Greytown Dutch Reformed Church turns 156

2015-09-23 06:00

The Greytown Dutch Reformed Church celebrated its 156 years of existence on 12 September.

The Greytown Dutch Reformed Church celebrated its 156 years of existence on 12 September.

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

THE Greytown Dutch Reformed Church celebrated its 156 years of existence on 12 September. The Greytown congregation originally began as an outpost of the Pietermaritzburg church then on 12 September, 1859 it was decided at a special circuit meeting that Greytown would be an independent congregation.

In 1866, the first church building came into use on the same site the church stands today, but it was destroyed by a tornado in 1879. Within four years a new church was built which eventually had to be demolished and the church, as it is today, was built in 1929.

The hall was built in 1903 to house gatherings of the Christian Young People’s Association. When Afrikaans replaced Dutch as the language in the church, the congregation opened a school for boys and the hall was also used for this purpose.

From 1859 to 2015 the congregation has been served by 22 clergy and seven missionaries. During the term of Reverend Turnbull, the second minister, the congregation experienced great spiritual growth. Prayer meetings were held and clergy from elsewhere were invited to lead evangelical services. In the minutes of church meetings it was noted that between 1874 and 1890 many people came to know the Lord. It was specially noted that “the racecourse has lost three of its faithful supporters and hopeless drunkards have become sober.”

After the Spanish Flu in 1911 many children were orphaned and in response the Greytown Orphanage was started by the church. The congregation is still very involved in the work of the children’s home, which is now known as the Greytown Child and Youth Care Centre.

The old church bell had quite a history. During the time in which a new church had to be built, the DR church and Anglican Church shared the same venue for their services. The bell was hung from a tree outside to be used by both congregations. After refusing to loan the bell out for a horse-racing function, it mysteriously disappeared. Many years later it was dug up in the backyard of a Mr Holst in Cathcart Street. A special tower was built for it in the church gardens, where it hung for many years, only to disappear again when the dealing in scrap metal became a very profitable trade. With the help of articles in the Greytown Gazette and the then The Natal Witness everyone knew about its disappearance and it was spotted by an alert Greytown resident at a scrap metal dealer in Pietermaritzburg and found its way back to the church again.

During the eighties there was controversy over a dance party, involving the minister. The Southern Cross Society arranged a dance in Greytown in aid of funds for the boys on the border and the minister was totally against this. Even the headlines in the Gazette read: “Dominee can’t stop the dancing!”

In the eighties women were elected for the first time to serve on the church council as deacons and elders. Hats and stockings were no longer worn to church by women, never mind sitting in the church council benches with slacks on, not even to mention a lady on the pulpit.

During the following years a lot of changes took place in the Dutch Reformed Church in general, moving away from the strict traditions, rules and regulations. Many people, especially among the older generation, found it difficult to accept these changes, but eventually started to get used to it.

The Greytown congregation, specifically over the past few years, has experienced a time of spiritual growth where the focus is shifting increasingly away from a strict focus on laws towards a focus on sharing the love of Jesus with everybody. In this regard the annual bazaar, which has been taking place for many years, is very important as it provides the congregation with an opportunity to share something with the community of Greytown.

Finally, the congregation is also thankful to the whole Greytown community, individuals as well as businesses, for the support it received over all the many years. We look forward to many blessed years ahead. -

Reverend Rudoph Scharneck.


Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.