the problems are addressed and sometimes resolved.
The churches need to accept some responsibility for not consistently continuing the pursuit of the important Kin’dom value of justice – also as it manifests in economic, gender and environmental justice.
The greatest concern, when elections loom, is the potential for the resurgence of the political violence, which has plagued our province in previous elections. It is our sincere prayer that 20 years has brought sufficient political maturity to the people of this province whereby we are able to address our political differences with the ballot, and not with bullets or other weapons. We implore all voters in this province to exercise tolerance and understanding of others as they make their choice.
We look forward to peaceful elections, which will provide a government with a servant heart for the people, and for a positive future for this land.
Bishop Rubin Phillip, Anglican Bishop of Natal (KZN) & Dean of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Bishop Mike Vorster, Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Natal Coastal District & Chairperson KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council
Bishop Sandy Dickie, Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Natal West District
Bishop PP Buthelezi, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, South Eastern Diocese
Bishop Mlungisi Dlungwane, Roman Catholic Diocese of Marriannhill
Bishop Dino Gabriel, Anglican Diocese of Zululand & Chairperson KwaZulu Regional Christian Council
Bishop Nkosinathi Ndwandwe, Anglican Suffragan Bishop of Natal-South Episcopal Area
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM, Archdiocese of Durban & KwaZulu-Natal Inter-Religious Council
Revd Ian Booth, Moderator, United Congregational Church of Southern Africa & Chairperson Diakonia Council of Churches
Revd Derek Potgieter, Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa Presbytery of Thekwini
Revd Abednego Mngambi, Mpuma District Superintendent, United Methodist Church
Revd Zandile Myeni, Ethiopian Episcopal Church
Ms Liz Palmer, The Religious Society of Friends, KwaZulu-Natal
Major Solomon Mahlangu, Salvation Army Divisional Commander, Mid KwaZulu-Natal Division
Issued 21 February 2014
Published by KwaZulu-Natal Church Leaders Group
Prepared by Diakonia Council of Churches
“Structures of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence Against Women” A Pastoral Letter of the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council
Dear friends, colleagues, member organisations and churches of the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC), the entire Ecumenical Movement in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the people of the province of KZN, greetings.
The time and days dedicated for the campaign on ‘No Violence Against Women and Children’ has come – 25 November to 10 December 2015. The campaign now calls us to take the struggle and conscientising of people on ‘No Violence Against Women and Children’ to the structures and corridors which sustain the abuse of women and children – physically by rape, battering and murder; emotionally through verbal abuse, debasement, hauling, yelling and harrowing.
As our new song Awuyeke says ‘Stop it’. We must stop sexual harassment and psychological repression of women and children. We need to bring to an end, child exploitation and human trafficking. We need to continue to unite and form partnerships to respond actively throughout the whole year against abuse of women and children in structures and institutions such as the home, schools, the justice system, hospitals and places of entertainment where women and children are exposed to possibilities of violence and abuse. It is indeed very stressful, upsetting, vexing and distressing for women and children to suffer such ordeals everyday of their lives. All members of society, women and men, children, people with disabilities, the elderly and marginalised minorities must break the silence of this trauma and distress. This pain, sorrow, misery and unhappiness must be purged from our homes, communities and institutions as a matter of urgency.
Notwithstanding that certain forms of culture, religion and sexism have been vehicles of unpleasant ideas which over the years have perpetuated the sufferings, exclusion, oppression, and dishonour of women and children. Culture as a construct of historically repressive patriarchal societies in relation to its degradation of women and children must be held critically when it continues to imbibe ideas such as the notion of the inferiority of women against men based on gender or sexual differences. Some form of religion as one cultural expression which promotes the defilement, shame and humiliation of women in particular like this following prayer according to rabbinical custom: “… to thank God daily, as a man, that you had not been born a woman, slave or foreigner …” which is disgustingly, sexist, oppressive, xenophobic and racist must be opposed. Such religious practices must have no haven in modern society and the democracies which seek the rights of women and children.
The emancipation of women and children is a ‘Human Right’ and a Constitutional obligation which all people must uphold, protect and defend. All people, women and children included have a right to peace, love, security and wellbeing. In order for humanity including women and children to progress further than where we are now in terms of world progress the following findings of the Unicef report (2007) must be made known and followed through:
“Gender equality and the well-being of children go hand in hand. Gender equality furthers the cause of child survival and development. Gender equality produces a double dividend: It benefits both women and children. Healthy, educated and empowered women have healthy, educated and confident daughters and sons. Gender equality will not only empower women to overcome poverty and live full and productive lives, but will better the lives of children, families and countries as well. Women’s equal rights and influence in the key decisions that shape their lives and those of children must be enhanced in three distinct arenas: the household, the workplace and the political sphere”.
“A change for the better in any one of these realms influences women’s equality in the others, and has a profound and positive impact on child’s well-being and development. Gender equality is not only morally right, it is pivotal to human progress and sustainable development. Achieving Millennium Development Goal Number 3—promoting gender equality and empowering women—will also contribute to achieving all the other goals, from reducing poverty and hunger to saving children’s lives, improving maternal health, ensuring universal education, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and ensuring environmental sustainability”.
Humanity must realise now that the oppression and violence against women and children holds back advancement and progress. It has already been articulated elsewhere that poverty and inequality go hand-in-hand. Poverty and inequality are inseparable. The political, economic, cultural, religious and social exclusion of women and children stifles human attempts to fight poverty and inequality. The marginalisation and violence against women and children suffocates the civil liberties we so much desire. Humanity must now wake up to the fact that the incarceration of women is no emancipation of humanity – that the freedom of all people cannot be realised fully until women and children enjoy the same rights, freedoms and responsibilities, in a world where all humanity holds with dignity all peoples despite of gender and age.
Also remember that: “Children’s rights are the human rights of children with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to the young, including their right to association with both biological parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for food, universal state-paid education, health care and criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child. Interpretations of children’s rights range from allowing children the capacity for autonomous action to the enforcement of children being physically, mentally and emotionally free from abuse, [ ]. Other definitions include the rights to care and nurturing” (Wikipedia).
In closer, beloved, let us go out there and support the ‘16 Days of Activism on No Violence Against Women and Children’. It is a noble thing to do during these 16 Days as mentioned earlier and beyond – meaning,