Original Research - Special Collection: Symposium Social Cohesion

The local church as a non-governmental organisation in the fight against poverty: A historical overview of Bethulie 1933–1935

Johan van der Merwe
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 1 | a2617 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2617 | © 2014 Johan van der Merwe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 January 2014 | Published: 20 November 2014

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Johan van der Merwe, Department of Church History and Church Polity, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Poverty is one of the greatest threats to society. In South Africa it is also one of the biggest challenges. This article starts with the challenges put to society by Mr Trevor Manuel at the Carnegie 3 conference. It then explores the possibility of if and how the church can act as a non-governmental organisation in the fight against poverty. A historical overview of the actions of Rev. E.P. Groenewald, during the drought of 1933–1934 in the Dutch Reformed Church Bethulie, serves as a case study of how the church can make a difference. It, however, also illustrates the many pitfalls on this challenging road. The article comes to the conclusion that the main challenge of the church in the fight against poverty is to act as a non-governmental organisation, which transforms values and assists society with good organisation and administration.

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