Hugh Wetmore

    Hugh and Thearl WetmoreAfter graduation from BI in 1960, I returned to work at Mhlahlane Trading Store in the then-Transkei, in preparation for Missionary Service. Thearl Berndt (Glenvar graduate) and I were married 17 June 1961. The SA General Mission (later Africa Evangelical Fellowship, now SIM) assigned us to Nkanga Mission (Pondoland) where we set up our first home. Sharon was born in 1962. In 1964 we were transferred to teach at the Union Bible Institute, Sweetwaters, near Pietermaritzburg, where we had a stretching service for 19 years. Cherie and Andrew completed our family.

    In the 1970s, both the AEF and UBI recognised the need for evangelical theological education at a tertiary academic level, to cater for the black churches.  This led to consultations with existing colleges, including BI, and then to my involvement in the formation of the Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa (ESSA), which opened its doors in 1980 as a non-racial facility.  Government legislation did not permit this, but God is greater and granted success.

    When our children began leaving the nest, we moved into our own home in Pietermaritzburg, where I began to develop the embryo Evangelical Fellowship of SA. The ‘stretching’ continued in the task of bringing together evangelicals of many persuasions and races, on the secure foundation of The Gospel. The driving incentive was Jesus’ prayer for Unity in His Body. EFSA was a member of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA) and of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA). Under God’s gracious hand it grew to include 22 denominations and many mission agencies. The links with international evangelicalism stimulated national growth, and helped widen our vision. In extensive travels, I gained a precious appreciation of the worldwide Body of Christ. We sponsored the Keswick Convention gatherings in SA, and hosted many missionary and reconciliation events. Our Theological Education Commission facilitated cross-pollination among Colleges, including BI.  EFSA’s strategies to oppose apartheid on Biblical grounds resulted in a few member-resignations on the Left and the Right, but most of the members were united. By the 1990s the national racial and denominational demographics were reflected in the Executive. One of our Chairmen, Ndaba Mazabane, was eventually elected as President of AEA and then Chairman of the WEA.

    After 1994, EFSA merged with a new wider formation to form TEASA (The Evangelical Alliance of SA). I served on staff until 1999, when I resigned. That year I underwent some major surgeries and, refurbished, accepted the invitation to become the first pastor of the Pietermaritzburg North Baptist Church. At the end of 2005 I retired.

    Thearl and I then had a fruitful Marriage Ministry: in the next 10 years we married over 100 couples, including two of our grandchildren. Most were unchurched. We expanded Thearl’s UBI “Christian Home” notes into a comprehensive Manual, “The Essence of Marriage”. The intensive Marriage Preparation process included an evangelistic component. I also lectured at ESSA (Hermeneutics, Systematic Theology), and served as Interim Pastor at two churches. In recent years my passion for Congregational Singing has expressed itself in a free email conversation “Deep & Wide”, in a monthly “Worship Column” in Gateway News, and in writing more than 350 songs to meet God’s Colossians 3:16 singing-criteria.

    Jesus has truly been a Good Shepherd ‘all the days of our life’. In a series of amazing miracles, He has led us to Glenhaven Retirement Village (Pretoria).  He has provided all our needs, and given His grace of debt-free Contentment.  The foundations laid so thoroughly at BI have helped form me for the various Services into which God has led us. My path has often intersected with other BI Alumni, always with enrichment.

    Hugh & Thearl Wetmore

    218 Glenhaven Retirement Village,
    282 Annette van Zyl Street,
    Garsfontein, Pretoria 0182


    218 Glenhaven Retirement Village
    PO Box 905932
    Garsfontein, 0042
    South Africa

    Tel & Fax 012 3482913
    (International: +27 12 3482913)
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