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.

  • Finding God in the Suffering

    Where is God in the suffering? A blogpost by Nkosivumile Gola

    Life is a constant response to the plight of the suffering God and the suffering God is constantly responding to the plight of the suffering humanity. If this was the view we had concerning life then the view we have of the cross would be radically transformed, because then the cross does not just become a historical ‘salvific’ event, but the very present suffering and saving act of the God-forsaken God in the midst of the least of these which requires an urgent response.

    It has to be made clear that if God is not the victim of suffering in the world today then God is the cause of suffering in the world today and if God is the cause of suffering in the world today then God is unable to save and to end human suffering. If we see God as the victim of suffering in the world today, then God can and will save and rescue the suffering. This is in line with Bonhoeffer’s statement when he argues that, “only the suffering God can help us”. 

    There is no father who can be nonchalant in the face of pain and suffering of their offspring, the pain that affects the offspring of the father cuts deeper into the heart of the father – a true father is personally affected by the suffering of his children.

    Why then has God been given a spectator role in the face of the suffering of His own children? Why then has God been sidelined in the matters that affects His own? Why has God been made worse than broken and evil human beings in compassion with His own children? It has to be made known there is nothing of God that happens to God without God, and everything that happens to humanity is directly happening to God.

    If God created social beings then God has to be affected by and respond to social ills as all these are suffered by Him. That is the reason why Song (An Asian Amerikan Theologian) argues that “the history of God is the history of Jesus and the history of Jesus is the history of humanity”. Therefore the very pain as experienced by the image and the likeness of God in history is the very pain that has directly affected God in history. God is in the midst of the least of these suffering the worse forms of all oppression as suffered by the least of these.

    We need to see the picture of a creator subjected (as the face of the least of these) by his own creation to perpetual oppression. We must view our lives as a response to a plight of the suffering God. How we then respond to this plight whether we ignore it or we intentionally act to end it is dependent on whether or not we see Jesus in the face of the least of these. Love must be understood as all the radical, intentional actions as extended in responding to end human pain which in actuality is the end to God pain. We locate God pain in the world today by looking at the pain and suffering as experienced by the least of these. 

    Nkosivumile Gola
    Nkosivumile, theologian and activist, works for The Warehouse, is founder of the Food is Free campaign, and longs to see the Church responding to the suffering of God’s children in more tangible, liberating ways. 

  • What about Schools?

    From a pedagogy of the oppressed to a pedagogy of liberation

    “It is probably cultural inertia which still makes us see education in terms of the ideology of the school as a liberating force and as a means of increasing social mobility, even when the indications tend to be that it is in fact one of the most effective means of perpetuating the existing social pattern, as it both provides and apparent justification for the social inequalities and gives recognition to the cultural heritage, that is, to a social gift treated as a natural one” (Pierre Bourdieu, The School as a Conservative Force)

    If the kingdom of God is one of freedom, liberation and justice, then as the church we have a moral responsibility to participate in calling into question the powers, systems and institutions which reinforce the status quo of inequality by privileging some and oppressing others. Education is one such site, a site of struggle and a primary site where inequality is presently being reproduced.

    Inasmuch as South Africans can celebrate the changes of 1994, a closer look at schools in South Africa may leave one wondering about what actually changed? Despite the sloganism of a “rainbow nation” and the chanting of “Simunye, we are one”, very little seems to have shifted with regard to the transformation of schooling. While the opening up of schools formerly reserved for Whites has enabled a movement of middle-class Black (Black, Coloured, Indian) families into the old Model-C schooling environment, the majority of Black South Africans remain in schools that were grossly under-funded during Apartheid and remain under-resourced, overcrowded and ill-equipped even today. The patterns of academic achievement produced today still mirror past (and contemporary) inequalities. Life has not changed very much for the majority of the South African population. In the words of Lefebvre “a revolution that does not produce a new space has not realised its full potential”.

    If we want to encourage diversity and equal education then we must interrogate those aspects of educational policy which are preventing racial and economic integration, the remnants of apartheid-era thinking that have not yet been effectively dealt with in the South African Schools Act.
    Educational Inequality is a problem of access, integration and economics.

    Access

    In 2016, Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi was engaged with FEDSAS in a landmark case surrounding the constitutional right of schools to determine feeder zones of a 5km radius surrounding a school. This results of this particular case may well be what is necessary to encourage schools to change their admissions policy but it remains shocking that in 2017 we still have schools with exclusionary admissions policies. Implementing a feeder zone policy within a country that is not yet spatially integrated and in many ways still resembles the design of apartheid urban spatial planning means that many learners in disadvantaged communities are excluded from the possibility of applying to previously (and presently) advantaged schools. In addition to the implementation of feeder zones, the ability of schools to implement their own fee structures has created public schools that effectively operate as private entities, using the fee control mechanism as a means to filter out learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. At present there is too much space left between the Constitution, the South African Schools Act and provincial level policy for schools to continue operating the way they do currently. Instead of facilitating access, we have a situation of strict access control which is little different from physically erecting a sign outside a school that reads “Whites Only”.

