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Southern Africa Union Conference office

Photo courtesy of Kudakwashe Chizhande.

Southern Africa Union Conference

By Grant Lottering

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Grant Lottering, B.Th. (Helderberg College of Higher Education, Somerset West, South Africa), currently serves as assistant researcher at the Ellen G. White and SDA Research and Heritage Center of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division. 

First Published: February 26, 2021

Southern African Union Conference is a subsidiary church administrative unit of the Southern African-Indian Ocean Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Current Territory and Statistics

The Southern Africa Union Conference (SAU) has its headquarters situated at 2 Fairview Street in Bloemfontein in the Free State Province of South Africa. The SAU forms part of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division constituency. Its name is appropriate given that it covers a large territory of Southern Africa. The SAU is comprised of eight conferences in five countries, namely South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland), and St. Helena Island. The Republic of South Africa is comprised of the Cape (including St. Helena Island), Kwazulu Natal-Free State, and Northern and Trans-Orange Conferences. The Republic of Namibia is comprised of the Namibia North and Namibia South Conferences. The Kingdom of Lesotho constitutes the Lesotho Conference while the Kingdom of Eswatini constitutes the Swaziland Conference.

The SAU has 1,392 churches, and as of the first quarter of 2020, the membership of the SAU was 189,096 against a combined general population of 63,917,000. This makes the SAU the third smallest Union Conference in the SID followed by the Indian Ocean Union Conference with 158,309 members and the Botswana Union Conference with 45,851 members. The SAU also has the lowest member-to-population ratio of 1:338 in SID.

Organizational History of the Southern Africa Union Conference

The organizing of the Southern Africa Union Conference dates back to 1901. The Seventh-day Adventist Church underwent major organizational development at the General Conference Session held at Battle Creek, Michigan, in April 1901. An increase in mission fields around the world strengthened the Adventist presence outside of North America. Prior to that time, Conferences reported directly to the General Conference in Battle Creek, Michigan.

This called for “the decentralization of decision making by establishing Union Conferences.”1 Soon after the 1901 General Conference reorganization, the Adventist presence outside of North America surpassed the Adventists statistics of North America.2 In implementing the developments that took place at the General Conference Session of 1901, the South African Union Conference, with its 315 members, was organized at a session held in Cape Town from September 26–October 6, 1901.3

Prior to this, there had been a South African Conference existing since it was organized in December 1892. The South African Conference primarily serviced the Cape Colony Province but had mission fields in the north and east of the province. So, the South African Union Conference was formed out of the South African Conference and its two mission fields, the Natal-Transvaal Mission Field, and the Rhodesian Mission Field which covered the territory of modern Zimbabwe.

The years leading up to the formation of the South African Union Conference were characterized by an increasing interest in missionary work in these mission fields. These included the Eastern Cape Colony, Natal, spreading into the Orange Free State, and the Transvaal territory. These mission fields were formally organized under the supervision of the General Conference at Battle Creek, Michigan, since the South African Conference did not have the financial capacity to sustain the workers of the mission field.4

Conference workers evangelized the South African mission fields at their own expense. As a result, the work in Natal grew rapidly, and a general meeting was held from November 6 – 11, 1901, at Sweetwaters, Natal, requesting that the South African Union Conference permit the mission fields in South Africa to organize into separate Conferences.5 This reorganization was completed at a Union Session held at Uitenhage from January 15 – 26, 1902, establishing two separate conferences under the South African Union Conference – the Cape Colony Conference and the Natal-Transvaal Conference.

The territory of the Orange Free State was shared by these two conferences until it a new conference was organized in 1913. Meanwhile, the Rhodesian Mission was placed under the South African Union Conference. Later, in February 1917, the Zambesi Union Mission was set up to take care of the work in the north region of the South Africa border.6

During the South African Union Conference constituency session held in Cape Town in July 1919, a request was initiated for the General Conference to organize an African Division.7 The request was met favorably, and on October 16, 1919, “the General Conference Committee took an action to create an Africa Division.”8 The organizing of the African Division relieved the South African Union Conference from its oversight responsibilities towards the mission fields within its borders. By this time, the South African Union Conference membership was 3,400.

