UMC blog

  • A week of guided prayer Mar 17, 2019

    If you have been on the church property this week past, you may have noticed ordinary places being transformed into sacred spaces of creativity, and of prayer. This week has seen a Week of Guided Prayer taking place at the church, where trained prayer guides have come from around the country to meet with those who signed up.

  • Home-coming Mar 10, 2019

    For a moment I thought I had come to the wrong event when I arrived at the church on Wednesday evening as the Ash Wednesday service was ending. There was a buzz in the air – people were pleased to be there and it was great to see not just our own Umhlali people in the service but also numbers of visitors from our sister congregations in Westbrook and Tongaat. Even wearing your ashen crosses everyone seemed very upbeat. Not at all Lent-ish. Because this is a season of serious introspection and a time for heart-felt repentance. And a scarcity of chocolate. We really shouldn’t be smiling, should we?

  • Systematics Mar 03, 2019

    For the month of February, I have been lecturing at the Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary in Pietermaritzburg – the training place for ministers and ministry for Methodists in Southern Africa. Every time I am there, I am excited about all the formation and learning that is happening on that beautiful campus. I have been lecturing Systematic Theology (a subject which unpacks some of what we believe and why) with a particular focus on Wesleyan Theology (some of the particulars of what John Wesley believed and taught, and why).

  • Poetry anyone? Feb 24, 2019

    Are you into poetry? Although I was inspired by Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society (weren't we all?) I can’t say that I know much about poets or that I’ve ever been at all keen on their work. I remember guys like TS Eliot and WB Yeats making me feel very stupid at school – their poems came up in our exams, but I never had the faintest idea what they were talking about. Still don’t.

  • Make your global impact locally... Feb 17, 2019

    I was reading from one of the Gospels recently and while reading one of the sermons of Christ, a question popped into my mind, “What was the extent was of Christs’ ministry during His life?”. I mean, Christ has unquestionably and profoundly influenced the majority of the globe but, what about during His ​ actual ​ lifetime? What was the extent of His travels? Where did he preach? Who did He have with Him?

    I ask these questions as a result of my formative years during school and as a young adult. I was regularly told (as schools still do) that I can ​ become ​ anything, that I can ​ do ​ anythi...

  • Continual Ministerial Formation Feb 10, 2019

    Kym and I attended a ministers’ retreat in Empangeni this week. We have a couple of days like this each year when all the ministers in our synod meet together. It’s good to see each other again and meet colleagues who have just moved into this area in 2019.

    One of the items under discussion this week was a national decision now being implemented across the entire Methodist Church relating to “Continual Ministerial Formation”. The term is similar to “Continual Professional Development” used to ensure that professionals in various fields continue to study and grow in their skills and knowledge o...

  • The Covenant Feb 03, 2019

    The annual Covenant Service has been a part of our Methodist worship since the time of John Wesley. In this service, we recognise that God has reached out to us, and offers us friendship, inviting us to be in relationship with God. The Covenant we make, then, is the way we accept the relationship God offers all of us and also how we look to sustain it. So rather than the Covenant prayer being about trying to acquire a relationship with God, through making our Covenant, we are affirming that we want to live in the relationship God has already offered us. The Covenant Prayer we pray is in resp...

  • Synod is coming! Jan 27, 2019

    Synod is coming.

    Each year in May, Methodists gather in their districts for a weekend to talk about the work God is doing in our local communities and churches. It is always so encouraging to gather with 200 other people and share how God is working as well as dream together about the future. Whenever we go to synod, we are always graciously hosted by a circuit, who sets up a venue, arranges catering and sometimes accommodation, who help with the worship services, serves communion as well as takes care of a whole range of admin that goes with running a three-day meeting for 200 people.

    This ye...

  • Living for today Jan 20, 2019

    Recently, Dominique, my wife, underwent rather serious back surgery. There had been an invisible build up over the years to a slipped disc. No trauma, no injury, no accident, just a slipped disc 2 years later. If you have never been close to someone who is about to go into a possible life-changing surgery (as was the case with me), it is a truly gut-wrenching experience.

    You are essentially handing the fate of the person closest to you over to a group of people you have never met before and are forced to trust in their expertise. Nonetheless, the surgery was a success and Dom is now on the lon...

  • Listening Time Jan 13, 2019

    During the past week, Michael and I crossed out a morning in our diaries and walked down the road to Burnedale Cafe to have what we call a ‘vestry meeting’. At the start of each year, we call a vestry meeting to think and plan for the year ahead, and the question we ask is, ‘when we get to the end of the year, what would we hope to say has happened?’

    This year at our vestry meeting, the theme for both of us was around listening: listening in prayer, listening in scripture, listening to people, listening to the cry of the world. Trevor Hudson says listening is the greatest pastoral skill, and t...