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A new season for Hannes & Christine

Alpha Course at St John's in 2008 with Doug Kirkpatrick. Hannes and Christine are on the right, next to Mary Jean

Today, Hannes and Christine Fehrsen shared words of farewell to St John’s. They had

previously written some of their treasured memories of being part of this community of faith. Moses’ prayer of blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 was prayed for us who remain and for the Fehrsens as they leave.

“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favour and give you His peace.”

“The 24 years we have been part of St John’s community have been very special for us,” began Hannes. “Your warm and welcoming acceptance has enabled Christine and me grow in our ministries and in our own relationship with Jesus. The recent fall of Christine and me caring for her has made us realise that we have to limit our activities and give our bodies the chance to recover and also be obedient to God’s call to join a church near to where we now live. This is a new season for us. It is not easy to say goodbye after 24 years of belonging, ministry and growth. We want to bless you St John’s for enriching our lives.


“My first experience of St John’s  was in late 1961 or early ‘62 when I was asked by the Student Christian Association (SCA) at UCT to share something of the SCA work with St John’s who were supporting SCA in their work both on and off campus at UCT. I spoke from the pulpit for about five minutes and from memory the church was over 50% full. The support in prayer and relationship was greatly appreciated. 

Hannes and Albert September demonstrate how to make palm crosses

“This was both a daunting and special experience for me and still lingers with me today, of St John’s reaching out to the community as we still do. We then joined St John’s as members in 2000 when Brian Hill was minister.”

 

Christine added her message: “During the last eight years I have discovered that God does not promise us that we will avoid suffering and difficult times, but He promises that He will be with us, guarding over and encouraging us. This is what God said to me in my difficult times: ‘The way to cope is to worship me.’ Paul urges the Colossian church to allow nothing to distract them from praying to God and giving him thanks. (Colossians 4:2). May we all learn to trust God more, to Him more and spend more time in prayer.

 

“We have many memories of prayer times at St John’s … prayer meetings, prayer workshops, conferences, sermon series on prayer. We also attended the weekly prayer meetings at the Warehouse and the monthly Parish Prayer meetings.

 

Mandla Sibeko assists Brian Hill in a baptism

“Mandla Sibeko, the chaplain at the Military Base, organised regular Prayer Walks through the Base. I have memories of him walking with his shepherd’s crook ahead of us or directing us to different areas in the Base. Binky, his wife, helped at Children’s Church.

 

“When Brian Hill was minister at St John’s, Margaret Bridgeman and I joined the weekly Staff prayer meetings on a Wednesday morning in the church. Afterwards Margaret and I often spent another hour prayer walking through the church. During school holidays Margaret sometimes came with her youngest granddaughter, Grace (Laura Milandri’s sister). Grace would be sitting somewhere on a pew or floor and play with her dolls and toys while the adults prayed.  

 

When Ben Aldous (not pictured) was Minister at St John's, a team from Port Elizabeth joined us and the Wynberg Methodist Church in offering free prayer in Church Street.

“When Ben Aldous was minister, he changed the weekly prayer meeting to a Monday from 6 to 7 pm. It was not a convenient time for many who worked in town or had young children. One Monday when Hannes was leading, he had felt that eight people would come. So Hannes and Ben put six chairs in a circle and sat down. I added another two chairs because of Hannes’ strong sense that we would be eight. We started praying and half an hour later five children from the Military Base joined us! We all prayed together, holding hands. At the end the children asked Hannes and me to give them a lift home to the base as it was getting dark. It was a confirmation of the importance of building relationships and praying together.

 

“In 2013 at one of the monthly Parish Prayer meetings, God gave a picture for St John’s.  

 

“It was a picture of a dragonfly: A nymph breaking out of its pupa. The breaking out was hard work, but the result – the dragonfly – was beautiful. The prayer was for the dragonfly to be fully able to accept its wings and its beauty, so that it can fly and become what it is. The other message of the picture was that the substance of the nymph doesn’t change to become a dragonfly. There’s transformation, but the same substance is used in the transformation. There was a sense that the new encompasses and encapsulates the old – it doesn’t discard it, because the old becomes the new. 

 

“Another highlight for me has been the Moving Forward Together groups which Duncan McLea organised in 2013 to 2016. They were amazing opportunities to get to know and build relationships with others from the six churches in the Parish. I still have a poem “A Man Called Amos” which was written by Gerald September from Emmanuel. He was in a group that met at our home.  

 

“This statement by Roxy who was a leader of the St John’s Children’s Church still resonates with me: “The Bible tells us over and over that while we were created in the image of God, He chose to make us all different. He doesn’t want us to all be copies of each other. How boring would that be? Imagine every single person in the whole world having brown hair or green eyes! God is creative! Doesn’t an artist paint different paintings? He won’t paint the same one over and over ….. that doesn’t show off his creativity. Of course, just because some of us have dark or light skin, it doesn’t make us better than others.” A reminder that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made ….. each of us made in the image of our creative God.”


Always passionate about reconciliation, Hannes and Christine (back row) were among those trained as facilitators for the Difference Course in 2022

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