CABSA was @... 2017

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CABSA was @ HIV Youth Workshop in Soweto. 29/11/2017

On the 29 November 2017,  Lerato and Nonceba held a workshop for young people between the ages of 16 to 20 years of age. All of the invited youth attended and that indicated interest on their side. Most of these young people reside in Moroka North, Soweto.

Nonceba was the facilitator for the day.

The facilitator focused on:

  • Changing attitudes towards HIV and people living with HIV
  • Information on HIV
  • Importance of HIV Testing and VCT

The group had a lot of discussions on these topics and the big issue that was highlighted was Stigma,  Fears of HIV Testing and Bad Treatment from health centres. We also discussed different approaches on encouraging young people to go and visit health centres to familiarize themselves with the process before making a decision to test.

This group are very much interested in continuing to meet and learn more about HIV and Leadership skills. We also looked at the prospect of starting a Peer Educator group that could visit schools especially primary schools and give support to children infected and affected by HIV.

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CABSA was @Ecumenical Strategic Forum on Diakonia and Sustainable Development. 3-6 Octobr 2017

Lyn was invited to attend An Ecumenical Strategic Forum on Diakonia and Sustainable Development convened by the World Council of Churches in Geneva. The WCC reported as follows from this event:

Forum strengthens ecumenical commitment to diakonia

Forum strengthens ecumenical commitment to diakonia

Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

12 October 2017

Ecumenical diakonia means complementing each other in what we do best: serving our communities, thus bringing visible church unity to the world, agreed participants at an Ecumenical Strategic Forum on Diakonia and Sustainable Development convened by the World Council of Churches (WCC) last week.

More than 100 representatives from churches, church agencies and specialized ministries across the globe met in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva from 3-6 October to seek a common vision for the churches’ engagement in diakonia and sustainable development and strengthen their ability to collaborate.

Sharing the existing practices of ecumenical diakonia, Samer Laham, member of the Middle East Council of Churches and a regional director of Ecumenical Relief Services, noted that bond of cooperation between churches is the expression of church unity. “It can be seen today in many diaconal activities on the ground in countries that have been living under volatile conflicts like Syria and Iraq”, he acknowledged.

Caring for refugees from Syria has been a priority of the Armenia Inter-church Round Table Foundation as well, said foundation director Dr Karen Nazaryan. “Since 2014 we are consistently helping refugees from Syria to find a safe place in Armenia, supporting their integration into Armenian society economically, socially and spiritually.” More than 2,000 Syrian refugees have benefited from the program, and this support is possible thanks to collaboration of Armenia Round Table Foundation with ACT Alliance and its member agencies, says Nazaryan.

Rev. Dr Kjell Nordstokke, one of the authors of the newly developed “Ecumenical Diakonia” document presented during the forum, advocated for assets-based ecumenical work - an attitude that would bring forward what each partner is already doing best along with a courageous move to be widely open to serve the other.

Lyn van Rooyen, executive director of the faith-based non-governmental organization CABSA in South Africa, shared that her organization deliberately works non-denominationally in training and equiping faith leaders to respond to the HIV challenges.

“We work from a competence or asset based perspective and realised very early on that collaboration and cooperation, also with other faith communities, is a very important asset”, says van Rooyen. “In our training we often have representatives from many different denominations and faith traditions and significant community response is often initiated when denominational barriers are broken down.”

In South Africa faith communities often start collaborating when there is a compelling need and limited resources, adds Lyn van Rooyen. “In these situations faith communities, compelled by the love of Christ, find new and creative ways to respond to seemingly overwhelming crises.”

Sustainable development goals adopted by the member states of United Nations and a global civil society provides renewed strength for the diakonia and advocacy work of churches and their ministries, thinks Ingrid Næss-Holm, climate advisor of Norwegian Church Aid.

“When we advocate for climate justice, when we work with partners to end gender-based violence and when we provide humanitarian assistance in times of crises - it is all diakonia in practice”, says Næss-Holm. Norwegian Church Aid has been addressing the issues climate justice, economic justice, access to water, sanitation and hygiene, peace building in many places of the world for a long time. “However the sustainable development goals give us a renewed strength and legitimacy to take this work forward together with existing partners and new allies”, envisions Næss-Holm.

