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Abundant South African hospitality during World Cup 2010

2010/06/23 by Danie Mouton No Comments »

Ek dink lesers van Reisgeselskap sal in die volgende pragtige getuienis oor Suid-Afrika geïnteresseerd wees:

The Huffington Post
Shari Cohen
International development worker in the public health sectorPosted: June 15, 2010 11:35 AM

South Africa Rolls Out the Ubuntu in Abundance

I went on a rant the other day regarding the cost of the 2010 World Cup versus all the critical needs South Africa is facing and whether or not the most vulnerable of this country would gain anything from having the World Cup hosted in their country. At that time, I also had some very positive things to say about our hosts for the 2010 World Cup and I wanted to share that side of the coin as well, because it is equally important.

To say that I have been blown away at the hospitality South Africa has shown the rest of the world would be an understatement. I think back on recent Olympics and struggle to remember much reporting in the USA of athletes from other countries. I remember when a Togolese guy won a bronze medal in kayaking and NBC reported it and I thought to myself, “where are all the other fascinating stories like this one…like the Jamaican bobsledding team.” In today’s America, sadly, we have drifted so far towards being so US-centric that we only seem to root for the Americans.

Not so here in South Africa. I’ve been here since early May and each week I have become more and more impressed with the global embrace that South Africans have offered up to the world. On the way to the airport a couple of weeks ago, I heard a radio program that said each day they would focus on one country that would be coming to South Africa for the World Cup, and they would explore not only that sport’s history in soccer, but also their politics, religion, and socio-cultural practices. On the television, I’ve seen numerous programs that focus on a particular country and it’s history of soccer and how the history of that country is intertwined with their soccer history. I’ve seen programs on India, exploring why India enjoys soccer but hasn’t really excelled at the global level… yet. And I’ve seen shows on soccer in Muslim countries. Maybe it’s planned, maybe it’s unplanned, maybe it’s by chance, but it is happening. It’s not just about South Africans showing off their varied and multifaceted culture to their global guests, it’s also about using this opportunity to educate South Africa on the rest of Planet Earth’s inhabitants.

As I moved through my work here in the provinces over the last six weeks, I had a pivotal meeting with the Board members of a rural NGO. They were explaining their guiding program philosophy of Ubuntu. No, not the Linux program. I’m talking about the traditional African philosophy of Ubuntu that essentially says, “No man is an island.”

I found a better explanation from Wikipedia:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu further explained Ubuntu in 2008:

read more…

 

Volwasse kategese steek grense oor en laat die doopwater spat

2010/06/16 by Danie Mouton 2 Comments »

Eers word vier volwassenes gedoop as deel van belydenisaflegging.  Daarna kom hierdie persone se huweliksmaats na vore, en word hulle kinders ingebring om gedoop te word.

Vier volwassenes en daarna hul vyf kinders word op een dag gedoop.

Hierdie aangrypende seremonie het op 13 Junie 2010 in Port Elizabeth-Noord gemeente afgespeel.  Dit het alles begin met ds Johan Marais wat byna ‘n jaar gelede aangekondig het hy begin ‘n groep met die oog op volwasse kategese.  Twaalf volwassenes meld toe aan, waarvan sewe end-uit deel van die groep gebly het.

Ds Johan Marais doop die seun van Morris Shoco (met die blou baadjie), een van die volwassenes wat pas belydenis van geloof afgelê het en self gedoop is

Geloofwaardigheid weens diens

Waarom meld ‘n groot groep volwassenes vir kategese in ‘n NG Gemeente aan?  Dit het te doen met publieke geloofwaardigheid.  PE-Noord se geloofwaardigheid hou verband met hul betrokkenheid by die omliggende gemeenskap in die sentrale, semi-geïndustrialeerde stadsgebied waar die gemeente geleë is.  Die gemeente bedryf ‘n vroue-bemagtigingsprojek, gee Saterdae ‘n maaltyd aan byna 400 gemarginaliseerde straatlopers, besoek die gevangenes in die nabygeleë gevangenis, reik uit na en gee om vir die hele gemeenskap se kinders. Hulle is ook betrokke by die plaaslike laerskool.

Dit het nie altyd só gegaan nie – daar was tye dat PE-Noord deur diepe waters gegaan het, maar dis juis die diensprojekte wat hulle uit die as laat opstaan het.

Die diens en betrokkenheid by die gemeenskap gee aan die gemeente publieke geloofwaardigheid.  Mense herken Christus in die lewe van die gemeente.

Daarom is meer as 50% van persone wat die aanddienste bywoon nie lidmate van die gemeente in die klassieke sin van die woord nie.  Daarom gee sakemanne en besighede gereeld finansiële steun aan die gemeente se gemeenskapsprojekte.

Persone wat inskakel by die volwasse kategese kom dus nie vir verhelderende teoretiese insigte en toeligting van die kerk se dogma nie – hoe lofwaardig dit ook al mag wees.  Hulle kom omdat hulle Jesus aantreklik vind, en self ook vir Jesus saam met mede-gelowiges wil volg.

