Tuesday, March 29, 2011


The Deacons visited our seminary tonight.

The Methodist Church of Southern Africa recognises two ordained ministries: Presbyters and Deacons. The Presbyters are set aside for word and sacrament, while the Deacons are set aside for word and service. This has not always been the case. Originally the Order of Deaconesses was created to deal with women who had experienced a call by God to full-time Christian service in the Church. Because the Methodist Church of my grandparents did not recognise the ordination of women, the Order of Deaconesses became a safe place to channel any God-inspired urge to ministry by women. With time the Methodist Church has discovered that the irresistable call of God on the lives of women to the ministry of Presbyter has only grown stronger. We have therefore come to recognise the two orders of ministry - presbyter and deacon - have nothing to do with gender, and everything to do with the call of God into different forms of ordained ministry. While we are a seminary for anyone who seeks Christian vocational formation, we are mostly populated by those exploring a call to become presbyters.

Tonight we heard testimonies of the work done by the deacons and celebrated their calling with shared worship and Holy Communion.

A helpful theological reflection on Deacons by my friend Dion Forster can be found at Deacons . There is also a response to his document.

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Bees around the Honey Pot

Like bees chasing after honey, they run after the ball - all at the same time! And if the big boy gets the ball he will run straight through the opposing team .

I went to watch an inter-primary schools rugby tournament at Cordwallis School. These were 10 and 11 year olds playing for their school's rugby team. This is beginner's rugby, where each team is allowed to have their school coach run behind the team on the field. This is mostly to help organise the players into some kind of order, ensuring that there will be enough of the bigger boys arriving for a scrum, and that all 15 team members do not attempt to get into the line-out.

I had gone at the invitation of Mulambo, who is the son of my colleague Lilian. Mulambo is a skinny Zambian boy with a broad smile and a passion for sport. He has just moved from the cricket season to the rugby season, and this was their team's first match. He attends Pelham Primary School and plays at wing for the B-team. 

I joined Mulambo's father David, along with other fathers who patrol the side-lines cheering and shouting instructons.

We returned home assuring Malambo that the unequal growth of  11year old boys can turn one boy into a battering-ram, but give another a smile and winning personality. As I climbed out of the car I heard David speculating that he should ask Mulambo's older brothers to "toughen him up". I suggested that it would be better to teach Mulambo to run away fast.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The First Seminary Wedding

Kenny got married this evening.

He is a seminarian from Queenstown who married Yamkhele in a simple legal ceremony in our chapel. They will have a larger family wedding back in their home church when finances permit.

And so they will become part of the Seminary story: as the first wedding in the seminary chapel.

We pray for God to bless them with joy, patience, and understanding.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Trip to Pietermaritzburg

I have just spent a weekend with my family in Cape Town. And now I return to work in Pietermaritzburg - joining the ranks of many thousands of migrant workers in Southern Africa.

There is no direct flight to Pietermaritzburg, so I made the trip in two stages: first from Cape Town to Johannesburg; then from Johannesburg to Pmburg.

The first leg was uneventful - "Thank you for flying with us. You and the other 300 passengers are special to us, bla bla bla. " Then a 90 minute wait for the second leg. We went downstairs at the airport - all 28 of us. The bus took us out onto the runway - past the big jets of SAA, and the second hand jets of Kulula and 1Time, and past the smaller private jets, and then .... oh hell: propellers! There was a ladder leaning against the pilot's cockpit at a cleaner with bucket at squeegie cleaned the window. And another ladder for us passengers. We boarded a Jetstream 4100 Turboprop Airliner - top speed 500kmph.
We squeezed in and the air hostess/door guard/announcer/ got us comfortable. And she brought us drinks. And and she gave the hairy eyeball to a passenger twice her size who did not switch off his phone fast enough.

And so I am back at the Seminary.

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Dan and Ben

I have the amazing privilege of sharing in the life of Jenny and Dylan Wray... and of their twin sons Dan and Ben.
I knew Jenny 36 years ago when I lived with her parents Hugh and Pam Killops in Camps Bay. My father took long leave in my final year of school and I am indebted to the hospitality of the Killops family - including Jenny who was a baby at the time.

It was with a sense of the sacredness of life that I then re-connected with Jenny, who introduced me to Dylan and asked me to officiate at their wedding. They are an amazing couple, who are deeply committed to education that adds value to society. And now they have added their sons to the human mix. I believe that they will make fine parents.

I am better for knowing them.
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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Polly Shortts

This is not a garment to be worn. It is a hill to be run.

It is named after a farmer who lived next to the road, and who would offer aid to those who got stuck on the muddy hill after a thunderstorm. To tens of thousands of long distance runners, it is the dreaded hill to be conquered when running the Comrades Marathon road-running race between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

This hill comes after 80km of running. From the top it is only 6 more kilometers to the finish – but first there is this 2 kilometer hill.

I ran it this morning – down and up! And discovered that it is 2 300 steps from the bridge at the bottom to where the roads intersect at the top. It is shaped like an S-bend, and fools many people who think that the second bend is the top, only to be sadly disappointed when rounding the bend to see more hill.

This morning’s run brought back many memories of past Comrades runs.

But most of all I am grateful that I can still run.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

looking deeper: outstretched

I found this site that offers a helpful prayer for Lent:

looking deeper: outstretched: "Lord, I believe - help my unbelief. I come with outstretched hands, so aware of their trembling - knowing their frailty and their cruelty, t..."

Ash Wednesday

Today begins a 40 day journey towards Easter. Christ followers spend this period - known as Lent - in fasting and prayer as we seek spiritual renewal.

This morning the seminarians used a cross of ash drawn on the forehead as a sign of our commitment to this spiritual adventure. Pray that the Spirit of God would lead us into places that renew us.
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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Playing in the Chapel

I have to smile as I spot one of our seminary children playing quietly by himself during tonight's community service.

He is happy, contented, and humming the tune of the song we have just sung. Here is a child happy to be in the chapel of Christ. And he is playing .... cards! I think God laughs out loud.
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Sunday, March 06, 2011

Any one for a braai?

And so the braai is finished. Here is Mike with the finished product. And you are welcome to come around.
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Welder's helper

This weekend I welded a braai-stand (barbecue for the non-South Africans). This holds half a 44gallon drum.

Well, I did not actually weld. I held the bits of metal in place so that my colleague Mike Stone could do the welding. This involved sparks, very hot flames, helmets to protect our eyes, and ... "don't touch that it is hot" ... "Ouch!"

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