Ballito Church Plant

Christoph Weber, Durban

The Lutheran Church in Ballito uses as its profile picture on Facebook a brown cross standing amongst two waves. This image for a congregation real close to the beach is fitting not just for the holiday vibe, but rather reminding us about the foundation of our faith in the midst of the storms of life. The FELSISA has for a long time already reached out to people living in the so called Dolphin Coast. Services were held in private residences at various times and by various pastors.

In the last year or so the Mission of Lutheran Churches (MLC) was asked to investigate if they could get involved in a church plant project in Ballito. After receiving the buy in at the synodical convention for a project in Ballito, initial talks were held with the NELCSA. At the time of the convention the congregation of the NELCSA in Ballito called LCDC (Lutheran Congregation Dolphin Coast) was just closing its doors for various reasons.

It is always a sad and maybe even traumatic experience, if a congregation decides to close. The leadership of the NELCSA, MLC and FELSISA met a few times to discuss possible options of working together. In the end, it was realised by all, that our ideas of working together where not going to be compatible. So the LCDC closed as a congregation and the NELCSA has decided not to pursue a new project within this area for now.

We from the MLC and FELSISA leadership extended an invitation to the members of the now closed LCDC that we would gladly serve them if they wanted to continue worshiping in Ballito. If they at a later point would decide to join the MLC church plant in partnership with the FELSISA they would be more than welcome. Church services were started immediately in the week after the LCDC closed. So we have been worshipping on Sunday mornings since the 3rd of September at 8am. Attendance has been very pleasing with a number of LCDC members choosing to worship with us.

The MLC took over the rent of the property at 22 Sandra Road, which is part of the shopping centre near the beach (Balvista). We also hire the inventory of the church from the NELCSA. The owner of the property has been very friendly to allow us to continue the rent on a month to month basis. We are paying just less than R 25 000 a month. So we are able to “pitch” up on a Sunday morning, a care taker has cleaned the church on Saturday, everything is there, that we need for a worship service. We can offer Sunday school and “Church Coffee”. The premises could accommodate 80 – 100 people.

I need to leave after the service relatively quickly, but I still have 30-40 minutes to catch up with people and arrange for visitations during the week. On the way back to the Luther Church in Renshaw Road, we – that is my wife Sigrid, Maria our youngest daughter, who plays the keyboard, and I – try and refocus on the second service and different context of the service in Glenwood.

This MLC church plant in partnership with the FELSISA is conceptualised with a first phase of two years, to see if this project will be viable. After that period the MLC together with the FELSISA will probably call a full time missionary to the project. Some members of the previous LCDC had developed ideas, even building plans etc. for a church property and purpose built church on the outskirts of Ballito on the western side of the highway. A project like that would probably cost five million Rand. At the moment, our major cost is rent of R 300 000 per annum.

There are many reasons why people move to Ballito. The presence of a Lutheran Church makes it even more attractive, at least for Lutherans, who don’t want to miss out on Sunday service. There are young families with children, but there are also many pensioners enjoying the beautiful setting of Ballito.

On Facebook and our signage, we describe ourselves as “Christ centred, Biblical, Liturgical, Faithful”. That is our prayer, commitment and pledge as we strive to plant a Lutheran Church in Ballito, that is already affiliated to the FELSISA through the partnership with MLC, but that will hopefully (deo volente, God willing) become a new FELSISA congregation in the future.

If you are planning a holiday in the Dolphin Coast in the future, why not join us for worship? What a blessing it is to have your holiday at the beach enriched by a divine service. We hope to see you there.

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