Original Research - Special Collection: Diakonia

Diakonaat en die Afrikaanssprekende AGS van SA

Marius Nel
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2786 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2786 | © 2023 Marius Nel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 December 2022 | Published: 26 May 2023

About the author(s)

Marius Nel, Unit for Reformational Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The diaconate and the Afrikaans-speaking Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa. The aim is to discuss the development of the diaconate in the Afrikaans-speaking white Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa (AFM) in order to examine its effectiveness. This is done on the basis of a comparative literature analysis. To understand this development, the church’s early antipathy towards established mainline churches must be understood, born out of the pentecostal movement’s self-definition and experience of rejection and discrimination. One consequence was that all traditional offices were denied, including the office of minister, elder and deacon. Early members were generally poor, like most other Afrikaners. Yet they supported each other and helped where possible. Their assistance excluded people of colour. There was no organised diaconate until the AFM was eventually forced by reality to institutionalise. From this a Welfare Department was born in time which also organised welfare work through Dorcas councils at regional and parish levels. The Welfare Department also established and administered old age and children’s homes. In general, only women served on Dorcas councils while the congregational council (church council) consisted only of men. Still, welfare work was mainly limited to the ‘own people’. In the run-up to unification, the ‘white’ AFM relegated all power to the local level as much as possible to protect their own identity. After unification in 1996, as a result of this process, local congregations were again left on their own to do welfare work. At the same time, many Afrikaans-speaking congregations exclusively use Afrikaans in their worship services, excluding non-Afrikaans speaking people of colour. As a result, their welfare work is mainly limited to white people. The importance of the conclusion is that the church needs to address deficiencies in the diaconate task, which is essential to the church’s mission.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The evaluation of the diaconate in the AFM implies a new welfare strategy and redesign of the diaconate based on the church-historical description, exegesis of relevant Scripture passages and description of the current South African scene marred by social inequality and the occurrence of widespread poverty to relate to the church’s task.


diaconate; white AFM; welfare work; unification process; Welfare Department.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 1: No poverty


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