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Nederduitse Hervormde Kerk
Potchefstroom, North West

Type:Nederduitse Hervormde Kerk - Church

This fine old church of the Nederduits Hervormde congregation of Potchefstroom, the first Voortrekker congregation in the Transvaal, stands on Church Square opposite the Town Hall in the heart of the town.

On 1st November, 1841. Potgieter, together with other Voortrekkers, launched an appeal for contributions to a building fund. Early in 1842 the Rev. Daniel Lindley, who had been appointed in the previous year by the Volksraad of the Natalia Republic as minister to the Voortrekkers, visited Potchefstroom and there on 25th March he established the first congregation in the Transvaal. A cruciform church was built, with a loop-holed surrounding wall so that it could, if necessary, serve as a fortification as well.

The congregation received its first minister, the Rev. Dirk van der Hoff, only in May, 1853. Under his ministry the church soon became too small for the congregation and in April, 1859, the Church Council decided to build a new church on the same site and in the same form as the old one. On 26th December, 1859, President M W Pretorius and the Rev. van der Hoff laid the foundation stone. The church took six years to build. Slowly the brick walls, 600mm thick, arose on firm foundations of stone. Yellow-wood beams to support the roof and yellow-wood planks for the floors were transported over long distances. The pulpit was made in Pietermaritzburg and brought to Potchefstroom by ox-wagon. At last, on 24th February, 1866, the new church could be inaugurated.

In later years several alterations were made to the building. The thatched roof was replaced by iron, three galleries were built in and the church was provided with a spire. A pipe organ was imported from London in about 1890. It was brought by ox-wagon from Vryburg, then the nearest station, and erected by the organist, J Perold, with the aid of instruction books.

During the period of more than a century that the church has been in use, outstanding ministers have preached in it. The long periods of service of some of them is especially noteworthy: The Rev. Dirk van der Hoff (1853-1885); the Rev. C W du Toit (1885-1918); the Rev. S Vermooten (1918-1926); the Rev. W P J Poen (1926-1938) and, since 1938, the Rev. Job. Dreyer.

Proclaimed 1965

(Oberholster, 1972: 311-2)

It was declared a National Monument in 1965 and in now a Provincial Heritage Site.

Read the article Nederduitsh Hervormde Church - oldest church is a historic gem by Lennie Gouws, Apr 30, 2024 for a comprehensive history of this building.

Writings about this entry

Hartdegen, Paddy. 1988. Our building heritage : an illustrated history. South Africa: Ryll's Pub. Co. on behalf of the National Development Fund for the Building Industry. pg 68
Hoevers, Jan. 2005. Van Kerke en Dorpe. Historiese vertellinge oor die oudste kerke en dorpe in Suid-Afrika. Centurion: Publiself Uitgewers. pg 97
Menache, Philippe & David, Darryl Earl. 2012. A Platteland Pilgrimage : 102 country churches of South Africa . South Africa: Booktown Richmond Press. pg 83
Oberholster, JJ. 1972. The historical monuments of South Africa. Cape Town: Rembrandt Van Rijn Foundation for Culture at the request of the National Monuments Council. pg 311-312
Oxley, John. 1992. Places of Worship in South Africa. Halfway House: Southern Book Publishers. pg 132-134