Established by resolution of the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Natal
Challenge The Diocese of Natal is facing a number of unprecedented challenges, with our finances in particular, under increasing pressure. There may be a number of reasons for this situation, but significant amongst them is the fact that many of our suburban churches find themselves impacted by changing patterns of attendance and a rise in the average age of parishioners. Parishes that were once in a position to generously and sacrificially support Diocesan finances are no longer in a position to do so. Likewise, but for different reasons, many of our rural parishes continue to struggle with financial viability in the face of imperfect infrastructure, often vast distances over which ministry must be conducted, and the limited availability of resources for ministry (human and otherwise).
Question: What challenges are faced in your parish?
Need : These challenges within our denomination, play out against the backdrop of local communities influx. Rapid change in some, slow decay in others. In some communities, still bearing the scars of our nation’s history, change has not come quickly enough. Poverty, deprivation and exclusion remain and the temptation to turn to ever more radical voices for apparent solutions is real. For others, change is proving difficult and has left residents feeling insecure and fearful; the temptation is to move ever further apart, to build bigger and higher walls. And everywhere, symptoms of our hurting nation appear as a plague of crime, corruption, violence, depression, abuse and addiction. Jesus looked at the crowd with compassion. There before him were people with a range of needs, some material and some spiritual, and he brought relief to them as only he could. But he also recognised their primary source of need and vulnerability in describing them as “sheep without a shepherd”. As we look at our communities, the parallels are obvious, with many desperately searching for competent and compassionate leadership and a new hope for the future.
Question: What challenges are faced in your community?
Opportunity : Our challenges as a Diocese come at a moment of great opportunity, a time when the church needs to find its voice for the sake of the communities in which we are rooted. People, both rural and urban, need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ the Great Shepherd, shared with new vitality and creativity, and to experience the personal transformation that is only found in relationship with him. And of huge importance in our hurting land, people also need to experience the joy and hope that may be found in belonging to the Loving Community of the Church - together with a new sense of purpose and fulfilment as the church works together in unity to meets needs and establish God’s Kingdom and its values in the wider community.
Question: What opportunities exist for your parish?
Solution : God has given our Diocese a vision. Our task is to ensure that the vision is fully resourced and that we are working towards its realisation. Our starting point must be faith-filled listening and obedience, asking for God’s guidance and wisdom as we work to overcome our challenges. But in doing so, we also have an opportunity to ask the difficult questions: to challenge our structures, our attitudes and our spirituality. Leadership will be absolutely key and courageous decisions may need to be made. The goal is not just to make our system of Assessment more fair and efficient, or to balance the books, but to shape a church that will be effective in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Revd Archdeacon Chris Meyer
My name is Barnabas Sibusiso Nqindi, rector of St Barnabas-Bluff. I enjoy a good debate and I love to see people grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