Anglican Church of Southern Africa

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Not to be confused with Church of England in South Africa.
Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Emblem of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Independence 1870
Primate Thabo Makgoba
Archbishop of Cape Town
Polity Episcopal
Headquarters 20 Bishopscourt Drive
Bishopscourt 7708
South Africa
Territory Angola
Saint Helena
South Africa
Members c. 3–4 million[citation needed]

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa, known until 2006 as the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, is the province of the Anglican Communion in the southern part of Africa. The church has twenty-eight dioceses, of which twenty-one are located in South Africa, two in Mozambique, and one each in Angola, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Saint Helena. In South Africa, there are between 3 and 4 million Anglicans out of an estimated population of 45 million.[1]

The primate is the Archbishop of Cape Town. The current archbishop is Thabo Makgoba, who succeeded Njongonkulu Ndungane in 2006. From 1986 to 1996 the primate was Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu.


Thabo Makgoba is the current Archbishop of Southern Africa

The first Anglican clergy to minister regularly at the Cape were military chaplains who accompanied the troops when the British occupied the Cape Colony in 1795 and then again in 1806. The second British occupation resulted in a growing influx of civil servants and settlers who were members of the Church of England, and so civil or colonial chaplains were appointed to minister to their needs. These were under the authority of the governor.

The first missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel arrived in 1821. He was William Wright, a priest. He opened a church and school in Wynberg, a fashionable suburb of Cape Town. Allen Gardiner, a missionary of the Church Missionary Society went to Zululand, and arranged for a priest, Francis Owen to be sent to the royal residence of King Dingane. Owen witnessed the massacre of Piet Retief, the Voortrekker leader, and his companions, who had come to negotiate a land treaty with Dingane, and left soon afterwards.

The Anglican Church in Southern Africa at this time was under the Diocese of Calcutta, which effectively included the East Indies and the entire Southern Hemisphere. Bishops en route for Calcutta sometimes stopped at the Cape for confirmations, and occasionally ordination of clergy, but these visits were sporadic. It became apparent that a bishop was needed for South Africa, and in 1847 Robert Gray was consecrated as the first Bishop of Cape Town in Westminster Abbey. The new bishop landed in Cape Town in 1848.

Desmond Tutu (born 1931), former Primate of the Anglican Church of the Province of South Africa, noted pacifist and a leading figure in the successful fight against apartheid

Some Anglican parishes in the then-Cape Colony refused to join the Church of the Province of South Africa when it was constituted in 1870; these parishes constituted themselves as the Church of England in South Africa (CESA). CESA has subsequently renamed itself as Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa.

Desmond Tutu rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. Tutu was elected and ordained the first black South African Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, and the Magubela prize for liberty in 1986.

In 2006, the name Church of the Province of Southern Africa was dropped as name was confusing to some people. The church was renamed the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

In July 2012, Ellinah Wamukoya of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa became the bishop-elect of Swaziland and the first woman to be elected a bishop in any of the twelve Anglican Provinces in Africa.[2][3] She was consecrated on 17 November 2012 at All Saints Cathedral, Mbabane.[4] On 19 January 2013, Margaret Vertue was consecrated the diocesan bishop of False Bay.[5]


The polity of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa is episcopal, like that of other Anglican churches. The church maintains a system of geographical parishes organized into dioceses. The province is divided into various dioceses, each led by its own bishop.


