Baptism or Brutality?



I have slowly begun to pack a few boxes. While doing so I came across a collage of photographs stuck on a piece of cardboard. Reminding me of my first year in the ministry at Rustenburg Methodist Church in 1991. In one of the photos, I am holding a baby. A photo of my first baptism. I remember the date. It was on 20 January 1991. Four days after the US started Operation Desert Storm – Gulf War. I spoke of how the war was a betrayal of Baptism. Baptism being the bold pronouncement that all are beloved of God and members of God’s family. Those who choose war, do so because they have forgotten their baptism – the belovedness of all.

Today will be my last baptismal service at CMM. Once again, I will hold a baby and we will declare with boldness that this child is beloved, as is every child. And we will covenant as a community to live in such a way that this child and all children everywhere will grow up in the knowledge of their and each other’s belovedness. We do so in a context of a world at war in so many places, but especially in and around Gaza today. We do so with scenes of death etched on our eyes and the sounds of agonising grief in our ears.

Behind and before, my time in ministry has been hemmed in by baptism and brutality. In this we are invited to make a choice about how we will live life and organise life to what end. Baptism or brutality? Belovedness of all or only for some? All are chosen or only a special few? Freedom for all or only some? Life or death?

May we choose life,


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Education, Education, Education



Today I am running – well trying to run – the Cape Town Marathon. I know they say it is one of the most beautiful marathons in the world – but trust me – I will not be looking at the view. Today is not going to be pretty. I have simply not done enough training for anything to be pretty today.

Two weeks ago, I told the story of being injured for much of this year – so I decided to try and keep fit by aqua-jogging. The pros rave about how effective it is. So, I went religiously to the Long Street Baths with my floatation device strapped around my waist and jogged lengths. This took boring to new depths. Anyway, there I was doing my lengths, and some kids were messing about – with one of them actually swimming into me. The others immediately scolded him saying, “Pasop vir die uncle – hy kan nie swem nie”. (Mind the uncle he can’t swim.) So basically, what I am saying to you is that I am not only hopelessly undercooked for today – but I also have suffered public persecution and humiliation to get here.

I therefore figure that in the very least you can offer some balm for my wounded ego and shattered body. Please be recklessly generous to Stepping Stones Children’s Centre. This alone will heal me. You can use the CMM banking account – details on the right hand side of the website – with the reference: RUN or go to the Stepping Stones website (especially you overseas people – yes I see you!) (Please read the small print. Note: If I do not finish you do not get your money back).

On a serious note, we all know what people say is important when buying property: Location, Location, Location. Well, when it comes to eradicating poverty, what is important is Education, Education, Education. So, I would like to invite you to eradicate poverty by supporting Stepping Stones on a permanent basis – a monthly amount. Make a debit order. Do it now. No, Jesus will not love you anymore than he already loves you, but you will make a child smile and that makes Jesus smile.

 Or be generous towards any other Early Childhood Centre – perhaps one in your area. Visit to see if they need anything – especially those schools within challenging environments. Check out the remarkable work of run by Ali and Ian Corbett of CMM in the Mfuleni area – one of the most violent and poverty-stricken areas of Cape Town. There are literally hundreds of schools in need of supportive intervention. Funding a child’s education is never wasted. Never ever!

Here is the thing. The need and suffering that we are all surrounded by in this country can so easily leave us feeling overwhelmed and powerless. Not having a clue where to begin and what to do to make a healing and liberating difference. Well, I cannot think of a single social issue that will not be enhanced for the better as a result of contributing to early childhood education. Early childhood education is a game changer in everything. No wonder the first Sunday Schools started by the Methodists back in the late 1700s were not so much about religious education but rather about teaching people numeracy skills as well as to read and write – plus teaching the good news of being preciously loved – done on a Sunday. Education that would ultimately set children free from child-labour and adult exploitation.

Okay I got to run…

Grace, Alan

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The Makubalo Family

The Makubalo Family: Nathi, Khoza, Sikawu, Ulelethu.


Nathi and Sikawu are now 19 years married.
Both hail from Alice in the Eastern Cape and very proud of their rural roots.
They are parents to two boys, Khoza and Ulelethu.


It is with great joy that I introduce to you the Makubalo family who will be coming to Table Bay Circuit and CMM when I leave at the end of the year. You are receiving 4 for 1! And from Jubilee’s perspective you are receiving 2 for 1. (Jubilee says he will make sure that Shaka and Sgaqagaqa – he is still working on the pronunciation – feel welcome.)

The Makubalos are presently at Tokai Methodist. Before Tokai they were at Randburg Methodist in Gauteng. Sikawu was ordained in 2008, and where-ever he has served – communities have grown in what it means to be a Jesus follower in SA today. You will get to know of his integrity and humility in a short time – of this, I am sure.

