Cape of Good Hope District 2012 Synod: Resolution on the work of God

Travelling together from throughout the district, the members of the 183rd Synod of the Cape of Good Hope District descended upon the Outeniqua Circuit to continue our theme, “God’s Table of Grace – A Table for All”. 

We were conscious of and heard four themes throughout our Synod. 

1. Inclusivity 
From the outset we were drawn into a spirituality of inclusion when the traditional Roll Call of Synod was experienced in a deeply personal and moving spirit-filled moment as all were included and affirmed. The theme of Synod was exemplified in the manner in which Bishop Hansrod led us, clearly illuminating each step so that all felt included and were able to participate meaningfully. Special moments of inclusivity were experienced as children participated in the lighting of the candle at the Ordinands’ Witness Service to the presentation of the Mickey Mouse Creche, who travelled all the way from Oudtshoorn to enthral us. The participation and inclusion of a mentally differently-abled (uphaza miseke engqondweni) person at our service at Thembalethu was a special public expression as we were reminded of God’s spirit present in all. Synod encountered a spirituality of inclusion in each session and a real awareness of God’s presence pervaded all our discussions as each moment was prayerfully approached. Our Bible Studies, capably led by Rev. Pumzile Mabizela, drew us to scriptures informing us of Jesus’ proclamation and practice of an inclusive Kingdom. This was substantiated in the Bishop’s address to Synod where he invited us to have “larger banqueting tables” so that all may be included. The presentation of Child Care Ministries and the beautiful prayer of Mrs Judy Simons helped us hear the call that children be included more intentionally in our life. Synod was ably and smoothly led through the previously onerous task of tackling resolutions as a result of clear preparation and succinct presentation. 

2. Community and public witness 
We were wonderfully welcomed and the multi-purpose George Society sanctuary, the gracious hosts and the use of modern technology all facilitated a meaningful, inclusive Synod. The journey together by bus and the residential nature of Synod facilitated community. The Ordinands’ Witness Service in the Thembalethu Methodist Church on Ascension Day was a wonderful public witness in the community. We encountered a holy moment as an HIV/AIDS test was undertaken by one of our ministers in our Synod sanctuary which encouraged us to continue to be a public witness in our communities deeply affected by HIV/AIDS. Synod heard of the difficulties encountered by some of our mission and children’s ministry projects and were encouraged, despite trying circumstances, of their powerful public Kingdom witness. 

3. Celebration 
Synod celebrated a number of special moments. The recommendation to Conference that Revs Pam Ellwood (PTNINS), Roland Beukes and Sandile Kalipa be ordained; the acceptance of one candidate, one Biblewoman and two Evangelists; and the re-instatement of Rev. Keith Benjamin, all to be ratified by Connexion, were moments of hearing God’s call being celebrated. The re-election of Michel Hansrod as our Bishop for the period 2014 – 2016, subject to Conference, celebrated his ministry as our chief shepherd and affirmed God’s call upon his life. We were grateful for the work of Mr Trevor Peterson and re-elected him as our District Treasurer. Synod celebrated the servant leadership of Mrs Judy Simons as she completed six years as a Lay Leader in our district, having served with distinction and great humility. Mr Derrick Ronnie was elected as our District Lay Leader for the period 2013 – 2015. The ministry of Rev. William Simons was acknowledged and celebrated as he applied to Conference to superannuate at the end of 2012. Synod heard the reports of the various women’s organisations in the district and celebrated the wide work of service and support for the local church through these organisations. Our statistics reflected a membership of 52 503 Methodists in the district, an increase of 1 200 members. Numerous expressions of God’s grace at work and God’s light shining in the world were celebrated in the many mission projects throughout our district. Bishop Hansrod highlighted some of these amazing gifts to the communities they serve, and we were encouraged and challenged to continue to be faithful to our call to be a “Table for All”. 

4. Challenges 
Synod was challenged in many areas. We were challenged to ensure that we include those often excluded from God’s table of grace. The Mission and Extension Fund received 52% less in 2011 than in 2010. This drastically curtails our support of mission work and projects in our district. We were challenged to increase our income in order to support the vital work of God happening in and through these projects and circuits. An average amount of R 120 per member in our district would meet all the needs of the struggling circuits and mission projects. Societies and circuits were encouraged to request members to respond. Ministers were reminded to make the Mission Appeal DVD available. We were challenged to keep a more faithful boundary between church and state and to continue to give expression to our prophetic role. We recognised the need for the church to be a prophetic and moral witness in our communities. Another challenge before Synod was the need to be more conscious of the imbalances that exist and the continued exclusion of young people and women. Synod continues to nominate and vote predominantly for males to positions of leadership. Synod gave specific time and space to those who are often not heard in Synods. The Bishop challenged us to allow for a meaningful engagement in our churches with those often not heard. Social upliftment programmes are evidenced in the district but there remains a challenge for us to work towards the alleviation of poverty and to face and deal with other social issues. The large structural discussion document was dealt with both in small groups and plenary. Concerns were raised regarding various aspects of the document. Synod agreed to send their responses to Conference, recognising that there were a variety of these. A strong call was also issued to Conference that consideration be given to a more deliberate and careful consideration of the process for more meaningful engagement. As Methodists we were further confronted with our lack of presence at protest actions and marches challenging social ills and abuse of power. We were challenged to be more active in all social issues facing our world. Synod finally went together into the various circuits and societies in this region of our district to worship God and encourage one another to follow Jesus Christ. 

The 183rd Cape of Good Hope Synod of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa is grateful to God for our sense of inclusivity, community and public witness as we celebrated God’s work through the people called Methodists in this district. Synod hears the challenges before us as we go from this place seeking to be faithful to God’s call and direction.