    Integration
    A twin problem within an access controlled environment is the problem of integration. In some ways the game has shifted from race to economics where former model C schools and private schools are arguably more racially diverse than the average township school. This is not genuine integration though, it is simply the assimilation of a Black and Coloured middle class into middle class schools. The real win would be to see middle class White parents placing their children in township schools but this goal seem almost unattainable within the present structuring of South Africa’s education system.  The very existence of the private schooling industry undermines the goals of racial, cultural and economic diversity in our schools by providing a haven for middle class and elite families to shift their children (and of course their economic resources) to when the culture shock becomes too much to bear. At the risk of jumping too quickly to solutions, it may be worthwhile to consider alternative models such as mixed-income schooling, more pro-active affirmative action policies in the education sector and the winding down of private education in SA. Of course, as pro-active as these suggestions may be they mask the underlying issue, our communities remain segregated because they reflect the economic inequality and segregation that plagues South Africa, and in fact education cannot be viewed apart from the broader macroeconomic issues which plague our nation.

    Something more to watch on the education front in relation to integration is the new proposal for a three-stream education system (academic stream, technical-vocational stream and technical-occupational stream). Attempting to layer a three-stream education system similar to that in Germany, within a racially and economically stratified society would be almost a throwback to Apartheid era politics. Inevitably, the poor would end up filtered into technical streams where they may aspire to be no more than labourers for their wealthier and supposedly more academic counterparts… “a social gift, treated as a natural one” (Pierre Bourdieu, The School as a Conservative Force).

    Economics

    Finally, whilst schooling has the potential to be a liberating force we cannot treat it as an institution that is divorced from the rest of society. There is far more evidence to demonstrate that out-of-school factors (Coleman, 1966), and that socio-economic factors can negatively influence a learners schooling achievement than there is to show that schools transform communities.

    “…Broader social inequalities ripple through schools in complex ways – inequalities of poverty, class, race, gender and region – and schooling tends to perpetuate both forms of injustice if they are features of the broader society. In fact, the most effective way for schooling to do this is to act as if these injustices did not exist by treating everyone the same.” (Pam Christie, Opening the Doors of Learning, p. 172)

    This does not mean we should resign ourselves from righting the wrongs in the education system and fighting for equal education and quality education that takes into account every learner. Rather, it means that in our fight for equal education we need to also be conversant about economic issues, land issues and health issues, as all of these weigh in very heavily upon the task of schooling. This calls for an alliance across the sectors, and the working together of activists who are fighting the battle on different fronts. It implies that that we need to educate ourselves about how economic policy and land issues intersect with issue of education and schooling and vice versa.

    In closing, I am hopeful that in the present moment we are experiencing an awakening of individuals and communities who recognise the political dimensions of kingdom work and who are motivated to genuinely make a difference. If we should give the revolution a name, let it be a revolution of love, for it is God’s love that draws all near and ushers us all into the place of shalom. If such a revolution must produce a new space, let it be a space where peace, love and justice prevails.

    A final quote:

    “We need to ask not whether it is realistic or practical or viable but whether it is imaginable. We need to ask if our consciousness and imagination have been so assaulted and co-opted by the royal consciousness that we have been robbed of the courage or power to think an alternative thought.” (Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination, p. 39)

    Ashley Visagie
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    http://www.bottomup.org.za

  • The Justice Conference - an overview by Johan de Meyer

    South Africa’s young church did not mince its words when it comes to social justice issues at The Justice Conference this past weekend, saying that if Jesus associated with marginalised people in his day, he would definitely join activists in the “deep sh*t” of South Africa’s sanitation crisis today.

    The conference organisers set out to help mobilise young Christians from a broad spectrum of denominations - indeed, the thousand-odd crowd was significantly racially diverse and reflected most churches in SA - to get down to business in practicing social justice in their daily lives.

    In doing so, the organisers explained, they wanted to re-awaken the activism that saw the church play a significant role in the dismantling of apartheid.

    If this conference is anything to go by, Christian youth do not see themselves as separate from forces shaping the current social landscape. It is not a matter of bringing their faith into dialogues around education, decolonisation or poverty. Instead, young people whose daily lived experience is one of disempowerment are trying to make sense of their participation in movements like #FeesMustFall, Black lives Matter (also represented at the conference) and those around the decolonisation of education.

    The church’s complicity in injustice
    Speakers critiqued theologies that prioritise personal sin while being quiet about social sins and defining success by income and possessions.

    They called on the church to acknowledge how its theologies are contributing to continued injustice, just as denominations like the Dutch Reformed Church has had to acknowledge its support of the apartheid ideology.

    In the words of Marlyn Faure, “Christianity can never be okay if it is based on someone else being exploited or excluded.” It was not hard to take note of the pressure points. Time and again dialogues on issues around decolonised education, income inequality, land and sanitation steered back to frustration around race and the false sense of equilibrium of 1994.

    Why are black churches filled with images of a white Christ?
    Why have churches become multi-racial, but not multi-cultural?
    Why are national Christian gatherings dominated by white males, with black speakers left wondering why they are used as tokens, and having to defend their right to have an opinion?
    Why is the church not talking about restitution?

    Sivuyile Kotela, social impact activist and strategist, went as far as saying that having all-white church leadership teams in South Africa today should be seen as criminal. Others were very clear that the concept of a post-apartheid South African city is still a myth as our daily lives are governed by spatial designs that have not yet shifted.

