Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (NHK)

Dutch Reformed Church in Africa
Classification Protestant
Theology Reformed
Polity Presbyterian
Branched from Dutch Reformed Church
Congregations c. 300
Members 130,000

The Dutch Reformed Church in Africa (Dutch: Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk van Afrika, abbreviated NHK) is a Reformed Christian denomination based in South Africa. It also has congregations in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Along with the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (NGK) and the Reformed Churches in South Africa, the NHK is one of the three Dutch Reformed sister churches of South Africa.

Unlike the NGK, which uses the simplified spelling Nederduits used in both Afrikaans and Dutch, the NHK retains the old spelling Nederduitsch, the word originally referring to the Dutch language.[1]


The Dutch Reformed Church was introduced to South Africa by the Dutch East India Company's settlement at Cape Town in 1652. The first formal congregation was established in 1665 under the jurisdiction of the classis (presbytery) of Amsterdam. Despite the permanent British takeover of the Cape Colony in 1806, the church remained semi-established with congregations supported from government funds.

In 1824 an autonomous synod was established at the Cape, removing the church from control from the Netherlands. This autonomous synod would become the NGK. The unwillingness of Dutch ministers to serve in a British-controlled colony meant that Scottish Presbyterian ministers with British sympathies were introduced to the church.[2]

In the Great Trek of the 1830s and 1840s, Boers left the Cape Colony and established republics in the interior of South Africa. The NGK, with its connections to the colonial government, did not minister to them. The South African Republic (ZAR) was established in 1852, and in 1853 Dirk van der Hoff arrived from the Netherlands as the first minister of the newly established NHK, which became the state church of the ZAR in 1860.

In 1858, meanwhile, some members known as "Doppers" broke away from the NHK over the question of hymn-singing and formed the Reformed Churches in South Africa. The NGK also subsequently established congregations within the Transvaal. In 1885, the NGK and the NHK were united into a single church, but some NHK members and congregations rejected the union; it is from these members that the current NHK descends.[2]

The Church supported Apartheid and in 1982 was expelled from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches which declared Apartheid to be a sin.


The church recognises the Apostles Creed, Athanasian Creed, Nicene Creed, Heidelberg Catechism,[3] Canons of Dort[4] and the Belgic Confession.[5]

The Dutch Reformed Church adheres to the 5 Solas:


It has 130,000 members and about 300 congregations. It has 38 regional Synods that meet annually and a General Assembly that meets every third year. The language used in the church is Afrikaans.[7][8]

It has a presbytery in Namibia and congregations in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.[9]

The church is a member of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.[10][11]


External links

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