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Pastors Appreciation & Wellness Month –
Circular (20 September 2023):
AFM of SA Calendar 2024 –
Updated (Last Update: NCM GBM – 7 Sept):
Pastoral Letter of the 3rd Quarter
1. THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT
The conflict in the Middle East is a very complex, sensitive, and emotional issue and is also very divisive in the church context. The National Office Bearers (NOB) of The Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa (AFM) are acutely aware of the complexities of the historical and current situation in the Middle East. We lament the suffering and pain of innocent people on all sides of the conflict and urge all our members to pray for an amicable solution.
We also refer our members to a document of the AFM Committee on Dogmatic, Ethics and Liturgy (DEL) regarding the conflict in the Middle East which was compiled some time ago. It is available on the AFM website under “Pronouncements”: https://afm-ags.org/about-us/pronouncements/. The last few paragraphs of this comprehensive document, sum up where I believe we should stand regarding this matter.
We, The AFM of SA pray for the peace of Jerusalem as demanded by Scripture, without discriminating against any of the inhabitants of the land. We refuse to be protagonists or antagonists in the conflict but rather stand where Christ stands: On the side of God’s love for all of humanity. In the context of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, this includes the right to human dignity for both groups. We stand where Christ stands regarding efforts to find a solution as peacemakers in a volatile and life-threatening situation that has continued for too long.
We, The AFM of SA call on the South African government and the international community to apply the same rules of engagement in peace efforts with the people of Israel and Palestine as they apply to other recent conflicts and wars like the one between Russia and Ukraine.
The AFM of SA will continue to pray for peace in the land of our religious origins and support all efforts that work towards securing prosperity for people on both sides of the divide.
2. SAFETY AT CHURCH
There is a noticeable increase in incidents of theft at churches. Sometimes churches are soft targets for break-ins, even in broad daylight, and robberies while services are being conducted, seem to be spreading. Whilst we should not be living in fear, or expecting the worst, we should also be prepared and do what we can to protect our property and to ensure the safety of members and churchgoers during services. Here are some guidelines to help make churches safer:
- Controlled Access: Limit the number of entry points and implement access control systems. During church services and activities, entrance gates to the premises can be closed and monitored at certain times. If your church does not have a fence or entrance gate/s, consider installing such.
- Trained Ushers: Assign volunteer ushers and make them aware of what they need to be alert of whilst greeting and monitoring people entering the church. This will make it easier to spot unusual behaviour. Provide training to all staff and volunteers on security procedures and on recognizing suspicious activity.
- Emergency Response Plan: Develop a comprehensive emergency response plan that includes procedures for various scenarios and threats.
- Security Team: Establish a trained security team to monitor entrances and patrol the premises during services. Ask for input and advice from security experts in your assembly and community.
- Secure Offerings: Do not follow the same pattern of taking up and counting offerings every time. Secure tithes and offerings to prevent theft.
- Neighbourhood Watch: Engage with the local community and consider joining or starting a neighbourhood watch program in your area.
- Lighting: Where possible, ensure well-lit parking lots and walkways to reduce hiding spots for potential criminals.
- Evacuation Drills: Practice evacuation drills with the congregation to prepare for emergency situations.
- Surveillance Cameras: If possible, install security cameras in key areas to deter criminals and monitor the premises.
- Communication: Use two-way radios and/or cell phones and communication apps to enable quick communication between security personnel.
- Medical Response: Have medical supplies and medical response contact numbers available for medical emergencies.
- Cybersecurity: Protect the church databases and financial records from cyber threats.
- Background Checks: Screen volunteers and employees, especially those working with children, to identify any potential risks.
- Mental Health Support: Promote a supportive environment and offer resources for members dealing with mental health issues.
It is particularly important that safety measures should be balanced with the welcoming, warm, and open nature of being an AFM church. Open communication with the congregation about safety measures and protocols can help create a sense of security, without causing unnecessary anxiety. We must also continue to pray regularly for the safety and protection of all our members and church property.