Lectionary Selection: Luke 14:25-33
Prayers for South Africa:
Gracious and loving God, if required for the cross, we will forsake even our families as Jesus taught. But surely you also call us, as part of our obligation to carry the cross, to not selfishly forsake our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren by destroying the Earth. In a land where ancestors and descendants are still family (and God is the God of the living and the dead), water resources are desperately scarce and animal and habitat diversity for many species are threatened by poaching and human invasion, inspire us to participate in your salvific plan for all Creation. Teach us that Jesus’ lessons about viability and sustainability are as much about our Earth as they are about our individual spiritual dedication and endurance. So, we pray for the drought persistent in southern Africa, leaving the reservoirs dangerously low, and for the looming extinction of the rhinoceroses whose horns are hacked for human greed. We hear that the whole cosmos, not just ourselves, is groaning for a new Creation in which those who follow will inherit the same blessings you bestowed upon us. For if we sabotage our descendants, then what are we good for? We pray in Christ’s name, Amen.
Mission Stewardship Moment from South Africa:
After many sermon series and much discernment, the Bethel Congregational Church (UCCSA) adopted the following as its mission statement in November 2015:
We at Bethel Congregational Church (UCCSA) strive to “show our faith by what we do” and to “go out” and share “God’s love for all” by preserving God’s Creation as the focus of our church ministry to our community.
In July 2016, Bethel celebrated its 103rd anniversary. We unveiled a plaque that proclaimed our church’s mission. ethel strives to be the first ‘cosmocentric’ ministry in Durban, if not in South Africa! Most churches are ‘anthropocentric’, that is their theology and practice view humans, exclusively, as part of God’s salvific plan. We question this theology. We believe ‘cosmocentrism is the new anthropocentrism’, in that the best way to care for our neighbors is to care for the environment. Our theology and ministries will focus on environmental justice. This is no easy task, for we are a small and proudly traditional church. ‘Small’ and ‘traditional’ do not generally lead to ‘ambitious’ and ‘pioneering’. But our Congregational faith background has always been prophetic and innovative, and we refuse to lose our salt! We have counted the cost of such a new vision and will soon implement small viable ministries that include the Earth in God’s redemption of the world. We believe our church will cease to be one that caters only to the needs of a now non-existent 1913 community and instead be more relevant to our 2016 and 2116 communities.
(Prayer and Mission Moment by Rev. Dr. Scott Couper)
Mission Partners in South Africa:
- Related Institution: Ons Plek
- South African Council of Churches
- South Africa Synod, United Congregational Church of Southern Africa
- Theological Education by Extension College
- United Congregational Church of Southern Africa
More information on South Africa: http://www.globalministries.org/south_africa
Global Ministries Missionary in South Africa:
Rev. Dr. Scott Couper, serves as a long-term volunteer with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa. Scott’s appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.