Will Struggle Credentials Help the New Dean?
It has taken a long time for the Anglican leadership to appoint a new dean at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. It as not helped the cathedral neither in terms of the preaching ministry nor in setting out clear visions for the future. Eventually there is a dean-elect, Revd. Michael Weeder. When he was interviewed at the beginning of the year I was struck by one thing. The final text in Cape Times circled around Michael Weeder’s involvement in the struggle against apartheid. In other words, there was a focus on his so-called “struggle credentials”.
I don’t know if this was the making of the journalist or the actual emphasis of the interviewee, but I thought it was very unfortunate and not being much of a help when everybody wanted to know something about his role as the new dean of the cathedral.
It is too easy to refer to these struggle credentials. And one could rightly ask how much of value they would be today in the present struggle. Surely they would mean a lot, but only if this same person also is able to demonstrate what the struggles today are like. My frustration probably has something to do with the almost total lack of a larger vision for the new South Africa either in church or politics. Nobody seems to have the strength to look into the present and the future for the sake of such a vision. The dean should have said something about the fact that this cathedral is called the people’s cathedral and that it has a calling to mean something in a wider, ecumenical sense, also drawing people from all groups, making all feel perfectly at home. However, also at the cathedral one can see signs of deterioration: there are hardly any white families worshiping there any more, coloureds are seen as taking over and any day of the week very few African blacks worship in a cathedral belonging to a church province that is predominantly African black.
One should be fair to the very likable dean-elect and give him a chance. Maybe it is a good thing that he has not pronounced yet on what he wants to achieve until he in fact is in place, sometime in May this year.