Proposal for an annual Tutu-Jonker Lecture


By the Faculty of Theology, Free State University

The faculty of Theology would like to set up a prestige lecture in the field of Theology in honour of emeritus-archbishop Desmund Tutu and prof WD (Willie) Jonker, two prominent theologians in the recent history of South Africa.

Other faculties at the UFS do have prestige lectures to be delivered annually, but up to now the faculty of Theology has been lacking in this regard. The aim of the lecture will be to ask a theologian to read a paper on a relevant theological theme as a public lecture to enhance interest in recent developments in the field of theology and to stimulate academic discussion within the faculty of Theology itself. We expect issues to be addressed pertaining to the well-known three domains within which theology operate: the academy, society and the church.

The idea to name the lecture after these two particular theologians is not without meaning:

  • Both of these two theologians are regarded as prominent theologians in recent times in South Africa.
  • Both of these two theologians are known for their emphasis on reconciliation in South Africa. To combine their names in the naming of a lecture series will in itself be a tribute to their respective reconciliatory efforts.
  • Combining the names of these two theologians signifies a bridging of divides that separated South Africans in the past. Combining these two names brings together two different theological traditions (Anglican and Reformed), cultural groups and races. This will also serve the purpose of a welcoming culture at the faculty, embracing diversity and to embody reconciliation.
  • There is also a special history between these two persons. In 1990 at an ecumenical church meeting in Rustenburg, Prof W D Jonker took it upon him to confess his own and the sins of his people in propagating the policy of Apartheid. Arch-bishop Tutu responded immediately to this confession by pardoning Prof Jonker. It was a special and emotional moment at that particular meeting which set the tone for the rest of the discussions.
  • It so happens that both of these theologians received honorary doctorates in Theology from the UFS. There are thus more than enough reasons to combine these two names in an annual lecture within the faculty of Theology.

We hope that these names will not be offensive thirty years from now!