A Woman’s Journey with the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa: 25 Years

Keywords: Uniting Reformed Church in Africa (URCSA), autoethnography, women in ministry, church and culture


The methodological insights of autoethnography allow the author to write her story in critical-emphatical engagement with the structures and cultures within which her story unfolds. Her story as the only white woman minister of the Word in the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA) is told as one in which organisational, political and ethnic cultures were in constant creative conflict. An unexpected continuity of intercultural co-operation is established throughout the story of her journey with URCSA over the past 25 years of its existence. Six decisive turning points in her life are described. The first is when she was called to the ministry at the age of 15, several years before women were ordained in the local family of Reformed churches. The second was when she started studying with the liberation theologians of the 1980s. The third was being appointed as a theological professor amidst exclusively male colleagues. The fourth was working with the ill and desolate at a state hospital in preparation for a second doctorate. The fifth happened when she was ordained in a Zulu-speaking congregation in Mpumalanga. The sixth covers her experiences in the leadership of the church the past decade. Throughout, the emphasis is on the outsider-insider experience of both critically and sympathetically engaging with the Afrikaans culture in which she was born, and the black and brown cultures into which she was co-opted.