Fri - July 1, 2005

The end of an era...

This page will no longer be updated... My blog has moved here. My ISP decided to move my site from the existing server to a new one. This has meant the sad death of my iBlog which no longer works. Please see my new blog at

Thu - June 30, 2005

A paper I presented at the Theological Society of South Africa meetings

I was incredibly fortunate to present a paper at the Theological Society of Southern Africa meetings last week. At the meeting I was also nominated and voted in as a member of the Society. It is a great honor indeed!

Here is the abstract for the paper:

Title: Spiritual Quotient: A neuro-theological key to wellness and wholeness.

Abstract: Research in both science and theology has begun to move away from reductionist and mechanistic views of the human person towards approaches that emphasise the interaction and inter-relationship of the various systems of human being. This paper aims to discuss some of the implications that intelligence, and in particular spiritual intelligence (also called SQ), may have upon the wellness of a person as a whole living, spiritual, being. The paper will start with a discussion on the three primary systems that constitute a whole person. Next there will be some insight into the functioning of the human brain. This will be followed by a presentation of the three dominant forms of intelligence (IQ, EQ and SQ). These are commonly identified through a study of the functioning of the human brain. After that some time will be spent looking at the theological implications (neuro-theology) of spiritual intelligence, discussing some possible effects that this form of intelligence could have on wholeness and wellness in human being. Finally, the paper will end with some suggestions on the development of a spiritual life that will be beneficial to wellness.

Here is the paper itself: (please note that it is not in final form, and so is not yet suitable for quoting. Thank you).

SQ paper TSSA 05draft.doc

Posted at 11:32 AM     Read More  

Paper for Grace and Truth

I recently heard that a paper I wrote some time ago will be published in Grace and Truth (a journal of catholic reflection).

Here is a copy of the paper.
Teilhard 1May 05 Dionb.doc

Posted at 11:29 AM     Read More  

Less formal, more fun!

Check out my all NEW blogger news page . I decided to put another blog together. It is a lot less formal, and a lot more fun!!

It is also a lot easier to update since I can update it from an email account on any computer (or internet connected device). So, I hope that it will get far more regular updates.

This page will still continue to run. Mostly it will be a place where I share research and theological ideas. I will also be moving my podcast the the new page .

You can find it by clicking HERE.

Posted at 11:27 AM     Read More  

Fri - April 29, 2005

You may be wondering....

Hello friends,

Those of you who have been looking back from time to time to see whether this blog gets updated (yes, Kevin and Gus.... I know!) would have been wondering what happened to the rest of my trip to the US and UK.

The rest of the trip did indeed take place, and it was an absolutely wonderful time. It has stretched my boundaries and given me such a wonderful perspective on the world and, of course, the wider Christian church. It has also allowed me to make some truly significant connections within the academic community.

The last two weeks of my trip were quite busy, which meant that I did not have time to record the interactions and events here. I have kept a record of them and hope to be able to do some of that tonight.

In the meantime here are two photographs. The first one is of Bishop Peter Storey, Rev Tiffney Marley, Archbishop Ndungane and myself at the Martin Luther King Jr lecture series that I participated in at Duke Divinity school in North Carolina. The second photograph is of Prof Mark Fowler, his wonderful wife Susan and I in Chicago (what a city!!!!).

Posted at 08:10 AM     Read More  

Thu - March 31, 2005

Chicago to Duke.

My last entry ended with me flying to Chicago. The flight was great. Although since we flew in daylight the whole time I did not manage to sleep at all. The scenery out of the window was incredible though! We flew over both Greenland and Canada - I have never so much snow in all my life!!!

Arriving in Chicago was fantastic. O'Hare is truly all it is cracked up to be! Security at American Airports is as tight as I was lead to believe. It took me about an hour and a half to get through immigration, get my bags, get through security and make my way by train to the local flight terminal.

