Deputy President Paul Mashatile has encouraged interfaith communities to collaborate with government to tackle societal challenges.
Mashatile made the call during a fundraising gala dinner for the 100th anniversary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Southern Africa, Alexandra Parish, held at the Marlboro Community Hall.
“Now, more than ever, we must join forces to counter what has grown to threaten our communities. Among the many challenges confronting our communities, we must address access to quality education, poverty, unemployment, drug and substance abuse, child abuse, crime, corruption, lack of housing, teenage pregnancy, and [the] high HIV infection among young people,” Mashatile said.
In his address on Saturday, Mashatile said the church plays a crucial role in fighting social ills, irrespective of the denomination or community it serves.
As a well-established moral and social leader, the church has effectively addressed social problems through outreach, education, and advocacy.
The Deputy President expressed satisfaction with the church's endorsement of governmental function in addressing societal challenges, mostly centred on addressing fundamental necessities, advancing equality and fairness, and fostering a sense of community and social responsibility.
He noted that, social cohesiveness is widely recognised as a fundamental element of every given society, necessitating the active participation of all individuals in the collective endeavour to foster a harmonious social fabric.
He emphasised the importance for the interfaith community to continue collaborative efforts to foster inclusivity among all people. This is irrespective of racial, religious, or cultural backgrounds.
“As a church, we must ask whether we have attempted to fulfil our community responsibilities or joined the masses who care about themselves. Resolving these challenges necessitates a collaborative endeavour involving not just governmental entities but also the active participation of all segments of society, including interfaith communities.
“Interfaith initiatives, which include community service, serve as a vehicle for social change [and] these initiatives can specifically address issues like poverty and inequality. In its capacity as a moral and social leader, we strongly encourage the church to collaborate with us to tackle these societal difficulties as well as others effectively.”
He called on the church to foster a sense of belonging.
“Moreover, from feeding the homeless to educating underprivileged children, the church must continue to show a deep commitment to serving society. These acts of kindness and generosity benefit the recipients and inspire others to do the same, thus creating a culture of giving and kindness.”
The Deputy President expressed his appreciation to those who attended the event in support of the refurbishment of Dr Knack Primary School.
The refurbishment of the educational institution will positively impact academic advancement and the overall welfare of pupils, while also serving to attract and retain highly qualified personnel and educators.
He also commended the Evangelical Lutheran Church, in partnership with the Jewish Women's Organisation, for running a soup kitchen, which provides much-needed food to the Alexandra community, and for their after-school programme, which assists students with their homework.
He further urged everyone to emulate the Lutheran Church's example and assist in combating poverty in their communities by sharing what they have with those less fortunate.
“As a government, we recognise and appreciate the work done by churches and religious institutions in promoting social cohesion and supporting our communities. Your contribution to building strong communities and bringing people together is invaluable,” the Deputy President said.
Source: South African Government News Agency