Volwasse doop en kinderdoop tesame

Vir my was die aangrypendste aspek van 13 Junie se belydenisaflegging die feit dat die 4 volwassenes wat gedoop is, dadelik daartoe oorgegaan het om – saam met hul lewensmaats – hul kinders te doop.  Nie net indiwidue nie, maar gesinne is aan die Here gebind.

Nege dope op een dag, almal gesinsdope.  Geloof in die lewende teenwoordigheid van die Here in die kerk se bediening het skielik vir ons almal ‘n groter werklikheid geword.

Kerkraadslede van PE-Noord wens nuwe lidmate na volwasse belydenisaflegging geluk. Vier van hulle is gedoop en het toe hul kinders ten doop gebring.

My gebed is dat hierdie toneel toenemend eerder die reël as die uitsondering in ons gemeentes sal wees.

 

Cradock-Noord neem nuwe orrel glansryk in gebruik

2010/06/14 by Danie Mouton 2 Comments »

“‘n Uitgelese groep kunstenaars het saamgespan om die ingebruikneming van Cradock-Noord se nuwe Johannus-orrel ‘n onvergeetlike ervaring te maak,” vertel ds Attie van Wyk, predikant van die gemeente en orrelis in eie reg.

Die konserte het op 4 en 5 Junie plaasgevind.  ‘n Groot hoeveelheid mense van reg oor die land het die konsert van bykans 3 ure bygewoon. Daar was konsertgangers uit die Kaap, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Humansdorp en van die omliggende dorpe soos Adelaide, Graaff-Reinet en Burgersdorp.

Kunstenaars wat deelgeneem het aan die konsert om die ingebruikneming van Cradock-Noord se nuwe kerkorrel te vier. Agter: Bennie Jonker, Geoff van der Voort, Prieur du Plessis. Voor: Melissa Witbooi, Keith Moss, Corné Vollgraaff, Sarah Evans, Iloreez Meyer, Lilian Zeelie, Eon Malan, Dalene Els, Colin Campbell en Attie van Wyk

Op die program was ‘n groot verskeidenheid musiek, soos toccatas, gespeel deur Colin Campbell (Widor en Boëllmann), asook ligter gewyde musiek. Instrumentaliste met trompet en fluit asook strykers en sangers het opgetree.  Daar was ook samesang.

As orreliste het Colin Campbell, Geoff van der Voort, Dalene Els, Eon Malan en Attie van Wyk uitvoerings gelewer. Lilian Zeelie het  fluit gespeel, Keith Moss, Sarah Evans en Melissa Witbooi het as strykers opgetree, met sangers Iloreez Meyer, Prieur du Plessis en Lionel van Zyl. Bennie Jonker en Corné Volgraaff het die trompet bespeel.

Die drie manuale van die NG Kerk Cradock-Noord se nuwe Johannus-orrel - een van die grootste digitale orrels in Afrika.

“Die konserte was nie net ‘n fondsinsamelingpoging nie, maar ook ‘n fees om die skoonheid van musiek te geniet, lof aan die Here te bring, en mekaar se samesyn te geniet.  Dit was ‘n wonderlike ervaring om lidmate skouer aan die wiel te sien sit en saam te werk om van die aande ‘n sukses te maak,” sê Attie. “Mense is verras deur die wonderlike musiek op die platteland.  Ek dink dit was ‘n inspuiting vir die platteland om hierdie konserte te kon beleef.”

Die konserte is elke aand deur sowat 650 mense bygewoon.

Ds Attie van Wyk, predikant van Cradock-Noord en musikant in eie reg

Klik hier om te luister hoe Attie die program en samewerking van die lidmate beskryf.

 

Grieke geesdriftig oor sokker

by Danie Mouton No Comments »

Nelson Mandelabaai

Aangesien ons ‘n rukkie gelede so gasvry by die Grieks-Ortodokse kerk in Port Elizabeth ontvang is, maak my seun en ek verlede Saterdag (12 Junie 2010) vinnig ‘n draai by die Griekse klub in Port Elizabeth.  Die toneel is die voorbereidings vir die  Wêreldsokkerbeker wedstryd tussen Griekeland en Korea bietjie later die middag.

Talle Griekse besoekers het op die klub toegesak, nie ver van die sokkerstadion nie.  Die gasvryheid, gulhartigheid en opwinding het uit almal gestraal.

'n Griekse sokkergeesdriftige se gesig word geverf

Selfs die Grieke het die vuvuzela aangegryp:

Die vuvuzela praat Grieks ook

Kan die vuvuzela die hele wêreld agter sy eentonige basklanke verenig? Lyk so:

‘n Heerlike oggend tussen die gulhartige en sosiale Grieke het ongelukkig teleurstellend geëindig toe Korea Griekeland 2-0 geklop het in die eerste Wêreldsokkerbekerwedstryd in die nuwe Nelson Mandelabaai Stadion.