    Ongoing just actions, not charity
    Attendees were encouraged not to increase their focus on acts of charity but to engage with government on policy level, to challenge the “invisible hand of the markets” and to create strategive funding and investment opportunities that will shift the social landscape. Brian Koela, Christian social activist, said charity leaves the ideologies of self-interest untouched and the wealthy unchallenged. “Charity means those with capital set the agendas of the working class. Those with nothing remain powerless and the poor remain disenfranchised. Justice, in turn, seeks to find the cause of the problem of poverty.”

    Rene August, an Anglican priest, encouraged a very direct application of Bible passages that call for debts to be cancelled and for property to be returned to its original owners. She asked privileged conference-goers to commit their families to living on R6 500 per month for six months, as an immersion into the lifestyle of poor South Africans.

    Normalising dialogues on race
    Conference goers described the event as “cathartic”, saying it was a relief to hear so many speakers give voice to their frustrations, normalising conversations on race, culture and inequality among churched young people. Perhaps most disturbing - and most poignant - was the call from Nkosivumile Gola, Food Is Free founder, theologian and social activist, who asked that we should “look into the sh*t, and not just flush it away.”

    He explained that Jesus Christ associated himself with the downtrodden, with the marginalised and oppressed. In today’s South Africa, this translates into people in the average township - those who use buckets to relive themselves because they fear being raped in the communal toilets in informal settlements. And young Christians, whether in privilege or poverty, should follow Christ into these hard spaces and work to transform them. “If Jesus associated himself with the least of these, then he himself became one of them. Then Jesus was in deep ‘shit’.”

    The Justice Conference revealed that Christian youth are not on the outside looking in. They are already in, and are not losing their faith due to the reality around them. Instead, they are using their faith to make sense of their world, and to give them practical direction in making things right in South Africa.

  • Hout Bay Fire

    A fire has destroyed over 3500 homes in the community of Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay on 17th March 2017. The Warehouse is part of a network called RESPOND which is a collaborative network of churches in Cape Town that work together to ensure effective and appropriate responses to large scale disaster incidents in the City. The Warehouse plays a coordinating role within the network.

    At this stage we are working with partners and disaster management to establish what is needed and what format it can best be provided. If you’d like to make a financial contribution towards the effort you can do so here. All funds will be used to supply relief goods and to ensure that the local partners in the community have the resources they need to provide good logistical and other support during the crisis relief period.

    One can also deliver non-perishable goods to Pick n Pay in Constantia, Hout Bay, Camps Bay and Long Beach Mall.

    An EFT can be made directly into our bank account, please reference these with RESPOND so that they can be allocated appropriately.

    Account name : The Warehouse Trust
    Account number : 071 883 053
    Account type : Current
    Bank : Standard Bank, 4 Dreyer Street, Claremont, 7700 South Africa
    Branch : Claremont
    Branch Code: 025109

    Or you can give through Givengain by clicking here:

    https://www.givengain.com/cause/1976/campaigns/17623

    All donations will be designated and qualify for Section 18A tax certificates.

    UPDATE:11/03/2017


    The RESPOND network of churches is responding to the Imizamo Yethu fire by preparing and distributing packs that will enable school children to get back to school with the basics. These packs consist of:

    1. A customised uniform pack for each individual child with correct sizes and contents = R400. (A basic set of shirt, pants or skirt, shoes, underwear, socks and jersey)
    2. A stationery starter kit - R150 (A minimum of 3x72 page soft cover books, 32 page soft cover, 4x 182 page hard cover, pen, pencil)


    Update 14/03/2017

    This campaign reached its initial target within 48 hours of launching which is fantastic and the uniform and stationery packs are being purchased and collated over the next few days.

    The RESPOND network team have decided to keep the campaign going and will be consulting with local congregations and Thula Thula Hout Bay to identify specific and appropropriate needs and will meet these through these donations.

    Please note that all donations will be designated and qualify for Section 18A tax certificates.

    Thank you so much to all who have given in this collective response.

     

  • More than the Minimum

    Why the Living Wage matters

    Many years ago Dan Ndzuzo and I managed a small employment/job readiness project through our church (Khanyisa Community Church) in Gugulethu. We had the privilege of walking alongside people who were seeking work and connecting these job-seekers with opportunities. One of the painful aspects of the work that changed my life was listening to men and women sharing stories of exploitation and racism, sometimes covert and other times overt, stories that opened my eyes to the ongoing suffering and immoral treatment of domestic staff in South Africa. Some of the stories were from homes that were clearly Christian in their beliefs. We reflected on homes that had ‘missions jars’ for children to give some of their pocket money to foreign missionaries, while domestic staff were being paid just enough to pay for transport, food and the most basic of shelter, and were clearly struggling to make ends meet.

    I started to ask questions like, “If we truly believe all people are equal, surely how we treat staff should reflect that?” and “How can Jesus followers who are called and motivated by the call to love our neighbours, be a part of a system that is clearly exploiting others?” and “If the Bible is so clear on its command not to exploit others, why is it so rife amongst Christians in South Africa today?” and “What is lacking in our theology that allows for seeing people struggle and suffer under the burden of poverty and inequality within our immediate sphere of influence?” and “If I truly saw my staff as equal as a human being, would I be able to watch them leave work in the pouring rain knowing they would arrive home drenched a few hours later?”

    My questions remain, because the status quo remains largely the same 15 years later.

