AD LAOS - Letters from Bishop David Bannerman, Bishop of the Highveld
1. DIOCESAN ‘AD LAOS’ (‘TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD’)
I write to you as I said would to begin to respond to some of the questions that were raised during the course of our Schools of Lay Leadership, and hope that what will share with you will enriching and empowering for your ministry in the life of the Church in whatever role that may be.
CANONS & RULES
One of the things that I need to tell you about is that the Canons of ACSA are available to anyone online through the ACSA website (www.anglicanchurchsa.org). However, copies can be purchased through the Diocesan office. We have copies of the Diocesan Rules, and they also can be purchased from the Diocesan Office.
SYNOD & PROCEDURES
The word ‘synod’ comes from the Greek language, and has in it the meaning of ‘meeting together, as we journey on the way’. We meet therefore in Synod as God’s pilgrim people, who are journeying through this world in the Way of Jesus; to give thanks for all that has been achieved by his Grace amongst us. This comes though the Bishop’s Charge and the reports. We gather to reflect, in the light of experience, on our life as community and back changes to the ordering of our life so that we can be more effective for God. This is done through the changes in the Rules. We gather to reflect on the issues of church and society to express our mind on them and discern ways in which we can respond to them through the resolutions that we pass. It is time of elections as we elect to Diocesan bodies those who will share in the oversight of the Church at Diocesan and Provincial level. I need to say these elections are very important. It is an opportunity in this to seek vision for the future and the Bishop’s charge plays an important part in this. Most importantly, all this is done in the context of Eucharistic Worship as we root ourselves in God’s love, as we bind ourselves closer together (even if we disagree in debate!) and we commit ourselves to fulfilling his will of compassion and justice in the part of this world
At a recent meeting of the Clergy, we were given a workshop by Fr. Tom Amoore, to help us understand the basic procedures of Synod, and what is involved in formulating (a) measures to create/amend rules, (b) resolutions. The Clergy will be passing this information on to those who attend Synod when they meet to discuss the Agenda of Synod.
I need to remind you that those who attend Synod come as representatives, and not delegates, in that they are not mandated by their parish/organisation to vote one way or another on issues. They need to be lead by the Spirit as they reflect on the issues in debate, and make their own decision as to how they will vote.
We all share in different roles in proclaiming the Gospel as the Priesthood of All Believers (1 Peter 2). Lay ministers are people called to serve the Church in sharing in its sacramental, teaching, pastoral and preaching ministry. Lay ministers come from all walks of life, occupations and backgrounds and have been described as the Church's lay theologians; thinking, well informed, articulate lay women and men, sharing in the ministry of the Church.
DISCERNMENT PROCESS TO BECOME A LAY MINISTER
This is one of the topics that was raised in the Schools in the question, ‘What procedures are to be followed to become a lay minster?’ In place of procedures I would use the words ‘discernment process’. It is when a congregation discerns that a person has appropriate gifts, qualities, skills, and that the person has a depth of spirituality, as well as the respect within the community that that person can be asked to become a lay minister, through the Incumbent. A person may feel called to be a lay minister, but others need to see that spirituality and giftedness at work in the life of the person. Therefore, lay ministry is a call that the local church confirms. It does this through a two thirds decision of the Council on the nomination of the Incumbent. We need always to be aware that lay ministry is not a right. It is a calling in a person that the local church, a parish, has to confirm. Once that person has received the recommendation of the Parish, the person concerned sees the Archdeacon for approval for training. Commitment then to the training, and the training itself is then part of the discernment process. Once the training is successfully completed, the person’s name goes to the Bishop, who makes the final decision to license.
We need always to remember that lay minsters licence is to ministry in a particular parish, and that a lay minister cannot automatically minister outside that parish. If s/he moves Parish the person concerned has to be relicensed with the approval of the congregation for ministry in the new parish. For this reason, it is advisable, when a lay minster moves to a new parish s/he needs to settle in, getting to know the parish before offering themselves for possible lay ministry.
Those coming from other Diocese are equally not immediately licensed as lay ministers, they need parochial approval. As a Diocese we need to satisfied that no further training is needed. Section XVA of the Diocesan Rules deals with Lay Ministry.
