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Elderly remembered

Eveline Chikwanah 8 May 2016

 

elderlyrememberedElderly members in the United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe were overjoyed on Saturday 7 May when they converged for the first time in living memory at an event specially organized for members over 65 years.

Chitungwiza-Marondera became the first district in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area to have a day for the aged congregation where over 150 members fellowshipped with top church leadership and aired their concerns. They were presented with 85 walking sticks sourced by the Rev. David Mucherera of Gauteng United Methodist Church, South Africa, coffee mugs and groceries.

“This is the first occasion where elderly people have been honoured and given the opportunity to interact with the Bishop’s office and the district superintendent,” said the Rev. Alan Masimba Gurupira, administrative assistant to the Bishop.

“I will discuss this event at Cabinet meetings and encourage other district superintendents to take up the initiative so that it cascades across the whole Episcopal area,” he said.

The Rev. Gurupira said while the Book of Discipline prescribes that aged members should be afforded the opportunity to express their views in the church, they have largely been excluded from church activities.

Chitungwiza-Marondera Day for the Elderly was the brainchild of district superintendent, the Rev. Portia Kanoyangwa.

“The aged members seemed to be left out of church programs so I decided to invite them to my residence and organized a lesson which will assist them to remain focused on Jesus Christ,” she said.

“The response was overwhelming. I feared they would not come, but they turned up from all churches in the district, even our three rural churches which are over 100km away were represented,” said the Rev. Kanoyangwa.

She shared her idea with the Rev. Mucherera of GUMC who decided to assist with 85 walking aids for those who attended the event. The sticks were presented in descending order according to their ages.

Mbuya Martha Mudzengerere, who is believed to be over 103 years old, was the first to receive a walking stick. “God is good. I feel blessed and I am grateful to the church for recognizing the elderly and presenting me these gifts,” she said.

Mudzengerere has been a member of the United Methodist Church all her life: “I have never witnessed such an event specifically planned for the elderly members,” she said.

She encouraged the younger generations to actively participate in all church programs and said those in formal employment should reserve their holidays for important events such as conventions and revivals.

“Being employed is not an excuse for you not to attend church conventions. When I was young and working for the local council, I would use my leave days to attend church gatherings,” she said.

Mrs. Rebecca Gurupira spent a few minutes teaching the elderly congregation basic exercises which are vital for their health. “I felt blessed and enjoyed the time with the golden boys and girls,” she said.

Renowned historian and Africa University archivist, Mr. Shepherd Kudzai Machuma, said the event was unprecedented in living memory.

“The only other recorded gathering was held by the Rev. RC Gates in 1918 at Old Mutare when he wanted to thank the elderly for mobilizing their communities to attend the historic convention which resulted in the Holy Spirit appearing as a flame. That is the only record that I know,” he said.

Mr. Machuma said the elderly are custodians of the UMC heritage and such events should spread to other districts.

Mrs. Grace Katena, 86, said she was overjoyed at spending the day with the district superintendent and sharing meals with her. It was her first time to visit the residence.

“This is a very happy occasion for me. It was wonderful to interact with other members of my generation. I can walk unaided but the walking stick will become handy later in my life,” she said.

The Rev. Mucherera said he was inspired to donate to the elderly in Chitungwiza – Marondera because of the teachings of his parents.

“I was taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive and my family supported the idea of donating to the elderly. We do not know the beneficiaries in the district but we are bound together by the love of God,” he said.

“We were very happy to contribute to the occasion and become part of the Chitungwiza-Marondera family,” said the Rev. Mucherera from his base in South Africa.

Mr. Samuel Karumazondo said the unprecedented event had uplifted the living standards of the elderly and renewed their faith. “We are overjoyed because we now know we are still valuable to the church,” he said.

Chitungwiza-Marondera connectional ministries chairperson, the Rev. Herbert Mumvuma, said the church will try and address the concerns expressed by the aged.

“Next year we plan to hold a bigger event. We will look for ways for the elderly to contribute to the church. They have been sidelined and we need to integrate them,” he said.

Among the major concerns raised was the possibility of simplifying the language in the Book of Discipline and also translating it into the local Shona language for people to get a better understanding.

WELCOME , REV. GURUPIRA!!

BY Ranganai Tinashe Dzotizei and Abigail Mvududu

Harare East District hosted a welcome reception for the newly appointed Administrative Assistant to the Bishop Rev Alan Masimba Gurupira at Cranborne circuit on May 15.

Representatives from the district’s circuits and from the length and breadth of the United Methodist Church thronged Cranborne to celebrate the newest chapter in the burgeoning life of the esteemed clergyman.

Rev Maxwell Chambara reminded guests in his devotion titled Gashirai vaenzi zvine makomborero (Genesis 18 vs 1-10,14)that there are much blessings in doing such events as we never know what stands between us and our blessings adding that the district and the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference are delighted to have him and the family on board.

The event saw the Cranborne Young Couples Choir doing what they know best with well thought compositions, cementing their ever growing status as a go –to on functions like these, having put up a similar act at the birthday celebrations for Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa.

Rev Gurupira was thankful for all the district has done and vowed to continue doing the good work which God has assigned to him.

Ironically, the event was held at the circuit Rev Gurupira and his family are now part of and was attended by the District Superintendent for Harare East Rev Joseph Bonga.

TIME OUT WITH THE GURUPIRAS

On the sidelines of the event, Abigail Mvududu (AM) managed to have a chat with the Gurupira family, from the man of the day Rev Alan (AG), his lovely wife Tendai (TG) and son Theophilus (THG) just to get the sense of their feeling at this occasion and getting to know them. Below are the excerpts.

AM: Who is Rev Alan Masimba Gurupira and where has he been in his time as a pastor?

AG: Rev Gurupira has served the church for the past 33 years. I have been in Mutoko and Murewa for 21 years as a Pastor in Charge, School Chaplain and a Station Chairperson. I have served as District Superintendent for Murewa – Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe District for eight years and later on became the Connectional Ministries director for the Zimbabwe West Annual Conference, at the same time deputising the then Administrative Assistant to the Bishop Rev Zebediah Marowangepo and now currently hold the position he vacated.

AM: Doing administrative work, is that not being taken away from doing that which you have been called to do ie bringing souls to Christ?

AG: As you administer in the office of the Bishop, you assist the Bishop in the wider programs of bringing souls to Christ. This remains the core business within the Bishop’s office to administer the church and ensure that those who have been brought within the ranks of the church are managed as followers of Christ.

AM: Has you job as Administrative Assistant left you much room to preach at all e.g at revivals etc?

AG: Yes, at every revival, even at conventions, the Bishop’s office is invited as required to be there. By order the office has time to preach.

AM: What are your academic qualifications?

AG: I have a Masters in Religious Studies.

AM: Amai Gurupira, what kind of a person is Rev Gurupira and in your opinion, since becoming the Administrative Assistant has it changed him anyway?

TG: He is a principled man and he hasn’t changed since he was appointed Administrative Assistant.

AM: Theophilus, describe your father? What type of a man is he?

THG: He is action oriented, smart and always punctual. He is time conscious, wants things done straight to the point and does not waste time on things that do not matter.

He is not a strict dad but he wants things done properly. He always tells you if you have done something wrong. I just admire the fact that he is always action oriented and smartly dressed all the time ie always on point.

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