A decade-old conflict within the Dutch Reformed Church in Botswana (BRCB) in Bokaa seems far from over after more than 150 members who have deserted the normal 10am congregation for the 8am one were recently fired from the church.
This left the church with not more than 50 members who have been attending the 10am service. At the centre of the factionalism is said to be the difference over who should be the pastor at the church, an issue that started a decade ago.
“In arriving at this decision, you may wish to note that the attempt to reconcile you has collapsed. You were advised and informed, through our letter dated 09 November 2016, that we were handling the Bokaa issue, and that the nature and magnitude of the matter needed careful consultations prior to consideration. You were also advised to rescind your decision to worship at the 8am service, since it was not authorised and was unlawful. Further, you were advised to read and adopt the laid church procedures and processes in all your actions. We realise that you are not prepared to take heed of the advice by the Circuit Executive Committee, instead you continue to act insubordinately,” reads the dismissal letter in part.
Things turned nasty when the Bokaa branch church council collapsed following mass resignation of members sympathetic to the 8am service citing dishonesty from the 10am faction. The church therefore requested that a new church council be elected from the congregation but the 10am adherents said the church council, in terms of the constitution is elected by outgoing council.
The other faction however said the clause could not apply in this case as the remaining council members do not form quorum and cannot sit. The dispute dragged on, and eventually led to the majority of the church membership leaving the church’s main service to worship at the 8am service. The church executive tried to intervene, but has not yet delivered the verdict on the matter. A week ago, the circuit executive body warned the fed-up and militant 8am service members to go back to the main service in vain hence the dismissal letters. The fired members
Obert Ramphaleng, a member of the church who has also been expelled by the circuit said the circuit is run by the same man who they are running away from following a decade of torture and harassment.
“We will be continuing with the 8am service. You cannot expect justice from a man you are complaining of. It is sad that our church’s good name has to go through this because of one man who feels he owns the church. The masses have run away from him and left him with his few friends and family. So he should live with that hopeless environment that he finds himself in and not drag circuit into this. We are not going back to that 10am service. He forced us out now he is crying for us,” he said, further saying they have appealed the decision to the church executive committee.
The circuit is the lower body to the church executive body,” he said in a brief interview with Mmegi. The appeal letter sent to the church executive in part reads, “the embarrassing decision by the circuit underscores our long held position that the Circuit Executive Committee is a run by angry people who cannot provide any fair judgement on the Bokaa issue”. The letter further says the poor decision doers not only tarnish the good name and reputation of the church but is a serious embarrassment for those that the same circuit executive purports to represent. Robert Seleke, one of the two signatories of the letter on behalf of the Circuit Executive Committee would not comment on the matter stating that he could only comment after the circuit assembly.