My late mother Helene always used to worry about us as children. Somehow my eldest sister Anna (pictured above) did things and made decisions that really “stressed out” the old lady. Comments like “she makes me so mad!” and “YOU’LL BE THE DEATH OF ME” still ring in my ear and come back to haunt me time and time again.
Mom died in 1987 and Anna 20 years later in 2006. Now it is 2016. On Saturday we celebrated HERITAGE DAY. Time was given on this public holiday to retrace our steps as a nation and as individuals. The gift of honouring our heritage as Christians draws me into the thoughts of the prophet Isaiah: “He awakens my ear that I may hear like a disciple” (Is. 50:4)
On HERITAGE DAY in South Africa, we listen to an irregular heart beat. We are living in a world of unresolved conflicts – forcing young students, for example, to express their anger in unacceptable patterns. A video of a Touws River Truck driver expressing his concern about what’s happening on campus has hit the headlines. So too has a Master’s student now into his 3rd Post graduate degree.
The Press is loving it. There’s a feeding frenzy in cyberspace. Here’s a story that sadly is turning into “THE DEATH OF US”. When a precious Law Library is destroyed and rhinos are killed or raw sewerage is poured into lagoons, we are trashing our Heritage. It’s hard to speak these ongoing issues in a relaxed conversational tone. We are responsible not only for what we say, but equally how we say it.
I really appreciated the comments that brought back memories of our life at Salty Print. Beatrice Smith (pictured above) was (and still is my P.A.). She gave me structure, time and space to exercise my creativity and fulfill my dreams of transformation. Salty Print (Transforming Paper, People and Places) left a memorable imprint by becoming utterly and radically flesh in terms of its Mission Statement.
We learned life’s lessons. A supportive Board of Management became our canon (measuring rule). Presenting those financials and monitoring the trends of how we were doing steadied the ship. I realised we were making history.
My argument was quite simple. I said: “The church is in decline and transition. We need to generate new income streams, because the way we are operating is unsustainable”. Nobody seemed to understand. Today, Salty Print continues to flourish as a Private Enterprise and is no longer owned by the church.
The old Salty Print Circuit (0125) had a name change and was transformed into Circuit (Mowbray) 0125 five years ago. Mossop Hall (the only Society in the Circuit) returns to the Dumisani 0103 Circuit (formerly Rosebank) as a Preaching Station in January 2017. The other Societies Rosebank, Pinelands, Athlone, Langa, Maitland Garden Village, Klipfontein, Thornton and Ruyterwacht will be able to tap into the reservoir of experience and wisdom we have sourced in our work with churches in transition.
My eye blink response is that most Methodist Churches are close to bankruptcy. The way we live out our ministry is just not sustainable. “YOU’LL BE THE DEATH OF ME!” is prophetic. Jesus talked of life being like seeds that need to die and be buried in the ground. He leaves us with the promise that (like the Arum lily) he will rise again. Therein lies our hope.
I was speaking to a friend about a subject close to my heart. The conversation reminded me of the late Dr. Ivan May (pictured above). He said: “Mark it’s all about discipline”. Discipline in our private lives, business and “the way we make decisions”. Some of us need PA’s (like me) to keep us close to the real world. If we don’t put systems in place it will be “THE DEATH OF ALL OF US”. The thought of a whole new world is always our hope. Those who die and rise again with Christ can credibly bear witness.