CONFIRMATION CLASS GUIDE

INTRODUCTION

 

  1. The facilitators of the confirmation program and church leaders would like to congratulate you on the step taken in seeking spiritual maturity.
  2. “God the Father decided to choose you as his people” (1Peter 1:2).  God chose Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery and David to be the great king of His people.  God has also chosen you in order to use you to scatter His word throughout the forgotten corners of Durban and South   Africa.  Be happy that, of all people He could have gone to, He has come to you, and therefore, in whatever you do, do it for the glory of God (1Cor 10:31).
  3. Purposes if the class:-

à         Accompany learners/converts.

à         Facilitate spiritual life.

à         Grow disciples (Col 1:28).  The main purpose of Christian teaching and never-ending repetition of the gospel message is to ensure that believers believe more, obey more, understand more and become more like Christ.

à         Offer pastoral care.

  1. Focus of this class is on:-

à         Time with God’s word.

à         Prayer

à         Knowing your church and its teachings.

à         Fellowship

  1. We encourage the following from confirmands.
  • Take responsibility for their own growth.
  • Think critically/ question during the progress of the lessons.
  • Come forward with knowledge of benefit to class members and facilitators (not consider themselves empty vessels to be filled).
  • Answer the call of Christ with total commitment.  Jesus has made it clear to all those who want to follow him in Luke 9:57-62, that everything else must give way to your obedience to the Father.
  • Invite friends; parents and class leaders to share ideas (on spiritual maturity).
  • There must be an ever-deepening maturity (Hebrew 6:1).
  1. Theological background to confirmation in the Methodist Church:

Confirmation is defined by Rev Leon Klein of the MCSA, in lay language, as a time where young people are helped by adults to deepen their knowledge of faith and develop skills in adult-Christian living.

When Methodist movement first emerged, John Wesley would call people to commitment, and then place them in classes (irhamente) for their spiritual growth.  This was done so that they are, not tempted away from their faith.

The Methodist believe that God begins work in the heart of an individual long before a person recognizes that there is a God (Psalm 139:15; Jeremiah 1:4-5).  The Church therefore affirms the prevenient grace (spirit that goes before the seeker) in the Baptism of infants.  The moment of taking adult responsibility is expressed in Confirmation, which is in response to the continuation of the seeking activity of the Spirit of God.  This is also a moment that culminates in the individual or converts making a public commitment to God at a special service, often referred to as a “Confirmation Service” – held in August/September of each year at CCMYT.

Confirmation therefore becomes a special moment when the community of faith affirms the place of the believer- a place that was recognized at the baptism of the infant.

  1. Confirmation class does not replace the classes (irhamente) that John Wesley formed and instructed his lay preachers/pastoral leaders to nurture new converts in the Methodist Church for deepened spiritual formation.
  2. How does the confirmation class program runs at CCMYT:

à         Confirmation classes are held weekly on Wednesdays at 17h30 (till the confirmation service), unless otherwise specified of any changes. Should you experience problems with time, please discuss with the class facilitators in advance for an amicable solution.

à         The following topics almost constitutes the core of the class program: Prayer; church history; church structure; Mission of the MCSA; Trinity and Apostle’s Doctrines; Resurrection; conversion and Christian faith; witnessing/testimony; Christian giving and church membership; Salvation; Mission outreach/caring for the needy; Christian family; Introduction to Bible reading; etc.

à         Attendance and total commitment is of absolute importance (contributes 50% towards the end of the program mark).

à         Compulsory exercises/homework (written or group presentations) will be given to the confirmands to encourage diligence and full participation by everybody (contributes 25% towards the end of the program mark).

à         Written assessment (contributes 25% towards the final mark) will be given to confirmands who have attended well and also complied with their homework.

à         Confirmands’ breakfast with the church will take place the Saturday before the confirmation service.

  1. Please provide yourselves with notebooks, bible(s), Methodist hymn book and catechism in preparation for the classes.  Some study notes will be supplied to assist the confirmands.
  2. The confirmation class facilitators would like to congratulate you one more time and remind you that the Christian journey is a marathon, hence the emphasis of fellowshipping with other believers so that you will be strong to the end (1Corinthians 1:8).

 

CHURCH HISTORY

 

I. History of Christian Church

 

Early spread of the church:  The Methodist church started in the 18th Century as a revival movement with the “Anglican Church” by John Benjamin Wesley.  He recruited workers who preached to “common people”, putting emphasis on salvation by faith.

–          The Christian Church began among the Jewish “converts” who used to gather at the Pentecost, the church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:42-47).

