The official name of the churches is: The Free Reformed Churches in South Africa, (FRCSA).
We acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord of the church. We believe that we are part of the one, holy, catholic, Christian church that Christ is gathering in this world.
The word “Reformed” reveals that these churches are influenced by the Reformation of the 16th century. The Reformation was an influential movement that had a healing influence on Christianity in Europe. Leading figures were men like Luther, Calvin and Zwingli. Thanks to the Reformation superficiality in the church, and the supremacy of traditions, was replaced by the authority of the Bible for personal life, church and society. The influence of the Reformation has also radiated to South Africa in recent centuries.
The FRCSA are not the same as the Reformed Churches in South Africa. We use the word “Free” to distinguish us from this federation.
From where is the word “Free” derived?
The first Free Reformed Church in South Africa was instituted in 1950 by Dutch immigrants. The addition Free can perhaps be better understood as ‘liberated’, meaning that we believe each individual congregation functions as the body of Christ and that the local consistory is the highest authority, not the synod. This distinction emphasizes the fact that churches and church members are bound solely by the Word of God, and that a synod cannot prescribe how the Bible should be interpreted. The Synod makes decisions only for things which the local churches hold in common, and even then the local consistory must approve those decisions. This distinguishes us from other churches, e.g. Roman Catholic Church.
The local churches have chosen to bond in a federation which is called the Free Reformed Churches in South Africa.
For years there were only three congregations in the FRCSA, in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town, where members consisted mainly of Dutch immigrants. Today, however, this has changed and the church landscape is multi cultural.
The federation expanded when the FRC Pretoria-Maranata was instituted after the FRC Pretoria became too big and a second church was deemed desirable. In the 2000’s a further expansion occurred when three churches were instituted as a result of mission work conducted in Mamelodi and Soshanguve-North in Gauteng, and Belhar near Cape Town. Since then on-going mission work has borne fruit and another church will be instituted in Wesbank, Western Cape, in October 2019, the Lord willing.
Despite differences in race, language and culture we experience a strong unity in Christ and his Word.
Since 1976 on-going discussions with a view to possible unity with the Reformed Church in South Africa have been held. This has lead to far greater collaboration between the church federations and is a promising development both in Gauteng and the Western Cape.
Characteristics of the FRCSA
The FRCSA accept all that is written in the Bible as the Word of God. This means among other things: that within the churches there is respect for the trustworthiness of the Bible which in turn means that personal thoughts and feelings are constantly tested by what is written in the Word; that the Bible is accepted as the guideline for everyday life.
Other characteristics of the FRCSA which can be mentioned are:
- that they, just as any congregation, are made up of sinful people who constantly need to be recalled to God and reminded of His Word
- that they wish to remain faithful to the reformed confessions which are a summary of the Scriptures
- that they strive for good conduct in church life as outlined in the church order accepted by the general synod of the federation
- that they feel responsible for society
- that they are called through mission and evangelization activities to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to other people
- that they genuinely wish to strive for unity with other churches and church members who wish to serve the Lord uprightly according to his Word.