Celebrating 50 Years in our Church Building
In 1968 it would have cost you about 7c for a loaf of brown bread, a liter of milk was 5c, and petrol would cost you 10c per liter. It seems almost unbelievable! Today you are lucky to find a loaf of bread for less than R10,00, milk is about R7,00 in a sachet and petrol has sky-rocketed to R14,48.
This was the same year that ECCC opened a new church building, the same building in which we now meet for our time of worship on Sunday mornings. Up until that time the church had ministered out of the “Small hall” and Craven Hall. These two venues facilitated the many ministries including The Sunday School, The Woman’s Association, The Woman’s Fellowship, The Men’s Forum, Boys’ Gym Club, The Pilgrims, The Young People’s Fellowship, The Choir, The Cradle Roll, An Informal Discussion Group and Membership Classes
The Church took out a bond of R22,000 and managed to pay it back in about 12 years (thought they expected it to take 30 years!)
We are thankful for the faithfulness and hard work of the men and women who had the vision to build a new church building. It is always a great milestone when a church builds a (new) center in which it will worship. It speaks of the permanence, stability, community and the faith or East Claremont Congregational Church.
Living with change
An anniversary is an opportunity to stop and take stock of where we are in ministry. The world of 1968 is a very different world from 2018 (besides the price hikes!). The church is facing the challenges of the growing secularization of society, a decline in the broad acceptance of Judeo-Christian morals, the complexities of globalization, new communication and social media channels and access to information via the internet. And if anything, the speed of change has only increased over the last 50 years.
But in the midst of all these the one thing that has not changed is the gospel. God is still a God of great love and mercy. Jesus is still the hope and salvation of the world. Men and women still need forgiveness, redemption and restoration. And the Holy Spirit still guides by the Word and by his still small voice.
A new vision
The congregation that gathered on the 4th May 1968, when Rev. Ted Sulston opened and dedicated the new building had seen a vision come to fruition. It was a great vision and it is not something that every generation can claim. The plaque outside the church says, “for the people had a mind to work” (Neh 4:6). And they had worked! They had sacrificed, planned and set their hearts on a God-given vision. These saints now stand as a Hebrews-11-kind-of-cloud-of-witnesses calling us to behold a vision that would compel us to similar faithfulness and sacrifice.
What compelling, Kingdom-building vision is God setting before us that would so capture our hearts that we would be ready to give sacrificially of our lives to see it come to fruition? We need the guidance of God’s Spirit as we dream about the next 5 or 10 years. Please pray with me as we seek God’s face for what the Spirit is saying to the church (Rev 2:7) at this time.