 

Nuwe lidmate uit die Garcia-woonstelle

2010/06/09 by Danie Mouton No Comments »

Die Garcia sub-ekonomiese munisipale woonstelle is nie die soort plek waar mens graag wil bly nie.  ‘n Hele katologus van sosiaal-maatskaplike probleme, soos gesinsgeweld, verslawing, dwelmhandel, kinderverwaarlosing – en meer – kom hier voor.

Die woonstelblok is geleë in die Cambridge woonbuurt, so ‘n kilometer of wat van die kerkgebou van die NG Kerk Cambridge af.

Ds Sas Swart vertel die verhaal hoe die gemeente by hierdie woonstelblok, en spesifiek die kinders betrokke geraak het.  Hulle doen wonderlike werk om te verseker dat die kinders by die skool kom, in die middae geleentheid het om huiswerk te doen (in die kerksaal) en ook die geleentheid kry om Jesus van Nasaret te leer ken en te volg.

Daar is bitter min romanties aan dié werk.  Maar Jesus dring die gemeente, en daar is vrug op die werk. Ek sal vorentoe hieroor ‘n bydrae op die blog publiseer.

Deel van hierdie vrug is die ouers van hierdie kinders wat kerklik ingeskakel raak en op hulle beurt óf leer om die Here te volg, óf weer die geleentheid kry om betekenisvol by deel van ‘n geloofsgemeenskap te word.

Onlangs, in Mei 2010, het vier volwassenes uit hierdie woonstelblok belydenis van geloof in die Cambridge-gemeente afgelê.

Vier nuwe lidmate vir die NG Kerk Cambridge. Hierdie vier persone het in Mei 2010 belydenis van geloof in die gemeente afgelê as vrug van die gemeente se dienswerk onder kinders van die Garcia sub-ekonomiese munisipale woonstelle. Kloksgewys van bo in die hoek links verskyn Loretta, Willie, Vivian en Grace.

Die briefies wat hulle geskryf het om hul aansoeke om lidmaatskap te motiveer, is van die wonderlikste getuigskrifte wat ‘n gemeente kan kry.

Grace Devereaux skryf:

Let op die woorde: “‘n Kerk wat omgee vir mense.”  Dit is ‘n kerk wat om die regte redes aantreklik is en iets van die Here se hart vertoon.

Loretta Pillay sê die volgende:

Loretta se seun is aan ‘n rolstoel gekluister.  Die kerk se uitreik het hom weer ‘n ruimte gegee waarbinne hy kon sosialieer en waarin hy veilig kan wees.  Wat die kerk vir haar seun gedoen het, het Loretta beweeg om in te skakel.  Sy het dadelik gasvryheid ervaar.

Vivian September se briefie lees só:

Volgens die godsdienssosioloog Rodney Stark sal nuwe bekeerlinge tot ‘n geloof dikwels hul toewyding in terme van die aanvaarding van nuwe leerstellinge verduidelik.  Wat hulle tussen die reëls bedoel, is dat die leer van die kerk deur die hartlike verhoudinge en gasvrye ontvangs gelegitimeer is.

Willie Vorster skryf:

Willie word deel van die gemeente om deel te neem aan die dienswerk en getuienistaak.

Dit is ‘n ervaring om te beleef dat mense om die regte redes deel word van ‘n gemeente.  Cambridge help ons verstaan waaroor kerk-wees gaan.

 

The Christian Identity of Congregations and the Struggles of the DRC: Past, Present and Future

by Danie Mouton No Comments »

The metaphor, “struggle”, is indeed appropriate for the long and chequered history of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa. It brings to mind Paul’s admonition in his letter to the church in Philippi:

“Live your life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ, … standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel. … For he (God) has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well – since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have” (Ph 1: 27-30, NRSV).

The Christian identity of congregations, understood in a trinitarian, missional way (as Paul does in his letter to Philippi), indeed implies struggle. This struggle should always be rooted in the gospel, and be guided by proper spiritual discernment. In the many struggles of the DRC penultimate concerns often led the church astray. We need to continually pray Paul’s prayer at the outset of the same letter:

“And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God” (Ph 1: 9-11, NRSV).

Let us then endeavour to enquire discerningly about the Christian identity of the DRC and it’s past, present and future struggles.

1.  The Christian Identity of Congregations

How would one describe the Christian identity of congregations?

Alan Hirsch, asking why the early Christian church (and the Chinese underground churches) grew so remarkably, answers: “All genuine Christian movements involve at their spiritual ground zero a living encounter with the One True God ‘through whom all things came and through whom we live’ (1 Cor 8:6)…. A God, who in the very moment of redeeming us, claims us as his own through Jesus our Savior” (Hirsch 2006:84).

Hirsch explains how underground Christians movements are stripped form religious clutter, e.g. institutional conceptions of the ecclesia, and are forced back to the core of the message, which they then are able to communicate along primarily relational lines. The core is found in the “substance of genuine biblical monotheism – an existential encounter with the one God who claims and saves us” (2006:86).

