Written by webmeester on . Posted in Articles



 * The risen Lord taught His close followers for 40 days about the New Life [Kingdom] He has created for them in the world and then their response in verse 6!!  Please think very carefully; use your imagination – why did they respond this way? How are you included in their responses?

 * But Jesus clearly told them: You are totally out of line with your questions, but you will receive power. How do you understand this power?  Listen again carefully in which context is He saying this and how is it affecting them personally?   And you?

 * How do you understand it to be a witness in Jerusalem, Judea and to the ends of the world?

 * How does Jesus’ Ascension fit into His ‘power-answer’ in verse 8?

 * What else touched your heart and mind in the Ascension-story of Luke?


 * Ask the Lord for discernment to hear Him speaking to you personally in these God-stories?

 * Thank the Lord for opening your heart and ears for what His power really means to you?


* Thank God that His power changes you into a witness of Him who changes the whole world in and around you/us?

 * Thank Him that He made all of this possible in Jesus’ ascension. Celebrate it by praying Ps 47 and Ps 93 over and over?

 * Repent:  Your lust to build your own little ‘kingdom’ with the wrong power of the world. Your reluctance to be a witness of God’s “power-salvation” for everyone, all the time depending on His power!



 * Put into practice; do not hesitate to witness to everyone as Jesus commanded his followers to do. Peter the traitor did it; Paul the killer did it, remember?

 * Discuss with your friends or family how God will take you to be a witness for Him?



 Share the story of Jesus’ Ascension with your children, Tell them how it is just as important as Christmas and Easter and how important it is in your own life?

  6-11 May  2013

Conversation with Karlien Geldenhuis

“Karlien Geldenhuis in Livingstone is a straight forward person. I learn to know her this way. She is a modern young woman. She is for sure a follower of Christ. Life matters to her. She is in the media world; photography etc. And she has a sharper view on things than the average and enjoys her work. 

I want to know if the Weekly Guidelines sent out every week to help all of us to hear God’s voice from His Word perhaps more clearly, is helpful or not. Without hesitation she said: “Our small-group is not functioning well. We will talk about it again and see what we can do. But as for me the Guidelines, are not really helpful”.  Her answer is short and sweet. It is good and helpful to have parishioners like Karlien! 

Read more …

PhD program in New Testament

Written by webmeester on . Posted in News

Fakulteit Teologie

The Faculty of Theology of Stellenbosch University is offering a three-year scholarship for prospective doctoral students who wish to specialise in New Testament studies. The continuation of the scholarship of R15 000 per year, is subject to satisfactory progress in the first year. Preference will be given to applicants planning an exegetical study of the Synoptic Gospels or a critical study of the work of any contemporary New Testament scholar.

For admission to the PhD program in New Testament applicants should have Greek III or an equivalent qualification and a relevant master’s degree. Apply for doctoral studies at Stellenbosch University online at www.maties.com by 30 November 2012. To be considered for the scholarship, submit a complete CV and a one page outline of the focus of the proposed study to Dr Marius Nel at mjnel@sun.ac.za, also by 30 November 2012. Please attach a complete academic record and copies of degree certificates.

Enquiries: Dr Marius Nel, tel 021 808 9233, email mjnel@sun.ac.za

The formation of Spiritual leadership for Congregational Ministry in the Southern African Context

Written by Frederick on . Posted in English


2.    The need for a focus on the formation of spiritual leadership for congregational ministry in the SA context
In the discourse about theological training the importance of a focus on the formation of the character of the student with a focus no congregational ministry is increasing. In 1999 Robert Banks wrote: “While most seminary teachers recognize that moral and spiritual formation begins at home and congregations, and continues in other contexts alongside seminaries, and develops afterwards in various ministry settings, there is a growing concern that it must be an intentional part of seminary training, both inside and outside the classroom.” (1999, 25)
The urgency of this matter for denominations, whose students are trained at universities, is emphasised in a recent study by Marilyn Naidoo about the spiritual formation of students. She comes to the following conclusion:
On the other end of the spectrum, the institutions with the highest scores (showing lower agreement with the spiritual formation) for all five factors were the Presbyterian and Reformed. Both denominations train in a university faculty and this formational mandate may clash with the focus of critical scholarship offered at universities. This finding highlights that a university setting presents more challenges in implementing a spiritual formational mandate. It would be difficult to seek to instil a specific habitus among theology students in a university classroom where similar ecclesial backgrounds or at least shared vocational trajectories cannot be assumed. The intention of spiritual formation may also be obscured by university accreditation demands, the compartmentalization of theological disciplines and the marginalization of spirituality in the life of the university.
(An empirical study on spiritual formation at Protestant theological training institutions in South Africa, to be published in Theology and Religion)

