Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa

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Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa
The Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa Logo.jpg
AssociationsAll Africa Conference of Churches; World Communion of Reformed Churches; World Council of Churches; South African Council of Churches
RegionSouth Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia
Origin26 September 1999
Port Elizabeth
Merger ofReformed Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa & Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa
Members80,000 [1]

The Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) was formed and constituted in 1999 as the outcome of the union between the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (RPCSA) and the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa (PCSA).

These two churches shared the same origin dating back to the 19th century when Britain took over the Cape Colony. Their distinctive characters were that the Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa was constituted among soldiers and settlers who arrived in the Cape in 1820, spreading North into Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Reformed Presbyterian Church on the other hand was a product of Scottish missions intended for the indigenous Africans, which started at Lovedale Mission in Alice. It became autonomous in 1923.

In 1896 the first Presbyterian congregation was founded in Rhodesia at Bulawayo, and later in 1903 in Salisbury (now Harare). Now there are 2 Presbyteries in Matabeland and Mashonaland. Currently there are 10 congregations and 5,000-10,000 members.[2]

The motto Nec tamen consumebatur is adapted from the Latin translation of Exodus 3:2 "...The Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet it was not consumed"

Recent History[edit]

The UPCSA ordains both men and women as ministers and elders, a position inherited from the predecessor body, the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa.[3] The church defines marriage as exclusively heterosexual, between one man and one woman, and "instructs" ministers to not perform same-sex marriages.[4] However, a church court ruled in 2015 that the church did not prohibit its ministers from blessing same-sex unions.[5]

In 2019 the UPCSA celebrated its twentieth anniversary after having spent much of that time in forging structures of union.


The Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa has over 450 congregations and 800,000 members[1] and is divided into the following Presbyteries (regional districts):

South Africa[edit]

  • Amathole
  • Central Cape
  • Drakensberg
  • eGoli
  • eThekwini
  • Trans Xhariep
  • Highveld
  • Lekoa
  • Limpopo
  • Thukela
  • East Griqualand
  • Mthatha
  • Tiyo Soga Memorial
  • Tshwane
  • Western Cape


  • Copperbelt
  • Munali
  • M'chinga


  • Zimbabwe

Associations/Ministry Groups[edit]

The Basis of Union is a contract that was signed in September 1999 entered into between the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa (PCSA) and the Reformed Presbyterian Church in South Africa (RPCSA). Under this contract, the two churches would join and become one: the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA). Article 13 of the basis of union states that, as a condition of the union, both churches are to bring 4 associations each and the 8 associations would unite to form only 4 associations (one women's association, one men's association, one girl's association and one youth association).

  • The GCA (Girls' Christian Association) of RPCSA and JB (after Janet Burnside the wife of Rev. Tiyo Soga) of PCSA united to form IYZA (Inhlangano Yezintombi ZamaRhabe Amanyanayo)
  • The two women's associations united to form UPWF (Uniting Presbyterian Women's Fellowship)
  • The PMA (Presbyterian Men's Association) of PCSA and the YMG (Young Men's Guild) of RPCSA united to form MCG (Men's Christian Guild)
  • The two youth associations united to form UPCSA YF (Youth Fellowship).

See also[edit]

Confession of Faith[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • De Gruchy, John W. (2005). The Church Struggle in South Africa. Fortress Press. ISBN 978-0-8006-3755-2.
  • Fahlbusch, Erwin (2008). The Encyclopedia of Christianity. Vol. 5. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-2417-2.


  1. ^ a b "South African Christian".
  2. ^ "Reformed Churches » Religion in Zimbabwe".
  3. ^ Duncan, Graham A. (2019-02-12). "South African Presbyterian women in leadership in ministry (1973–2018)". HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies. 75 (1): 10. doi:10.4102/hts.v75i1.5180. ISSN 2072-8050.
  4. ^ "Statement on Marriage". Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa. September 8, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Church gives blessing to pastors over gay marriages". BusinessLIVE. Retrieved 2021-06-11.

External links[edit]