I waited around at O'Hare to catch my connecting flight to Raleigh and the moved on to Durham. When I arrived on Monday evening it was about 20h30 here in Durham. However, since I had flown across a few time zones, and had awoken at 6 am on the same day in the UK, I was exhausted. On my body's clock it was 3h30 AM... Needless to say I am catching up on my jet lag sleep whenever I get a chance.

On my first day (Tuesday) at Duke, I was collected by Rev Tiffney Marley. She has been so incredibly hospitable to me! In the morning she showed me around the awesome facilities of Duke University and the Divinity school. The Duke Chapel is an awe inspiring structure! The Divinity school has resources that I could never have imagined. Thus far I have had the wonderful opportunity to be engaged in a few important activities.

I attend daily chapel services in York chapel (although today's service was held in the incredible Duke Chapel). I meet with academic staff (I have met Dr Stanley Hauerwas, Dr Wainwright, Dr Chapman, Dr Storey, Dr Crenshaw, Dr Warner, Dr Emily Davis, Dr Katanga and the incredible Dr Willie Jennings). I have had the wonderful privilege to sit in on a number of lectures and classes. Dr Storey gave an incredible lecture on Peace and the local Church. I also had the wonderful privilege of having dinner with Peter and Elizabeth, and two of their friends Clay and Sarah, at their home last night. Dr Willie Jennings has also inspired me with his views on culture and land in relation to the development of the black Church in White American Christianity.

In a few moments I will be having lunch with Dean Jones, the Dean of the Divinity School, and his wife Susan.

One other significant encounter I have had here is with a visiting Pastor, Danny Wayman, from Houston Texas. He came to meet Peter Storey

Please forgive me if the above is a bit skant and bland! I hope to have the time to sit in quiet and think not only about the visits, but the significance and effects of these visits, in due course. However, I find it necessary to record my experiences and thoughts fairly quickly. Since I am a person who lives in the moment I very quickly forget things unless I write them down.

A final joy has been the fact that I have wireless internet access at both Duke and Homestead Suites Hotel where I am staying. This has meant that I have been able to have Skype chats with Megie and Courtney daily (they normally phone me at about midnight Durham time - which is about 6 am at home). I then try to phone them at about 7 or 8 am Durham time (which is either 1 or 2 PM at home in Pretoria). I also managed to do an iChat Video conference with them yesterday for a few minutes. I cannot use iChat at the Homestead Suites because they are behind a firewall. However, at Duke I can. The problem is that I am so busy here that I am not able to get to make the calls during reasonable hours to home. However, voice is such a blessing! I remember a time when the only contact I had with Megie and Courtney was via Cell phone text messages!

One last note. Yesterday was the opening of John Wesley College after the Easter Break. I must confess that I miss not being there! I love my job and teaching and I pray that the students all arrived back safely and are sufficiently rested to tackle the new term with energy and commitment.

I hope to be able to write a few things about my experiences with Ross Olivier in Jackson Mississippi over the weekend on the journey back from Jackson. So, do check back early next week!

Posted at 11:59 AM     Read More  

Mon - March 28, 2005

More of London and then off to Chicago!

I write this entry with a heavy heart... I am sitting in Heathrow Airport... Wait, I'm back. I am now on the flight. As I was writing that last sentence the boarding announcement came over the air, so I quickly packed up.

It was sad saying goodbye to Megie and Courtney this morning. The thought that I will be spending 20 days away from them is not pleasant at all. However, it is some consolation to know that we had the last week together. I will say a bit more about the fantastic experiences we shared in a minute. Also, I am so pleased that Megie will be starting her new job as the Head of Department at Damelin's school of Business Management in Hatfield, Pretoria.

If you are reading this why not say a little prayer for my two girls?

Right, now let's move on to the last few days in London.

When last I wrote we were still at Craig in Worcester Park. When I got back from Cambridge I met Megie and Courts at Craig's place, dropped my bags and we went straight back to London's Waterloo Station. The station itself is incredible! It is huge with thousands of people in transit to some destination or another (there are trains, the Eurorail to France and beyond leaves from there, and then of course there is the famous London Underground). It is quite a struggle to remember what we did that afternoon. We have done so much that everything seems to blur into one awesome experience! Let me just have a quick peek at my Photos in iPhoto to see where we went...

