What is in a name? Lessons learnt from the choice of name for the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa


  • Leslie Van Rooi




URCSA, Reformed, Church Reunification, Belhar, Family of Dutch Reformed Churches


The establishment of the Uniting Reformed church in Southern Africa in 1994 was pre-empted by conversation and debates about what the name of this new church should be. In the end the selected name of this church was deliberate in the sense that it gives an ecclesiological expression of the identity of this church. As such these synodical and congregational conversations about the name of the URCSA are of church historical worth not only for the mentioned church but for churches across the globe. In the light of processing reunification within the family of Dutch Reformed Churches it is time to revisit this decision and choice of the name, URCSA, not only because of the obvious relevance of this conversation but because the ecclesial identities of the churches that form part of the unification discussions needs to be understood and studied on the road to structurally expressions a united identity. In this article I point towards the reasoning behind the choice of name. Mention will be made of the theological significance of this name in spite of various misinterpretations and uncertainties on a local congregational and perhaps also ecumenical level. As such this article attempts to influence the current church historical debate linked to the process of re-unification in the mentioned church family.






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