Hirsch argues that the confession of Jesus as Lord and Saviour is grounded in Israel’s belief that Yahweh is Lord. Shema Yisrael, “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut 6:4).

The incarnation informs and restructures the practical monotheism of the Old Testament around the central character of the New Testament, Jesus Christ. Our loyalties are now to be given to the Revealer and Saviour. Jesus’ message of the kingdom is the triune God’s claim upon us. It is expressed in by confession: Jesus is Lord. This has serious implications for the identity of the church:

Our identity as a movement, as well as our destiny as a people, is inextricably linked to Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity. That is what makes us distinctly Christ-ian.

At its very heart, Christianity is therefore a messianic movement, one that seeks to consistently embody the life, spirituality and mission of its Founder. We have made it so many other things, but this is its utter simplicity. Discipleship, becoming like Jesus our Lord and Founder, lies at the epicentre of the church’s task. … It also means that in order to recover the ethos of authentic Christianity, we need to refocus our attention back to the root of it all, to recalibrate ourselves and our organizations around the person and work of Jesus the Lord. It will mean taking the Gospels seriously as the primary texts that define us. It will mean acting like Jesus in relation to people outside of the faith…” (2006:94)

This thumbnail summary provides us with a hermeneutical framework to guide us through our discussion of the past, present and future struggles of the DRC in relation to its Christian identity.

2.  The DRC as Christendom church

As technical term, Christendom Church refers to the privileged position of the church at the centre of power in society, a position the church in the West enjoyed since the Christian faith became the official state religion of the Roman Empire in 391 A.D. The reformation did not change this basic position (Keifert 2006:30v).

The Dutch Reformed Church came to South Africa with Jan Van Riebeeck in April 1652. It was the only church allowed in the new Dutch outpost, and remained in this position until 1795, when the colony fell into British hands. In the case of the Dutch, the state was the senior partner in the Christendom-fusion and regulated the church in no uncertain terms. Even after 1795, government continued to appoint a political commissioner to attend all church council and other governance meetings to ensure that government’s interests and policy prevailed. This situation came only to an end by 1843.

The Christendom-partnership meant that the Christian identity of the church remained subjected to the political interest of the Dutch governor. This is an important factor for an initial lack of organised missionary work by the church.

With the rise of Afrikaner nationalism in the 20th century and the gaining of political power by the Afrikaner, the DRC once again enjoyed the de facto status of a Christendom state church. During this period the church failed the gospel once again.

The ministry of the DRC was therefore traditionally that of a typical Christendom church, far removed from the ecclesia as a missional Jesus movement. It was powerful, and did not need:
●  to cross boundaries,
●  to build relationships with outsiders, or
●  to cultivate apostolic leadership.

The new political dispensation from 1994 led to a radical and sudden disestablishment of the DRC. Because of its close ties to the previous government, e.g. its
●  role in the formulation of government’s racial policies,
●  involvement in the formulation of numerous apartheid laws, and
●  chaplaincy of military action, aimed at maintaining political power,
the DRC had to endure tremendous shame when the full extent of state sponsored violence, crime and thuggery surfaced during the truth and reconciliation process.

The struggle to come to terms with this disestablishment still defines present reality in the DRC. A loss of membership, social status and financial hardship, illustrated by congregations struggling or dwindling and dying in areas where the church once flourished, underlines the painful reality of its marginalisation. The loss of the power to shape public reality in partnership with government remains a bitter pill to swallow.

One way of coming to terms with new realities is to completely disengage regarding public responsibility by fleeing into faith as a privatised, individualised spiritual-religious experience. There is also a loss of confidence regarding public witness. What guarantees do we have we will not get it wrong again?

A responsible church will embrace its liminality in a time like this, deliberately allow itself to be stripped of its institutionalised Christendom view of the church, and rediscover its identity as serving messianic movement. It’s a time to willingly embrace the dessert-experience, where we can re-connect with the gospel-story, can rediscover the missional God, can be refreshed by a renewed calling, and from where we can be sent into the world on a newly discovered mission, true to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lord.

3.  Church, missionary work and ethnic diversity

It is also true that the DRC understood itself right from the beginning as responsible for missionary work. It was expected of pastors and comforters of the sick to share the faith with heathen. It took, however, more than a century for strategically structured missionary work to start.

At first, individual members took responsibility to instruct the Hottentotte and other indigenous people like the Khoi in God’s Word. The first Hottentot, a woman called Krotoa, was baptised in 1662. Slaves were instructed in the Christian faith at the daily family devotions. Slave-owners were generally not eager to have slaves baptised, for the simple reason that adult slaves were set free after their baptism and public confession of faith (Marais 1984:30v).

For the first two hundred years new converts from the Hottentotte, Bushmen and slaves to Christianity became members of the local church. No special provision was made for separate ministry to them, and they shared in the table community when the Lord’s Supper was celebrated.

