Reformed Churches in South Africa

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Reformed Churches in South Africa
Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid-Afrika.jpg
AssociationsInternational Conference of Reformed Churches, World Reformed Fellowship
RegionSouth Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe

The Reformed Churches in South Africa (Afrikaans: Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid-Afrika) is a Christian denomination in South Africa that was formed in 1859 in Rustenburg. Members of the church are sometimes referred to as Doppers.[4]

History of Gereformeerde Kerke in South Africa[edit]

Syringa Tree Monument, Church Street, Rustenburg, (SAHRA9/2/263/0016)

In the early 19th century a new hymnbook was introduced in the Dutch churches in the Netherlands, which was implemented in the Dutch Reformed Church in the Cape. Many of these songs contradicted the teachings of the three confessions accepted at the Synod of Dort in 1618/1619 (The Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dort). Some of the church members could not accept these doctrines. When they refused to sing the hymns, they were threatened with excommunication. They had the view: In Gods huis Gods lied (In God's house God's songs).[5]

The main founders of the denomination were particularly concentrated in the vicinity of Rustenburg. In 1859, 15 brothers decided to separate them from the Dutch Reformed Church. These 15 members made a meeting on 10 February 1859 convened under a seringboom at Rustenburg. At this meeting, 300 members have enrolled as members of Gereformeerde Kerke.[6] The spot is markde today by the Syringa Tree Monument.

The Gereformeerde Kerke founded a seminary for theological studies as well as teacher training in Burgersdorp in the Eastern Cape. It was moved to Potchefstroom in the early 20th century, where it became the Potchefstroom University College for Higher Christian Education, now the North West University. One of the faculties is the seminary for training their ministers.

The Gereformeerde Kerke today[edit]

The official name of the church body today is Die Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid-Afrika (GKSA). It is also known as the Reformed Churches in South Africa (RCSA). It has 415 Congregations ministering to people in all 11 official languages of South Africa.[7] There are congregations in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Lesotho.

The General Synod meets every third year in Potchefstroom.

It has ecumenical ties with churches on all the continents of the world.

Songbook of Gereformeerde Kerke[edit]

The Gereformeerde Kerke today uses only hymns from the Bible: the Psalms as well as Skrifberymings. Skrifberymings are hymns based on passages from the Bible.

Besides the Psalms and Skrifberymings, the hymnal contains the following:


Heidelberg Reformed Church in Heidelberg, South Africa



Church government[edit]

The Reformed Churches have a Presbyterian - Synodal system of church government.[12] The church consists of the Eastern Regional Synod, the Bushweld Synod, the Northwest Synod, the Regional Synod of Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, the Southern Regional Synod, and the Randvaal Regional Synod.[13]

Criticism that the churches in the RCSA have abandoned the principle that Christ is the only Head of the church, exists. The impression that some of the churches have abandoned the principles from the Reformation has been discussed at the "GKSA Forum". Since Christ reigns through his Word and Spirit (see Heidelberg Catechism, Sunday 48), tension arrises when important decisions are made that is perceived to deviate from Scripture. In 2017, the Reformed church Bet-El was placed outside the communion of the RCSA as result of such differences.


The Reformed Churches in South Africa have their own Theological Seminary " Die Teologiese Skool"[2] in Potchefstroom.[7]


The Reformed Churches in South Africa has a number of growing local congregations. The denomination has local outreaches in Botswana and Mozambique. There are churches that support missionaries in Burundi. The Reformed Church in Rustenburg, South Africa has agreement with Koshin Presbyterian Church in Korea to support evangelism, and establishing new multicultural churches in Rustenburg area. The church cooperates with the Presbyterian Church of Brazil in missions in Angola and Mozambique. It is also involved in a Reformed church plant in Hanoi, Vietnam. Through membership in the World Reformed Fellowship, Gereformeerde Gemeenten collabotates WRF's works, also for example in the International Institute of Islamic Studies.[14]

Relations with other Reformed churches[edit]

Reformed Churches in South Africa is a member of the World Reformed Fellowship[15] and the International Conference of Reformed Churches[16]

The Gereformeerde Kerke has sister church relationship with the :


  1. ^ "South African Christian".
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Pettman, Charles (1913). Africanderisms; a glossary of South African colloquial words and phrases and of place and other names. Longmans, Green and Co. p. 151.
  5. ^ Fasse, Christoph. "Address data base of Reformed churches and institutions".
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b "BBK.GKV » Zuid-Afrika".
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "". Archived from the original on 30 July 2012.
  16. ^ "". Archived from the original on 17 July 2012.
  17. ^
  18. ^


  • "Professor Dirk Postma (1818 - 1890)", Dr. G.C.P. van der Vyver, Pro Rege Pers, 1958
  • "Handleiding vir die studie van Kerkgeskiedenis" (Guide for the Study of Church History), Prof. S. du Toit, Pro Rege Pers, 1970

External links[edit]