Speaking of the outcomes of the forum, it is impossible to overlook the presented framework for further cooperation, the Ecumenical Diakonia document, acknowledged as a common ground and a solid basis for conversation, bringing churches and other actors in diakonia and humanitarian work at one table.

For Roel Aalbersberg, member of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, the most important outcome of the forum was the introduction and discussion on the Ecumenical Diakonia document. “In 2014 the Malawi Consultation had called for the creation of such a policy paper that could be shared by churches and specialized ministries alike. From now on we will have a common framework for our diakonal and development work”, says Roel Aalbersberg. “It is a major step forward in our mutual relationships!”

“It was very inspiring to see the unity between WCC, ACT and LWF (Lutheran World Relief) shown by the three secretary generals and reflected in the discussions”, says Næss-Holm, reflecting on the days of the forum.

A strong and united ecumenical family that puts diakonia into action can indeed make a huge difference in addressing today's injustices and achieving the sustainable development goals. “When we add the interfaith dimension - we will be even stronger”, adds Næss-Holm.

The Ecumenical Strategic Forum gathered participants from churches, councils, communions and specialized ministries, involving national, regional and global ecumenical actors. The primary objective of the forum was to strengthen ecumenical collaboration on diakonia and development; stimulate strategies for leveraging national impact; and provide a road map for the ecumenical accompaniment of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

Ecumenical diakonia: sharing God’s gifts at all tables

Ecumenical diaconia: sharing God’s gifts at all tables

LWF General secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge at one of the panel discussions during the forum on Ecumenical diakonia. Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

05 October 2017

"Maybe through ecumenical diakonia, hence by jointly preparing the tables for the marginalized and hungry, the theologies will emerge among us that will allow us to eventually accept the invitation of Christ to receive and share God's gifts at one table”, said Rev. Dr Kjell Nordstokke, during the Ecumenical Strategic Forum on Diakonia and Sustainable Development. The concept of “ecumenical diakonia” has been a key element of inspiration in the discussions taking place at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches (WCC), in Geneva, Switzerland, between 3-6 October.

Nordstokke advocated for assets-based ecumenical work, an attitude that would bring forward what each partner is already doing best along with a courageous move to be widely open to serve the other.

As he presented the recently launched WCC document “Ecumenical Diakonia” to the forum, Nordstokke explained that the process of developing it was accompanied by a working group drawn from the WCC, Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and ACT Alliance.

The document conceptualizes ecumenical diakonia from two perspectives. The first links to a theological understanding of diakonia, based on reflection that seeks to understand diakonia as a dimension integral to the nature and mission of the church; and the second being more practical, describing how churches are engaged in diaconal action across confessional and geographical boundaries.

The text, which is becoming an important tool for churches worldwide to explore entry points between their diaconal work and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), “considers the specific contribution of diaconal agencies; responds to relevant political and social issues in today’s world; provides theological insight; and proposes concrete steps to strengthen the diaconal capacity of the churches in cooperation with their ecumenical partners”, reads the document.

“It is our hope that the process of distribution and reflection on the Ecumenical Diakonia document will help our member churches to have a more comprehensive understanding of how their diaconal work can be in many ways a collaboration on the SDGs”, said Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC deputy general secretary. “May the shared constructive spirit that dominates the discussions here in Geneva these days also be a sign of hope that would take our churches and partners toward the next level of ecumenical cooperation.”

General secretary of the LWF, Rev. Dr Martin Junge, commended the Ecumenical Diakonia document as it "gives a common ground for all of us and is a good basis to begin the conversation". He referred to the challenge to give this document political traction so as to address questions of structures, processes and agendas to bring different diaconal actors to one table. He acknowledged that in many cases churches and other actors in diakonia and humanitarian work "still have a huge distance between them”.

Junge also explored the common challenges that the document makes clear are still on the table. “How do we bring together the grammar of the churches with the grammar of sustainable development goals?”, inquired the LWF general secretary.

Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, general secretary of the ACT Alliance, sees the agenda of Ecumenical Diakonia as an important element to bring partners closer in the work on development. “The ecumenical movement has to explore its potential, and stop going for competition. In such a competitive world as today, we may better come together as one ecumenical movement; otherwise, we are risking being irrelevant”, he said.

“Ecumenical diakonia has to be understood in a way that we complement each other, that builds on the distinctiveness of our organizations and members”, concluded de Faria.

Photos from the Ecumenical Strategic Forum (download free of charge)

9.5 Theses by the WCC general secretary

Full address of LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge at the forum on Ecumenical diakonia

Responding to the world’s challenges: forum shapes strategy on diakonia

Responding to the world’s challenges: forum shapes strategy on diakonia

Photo: Ivars Kupcis/WCC

04 October 2017

An Ecumenical Strategic Forum on Diakonia and Sustainable Development was convening this week, drawing 130 thinkers from across the globe who have agreed to seek a common vision for churches and strengthen their ability to collaborate.

The forum, hosted by the World Council of Churches (WCC), is taking place 3-6 October at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva. Its objective is to strengthen ecumenical collaboration on diakonia and development; stimulate strategies for leveraging national impact; and provide direction for the ecumenical accompaniment of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee moderator Dr Agnes Abuom described the forum as a vital aspect of a journey together as it provides the opportunity to review the context and impact of various ministries. “Further the forum is also a time to reflect and plan together for the future, acknowledging our different roles and their interrelatedness,” she said. “The theme is of great importance to all of us and our institutions because it resonates with our identities and mandates as faith-based organizations and the ecumenical movement at large.”

In his presentation, WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said: “In the month of commemorating 500 years of Reformation, a modest contribution to our joint reflection and actions for a new transformation of the world towards unity, justice and peace, maybe could be expressed in 1/10 of the amount of theses that initiated the transformation called ‘Reformation’.”

Tveit said: “When we try to discern the signs of our times, we see many tendencies towards different quests for unity.”

He added: “There is a sense of being one world through new possibilities of communication and sharing information, connecting people through enormous and sometimes unlimited openness, but also making the world a globalized marketplace dominated by a few and powerful actors, some with little or no ethical or value-based standards.”

Tveit said also: “There is a new momentum for the unity of the church. The connection between a new quest for unity and a new quest for ecumenical diakonia should manifest itself in new initiatives towards more mutual accountability.”

Tveit concluded: “For the constant renewal and reformation of the churches and human societies we cannot wait for figures like Martin Luther or Martin Luther King. We all have to be, and we all can be, agents of change for unity, justice and peace.”

Prof Dr Kjell Nordstokke offered a presentation on the document “Ecumenical Diakonia,” which takes into account the longstanding experiences of diaconal practice and reflection within the ecumenical movement. The text also considers the specific contribution of specific diaconal agencies; responds to relevant political and social issues in today’s world; provides theological insight; and proposes concrete steps to strengthen the diaconal capacity of the churches in cooperation with their ecumenical partners.

Rev. Jörgen Thomsen, representing DanChurchAid, reflected that more and more people are starting to realize that faith informs world views and shapes behavior, and many are seeking cooperation with faith actors in the world.

“In this new dialogue I expect us to be courageous,” he said. “The most courageous act you can perform is to actually say ‘welcome’ to somebody you don’t know: Welcome to those who invite us to cooperate for change.”

“For us in the LWF, partnership can only be defined as accompaniment,” the LWF general secretary Rev. Martin Junge said. “In times of fragmentation and communication breakdowns our ability to work and stand together as partners in diakonia becomes a telling witness to the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our hearts.” Junge underlined the need to invest more in theological education and formation.

ACT Alliance general secretary Rudelmar Bueno de Faria noted that over the years churches have been major actors in development in almost all continents. “It is something that we cannot ignore, especially if we consider the social capital they can mobilize - volunteers and more,” he said. “Nobody else can do the same.”

