SMMS 11th GRADUATION CEREMONY
14th MAY 2022 AT 10H00 – CHRIST THE SERVANT CHAPEL ADDRESS TO GRADUATING CLASS
Grand Chancellor – Justice Dr Dikgang Moseneke
Chairperson of the board – Dr Phumla Mnganga
President of SMMS – Dr Rowanne Marie
MCSA General Secretary – Rev. Michel Hansrod
EMMU Director – Rev. Pumla Nzimande
Bishop of Natal West – Rev. Vuyo Dlamini
Guests – Dr Brigalia Bam, Professor Stephen & Mrs Brenda Hendricks
Parents, Siblings, Children, Families and Friends to the Graduates Dean of Chapel and Head of Formation – Rev. Luvuyo Sifo
SMMS Academic Staff – Dr Kennedy Owino, Dr Eraste Nyiriman, Dr Ken Chisa
All SMMS Staff – Mrs C Robinson, Mrs N Mbanjwa
Seminarian Executive Committee Chairperson – Dr Xolisa Nkosiyamntu Jibiliza
The Graduates, I am told you are 131 in total … B.Th. Hons (1), B.Th (13), Dpl Practical Ministry (4) and Higher Certificate in Christian Ministry (113)
Greetings to you all, in the wonderful name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. “Wishing you all of God’s blessings on this joyful day. Congratulations!,” as graduates you have joined the ranks of winners. After years of struggle and sleepless nights of your formation in various forms of ministry, its time to pause, celebrate, feel relieved, praise God and to appreciate yourselves for challenging work and sacrifices as well as show gratitude to those who supported you … and at times made sacrifices that you remain focused to your SMMS studies.
I am deeply humbled and honoured to be the one chosen to make this address to the 11th Graduation Ceremony at SMMS. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that kept me restless since I learnt of the task. Naturally, diverse topics were considered as subjects for this address, shortlisted and finally selected the topic:
“Are the Churches making a positive societal impact ?”
The subject presupposes to address, ‘the relevance of the church as an agent of transformation’. I was inspired by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o (1986:xii), Decolonising the Mind, in his reference to “a fundamental social transformation of the structures of our society.” I argue in this paper that unless the churches engage in ‘a fundamental social transformation agenda of society’ the church as we knew it would cease to be relevant. About 1786, John Wesley said, “I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist …., But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.
I argue in this paper that religion without the power of the Holy Spirit is what we have now in 2022 in many communities across Southern Africa and African Continent. The mushrooming churches in every street corner, … erecting a tent at any empty space or vacant land, do not seem to be making communities any better. Poverty, hunger, homelessness all seems to remain on the increase whether there is one church or twenty in one community.
Are the churches making a positive societal impact ? are the churches relevant as agents of transformation ?
What is on the increase in our Society is greed. The state capture reports in South Africa are a demonstration of that reality. Selfishness we observe and experience through the corruption in both the state and the private is ‘like a wildfire that is out of control that spreads and consumes’. Corruption has been integrated into the very fibre of our society. Where not only direct, middle, senior and executive managers get involved in dishonest or fraudulent conduct, but even administrative clerks and security personnel often accused of soliciting bribes, e.g., to get ahead of the queue in public service and or to get an appointment date. In some Public Hospitals and Community Health Centres in the RSA queues are so long that during early hours, as early as 02h30am or 03h00am some people get paid to hold a space in the queue for the senior citizens and chronically ill, who then join the queue about 07h00am.
Where are the Christians ?
Are the churches making a positive societal impact ? Are the churches relevant as agents of transformation ?
I argue in this paper that it cannot be that atheists fuel dishonest dealings. Census 2011 in the RSA estimated that 80% of the total population were Christians (STATS SA). Are the churches making a positive societal impact ? are the churches relevant as agents of transformation ?
There seems to be further complications observed in the following areas: –
- – Increased individualism driven along ‘the haves and the have nots’ as opposed to African collectivism …
- – Covet hatred of what is good …. “If you can’t beat them join them kind of a thing going …”
- – Collapse of cooperative community – hence there were allegation that the ‘operation dudula’ crowd inSouth Africa is rented (hired at a price) …’It was Prof. William Gumede – who argued that “In South Africa Politics are showing characteristics of being taken over by gangsterism”. Same Politian’s are members in our churches and often take to podiums in the sanctuaries during election seasons …
Are the churches making a positive societal impact ? Are the churches relevant as agents of transformation ?
