Implications of Methodist clergies’ average lifespan and missional lessons learned from obituaries of deceased ministers
Author(s)Lehlohonolo J. Mathibe
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AbstractWe are born, we touch the lives of others, we die – and then we are remembered. For the purpose of this article, I have assessed from obituaries the average lifespan of the clergy (ministers) in the Methodist Church of South Africa (MCSA), who died between 2003 and 2014. These obituaries were published in the Yearbooks of the MCSA from 2004 to 2015. I also give attention to how the deceased ministers are remembered. The average lifespan of Methodist ministers is 72 years, and it is likely to increase to 74 years by 2023. This article discusses the implications of Methodist ministers’ average lifespan and suggests that the clergy should be encouraged and enabled to retire at the age of 60 years. The following 12 themes (or missional lessons), mainly answering the question of how the clergy are remembered, emerged from the qualitative analysis of obituaries: they were gifted preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ; they lived a balanced life; they were humble servants in Jesus’ vineyard; they were sensitive storytellers with a deep sense of humour; they were community builders; they were leaders and meticulous in administration; they were prayer warriors; they loved and valued education; they were disciplined and principled; they enjoyed music; they worked hard for an everlasting peace on earth; and they were zealous stewards of God’s creation.