So, I went to my first Local Preachers' Convention. Not that I was there for every single minute it was happening, but for a significant amount of time.
First observation - I wasn't as bored as I thought I might be. There was enough in English that I could keep up and that which I heard was good. Bruce Mpele, the president of the District LPO was very amusing. Rev Molokoane spoke well and also John Annandale.
Second Observation - the purpose of the LPO seems to be a little vague. The structure almost seems to exist to sustain itself. But fellowship in itself is an intangible and unmeasurable substance. Also the concept of celebration is necessary but the effects are unmeasurable.
Third Observation - the people were very friendly. The preachers from my own circuit who looked after me (and embarrassed me by suggesting that I sit with the ministers because I am candidating). The other preachers who accepted my presence without wearing the black and white uniform. I felt that my clothing was an expression of my culture.
Fourth Observation - the convention is an expression in African culture of what Western cultures experience in a 'family camp' or a weekend retreat. I'm sure this has been something that has been developing over the last few years. I could certainly see common ground between Western and African. It could be that we will be able to come together. Whether anybody cares enough, or whether it matters enough, is another story. But unity doesn't mean complete assimilation of either culture by the other. So different and separate is sometimes ok.
At the end of the day, I am glad that I went. Not everyone who has no Sesotho or isiXhosa would be comfortable and I couldn't recommend it to all. But I was blessed. It was unpretentious, joyful and Jesus-focused.
(No, I'm not in the picture. It is taken from the programme we received!)