Xapile’s last Xmas with Gogos

2017-12-14 06:00
Gogos of the JL Zwane Church also received gifts courtesy of the Uniting Presbyterean Women’s Fellowship containing a face towel and snacks during a luncheon in their honour on Friday. From left are Novusile Ndleleni, Lilian Phoswa, Jessie Nxawe and Beauty Xhego. From the right are Nosebenzile Balintulo, Nomalizo Khwezi and Xoliswa MthathiPHOTO: tarzan mbita

Gogos of the JL Zwane Church also received gifts courtesy of the Uniting Presbyterean Women’s Fellowship containing a face towel and snacks during a luncheon in their honour on Friday. From left are Novusile Ndleleni, Lilian Phoswa, Jessie Nxawe and Beauty Xhego. From the right are Nosebenzile Balintulo, Nomalizo Khwezi and Xoliswa MthathiPHOTO: tarzan mbita

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The J.L Zwane Church held its annual Christmas function for its aged constituency last Friday.

While most churches host a Christmas do only for their pastors, this is one church known to do this in favour of their older congregants and their pastor.

And as things go, for Reverend Dr Spiwo Xapile and his wife Zethu, this was their last year-end function in respect of the elderly after 28 years of pastoral duties to generations of congregants, from Gugulethu and surrounds.

For 20 years, generations of the aged have become used to a sit down lunch during this time of the year and for the past 15 years, the church has added the component of offering groceries to its senior citizens.

Arm-In-Arm-In-Africa(AIAIA), an American based Non-Government-Organisation is responsible for making the food distribution possible.

Founded in 2015 by Catholic Priest Father Jimmy Cassidy, from Minnesota, the organisation is involved in health care, education- through a programme called Fun Learning for Youth where they help Grade 8-12 learners in maths, English and Life skills- and food production.

But, even as the old members of the church sat down to a chicken and maize stew on Friday, the reality of the Xapiles leaving them in May 2018 was not lost on them

Each month they spend with their beloved minister between now and April, will be the last, as the couple is going on retirement.

According to associate Reverend Theo Mayekiso, emotions run high whenever the subject of the couple leaving crops up, but over the past year, members have been immunised against any form of emotional fallout. “Its hard on them(congregants), having known the pair personally for 28 years. There are a lot of emotions, but over time, people have been brought in to prepare the members for the eventuality and the reality that the minister will not be around from May next year. Some have begged him to stay ... and so they agreed to stay on until the Easter festival and not beyond that.”

Mayekiso said the food distribution programme also benefits people from Xapile’s home village of Emalungeni in Ngqeleni, Emampondweni.

“It has always been his contention that this is where he was moulded, and what the world saw in him today was because of that place ... He is a man in touch with his roots.”

So that there will also a Christmas lunch and food distribution over there too, also with AIAIA involvement.

Mayekiso said the church at large has benefitted from the Xapile’s presence in the both communities over the years.

“The church has taken people through the processes to deal with Xapile’s departure. Guests have been invited to talk to people, to enable the reality to sink in, they have also been told of change management, to see a future without him. Some people are in deliberate denial, others have internalised the process while others are still begging them to stay, but he is adamant that his time is up and he has to retire” he added.

“... But Xapile has made it clear that there is no turning back from that decision and that he does not want to interfere with whoever will be following in his footsteps.”

Mayekiso said since Xapile’s name is associated with the church in many respects, any incomer will have a challenge building their own label.

There is a precedent: The St Mary Magdeline Anglican Church further down the street is still referred to as Kwa Qabazi, years after his demise and numerous other ministers having taken charge of the congregation.

Xapile has said he does not want the next minister to be judged on his strengths or weaknesses but to be allowed space to prove their worth to the church.

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