Since its inception, the South African Union Conference headquarters was based in Claremont. Following the formation of the African Division, the Union Conference had to vacate its office space in the church building at Claremont to accommodate the new division headquarters. Eventually, the South African Union Conference “located itself in its new headquarters in Bloemfontein in 1924.”9

When the African Division was organized in 1919, it took over the mission stations which were under the auspices of the South African Union Conference, and it organized them into the Southern Union Mission (known also as the Southern Africa Union Mission). These mission stations were the Maranatha and Bethel Missions in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, the Zulu and Zululand Missions in the Natal Province of South Africa and the Emmanual and Kolo Missions in Basutoland (now Lesotho). When the Transvaal Mission was established in the Transvaal Province of South Africa, and the missionary endeavors into Swaziland (now Eswatini) and Bechuanaland (now Botswana) produced their first fruits, these missions were added to the Southern Union Mission.

In 1922, the Southern Union Mission was placed back under the administration of the South African Union Conference. Financial difficulties further led these missions to be added to the self-supporting conferences in whose territories they existed in 1924. The Maranatha and Bethel Missions were added to the Cape Conference, while the Bechuanaland, Transvaal, Zulu and Zululand Missions were absorbed into the Natal-Transvaal Conference. Due to their proximity to the Free State Province, the Kolo and Emmanual Missions in Basutoland were placed under the administration of the Orange Free State Conference.

In 1926, the General Conference Committee in Session afforded a large appropriation for the African Division.10 The African Division Committee met with the South African Union Committee regarding the work in their territory. Extensive plans to develop the native work in South Africa were presented and the “Division agreed to the recommendation of the South African Union Conference regarding a re-organisation [sic] of its work.”11 Realizing that the work among the native missions had been neglected since it was absorbed into the self-supporting conferences, the South African Union Conference, in consultation with the African Division, resolved that “the native work be supervised by the Union Conference, and the mission territory be divided into three sections.”12 The Kaffirland Mission Field was organized in the Cape Province for mission activity and the Transvaal-Delgoa Mission Field was organized to oversee the missions of the Transvaal and Natal provinces of South Africa including the work which had just begun in Swaziland. The missions of Bechuanaland and Basutoland were merged into the Basuto-Bechuana Mission Field.

Despite the financial boost which promised missionary expansion, the South African Union Conference was again faced with the difficult decision of disbanding one of its self-supporting conferences in 1928. It became clear that the Orange Free State Conference was not growing in terms of membership and finances in a way that justified its existence as a self-supporting conference. Significant resources were used to keep the conference operational rather than expanding the conference through evangelistic work.13 In consultation with the African Division and the three local conferences of the SAUC, a special session was called to meet in Bloemfontein on January 2-3, 1929. The delegates to that session voted to disband the Orange Free State Conference, “suggesting that the churches in the Free State, be taken over by the Natal-Transvaal Conference, while the churches in the Cape Province would join the Cape Conference.”14

The SAUC’s financial difficulties worsened in the 1930s with the global economic depression. This economic crisis caused the General Conference to reduce appropriations to the Southern African Division up to 40 percent. The SAUC appointed a survey commission to study “ways and means of avoiding serious retrenchment and mission retreat”15 during that time of crisis. This commission reported to the SAUC in a business session held in Bloemfontein on April 16-22, 1933. The recommendations included three significant organizational changes for the SAUC. Firstly, the Kaffirland, Transvaal-Delgoa and Basuto-Bechauna Mission Fields would be merged into the South African Mission Field. The work in Bechuanaland was however removed from this newly organized mission field and placed under the care of the Zambezi Union Mission. Secondly, the Cape and Natal-Transvaal Conference was also merged into the South African Conference with headquarters in Bloemfontein. Thirdly, the SAUC separated the mixed race descendent and Indian work from the self-supporting conferences and organized the Cape Colored Mission Field that continued to care for mixed race descendent and Indian work in South Africa. The SAUC thus supported one local conference, and two mission fields for the next three years.

Three years later, in 1936, as financial circumstances improved, the SAUC reinstated the South African Conference into its former state with the Cape Conference administering the work in the Cape Province, and the Natal-Transvaal Conference covering the Natal, Transvaal and Free State Provinces. The Cape Mission Field continued to administer the work for the native African and Indian people in South Africa. The South African Mission Field was also split into two mission fields, namely the North Bantu and South Bantu Mission Fields. The North Bantu Mission Field had jurisdiction over Basutoland, Swaziland, Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique) and all the work among native South Africans in the Orange Free State, Transvaal and Natal Provinces. The South Bantu Mission Field catered for the work among native South Africans in the Cape Province.

