welcome to the warehouse!
The Warehouse was established in 2003 through the parish of St John's, and exists to serve the South African church network in its response to poverty, injustice and division. We work with local churches in all communities, helping them to implement sound, effective and practical acts and renewed attitudes, to see transformation in our communities.
Are you a church leader?
Do you want a deeper understanding of what the Kingdom of God can look like “on this earth, as it is in heaven” through the Church?
How does the past of our South African story impact on your church ministry today?
What is the role of collaboration in bringing about the Kingdom of God in our city and country today? How important is it that churches work together in this?
Sign up for our Transformational Development workshop to join the conversation.
The past 10 days has been a milestone in our country’s history – there’s no doubt about that. We’ve made huge pronouncements about how we are so very thankful for all that Madiba has done for us, how we pledge to continue and honour his legacy, how so much still needs to change. But what now? I’m sure many of us are asking ourselves this question. Sure we’ve made progress since 1994 and sure many of us are already hard at work moving our beloved country forward. But this week of reflection – both of our history and what still needs to be done – has given many of us renewed energy for the road ahead.
What do we need to do to make things right for the past in our country? How does what we do depend on where we were located in the past? As an architect of apartheid injustice or as architect of resistance to injustice; as an implementer of apartheid injustice or as an implementer of resistance to injustice; as someone dishonoured by apartheid injustice or dishonoured in the act of resisting or perpetrating apartheid injustice; as a beneficiary of apartheid injustice or as a beneficiary of resistance to injustice; or as a young inheritor of apartheid injustice or as an inheritor of resistance to injustice. Definitely loads to discuss on this point – but the real point is wherever we were locate our history is complex and not uncomplicated – all of us need to participate in actions to move us forward as a country.
These actions of restitution – ‘doing sorry’ rather than just ‘saying sorry’ and ‘receiving sorry’ rather than believing ‘sorry is not enough’ - need to happen urgently and on multiple levels. Not only in the large institutional, legal and structural ways – by government through affirmative action, black economic empowerment, land restitution and our past truth and reconciliation commission but also in everyday ways – where people can contribute to making things right at individual, interpersonal and community levels – where everybody has a role to play, and does so not out of the largesse of charity (that makes us feel good but not obligated to doing our part) but out of a duty to moving forward.
So what can we do to move forward South Africa?
As an academic (at the Human Sciences Research Council and the University of Cape Town) and as a practitioner (the current Chair of the Restitution Foundation, a small Cape based NGO) I have a few ideas (that I’m sure not everyone will agree with, but at least they are ideas for action). I think, however, that together we can all come up with many more creative and everyday actions. Over the next month of holidays, as a new year begins and as we live in the moment Nelson Mandela’s passing has given us to reflect, refocus and renew our efforts to change, let’s think deeply and creatively about the actions that must be done to move forward.
Broadly speaking these actions should include helping people to remember the past so our actions are motivated by duty; to recover lost dignity and to dismiss feelings of shame associated with poverty or undue senses of superiority; to experience a sense of belonging and equality no matter who we are; and to have access to a decent life through opportunities for fair work and useful education. Some will cost money; all will cost time and effort.
In practical terms here are a few I have thought about:
1. Inheritance of personal wealth: Change your will today to include someone who does not own property rather than just pass on your inherited wealth to your kids. Remember that your inherited wealth was only possible through apartheid’s unjust laws (job reservation, land ownership, differential education).
2. Education of another: Pay for another young South African to get a great high school education and go to university. Include in your financial sponsorship the mentoring and social capital that your own kids will receive because you know how to help them access jobs, helpful networks and make good personal decisions along the way.
3. Look people in the eyes: When someone asks for work, money or any other help, no matter how you respond materially, look them in the eye and talk to them with dignity and respect.
4. Living wages: Beginning with the people you employ at home or in business, sit down and do a job and personal needs assessment. Then pay the person a living wage (rather than a minimum wage).
5. Public holidays: Make each of our public holidays (Human Rights Day, Youth Day, Women’s Day, Heritage Day and Reconciliation Day) an opportunity to share a meal and a chat about its significance. Do so with a small group of people of whom at least half come from a different history in the South African community as you. Tell each other your stories of growing up in South Africa, and listen intently. Repeat frequently.
6. Cross ‘racial’ adoption: Adopt a child with a different history to yours. And live your family life in such a way that celebrates all of your historical heritages, which may mean learning another language and celebrating different customs.
