Op 28 April 2015 tydens ‘n gradeplegtigheid waar studente van die Fakulteit Teologie graad ontvang het, is ‘n kanseliersmedalje aan Freek Swanepoel deur die Universiteit van Pretoria toegeken. Waardering is uitgespreek vir die besondere bydrae wat hy tot vrede en versoening in Suid-Afrika gelewer het. Hieronder is die toespraak wat hy tydens die geleentheid gelewer het.
- My sincere thanks to UP, the members of the Council and the Senate for this award. I am humbled by your gracious act. You can be sure that I will try to bear the name of UP with dignity and loyalty.
- To the Dean and Personnel of the Faculty of Theology: It is always a privilege to have contact with you. I am proud of your work.
- I know this medal is undeserved. Thanks to the Lord. Soli Deo Gloria.
- I also want to acknowledge the support of the NGK; the Kuratorium of the NGK, my family and friends. I therefor dedicate this medal to the members of the DRC for their part in the peaceful transition in SA in 1994 and their choice against violence.
I finished my theological studies at UP in 1965; and was privileged to be Chairman of the Kuratorium who led the transformation of the theological faculties in the years prior to 2000. I can now look back and learn from the past for the way forward.
- Theological Training is an essential task of any church or denomination. How can we spread the gospel of our lord Jesus Christ without trained messengers. So, we as a Reformed Church cannot properly fulfil our godly calling without our Theological Faculty.
- We are thankful and proud of the road of the Theological Faculty in the past. The NH Kerk started their training in 1917 and the NG Kerk followed in 1938. You must take note of the love and support of churches for their Theological Faculties. ‘Dit is ‘n kleinnood’; a precious jewel that you hold in the palm of your hand to protect it and keep it safe. It was also illustrated by a substantial contribution in 1950 by the NG Kerk to the building that now houses the Faculty of Theology.
Members of the church talked about ‘ons dierbare fakulteit’!
- In 1994 the word “change” was put on all our tables; also regarding theological training. In this time we took hands as NH Kerk and NG Kerk to go on this exciting new road together, inclusive. Part of the plan also acknowledged diversity so that partaking denominations will have the opportunity to give specific training to their own students according to their own needs. Thanks to Prof Johan van Zyl who guided us with a plan of opening up theological training in a new dispensation.
- The next step was to obtain the approval of our synods. In 1998 the churches accepted the plan and thereby opening the door for other denominations to be part of this Faculty and UP.
- So on 1 Jan 2000 we started with a new era in a new Millennium. A new undertaking to be part of UP with their claim to ‘excellence’ and ‘quality’.
- This also enabled us to become ecumenical and opened uncountable doors to other denominations. This is to me the most fruitful example of the unity of churches of the reformation.
- To me the road forward leads as follows :
- Remain on the campus of UP.
- Expand the involvement of denominations.
- Improve our product.
- Get more students.
- In an ever changing environment I accept theological training will also be affected. As churches we are driven by the word ‘Reformation’ and UP must be guided by ‘Transformation’. I believe, as in the past, we will be able to reach consensus.
- A challenge to UP: The NGK defines theological training as a integrated transformation of our students regarding knowledge: logos; skills to help our fellow human beings; patos; and strong values: My question is: Can the Faculty of Theology be of more help in building strong values – ethos – to all the students of UP. Do we need a School/Centre where the focus will be to add value/values to all our students with input by all disciplines? I think about subjects like work ethics, human dignity, civil responsibility, tolerance regarding religion, etc.
- Regarding the fact of being part of a secular university that are open to all religions, I have no problem. The church is in the world and the world also has a need for the church. As long as the Faculty of Theology can keep its textbook, the Bible, and be true to its message it must remain on campus.
I am only a pastor, so I close with a pastoral word. I invite you to fix your eyes on the Theological Building and to know apart from training they also have the spiritual responsibility to pray for all the plans and personnel and students of UP.
For the Faculty of Theology my prayer is that God will send new spiritual gifts for new and testing times.
May the Lord bless you all to keep on to AD DESTINATUM PERSEQUOR.
F SWANEPOEL, VDM.
28 April 2015.