What do we as a church have that we can meaningfully share with our community? We have often asked ourselves this question.
Every year during the Advent season we share a piece of German culture with our city, and our Christmas market has become an integral part of the Newcastle calendar. The Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Newcastle has a large plot of land, with plenty of space and a beautiful view of the mountains. An ideal place for a kindergarten!
From other churches we have already learned what a blessing children’s ministry can be for a church. We have also offered several successful children’s holiday programs as a church. For Christmas Eve, for example, the church was packed – we had rehearsed a nativity play as part of our holiday program, and many families of the performers attended the service together.
The kindergarten is still under construction – donations from America (for the equipping of the kindergarten) have already arrived, the congregation is financing the construction work with R 550 000 and the FELSISA with an additional R 150 000. The construction work should be completed in March. In the meantime, we have set up a small classroom in the church building, and there the first kindergarten day began on Monday, the 20th of January! St Martin’s Kindergarten should become a place where children can play and learn, hear biblical stories and pray in a Christian environment. On Wednesday the pastor will hold devotions with children and teachers and invite families to our services. The children of St Martin’s Village (also a project of our church) can attend the kindergarten and are thus integrated into the community.
We have started the construction work, trusting that this important work will find further support. We need financial support, especially for our St Martin’s Village children – in the form of “godparents,” who could pay the monthly school fees of about R 1 500 for one child to cover expenses such as teacher’s salary, especially in the first year. In the long term, the kindergarten should be supported by contributions from “external” children.
Every day here in Hutten Heights, Newcastle, we have the opportunity to raise our eyes to the mountains (according to Psalm 121). And indeed, we receive help from the Lord again and again – competent, experienced, Christian and committed teaching staff, fresh confidence in a fruitful and blessed children’s ministry, and happy children on the first day of St Martin’s Kindergarten. We thank God for this and trust in His help for the future.
Dr. Liesel Beneke, Newcastle