Dutch Reformed Church

Dutch Reformed Church

 

The Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) (in Afrikaans: Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, abbreviated NGK), was introduced to Cape Town, South Africa by Dutch settlers in 1652. Grounded in reformed (Calvinist) protestant beliefs, the Cape DRC was initially under the ecclesiastical control of the presbytery of the mother Dutch Reformed Church in the Netherlands. It became independent in 1824, following the earlier establishment of British colonial control. DRC is one of three “sister churches,” which also include the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa and the Reformed Churches in South Africa.

DRC was slow to join the missionary efforts in Africa begun by others, such as the London Missionary Society and Paris Evangelical Missionary Society. This changed with the arrival of Andrew Murray, who was elected DRC’s “moderator” in 1862. Fueled by evangelistic zeal, Murray led the establishment of a missions committee and specifically sought to evangelize Mashonaland (in what would later become Southern Rhodesia).

Early DRC outreach to Mashonaland was conducted by African evangelists, who paved the way for the missionaries that came later and made the gospel more acceptable to the indigenous peoples. In 1890, Reverend SP Helm, accompanied by two African evangelists, was sent to investigate the possibility of a more settled and permanent mission in Mashonaland. The local population was receptive, but missionary efforts were blocked by Chief Lobengula. Entrance of the “Pioneer Column” later in 1890 created conditions favorable for DRC missionary Andries Adriaan Louw to establish its first mission station in the territory, Morgenster, in September 1891.

From Morgenster, DRC missions spread throughout Southern Rhodesia. In 1906, the Berlin Missionary Society’s (Lutheran) missions at Gutu, Chibi and Zimuto were transferred to DRC.

The Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) withdrew the majority of its missionary staff from Southern Rhodesia in the late 1970’s because of security concerns during the “War of Liberation”/”Bush war.” On 4 May 1977, after the signing of a Deed of Agreement, all the DRC’s mission work and properties were officially handed over to ARC, which had grown into a full-fledged autonomous indigenous church.

The name was changed to the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe following Zimbabwean independence in April 1980.

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Contributors
  • James Gavin
  • Mark Loomis