Aaahh yes. We didn't in fact go all the way to Waterloo. Rather, we went as far as Wimbledon, the home of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis tournament. Wimbledon seems to be inhabited by a large number of South Africans. We spent most of our time there just reconnecting with each other, looking at all the shops on the High street, and then we ended the evening with a movie at the Odeon Cinema. We watched the animated film 'Robots'. It was fantastic to do that with Megie and Courts. We got back to Craig's place after catching a 9pm South West train.

On Thursday morning we woke up, did some washing (thanks Megie!!!) and then made our way into 'Londres'!!! We didn't get too early a start, so it meant that we only really spent the afternoon and early evening in London. We caught a Tube to Oxford Circus and then made our way up to Carnaby street. Having been something of a 'Mod' in my younger years, it was great to see the sights and shops mentioned in the songs of 'The Jam' and other Mod bands. There were a few Mod shops around (Merc, Lambretta etc.). After Carnaby street we went to Hamleys! Wow, what a fantastic experience. Hamleys is a 5 level toy store! Courtney just loved it! On the 'girls' floor (level 3) they were making teddy bears. Basically one chooses a bear of some sorts (she in fact chose a pink Unicorn!) then you take it to be filled with stuffing. On the way you find a 'voice box', which activates when you squeeze it, choose a heart and then have your animal of choice sewn up. Courtney's Unicorn is called Cinderella and has the voice box of a sheep (there were no unicorn voice boxes available!)

After that we made our way further along the road to the Apple flagship store!!! What an incredible experience! it is HUGE! Megie went off to find us something to eat while I browsed around, hooked my Powerbook up to the open wireless network, and Courtney played a Barbie game on a free eMac. When we left the store I added another gadget to my Mac arsenal, a 512MB iPod shuffle!! It is great.

That evening we met Megie's cousin Richard at Waterloo and went along to Twickenham for dinner with Richard, his wife Karyn and their friend Amon. Craig joined us after work. It was such a memorable evening!

We caught the last train from Twickenham to Clapham Junction, and got back to Worcester Park at 01h30!!

On Good Friday we awoke rather late, packed up our things and hoped on the train to catch a Tube to Richard and Michelle at Ealing Broadway. It was quite a job getting around with my 25KG' of luggage and Megie and Courtney's 12KG bag! However, it was worth it to get to our friends Richard and Michelle! I have missed them both so much since leaving Somerset West. I often long for those care free days when I was doing my Doctorate and Richard was the youth pastor at Coronation Ave Methodist Church.

Richie and Mich took us to their lovely home in Ealing. As is to be expected their place is stunning! Rich and Mich have such a wonderful sense of class and style. They were incredibly generous to have us stay with them ('squatting' in their lounge) for 3 nights!

On Friday evening we took a nice long walk around the area in which Richard works (London SW1). It is SO posh! We ended up at the Natural History Museum which was incredible to behold. I have never before seen quite so incredible a collection of fossils and dinosaur remains. The T-Rex exhibition was the highlight. Of course, Courtney loved the exhibition. Moreover, the attention she got from Richard and Michelle was lapped up!

On Saturday morning we drove back in to London and Richard and Michelle treated us to an open bus tour of London's sights. We saw EVERYTHING!! A real highlight was a boat trip along the River Thames. Our guide was hilarious. The 30 minute trip from London Bridge to the London eye was incredible. London is a wonderful city. I would so love to live in the city. However, I do realize that it is not an ideal environment in which to raise a child. However, the cosmopolitan nature and pace were truly invigorating.

We ended in the evening by meeting our friend Ulric Gordon at Buckingham Palace and going for a walk in incredible parks and gardens. It was freezing!