ANGLICAN ABLAZE CONFERENCE
I remind you of this important Conference to be held on 3 -6 October, and encourage you to attend. Please remember the Conference in your prayers. Clergy of the Diocese have information on the Conference and procedures for attending. I have just received a letter to the Bishops advising me that there have been 8 registrations from the Diocese of the Highveld! I am sure we will be sending more than that. I believe that there is a reduction for those who register before the end of August .
With love and prayers,
2. DIOCESAN AD LAOS 2
Synod of Bishops and PSC
Accompanying this Ad Laos is the Bishops’ statement following our meeting at the St. George’s Conference Centre outside Pretoria, reflecting on the some of the matters which we covered. It is a document for your reflection as we seek to be the People of God in our rapidly changing country.
At the beginning of PSC we celebrated the 20th Anniversary of Women’s Ordination to the Priesthood. It was wonderful service at which Bishop Barbara Harris from the United States powerfully preached. As I write this, I am conscious of the women priests of our Diocese preparing a celebratory service for us to remember this wonderful event on the 3rd November in the Cathedral in our Diocese! All are welcome!
You will be receiving copies of the resolutions passed at PSC in due course, but one of the matters that received a fair amount of attention was the need for the Anglican Church to once again become more actively involved in education in Southern Africa in the light of the terrible difficulties we are facing. The possible role of the Church in Early Childhood Development in parishes as well as the creation of link between parishes and local schools to assist schools in their work was discussed.
The Anglican Ablaze Conference in Johannesburg was spoken a great deal, and I encourage any who have not committed themselves and are able to attend, to do so.
Bible Society of South Africa
The Rev Shane Fraser of the Bible Society of South Africa (formerly of the Diocese of Port Elizabeth) has visited me and said he would like to visit some Parishes in our Diocese in the coming year to speak about the work of the Bible Society. I have given him my blessing so that when he visits your Parish you can welcome him.
The Diocesan office is in the process of liaising with the Bible Society with a view to selling bibles from our office. As soon as bibles are available we will advise you so that you can purchase them in addition to ACSA publications.
School of Leadership Questions
Continuing my reflections on the questions that were raised in the Schools of Leadership. One of the questions was:
· Who appoints priests to a parish?
Clergy are not appointed as employees, they are licensed, reflecting the unique of their call. The Bishop licenses a priest to a parish, since all formal ministry performed in a Diocese is by license of the Bishop.  A minster cannot function without the License of the Bishop. As the Anglican Prayer Book 1989 says, ‘It is your responsibility and your joy to ordain deacons and priests and to send forth other ministers.’
· What is the role of an Archdeacon?
This is clearly set out in the Canons of ACSA.
‘The main function of the Archdeacon is to share in the pastoral ministry and missionary leadership of the Bishop, in the area to which the Archdeacon is appointed.’
This means that an Archdeacon shares in the Bishop’s pastoral care of the clergy, holding Archdeaconry Chapters to deal with matters in the Archdeaconry and encouraging, strengthening fellowship amongst clergy. He presides at Archdeaconry Conferences where matters concerning ministry and mission in the area can be discussed. The Archdeacon is there to foster unity in mission amongst the parishes.
The Archdeacon acts on behalf of the Bishop in the process of licensing an incumbent, and may institute an incumbent on behalf of the Bishop. The Archdeacon also admits Churchwardens and Councillors. In terms of our Diocesan Rules the Archdeacon also chairs at the Annual Vestry of a Parish.
Archdeacons are appointed after consultation with the clergy of the Archdeaconry for a period of five years. One year after a Bishop takes office all the Archdeacons resign, giving the new Bishop the opportunity to license Archdeacons of his choice, who will share in his or her ministry of oversight. The Bishop follows the same consultation process.
They are also required in terms of the Canons to make an annual visitation to each Parish in their Archdeaconry to check financial records, registers, buildings and report to the Bishop. This is an opportunity to meet the leadership of the parish and from them to share the joys and challenges of ministry and mission in that context, and for the Archdeacon to exercise ministry of encouragement!
