Every year, NG Kerk minister Strauss de Jager challenges his congregation to reach a fundraising target at the annual bazaar and vows to undertake an uncomfortable challenge himself if they succeed.
They met the target – and now the dominee has to keep his promise: At 7.30am on Thursday 21 June, De Jager will join other brave swimmers and dive into the dam for the Polar Plunge, Grahamstown’s midwinter solstice celebration.
“It was a member of the congregation who came up to me at the bazaar and said, ‘Now dominee, what is this year’s fundraising challenge?’,” De Jager told Grocott’s Mail.
One year, Strauss and his wife Augusta spent the night in the top chamber of the church’s clock tower. Another year, he walked to Riebeeck East (or quite a lot of the way, anyhow). All in the name of fundraising for the church.
The question is – and it was a question a member of the congregation asked quite loudly from the back of the church last Sunday – “Maar gaan Dominee ‘n Speedo dra?”
“I’m not sure if I will wear a Speedo or not,” Strauss told Grocott’s Mail during a trip last Thursday to the dam to test the water’s temperature. “But I will keep my promise to swim!”
Tim Dold’s PG Glass team will be there as usual to warm the swimmers with mugs of hot chocolate afterwards. In exchange, participants and supporters are encouraged to bring an item of warm clothing, or a blanket, to bring warmth and comfort to needy people in Grahamstown.
“The challenge every year is to fill the PG Glass bakkie for our Winter Warmer campaign,” Dold said.
Grahamstown’s brave – and plain curious – are welcome to bring something warm to donate and come and swim – or just watch. And just for the record – the member of the congregation who asked Strauss about the Speedo was his wife, Augusta.