Towards the end of the 18th century the dawn of missionary zeal manifested in Europe and spread to the Cape Colony. Local congregations took their missionary task seriously. Various missionary agencies, mostly from abroad, but also a South African mission society (founded in 1799), became partners for the church’s missionary calling.

The first Synod of the Cape Colony (1824) instituted a special missionary office, with an ordination to administer the sacraments to heathen converts in the congregations formed through their missionary endeavours. These converts (all of them people of colour) would now become members of separate congregations. This was not a separate church, for when a member departed to an area where no such mission congregation existed, his membership was transferred to the local DRC congregation. The missionary societies also contributed to this pattern of separate ministry, for missiological reasons.

Since 1824 two ministry strategies towards converts existed: the one was to assimilate converts into existing congregations, and the second one to differentiate – the formation of separate congregations with separate buildings or foundations (Marais 1984:80; Van der Watt 1980:112).

During the 19th century prejudice against people of colour, always present right from the beginning in 1652, rose dramatically. In this vein a few rural congregations asked in 1829 for separate facilities for black converts, especially at the Lord’s table. Synod refused, saying that the Lord’s Supper should be administered to all baptised members “without distinction of colour”. (Smit 2007b:28).

It was at the Synod of 1857 where the principle of separate places of gathering for people of colour became official church policy, due to the infamous “weakness of some”. This “weakness” was the refusal of white people to celebrate holy communion in the presence of people of colour. The decision of 1857 is recognised today as a pivotal point in the development of the DRC’s mission policy, and in the later development of the ideology of apartheid.

The concession of 1857 soon became standard practice, and eventually determined the church order. The policy of separate ministry led to the NG Mission Church (founded 1881) and later the black DRC in Africa (1915) and the Reformed Church in Africa for people of Indian ethnic origin (1970’s).

What started out well – congregations doing missionary work and assimilating converts into their ministry – ended in a nightmare due to racial and cultural prejudice.

Let us fast-forward to present reality. Today, the DRC is involved in a tense struggle to undo these unbiblical choices of the past in a process of church re-unification.

Church re-unification proves to be a very difficult, complex task. The current strategy focus on the integration of formal governance structures, while cultivating organic unity at all levels in a unified church.

The process is under pressure. A recent process of consultation in the DRC (towards the end of 2007) suggests a 50/50 split in support for a unified model of church governance. The Confession of Belhar remains a stumbling block for many members in the white DRC. Huge support for mutual ministry projects exists, and mutual ministry endeavours are steadily growing as normal ministry practise in the DRC-family of churches.

There is work to be done. Because congregations are self-theologizing units, we need to guide and to challenge them to develop a theology of Christian unity. How does unity relate to the very nature of God? What is the link between church unification and the basic plot of the gospel? How does the mission of the church relate to unity?

Church unification presupposes a radical formation of Christian community across all kinds of racial and other barriers. The re-unification of governance structures, is but a small part of the radical transformation involved in being born by faith in the Lord Jesus into the one family of God. A radical unity of being together, of sharing in each other’s lives as we share in the life of the trinity, is what the Gospel calls for.

4.  Church and apartheid

The present struggle to re-unify the DRC Family of Churches comes at the end of the period of the unfortunate theological justification of apartheid by the DRC.

Between 1924 and 1938 the ideal of apartheid as total segregation was formulated. It was a period of social upheaval. The poor-White problem was increasing. Urbanization caused social and psychological dislocation for formerly rural Afrikaner people and a sense of rivalry with black people also flooding to the cities and mines.

Local Afrikaner theologies developed to support and popularise nationalistic notions. Particularly important was the role of neo-Calvinism. The emphasis on pluriformity in creation, stressed by Abraham Kuyper, a Reformed theologian in the Netherlands, played a major role. Each race had a God-given responsibility to maintain its identity. Each “people” was “chosen” for a specific “calling”. Accordingly each people also had a natural right to survival and self-determination.

A series of church, ecumenical and missionary conferences from the 1920’s to the 1940’s dealt with the challenge to organise Afrikaner political and economic power. Representatives of Afrikaner churches increasingly appealed to government for laws to protect the rights to cultural, ethnic and national survival and self-determination. Scriptural “proofs” were provided to legitimate the ideology. There was a clear development from pragmatic support for segregation and separate churches for missiological purposes to a full-scale theological framework giving biblical sanction to a total ideology. Gradually “nation” was used as a hermeneutical tool. The church was seen in terms of the nation. The unity of believers was regarded as a spiritual reality only (Smit 2007:27-39).

Once again, we meet a church which compromised its Christian identity.

A long and hard church struggle against apartheid ensued, in which Reformed churches played an important role. The DR Mission Church rejected the ideology of apartheid in 1978 as in conflict with the gospel’s message of reconciliation. In 1982 the DRMC declared a status confessiones and drafted the Belhar confession, confessing God as the God of one church, of reconciliation and of justice. In 1994 the DRMC and DRCA united to form the Uniting Reformed Church, with a church order explicitly based on the Belhar Confession.

