Welcoming our incoming minister

Nov 08, 2021 Michael Bishop change

Thursday was such an encouraging morning at the UMC office. Our incoming minister, Mark Wiemers came down from Richards Bay and spent the morning with us. It was a chance for him to spend some informal time meeting members of the UMC staff team and some of our leaders, and also visiting the principals of DLA and So-High and getting a look at what happens in these two fantastic little schools that partner with UMC. Times of transition can be unsettling for a community, but I also sensed a real excitement yesterday, both in Mark who is really excited about the move, and in our UMC leaders who have found it easy to connect with Mark and are looking forward to his fresh perspective on ministry in our community. Change can be scary, but also exciting!

So, we can expect some new ideas and changes in approach next year, but most things will feel very much the same in 2022. I think about three of four people on meeting Mark yesterday commented that he and I look so similar that we could be brothers – so it may take you a couple of months to notice that anything has changed at all :) Also, as he was meeting people yesterday Mark said a number of times that his style is to listen and get a sense of how things are here and what this community values, rather than making many changes simply for the sake of change.

Mark had a list of questions for me and we talked about the different Sunday services, about Advent (he’s got some great ideas for the Christmas season) and Lent (hopefully there will be a sunrise service in 2022!), small groups, courses and all sorts of other practical details. He brought some of his boxes of books into my office and at the same time I’m starting to move my books out. In a strange irony, the office I will be moving into at Westville was Mark’s two years ago when he ended his 9 years of service in that community!

Finally, one practical detail that still needs to be nailed down before Mark comes is arranging accommodation for him. The manse would be far too big for him, so we have tenants in there at the moment and one of our stewards, Terry, ended Mark’s visit with us by driving him around Ballito and having a look at some possibilities for a place for him for next year.

I know we all have mixed feelings at times like this – I certainly do – but I hope that you are also hopeful about the coming changes for Umhlali in 2022. I am, and so too are Mark and our leaders.

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