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St John's History

St John’s Church Wynberg celebrates its 190th birthday in 2024. Our history can be roughly divided into three periods:

  • 1834 - 1891 (church established & legal authority)

  • 1891 - 1956 (growth of St John's Parish; our affiliation with the Anglican Church)

  • 1956 - 2024 (charismatic renewal; social justice and unity; re-building)

1834 – 1891: Birth & Legal Authority In 1834 a group of evangelical Anglicans started worshipping together in Glebe cottage, Waterloo Road in Wynberg. As their numbers grew it became necessary to build a church, for which legal authority was gained through Ordinance 6 of 1833 (known as the Wynberg English Church Ordinance).

The church was built and first consecrated in 1834. A few decades later all individual Anglican church Ordinances were to be incorporated into one Act of Parliament: Act 10 of 1891.

Garrison on parade outside St John's c.1900

St John's church did not want to be included for fear of jeopardising its evangelical expression, and so an Act specifically concerning St John's Church Wynberg, referred to as the St John’s Act (Act 9) of 1891 was established to supersede Ordinance 6 of 1833. Act 9 is still in effect today. During these years St John's sought to establish a place of evangelical worship in the Wynberg area, as opposed to the Anglo-catholic stance of the Anglican diocese under Bishop Robert Gray.

1891 – 1956: Growth & Connection

St John’s Church had established a school in Diep River and in Ottery Road, Wynberg. In 1897 land was purchased in Diep River for the building of St Luke’s Church. In 1907 Christ Church was built in Kenilworth. These were followed by the establishment of St Philips Church, Kenwyn (1921) and Emmanuel Church, Wynberg (1928). These five churches were overseen by a Parish Rector, who was also the Minister-in-charge of St John’s Church.

St John’s pursued its evangelical tradition and needed the offices of a Bishop, but wished to remain within the Anglican Communion.

Numerous approaches were initiated by various parties to work towards a relationship between St John’s Parish and the Anglican Diocese. This eventually became possible after the Bishopscourt Declaration of 1936 declared the Church of the Province of South Africa (CPSA) an independent association from the Church of England in South Africa. The CPSA restored it's link with the Church of England (in England) under the primacy of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This paved the way for St John's to successfully negotiate a working relationship with the CPSA. A Declaration of Association with the Anglican diocese was duly signed by the Archbishop of Cape Town and representatives of St John’s Church in 1956. In this declaration the "Church of St John, Wynberg with her ... churches (Christ Church ... St Luke ... Emmanuel and Wetton Church) are to be recognised as Churches within the Parish of St John, Wynberg. .... The Parish will be regarded as a Parish of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town, and shall in future be known as The Parish of St John the Evangelist, Wynberg, in Association with the Church of the Province of South Africa." St John’s Parish enjoys a good relationship with the Anglican diocese, and by this association is part of the broader Anglican Communion. This relationship is still in force and serves the Parish well.

The Parish of St John the Evangelist Wynberg is a group of six churches with a shared history and ethos that is accountable to and in communion with one another.

1956 – 2023: Re-building & Reconciliation. In the 1970s the charismatic movement had a profound effect on the life of St John’s Church and Parish. The gifts of the Holy Spirit were a normal part of our Sunday and small group worship.

Through the teaching and evangelistic gifts of a series of called and gifted ministers, a large and active congregation worshipped at St John’s Church. Through the 1980's St John’s spoke out strongly against the injustices of the apartheid regime and became a focus of support and unity. Forced removals under the Group Areas Act and various other factors eventually resulted in a marked reduction in the size of the congregation. The clergy concentrated on healing deep wounds and on encouraging and equipping the remaining congregation to continue to grow spiritually and fulfill its mission. Healing and strengthening relationships within the Parish family was pursued. These difficult times brought the congregation closer together and a strong feeling of mutual dependence and “family” developed.

Major efforts were employed to build up the church as a place to which families and young children would come, and to change the worship to a more contemporary style which was welcoming and attractive to young people.

On Pentecost Day 1999 the Church of the Holy Spirit Kirstenhof was planted out of Christ Church Kenilworth, to become the sixth church of St John's Parish.

St John’s has sought to be a spiritual home for every generation, culture, calling and condition. Many displaced people from central African countries have found a home at St John’s Church. Their numbers have grown and they form a vital part of our church community. The fruits of rebuilding and reconciliation started to become realised as the first decade of the 21st century progressed. Much effort was directed toward outreach in the adjacent military base, with the most dramatic impact being on the children’s church - to the extent that physical and human resources to accommodate the increase in numbers were all but overwhelmed. The youth also flourished as a result, and full-time youth and children’s staff positions were created.

The global pandemic that effected South Africa most from March 2020 was a major disruption to the worshiping life of St John's as it has been for the global church. Although closing our doors did not prevent us from meeting online, re-connecting in person has been a long and slow journey for us all. God's grace and provision is evident throughout our 190 year history and we continue to experience God's unfailing love, mercy and generosity every day.



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