TIM’S APRIL NEWSLETTER

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you well, and I hope and pray that you have had a blessed Easter time and that whatever your situation; you will have experienced, in some way the comfort, strength and peace, the presence of the crucified and risen Jesus with you! 

This Easter was our second year of having to find ways to worship and celebrate with lockdown restrictions in place and so I hope that you were able to access our online services, and that you might even have joined us in the new “walk in and walk through” format in our “Stations of the Cross” Easter programme. Thank you to all those who were involved in setting up the displays and those who assisted during Easter with Communion too. 

Please remember to make use of our website www.plettmethodist.co.za it will give you access to all our online services including those for our children and youth. You will also find Bible study material there, as well as links to our FaceBook page for all the latest news and information on our activities, as well as our banking details to enable STMC to receive your gifts and tithes. 

It has been a pleasure to hear that so many of our Connect Groups (previously called Fellowship Groups), Organisations and Mission Groups have begun to meet in person again. These groups are very cautious about keeping Covid Protocols in place but are also quietly determined to meet whenever they can to encourage one another. The weekly services at Formosa Garden Village will soon start up again – we have recently been given the permission to do so – and that is really great news indeed! 

The difficult challenges of COVID and the direct impact on church life has meant that STMC has had to reevaluate its current models for worship, ministry and teaching. The Leadership has subsequently made some changes to the style of programmes offered, and also has begun to develop new strategies to ensure STMC will not only continue with it’s work, but also grow and develop the pastoral work, ministries and mission in the best way possible going forward. There is a very clear understanding within our Leadership that STMC must be a future orientated and forward thinking church, while at the same time we must be able to nurture and deal responsibly with its current responsibilities and ministry. 

In terms of future orientated ministries – There are key age groups that will be targeted for growth and development in the next few years: the ages of 3 – 35 years old (Children, Youth and Young Adults); as well as the 35-50 year age group! STMC has a very strong and committed membership of those above the 50 year “mark” but is not strong in the age groups below 50. This has meant that while we are fairly stable at STMC in terms of our finances, and very blessed with the commitment and dedication of our people in our ministries, we are out of balance when it comes to reflecting the reality of the various age groups of the families living in our town. 

STMC must rectify this imbalance and that means new strategies, new plans, and new ways of directing our resources to make changes to meet these challenges that  must be developed and put in place. The correct use of new technology, the appointment of leaders with the correct skill sets within our church, and the empowerment of young people to step into leadership positions at STMC are strategic needs,  and of vital importance.  

One of the most obvious changes you will have experienced, and one that incorporates this future orientated strategy in our ministry, is the online worship ministry. The online ministry has become a vital and integral part of the life of our church and will not end when lockdown ends! The online ministry is now very much part of the fabric and life of our church. 

We are carefully starting up our “in person in church” services again on Sunday mornings at 09.30. Please remember that we are limited to 100 people being able to attend in church, and so we do encourage you to still rather stay at home and join us online if you can.

The online platform for our church life, while so vital, and so necessary as part of our new strategic thinking and forward planning approach, has also forced STMC to face some very painful realities and to take some difficult decisions.

Firstly, the Ministerial, Teaching and Online Teams are now governed by “deadlines” – and deadlines that are not negotiable! Wednesday’s are now set aside for recording which takes place in the recording room above the Minister’s Vestry in the church; this in turn means that the church sanctuary is not available for other worship services or meetings during these times! Please keep our Wednesday’s in your prayers – pray that all will go smoothly so that our online witness for each of our ministries will be as effective as possible.  

Secondly, the stark reality of this new model for online and in-person ministry with its time demands and scheduling pressures, coupled with the need to focus on the future of STMC and how to develop the best models for ministry going forward, has meant that the Leaders have had to deal with some very painful issues these past months with regards to our STMC staffing, and so have begun to implement some changes. I would like to, on behalf of the Leaders and Staff say a very deep and heartfelt thank you to Michelle and her committed, cheerful team of volunteers (Kathy, Ronelle, Jualette and Justin) who have faithfully ministered to the children at STMC; and would like to sincerely thank them for all their dedication and hard work over the years. The Leaders and Staff at STMC also wish Michelle all the very best with her Unisa studies and her future studies in education.  

Please pray for Emma van der Westhuizen and Peter Nel as they begin their journey and training with us at STMC as the nucleus of the developing STMC online and in-church Children’s Ministry Team. Please also pray for our Youth and Young Adults groups which meet each week and are showing some very positive and enthusiastic signs of growth. The development of the new Study Hub for STMC young people studying online will take place soon; and with that in mind, I am pleased to report that at the time of writing the new and updated WiFi infrastructure at the church has been installed which will now ensure better WiFi access and coverage on our church campus – especially for those ministries, and worship services (such as Memorial Services via Zoom) that require good internet access.

Sadly, Glenda and Linda Robertson will be leaving STMC at the end of May 2021. They have both been such a cheerful welcoming and friendly presence in the church office – and for many years too! They are relocating to Gauteng to join their family and I am sure that their new life (as Granny and Aunty!!) will be wonderful and a blessing for them. Thank you Glenda and Lindi – I am sure you will join me to wish them all the very best.  

Please pray for our Camdeboo Synod meetings that will take place from the 26-29 May 2021 (virtually via Zoom). Synod will deal with the challenges of mission and ministry faced by the Methodist churches in a vast geographical area stretching from Mossel Bay to De Aar to Colesberg to Cradock to Humnasdorp to Plett to George – including all the Methodist churches in between! 

Thank you for your faithful and ongoing generosity and financial support to the work of our church it is most gratefully, and sincerely appreciated – without your participation we could not pay our Pastors or our staff nor carry on with our ministry. 

All the very best wishes to you, 

God bless,

Tim.

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