Letter to Church leaders in Southern Africa from Kairos Southern Africa
Date: 27 February 2011
Dear Church leader
Re: Launch of Kairos Southern Africa
This letter comes to you from a new body, Kairos Southern Africa, to be launched on 9 March 2011. The purpose of this letter is to brief Church leaders in South Africa about this event, as well as to share some of our initial activities. Attached please see a draft copy of our constitution.
Anticipating that the media may approach some Church leaders for reactions to this new organisation, we do not wish this to take you by surprise.
Background and Rationale for this new organisation:
During 2010 we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the South African Kairos Document. As part of our reflections, we realised that Kairos or Prophetic Theology played a critical role in South Africa before 1990. As soon as Apartheid officially ended, many in the Church abandoned the critical role of prophetic witness to the nation.
Many students, who have studied theology over these past twenty years, tell us that the Kairos Document did not even form part of what they had to learn, even though it and its context remains a subject of study in many other countries in the world. It is therefore not surprising to us that ecumenical witness has been in decline in our country, and that the prophetic voice of the Church has become less and less audible, and our witness less visible.
On the whole, it appears that the Church has retreated from making the necessary analyses of what is happening in our society and reading the signs of our times, and working together to take the necessary actions to proclaim hope. As a result, the message of hope, which is key to the proclamation of our Lord Jesus Christ, began to be heard less and less in our communities.
Thankfully, an increasing number of Church leaders across the ecumenical spectrum have begun to express the need for a stronger ecumenical and prophetic voice in the nation. We are excited at this development, and believe it to be God’s way of awakening His people to a critical role of serving the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ. Globally, nationally and locally, signs are that more, not less, prophesy is required.
We believe that Kairos Southern Africa will make an important contribution in prophetic theological reflection and practice in Southern Africa in the years ahead. We present it to Church leaders across our nation, with the hope that it will serve the quest of the Church to being a faithful witness in our contemporary context.
Kairos Southern Africa is intentionally and aspirationally regional in view of the fact that in our globally and regionally integrating world, the challenges to the integrity of our Christian witness are the same. In Zimbabwe, for example, a Kairos document was also launched in 1998, inspired by the South African Kairos document.
We invite you to journey with us as we explore what prophetic faithfulness will mean in the days and years ahead. We value your prayers, endorsements and participation greatly.
Visit of Kairos Palestine to South Africa:
As part of our solidarity with others elsewhere in the world, from 3rd – 10th April, Kairos Southern Africa will be hosting a ten member delegation of Palestinian Christians. After being inspired by the South African Kairos Document, Christians in Palestine published their own Palestinian Kairos Document in December 2010. This has in turn inspired us, and our written response to their Kairos document is on their website at www.kairospalestine.ps .
We will be meeting with them in conference from 4th – 5th April in Johannesburg. From 6th April they will be travelling to Cape Town and KZN to meet with Church and other representatives there. We ask that you assist in welcoming them warmly to our shores so that they may feel our solidarity with them. If you wish to host them for a short meeting, please contact us and we can see what is possible.
Our relationship with Palestinian Christians as South Africans has the historical foundation of several years of solidarity organised by the SACC, whereby volunteers are recruited in South Africa to spend three months at a time living and working with Palestinian Churches in their land. It is also an opportunity for us to drink from the wells of their tradition as they are the successors of the Church of Jerusalem whose first presider was James the Brother of our Lord.
Palestian Christians have experienced what it means to be victims of a political system that uses theology to deny others their rights. It is their hope that they can find in South Africa, Christians who are able to empathise with their predicament. The interesting thing about their Kairos is that it is a global Kairos, and therefore it affects us all intimately as we grapple with the questions of covenant, election, Zion, Jerusalem, etc.
God bless you in your ministry.
Moss Ntlha (Rev) Edwin Arrison (Rev)