Background: Dr. Renier Koegelenberg is a leader in efforts to promote both ecumenical and interfaith cooperation on a broad development agenda, but especially on public health, across Southern Africa. The programs he supports focus on demanding partnerships including, among others, mining companies and churches. The theme running through his work is expanding access to public health for poor communities, and to this end, Dr. Koegelenberg has led a wide range of academic and operational cooperation efforts. Among these is involvement in the Ahimsa Forum which links health, faith, and innovation. This interview reflects a series of discussions with Katherine Marshall and Lauren Herzog, in person and by email. The COVID-19 crisis affects South Africa and Dr. Koegelenberg is building on a partnership with Anglo American (especially its Kumba Kolomela Iron Ore mine) to provide a shared roadmap for “sustainable communities” in towns affected by mining activities. The COVID-19 crisis has serious effects on local economies and food security for many poor families. He also describes the history and present of the institutions he has founded and leads that work to bring the important roles of South Africa’s churches together with government entities and private companies.
We build bridges of dialogue even as we help churches to say plausibly and prophetically what is wrong and, if it is wrong, what is a better direction. Churches were a global community long before globalization. Both the world and churches are, however, changing and adapting. Fundamentally, our role is to support what religious institutions wants to do.
Katherine Marshall is a Senior Fellow, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs Georgetown University Executive Director, World Faiths Development Dialogue
The interview with Dr. Renier Koegelenberg, Executive Director of Ecumenical Foundation of Southern Africa (EFSA) is now public and available online at the Berkley Center website.