SA Cleric takes Top Post in the USA

Luzuko Pongoma

Another South African will fly the country’s flag high by taking a prominent post at an international organisation.

Rev Ivan Abrahams will vacate his Johannesburg office as the presiding bishop of the Methodist Church of SA to serve as the secretary-general of the World Methodist Council in the US.

He will be replaced by Rev Ziphozihle Siwa who is currently the bishop of the Highveld and Swaziland district.

On his appointment, Abrahams said: “Being the first African and non-American to hold the position is an honour for people in the south, especially South Africa.”

He said the position involved working with 72 million people and his vision was to deal with issues of globalisation and the economic meltdown.

“The key challenge for the council as with many international organisations dominated by the north, is that I am going to bring a fresh perspective from the south.”

Abrahams said he also wanted voices from other parts of the world, especially from the East, to contribute.

He said the post had a five-year term and he would move with his wife to North Carolina, US.

About his previous post as the presiding bishop in Southern Africa since 2003, Abrahams said: “The most exciting thing about it was it brought transformation in the church. But now it is time to hand over the responsibility and take on another challenge.”

Speaking at his farewell over the weekend, President Jacob Zuma said: “The Methodist Church established various educational training institutions in the country, such as Kilnerton, Indaleni, Wesley House, and Healdtown, which produced our finest leaders and icons, including former president Nelson Mandela.”

Zuma noted that the bishop had been a victim of forced removals in Cape Town during the apartheid era.

“It is not surprising that this church also produced clerics of the calibre of His Grace Bishop Abrahams. True to the mission of his church, Bishop Abrahams understands profoundly the devastating effects of racism and the extent of material deprivation in this country.

“And in his involvement in the justice and service portfolios of the Methodist Church in six southern African countries, Bishop Abrahams witnessed the suffering of the people, particularly women, children and the old in those countries.”

Zuma said Abrahams reminded people that religion should speak to the circumstances of the people and that it should liberate mankind from all kinds of oppression.

The president thanked Abrahams for his interest in the well-being of children, promotion of ubuntu and his fight against xenophobia

Zuma said he had no doubt that Abrahams would take his position in North Carolina to greater heights.

World Leaders

Abrahams is following in the footsteps of other South Africans who include: Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, who became the assistant secretary-general of the UN development programme’s bureau for development policy. Navanethem (Navi) Pillay, appointed as High Commissioner for Human Rights by the United Nations. Richard J Goldstone, appointed to lead an fact-finding mission to investigate human rights and humanitarian law violations related to the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip.