For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” II Corinthians 1:5
This past weekend proved to be very special. On Saturday at Inanda Seminary, the Reverend Thulani Ndlazi was inducted as the new South Africa Synod Secretary. It was a wonderful treat to be reunited with Thulani. Many years ago, soon after his studies and before his ordination, the KZN Region of the UCCSA appointed me to work with Thulani as a ministerial supervisor. Since then, we and our wives have maintained close friendships with one another. It was a blessing to see him inducted into a high office with much responsibility for the wider church.
Thulani is from Groutville in kwaZulu-Natal. He is a product of the Groutville Congregational Church, UCCSA (est. 1847) and was baptised there. At the lunch following Thulani’s induction, I looked around and realised to my amazement that in attendance were the Reverends Clifford Sibisi, Bekisipho Dludla, Lindani Hadebe, Noreen Maluleka and Ian Booth – who with myself, are all former ministers of the Groutville Congregational Church! Also in attendance was the Reverend Simphiwe Mkhize, who will soon be inducted as Groutville’s new minister. Only our beloved Rev Dr Bonganjalo Goba was not present, as he is currently residing in the United States. Who would have imagined that seven out of past eight ministers of Groutville would be in attendance at Thulani’s induction? What a special reunion!
The following day, Sunday, the Reverend Noreen Maluleka, also a student minister with whom I worked and who succeeded me at Groutville, accompanied me to Thafamasi Congregational Church, UCCSA where I currently minister. Noreen will in 2014 succeed me at Thafamasi when my appointment comes to a conclusion. How wonderful it was to share the service with her again! How wonderful it was to celebrate the sacraments with her again – just like ol’ times! We have decided to work together for six months before my departure to ensure that her transition is smooth.
The ministry is difficult; there are many trials and tribulations. Much comfort is gained by fostering relationships and sharing the yoke with colleagues who are also friends. There are also times of great joy and celebration, like at Thulani’s induction service, that are best enjoyed together.
Prayer: Gracious God, teach us to be in solidarity with our ministerial colleagues. Not in competition. Inspire us to share the times of joy and sorrow in our ministries. May we partner with them, building the realm of God here on Earth just as it is in heaven. May we be worthy of our colleagues’ emulation of us. May we have the grace to be open to learn from our colleagues’ examples. Bind us together with cords that cannot be broken. In Christ’s name, Amen.