Western Seminary in Michigan USA responded to this need with a program called Formation for Ministry. URCSA’s own policy document of 1997 about theological training, states that the purpose of theological training “…(is) to shape and equip candidates spiritually, intellectually and practically for their service in the church of Jesus Christ”. (Acta 1997:718ff) In 2008 ministry formation is mentioned explicitly: “Ministerial formation, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and for the glory of God, shapes leaders within URCSA by equipping them spiritually, intellectually and practically to serve the coming of the Kingdom of God in Southern Africa”. (P 513 of Agenda) In the comprehensive work about theological training by Charles Foster et al, one of the distinctive challenges of clergy education is viewed as “The Pedagogy of Formation” (2006, pp100-127).

There is little doubt that the formation aspects of theological training should be at the heart of a vision for denominational ministerial formation. This will be the ongoing theme and goal in the recommendations in this memorandum.
3.    The distinction between academic and denominational formation
The memorandum pleads that we retain both academic training and spiritual formation in an interdependent but creative tension with one another.

To understand this tension we need to clarify the difference in focus of academic training and denominational ministerial formation.

•    The denominational ministerial formation of students mainly focuses on the formation of spiritual leadership within the context of congregational ministry. (The proposal is that this focus is executed by a URCSA and DRC Seminary or a School of Reformed Theology.)

•    The academic training of the Faculty of Theology follows an encyclopaedic approach which offers student’s professional training in the various theological subjects (Faculty of Theology).

These two modes of training should be seen as complimentary. The academic training of the Faculty provides the “building blocks” for the formation of congregational ministers in the SA context and should be developed in synergy with the denominational formation. On the other hand the formation processes of the Seminary will contribute to enabling students to optimise their academic training. Ideally a student should simultaneously be enrolled at the Seminary for a “Diploma in Denominational Leadership Formation” and at the Faculty of Theology for academic qualifications (BTh and MDiv).

4.    Denominational formation as a Journey
a.    A formational journey with milestones:
Denominational training is the formation of spiritual leadership with a focus on congregational ministry. In this formation programme the student undertakes a “journey” with different milestones. These milestones or areas are interdependent. The journey is undertaken in a community of supportive relationships as described below. The programme will have to be measured according to the requirements of the various churches for Supplementary theological training, including for example the 100 hour directive of the URCSA:

Milestone 1: Vocational development plan

1.    Personal maturity and emotional intelligence: In the first year students complete a series of psychometric tests to improve their insight into their personal composition and to identify areas which can be developed. These insights will then be taken into formational, and if needed, therapeutic processes to build the students capacity for personal growth and enhanced emotional intelligence.

2.    Vocational formation: In their first year Students participate in a Vocation Retreat with the aim of helping them in developing a sense of vocational identity. The retreat will serve as a starting point for an ongoing journey of vocational development throughout the course of the entire programme.

3.    Spiritual formation:  All year groups annually participate in a focused program of spiritual formation in which spiritual disciplines are practised in groups under the guidance of a spiritual mentor. These 100 days of spiritual formation seasons, conclude every year with Easter. In this programme the basic faith formation habits are practised and mastered. Consideration should be given to a weekly Seminary Eucharist where students and lecturer have communion together in a shared community in the Seminary Chapel.

The personal, spiritual and vocational formation programmes of the first two years give the student the information and skills to develop a Personal Vocational Development Plan. The development and submission of the Vocational development plan is done under the guidance of the Support Committee of each student. The Personal Vocational Development Plan must be submitted and approved at the end of the second year.

Milestone 2: CREDO

1.    Identifying with reformed theology and tradition: The denominational training aims to guide students to identification with the reformed theology and a home coming in the reformed church tradition. This includes knowledge of the content and history of the four Confessions.

1.    Bible/theological integration and the formation of an own theological language suitable to the context: The Faculty is responsible for the professional academic training of students. Denominational training is focussed on the integration of this knowledge with an own “language”. Spiritual leaders must be able deliver and embody a message using their own faith and theological language. They therefore need to grasp the “plot” of the gospel” and assimilate it into a language and lifestyle.  
For this developmental aim every student writes a CREDO in which their academic knowledge is articulated in their own personal theological language. The CREDO must be submitted and approved at the end of the fourth year. The development of the CREDO is not an assignment written with reference to academic sources, it is rather an expression of student’s experience in ministry in their own personal theological language.

