Member Church Feature: The Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA)

by CWM Communications Team

We are a diverse community of reformed Christians led by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, prayerfully seeking the will of God for our lives together and the world.

Our Vision

To be a reconciled community of Christians exercising a prophetic witness to Christ.

 Our Mission

We will proclaim our Triune God in Southern Africa through

  • Bearing witness to the saving love of Jesus Christ;
  • Building vital, reforming congregations for worship, ministry and discipleship; and
  • Visibly proclaiming the Kingdom of God through unity, justice, peace and love.

Our Mission Priorities

We will adopt specific and measurable targets for the denomination against the following priorities and report on progress against these targets to the denomination through the General Assembly:

  • Evangelism
  • Support the development of missional congregations
  • Health, wellbeing and securing justice
  • Engaging in reconciliation and unity
  • Stewardship

Moderator of the General Assembly with some ministers and the Executive Committee of the Women’s Fellowship

Strategic Plan

We designed a strategic plan that will guide our actions over the five-year period beginning January 2017. The following are some of the elements of the plan, as abbreviated:

1. The UPCSA will be a Missional Church: Towards the achievement of this, we crafted the definitions of a missional church and missional congregation that speak to the situation of the UPCSA. They are as follows:

A Missional Church is a sent Church, which understands its primary work as witnessing to Christ and serving God in the world.  A Missional Church is shaped by God for the community into which God has placed it. It is focused on those who don’t yet know Jesus and on working with God in bringing fullness of life (involving justice, healing, wholeness and reconciliation) to all the people of the world.

 A Congregation (or worshipping community) is a group of people who gather regularly to meet Christ in Word and Sacrament, practice mutual care and make disciples in our changing contexts. They do so while seeking to participate with God in the transformation of the world. As communities, they move toward sustainability in leadership and ministry.

2. The UPCSA will have mission-oriented and holistically-developed ministry

  • Promote the paradigm shift of ministry from minister centeredness to congregation focus.
  • Equip and empower the ministry for mission and promote the diversification of skills and training, especially practical skills, for the ministerial students.
  • Hold consultations for the ministers’ spouses.

3. The UPCSA will promote the equality of all its members and congregations

  • Address the inequalities experienced in Ministry and as a result of the transnationality of the UPCSA.
  • Develop a mechanism to facilitate meaningful encounters and discussion forums throughout the church to address the equality concerns around race, tribe, culture, gender, etc.

4. The UPCSA be welcoming to all, especially the youth

  • Promote inclusivity and emphasise the radically inclusive nature of the Gospel.
  • Expedite the rolling out of the seven ministries, as per the resolution of the 2015 Executive Commission, namely: 1. Ministers’ Welfare and Development, 2. People with Disabilities, 3. Eco justice, 4. Men, 5. Women, 6. Youth, and 7. Children.
  • Encourage/Urge/Instruct our structures/services to include our youth at all levels.

UPCSA Youth in action with the Moderator-Designate

5. The UPCSA will reflect the demographics of its membership at all decision-making levels and forums

  • Promote maximum participation of all members by simplifying the decision-making processes.
  • Develop leadership and management development programmes, with specific emphasis on women and youth development.
  • Structure the General Assembly Committees to be reflective of the demographics.

Consultation of the Former Moderators of the UPCSA and members of the Priorities and Resources Committee.

6. The UPCSA will have cohesive, efficient and effective administration

  • Provide capacity building and training for all office bearers at all the levels of the denomination.
  • Dedicate the February Presbytery Council meetings to the administrative work, including and not limited to receiving reports on the life and work of the congregations, ministers’ welfare, and management of assets.
  • Hold consultations for the officials of the Presbyteries.

7. The UPCSA will promote a positive image and raise its profile

  • Instilling of the values of the UPCSA within the membership, starting with the ministers, so as to achieve unity.

8. The UPCSA will be a reconciled Church

  • Promote dialogue and meaningful encounters.
  • Develop programmes to address the pain that emanates from our transnational situation.

Poverty Eradication Projects Supported by the UPCSA Office currently

  • Cattle Fattening Project in Zimbabwe
  • Capacity Developing Programme in Newcastle, South Africa
  • Capacity Developing Programme and Farming project in Makhado, South Africa

Members of different associations of the UPCSA.

There are many other projects that are run by some congregations, Presbyteries and Church Associations. It is our prayer that we make a positive change in people’s lives through effective mission.

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