KZN Anglican Church appoints first black dean

2009-01-18 00:00

In a colourful ceremony at the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity in the city yesterday, the Anglican Church in KwaZulu-Natal welcomed the first black dean in its 156-year history.

The new Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Reverend Ndabazinhle Sibisi, was formerly Rector of St Paul’s in Durban. He was ordained in 1979 and has worked in Newcastle, Inanda and Umhlali.

He said: “I have mixed emotions. On one hand, I am very excited about the glorious opportunity that God is giving me, especially at this time in the history of the church in our country, but it also comes with daunting challenges that cause the other emotions. As the first black to become dean, there will be lots of expectations from the church I serve and from the community that it exists in.”

Sibisi identified HIV and Aids, economic liberation and transformation as some of the challenges he faces. “We need to encourage the Anglican Church to engage with HIV and Aids and address it in partnership with other NGOs, particularly the stigma attached.

“We thought the liberation struggle had ended in 1994, but it appears we were … mistaken. When there is economic liberation for all our people, then we will have accomplished the vision of the church and the nation.”

On transformation in the church, he said: “I am grateful to Dean Fred [Pitout, former dean] who started doing something about this, but there is still a long way to walk in trying to transform the Cathedral community.”

Commenting on the historic appointment, the Bishop of Natal, the Right Reverend Rubin Phillip, said: “This is very significant as it marks a break from our racial past when we tended, as a church, to make racial appointments. It has enthused not just church members but also the majority of people in our country who now feel that they have ownership of this church. I have had messages of support from a broad range of people. For example, one political leader called to say how proud he and his colleagues are of the church for making this appointment.”

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