Diocese Bishop Territory Cathedral Founded
Angola André Soares Angola 2003 (from Lebombo)
Cape Town Thabo Makgoba (Archbishop)
Garth Counsell (suffragan Bishop of Table Bay)
Cape Town and nearer suburbs, and Tristan da Cunha St George's Cathedral, Cape Town 1847
Christ the King Peter Lee Vaal Triangle and southern suburbs of Johannesburg 1990 (from Johannesburg)
False Bay Margaret Vertue Southeastern suburbs of Cape Town, Stellenbosch, the Overberg and the Breede River Valley 2005 (from Cape Town)
Free State Dintoe Stephen Letloenyane Free State province Cathedral of St Andrew and St Michael, Bloemfontein 1863 (from Cape Town, as Diocese of Bloemfontein)
George Brian Marajh Garden Route, Little Karoo, Langkloof and Great Karoo St Mark's Cathedral, George 1911 (from Cape Town)
Grahamstown Ebenezer Ntlali Area of Albany, Ciskei, King William's Town and East London in the Eastern Cape Cathedral of St Michael and St George, Grahamstown 1853 (from Cape Town)
Highveld Charles May East Rand and southern Mpumalanga St Dunstan's Cathedral, Benoni 1990 (from Johannesburg, as Diocese of South Eastern Transvaal)
Johannesburg Stephen Moreo Central Johannesburg, its northern suburbs and the West Rand St Mary's Cathedral, Johannesburg 1922 (from Pretoria)
Kimberley and Kuruman Oswald Swartz Northeastern half of Northern Cape, western part of North West St Cyprian's Cathedral, Kimberley 1911 (from Bloemfontein, Cape Town and Grahamstown)
Lebombo Carlos Matsinhe Mozambique south of the Zambezi River St Augustine's Cathedral, Maciene 1893
Lesotho Adam Taaso Lesotho Cathedral of St Mary and St James, Maseru 1950 (from Free State, as Diocese of Basutoland)
Matlosane Molopi Diseko Central part of North West Cathedral of the Resurrection, Ikageng 1990 (from Johannesburg, as Diocese of Klerksdorp)
Mbhashe Elliot Williams Southern part of the former Transkei, around Butterworth and Ngcobo 2010 (from Mthatha)
Mpumalanga Daniel Kgomosotho Northern Mpumalanga province 2004 (from Pretoria)
Mthatha Sitembele Mzamane Central part of the former Transkei, around Mthatha and Port St Johns St John's Cathedral, Mthatha 1872 (from Grahamstown and Natal, as Diocese of St John's)
Namibia Nathaniel Nakwatumbah Namibia St George's Cathedral, Windhoek 1924 (as Diocese of Damaraland)
Natal Dino Gabriel KwaZulu-Natal southwest of the Buffalo and Tugela Rivers Cathedral of the Holy Nativity, Pietermaritzburg 1853 (from Cape Town)
Niassa Mark van Koevering Mozambique north of the Zambezi River St Bartholomew's Cathedral, Messumba 1979 (from Lebombo)
Port Elizabeth Bethlehem Nopece Western part of the Eastern Cape, from Port Elizabeth to Colesberg St Mary's Cathedral, Port Elizabeth 1970 (from Grahamstown)
Pretoria Johannes Seoka Northern part of Gauteng and northeastern part of North West St Alban's Cathedral, Pretoria 1878 (from Bloemfontein)
St Helena Richard Fenwick Saint Helena and Ascension Island Saint Paul's Cathedral, Saint Helena 1859 (from Cape Town)
St Mark the Evangelist Martin Breytenbach Limpopo province Christ Church Cathedral, Polokwane 1987 (from Pretoria)
Saldanha Bay Raphael Hess Northern suburbs of Cape Town, the Swartland, the West Coast and Namaqualand 2005 (from Cape Town)
Swaziland Ellinah Wamukoya Swaziland All Saints Cathedral, Mbabane 1968 (from Zululand)
Ukhahlamba Mazwi Tisani North-central part of the Eastern Cape, from Queenstown to Aliwal North 2009 (from Grahamstown)
Umzimvubu Mlibo Ngewu Griqualand East and the northeastern part of the former Transkei 1991 (from Mthatha)
Zululand vacant KwaZulu-Natal northeast of the Buffalo and Tugela Rivers Cathedral of St Michael and All Angels, Eshowe 1870 (from Natal)

Liturgy and prayer books[edit]

The Anglican Church in Southern Africa has used the following prayer books:

The Anglican church was a product of the English Reformation and political contexts of the sixteenth century. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, was instrumental in determining the form Anglicanism was to take, not by writing confessional statements or significant theological treaties, but through his authoring of the Book of Common Prayer in 1549 and 1552. All expressions of Anglicanism forever after defined itself in relation to the concept of the Prayer Book, whether being faithful to the Reformed tradition or seeking different approaches. Other denominations have found unity in confessional documents, or doctrinal formularies, or a systematically articulated theology, or the pronouncements of magisterial authorities.[6]

When the work of revising the liturgy in the twentieth century was undertaken it was with the understanding that it was touching the nerve-centre of the Anglican ethos, since Anglican identity takes a more intangible form, deeply dependent upon the influence and binding effect of its liturgical worship.[7] The most recent revision of the Prayer Book resulted in the publishing of An Anglican Prayer Book (1989). The Anglican Prayer Book stands alongside the South African Book of Common Prayer (1954).[8] Both the 1989 and 1954 prayer books have the English 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a common source.

The work of the revision reflected the worldwide liturgical renewal, most notably in relation to the Roman Catholic Church as a result of decisions reached at its Second Vatican Council.[7] Another influence was the charismatic renewal, which has had a marked impact on the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.[7] Particular care was taken to meet evangelical concerns in a Province that is historically High Church rather than Low Church in its main emphasis. Theological breadth – catholic, evangelical, charismatic, and liberal – was aimed at in order to achieve balance and to accommodate these various convictions.[7]

These sensitivities and influences are most evident in the Eucharistic liturgy. Four Eucharistic prayers are given to accommodate different theological preferences. Two are taken from the Church of England, one is borrowed with permission from the Roman Catholic Canon, and pride of place is given in the First Eucharistic Prayer to an indigenous product. The influence of the liturgical movement can be seen in the overall structure and language of the Eucharist, including seeking a sense of continuity with the early, apostolic church.

