This past weekend I was speaking and preaching in the Parish of Tugela Rivers (Winterton / Bergville). Archdeacon John Green had invited me up to engage with them about what it means to be Church (Friday) and to preach and preside at a family service held on a farm outside of Winterton (Sunday).
I caught a glimpse of what the Umhlali parish must have felt like a decade or two ago before the rapid urban growth around Ballito-Salt Rock-Sheffield Beach. The Tugela Rivers parish is a fairly small, tight community where everybody knows everybody and probably everybody’s business. Some of the families have been in the area and in the Anglican church for generations.
I’ve heard stories in Umhlali about family days that used to be hosted on local farms, like I experienced on Sunday. These were the days when the church was small enough to feel like a genuine community in itself. Now our 1st and 2nd Sunday and Thursday services are distinct congregations and large enough that it is impossible for everybody to know everybody.
The very real danger is that our experience of church loses the community dimension. I think for this single reason I would recommend that everybody should join a small group (also called a Bible study or cell group or home group). If you’re not in one, ask around to find one, phone the office or speak to me - there is a group meeting near you!