    And as we face a growing hopelessness, anger and discontent amongst young people, I think about how many young South Africans have seen their parents come home after a long tiring day, and hours in public transport without much to show for it. Young people who have seen the ‘junk’ passed on by their parent’s employers. Who have not had their parents at home because they work long hours and then make the long journey home. Who have heard story after story, as Dan and I did with Jobnet, of racism, be it of the ‘polite’ kind or of the more obvious kind, from their parents. Or who have seen the effects of the status quo and system that does not honour their parents. I think of James 4 which says, “The wages you failed to pay the men who mowed your fields, is crying out against you.”

    In our unequal society with our history, I believe it is very important to continue to employ people, although some would argue it perpetuates the current system. Many people have few employment choices due to our past. But as we seek to bring about structural change and ensure that fellow citizens have greater options as they consider life vocational choices, there are things we can do immediately to limit the daily damage. I believe it is imperative that Christians act immediately on the call of God to not exploit, to serve those who have been treated as ‘lower than’ in ways that show they are truly equal, and this requires going above and beyond what is comfortable as the scales have been tipped immorally for so long. It is imperative that workers (whether permanent or ad hoc) are paid a living wage, which is more than double the minimum wage, and are paid for leave to rest well, or paid if the weather is bad (many men who work in the garden on an ad hoc basis are not paid if it is raining and they are unable to work).

    Treating domestic staff with the dignity every human being deserves as it relates to their economic freedom and sustainability, for many privileged South Africans, is the very first circle of practising justice and righting the wrongs of the past.

    Five basic first steps:

    1. Have a conversation with your staff member/s around how you address each other. Ask if the name you are calling them is their mother-tongue/preferred name. If not, find out what their preferred name is, learn it, and call people by their first-choice name, regardless of the language (or whether you find it easy to say). We have a history where South Africans were given English names that were easier to say, regardless of mother tongue, and reversing this is one of the first steps in restoring dignity.

    2. Increase your staff’s wages with immediate effect. Cut out other things in one’s lifestyle that would open up money for a more just wage. Decide which sacrifice you and your family will make together, if that is what it will take. If you are truly unable to pay a living wage after adjusting your budget and making necessary sacrifices, then cut down the staff members’ hours so that they can be at home or working elsewhere, for the same wage you were paying before. For example, if you cannot pay a living wage for 5 days, then hire someone for 2 days, at the same rate, and adjust the work load accordingly.

    3. When adjusting the wages, don’t use the ‘going rate’ as a yardstick as the going rate is way too low and based on people’s desperation and our history of exploitation, and not a just and fair system. Use the baseline of around R6000 minumum per month as a yardstick for the first steps towards a living wage, anything below that is a diluted form of slavery, which we, as privileged South Africans, have grown accustomed to, but which is alien in more just and equal societies. We need to spread the burden that people are carrying, and it is often the vulnerable who pay the price.

    4. If you don’t have one already, write up an agreement of leave (annual, sick and family) and draft a pay slip so that the person can use it in processes that require proof of earning and also create the sense of security of employment. Ensure that you are registered with UIF and have the right basic labour practices in place. Click here for basic information.

    5. Speak with your employee about what their vocational dreams and aspirations are, and then work on a plan together to help ensure they reach their dream - with your assistance of resource, support, information and flexibility. I know many people who have walked alongside their domestic staff until they find and are equipped to move on to the work they would love to do.

    When in doubt about the nitty-gritty, spend time with God and ask what ‘Loving your Neighbour’ looks like when it comes to your domestic staff. Can you share their load or burden in more meaningful ways? If this was a loved one, what would my desires for them be? What role can I play in their life in reversing the impact of our history on their lives and family and future generations?

    The joy of doing the righteous thing and following the Jesus way in this, will be rewarding for you and your family, and your domestic staff and their family. Let us start a Living Wage revolution today. The impact will literally be felt for generations to come.

    Linda Martindale

  • Leadership for Urban Transformation

    We are very excited to be at the planning stages of running the Leadership In Urban Transformation (LUT) certificate course through the University of Pretoria in 2017. This will be second year of running a Cape Town cohort for this course. Thank you for the interest you have shown.

    Here are some of the answers to frequently asked questions about this course, and a summary of all information including the contact weeks planned for next year. It is important that each delegate is able to attend the contact weeks.

    The course has been developed and will be run by Dr Stephan De Beer who is the head of the Centre for Contextual Ministry that is housed within the theology faculty of the University of Pretoria. Next year, it will be co-hosted by The Warehouse and the Centre for Applied Christian Studies at Cornerstone Institute, but the accreditation will come directly from U.P. www.ccm.up.ac.za

    It is a theology certificate with a strong emphasis on Urban studies, drawing on input from experts in a variety of multi-disciplinary fields. Readings draw from both theological and secular disciplines.

    The ideal participants are people involved in practical transformational ministry in the city who want to reflect theologically and have their work be more deeply informed by theological models. This year, the Cape Town cohort included church leaders, people working with churches and church mobilisation, an architect involved in informal settlement development, leaders in education renewal and civil society engagement, youth leaders, someone involved in theological education, and more.

    About half the class had previous theological training (bachelor and honours degrees in Theology) and some of us had absolutely none! For those of you with no prior theological training, The Warehouse and Cornerstone are happy to hold a one day workshop prior to the start of the course to fill you in on various concepts and regularly used terminology from the theology academic world that we think will help.

