Next week on Thursday I will be presenting an academic paper on Nelson Mandela and the Methodists (particularly the Methodist Church of Southern Africa).
I have done lots of interviews, read so much, and even found a few interesting documents (like his Class / Membership card pictured here). He was a remarkable man, was formed by his African Wesleyan roots, but did move beyond 'conventional Christianity' in his later life. Will post more once the paper has been delivered.
I am pleased to let all my readers know that this article has been published in the Academic Journal, Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae (SHE). It will appear as one of the articles in the 40th Anniversary edition of the Church Historical Society of South Africa.
Please see the following link for details of the publication. It should be available in September 2014. Here is the abstract:
The death of Nelson Mandela has once again focused the spotlight on his religious convictions and faith affiliation. Numerous academics, journalists, and interested members of faith communities have asked what Mr Mandela’s faith perspective was. It is clear that faith played a part in his life and this was evidenced in the events surrounding his death and funeral. Faith leaders, and in particular Christian leaders (such as Bishop Ivan Abrahams, Bishop Zipho Siwa, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu), featured prominently in the public and private events surrounding Mr Mandela's death, memorial service and funeral. Numerous media sources reported that the Mandela family, and Nelson Mandela in particular, were members of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. The Chaplain General of the African National Congress is an ordained minister of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, which also played some part in the role accorded to the Methodist Church of Southern Africa in the public and private moments of ministry surrounding Mr Mandela’s death. This article considers Nelson Mandela’s faith biography in order to answer the following questions: Was Nelson Mandela a member of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa? What was his relationship to the church and the Christian faith? What lessons can we learn from this for the relationship between the church and the state in South Africa?
I delivered a version of this paper at the Faculdades EST international conference on Religion and the Media in Brazil on 10 September 2014. You can read some of the paper and see my powerpoint slides here if you are interested.