Wednesday 25 June 2014


A place of worship –old with the new

In the second day of The Warehouse’s second CLAD (Community Listening and Discernment) we visited places of worship in the city bowl and I was struck by the diversity of the churches in the city. We first talked and prayed for Common Ground Inner city church. A colleague gave us the brief history of this young church plant (5 years old). The question this church seeks to address: “how does the place of worship become a space of inclusion and serving the marginalized in the city?”

Then, a few miles away from this church plant, we found another church housing a Welfare and Development program. Because it was Ascension Day, all the other staff had a day off, but the caretaker was on duty. I conversed with him about the joys and challenges he is facing at his work/worship place. He mentioned long hours and a sense of not being appreciated for what he does. This led me to ask myself the question: “what things are present in our places of worship which are not appreciated?”

So the journey led me to reflect about the resources the congregation have that they are taking for granted. It seems both ignorance and zeal cause people to “miss” or not to appreciate what they have. This makes them unable to act from a place of contentment and gratitude.

The conversation with the caretaker was informative and even though it was not the reason we went to that particular church, it did become the chief reflection for me. Our agenda was to go and listen to the organisation and pray for them. The caretaker reflected briefly about how a change of management in the institution/organisation can bring good things and one must be able to adapt to the new changes and be able to blend the old with the new.

Next we went to St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, a beautiful building which was built in 1828. It has stained glass windows and is dedicated to different people who have served the church. My colleague picked up a pew leaflet to see the current membership and leadership of church and to read about the diversity of the church. My suspicion was that the church has become a community for foreign nationals (mainly from other parts of Africa) who have made this church their home. This building reflected the idea of the old with the new.

The question of how to serve the marginalised was depicted by St Andrew’s willingness to have offices space for Straatwerk. Straatwerk is an organization that has evolved from Friday nights reaching out to people living on the streets to becoming a training ground for the marginalised in the city. The partnership of Straatwerk as the new organization with the old congregation like St Andrew’s helps to prove the wisdom of the caretaker. I was stunned by the simplicity of the caretaker and yet his profound wisdom.

How is it possible to blend the old with the new, for example, the caretaker being the property manager? A caretaker is usually thought of as someone who is the security for the building, and the one who opens and locks the building. He also is someone who cares for the property’s garden.

Have we (the community of faith) thought of how we can up skill caretakers to be property managers?

By Mawethu Ncaca
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