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Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

versão On-line ISSN 2412-4265

Studia Hist. Ecc. vol.37 no.2 Pretoria Set. 2011

 

On a bumpy road: Historical survey of (unity) talks between the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa and the Dutch Reformed Church before 1994

 

 

Thias Kgatla

Department of Science of Religion and Missiology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

 

 


ABSTRACT

The events prior to and after church unity between the former Dutch Reformed Church in Africa (DRCA) and the Dutch Reformed Mission Church (DRMC) in 1994 are perplexing because the white Dutch Reformed Church (NG Kerk) was influenced by apartheid ideology in its response to church unity within the DRC family.1 Unsuccessful unity talks were previously held with the white Dutch Reformed Church (NG Kerk) and the Reformed Church of Africa (RCA), but minutes of these talks reveal that a biblical concept of church unity was problematic, especially to the NG Kerk, which created a language that made the issue of Christian unity elusive. This article gives a brief survey of the developments that shaped the unity process with the DRMC and the DRCA from 1986 until 1994, when the two churches eventually united. The role played by the white DRC and its motive to frustrate the unity process is analysed. The change of the leadership of the DRCA in 1987, the DRCA General Synod in Umtata and the momentum this change gave to the process of church unity between the DRCM and the DRCA are investigated. The internal struggles within the DRCA's Northern Transvaal Synod2 are also discussed. The gender inclusivity in the ministry of the church, property ownership and the inclusion of both in the new Church Order are investigated. After seventeen years of democracy in South Africa, church unity among the Dutch Reformed family of churches (the RCA, NG Kerk and URCSA) has not yet been realised. This article sketches the DRCA's road to unity with the DRMC in 1994 without the NG Kerk and RCA, reading church history backwards to shed light on why it was so difficult for the NG Kerk and RCA to unite with the URCSA.


 

 

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Works consulted

African Eye News Service, 12 December 1999, Nelspruit.         [ Links ]

Church Order 1999. Northern Synod Church Order and Supplementary Stipulations, Mamelodi. Unpublished.         [ Links ]

Moletsane, R Chikoko, V, Ntombela, S, Kruger, C & Pithouse-Morgan, K 2010. Assessing the impact of the "skills revolution" among women in South Africa. Pretoria: Human Science Research Council.         [ Links ]

URCSA Acts 1999. Northern Synod Acts of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa Second Regional Synod, Mamelodi. Unpublished.         [ Links ]

URCSA Acts 2003. Northern Synod Acts of Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa Third Regional Synod, Mamelodi. Unpublished.         [ Links ]

NGKA Akta 1978. Synodical Acts of the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk in Afrika Third Synod. Bloemfontein: NG Sendingpers.         [ Links ]

NGKA Akta 1983. Synodical Acts of the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk in Afrika Sixth Synod. Bloemfontein: NG Sendingpers.         [ Links ]

NGKA Akta 1987. Synodical Acts of the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk in Afrika Seventh Synod. Bloemfontein: Sendingpers.         [ Links ]

NGKA Akta 1991. Synodical Acts of the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk in Afrika Eighth Synod. Bloemfontein: Sendingpers.         [ Links ]

URCSA Akta 1994. Agenda en skema van werksaamhede van die Stigting Sinode van die Verenigende Gereformeerde Kerk in Suider Afrika. Bloemfontein: CLF Publishers.         [ Links ]

URCSA Akta 1997. Agenda en skema van werksaamhede van die Algemene Sinode van die Verenigende Gereformeerde Kerk in Suider Afrika. Bloemfontein: CLF Publishers.         [ Links ]

URCSA Church Order 1999. NTvl Northern Synod of Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, Mamelodi. Unpublished.         [ Links ]

URCSA NTvl 1995. Northern Synod Acts of Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa First Regional Synod, Mamelodi. Unpublished.         [ Links ]

URCSA NTvl Akta 1999. Die Verenigende Gereformeerde Kerk in Suider Afrika NTVL, Mamelodi. Unpublished.         [ Links ]

URCSA NTvl Akta 2003. Agenda for the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa NTVL, Mamelodi. Unpublished.         [ Links ]

 

 

1 The DRC family consists of four churches that came into existence because of the Dutch Reformed Church mission in South Africa. These churches include the white Dutch Reformed Church, the black Dutch Reformed Church in Africa, the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, and the Reformed Church in Africa.
2 The DRCA was established in 1963 with six regional synods in the Cape, Northern Transvaal, Southern Transvaal, Natal, Free State and Phororo.

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