The service of song held in the Aberdeen Dutch Reformed Church on Sunday was a most moving occasion. Close to 700 people filled the church, eager to share in the experience – more than double the largest congregation previously recorded this century! As well as local folk, many had travelled from surrounding towns, and even as far as PE, Beaufort West and Cape Town. They were not disappointed!
Annelie Botes and her team from Port Elizabeth interspersed traditional Christmas carols and the nativity story with thought-provoking excerpts on the sadness and futility of war.
A group of local children participated as shepherds and angels, under the guidance of Joan Barnard, and retired teacher Dick van Wyk was the narrator for the event.
Several people joined in the theme of wearing a uniform, with local farmer Freek Janse van Rensburg’s impressive collection of medals on his army uniform standing out. The service opened with a parade of those in uniform, led by the haunting sound of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes, played by Russell Mitchell from PE.
Singers Deon MacKay and Talitha Kotze held the congregation spellbound with their magnificent voices, often accompanied by Jaco Rademeyer on the recorder and Annelie Botes on the organ.
One part that brought many tears was a video of scenes from the Angolan border war, and a reading from Botes about the pain experienced by families left behind, desperately waiting for news of their menfolk. A story of a mother and how she lost a child moved many people, resonating with all who had lost a loved one from whatever cause.
Minister Abe Beyers explained that the vision of the Aberdeen NGK congregation is to bring peace and healing in the footsteps of Jesus. “The Christmas song service led by Annelie Botes on Sunday embraced this vision beautifully,” he said. “During the service, many people were able to relive their pain and suffering from the past, and then experience some liberation and feel the sorrow lifted away. We are very grateful that this wonderful opportunity was able to bring so much peace.”
He thanked organisers Christelle Nel and Miems van Loggerenberg, as well as all those who worked together to make the day a memorable event. “Annelie Botes promised that the church would once again be full for the service, and we were sceptical: how were we going to motivate people to come to Aberdeen? And yet it happened,” concluded Beyers.