Methodist Church

World Methodists take part in African way of worship

WORLD METHODIST CONFERENCE participants fanned out throughout Durban on Aug 7, 2011 for their Sunday morning worship services.

It was a totally new worship experience for many of the 1,850 participants as they congregated in churches to stand side by side with their African brothers and sisters in eight communities. It was also a cultural journey like no other as the local church members sang and danced to the beat of drums, bells, hand claps and foot stomps in the sanctuary.

This is how a typical African community church will conduct its worship service. Spontaneous singing and dancing break out at the most unexpected times. Just when you think a song of praise or hymn has ended, someone will pick up from the last strain of the music and the entire congregation will rise in crescendo again. Or while the pastor is speaking and he decides to sing a line, the whole congregation will join in and dance and sing to the end. All this without hymnals!

At least this was our experience at the G2 KwaMashu Methodist Church, 17 km from the city centre, when I worshipped there with the Rev James Nagulan, President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference. For the most part of the two-and-a-half-hour service, there was singing and dancing, even in the chancel area and the aisle.

Bishop Denis Matsolo from Mozambique was the guest speaker. A tall and well-built man, his half-hour sermon was delivered in English with sprinklings of Portuguese, French and native languages.

The other conference participants were ferried by coaches from the International Convention Centre in the city to churches as far as 20 to 30 km away.

The G2 Methodist Church was built and dedicated in 1961. It served as the only church building for the first Methodist church members who had been forcibly relocated to KwaMashu in 1958 after the demolition of the shack areas that they had occupied in the greater Durban area.

More and more newcomers arrived to worship at the church. A few smaller churches were then built nearby to satisfy the spiritual needs of the burgeoning township population.

To meet the demand for worship services as well as social and community programmes such as food distribution and the HIV/ Aids helpline, the church is now working on its extension project.


Rallying for the poor and hungry

NO, THIS IS NOT an anti-government demonstration or anti-apartheid rally. It is a peaceful rally to tell the world that Methodist Christians do care for the poor, the hungry and the oppressed.

Delegates to the World Methodist Conference took part in the historic Street Parade and Rally on Aug 7 which started from the International Convention Centre, the conference venue, and ended at the City Hall, two kilometres away.

Members of the public joined in the parade which wound its way through major city roads that were closed to traffic and guarded by police escorts on motorcycles and cars.

At the head of the parade were officers of the World Methodist Council (WMC), led by its Chairman, the Rev Dr John Barrett. They held a banner, chest-high, emblazoned with the conference logo and labels such as “Healing”, “Justice”, “Peace”, “Unity” and “Compassion” as they led the throng through the streets.

Tere was plenty of – what else? – music and dancing, as they marched to stirring tunes rendered by the Salvation Army Band. ere was a carnival-like atmosphere although the message of the rally was serious.

The march ended at the august City Hall steps where the rally began. The message was given by the Pastor of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, the Rev Sidwell Mokgothu, a veteran of anti-apartheid rallies. He reminded the people of their bitter struggles in the past and urged the young generation not to forget the nation’s heroes in their quest for justice.



John Stott dies, aged 90

CAPE TOWN – John Stott (left), the British preacher, author and evangelist, died in Lingfield, Surrey on July 27, 2011. He was 90 years old.

He shaped much of the course of evangelicalism in the 20th century through his writing and preaching, and in 2005, TIME magazine placed him among the world’s “100 most influential people”.

He was chief architect of The Lausanne Covenant (1974) and remained as Honorary Chairman of The Lausanne Movement until he died. He took an active prayerful interest in Cape Town 2010: The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization from the time the idea of such a Congress was formed.

He impacted the church around the world in many ways. Perhaps his greatest contribution was to articulate clearly and to defend robustly the evangelical faith which he always understood to be biblical faith, grounded in the New Testament. Evangelicalism was to Stott an expression of historic, orthodox Christianity.

Perhaps more than any other person in the last century, he restored confidence in the authority of God’s Word and in the centrality of biblical preaching and teaching. He inspired many evangelicals around the world to make a robust and clear affirmation of biblical truth while at the same time emphasising that this must be backed up with a distinctive, godly Christian life.

Stott was described as “a renaissance man with a reformation theology”. He had remarkable intellectual reach, and always worked to bring his mind under the scrutiny of the Bible. He loved Scripture and for more than 50 years he read the whole Bible through annually, using Robert Murray McCheyne’s reading plan.

He summed up his priorities as “students and pastors”.

He was able to hold together, in constructive biblical tension, a passionate commitment to evangelism along with a profound commitment to ministering to the needs of people in the context of suffering and brokenness. –The Lausanne Movement.

Stories and pictures by Peter Teo in Durban