Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Conference on worship and Liturgy

The Practical Theology Society will be hosting a conference on 16-17 Jan 2008, Liturgy on the edge. It sill be open to all and the costs will be R 40 per person per day. It will take place at the Theo van Wijk Auditorium, at UNISA, Pretoria.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Conference on hopegiving faith communities in Southern Africa

We are exited to announce that the next SAMS congress will be held on the campus of the North West University in Potchefstroom/Tlokwe from 23-25 January 2008 in tandem with the Biennial David Bosch Memorial lecture, on the 23 January 2008 !

Since the Edinburgh 2010 organizing committee has asked SAMS to take responsibility for the commission called "The development of Christian communities in contemporary contexts", the SAMS business meeting agreed to focus in the following two congresses on gathering and analyzing stories of vibrant and sustainable Christian communities in Southern Africa. The theme for the 2008 SAMS was fixed as "Mission in humility and hope: Stories of hope-giving Christian communities in Southern Africa." It was also agreed that hope-giving has al ot to do with healing and reconciliation, so that a concerted effort will be made to gather stories of healing and reconciling communities. In the congress these stories will be told, analyzed and compared-in terms of a consistent interpretive framework- to discern trends and patterns in the mission praxis of these communities. SAMS members and other interested partners are hereby invited to submit proposals of a hope-giving community, person or social movement whose story they would like to tell in the January congress.

Nico Botha calls a new kairos for the church

The church, in particular the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, face a new moment of truth, according to Unisa Professor Nico Botha, and local pastor in the Middelburg congregation. Prof Botha, writes, under the heading, Die Kerk se uur van waarheid, in the Afrikaans daily, the Beeld, reflecting on the recent 52nd ANC conference in Polokwane. He opines that Polokwane signals a victory for democracy, not only within the ANC, but also the country, which poses a challenge for the church at large. The question he poses is: How democratic is the church ? He looks at various dimensions of this question namely: the scandal of churches still separated on the basis of race and skin colour ( some churches still struggle to condemn apartheid as sin!); the oppressed position of women and children (still) as non-voting, hardworking, non-people in our churches, seniors and people with disabilities, but then his focus: the poor and the needy. He believes that Polokwane has brought about a shift in favor of the poor and unemployed.

Whilst some in the current government hail the economic successes, the question is for whom? Indeed, this is a kairos for the church to expose a system that destroy our living environment, and where the inequalities still prevailent is entrenched. What is called for a system where priviate intiative is supported, whilst at the same time the exploitation of a few halted. It is in this context where he calls, in particular the URCSA to stop forcing Belhar down the throats of people and start to choose unequivocally for the poor and needy.

This article, of course raise a lot of isssues, not only for Service and Witness, for Diaconal services and Barmhartigheidsdienste, but also for the general state of our church and our prophetic witness. Some commentators are of the opinion that the new leadership of the ruling party simply represents a new face of disgruntled members. The question seems to be what concrete proposals for policy changes in the economic policy as well as labor policy will be forthcoming. Like Botha, it seems that we will have to be circumspect of new political faces and critically analyze the concrete policy proposals that are on the table. Because, indeed: the cry of the poor and needy calls the church to take a stand... where God stands.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Vacancy for MD at Institute for Urban Ministry, Tshwane

The Institute for Urban Ministry invites applications for the post of Managing Director. The successful candidate would offer:

• A solid understanding of and proven competence in:
o NGO management
o Contextual / Community Ministry
o Theological Education
o Institutional Development

A remuneration package of up to R120 000 per annum is available.

The core activities of the Institute for Urban Ministry are training for Urban Ministry, Networking the Urban Church and telling the story through Publications. IUM is situated in Pretoria Central, has students across South Africa and West Africa, and networks internationally with significant Urban Movements. Closing date: 31 Jan.

Contact: Sakkie Kloppers, Tel: 012 -325 9474, Fax: 012 -3250517, E-mail: sakkie@ium.org.za

unity talks between NG Kerk and URCSA

Unity talks between the Gauteng-South regions of the NG Kerk and the URCSA got underway, yesterday, in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Representatives from the various executives met in a spirit of openness and faith, but also in hope to build momentum for this key challenge.

It was noted that in the midst of uncertainty in Southern Africa, the post electoral conflict in Kenya as well as many other challenges, the challenge of church-unification and reconciliation remain critical. The groups agreed to work towards one central administration system and nerve center, to boost the caring together idea, with some practical projects, but also to work towards united ministries. This will be accomplished by building a solid foundation, on the word of God, sharing a common vision and maintaining and building strong relationships. In the course of this year a possible regional convent is in the pipeline, as well as joint ventures to make a real difference in the region.

May we pray for grace and a new momentum in this quest, this mission... giving concrete body to the lofty faith commitments in our confessions

Monday, January 7, 2008

Challenges for the church to deal with in 2008 !

As the festivities dies down, we are reminded of the real challenges that lies ahead, as a church, but also as faith communities, from Africa. The outburst of violence in Kenya, the Taylor trial in The Hague, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan are salutary reminders of the relevance of our mission towards unity, reconciliation and justice.

Social commentators warn that military solutions does not hold promise in the quest for peace. It is indeed at this point where faith communities need to play a key role. The tidings of peace on earth, is a call to own up to our complicity in an imperialist gospel, that aims to destroy the other, but also to commit to action towards challenging this false gospel. It's a call for us as church to practice what we preach. We cannot alienate one another, abuse power and become another predator, fleecing the flock.

This place an imperative on us, towards sound and transparent administration, towards serving the needs of the poor, oppressed and needy. The quest for unification with the NG Kerk, should serve the quest for true justice and healing. Indeed, in a world of death and threats of more bllod on the streets, we need to affirm that....
we believe
• that God has revealed himself as the one who wishes to bring about justice
and true peace among people;
• that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the
God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged
• that God calls the church to follow him in this; for God brings justice to
the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry
(Belhar, Art 4)

This is the gift that we can bring to the world, humbly and faithfully, this year.