UCCSA General Assembly – a Transnational Celebration
What a joyous opportunity! A church meeting of five countries, with more languages than I could count much less speak! It was a great opportunity to be part of God’s work at the transnational denominational level.
What a joyous opportunity! A church meeting of five countries, with more languages than I could count much less speak! It was a great opportunity to be part of God’s work at the transnational denominational level. I was invited to go both in order to be introduced to the UCCSA as a new Global Ministries missionary serving as a Pastor, and as delegate from Namibia, as one of only 6 Pastors in Namibia.
Even getting there was an adventure. After a four hour drive from Kalkfeld to Windhoek I journeyed with ten Namibia Synod delegates in a combi (van) from Windhoek, Namibia to Maheking, South Africa. This drive (of supposedly 14 hours by Google maps) was interrupted when, in spite of the best efforts of our driver, we hit a warthog (bosvarke in Afrikaans- a word I won’t soon forget!). Thankfully no one was hurt (except the poor animal) and the combi was not badly damaged, but we had to turn back to Gobabis to get the coolant tank repaired. We were very grateful as it all could have been much worse. Back on the road we found the border between Namibia and Botswana closed for the night at midnight. We slept in the combi a few hours and then got back on the road.
We found the drought in Botswana to be devastating. Because there is nothing to eat in the bush we got to see many herds of animals foraging along the road; donkey, cows, goats, and even kudu, ostrich, baboons and duiker (small deer) in broad daylight, and of course warthogs. We arrived 27 hours after we departed. A bit wrinkled but safe.
The General Assembly was amazing as you might imagine a gathering of nearly 250 delegates from 5 countries (Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe) to worship, pray, learn, conduct elections and fellowship together. We had amazing and uplifting worship to open and close the Assembly, to celebrate the ministry of the outgoing General Secretary the Rev. Dr. Prince Dibeela (Botswana) and President the Rev. Basil Manning (South Africa), and induct the new General Secretary Rev. Allistar Arens (South Africa) and President Philip Strydom (Namibia) and President Elect Rev Mosweu Simane from Zimbabwe. A truly transnational church! The UCCSA amended its constitution to expand the executive board to add three members at large with the purpose of maintaining an equal number of men and women in leadership.
Every morning we started the meetings with a devotion and Bible study to put us in the right frame of mind. But it continued with throughout the day. In between conducting the business and elections of the church, someone would be asked to start singing. The whole congregation would then erupt in joyous praise and dancing. I realized this not only reminded us we were not just doing business but kingdom work, and it also exercised our bodies and got the oxygen circulating. It was a great way to keep the Spirit’s presence flowing throughout the room! We were also privileged to travel in small groups to worship with local churches on Sunday and receive their wonderful hospitality.
There were many wonderful workshops offered. I regretted that I was only able to attend workshops on Trafficking in Humans, Land Rights and Economic Development. These are three very big issues in Southern Africa and Kalkfeld. I was pleased to be able to see and talk with many people I had met in my travels the first four months in South Africa, as well as fellowship with some new friends. When I was introduced to the General Assembly the entire congregation applauded and yelled their encouragement. They are very appreciative of their partnership with Global Ministries and your gift of a missionary to serve with them.
Our journey back was (mostly) uneventful and only 17 hours. We were greeted in style however by the “fireworks” of Windhoek. A great big, sky-filling lightning and thunderstorm surrounded us as we arrived. It was spectacular and beautiful. It was also intimidating and unfortunately brought only a few drops of much needed rain. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of representing you and please be in prayer for all of Southern Africa to receive plentiful and useful (ground soaking, dam-filling and not flooding) rain.
Rev. Dr. Loletta Barrett, serves with the Namibia Synod of the UCCSA in Kalkveld, Namibia. She serves as a pastor.