Pinelands Methodist Church marks centenary

From left are Reverend Ross Southern, church committee member Margie Gibb and the church’s former minister Reverend Mike Crockett.

The Pinelands Methodist Church, which marks its centenary this year, traces its roots back to July 1923 when the first services were held in the Mead Way home of Carl and Elizabeth Eglin, the parents of Colin Eglin, a former national opposition leader during apartheid.

The services then moved to the Pinelands Town Hall until 1931 when the church moved to its present site in Union Avenue.

Reverend Ross Southern took over as the minister in 2019, a year before the pandemic hit.

“We would have to conduct sermons by recording our church services and then post it on YouTube for our parishioners to follow,” he says.

Despite the hardships of the pandemic, congregants have continued to support the church’s efforts to help the needy, including foreign nationals and the homeless.

“We had church members making soup from their homes and we would collect it to serve the community,” says Reverend Southern.

In 2021, the church launched its Home Grown Market, held at the church, on the first Saturday of the month.

“We only asked that the vendors could donate 10% of what they sold to the church,” says Reverend Southern.

The church’s previous ministers include anti-apartheid activist and former deputy chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Dr Alex Boraine, who started as a lay minister in 1950 at the age of 19 before he was ordained in 1956.

In the 1990s, under Reverend Eric Dorey, the church’s membership grew due to the outreach work done by youth pastors Doug Wallace and Rory Dalgliesh, says Reverend Southern, and during this time, the church became actively involved in the neighbouring black townships. A Christmas project in Langa and Joe Slovo camp, called Buckets of Love, developed during the tenure of Reverend Themba Mntambo who was at the church from the late 1990s until the early 2000s.

Reverend Mike Crockett, who led the church at the turn of the millennium until his retirement in 2009, says the church was also a safe haven for about 50 foreign nationals who were victims of the xenophobic attacks that took place in Cape Town in 2008.

“We found accommodation and employment for everyone who left after staying at the church,” he says.

Reverend Crockett worked closely with church committee member Margie Gibb to help the most vulnerable in the informal settlements.

Ms Gibb says they started doing a soup kitchen for the 300 children at the Chris Hani school in Langa in the early 2000s, and then, with the help of church volunteers, offered art, English , maths and life-skills classes to the children.

Last month, the church collected 100 packs of toiletries as well as blankets, beanies, towels and socks for an old-age home in Springbok, and this month, parishioners are being asked to donate old clothes for the needy.

Reverend Southern says a big centenary celebration is planned for July.

For more information about the church, call 021 531 2224.

Last month the church collected 100 packs of toiletries as well as blankets, beanies, towels and socks for an old-age home in Springbok.