When the Presbyterian Church of South Africa was formed in 1897,
the area covered by the new Church was all Africa South of the Zambesi
Paver, At the time of the Union of the Churches, this vast area was
divided into the following Presbyteries, viz* Transvaal, Natal, £ape,
Free Church Presbytery of Kaffraria, Free Church Presbytery of Tanskei,
United Presbyterian Presbytery of Kaffraria, United Presbyterian^
Presbytery of Adelaide. By the year 1897 there had grown up within
these Presbyteries 56 English Speaking European Congregations (all 56
did not survive until 1897) and it has been the aim of this Thesis to
show how these Presbyteries and Congregations originated and grew
from 1806 to 1897.
THE CANE PRESBYTERY.
Presbyterian Ordinances of Worship among English speaking persons
in South Africa owe their origin to The Calvinist Society formed in
1806 among the soldiers of the 93rd Regiment. Prom this Society
there was formed in 1815 the first Presbyterian Congregation in Cape
Town. This Church became Congregationalist in 1819 but the
Presbyterians began again in 1824, and, by 1829 they had built St.
Andrews Church, Cape Town, and called a new minister. As a result of
the work of this Congregation, four Churches and two Preaching
tationo were established by 1897. In addition, the Free Church of
Scotland had established three Churches within the Cape' Presbytery
area in 1846, 1859 and 1861. Due to lack of support these three
Congregations had had to close down long before 1897. The Cape
Presbytery was not formed until 1893.
THE PASSIONARY PRESBYTERIES.
The Glasgow Missionary Society sent Missionaries to the Eastern
Frontier of the Cape Colony in 1824 and they formed themselves
immediately into the Presbytery of Kaffraria. In 1857 this
Presbytery split into two sections over the Voluntary Question and in
1843 the one section became the Free Church Presbytery of Kaffraria
and in 1847 the other section became the United Presbyterian
Presbytery of Kaffraria. In 1889 both of these Missionary
Presbyteries split into two forming United Presbyterian Presbytery of
Adelaide and Free Church Presbytery of Transkei.
Four English speaking European Congregations v#ere established
within the Free Church Presbytery of Kaffraria, while another four
congregations were established within the United Presbyterian
Presbytery of Kaffraria. In addition, five Independent Presbyterian
Congregations were established within the area of the Missionary
In addition to these European Congregations more than 20 Native
Mission stations, together with numerous outstations, were
established within these 4 Presbyteries between 1824 and 1897.
THE PRESBYTERY OF NATAL.
The English speaking Presbyterian Church of Natal began in 1850
when Rev. I, Campbell accepted a call from a group of Scotsmen in
Pieternaritzburg, whom he constituted into a congregation. The
Presbytery of Natal was constituted for the first time in 1853 in
order to ordain Rev. C. Scott called to the recently formed
congregation in Pinetown. Within the bounds of this Presbytery
12 congregations were formed by 1897.
PRESBYTERIES IN THE TREKKER REPUBLICS (O.P.S. AND TRANSVAAL).
When gold was discovered in Barberton in 1885 the Natal
Presbytery sent Rev. James Gray to investigate the possibility of
starting a congregation among the miners. On his recommendation,
a congregation was established in Johannesburg in 1887. Two more
congregations were established along the Gold Reef and one which
started at Klerksdorp had to close down, in 1892. By 1893 Natal
Presbytery realised they could not cope with the development in the
Transvaal and they erected the Transvaal Presbytery. By the time
the Presbyterian Church of South Africa was formed in 1897» 10
congregations had been started in the Transvaal and 2 in Rhodesia,
In addition to the Transvaal and Natal Congregations the Natal
Presbytery was responsible for the establishing of 2 congregations
within the Orange Free State. These Churches, together with the
independent Presbyterian Congregations of Kimberley and Beaconsfield,
were erected into the Orange River Presbytery in 1898.
In the same year (1898) 4 other congregations were established
within the Orange River Presbytery, but their origins date back to
THE STEPS TOWARDS UNIOMN:
Two attempts were made to unite the Dutch Reformed Church and
the English Speaking Presbyterians prior to 1860, but with no result.
From 1881 to 1886 attempts were made to unite Free Church and United
Presbyterian Presbyteries of Kaffrarla but these efforts also ended
in failure. Prom 1892 to 1897 Federal Council Meetings, including
representatives from all the Presbyteries in South Africa, were held.
These meetings resulted in a vote in favour of Union at the 6th
Federal Council in 1897. The Free Church Synod of Kaffraria refused
to become part of the new church thus formed,