Issued by: Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Church leaders, as well as leaders from the Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu communities, will be converging on East London from 17 to 19 November to attend a special TRC Faith Communities Hearing. It is widely recognised that the different faith communities played an important part in the past - on both sides of the struggle - and that the information sought by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be incomplete without the input by the Christian Churches as well as the non-Christian communities.
Earlier this year about 40 denominations and communities responded to an open invitation from the TRC, to submit statements to the Commission on how apartheid affected the life and work of the churches and communities. The TRC decided that a follow up public hearing was necessary, to allow the faith communities to address a wider audience. It is expected that much attention will be given to a number of issues: How was the church/community affected by apartheid? What was done to oppose - or in some cases, to support - apartheid? And, probably the most important of all, what contribution the church/community is going to make in the process of reconciliation?
Three days are set aside for the hearings.
On Monday 17 November 1997, the S A Council of Churches as well as the so called main stream churches (the Anglican Church, the Church of England, the Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Reformed Presbyterian and Congregational Churches) will be invited to speak.
On Tuesday 18 November 1997 representatives from the World Council on Religion and Peace will take the podium, together with leaders from the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and African Traditions Religious Communities. The Council of African Initiated Churches, as well as two of the largest African churches, the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) as well as the International Pentecost Church, will also be represented.
On Wednesday 18 November the Evangelical and Charismatic Churches will make their submissions (The Evangelical Alliance of S A, the International Fellowship of Christian Churches, the Rhema Bible Church, the Baptist Union, the Apostolic Faith Mission, the Uniting Reformed Church, the Dutch Reformed Church (N G Kerk) as well as an academic from the Gereformeerde Kerk, Potchefstroom). The last submission of the day will be the Open Letter of Dr Beyers Naude, co-signed by 300 ministers from different denominations, which was sent to the TRC earlier this year.
A number of well known church leaders will present their denominations' submissions: Ms Brigalia Bam (S A Council of Churches), Bishop David Russell (Anglican Church), Bishop Mvume Dandala (Methodist Church), Bishop Kevin Dowling and Father Buti Thlagale (Catholic Church) Mr Moss Nthla (the Evangelical Alliance of S A, Pastor Ray McCauley (ITCC/Rhema Bible Church), Dr Izak Burger and Dr Frank Chikane (Apostolic Faith Mission) and the Rev James Buys (Uniting Reformed Church).
The Dutch Reformed Church (N G Kerk), which took a decision last week to make a submission, will be represented by its moderator, the Rev Freek Swanepoel. Of special significance is the fact that the leader of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC), Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane, accepted the invitation to address the hearing.
Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris, will make a submission on behalf of the Jewish Community. Mr Ashwin Trikamjee will do so on behalf of the Hindu Community. Dr Kalushi Koka will represent the African Traditional Religious community.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu will chair the hearing, which is to be held in the Christian Centre, Abbotsford, East London. The churches in East London are inviting all delegates and visitors to join the local community for a special Reconciliation Service on the previous afternoon, Sunday 16 November 1997, at 16h00 pm. Archbishop Tutu will be the main speaker at the service.