Connecting through our Faith

Connecting through our Faith

Tim Colvin – South Africa

Tim Colvin – South Africa

I arrived back in South Africa on Saturday morning, 3 June, after an eventful trip which included flight delays, missed wake up calls, and long lines at customs.

A visit with denominational and synod officials established my presence officially in the country. This was followed by a visit with my daughter Katy, who turned 14 in my absence. She looks great, is very happy in her new boarding house, and is doing well in school.

Then it was time to go home. I arrived at my house in Wrenchville to find it full of church members and food for a surprise welcome home party. Once I had greeted everyone (a formality one does not ignore), Aunt Ana slowly pulled a Bible from her big black purse. This was more than celebration; it was a time for prayer. It is what I value most about the people I serve here in the Kalahari. They keep me grounded in my faith. They remind me of what is important and why we are able to celebrate. The cake was good. The flowers were beautiful. But the word of God from an old woman’s heart welcomed me home.

And what about the church? Well, as we would say in Afrikaans, it is “amper klaar”. It is almost finished. In the next couple of months the chancel will get a new pulpit, along with a lectern and deacons’ benches. The plumbing still needs to go in and a few shelves will be built in the small rooms. Then there’s seating. This church seats about 300, almost twice as many as the old building. Those of you who have gone through a building project know the one hundred and one decisions that have to be thrashed out at the point of “almost finished”, some of them with theological implications.

  • Where should the pulpit be placed – in the middle, to the right of centre, to the left? Why?
  • Where are the lectern and baptismal font situated – on the same level as the congregation? At the same level as the pulpit? Somewhere in between? Why?
  • Communion is served once a month. What happens to the table on the other Sundays? Is it put out of the way and kept special, or does it remain up front as a reminder, waiting for its appointed use?
  • What about seating? Chairs would allow us to make more creative use of the sanctuary space for a variety of events, but pews would preserve the more traditional worship space, providing a true “sanctuary”. Which is most important to our congregation now – and in the future? Why?
  • The new building has a “cry room” for mothers and babies. What needs to be in this room to show the value we place on our future?
  • And what about the grounds around the building? How can the landscape around the building and the entry help prepare us for worship even as we witness to our love for God’s creation?

From the time I came to Wrenchville, I have challenged the congregation to examine their faith, to ask why we do things the way we do and what it says about our belief in God. Our new church building provides another opportunity to ask such questions, and to grow together. You may want to ask these questions of your own church as your brothers and sisters in Wrenchville wrestle with their answers.

Connecting through Prayer

Pray for the church in Wrenchville as we seek answers to these questions and make decisions about our new church. Pray for Christians everywhere who are bold enough to examine their faith and seek to grow in their relationship with God.

Rev. Tim Colvin
Wrenchville Congregational Church, Kuruman, South Africa

Tim Colvin is a missionary with the South Africa Synod of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa where she serves as pastor of the Wrenchville Congregational Church in Wrenchville, South Africa.