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Broadening Our Ecclesiastical Heritage through Education

September 16, 2009

Mr. Lindinhlanhla Mngadi, is the first recent, of what we pray are many future, young people from Inanda, South Africa who will study abroad in the United States through sponsorship of the churches belonging to the wider church family.  Lindi, as he is known as, is this year beginning his third year of studies at Rollins College in Winter Park (near Orlando), Florida.  Rollins College was founded by First Congregational Church (UCC), Winter Park many decades ago, just as Harvard and Yale were established by our Congregational ancestors in faith.

Lindi, who hails from the very disadvantaged township of Inanda, has overcome innumerable obstacles to reach the heights he has.  His mother, Thandi, has invested everything in her only son.  Though she mourns the loss of her boy for four years, she knows that he is being given an opportunity to reach his fullest God-given potential.  Many, from Rollins College (tuition and board), First Congregational Church of Winter Park (spiritual home and living expenses), Global Ministries (airfare and stipend), Berea Congregational Church in Durban South Africa where Lindi is a member (dental treatment), and Inanda Seminary (who selected him and employs his mother) and families based in Florida related to Scott Couper and Susan Valiquette, have all contributed to enable a bright future for Lindi.

Lindi is studying International Business and hopes someday to succeed professionally in South Africa.  His hope is to be successful enough to invest in others just as others have invested in him.  While at Rollins, Lindi plays rugby and studies Chinese!  The affluence of Rollins College could have easily disoriented one who in South Africa lived in a simple two bedroom brick structure and commuted early in the morning to attend school many miles away outside the township.  Yet, Lindi is strong: physically, psychologically and spiritually and he has made excellent decisions beyond his years.

There is a long legacy of high caliber leadership coming from South Africa to the United States with the support of the wider Congregational church.  Rev. Dr. John L. Dube attended Oberlin College in Ohio and became the first President of the ANC.  Isaka Pixley ka Seme was the founder of the ANC and attended Columbia University in New York.  Chief Albert Luthuli toured much of New England and the mid-west and spoke at Howard University in Washington, D.C.  Luthuli later became the first African winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (1960).  Rev. B.K. Dludla attended Bangor Theological Seminary in Maine and is today one of the most senior clergy in the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa.  From Inanda Seminary, Miss F. Gcabashe attended Berea College in Kentucky and Mr. Dumisani Zondi (who just celebrated 80th birthday) studied at Illinois State College in Chicago and became the first Black Principal of Inanda Seminary.  Now Lindi!  Who is next?

It is hoped by all that a new student from Inanda Seminary can soon be chosen to attend college in the United States (so that the momentum gained and the trail blazed by Lindi and so many others before him  can continue).  It is our prayer that a young promising girl from the Inanda Seminary will soon be given the opportunity of a lifetime.

Our faith tradition has always valued and invested in education so as to nurture the freedom to worship and learn.  It is a proud South African and North American tradition, which should be maintained to ensure our collective future as peoples of faith. 

Rev. Scott Couper and Rev. Susan Valiquette

Scott Couper serves with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA). He assists the Inanda Seminary in strategic planning and serves as a management consultant.   Susan serves with Inanda Seminary, Durban, South Africa as the chaplain and an instructor.


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