Statement from the Archbishop and Metropolitan, the Most Rev Njongonkulu Ndungane
This year is my tenth year as Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa. Apart from the first three Anglican Archbishops of Cape Town, who presided over the formation of our church, all my other predecessors have taken on this role for a maximum of ten years. It is an extremely demanding position with many wide-ranging responsibilities and although, according to the canons of our church, I could continue to fill it until I am seventy, I have decided that the time is coming for me to step down.
It is my intention therefore to retire in 2008. This year will be a significant one in the life of our church. It is the 160th anniversary of the Diocese of Cape Town and also the year in which the Lambeth Conference is due to be held again. The Lambeth Conference is a meeting of all bishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion which takes place once every ten years.
After consultation with the bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa last week, and with the senior clergy of the Diocese of Cape Town yesterday, I have determined that this transition needs to be as orderly and as easy for my successor as we can make it. The Anglican Church in Southern Africa is a big ecclesiastical province and this, in itself, presents many challenges. It consists of twenty-six dioceses in six countries and on one island. The countries are Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and the Island of St Helena.
The election of a successor will take place during the course of 2007. He or she will act with me as coadjutor until my retirement. This will allow time for training, mentoring and understanding the Archbishops ministry. It will also give me the opportunity to introduce whoever follows me not only to fellow leaders of the Anglican Communion at the Lambeth meeting but also to other faith leaders. We believe that this will be a useful preparation for my successor as he or she will then be in a position to carry forward all decisions made at Lambeth.
It is sometimes said that the mills of God grind slowly and for forty years the Anglican Church in Southern Africa has been struggling with the re-structuring of the - until recently - rather unwieldy Diocese of Cape Town. Under my watch, the original diocese has been split into three and I am happy that I am able to leave a smaller and much more manageable diocese for my successor.
Happily for me, there is life after being an Archbishop and there are many projects I wish to pursue once I have retired. I will continue my interest in issues of development. More specifically I intend to continue my involvement with the African Monitor - the stand-alone body I have set up to monitor donor funding and the use of that funding in Africa.
I also hope to support the revival of the traditional church schools in South Africa. For many years, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the mission and church schools were incubators of the most educated African elite, but many of them have fallen into disuse or have been swallowed up by the national education system. There has been much discussion recently around the possibility of re-establishing these institutions as modern schools and quality training colleges. I would be very keen to be involved in that process.
Teaching and sharing my experience with young ordinands at theological colleges as well as doing some more writing would also be on my 'to-do' list.
All that remains for me to say at this stage is that I look forward to the upcoming election of a new archbishop. Most of all, what I believe our church needs now is an injection of youthful energy and enthusiasm so that it continues to serve Southern Africans in ways that meet their present-day needs.