We are now in a change of era, he added. “Conflicts are increasing everywhere, with migration and displacement reaching records. We are facing increasing populism in very corner of the planet, hatred speeches, exclusion, discrimination, xenophobia, racism, and homophobia.”

“As churches and faith communities, we cannot be silent,” he concluded. “We have to act and to speak out."

Photos from the Ecumenical Strategic Forum (download free of charge)

9.5 Theses by the WCC general secretary

Ecumenical Strategic Forum on Diakonia and Sustainable Development

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CABSA was @ WCC-EAA HIV Strategy Group Meeting. 26-28 September 2017

Lyn is a member of the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance HIV Strategy Group and International Reference Group. She attended a meeting of the WCC-EAA Strategy Group in Bossey, Switzerland from 26-28 September 2017.

You can read more about this important meeting in the WCC Press release and see pictures here and here.




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CABSA was @ Hope Restoration Church. 9/9/2017

Nonceba attended an HIV and Wellness Awareness Campaign organised by the young adults of Hope Restoration Church in Evaton. She writes:

The church is  situated in the middle of informal settlement. The clinic and the church decided to partner and bring services to the community where individuals could be tested for HIV, Diabetes and High Blood Pressure. There were different health related presentations which were conducted in the church hall.

I presented on:

  • Basic information on HIV
  • Stigma
  • Importance of knowing you’re your status
  • How to start support groups within the church

A group of young adults are planning to start support groups for young people who are affected by HIV. The youth especially expressed the importance of continued HIV and general health programs because most of the people who are ill find it difficult to go to the health centre, the program will be fully supported by the church.

The elderly people also appreciated the presentations on HIV and asked a lot of questions. One of the grannies is living with a grandchild who is living with HIV and has been struggling to support her on taking medication and encouraging her to live a positive life. “How do I encourage and help my daughter to stop drinking excessive alcohol and drink her medication?” This is one of the questions from the elderly who is stressed about her young daughter no taking care of herself.

It was a full day program which saw about 100 people from the church and the community attending the event.

It was a well organized event and fully attended by all those who were involved. It was also impressive to see the church leaders available throughout the day.

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CABSA was @ Khanya Africa Development Service's Women Seminar. 26/8/2017

Last Saturday Nonceba attended a women's seminar which was organised by Khanya Africa Development Services. The event was attended by various stakeholders including some of the organisations board members who also presented sessions. Over 55 fifty five people attended the seminar.

"I did a presentation on HIV/AIDS but addressing Stigma within the community and the church.

After the presentation there were a lot of participants who wanted to share their experiences but also to find solutions to their challenges which was very emotionally draining for the presenter.

I had a conversation with a grandmother who has 3 daughters who are living with HIV and may not have had proper support and counselling because they have found a solution in drinking and neglecting their children, now she has to care for 5 grand children.

This seminar made me realise that there is still a serious need to focus deeply on HIV especially concerning stigma, positive living and more HIV training.

Our communities still need more information on HIV and how to have a strong to move on and how to support their families who are living with HIV and affected by HIV."


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CABSA was @ Gauteng Provincial Treasury. 17/8/2017

Gauteng Province Treasury has a number of sessions focused on Women and Children and Gender Based Violence which are organised every two weeks especially now because of Women’s month. Thursdays in Black was invited to be part of the programme. There was an attendance of 60 people.

These sessions involve staff and any other invited visitors from other government departments. The sessions are meant to be a safe space where women can share their stories, here they can be motivated and also be informed about services  available to women who are experiencing abuse.

Men are also actively taking  part of these in these sessions. Most of them are against women and children abuse. Men mentioned that much more proactive stance should  to be applied in standing  Violence Against Women & Children and that begins  with structured preventative programmes   that includes men as they are found to be the majority perpetrators of Gender Based Violence.

Although most women who were present were still sceptical about sharing their stories they still stayed in the room to listen to speaker after speaker until the end of the session.

There is a big need for safe spaces for women because a lot of women have been through a lot of pain and there is still more who are going through that similar pain.

It was to see most men and women fully taking part in the campaign by visibly wearing black with their badges.

