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.

  • Our latest newsletter

    To read our April news update, click here


  • The fallacy of the polarised gospel

    In the life and activities of every group of people there comes a moment of realisation that something significant is happening – a moment worth stopping, noting and marking. The Bible is full of stories of how the people of God point us to the ancient art of remembering, of marking moments. Sometimes with an alter built in memory of God’s intervention, or a meal that helped them ‘stop and notice’ what God was doing in their lives. Recently, we experienced such a moment in one of our staff development workshops, and we stopped to notice what God was doing.

    We had been exploring the ongoing and sometime heavily divisive debate regarding the definition of the gospel, mission, evangelism and social justice. As we looked at some opposing views and tried to understand them in the light of the work we do with churches, a picture was drawn, depicting two different camps on opposite sides of the paper: those who are pro-evangelism on one side and those who are pro-justice on the other. The picture shocked us! While it depicted an extreme but very present reality in the global church, the realisation dawned on us – just how entirely anti-gospel in spirit it was!
    As we debated and listened to varying perspectives, we began to realise that over the years we, The Warehouse, have positioned ourselves - not always, but definitely sometimes - in the “social justice” camp, as a reaction to those who have positioned themselves in the “evangelism camp”. This could have made it sound as if we don’t believe that salvation or preaching the good news to all people is necessary. And while we may know that that’s not the full theological picture, our assumptions that others understand it as such may have alienated some of the very leaders that we have hoped to work alongside over the years. As humans we haven’t always been the best listeners and when debates get heated we tend to revert back to our ‘camps’ and argue from that polarised place of conviction.

    Jesus didn’t do that. He answered challenges with questions and stories that often started with “The Kingdom of God is like…”. Instead of choosing a position on the opposite end of the spectrum to make his point, he lived, embodied and told stories about the only reality he could faithfully speak of - the Kingdom of God. He ate, slept, walked and breathed Shalom - the whole good news for the whole world – even when he acknowledged that this would not bring the kind of peace for which the world was searching. 
    In this ongoing debate (that should never have been a debate in the first place) the invitation is to be the kinds of disciples that do not “meet fire with fire” and choose the polar opposite view to the stated argument to try to make the point for social justice. No, we are all called to be ones who respond with the way of shalom, with the kinds of answers and stories that begin: “The Kingdom of God is like…”. We want to be disciples who invite the whole church to understand the whole gospel that impacts the whole world: Shalom for souls, families, communities, cities, political systems and eco-systems.

    We regret the words we have chosen that may have put us in a camp on the far side of Jesus’ Kingdom way, and are sorry if that has made anyone we interact with feel that we do not represent the whole saving work of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. As a community of staff, we have committed to holding each other to language and actions that point to this full shalom and to challenge one another when we recognise the temptation to encamp ourselves in polar arguments.

    To mark this moment, we set light to the piece of paper that depicted the two opposing camps of thought - the either/or mentality that has fuelled this debate over centuries, the ‘pendulum’ swing of the church in history. It was a significant moment. We invite you, our friends and partners in this co-labouring work with the King, to join us in this commitment, to challenge us when you see us erring and to explore together what the whole gospel for the whole world looks like in 2014.

    By Caroline Powell

  • A vision for the church

    Our February news update—an excellent vision for the church in SA (or anywhere), some news, compelling blogs, food for thought ... enjoy!


  • Want to see your church impact South Africa?

    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 workshops to join the conversation.

    Email Pat Burgess - .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information or call us on (021) 761 1168.




  • The Mandela Moment: Now it’s time to move forward South Africa

    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.

    Please send your ideas to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) . Please also share this as widely to your networks via Facebook or on email. Written submissions can be made to: SA Moving Forward, Private Bag X9182, Cape Town, 8000. Please include a short paragraph about who you are in your submission. I’m planning to make the outcome widely known in the coming few months, whilst we are still living in this Mandela Moment!

    Prof. Sharlene Swartz. Academic and Chair: Restitution Foundation


  • Church of Justice

    “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.

    Registration: R50.

    Contact the church office for more info and registration at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Or visit our website http://www.grootekerk.org.za

    PS: The Warehouse will be involved in some sessions too.

  • What does The Warehouse do and why?

    Our Vision

    We envision just and transformed communities where the vulnerable are cared for because the local church is a transformative presence.

    Our Mission

    We inspire, equip and connect the church to be a transformative presence effectively addressing poverty, injustice and division.

  • Please join us ..

    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.

  • Books that help us understand shalom

    Here are some of the books we recommend that help people understand the justice component of the picture of Shalom.

    Rich Christians in an age of Hunger, by Ron Sider
    God of the empty handed, by Jayukumar Christian
    Mission between the times, by Rene Padilla
    Walking with the poor, by Bryant Myers
    The Social Justice Handbook, by Mae Elise Cannon
    The Hole in our gospel, by Richard Stearns

  • Celebrating Madiba’s legacy and its lasting impact around the globe

    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.

  • Disturbing the Present ...

    “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.

    Craig Stewart

  • In the Event of Fire: Recommended donation lists

    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

    Laundry Soap
    Face Cloth
    Toilet Paper
    Sanitary Towels
    Hair brush/comb

    Cereal - Wheatbix
    Peanut Butter
    Baked Beans
    Corned Meat
    Pasta/Maize Meal

    DRY FOOD KITS - To Provide Emergency Meals

    Cereal – Wheatbix
    Samp & Beans
    Maize Meal
    Soya Mince
    Corned Meat
    Mixed Vegetables
    Baked Beans
    Peanut Butter

    KITCHEN/HOME KITS - To Replace Lost Household Items

    Plastic Basin
    Pots & Pans
    Cooking Utensils
    Kitchen Knife
    Serving Spoon
    Tin Opener
    Eating Utensils
    Plastic Plates
    Storage Containers
    Plastic Cups/Mugs
    Bed Linen
    Wash cloths

    - Basic Necessities to Return to Studies

    3 Pens
    3 Pencils
    1 Sharpener
    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 Comb/Brush
    1 Bath Soap
    1 Toothbrush
    1 Toothpaste
    1 Antiseptic Cream
    10 Standard Band Aids
    Small mirror
    Toilet Paper

    BABY CARE KITS - Basic Care Items for Infants

    2 Wash Cloths
    1 Baby Towel
    Baby Soap
    Baby Shampoo
    1 Small tub Vaseline
    1 Small Baby Powder
    Aqueous cream
    Baby Wipes
    Bottle Steriliser

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“My vision is of a South Africa that is totally non-racial ... a new South Africa, a free South Africa, where all of us, black and white together, will walk tall; where all of us, black and white together, will hold hands as we stride forth to usher in the new South Africa where people will matter because they are human beings made in the image of God. ”

Desmond Tutu

image of the week

Kids having fun


  • In South Africa a girl has a better chance of being raped in her lifetime than of learning to read
  • Every week hundreds of items of clothing, food and blankets distributed
  • The matric pass rate has fallen from 74% in 2000, to 60.5% last year