The following years continued to witness membership growth including missionary expansion into new territories such as South-West Africa (now Namibia) and St. Helena Island. St. Helena Island was placed under the administrative care of the Cape Field and South-West Africa was placed under the administrative care of the Cape Conference16 until the South-West Africa Mission Field was organized and placed under the SAUC in 1954. The continuing growth of the church also saw the separation of the Indian work from the Cape Field when the Indian Mission Field was organized in 1956. The Natal-Transvaal Conference was split into two local conferences in 1958. The Transvaal Conference’s new headquarters in Johannesburg served the populace of the Transvaal Province while the Oranje-Natal Conference administered the work in the Free State and Natal provinces. By 1959 the SAUC recommended that the Cape Field be granted conference status. When the Cape Field was organized into a local conference, it was named as Good Hope Conference.

Further Organizational Changes

The next time the South African Union Conference would undergo significant change was in 1960. Beginning in 1951, the constitution of the South African Union Conference was reviewed, and the Union Executive Committee recommended that more administrative responsibility be placed in the hands of the native people. As a result, a special session met in Bloemfontein in 1953. A new constitution was drafted which provided for two Union Conference committees to exist. One Union Conference committee fostered the work of the self-supporting conferences while the other committee took care of the work of the non-self-supporting organizations.17 Both committees belonged to the South African Union Conference but conducted their work separately, although they sat jointly under certain occasions.

This arrangement served as the foundation for the reorganization of the South African Union Conference that took place in 1960. By that time, the South African Union Conference had 235 churches and a membership of 16,160. Although the work was initially divided along the classification of self-supporting and non-self-supporting, this time around, the work was reorganized according to the laws that prevailed in South Africa at the time. The administration of the work was divided into two parts – Group I and Group II. The management of the two groups was done through two separate executive committees but under one team of officers. Group I managed the work of the Cape Conference, Orange-Natal Conference, Transvaal Conference, Good Hope Conference and the Indian Mission. Group II managed the work of the remaining mission fields under the administration of the SAUC.

In the years leading up to 1960, much discussion was devoted to how the work could be rearranged to place more responsibility in the hands of the native African people. Pastor S. G. Stevenson proposed to the Southern African Division and the SAUC to organize the native African Fields into a South African Union Mission.18 Stevenson believed that unless these mission fields were placed under the responsibility of a union committee, they would not receive merited attention. Following Stevenson’s proposal, two union committees were organized in 1953 that were later organized into Group I and Group II in 1960.

In 1959 Stevenson presented a second proposal for more structural changes to be considered. This time Stevenson, then president of the SAUC, proposed that the North Bantu and South Bantu Mission Fields be replaced with ten mission fields organized “on the basis of geographic and ethnographic lines.”19 When Group II was officially created in 1960, the North Bantu and South Bantu Mission Fields, which covered the territory under the administrative care of Group II, were dissolved and nine smaller mission fields were organized. These mission fields were the Northern Transvaal, Southern Transvaal, Swaziland-Eastern Transvaal, South Sotho, Natal-Zululand, Transkei, Eastern Province, Tswana and Western Cape Mission Fields.

The two Groups were further organized into two Union Conferences at the Trans-Africa Division year end executive committee meetings held on November 9, 1965. Group I remained as the South African Union Conference with headquarters in Bloemfontein, while Group II became known as the Southern Union Conference and had its headquarters in Johannesburg. The new Southern Union Conference “was accepted into the world sisterhood of unions”20 at the 50th General Conference Session held in June 1966.

The South African Union Conferences had 258 churches and a membership of 20,118, while the Southern Union Conference number of churches and membership was almost equal to that of the South African Union Conference. The 1967 Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook presents the first record of the two Union Conferences’ statistics given as follows: South African Union Conference – 138 churches and 10,770 members; Southern Union Conference – 133 churches and 9,691 members.

Some major developments in the Southern Union Conference involved the organizing of the Lesotho (1967), Swaziland (1968), Natal (1968) and the Trans-Orange Fields (1969) in three consecutive years, and later the Trans-Orange (1980) and Southern Conferences (1984). The South African and Southern Union Conferences were at this time part of the Trans-Africa Division (initially organized as the African Division).

