Natal Coastal District 2012 Synod: Resolution on the work of God



In his opening address, Bishop Mike Vorster reflected on the way in which our lives are shaped by our experiences. We were encouraged to look to the manner in which Jesus responded to the formative experiences of his life, and challenged to allow ourselves to be shaped by Jesus' dream for humanity. Our Bishop then briefly outlined a vision to see our province shaped by that dream – by aiming to reach one million of the 7 million residents of our district over the next five years. 

The synod theme, “Welcome all who are differently-abled”, was wonderfully fleshed out in two bible studies led by Rev Micheline Kamba, who drew on her own experiences as well as Scripture to teach and challenge us. Reading from 2 Samuel 9:1-13,  Rev Kamba focused on David's treatment of Mephibosheth – noting how the king honoured Mephibosheth and regarded him as a person of ability. Turning to Acts 3:1-10, Rev Kamba pointed out how differently-abled people often lose their identity and are identified only by their condition, as the lame man is in this narrative. Synod was privileged to receive a visit from members of the DPSA (Disabled People of South Africa) who addressed the Synod and shared their considerable musical talent and hand-made craftwork with us. Several of the resolutions passed by this synod reflect a determination to be more responsive as a church to the particular needs of differently-abled people and more open to the significant gifts they bring to the church. 

Synod heard reports of mission work from around the district – including the growing evangelistic work in some of our rural circuits; ground-breaking educational work conducted by our Women's Manyano; and a range of relief and justice projects supported by our Women's Auxiliary. We were visited by Bishop Dinis Matsolo from the Mozambique District who expressed his hope of increased mission partnership and connexionality between our respective districts. 

Long service certificates were presented to a number of ministers and thanks were expressed to Rev's Lumka Sigaba and Smanga Bosman for their contributions as Vice-Chair and Secretary of Synod respectively. Synod elected Rev's Linda Mandindi and Ansie Liebenberg to fill the positions of Vice-Chair and Secretary respectively with effect from January 2013. Synod paid tribute to Rev's Jenny Sprong, Kevin Sprong, Thomas Leepile and Lumka Sigaba who retire from active ministry at the end of this year. We also remembered our former District Press Officer and CEO of the Vuleka Trust, Roland Vernon, and honoured numbers of our people in a memorial service lead by our Vice-Chair. 

Synod heard and affirmed the testimony of Ms Nosipho Cele who was received as a candidate for the ordained ministry of word and sacrament. We celebrated with Rev's Lehlohonolo Mathibe and Everett Lawrence whose calls were affirmed and whom we recommended for ordination as ministers of word and sacrament at Conference later this year. 

Our youth unit were prominent throughout Synod and led us in worship and a presentation on one of the days of Synod. We affirmed our ongoing commitment to ensure that our youth are fully represented at every level of the church and we celebrated the appointment of a number of our young people to serve at connexional level, and most notably the election of Rev Lauren Matthew as Youth President on the World Methodist Council. 

Synod was conducted in a warm and open spirit and we appreciated the richness of our diversity as we talked, shared meals and worshipped God together. We were mindful however of the ongoing transformation that needs to take place in our hearts and minds as we continue to pursue the vision of being a church that is “one and undivided”. Specifically, we affirmed the ongoing need to be intentional in  inspiring and modelling unity in our youth work and lay training events. 

The various resolutions considered by this synod were for the most part relatively straightforward and passed by unanimous vote. Our best efforts focused particularly on the Structures Proposals sent to synods following the Connexional Structures Indaba held last year. Synod wholeheartedly supported the restructuring of the church to facilitate mission, but found that some of the proposals had such potentially far-reaching consequences that they required further thought and discussion before being implemented. There were however many of the structures proposals that we would like to see implemented immediately, our hope being that the outstanding issues can be resolved through careful reflection and ongoing consultation over the next four years. 

Delegates worshipped in 9 societies around the Clerpine Circuit on Synod Sunday before gathering again in Pinetown for the closure of Synod. Our thanks are extended to the Clerpine Circuit for their warm hospitality and meticulous organisation of the 42nd Synod of the Natal Coastal District.