Thomas Coke (1747-1814)

 

From Brecon to the World

Thomas Coke was one of the founders of Methodism and a major contributor to the globalisation of the movement. Born in Brecon, is travelled widely and initiated the sending of missions to many countries.

Brecon in the 18th Century

When Coke was born, Brecon was one of the most important towns in Wales. It was on the route to Ireland and the final stop for the first regular coach service into Wales from London.

It held one of the four Welsh Courts of Great Sessions of a prominent market town and administrative centre. It was also an important social centre for the local gentry and landowners who built many fine houses in the town.

Early Life

Born close to St Mary’s Church in Brecon, where he  was baptised, Coke was the son of a well-to-do apothecary (early pharmacist), Bartholomew Coke, and his wife, Anne. He was educated at Christ College in Brecon and at Jesus College, Oxford and he graduated from University in 1768.

In 1775 he became a doctor of Civil Law. In Brecon he was deeply involved in town life, serving first as a councillor and then as the Bailiff in 1770.

Early Methodism

The Methodist movement began in the 18th century with the teachings of John Wesley, who believed in bringing faith back into people’s everyday lives and that salvation was available to all. He was a charismatic speaker and often preached in the open air. Methodism became popular amongst the working class, although members of all social classes at the time became involved.

Early Ministry

In 1771 Coke was ordained as a priest and became curated in the parish of South Petherton, in Somerset. He first met John Wesley in 1776 and later became an important assistant to him, beginning his lifelong commitment to the newly developing Methodist Church. On Easter Sunday in 1777, to the sound of church bells, Coke was driven from his parish because the local Rector disapproved of his Methodist ways.

Profile and Personality

At only 5’1”, Coke was a short man but he had a youthful appearance that stayed with him throughout his life. He was described as volatile and impulsive but also quick to admit when he was at fault, warm-hearted and honest. John Wesley said of Coke in 1788: ’I creep like Laos and the ground I get I keep; but the doctor (Coke) leaps like a flea and is sometimes obliged to leap back again.’

In America

In 1784, Coke was ordained Superintendent and sailed for the newly formed United States with orders to organise an independent American Methodist Church. In Baltimore, Coke met with Methodist preachers and ordained their chosen leader, Francis Asbury, as a fellow Superintendent; though they were both later styled ‘Bishop’ by the Americans, much to John Wesley’s displeasure.

Coke made nine journeys across the Atlantic Ocean, meeting with the President, George Washington, speaking out against slavery and addressing the US Congress.

Father of the Methodist Missions

In 1786, Coke landed on Antigua in the Caribbean. Impressed by the devotion and quiet endurance of the slaves he found there, he was inspired to organise and encourage Methodist missions throughout the West Indies and elsewhere.

The costs were high and Coke often financed them from his own pocket. His marriages, late in life, to Penelope Goulding Smith, from Bradford-on-Avon, in 1805, and Anne Loxdale, of Liverpool, in 1811, she died less than a year later, helped fund his work: both women were strong supporters of their husband’s ideals, before their untimely deaths.

Death and Commemoration

Coke made his final voyage in 1814, at the age of 67, leading a team of missionaries to the Indian sub-continent. On Tuesday May 3rd, he was found dead in his cabin and was buried at sea.

His loss was greatly felt by the Methodist Church and many memorials were created to commemorate his life’s achievements. In Brecon, a memorial chapel was built in 1835, to which a school was later added. Churches bearing his name can be found in the United States, Jamaica, Sri Lanka and even South Petherton, his first parish.

Methodism in the World Today

Since Coke’s day, Methodism has continued to spread across the globe and today claims over 70 million members.

Modern day Methodists, such as the late Nelson Mandela, continue Coke’s legacy of ’a life of faith in God lived in service to others.’

In December 2013, the Methodist Church of South Africa said: ’Mandela’s life demonstrated the finest characteristics of the Methodist faith: integrity tempered with graciousness; a strong ethic of industriousness; and honesty with reconciliation.’

