By Mhlonishwa Hlophe | 2020-10-18
A pastor has been forced out of his church for allegedly conducting all-night prayer sessions with mostly female members in the mountain.
The pastor is also accused of inviting prophets without seeking permission from the bishop of the church. So serious is the rift that it has divided the church into two factions, with some in favour of the bishop while the other group supports the pastor.
Notably, the pastor commonly conducted the prayer sessions in the company of female worshippers and some of them are married women, something that has not been well received by some community members.
The name of the church is Jesus Making Disciples Church (JMDC) led by Bishop Morgan Nhlabatsi, who was assisted by the ousted pastor, only identified as Shongwe.
“Our only sin was attending an all-night prayer session in the mountain together with the pastor. I think there is more to this than the prayer session. I don’t want to believe our sin was just attending the prayer. I suspect the pastor is being victimised for something we do not know,” said a source who attended the prayer session.
The church is situated under the Madlenya Chiefdom, a few kilometres away from Siphofaneni town. The rift is being spoken in hushed tones in the church despite that already the split is evident, as some have walked out in support of the pastor.
The ones siding with the pastor have been left without a place of worship and as a result, a majority opted to stay at home and not attend church service led by the bishop.
The JMDC is amongst the oldest traditional houses of worship at Siphofaneni.
“Please, may I not comment on the matter as it is being handled by senior community members. It was reported to the Madlenya Umphakatsi and the elders are still trying to find a lasting solution to the matter, hence it would not be proper for me to comment,” said the bishop.
According to one of the church members, apart from the prayer sessions held in the mountain, some of the worshippers were not happy with the frequent visits made by a certain prophet. The source said some members of the church were completely against the teachings of the prophet, hence they reported their discontentment to the bishop.
It was then that the bishop confronted the pastor and questioned his actions of bringing strangers without consulting with him or elders of the church first.
The source said some of the worshippers seemed not to understand the role of the prophet, hence were against his visits to the church.
According to Christian Truth Centre journal; “A prophet is a God’s messenger, God’s mouth piece who God speaks through. He is God’s vessel passing His message to people. When a prophet speaks and gives messages, it is the Holy Spirit speaking (God) not the prophet.”
The bishop was forced to sideline the pastor from the church activities after an influence from the elders of the community, who did not receive the news of the prayer sessions conducted in the mountains well, including the teachings of the prophet.
“What irked the elders in the area is that the pastor gets to be accompanied by the church members, mostly females,” revealed the source.
However, it has not been explained if there had been any intentions by the pastor with the idea of staging all-night prayers in the mountains.
“The pastor is accused of bringing confusion to the church. at one point he was suspected to have brought a prophet in one of the services. This was not well received by elders of the church, especially the bishop and then followed the issue of allnight prayer sessions in the mountains. The elders’ major concern was that should the congregants be attacked in the mountains, the church would be held accountable,” said the source.
Elders of the community have been roped in to bring peace so that church members can attend church peacefully. The rift is threatening to tarnish the image of the churc,h as it has survived similar turmoil before but managed to pull through, said a source.
Notably, the community of Madlenya does not have multiple churches, hence the rift has caused some of the community members to resolve to stay at home rather than continue with worshipping without their favourite pastor. Some hinted that they were now boarding buses to Siphofaneni to attend a church service, which is a bit costly for them.
“In our church, we have conservative and liberal members, and everyone in the middle,” said a member in support of the evicted pastor. “We are diverse culturally, and many other cultural groups are represented as well. Our focus is always going to be how we can be a church that is welcoming to all and serve others,” added the member.
Pastor Shongwe when reached for comment said the right person to comment was the bishop.
He only shared that they were not in good terms with the bishop, and further stated that currently he did not have a place of worship.
He said he was staying at home until he had figured out his next move. “With all due respect, please contact Bishop Morgan Nhlabatsi for comment on the matter, because I think he is well versed with all that had transpired,” said Shongwe.
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