Be assured of my love and prayers as we continue to prepare for Synod that we may know the guidance and empowering of the Holy Spirit.
With love and prayers,
 Anglican Prayer Book 1989. Page 598.
3. DIOCESAN AD LAOS 3
We give thanks to God for all that was achieved at our Diocesan Synod, and my thanks to all who, under God, contributed to make that possible. We now have the responsibility of implementing what has been decided on. It was good to have the various resolutions coming forward on different aspects of the Church’s life and our society. I need to remind you that resolutions can be brought to Diocesan Council from Archdeaconry Conferences and Parishes and with due notice so that issues that concern us in our life and ministry can be discussed.
Link with the Diocese of Monmouth
As a Diocese, on 18 November we celebrate our 10 year Link with the Diocese of Monmouth, and I ask you to remember this companion link in your prayers, remembering Bishop Dominic as he prepares to retire next year. Those parishes that have parochial links need to make a special effort near that Sunday to make contact with your link parish. Like all relationships in life they have to be worked at if they are to be fulfilling for both partners.
20th Anniversary of women’s ordination in ACSA
As a Diocese we rejoice in the fact that 20 years ago it was made possible to ordain women to the priesthood in ACSA and we give thanks for the contribution that those women who have been ordained to the priesthood have made in our life as a Diocese. To celebrate this, we will be holding a Festival Eucharist in the Cathedral on 17th November at 9.00 a.m. The preacher will be Sr. Sue Rakoczy IHM, a well known writer and speaker on spirituality and theology. I ask clergy to announce it in their parishes. All are welcome to this celebration.
We rejoice with Archdeacon Sharron Dinnie who celebrated 20 years of priestly ministry on 6 November!
Anglicans Ablaze Conference
We surely give thanks also for this Conference which was a blessing to so many. I am so glad that the addresses of the speakers have been made available to us in DVD format, and I encourage you to use them in your parishes as resources for teaching and reflection.
Anglican Consultative Council: Auckland, New Zealand
This Council has met in New Zealand from 27 October to 7 November. Our Archbishop is attending together with clerical and lay representatives from ACSA. They reflected, for example, on the importance of the Holy Scriptures in our life as a Communion. I encourage those who have internet facilities to make use of the Anglican Communion website (anglicancommunion.org ) to learn more about your Church on the global scene. This also applies to our life as ACSA (anglicanchurchsa.org) and as Diocese (diocesehighveld.org.za) through our websites.
A question from the School of leadership: What is the difference between and a deacon and priest?
I want first to reflect with you on the diaconate. The word deacon in English comes from the word ‘diakonos’. And those who study the origins of words say that this word has two aspects to it: one is ‘servant’, the who does the work of his or her superior, and ‘herald’ or ‘messenger’, the one who speaks on behalf of another . If we look at the New testament Church, those who were made deacons were responsible for caring for the needy of the worshipping community[i], as well of proclaiming the Gospel[ii].
If we look at the lives of the saints in history who were deacons, we can see that ministry at work. In the life of Lawrence, the Deacon, who cared for the poor of the church in Rome. Then there is Francis of Assisi who preached the gospel and cared for the needy and those who suffered from leprosy the ‘HIV/ AIDS’ of his time. There is also Vincent of Saragossa who preached for his Bishop, because his Bishop had a speech impediment.
The deacon's ministry is said to be often focused on the fringes of the Church where the love of God needs to be proclaimed in word and deed. Whereas the priest's ministry is to the 'church gathered' the ministry of the deacon is to the 'church scattered' to those on the fringes, the marginalised, and the needy. It is ministry of loving service, of proclamation as the deacon comes alongside those in physical, spiritual and social need to empower them. They are called with others to seek out the poor and weak, the sick and the lonely, the oppressed and the voiceless. And because of that, it is also a ministry of advocacy for the deacon is called, as the Prayer Book states in the Charge to those ordained deacon, ‘You are to interpret to the needs, concerns and hopes of the world.’[iii] It is to speak out for those in need in the life of the church so that the church can fulfil its prophetic role in the world.
