By Libuseng Nyaka
INTABAZWE – The roles of government and churches in community development are intertwined, Thabo Mofutsanyana district municipality executive mayor Conny Msibi said while addressing female pastors and pastors’ wives during an engagement session on Wednesday last week.
“The church is a key role player in the development of the community; it does the same work as the government. Therefore, today’s forum is aimed at creating a conducive environment in order to enable them to become centres of development.
“Our churches have always focused on only one direction – renewal of our souls while ignoring other sectors of development. With this new approach we will be able to rehabilitate our congregations in different methods and ways. This will enable them to keep their followers as they will be fed both emotionally and physically, and there will be no reason for one to leave their church. In reality churches are governments,” Msibi said.
Msibi said these can only be achieved through formation of forums and development programmes.
“This will enable churches to contribute to the development of our won community.”
Issues that were discussed at the engagement platform include how churches can be assisted to establish projects, deal with mental health as well gender-based violence and human rights.
The founder and chairperson of Youth In Action Mandla, Mthembu, shared information pertaining to church self-reliance and sustainability.
He suggested different types of development projects that churches can establish which will end up enabling them to generate income and fight poverty and unemployment among themselves.
“Register your projects as non-profit organisations in order to be able to access government funding. Avoid registering as (PTY) Ltd. Ensure compliance and accountability for the funds generated and received. We as YIA can assist you in all these,” Mthembu said.
Mthembu took them through all necessary steps, including compliance and accountability.
Two young female speakers Bontle Mofokeng and Kamohelo Moshwadiba, who Msibi introduced as the guest speakers, had loaded messages that left everybody in awe.
Mofokeng talked about mental health and its consequences if left unattended.
“The main purpose of the whole event was to involve the church in matters that have for a long time been overlooked because they were considered to be unrelated to religion. I strongly belief whenever one comes to church they must be given chance to heal.
“I strongly believe that churches must be involved in mental health training because the church has many victims of mental health that they are not aware of. In churches those mental health issues are dismissed as dramatic or attention seekers, hence the need for proper training so that they can be impactful. The church must not exclude anyone in development because churches are centres of community development where people with different kinds of emotional state converge, so they should be given time and space to talk about their challenges and be healed.”
For her part, Moshawdiba pleaded for parental guidance in challenging times, and also thanked churches for the role they played in shaping society.
“Do not pray for us, teach us how to pray with you, so that even during your absence we are able to stand on our own. Do not judge by our mistakes but guide us to the right path.”
On behalf of female pastors and pastors’ wives, Vuniwe Francina Mdgeso thanked the mayor for the fruitful discussions that left everyone energized.