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Anglican Communion leaders pay tribute to Nelson Mandela

Posted on: December 5, 2013 10:37 PM
African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela visits Archbishop Desmond Tutu after his release from prison.
Photo Credit: Peter Turnley/Corbis
Related Categories: Southern Africa

By ACNS staff

Senior bishops from around the Anglican Communion have paid tribute to Nelson Mandela who died today aged 95.

South Africa's first black president and anti-apartheid icon died around 8.50pm local time at his home in Johannesburg surrounded by his family. 

Primates from the Anglican Communion issued statements and prayers following the announcement of his death issued by the country's president Jacob Zuma.

Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba wrote a prayer: 

"Go forth, revolutionary and loving soul, on your journey out of this world, in the name of God, who created you, suffered with you and liberated you. Go home Madiba, you have selflessly done all that is good, noble and honourable for God’s people.

"We will continue where you have left off, the Lord being our helper. We now turn to you, Lord, in this hour of darkness, sadness, pain and death, in tears and mourning. We wail, yet we believe that you will console us, that you will give us the strength to hold in our hearts and minds, and the courage to enact in our lives, the values Madiba fought and stood for.

"We turn to you, Lord, and entrust Madiba’s soul to your eternal rest and loving arms as he rejoins the Madiba clan, his comrades and all the faithful departed.

"We pray particularly for his closest and dearest, for Ma Graca Machel, for his children, grandchildren and all his relatives; may you surround them with your loving arms, your fatherly embrace and comfort.

"At this dark time of mourning, at this perfect time when you have called him to rest and a perfect end, accept his soul and number him among the company of the redeemed in Heaven. Console and comfort his family, South Africa and the world.

"May his long walk to freedom be enjoyed and realised in our time by all of us. May he rest in peace and rise in glory! Amen."

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said, "The death of President Nelson Mandela was announced in memorable words by president Zuma. South Africa has lost its greatest citizen and its father. Nelson Mandela, fighting to the end, is freed to be with His God in joy and reward for His great service and sacrifice. We pray for his family, for his friends and for his country. We are challenged to show the same degree of humanity, of courage and of generosity." 

In a guest column for, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu who was Primate of the country's Anglican Church during the Apartheid era wrote, "Nelson Mandela is mourned by South Africans, Africans and the international community today as the leader of our generation who stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries — a colossus of unimpeachable moral character and integrity, the world's most admired and revered public figure.

"Not since Kenyatta, Nkrumah, Nyerere and Senghor has Africa seen his like. Looking for comparisons beyond Africa, he will go down in history as South Africa's George Washington, a person who within a single five-year presidency became the principal icon of both liberation and reconciliation, loved by those of all political persuasions as the founder of modern, democratic South Africa."

The rest of Abp Tutu's column can be read at

The Primates of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Archbishops Brown Turei, Philip Richardson, Winston Halapua said, "We’ve just heard the sad news of Nelson Mandela’s death – and the only fit response we can make is to call our church to prayer. 

"To thank God, in the first place, for the life of this wonderful man, and for his remarkable witness to reconciliation and for his contribution to the peace of South Africa and of the world.

"And to pray for his family, and for his beloved South Africa. May Nelson Mandela rest in peace, and rise in Glory, and may light perpetual shine upon him."

In North America the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts Schori said, "The people of The Episcopal Church join the world in mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, prophet and witness to justice. His leadership spanned decades, before and during imprisonment on Robben Island, and continuing into the establishment of a nation that aspires to serve the freedom and dignity of all human beings.  

"He helped the world to see a shining vision of the incarnate Reign of God.  We pray that it was not simply a brief glimpse, but that his labour may be joined to that of others, grounding and growing a world of peace with justice for all.  May God welcome this shepherd home in peace." 

In Canada, Fred Hiltz, Primate and Archbishop said, "Today the world mourns the passing of one of the greatest men of our times. Nelson Mandela's life is the story of the prisoner who became the president of his beloved country. He is the icon of South African's long road to freedom from apartheid. He is 'the father of our nation', writes Desmond Tutu, 'the pride of our people.'

"Mandela only ever looked back to remember those who had been so sorely oppressed, who suffered and died. He looked ahead and with a strength of spirit that was unwavering. He pressed for truth and reconciliation in his homeland. So impressive was his foresight that it inspired the same kind of work so necessary in numerous other countries as well." Read the read here

The Anglican Church of Bermuda also expressed its sadness at the death of the great anti-apartheid leader and former President of South Africa.

“Having sat in Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island and met those whose lives had been changed by his example, I am grateful to God the role he has played in re-shaping our view of the possibilities of reconciliation and healing between the races – against all odds,” said the Bishop of Bermuda, The Rt Revd Nicholas Dill.

He continued, “Former President Mandela turned the tide of our response to our enemies with a message of forgiveness." Read the rest of Bp Dill's comments here

Read more of Nelson Mandela's life's story at