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Salt and light

1997 Annual Vestry meeting. Arthur and Dick in discussion next to the display of the Social Responsibility Committee

Duncan McLea wrote an article in the Parish Profile 2005 on what it means to be Anglican, Evangelical, Charismatic. Among other things, he said:

“Being Anglican in South Africa has also meant standing in a courageous tradition of being salt and light in society, of challenging injustice, speaking out against oppression, seeking the transformation of society and the relief of suffering.  This is seen not only in the prophetic challenges of those like Desmond Tutu, but also in the courageous witness and dedication of quiet unsung saints who have laboured long and hard to be salt and light in our midst.”

The Social Responsibility Committee (SRC) was formed in 1981 and when it closed in early 2000, the Parish Profile published an article about its history.

During its 19 year history SRC was often the social conscience of the Parish. It championed many causes including social justice, support for victims of forced removals and families of political prisoners, poverty relief and the role of the church in the community. It also provided study loans for needy students.

“In more recent years it was involved in voter education, the gun-free campaign and the crisis in education. The Justice and Peace page written by the late Toby Wrigley for Parish Profile gave valuable insight into the issues of the day…SRC has served with distinction. We give thanks to God for the dedicated service of the various committee members over the years. We acknowledge with particular thanks the role played by Mary-Jean Johnson as Chair for the last number of years.”

Mary-Jean Thomas Johnson shares some of her story as she was part of the SRC for 14 years and chaired it for 9 years. She emphasised the Parish role in terms of reconciliation.

“As a bit of background, I was born into Christ Church, moved away, then came back in 1984 for two years, was at St Philips for 21 years before coming to St John’s in about 2007.

“In previous visits to St John’s, I had seen big boards with the names of Wardens engraved in gold on them and had been proud to note my grandfather’s name on it, as he had been a Warden here before he moved to Christ Church. I had also noticed little brass plates on the pews to indicate the names of people who had bought the pew and they indicated reserved seating.

“When I came back to St John’s, I noticed that the big boards with names of Wardens in gold had been removed. Because of my grandfather’s role as a Warden, I knew he would also have been involved with the little brass plates on the pews – these were no longer there.

“When I asked about the boards, I heard they had been removed because all the Wardens, whose names were inscribed in gold, were white people only. One communion service, as I knelt down to pray, I noticed that although the brass plates had been removed, the nail marks were still there. I thought of the nails prints in Jesus’ hands – even the risen Lord had marks on his hands. I thought of the pain of what has happened in our country and what scars are still there. Removing the boards had been part of the reconciliation process of the church, acknowledging that people had been hurt. It was a small step, but it was felt important.

“Another step the parish took to heal some of the wounds of the past was to hold a course called ‘Home is where the Heart Is’. This course was about people growing up in different areas and those who had been forcibly removed due to the Group Areas Act. Out of this course came a Lent course, organised by Lynn Pedersen Mayer, as we wanted to do something in terms of reconciliation. The discussion with Dottie and Linda (see her story here) formed the Parish Lent Course in 1993. Approximately 140 people attended the course. At the time I was recently married so I remember it well.”


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