Dear Gretta and the Methodist Women of South Africa,
It is with great sorrow that I send my greetings and condolences to you on the occasion of the death of your nation’s “Father”, Nelson Mandela. Yet it is with great joy and thanksgiving that I celebrate with you the life of a man who truly lived by his faith and now rejoices in God’s presence.
Whilst I have had the privilege of meeting with Mandela’s friend, Bishop Desmond Tutu, I have never been in the presence of Nelson Mandela himself. During the couple of visits I have made to South Africa, I have visited his Soweto home, the Apartheid Museum with its magnificent exhibition of Mandela’s life, and Robben Island, and in Australia I have attended a performance of the Mandela Opera by the South African Opera Company. These experiences, along with all I have read and seen on TV, have put Mandela in my own category of “hero”, as I am sure he is for millions around the world.
I am delighted to know that Bishop Ivan Abrahams, our World Methodist Council General Secretary, will be speaking at the Memorial at the Soccer Stadium. As fellow Methodists we were able to honour Mandela with the Methodist Peace Award in 2000 in acknowledgement of his commitment to peace, reconciliation and freedom.
I believe no other person has shown such a determination to stand for justice. But above all, I believe his ability to forgive his opponents, his jailers, his enemies have shown his saintly qualities best of all.
In your grieving, may you give thanks for a great man, a great leader, a great Christian, and a humble Servant of his God, his people and his nation.
My love to you all.
World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women