Today a new era dawned in my ministry and working life - on the 2nd of January 2014 I arrived at Stellenbosch University at around 7.50am to move into my new office in the Faculty of Theology.
Yesterday my appointment as Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology and Ethics (with a focus on Public Theology) came into effect! I am truly grateful for this magnificent opportunity to serve the Church and society in the academy!
I am so excited about what the future holds in this new post! For some years I have been attached to the faculty as a staff member in Ekklesia (the Center for Leadership and Congregational) - however, this new post is as a full time academic with both undergraduate and post graduate teaching and research responsibilities.
I will be teaching Ethics and Systematic Theology and will have a particular focus on the Church's role in the various 'public' spaces of society (politics, economics, health care, education, the arts and many others). This is where most of my attention and energy has been focussed in the last decades. The Unashamedly Ethical and EXPOSED 'Shining a light on corruption' campaigns have aimed at precisely this, to support and empower the Church for making a positive contribution to the transformation of the nation and the world.
So, today I moved my stuff from my 'old office' in the Ekklesia side of the faculty building into the 'faculty' side of the building (which is pictured above - I took this photo about three years ago. Isn't it a beautiful building?) Each of the departments are clustered together, and I am in the section for Systematic Theology, Church History, Ethics and Ecclesiology. It is a beautiful sunny office with rows and rows of book shelves and lots of wood - befitting the historical look of the Kweekskool buildings.
My prayer for this new sesion in my ministry is that I will have an opportunity to serve both the Church and the nation in developing critical though and ideas, useful tools, and well trained people who can bring about transformation and the renewal of society for the sake of justice and grace.
I am inspired by the following quote from a speech that former President Nelson Mandela gave at the Methodist Conference in Umtata on 18 September 1994:
One cannot over-emphasise the contribution that the religious community made particularly in ensuring that our transition achieves the desired result. The spirit of reconciliation and the goodwill within the nation can, to a great measure, be attributed to the moral and spiritual interventions of the religious community.
Now that a major part of the journey towards democracy has been traversed, new and more difficult tasks lie ahead of us. For, political democracy will be empty and meaningless, if the misery of the majority of the people is not addressed.
The Church, like all other institutions of civil society, must help all South Africans to rise to the challenge of freedom. As South Africa moves from resistance to reconstruction and from confrontation to reconciliation, the energy that was once dedicated to breaking apartheid must be harnessed to the task of building the nation.
I would appreciate your prayers for me, and of course also for Megie, Courtney and Liam, as this new phase in our lives takes shape.
I will remain the Chairman of the Board of 'EXPOSED - Shining a light on corruption' as our team works towards the G20 meetings in Australia in November 2014. In addition to that I will also serve on one or two other boards (Unashamedly Ethical, the Power Group Charitable Trust, Half Time and Alpha).