    - For those of you with Bachelor of Theology degrees, the LUT counts towards the bulk of an honours - you would need to complete two further classes (research methodology and practical theology) the year after completing the LUT. You would only need to register for your honours at the start of 2018.

    - For those of you with Honours in Theology, the LUT is the coursework of a masters, the final essay serving as a Master’s thesis proposal. You would only need to register for your honours at the start of 2018.

    - For those of you with any other higher academic qualifications that are not in theology, we will have to let you know how the process unfolds for those of us without theology who have done the LUT this year. It will count toward RPL (recognition of prior learning) for any ongoing field of study of course, but at present we are unsure what this will mean for ongoing theological studies. What we can vouch for, however, is that it has been of the utmost value to the work that we do and will have been worth it even if we are not awarded with anything other than a certificate. But watch this space smile

    Attached to this e mail is the course outline for last year, but please note that the reading lists have already been expanded.

    Please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) indicating whether you are interested in studying this next year and we will keep you updated with registration links and other information.

    MORE INFORMATION:

    LEADERSHIP IN URBAN TRANSFORMATION

    Purpose of the Course:
    This course is designed to equip urban practitioners connected with urban challenges with values, knowledge and skills, that will enable them to serve as incarnational and transformational urban leaders, able to read, re-imagine and reconstruct their communities, with many other people. The course will draw from stories of hope around the world.

    Who may attend:
    People working in faith-based organisations, community organisations, or urban Churches (community, non-profit and church leaders), or generally committed to urban transformation that is socially inclusive; and who have matriculated and have a two or three year diploma or degree.

    Note:
    Students who qualify to register for a Master’s degree at the Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, can offer this course as part of a structured course work Master’s degree in Practical Theology.

    Structure and duration of course:
    This is a one year course with five weeks of contact tuition. Written assignments are done after every week of contact sessions. Each module will consist of theory, practical exercises, and in-depth reflection and integration of information.
     
    Dates of Contact Weeks:
    ·      Week 1: 03-07 Apr 2017
    ·      Week 2: 22-26 May 2017
    ·      Week 3: 17-21 Jul 2017
    ·      Week 4: 04-08 Sept 2017
    ·      Week 5: 20-23 Nov 2017

    Venue:
    Cape Town - specifics to be confirmed. A variety of venues are used during the course, but there will be one “home base” for the bulk of the lectures during contact weeks

    Cost:
    To be determined (this year it was R6000 but it will go up next year) 

  • Make your year-end giving go a long way

    On a trip through the USA I was asked whether The Warehouse is able to receive donations that qualify for tax deductions within the USA. In partnership with the National Christian Foundation we are able to do so and we’d like to make sure that you know this is possible as you consider your year-end giving.

    Twenty years prior to the end of apartheid we could scarcely conceive of a different South Africa, but in 1994 we experienced the miracle of apartheid falling away and the birth of the rainbow nation.  The role of the church and God’s intervention in this is well documented, however, twenty years later we are living both with the disappointment of the failed potential of our nation and the apparent lack of capacity within the church to truly impact society over this time. The law of apartheid died in 1994 yet its spirit is still well and truly alive.

    It doesn’t have to be this way!  The Warehouse believes that the next twenty years could see a new, more sustainable miracle happen as the church lives up to its calling from Jesus to transform society as part of declaring the good news of His Kingdom.

    Please would you consider investing in this for your year end giving.  Your gift goes a long way in South Africa as the exchange rate is very favourable at the moment.  Over 70% of our funding is locally sourced which ensures that we can use gifts from the USA for catalyse new programs and initiatives. Just to give you an idea of what it costs to do some of our work:

    - $30 a month helps us accompany a church leader who is leading their church in being a transformative presence.
    - $300 covers the cost of a customized workshop or training event for a church leadership team helping them discern and plan how to be a transforming presence in their community
    - $3000 funds a 3 day retreat and capacity building conference for 20 church leaders

    If you are from the United States and would like to donate as part of your Year-end Giving, please do so through our NCF partnership here:

    http://www.nationalchristian.com/donationredirect?org=18&aid=572001

    Craig Stewart

  • Cape Town’s Sanitation Problem

    “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27 NRSV)

    Cape Town has a sanitation problem, we cannot hide from this fact, one home has 10 toilets, yet in some informal settlements, 10 people have access to one toilet. We need to begin to ask ourselves, serious questions, around our theology, ethics and our ecology. Steve De Gruchy said at a conference in 2009: “that sewage is the place where economics and ecology collide … Outside of our ability to deal with our s**t, there can be no real talk of sustainability.” We have to start asking, what is preventing the roll out of more toilets? What can we do as the church to facilitate this situation? It starts with awareness and education.

    The South African Human Rights Commission released a report on water and sanitation in 2014 which included the following findings:
    • Approximately 11% (1.4 million) of households (formal and informal) still have to be provided with sanitation services (these households have never had a government supported sanitation intervention);
    • At least 26% (3.8 million) of households within formal areas have sanitation services which do not meet the required standards due to the deterioration of infrastructure caused by lack of technical capacity to ensure effective operation, timeous maintenance, refurbishment and/or upgrading, pit emptying services and/or insufficient water resources.
    • Although the un-served population is 11% of the national total, their predominance is in the widely dispersed rural settlements of KwaZulu-Natal, North West and the Eastern Cape. The areas with high levels of infrastructure maintenance needs are located within Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape.
    • Based on an assessment of the provision of water services, 23 municipalities (9% of the total) were in a crisis state, with an acute risk of disease outbreak.
    • A further 38% were at high risk, with the potential to deteriorate into a state of crisis.
    • See link below for the full report.