–          Emperor Domitian declared himself: divine” and ordered all subjects of the Roman Empire to worship him as God, Christians of course refused.  The Jewish and Emperor Domitian’s persecution forced Christians to flee to other cities, start new congregations in these places.  Through the discipleship of Apostles, the Gospel began to spread in Europe, North Africa and Middle East.

–          Emperor Constantine, 313AD became Christian and gave Christians their autonomy, but was invaded by wrong people who politicized and retarded its growth.  The Roman Empire was split mainly over doctrinal disputes into 2 factions, the Eastern governed by Constantinople (Istanbul) and the Western faction governed by Rome.

–          The birth of Mohamed (570-632AD) in Mecca (Saudi Arabia) was followed by the rise of Islam.  Armed Muslims swept through the Arab world persecuting and driving advancing Christians out of the churches in Palestine, Middle East, and Egypt.  Seven Centuries of Christian work development was destroyed, leaving the church concentrated mainly in Europe, Italy and Greece.

Reformation – By the early 16th Century, the Roman Catholic Church (from the Western stream) and the State were heavily intertwined.  Corruption and ignorance from Kings and politicians was rife.  Martin Luther [1483-1546) (Germany) and other religious leaders rebelled against those malpractices.

They began to teach about the basic truths of Christian faith i.e. (a) Salvation by faith alone, (b). The Bible is the supreme guide in the Christian religion and the church and wanted it available in common people’s languages (not only in Latin) and (c) “Priesthood of all believers”.

 

 

The Protestant Reformation – led to the formation of at least three church groups:-

à         The Lutherans (under Martin Luther).

à         The Calvinists (under John Calin in Geneva) – stressed on the doctrine of predestination.

à         The Anabaptists – believed in practice of adult or believers baptism.

 

The English Reformation – In 1534, Henry VII broke all ties wit home and declared himself head of the church in England.  This was partly because the Catholic Church had refused him to divorce Catherine of Aragon.  Their emphasis took a middle road between Lutherans and Rome.

 

The Evangelical Revival – This took place in the 1700’s, during the time of “English Industrial Revolution”, spearheaded by John Wesley (1703 – 1791), an Anglican priest.

 

The Anglican Church rejected this renewal movement (of salvation by faith) and banned preachers of the “new doctrine”.

à         After John Wesley’s death, the split of Methodism as a separate church happened.

 

II. Methodism coming to Southern Africa

–          Methodism came to Southern Africa in 1820 with the soldiers of the British garrison stationed at the Cape in the early years of the 19th Century.  In 1815, Rev. Barnabas Shaw and early Methodist missionaries started their work before the Great Trek (inland movement) and notably established famous Lily fountain mission.  Methodism became firmly established with the arrival of the 1820 British Settlers, many of whom were Methodists.

–          Rev William Shaw moved along the Eastern Part of the Cape, establishing the following mission stations:-

*        Wesley Ville (first mission in Ciskei; 1823);

*        MountCoke – 1824;

*        Butterworth – 1827;

*        Morley – 1829;

*        Clarke bury – 1835;

*        Shaw bury – 1835;

*        Maclear, Fletch Ville and Tsitsana -1864.

–          Rev Samuel Broadbent founded the mission station at Makwasi (1822) Free State, while Rev James Archbell and Rev John Edwards established mission stations in Thaba Nchu, Platberg, Lishuane, Mpukane, Mpherane (near Ficksburg).  The spread continued to Kwa Zulu Natal and Transvaal up to Mozambique.

–          The Methodist church received its autonomy from the British Conference in 1882.  The South African Conference exercised its jurisdiction and carried out its functions subject to the stipulations made by the British Conference until the year 1926 when the South African Conference resolved that it would be in the interests of both that the affiliation and control should cease.

–          Early mission stations had schools; printing presses 9e.g. Mt Coke, Platberg and Makwasi); hospitals (e.g. Moroka, Mt Coke, Manguzi and Bethesda).

–          The Methodist church in South   Africa had 2 factions viz.

*        Native (for the Africans).

*        Weslian (Europeans).

 

These 2 streams (result of apartheid) had different service books, hymn books and administration.  They later united to become one multiracial and multicultural church (MCSA).

 

III. Life History of John Benjamin Wesley

The Founder of Methodism was born the 17th June 1703 in Epworth, England.  His father was Samuel (Anglican Minister) and the mother was Susannah.  He was the 13th child (out of 19).  Each of the children had a special time each week alone with their mother during which their spiritual education was encouraged.

