Some Reflections on my Pastoral MinistryDecember 1, 2011
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, the one whom we serve!
On 16 April 2011, at the UCCSA KZN Regional Annual Meeting, I was appointed as Acting Minister of ¡Thafamasi Congregational Church, UCCSA, a church of such small membership that the participants of the abaKhokheli meetings are also participants in the Finance Committee meetings and Deacons meetings that often run concurrently. At first, I worried that Congregational meetings were not held according to procedure (two weeks’ notice, apologies, quorums, agendas, minutes and resolutions). However, this worry has diminished as there seems to be little distinction among the congregants between the membership and the diaconate, decisions are made by consensus (rather than by vote) and there is little discord in the church to necessitate formalities. Nonetheless, professionalism will be sought, but without urgency. The dictum that one should only improve, but not necessarily fix what is not broken, seems appropriate.
The church decided to contribute to the UCCSA’s request to donate a Sunday offering to the Somalia Relief fund.
The church has agreed to pay a monthly amount to the KZN Region’s Bursary Fund as a sign of its appreciation for my appointment. This contribution to the wider church is a sign of the church’s desire to invest in and benefit from properly trained and motivated ordained ministerial leadership.
¡Thafamasi has agreed to pay a portion of the recommended amount (R 100.00 per member) to the denominational Central Fund for the more equitable remuneration of ministers. Though ¡Thafamasi itself can’t afford a minister, its contribution to the Central Fund is a sign of its desire to perhaps in the future receive subsidized ministerial leadership provided by the wider church. It has also begun to tithe 10% of its monthly income to the wider church on a monthly basis.
The church received a R 34,000 donation that will contribute toward the repairs and renovation of the Embuyeni outstation. Builder’s deposits have been paid. The church has, or is raising, funds for delivery of materials and for the provision of water.
Transportation is difficulty for most members. Distances are long, public transport is scarce or non-existent on weekends. Hence, programming and scheduling opportunities are very limited. For example, the church would like to hold Bible studies. Creative means by which to hold studies have to be discerned.
Most members are pensioners or children with little disposable income. Many are unemployed. Those who are in their 20s and 30s and are employed live in the townships or Durban suburbs and can commute to the rural area only occasionally. This makes new young and technologically savvy leaders few and far between. The limited human resources make it difficult to do anything different that has been done before.
My isiZulu pronunciation is shaking off the rust and becoming a bit more understandable. I thank the congregation for its patience as I try to conduct more liturgy in isiZulu each time I lead.
I feel loved and appreciated at ¡Thafamasi. The community of faith is a pleasure to serve. The majesty of the environment is as beautiful as the spirit of the people I serve.
Love always in Christ,
Scott Couper serves with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) as a Development Manager of the Inanda Seminary. Susan serves with Inanda Seminary, Durban, South Africa as the chaplain.
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