The African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Africa has lost one of its beloved bishops, the Right Reverend Harold Ben Senatle, at the ripe age of 79, spokesperson for the church, the Reverend Themba Mbambo announced this week.
A friend of the Ecumenical Movement in South Africa, Bishop Senatle, who was born on December 16, 1926, took an active role in both the affairs of the South African Council of Churches and of the South African Leaders' Religious Forum, distinguishing himself, according to Mbabo, "as a Pastor and presiding elder very vocal about the oppressive laws of apartheid". Said Mbambo: "He built schools, churches and the AME headquarters at Phillips Street, Johannesburg. As the church, we are proud of his contribution and the role he played in the struggle to bring education to African children, and in his own right, contributed meaningfully to the demise of apartheid in South Africa."
Senatle, born in the small town of Christiana in the then Western Transvaal, received his secondary education at Tigerkloof, and later responded to the call of the ministry of the AME Church, studying at the RR Wright Theological Seminary at Wilberforce, Evaton, Gauteng. In 1980, the Wilberforce University, Atlanta, Georgia in the United States, honoured him with a doctorate in divinity. In 1988, he held the distinction of being the second African person to have been elected bishop of the AME in its 92 years of existence in South Africa. His episcopacy covered Botswana, Free State, Northern Transvaal, now Limpopo, Cape Province, Namibia and Angola.
The General Secretary of the SACC, Mr Eddie Makue, said the Ecumenical Movement was greatly indebted to the leadership of Bishop Senatle. "We extend our deepest condolences to his family and the AME Church of which he was the leader. In this difficult time, we trust that his wife and family will be comforted by the knowledge that we share in their loss," said Makue.
Senatle is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, four children, 20 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
For more details, contact: Reverend Teboho Klaas (082 412 2960)
11 April 2006