About 100 City of Cape Town staff and four councillors attended an Ascension Day service in the Cape Town Civic Centre building last Thursday — bringing a much-welcomed and refreshing break to more than a decade of prayerlessness in the city’s municipal headquarters, said veteran ACDP councillor Demetrius Dudley.
“Everyone prayed together for the city and acknowledged each other with a spontaneous hug. Several staff members have since asked me if we could have a service more often, which has inspired me to request a meeting room on a monthly basis to hold CoCT staff prayer meetings — please pray for a positive response!” he said.
Dudley said that prior to last week’s event, the last Ascension Day service in the centre was held more than 10 years ago after he got permission from the city administration to host one. Those attending had to sacrifice their lunch hour and council had to approve an extra hour off work.
The year after that service he said he brought up the subject during a full council meeting and requested permission for an Ascension Day gathering once again.
“I was told by the Mayor that she was ‘sick and tired of Christians wanting another holiday’. I immediately interjected saying: “Madam Mayor, we do not view Ascension Day as a holiday, but as a HOLY day”. I was then brought to order by the Speaker and warned. Shortly after that, prayer in the chamber and at portfolio meetings was replaced with a moment’s silence. My requests each year for a venue [for Ascension Day services] were not accommodated.”
This year, however, he said he asked Alderman Ian Nielson — who was Acting Mayor following the contested expulsion of Mayor Patricia de Lille from the DA — for permission and assistance on behalf of ACDP councillors to host an Ascension Day meeting in eight day’s time.
“He said he had no objections and that I should approach the staff member in charge of venue bookings. Within 15 minutes I had a venue in the civic centre secured!
“The new City Manager, Lungelo Mbandazayo, a brother, was also very helpful and agreed to give all staff wishing to attend permission and sent out the notification from his office giving permission for an extra hour to be tagged onto the lunch hour of anyone wishing to attend.
“Our experience on this occasion, in dealing with City officials was positive and encouraging. They were efficient, professional and helpful.”
Last week’s Ascension Day service opened with a reading of Act 1: 1 -11 and worship. Rev Barry Isaacs then preached a message in which he said: “We are called to lift up our eyes” — He referred to Acts 1:6 — “Lord are you at this time are going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?”
Pastor Gareth Stead also delivered a message, saying: “We are called to serve our City of Cape Town.” His key verse was Acts 1:8 — “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Dolly Mgoqi led prayers for all civil servants, for the Mayor, city councillors and all in authority, and for healing of the city [see text below].
Rev Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the ACDP, closed the service with serving communion and saying a benediction.
The text of the prayer for healing of Cape Town was: “Father we come to you in the name of Jesus Christ, the one Whose ascension to heaven we remember and celebrate today. We remember that He ascended after finishing the work you gave Him to do on earth – to reconcile us to You and to one another.
“We are mindful of the work that You have given us to do in His name here on earth and in our own great and beautiful city of Cape Town. We pray for the healing of our city. We pray that the walls that divide us will be removed. We pray that the legacies of past injustices and the spatial segregation that still exists in our city will be healed.
“We pray that the unemployed would find work and that businesses would prosper. Heal us of inequality, poverty, broken relationships, divisions and disunity. Lord, heal our city council of its strife and division. Help us to put political differences aside as we put the citizens first.
“Bless and protect every civil servant in this city. Empower us to serve every citizen in our city with hearts of joy and gladness, without fear or favour to the glory of God. Amen.”