7. Religious groups: Change the colour of Sunday mornings or Friday evenings/afternoons. This may mean starting something new, or intentionally gathering a diverse group of people in a mid-week prayer, study or discussion group. So many of us in this country are religious that this action alone could really help us to move forward.
8. Learn/teach a language different to yours: Works both ways. Ask someone to help you learn to speak isiZulu, isiXhosa or seSotho. Help someone become proficient in business or academic English.
9. Vote: It doesn’t matter who for but don’t just stay at home. Become active in insisting that people in power deliver on their promises for the benefit of those most excluded. Don’t let your opposition only be heard as a grumble over a beer or over supper. Support the ruling party if you like but hold them accountable to good governance at every turn (booing included!). Strengthen the opposition parties if you like but insist they come up with viable alternatives rather than just complaining about existing polices or looking after the interests of their local constituencies (potholes be damned!). This is the democracy we wanted after all.
Prof. Sharlene Swartz. Academic and Chair: Restitution Foundation
“Do you know what I want? I want justice .. oceans of it. I want fairness ... rivers of it. That is what I want. That’s all I want.” Amos 5: 24
Church of Justice
14 to 16th March
Groote Kerk, Cape Town.
Shane Claiborne from Philadelphia, USA, worked with Mother Theresa, and found himself in Baghdad while America bombs rained down on the city. He works for justice through his organisation, The Simple Way, and is the author of “Irresistible Revolution”.
Antonio Carlos Costa, reformed theologian from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, lives for justice and the welfare of victims of gang violence, crime and drugs. He leads protests against government corruption and police brutality, and is the founder of Rio de Paz (River of Peace).
Many other speakers and discussion groups talking on issues of social justice.
Or visit our website http://www.grootekerk.org.za
PS: The Warehouse will be involved in some sessions too.
We envision just and transformed communities where the vulnerable are cared for because the local church is a transformative presence.
We inspire, equip and connect the church to be a transformative presence effectively addressing poverty, injustice and division.
You are welcome to join us at various prayer and worship times each week.
Join us in Monday prayers (in the building or wherever you are) as the week begins
Join us in Tuesday prayers - talking with God together in creative ways
Join us in Thursday worship & prayer - multilingual worship and prayer together
Join us in Friday intercession for issues and needs of our city, country, and world
And the prayer room is available for anyone to come and pray, rest, read .. any day between 8:30 and 4:30pm.
You are welcome.
An excerpt from a homily delivered by the Most Revd. Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, at Holy Cross Church, Nyanga, Cape Town on the Day of Prayer and Reflection for Nelson Mandela on Sunday the 8th December 2013.
On the international stage, the name Nelson Mandela is synonymous with the universal struggle for human rights, freedom and the fight for democracy, issues that resonate just as strongly today as they did when he himself walked free from prison 23 years ago. Today, this Nobel Peace laureate is revered around the world as an inspirational symbol of peace and forgiveness. He acts as a powerful and continuing reminder that individuals do have the power to make change happen in the world, no matter how mighty the obstacles might be. The vision of hope I am talking about from the Romans and Isaiah’s passage read today.
So, how do we celebrate Madiba’s lasting legacy to the world? To some, he is one of the world’s most revered statesmen, who has inspired generations of global citizens through his leadership in the struggle to replace the apartheid regime of South Africa with a multi-racial democracy. This legacy will undoubtedly be one of continuing inspiration. To many, Nelson Mandela is regarded as the greatest statesman in the world. His political leadership steered South Africa through the most difficult time in its history, all the while never succumbing to political pressure, never compromising his ideals or principles, and never pandering to the world’s media. He will go down in history as one of the world’s greatest leaders because of the impact he had, not just on the lives of South Africans, but on the lives of countless people around the world; he has made an irreversible difference to the global fight for democracy and human rights – or put differently the values of the Kingdom or radical hospitality that today’s bible lessons say we must usher in during our time, in the likeness of Christ for God’s glory and for the good of his people and creation.
