It is with grief and sorrow that we announce the passing of one of our own in the Reverend Alister Arends.Arendse passed away in Jo’burg last week. He will be solely missed by the family of the United Congregational church of Southern Africa(UCCSA) and its partners.As the General Secretary, his sudden death has shocked the UCCSA collective, especially since he has been preparing for the UCCSA Assembly which will be held in Durban between the 25th and 30th September. His position accorded him an administrator status and he was the overseer in the five countries in Southern Africa, from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Arends himself is the son of Reverend Sam and Mrs Daphne Arends. His father served as the second General Secretary of the UCCSA after the Reverend Joseph Wing.From the above one can discern that Reverend Arends has been involved in the church from birth and followed in his father’s footsteps.As a child, he had participated in the Sunday School, Boys Brigade, Church Junior Choir and belonged to the Youth group. It is during his participation and involvement with the youth that he sensed a call to the ministry.According to him, after high school, he was motivated by, among others, Reverend. Bernard Spong and Lou-Ann Parsons to enter a programme National Youth Leadership Training Programme(NYLTP.), an ecumenical programme where young people were deployed into their communities or denominations as youth workers.After completing this programme, he found work as a youth worker in the Outeniqua and Algoa Regions between 1979 and 1980, during which time he also applied for the full-time ministry and started his studies at Fedsem from 1981 to 1983.He then preached as an intern at the Ennerdale Congregational Church in Johannesburg from 1984 to 1985.In 1986 he was ordained a minister at the Bethesda Congregational Church, serving mostly as a youth minister. Arends also helped out at the Caledon Street Congregational, Edwards Memorial, North End Congregational, the Congregational Church in Port Elizabeth and the Weis Memorial Churches.He also once served as a UCCSA Mission Secretary.His strong point was always working in the area of people development, having been mentored by Lou-Ann Parsons into becoming a facilitator in Group Dynamics and Basic Leadership Training. His passion was to be involved in areas of ministry where he could assist others with skills in Programme Planning, Communications and human resources development. His contribution has been appreciated in the areas of Youth Leadership Training, Sunday School Teacher Training, Deacons Training and developing resources to equip confirmation leaders with training.Arends was very instrumental in the formation of the UCCSA Youth Desk in 1980 and the formation of the UCCSA Mission Council in 1996.He has served at all levels of leadership in UCCSA structures. He served as one of the first UCCSA Youth Conveners with the Reverend Rupert Hambira. Served as UCCSA Education Convener and later as UCCSA Mission Council Convener. He also has served as Secretary of the Algoa Region for eight years as well as being Chairperson of the Algoa Region. With the advent of the SA Synod, he served as Synod Mission Council Convener and at the time of his passing, as SA Synod Chairperson. Over the years Arends has represented the UCCSA on many different ecumenical and partner forums. He has represented the UCCSA at the World Council of Churches, Council for World Mission Africa, South African Council of Churches and the Church Unity Commission. These engagements allowed him the opportunity to visit places like Canada, Australia, Germany, France England, Switzerland, Taiwan and Hong Kong as well as many African countries.In 2011 he led a group of young people on an exchange visit to the United Free Church of Scotland.As communications was one of his fortes, he was involved in starting up the UCCSA Newsletter as well as the development of the first UCCSA website. In 2012 he became the Chairperson of the SA Synod and in 2013, he was inducted as the General Secretary of the UCCSA, a role which he occupied until his passing. The UCCSA was formally constituted on 3rd October 1967, when churches affiliated to the United Kingdom based London Missionary Society, the US based American Board and Southern Africa based Congregational Union of Southern Africa, all merged to form what is today the United Congregational church of Southern Africa.It is estimated that UCCSA has over 900 000 members in over 700 churches in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. At the time of his passing and as he was busy with the organisation of the Durban Assembly, the sorrow is compounded by the fact the UCCSA would have celebrated 50th anniversary in October 2017.The Reverend Alister Arends was born on 27th February 1958 in East London in the Eastern Cape.He leaves behind his wife Carleen Arends and children Heather and Kaleb.His funeral will be held on Saturday 2 September, and will take place at the Nangoza Jebe Hall (formerly known as the Great Centenary Hall) in New Brighton in Port Elizabeth form 10:00.