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JOHANNESBURG – Nelson Mandela was honored in church sermons across South Africa Sunday, which has been declared a national day of prayer and reflection to commemorate the country's anti-apartheid leader who died on Dec. 5. Here is a look at some of the praise of Mandela :
— "We felt it important that we should have a day where all of us as South Africans can come together and pray for our first democratic president and reflect on his legacy. But it is also to pray for our nation ... to pray that we not forget some of the values he fought for ... Mandela distinguished himself for good things and good things only." — President Jacob Zuma, speaking at the Bryanston Methodist Church in Johannesburg.
— "He was more than just an individual soul, he was the exposition of the African spirit of generosity ... He's only a reference and a marker to the better possibilities of our humanity." — Dean Michael Weeder of St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town.
— "What helped the white people of South Africa was Mr. Mandela's attitude. He said let's forgive, and he forgave. That created a space for people to feel safe and change at a time when the expectation was that there was going to be a war ... May we as Christians in this Afrikaans church surprise the world by not responding with hate but with love and forgiveness. Mandela completed the journey. We thank God for this person in our history." — Pastor Niekie Lamprecht of the Dutch Reformed Church, Pretoria East.
— "Those of us who are battling to make ends meet every day and who had hope, when he was still around, everything will be OK. If the old man has passed on, life will continue on, and God will be our God ... Traditionally when a person passes we believe he hasn't left. He is going to be an observer of the familial and community on a spiritual level although he is no longer with us. So we have to abide by the rules and elders as if he's there." — Joshua Mzingelwa, leader of Morians Episcopal Apostolic Church in Qunu, Eastern Cape (Mandela's birthplace).
AP Writers Ray Faure in Johannesburg, Caro Kriel in Pretoria, Christopher Torchia in Cape Town, Jason Straziuso in Qunu contributed to this report.