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

PS For more information about Thomas Coke I would greatly recommend that you obtain a copy of the book by Cyril Davey entitled ‘Mad About Mission’

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Nelson Mandela

No one would have been surprised if Nelson Mandela had emerged from his years of captivity a bitter man, but instead he turned inward, examining his soul, and finding moral courage and insight.

It is from him that we receive these words of encouragement:

“Our worst fear is not that we are in adequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God: your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone, and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically  liberates others.”

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Nelson Mandela – from the pen of the Rev Dr Solomon Jacob

My Brother-in-Law, the Rev Dr Solomon Jacob met Nelson Mandela at a meeting of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland in 1991.

MandelaSolf 001
The above photo was taken by the WCC (World Council of Churches) in 1991 at the welcome reception IN GENEVA by WCC for Mandela after his release from prison. The Rev Dr Solomon Jacob shaking hands with Mandela (Madiba) and chatting to him.

 

NELSON MANDELA -1918-2013                                                             SOUTH AFRICA

THE BLACK MESSIAH

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born on 18 July 1918 in the small village of Mvezo, on the Mbashe River, district of Umtata in Transkei, South Africa. His father named him Rolihlahla, which means “pulling the branch of the tree”, or more colloquially “troublemaker.” The name Nelson was not given until his first day at school.

The family moved from Mvezo to Qunu, a small village north of Mvezo. The village was nestled in a narrow grassy valley. There were no roads, only foot paths that linked the pastures where livestock grazed. The Mandela family lived in huts and ate a local harvest of maize, sorghum, pumpkin, and beans, which was all the family could afford. Water came from springs and streams and cooking was done outdoors. Nelson Mandela’s father died of lung disease when Nelson was nine years old.

Mandela grew up with two sisters in his mother’s kraal in the village of Qunu, where he tended herds as a cattle-boy, spending much time outside with other boys. Both his parents were illiterate, but being a devout Christian, his mother sent him to a local Methodist school when he was about seven. Baptised a Methodist, Mandela was given the English forename of Mandela by his teacher.

Throughout his life, Nelson Mandela has had many connections to Methodism. A graduate of a Healdtown Methodist boarding school (Eastern Cape) where many future African leaders were educated, the anti-apartheid champions was mentored by Methodist preachers and educators As president of South Africa, he worked with church leaders in shaping a new nation and eventually married Graça Machel, a United Methodist, widow of the former president of Mozambique and an advocate for women’s and children’s rights.

Mandela served 27 years in prison, first on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife.

Mandela is a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative, multiracial election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalized racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997.

Mandela was an African nationalist, an ideological position he held since joining the ANC, also being “a democrat, and a socialist”. Although he presented himself in an autocratic manner in several speeches, Mandela was a devout believer in democracy and would abide by majority decisions even when deeply disagreeing with them. He held a conviction that “inclusivity, accountability and freedom of speech” were the fundamentals of democracy, and was driven by a belief in natural and human rights.

Mandela’s administration inherited a country with a huge disparity in wealth and services between white and black communities. Of a population of 40 million, around 23 million lacked electricity or adequate sanitation, 12 million lacked clean water supplies, with 2 million children not in school and a third of the population illiterate.

As President, he established a new constitution and initiated the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate crimes committed under apartheid by both the government and the ANC, appointing Desmond Tutu as its chair. To prevent the creation of martyrs, the Commission granted individual amnesties in exchange for testimony of crimes committed during the apartheid era. Mandela praised the Commission’s work, stating that it “had helped us move away from the past to concentrate on the present and the future”. Continuing the former government’s liberal economic policy, his administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty and expand healthcare services. He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy Thabo Mbeki, subsequently becoming an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Presiding over the transition from apartheid minority rule to a multicultural democracy, Mandela saw national reconciliation as the primary task of his presidency. Having seen other post-colonial African economies damaged by the departure of white elites, Mandela worked to reassure South Africa’s white population that they were protected and represented in “the Rainbow Nation”. Mandela attempted to create the broadest possible coalition in his cabinet, with de Klerk as first Deputy President while other National Party officials became ministers for Agriculture, Energy, Environment, and Minerals and Energy, and Buthelezi was named Minister for Home Affairs

Controversial for much of his life, right-wing critics denounced Mandela as a terrorist and communist sympathizer. He has nevertheless received international acclaim for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stance, having received over 250 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Soviet Order of Lenin. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name of Madiba or as tata; he is often described as “the father of the nation”.