The Lens we use to view the world (worldview) must be infused with Christian values and that’s the role of the church as its contribution towards “a fundamental social transformation of the structures of our society.” Steve Biko, ‘the Church as seen by a young layman’ – “the challenge of religion seems to be the lens we use to read and interpret the Bible.” Biko, ‘I argue’ implied that Christianity in Africa was clothed with ‘Whiteness or European viewpoint’. Biko further claimed, “that God, does not make a habit of coming down but sends a person to another person”. Is the church sent in the world as an agent of transformation? Graduates you have been formed here at SMMS and now you are being sent to transform society. Be the change!
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Are the Christians sent as change agents, transformation agents? Is the church and its members a moral compass of society? Meaning, in word and deeds impacting society! Is our theology in terms of ‘orthodox – beliefs’ and ‘praxis – practice’ still clothed with Whiteness? What lens do we use to study theology, write, and practice our doctrines, church polity? Is Christianity infused with our experience as Africans? Our struggles, Our cries, …. What values, ethos drives us?
- – In executive leadership (strategic leadership)
- – Senior and middle leadership roles
- – Line Management roles (direct leadership)
- – Public Service and Private sector
- – Business, ethics, procurement, and supply chain management …In the crisis of ethos and values that underpins and drive greed, corruption across all sectors of society, where is the voice of the church? Meaning the local church first where there is smoke and fire … I argue that, for the church and its leadership to ‘make a positive societal impact’ the church must go back to the basics of Christian formation and education,
- – Our schools must go back to assembly for the morning prayers – pray every day (it is an SGB decision, church leaders should be in the SGB’s)
- – Children and youth ministry – be a seriously focus for formation
- – Formation in confirmation classes, small groups, fellowship groups, mission groups – be taken veryseriously in terms of life-long discipleship as opposed to ONLY ‘focus on first six-months of being on trial’.
▪ Beyond the first six-months … leadership we must focus on the life-long discipleship orformation for ALL , call it ‘continuous development’
- – Back to basics, ‘ABC’ of Christianity, “do not steal, do not cheat, do not lie, do not murder …” toinstil basic Christian values.
Can Christian formation and education, discipleship for all becomes the main core agenda of churches ? to help us in the Public, Private and NGO world ‘to lead with integrity, to lead with a living conscience and dignity’. Remind us that there are no shortcuts to success, there is no instant success, ‘being tender-entrepreneur’ or being ‘self-employed’ is not ‘entrepreneurship’. There is still a place for hard work, … the unquenchable desire driven by greed for more, … bigger salary, bigger house, bigger car – all good and enjoyable as product of hard work, … not shortcuts, instant success, looting, stealing and the likes.
It has been said that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to become good at something, or 28 days of doing the same thing over and over to create a habit. So, when looking at your growing list of to-dos or goals or even that voice inside that says, “One day I’m going to…” remember that not only will it take some time, but it will also require hard work. We live in a society that likes to have things instantly streaming movies, instant music downloads, food, or grocery delivery in under an hour, and so on, so much so that we can sometimes forget the best and most valuable things in life come from working hard to achieve them. Sitting down at the blank computer screen to get started on your objectives … your thesis, your sermon or work plan … will all require time and lots of creativity, but you have got this, you been made and formed for it!
Whatever it is that you are wanting to achieve, if it is worth it, will require all your attention and energy.
“A dream does not become reality through ‘faith alone i.e., faith without action’; it takes action, sweat, determination, and hard work.” “I’m a believer (faith-filled), and in my experience the harder I work, the more the results … As we pray, ‘Lord increase our faith (Luke 17:5) we should also increase action, the doing, just start stop contemplating, just start”
“Doing the best here at SMM has put you here at this moment … this puts you in the best place for the next moment. Use this success to inspire greater success”
“Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard.”
MCSA – Conference Themes
The 2020/21 “Guided by God’s Mission Reimagining Healing and Transformation. In 2021/22 “Reimagining Social Holiness: Sustaining Hope and Healing”. We people called Methodists are all challenged to think anew.
To create new images and meaning of what it means to be church, in context and or to press the re-set button.
That’s if the Churches are to make a positive societal impact!
MCSA Conference through the said themes invited all of us as Christian leaders and soldiers of the cross to a creative place of reimagining …, referenced in Ezekiel 47:1-10,
Ezekiel’s vision of fresh and life-giving water that flows from the temple. Ezekiel, a prophet who served in the temple as a priest dedicated to the inside of the temple, exiled when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem and displaced Jews to Babylon. God called Ezekiel to speak on God’s behalf, through messages and visions restored hope to fellow exiles.
Outside the temple, at the entrance, Ezekiel was shown lifegiving water flowing from the temple into the community, deepening into a river, with life giving food along the river.
