small town church

March 25, 2008

Most of my city friends will see my hometown, Piet Retief, as a small town. They think it small that I grew up in a town with basically one primary school, and one highschool (of course, this is a lot more complex because of the Apartheid destinction between the town and the township). Usually I see this as small myself, after 6 years in Pretoria.

But for the first 10 years of my live I grew up in an area which was really rural, in the town Nhlangano in the southers part of Swaziland. And the percentage of Afrikaner people in around the area is especially small. On Sunday I had the opportunity to preach in the small church in which I grew up. 14 people attended (excluding my family). No, not because they heard who was preaching, this is hoe attendance generally look. We stand outside and talk up to about 9:00, and then someone would say that they think everyone who is coming is here, and we will go in.

The debate is not between organ and band, since they use no instruments, I had to start singing, and then the rest will follow, but I must say this: these people really sing! The service was short, since we only sang two songs, I didn’t so a full liturgy, and I generally preach short. Afterwards they have coffee and tea, with LOTS of cake and stuff.

I must add this. The 14 people attending have all been members of the congregation when we moved away 14 years ago, except for the new kids that was born and the those that got marries into the community, one or two woman, but I just met the one. No one gets allowed into the community, you have to be born or married into the community to be a part.

Parts of what I’ve seen looks very romantic: the informal setting, everyone knowing everyone else, everyone staying behind for tea even though there is no Sunday school keeping them there. Parts of this would probably be part of how some people would see the ideal church, sometimes I would include myself with these “some people”. The little church is also a warning. Because they are so part of each other, that they don’t make room for those on the outside, that they don’t welcome the stranger. This is also a warning for the emerging conversation (see this comment on a previous post on someone’s experience of Solomon’s Porch).