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Methodist Church marks its centenary

By Moyahabo Mabeba | 2012-04-23 08:23:44.0

LIKE the 100-year-old governing ANC the Methodist Church of Southern Africa celebrated its centenary during the 56th annual Young Men's Guild Convention at the Ngoako Ramathlodi sports complex in Seshego township outside Polokwane in Limpopo at the weekend.

The flagship event, attended by a myriad of parishes from as far as Botswana, signified the sterling role played by the church during the days of apartheid in the country.

It was during this convention that the fighting spirit embodied by the ANC's second president, Sefako Makgatho, became invigorated.

Makgatho, who led the celebrated liberation movement from 1917 to 1924, was a revered Methodist who was sent to England to pursue a BA degree in theology.

During his tenure, the movement adopted many of its insignia and slogans: the black, green and gold colours, Mayibuye iAfrika (Africa must come back) as a slogan and Nkosi Sikelel'iAfrica as its anthem.

Makgatho, founding editor of the first black newspaper Batho/Abantu in the thenTransvaal, was not only a lay preacher but also formed the Transvaal Native Congress and Transvaal Teachers Union.

With other famed Methodists Gideon Baqwa, then superintendent minister, Charles Palma and reverend John Mabona, Makgatho, who was deputy president of the South African National Native Congress in 1912, used the church to protest against racial discrimination.

Addressing a congregation of more than 4000 worshippers, Communications Minister Dinah Pule, whose tertiary education was funded by the South African Council of Churches, said the church must play an integral role in rescuing society from moral decay.

She mentioned rampant corruption as one of the factors plunging society into degeneracy.

"It is the duty of the church to to encourage the young generation to study hard instead of looking at corrupt means for self-enrichment," Pule said.

"During apartheid politics and religion came together in the search for truth, fairness and justice."

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