VENUE: ROSS MISSION - UMTATA PRESBYTERY
DATE: 13 NOVEMBER 2010
ALL MINISTERS, GENERAL ASSEMBLY COMMISSIONERS, ELDERS FROM CONGREGATIONS WITHIN THE PRESBYTERY OF UMTATA
TO CAPACITATE CHURCH LEADERS ON GOVERNANCE WITH
SPECIAL FOCUS ON THE RELATIONSHIPS OF THE COURTS,
FUNCTIONS AND ROLES OF THOSE IN POSITIONS.
FACILITATOR: REV BB FINCA
OPENING DEVOTIONS: Rt REV GF TYANI
SCRIPTURE READING: MATTHEW 5:13 -16
YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD´
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CHURCH COURTS,
THEIR ROLES AND CHURCH OFFICIALS
It is not wise to curse anything that is in the name of God because there is no one who knows exactly how God works. A clear example of this is when the churches of Reformation were leaving the Catholics. The Pope cursed those churches thinking that they will never progress but God who works in His own way blessed those churches including the Catholics .Today churches of Reformation are big churches and the Catholic Church has grown as well because God blessed them both. When John Wesley left the Anglican Church to form the Methodist church the Anglicans thought he won´t succeed. Today both churches are big because God blessed them both despite the fact that the Methodist Church was cursed.
He started by thanking the Business Committee for inviting him to come and do this educational workshop on the governance and the relationship between the church courts of this church which is his home church. At this point he remembered the ministers who contributed so much for this church in the olden days who have now been called to the highest service like the late Reverends SB Ngcobo, WPT Ndibongo, GG Nzotyana, AB Shangase, JC Rhonyana, JY Hliso, CR Qaba, WV Masinda etc the list is long. He said that this church does not have history because it did not have too
much academics who could have written history about it for the generations to come. Rev Finca said that the RPCSA was blessed with intellectuals who had very deep understanding and knowledge about things of life. These intellectuals kept this church live and progressing after the missionaries had left. That was the time when some people thought that the RPCSA was going to die but it never died.
IMPORTANCE OF THE MANUAL OF LAW. PRACTISE &PROCEDURE
Rev Finca warned that where there is no law there will never be a progress. It is only the law that keeps a church going. He said that if the RPCSA uses the law all the time correctly it will grow and that will keep it to exist for the next hundred years. When the church undermines the law it experiences divisions, differences and groupings within. The church must go or operate according to the times. But in doing that it has to be careful so that it does not loose its identity. It must be able to strike a balance between the changing of times and its identity. The church must be able to identify things that can change according to times and those that cannot change at all.
ORDINA TlON OF ELDERS
When this church ordains elders they are given the manual of law, practice and procedure because the manual is going to keep the church intact. A leader leads by following the constitution which is the manual of law, practice and procedure in our case. A leader must not be shallow instead he /she must have deep knowledge. He/she must be a source of information. A leader must always equip him/ herself with knowledge. He / she must be able to differentiate between a behavior and a tradition that is foreign to this church.
WHAT CHARACTERIZES PRESBYTERIANISM?
Presbyterianism is characterized by respect amongst the church courts. Disrespect of a court of this church by another court is not Presbyterianism. Presbyterianism is also characterized by the respect of the decisions of our church courts by anyone who is a member of the RPCSA. If a court has taken a decision all members of that court abide by that decision and that is Presbyterianism. In the Presbyterian system of government no one is above the decisions of the church courts.
If a member of this church is not happy about the manner in which the Kirk Session has handled a case (his /her case), i.e. if that member feels that the manual of law, practice and procedure has not been followed properly that member has a right to make an appeal to the Presbytery. In the case of a Presbytery member an appeal is made to the General Assembly. If a member in a congregation finds that the Kirk Session doesn´t forward his or her appeal he or she must write to the Presbytery
Moderator and ask for his /her intervention so that the appeal is forwarded to the relevant court , in the case of a Presbytery the member writes to the General Assembly Moderator so that the appeal is forwarded accordingly.
