12 March 2019 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Eugene Seegers
Leading women honoured at faculty opening
Rev Martin Laubscher pictured with Thandeka Khulu, Oarabetse Morokane, Lunette Visser, and Trunette Sevenster, who participated in the worship service.

At its recent opening, the Faculty of Theology and Religion conferred the inaugural Letsema Award on Dr Ellen Vuyiswa Blekie, a medical doctor known for her sterling work in her local community in Thaba Nchu, as well as on the various church councils and committees on which she still serves at the age of 87. Dr Gideon van der Watt, director of the “Partners in Mission” unit of the Dutch Reformed Church in the Free State, presented the award to Dr Blekie on behalf of the faculty.

The theme of the morning’s proceedings was: The church and violence against women and children. This theme was not only borne out by the worship service presented by Rev Martin Laubscher, but also by each of his participants. First, a popular song from 1987, My Name is Luka, by Suzanne Vega, was recited in spoken-word form. The song deals with themes of physical and emotional abuse, as well as being kept silent as a victim. Next, the Paulette Kelly poem I Got Flowers Today was recited. The final stanza begins with the words “I got flowers today.../Today was a special day — it was the day of my funeral...”

Dr Carin van Schalkwyk, who has been serving the Philippolis community and congregation since 1993, conducted the liturgy. Her chosen passage was 2 Samuel 13, which recounts the events leading up to King David’s son Amnon raping his half-sister Tamar and the subsequent cover-up by the king and his sons. Dr Van Schalkwyk likened the way David of old handled the situation to the modern church’s failure regarding the protection of women and children, stating these vulnerable ones have been failed miserably.

Dr Van Schalkwyk added: “The root of the problem has not been addressed. It requires a rethinking of both preaching and policy, even of theology. All are created in God’s image; what does that mean?”

Concluding, she said, “We need to hear the lament of those affected, and weep with them. I dream of a day when women do not have to think of how to avoid sexual harassment on a daily basis.”