Every Flock Needs a Shepherd: The Noketshe Family in St Kitts & Nevis

First published on: 23rd May 2023

In early 2021, the Noketshe family moved from the Diocese of Port Elizabeth in South Africa to serve in St Kitts & Nevis as part of the USPG Exchanging Places Programme. The programme is a joint venture between USPG, the Diocese of the North East Caribbean and Aruba (NECA) and the Diocese of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. 

In this video, Rev’d Thanduxolo Noketshe explains how this has been a time of change and growth for his family and the local church: 

Before Rev’d Thandu arrived, the two churches, Saint Mary’s and Christ Church, did not have a residential priest for over ten years. Like “a flock without a shepherd” reflects Dr Paulo Ueti, USPG’s Regional Manager for Latin American and the Caribbean, on a recent visit to St Kitts & Nevis. At a meeting with the congregations, there was repeated thanks for the way in which Rev’d Thandu’s ministry has built up stability. His patience and a keen listening ear are praised by church members who also describe him as deeply caring, imaginative and committed to unity – especially between the two parishes who now work together under one administration. No wonder he is described as “a blessing for the churches after so many years without your shepherd in house”. 

What’s more, youth engagement has grown since the Noketshe’s arrival and seems to be here to stay thanks to the fact that their ministry extends beyond the church and into the community. Bulelwa Noketshe Rev’d Thandu’s wife has assumed the presidency of the local Mother’s Union whilst her husband visits hospitals, schools and even participated in the opening of the St Kitts & Nevis National Parliamentary Assembly. 

Whilst adapting to a new environment is never completely straightforward, it is always enriching. In the video Rev’d Thandu describes ‘unlearning’ the ways of worship he is used to in South Africa and admits switching (and remembering to switch!) was a struggle at first. As South Africans serving in the West Indies, such struggles experienced by the Noketshe family are better described as growing pains. Both the church members and Rev’d Thandu and family are mutually transformed in their thinking and experience. More than this, the South African church leader shares excitedly that serving in the Diocese of NECA is growing him in his knowledge and love of God. At USPG, we call this openness ‘Rethinking Mission’, our first strategic aim. 

Back in South Africa, Bishop Eddie Daniels is happy with Thandu’s commitment and presence in the Caribbean. His selection was a good match for the diocese and has raised awareness among clergy and people about the vast possibilities across the Anglican Communion and the sense that we can all learn from and be enriched by this global house and family. 

The overwhelming reflection of the Noketshe’s placement so far is that the ministry is both successful and fruitful. Dr Paulo reflects that the warm welcome and exceeding gratitude from the local churches is a testament of this. An extension has been requested and USPG will review how best to support the family and churches moving forward. 

In the meantime, join us in prayer for the Noketshe family and the community they serve: 

  • Thank and praise God for His blessings over the Noketshe’s placement in St Kitts & Nevis 

  • Thank and praise God that He has provided “a shepherd for His flock” in St Kitts & Nevis. 

  • Pray for discussions between the Noketshe’s, USPG, the Diocese of the North East Caribbean and Aruba (NECA) and the Diocese of Port Elizabeth about moving forward. 

With thanks to Dr Paulo Ueti, USPG’s Regional Manager for Latin American and the Caribbean, for the account of his recent visit to St Kitts & Nevis.