Members of the Central Methodist Mission’s regular congregation want to know when the refugees occupying their church will be leaving. Picture: Lubabalo Poswa/African News Agency(ANA)
Members of the Central Methodist Mission’s regular congregation want to know when the refugees occupying their church will be leaving. Picture: Lubabalo Poswa/African News Agency(ANA)

Congregation wants to know when Cape refugees will end church occupation

By MWANGI GITHAHU Time of article published Feb 26, 2020

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Cape Town - Members of the Central Methodist Mission’s regular congregation want to know when the refugees occupying their church will be leaving now that the City’s verification process is set to end on Friday.

Congregants are also worried about how they will pay for the church to be cleaned and restored to normal use when the refugees leave.

One congregant, speaking on condition of anonymity, called on the presiding bishop of the church to step into the fray.

“I see a massive bill for repairs to the church building by the Methodist District of Cape of Good Hope, already suffering and battling to pay MCO (Methodist Connexional Office) dues.”

The congregation, who last celebrated a service in their own church at Christmas, will be celebrating Ash Wednesday service this evening at the Observatory Methodist Church.

Reverend Alan Storey - the minister who originally invited the refugees into the church - said: “We have witnessed and experienced that all attempts at negotiations with the refugees have failed, including the multitudes of times they have agreed, but failed, to vacate the church sanctuary.”

Speaking about the judgment handed down by Western Cape High Court acting judge, Daniel Thulare, last week that allowed the City to force the refugees to comply with by-laws, Storey said: “My hope is that this judgment will draw all those involved in this protest closer to the truth of their own situation and move them to vacate the area and the church as soon as possible.

“Furthermore, I hope that everyone, including those inside the church, will use the opportunity afforded to them by the judgment to seek assistance should they need,” said Storey.

Storey has been in charge of the church since 2009. For more than 30 years the church on Greenmarket Square has been the venue for protests and other community events.

According to a history of the church published on its website: “In 1994 the church hosted the launch of the Gun Free SA campaign where many children handed in their toy guns as a sign of their commitment to the campaign. It also hosted the World Methodist Council Peace Award Ceremony for Nelson Mandela in 2000.

“All of this has happened as a result of the church’s commitment to seek to be relevant to the issues of the day.”

@MwangiGithahu

[email protected]

Cape Argus

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