    We need to begin to answer the question of who is my neighbour, and how and why this matters in how we live our lives daily. This is why we do our sanitation campaigns, we believe in the power of the Gospel, to transform communities, to be the agents of change, and in the Church to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We invite you to walk with us, to ask questions with us, to challenge the idea of what a just Cape Town looks like. Leading up to World Toilet Day we will be running a number of events, to raise awareness of the issues facing a great many of our brothers and sisters, sign up, together we can learn, teach others and make a lasting difference across the City and beyond.

    http://www.sahrc.org.za/home/21/files/FINAL%204th%20Proof%204%20March%20-%20Water%20%20Sanitation%20low%20res%20(2).pdf

  • Children, Church and the Law

    Do you know…

    • That the Children’s Act applies to churches too?
    • What the law says about bullying?
    • Who at your church needs to be checked against the Child Protection Register, how to do this, and who is responsible?
    • What to do if a child is injured or dies while in the care of the church?
    • What to do if you suspect a child of being abused or neglected?
    • What rights must be protected when displaying photographs of children?
    • That your church has the potential to significantly impact the protection and well-being of the children in your community and in the nation?

    The Warehouse has just launched the book Children, Church and the Law – a Practical Guide for Churches on the Children’s Act and Other Laws related to Children. Written by Erica Greathead, a member of Christ Church Kenilworth and former Warehouse staff member, the book describes the principles and provisions of the Children’s Act and its relevance to churches in their work with children.

    The Church has always been involved in caring for, protecting and advocating for children. It’s what the Bible teaches, and what we have been doing throughout the ages. The church cares for children on its premises through Sunday School and other activities, as well as outside at camps, in the community and in child-and-youth-care centres. Yet many of us have little understanding of what the legal requirements are for caring for children, in this way compromising both the protection of children and of the church itself. The aim of this book, therefore, is to equip leaders in the church and all who work with children to better understand and adhere to the Children’s Act and related laws.

    It’s a very practical book, written in simple English in a question-and-answer format. It includes a glossary of terms used, real life examples of application of the different principles, and snippets that illustrate what is being described. Colour coding is used so that the different sections are easily identifiable. The book describes the background to the Children’s Act and its aim and purpose; it outlines principles such as the best interest of the child, child-participation and cultural practices. It looks at who is suitable to work with children, what are the rights and responsibilitites of parents and of children, different types of care and support for children, issues such as child labour and trafficking, and much much more.

    It is hoped that this book will enable churches to deal much more confidently with all issues surrounding children and their care, and that it will prove invaluable to churches and to all who work with children.

    Where to get a copy
    The book is available at The Warehouse at 12 Plantation Road Wetton at R300, or you can order a copy by writing to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). If you’d like us to do a presentation at your church or for your archdeaconry, call us on 021 7611168 or send us an e-mail.

     

     

  • Sanitation Matters

    Our goal, beginning in January, is to host a sanitation event every Third Thursday of the month hence our Turd Thursday campaign. This is to assist, encourage and inspire churches and community based leaders to tackle the issue of sanitation. We will be holding workshops, hard discussions, sanitation pilgrimages and budget awareness programmes over the course of the next year.

    We also seek to draw the conversation beyond the issue of sanitation as a human rights issue, to draw it into a stewardship issue. The need to talk sanitation beyond the political rhetoric of flush toilets is vital. Currently we are in the midst of stage 3 water restrictions, this could have serious long term implications, we must find ways to talk sanitation beyond this point.

    The Warehouse will be seeking to do this over the course of our Turd Thursday program. Who and what is the church in the midst of a sanitation and ecological crisis? What does our theology look like outside of the sanctuary and into the streets, are we able to keep preaching messages of eternal streets of gold, while effluent flows in the streets.

    Together we will unpack this, pilgrimage together beyond the crisis and into the space of hope.

    Watch this for more:


    If you would like notifications about this Sanitation Campaign, please sign up here.

     

     

  • Hands off our Grants

    In October 2015, more than 1200 people from a range of civil society organisations demanded that unauthorised, unlawful, fraudulent and immoral deductions from beneficiaries’ SASSA bank accounts be stopped.  It is October 2016 and we are here again!

    New regulations, published in May 2016, were meant to stop the flood of unauthorised, unlawful and fraudulent debit deductions from the SASSA bank accounts. Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and Grindrod Bank were instructed to remove the debit order facility from the SASSA bank account.

    But in June 2016 Net1 (which owns CPS), some of its subsidiaries, including Moneyline and Manje Mobile Services, as well as a few other companies took government to court in four cases challenging primarily SASSA and the Department of Social Development’s interpretation of the new regulations and secondarily the new regulations itself. The applicants are asking the High Court to interpret the functionality of the SASSA bank account to include debit orders. They question the authority of the Minister of Social Development to regulate electronic debits within the banking domain. They also asked that the new regulations be declared unconstitutional, if indeed the Department of Social Development (DSD) and SASSA’s interpretation of the regulations is correct. 

