While the foundation stone for St Paul’s Anglican Church in Bree Street, Cape Town, was laid in 1878 the mission congregation had already started playing a part in the community 20 years before.
The church will be celebrating its 160th anniversary this weekend and is looking forward to welcoming old and new members to a special service.
Church secretary Marilyn Fredericks, who has been a member for 25 years, is looking forward to the anniversary celebrations.
She said congregation members came from Bo-Kaap as well as District Six before they were forced out of the city centre by apartheid’s Group Areas Act.
“Everybody worshipped here before people were removed. We still have people who come here on Sunday. They are old now but they still commute to the church.”
According to Ms Fredericks, people come to the church from as far as Somerset West, Mitchell’s Plain and Athlone as well as the southern and northern suburbs.
The church’s foundation stone was laid on Tuesday March 12 1878 by the Bishop of Cape Town, Archbishop William West Jones, who also consecrated the space on Tuesday March 30, 1880.
According to the church’s website, “the Parish registers begin from this date and many of the names in those early records are still well known in the parish today. The first baptism to take place was that of Joseph James Palmer, son of Samuel and Sarah Palmer of 159 Bree Street.”
Ms Fredericks said on an average Sunday about 80 people attend the service and they are looking to grow their congregation.
“We would like young people to come on board and assist because we don’t want the church to die out. We need people to be active in church and let it grow again. This used to be a very vibrant church,” said Ms Fredericks.
There are two parochial institutions linked to St Paul’s, the old Saint Monica’s maternity home and Saint Paul’s School, which have played an important role in the community. Many people were born in the maternity home and some received their primary education in the parish school.
St Paul’s Primary School is still connected to the church and the church oversees a lot of maintenance at the school. “We are still very much involved up there,” Ms Fredericks said.
Ms Fredericks also had a message for the church community ahead of the special service: “We would ask them and their children to come back. We can’t allow for our doors to be closed. This is their church and some of them might not come for many years but they will come back for special occasions. They will want that to be done at St Paul’s.”
The Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, will attend the special anniversary service this Sunday January 28, at 2.30pm.
For more information about the service, call Ms Fredericks on 021 802 1118 or 084 726 9407.