A Chronic State of Denial
‘Our nation is in a state of crisis – a crisis of dignity and discipline, a crisis of education and crisis in our communities. Together, the Christian community present at grass roots can help turn this situation around and help to restore the dignity of the all the people we serve’ concluded the National Church leaders at their annual consultation in Gauteng.
The Church Leaders from 16 of the major Christian Churches recognised and acknowledged the legitimate authority of those set in power over the country but asserted their own biblical mandate to be models of servant-leadership to all people by standing for truth, integrity, discipline and respect. ‘We all need to hold all leadership, including church leadership, more accountable’ said the more than 30 recognised leaders who had gathered. Leaders reacted strongly to a perceived effort to muscle in and manipulate Churches by Political Organizations and individuals.
The health and education sectors are in shambles. South Africa ranks 49 out of.53 countries in educational standards and 138 out of 139 countries in dealing with HIV and AIDS, TB and Malaria.
Of every hundred children, fewer than forty eventually pass matric, and only about ten pass well enough to get endorsements to study further for a degree. These figures are even lower in our poorest and most vulnerable communities. None of the children who started school in 1994 finished with the same curriculum.
Speaking at the consultation Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa quoted John Dewey who said “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”
Church leaders expressed concern at the lack of discipline in schools. Teacher loyalty seems to falls more with their unions than the children they teach.Church Leaders asked that church communities, organizations, buildings and other structures be used to complement existing schooling to alleviate this crisis.
‘The involvement of faith communities in public health issues is not an option,’ declared Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who was elected Chairman of the Consultation for the next three years at the meeting. He called on all churches and NGOs working in the education and health sectors to co-operate and coordinate work towards a holistic solution to these issues that threaten the dignity of every person in South Africa
To this end the Church Leaders called on all Christians and people of good will to be disciplined, to reclaim the education and health sectors from collapse ‘
The state and the church are both complicit in failing society and history will judge us harshly,’ declared Bishop Lunga Ka Siboto of the Ethiopian Episcopal Church ‘We can no longer sweep these issues under the carpet nor ignore their severity.”
The National Church Leaders’ Consultation, comprising of the leadership of the Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Dutch Reformed Church, Uniting Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church of Africa, The Salvation Army, International Federation of Christian Churches, Ethiopian Episcopal Church, Jerusalem church in South Africa, The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa, the SACC, the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, Shembe, Baptist Convention of South Africa, and Assemblies of God.