Oct. 5, 2004
|A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
The Rev. Jacob Freemantle greets visitors at Arthur Wellington Methodist Church in Ibhayi, South Africa.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
ELIZABETH, South Africa (UMNS)-Arthur Wellington Methodist Church has a
history of being a place of refuge since its beginning in 1738, and the
Rev. Jacob Freemantle is continuing that tradition today.
apartheid, the church was a hiding place for political leaders trying
to escape police brutality. Today it is a place of refuge for the poor,
sick and underserved.
"We have a wounded past," Freemantle says.
ministers were prophets for those leaders, intervening with the
government, telling them brutality was not the way," Freemantle says. He
points out that Bishop Mvume Dandala was arrested in the church for
preaching against apartheid and was imprisoned in Port Elizabeth.
politicians still regard the church as a parental care spot for the
community," he says. "There are politicians now who are worshipping here
because of that past association."
is assigned to the Port Elizabeth North Circuit, and he oversees nine
"societies" (churches) with a membership of more than 4,000 people.
of the social and international affairs committee of the World
Methodist Council’s executive committee heard about Arthur Wellington
Methodist Church during a tour led by Bishop Ivan Abrahams, presiding
bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. The World Methodist
Council’s executive committee met Sept. 15-18 at St. John’s Methodist
Church in Port Elizabeth.
"In my three years of being stationed in the circuit, God has given us a resounding success," Freemantle says.
|A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
Joyce Tyaliti administers a home-based health care program at Arthur Wellington Methodist Church in Ibhayi, South Africa.
church’s ministries include feeding programs, outreach to the elderly,
street and orphaned children, and help for those suffering with HIV and
Tyaliti, a member of the church and a retired nurse, is leading a group
of volunteers who care for people with HIV and AIDS. "The numbers are
so high, and the poor have nothing," she says. The South African Council
of Churches has trained Tyaliti and four other retired nurses to work
in HIV-infected homes. They are in turn training volunteers who help in
the home-based care program.
community is in denial about HIV/AIDS," Freemantle says. "People are
being chased from their homes. These nurses are teaching the relatives
to accept these people. They are bringing care and love where there is
The church has established a Poor Fund, which is used to buy food, medicine and other essential needs for the community.
that fund, the church pays for the education of eight children who
otherwise could not afford to attend school. The church has also adopted
nearby Empilweni Hospital, where it has donated blankets, sheeting and
money to buy a laundry machine.
The Edward Cook Society is a program that feeds about 280 people in the community on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
"The church established this ministry because it would not sit idle and just wait for the government to help.
"It is an attempt by the church to eradicate poverty."
says the Methodist church has an obligation to pastor to nearby
schools-to both children and teachers. He says the church counsels
children who are orphans and living in an environment of poverty.
children, kids who have been abused or those battling difficult home
situations make it hard for teachers to cope, Freemantle says. "We have a
partnership relationship at schools to visit them and sometimes bring
children into our offices for counseling sessions and also to provide
support for the parents."
gift is counseling," he says. "On average I will counsel about seven
people a day with different kinds of suffering-unemployment, divorce,
lack of education, abuse, crime, drugs and poverty."
of those whom Freemantle counsels are children who have been
"imprisoned" in Enkuselweni Place of Safety. The children are put in the
center for shoplifting, begging on the streets or just having no place
"Poverty is manifested in many ways," he says.
Wellington and the other Methodist churches in the North Port Elizabeth
Circuit are reaching out to the community, not to increase membership,
Freemantle says, but because that is what the church should do.
"Where there is a need for spiritual fulfillment, we are there for all those areas of emptiness."
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.