Sunday morning was a real highlight for me. We awoke early and went with Richard and Michelle to the Holy Trinity Brompton Church of England Easter Sunday service. Sandy Millard preached and did communion. Whilst nothing in particular stood out for me, it was just such a special time to reconnect with God, remember the wonderful loving sacrifice of Christ and reaffirm my call to ministry. The last number of months have been particularly tough and stressful for me. This service was a healing time.

After the service we drove out to the country. We met our friends Bryan Johannsen and his girlfriend Alix at Windsor Castle and then spent most of the day walking through, and taking in, the grounds and interior of the castle. When we finished there we took a wonderful drive through Maidenhead (I got to see where Richard ministered and where they lived) and then on to Henley and Marlow etc.

That brings us to today. I can hardly believe how much we have done in such a short time. Indeed, this was a family experience of a lifetime! I will miss my girls, but I'm on my way to another completely new experience. I am SO excited about going to America. My hosts have been so generous and gracious already! I hope to be able to offer something worthwhile in return.

Well, check back again. I'm not sure how often I will have internet access, or how much time I will have to write. I hope to update with news and experiences as often as I can.

Posted at 01:59 PM     Read More  

Wed - March 23, 2005

London and Cambridge!

Wow! What can I say? Last night I jokingly said to my hosts that living in South Africa feels like living on a farm compared to London! On Monday when we got to London we were collected by Megie's cousin Richard. He came to fetch us in his HUGE four liter Jeep 4x4. We were so pleased that he he had offered to do so. When we saw what a drive it was from Heathrow the Worcester Park, we realized that we would never have navigated our way to Craig on the trains and tubes.

We arrived at Craig's place at about 6h30 and got our stuff settled in, had a shower and a shave and then hit London at about 9h30 (one can get a much cheaper Zone 1 - 4 all day travel card if bought after 9h30). We got onto the overland train from Worcester park to Waterloo station. Once at Waterloo we started walking!!! Courtney was such a fantastic little trouper. In short, for those who know London, we walked from Waterloo to the London eye, along the Thames river to the Millennium Bridge, up to St Paul's Cathedral, then back along Fleet Street past Temple Court and the Justice Courts (off course we passed the West End theaters), then at Charing Cross we caught a Tube to Sloane square to meet our friend Richard Steel, and then caught a Tube back to Waterloo station and then the train back to Worcester Park. All in all it was a FANTASTIC day!!! We got to see the most incredible sights, see some fantastically interesting people (Courtney loved all the people with different colors of hair - green, blue, pink etc. etc. She was also enamored with all the tattoos and body piercings, particularly a young guy on a bicycle with tattoos from head to toe and stretched ear lobes!)

Some of the sights and attractions we went to:

We went on the London Eye
National Theatre
Tate Modern Art Gallery
Millenium Bridge
St Paul's Cathedral
Temple Square, the Templar Church, the Temple (Dan Brown here we come!)
The West End (theaters, the Savoy Hotel etc. etc.)
The London Underground

Yesterday I made the trip out to Cambridge, which is were I am now. It is just before 8am and I am sitting in a flat at Wesley House in the Rank building. At 8h15 I will be going down to the Wesley House Chapel for worship with the staff and students. I was wonderfully hosted by Rev. Dr. Philip Luscombe and his wife Laurel last night. Before that one of the students (George, his wife Fran and their son Adam) invited me for a cup of coffee and then helped me to find Kings College. Cambridge is perhaps the most beautiful city I have ever been in! It has such a wonderful spirit of learning about it. I find Grahamstown to have been a lesser imitation of this. The University itself is spread out across the city in various Colleges. The buildings and chapels are the most fantastic Medieval architecture. There is an all pervasive sense of history and belonging to something noble and great about the place.

Wesley House is just as wonderful. The library is fantastic. I found that I had so much in common with Philip (science and theology, the fact that we both first read science, ministerial formation etc.)

This is truly a place that I would love to visit again! I hope to be able to post selected photographs in a day or two.

As you can see, I have not had internet access thus far. Yesterday I did sign up with a wireless provider at the train station. So, I hope to be able to make use of that today to post these two entries and check my mail.