It is for this reason that the reading of the Gospel is reserved to the deacon in the liturgy, before a priest, as a sign of his or her ministry, and proclamation of the message of the Servant of Humankind. It is also the deacon in the liturgy who dismisses the congregation, sending them back into their daily life in the wider community to be servants of God.
I believe that there are those who are called to the permanent diaconate, and it needs to be ‘restored’ to its rightful place. It is an order of ministry that has been somehow, for want of a better word, neglected, as those who are called to priesthood are made deacons before they ordained priests, and the diaconate has come to be seen by some as sort of apprenticeship before priesthood! In a society where there are so many needs we need deacons who will be ‘pioneers’ for God, taking the church into areas of ministry that the Church has not been before as we respond to the changing needs of society.
Priests need always to remember that they are deacons, servants of God and be ready to wear the dalmatic in the Liturgy, remembering that humble service is at the heart of priestly life. For, once a deacon, always a deacon.
With every blessing,
[iii] APB 1989. Page 583.
4. AD LAOS 4
I pray that as we journey into this year of 2013, you will know the abiding presence of our Risen lord to love, guide and empower you.
REFLECTIONS ON THE PRIESTHOOD
Continuing our reflections on ordained ministry that arose out of last year’s School of Leadership, I want to reflect on the Priesthood. The word used in the New Testament is ‘presbuteros’. This word can be loosely translated as ‘elder’. In New testament times it was those who shared in the ministry of the Apostles in the local church.
In the Charge to those who are to be ordained priest in the Anglican Prayer Book, we read, ‘Today you have come to respond to the call from God heard in your heart and confirmed by the Church, to be priest, pastor and teacher, together with your Bishop and fellow presbyters, for God’s glory and the strengthening of his people’.
From these words, we can see that the priesthood is a ministry of oversight, of leadership that is called to unite and empower the people of God at the local level. As the Catechism reminds us, the priest is, ‘to share with the bishop in the overseeing of the Church.’  At this level, a priest is called to be a focus of unity, and to discern gifts in God’s people, and by God’s grace, empower them for ministry. For this reason his or her ministry is called to be rooted in a life of prayer and study for personal spiritual growth, but also so that she or he can fulfil that teaching ministry to enable and guide people within the life of the Church for service in God’s world. This means that priests, and more particularly incumbents, should be closely involved in the teaching ministry of their pastoral charge, helping those in their care to grow in their knowledge of the Scriptures, and our Anglican tradition so that they can be effective in God’s mission. In an ever-changing world where people are needing the guidance and empowerment of Scripture for their daily lives, the priestly role of teacher is a vital task.
Whilst not denying the importance of prayer and study for every Christian as a member of the Priesthood of All Believers by virtue of our baptism and Confirmation , for the priest this needs to be an ‘ever-deepening practice’, as he or she seeks to represent Christ and his Church as pastor to the people. Priests share with the Bishop in the shepherding ministry of God’s people in the Church, and sometimes beyond in the greater society. It involves the pastoral care and nurturing of individual souls in the life of the congregation through visiting, listening, counselling, the ministry of reconciliation, but it may also involve pastoral care at a social level in the community.
A priest is also ordained to administer the Sacraments of the Church, and to preside at the Eucharist. Therefore, under God, a priest is called with others to make the liturgy of the Church a place of reverent and loving worship so that God’s people may be enabled to experience the Real Presence of Our Lord not only in the Eucharist, but in all its services. This is a priest’s special care.
There is much that one could add to these reflections of Priesthood. Every Christian is called to be another Christ, ‘Alter Christus’, but that representative role is focused on those called to the priesthood, as they bless, forgive, preside at the Eucharist in the name of Christ as pastors, teachers and priest, and in all this as deacons, as servants of the one who has served us all.
Pray for your priests and deacons. Encourage them in their journey of holiness in the ministries to which they have been called, with the gifts that they have been given.
With love and prayers,
 Anglican Prayer Book 1989. Page 587
 Anglican Prayer Book 1989. Page 434
 Anglican Prayer Book 1989 Page 587