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 Connexional Departments and chaplaincies.
– The World Methodist connexion (council) is a consultative body that links autonomous conferences if the Methodist church worldwide.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 9. Print Services
The MCSA has its own publishing house in Cape Town, produces its own newspaper, The New Dimension, and many books.