Sunday, April 15, 2012

Historic Church in Johannesburg to become an Islamic ‘Madrasah’


The former Dutch Reformed Church (NG Kerk) in Langlaagte, Johannesburg.
Picture Credit: www.allatsea.co.za - Photo © Derek Walker. 2011

The cornerstone of this historic church was laid in March 1889, but the Boer War delayed completion and it was only inaugurated on 12 December 1902. The founder of the Abraham Kriel Orphanage; Ds. Abraham Kriel, was the first minister at the church and served from 1902-1917, he is buried with his wife in the grounds of the church. 

The church was in use by the Glory Divine World Ministeries up till November 2011. They have since been given notice to vacate the premises as the church is up for sale. As yet there has been very little interest by the heritage authorities in the fate of this building, and there is a good chance that it could end up being changed beyond recognition, and lost forever. Source

Today’s Rapport newspaper, dated 15 April 2012, has reported (on their back page of all places) that Muslims are planning to transform the historic church into a “Madrasah”, which is the Arabic word for any type of educational institution. In South Africa, the madrasahs also play a social and cultural role in giving after-school religious instruction to Muslim children who attend government or private non-religious schools.

Apparently the increasing costs involved in maintaining the building has led to the decision to sell it. The best offer was made by a Muslim organization. The demographics of the region has also totally changed to a predominant Indian community. According to the Dutch Reformed minister at Veregsig, Hennie van Rooyen, the decision to sell the Langlaagte property lies heavy on their hearts as, among other things, the graves of the first preacher, Abraham Kriel, and his spouse Christoffelina, still exist in the grounds of the church.

According to Van Rooyen, a clause in the sale contract specifies that the historicity of the building must be respected. A servitude has also been registered that protects the graves of Abraham and Christoffelina Kriel, and which will also allow interested parties access to the property.

Bishop Ryan Sooknunan, who was hiring the building for the services of his Glory Divine World Ministries, is not too happy with the Langlaagte developments. Sooknunan has now accused the Dutch Reformed Church that they breached a verbal contract which allowed for unlimited use of the building. The Dutch Reformed ministry of Vergesig has denied the existence of such a contract.

The full story can be read here in Afrikaans, in Rapport.

Click here to view the Afrikaans Wikipedia Page dealing with some of the historical aspects of the Dutch Reformed congregation at Langlaagte. The page also features some older photographs of the historic building, which were recorded soon after it was completed more than 100 years ago.

Click here to view more recent photographs of this historic building.


Related Posts:

The meaning of the word “Church”

About Building Mosques and Burning Bibles

The Future South African Bloodbath (On the parent blog Tia Mysoa)



 
UPDATE - (16 April 2010)

Dr Ryan Sooknunan (Glory Divine World Ministries) has responded personally to this article, and claims that the Rapport and Beeld articles are incorrect. See the first comment in the comment-section of this posting.

The article in the Star he is referring to can be viewed here.


10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please note that the article in the Rapport and the beeld is incorrect. Our representatives are handling that. See the correct article in the star of today


Sale of 126 year church to muslims to be turned into a madressa.

On the 1st of April 2001,I, Bishop Rayan Sooknunan started an English service in the Dutch Reform Church langlaagte. Reason for service—demographic change. Started Glory Divine with 1 person in 2001 and currently have over a thousand multiracial congregation. Dr Hennie and Elders entered into a oral lease agreement with me that the building is in a Langlaagte Trust and it’s a monument and it cannot be sold. They said that they receive funding from Holland and the building needs to utilised to serve the Christian community
This can be confirmed with one of the Elders of the NG Kerk that was present at the agreement Mr Joe Brown tel no 0764062018 and the terms was :- many other affidavits provided to the court of further meetings including tape.

• The building must be used for the propagation of the Christian gospel and if otherwise then we will be asked to vacate to which we have kept the condition for twelve years.


