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Update: South African Partnership
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CandleAn enduring symbol of Duke Divinity School’s partnership with John Wesley College and the Methodist Church of Southern Africa is a tall white candle wrapped in black barbed wire.

Made by unemployed residents of the impoverished Ivory Park settlement outside Johannesburg, each candle includes the name of the craftsperson who made it and a message about the ministry, which is part of The Nehemiah Project: Helping People Help Themselves. Each candle “celebrates the truth that the light of Christ shines through the darkness, pain and violence in the world.”

These candles are used in daily worship at Duke Divinity School, by spiritual formation groups for all first-year students, and by the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, including seminary students and staff at John Wesley College.

The Rev. Simanga Kumalo, former pastor of Ivory Park Methodist Church outside Johannesburg, South Africa, preaches in York Chapel.
Photo By: Reed Criswell


 The Rev. Simanga Kumalo, former pastor of Ivory Park Methodist Church outside Johannesburg, South Africa, preaches in York Chapel.

The Rev. Simanga Kumalo, who founded the candle ministry while pastor of Ivory Park Methodist Church, was an exchange student at Duke Divinity School last semester. Kumalo shared stories about the challenges of The Nehemiah Project, a joint venture between Ivory Park and Calvary Methodist Church, which is in a nearby predominately white middle-class suburb. Kumalo and Calvary’s pastor, the Rev. Alan Storey, exchanged both pulpits and parishioners in an innovative attempt to model racial reconciliation in post-apartheid Johannesburg. Kumalo is now a doctoral student in Christian education at the University of Natal.

In other developments:

  • Lisa Yebuah, Shannon Spencer, Karen Owens and Matthew Hunter worked last summer in field education placements in South Africa, each in a different ministry and region of the country. The placements were arranged by Peter Storey, Williams professor of the practice of Christian ministry.

    Professor Richard Hays teaching at John Wesley College


     Professor Richard Hays teaching at John Wesley College

    “These students will never be the same,” said Storey. “And that is exactly why we bring them here – where we have had to discover more deeply how the Gospel can be good news to the poor.” Since 2000, 10 students have completed their field placements in South Africa.

  • The Rev. Tiffney Marley, director of the Office of Black Church Studies, visited the students and colleagues at John Wesley College and the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. With the Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Katongole, associate research professor of theology and World Christianity, she explored new partnership possibilities in Uganda.

Shannon Spencer, Karen Owens, Matthew Hunter and Lisa Yebuah worked last summer in South Africa.


 Shannon Spencer, Karen Owens, Matthew Hunter and Lisa Yebuah worked last summer in South Africa.

  • Richard Hays, George Washington Ivey professor of New Testament, taught at John Wesley last summer. Student responses to his lectures on the Gospel of Mark and I Corinthians were fascinating, said Hays. “When I lectured on the resurrection of the dead in I Corinthians, the conversation immediately turned to the question of how Paul’s focus on resurrection of the body was related to the pervasive African belief that their deceased ancestors remain present to the living community.”
  • Bishop Ivan Abrahams visited the Triangle as a part of the Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values. This brief visit allowed for a continued conversation with Dean Greg Jones regarding ways to strengthen the partnership. Bishop Abrahams succeeded Mvume Dandala, who is now the General Secretary of the All Africa Council of Churches (AACC).

“Each year of the partnership we are making better connections,” said Marley. Through visits from South African scholars and pastors, both the divinity school community and the Methodist Church of Southern Africa have benefited tremendously, she added.

“I sat in on Richard Hays’ lectures at John Wesley and the students’ enthusiasm and engagement with him was amazing. This partnership is a radical thing—an opportunity for listening and story telling that can lead to racial reconciliation. Hopefully we are transformed by those stories.”

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DIVINITY Online Edition :: Winter 2004 Volume 3 Number 2 Duke Divinity School