Since leaving public office, Nelson Mandela has continued to be an inspirational advocate and champion for peace and social justice, both in South Africa and around the world, inspiring change where conflict and human rights abuses still exist. His establishment of highly respected and influential organizations such as the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Elders, an independent group of public figures committed to addressing global problems and easing human suffering, continue to make a difference. Perhaps one of his greatest legacies to both South Africa and the world is his vocal advocacy of AIDS awareness. As far back as 2002, Mandela became a highly vocal campaigner for AIDS awareness and treatment programmes in the country, confronting a culture where the epidemic had for many years been fuelled by a combination of stigma and ignorance. On a personal level, the impact of HIV/Aids was deeply felt as the disease later claimed the life of his son Makgatho in 2005, just as it did the lives of thousands of South African citizens during that period. His inspirational and passionate voice on the subject of AIDS awareness, contributed to the change in attitudes and behaviours being experienced today in the country as South Africa sets its sights on working for an AIDS-free generation.
Over the years, Nelson Mandela’s contribution to the betterment of the world and humanity as a whole has been recognised through the highest accolades, awards and recognition being bestowed upon him, the legacy of which continues today. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts on behalf of his country and his people, sharing the 1993 prize with F.W. de Klerk, the last president of the apartheid era who worked with Mandela to end the scourge of apartheid. He was the recipient of the prestigious U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Order of Canada, becoming the first living person to be made an honorary Canadian citizen. Nelson Mandela is also the last person to have been awarded the rare Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union, and the Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of St. John and the Order of Merit, awarded to him by Britain’s Elizabeth II. There are many more prestigious awards that would take too much to mention during this service – we are grateful to God that the human family saw it fit to these honours bestow upon this son of our soil, Madiba.
Perhaps his greatest legacy can be summed up as the continual inspiration he has provided – as the one leader who has worked tirelessly to make change happen by appealing to people’s common humanity, and by leading by example – to many other leaders around the world who are still trying to achieve such change in their own political and social environments. Past US President, Bill Clinton, has said of the impact Madiba has had on him personally over the years: “More than any human being, Madiba has been the great inspiration for the life I lead and the work I do, especially in the area of HIV/AIDS… In return for everything Madiba has taught us, we each owe it to him to support his work and legacy by doing and living our own as best we can… throughout our entire lives.”
The current US President, Barack Obama, recognises the impact that Nelson Mandela has had on the world, calling him as an inspiration who has given everything to his people. Speaking on Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July last year, he said: “Madiba continues to be a beacon for the global community, and for all who work for democracy, justice and reconciliation. On behalf of the people of the United States, we congratulate Nelson Mandela, and honor his vision for a better world”.
Ultimately, Mandela’s legacy exemplifies wisdom, strength and grace in the face of adversity and great challenge, and demonstrates to all citizens of the world that there is a viable path to follow towards achieving justice, reconciliation and democracy, and that change can happen through individual and collective acts of service. Through his example, he has set the standard for service to country and mankind worldwide, whether we are individual citizens, cabinet ministers or presidents, and continues to call on us all to better serve our fellow human beings and contribute to the betterment of our communities.
Today, Madiba is thought of as Father or Tata to all South Africans but, to the rest of the world, he is undoubtedly thought of as one of the outstanding heroes of the last century, alongside other inspirational global leaders such as Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Each of these individuals was committed to the global struggle for human dignity, equality and democracy, and Madiba still remains a beacon of hope and an inspiration for those around the world who are still fighting for their freedom and for justice. As we look back and learn from Nelson Mandela’s own long walk to freedom and reflect on his life-long dedication to instilling the values of Ubuntu, integrity and learning, his legacy is an inspiring one. It will continue to inspire generations of people to come who themselves want to change the world and make it a better place in which all citizens can live and thrive.
May Madiba’s soul rest in peace. May his nearest and dearest be comforted and consoled and may we continue where he has left, the LORD being our helper.
And may this account of this fallible one man, not a saint but a hopeful and whole person, loving person and dare I say a holy man, inspire us to serve God in others and God’s creation till we too are called to God’s rest and are given a perfect end.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Paul
The last few week’s have been important ones for South Africa as we face the reality of life without Nelson Mandela’s presence in our nation. We rightly celebrate his life and that which he brought to us as a nation and also to the world. But in this process I think we risk having him dressed up and made comfortable for us, a nice grandfatherly figure who made us feel warm and fuzzy rather than a willing and courageous disturber of the present in the fight for an improved future.
On the morning after his death as I cycled to work I thought of the Nelson Mandela I grew up with in South Africa. The “terrorist”, the man who threatened the status quo of white privilege so profoundly that everything about him was banned - his image, his words and his family. He was a fighter who made those in power feel threatened because he profoundly threatened their present. And since we benefited from this power the vast majority of us did not question this perception.