We are now operating in the area for 12 years and people are from poor backgrounds and we serve them holistically. Where will they go now. Go into www.glorydivine.co.za




When I occupied the building in 2001, there were a number of congregation that was attending the NG Kerk service together with the Abraham Kriel Kinders about 150 of them. As time went on majority of the Abraham Kriel Kinders wanted to come to our service and that is when friction broke up between us. the children were warned not to come to our services.

After a while from about 2005 the members of the NG Kerk church started slowly to decrease and by about 2009 there was only about 20 members beside the Abraham Kriel children attending services. The NK Kerk realized that they were in crises financially and major decisions needed to be made, also all the members of the NG Kerk were either leaving or moving away to other areas. At present there are about 30 NG kerk people according to the Elder of NG Kerk Mr Joe Brown contact number 0764062018.

On 23rd August 2010 an official meeting after ten years was held between us and the NG Kerk.

Then another meeting and it was established that they want to sell the church. I was asked to offer and a figure was not given to me. They said that I can offer because I am in the building for 11 years and also I am propagating the gospel.


Later I made my offer to 1,5 million still not knowing what figure they want. Then muslims started coming into the premises and then I was told that it is sold for 2.7 mil.

When I objected because of muslims and hennie jumping over the fence and being violent with my guard then I got eviction order and now the matter is in the high court.

Too many lies. They say ther is no trust but I have a trust number. Funds came in from Holland. Indefinate lease agreement still stands.We have and will always maintain the building and keep the heritage. Give us a chance to preserve and buy the building. Church square and not madressa SQUARE

We opposed the eviction and it cost us a lot of money with lawyers and advocate fees. There was a lot of contradictions etc on their affidavit to the high court. We produced an opposing affidavit - withdrew the case - procedure of eviction was wrong -now re-opened the case- 45 days notice to vacate the building.


A copy of all complete documents can be attained by my attorney

Where will a 1000’s of people of all races go?

The correct article is on the star, etv, daily sun and Durban newspaper—also on Radio 702 and local stations. If you furnish me your e-mail number, I will send you the full details with pictures of how the church was dilapidated before I renovated it.

Dr Ryan Sooknunan
www.glorydivine.co.za

Anonymous said...

Holy war for one of city’s oldest churches

________________________________________

THE DECISION to sell one of Joburg’s oldest churches to an Islamic academy to be turned into a madrassa has resulted in a bitter legal battle.
At the centre of this holy war are the NG Kerk, Glory Divine World Ministries (GDWM) and an Islamic academy. GDWM, who have been renting the NG Kerk on Church Square, Langlaagte, for the past few years, accused the NG Kerk of being “like Judas Iscariot” and selling them out for “30 pieces of silver”.
They also charged the academy with not caring about where their more than 1 000 congregants would now worship.
The NG Kerk sold the church building to an Islamic academy for R2,7 million. Spokesman Neels Engelbrecht said the decision to sell was based on financial reasons as it was no longer viable to keep the church.

