While in the UK I have photographed a number of churches and cathedrals during my travels. They can be very beautiful buildings and the weight of ages does hang heavily on many of them. Back in South Africa I never really did pay much attention to the churches because in the pre-digital days photography was expensive and leisure photography was reserved for holidays or special occasions. However, I won’t pass up an opportunity to see the interior of a church, and of course take photographs.
The “state religion” prior to 1994 was the Nederduitse Gerformeerde Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church) and their churches were to be found in cities, towns and suburbs throughout South Africa. The older ones were very beautiful buildings but at some point the church design lost that beauty and reverted to functional and pointy instead. The church above is in Heidelberg and is known as the “Klipkerk”. The foundation stone for this church was laid in 1890 by Cmdt-Gen PJ Joubert.
The church that I visited on my way to the airport is a good example of the functional and pointy style of church design.
(The spire of the church does not lean at this angle, it is really a product of the camera lens. The tip of the spire has been added into the image afterwards).
The cornerstone of the church was erected in 1967, and it served the surrounding community for many years.
However, changes in demographics and falling congregations meant that at some point the church would close down or be sold or leased to somebody else.
A friend of mine was a member of the “Veranderde Lewens” church and with a growing congregation they we able to make this building their new home and place of worship.
It does help if you know somebody on the inside and that was how I managed to see the inside of the church as it currently is. I had been to it before but had not seen the interior, only the hall and exterior.
The NG Kerk was not really into the many trappings and ornamentation that the Anglican and Catholics have, there was a certain sparse functionality about their churches, and the building as it is now is probably very close to what it may have been when this was the church for the North Ondekkers congregation.
It is a very large space inside, and from what I hear the services are packed. We were kindly shown around by the “Pastorale Leeraar” (Pastoral Minister) Dr Berrie De Vos, Unfortunately I do not know the English terminology of many of these terms and am learning as I go along.
Looking from what is now the “pulpit” towards the organ and main doors.
The view from the main doors towards the “pulpit”.
There was not a lot of ambient light in the church and my flash really batted to cope, but my pics are really it is about the context of the church rather than specifics.
There is no real ornamentation outside of what was on view, a more progressive church really embraces technology and visual aids and often uses music sources outside of the more traditional church organ. There are those who frown on guitars and drums in a church, but if that is why people do not attend then they were probably going for the wrong reasons anyway.
“Tell, Deepen, Renew, Change”
The organ loft above the main door also has limited seating and may have been used by the choir at some point
The pulpit is more of a lectern, and it would be interesting to see what the original looked like. Because the church has been renovated a lot of interior detail may have changed, it is difficult to know what this space was like before.
There is new life in this old church, and that is a god thing because a building like this can easily be the target of vandalism and neglect. Many former churches get re-used by other religions and causes but realistically they are not easy buildings to reuse. Long may this building be the home of Veranderde Lewens.
Special thanks to Dr Berrie De Vos for the opportunity to see the interior of the building.
Other Church buildings in South Africa.
As mentioned before, I never really took much notice of the churches in South Africa, many of then are unapproachable because of security measure or because they are always closed. Here are a few exteriors that I have seen in my meanderings:
Roughly 0,5 kilometres from the church is another example of that particular style of NG Kerk.
Gereformeerde Kerk, Ontdekkers
Ned Herf of Gereformerde Kerk Waterval Gemeente (1928)
NG Kerk Heilbron Moedergemeente
NG Gemeente Horison-Noord
Gereformeerde Kerk Pretoria (1897)
Nederduitsch Herformde Kerk. El Flora
Dutch Reformed Church Cottesloe (1935)
NG Kerk Moedergemeente Bethlehem (1910)
Former St Andrews Presbyterian Church Fairview (1903)
St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Germiston (1905)
Former NG Kerk in Fairview (1906)
Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Wits University (1938)
Regina Mundi Church Soweto
Methodist Church Heidelberg 1895
Former NG Kerk Langlaagte (1899)
© DRW 2017. Created 14/04/2017