The years that followed saw a remarkable growth of the work in the Africa Divisions until a call for a more modern organization in Africa was initiated in 1967, and finally realized in 1983. By 1970, four divisions were operating in Africa--namely the Middle East, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, and Trans-African Divisions. In March 1973, Robert H. Pierson, the General Conference president, visited Africa, and a committee was formed to study the call for a fifth division. While the committee recommended the approval of the formation of another division in Africa, it never materialized due to “political instability and deteriorating military conditions in the regions of Central Africa at the time.”21

However, this discussion on the work in Africa, which later impacted the work in South Africa, continued. At a meeting titled, “Consultation on African Division Reorganization,” held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, from April 30 to May 2, 1979, a counter recommendation was proposed. New concerns were raised at this consultation regarding the work in Africa. Three of the four existing Divisions in Africa had their headquarters in Europe. The consultation feared that this arrangement could hinder the progress of the work due to the political and social conditions of Africa at the time.

The church in Africa wanted to avoid even the appearance of “hold-over colonialism” and the impression that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was a “foreign church.” The church in Africa had also experienced more rapid growth than the European parts of the Division, and the general opinion was that more responsibility should be placed in the hands of the people in the continent of Africa.22

The agreed-upon proposed solution was an organization of the work in Africa that would comprise two major divisions and the separation of the South African and Southern Union Conferences from the African Divisions. The General Conference representatives met with the Trans-Africa Division committee on May 8, 1979, to discuss the proposed Division reorganization.23 Thereafter, the Trans-Africa Division submitted a memorandum to the General Conference that opposed the proposed reorganization. The Trans-Africa Division Committee feared that the suggested actions would create dire financial difficulties for the territory. They also warned that it may cause the members in the South African constituencies to feel rejected and isolated, and also would create an unwanted impression that the church leadership was condoning the sanctions imposed against South Africa as a nation because of its Apartheid regime.24

After reviewing the memorandum, the General Conference maintained its stance to reorganize the Divisions in Africa. In 1983, the South African and Southern Union Conferences were separated from the Trans-Africa Division. The Trans-Africa Division was dissolved, and its remaining Union Conferences and Union Missions were absorbed into the Eastern African Division. The South African and Southern Union Conferences became attached fields of the General Conference and remained so until they were merged in 1991 to form the Southern Africa Union Conference.

With the South African and Southern Union Conferences detached from the divisions on the continent of Africa, a stronger emphasis was placed on the need to achieve greater unity in South Africa. Already in 1974, the Inter-Union Standing Committee (IUSC) was set up to study ways for integration between the two sister union conferences in South Africa. On September 11, 1974, IUSC presented a report with recommendations for integration. Firstly, it was recommended that the two official union magazines interchange articles. Secondly, each union conference was to use personnel from the other union conference in their camp meetings or congresses. Thirdly, joint training programs should be held for lay leaders, pastors and teachers. And fourthly, workers between the two unions were to contact one another for fellowship and encouragement.25

In 1985, during the Autumn Council of the General Conference held in Australia, the mandate was given for the South African and Southern Union Conferences to merge. Preparatory deliberations continued from 1985 until 1991 when both Union Conferences met at Helderberg College in a combined constituent session on December 10, 1991. According to one South Africa church historian who attended the session as a delegate, the merging of the two Union Conferences did not come without heated debates sparked by the resistance of the South African Union Conference.26

Since the separation of the two conferences in 1965, the Southern Union Conference had more than doubled in membership and churches. By December 1991, the South African Union Conference had 186 churches and 21,768 members while the Southern Union Conference had 307 churches and 40,720 members. The newly organized Southern Africa Union Conference (SAU) continued to be an attached field of the General Conference until the organizing of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division in 2003 into which it became absorbed.

Fostering Unity

With unity achieved at the union conference level, there remained a task for the SAU to foster unity between its local conferences. Since 1974 when the Inter-Union Standing Committee was set up, an action was taken to allow for “open churches” that stipulated that churches are open to people of all races. The Good Hope Conference surrendered the churches outside of the Cape Provinces to the administrative care of the local conferences in whose territories “open churches” existed. In other words, the churches which once belonged to the Good Hope Conference in the Transvaal became part of the Transvaal Conference and Good Hope Conference churches in the Free State and Natal provinces became part of the Oranje-Natal Conference. In 1994, the Kwazulu Natal-Free State Conference became the first local conference to achieve successful integration. The Kwazulu Natal-Free State Conference was formed by merging the Oranje-Natal Conference with the Natal Field. Similarly, three local conferences operated in the Cape provinces namely the Cape, Good Hope and Southern Conferences. In 1997, the Good Hope and Southern Conferences merged to organize the Southern Hope Conference, and later in 2006, the Southern Hope Conference merged with the Cape Conference to form Cape Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

