Churches and congregants in Nelson Mandela Bay are being urged to adopt a ‘Unity Pledge for Active Citizenry‘ that positions the Church to engage in bringing about constructive change in the city.
Senior Christian leaders in Nelson Mandela Bay who signed the pledge at the end of last year after 14 months of deliberations sent a copy of the pledge together with a motivational discussion document to local churches this week, requesting church staff and congregants to sign the pledge.
Outlining the background to the active citizenry initiative the discussion document says that a number of church leaders in NMB have been meeting on a regular basis for a decade “to pray, share and seek guidance on our role and mandate within the city”.
Strategy of engagement
Faced with the spectacle of failures in the city affecting water supply, public transport, schooling, local government, manufacturing, rugby administration as well as unacceptable levels of crime and corruption, the leaders chose to ask “What is our role in this dysfunctional system” rather than to simply criticise the city leaders. Over 14 months they listened to citizens, sought input from experts, engaged with officials and deliberated amongst themselves in search of “a strategy of engagement”.
“We think the solution lies in every person, every congregation and every denomination finding its place – doing what they can, where they can, as the Lord leads them: beginning with a voluntary commitment to act on both an individual and collective basis” says the discussion document referring to the pledge which commits signatories to five active citizenry principles:
1. This is our city
2. We each have our place
3. We have to be seen and also heard
4. Our daily routines must reflect our commitment
5. It is time to get to work
“The Church’s focus has always been on its evangelical mission – bringing souls to Christ. It does, however, have a complementary mission – bringing the Kingdom to people. After much discussion we believe our focus must be both,” says the discussion document.
Referring to recent press reports the document mentions that NMB church leaders have been playing a prominent role in the city’s education crisis and have started looking to do the same within the city’s health system.
Five key areas for church action
“This increasing presence in the affairs of the city is as a result of us identifying five key areas for church action, namely youth development; wellness; productive work; safe and working communities; and restoring value. Essentially, it is built on the notion that both churches and individual citizens (our congregants) must become involved and engaged in their communities – active citizenry.
“We would therefore encourage your church and congregants to become involved. Our prayer is that this will become a movement of positive change and act as a key leverage to get the city moving forward.”