Who we are

Who we are

OUR WELCOME STATEMENT

We, as a diverse body of believers and seekers, aspiring to live in the light and love of God in Christ, do affirm:

  • that every person has worth as a special and unique creation made in God's image;
  • that in the Spirit of love, openness and inclusiveness we welcome everybody to participate fully in all aspects of our Church's life and ministry, whatever their age, class, ability, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or nationality;
  • that as agents of reconciliation and wholeness we embrace justice for all and seek to support all who suffer discrimination or who are excluded from their communities;
  • that in the light of the Gospel we will continue to comprehend and appreciate more fully our diverse backgrounds and gifts, that through grace our love for God and neighbour may flourish.


(The statement comes from our partner congregation the First Congregational Church of Berkley in California. It was adopted at one of our church meetings and continues to guide the mission and vision of our congregation.)

OUR VISION OF HOSPITALITY

'Hospitality is not to change people, but offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are no alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for
choice and commitment. It is not an educated intimidation with good books, good stories and good works, but the liberation of fearful hearts so that words can find roots and bear ample fruit. It is not a method of making our God and our way into the criteria of happiness, but the opening of an opportunity to others to find their God and their way. The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free; free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances; free also to leave and follow their own vocations.' (Henri Nouwen)
 

WELCOME TO OUR LITTLE CIRCUS ON BELMONT

Welcome to our little circus at Belmont. Our performances are Sundays from 9:30am to 10:45am. There are no entrance fees and we also do not sell you any tickets to heaven. Our commitment is to our beautiful, but divided city of Cape Town. As we celebrate and rehearse the stories of our faith we hope to create small circles of dignity which begin around the table in the church and extend in ever widening circles to the farthest corners of our city.
 
I believe that Jesus has left us with shoes way too big and that it will take a life time to grow into them. (Not that we will ever fill them.) But he encourages us  to follow him as we stumble and fall along the difficult journey of discipleship. Sunday by Sunday we re-commit ourselves to following 'the man on the borrowed donkey'(Denise Ackermann) who blesses the 'poor in spirit',  those that can laugh at themselves and take themselves less seriously, for they know themselves held by a greater love which does not look for perfection but humility. And as Jesus' own sense of humour and skilled use of satire and parody helps us to embrace the endless incongruities in life, the promise that 'the last will be the first' breathes new life and imagination into the often sobering realities of our daily lives.


I agree with Henri Nouwen, one of the most influential spiritual writers of the twentieth century, when he compares us to clowns. I leave you with his thoughts on clowning and welcome you to this morning's 'performance', centred around the story of a God who empties herself of all power, risks everything and becomes one of us to make us her beloved children and finds the strength and compassion to stay in the place of love at all costs, even in the face of hatred and violence. It is a 'crazy' story which continues to fill me with wonder and gratitude. It is a story which I hope  will move you too from being a spectator or observer to becoming an actor and performer keen to learn and rehearse the dramatic, holy script entrusted to us. 
 
Your clown in Christ,
Robert
 
WHAT TO EXPECT IN OUR SERVICES

Our services are not necessarily what you might find in other churches! The music used is designed to draw us in (traditional hymns), involve the youth and enable us to greet each other (marimbas) and then quieten and focus our minds (Taize music) before we listen to the message.  We also usually include a short song in Xhosa or Afrikaans, to reflect our own diversity.  A range of musical instruments are used – not just the organ and piano, but marimbas, bells, brass and other instruments.

Children join us for the first part of the service, and parents are welcome to accompany them to our 'Holy Circus' if they would like to.  There is a ‘cry-room’ for those with smaller children. The youth also leave after the first part of the service to gather for a program specifically designed for young people.
 
In sharing communion on the first Sunday of every month, we gather around the table in a wide circle to include all who wish to join, including our children.

WILL OUR FAITH HAVE CHILDREN?
 
We often wonder if our children will have faith. The question can be turned around: Will our faith have children? Will we have the creativity, passion and imagination to tell children and young people about our faith in a language that is understood by them; gives meaning and makes sense in their lives?