The tide also slowly turned in the DRC in the years since 1980. In 1986 racism was declared a sin by the General Synod of the DRC. Prof Willie Jonker publicly confessed the sin of apartheid on behalf of the DRC at the Rustenburg ecumenical church meeting in 1990. In 1994 General Synod decided to seek unification with the other members of the DRC Family of Churches.

The struggle in the DRC against the ideology of apartheid is not yet complete. The church officially confessed its sin and repented of its theological justification of apartheid. It deserves ample recognition for this courageous act, but racism still remains a reality in the church.

We are in dire straits as a South African nation. We need leadership from the church. The recent walg-video of the shaming initiation of black workers in an Afrikaner hostel at the University of the Free State testify to the fact that churches failed to teach it’s young, those born right at the end of the apartheid era, what it means to be non-racial and to treat all people as being created in the image of God.

We need a reconnection to the biblical narrative, we need to be shaped by the Son of God who became flesh in order to serve us and to bring us all in communion with God, taking away our shame and our sin.

5.  Church and modernity

A few concluding remarks on the DRC and modernity. Modernity influenced the church at various junctions in its past, e.g. in the 19th century when critical European enlightenment theology were popularised in South Africa by DRC-pastors, a scenario which currently repeats itself.

Three examples of challenges posed by modernity:

1.  The private / public split of modernity may trap churches in a spirituality focused on the self, the inner needs and fulfilment of the individual believer. This may be true of liturgy and worship, and may support new forms of apathy regarding South African realities and public life.

2.  Developments within critical theological scholarship in the 19th century impacted in recent times on the DRC. It strengthens the idea of a disenchanted world (Max Weber) and may further processes of secularization.

3.  In the economic sphere the free market in the form of global capitalism seems to be the reigning idol (Smith 2007a:12). The consumer society may prove to be a much more powerful force in the spiritual formation of people than the gospel.

6.  Concerning the future

What lies ahead? What is God’s preferred future for the church, the future that focuses our obedience to the Lord Jesus?

The DRC is currently officially is a Season of Listening – listening to God, to each other, to outsiders and those marginalised for various reasons. Listening is the proper discerning leadership skill for times like these. It signifies a proper humility.

The DRC needs a fresh understanding and deep experience of being called and sent by God to the South African context. It needs to be shaped by the gospel of the Son of God who did not hesitate to become a slave, willingly giving up everything He had in order to free us and bring us into the shared life of the Trinity.

To quote Alan Hirsch again:

We need to refocus our attention back to the root of it all, to recalibrate ourselves and our organizations around the person and work of Jesus the Lord. It will mean taking the Gospels seriously as the primary texts that define us. It will mean acting like Jesus in relation to people outside of the faith…” (2006:94)

Bibliography

Hirsch, A 2008. The forgotten ways. Brazos Press: Grand Rapids
Keifert, P 2006. We are here now – a new missional era. Allelon Publishing: Eagle
Marais, DF 1984. Die Sinode van 1857 en die instituering van afsonderlike kerkverbande onder leiding van die NG Kerk: ‘n Sending-historiese verantwoording. Unpublished M.Th. dissertation.
Smit, DJ, 2007a. Mainline Protestantism in South Africa – and modernity? Unpublished paper.
Smit DJ, 2007b. Essays on public theology. Sun Publishers: Stellenbosch.
Van der Watt, PB 1980. Die NG Kerk Band 2. NGKU: Pretoria

 

Pinkster met vlae en sokkerballe

2010/06/03 by Danie Mouton 1 Comment »

Gratis rubbersokkerballe elke aand by die deure.  Die vlae van die 32 deelnemende lande teen die mure.  Die voorportaal met sokkerballe versier.  Lidmate met sokkerhempies aan.

Dis nie ’n gesig wat NG-Gemeentes kenmerk nie, maar só het PE-Lorraine vanjaar Pinkster aangebied.  Die sokkertemas het lidmate se verbeelding egter behoorlik aangegryp, vertel Anton Oliphant, predikant van die gemeente.

Lidmate van PE-Lorraine met van die sokkerballetjies wat tydens Pinkster by die deure uitgedeel is

Die oorhoofse tema was die finale eindstryd.  Dit is die stryd wat vir ons met Jesus se hemelvaart begin het, sê Anton, die stryd tussen die lig en die duisternis.  Die aandtemas het aspekte aangeraak soos:

  • Ken jou opponent, sy strategieë en verleiding, en berei jouself voor;
  • Gawes van die Gees. Elke spanlid is ’n belangrike speler en het belangrike gawes en ’n posisie.  Jy het doelskieters en middelveldverdedigers
  • Spangees, die belangrikheid van samewerking en eenheid.  Al lyk die opponente groot dra die spangees jou deur.
  • Lojaliteit aan die span.  Neem eienaarskap vir die span en die wedstryd.  Volg die Afrigter, Jesus!  Erken die Eienaar en Spanbestuurder.
  • Daar is ’n skare getuienis wat jou bemoedig.
  • Wat gebeur as die vyand ’n doel teen jou aanteken?  Moedeloosheid?  Hoe tree gelowiges op in tye van beproewing en moedeloosheid.  Op die projektor is foto’s vertoon van die moedeloosheid onder werklike sokkerspelers wanneer ’n doel teen hulle aangeteken word.
  • Oorwinning deur die Gees.