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CABSA was @ “Movement for Change” Faith Leaders Training. 27-29/6/2017

We Will Speak Out SA with the support of Amplify Change in partnership with Sonke Gender Justice opened a safe and powerful space for gender activists, survivors and church leaders to come together and grapple with questions related to the church’s responsibility in the light of the increasingly common and cruel sexual Gender Based Violence, both amongst churches and in wider society.

From the 27 to 29 June 2017, a ‘Movement for Change Faith Leaders training on sexual and gender based violence’ with faith leaders from Gauteng, supported by Amplify Change, Tear Fund and the We Will Speak Out Coalition.

Throughout the week, participants and facilitators engaged in group discussions and thematic sessions on the socio-cultural construction of gender in relation to emotions, sexuality, media, and the LGBTIQA perspective.

In particular they discussed deeper gender sensitive bible studies which were held through interactive reflections on biblical passages and their socio-cultural contexts. The training concluded with the joint development of action plans by participants to be implemented in their faith communities in the following months.

Through discussions as a participant I discovered that there is so much pain and injustice that hasn’t been dealt with, survivors shared how it was their first opportunity to actually share their painful experiences because the training environment was a safe space.

There is a serious need for safer spaces in our churches and faith communities. Churches need to be a place where women, children and survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence can be a part of a strong supportive community where family lives and peoples futures are important.


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CABSA was @ SAAIDS 2017. 13-15/6/2017 walk to preventionLyn and Aneleh attended the 8th SA AIDS Conference in Durban from 13-15 June 2017. The theme of this conference was: "The Long Road to Prevention: Every Voice Counts".

CABSA presented two different poster presentations which can be downloaded from this page:

"Faith Leaders: Amplifying Voices that Hasten the Walk to Prevention" focuses on CABSA and the faith sector's role in the theme of the conference.

"Faith, Farms and HIV: Churches Channels of Hope Peer Educator Farm Programme" reports on the programme CABSA did in partnership with CHABAHIVA.

You can read about Lyn's experience on Storify.

The CABSA Poster Presentations


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CABSA was @ the Sizimbokodo Meeting. 14/6/2017

CABSA and We Will Speak Out South Africa, together with women from many different NGOs, faith organizations and activist groups came together yesterday to discuss actions they will take to address the pandemic proportions of violence against women and LGBTIAQ people in South Africa. This meeting was organized by a new social movement— Sizimbokodo. The movement is dedicated to smashing the patriarchy and ending violence against women and queer people. The meeting aimed to plan and strategize a national shut down, to bring the country to a standstill, in order to demand that the state and other duty bearers take urgent action to address gender violence across our country .

One of the many issues raised in the meeting which is of concern its how Faith communities and other independent organisations struggle to work together, and this is because there is lack of communication on issues such violence against women. There is a belief that the faith community is not having focus on ending violence against women because its not of concern.

This is not true because many faith organisations and churches  are active when it comes to fighting patriarchy and ending violence against women.

There is a huge need for dialogue between the faith community and other organisations like Sizimbokodo so that we can all work together as a unit. We need to make efforts in involving all involved parties and add all voices then our work will move forward successfully.


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CABSA was @ the #NotinmyName March. 26/5/2017

A number of people gathered to participate in the #NotInMyName march against gender based violence at the University of Johannesburg's Soweto Campus to Regina Mundi Church. There were more than 500 people who participated in the march. Various church leaders, organisations and Government departments were visible and making noise against Gender Based Violence.

Faith communities were also visible in their various church uniforms. I was there to represent Thursdays in Black and We Will Speak Out SA. Bishop Adams officiated the Soweto #NotInMyName march.

MEC for Community Safety: Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane and Minister Susan Shabangu were also part of the march.

The marchers chanted, 'Not in my name', with many thrusting their clenched fists towards the sky. Men were on the forefront holding banners and standing up against the brutality against women in our communities.

Organisers of the event said all women who had been attacked and killed by men would not be forgotten, and that their names would not be buried with their bodies, but remembered as the powerful women they were.

The #NotInMyName campaign could become a non-profit organisation in order to start helping all women who are marred by the violence of men in South Africa. 


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