This post has been moved here.
The Amahoro conference is happening next week - and I can't wait! To get some fantastic minds into the same space to dialogue around post-colonial church is a wonderful, creative opportunity. It's not just the upfront speakers either, but the chance to work out the theory and theology with on-the-ground pastors for whom this must make a difference, or it's all talk. Plus there are some people who have a big influence on the wider scene in South Africa.
My friend Sean Tucker recently wrote that of the 32 people who started out with him in his 1st year class at Baptist Theological College only 3 of them are now Pastors in churches. That's 9% of the class! These aren't your ordinary Christians either - these are people who were so convinced of G-d's call on their life that they committed to studying theology and preparing for the pastorate. These aren't the "weddings and funeral" people, or the "attend church once a month" people, or the "attend church weekly" Christians, or even the more involved "we have leadership roles in the church" people. These are the most committed - those who are preparing for a lifetime of service within a church, because they feel called to this as their vocation - and only 9% are currently doing that as Pastors!
I find that shocking...and I'm not pointing fingers at Baptist College either.
My first church service in 2009 was special: attending Vespers at St Nicholas Orthodox Church in Brixton, Johannesburg, as a result of an invite from Steve Hayes to those involved in the emerging church conversation to see what we can learn from each other.
The service was beautiful, full of imagery and ritual. I was particularly struck by the use of gold in the paintings and icons - unexpected beauty in one of the less beautiful neighbourhoods in Joburg.
Some of the liturgy was in Afrikaans and there was much use of the space in the church - not just the front but the whole building, as the priests processed through it at various times. The choir singing was beautiful and reminded me of the chanting of the Benedictine Monks at uMaria weThemba in Grahamstown.