In South Africa, Mandela is considered to be “the father of the nation and “the founding father of democracy being seen as “the national liberator, and the saviour.

He has received international acclaim. In 1993, he received the joint Nobel Peace Prize with de Klerk i November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Mandela’s birthday, 18 July, as “Mandela Day”, marking his contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle.

Mandela influenced a unifying South African national anthem. The national anthem consisted of two songs. One is “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika,” or “God Bless Africa,” sung at black protest rallies during the forty-six years between the rise and fall of apartheid. The other is “Die Stem,” (“The Call”), the old white anthem, a celebration of the European settlers’ conquest of Africa’s southern tip. It was Mandela’s idea to juxtapose the two, his purpose being to forge from the rival tunes a powerfully symbolic message. Mandela saw this national anthem as reconciling generosity with pragmatism, finding common ground between humanity’s higher values and the politician’s aspiration to power. Mandela said: the short term satisfaction of banning the despised old song might come at a dangerously high price, whereas the magnanimous act of retaining it could yield mightily valuable returns.

His task was to cement the foundations of Mandela saw the main threat to the hard-won new democracy, peace and stability from right-wing terrorism. The way to deprive the extremists of popular support, and therefore to disarm them, was by convincing the white population as a whole that they belonged fully in ‘the new South Africa,’ that a black-led government would not treat them the way previous white rulers had treated blacks.

Mandela’s wisdom in reaching out to the old enemy, repressing any vengeful impulses he might have accumulated during his twenty-seven years in prison, is the principal reason why South Africa has consolidated its transition from tyranny to democracy, and done so not through repression, but by persuasion.

The triumphant expression of Mandela’s life’s work is seen in a political system that, 20 years after he took power, remains as stable as it is authentically democratic. The rule of law, freedom of speech, free and fair elections: these are the gifts Mandela has bequeathed his nation.

The big truth is that Mandela succeeded in uniting a fiercely divided country. The feat is rare because what ordinary politicians have always done is seek power by highlighting difference and fueling antagonism. Mandela sought it by appealing to people’s common humanity.

Mandela’s 27 years in prison shaped him. He went in angry, convinced that the only way of achieving his people’s freedom was by force of arms. In 1962 this was understandable given every attempt to negotiate with successive white governments over the previous half century had been contemptuously rebutted; and that apartheid led to eighty-five percent of the population who were not white had been subjected since the arrival of the first European mariners in 1652.

What the experience of prison did was that Mandela learnt that succumbing to the vengeful passions would not bring lasting benefits; he learnt, through studying his jailers closely, that black and white people had far more in common. He learnt that forgiveness and generosity and, above all, respect were weapons of political persuasion as powerful as any gun.

During Mandela’s last four years in prison, he held secret talks about talks with the minister of justice of South Africa and with President Botha himself.  The outcome of these meetings was that he was released from prison and the process of negotiations began that led to his people’s freedom and his rise to the highest political office in the land.

Mandela convinced his enemies by treating them individually with respect, by showing them trust, and by making it clear that he had a core set of values from which he would never be persuaded to depart. He set about rationally persuading them that violent confrontation and that the only hope for all parties lay in negotiation.

Mandela called off the planned “armed struggle” and, to the amazement of the South African political world, he agreed to take part in the all-race elections of April 1994, thereby giving his blessing to the political transformation and to the peaceful hand over of power from the white minority to the totality of the population.

Mandela was the quintessential political animal: he did everything he did with a clear political purpose.  Not to understand this—to insist only on his admirable ‘lack of bitterness’ and his spirit of forgiveness—is to miss the bigger point that Mandela’s widely applauded saintliness was the instrument he judged to be most effective in the achievement of his political goals.