Come back for more!

Posted at 08:01 AM     Read More  

Sun - March 20, 2005

We're on our way!

It is Sunday 20 March 2005, 14h25 (SA time). We are somewhere between Johannesburg and Nairobi (the pilot has just informed us that we are over Tanzania. How great is that?)! We are on a British Airways flight on our way to London. We will be stopping over in Nairobi for a few hours before we take make the last section of our journey to Heathrow. The journey will be 16 hours in total, but at least it was more cost effective to come this way.

This whole trip came about as a result of an invitation for me to go to Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina in the USA. When I discovered that I could have a lay-over in the UK at no extra cost I jumped at the opportunity. Since opportunities like this don't come along that often we decided to bite the bullet and have Megie and Courtney join me on the England leg of the trip.

Megie, Courtney and I will be spending some time with family and friends in London over the next week (Megie and Courts fly back home on the 28th of March. On the same day I go on to the US). My primary reason for being in the UK is to visit Wesley House at Cambridge University , with whom we (that is John Wesley College) have a partnership. However, since this is the Holy Week (the Easter weekend starts on Thursday evening, for those who are not familiar with the Christian Calendar) I will get to spend some time with Megie and Courtney visiting my brother in law Craig, and our best friends Richard and Michelle.

Basically we will arrive in London on the 21st at 5am! Megie's cousin, Richard, will be fetching us from Heathrow and taking us to Craig's place (apparently it would mean quite a few trains, tubes and a bus to get to Craig from Heathrow). On 22 March I will be going to Cambridge where I will have the pleasure of meeting with Philip Luscombe at Wesley House. He has arranged for me to get a chance to see a few sights around Cambridge and meet some students etc.

From there it is back to London to do a bit of sight seeing with Megie and Courts. On Good Friday we will make our way across to Ealing where we will be staying with Richard and Michelle. I spoke with Richard on the phone last night. We are SO excited about seeing them, and experiencing something of their life in London.

On Monday the 28th I catch a noon flight to Chicago. Megie and Courts catch a direct flight on to Johannesburg the same evening. Once at O'Hare I catch a connecting flight to Raleigh and then make my to Durham. Whilst in Durham I will have an opportunity to meet the staff and students of Duke Divinity school. It is SUCH an honour to be able to do so, since Duke is truly a prestigious school! Whilst there I hope to be able to sit in on some classes (I am particularly keen to hear Professor Wainwright and Professor Hauerwass!) Between 1-3 April I will be visiting Rev Ross Olivier in Jackson Mississippi. Ross was the General Secretary of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. I have always looked up to him in the ministry. It will be truly wonderful to have some time with Ross and his family, Shane and Jon-Mark.

Once back in Duke I will be doing one of the scariest things I have had to do thus far in my academic career! I will be leading worship and participating in a lecture series on the Church in South Africa at Duke. The main speaker will be Archbishop Ndungane of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa!

On the 9th of April I make my way back to Chicago where I will be hosted by Professor Mark Fowler at Garrett Theological Seminary. Whilst there I will be aiming to develop a partnership between the MCSA and Garret, particularly relating to Mentorship training for our Ordained Clergy. I will also have an opportunity to visit the Willow Creek Church at the request of the Bryanston Methodist Church.

I return home on the 16th of April.

I am not too sure how often I will be able to update my blog. Firstly, once I get to the US I am not sure how much time I will have to write. Secondly, I am not certain when I will have internet access to upload these entries. However, I will do my best to make the time and find hotspots to upload. So, come back when you get a chance.

Posted at 02:51 PM     Read More  

Tue - March 1, 2005

Podcast 1 March 2005

Podcasting is a revolution in internet communication. As broadband connections become less expensive, many people are moving from reading text to listening to Audio. So, I thought I would give it a bit of a try. Here is my very first attempt at an audio broadcast on the internet! This podcast introduces a book called "Courageous Leadership" by Bill Hybels (2002, Grand Rapids, Michigan).

