Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has announced that the September 2020 sessions of the Synod of Bishops (SOB) and the Provincial Standing Committee (PSC) will be held virtually using video-conferencing software.
In a letter to the Province’s bishops and members of the PSC, the Archbishop said there was a real prospect that in a number of countries in the Province, lockdowns would still be in force in September. In addition, some members of PSC had a heightened vulnerability to becoming seriously ill if they contract the virus.
“It is imperative under the Canons that we hold a PSC meeting, inter alia because we have to approve the 2021 budget, and the Legal Team has advised… that such a virtual PSC meeting will be legal in terms of the Canons,” he said.
PSC includes episcopal, clerical and lay representatives from each Diocese in the Province and meets annually. It comprises about 120 people, including representatives of organisations.
The PSC Service Committee, which is responsible for planning the Committee’s meetings, met on May 20 to discuss detailed arrangements for this year’s meeting, to be held on September 22-24.
It is proposed that members of each Diocese’s delegation will meet in a central venue, such as a Diocesan Centre, where physical distancing can be implemented, and that they will be able to view proceedings on a screen and contribute to discussions via audio links. The Service Committee urged that each Diocese ought to have an IT expert available to ensure an uninterrupted connection.
The Service Committee asked for a draft liturgy for opening worship to be prepared and is seeking ideas for how the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Province can be celebrated during the meeting.
The Archbishop and the Service Committee urges everyone to use the following special Collect for PSC in the months leading up to the meeting:
Almighty God, our refuge and strength,
As we face the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic
Keep us faithful to you,
Strengthen us to care for one another and your planet,
For you led your people out of exile,
You walked the road to Calvary,
And you continue to equip us for ministry with your Holy Spirit,
One God, world without end.