Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nearly Ordination

Today was the last day of our retreat in preparation for the ordination service tomorrow. In the afternoon we appeared before the Methodist Church Conference (the national synod if you like) and were accepted into 'full connexion'. This basically means that we have gone through all the necessary hoops and the Methodist people are now happy to accept us as ministers. Some of us are presbyters who will administer the sacraments and others are deacons who perform a more strictly pastoral role. Tomorrow, all going well, we will be ordained.

The photo shows all the ladies in the ordination group. There were a total of 35 people, eleven of whom were women. Of the eleven, six are presbyters and five deacons.

Apart from a difference in role, presbyters are in training for at least six years, including time at seminary, while deacons spend at least three years in training.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Scripture Union Bookshop

I went to the Scripture Union Bookshop in Rondebosch today. I had ordered the Hillsongs Kids dvd for our Sunday School and it had arrived. I was hoping to buy the Alpha Parenting Children dvd, but it was not in stock. We always buy the Wow Hits cds and hadn't bought the 2014 one yet. The book was a bit of an impulse buy . . . I bought it very much hoping that it wasn't going to make me feel even guiltier about all the things I'm not doing right as a pastor/ minister! So far so good, after one chapter.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Newlands Forest

We went for a walk in Newlands Forest this afternoon after church services and meetings. It was pleasantly cool and damp.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Christian Brothers Centre

The ordinands from Cape of Good Hope  and Grahamstown districts are spending three days at the Christian Brothers Centre in Stellenbosch. It is very beautiful here. Very wet at the moment!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tygerberg Hospital

I went to visit someone at Tygerberg Hospital this morning. I have only been to the hospital once before and felt very unsure of how to get around it. I went by myself today and took my time. I'm not sure if I parked in the best place, but it was a long walk to the building! Fortunately the patient I went to see was close to this entrance. He had a heart bypass operation last week. He was full of tubes, but looking well.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Secretary's Computer

Our secretary at Parow Wesley has been using a computer with less than 1Gb ram and running Windows XP. The opportunity came to get a new machine and I spent today setting it up. Mostly that meant running Windows Update on an almost non-existent internet connection. It was my day-off, so I was at home and just let it run while I got on with other things.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Gift

I was given these cosmetics as a gift when I preached at Norwood Methodist Church on Sunday. On the Sunday closest to Women's Day (9 August), many churches invite woman preachers specifically. I much prefer it when I am given this sort of gift. Often money is given and some preachers develop an expectation of receiving compensation for preaching. Even if I dislike monetary gifts, it is almost impossible to refuse them without embarrassing the giver!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wheel of Time

I have been reading the Wheel of Time series of books - along with the rest of my family. We have occasionally had four different books from the series out from the library simultaneously! Part of the appeal of the book are the themes of redemption, sacrifice and servant leadership. Someday, if not already, someone will write about "Christian themes in the Wheel of Times series" just as has been done for Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. Christian themes resonate with most of us.

Another series that is popular at the moment is Game of Thrones - although that is better known as a TV series. I got halfway through the first book when the harsh cruelty of the story and the pornographic descriptions got to me. I liked the characters and was intrigued by the story. I imagine that the storyline eventually offered at least hope if not nobility. But the taint to the telling was destructive. It worries me that for many people these harsh themes resonate.

The world seems to wage war for our souls.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Grant was at a loose end on Friday, so he bought me sunflowers. It's been so long since we had flowers, it seems our vases have broken or gone awol.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ordinands and Synod

For those who are interested, I thought I would write down what happens in a MCSA probationer's ordination year.

The year starts with an assignment where the ordinand prepares a programme for his or her year. This includes training, retreats, reading and more. This assignment is presented at the January seminar in a small group. The seminar has lectures and group work and consists of two or three days. After this another assignment must be submitted where the ordinand researches the subject 'ordination'.

Synod is the next big step. In the Cape of Good Hope District the synod event for ordinands begins with 'screening'. This is an interview with the same committee that interviewed the prospective ordinand a year ago. They look at their notes from a year back and try to determine if growth has occurred in the ordinand's life. They then recommend to synod whether or not the ordinand should be ordained.

For me, it was interesting to see the picture that the committee had drawn of me. I have a terrible tendency to accept people's conception of me and 'play along' and this has been exacerbated by the church training. I suppose also I have become aware of it, so this is a good thing. My own screening interview was fine.

The next evening sees the witness service where all the ordinands share their journey through probation with a synod congregation. We were told we had five minutes in the weeks before the service. This was amended to three minutes immediately before and I think were actually allowed about six. We receive a mark for the presentation of our testimony (and quite possibly we were all marked down for going over three minutes!) It never occurred to me that after the service I would go from a total unknown at synod to 'everyone knows me and now I can't hide'. The encouraging and positive comments were, however, very affirming and made up for my loss of invisibility!

The next item is the oral exam for presbyter ordinands (ministers can be presbyters or deacons). This was scheduled for the next day, Thursday, but actually came about late Friday morning. We received a long list of questions after the witness service on Wednesday night so there was too much to really prepare, but they were not totally unseen when the moment came. The wait was hard. I found my mind constantly going back to the questions which was not helpful as answers should be fairly to the point, not theses. For me, the actual exam went ok. God took away my nerves and broke through the mug that threatens to encase me in these sort of moments. I suppose this is arrogant, but it helps that generally I do know what I am talking about theologically! Again the comments afterwards were incredibly encouraging and affirming. So I felt good!

Finally the marks for the witness service and oral exam are given to the synod and the synod votes on whether or not to ordain the ordinands. All was good for my colleague Wandile and myself and so our next stop is the retreat during Conference and then ordination.

God has been kind to me.