Last interfaith service for Dean of St George’s Cathedral

Michael Weeder, who has spoken out against Israel’s bombardment of Palestine, retires as Dean of St George’s Cathedral

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St George’s Cathedral Dean Michael Weeder (on left) shakes hands with Archbishop Thabo Makgoba after Weeder hosted his last interfaith service before retirement. Photo: Matthew Hirsch

The war in Gaza was a central issue at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on Sunday in the last interfaith service hosted by Dean Michael Weeder before his retirement.

Weeder has since 2011 been Dean of what has been dubbed the People’s Cathedral, and was active in the anti-apartheid struggle after being ordained as a priest in 1985.

He began hosting weekly vigils for Palestine in November last year following Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in retaliation for Hamas’s attack on 7 October.

In this vein, the interfaith sermon was titled “A Liturgy for Palestine”.

The service was led by Reverend Allan Boesak, who said if Jesus and his disciples tried to walk to Emmaus — a town about 11km from Jerusalem where Jesus first appeared after his resurrection — today they would have found nothing there, as it was destroyed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in 1967.

Boesak said besides Israel having wiped out the town, they would have been continually stopped at checkpoints and the “apartheid wall” erected by Israel.

The readings throughout the service were conducted in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Arabic, and Hebrew, with an Athan (call to prayer) delivered by Imam Ali Yurttas, and Rabbi Andrea Kuti calling for an end to violence in Palestine.

Speaking after the service, Weeder told GroundUp he plans to work with young people on the Cape Flats.

He said it was time for young people to lead the interfaith movement. “Sometimes old violins must play their tunes somewhere else. I am very encouraged by the young voices around here. We can play in the background, we can be the second string, but they need to lead.”

Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said Weeder was “a wonderful man” and his retirement was “a great loss”.

Sooliman said when Ahmed Abbasi, head of the Gift of the Givers’ office in Gaza, was killed by Israeli forces, Weeder offered to host a memorial at the cathedral. “He was the first man who called. I was so touched by that gesture.”

Weeder’s final service will be a full Festival Eucharist of Thanksgiving on 21 April at 9:30am.

TOPICS:  Israel-Palestine

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