The Southern Africa Union Conference membership continued to grow at a steady rate, with a significant growth spurt occurring when 12,153 members were added to the church in 2014 as a direct result of the Cycle of Evangelism and Mission to the Cities programs. In preparation for these evangelistic efforts, the Southern African Union Conference undertook to translate the missionary booklet, the Great Hope, into the vernacular languages of South Africa. Throughout its territory, 1.1 million copies of this book were distributed in preparation of the 182 outreach campaigns conducted in 91 cities.27

To the west of Republic of South Africa, the former Namibia Field was organized into a Conference under the care of the Southern Africa Union Conference in 2012. However, the distance between its northernmost and southernmost regions were too extensive and, therefore, the Namibian Conference was further divided into two conferences in 2016 to create the South Namibia Conference with headquarters situated in Windhoek. This conference administers the work in the regions that lie south of the Red Line, also referred to as the veterinary cordon fence which separates the central and southern regions of Namibia from the northern region.

Meanwhile, the North Namibia Conference, with headquarters situated in Katima Mulilo, was organized to oversee the work in the region which lies to the north of the Red Line. At the end of 2019, the names of both conferences were revised at the request of the General Conference to have the country name precede the wind direction. Consequently, the South Namibia and North Namibia Conferences became the Namibia South and Namibia North Conferences, respectively.28

Institutions and Auxiliary Organizations of the SAU

The Southern African Union Conference operates a tertiary educational institution, Helderberg College of Higher Education (HCHE), in Somerset West, South Africa. HCHE was a pioneering Seventh-day Adventist Church educational institution outside of the North American territory. Today, the college offers seven-degree programs and one higher education certificate.29 The SAU also operates a number of healthcare facilities including Maluti Hospital and three health care centers in Lesotho, an Eye Service Center in Eswatini, as well as nursing homes and retirement villages dispersed across the territory of the Union Conference with many of them concentrated in the Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal provinces of South Africa. A psychiatric unit known as Vista Clinic was inaugurated in 2014. The clinic is located and operates in Centurion, South Africa. It is partially owned by the church and partially owned by Dr. Jappie Vermaak.

Other entities of the SAU include a Voice of Prophecy Bible School, the Adventist Development Relief Agency South Africa (ADRA-SA), and the Meals on Wheels Community Services South Africa (MOWCS). The Voice of Prophecy Bible School is situated in Claremont, South Africa, and operates a correspondence Bible school and broadcasts spiritual messages and programs using the Internet.30 Their first broadcast took place on November 14, 2019. The MOWCS head office is in Bloemfontein with regional offices in each of the Conferences in South Africa. MOWCS is an institution owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and provides nourishing meals to the struggling elderly. It operates hundreds of kitchens throughout South Africa, collectively providing more than 31 million meals annually.31 The year 2014 marked MOWCS’s 50th anniversary since the first meal was cooked and delivered to a needy person in 1964. MOWCS is the brainchild of Dr. Dennis Baird and continues operation under the administration of the SAU.

ADRA is a global humanitarian organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that delivers relief and development assistance to communities and individuals. “ADRA SA works with people in poverty and distress to create just and positive change through empowering partnerships and responsible actions.”32 ADRA-SA responds to a “range of disaster from attacks on foreign nationals, displacements, to floods. Interventions included relief through food parcels, wash kit, blankets, and advocacy.”33 In addition to this, ADRA-SA coordinates a training program for HIV/AIDS and partners with the government in a Food and Nutrition Security Program that provides nourishing meals to the most vulnerable. ADRA-SA and MOWCS are also registered with the South African government as legal entities operated by the church but registered and audited by the state.

