Genadendal – the oldest Mission Station in South Africa

Genadendal – the oldest Mission Station in South Africa

Our Cape holiday :  Oct/Nov 2017

Genadendal (meaning Valley of Grace) is situated 30kms from Caledon in the Riviersonderend Mountains (90 mins from Cape Town).  Hubby and I, with Cheryl and Bob were on our way to the small town of Greyton for a look-see and lunch as hubby and I had never been there before.  Bob, who was driving, veered off the main road at the sign to Genadendal for a ‘ look-see ‘ as they had not ventured down that road on several day trips to Greyton in the past.  What an interesting place!!  We had passed through the 3rd Moravian Mission at Elim on our way to Hermanus, but this time we spent some time wandering around the historic church square, church and museum ..

Georg Schmidt was a Pioneer Missionary and founded the first Protestant (Moravian) Mission Station in 1738 in Southern Africa.  He had been granted permission by the VOC (Dutch East India Company) to establish the Mission Station in Baviaanskloof, now Genadendal, for the Khoi people.  He instructed the Khoi in the Christian faith and in planting and sowing crops

After having baptized his first converts in about 1742, Schmidt faced criticism from the rival Dutch Reformed clergy who were of the opinion that only Reformed ministers could baptize. They also regarded him as not having been properly ordained. He suspended his duties and left the country in 1744, intending to return once he was ordained.  However, he never returned to the Cape.

It was some 45 years later the Moravian Missionaries finally resumed Schmidt’s work and Genadendal grew into one of the largest settlements in the Cape Colony.

In 1980, the church grounds with their historical buildings were declared National Monuments

The plaque on the bell reads ” Presented to the Moravian Mission, Baviaanskloof, now Genadendal in 1793.  It was placed in this position in 1798 after special permission to use it had been obtained from the authorities of the Cape.  The Church was completed in 1800″   Apparently the ringing of the bell ‘disturbed’ residents in Stellenbosch’!!!!!!

Around the church square are the original thatched cottages home to Georg Schmidt and presumably other missionaries who followed at a later date ..

The first church (1795-96) is now a guesthouse ..

The following is a lovely story printed in Hermanus Online :-

“… The work was resumed in 1792 when three other missionaries were sent out to Baviaanskloof. When they arrived at the mission station, Marsveld, Kühnel and Schwinn found the ruins of Schmidt’s house and garden.

Near a pear tree that had been planted by Schmidt decades ago, they encountered an old woman, one of Schmidt’s converts who, although virtually blind, still regularly held church services for the congregation under the pear tree by praying and reading from the Bible. She handed the missionaries a pocket Bible in a small leather bag. Schmidt had given it to her years before.” 

The old cemetery and 3rd generation pear tree both which I would have loved to have seen, were along this road …

The interior of the Church was through this door ..

Downstairs the congregation is split .. married women on one side and married men on the other.  Upstairs … single women on one side and single men on the other ..

Old brass instruments (probably in use every Sunday)

Well-worn wooden steps …

Housed in the first Teachers’ Training College in South Africa erected in 1838 is the Mission Museum.     My next post …

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