     Milestone 3: Personal mastery of ministry skills
Attention is continuously paid to the practise and mastery of basic ministry skills. The congregation and mentor to whom a student is connected, reports on the student’s development and mastery of basic ministry skills. The current programme of denominational training and the students’ own vocational development plan will inform the scope of these skills. It will transform the current programme of certain “weeks” for denominational training into a more continuous practise of ministry skills and into a programme of personal mastery.

       Milestone 4: Development of a new missional ministry

Contextual and missional ministry capacity: The formation of spiritual leadership also demands that students develop the ability to read their contexts with discernment and to be able to identify kingdom opportunities. This means that they will need thorough exposure to the SA context in order to develop the ability to analyse it with understanding. In the fifth and sixth years students identify a “kingdom opportunity” in the context of, and according to, this analysis. During the two years they develop this ministry in such a manner that the project can continue independently thereafter. This ministry development may not be the maintenance of an existing ministry of a congregation, but must entail the founding of a new ministry. (In the MBA environment for example students are encouraged to develop a “new start-up”) The report must be submitted and approved at the end of the sixth year for DRC students and at the end of the fifth year for URSA students. This should be viewed as the “Capstone” or closing project which concludes and integrates the formation program as at Northern Theological Seminary.

b.    The Journey of Ministerial Formation takes place in a community of supportive relationships

Formation primarily takes place in relationships of trust. In the formation of spiritual leadership the student develops the following relationships:
•    Congregations: Every student is “linked” to a congregation. Faculty service learning assignments can also be done in these congregations. The congregations provide the basic context within which the formation of spiritual leadership takes place. The Seminary negotiates with congregations to act as training congregations, much like there are teaching hospitals in medical training.
•    Mentors: Every student has a minister or church leader who acts as mentor and with whom he/she meets regularly, preferably weekly.
•    Boards of Lecturers: Lecturers serving on the Boards of Lecturers of URCSA/ DRC are linked to students.
•    Fellow students: Students support one another in support groups. These groups will also function during the 100 days of faith formation.
•    Support Committees: Every student has a support committee consisting of his or her mentor, a Faculty lecturer, a fellow student and an executive member of the Seminary. The committee meets once a term to discuss the student’s progress in terms of the milestones.

c.    Accountability of the student

Students are responsible for their own development in terms of attaining these milestones – with the support of the abovementioned relationships.

5. A Seminary for Ministerial Formation
Denominational formation should be institutionally housed in a “seminary” representing the churches’ traditions, rhythms and outcomes. The suggestion is that the “Kweekskool” be “re”-founded according to the example of the Northern Theological Seminary of the URCSA in Pretoria. This Seminary would be a church institution functioning under the supervision of the Curatoria of URCSA and the DRC and academically accredited with the Faculty of Theology as a School of Reformed Theology (for which the Faculty regulations make provision). The Seminary should be more than an administrative link between the Denomination and the students.  It must become a space of formation. The ministerial formation this memorandum envisages cannot take place in an administrative relationship with students. The students have to feel at home and safe for this formation to take place.
The Curatoria serve as governing body of the Seminary and appoint “staff” for the Seminary:
The “staff” of the Seminary can consist of the following role-players
•    The Curatoria contract with ministers in synodical service and/or congregation ministers regarding serving in the Seminary in a part-time capacity.
•    “Training congregations” are identified and contracted to serve as contexts for ministerial formation
•    Mentors are trained and contracted
•    Administrative personnel of the Curatoria render managerial and administrative  services to the Seminary
6.    Possible next steps
•    The Curatoria consider, improve and approve the memorandum as a framework for the implementation of the programme for Supplementary Denominational Training.
•    The Curatoria appoint a task team to implement the proposals with report to the Executives of the Curatoria.
•    The Seminary is founded in November  2011 at a joint meeting of the Curatoria
•    First students to enrol at the Seminary: January 2012


Banks, Robert, Reenvisioning Theological Training, Eerdmans 1999
Foster, Charles R (ed), Educating Clergy, Jossey-Bass 2006
Naidoo, Marilyn, An empirical study on spiritual formation at Protestant theological training institutions in South Africa (approved article for publication in Religion and Theology)
Western Theological Seminary, Formation for Ministry

Theology in times of transition

Written by webmeester on . Posted in Conferences

What to expect from the conference

Pat Keifert, Dirkie Smit, Nico Koopman, Russel Botman and others have been approached to deliver keynote speeches – on what we have learnt from Coenie, where we differ from him and how we should furnish future discussions. As an ongoing conversation, the conference will be structured with optimal “open” spaces for general participation in the ongoing discourse.

