Original Research

The Presbyterian Church of South Africa: The early years, 1897–1923, and future prospects

Graham A. Duncan
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2395 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2395 | © 2022 Graham A. Duncan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 October 2021 | Published: 21 September 2022

About the author(s)

Graham A. Duncan, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


The formation of the Presbyterian Church of South Africa (PCSA) in 1897 was an acknowledgement of the principle of not doing separately what can be done together. The implementation of this principle was essential to the continued existence of Presbyterianism as opposed to the prevalent independency and the development of a specific brand of South African Presbyterianism. This paper describes and analyses the processes involved in the development of the PCSA during the years 1897–1923, a time of rapid change in church and society, drawing mainly on primary sources. This is the first attempt to investigate the early development of the PCSA.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The challenge of this article is to investigate the specific circumstances in which a new church denomination came into being and developed its distinctive form of polity in a context of existing and growing racism and to discern the issues that militated against the formation of a multiracial or nonracial church. This has implications not only for the history of Christianity in Africa but also missiology and ecumenical studies.


Presbyterian Church of South Africa; Free Church of Scotland; Presbytery of Kaffraria; Synod of Kafraria; United Presbyterian Church of Scotland


Total abstract views: 1178
Total article views: 1983


Crossref Citations

1. Racial Differentiation in Education for the Ministry in the Presbyterian Church of South(ern) Africa
Graham Duncan
Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae  year: 2023  
doi: 10.25159/2412-4265/13017