Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Rev Zipho Siwa, has urged seminarians to have an ‘alternative vision of the future’.

The Presiding Bishop was welcoming both new and returning students to the seminary during a chapel service, on 24 January.

“It will take a lot of sacrifice. It will mean those who are captivated by that vision are prepared to forgo a good life and suffer with those who need them most – those on the margins. We should draw them from the margins onto the centre instead of us being ministered to by those on the margins,” Bishop Siwa said.

The Presiding Bishop said to embark on such a journey means one is ‘foolish’ enough to believe that another reality is possible, even beyond the logic of the world.

He said, “The only qualification to be here is in our foolishness to believe that another reality is possible. If you are not foolish enough to believe that, you will be frustrated on this journey.”

Bishop Siwa warned the students that they will be watched every second of their lives on this journey and strongly urged seminarians not to make people leave the church because of them.

“You are entering into a glass house twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. On this journey, people will watch you because they long for something different because they believe that you are the one who is captivated by the vision of a different reality. But when they catch your off-side, they get hugely disappointed and broken that they go away from the church, protecting their faith from the church,” Bishop Siwa said.

He urged seminarians to follow the example of Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Bayers Naude, among others, who left great opportunities and careers to suffer and sacrifice their lives in pursuit of a vision of something different.

“This ministry is not a career, it is a vocation. True leadership demands complete subjugation of self, absolute honesty and integrity. Complete subjugation of self, to say I will live for something different whatever it will mean for me, whatever it will do to me. You must be captivated by a vision that another reality is possible, so foolish to believe that it can happen,” he said.

The Presiding Bishop advised the seminarians not to fool themselves by pretending that they know it all and encouraged them to listen to the people they will minister to.

He said, “Remember you are not going out there carrying a bag of knowledge and when they press a button, you open the bag and say here is the answer. Remember that you are going to people who have been formed by the experiences of life. Make time to listen to and to be formed by the stories of the people. Make time to ask questions that will help both yourself and the people you serve to be connected to the bigger story. No one has all the answers.”

He ended by pronouncing the Franciscan benediction: “May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”