–          John was miraculously rescued from a burning rectory at an age of 5 and a half years, he often referred to himself as a “brand plucked from the burning—“(Zech 3:2).

–          He enrolled to ChristChurchCollege in Oxford University in 1720, where he obtained a BA in 1724.  He came from a very poor family, his friends often helped to pay his fees.

–          He was ordained into the ministry in He was ordained into the ministry in September 1725 following his mother’s encouragement.  While at Oxford, he underwent “religious conversion” with strong emphasis on good works and self denial.  He realized his previous lack of understanding of the evangelical faith or salvation and foundation of repentance.

–          Sally Kirkham was the main influence on his conversion, through literature and the discussions they shared.

–          In 1730, after three years ministering in rural towns, John returned to Oxford and joined hands with his brother Charles (and few other students) to form a small group called the “Holy Club”.  The aim was to help each other take their studies seriously, but expanded to include Bible study, weekly communion, obedience to church orders, prayer and visiting the sick, poor and the prisons.  Other students made fun of the Holy Club and gave them nicknames like “Bible-moths”, “enthusiasts” and “Methodists”.

–          The “Methodist” nickname came from their being strict with their time and order of doing things i.e. methodical.

–          In 1735, he was invited to Georgia (American Colony) as minister by a friend, his ministry was however a failure.

–          On Pentecost Sunday in 1738, his brother Charles (also an Anglican Priest) experienced conversion, and three days later on 24 May, John felt a “strange heart-warming experience, in Aldersgate Street where one was reading Luther preface of the Epistle to the Romans.  He felt he trusted Christ and him alone for His salvation.

–          He celebrated the special day in worship with his young brother Charles.

–          In 1739, John and Charles began to preach out-doors, a move the Anglican Church referred to as “wild enthusiasm” and closed their doors on them.

–          The Message of the revival was simple and clear:

I.  Salvation is by faith alone.

II. Assurance (of salvation)

III. Christian perfection

IV. Social awareness

–          The hymns of the Revival were written during that period; Charles Wesley wrote over 3000 hymns, 150 of these are found in our English hymn book.

–          John Wesley was a genius as far as organization is concerned.  When people responded to his “Societies” of the new Christians were formed in each place, each with their own leadership and organization.  Somehow the nickname “Methodist” became attached to these new “Societies”.  He always regarded these as Revival movements within the Anglican Church.  Members were encouraged to worship regularly and take communion at their local church.

–          In 1740, John Wesley started working with smaller groups within Societies called “classes”.  The purpose was collection of money to pay for a new chapel at Bristol, but leaders expanded them to provide pastoral care.  Bible study prayers, church discipline and communion teachings in class meetings saw Methodists growing in faith.

–          By 1742, he started training local preachers to hold and maintain the work in the local societies.  He traveled extensively on horseback preaching over 1000 a year for the 40 years of his ministry, he encountered active opposition from the Anglican Church of the time.

–          It was never Wesley’s intention that Methodism should separate from the Church of England (Anglican Church).  He referred to Methodism as ”raised up by God to spread scriptural holiness throughout the land.”

–          John Wesley died on the 2nd of March 1791 (aged 87).  Some of his last words were, “The best of all is that God is with us”.  Both John and Charles lived and died as Anglican priests.

–          In 1795, Methodism broke away from the Anglicans and allowed for its own ordination and the administration of the sacraments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHURCH STRUCTURE

 

The name of our church is the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, MCSA.  Central City mission Yase Thekwini (circuit 704) falls under the Natal Coast District (District 07).  The MethodistChurch of Southern Africa operates in six countries of the subcontinent-Botswana; Lesotho; Mozambique; Namibia; South Africa and Swaziland.  The current “formal” membership totals in excess of 500 000.

 

1.                Methodist Connexional Office (MCO)

Head Office of MCSA is in Johannesburg; MCO (financial dept.) in Durban, Musgrave.  The Presiding Bishop Ziphozihle  Siwa (successor to Ivan Abrahams) is the chairperson of the connexional executive.  His office is in the Church House in Gauteng.

The Connexional executive is the most powerful decision maker between conferences, which is held every 3 years (triennial).  The conference is the highest body of the MCSA and is made up of representatives of the Districts.

 

The MCO is the administrative body of the MCSA, its objectives are:

à         Caring for ministerial staff and their families;

à         Effectively administering connexional funds in accordance with missionary imperatives in an accountable and responsible manner.

à         Offering administrative and financial facilities and resources to the church.

à         Initiating financial resources for mission growth and development.

