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Church of the Province of South Africa

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Church of the Province of South Africa

Not to be confused with Church of England in South Africa.

Anglican Church of Southern Africa
File:Anglican Church of Southern Africa emblem.png
Primate Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town
Polity Episcopal
Headquarters 20 Bishopscourt Drive
Bishopscourt 7708
South Africa
Territory Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Saint Helena, South Africa and Swaziland
Members c. 3–4 million[1]
Anglicanism Portal

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

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


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

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

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

Some Church of England parishes in the then Cape Colony refused to join the Church of the Province of South Africa when it was constituted in 1870. These parishes expanded throughout South Africa calling themselves the Church of England in South Africa.

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

In 2006, the name Church of the Province of Southern Africa was dropped to avoid historic confusion as to its ambiguous name. The church was renamed the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

In July 2012, Revd Ellinah Wamukoya of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa became the bishop-elect of Swaziland and the first woman to be elected a bishop in any of the twelve Anglican Provinces in Africa.[2][3] Her episcopal consecration has been announced for 17 November 2012 at All Saints Cathedral, Mbabane.[4] In October 2012, Revd Canon Margaret Vertue was elected the diocesan bishop of False Bay; she is thus expected to become the second female African Anglican bishop, and the first in South Africa. [5]


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


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

Liturgy and the Anglican Prayer Book

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

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

The work of the revision reflected the worldwide liturgical renewal, most notably in relation to the Roman Catholic Church as a result of decisions reached at its Second Vatican Council.[9] Another influence was the charismatic renewal, which has had a marked impact on the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.[9] Particular care was taken to meet evangelical concerns in a Province that is historically High Church rather than Low Church in its main emphasis. Theological breadth – catholic, evangelical, charismatic, and liberal – was aimed at in order to achieve balance and to accommodate these various convictions.[9]

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

In tracing this line of continuity from the Lord’s Table to the Communion Table, a prayer traditionally ascribed to Hippolytus (ca. 215), Bishop of Rome, called the Apostolic Tradition, captured the imagination of contemporary liturgists and now appears in the modern liturgical books of different churches both Roman Catholic and Protestant.[10] The opening lines of all Four Eucharistic prayers closely mirror the wording of Hippolytus. The Fourth Eucharistic Prayer most closely maintains the link with the Hippolytus liturgy, but allows slight variation with respect to the wording of “we offer you” and “we bring before you” to accommodate different theological persuasions. This is an example of how the Anglican Church of Southern Africa in making revisions for the 1989 Anglican Prayer Book adopted a more conciliatory approach to the various ecclesiastical factions, foreshadowing the conciliatory context of South African politics in the early 90s in regard to political factions and political change.

Doctrine and practice

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

The threefold sources of authority in Anglicanism are scripture, tradition, and reason. These three sources uphold and critique each other in a dynamic way. This balance of scripture, tradition and reason is traced to the work of Richard Hooker, a sixteenth-century apologist. In Hooker's model, scripture is the primary means of arriving at doctrine and things stated plainly in scripture are accepted as true. Issues that are ambiguous are determined by tradition, which is checked by reason.[11]

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

Social issues and ecumenical relations

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa is regarded as the most liberal Anglican province in Africa, particularly on issues such as ordination of women and homosexuality. Gene Robinson's election as bishop of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America prompted warnings of a possible schism in the Anglican Communion. Retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated that he did not see what "all the fuss" was about, saying the election would not roil the Church of the Province of Southern Africa. However, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane expressed publicly is disapproval of same-sex marriage, when it was legalized in South Africa, and he also stated that he doesn't support the blessing of same-sex unions: "As far as we are concerned as a church, our understanding of marriage is between a man and a woman. And as a church, and the Anglican Church in particular, we have said no to same-sex unions."[12]

The Anglican Diocese of Cape Town, after a Synod held in Cape Town, on 20-22 August 2009, passed a resolution calling the Anglican Church in Southern Africa bishops to give pastoral guidelines for homosexual couples living in "covenanted partnerships". At the same time, it was approved an amendment for the resolution which provided that the guidelines "due regard of the mind of the Anglican Communion." Archbishop Thabo Makgoba stated that the resolution was "an important first step to saying: 'Lord, how do we do ministry in this context?' I'm a developmental person. I don't believe in big bangs. If you throw a little pebble into water, it sends out concentric circles and hopefully that way change comes from that." He also said that "South Africa has laws that approve a civil union in this context, but not in the other countries within our province. In central Africa and north Africa, both the Anglican Church and the state say 'no'" and "The reason for this resolution was because we have these parishioners, and the law provides for them to be in that state, so how do we pastorally respond to that?"[13]

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa is a member of the ecumenical World Council of Churches.[14]


Further reading

  • Elphick, Richard & Davenport, Rodney (eds). (1997). Christianity in South Africa: a political, social and cultural history. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-20940-0
  • Neill, Stephen (1965). Anglicanism. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books

External links

  • Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Template:Religion in South Africa

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