Bishop Sipuka Now Heads SA Church Leaders’ Body
Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha, president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has been appointed the new chair of the National Church Leaders’ Consultation.
Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town has stepped down and Bishop Sipuka will take up his new position with immediate effect.
“I’m not sure how I feel just yet, I will take things as they come,” Bishop Sipuka said in reaction to his appointment. He asked Southern Cross readers to pray for him.
The National Church Leaders’ Consultation (NCLC) is an ecumenical body that concerns itself with issues and challenges the country is facing, and what church leaders are called to do.
The group of religious leaders includes representatives from the South African Council of Churches, including the Catholic Church, as well as from the Muslim Judicial Council.
Bishop Sipuka said that a lot of the discussion at the latest meeting was around HIV/Aids.
“The perception that’s out there is that HIV/Aids is under control, but the reality is that it is actually escalating, and what we lament more is the sidelining of the churches in being partners in addressing this problem,” he said.
He explained that funders tend to give money to government and non-governmental organisations, and indications are that the churches are very attractive; the Catholic Church is the leading institution providing HIV/Aids care after the government.
“So we were discussing how we could engage the funders and the government to include us. That’s not really that we want money from them, but to engage with us in terms of the knowledge we have in this regard, in terms of strategy, and in what we, as a Church, are good at,” Bishop Sipuka said.
He said Church leaders are working at compiling a full analysis of the HIV/Aids situation so that when a memorandum of understanding has been set out, they can present things which they perceive as issues, and provide solutions.