In tracing this line of continuity from the Lord’s Table to the Communion Table, a prayer traditionally ascribed to Hippolytus (ca. 215), bishop of Rome, called the Apostolic Tradition, captured the imagination of contemporary liturgists and now appears in the modern liturgical books of different churches both Roman Catholic and Protestant.[9] The opening lines of all four Eucharistic prayers closely mirror the wording of Hippolytus. The fourth Eucharistic prayer most closely maintains the link with the Hippolytus liturgy, but allows slight variation with respect to the wording of “we offer you” and “we bring before you” to accommodate different theological persuasions. This is an example of how the Anglican Church of Southern Africa in making revisions for the 1989 Anglican Prayer Book adopted a more conciliatory approach to the various ecclesiastical factions, foreshadowing the conciliatory context of South African politics in the early 90s in regard to political factions and political change.

Doctrine and practice[edit]

There are a wide range of beliefs among Anglicans, from Evangelical to Anglo-Catholic, from liberal to traditional, but what unites Anglicans is common prayer Lex orandi, lex credendi[10][11]

The centre of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa's teaching is the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The basic teachings of the church, (contained in the catechism),[12] include:

The threefold sources of authority in Anglicanism are scripture, tradition, and reason. These three sources uphold and critique each other in a dynamic way. This balance of scripture, tradition and reason is traced to the work of Richard Hooker, a sixteenth-century apologist. In Hooker's model, scripture is the primary means of arriving at doctrine and things stated plainly in scripture are accepted as true. Issues that are ambiguous are determined by tradition, which is checked by reason.[13]

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa embraces three orders of ministry: deacon, priest, and bishop. A local variant of the Book of Common Prayer is used. The Church is known for having Anglo-Catholic leanings.

Social issues and ecumenical relations[edit]

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa is regarded as the most liberal Anglican province in Africa, particularly on issues such as ordination of women and homosexuality. Gene Robinson's election as bishop of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America prompted warnings of a possible schism in the Anglican Communion. Njongonkulu Ndungane, then archbishop of Cape Town, expressed publicly his disapproval of same-sex marriage, when it was legalized in South Africa, and he also stated that he doesn't support the blessing of same-sex unions: "As far as we are concerned as a church, our understanding of marriage is between a man and a woman. And as a church, and the Anglican Church in particular, we have said no to same-sex unions."[14]

The Anglican Diocese of Cape Town, after a synod held in Cape Town on 20–22 August 2009, passed a resolution calling the bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa to give pastoral guidelines for homosexual couples living in "covenanted partnerships". At the same time, it approved an amendment to the resolution which provided that the guidelines give "due regard of the mind of the Anglican Communion." Thabo Makgoba, archbishop of Cape Town, stated that the resolution was "an important first step to saying: 'Lord, how do we do ministry in this context?' I'm a developmental person. I don't believe in big bangs. If you throw a little pebble into water, it sends out concentric circles and hopefully that way change comes from that." He also said that "South Africa has laws that approve a civil union in this context, but not in the other countries within our province. In central Africa and north Africa, both the Anglican Church and the state say 'no'" and "The reason for this resolution was because we have these parishioners, and the law provides for them to be in that state, so how do we pastorally respond to that?"[15]

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa is a member of the ecumenical World Council of Churches.[16]


  1. ^ "The Church: We are Anglicans". Anglican Church of Southern Africa. Retrieved October 13, 2015. 
  2. ^ Anon (2012-07-19). "Swaziland: First Female Anglican Bishop for Africa Elected in a 'Spirit-Filled' Atmosphere". Anglican Communion News Service. Retrieved 2014-07-03. 
  3. ^ First female Anglican bishop for Africa elected at the Wayback Machine (archived December 20, 2014)
  4. ^ Zulu, Phathizwe-Chief (November 20, 2012). "Female Anglican bishop a first in Africa". Associated Press. 
  5. ^ Hartle, Ray (20 January 2013). "SA chooses female bishop - Western Cape". Independent Online. Retrieved 2015-05-15. 
  6. ^ Hefling 2006, pp. 2-3.
  7. ^ a b c d Nuttall 2006.
  8. ^ Church of the Province of Southern Africa 1989, p. 9.
  9. ^ Johnson 2006, p. 32.
  10. ^ Hefling 2006.
  11. ^ Jones 2006, p. 9.
  12. ^ Church of the Province of Southern Africa 1989, p. 423.
  13. ^ Listening in Scripture Foundation for Listening at the Wayback Machine (archived February 2, 2007)
  14. ^ Anon (2004-12-09). "Archbishop Njongonkulu of Cape Town declares same-sex marriages unchristian : Changing Attitude". Changing Attitude. Retrieved 2014-07-03. 
  15. ^ "SOUTHERN AFRICA: Anglican Province Moves to Support Homosexual Couples". August 27, 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-09-04. 
  16. ^ "South Africa — World Council of Churches". World Council of Churches. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]