Title page for ETD etd-06252009-144940

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Scheepers, Angelo
Email secretary@baptistunion. org za
URN etd-06252009-144940
Document Title A critical analysis of the structural dynamics operative within the Baptist Union of Southern Africa (BUSA) from 1960-2005 and an evaluation of these dynamics in the light of BUSA ecclesiology
Degree MA(Theology)
Department Practical Theology
Advisor Name Title
Prof C J A Vos Co-Supervisor
Prof H J C Pieterse Supervisor
  • special associations
  • critical analysis
  • merger
  • black separate development
  • white separate development
  • structural and leadership dynamics
  • transformation
  • autonomy
  • British Colonialism
  • future guidelines
  • Baptist Union of Southern Africa
  • BUSA
  • Baptist Convention of SA
  • BCSA
  • South African Baptist Missionary Society
Date 2009-04-22
Availability unrestricted

After highlighting the events that gave rise to the writing of this dissertation, the writer proceeds with a critical analysis of the structural and leadership dynamics of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa (BUSA) from 1960-2005. Beginning with the formation of BUSA in 1877, he shows how that the South African Baptist Missionary Society (SABMS - the Missions arm of BUSA), established in 1892, developed in a parallel manner alongside of BUSA and questions whether the two bodies were over one. Throughout the dissertation, he pointed out how, up to the late eighties, the structural and leadership dynamics of BUSA tended to favour one culture above the others who, in fact, were in the majority.

The writer identifies the key trends within each decade from 1960-2005 with regard to BUSA's structural dynamics and views the following two events as causing a major turnaround resulting in great transformation during the 1990's. They were:

  • The withdrawal of the Black Baptist Convention from BUSA in 1987 and
  • The turbulent 1989 National Assembly in Kimberley

He also asserts that the "affirmative" appointment of the first multi-cultural BUSA Executive in 1997 actually "saved the day" for BUSA and avoided future splits.

The writer proceeds to evaluate BUSA's structural dynamics during the period under review in terms of the essential functions of the church, namely, Kerygma (proclamation), diakonia (diaconal service) and koinonia (fellowship). BUSA was strong in Kerygma but weak in Koinonia.

He finally concludes that the "separate development mentality" prevalent within BUSA during its formation and the review period was not as a result of Apartheid but, as his research has revealed, namely

(i) British colonialism certainly influenced the formation and initial development of BUSA. The cultural divide between "colonial whites" and "emerging blacks" who were accustomed to a social separation between the two groups was certainly a factor. Likewise, the manner in which Europeans perceived the Bantu in the 1870's

(ii) The Mission philosophy prevalent in Europe and America round about 1877 was to form native, indigenous churches that would be "self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating". The motto of the SABMS was "the evangelisation of the Bantu by Bantu". It was felt the young churches arising out of mission work would be independent and not dependent upon or controlled by mother bodies that helped to establish them. It is thus not surprising that BUSA through the SABMS followed the same policy.

(iii) The British Baptist ministers who came to South Africa prior to and following the arrival of the 1820 Settlers came with the express purpose to minister to the British immigrants in the Cape and British Kaffraria. Missions to the Bantu was not necessarily a part of their agenda. As indicated in this dissertation , it was the German Baptists and not the British who were key factors in the establishment of the SABMS.

(iv) The new SABMS was based upon the British model which saw the Missions Society as an entirely separate entity from the Union, but in close association with it.

The unjust policy of apartheid, which was implemented and enforced by the South African Nationalist Government from 1948 to the early nineties, cemented and added the "cherry on the top" of the separate development and ultimate separation between BUSA and the Baptist Convention. It provided the ideal context for continued British colonial thinking and practice with regard to the Bantu. Hence the exclusion of the latter from the main BUSA Leadership structures for most of the period under review.

In the final chapter, the writer offers some guidelines which he trusts will prove helpful to future BUSA Leaders and Executives.

ŠUniversity of Pretoria 2008

Please cite as follows

Scheepers, A 2008, A critical analysis of the structural dynamics operative within the Baptist Union of Southern Africa (BUSA) from 1960-2005 and an evaluation of these dynamics in the light of BUSA ecclesiology, MA(Theology) dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-06252009-144940/ >

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