IMPORTANCE OF CO-OPERATION IN THE CHURCH
Co -operation and understanding is very important especially between the Moderator and the General Secretary of the church. Implementation of the decisions of the church meetings is the duty of the General Secretary. There must always be a constant communication between these two church officials. The same situation applies between the Minister in- charge in a congregation and the Session Clerk. A Minister in a congregation is the head/leader. The Session Clerk must follow the decisions made by the Kirk Session. The Minister must provide good leadership in a congregation. He must have a vision in his leadership. Good relationship between a Minister and the Session Clerk is very important because some of the decisions of the Kirk Session are about the life of the Minister and therefore the Minister cannot be able to follow things that are about his life in the congregation. Rev BB Finca said that if the relationship between a Minister in a congregation and the Session Clerk are badly damaged one must step down from office.
A Minister in a congregation is a full time worker that why it is important for him or her to have a vision and goals. He must see to it that his leadership is taking the congregation forward. His role as a leader is very important.
HOW DOES THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY WORKS?
It appoints committees which work between the past General Assembly and the next one. The Presbytery and Kirk Session must have committees as well. The duty of these committees is to gather information and forward it to the court to which it belongs. The only committee that can take decisions if the General Assembly time is still far, is the Business Committee. The Business Committee enjoys the benefits of the General Assembly while the General Assembly is far to meet. Members of the Business Committee are elected from the commissioners but the General Assembly can elect any church member whom it feels will be useful to this committee. A committee convener is a servant of the committee. The conveners have no right to take decisions about the work of the committee without having consulted the
Each of these church courts must from time to time examine itself and check if it is still in the right direction. Each court must know the purpose of its existence and its functions. It must always fulfill the purpose of its existence. The purpose of the existence of a church court must be written down in the minute book of the court. The court must have a vision. It must be clear about how it is structured, its boundaries and its goals. The distribution of wealth must be done according to its vision and purpose. The General Secretary is a pillar in the administration or government of the church. The church must have a vision and goals every year. It is wise for a church court to set targets because those targets will lead that particular court to success. These targets must be challenging targets to that court, they must not be easy targets. In all the church courts and associations secretaries are administrators.
A PROCEDURE WHEN THE MATTER ON THE TASLE AFFECTS THE MODERATOR
If the Moderator is affected by a matter that is being deliberated he must excuse himself and someone must act on his behalf, and is appointed by the meeting. TheModerator assumes his seat when the matter is finished. In the case of a congregation the minister in-charge requests a colleague from another congregation to come and preside over that particular matter in the Kirk Session. The General Assembly Moderator is replaced by the past Moderator.
In his closing remarks he re-iterated his statement about the role of the secretaries to all the church courts as followers of decisions. He accepted a request that he must write the history of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa. He was also requested to investigate deeper the term that seems to be abused by certain church members which says ´a minister is a teacher and and an elder is a ruler. lt came out that some elders do not understand the meaning of this term as a result some end up applying it to disadvantage the minister in a congregation. He wrapped up his presentation at this point by thanking the church for inviting him and wished it many many years of existence, good work and growth.
At this point elder T Makeleni of the Tiyo Soga Memorial congregation expressed words of sincere gratitude on behalf of the RPCSA to Rev Finca. The church treasurer elder A Maso of Ross Mission handed over a token in appreciation for the good work done by Rev Finca. At this point the meeting was adjourned to allow the Moderator to accompany Rev Finca to his car.
EVALUATION OF THE WORKSHOP
The Moderator chaired the evaluation session. Members went on as follows:
1. The workshop was very interesting, too educational through out.
2. Rev Finca gave information which was needed most, a long time ago.
3. Rev BB Finca was requested to speak on church governance but members felt that there is more they need to know which was not touched in this workshop.
1. That the General Secretary must prepare a report on the proceedings of this workshop and report in the next Business Committee meeting.
2. That the report of this workshop must go to the Business Committee before it reaches the Kirk Session in congregations.
3. That workshops of this nature must be done in our church and within the associations from time to time.
4. That in future a facilitator must be requested to bring hard copies of the
presentation for the members to take home for further reference or study.
THE MEETING WAS CLOSED BY A BENEDICTION BY THE MODERATOR RT REV GF TYANI.
COMPILED BYREV ZE FUTSHANE - GENERAL SECRETARY