church dispute rages on

Vusi Ndlovu

Vusi Ndlovu

The stand-off between members of the Methodist Church in Soweto and a minister has reached boiling point.

A month after the dispute began congregations in the church's six circuits still refuse to give offerings until the mini- ster, Zola Mtshiza, leaves. But Mtsiza has dug in his heels.

Bishop Paul Verryn yesterday confirmed that the problems in the Naledi, Hector Pieterson in Dobsonville, Emndeni, Moletsane, Protea and Zola circuits had not yet been resolved.

He said the church has appointed a pastoral committee to look into the matter.

"The committee has met," Verryn said. "It has made recommendations that we will implement. We still have a long way to go in resolving the matter."

The Soweto church made headlines last month when congregants protested at the Zola mission house, where Mtshiza and his family live, demanding that he should leave.

They accused him of being a dictator and mismanaging church funds.

Things came to a head when Mtshiza allegedly read a letter in which he called members of the Young Men's Guild (Amadodana AseWeseli) barbarians.

He fled when he heard that a protest against him was planned for June 1.

"We are a church," Verryn said. "Our role is to preach reconciliation. I would not like to see the priest leaving this way."