New Church Life NCL May/June 2018 - Page 43

Laborers in the Vineyard Educating General Church Ministers Outside of Bryn Athyn The Rev. Dr. Andrew M. T. Dibb Dean of the Bryn Athyn College Theological School O n May 31, 1915, a Johannesburg-bound train puffed out of Durban Station. On board was a youthful Rev. Frederick Gyllenhaal, who had arrived in South Africa a few months before. He was the first General Church pastor to the Durban Society and was traveling at the invitation of two men from Lesotho, or Basutoland. They had travelled to Durban to make contact with other New Church people. The leader of these two men was Samuel Mofokeng, who had been introduced to the Heavenly Doctrines and wanted to establish the New Church among his people. On his arrival in Basutoland, Gyllenhaal was thrust into an entirely new life, travelling on horseback or by cart, he went with Mofokeng from one group to the next, preaching at different societies, sometimes to a hundred or more people. He rapidly grew convinced that the New Church had a prosperous future amongst these people. During that visit he began educating four men who would eventually become the first African ministers of the General Church. They were ordained in 1919 by Bishop N.D. Pendleton, and the General Church Mission in South Africa was formed at the same time. This kind of event has been repeated many times in other parts of the world since then. There is a long history of people finding the Heavenly Doctrines and realizing the importance of being educated in them to become ministers. By training the four men in Basutoland between 1915 and 1919, Fred Gyllenhaal established an educational heritage that the General Church continues to build on. Today the General Church operates in many countries; it is truly an international church without borders. Anyone, from any country, culture or language group, who believes in the Heavenly Doctrines and is willing to be baptized is free to join, so groups have formed in places where they never 219