This is why the conference celebrting his contribution will run like a continuous, inclusive discussion. The Internationl Research Consortium – of which Coenie was a founding member – meets in Stellenbosch in January 2012, with consortium members also attending the conference. These include Pat Keifert, Pat Taylor-Ellison and Stanley Green from the USA, Michael Herbst and Martin Reppenburgh from Germany, Henk de Roest and others from Holland – all of whom have been Coenie’s international partners over more than a decade.

Your contribution to the conference

We have devised the following overview to stimulate your ideas on a possible contribution to the conference. Coenie’s outputs cannot be encapsulated under a single theme or area. From starting as a rural minister he became the minister for students at Stellenbosch, and went on to occupy various offices in leadership positions in the church, including that of moderator of the Western Cape and the General Synod. He was also the director of Bucter, presently Ekklesia. He was an active force in the ecumenics of post-apartheid South Africa, pursued research, wrote, and perhaps more than any of his contemporaries, stimulated critical thought. The one typical feature is that his contribution belongs in a time during which our country was engaged in profound transformation. His work started in the late seventies, continued through the tempestuous eighties, the transformation processes of the nineties to reach the era of post-apartheid South Africa with the inauguration of the new democratic dispensation. Coenie’s theological reflection always occurred within the context of times of transition.

The list of topics on which Coenie has reflected is almost endless. He did his initial research on pastoral theology and his doctoral work in Homiletics. As a practical theologian he always had a keen interest in Systematic and Biblical Theology. Many South African pastors value him most for his extensive work in “Woord teen die Lig” (a series of preaching guides) and later, the Lectionary. In the middle of his career he started publishing in the field of congregational studies – always leaning toward a theological interpretation of congregations, even when sociological analyses were holding sway. Additionally he contributed in the fields of church planting, leadership, theological education, poverty, definitions of office, adult education, etc., always hovering on the cutting edge between church and academic reflection.

While Coenie’s interest in issues of transformation and renewal is legendary, he also did much research on re-interpreting the reformed tradition. As the confirmed church leader his unquenched passion for church unity has rendered him one of the most influential ecumenical leaders in South Africa. He is currently director of Ekklesia, an ecumenical centre for leadership development and research at Stellenbosch University.

Items from this list of themes and contexts might strike you as topics which you would like to pursue in further discussion with Coenie and friends. Kindly submit your topic together with your subscription, and prepare an introduction of 5 to 10 minutes to initiate a discussion.

Themes already submitted to us, include the following:

  • •An inclusive Missional reading of the Bible
  • •Church planting as a challenge within mainstream churches
  • •The Legacy of David Bosch
  • •Creating a culture of discernment in a congregation
  • •Leadership
  • •Ethnographic research
  • Theological Education and Ministerial Formation

We hope you will be able to attend the conference and invite you to submit topics on which you would like to contribute to the conference.

Kind regards

Frederick Marais

Manager – Communitas

13 December 2011

Communitas.co.za in English

Written by webmeester on . Posted in English

We have embark on a process of making our content available in English.  At present it is only a number of the main articles and relevant news from Communitas, as well as some of our conferences and courses that will be mainly in English

M Th Practical Theology US

Written by Frederick on . Posted in News

The Faculty of Theology of Stellenbosch are pleased to announce a modular M Th in Practical Theology for 2011. The course will focus on the building of missional and ministerial leadership capacity. Research done in congregations of the Partnership for Missional Churches in Southern Africa (SAPMC) over the past six years, inspires the focus and content of the different modules. The course has served as a learning community for pastors and congregational leaders who want to build their missional and ministerial leadership capacity. The lecturers are faculty members of the Faculty of Theology and accredited research fellows. One of the co-presenters is a lecturer at Stellenbosch University Business School (USB).

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Lausanne 3 impressions

Written by Frederick on . Posted in Conferences


Jurgens Hendriks

The eight days at Lausanne 3 touched me intensely. It was a profound spiritual experience with a multitude of information and deep emotional fellowship. However, this will be a superficial answer. It was more.

