Towards the end of the nineteenth century, a group of Bellville residents seeking reformed worship were granted the use of the ladies’ waiting room at the Bellville Station for Sunday evening services. Soon afterwards a Miss Anna Neethling began a Sunday School in the goods shed. When a hall at the corner of Rhos Street and Voortrekker Road became available, the worshippers moved there as The Bethel Undenominational European Mission. From these humble beginnings the seven Protestant Churches in Bellville developed.

In 1926 the congregation became affiliated to the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa, and was included in the Cape Town Presbytery. In the following year a retired minister from Rhodesia, the Reverend T.H. Jones, MA, DSO, arrived to establish the church. The present site was donated by Mr A. Campbell and the first building, later known as the “Old Hall” was inaugurated in 1929. Sadly, Rev. Jones, who had worked tirelessly to raise funds, passed away before the laying of the foundation stone.

The first resident minister, Rev. E. Flower, from Aliwal North, was inducted in May 1934, and in December that year, at what is recorded as “an impressive and encouraging service”, his first six confirmation candidates were accepted into the fellowship of the church before a congregation of sixty-one. That year, for the first time, a service was held at 8 am on Christmas Day, and there was a Watchnight Service at 11.15 pm on 31 December.

Martha van Wyk recalls her marriage to her husband, Hermanus, in the original building in 1941, on the very day on which Rev. Yule took up office at the church. He was followed by Rev. Dennis Diedericks, who was regarded as a little strange as he insisted that the congregation call him by his first name! He walked from house to house to visit members, and if he arrived while she was working in her garden, he would go into the house to make tea for them. She remembers the wonderful bazaars held to raise funds during difficult times and the choir initiated by Rev. Eadie going carol-singing to the elderly and infirm.

Mrs Anna Kuffner and her husband joined BPC in 1945, during the hard times after the war. She remembers that when occasionally the organist failed to turn up for the evening service, the Session Clerk would hurry out to the Randalls’ home nearby to fetch 11-year-old Colleen to lead the singing, usually clad in her pyjamas and dressing gown!

The church building and manse were completed in 1954. The Sunday School Hall was opened in 1973, and in 1984 the office area was added and the upstairs classrooms renovated. For a while these were used by the Northside Christian School, which later evolved into El Shaddai. The original “Old Hall” was extensively renovated and re-inaugurated as the Rhos Street Hall in 2015. The stage and crèche area were converted into the facilities now used by Grace Kitchen Ministry, and the old courtyard became our impressive foyer. A cry-room was added, and alterations were made to the upstairs Sunday School classrooms.

Many organisations have come and gone over the years, all of which have provided opportunities for spiritual enrichment, fellowship and service in the wider community. Some have been the WA (Women’s Association), Percherons (men’s service group), MOPS (Moms of pre-schoolers) and MOSS (Moms of scholars), LCF (Ladies Christian Fellowship) and Men’s Fellowship, and various Youth groups. It was also home to the Hobby Horse Play School for a number of years. The church has supported many missionaries and charities, and since 2008 has made the manse available to MES (Mould, Empower, Serve).

The list of loved and respected ministers over the years is impressive (see Timeline). Our current minister, Rev. Rod Botsis, is the longest serving. Rod and Mandy have been at BPC since January 1980, and their daughters, Hannah and Rachel were born in Bellville. Under Rod’s guidance home groups have become an integral part of the church, our reputation for caring for those within and on the outskirts of the congregation has been well established and a number of young people have answered the call to the ministry and become reputable and well-loved preachers and pastors in South Africa and further afield.

Much of the history of BPC can be found in the extensive records kept in the carefully classified archives. For the purposes of this overview, our Secretary, Caryl de Krielen’s, excellent memory, and articles by long-standing members published in the Bellpress magazine in the centenary of the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa in 1997, have also been used.

Late 1800’s

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Reformed worship held in the Ladies Waiting Room of Bellville Station. Sunday School classes begin in the Goods Shed

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Early 1900s

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Bethel Undenominational European Mission meets in hall on the corner of Voortrekker Road and Rhos Street

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1926

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Congregation affiliated to PC of SA, under the guidance of Rev. G. Parker, then librarian at UCT

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1927

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Rev T. H. Jones arrives from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) Present site donated by Mr H. Campbell

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1929

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First building inaugurated (later known as the “Old Hall”)

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1934

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Induction of first resident minister, Rev E. Flower 1934 – 1935 First Confirmation, first Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve services

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1936

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Rev R. S. Duncan started 1936. Died 18 July 1936 Rev W. Bald 1936

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1937

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Rev. J. Rodger 1937 to 1940 (went into Active Service)

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1941

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Rev. J.D. Yule : Interim Moderator from 1940 to 1944

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1944

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Rev. D.A. Diedericks 1944 to 1956

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1954

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Current Sanctuary and Manse completed

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1956

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Rev. E.S Eadie 1956-1962

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1962

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Rev J. Kromberg 1962 – 1966

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1966

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McKenzie : Interim Moderator from 1966 to 1968

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1968

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Rev M. Jones 1968 – 1974

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1969

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Simonsberg Campsite developed. Percherons Men’s Service Organisation started. Seniors’ Club (BESCA) started. Playgroup (Hobby Horse) started.

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1973

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Sunday School Hall completed

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1974

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Jacobsen Interim Moderator from 1974 to 1975

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1975

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Rev S.D Smuts 1975 – 1979

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1980

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Rev R. J. Botsis 1980 – present Present offices added and upstairs classrooms renovated

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1984

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BPC establishes Kuils River Community Church

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1989

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Rev. A. Cameron (colleague minister) 1989-2001

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1997

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Centenary Celebrations of PC of SA

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2003

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Protea Valley Church established by BPC and DPC. Rev B. Russell (colleague minister 2003 – 2007)

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2008

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Old manse made available to MES (Mould, Empower and Serve). Rev T. Robinson (2008 – 2016)

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2012

November 23, 2018

Extensive renovations and alterations to Old Hall, classrooms, kitchens and entrance

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2014

November 23, 2018

Grace Kitchen Ministry starts

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2015

November 23, 2018

Old Hall was re-inaugurated as Rhos Street Hall

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