Monday, October 19, 2009

A vision for a beloved community

In my preparation for work and ministry at Jeshua the pursuit of vision, mission and purpose rang out loud and clear. Jeshua as a church and local Christian congregation in Lenasia South, Johannesburg-South Africa, is a part of the Reformed Church in Africa. Jeshua finds itself as a small congregation looking to a new season. It is my hope and prayer that in this season we will together pursue the work and ministry of being a: reconciliation, missional and transformational church -a church with a vision for a beloved community.

It is my belief that for Jeshua or any other church having a vision for a beloved community must be upfront and central. More importantly such a vision is imperative for people, and organizations of our 21st century. Much has been stated about vision, mission and purpose, and there will be much more developed in time to come, but it seldom that we hear of vision, mission and purpose in terms of the collective, the community, the world.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was a proponent of the terminology “a beloved community”. Dr. King drew his inspiration for the beloved community from his reading and understanding of biblical scripture. As an ordained minister he propelled the notion of “a beloved community” with fervour and determination to address the injustice of his day. The church and people of faith who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ are called to engage the work and mission of pursuing the vision for a beloved community.

In my reflection of Dr. King and of the Father of USA black liberation theology Howard Thurman, I am eager and excited to realize a vision for a beloved community that consists of a: vision of urgency, vision of inclusion and vision of active participation.

Dr King utilized the terminology “fierce urgency”,and called people to pursue justice and social change with fierce urgency. I believe that a vision of urgency must underpin and hasten our human footsteps to engage the grandeur and master design of God’s vision for a beloved community. A vision of urgency was noted in Dr. King’s fiery oration to destabilize an oppressive and segregated social order in the USA. A vision of urgency compelled people to exercise their belief in justice and eqaulity for all. Dr. King's vision of urgency kept him at the forefront of fighting for the rights of the marginalized and the impoverished.

Dr. John Volmink president of Cornerstone Christian College in Cape Town, South Africa speaks of a church and community of faith, where his faith is propelled by what he brings to the church and not what the church gives to him. Dr. Volmink tells of young people he teaches mathematics to, young people from a diverse background of ethnicity and religion. In Dr. Volmink’s words, “for these children the church is the place they receive their education and mentorship.” Dr. Volmink has a vision of inclusion and it is being put to practice as he serves young people of diverse race, class, gender and religion.

Dawn Naidoo principal of Madiba school in Lenasia South has been actively involved in education. Principal Naidoo has served the department of education for close onto 4 decades, but while she has taught and been a senior administrator fulltime, she continues to provide extramural lessons to children from underprivileged communities. Principal Naidoo has been doing so since Apartheid and continues to contribute to the lives of young people where ever and whenever the opportunity arises. Principal Naidoo has a vision of active participation and it is being put to practise in her everyday work of serving young people and her broader community.

It is my hope that in my service of Jeshua, our service of each other, and our broader community that we will continue developing and engaging the pursuit of a beloved community. It will be of great aid to South Africa when people from all walks of life seek to be: a community that is urgently seeking justice and equality; a community that is inclusive and seeking to include all people; and a community that is actively participating in caring for one another.

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