The aim of the pastors’ convention is to discuss theological issues that have arisen in the FELSISA.
With this in mind, the pastors and vicars (and one student) of the FELSISA, came together to hold the pastors’ convention in the first week of June (30/05 – 04/06/2021). We were blessed to be able to stay at Impalabos close to Hoedspruit, where accommodation had been arranged for us. While the rest of the country was going through a very cold week, with snow even being seen on some mountain ranges, the weather at Impalabos was remarkably pleasant. Luckily, the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus regulations were such that they still allowed us to hold the convention. While almost everybody arrived on Sunday night the convention officially started on Monday afternoon.
Before beginning with the discussions, the convention started with a devotion and this together with the devotions that followed formed an integral part of the convention. It was also wonderful that we could as brothers in Christ celebrate a divine service with Holy Communion together, taking joy in our Christian community that we share with each other. Another part of the agenda was a thorough analysis of a biblical text. This allowed the participants to immerse themselves in God’s word.
While the spiritual side of the Convention was very good, the participants also discussed plans for the future. Not only topics that should be deliberated in the future but also what direction the FELSISA is going as a Church Body, especially as two pastors are approaching retirement and new students of theology are needed. Another aspect that was discussed is the state of the congregations in the FELSISA. To this end, the pastors provided “narrative reports”. These not only gave information about the congregations but also presented opportunities for the pastors to learn from each other and their differing practices. Among other topics discussed were the ecumenical guidelines of the FELSISA, stewardship, Luther’s Small Catechism, the confirmation agenda, online services, Freemasonry and the proposals for the upcoming Synod. That we were able to see so much wildlife from the conference room, made the long discussions much more enjoyable.
We were also very lucky to be able to go on game drives, not only at Impalabos, but also at the neighbouring farm. To top it all off we were served amazing food by Matthias und Christa Albers, who did not disappoint at all and kept our bellies full, one delicious meal after the next.
This convention may have its administrative uses, but it goes far beyond these, as discussions aside, the convention is also a great opportunity for the pastors to build and strengthen relationships with each other. As such the time not spent in meetings was spent in enjoying each other’s company. This convention also provides pastors with a safe place where they can tackle their own difficulties and lean on the help and support of their fellow ministers.
The pastors’ convention is truly a blessing not only for the FELSISA but especially for the pastors themselves, and I can’t wait to partake part as a full member myself one day.
Vicar Werner Straeuli