I tried my best to get the file size as small as possible without removing too much of the audio quality. If you have any comments, please drop me a line and offer some feedback! I hope to be able to post a few interviews, sermons, and some general theological discussion and news in this format in weeks to come. In particular, I will be taking my Apple Powerbook, Sony Microphone and Garageband Software with me on my trip to Cambridge in the UK and Duke and Garret seminaries in the US!

If you would like to listen to the Podcast please click on the 'Read more' link below.

Posted at 05:32 PM     Read More  

Sun - February 6, 2005

Dismantling the da Vinci Code

Dan Brown's da Vinci code is one of the most entertaining and engaging novels I have read in years! I enjoyed the intrigue, action and conspiracy a great deal. However, there is little doubt in my mind that Brown takes a very negative view of Christianity and the Church in general. Most of his criticism (both directly through his narration of the story, and indirectly through the words and thoughts of his characters) is directed at the Roman Catholic Church.

This has lead to concern among many Christians. Brown presents his version of Christianity and the institution of the Church in a manner that suggests that his view is fact. His confidence in writing, with it's allusion to historical texts, works of art, and common sense, could cause one to doubt the truth of the Christian faith.

So, I have decided to post the following document on my blog as a corrective reference for anyone who may be struggling to discern fantasy from fact in Brown's novel. It is extremely well written by a Catholic journalist. So, of course it has it's own agenda. However, it does serve to point out many of the errors and assumptions that Brown simply presents as accepted facts.

Dismantling The Da Vinci .doc
Dismantling the da Vinci Code

Posted at 09:33 AM     Read More  

Reading, writing, and watching...

Three entries in one day! Wow, no wonder it is cool and overcast in Pretoria (which is a welcome relief to the 30+ degree Celsius weather that we have been having over the last few days)

I thought I would drop a quick note to let you know what I've been reading, writing, and watching.

Firstly, reading. Of course I have been reading a great deal for my Doctorate. That reading has concentrated mainly on the works of Ken Wilber, Alaine Touraine and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The two books, out of the many that have been read or scanned, that are truly worthwhile are:

Ramachandran, VS. 2004. A brief tour of human consciousness. New York. PI Press.
Wilber, K. 2004. The simple feeling of being: Embracing your true nature. Boston. Shambala.

With regards to my Doctoral studies, I am hoping to be able to complete my Thesis this year! Do please pray that I will have the time, energy, and necessary skill to do so.

Then, since the end of last year, I have read a number of other fun and interesting books. I won't give the full references here. You're welcome to mail me if you would like to get the full references.

I have read a number of Dan Brown's highly entertaining and engaging novels (The da Vinci code, Angels and Demons, Digital fortress). It started with someone asking my opinion on Brown's research for the da Vinci code. I read it and found it very interesting, although, it is not without some considerable faults. I will post an article on this book in my next post. The rest were just entertaining bedtime reading.

Next, I have been enjoying Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole and the weapons of mass destruction. I truly enjoyed reading all about Adrian Mole in the earlier Secret diaries of Adrian Mole... This piece of comic genius was just as entertaining and fun!

Most recently, I have been reading Bill Bryson's incredible A short history of nearly everything. Bryson writes with wit and insight that is so engaging that the subject matter comes to life! This book is well worth reading. I received it from my dear friend George Marchinkowski as a combined birthday and ordination anniversary present.

On the South African side I have been reading Dawid van Lill's book van Lill's South Africa miscellany. It panders to my taste for acquiring little known, and unusable, facts about just about everything South Africa (town names, best wines, Rugby scores, recipes.... you name it, if it is obscure and interesting, it is bound to be in this little book)!

Now, on to writing. Well, there is of course the ongoing work on my Doctoral Thesis... That is going along at a fairly steady pace. I am working on another chapter focussing mainly on the work of Ken Wilber - in particular his integrative theory.

