Rev. Gaborone P Lesito, 19th District TCR Field Representative
Mrs. Kelebogile Patience Olyn, WMS 3rd Vice President, 19th District
The Connectional Church stood in awe as we witnessed the 20th Episcopal District’s descent on the soil of Africa for a connectional meeting. So you ask, “What’s the fuss?” Well, unless history records otherwise, this was first ever (not 3rd or 24th) connectional meeting hosted on the shores of Africa.
The 19th Episcopal District, under the leadership of the Rt. Rev. Bishop Paul Jones Mulenga Kawimbe and Supervisor Dr. Lister M. Kawimbe enjoyed the privilege of making history when they hosted this illustrious Young Adult Members (YAM) Summit from May 11-14, 2017 at the Birchwood Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa. Praise and honour be to God for this momentous event, where young and seasoned women of the African Methodist Episcopal Church came together. There were 387 members from districts 14-20 and 260 from districts 1-13.
The main purpose of this event was to ensure that the platform is made strong, flawless, and endorsed for WMS young members to explore their talents and skills within the organisation. African Methodist women gathered to praise and worship God, reflect on effectively including and preparing YAMs for missionary work, do social action, and make memorable sisterly connections across the Connection.
Directed by the capable leadership of the Connectional WMS President, Dr. Shirley Cason Reed, the Summit opened with an electrifying worship service led by the Presiding Prelate of the 18th District, Bishop Stafford J.N. Wicker, who read 2 Chronicles 7:14, Mark 6:6-7, and 2 Chronicles 13:6-10. His theme was, “Called to Impact the World.”
Executive members from the connectional WMS that graced the occasion and actively participating in its proceedings included Sister Hilda Mashoba (3rd Vice President), Sister Sylvia Blake (Member-at-Large), and Sister Deborah Taylor-King (1st Vice President). Mother Lula Cleckley, the Connectional M-SWAWO+PK’s President, also attended.
Africans venerate their elderly and were therefore honoured by the presence of Dr. Bettye Allen, who at age 90, saw it proper to cross the Atlantic to be part of this significant Summit. We acknowledge the meticulous leadership of the 19th Episcopal District WMS President Ms. Makgabele Tsolanku-Molete, who saw to the effective running of the Summit with the admired support from the entire district with Sister Patience Olyn, 3rd Vice President, whose responsibility was to coordinate this historic Summit.
In keeping with its theme, “Speak Life: Unleashing His Power to IMPACT a Troubled World,” the Summit put together an array of noteworthy speakers. The Minister of Women in the Presidency of the Republic of South Africa, Ms. Susan Shabangu, invigorated women to proactively take their rightful place in society, in government, and all areas they occupy. She also shared a rich history of Charlotte Mmakgomo Mannya Maxeke, one of the 19th District’s WMS stalwarts and a role model to all women of South Africa. Sister Blessing Mpande from the 20th district followed, who spoke on the topic, “Speak loud! Create in me a clean heart-finding your passion in mission work.” She reminded us that “What we are in our heart is who we are before God!” Sister Corrie Tamlin Abrahams, Regional Director of Southern, Central, and West Africa of Operation Smile, Incorporated, highlighted the plight of cleft palates across the continent of Africa. The Summit was also packed with presentations from dynamic women across the Connectional Church. Sister Thandanani Savhasa of the 19th District was encouraging through her topic, “Speak Life! The Importance of Empowering Women to Positively Impact a Troubled World. Sharing her wisdom on “Work-Life Balance—Learning How to be an Effective Missionary,” was Ms. Deborah Taylor-King, Connectional 1st Vice President from the 10th Episcopal District. She reminded the Summit that God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called. Representing Siyazigabisa (We Pride Ourselves) Home of Hope, the beneficiary of the outreach initiative, was its CEO Ms. Gab’sile Khoza. She invigorated the audience with her spirit and enthusing topic, “Speak POWER! Working in the Power of the Holy Spirit.” The only surviving child of the late Nelson Mandela from his first marriage, Dr. Makaziwe Mandela, emphasised the significance of maintaining the legacy and standing firm in the calling.
The first day of the Summit was concluded with an outreach initiative at Siyazigabisa Home of Hope, based in the Kempton Park Township of Tembisa, which caters to orphans, abused and abandoned children, and domestic violence victims, especially women. An impressive number of mattresses, groceries, and money were donated.
One of the highlights of the Summit was the dialogue that provided a platform for YAMs to freely engage and express themselves in areas of concern. Some of their burning issues included being put on trial for induction purposes, being barred from election to office due to limited experience, rigid enforcement of rules especially regarding uniforms, and not feeling accommodated by some older members who resist change and shun their inputs. The commitment of President Cason Reed to the vision of the WMS was evident. As the panel leader, she clarified many of the burning issues and pledged to address some areas of concern through email communication.
Saturday evening was a cultural affair, set ablaze with cultural entertainment and dazzling traditional outfits. One offer was traditional music and dancing from various districts, the highlight of which was an electrifying performance by Ms. Khoza.
The closing worship service was held on Mothers’ Day. The preacher was the Rev. Fredoline J. Manganye, the pastor of Boksburg Church in Johannesburg. Her sermon was entitled, “Speak Life, Despite Your Circumstances,” was a befitting way to end the Summit on a special day celebrating mothers.
Two YAMs, Sister Matibe Eunice Matsimela and Sister Metsi Gertrude Kobe, were robed by Dr. Cason Reed with the assistance of the Host Supervisor Kawimbe and the 19th District WMS Episcopal President, Ms. Makgabele Tsolanku-Molete.
Supervisor Kawimbe acknowledges the hard work and contributions of the entire 19th District WMS, those who travelled far and near, including our esteemed VIP guests. Special thanks go to everyone who worked tirelessly to make this historical Summit a success. The people of the 19th District humbly appreciate Bishop and Supervisor Kawimbe for their leadership, support, and vision. Finally, all praise and honour go to Almighty God from whom all blessings flow.