The bishop of Glory divine world ministries Dr Rayan Sooknunan. The owners of the church that they have been renting for years have sold the church to the Muslims who want to turn it to a mosque in langlaagte, Johannesburg. Picture:Itumeleng English
“We could not maintain it anymore and needed the money to use in the community. There is a lot of poverty in the area. The money will be used to feed the people. I can’t comment on other things because the matter is sub judice and we are busy with litigation,” Engelbrecht said.
But GDWM bishop Dr Ryan Sooknunan said his organisation had spent R300 000 upgrading the church and was responsible for maintaining it. GDWM paid rent of R6 000 a month and fed poor people in the area, he said.
The church group has filed papers at the Johannesburg High Court, accusing the NG Kerk of breaking its agreement, which gave it permission to use the church indefinitely – as long as it was for the sole purpose of propagating the Gospel.
Sooknunan said the NG Kerk promised that it would not sell the church to anyone as GDWM had been using it for 12 years. But if they had to sell it, GDWM would be given first option to buy it at a reduced price.
He said that when different race groups started living in Langlaagte between 1994 and 1995, many Afrikaners left the area and the NG Kerk congregation dwindled.
From 2001, the church elders gave him permission to conduct services at the church from 9am to 10am. By 2009, he said, NG Kerk elders allowed him the full use of the church. The remaining NG Kerk congregants then moved to a church in Brixton.
In 2010, the NG Kerk told him it wanted to sell the parking lot. He objected and offered them R250 000 for it, Sooknunan said.
“They never responded, but at the end of the year they said they wanted to sell the church. I was amazed. They had said the church (which was opened in 1902) is a monument and could not be sold,” he said.
“They told me to put in an offer, and I put in R700 000, based on the fact that I had been using the church for many years and I had been doing what they said I should use it for, which is propagating the Gospel. They told me that the offer was refused but that it had been taken to the financial committee for consideration.’’
Sooknunan claims that Muslims then started coming to photograph the church.
At one point, a security guard signed an affidavit at the Langlaagte police station, claiming that an NG Kerk elder and a maulana (Muslim preacher) had jumped the fence, sworn at him and threatened him when he refused to open the church for them.
Sooknunan said: “From that day, I stopped the Muslims from coming to the church without an appointment. I told the NG Kerk I will not allow Muslims to buy the church. We are on Church Square, not Madrassa Square. If there were 1 000 Afrikaners worshipping here, the NG Kerk would not have sold the church,” he said. “When I told them about the promise they made to me… their response was that God does not stay in a building.”
The NG Kerk has yet to file responding court documents.

Tia Mysoa said...

@Dr Ryan Sooknunan (April 16, 2012 12:24 PM)

Thanks for the feedback on this article. I’ve noticed that another anonymous commentator has already copy/pasted the latest media report on this matter.

You’re most welcome to email me pics of the dilapidated church. E-mail: tiamysoa@gmail.com

Tia Mysoa said...

The same post was repeated yesterday on the parent blog Tia Mysoa, as that blog receives more page-hits than this one.

http://tia-mysoa.blogspot.com/2012/04/historic-church-in-johannesburg-to.html

Anonymous said...

Please note that the article in the Rapport and the beeld is incorrect. Our representatives are handling that. See the correct article in the star of today


Sale of 126 year church to muslims to be turned into a madressa.

On the 1st of April 2001,I, Bishop Rayan Sooknunan started an English service in the Dutch Reform Church langlaagte. Reason for service—demographic change. Started Glory Divine with 1 person in 2001 and currently have over a thousand multiracial congregation. Dr Hennie and Elders entered into a oral lease agreement with me that the building is in a Langlaagte Trust and it’s a monument and it cannot be sold. They said that they receive funding from Holland and the building needs to utilised to serve the Christian community
This can be confirmed with one of the Elders of the NG Kerk that was present at the agreement Mr Joe Brown tel no 0764062018 and the terms was :- many other affidavits provided to the court of further meetings including tape.

• The building must be used for the propagation of the Christian gospel and if otherwise then we will be asked to vacate to which we have kept the condition for twelve years.


We are now operating in the area for 12 years and people are from poor backgrounds and we serve them holistically. Where will they go now. Go into www.glorydivine.co.za




When I occupied the building in 2001, there were a number of congregation that was attending the NG Kerk service together with the Abraham Kriel Kinders about 150 of them. As time went on majority of the Abraham Kriel Kinders wanted to come to our service and that is when friction broke up between us. the children were warned not to come to our services.

After a while from about 2005 the members of the NG Kerk church started slowly to decrease and by about 2009 there was only about 20 members beside the Abraham Kriel children attending services. The NK Kerk realized that they were in crises financially and major decisions needed to be made, also all the members of the NG Kerk were either leaving or moving away to other areas. At present there are about 30 NG kerk people according to the Elder of NG Kerk Mr Joe Brown contact number 0764062018.

On 23rd August 2010 an official meeting after ten years was held between us and the NG Kerk.

Then another meeting and it was established that they want to sell the church. I was asked to offer and a figure was not given to me. They said that I can offer because I am in the building for 11 years and also I am propagating the gospel.


