|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.
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.