    The Black Sash and six co-applicants asked the court to order that the Minister publish regulations to protect social grants from exploitation if: (a) DSD and SASSA’s interpretation is correct; and (b) that the interpretation renders the new regulations unconstitutional. Government should be given the opportunity to fix the new regulations, if defective, to protect vulnerable beneficiaries from predatory and unscrupulous financial and other third party service providers.

    For months we have gathered evidence and testimonies from affected persons about money deducted from the bank accounts into which their social grants are paid, without their approval or informed consent. Media reports also show that cases of suspicious deductions continue and are on the increase. The system that SASSA has put in place to solve deduction disputes is not working well, leaving many beneficiaries unable to resolve queries and/or claim back their money. THIS MUST STOP! This Campaign asserts the Constitutional right to social security. 

    Finally, we note the Constitutional Court order in April 2012 that SASSA must lodge a report within fourteen days of not awarding a new tender, “on whether and when it will be ready to assume the duty to pay the grants itself” (in-source). In November 2015, SASSA submitted a plan to ConCourt with clear deliverables and timeframes for taking over payment of grants by the end of the CPS/SASSA contract in March 2017. We are closely monitoring SASSA’s progress in this regard. 

    The Black Sash led Hands Off Our Grants (HOOG) Campaign calls for:

    - SASSA to take over the payment of social grants (in-source) by 1 April 2017
    - The creation of a special and protected SASSA bank account
    - Improved implementation of SASSA’s recourse system
    - Refund disputed deductions with bank charges and interest backdated to 2012
    - The protection of personal and private information of all in the social grant system.

    Black Sash, the Association for Community Advice Offices of South Africa (ACAOSA), supporting civil society organisations along with SASSA beneficiaries are asking for your support as follows: 

    1. Register your disputed debit deductions with your local SASSA office immediately or call SASSA’s Toll Free Number on 0800 60 10 11. If necessary, escalate your dispute to SASSA regional, provincial and national offices. 
    2. To have your organisation endorse this Campaign please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) 
    3. Mass action to be held in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban on 17 – 18 October 2016. 
    4. Sign up for the Amandla.mobi ‘Hands Off Our Grants’ petition. Visit http://www.awethu.amandla.mobi/p/grants If yo.u don’t have access to the internet, you can sign up for the petition by sending the word ‘grants’ in a SMS, Please Call me or Whatsapp to 074 357 6937.  We refuse to remain silent about the hardship and struggles of poor and vulnerable people affected by these unauthorised and often fraudulent deductions.

    As a result beneficiaries experience food shortages and are unable to take their medicines. Many, particularly in rural communities, struggle to find recourse, spending extra money on transport and airtime, often with little success. 

    For more information – please email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

  • Waging Peace

    I arrived in Cape Town in July 2015 from London to take up the role of Assistant Minister at Christ Church Kenilworth. In my interview in January 2015, I remember a deep conversation unfolding about a sense of ‘Kairos’ in South Africa at this time. Kairos used in the sense of time set by God for a particular occurrence. One biblical example often cited is Mark 1: 14 – 15.

    After I arrived, between 17 - 20 August 2015, an international group of about 200 people gathered at the University of Johannesburg to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1985 Kairos document. The Kairos document was actually sub-titled “a challenge to the churches”. It challenged the Church to ask itself whether it is a faithful, prophetic witness to the person of Jesus and his manifest rule and reign of in our lives, communities and nation. God’s reign of love is not invisible it looks like something. It authors and nurtures the sanctity of every human-being and values each one as perfectly worthy of love - God’s and each other’s. It authors and promotes justice as the foundation for every aspect of creation, human relationships and social structures. It contends with injustice - the social systems and structures which oppress and dehumanise that which God calls sacred that without justice for all there can be no peace for all and that ‘He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps perpetrate it.’.

    ‘For Kairos theologians, Jesus is Lord, not Caesar. And if Caesar is particularly oppressive and not a servant of God (as the apartheid system proved to be in the 1980s), then it cannot be obeyed by Christians. This is why the Kairos document called on the churches to engage in non-violent civil disobedience against apartheid.’

    When we forsake God and choose to serve Caesar, we willingly or passively comply with the values, social order and authority of Caesar’s political, economic, social and environmental manifesto.

    The bible calls this prime allegiance to another god: idolatry and it is the main catalyst for God’s anger towards his people and reason for his discipline in scripture.

    In Jeremiah: 2: 13, God denounces Israel’s idolatry saying:

    “My people have committed two sins:
    They have forsaken me,
      the spring of living water,
    and have dug their own cisterns,
      broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

    Forsaking God and giving allegiance to Caesar results in a social order which is broken and which denies life to all who are subject to Caesar’s rule. One of the ways that Caesar maintains allegiance and power is through dividing and conquering people within a nation. Some are favoured over others - given the dominant position in society so that in day to day life, this privilege influences every human interaction between those Caesar’s social order favours and those it denies it to. This is one of the blindspots of the broken cisterns. The privileged become so well-adjusted to the broken cisterns because of the benefits they receive, that they will turn on those who challenge their inequality and seek to overturn them either by seeking to silence the protest by whatever means seems ‘proportional’ to restore law and order. Frighteningly, the beneficiaries of Caesar’s broken cisterns become his agents of oppressive force and power.