Lausanne 3 epitomized a new era. We are in a ‘post’- time. In South Africa we are in a post-apartheid era. When the Berlin wall came down on 9-11-1989, it was more than just a wall that came down. Post 9/11 introduced Americans to the real world. It is also a post-triumphalism time. Super-hero’s, super-preachers and super-theologians who know it all are simply no longer for sale.

We were in a conference centre with 4200 people from 198 countries listening in 28 languages while 600 centres worldwide were simultaneously attending! One experiences the reality of the information era and globalization. Google Lausanne 3 and you will see! In the meantime Chinese hackers were trying to congest the bandwidth and the organizers had a hard time in getting it open again. The reality of a ‘post’ era was no longer a futuristic game… We were requested not to take photos of attendees with blue stickers on their name tags nor use their names in internet messages. Their lives were at stake.   

This new era is acutely influencing the church and theology. As a South African I first experienced it intuitively. The contrast between, for instance, Lausanne 3 and the 1982 DRC General Synod meeting came to my mind. Lausanne was constructed bottom-up, listening to many voices, with openness in my mind. The 1982 Synod was top down in communication style and trying to manipulate and keep in line. The contrast was even clearer by comparing it with how the stage was used at Lausanne – it reflected diversity.  Contrasting pictures came to my mind of a very confident preacher telling the silent subdued congregation what was sinful and what was not. The pulpit had an embroidered cloth… “Thus sayeth the Lord”. This was not the case at Lausanne – even when some tried the take that gap!

There were a few grey-heads who thought they knew it all. However, they were the exceptions and, on the positive side, they helped one to see the contrast. Many voices from many places shared, told stories; women and men. Nobody tried to manipulate the audience. The typical rational academic theology was largely overshadowed by the authenticity of those who shared from the heart and experience. The testimonies of the power of the Bible and Spirit to sustain the faithful in the most trying of circumstances gripped everybody every day. The perseverance of the saints was suddenly stories of real people. Tears were real too.  The injustice suffered by so many of our brothers and sisters is heartbreaking. Suddenly evangelism was portrayed not as a method but as a lifestyle in which the cross was clearly visible.

The way the conference was structured exemplified? the new era. For table discussion we were seated six diverse people to a table, 700 tables in total. Morning sessions were in the big conference centre with its astonishing technology. The first 1¾ hour was “Celebrating the Bible.” Ephesians was our text, divided into six themes that flowed from the text: truth, reconciliation, world faiths, priority, integrity and partnership. We dwelled in the Word, gave feedback of our table discussion and views, listened to testimonies and presentations, looked at video’s and performing art presentations. By 13h00 we reported back again. During the afternoon session one could attend one of four presentations / discussions related to the theme of the day, and that was followed, after tea, by small group dialogue sessions, regional gatherings or special interest group sessions. Music, song and prayer meetings were always available. The evening sessions were all labelled “God at work in the world through his church”, followed by a late night film session.

The fellowship we had at our table was to me the most precious of the meeting: Bethany was from Washington DC (with her baby) working for a justice mission. Philippa from London working for the Tearfund, Farri came from Iran. His family lost 17 members since the 1979 revolution. He is at the head of about  3500 growing house churches. Jack, from Jerusalem, converted Palestinian Muslim, pastoring a congregation of ex-Muslim Palestinians. Having been imprisoned by the Israelis seven times, he put violence aside after discovering the gospel. The third Arab was Fouad from Cairo, Egypt. Businessman, electronic engineer who learned to discern what want God wants him to do and is now involved in a wide range of Christian ministries. Six perspectives on Ephesians, six views on what was happening in the world and, for me, a learning experience about the Arab world and the Muslim religion.

The reality of the missio Dei was overwhelming. God is at work, in many places all over the world. It happens “bottom up”. We have listened to testimonies of the mighty deeds of the triune God taking place at the fringes of societies. Humility, integrity and simplicity are becoming the marks of a true church. I heard “mission” more often than “evangelism”. Honest introspection was done; there was brokenness over the disunity in the church, false motives and the prosperity cult. The economic and political systems and powers that lead to poverty, misery and injustice was a reality. The key role of women was acknowledged and the gender issue handled with integrity. Dogmatic fights were avoided. The time of missionaries going from the “developed” world to wherever is phasing out. Mission is from everywhere to everywhere. The church is no longer linked to buildings and institutions or theology to an academic world. The true church is moving across boundaries, it is where there is injustice and pain, where “the other” needs a neighbour. I think the cross is again becoming centre stage in many arenas around the world. It is a sign of pain and struggle, but it brings peace and is announced and discovered as being the gospel, good news!