The Southern Synod, of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA), which includes the bigger part of Gauteng; parts of Mpumalanga; and part of North West, met on the 07 -12 October 2014, where issues of the past three years were debated and challenges put forth.
In that synod, the leadership of the Regional Synod was elected as follows: Rev Dr L J Modise (Moderator/Chairperson); Rev BB Senokwane (Assessor/Vice-Chairperson); Rev Prof RW Nel (Actuarius) and Rev S Mabelane (Scribe/Secretary). In terms of the church law this leadership needs to facilitate the smooth running of the congregations
in the Southern Synod. Its Key Performance Areas (KPA) is to ensure that there is:
- Worship in congregations;
- Instruction; Care;
- Witnessing and Service.
In short, the leadership need to see to it that in each and every congregation there is service of God, mutual service and service to the world.
According the evaluation of the synod there is a lot that is being done in terms of worship and instruction on the Christian education within the church, but there is very limited work done to the communities. We want to change that. Hence this leadership intends to place more focus on service and witness, as the Word of God teaches that we must love our neighbour with all our hearts. In the ministry for Service and Witness we intend to focus on the following:
- Local mission and diaconal ministries, which includes service/care;
- Mutual and pastoral care;
- Institutional Care (Charity, relief, development);
- Public Witness which includes politics, economy, and civil society and media;
- Justice, human rights and peace, which deals with violence and crime prevention; HIV/AIDS.
- Integrity of Creation – Responsible Stewardship.
The church has the role to play in the modern society. This is because the church is led by people who emerge from communities, who have been a part of communities for as long as they have lived and are in fact, the character inspired by the experiences gathered from communities. Equally so, the church has a membership that is from the communities which the church is serving. These congregation members define the essence of the communities which they come from and the character of their communities is what they reflect. Thus, though the church might have a spiritual responsibility towards the community, it must find its identity within the communities that it exists within.
We are quite aware that poverty and exploitation of workers from all levels are the major challenge for our country and church at large.At the same time employees and employers are members of our churches therefore it is important this leadership emphasis the functionality of Belhar confession to it members moreover article 4 which states that:
We believe: that God’s own revelation has revealed God as the One who wishes to bring about justice and true peace between people; that in a world full of injustice and enmity God is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and those who suffer injustice and calls the Church to imitate this; that God brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry; that God frees those in prison and makes the blind see; that God succours the downtrodden, protects strangers, helps orphans and widows and thwarts the path of the ungodly; that for God pure and undefiled religion is to visit the orphans and the widows in their affliction; that God seeks to teach the People of God to do what is good and to seek the right; that the Church must therefore stand by people who in any way suffer or are in need, which among other things means that the Church will witness and take up the fight against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream; that as God’s possession the Church must stand where God stands, namely against injustice and with those who suffer injustice; and that the Church as made up of those who follow Christ must witness against all the powerful and privileged who selfishly seek their own interests and rule over others to their disadvantage. Therefore we reject any ideology that legitimates forms of injustice and any doctrine that is unwilling to oppose such an ideology on the basis of the gospel.
If the Belhar Confession is central to our identity, then we really need to be part of the government initiatives to fight poverty, injustice, violence against women and children, economic injustice as well as development retardation. It is the aim of this to encourage, develop and guide congregations within this region, to participate in development programs; institutional care like charity, relief and empowerment program in collaboration with the government at all levels of government namely Local, Provincial and National government. Where the government could not provide space like land for projects; buildings for office used, if this church is guided and inspired by the Belhar Confession, then it will provide safe space for community engagement of the church and state.
We as the newly elected leadership of Southern Synod intend to take this church within this region beyond prayer and worship towards a holistic community of believers, where spiritual and physical needs are meet to glorify God the Almighty. In answering the question: which direction to rise and go? The response is towards holistic development of human beings in South Africa within this region, through service of God, mutual service and service to the world.
So, let us all Rise and Go to make well-ness a reality!