Protest over sermons, language

Dan Fuphe

Dan Fuphe

There was drama at the Central Methodist Church in KwaThema, Springs, when a group of disgruntled members stormed the church in a bid to disrupt the proceedings of the resident priest.

The dissident group numbered about 70 and was made up mostly of unconventional members. Among them was Sheila Masebeni who last week told Sowetan that they were unhappy with the way the new pastor, Smadz Matsepe, was conducting his sermons.

She alleged that since Reverend Matsepe's appointment, there has been a shift from the traditional African Methodist way of worship in favour of the charismatic style of worship.

The group further accused Matsepe of using what they said was inappropriate and improper language during church services, regardless of the age group of congregants.

They said this goes against the established practice of Methodist Church worship that they once enjoyed.

"Priority is given to the youth and the elderly are neglected. Matsepe says that a church with the elderly is a dying church," the group said in a statement sent to Sowetan and signed by AM Maphephen and S Radebe.

But contrary to these allegations and claims that church members were leaving in droves, yesterday's service was attended by more than 600 worshippers.

It was held to end the congregation's week-long fasting, the first ever by members of the Methodist Church, about 430 of whom participated in holy communion.

Earlier, in anticipation of the invasion by the dissident group, Matsepe told those present not to be intimidated by outside forces and read from 2 Chronicles Chapter 20 verses 1-21.

In it Jahaziel said in part: " Do not be afraid and discouraged by this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. Go out and face them tomorrow and the Lord will be with you."

Contacted for comment, Masebeni said the split was healthy because it meant Matsepe would allocate equal time to both the traditional and the new approach for the youth.