The church is an integral part of the community within which the church exists. Be concerned about the social ills in the context of your own communities, inequality, unemployed, poverty. The triple challenge shows its ugly head in education quality, health quality, service delivery. The church if the church is to remain relevant must be the center of hope, sustain hope and healing of the community.
Millennials’ surely challenge the belief that the Church is “a force for good”.
Are the Churches making a positive societal impact?
Increasing Trust Deficit, the trends that were already latent, including the said triple challenges, ‘inequality, poverty and unemployment’ were simply accelerated by COVID-19, however pre-existed the global pandemic.
Large companies have been guilty of making quick profits. Churches must advocate that, institutions, and businesses “doing well or very well” must put people before profits, ‘Batho Pele’.
In 2021 mass media reports that mines made historic profits, yet, in the year 2021 Mining Companies having made records profits unemployment continues to skyrocket with estimated +2 to 3million in South Africa alone becoming unemployed in past two years. Trust deficit is on the increase.
Sibanye CEO’s jaw dropping R300 million pay. A massive payday for the precious metal miner’s CEO that resulted from record-high commodity and company share prices. Organised labour has labelled the remuneration immoral as gold mine workers continue to strike over wage demands … only requesting R1, 000 increase per employee. It is unlikely the company’s management will again see remuneration numbers this large any time soon. Meanwhile organised labour continues to strike … disrupted President of the RSA on the 01st May Workers Day in Rustenburg and refused to be a cooperative listening audience.
New World Bank Report, sssessed sources of inequality in five countries in Southern Africa, all the five nations form the MCSA Connexion, only Mozambique missing. Southern African Customs Union (SACU) member countries of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa reported that the region “represents the world’s most unequal region.” There were differences reported across countries with Namibia and South Africa distinctly having higher inequality than the rest and Lesotho the least.
South Africa, the largest country in SACU, is the most unequal country in the world, ranking first among 164 countries in the World Bank’s global poverty database. Botswana, Eswatini, and Namibia are among the 15 most unequal countries, and despite recent improvements. Lesotho still ranks among the top 20 percent, the report shows.
According to World Bank – SACU report drivers of inequality were: – inherited circumstances over which an individual has little or no control, overall inequality driven by location, gender, age, parental background, and race ‘having a double effect’. Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa, suggested in the same report that,
“Levelling the playing field at birth through more inclusive delivery of quality education, health, and basic services is critical to reducing inequality in the region.”
High wealth inequality limits intergenerational economic mobility, making consumption inequality persistent over time. In the labour market, having post-secondary or tertiary education is key to both accessing jobs, and obtaining better wages once employed. In Namibia and South Africa where inequality is distinctly higher than the rest of the countries, the sharp inequality in land ownership also contributes to perpetuating the historically high levels of income inequality.
I argue that the church has a role to play in education, contribute to quality of education that matches the skills demanded by the economy or job market, such that skills are use as productive assets. Land ownership and use of land as a productive asset in relation to the church it’s a topic on its own … to a large extent remains a big potential for income for both communities and the church.
I argue that “capitalism sustains imperialism and capitalism further drives inequality” – Our economy in Africa is not in our hands. We do not have enough African indigenous, homemade goods or products in our retail shelves. The most famous brands that have flooded our markets are not owned in Africa, yet we consume
- Even Bible Commentaries we use are often western or European and are not infused with our African Experience of slavery, colonialism, discrimination, apartheid, marginalization, isolation, … suffering, pain, and agony of torture, death at the hands state security police …
- Would it not be great to have some products in Christian Bookshops and Christian Gifts shops across Southern Africa from SMMS? Even we target two or three products to produce every calendar year … towards sustainability of SMMS!
• Can’t we produce here at SMMS an “African Bible Commentary” from a Southern Africa Perspective?
- Can’t we find 66 alumni of SMMS and or theologians who drink from the African and or Black Liberation Theology
- The 66 and the 06 do not have to be Methodist, in my view within the CUC family and or SACC and or AACC Member Churches should be safe,
• each focusing on 1 book and 06 editors each taking 11 books.
• An “African Bible Commentary” Infused with the history of struggle, pain, agony, suffering, exclusion, marginalization at the hands of our colonizers and later apartheid and discrimination
… those who treated us as less than and or half human, as objects.
Capitalism has created the black elite. I argue that Capitalism has created tenderpreneurs. Capitalism is the driver of Inequality in education ‘Private vs. Public’ education, in health care access ‘Private vs. Public’. Those who have buy the best education and or health that they can afford … What about the ‘have not’s’! Advocacy voice of the church for the cost of private education, the cost of private health care and urgency for universal health coverage, NHI …
Are the Churches making a positive societal impact?