Mandela believed that in South Africa there could be no democracy without reconciliation, no justice without peace. Mandela acted wholeheartedly on this understanding, and his farsightedness in achieving his life’s goal by following the only strategy he knew could realistically work. Mandela’s legacy, the imperishable lesson he holds for the ages, and the reason why he stands head and shoulders above every world leader is that he showed it is possible to be a great human being and a great politician at the same time; that showing respect to friends and enemies alike can get can achieve great things for humanity. Mandela showed leadership by combining openness to humanity and power of the people.

Flaws, nevertheless, abound today, stemming from corruption in all its creeping manifestations. These could in time destroy the edifice Mandela built. But they will not undermine Mandela’s place in history, which is more durable than any political construct. Mandela’s deeper legacy lies in the example he has left for succeeding generations.

Health

In June 2004, aged 85 and amid failing health, Mandela announced that he was “retiring from retirement” and retreating from public life, remarking “Don’t call me, I will call you.”

In February 2011, he was briefly hospitalized with a respiratory infection, attracting international attention, before being re-hospitalized for a lung infection and gallstone removal in in December 2012. After a successful medical procedure in early March 2013, his lung infection reoccurred, and he was briefly hospitalized in Pretoria.

On 8 June 2013, his lung infection worsened, and he was re-hospitalized in Pretoria in a serious condition. After four days, it was reported that he had stabilized and remained in a “serious, but stable condition”. En route to the hospital, his ambulance broke down and was stranded on the roadside for 40 minutes; the South African government was criticized for the incident when it confirmed the report several weeks later, but President Jacob Zuma countered that “There were seven doctors in the convoy who were in full control of the situation throughout the period. He had expert medical care.”

By 22 June 2013 he had not opened his eyes in days and was unresponsive, and the family was discussing just how much medical intervention should be given.

On 23 June 2013, President Jacob Zuma issued a statement saying that Mandela’s condition had become “critical”. Zuma, accompanied by the Deputy President of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, met Mandela’s wife Graça Machel at the hospital in Pretoria and discussed his condition. On 25 June Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba visited Mandela at the hospital and prayed with Graça Machel Mandela “at this hard time of watching and waiting”. The next day, Zuma visited Mandela in the hospital and cancelled a visit scheduled for the next day to Mozambique. A relative of Mandela told The Daily Telegraph newspaper he is on life support.

On the 26 June his family met in Qunu, Eastern Cape for a family meeting. The chose a burial site for Mandela’s last resting place. They discussed ways to appease the “ancestors” for there are many customs and traditions that need to be done to correct many things that have been wrong.

At the end of June he was moved from the hospital to his official home in Houghton, Johannesburg which was equipped with an intensive care unit supported by 24/7 medical specialists and nursing care.

Mandela remained in intensive care until is death on 05 December at 8.50pm.

The national and the world mourns aone of the greatest the world as ever known and will never forget…………..his lasting values and his memory.

 

Rev Dr Sol Jacob

Former Director South African Council of Churches

Under Desmond Tutu

Nelson Mandela – from the World Methodist Council

Former South African President and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela died Thursday, 6 December from complications related to a recurring lung infection. He was 95.

The World Methodist Council remembers Mandela as a person who fought for dignity and equality for all, not through violent means, but instead through the moral authority that comes when the cause of justice is on one’s side. The lives that were touched by Mandiba’s words and deeds are impossible to count, but his story will live on for generations to come as an example of how to lead in the face of oppression.

“Mandela brought hope for those strangulated by poverty and hunger; transformed the nightmares of those trapped in a hopeless-ness and despair into dreams of a better future and sunshine, dignity and assurance to many a young person caught up in waves of angst about the future of South Africa. He stood as the collective conscience of a people and achieved what many, in their entire lifetime thought impossible. He will stand out in history as a beacon of light, a lodestar inspiring many generations to come,” stated World Methodist Council General Secretary Ivan Abrahams.

A life-long Methodist, Mandela was a man of faith, principle, hope and inspiration. The leader of a movement and the father of a nation, Mandela’s shadow stretches forward as a reminder to each of us of a better way.

