'Leave us in the name of God'
"Go peacefully with the grace of God."
This is the massage members of the Methodist Church in Soweto had for their priest yesterday.
Disgruntled members from the township's six branches - Naledi, Hector Peterson (Dobsonville), Emndeni, Moletsane, Protea and Zola - gathered at the mission house in Zola to demand that their priest the Reverend Zola Mtshiza should go.
At the centre of the fallout between Mtshiza and the branches he presides over were the recent running battles between himself and the Young Men's Guild (YGM or Amadodana AseWeseli).
YMG has alleged that Mtshiza ran the church as his own entity and told the congregants that there was no democracy at the church.
The last straw was two weeks ago when he allegedly read the statement in the church in which he was responding to the YMG's complaints and referred to them as "barbarians." He then immediately suspended the YMG and all its activities.
"We were so embarrassed. He referred to members of the church as barbarians. This was said to old and respected men. It was said in the presence of the visitors. What about people who would have wanted to join the church that day?" asked church member, Anna Zwane.
YMG had accused Mtshiza of running a one-man show regarding the affairs of the church. The church also accused him of church monies that have disappeared and not accounted for.
There was no service held in all six branches as angry members converged at Zola premises, where Mtshiza occupies the mission house. They vowed there would be no church programmes until he goes.
Youth leader Mmabo Nku said there was no growth in the church under Mtshiza'a leadership.
"He crushes all the ideas we come up with," she said.
Having heard of the protest, Mtshiza and his family fled the mission house. He admitted having had problems with the YMG. He said a new church building in Protea had cost the church R900000.
He said the church had auditors who could give financial records to any member. He could not give contact details of any auditor because, he said, he had left the number at office.