Later I made my offer to 1,5 million still not knowing what figure they want. Then muslims started coming into the premises and then I was told that it is sold for 2.7 mil.

When I objected because of muslims and hennie jumping over the fence and being violent with my guard then I got eviction order and now the matter is in the high court.

Too many lies. They say ther is no trust but I have a trust number. Funds came in from Holland. Indefinate lease agreement still stands.We have and will always maintain the building and keep the heritage. Give us a chance to preserve and buy the building. Church square and not madressa SQUARE

We opposed the eviction and it cost us a lot of money with lawyers and advocate fees. There was a lot of contradictions etc on their affidavit to the high court. We produced an opposing affidavit - withdrew the case - procedure of eviction was wrong -now re-opened the case- 45 days notice to vacate the building.


A copy of all complete documents can be attained by my attorney

Where will a 1000’s of people of all races go?

The correct article is on the star, etv, daily sun and Durban newspaper—also on Radio 702 and local stations. If you furnish me your e-mail number, I will send you the full details with pictures of how the church was dilapidated before I renovated it.

Dr Ryan Sooknunan
www.glorydivine.co.za

Anonymous said...

Glory divine is a spiritual home to not only members of the Langlaagte community but to all areas surrounding… The community has changed drastically since Bishop Ryan Sooknunan devoted his Life to the Church and people of Langlaagte 12 years ago….

Why is the Ng Kerk out to destroy a Ministry that is impacting and changing lives??? It is Disgraceful and should not be condoned or tolerated by ANYONE!!!!!

A Madressah can be built Anywhere… Why choose the Church???? And more importantly why choose one that already has over a 1000 worshippers??? This proves No Respect for religion!!!!!!

The Ng kerk truely are Judas… The worst kind of betrayal!!!! Glory Divine World Ministries Will come out Victorious in Jesus Name!!!!!! Joshua 1v5

Visit http://www.glorydivine.co.za to see the impact of the ministry… I pity the people who rise up against true men of God who serve with whole hearted devotion… God Bless Glory Divine and Dr. Ryan Sooknunan and His Leadership… It truely is a place to call home

Anonymous said...

On reading the your article ‘Holy War for one of the city’s oldest churches’ date 16/04/2012
I was most taken aback by Engelbrechts statement – quote “We could not maintain it anymore and needed the money to use in the community. There is a lot of poverty in the area. The money will be used to feed the people. I can’t comment on other things because the matter is sub judice and we are busy with litigation,”- unquote.
What community is Engelbrecht refering to? I have resided in Langlaagte since August 2004 and yes I have somewhat seen poverty in the surrounding area, but never have I seen the NG Kerk extending any charity toward this community or any surrounding areas.
What I have witnessed is Glory Divine World Ministries having a monthly feeding scheme to feed the homeless and poverty stricken, not only extending this cause in Langlaagte but in surrounding areas such as Riverlea, Mayfair and Vrederdorp, What I have experienced and seen is Glory Divine World Ministries donating clothing and Christmas gifts yearly to the underprivileged and poverty stricken women and children. Yes Glory Divine may be renting the church but I have seen these doors open to abused woman and children, I have seen alcohol, substance abusers and broken families being counselled and I can honestly admit that Bishop Ryan, his family and the leaders of this church have inspired and uplifted not only families but communities. Have I mentioned the fact that Glory Divine Wold Ministries is not dependant on any organization for charity or donations, but all the above events are financially aided and supported by Bishop Ryan and his congregation. Engelbreght stating that he has maintained this church also is a lie. As all the internal and external upkeep of the property is maintained by Bishop Ryan and the congregation.
I am truly in awe of how a man such as Engelbrecht can stand with no shame and blatantly lie to the media and the public. By his actions it also is obviously evident that the extension of Gods Kingdom is not his first priority; but the extension of his bank account, and should he care to extend that money to the – as he puts it ‘poverty stricken community’ we as the community would not even consider his charitable hand outs as the price it was gained at was too high.
I cannot tell you what the mission statement for the NG Kerk is, but what I can vouch for is that of Glory Divine World Ministries truly has lived up to theirs ‘ A Place to Call Home’ not only for a Bishop and his family, not only to the leaders and the congregation but to the communities Langlaagte and surrounding areas. Truly there is no justification from the NG Kerk should this church be sold to any other bidder

Anonymous said...

