Ecumenical Foundation of Southern Africa (EFSA)
The EFSA Institute, founded in 1990, is an independent ecumenical institute that functions as a division of the non-profit Cape Development and Dialogue Centre Trust (CDDC). The Board of Trustees is currently chaired by Bishop Dr Sithembele Sipuka, Catholic bishop of Mthatha, and President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC). Other trustees include Dr Andre van Niekerk, Prof. Leopold van Huyssteen, Fr Richard Menatsi and Dr Renier Koegelenberg. It consists of a unique network of participating institutions: representatives of the Faculties of Theology and the Departments of Religious Studies of the Universities in the Western Cape are represented on the Board and Executive of the EFSA Institute.
Generally speaking, the EFSA Institute attempts to promote consensus between different sectors, interest groups and stakeholders on the challenges and problems facing our society. It strives to play a facilitating role by providing a platform for public debate, even on controversial issues.
Both in its structure and function there is a dialectic tension between an academic (research-based) approach and the need to address specific needs of the church and other religious communities. This tension is embedded in the main issues facing the churches in our society. In a general sense the EFSA Institute tries to re-focus public attention (and the attention of the church or academic institutions) on specific problems in society.
Firstly, the development role of the church and other religious communities: the eradication of poverty in South Africa; the role of religious networks in community development, in social and welfare services, and the development of community and youth leadership.
Secondly, the healing and reconciliatory role of the church and other religious communities: the mobilisation of church and religious communities against crime and violence; and the breaking down of stereotypes (racism) in our society.
Thirdly, the formation of values in the strengthening of a moral society by the church and other religious communities: the promotion of moral values such as honesty; support for the weak; respect for life and human rights.
Fourthly, the development of youth and community leadership: special courses for the development of leadership skills among our youth have been developed and are presented to support the building of a new society.
The EFSA Institute acts as Secretariat to the National Religious Association for Social Development (NRASD), which has several international partnerships focusing on strengthening primary health care, the fight against HIV/AIDS, TB and non-communicable diseases. The NRASD is a partner of the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD).
Dr Renier A Koegelenberg