Changes, but many things remain the same

Changes, but many things remain the same

While many things have changed, many things remain the same for our family.  Such is 2015, as compared to 2014.  Susan continues to serve Inanda Seminary as its chaplain and Scott continues to serve Inanda Seminary, Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary (SMMS) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics. Susan has fulfilled her role as chaplain for 15 years, yet her portfolio continues to expand.  Susan teaches life orientation, an important curriculum within South Africa that seeks to teach students real life lessons on finances, career choice, sex education, psychology, social relations, emotional health, home economics, pluralism and civics. Susan and Inanda Seminary provide a life-long spiritual grounding from which the students can resource throughout their lives.  Always anticipated themed weekday chapel services and Sunday worship services remind students of their God-given potentials.  Inanda Seminary is excited to be planning the launch of Inanda 2, a ‘franchising’ of sorts of quality faith-based education first provided by American missionaries more than 146 years ago.  Susan will play a large part in transferring the ethos of Inanda Seminary to the new school.

Scott fuses his passion for international relations, theology and history by teaching Systematic Theology, History of Christianity in Southern Africa, Reformation History, Missiology, and Ecumenism at SMMS.  The students endure his often histrionic and melodramatic style of lecturing which sometimes resembles an aerobics demonstration.   Scott hopes to continue pastoral ministry at a local congregation later in the year.

Micah, gulp, in 2015 is half way through high school at Hilton College – a grade 10 boarder, and gulp, a young man.  Next year he will need to discern university options and in two years graduate from high school.  Micah best excels academically (mathematics and art), but also represents his school playing water polo, rugby and soccer.  Micah enjoys learning (but not performing!) jazz piano.  Despite having two parents as ordained ministers, Micah defies the stereotype of a rebellious iconoclastic P.K. and involves himself in his school’s student Christian fellowship group.  Micah is excited about an upcoming school history tour to … guess where … the United States (Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Gettysburg, New York City and Boston).

At the end of 2014, Madeline was awarded her school’s, Our Lady of Fatima, much coveted Fellowship Award despite only being a student there for one year.  She continues 2015 in the high school after graduating from the primary school.  Madeline is burning her candle at both ends.  All activities inevitably have social motivations, they include: taebo, touch rugby, ballet/contemporary/ modern dance, cross-country, netball league, many many many parties, and sleepovers.  Madeline continues to impress all with her social skills and her high E.Q.  Like her brother, she is a young adult now.  As far as our two children are concerned, there is nothing not to be proud of and they seem to grow closer and closer as they mature over the years.

Not all is perfect.  South Africa has the highest Gini Coefficient (income disparity) in the world – extreme wealth and poverty exist side by side.  At Inanda Seminary, we endure daily “load-shedding,” as various portions of the country must be removed from the national grid to prevent complete collapse.  Traffic worsens as power outages extinguish street lights (with no police directing gridlocked intersections).  Water is also often in short supply.  Xenophobia has again reared its ugly head, particularly in the townships, as the economically impoverished prey on the politically vulnerable and marginalized.  We regularly experience ‘service delivery protests’ wherein the only main road into Inanda Township, and thus our home, is blocked with boulders, burning trash and tires.  Angry local residents close traffic and demand government accountability until private guards protect the thoroughfare with assault rifles. 

Despite all the difficulties, we remain incredibly optimistic about this wonderful country.  We believe this is the most appropriate place to raise our children which intimately exposes them to the greatest challenges and the greatest joys of the world.  What brings us hope is the God-inspired unity amidst a gob smacking diversity at SMMS, Inanda Seminary, Hilton College and Our Lady of Fatima.  Our neighbors are Congolese, Zimbabwean and South African.  Daily, our family worships with people of various Christian faith traditions at Methodist, Congregationalist, Roman Catholic and Episcopalian communities, respectively.

We give thanks for all the ministries we serve, who work collectively in partnership to enable the realization of “the Kingdom of God on earth just as it is in heaven.”  Our family, friends, colleagues in local United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) churches continue to support us abroad by maintaining the “tie that binds” us in Christian fellowship.  We give thanks for the financial contributions, the emotional and spiritual support, and the prayers that allow our ministry in this part of God’s vineyard to grow and flourish with those whom we serve.

Be well.

Scott Couper serves with the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary, and Inanda Seminary.  Susan serves with Inanda Seminary, Durban, South Africa as the chaplain and an instructor. Their appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples’ Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.