Monday, January 14, 2008

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.
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