Pirie Mission Partnership Group

The Kirk Session appointed the Pirie Mission Partnership Group (PMPG) to develop its relationship with the Pirie Mission, a congregation of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa, located in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Pirie was established in 1830 by the Scottish Mission and today has a congregation of 885 members of whom nearly 400 are members of the Manyano (Woman's Guild). Pirie is the main station and there are 12 out-stations each with its own building in which services are conducted every Sunday. Elders and Deacons conduct services.

The Eastern Cape has a population of 6.7 million Xhosa speaking people and is one of the nine Provinces of South Africa governed in terms of the country's interim constitution. There is an air of optimism that was not present in the apartheid era, but there are still many problems. 667,000 people in the Eastern Cape suffer from Aids, 20,000 children are orphaned by Aids and 6,700 babies yet to be born are infected by Aids 1. While the average rate of unemployment is 22% 2, at Dimbaza, an out-station of Pirie, it is 80% 3. The Eastern Cape has three Universities, yet a quarter of the population over 20 years has never received any schooling 2.

The Minister of Pirie, Rev. Ziphilele Lubambo, visited Edinburgh in March 2006 and four members of St. Columba's visited Pirie in March 2007. This year (2008) in October four members of Pirie will visit St. Columba's. These exchange visits of adults and young people provide cultural and other information about each other.

The PMPG has been active in holding fund raising activities and have sent money to provide clothing for over 70 orphaned children. Pirie are planning a Church building at Dimbaza, where they presently meet in a school classroom. The PMPG have sent the necessary finance to purchase the site and to fence it. The Pirie congregation has contributed to these costs. We now await a plan for the proposed Church along with an indication of cost.

The Partnership Agreement that we have entered in to states:-
"This is an Agreement between Pirie Mission and Blackhall St. Columba's Parish Church in which we seek to deepen our understanding of the life, work and witness of each others congregations. We have a common desire to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and will work towards a mutual support and respect."
  1. The health statistics are from an Eastern Cape Department of Health circular dated 30/03/2007.
  2. The education and unemployment statistics are from the 2006/2007 South Africa Yearbook.
  3. The figure of 80% unemployment at Dimbaza was given to us at a meeting with the Deacons Court of Pirie Mission by people living, and unemployed, in Dimbaza.