As a new minister I had two things last week that showed how unprepared I am in many ways for what I am doing! The first was someone coming in who had to apply to the liquor board for a license to operate her tavern. This is in a town 50km from Grahamstown where there is a small Methodist Church. The steward who looks after the church had signed the form but it needed a stamp. Now Methodists, after the example of John Wesley, are not keen on promoting the sale of liquor. I personally have a big issue with the damage that alcohol does amongst our poorer populations. But the form didn't ask about whether or not the MCSA approved of taverns, but whether the operating hours would not pose a disturbance to the church. My supervising minister was in hospital and I couldn't get hold of my superintendent, so I had to make a decision and I stamped it (no idea whether it was the right stamp). I still don't know whether I did the right thing - and I suppose I should ask someone some time. Ideally, the church would embark on a mission to promote an awareness of the dangers of alcohol, in that area - that would be meaningful. My refusing to stamp the form would just be obstructionist. I have no idea whatsoever if there is an official Methodist view as to what I should have done! The lady got a good lecture on the dangers of drunkenness and her moral responsibility, but I doubt if she took much of it in.
The other thing was a church leader coming in and very tentatively saying that there was a women's group in town. They were looking for a minister to open their meeting on Saturday. Some of the ladies were members of the church. Could Rev Mathiti or I help? Oh, by the way this is the ANC Women's League. That one at least I knew the church's position - but not because I've been taught it. So I told him 'No' with a clear conscience on that one.