The history of our church.
OUR METHODIST FAMILY
For most people involved at local level that which happens there is pretty similar regardless of what history and connections the congregation/community may have.
Supervision and Structure
As part of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Walmer Society (as it would be known by others of our family), Walmer Methodist to us, is part of the P E West Circuit in the Grahamstown District of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.
The Methodist Church of Southern Africa – the Connexion ( see www.methodist.org.za) – oversees all Methodist work in Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. An annual Conference meets in one of the 12 Districts, usually in September, with our Presiding Bishop as head and a General Secretary tasked with enabling debate and decision around discipline, doctrine and function for mission. Each District is overseen by a Bishop and meets at an annual Synod, usually in May. The Grahamstown District is comprised of 34 Circuits and Walmer Methodist falls in the PE West Circuit. This is comprised of Societies in Port Elizabeth at Gqebera (John Masiza), Lorraine, Newton Park , Westering and Walmer, in Jeffrey’s Bay and Humansdorp and includes involvement in the united (Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational members) at Thornhill (Holy Trinity) and St. Francis Bay.
What this means practically is that the local community has the support of a much larger family. Our ethos in terms of who we are, what we believe and how we function is not determined solely by the local part of the community. The ordained ministers are appointed to the Circuit and, in our Circuit, focus largely only on the Society/Congregation they are in. Usually these ministers are itinerant, which means they are at the disposal of the Church to be appointed as seems best for the work and witness of the whole body. The local congregation are part of the consultation to determine who is stationed and to serve them and the work of God there.
World Methodism has its roots in the revival in England in the mid 1700’s amongst predominantly working class and poorer people enabled by the ministry of Revs. John and Charles Wesley and others. A visit to the MCSA website (www.methodist.org.za) will give more detail as to how this revival in the 1700’s in England is now a worldwide body of believers second only to the Roman Catholic Church in numbers.
For all Methodist Christians the Bible is “the sufficient rule (measure/guide) for faith and practice”.
Inclusivity and exclusivity are held in tension in 5 “all” statements “:
- all people need to be saved
- all people can be saved
- all people can know they are saved
- all people can be saved to the uttermost
- all people can witness they are saved.
Our expression of the Christian faith has a particular “feel” ((with acknowledgement to Peter Storey in “Our Methodist Roots” published by Methodist Publishing House, Cape Town).
It is a blend of Passion and Intellect. Enthusiastic and fervent, we nevertheless would not negate study and reason.
It is a marriage of Love and Discipline. All begins in God’s love and continues in our response. But love is embodied in growing obedience. We are a discipleship movement.
There is a blend of Faith and Works. Salvation is by faith through grace, and that by God’s love and power – but so that we should love Him and serve one another, especially those most in need. This, as a way of living out our love for God by choosing to love all others.
We cannot imagine God’s rule only in one or some spheres of our lives – so there is always both personal and social holiness. Out of a profound personal encounter and the resulting relationship must flow a lifestyle that seeks to influence any and every part of our lives with the wisdom, truth, love and grace of God.