The 33rd Session of the 19th Episcopal District Lay Organization Convention convened at Umlazi Grace AME Church, a newly built church with a capacity of 500 seats, September 22-24, 2017. It is a traditional date for the event every year, which also marks Heritage Weekend in South Africa. Due to unforeseen weather challenges, the hosts had to move the event to the coastal city of Durban (Ethekwini), where a record 420 delegates registered and participated in the deliberations of the Convention.
This being an election year, the 19th District was favoured to have the newly-elected connectional president, Sister Valerie Gary Bell and her spouse, Donald, in attendance. This was the very first stop and official duty of the new connectional president, signalling her commitment to the Connection as she crossed the Atlantic to the 19th District just a month and few days after assuming presidential duties.
The 19th Episcopal District has adopted a pre-registration system for all delegates by their annual conference to allow for t effective and seamless business approach that saves unnecessary delays. The Convention started promptly with delegates arriving in numbers ready for a spirit-filled event.
The Opening Worship Service saw the Rev. NI Nyathi from the Natal Annual Conference ascend the pulpit, with Scriptures read from Exodus 3:20 and Isaiah 40:8. He presented his sermon with the subject, “What is your Excuse?”
The better half of the day was dedicated to business sessions, with the reading of the Executive Board, Strategy, and the Director of Lay Activities reports. On Saturday, delegates started the day with a Memorial Service celebrating the lives of those now gone but also recollecting, remembering, and paying tribute to those who served the 19th Episcopal District Lay Organization (NEDLO) with distinction. The eulogy was delivered by the Rev. GW Maseko, also from the Natal Annual Conference, who read from Revelations 2:10. His subject was “Be faithful.” It is hoped that the Memorial Service brought a sense of closure to the void that the bereaved feel emanating from their loss.
The Connectional Lay Organization president and spouse were welcomed with singing and dancing the African way. She was so overwhelmed that by Sunday morning service, her tears were empty. She took the podium on Saturday and gave positive comments and reflections on her immediate experience and took a leaf out of the way the 19th Episcopal District conducted its business.
The time for elections arrived, which was her first to preside over since her election as the CLO President. She was moved and impressed by the excellent Nominating Committee report and work led by its chairperson, Brother Kgosi Monaisa, the former 19th Episcopal District president between 2009 and 2013.
All candidates were uncontested and the CLO President took a voice vote on each of the candidates. Each was elected each by unanimous consent. Brother Lesiba Sekoala, from the MM Mokone Annual Conference, was elected president and Sister Seipati More was elected the Director of Lay Activities for next four years.
The Sunday Worship Service started with the installation of the newly-elected officers by the 121st elected and consecrated bishop of the 19th Episcopal District, the Rt. Rev. Paul Jones Mulenga Kawimbe. This allowed the CLO President and spouse to leave for their flight back to the USA but not before she was honoured with an award for gracing the 19th Episcopal District as her first official stop on her official duties. She was also awarded the Freedom of the 19th Episcopal District by the presiding prelate and supervisor, Dr. LM Kawimbe. All that started well, ended well. All delegates returned to their different destinations safe and sound. Praise be to God!
Photos provided by the 19th Episcopal District Lay Organization