“As a Church, we have been privileged to be associated with Madiba since the early days of his life when he was educated, first at Clarkebury and then at Healdtown, Methodist educational institutions in the Eastern Cape, both of which were important influences on his life.

“Madiba remained a committed Methodist throughout his life. The thousands of accolades from every walk of life that he received included the World Methodist Peace Award, the highest honor that can be bestowed by the worldwide Methodist family,” said Bishop Ziphozihle Siwa, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa in a statement.

Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president by a near two-thirds margin in 1994, after spending 27 years in prison for his role as a leader in South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement. He served as president for five years, until retiring in 1999.

In 2000, the World Methodist Council awarded Mandela the World Methodist Peace Award for his single-minded commitment to peace and reconciliation, and for staying true to his vision of a free and democratic South Africa. He received many other accolades throughout his career, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

“…We were privileged to be present with Nelson Mandela as he received the World Methodist Council Peace Award in a special ceremony in Cape Town. Gracious and strong as always we celebrated his victory and his faithfulness for peace.

That evening when we walked outside to his car people gathered to see their President. Some children stood on the side of the street.  He lowered his glass and motioned for the children to come to him.  He embraced them and expressed his love for them. He is ‘Mabida’ to all his people and indeed the Father of his country,” remembered H. Eddie Fox, Director of World Methodist Evangelism.

During his time in office Mandela pushed for free and democratic elections, and after three years of talks a new interim constitution was agreed upon and free democratic elections were held. He created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to push for national reconciliation and bringing parity to black and white communities. After his retirement in 1999, he focused on charity and aid work, particularly HIV/AIDS activism.

In a statement released by the Methodist Church in Great Britain, The Revd Ruth Gee, President of the Methodist Conference, said: “Nelson Mandela is regarded as one of the fathers of Africa. His persistent way of standing up for justice has inspired Africans and the world at large. As a leader, one of his most impressive attributes was his emphasis on peace and reconciliation in the post-apartheid regime.”

Mandela’s legacy is one of struggle and triumph, of steadfast dedication and a rejection of violence. In the coming days Mandiba’s life will be celebrated, but the reach and scope of his influence is still unfolding.

“As we reflect on his passing and try to make sense of his death, we are reminded that people like Madiba do not die rather they continue to live in the hearts and minds of people ever inspiring them to espouse the noble virtues and rare devotion that he embodied and continue that for which he dedicated his life,” added General Secretary Abrahams.

The World Methodist Council joins with the rest of the world in remembering the life and celebrating the legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Tribute to Nelson Mandela by Ruth Gee, President of the Methodist Conference

The Revd Ruth Gee, President of the Methodist Conference, said: “Nelson Mandela is regarded as one of the fathers of Africa. His persistent way of standing up for justice has inspired Africans and the world at large. As a leader, one of his most impressive attributes was his emphasis on peace and reconciliation in the post-apartheid regime.

“Nelson Mandela attended Methodist missionary schools during his formative years. His understanding of Christian values was reflected in his passion for social justice. Representatives from the Methodist Church in Britain who were fortunate to meet Mandela have spoken about him with admiration: he was a welcoming, gracious and charismatic leader of exceptional ability who did not hold any bitterness about what had happened to him. During the years of his imprisonment on Robben Island, Mandela was visited by a Methodist chaplain. He will always remain loved and honoured in our hearts.”
Roy Crowder was the Africa Secretary for the Methodist Church in Britain from 1999 to 2009. He lived in Cape Town from 1983 to 1999, where he worked as a lecturer at University of the Western Cape, and met Nelson Mandela three times.

He said: “As the crisis in South Africa deepened in the late eighties it became clear that Government was negotiating with the ANC. The newspapers still could not print Nelson Mandela’s picture but they discussed his future role intensely.

No one could have lived up to the expectations that were built up in that frantic period. But miraculously Mandela did! He grew to be the global political leader without feet of clay, which was exactly what his supporters had projected during the Free Mandela campaign. He even risked alienating those supporters by donning the Springbok rugby jersey and having tea with Betsie Verwoerd, the widow of man who jailed him. Such iconic actions instilled a spirit of unity into the politics of a tragically divided country.”