Council for World Mission has received the news of the passing of Professor Vuyani Vellem with deep sadness. We knew of his illness and were in constant prayer and dialogue with him. We did not anticipate this sudden departure from among us.
Rev Dr Vellem was an outstanding gift to the Church, the academia and the ecumenical movement. As a Church leader, theologian and ecumenist, he gave generously and passionately to the life-giving, liberative and transformative mission agenda of the community of faith.
CWM pays tribute to Vuyani, our dearly beloved brother, colleague and friend. He has served this organisation with unqualified devotion as a member of the Board of Directors, and as a resource person on countless occasions. Vuyani loved CWM. He gave of himself as far as he was able. This year alone, he participated in the development of the CWM theology statement to inform our engagement with God’s mission for the next ten years. He also served as a presenter at the DARE global forum in Taiwan in June. From 2016 until his death he was a faithful member of our Programme Reference Group, a group that provides support to our programme team in the development and delivery of programme. He was also working with our Research and Capacity Development team as a coach in developing study material on economic justice, drawing insights from the Africa continent and South Africa in particular.
It was his passion for justice, his commitment to life in fullness for all, his fierce opposition to the life-denying forces to holistic living and his uncompromising and unapologetic stance on liberation theologies and the dignity of black people that made him a leader among leaders in the struggle for peace and justice. His passing has created a vacuum that shall be felt by all who knew him for a very long time.
We celebrate the treasured gift he was to all of us in the CWM family and thank his family and the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa for allowing us to share him with them.
To his beloved wife, Phumeza, and members of his immediate family, the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa and the University of Pretoria, we offer of sincere condolences and assure you of our prayers and thoughts at this time.
Vuyani Vellem lived a full and fruitful life. He gave much and took us far. His legacy and labour of love will live on in the contribution of those of us who learnt from him and are committed to continuing the struggle for peace and justice in God’s name.
Rest in peace, dear brother. Your work lives on in those you inspired and influenced.