TrevorPastor Russell Viljoen from Ebenezer led a time of sharing the Word and Prayer? He shared with us about being the salt and light in our city and encouraged us not to lose our saltiness.

We continued our conversation from 11 September 2014. After a general discussion we decided to implement the following suggestions:

1. The group continues to use the “Media Liaison Team” to issue statements on behalf of the leadership as opposed to using a single spokesperson (We would liaise with the current 6 members of the team to confirm their ongoing availability).

2. A functional leadership approach would be implemented to assist the group to be more effective (Leaders showing a calling, or natural aptitude and skill in specified priority areas would be approached to take the lead on behalf of the group and engage with the relevant authorities i.e. Dept of Education). Members of the group would be encouraged to serve on one of the currently identified portfolios of education, health, corruption, service delivery and employment. It was suggested that the media liaison team initiate the approach.

3. To address the problem of decisions not reaching all the pastors represented by the leadership group it was decided to develop a communication strategy, utilizing technology, to ensure that the entire NM Bay was aware of positions being taken by their Church Leaders. We would explore different options such as face book etc. It is desirable that the group remains in touch with all the pastors in the city by furnishing them with regular messages (e-mails & sms’s) of encouragement. We need to stay connected with as many domains in our city as possible.

4. Suitable people would be approached to assist with note taking and following up of progress on decisions made by the group (administration & secretarial). TCN would be happy to continue facilitating these meetings.

5. Russell Viljoen updated the meeting on the decision made by the Dept of Education on developments at schools with teacher shortages. School Governing Bodies are not happy and he feared that the department’s decision would lead to boycotts and eventually unrest.  Neville Goldman has been requested by the Chairperson of the Northern Areas Association of School Governing Bodies to take the lead. Neville is encouraging the learners and teachers in the Northern areas not to miss school but to allow civil society to take up their fight on their behalf. He expects a hostile attitude towards the Dept of Education to start spilling over to other parts of the Bay (I was told on Saturday morning, while supporting Father’s House JUST1HR launch at KwaFord, that the Northern Areas and New Brighton  Associations of School Governing Bodies are planning a joint meeting to discuss the above at the beginning of the next school term).

Note: After the meeting a delegation of leaders met with a number of local government politicians to discuss the most burning issues affecting our city. We pledged our support to assist politicians of all parties who shared common values and objectives. The objective of the meeting was to investigate how the Church could play a more effective role in influencing some of the outcomes of these challenges.

The key issues currently facing our city are: IPTS budgeted a R1bn, spent R1.89bn already and still need another similar amount for working capital; corruption; electricity and water losses; unqualified staff in senior positions; the need for qualified staff in all positions; housing/RDP houses/bucket system; roads, street lights and illegal dumping (the above results in major service delivery problems; water loses alone are costing us R232m; some municipalities are already experiencing breakdowns in their infrastructure which is caused by a lack of effective maintenance). There appears to be a huge ego problem – not willing to admit that the council have made mistakes and a reluctance to accept that your first loss is your best loss.

The Church needs to ensure that its voice is heard regularly on these bread and butter issues affecting its congregants, especially the poor. It was suggested that we peruse different avenues of working together with all sectors of our city who shared common goals and values.

We will follow up a number of options the Church could utilize to be more effective in influencing outcomes in the above areas (We are liaising with the SA Cities Network to assist us to empower our leadership group to interact effectively with our politicians on a local, provincial and national level).

The next Church Leaders meeting will be held on Thursday, 13 November 2014.

Trevor Jennings

On behalf of the Church Leadership Group