|Tabitha Katsande: ‘It was difficult to save anything’|
Tabitha Katsande (second from right), the widow of the Rev. Alfred Katsande, sings in the choir at Revelation United Methodist Church in Harare, where her husband once served. UMNS photos by Kathy L. Gilbert.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
April 3, 2008 | HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)
As a widow, Katsande says there are times when she is frightened and
doesn’t know how she will survive.
Every Sunday morning, Tabitha Katsande dons a bright yellow choir robe and robustly lifts her voice in praise to the Lord.
Revelation United Methodist Church would not be the same without her. In addition to her choir duties, she is chairperson of evangelism, serves as conference and district women’s society adviser, and works with the women’s group in the church.
She is still a faithful member of the last church where her husband was pastor before he died in 1998. The Rev. Alfred Katsande was a pastor for 40 years. He retired from Revelation United Methodist Church in 1997 at the age of 72.
"My husband had good vision and foresight," she says. "He built this house and the cottage in the back, which I now rent out."
Katsande needs the income because she is not receiving any pension funds from her husband’s long career in ministry.
"Even when I got some pension, it was about enough to buy eight loaves of bread," she says.
Katsande, a retired teacher, says she feels it is best to stay busy in retirement. She still helps tutor students, works in her garden and helps raise three of her 12 grandchildren. Her five children help her as often as they can, she says.
"God’s hand is why I have this house," she says. "The house is a blessing. God does the impossible."
Raising five children and sending them all to school drained most of the income she and her husband earned during his years of ministry. "It was difficult to save anything," she says.
"It is important for the church to give something to retired pastors."
-- Tabitha Katsande
The United Methodist Church has always been central to her life. "I received my primary education from a United Methodist school, got my teacher training from a United Methodist school, and I married a United Methodist pastor," she says, smiling.
As a widow, she says, there are times when she is frightened and doesn’t know how she will survive.
The United Methodist Church is beginning to respond to Katsande and others like her through the Central Conference Pension Initiative. The initiative, mandated by the 2000 and 2004 General Conferences, is developing models for pension systems to serve retired church pastors, lay workers and surviving spouses in Zimbabwe and elsewhere. More information is available at www.ccpi-umc.org.
"It is important for the church to give something to retired pastors," she says. "I would like the church to know about the economic problems for pastors."
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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