PORT Alfred House of Elders (Indlu Yengwevu), constituted by pastors from different denominations held eight days of prayer that started on June 3 and ended on June 10.
The prayers, under the theme “restoration”, were meant to unite Port Alfred churches and get them involved in community challenges at large.
Talking to lay-preacher Leon Coetzee about the purpose of the prayer and the role of House of Elders in community, he began by explaining how House of Elders vision came about.
“Late last year Bishop Sikoli had a vison of the House of Elders and called Port Alfred pastors and shared it,” said Coetzee. He added that the vision was readily accepted by other pastors since it was a response to re-unite the then divided body of Christ and do something about violence in the community.
“The church has been silent for too long about the murders and violence in our communities,” he said.
A meeting was convened last year by local pastors where an inclusive advisory committee, The House of Elders, was democratically elected. Since the vision was broad and intended to benefit the community at large, it was also shared with Ndlambe mayor Phindile Faxi.
“The mayor accepted the vision and was impressed by its inclusiveness,” said Coetzee. The committee represents all races but Sikoli expressed his disappointment with Zionist Church of Christ (ZCC) members who have shown no interests in joining this constructive vision.
According to Coetzee the constitution and code of conduct was drafted early this year and elected committee members have been holding meeting since the beginning of the year to discuss how the House of Elders should operate.
With the restoration prayer the House of Elders and Minister’s Fraternal were officially introduced to the community at large. Sikoli is the chairman of House of Elders while Minister’s Fraternal is led by pastor Michael Dama and his deputy, apostle Vukile Ndolo. House of Elders is not a denomination but rather an advisory body.
Talking of the restoration prayer, Coetzee said that sermons promoted peace, unity, and love in the community. He said that churches and their pastors have been divided, which could be the cause of their ineffectiveness in bringing about change. In support of his view, Coetzee used Psalms 133 saying, “Where there is unity, God commands a blessing”.
He further revealed that House of Elders will protect community members from outside pastors who come and erect tents and allegedly reap people’s money as those pastors will now have to produce proof of ordination and documents to House of the Elders before they begin preaching.
It is believed that some of the violence experienced in communities is political motivated and therefore House of Elders is determined to encourage peace in resolving political differences, especially where Christians are involved.
With government discussing land issues, in attempt to save space it is proposing cremation rather than burial, or increasing graves from six-feet-deep to nine-feet-deep to allow a person to be buried on top of another, Faxi believes that churches are the influential platforms to convince people about any decision taken by government.
Sikoli and pastor Coetzee confirmed House of Elders is not merely locally based but will be extended to include Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth and East London.