The Communication Department provides an official quarterly newsletter named Maranatha magazine. Maranatha communicates the news of the work and church growth in the territory. It also provides official notices of business sessions in line with the SAU organization’s constitution that requires constituency sessions to be advertised. The SAU also established a fully functioning production studio, SAU Media, and produces quality programs that are recognized both locally and internationally.34 SAU Media records various activities of all church departments. Such activities include training, promotions or news items and are “shared on the SAU Facebook page, SAU Media YouTube channel, Hope Channel, and recently, during the lockdown period, on BayTV and GauTV.”35

The SAU’s legal association is known as Seventh-day Adventist Community (SEDCOM), which is also registered as a trust. SEDCOM holds all the properties in the territory of the Union in trust. The Seventh-day Adventist Medical Scheme (SEDMED), accredited by the Council of Medical Schemes, provides medical benefits to regular and full- time employees of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the SAU.36

Union Executive Officers

South African Union Conference

Presidents: W. S. Hyatt (1902-1908); R. C. Porter (1908-1913); W. B. White (1913-1920); B. E. Beddoe (1920-1923); J. W. McNeal (1923-1926); J. F. Wright (1926-1930); Neal C. Wilson (1930-1934); A. F. Tarr (1934-1935); J. F. Wright (1935-1936); A. F. Tarr (1936-1941); F. G. Clifford (1941-1946); E. D. Hanson (1946-1953); W. Duncan Eva (1953-1954); G. S. Stevenson (1954-1962); A. W. Staples (1962-1967); R. E. Clifford (1967-1971); F. Campbell (1971-1978); E. Armer (1978-1981); F. Campbell (1981-1982); D. H. Swanepoel (1982-1983); Alf Birch (1983-1986); James T. Bradfield (1986-1991).

Executive Secretaries: O. O. Fortner (1902-1907); J. V. Wilson (1907-1912); E. W. H. Jeffrey (1912-1914); J. P. Casey (1914-1916); W. B. Commin (1916-1921); A. F. Tarr (1921-1932); J. E. Symons (1932-1947); C. H. Mackett (1947-1953); D. A. Webster (1953-1964); R. E. Clifford (1964-1967); K. G. Webster (1967-1981); C. D. Verwey (1981-1986); G. R. van Ster (1986-1990); B. H. Parkerson (1991).

Treasurers/CFOs: O. O. Fortner (1902-1906); J. V. Wilson (1906-1912); W. B. Commin (1912-1921); A. F. Tarr (1921-1932); J. E. Symons (1932-1947); C. H. Mackett (1947-1953); D. A. Webster (1953-1964); R. E. Clifford (1964-1967); K. G. Webster (1967-1981); H. J. van der Ness (1981-1984); C. D. Verwey (1984-1985); H. J. van der Ness (1985-1991).

Southern Union Conference

Presidents: J. D. Harcombe (1965-1966); P. H. Coetzee (1966-1972); H. W. Stevenson (1972-1976); P. M. Mabena (1976-1987); Velile S. Wakaba (1987-1991); D. W. B. Chalale (1991).

Executive Secretaries: M. B. Musgrave (1965-1968); C. D. Verwey (1968-1970); P. M. Mabena (1970-1976); J. M. Stephenson (1976-1977); F. Dietrich (1977-1979); D. H. Thomas (1979-1981); A Bristow (1981-1983); Velile S. Wakaba (1983-1987); J. J. Mdakane (1987-1988); A. N. Nzimande (1988-1991).

Treasurers/CFOs: M. B. Musgrave (1965-1968); C. D. Verwey (1968-1970); J. M. Stephenson (1970-1979); C. K. Willmore (1979-1985); M. W. Cuthbert (1985-1986); C. F. Scout (1986-1991).

Southern Africa Union Conference

Presidents: D. W. B. Chalale (1991-1997); Velile S. Wakaba (1997-2005); Francois Louw (2005-2010); Leonard Mbaza (2010-2011); Tankiso L. Letseli (2011-2015); David C. Spencer (2015 - ).

Executive Secretaries: B. H. Parkerson (1991-2003); George Baxen (2003-2005); Trevor Kunene (2005 - ).

Treasurers/CFOs: H. J. van der Ness (1991-1998); J. Bekker (1998-2003); Hendrik S. van der Ness (2003-2010); Eric A. Odendaal (2010 - ).

Sources

Commin, W. D. “Annual Meeting of the Division Committee.” African Division Outlook, December 15, 1926.

Du Preez, Gerald T. “A History of the Organizational Development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Amongst the Coloured Community in South Africa 1887 – 1997.” Ph.D. diss., University of the Western Cape, 2010.

Eva, W. D. “South African Union Conference President’s Annual Report.” Southern African Division Outlook, February 1, 1954.

Nhlapo, Clifford. Tears of the Black Pulpit. Wandsbeck, South Africa: Reach Publishers, 2010.

Pantalone, Antonio. “An Appraisal of the Development of Seventh-day Adventist Mission in South Africa.” M.A. thesis, University of Durban Westville, 1996.

