Download high resolution image
Thompson Mpongwana Adonis, in conversation with Sweetness Faniso, was honored for his work with Bethany Bible School. Photo by Ryan Miller.

Melanie Hess
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

MTHATHA, South Africa  (Mennonite Mission Network) – After 27 years of serving Bethany Bible School, Thompson Mpongwana Adonis, a founder of one of the African-Initiated Churches in South Africa, and respectfully known as Bishop Adonis, has retired from official duties.

In 1982, he and other AIC leaders met with the Transkei Council of Churches, a branch of the South Africa Council of Churches, to discuss the feeling of disrespect they sensed from mainline congregations. The leaders decided during that meeting that part of the problem was their own lack of training for ministry roles. To remedy this, they began an interdenominational AIC training program—which came to be known as Bethany Bible School.

 “[Bishop Adonis’s] desire for the development of the AICs was clearly foremost in his heart,” Gary and Jean Isaac wrote. The Isaacs served in South Africa from 1986-1999. “We were constantly amazed at how he was willing to travel anywhere and everywhere to bring people together, both within the AIC movement itself and between AICs and the mainline churches.”

The first teacher at the school was Jim Egli, a Mennonite mission worker in neighboring Lesotho, who came periodically to teach courses. The AICs chose to work with Mennonites because they recognized them as a denomination that wasn’t seeking to augment their own numbers, but was genuinely interested in helping people grow in their knowledge of Jesus. Additionally, Mennonites in Transkei had gained credibility through their anti-apartheid stance and their rural development work.

In 1984, the first full-time Mennonite teacher was hired. Since then, various North American Mennonite teachers have come and gone, but Bishop Adonis has given continuous leadership, promoting the school in the area and serving as chairperson.

 [Bishop Adonis] was our guide to many locations and through difficult issues,” wrote Brian Dyck and Lynell Bergen, who followed the Isaacs in 1999. “His integrity, wisdom, and gentle leadership opened many doors for us. Through our time we saw his strong love for God, the church and education.”

Bishop Adonis has served as an important liaison, connecting BBS with other ministries, most notably the Bible Society and Nehemiah Bible Institute, a correspondence course.

On December 10, a group of Bishop Adonis’ friends and committee members gathered to honor his retirement. “Mama” Mavis Tshandu referred to him as “our father” and said that his legacy will continue at BBS. She expressed her desire to build a building for BBS in honor of him.

Joe Sawatzky, current MMN mission worker in South Africa, read a letter with tributes from past missionaries and presented Bishop Adonis with a Lifetime Service Award. 

“Bishop Adonis has provided an invaluable service in the establishment of leadership training for AICs,” wrote Steve Wiebe-Johnson, Mission Network’s Director for Africa. “This training has been instrumental in raising the voice of the AICs within the broader Christian community both regionally and nationally.”

The service ended with joy and singing and shaking hands around the circle.

 

 

 Related articles

 

 