I am also writing a chapter for a book that my colleague Wessel Bentley and I are working on. Among the contributors to the book are Rev's Mvume Dandala, Stanley Magoba, Peter Grassow, Gcobani Vika, and then of course Wessel and I. We hope to have the book ready by SYNOD (May) this year. However, it will definitely be ready by this year's annual MCSA Conference.

I have also had the privilege of writing a section for a book on Kilnerton College by Dr Joan Millard. I am so excited about both of these publications! So, watch this space for more on the above publications.

In terms of what I have been watching. The only truly notable movie I have seen in recent months is the incredible South Africa film Yesterday staring Leleti Khumalo. I can honestly say that it is one of the most moving and artfully crafted films I have every had the privilege to see. It deals with the life and struggles of a rural South African mother who is HIV +. It is a must see!

Posted at 09:25 AM     Read More  

And are we yet alive?

Over the last couple of weeks I have received a few messages asking whether this blog was still being updated, or whether it had been abandoned. Well, here's proof that it is still being updated.

It is good to be back. I have had quite a busy time since October last year when Charmaine and Sidwell finished up on the Education for Ministry and Mission Unit. Victor was also not well for some months, going in and out of hospital. Thanks be to God that he is now almost recovered and that our two new staff members, Phidian Matsepe and Madika Sibeko, have joined the Unit. Their arrival is truly a gift from God and they are already making a significant and worthwhile impact upon ministerial training.

I have included below an informal report that I sent out to Methodist clergy at the end of 2004. There is so much to celebrate!

John Wesley College Report

The year that has passed has presented the staff and students of the College with a great deal to celebrate.

Firstly, we celebrated our 10th Anniversary at Kilnerton this year. The event was marked by a Gala Dinner and Academic conference at the College, held on 9 September 2004. The keynote speaker was Prof B Pityana. A number of electives were presented for delegates and students to attend in the afternoon. In the evening the celebrations were capped off with a gala dinner at which some of the staff were honoured with long time service awards.

