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A letter to young people after the death of Archbishop-emeritus Desmond Tutu

It has only been a few days since the funeral service of the Arch, but I feel it necessary to write to young people in South Africa, the rest of the continent and across the globe, about the Arch and the need to learn from him and to preserve or continue his rich legacy. He started out in a very poor township in South Africa and, with the support of others, became a world-renowned leader. If he could do it, any child who longs to do it, who nurtures certain values and disciplines and work hard, can also do it.

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Reducing South African youth unemployment

How can the church help?

Given the immensity and complexity of the crisis, the issue of youth unemployment should, at the very least, be on the prayer list of each South African church congregation. We bring unique gifts and graces to every challenge, and prayer is one of those unique graces we can and should bring to this crisis, acknowledging that it will require more than human ability to solve it.

If we begin to pray about it, we give it a certain prominence because we have spoken about it to God, and we will then have no choice but to act on it.

Prayer is also one of the factors that give the church confidence to deal with multiple and often converging crises. We gain our confidence from a relationship with someone who says “I will be with you always, until the end of time” and from Scriptures that proclaim that “for human beings it may be impossible, but for God it is possible”. When it becomes clear that other agencies are not going to – or simply cannot – deal with this and other crises any time soon, the Church has no choice but to stand in the breach as young people are part of the special concern of the church and also part of the marginalized and the voiceless or the unheard.

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A prayer for VYLTP, for young leaders

Loving God,

You called a young woman, Mary

To birth your image to the world

And you chose young people to be your first disciples,to embody the first-fruits your kin dom

Give us grace to see, affirm, nurture and restore your image in young people

So that they may create beauty, joy and justice within themselves and others

Especially for the poor and the most marginalized

For the sake of your Christ, Jesus

Who came not to be served, but to serve

And in the power of your Holy Spirit.


Rev. Edwin Arrison,

Our new online course: Reading the bible in context

The new VYLTP course will

  • Deepen your understanding of how the Bible has been used as a text of both oppression and liberation
  • Explore how we read the Bible and what happens when we read from a variety of perspectives
  • Participate with others in reading the Bible contextually, and grapple with varying perspectives of critical biblical texts
  • Deepen your understanding of how the Bible can help you to bear witness to Christ in ways that lead to redemption and liberation in the world today.

Do not miss this one!

The great South African “marriage” of 1994

Reflecting upon what is happening between Israel and Palestine vs. what is happening in South Africa, Judge Dennis Davis is quoted to have said: “Over there they are talking about divorce – but here we are talking about marriage”.

Divorce and darkness vs marriage and light

I am not sure what the good judge would say about the coming together of West and East Germany in the early 1990s. Were they also talking about a marriage between the two geographical entities (which after all consists of one “volk” and therefore have much in common) or do they prefer the more neutral word of “uniting”? Or are they merely building a partnership or perhaps only trying to make a co-operation agreement work there? Or do they merely strive for “cohesion”?

Words create worlds, and it is important that we are clear which words we use when and why we use it.

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“Your vision must be stronger than your memory”

This expression, according to Dr Nick Binedell, the founder of GIBS in Johannesburg, is a mantra that will lead any individual, organization, institution or country to a better future.

It resonates well with the Biblical expression: “Where there is no vision, the people perish (or parish!)”. (Proverbs 29:18)

But how does it resonate with the expression from Archbishop Tutu: “We learn from history that we do not learn from history”? We should desire to learn from history so that we do not repeat the mistakes of our individual and collective histories.

It is clear that history cannot simply be forgotten. Amnesia is not an option. But in faithfully learning about history from many different perspectives, how does one ensure that it does not consume you, imprison you or make you bitter and cynical? Can a knowledge of history liberate us?

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