Original Research

Burial society versus the Church in the Black society of South Africa: A pastoral response

David K. Semenya
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 34, No 1 | a698 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v34i1.698 | © 2013 David K. Semenya | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 November 2011 | Published: 17 April 2013

About the author(s)

David K. Semenya, Unit for Reformed Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


This article attempts to provide insight to the church councils of mainly Black churches, regarding members’ absenteeism during Sunday church services and also the lack of financial contributions to the church. A number of church-going members are often absent on the last Sunday of the month or the first Sunday of the month because of their commitments to burial societies − burial societies prefer to meet on Sundays. Because the meetings take place at the end of the month and funding is one of the main issues at these meetings, the members’ tithing to the church is negatively impacted. Our research found that members considered their contribution to the societies to be more important than their tithing to the church. In some cases members belonged to more than one burial society, and these members spent more money so as to receive greater support in the event of a death. Unfortunately this left them with nothing to give to the church. Another reason given for belonging to burial societies was that their membership helped them to prepare for death, would enable them to have a decent funeral service and would ensure that those who attended the funeral service did not go home hungry.


Death; burial society; funerals; insurances


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