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Church of England in South Africa


Church of England in South Africa

Church of England in South Africa
Classification Protestant
Orientation Anglican and Reformed
Polity episcopal
Associations World Reformed Fellowship
Region South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi[1][2][3]
Origin 1938
Separated from Anglican Church of Southern Africa (then the Church of the Province of Southern Africa)
Congregations 150 [4]
Members 100,000[5]
Official website

The Church of England in South Africa (CESA) was constituted in 1938 as a federation of churches. It appointed its first bishop in 1955.[4] It is an Anglican church but it is not a member of the Anglican Communion. However, it relates closely to the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church of Australia, to which it is similar in that it sees itself as a bastion of the Reformation and particularly of reformed doctrine.


Before 1938

The first Church of England service on record in South Africa was conducted by a naval chaplain in 1749. After the British occupation of the Cape in 1806, congregations were formed and churches were built.[4]

However, when in 1833 an Anglo-Catholic bishop was appointed to lead the church, there were those who preferred to follow the Reformation principles and teachings of the Church of England. Thus, when in 1870 Bishop Gray formed the Church of the Province of SA (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa), these Evangelical clergy remained outside the new body.[6]


The synod of the CESA adopted the church's present constitution in 1938. The draft was prepared by Howard Mowll, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney in Australia. The preamble and declaration of the constitution includes the following statement: "The Church of England in South Africa, as a Reformed and Protestant Church, doth hereby reaffirm its constant witness against all those innovations in doctrine and worship, whereby the primitive faith hath been from time to time defaced or overlaid, and which at the Reformation, the Church of England did disown and reject."[7]

James Hickenbotham made an attempt to unite CESA and the Anglican Church in South Africa in 1953. Hickenbotham presented proposals, known as the Thirteen Points, as a basis for negotiation. The 1954 synod rejected the proposals as their adoption would have placed the CESA in a weakened position compared to the Anglican Church in South Africa.[8]

In 1959 Bishop Fred Morris of CESA contacted Joost de Blank, the Archbishop of Cape Town (Church of the Province of Southern Africa) suggesting that negotiations take place between the two churches with a view to reconciliation. The CPSA rejected this approach.[9]

In 1984 Dudley Foord was appointed Presiding Bishop. He was consecrated by the Archbishop of Sydney, Australia before taking up his episcopal duties in South Africa. George Alfred Swartz, the Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman, representing the Episcopal Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, attended the consecration. Despite the conciliatory tone at Foord's consecration, the Presiding Bishop of CESA was not invited to attend the Lambeth Conference held in 1988 either as a bishop of the Anglican Church or as a bishop of a church in full communion with the Anglican denomination.[10]


Although the CESA has been excluded from the Lambeth Conference, its ministerial orders are recognised by the Anglican Communion, and these orders derive from Bishop Fred Morris, a former Anglican missionary bishop in North Africa, who moved in 1955 to South Africa, much to the irritation of the then Archbishop of Canterbury. Several CESA clerics have served in the Church of England.

The CESA in 2009 was composed of just under 200 congregations, with a total of about 120,000 members. All churches contribute 10% of their income to a central fund. Christ Church, Midrand; Christ Church, Pinetown; and St James Church, Kenilworth all have memberships of several thousand, with attendances on Sunday morning services at about 1000. The average church size is about 150.

Presiding Bishops
  • G. Frederick B. Morris, (1955–1965)
  • Stephen Carlton Bradley, (1965–1984)
  • Dudley Foord, (1986–1989)[11]
  • Joe J. Bell, (1989–2000)
  • Frank J. Retief, (2000–2010)
  • Desmond Inglesby, (2010–present)

Interchurch organisations

The Church of England in South Africa is a member of the World Reformed Fellowship.[12]


The church's canons allow for lay presidency at Holy Communion and also the use of grape juice instead of fermented wine. All references to baptismal regeneration and absolution have been eliminated from the denomination's alternative prayer book, as has the word catholic in the creeds (Nicene Creed and Apostles' Creed).

Training colleges

George Whitefield College (GWC), the official CESA theological training facility in Cape Town is modelled on Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia. The founding principal of GWC was Broughton Knox; the current principal is Mark Dickson. Another CESA college is the Kwazulu-Natal Missionary Bible College (formerly known as Trinity Academy) in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.


  1. ^ "Regions Archive | Zimbabwe". CESA. 2012-08-09. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  2. ^ "Regions Archive | Namibia". CESA. 2012-08-09. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  3. ^ "Regions Archive | Malawi". CESA. 2012-08-08. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  4. ^ a b c Inglesby, Desmond. "Presiding Bishop’s Charge – 2011". Church of England in South Africa. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "Church Denominations in South Africa". SA Christian. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Introducing CESA Church of England in South Africa". Church of England in South Africa. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  7. ^ Long, p. 10
  8. ^ Long, p. 10
  9. ^ Long, p. 11
  10. ^ Long, p. 12
  11. ^ ALAN GILL (1987). "AUST BISHOP STEPS DOWN FROM SOUTH AFRICAN POST". Sydney Morning Herald: 4. 
  12. ^ Members of the World Reformed Fellowship at the Wayback Machine (archived July 30, 2012)


  • Ive, A. (1992). A candle burns in Africa, CESA Information Office.
  • Long, K.S. (1996). The candle still burns, CESA Information Office.

External links

  • Official website
  • Church of England in Namibia
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