Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa
The Uniting Church in Southern Africa was formed and constituted in 1999 as the outcome of the union between the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa and the Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa. These two churches shared the same origin dating back to the 19th century when Britain took over the Cape Colony. Their distinctive characters were that the Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa was constituted among soldiers and settlers who arrived in the Cape in 1820. The Reformed Presbyterian Church on the other hand was a product of Scottish missions intended for the indigenous Africans, which started at Lovedale Mission in Alice. It became autonomous in 1923. Efforts to bring these two churches together have a long history which basically is a mirror reflection of the history of South Africa's macrocosm. Clearly the transition to democracy in the 1990s gave impetus to the union process so the link of union to democracy in South Africa is symbolic sui generis.
In 2004 the UPCSA celebrated its fifth anniversary after having spent much of that time in forging structures of union. Like any other church of Christ, the UPCSA in its efforts to create a new ethos and in response to her mission calling, envisions its journey beyond union negotiations through this vision statement:
A Church which is one:
- In obedience to its sovereign Lord.
- In celebrating its living heritage as a Reformed Church in Southern Africa.
- In celebrating its cultural diversity.
- In addressing injustices and poverty in church.
- In providing a model of racial reconciliation.
To achieve this wonderful dream the UPCSA has set itself a synergy of three priorities: evangelism, with a focus on training; stewardship also focusing on training; and HIV/AIDS with special focus on the caring of widows and orphans. Indeed, with the union willed by God as the church does believe, "the burning bush that was not consumed" is the source of its fiery zeal for mission as a church of Christ.