While I am very relieved and grateful to the Methodist Conference sending the Makubalo family to us, I invite you to keep in mind the Tokai community who grieve their surprise move. You have known of my move for a long time, yet Tokai and the Makubalos have only just found out about their move. So, we need to do everything we can to ease the transition. We are still in the process of deciding living arrangements, etc. but are confident we will have everything sorted in time.

When the family is not enjoying a braai they are supporting Nathi when she participates in marathon running, or enjoying the outdoors with Shaka and Sgaqagaqa.


Khoza is 18 years old and finishing matric at Wynberg Boys High School.
He aspires to have a career in the Film and Media industry. 


Ulelethu is 16 years old in Grade 10 at
Wynberg Boys.
He plays cricket and hockey and aspires to be
an engineer.
Doesn’t like taking pictures. 


Due to Conference also moving the Stewe family out of the Table Bay Circuit – the changes are multi-layered. Sikawu is not simply replacing me he is also in part replacing John Stewe. In other words, there is a reduction in clergy in the circuit from three to two. Thus, the work within the Circuit will need to be re-configured. This is a challenge at the best of times. Yet, I trust that Sikawu together with Solomzi who remains in the Circuit will bring life to this process of change. You are in good hands.

Grace, Alan

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Seven Observations

Vandalised Constitution



Seven observations/parables from my daily walk:

1] Outside the office traders nod, greet and smile. I have heard them from just after 5am setting up their stalls. They will pack up again in the dark. An inspiration in their resilience and perseverance. They look after each other’s stalls for everyone to have an opportunity to find a toilet or get something to eat. They laugh loud and argue passionately. A caring and watchful community. Neighbours who Psalm 139-like, know my coming and going.

2] The rotating group of smokers from an office block huddle together on the corner. Ignoring me, they all greet Jubilee by name.

3] Past the Taj Hotel. It is so good to see hotels alive with activity after being empty and closed for so long due to COVID. A relief to see people crucially employed. Full tour buses. The melody of foreign languages. Luxury vehicles and luxury travel bags. Just across the road people sleep on the pavement on cardboard mattresses in the nooks and corners of Cathedral walls. The intractable inequality is wounding. Security guards make sure wealth and poverty do not meet. What feels like peace to some, feels like threat to others.

4] Under the woven wooden canopy – the arch for the Arch. 14 arched beams, each representing a line from the preamble of the Constitution. Circled on the ground beneath the arch, are 14 brass plates each bearing a line from the Constitution’s preamble. Three have been wrenched off, presumedly to be sold for scrap and possibly to score a hit. A fourth plate is not quite pried off. I speak to the cops who sit in a little booth only 5m away. They have not noticed but will keep an eye out. The next day the fourth plate is also gone. The desperate decaying state of things. The vision of Arch Tutu and the Constitution are struggling to stick.

5] I hear water running beneath my feet. Gushing beneath the paved surface. A reminder of the underground rivers that flow all year round. Free flowing water from the top of Table Mountain through the city gardens and eventually into the sea. A food garden no longer. Why? Surely we are surrounded by more need for nourishing food than ever before. Towering trees tap into the water below. They congregate so densely together that city buildings are hidden from sight. Benches full of people enjoying the abundance of beauty and life. Squirrels leap from branch to branch releasing a rain of leaves to the ground.

6] Then up past the burnt-out parliament buildings to where the avenue opens up left and right. Two children – around 8 years old are throwing stones at the geese on the pond. They are on their own. There are no adults around. I ask them to leave the geese alone. “Give us money” – they reply. I tell them that I don’t have money, but to please leave the geese alone. They continue to throw stones at the geese, saying, “We want money”. It is easy to be angry with the children. What they were doing was cruel. Yet, I am convinced that behind their cruelty lies further cruelty. They were ‘only’ doing to the geese what they have experienced society do to them. And when cruelty replaces care in one direction it is difficult to expect cruelty to be replaced by care in the other direction. When a “social-compact” fails a group of people or even worse, turns against them, then one has little-to-no moral authority to expect them to honour the very same social-compact. The same is true for the above-mentioned Constitutional vandalism. Removing brass plates is a response to a Constitution of justice and healing that one feels removed from. Behind this vandalism is a vandalism more difficult to photograph. The vandalism of the priceless worth of human beings.

 7] Then finally into the paddocks. Quadrants of grass guarded by trees. Seated upright on a bench beneath the trees a person blows into his saxophone. Like a call to prayer. The haunting beauty of jazz floats on the air. The volume rises and falls with the strength of the wind. He plays for himself and yet at the same time he plays for everyone and for all of life. An imperfect offering. A generous gift.

In grace,

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