Sunday, March 3, 2013

Motherwell Group is Growing Fast

A Group in Motherwell Township was approved by the Area Presidency in December, 2012.  Four missionaries were then assigned.  Since then the attendance at Group has risen from 19 to 35 in a few weeks.  The two articles from the February 18th issue of The Herald were revealing:

"E Cape Churches brought to knees by bitter feuds," article by Hendrick Mphande. 

Christian churches in the Eastern Cape have fallen prey to in-fighting which has prompted clergy, theology academics and congregants to speak out, believers to question and ”God to run for cover.”

Local ministers fear that the recent spate of incidents—some of which have resulted in messy court battles—will not only tarnish the image of the Christian church it will also negatively affect the good work they do in communities.

The Presbyterian Church of Africa in Motherwell is embroiled in a legal wrangle over control of the church. . . . trivial issues have also brought church groups to their knees.  These include which song to sing on Sundays; the redesign of the church building; that the music is too loud; and that heads should be covered when entering the church. . .

“If churches are involved in internal squabbles, it is a bad example to society.”  It’s time to stop the rot say Bay’s leading clerics. . .  Finca, who is also national commissioner of the Electoral Commission of South Africa, said internal divisions are permeating all mainstream and Pentecostal churches.

Margaret Meek of Port Elizabeth is a believer, but not a church-goer.  She said part of the reason why she did not attend church was due to petty in-fighting.

 “Personally, I don’t think God cares whether we are Protestants or Catholics, Anglicans or Presbyterians, charismatic or mainstream.  The problem is when people put themselves and their own egos above God and doing His work;  that’s when the fighting starts.  It must make him want to run for cover.”

 “Unholy dispute” 

THE legal wrangle over the control and name of the Motherwell Presbyterian Church of Africa is among a recent string of church feuds to hit media headlines.  The Motherwell church has been embroiled in a six-year legal battle over control of the church.

One faction, led by its moderator Reverend George Mokabo, approached the high court in Bloemfontein last November and appealed against an order compelling them to carry the cost of an earlier application brought against the opposing faction led by Reverend Amos Mongezi Mpulu.

The Port Elizabeth church split into two groups in 2009, each with its own bishop.  In a series of drawn-out court battles, the two factions were fighting to be recognized as the “real” Motherwell Presbyterian Church of Africa. At Mthatha High Court late last month.  The case was postponed until February 28 to give the parties time to settle the matter out of court.

This week, bishop Mziwethu Vakala who runs a Presbyterian church in Kwazahele and supports the Mokabo camp, said it was deplorable that the two factions had dragged each other to court to settle an internal dispute.  Mpulu is not the moderator of the church.  He and his faction are in contempt of court order which barred them from using the name of the church.”

Vakala, who is also the secretary of the Mokabo camp, said they had seven churches in their cluster, while the Mpulu camp had only three.

The church’s troubles came to a head in July 2011, when Mpulu’s faction was granted an interdict by Judge Judith Robertson in Grahamstown to stop the other faction from claiming they were the real Presbyterian Church of Africa, holding meetings and collecting money.  At the time, former moderator Mzukisi Faleni of the Mokabo faction “excommunicated” Mpulu from the church.  The stand-off resulted in police being summoned to the Motherwell church when a riot ensued and Faleni was arrested for congravening a court order.

Earlier this month, the Trinity Methodist Church in Graaf-Reinet was embroiled in controversy, following allegations of missing tithes amounting to R75,000, which has split worshipers.

President Neku said in Stake Conference yesterday that 600 new members are needed to divide P.E. Stake.  President Wood asked Elder Stokoe and I at dinner Saturday evening to attend and support the Group there as often as possible.

In review:   We stopped at the Stake Centre to pick up a copy of Evan Wright's 2nd book from the family history library mid February.  Sister Ek had given us with keys and the security code for the building.  There had been a huge thunder storm and the electronic gate would only open about four feet ad did not close.  Then Tom accidently set off the building’s security alarm and an armed guard arrived.  We explained the problem and he stayed with us while we waited for the gate repairman.  Christopher Zondani asked a lot of questions about our the Mormon Church.  

He lives in Motherwell and is not happy with the church he attends. Zondani said all they do is “fight and argue."  Tom responded, "Mine house is a house of order" saith the Lord and told him about Mormonism.  Christopher was interested.   Elder S. took a referral and I gave him a pass along card.  Since Brother Filifili had just been called to lead a group (Motherwell is too small for branch status) and we have missionaries in that township, we gave them the referral. 

Elder De Cardalha called to thank us for the referral and to report that it had born fruit.   Elder Itina, called back a few days later to report that the Zondani's were attending Motherwell Group.

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