MC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-StrongholdApache-Strongholdhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5076/MC-USA-files-new-amicus-brief-in-support-of-Apache-StrongholdMC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-StrongholdGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Oak Flat
Mission Network announces 2024 Anti-Racism Grant awardsNewshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5073/2024-Anti-Racism-Grant-awardsMission Network announces 2024 Anti-Racism Grant awardsGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Finding fresh hope at PSMC conferenceChurch plantinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5071/Finding-fresh-hopeFinding fresh hope at PSMC conferenceGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Albuquerque Service Adventure shared a southwest blend of faith and friendship for 25 yearsService Adventurehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5072/Albuquerque-Service-Adventure-shared-faith-and-communityAlbuquerque Service Adventure shared a southwest blend of faith and friendship for 25 yearsGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476New Mexico
Ecuador Partnership's journey of collaboration and renewalInternational Servicehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5067/Ecuador-Partnership-journeyEcuador Partnership's journey of collaboration and renewalGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
How can I be a peace witness in time of war?Peace witnesshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4681/How-can-I-be-a-peace-witness-in-time-of-warHow can I be a peace witness in time of war?GP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Ana Alicia Hinojosa assumes role as Senior Executive for Ventures at Mennonite Mission NetworkPress Releasehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5069/Ana-Alicia-Hinojosa-assumes-role-as-Senior-Executive-for-VenturesAna Alicia Hinojosa assumes role as Senior Executive for Ventures at Mennonite Mission NetworkGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mennonites unite in Ecuador’s peace journeyPeacebuildinghttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5066/Mennonites-unite-in-Ecuador’s-peace-journeyMennonites unite in Ecuador’s peace journeyGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Quito
Peer mediators gain self-esteem while working for community peacePeace camphttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5062/Peer-mediators-gain-self-esteem-while-working-for-community-peacePeer mediators gain self-esteem while working for community peaceGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Cape Town
Lois Buckwalter discerned a new way of doing mission among the Toba-Qom peopleObituaryhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5059/Lois-Buckwalter-discerned-a-new-way-of-doing-mission-among-the-Toba-Qom-peopleLois Buckwalter discerned a new way of doing mission among the Toba-Qom peopleGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Strengthening bonds: A gathering for Anabaptist theological educationTheological consultationhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5049/gathering-for-Anabaptist-theological-educationStrengthening bonds: A gathering for Anabaptist theological educationGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Mexico City
Dreams of the boy become mission of the manRetirementhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5048/Dreams-of-the-boyDreams of the boy become mission of the manGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Movement of Anabaptist Women Doing Theology from Latin America commemorates 20 years of ministry with publicationMissio Deihttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5045/Women-Doing-Theology-from-Latin-AmericaMovement of Anabaptist Women Doing Theology from Latin America commemorates 20 years of ministry with publicationGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Mennonite medical ministry changing in Taiwan even as Christ’s love remains the sameNewshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5040/Mennonite-medical-ministry-changing-in-TaiwanMennonite medical ministry changing in Taiwan even as Christ’s love remains the sameGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476
Benin Bible Institute renews a 20-year partnership with Indiana congregationBenin Bible Institutehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5038/Benin-Bible-Institute-renews-a-20-year-partnership-with-Indiana-congregationBenin Bible Institute renews a 20-year partnership with Indiana congregationGP0|#52c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1;L0|#052c46992-a072-4af3-b006-834f7e8b9cb1|News;GTSet|#544fcc8d-5de2-49c8-9d51-afee09323476Cotonou

 

 

 Related

 

 

MC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-Strongholdhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5076/MC-USA-files-new-amicus-brief-in-support-of-Apache-StrongholdMC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-Stronghold
Mission Network announces 2024 Anti-Racism Grant awardshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5073/2024-Anti-Racism-Grant-awardsMission Network announces 2024 Anti-Racism Grant awards
Finding fresh hope at PSMC conferencehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5071/Finding-fresh-hopeFinding fresh hope at PSMC conference
Albuquerque Service Adventure shared a southwest blend of faith and friendship for 25 yearshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5072/Albuquerque-Service-Adventure-shared-faith-and-communityAlbuquerque Service Adventure shared a southwest blend of faith and friendship for 25 years
Ecuador Partnership's journey of collaboration and renewalhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5067/Ecuador-Partnership-journeyEcuador Partnership's journey of collaboration and renewal
How can I be a peace witness in time of war?https://www.mennonitemission.net/news/4681/How-can-I-be-a-peace-witness-in-time-of-warHow can I be a peace witness in time of war?



 

 

MC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-Strongholdhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5076/MC-USA-files-new-amicus-brief-in-support-of-Apache-StrongholdMC USA files new amicus brief in support of Apache-StrongholdApache-Stronghold
Mission Network announces 2024 Anti-Racism Grant awardshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5073/2024-Anti-Racism-Grant-awardsMission Network announces 2024 Anti-Racism Grant awards
Finding fresh hope at PSMC conferencehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5071/Finding-fresh-hopeFinding fresh hope at PSMC conferenceChurch planting
Albuquerque Service Adventure shared a southwest blend of faith and friendship for 25 yearshttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5072/Albuquerque-Service-Adventure-shared-faith-and-communityAlbuquerque Service Adventure shared a southwest blend of faith and friendship for 25 yearsService Adventure
Here with purpose: Sibonokuhle Ncubehttps://www.mennonitemission.net/blog/5070/Here-with-purpose-Sibonokuhle-NcubeHere with purpose: Sibonokuhle NcubeQ&A
Ecuador Partnership's journey of collaboration and renewalhttps://www.mennonitemission.net/news/5067/Ecuador-Partnership-journeyEcuador Partnership's journey of collaboration and renewalInternational Service