We have received news that an outstanding leader and servant of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA), and fellow worker in the Council for World  mission (CWM), has died. Rev Samuel Arends, who served as General Secretary of the UCCSA from 1988 to 1997, was the father of Rev Alistair Arends, who also served as General secretary of that Church and a Director of  Council for World Mission (CWM)  until 2016.  Rev Arends passed away peacefully, surrounded by his dear family, on 22 May at the age of 90.

In the 1980s to 1990s Rev Sam Arends served as Trustee of CWM. During that period, he contributed with profound commitment and unmistakable clarity.  He was a clear thinker, a passionate activist for the cause of the dispossessed, a preacher, with a word for the moment, and a trusted friend. He seemed to have perfected the art of speaking the truth in love. As such, he managed to maintain the integrity of the relationships entrusted to him without compromising on his faith, convictions and integrity.

We listened to him, a sad and broken father at the funeral service of Alistair, and our hearts warmed with joy as he spoke words of affirmation about his son, punctuated with the lighthearted humour for which he was known.  We watched him, sad and broken at the loss of a son in whom he was, obviously, well pleased; but he was also the radiant expression a proud and confident father at his son’s accomplishment in the ministry where they served as partners.  In that moment, we experienced him in the weakness and fragility for which we are known as human being; but equally, with with the  buoyant spirit, charming personality and generous heart that characterised his life.

The CWM family – Directors and Trustees, fellow General Secretaries and member churches and the CWM Secretariat – salute our father, brother and colleague as he takes his departure from this world of “many dangers, toils and snares”.  Through it all, he trusted in the grace and love of God; served his fellow human beings with honesty, respect and generosity of spirit; and demonstrated that life is about healthy balance in which family life is integrally interwoven in all relationships and commitments.

To his dear wife and all members of his family, the UCCSA and all his close friends and companions on the journey,  we offer our condolences and the assurance of our prayers during this time of loss and bereavement.  We entrust him into God’s gracious keeping  and pray that his soul rest in peace.

Peace perfect peace, death shad’wing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.

It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus calls us to Heav’n’s perfect peace

So long Uncle Sam! Your faithful stewardship lives on in those you touched; and God’s eternal “well done” welcome are yours to embrace.  In that assurance, we bid you farewell.