We do no favour to ourselves, those of us born into wealth and power anywhere in the world, to forget that we fought against his legacy. We, in South Africa and in other parts of the western world, saw him as someone who threatened our hegemony and so we labelled him and isolated him. We were on the wrong side of the arc of history that Martin Luther King told us bends towards justice and we dare not forget or be imprisoned by that reality. We also do no favour to ourselves, those of us not born into power but now finding ourselves with access to that power, to imagine ourselves immune from the evils that previous generations have committed. We too can find ourselves on the wrong side of history.
In thinking about this I am grateful for Denise Ackerman’s wisdom:
“A painful history can cripple human memory in two ways: you can either forget the past or be imprisoned by it. I wish neither on you. Your understanding of your past will enable you to deal with your future. Understanding the past will also help you to recognise - both in yourselves and in those who will govern you - the inclination to harm and destroy…
If, on the one hand, you believe yourselves to be immune to the evils perpetrated by previous generations you will be more vulnerable to evil. If, on the other hand, you believe yourselves to to be the victims of history, you will forgo the opportunity to emerge from self exoneration into the more turbulent but rewarding waters of self-knowledge…So my prayer for you both is that you will not shirk the clamour of history, while at the same time you will not be burdened by it to the extent that you feel helpless to act.”
This month we’re also celebrating the birth of Christ, a moment in history that fundamentally disturbed the present in order to initiate a better future. Jesus, gives up his present comfort and his power as God, to incarnate himself in this world so that salvation could become possible.
We live in a country that once again stands on the brink, not because Madiba has died but because we have not been sufficiently willing or able to disturb our present lives in the fight for an improved future. We live with a state that is increasingly enjoying power for its own sake and seems more interested in preserving that power than it is in serving a nation. We live in a country and world increasingly dominated by an economic elite that is willing to destroy millions of lives to increase its wealth and power even whilst paying lip service to development or transformation.
So this month as I mourn a man who helped create a future I am able to participate in, and as I celebrate the birth of my saviour Jesus, I pray for the courage and determination to find myself willing to sufficiently disturb the present in the belief of an envisioned future.
December is one of the worst times for fires in informal settlements.
If your church group wants to run a donations drive in response to fires in informal settlements, here are some lists of recommended items that are helpful to families having to set up their homes again:
CRISIS RELIEF BOX - To Restart a Household
Cereal - Wheatbix
DRY FOOD KITS - To Provide Emergency Meals
Cereal – Wheatbix
Samp & Beans
KITCHEN/HOME KITS - To Replace Lost Household Items
Pots & Pans
SCHOOL KITS - Basic Necessities to Return to Studies
1 Large Eraser
1 Box 24 crayons
1 30cm ruler
1 Pair Blunt-point Scissors
1 Glue Stick
3 Notebooks (200 pages)
HYGIENE KITS - Basic Cleaning Products
1 Hand Towel
1 Wash Cloth
1 Bath Soap
1 Antiseptic Cream
10 Standard Band Aids
BABY CARE KITS - Basic Care Items for Infants
2 Wash Cloths
1 Baby Towel
1 Small tub Vaseline
1 Small Baby Powder
No more baas*, but brothers
I grew up in a very difficult and bad situation. I was born on a farm and did not get any privilege, and the farmer told my father I had to start working when I was in Standard 3. I often asked, “Why me?” Today I stand before you and say, “Bye bye to my past!” Thanks to God, I met Jesus Christ when I came to Cape Town. I was part of a very cultural and traditional church when I met some people from The Warehouse. When I first met Craig I said, “No, this church is from the Bible and we cannot change.” But then I grew and was challenged about how I ran the church, and changed. We used to sing songs on a Sunday but then wait till the next Sunday again - nothing going on in between! When Mzwabantu from The Warehouse came to my church I thought “Shame, he will learn from us and learn that he needs to put on a jacket before praying”, but we joined him instead and learned from him! I thank The Warehouse for ‘getting me’. I was feeding people in the clinic and my vision was to make sure nobody suffered like me, poor and uneducated. They helped me in my vision.
