JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Men, especially preachers, stayed plenty busy here on Women’s Day.
Minister Chris Burke spent much of the day transporting pots, pans and people to and from a gathering of more than 500 Christian women on the campus of a Johannesburg school. Members of his congregation, the Hilltop Church of Christ, helped organize the daylong conference.
Women’s Day, a public holiday in South Africa, commemorates a national march of women in 1956 to petition against legislation that required them to carry identification documents during the country’s apartheid era.
Many South African women spend the holiday attending political events, said Florah Manamela, a Hilltop member and one of the organizers. A few years ago, women in Churches of Christ decided to use the day to meet and discuss practical issues that relate to their faith. Members from Johannesburg, Soweto, Pretoria and other cities attend — some from as far as 60 miles away, Manamela said.
“The aim is to help each other … to uplift, grow as Christians,” she said.
Mentoring is a key component of the event, said Patricia Netshikweta, another organizer. Participants broke into small groups, where older women taught the young. Married women taught the singles and newly married.
The married women encouraged the unmarried to seek Christian husbands, Manamela said. They also talked about the reality and danger of spousal abuse.
“We mustn’t stand for abuse,” she said.
Linky Phahlamohlaka, whose husband preaches for the 20-member Refilwe Church of Christ, said she enjoyed the discussions of marriage and relationships with in-laws.
“The mothers were able to guide us with the word of God,” she said.
The event included “some questions that ladies never ask,” said Maria Moropa, a member of the Mamelodi Church of Christ. “It challenged us.”
For example, “A lady is supposed to be submissive,” Moropa said. But, “if she ever preached the Gospel to an unbeliever, can she baptize that person?”
Younger women, including Hilltop members Fhulufhelo Mudau and Lehutso Phahlamohlaka, said the gathering encouraged them — even though they spent most of it cooking for their sisters in Christ.
“It brings us together,” Lehutso Pha- lamohlaka said. “We get to learn … on our own. Whoever has a question can ask.”
“There are so many denominations around,” she added, and the event helps “to keep us grounded.” RELATED BLOG POST: Ladies day, apple pie and malva pudding in South Africa