The MCO is made up of 14 districts:

à         01 Cape of Good Hope;

à         02 Grahams town;

à         03 Queenstown;

à         04 Namibia;

à         05 Kimberley and Bloemfontein;

à         06 Northern Free State and Lesotho;

à         07 Natal Coastal;

à         08 Natal West;

à         09 Central District;

à         10 Highveld and Swaziland;

à         11 Limpopo;

à         12 Mozambique;

à         13Clarkebury;

à         Connexional Departments and chaplaincies.

 

–          The World Methodist connexion (council) is a consultative body that links autonomous conferences if the Methodist church worldwide.

2.            District

The 14 districts of MCSA are each led by their own Bishop; the two districts in Kwazulu-Natal namely are the Natal Coast and Natal West.  Our Bishop in the Natal Coast is Bishop Mike Voster, who also chairs the District Executive and the Synod, manages the district and serves as a link between the MCO and the District.  The term of office of the Bishop shall be three years, renewable up to maximum of three times and Bishops are not ordained in the MCSA.

The current ministry of the Bishops:

A Bishop is an ordained minister who has been chosen by the Church to exercise a ministry of oversight and to be the focus of unity for the Church in a particular area of the Connexion called a District.  The word for Bishop is “episcopes” which means “overseer” (1 Tim 3:1-7), 1Peter 2:25, Phil 1:1, Acts 20:28).  This can also be seen as an aspect of the ministry of oversight exercised by the Apostles which includes:

  • spiritual leadership
  • mission leadership
  • the enabling and empowering of both lay and ordained ministry, and
  • Pastoral care of the Church.

Their ministry is always exercised under the Lordship of Christ, who is the true Bishop (1Peter 2:25).  In the MCSA, Bishops are inducted by the Church with prayer of laying on the hands and not ordained into this ministry; therefore, they do not retain the title when they no longer hold office.  It is not about status or the abuse of power, but has at its heart the same spirit of humility and servant-leadership which Jesus expects in all forms of Christian ministry.

A Synod is an annual special meeting held in each and every District, whose chief function is to provide spiritual direction and inspiration for the District.  It comprises the following ministries and lay members who reside in the District, such lay members having been members of the Church in good standing for at least the past 2 years.  One representative come from each Mission group appointed by the Synod, one circuit steward from each circuit and three other representatives of each Circuit.

The following are the functions of the Synod:

à         To provide spiritual leadership for the District, applying the lead provided by the Conference;

à         To determine mission priorities and activities in the district;

à         To allocate resources and provide material and other assistance to the circuits;

à         To consider and deal with the matters contained in the order of Business for Synods, subject always to the decisions of the Connexional Executive;

à         To enquire into the disciplinary behaviour of all ministers on the District;

à         Administration of the District and implementation of matters referred to by the Conference or Connexional Executive;

à         To determine circuit boundaries, divide or unite circuits and establish new circuits.

District executive hold office for one year from the rising of Synod and are eligible for re-election.  The following are ex officio members: Bishop; vice-chairperson (full-time minister of a circuit); District secretary; Statistical Secretary and Treasurer of the District.

A District is made up of a variable number of circuits.

 

3.            Circuits

Each circuit has a chairperson, superintendent minister.

The circuit is governed by the circuit quarterly meeting which has jurisdiction in both spiritual and material matters over the societies in the circuit.  Quarterly meeting (circuit and society leaders meeting) makes resolution of all decisions taken by circuit executive.

 

Circuit Management (executive) consists of the Ministers, Probationers, Supernumerary ministers, Deacons, Bible women and Evangelists, Circuit stewards, Society stewards, Circuit secretary (Lay member of the church), Circuit Treasurer.  Duly appointed leaders of all Classes (“abakhokheli”), junior classes, representatives of Local preachers, Circuit Women’s’ Manyano, Young Men’s’ Guild, Young Women’s’ Manyano, Women’s’ Auxiliary/ Association, and the Wesley Guild are members of the circuit quarterly meeting.

 

Minister conducts church services, trains and supervises lay preachers, conducts special services like Baptism / Holy Communion / Funerals / Weddings / Confirmation of new church members and organization members / gives pastoral care, and presides over church organizations.

 

Each circuit / society collects the mission fund (RONA) yearly and submits to MCO.

  1. 4.       Society

à         The Chairperson of each Society is the Superintendent of the Circuit with Society Steward deputizing.

à         Each Society consists of the congregation, classes (irhamente) and the leaders.

à         The Society supports its minister, their building and fellowship activities.

