The neighbourhood around the old Milnerton Baptist Church in Sanddrift has changed a lot in the past 50 years, and so too has the church, but one thing hasn’t changed: it remains a place of solace, peace and community support.
Rugby resident Ivy Oosthuizen was inspired to start the church in her home in 1964 after listening to a service broadcast on the radio.
Services were held there at first, and the church was formalised in 1966, but soon there wasn’t enough space for the congregation.
Under the leadership of German pastor Fritz Haus, property was secured for the church in Sanddrift in 1974.
The A-frame building that stands on the corner of Shayele and Pringle roads today is the very one the congregants built themselves all those years ago.
There have been some changes over the years, however, to accommodate the growing membership.
“The sanctuary was on its own for 10 years, and the congregation members did quite a lot of building. The rest of the building was built mid-80s. Back then, the church was situated at the end of the bus route, as I would call it, there was just nothing in this area. There was no Canal Walk,” said retired Baptist church pastor Reg Friend.
“The church has become an integral part of the community, and on Monday and Thursday nights we have a soup kitchen open for the surrounding community members. We also have classes for those battling addiction. The building is also used by many civic organisations for their meetings.”
The church will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Sunday August 14 with two services, including a service which will be recorded in the church on Sunday August 7 and will be broadcast on SAfm on August 14, to commemorate the role radio played in its founding.
There will also be a celebratory lunch for congregants and neighbouring residents.
Retired Baptist church pastor Norman Schaefer will perform the morning service at 9.30am and Dr Paul Hartwig will deliver the evening sermon at 6.30pm.
Mr Friend said it had cost R23 000 to build the original building, which has touched the lives of people for the past 42 years. There are now plans to expand the church.
“We are thinking about enlarging the building or moving to a bigger building, because the population in the area has grown tremendously. There are 55 000 people in Century City alone. So hopefully the church will be able stand for another 50 years, if Jesus hasn’t come by then.”