This year on Valentine’s Day, 14 February, the Faculty of Theology and Religion held its annual opening service in Musaion Hall on the University of Pretoria’s Hatfield Campus. In honour of the holiday spirit, the theme for the occasion was “For God So Loved The World”. Many dignitaries from around the institution, including the Vice-Chancellor Prof Tawna Kupe, as well as from the wider community, such as Methodist Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa, were in attendance.
The Faculty continues setting aside a day like this to mark the commencement of the new year, hoping that students and lecturers alike will feel inspired to make the most of all the teaching, learning and research which lies ahead. Much of that inspiration in 2020 came from the two choirs that performed, getting all the guests out of their seats and dancing, before the head of House Theology, Mr Kamagano Sethono, delivered a moving speech, the text of which can be found here below.
“Greetings to you all. It has been a tradition to start speeches like this one with a Bible joke, so please allow me to tell you one. Why couldn’t Jonah trust the ocean? Because he knew there was something ﬁshy about it.
I would like to welcome the executive of the University of Pretoria, starting with the vice- Chancellor and Principal, Prof Tawana Kupe, the registrar Prof Caroline Nicholson, the dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religion Prof Jerry Pillay and the lastly, our special guest Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa. I would also like to extend my greetings to the directors, church partners and lecturers who have graced us with their presence, but most of all, our highly prestigious guests, you, the students. I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ Amen.
With that being said, let me tell you about my journey in this faculty. The thirst for knowledge about God brought me to this place. Theology for me is knowing God. And yes, this kind of knowing God is ﬁlled with love, gratitude, and the communicable attributes of God impressed into our lives. Theology for me is not incompatible with love nor unity. Theology for me is the solution to solving the injustices we are facing in our communities and the lack of diversity is our societies. My purpose or my ministry rather is in serving people, it is because of that I decided to take on the opportunity to be part of the house committee representing students from the faculty of theology and religion. Who would’ve known that I would be standing here in front of you today delivering the chairperson’s speech; and who knows what you will become now that you’re part of this great family.
We as House Theology and Religion, see this year being a year of evolution. The current committee had to evolve in establishing its own identity and ﬁnding its own character starting with the redesigning of the committee’s logo. We had to reﬂect on what does this mean to us, it means to promote a community of unity, love, diversity, inclusivity but most of all a people who embrace change. As for God so loved the world, we envision a community that is not divided by race, class, hate speech and culture so that we can become a reﬂection of God’s love.
Speaking to the young people of the Faculty of Theology and Religion, as the world is moving to the fourth industrial revolution, careers that we as the youth are encouraged to do are related to the revolution. But you as a student at the faculty Theology and Religion, are called to be an instrument of God’s word, peace to those who are troubled, joy to those who are down casted and to change the lives of people around you. Directing this message to ﬁrst years, For God so loved the world that He brought you to this faculty for a reason that some of you might not realize or might question.
My predecessor, Thabiso Thoka, once said this in his faculty opening speech, I quote “in life we quickly learn that our desired destinations do not lead us through our desired roads. At times is on that very road we realize that our intended destination is not where we needed to be but rather where we wanted to be” unquote. So allow yourself to trust that He who has brought you here, knows exactly why you are here. And to the senior student at the faculty, let us soldier on and keep holding on, for the world is waiting for us.
I will close with a Bible verse that is close to my heart which is taken from Philippians Chapter 1: verse 6 and it reads as follows: ‘Being conﬁdent of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.’ Thank you.”