Sunday School – the ‘Holy Circus’

We welcome children to our Holy Circus, where strive to offer them a safe space during our main Sunday service in which to discover and cherish their spiritual roots. We hope to nurture a faith characterised by trust, without fear, and a spirit of respect for difference.  Thanks to a committed group of skilled, caring teachers, each year we explore key bible stories through art, drama, games and story-telling. Every Sunday morning from 10am- 10:45am
 
Youth – building relationships

We cater specifically for our youth in a variety of activities and social events, where they are able to have fun together and discuss topics of interest
Every Sunday morning from 10am- 10:45am

Confirmation Classes – learning to fly
Our confirmation classes aim at young people between the ages of 14 to 17 and run for one year.
Every Sunday morning from 10am- 10:45am

A COMMITMENT TO SOCIAL JUSTICE

Rondebosch United Church has a proud history of seeking social justice in our community.  Our congregation has a large number of leaders and actors involved in social justice work, both in their professional and personal lives.  They are our ‘members in action’ as we strive to hear, hold, love and enfold those around us who are in need, and to speak out as advocates where appropriate.
 
“Blessed are You, O God of all creation, through whom we have this bread to eat and wine to drink…”
 
But so many of our neighbours around the Cape Peninsula have no bread to eat nor other gifts of body, heart and mind through which to bless themselves or those around them.  On the contrary, they are in many different ways abused, deprived, dependent and often desperate.
RUC ministries and projects reach out to engage with these neighbours and fellow children of God, to share with them the wide range of gifts and blessings given and accessible to our church and its members, and which are so badly needed in our communities.  We encourage anyone and everyone to share in this humanly essential and truly Christ-like work.

THE CHARTER OF COMPASSION

As a congregation we have signed the Charter of Compassion, a movement started by renowned scholar Karen Armstrong. As you walk into the church you will see a banner of it designed by one of our congregants, Alex Latimer.
 
“The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, and calls us to always treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Having compassion impels us to work to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures. It means we remove ourselves from the centre of our world and that we honour the sanctity of every person and treat everybody, without exception, with justice, equality and respect.
We need to refrain at all times from inflicting pain on others, whether physically or verbally. In order not to deny our common humanity, we need to honour the basic human rights of others, even those who we regard as enemies. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased human misery in the name of religion.
 
The Charter therefore calls on everyone:
-         To restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion;
-         To return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate;
-         To ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures;
-         To encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity;
-         To cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings, even those regarded as enemies.”

We urgently need to make compassion a clear and dynamic force in our polarised world. Compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Because we are dependent on one another, compassion is an essential element for good human relationships. Compassion is the path to enlightenment and important for the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

WAYS OF GIVING 

We rely on your giving.
 
In his own lifetime, Christ repeatedly emphasised that those who wished to be His disciples should support those in need, whether they be our own members or those in the wider community.  Very simple steps are required to participate in one or more of the ways of giving mentioned below, each of which directly supports the work we have outlined.  Please do bless yourself, your neighbour and our church by sharing in these important works.
 
Pledged Giving Plan
 
The Pledged Giving Plan is our church’s financial foundation.  We construct our annual budget on the basis of this pledged income.  All pledges are numerically coded to ensure confidentiality, whether paid by EFT or by cash or cheque in pledge envelopes.  Whenever needed, changed circumstances are accommodated by changed pledges. This voluntary self-assessed planned giving underpins all our church ministries, and all members are requested to participate appropriately to their circumstances.
 
Collections at services
 
Weekly and special collections at services assist greatly in meeting service, church and ministry expenses.  Contributions can be by cheque or cash, either loose or in a sealed envelope.  Intermittent times of good fortune can also be shared in this way with those in need and with our church ministries.
 
Samaritan Partners Trust
 
RUC’s registered welfare vehicle is the Samaritan Partners Trust, IT3056/2001.  It is concerned with humanitarian crisis alleviation.  Over the last 15 years, it has received and distributed many hundreds of thousands of rands to those in crisis and severe need,  including: Mbekweni Soup Kitchen; Friends of Child Protection; Homestead’s Early Intervention Centre (for street children); Loaves and Fishes (shelter); Peninsula School Feeding Scheme; Cape Mental Health Society; Jabulani Rural Health Society; Salvation Army winder relief; Vista Nova School (for children living with disabilities); Ons Plek (shelter for female street children) and many others.
 
Contributions come from present, past and emigrated members, their families and friends, as well as from fund-raising within church communities, public benefit organisations and other supportive humanitarian donors, here and overseas.

 
Samaritan Partners Trust     
 
First National Bank,
Main Road, Rondebosch,
7700, Cape Town
Account number: 620 650 22 669
Branch code: 201 509
Swift code: FIRNZAJJ
Reference: ‘SharingBlessing’