Johannes De Villiers - Rapport
RE:MOSLEMS KOOP GOUDSTAD SE OUDSTE NG KERK

The aforesaid matter refers and in particular your allegedly “one-sided” article which was published in the Rapport of the 15th instant.
Please note the content depicts writer’s beliefs and opinion and not Bishop Sooknunan.

This article has allegedly clearly exposed the N.G. Church, by mouth of Hennie Van Rooyen that the church has finally admitted to no longer adhering to its original Biblical vision and Constitution, i.e. proclaiming that Jesus Christ, the Son of God is the only salvation of mankind, including all false religions, atheists, and so called false Christians

We clearly see the motive is mammon as the church has been offered to the highest bidder.

This action opposes God and will have eternal consequences

Writer wishes to highlight the following salient points which have allegedly been omitted in your article:
1. According to your article the selling of the church is warranted by the high cost of maintenance p.a.
This allegation is devoid of all truth, and might even be tantamount to a blatant lie.
Glory Divine World Ministries have been occupying premises for the last eleven years and due to the severe dilapidation of the building (as occasioned by the absence of repairs) Bishop Ryan has been necessitated to maintain same. The only renovation that took place by NG Kerk was in 2010 when the outside was neatened and shortly after that the intention of the sale was communicated, the objective is clear

Furthermore, writer is hopeful that should the N.G. Church re-institute legal proceedings regarding the vacation of the premises, they would be in a position to support their allegations that they have paid a substantial amount in respect of maintenance thereof.
On the contrary, should it be established that the building has not at all been maintained by the N.G. Church, who were then the recipients of the Funds earmarked for the maintenance thereof?
However, should it be established that Bishop Sooknunan has been maintaining the premises in excess of 10 years, he would then clearly have legal recourse for hundreds and thousands of Rands (if not more) in respect of necessary expenses incurred by himself.
2. Please note that Bishop Sooknunan is not merely accusing the N.G. Church of breaching an oral agreement, but is merely enforcing “tenant’s rights obtained” in respect of the lease agreement as concluded. Writer is of the opinion that the N.G. Church has by selling the building (in contravention of a valid agreement) reneged on the agreement with Glory Divine World Ministries.
3.. Regarding your statement pertaining to the servitude as registered, the purchase order signed states to be registered and it does not stipulate anything regarding the protection of the building. it is questionable whether the Muslims will honour the servitude on the premises preventing the excavation of the graves of the Kriels as the Muslims will definitely remove the graves of their “newly acquired holy premises”.
Why have you in your article omitted to mention that the congregation of Glory Divine World Ministries has currently a membership in excess of 1 000 congregants all all races.

Writer is of the opinion that is high time for the N.G. Church Leadership to return to the values of the founders of the church and to do serious introspection in this regard. If Dr. Andrew Murray and Ds. Abaham Kriel were alive today, they would have been disgusted at the current state of affairs,

I hereby extend an invitation to you, your colleagues and Hennie Van Rooyen to attend a Glory Divine World Ministry service, commencing at 8h00 and 10H00 on Sunday mornings, to witness first hand that Christianity (in the true sense of the Word) is alive and is currently not only changing Langlaagte and the surrounding areas, but internationally as well. Writer is hopeful that you, in the in interest of justice and objective reporting, will urgently liaise and retract.

Vanessa Chetty said...

As member of the langlaagte community and a comrade, we are furious with the NG Kerk for selling this church. There were letters sent to the NG Kerk addressing the concerns of the langlaagte community. To date we are still waiting for feedback. Bishop Ryan is a man of principle and truth. Mr Van Rooyen, stop feeding the community lies. We are not people that are oppressed but people who are free . We live in a democratic South Africa.

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