Die temas is toegelig met tipiese sokkerstrategieë, wat die spel vir lidmate ontsluit het.

Vlae van die 32 deelnemende lande is teen die mure van PE-Lorraine se kerkgebou tydens Pinkster aangebring. Daar is elke aand vir die lande gebid.

Daar is elke aand vir ’n ander deelnemende land gebid.  Informasie oor die politiek, bevolking, demografie is gebruik om gebedstemas (dankie sê en voorbidding) te formuleer.  Operation World se webblad was ook ’n belangrike bron vir inligting.  Só het lidmate die lande leer ken.

Anton vertel dankbaar dat die Pinksterdienste wonderlik bygewoon is. Die kerk was elke aand stampvol.

Die gemeente het selfs die TV-program Morning Live gehaal met hul foto’s en die verhaal van die Pinksterdienste.  Die feit dat ’n NG Kerk soveel aandag aan sokker gee was vir die aanbieders van Morning Live besonder betekenisvol, vertel Anton.  Hulle was verbaas dat die kerk ’n sokkertema kon én wou gebruik.

“Die Here het dit ’n hele ruk gelede op my hart gedruk om die sokkertema te gebruik.  Mens kan sokker gebruik om die koninkryk van die Here te dien.  Ons het altyd hierdie afstand tussen ons as rugby- en swartmense as sokkerondersteuners.  Mens kán en móét hierdie kloof oorbrug”, sê Anton.

“Gaan jy self sokker kyk,” vra ek vir Anton?  “Natuurlik,” sê hy, “ons kaartjies is gekoop!”

 

Huppel en spring, loof en prys die Heer

2010/06/02 by Danie Mouton No Comments »

Die groot aantal kinders en jongmense val my op.  Daar is energie in die lug, afwagting.  Ons word vriendelik by die deur gegroet.  Die kerk is vol.

Die prentjie is nie heeltemal wat ek verwag het om te sien nie.  Ek kom om ’n gemeente te sien wat worstel met oorlewing.  Daar was lank ’n vakature.  Nou kan hulle bloot ’n leraar in ’n kontrakpos bekostig.  Wat ek sien, lyk anders.  Rondom my is lewe en energie, opwinding oor die erediens wat gaan begin.

Agtergrond

Byna twee jaar gelede het hierdie gemeente haar predikantspos weens finansiële redes verloor.  Sedertdien het ’n ouderling waargeneem as die herder, soos die kerkraad hom noem, van die gemeente.  Les Stander, wat as herder optree, is ook gemeentebestuurder.

Sedertdien was daar bemoedigende tekens dat die gemeente numeries begin groei het.  Die basaar het ’n baie groot aantal lidmate gelok wat ingespring en hard gewerk het.  Ander aksies en bedieninge, waaronder die kleingroepe en mannebediening, is geesdriftig ondersteun.  Die geestelike momentum, geskep deur die geestelike bediening van die vorige leraar, het steeds onder die herder se leiding dividende bly oplewer.

Ons praat van Algoapark-Noord gemeente, wat uit eie keuse as ’n Gemeenskapskerk funksioneer.  Algoapark is sosio-ekonomies ’n gebied in Port Elizabeth waar dit baie moeilik is om ’n tradisionele bediening ekonomies-volhoubaar voort te sit.  Die bedieningsmodel van kerkgebou, predikant en pastorie is onbekostigbaar.

Wat leer ons oor nuwe gestaltes van die bediening uit hierdie gemeente se voorbeeld?  Vir die ring is dit moeilik om net te aanvaar dat ’n gemeente onder leiding van ’n ouderling kan voortbestaan.  Wat gebeur met die sakramente?  Is dit reg dat daar ’n gemeentebestuurder (herder) en skriba in diens gehou word, maar daar is nie fondse om ’n predikant te bekostig nie?  Wanneer is bediening legitieme bediening?

Intussen  het Algoapark-Gemeenskapskerk  tot die oortuiging gekom om die polisiekapelaan wat aan die gemeente gekoppel is, Eldré Bester, in ’n kontrakpos te beroep.  Dit is ’n geloofsdaad en word met byna 50% deur middel van ’n ringsprojek befonds.  Die bedoeling is dat haar pos vir twee jaar as ’n ontwikkelingspos gesien moet word om die gemeente na groter lewensvatbaarheid te begelei.

Les was voorheen in die SA Polisiediens en Eldré ’n ervare polisiekapelaan.  Haar eggenoot is ook verbonde aan die SA Polisie.  Het die gemeente se toekoms met ’n besondere bediening aan lede van die polisiediens te doen?  Beide het ’n besondere aanvoeling vir armes en noodlydendes.  Beide wil hul lewe daaraan wy om die genesing van die evangelie in mense se lewens in te weef.