The voice of church perhaps needs to be heard given rising economic injustices. Rules of the Helper – Be Serious!
Rising Poverty, children dying of hunger, starvation, malnutrition, kwashiorkor. The indignity that most people in Southern Africa who find themselves in … slam dwellers, squatter camps, informal settlements while seeking economic opportunities. The neglect of rural development … the church through its leadership needs to be heard, seen, to touch the lives through mission at household level especially in rural villages, farming communities and townships. Perhaps we are witnessing black on black discrimination, marginalization, and injustices that in my view only reflects “Self-hate, Self-Pity and Self-doubt”, enemies of progress for the black African child.
Food Security and Food Production – was not just for your formation here at SMMS but it’s a skill you need in ministry. Poverty Alleviation Projects and food security should be the priority if the Church is to remain relevant in our society.
I steal the words of, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, decolonizing the mind! May you be infused with,
“A passion for the truth”. Understand that “Prescription of the correct cure is dependent on a rigorous analysis of the reality. Be surgeons of the heart and souls of a community where you are sent”
May you be infused with “the vitality, strength, and beauty of resistance …” against social ‘isms’ …
FEDSEM alumni of the late former principal at FEDSEM Rev Dr Simon Gqubule, who had also served as a Grand Chancellor here at SMMS would proudly speak about their days of formation at FEDSEM, almost as if painting perfect images of FEDSEM despite what the reality might have been … students of Dr. Gqubule would unpack ‘intentional focus’, to unlearn at FEDSEM during their first year of formation … then later learn and relearn. This experience of ‘Sir-Gqubs’ students for me holds true that,
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn” (Alvin Toffler in Dr. Andrew Johnson 2018).
Graduates, Methodists, perhaps, we need to learn what it means to be a Missionary Church! The Church led by yourselves graduates must strive to make a positive societal impact by being a mission driven church as opposed to maintenance and or survival mode.
We are all products of institutions like SMMS, all over the world we carry the emblem of institutions that produced, formed, and transformed us as a badge of honour just like ‘Sir-Gqubs’ students of FEDSEM. Be proud of SMMS as products of formation and transformation in this institution. Those who were not formed and transformed at SMMS have no duty nor obligation to hold SMMS in high esteem, to the contrary it is incumbent upon you to carry SMMS name with pride, respect, and dignity as your ‘Alma Mater’. In 2022 you begin a journey as the SMMS Alumni.
I argue that if you do not carry SMMS name with pride, respect and dignity as your ‘Alma Mater’ that would amount to ‘self-hate, self-pity and self-doubt’ those are enemies of black African children, sons, and daughters of Africa. “A healthy mind does not speak ill of others”
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.” (Isaiah 60:1-2, NIV)
Do not forget SMMS in words and deeds … “do not cheat on Good Friday Ministerial Student Fund, remit in full, mentor, coach, and support those who come after you on the same field of ministry. Do not be threatened by your juniors, while ‘a student can be better than the teacher, a student would never have the same experience, wisdom and insights as the teacher/mentor/coach’. Please, support all efforts best you can that are designed towards sustainability of SMMS, your ‘Alma Mater’ e.g., the SMMS, #1000@100 Campaign …
I will be motivating to Conference 2022 that SMMS, #1000@100 Campaign becomes “MCSA, #12000@R100per month X24 months Campaign” …. Launch at Conference 2022, take stock of progress quarterly, report at Conference 2023 and 2023, for the direct benefit of SMMS and its sustainability … no via-via but direct deposits to SMMS. The campaign is to be championed by the MCSA LP Office as well as all District Lay Leaders under the “MCSA Giving and Solidarity Campaign”, biased for the preservation of our ministry, formation, and Methodist witness through mission.
Saturate yourself with the knowledge of what it means to be a Missionary Church in the 21st Century African Context! The Church with a positive societal impact! The Church that is of influence not only to those who are members of the church, the body of Christ in terms of ethos as well as values as an intentional formation area by the church but also of influence on the community. Mission driven church has clarity on its pillars (key focus areas and measurements) of systems effectiveness in terms of incarnational mission.
What is Mission? “Mission is Evangelism + Social Action” (TEEC, 2009:87). Major Ingredients of mission include,
- The early Christian mission involved the person of Jesus himself.
- The early Christian mission was political, even revolutionary.
- The early Christian mission manifested itself in the new relationships that came into being in the
- The early Christian did not usher in utopia (nowhere), nor did they attempt to do so.
- The Gospel was presented in weakness.
