Life has become nicely settled in Uitenhage now. After nearly two weeks, I have been to a few services, met some of the stewards, found the local Spar, Pick n Pay, KFC, and "wishy-washy" (laundromat to those who don't speak Joburg South), and started to make some headway in my germ warfare against the Uitenhage Mosquito Choir.
And although I am not "officially" on duty until 31 December 2008, when I will be conducting the Watchnight service at John Street (a stunning old church building in the centre of town), I have not only assisted my Superintendent in two Communion services, but this weekend I had the privilege of conducting a funeral service (yesterday), and a morning worship (today), both at St George's (no, not the cricket ground, but I'll be there on Boxing day - watching cricket, that is, not preaching).
While I hate using racial labels, it's sometimes necessary to place a church community in its geographical context. St George's is one of the preaching places in a section of the Winterhoek Circuit referred to as the "Northern Societies", and is located in a predominantly Coloured community. The style of worship is fairly similar to what I have experienced at my former church, St Andrews in Eldorado Park, except that this community is a lot more Afrikaans-speaking than my previous one.
There is a Women's Association whose members wear what appear to be Manyano uniforms (although on closer examination there seems to be a slight difference in the white collar that goes over the red tunic, and of course the WA wears a different badge to the Manyano). Many of the men are members of the Young Mens' Guild (YMG), while in addition, the Local Preachers are members of the Local Preachers' Association. What's refreshing for me is that these members are predominantly coloured, which breaks the stereotype of these organisations within the MCSA being regarded as part of the "black MCSA". All we need now is some whiteys joining up - how about rising to the challenge, pale-faces?
Anyway, here are some pics of St George's. Others will follow shortly (when I remember to take my cellphone, that is!)
This is an old bell tower. I'm not sure when last the bell was rung, but my son needed to be physically restrained from testing it out (preachers' kids!). Perhaps I could start a tradition (similar to that in the Catholic Church in Maranello) by ringing the bell every time Lewis Hamilton wins a race in 2009?
This is the outside of the church, looking at it from the street. I didn't manage to get any pics of the inside, as I got caught up in the proceedings of the service, but the sanctuary inside is lovely. But man, is it HOT?! Especially when you are wearing a clerical shirt, black suit, AND a preaching gown, and it's over 30 degrees outside...
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