At the end of my first year at John Wesley College I thought it might be fitting to share some good news about our Church's seminary, John Wesley College, and the Education Unit. Here are a few things to celebrate!
1)  During this year John Wesley College was accredited by the Council for Higher Education (one of only 16 Colleges across South Africa that has managed to complete the arduous accreditation process).  We now have legal standing under Educational law to offer the Diploma in Theology and Ministry on level 6 (Degree level) and on level 5 (Post Matric).
2)  The sad news is that Rev Charmaine Morgan and Rev Sidwell Mokgothu have moved on from the Unit (Charmaine has moved into a Circuit appointment in Port Elizabeth.  Sidwell has taken up a post in Government).  We are immensely grateful to them both for their sacrifices, hard work, and dedication in educating laity and clergy in the Church for the last 5 years.  Also, many of you may be aware that our Unit Director, Victor Tshangela, has not been at all well for the last few months.  Please do keep him in your prayers, he is getting better by the day.  The good news is that we were joined by two new staff members in January 2005!  Rev Madika Sibeko will be taking over from Sidwell in co-ordinating lay training.  Rev Phidian Matsepe will be taking over from Charmaine in looking after probationers in circuit.  I will remain as the Dean of Students at John Wesley College.
3)  John Wesley College had a pass rate of 84% in 2004!  344 courses were registered for by 70 students.  This is a rise of almost 10% over last year.  Since John Wesley College opened at Kilnerton we have had 168 graduates with the Diploma in Theology (which gives direct access to an Honours Degree), 55 of these graduates have completed Honours Degrees in Theology, 9 have completed Masters Degrees, 4 have either completed, or are busy completing, Doctorates in Theology!  The Council for Higher Education congratulated the Methodist Church for it's high standards in education, excellent external quality control, and our above average pass rate.  Phidian Matsepe, who studied at John Wesley College and is completing a Doctorate in Old Testament, will be the first College Graduate to be appointed to the full time staff.
4)  For the first time in 10 years we offered Greek to students at John Wesley College.  Of the 9 students who registered 6 passed (which is not bad at all, as those who have studied and taught Greek will testify!!)  A number of these students are going on to do Honours degrees in New Testament next year.
5)  We worked hard in 2004 to build capacity in academic staff.  I am pleased to say that every one of our lecturers now has AT LEAST a Masters Degree.  Also, we have at least one person with a Doctorate teaching a course, or parts thereof, in each of the 5 theological disciplines (Old Testament, New Testament, Church History, Systematic Theology, and Pastoral Theology).  Furthermore 6 of the staff members were trained as Assessors.
6)  Sister denominations are sending more and more of their students to study at John Wesley College (over the past few years we have had Presbyterian, Congregational, Anglican, Episcopalian, United Methodist, and Independent Church students graduating form John Wesley College).  We are also developing strong ecumenical relationships with other seminaries and students from other Churches in our area.  We were pleased to host an ecumenical seminary gathering at John Wesley College in September this year.
7)  The demand to study at John Wesley College now outweighs our capacity!  We are only able to accommodate 30 or so 'private students' (e.g. persons who are not Methodist probationer ministers, or who are sent from other denominations).  We have a waiting list of almost 20 persons for entry into the Diploma program.
8)  The MCSA has never had more persons in training for ministry.  Next year the Education for Ministry and Mission Unit will look after close to 260 probationer ministers (that is almost a 100% increase in 15 years!).
So, all in all, with some ups and downs, John Wesley College has had a fantastic year! 
As our mission statement says, our desire truly is to "Equip all Methodist to proclaim the Gospel for healing and transformation".
Some of our needs are:
1)  Circuits, societies, and individuals who are willing to sponsor (or tithe towards) families of students who are at College in 2005.  A married person at College receives only about R300 - R500 per month feed, clothe, and educate, his or her family whilst at College.  Please make any such arrangements for financial support with us through the EMMU office.
2)  Donations of books, or monies to buy books, for the John Wesley College library.  Due to budgetary cuts the Education Unit is not able to offer book allowances to ANY probationers in 2005 (so please do consider helping to fund some books for probationers in your area, or the probationers who are at College next year).
3)  Sporting and recreational equipment for students and their families at College.  We have 12 families and 36 single students living in residence at John Wesley College.  We would love to offer some recreational comforts for our students and their families (in particular the College pool table needs to be replaced, including snooker sticks and balls.  We also have a soccer team that would love to wear a kit with some Methodist person's company logo or slogan when we play in the Church league!)
4)  Encouragement and support for students at College.  Some individuals and Churches in the connexion have taken it upon themselves to pray for the students at College, and write to them from time to time, in order to encourage them as they prepare for Ministry and Mission.
5)  Prayer for our staff as we engage in the task of shaping others for ministry.  Please do pray for the staff and volunteers who work in the Unit as we undertake the awesome responsibility of facilitating training of persons for Ministry and Mission.
If you would like any information about the College or the Unit please feel free to call or drop me a line.

Yours truly,

Dion Forster
Dean of Students

Posted at 09:01 AM     Read More  

Thu - October 21, 2004

All things new! Again....

A few words, and a picture, about my new Apple laptop.

Posted at 12:06 PM     Read More  

Sat - September 25, 2004

Is it only their problem?

Some thoughts, and a sermon, on the war in Iraq, Michael Moore's movie Fahrenheit 911.

Posted at 10:51 PM     Read More  

Mon - August 23, 2004

What's in a word?

This entry deals with the power of words and concepts in language, and particularly how they impact upon our theology.

Posted at 09:07 PM     Read More  
A discussion document on the essential elements of good training for the Ministry
Challenge and opportunity in Theological Education...
Ken Wilber's four quadrants of consciousness, Videocentrism and the influence of African Traditional culture and religion...
What's so strange about Satan hurling abuse from a pulpit in Church?
Logocentrism, Videocentrism and consciousness
Turing machines, one kind of stuff and artificial consciousness.
A blessed Easter, and welcome back
All is well
Everything is new!