Sunday, November 9, 2008

Worshipping in Cape Town

On Sunday morning I had the honor of worshiping with the members of the Cape Town Unitarian Church. They welcomed me with wide open arms and warm hearts to their peaceful chapel in a lovely section of this beautiful city.

This congregation has existed in Cape Town since the late 19th century, emerging out of the Dutch Reformed tradition. In addition to the Cape Town church there are three Unitarian fellowships in South Africa: in Johannesburg, Durban and Somerset West. Rev. Roux Malan, the minister of the congregation, and Rev Gordon Oliver (Rev. Malan's predecessor) are the only two Unitarian ministers in the country. But, aside from some significant demographic differences, there is a great deal that Unitarianism in S. Africa shares with UUism in the United States.

Their worship services, for example, follow a nearly identical liturgy as we do: with hymns, a chalice lighting, the sharing of joys and sorrows, a sermon and a benediction. The theological outlook of the congregation mirrors the diversity in UUA congregations as well. But, more striking similarities emerged during a conversation with members of the church's Council. This congregation, like so many of ours, is trying to develop a strategy for growth. They, like many of us, are seeking a course for creating a successful religious education program for children. They, like so many of us, are figuring out how to offer a strong and reliable social justice witness in their community. They, like our congregations, are in deep consideration about issues of Race and Reconciliation. We share a great deal, indeed.

In our conversations it also became clear that the development of a relationship between the Cape Town church and a similar church in the United States is very desirable. If you are a member of a UU church in a down-town urban setting that would enjoy a partnership of mutual support with the Cape Town Church, please contact the UUA's International Resources Office. And, remember our brothers and sisters in faith here in Cape Town and through-out S. Africa. I will never forget their generous hospitality and love.

Please enjoy these videos:


Video Excerpts from the Worship Service: