The Dutch Reformed Mission and Church in Zimbabwe (1895 -1995) 

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CHAPTER THREE The Structures of the Dutch Reformed Church in Zimbabwe

In this chapter a description will be given of the developments in the Dutch Reformed Church in Zimbabwe until the present time. There are four distinct periods in this development. Firstly, the period up to 1957 when a regional synod was established, secondly, the period between 1957 and 1972 in which there was expansion and growth in the church, thirdly, the period of civil war (1971/2 -1980) in Zimbabwe, and finally, the period since 1980.
An overview of the political history of Zimbabwe will be given briefly as no church can exist in a vacuum. However it is true that the Afrikaner in Zimbabwe was not involved with politics to a great extent. The view that the Christian should not participate in politics is still held by some devout members of the Dutch Reformed Church1. A description of the structures of the Dutch Reformed Church in Zimbabwe will be rendered to show how this Church sees its role in society, and its relationship to the State. Generally, the Afrikaner places greater emphasis on the family and religion than on politics. This is why the factors of language, education and evangelism are important components of Dutch Reformed piety.
It will be shown that the factors of evangelism, language and education blended in a way that became a practical piety, and that in this development certain factors in the Dutch Reformed Church were regarded as more important than others. In the description it may be seen that there are signs2 that this church is developing from an ethnocentric church to a multicultural one (Degenaar 1993:53).3
Strassberger also found that this was the case when she did the research for her thesis titled Ecumenism in South Africa 19361960. University of Stellenbosch 1971.
To many members of the Dutch Reformed Church, these signs are clearly visible. · They believe that the Dutch Reformed Church is in danger of losing its unique Reformed character. In the next chapter the researcher will write more about how this is taking place.
Degenaar, JJ 1993. Art and Culture in a changing world in South African Journal of Philosophy. 12(3):55.
Although the influence of the piety of Andrew Murray on the church is not easily discerned in the ecclesiastical structures, it has always played a part in the life of the religious community. The characteristics of this piety are more clearly seen at the grassroots level where a personal relationship exists between Jesus Christ and an individual (the subject is expanded on in Chapter Four). This influence still has the power to affect people’sreligious beliefs, in that the ideal is living a life of holiness in gratitude for salvation wrought by a personal Saviour, and also spreading the Gospel where it has not been heard (Murray 1884:35, 135, 161 ).
In this description it will be illustrated how Dutch Reformed women are making a specific contribution in the religious community, and how the youth fill a specific place in this community. In doing this some of the oral and written testimony that was collected4 will be used, as well as the documentation provided by the church. According to Denis, the personal testimony provides a freshness and a treasure store of detail which otherwise would have been lost.
Oral history has a better chance to give access to the hidden transcript than document based history (Denis 1993:35).
This is a search for the spiritual life and witness of a people and their belief in God during the greatest part of the twentieth century. The researcher will show how they experienced life individually and corporately, and how they expressed this life in the world around them. Both aspects, the experience and the expression, are shaped not only by Scripture and the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, but also by the context of time5 .
In the introduction to this thesis the researcher explained how the oral and written information was collected from the ministers of the DRC, the women and the children. The researcher collected this information in order to give a true description of Dutch Reformed piety and the world view of these people as we near the end of the 20th century.
The  context  of time  is  explained  in  the  article  by  Donaldson,  Margaret  1988.
Ecclesiastical History the study  of the spiritual life and witness of the people of God.
An article in SHE Vol 14 Page 81.
The main focus is on the religio-historical factors that led to the founding and maintaining of the Dutch Reformed Church in Zimbabwe. The Church is divided into two Presbyteries. At present these Presbyteries fall under the authority of the Synod of Central Africa (SMA). In this chapter, there will be some repetition of information that was given in the previous chapters. This is to ensure that the reader has a clear understanding of how this community developed into the church it is today.

The ‘NederduitseGereformeerde Kerk’family of churches

The ‘DutchReformed Church’is the common English translation for a number of distinct churches in Zimbabwe. This thesis is mainly concerned with one of them, viz Die Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (NGK), Sinode van Midde Afrika (SMA). In this thesis the researcher has used the name Dutch Reformed Church for the NGK because this is how the church is known in Zimbabwe. The whole family of Dutch Reformed Churches forms two distinct groups, of which brief descriptions follow.

Churches that were established as a result of the mission work done by the NGK

In 1882 the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in South Africa (Nederduitse Gereformeerde Sendingkerk) was established. This was the first of the fifteen Churches that came about because of the mission work done by the NGK, of which two were established in Zimbabwe. The ‘mother’Church has a stated policy, not to integrate the converts of other races within the existing congregations, but to guide them to the establishment of autonomous indigenous Churches (NGK Archives Pretoria: Sendingreglement 2.4). This was a strategy used by Andrew Murray to promote missions (NGK Archives Pretoria minutes Cape Synod dated 13th October1857; 5th November 1873; 1890 and others). Collectively these indigenous churches are known as the NGK Family of Churches, and are members within the Federal Council of Dutch Reformed Churches.
The two  indigenous churches found  in Zimbabwe are the  Reformed  Church  in Zimbabwe (RCZ) and the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (Harare Synod) (CCAP), which is affiliated to the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (General Synod of Malawi). In Chapters One and Two it was shown how these Churches were formed, and what influence Murray’spiety had on the events. Missions were dear to Murray’s heart and he believed and taught that:
To encourage the youth to become missionaries, Murray taught young people to pray the following prayer:
Heer, hier is ek, stuur oak vir my. Gee U Gees oak in my, dat ek vir U koninkryk kan lewe. Amen (ibid: 135).
His enthusiasm was contagious and resulted in many young people becoming missionaries.
Both these churches came about because of the mission endeavour by the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (The Dutch Reformed Church) in South Africa.This Church was also strongly influenced by a German school of thought. This thinking was extended by Dutch Reformed theologians such as Professor J du Plessis who wrote the first missiological manual in Afrikaans (1932) and GBA Gerdener of the DRC Seminary at Stellenbosch.The emphasis was on the planting of autonomous national churches (‘SelbststandigeVolkskirchen’). In this model of church planting, indigenous culture played a very important part in that it has a consolidating effect on the community.
Previously it was shown that the factors of evangelism, language and education in Dutch Reformed piety were so important that this was manifested in the establishment of three separate churches in Zimbabwe. The third church is the Afrikaans speaking church and is dealt with in the next paragraph. Each of these churches operated as a homogeneous unit.

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The Afrikaans Dutch Reformed Churches

The second group of churches within the family of Dutch Reformed Churches is the Afrikaans speaking churches. The Dutch Reformed Church traces its origin in Southern Africa to the settlement in the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch in 1652. Gradually as the settlers moved out, the Church became more widely established. By 1842 congregations had been founded in the Cape, Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal. Due to a variety of circumstances involving personalities, political circumstances (both Church and State), and to a lesser degree theological concerns, by 1859 there were three distinct Dutch Reformed Churches in the Transvaal. Each of these claimed to be the one in direct succession to the one established by Jan van Riebeeck in 1652 (Maritz in Hallencreutz & Moyo 1988:347; Van derWatt 1987:0eel 1-4). Thethree are the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, the Gereformeerde Kerk in Suid Afrika (GKSA) and the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk in Afrika (NHK). There have been continued attempts at reunification, without success. The most comprehensive of these attempts was during November 1998 (interview, Reverend AS van Oyk, moderator of the SMA 28th November 1998).
As the Afrikaans speaking people moved north of the Limpopo River, so their Churches moved with them. In time all three Churches had established congregations in Zimbabwe. The finer distinctions were not always appreciated by Zimbabwean society and all three became known as the Dutch Reformed Church (Maritz 1988:349). This thesis is concerned only with the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (NGK), Sinode van Midde Afrika, which is still by far the strongest of the three numerically.
As has already been explained, the church in which the influence of the piety of Andrew Murray is most felt is the NGK. At present this Church has sixteen congregations and sixteen resident ministers if all the available posts are filled. These congregations are spread throughout Zimbabwe. There is also one congregation in Zambia and one community in Kenya. The community in Kenya is a ward of the Harare congregation. This thesis is only concerned with the congregations in Zimbabwe. The Dutch Reformed Church in Zambia was the subject of two doctorates: Verstraelen-Gilhuis (Leiden 1982) wrote about the (black) Reformed Church and Johan Roux (University of Pretoria 1993) about the (white) Dutch Reformed Church.

Historical overview: 1895 – 1995

The first period: 1895 1957

In Chapter Two it was described how the Afrikaans speaking congregations were established in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). The first four congregations were established at Bulawayo, Enkeldoorn (Chivu), Fort Victoria (Masvingo) and Melsetter in 1895. This came about because of the missionary endeavour of the Synod of the Cape Dutch Reformed Church where Andrew Murray was the moderator. Initially these congregations were part of the Presbytery of Hopetown. Later when this Presbytery was subdivided, the congregations in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) formed part of the Presbytery of Du Toitspan (Kimberley). In 1919 the Presbytery of Bulawayo was established. All the congregations in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) as well as the Lusaka (Zambia) congregation, fell under its jurisdiction. In 1929 the Bulawayo Presbytery was transferred from the Cape Synod to the Synod of the Orange Free State as the financial burden had become too great (NGK Archives Pretoria, OVS: Konsept reglement van Sending van NGK 26ste vergadering van Sinode 1919:229-236; SMA minutes synodal commission Transvaal, Kluis 1169).

Chapter One: Beginnings 1836 – 1895 
1.1 The Dutch and their churches in South Africa
1.2 Main population groups in Zimbabwe: Objects of mission
1.3 The arrival of white settlers in Matebeleland Mashonaland and the need to establish churches in the country
1.4 Andrew Murray’s influence is felt throughout the Dutch Reformed Church
1.5 The Dutch Reformed ministry in Rhodesia
1.6 The Cape Synod sends PA Strasheim on a fact-finding mission to Rhodesia in 1895
1. 7 The arrival of Afrikaner farmers in Gazaland between 1893 – 1995 .
1.8 Conclusion to Chapter One
Chapter Two: The Dutch Reformed Mission and Church in Zimbabwe (1895 -1995) 
2.1 Andrew Murray shaped the mission policy of the Dutch Reformed Church: 1857 – 1917
2.2 The Dutch Reformed Mission establishes schools: 1891 – 1971
2.3 The Dutch Reformed Mission evolves into the Shona Reformed Church in 1952, then into the Reformed Church of Zimbabwe in 1977
2.4 Colonialism is established as a result of the Ndebele and Shona revolt: 1896 – 1897
2.5 The Dutch Reformed Church establishes white congregations and schools in Rhodesia: 1895 – 1995
2.6 Educating the Dutch (Afrikaners) in Rhodesia: 1901 – 1995
2. 7 By 1943 another three congregations and a mission are established. The mission evolves into the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (Harare Synod)
2.8 More congregations are established in Rhodesia
2.9 Regional Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church is formed in 1957
2.10 Conclusion to Chapter Two
Chapter Three: The structures of the Dutch Reformed Church in Zimbabwe 1895 – 1995 
3.1 The ‘Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk’ family of churches
3.2 The historical overview: 1895 -1995
3.3 The Women’s Auxiliary in the Dutch Reformed Church
3.4 The Dutch Reformed Church and the youth
3.5 Ecumenical relations
3.6 Conclusion to Chapter Three
Chapter Four: The Chinhoyi Congregation of the Dutch Reformed Church .
4.1 Historical overview of the Chinhoyi congregation
4.2 The world view of the modern Dutch Reformed member: with special reference to the Chinhoyi congregation
4.3 Jesus Christ as part of reality in the congregation
4.4 The missionary dimension in the Chinhoyi Congregation
4.5 Conclusion to Chapter Four
Chapter Five: The results of the research 

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