When I was in Zimbabwe recently, I met the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa, the Revd. Mukondi Ramulondi. He and I were both at the same conference organised by the Presbytery of Zimbabwe. It was a great conference, with lots going on, and full-on worship for much of each day. I haven’t done so much dancing for a long time, if ever. But our ‘time out’, if I can describe the conference that way, was very much connected to the hard realities of everyday life in that part of Africa.
One day, over lunch, Revd. Mukondi told me about his work, not as Moderator, but as a local minister. He is one of the ministers of St Mungo’s United Church, Presbyterian and Congregational, in the suburbs to the north of Johannesburg. The church is on two sites and Mukondi has served in the deprived part of the community, in an informal settlement known as Diepsloot, since 2007.
Diepsloot and the work that takes place there receives support from various places, including the other part of the congregation on the other site. It is one of those areas that attracts the different mobile communities, and so there are people from lots of different places, with the mix constantly changing. It is densely populated and with a high crime rate. As well as the more obvious aspects of church life, he leads a community development programme. They are trying to develop church without pews and pulpits but also engage in a wide range of community projects, such as distributing school uniform packs to needy children, distributing winter fleeces again to needy children, recycling clothing, homework assistance, a vegetable garden project, a food packing and distribution project etc.
The ministry is possible because of outside financial support, but it also depends on this committed minister who is willing to live and work in such a situation. Here is one example of a 21st century Good Samaritan. Here is an illustration of what it is to be really righteous though, like probably all those who deserve such an accolade, I suspect that is not how he would describe himself.