This press release from the MCSA is very good news for Methodism in Southern AfricaThe Rev Dr Mvume Dandala has been appointed the next President of Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary (SMMS). The Governing Council of SMMS met on Thursday, 13 September, and after receiving the report of the Search Committee it had appointed in May, voted overwhelmingly to entrust Dr Dandala with the leadership of the MCSA’s flagship theological training and formation centre in Pietermaritzburg.
The appointment follows the tragic and untimely death in May of the seminary’s first President, Rev Dr Ross Olivier, who was able to complete only three of the eight years he expected to serve. Since May, former Chair of the Governing Council, Rev Prof Peter Storey has served as Interim President and will do so until December.
The 61 year-old Dandala is well known and highly regarded in Southern African and world Methodism. He has had a distinguished ministry in the local church and in positions of Connexional responsibility. He studied at Federal Theological Seminary and Wesley House, Cambridge. For a number of years he was the Connexional Mission Secretary and is a past Presiding Bishop of MCSA as well as past President of the SA Council of Churches. He was elected Prior of the Knights of St John and has been an honorary Professor at Pretoria University. Dr Dandala also served beyond the borders of Southern Africa as General Secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches. There was a brief period when he resigned, honouring the requirements of our Laws and Discipline, in order to represent the Congress of the People Party in Parliament. After he returned to active ministry he was appointed to his present position at Manning Road Methodist Church and as provided for in its rules, the Governing Council has petitioned the Presiding Bishop and the Methodist Conference to facilitate his release and stationing at SMMS.
Chairperson of the Governing Council, Professor Gordon Zide, expressed his pleasure at the decision and on behalf of the Council, extended his best wishes to Dr Dandala and his family for accepting the challenge and ‘the work the Lord has put on their shoulders.’ ‘SMMS is blessed to have a person of Dr Dandala’s stature,’ he said; ‘He will bring vast experience into the realm of the seminary. Mvume’s humility and his selfless devotion and dedication to the Methodist Church will sharpen the future of SMMS.’ Prof Zide said that Dandala would be joining colleagues who had ‘given their commitment to the seminary without fail,’ and that the Governing Council would need to support them in their journey.
After the decision, in a message to the seminarian community at SMMS, Prof Storey said, ‘I am sure that when Dr Dandala comes among us, all of the varied experiences which have made up his life and ministry will contribute to a rich relationship with your new President.’ Storey told New Dimension that the Chapel of Christ the Servant, where the seminarians had gathered, was the scene of joy and celebration when the name was announced. ‘The long months of not knowing have been stressful for SMMS,’ he said, ‘There is no doubt about the warm welcome Mvume Dandala will receive from the Seminary community.’