Perhaps the church to be of positive societal impact needs to go back to basics of being church, as suggested by the major ingredients of mission listed above … how revolutionary, how prophetic is the church today?
The key focus areas to be incarnational in mission include: – “i) Growing Together, as a Christian community where only one personality and character matters, that of Jesus Christ, seeking to be ‘Christ-like’. ii) Pursuit of Spiritual Maturity, Growing Up and not feed on milk as a child in faith all our lives, but to mature … feed on solids. Discipleship for all with ethos and values inculcated to all, ‘do not steal, do not lie or cheat, do not murder, … fear of God and respect as well as dignity to Gods image and creation. iii) Grow Out, transact boundaries into the community ‘through social action and ecumenism not just evangelism’, out of the church “into the world of politics, economics, town planning, land ownership, … bring dignity to the people through service delivery and advocacy. iv) Grow More, the ongoing making of disciples in quality and quantity. Grow more people who will represent Christ in business and ethics, in supply chain management systems, in governance, in the public service, private sector and the NGO/NPC world.
The MCSA 2021 Conference Mission priorities include: – Poverty Eradication through Food Security focus, education and church involvement, Public Health and church involvement on vaccination, health promotion and health talks, use of churches for education and health, GBV, etc. Let’s reimagine what it means to be the church that is relevant and impactful to the community.
Graduates if we are to be incarnational in mission, then we must radically engage ‘Key Cultural Shifts’ for the church of the 21st Century: –
- Recognize the impact of upheavals and transitions … from modernism to post modernism … and now COVID, 4IR, 5G, Wars, Natural Disasters … etc.
- Time for absolutes is over …
- European/American churches now compete with Indigenous/Independent African Churches (IAC’s)(TEEC, 2009:97-98)Under your stewardship graduates, the Church must shift from a ‘Pastoral Mode’ where the church is like a ‘Club with clear membership’ to a ‘Missionary Mode’ … i.e.,
- Missionary worship
- Keeping to the truth as the church – bring back prophetic ministry into the church
- Open Caring Church
- Outward Looking Church
(TEEC, 2009:100) The Role of Prophetic Ministry, the Church has a “prophetic” role, or that the Christian ministry has a “prophetic” responsibility … more relevant now in 2022 than ever before in the context of all the above. The relationships between the Church and world powers like governments need review… speaking truth to the church
and to power!
- “Prophetic preaching” role.
- Concerns with social engineering.
- The Gospel message, faithfully proclaimed, carried with it the blessing, power, and fruitage of the HolySpirit.
- Advocacy for the doctrine of separation of powers (executive, judiciary, and legislature) as well ascultivate good corporate governance.
- Rethink, review and advocate that DG’s/DDG’s/HOD’s as Accounting Officer should not be politicalappointments but competency based… constitutional implication professionalisation of Public Service.The MCSA Reimagining missional endeavors should be reflected in the following areas,
- Spirituality – as an intentional focus, not just religious rituals but ‘deepening spirituality’
- Evangelism and Church Growth
- Economic Development and Empowerment
- Justice and Service as well as
- Christian Education and FormationConclusion – Graduates, Congratulations …. I pray that you will have
- Hatred of Evil
- Concern for Others“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can” (John Wesley)Be known for Credibility, Competence, Consistency and Care or Compassion!
Mr. Xhanti T Mhlubulwana
MCSA – Lay President 14.05.2022
- Barker Kenneth, 2000 (10th anniversary edition), New international version, The Reflecting God Study Bible, USA: Zundervan Publishing House.
- Biko, Steve, and Aelred Stubbs. 1987. I write what I like: a selection of his writings. Heinemann.
- David J. Bosch, Transforming Mission, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1991, 389–390. [obtained online through google scholar]
- Gandhi, Mahatma https://www.gandhiheritageportal.org/ online access, 1964, The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume XII, April 1913 to December 1914
- Mhlubulwana TX., 2021, Reimagining the Church during and post Covid-19 pandemic. Workshop Series and Report as District Lay Leader, Central 0900 (unpublished)
- Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo, 1938-. Decolonising the Mind : the Politics of Language in African Literature. London : Portsmouth, N.H. :J. Currey ; Heinemann, 1986.
- Sailhamer, John H. 2011, NIV Bible Study Commentary. USA: Zundervan Publishing House.
- Statistics South Africa, STATS SA, Mid-year population estimates 2019. STATISTICS SOUTHAFRICA.
- Theological Education by Extension College, 2009. Practising Christian Leadership & Management,Workbook 2 of 2. TEEC: Turffontein, South Africa.
- Wesley John, Online Quotes – John Wesley Quotes From The English Theologian And Evangelist(kidadl.com)