If for a moment I look at our Church in human terms, I would say the church is experiencing its “mid-life crisis”. I have looked at some of the challenges that human beings go through when they reach this age and in my opinion the church is experiencing the same challenges
The Church of All Saints Belhar has a history of birth and growth, in times when people were still categorized in terms of their race and wealth. The Church then was the beacon of hope in highly politicized communities and it also had to participate in the struggle against apartheid, taking sides with the poor and the oppressed. This decision left “The Church” with numerous scars. These scars can still be felt, even now after 20 years of our liberation. This puts “The Church” in the category of a wounded and rugged Cross of Jesus. This can also be expressed in the hymn, “The Church is One Foundation”.
The story of Israel in the Wilderness can also be noted in this context. The question we have to ask is whether we know where we are going to, as we are crossing the threshold? Do we have the same aspirations we had, when the idea to build the church was conceived? Anyway what is that idea? It might have changed from an idea of having a “Place of Worship”, closer to being the “Beacon of Hope”. As we are crossing the threshold, I would like to remind us that we should now be able to see the “Promised Land”, as we are entering a new era in the life of the Church. When Joshua crossed the River Jordan, he asked 12 men to carry twelve stones as the symbol of the twelve tribes of Israel. They collected these stones from the River Jordan. This was their threshold. As we are also standing on the threshold, God has dried the river for us to be able to go across. We need to pick up our stones and create our monument, for our children’s children.
I thank God for allowing you to work hard in building a place of worship for the people of Yahweh. You carried stones from the River of Life, while you were standing on the threshold. These stones to us will mean: struggle, hunger, persecution, hardship, death, danger, perseverance, unity, love, peace, faith and hope. When your children’s children ask, the church will tell them of this great history with all its challenges. God has been with you while you were bitten by poisonous snakes. He was there when you thought you have no leader. He was there during the different changes of rectors and different new assistants.
Remember, you cannot remain on the threshold. The water has been dried temporarily. So you need to move to the future. This future has its own effect. It will either break us or shape us. God has promised us a blessing, but if we leave him, we will be taking the curse.
We need to embrace our young people and women in the leadership of the church. Thanks to God because our Parish Council has a number of young people and women, who are making a significant contribution within this body. The participation of different structures within the church is impressive too. We need to co-opt more young people on such.
We have a building project in the pipeline. This will also be a time to develop training material, as our church is embarking on a more training based approach, as reflected in the Diocesan Strategic Plan. All our efforts are based on the Diocesan Strategic Plan. This plan speaks about Contextual Worship and Liturgy, Institutional Strengthening, Skills Development and Social Development. This development should be in line with the development of Belhar. Currently more and more residential flats are being built within the Belhar area and surrounds.