The Uniting Church WA celebrated over the weekend, as Rev Hannes Halgryn and Rev Dr Herman Nienaber were admitted as Uniting Church Ministers of the Word during a service at Uniting Church in the City, Trinity Perth. Hannes and Herman were both previously ordained in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa and have currently been serving in placements at Uniting Church in the City.
Rev Dr Ian Tozer, Deputy General Secretary of the Uniting Church WA, shared some of their past with the gathered congregation. He said that both Herman and Hannes grew up in South Africa.
“Hannes studied there and trained for ministry at the University of the Free State; Herman at Stellenbosch University and the University of Pretoria where he completed his doctorate and has worked at the University of South Africa,” Ian said.
“They both served a number of congregations in South Africa before moving to Australia.”
Rev Mark Illingworth, Pastoral Relations and Placements Co-ordinator for the Uniting Church WA, delivered the Word, preaching on Isaiah 55: 1-7. He said that the passage spoke to him in three areas: the poverty, the provision, and the path.
“What’s intriguing to me is that these three sections speak deeply to the human heart… in just seven verses,” he said.
“God has never left the nations without a witness to the fact that God knows our poverty, has made provision and gives the path for everyone to be helped and healed,” Mark said.
“The work isn’t finished until the whole world knows and we each stand before our saviour and hear those words: ‘Well done good and faithful servant, enter now into my rest.’”
During the service, symbols of Herman and Hannes’ past and current ministries were shared.
Hannes’ symbols included an Afrikaans Bible and a broken clay pot. He shared that in his ministry he had dealt with human brokenness, and the clay pot represented that part of his journey. He also brought along a jumper, which was a symbol from his last youth ministry placement.
As a symbol of his current ministry, Hannes shared the ceremonial trowel of Uniting Church in the City, Ross Memorial West Perth.
Herman’s twin sons presented past symbols of a huge stone and Herman’s first Bible, which he read and studied after his conversion.
“In Africa, most of the people from tribes in the country side cannot swim and yet they have to cross rivers where the water is often above their waists,” he said. “The way they do it, by not getting taken by strong currents, is to keep a heavy stone close to their chest to add more weight to their feet.
“In this way they stand firm on the solid bottom of the river, walking inch by inch and holding to the stone. My first Bible that I read before starting to study theology gave me this firmness and has kept me firm to the core message of the Bible that is unchangeable.”
His wife presented him with the symbol of the future, a book by Brain McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy. Herman said that the author explains the beauty, richness and diversity of different strains within denominations and grouping within the Christian Church, and that the Uniting Church, as an embracing church, offers that irrespective of what your angle, spirituality or theology is.