Pierson, Robert H. “Important Change.” Trans-Africa Division Outlook, December 15, 1965.

Robinson, Virgil E. Third Angel Over Africa. Unpublished Manuscript.

Schwarz, Richard W., and Floyd Greenleaf. Light Bearers. Silver Spring, MD: Pacific Press, 1979.

Swanepoel, L. Francois. “The Origin and Early History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South Africa, 1886-1920.” M.A. thesis, University of South Africa, 1972.

Wilson, N. C. “Cape and Natal-Transvaal Conference Amalgamated.” Southern African Division Outlook, May 15, 1933.

Wright, J. F. “Report of Committee Meetings Held at Claremont, December 5 and 6, 1926.” African Division Outlook, January 1, 1927.

Wright, J. F. “Conference Re-Organization.” African Division Outlook, January 24, 1929.

Notes

  1. Antonio Pantalone, “An Appraisal of the Development of Seventh-day Adventist Mission in South Africa” (M.A. Thesis, University of Durban Westville, 1996), 63.

  2. Richard W. Schwarz and Floyd Greenleaf, Light Bearers (Silver Spring, MD: Pacific Press, 1979), 273.

  3. Virgil E. Robinson, Third Angel Over Africa (Unpublished Manuscript), 115.

  4. L. Francois Swanepoel, “The Origin and Early History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South Africa, 1886-1920” (M.A. Thesis, University of South Africa, 1972), 64.

  5. Robinson, Third Angel, 115.

  6. Ibid., 118.

  7. Swanepoel, Origin and Early History, 149.

  8. Ibid., 151.

  9. Pantalone, Mission in South Africa, 65.

  10. W. D. Commin, “Annual Meeting of the Division Committee,” African Division Outlook, December 15, 1926, 2.

  11. Ibid.

  12. J. F. Wright, “Report of Committee Meetings Held at Claremont, December 5 and 6, 1926,” African Division Outlook, January 1, 1927, 4.

  13. J. F. Wright, “Conference Re-Organization,” African Division Outlook, January 24, 1929, 4.

  14. Ibid.

  15. N. C. Wilson, “Cape and Natal-Transvaal Conference Amalgamated,” Southern African Division Outlook, May 15, 1933, 6.

  16. This only included the work in the central and southern territories of South-West Africa. The work in the northernmost region of South-West Africa was already governed by the Zambezi Union.

  17. W. D. Eva, “South African Union Conference President’s Annual Report,” Southern African Division Outlook, February 1, 1954, 3.

  18. Clifford Nhlapo, Tears of the Black Pulpit (Wandsbeck, South Africa: Reach Publishers, 2010), 37.

  19. Ibid., 41.

  20. Robert H. Pierson, “Important Change,” Trans-Africa Division Outlook, December 15, 1965, 5.

  21. Pentalone, Mission in South Africa, 163.

  22. Ibid., 164.

  23. Ibid., 165.

  24. Ibid., 165-167.

  25. Gerald T. Du Preez, “A History of the Organizational Development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Amongst the Coloured Community in South Africa, 1887 – 1997” (Ph.D. diss., University of the Western Cape, 2010), 277-278.

  26. Gerald Du Preez, interview by author, Helderberg College of Higher Education in Somerset West, South Africa, March 10, 2020.

  27. See Membership Growth section in the Presidential Report of the 5th Business Session of the Southern Africa Union Conference.

  28. David Spencer, email message to author, May 4, 2020.

  29. For more information, visit www.hche.ac.za.

  30. You can listen to the Voice of Prophecy programs on http://vopsa.airtime.pro/.

  31. For this and more information, visit https://mow.org.za/.

  32. For more information on ADRA South Africa, visit http://www.adra.org.za/index.html.

  33. Tankiso Letseli, Presidential Report presented at the 5th Business Session of the Southern Africa Union Conference in December 2015 in Bloemfontein.

  34. Ibid.

  35. Sybil Du Preez, email to author, June 11, 2020.

  36. Tankiso Letseli, interview by author, Helderberg College of Higher Education in Somerset West, South Africa, February 11, 2020.

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Lottering, Grant. "Southern Africa Union Conference." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. February 26, 2021. Accessed September 25, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8DD5.

Lottering, Grant. "Southern Africa Union Conference." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. February 26, 2021. Date of access September 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8DD5.

Lottering, Grant (2021, February 26). Southern Africa Union Conference. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved September 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8DD5.