From the 5th to the 7th of September 2017, the UEM General Secretary, the Rev Volker Martin Dally and the Africa Executive Secretary visited the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA) with congregations in South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia. This church became a UEM Associate member during the last 2016 UEM General Assembly. An intensive visit was carried out in two South African cities, Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The church is made of 1.230.000 members, 784 congregations and 490 Pastors. It is estimated that 294 congregations are vacant, leaving a great challenge of not having enough church leaders for their congregations. Apart spreading the Gospel, following the historical background of the country and the church, the main church’s focus is unity, reconciliation and justice. People are called to be dedicated for others in their daily lives.
The UEM delegation had meetings with the 2 Moderamen in each city. The UEM General Secretary thanked them for their hospitality. He presented to them a portrait designed by an African artist which illustrates “you are because I am”. This image symbolizes the Belhar (Cape Town) confession (in many ways similar to the Barmen (Wuppertal) Confession. “ This image calls each Christian to willingly give her/himself with joy to others”, explained the Rev Volker Martin Dally. He explained how UEM works through a presentation of both UEM governance and working structures. UEM as a communion of Churches promotes a joint cooperation between members with the aim of promoting Evangelism, Diaconia, Advocacy, Development and Partnership.
The Moderamen in Johannesburg made a presentation on the church strategic plan. Whereas the Moderamen in Cape Town shared about the practical diaconal work implemented by the development church branch called Badisa, which provides social welfare services to children, older persons, people with disabilities and people with substance abuse. This faith based organization as a diaconal service is reaching out to 810.651 needy people in the community and implements people-centered projects including: social, health, economic and education development.
The UEM was appreciated by the URCSA leaders in Johannesburg and Cape Town who expressed their readiness to be committed to participating to UEM programs.
From the 8th to the 10th September the UEM delegation will continue with a visit of the Rhenish Church based in Cape Town, South Africa, which is expected to become a new UEM member.
Rev. Dr John Wesley Kabango, Executive Secretary for Africa