Title page for ETD etd-11242010-181058

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author De Beer, Petrus Johannes Perold
Email debeerpj@mweb.co.za
URN etd-11242010-181058
Document Title Church planning in the South African Indian Community, with reference to the Reformed Church in Africa
Degree PhD
Department Practical Theology
Advisor Name Title
Prof P G J Meiring Supervisor
  • Reformed Church in Africa
  • South African Indian Community
  • church planning
Date 2010-09-03
Availability unrestricted

The spice route around the Cape of Good Hope established links between the refreshment station in the Cape and India. This foreshadowed the official involvement between South Africa and India. By 1700 up to 50% of the slaves in the Cape were of Indian descent.

As early as the 17th century, the DRC had been involved in outreach work to the Muslim community in the Cape. It took a considerable length of time after the Indians had settled in Natal in 1860, however, before the DRC became involved in this new field. It was only in 1946 that the church officially began mission work among the Indian people and more specifically the Hindus. A number of factors however hampered the outreach work, such as political antipathy, the English language, fear of economic competition, the foreign culture, and their religion.

The Mission Boards of the DRC, in time, acquired not only the necessary funds, but also the manpower for the task. In the sixties they commenced to work in Natal, as well as in the Cape and Transvaal. A number of important issues landed on the desk of the Mission Board, such as membership of ministers, the form of baptism, the period of catechism for older believers, aspects of organizational questions regarding the formation of a new church, the training of evangelists and ministers, and a church order for the newly established church.

The first missionaries, being pioneers in the work among the Indian people, were all white ministers either from the DRC, the DRC Missions Church (NGSK) or the DRC Church in Africa (NGKA). These early missionaries were determined to ensure that the Gospel was brought to this neglected community in a clear and forceful way. The challenges involved were obviously enormous.

The first evangelists were all Indians and by and large workers belonging to other churches. The appointment of evangelists proved to be a great asset. As co workers of the missionaries, they opened doors to Hindu homes that would have been closed to the foreign missionaries. By 1962 four congregations had been established and in 1968 the Indian Reformed Church was formed. Two years later the use of evangelists in the IRC was discontinued. Six years later the name of the church was changed to 'Reformed Church in Africa', establishing the church as an open community. Strong resolutions were taken against any form of racism. The church was now established as an open church where all races would be welcome. In the seventies it was the RCA that took the initiative to call upon the NG Kerk, the NG Kerk in Afrika and the NG Sendingkerk to consider possible unification. The RCA remained strongly focussed on reaching Muslims and Hindus.

The resolution of the WARC in 1982 to suspend the NGK and the denouncement of apartheid as heresy by certain members of the RCA led to a serious confrontation with the NGK and a schism in the RCA.

The reconstruction of the RCA began in 1986 and in 1990 the RCA adopted the Laudium Declaration, affirming that the church was Reformed, and an Evangelical Reformed Church. A period of remarkable rebuilding and growth ensued. The Laudium Declaration became the hallmark of the RCA. The specific reformed, evangelical and mission orientated qualities had to be met. Evangelists were again trained and sent out.

The RCA offers important insights to all believers in a pluralistic community. In spite of a flood of liberal theological thinking, the RCA holds zealously to her Reformed Evangelical position as expressed in the Laudium Declaration.

2010, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

De Beer, PJP 2010, Church planning in the South African Indian Community, with reference to the Reformed Church in Africa, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-11242010-181058/ >

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