    In 1994, when Apartheid was overturned, the rule of Caesar came to an end, but the people of South Africa inherited the broken cisterns that were created during its rule and many if not most of them continue to operate today leaving Caesar still in power.

    When the student and service delivery protests erupted shortly after I arrived, I realised that this was a kairos moment for the church. How we responded would reveal to ourselves and to the world, who our ‘god’ really is. When Jesus is truly Lord of the Church, the Church works confidently, joyfully and tirelessly to dismantle and replace the political, economic, social and environmental cisterns of Caesar to provide life-giving cisterns for EVERYONE. These cisterns will include: housing, water and sanitation, health, education, land reform, employment to name just the essential ones.

    Theologian and author Thomas Oden explains the damage that ensues when we forsake God and choose another to our relationships with each other and to our society:

    ‘Every self exists in relation to values perceived as making life worth living. A value is anything good in the created order - any idea, relation, object or person in which one has an interest, from which one derives significance… These values compete… In time one is prime to choose a centre of value by which other values are judged. When a finite value has been elevated to centrality and imagined as a final source of meaning, then one has chosen a god. One has a god when a finite value is viewed as that without which one cannot receive life joyfully.’

    The protests are and continue to be deeply complex. As I write, the student protests have resumed and in my conversations with faculty staff, students, parents and church leaders, we are deeply divided in our responses.

    What I am hearing is that students particularly are desperate to be heard. To be really listened to. Many are traumatised by the way SAPS and private security companies have treated them. In several cases already this week, police have fired rubber bullets at non-violent protesters.

    South Africa has a history of protest and violence. It has yet to develop a nation-wide approach to conflict resolution which does not include violence. One of the key ways we can develop this is to invite and encourage trained mediators to come and facilitate open, honest dialogue so that all parties can be heard by one another. This process of facilitated deeper listening is absolutely crucial if those who have been disadvantaged by the broken cisterns of Apartheid, and they are the majority, will be heard by those who continue to be privileged by them. Surely this is something the Church should be encouraging, supporting and facilitating?

    Few defend the governments lack of leadership and the ongoing corruption that prevents the delivery of a bold strategy to restitute the injustice of the past in tertiary education. But by remaining passive or silent and not holding government to account, the privileged ignore the cries of our younger learners and we continue to deny them the opportunity to become architects and builders of the new cisterns across this country.

    So how can the church engage?

    According to Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians (5:18-20), God has made an appeal for reconciliation with the world through his Son, Jesus,  and he wants those who’ve experienced this reconciliation to spread the word to others so that all might experience this reconciliation too.

    So the church is called to follow Jesus’ example by making the first move to facilitate reconciliation.

    Conversations with Christians and church leaders, have led to the realisation that the church is currently not equipped to handle the larger issues around these protests at present. There has been a corporate de-skilling since the 1980 and 1990’s when the church last played a crucial role in peace building in South Africa.

    These are the uncomfortable spaces where we need to be placing ourselves, at the frontline of the change taking place in the nation, waging peace.

    Waging Peace

    A growing team of passionate peace-builders, mediators and justice activists from across denominations and networks (SACLI, The Warehouse, St John’s Parish CPT, Mennonite Community, and SADRA) are proposing to build a peacemaking network that is able to meet peacemaking needs on various levels, serve protestors and the police as well as handle the mediation process acting both as presence and peacemaker in a Christlike manner. This work can act as a point of focus to open up discussions and work around the deeper work of both grassroots community development as well as the national space of nation building.

    Our intention is to create highly trained teams, that are available to church leaders and civil society both pre, during and post conflict situations. Our prayer being that we are able to bring the light of Christ to prevent potentially violent protests taking place, and in some instances preventing the need for protest altogether.

    Three particular ways that the Church can engage in peace-building are:

    Frontline Peacemakers:

    A team of fully trained peacemakers to attend conflict signs in and around the City, to act as both a calming presence for both protestors and law enforcement.

    Mediation / Negotiation:

    A team with basic training in mediation and then a core team trained to handle various scenarios from student negotiations to government and unions, also availing ourselves to churches and other faith based organisations to assist in mediation. Over the last two weeks, we have been able to connect trained mediators with faculties and students wanting to create spaces for facilitated dialogue. This is showing signs of hope and that there is a desire for dialogue.

    Activists:

    Community based Christian activists will be mobilised in order to bring numbers and support to protests around key issues, whilst at the same time acting as a peace building presence in and amongst protestors. They will also be able to add a Christian dynamic to the narrative by walking and praying, singing, carrying the Shalom of Christ with them into potentially dangerous places.

    If Waging Peace excites or interests you or if you know that you are called to engage in this Kairos moment and want to meet others who are engaging prayerfully too, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact Pros Ndimande .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    In his book Subversive Jesus, Craig Greenfield writes:

    ‘Jesus did not come to get politicians elected into power… Instead he wants us to imagine a different kind of revolution - a gentle subversive revolution of love, courage, justice and kindness to the people least likely to be offered that kindness.’

    Apartheid sought to quench all hope of that revolution, but if failed. It’s left a trail of brokenness which together with God’s love, strength and inspiration we can transform. A new kairos has dawned.

    Rev Annie Kirke
    Assistant Minister
    Christ Church Kenilworth

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“Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing.”

Desmond Tutu

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