South Africa

Partner Church

Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa (UPCSA)

Partnership History

  • UPCSA traces its roots back to the garrisoning of the Cape colony by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1806
  • The first church was established in 1824 and from here missionary work established a Presbyterian presence across southern Africa
  • The issue of race relations began to intervene in the life of the church - in 1857 a group of whites in eastern Cape colony were allowed to have whites-only communion
  • In 1923 a blacks-only Bantu Presbyterian Church (BPC) was founded
  • A 1954 Church of Scotland statement on apartheid declared that it was 'contrary to the law of God and that therefore it will be disastrous'
  • In 1960 members of the BPC and Church of Scotland missionaries were amongst those who supported the Cottesloe Declaration which rejected race as the basis of exclusion from churches
  • With the end of apartheid in 1994, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, successor to the BPC and the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa, which had been whites-only, looked to unite
  • This eventually happened in 1999, and UPSCA now has around 500,000 members and 18 presbyteries, including those in Zambia and Zimbabwe

Twinnings and Partners

  • Several presbytery twinnings between Scotland and South Africa
  • Presbytery of Zimbabwe and Presbytery of Greenock and Paisley
  • UPCSA, Economic empowerment programme for widows, orphans and vulnerable children, Eastern Cape, South Africa

To see some photographs of our work in South Africa please visit our Flickr account.