à         The Annual Society Meeting (class leaders and stewards) is the governing body of the Society, chaired by the Minister. The Society Leaders’ meeting shall be held as / and when the occasion demands, to oversee the life and mission of the Society and minister and the affairs of the Society.

 

  1. 5.       Class (Irhamente)

à         The MethodistChurch is made up of congregational members, some of

à         Whom “convert” to be the followers of Christ and will bring their names forward and become full members.

à         They are divided into small groups of about 12 and form a class. A class is a fellowship of believers ( Acts 2:42 )

Each class has its own leader who: Represents members in the leaders meeting

à         Keeps the class register

à         Collects tithing for the church and the needy

à         Organizes spiritual and social group events

à         Leads the group in bible studies and special   prayers

à         Visits class members as frequently as possible in order to watch over their spiritual life

A Class leader is appointed to have spiritual oversight of class members and should be trained for such for work.

The class should meet at least once a week.

 

  1. 6.       Sunday school

à         This is an important part of the teaching about Christ in the MCSA(Bavumeleni abantwana beze kum ngokuba ubukumkani bamaZulu bobabo)

à         Sunday school takes care of the young people in church at different ages (age3-14) and stages of development.

  1. 7.       Ministers in the MCSA

a)      Bishops – The ministry of oversight ( 1Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-9)

b)      Ministers/presbyters – ministry of the word, sacraments and pastoral care(1peter 5:2-3)

c)       Deacons – ministry of service and the word ( acts 6:1-7 ; Phil 1:1 )

d)      Evangelists and Biblewoman – ministry of the word

Ministers – A candidate shall be nominated by the superintended in the quarterly meeting of the circuit in which a candidate is a member and a local preacher. The superintendent’s recommendation shall include the subjects of age, spirituality, involvement in the life and work of the church, moral character, suitability for ministry, knowledge of / and attachments of our doctrines and disciplines, health, freedom from debt, and where the candidate is married, the attitude of the spouse to being married to a minister.

All candidates sit for examinations, written and oral, provided by education for ministry and mission unit (EMMU) and the synod. Synods may examine and recommend for ordination and reception into full Connexion.

The normal course of probation is five years of which at least years shall be spent in circuit work

Probationer’s studies and work is supervised by the Circuit Superintendent and District Supervisor of Studies.

 

  1. 8.       Organisations

à         Uniformed organizations such as Women’s Manyano, Young Women’s Manyano, Young Men’s Guild, Wesley Guild, women’s Auxiliary / Association and other youth groups are concerned with social , moral and spiritual needs of people at different age groups.

à         Evangelists and Bible women are lay persons who after some training in evangelism ministry spread the word particularly in remote areas.

à         Lay Preachers are known as local preachers, they usually undergo a 2 years of training (part-time) and conduct services in the society in between visits by the minister.

  1. 9.       Print Services

The MCSA has its own publishing house in Cape Town, produces its own newspaper, The New Dimension, and many books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mission of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa

 

1.)MCSA Mission Statement: “God calls the Methodist people to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for healing and transformation”

The Methodist church believes that the sufficiency of the gospel is demonstrated by the salvation and transformation (sanctification) of all nations.

 

2.) Our Vision:  “A Christ – healed Africa for the healing of Nations”

 

3.) We believe the church is called to (six calls)

à         A deepening spirituality

à         A resolve to be guided by God’s mission

à         A rediscovery of “ every member ministry” or e priesthood of all believers

à         A commitment to be one so that the world may believe

à         A re-emphasis of servant – leadership and discernment as our model for ministry

4.) The four pillars or mission imperatives of the MSCA

The basic pointers to what is practicable and needed to be done if our mission is to be accomplished are:

  1. Spirituality
  2. Evangelism and church growth
  3. Justice , service and reconciliation
  4. Economic empowerment and development

A Spirituality: connecting to the life giving resources of faith that make for moral regeneration and becoming holy people in the world. This pillar puts emphasis on our relationship with God and with other people, which is achieved through prayer; worship; communion; bible; giving; fasting; class meetings and caring. For Deeping spirituality, circuits and societies follow programs such as classes/cells, bible studies (in groups); alpha courses; Emmaus; discipleship and retreats.

 

B. Evangelism and church growth: Evangelism means inviting people to personal faith in Christ and his gospel and to belonging in the community of faith as disciples; planting new faith communities especially in informal settlements and new urban multi-cultural congregations. The methods used are preaching; campaigns (Invited speakers – evangelists, bible woman or church organizations) and

 

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