When this problem with HIV/Aids started I was one pastor going to the clinic to feed people, taking fruit on the taxi. I thought, “Even if it is just one person, I must save just one.” Today there are more than 100 churches in Khayelitsha doing the same as what I did then, and we are eager to serve our communities better. We are doing that well through the help of The Warehouse. And to come to white people in this way is amazing. I used to stand at the door of a white person only to say “Madam, here is your cup.” I did not think I would ever sleep next to a white man like Craig, or eat at his table or sit in his lounge, but I do now because of what God is doing. No more baas, now we are brothers. ~
* Afrikaans word for ‘boss’
In our first article, we referred to a potentially difficult-to-understand saying from Jesus: “you will always have the poor among you.” We referred to this as a “Bible sound byte” – a short saying that can be easily taken out of context and therefore misunderstood or misapplied. Therefore, we pointed to the necessity of looking at the actual Bible passage as a critical first step (In this case, the verse being quoted is found in Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and John 12:1-8). In this article, we turn our attention to the immediate context of the scripture in question.
When you hear a quote or statement – perhaps from a friend, work colleague, or on the news, what questions do you ask? If you are like me, you will wonder:
Who said that?
Who were they talking to?
Where were they?
What was the occasion?
In other words, you want to know the immediate context in which the word was spoken in order to understand and interpret the meaning. What is the story? Before we dive into interpretation, we begin with observation. In this case, when we investigate the context of our Bible quote, we discover:
Jesus was in Bethany.
This story takes place six days before the Passover/last supper Jesus celebrated with his disciples in Jerusalem.
Jesus was in the home of Simon the Leper.
Jesus was reclining at the table. John’s Gospel adds that Martha was serving and her brother Lazarus was at the table with Jesus.
A woman came to Jesus with a jar of perfume (nard). John’s Gospel reports this woman as Mary.
The woman poured the jar of perfume over Jesus’ head. John’s gospel has her pouring it on his feet and wiping them with her hair.
The disciples or “some of those present” were upset
The disciples said this was waste – it could have been sold for a year’s worth of wages and the money could have been given to the poor.
They rebuked the woman.
John’s gospel attributes these words directly to Judas Iscariot and explains that he was not motivated by care for the poor but his own greed.
Jesus said the woman had done a beautiful thing.
Jesus said they would always have the poor among them, but they would not always have him. Mark also records Jesus saying they can help the poor anytime.
Jesus told them that when she had done this, she had prepared him for burial.
Jesus said whenever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she had just done would be told in memory of her.
This is the story in which “you will always have the poor among you” is said. As you look at this list, what do you find surprising? Which create in you a desire to learn more? Can you already see how some of the observations above will provide clues to the meaning of Jesus’ words? What do you see? This is the immediate context, the beginning of our journey into deeper understanding of God’s heart as spoken by Jesus. Looking at the story is absolutely essential and the words we are wondering about can be understood by this context.
We’ll say more about the meaning next time!
“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere ...” Nelson Mandela—these words are even more profound now than when he first said them. South Africa does not need another ‘Mandela’ - we need individuals to rise up and be all who God has created us to be. How do we do this? For some ideas, thoughts and news, read our latest update.
Click here for the online version
Jubilee in Kenya!
In May, Bronwyn Damon and Caroline Powell travelled to Kenya to attend the Urban Conference focusing on Jubilee for the church of Kenya in Nairobi, hosted by the Centre for Urban Mission. They spoke in a plenary session about the theological and practical principles of Urban Gleaning and had plenty of opportunities to reflect with church leaders and practitioners of transformational development from Nairobi.
This story shares a special moment from the conference: “After we had given our address, it was great to talk with delegates over the tea break and hear the stories of Urban Gleaning from their contexts. One pastor who leads a church in the community of Kibera, Africa’s largest informal settlement, shared this with us: ” I run a gathering of widows in my community. They come to the church for support, prayer and assistance. Members of my church, from the same community bring clothing and other items for them on my request, but I have been getting upset because they have been bringing clothing that is not good. I tell them, go home, wash and mend this clothing, it is for widows. I have been feeling that I have been a bit harsh and wondered if I should stop telling them this, but now I realise that according to the bible, giving and receiving must be done with dignity and so I have courage to continue holding us all to this standard.”
Sharing with the churches of Nairobi as they wrestled with what Jubilee, the year of the Lord’s favour, looks like for their urban 21st Century context was a privilege. Caroline and Bronwyn joined with the annual Amahoro Gathering in Uganda with Christian leaders from many different parts of the continent and world. Reflecting on “Politics and the Kingdom of God”, this years theme, was very challenging and they have returned to life at The Warehouse freshly inspired.
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- The number of people who have died from tuberculosis has almost tripled over the past 16 years in this nation
- Every week hundreds of items of clothing, food and blankets distributed
- The formal economy shed 800 000 jobs in 2009