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METHODIST CHURCH SPLIT: STOP USING OUR HYMN BOOKS, UNIFORM

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MBABANE - The Methodist Church of Southern Africa Highveld in Eswatini says anyone deciding to leave the church should not use its hymns books, uniform among other things.

Responding to the talks in relation to the formation of Wesleyan Church of Eswatini by some members of the church, Bishop Sondlile Nkwanyana of the Highveld in Eswatini, said the newly-established church had no link to the old church. The news of the establishment of the Wesleyan Church in Eswatini was shared by Party Shongwe, who is an active member of the new church. This, Nkwanyana  said, was because the Methodist Church of Southern Africa had not approved or blessed any formation of a branch in Eswatini. He said anyone establishing a church was doing so on his own accord. “They should not use our hymn books, uniform or anything that has to do with our church because there is no link between the two churches,” he said.

Concerned

Nkwanyana said as far as the church was concerned, there was no Methodists Church of South Africa serving as a main branch for a local Methodist Church of Eswatini. Nkwanyana said there were no branches in South Africa and Eswatini. However, he said the church, which had existed for almost 200 years had 15 districts in six of the Sothern African countries, namely; Eswatini, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Mozambique. He said no money was taken to South Africa from Eswatini, as stated by members of the newly-established church, as one of the reasons for parting ways with the church. Instead, Nkwanyana said money was taken to one office and utilised accordingly. He said it was the same money that was used to pay salaries for priests.

Asked if the members of the now Wesleyan Church of Eswatini informed the Highveld of Eswatini about their decision to leave the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Nkwanyana responded that a certain group wrote an email, where they listed some of their challenges. He said the church complained about the language barrier, as they used Sotho, Tswana and Zulu among other African languages.  Nkwanyana stated that as far as the church was concerned, language was not an issue because there were interpreters in the church. He also mentioned that the group raised the issue of involvement of lesbians gays bisexual transgender Queen and intersex (LGBTQI) members in the church. “I don’t know how that is an issue because we have never officiated a marriage of people of the same sex in the church,” he said.

Nkwanyana stated that many people had been asking what measures were to be taken against priests who breached their vows in the church. He said the presiding Bishop, Purity Malinga, made it clear in the statement that the formation of the Wesleyan Church of Eswatini had not been blessed or approved by the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. He said the church had just been established by people on their own accord. As a result, he stated that the Methodists Church of Southern Africa had requested a formal letter from the Mahamba Circuit, so that they could discipline the priests who breached the church vows.

He mentioned that the Methodists Church of Southern Africa had been reliably informed that members of the Wesleyan Church were luring members of their church into joining them.
Nkwanyana was speaking on national radio yesterday morning. He mentioned that he had been requested by members of the church to set the record straight after Shongwe made the startling allegations about the church. “Members of the church sent me Shongwe’s recordings and asked that I respond,” he said.

Developments

When informed about the latest developments, Shongwe stated that he heard Nkwanyana on national radio.  However, he said there was no way they could not use the hymn books of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. Shongwe said there were many churches that used the same hymn books as the Methodists Church of Southern Africa. “Nkwanyana can say a lot in his defence, but it cannot help. I heard him accusing members of the Wesleyan Church of Eswatini of enticing members of the Methodists Church of Southern Africa to join their church. Unfortunately, we have a meeting with the church Board tomorrow. May we give a full response after the meeting,” Shongwe said briefly. Shongwe had cited unfair distribution of offerings, stipends, tithes and neglect as the root cause of leaving the Methodists Church of Southern Africa.

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