180-year-old heritage destroyed in fire at Moravian church center

Photos: Moravian Church in South Africa

WESTERN CAPE, South Africa,

The Moravian Church in South Africa (MCSA) has expressed gratitude to all people “who contributed selflessly” following a fire that razed nearly all buildings at its historic Wupperthal Moravian Mission Station in Western Cape, South Africa. While there were no fatalities from the 30 December disaster, the fire gutted 53 homes, historical church and parsonage, school hostels, guesthouses, shops and restaurants, leaving more than 200 people destitute.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge has also expressed the Lutheran communion’s “sincere sympathy, support and solidarity” toward the church. “May the Spirit of God accompany you at this moment and in the future days,” he said in a letter to MCSA President Rev. Godfrey Cunningham.

Meanwhile, MCSA Vice-President Martin Abrahams says the burnt down buildings will be completely demolished as the extent of damage was “severe and beyond repair.” In a statement, the church indicates the local Cederberg Municipality in collaboration with other government sectors has provided temporary shelter and sanitation facilities to accommodate the fire victims, and support to procure identity documents as the inferno destroyed everything. A suitable relocation site has been identified in Wupperthal and spatial planning and design efforts are underway.

Originally established in 1838 by the Rhenish German missionaries and later handed over to the MCSA, the mission center was considered as one of the oldest churches in South Africa, and the now destroyed parsonage and church had been listed as national monuments in 1967.

The MCSA has 50,000 members, and it joined the LWF in 1975.