Terug by die erediens

Vandag het ek kom kuier, en is verras met die dinamika.  Dit is duidelik dat die Here ’n lewende, aktiewe werklikheid vir die gemeente is.  Reg aan die begin loop die afkondigings uit in ’n vermelding van wie almal siek is – in die gemeente, maar ook in die groter gemeenskap.  Die herder bid by name vir almal wat siek is, en gee terugvoer oor mense wat intussen genees is.  Nie almal het gesond geword nie, of sal gesond word nie, maar daar is ’n tasbare verwagting dat die Here lewens sal aanraak.

Nou sing die gemeente met behulp van CD-begeleiding.  Ons sing ’n lied uit die Liedboek en ook ander dinamiese geestelike liedere in ’n evangeliese styl.  Daar is ook egte kinderliedjies.  Dis pragtig om te sien hoe die hele gemeente saamsing en saam met die kinders beweeg terwyl die liedjies gesing word.   Daar is geen afsonderlike kinder- of familie-moment nie.  O nee, almal deel geesdriftig in alles wat gebeur.

Dan kom ’n gemeentelike dansgroep, Stic, aan die beurt met treffende beweging wat die woorde van ’n lied wat oor die Here se bystand en genesing in mense se lewens gaan.

Nou volg die preek.  Vandag is Pinksterfees. Die teks is die eerste paragraaf uit Esegiël 47. Die preek handel oor die genesing en herstel wat die Here vanuit sy teenwoordigheid bring.  Ons word opgeroep om aan onsself te dink aan bome wat vrugte van genesing dra vir die mense rondom ons.  Om dit te kan doen, moet ons God se genesing ook vir ons eie lewens omhels.

Die skep van gemeenskap tussen mense

Dit val my op hoe die gemeente dit regkry om gemeenskap tussen mense te skep.  Jy is belangrik, word opreg gegroet by die deure, die herder ken mense opsigtelik by die naam en mense geniet mekaar se teenwoordigheid.  Daar word lekker voor die erediens gesels, en agterna staan groepies en kuier.  ’n Baie belangrike vraag is of mense kom om bloot bestaande gemeenskap in stand te hou, en of nuwelinge ook betrek word.  As ek kyk na die groot getal aanwesiges, is laasgenoemde besig om te gebeur.

Ander menings

Tydens die besoek is ek vergesel deur ’n groep nagraadse teologiese studente.  Hulle kommentaar was positief en bevestigend.  Dit is geen tradisionele Gereformeerde kerk nie, het hulle gesê.  Die wet is nie voorgelees nie, en daar is nie bloot liedboek gesing nie.  Die toonaard was meer evangelikaal, maar ook dit is deel van die NG Kerk se geskiedenis en tradisie.  Verder is daar heelwat simboliek en pragtige kuns in die liturgiese ruimte.  ’n Kruis op lap is uiters kunstig gevul met name van die drie-enige God, op ’n ander opsigtelike plek is ’n groot kruis permanent aangebring.  Die nagmaaltafel is afwesig.  Volgens die studente kan skoonheid selfs verder aangevul word met betekenisvolle simboliek, soos dié van die sakramente.

Veral positief, het die studente gesê, is die afwesigheid van ’n heining.  “Ek het ’n kerk sonder ’n omheining gesien,” was iemand se opmerking.  Die verwagting van God se direkte aanwesigheid en die geloof in God as ’n liefdevolle, handelende Vader, was opvallend en positief.

Moontlike groeipunte?  Dalk kan die gemeente, wat God opsigtelik primêr as Geneser beleef, ook ’n ekologiese sensitiwiteit ontwikkel en God se genesing verstaan as ’n skeppingswye aksie.  Die lewende water uit die tempel in Esegiël 47, die tema van die preek, kan ook gewone, skoon water wees wat lewe aan die omgewing bring.

Steeds by genesing:  mens wonder wat sal ’n sensitiwiteit vir sosiale genesing, sistemiese genesing, in hierdie konteks beteken.  Hoe raak God nie net mense se indiwiduele siekte aan nie, maar die gemeenskap?  Hoe kan hierdie gemeente haarself as ’n sosiaal-maatskaplike genesingsinstrument herverstaan?

Ek weet dat Eldré ’n besondere aanvoeling het vir die armoede in die omgewing, en veral in die omliggende bruin woonbuurte.  Dit sal interessant wees om te sien wat vorentoe gebeur.

Een van die liedere wat ons so lekker saamgesing het kom uit Handelinge 3 waar die verlamde man genees word en dan huppel en spring en die Here loof en prys.  Dit vat die gemeente se roepingsbegeerte uitstekend saam:  huppel en spring, loof en prys die Here.

Luister na ‘n klankopname van die nagraadse studente se gesprek oor Algoapark-Gemeenskapskerk.