A History of the Barrydale Inter-Denominational Church
as presented by Mrs Anne Smith on the opening of
the church on the 23 February 1997.
I feel honoured today to share with you the history of the Barrydale Non-Denominational Church. For me it is a dream come true.
When the Methodist Church in Swellendam split up due to political decisions taken at the Conference, out of a once strong congregation, only three members remained. These three, Andries Visser, Stephen Smith and I decided not to withdraw our membership.
For many months we were like lost sheep, depending on the radio and television for a Sunday service. Then Ds. Maasdorp came to our assistance and organized a monthly service for the English speaking inhabitants of Barrydale. These services were conducted by a Methodist minister from Worcester, assisted by a few local preachers. The attendance was poor and to our disappointment the services came to an end.
One of the preachers who had helped with the English services in the Dutch Reformed Church, invited us to join him and his wife at their next Holy Communion Service in Riversdale. For the three of us it was the beginning of a monthly journey. For three years we travelled monthly to Riversdale for communion. We would return home feeling refreshed and stronger in faith, but the longing for a place to worship nearer home became stronger by the day.
From the day our church in Swellendam foundered on the rocks of politics, I had prayed and begged the Lord to meet us in our needs. The Lord answered my prayer, but not in the way I had hoped for.
One day, as we returned home from an outing, we saw a bakkie parked near our house. A man stepped out and introduced himself as Vollie Strydom.
Many years have gone by, but I still remember his exact words. “I am trying to meet all the English speaking members of different churches. I want to bring them together for worship”. This is not what I had asked the Lord to provide! I wanted a Methodist Church. Nevertheless it was good news.
The first person to receive this good news from me was Andries Visser. The second was was my good friend, the Rev. Paul Kluge. He ended his letter with, “Praise be to God who answered our prayers” and in a joking way he wrote in brackets, Anne, your group sounds like a real fruit salad!”
I learned a lesson. I learned that all who truly love God, can unite in worship.
Here Vollie Strydom takes over and explains how he came to the conclusion that a church for the English speaking inhabitants of Barrydale was a possibility to consider,
On his arrival in Barrydale in December 1988, the fact that there was no church for the English speaking community of Barrydale to attend, even on Christmas Day, other than those in Swellendam or Montagu, was father to the thought that a solution had to be found.
The fact that most of the English speaking inhabitants of Barrydale were, indeed still are, pensioners, contributed to the need for a church in the village. Travelling to Swellendam or Montagu, entails unnecessary cost. Having been involved in establishing a church in Cintsa for both English and Afrikaans speaking, Vollie Strydom felt the obvious solution to the problem was to conduct a survey amongst the English speaking inhabitants of Barrydale.
On a particular hot Sunday afternoon, he set out to visit as many of the local English speaking population as possible. He came to the conclusion that a church was a necessity.
Obviously a minister was of vital importance to the success of the project. A service conducted by the brother of Joan Randall’s daughter’s husband, was attended by a number of locals, and this was a promising sign. Having heard that a retired Anglican minister lived in Barrydale, Vollie then approached him with the suggestion that a church group be formed. Though the Rev. Charlesworth had little hope for the venture, he agreed to conduct the first service.
This was held in the old Municipal Offices on 9 April 1989. After the service, the idea of a monthly service was broached. That first congregation reacted positively, elected a committee and requested that the matter be further investigated.
The first committee, under the chairmanship of Vollie Strydom, consisted of:
Secretary/treasurer: Mimpie Luden, and additional members: Mrs Jessie McCarthy, Mrs Aalwyn Marais and Mrs Anne Smith.
The Farmers Association, which hired the old Municipal Building from the Municipality, willingly agreed to allowing this church group to use that building once a month, for a nominal fee. In due course Handjievol Odendaal heard of the project and donated a plot to the church. When the Farmers Association changed their headquarters, the Municipality, after having been approached by Mr Boetie Fullard, allowed the services to be held in the Library Hall.
It was obvious that this was a temporary measure. Slowly, achingly slowly, funds were accumulated. Mainly the money came in via collections at each service. Ministers and lay preachers gave their services gratis, and this community is extremely grateful to all those worthy souls who have contributed by word and deed to this small congregation.
With the exception Edward Charlesworth, who served us faithfully to the end, Toni Goetz, Ian Knight and John Dickerson, all those ministers and lay preachers are here today. We salute them, and thank one and all for what they have contributed, and hopefully shall continue to contribute to this church.
Toni Goetz held a small bazaar to raise funds. She had Christmas cards printed to raise funds. She believed in the future of this small community. Along with many others, her faith has been rewarded.
Since the commencement of the building of this church, which has been in the Christian hands of Shaun Herbert, pleasing donations have been received, some anonymously, to help defray expenses. A donation of timber for the fencing of the property, from the O’Connells of Strawberry Hill, has been gratefully received. Building sand, delivered at a reduced rate by Barend Jones, has been of invaluable assistance. The work of all the willing members of this community, from the cleaning of the cushions to the erection of the seats, the building of the pulpit, the cleaning of the windows, the painting of the chair frames et al, has become part of the history of this church.
May this church serve the need of all English speaking citizens of Barrydale who have a need for, and a commitment to the Lord. Praise the Lord.