The Spiritual Side of Pinelands (Part 1)

The spiritual needs of the predominantly Christian residents of Pinelands were met at first by group meetings in the homes of residents. In most cases they outgrew homes and had to make use of the Town Hall and the Girl Guides Hall before being able to build their own churches. While the churches cater for the Christian faith, more recently the needs of other faiths including that of the Muslim Community have also been met.

In 1923 residents started meeting for a church service in the home of Mr Hopkirk at 21 Forest Drive. The Archbishop of Cape Town met with Richard Stuttaford in 1925 and obtained permission to build a small church, on condition that it be demolished after 7 years. The Earl of Athlone laid the foundation stone for St Stephens Church of the Province in SA in 1926. The surrounding forest was densely populated and the way to the church was marked by whitewashed stones illuminated by a single lamp. The original bell was made of a railway line hit by a piece of iron. A proper church bell was installed in 1929. This small church, known as the church in the woods, is still used today. The church hall known as the Victory Hall was built in 1948. When the new church was built in 1954 the bell was moved to its current site. However in the late 1990’s the Ward Councillor received a complaint from a resident living in Central Square that the tolling of the bells woke him up on a Sunday morning while he tried to sleep. The matter was amicably resolved.

In the same year another church had its beginnings in a home namely that of Mr Eglin in Mead Way. Once the Town Hall was built the group moved to the hall and took on the name of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. It met each Sunday at 7:30 pm and held a combined service for all churches on the fifth Sunday of a month. In 1932 a small, thatched church was built at a cost of 750 pounds, not very far from the Anglican “church in the woods”. The Methodist hall was built in 1941 and a new church was built in 1952.

In 1930 the Mowbray Presbyterian church set up meetings in Pinelands which they held in the minor hall of the Civic Hall until the building on Central Square was dedicated in 1939. The hall was erected in 1950 to accommodate the Sunday school. Twenty years later the buildings were enlarged while the original church became the Memorial Chapel. In 2021 the church sold the property to Society of St Pius X. 

Stellenberg Chapel started in 1939 by meeting in the home of Mr Lee in Links Drive before using the Guide Hall and the Civic Hall. By 1953 they were able to obtain a site from Garden Cities for one pound in extension 6 and built a church which was expanded in 1975. In 2007 they sold the property to Church of Christ. The Sunday services moved to the Pinehurst Primary School hall before moving to a facility in the Old Mutual complex. The Church purchased property in Ndabeni as the Southpoint Community Church.

After meeting for some years in the Pinelands Civic Hall, the NG Gemeente Pinelands was able to build a small church at Central Square in 1942. A pastorie was built in 1944 but the congregation met without an organ until 1947. The growth in members meant the church needed to be enlarged and the current building was completed in 1953. The church hall over the road was built in 1962 and was sold in 1997 to the Willem de Zwijger Foundation and became the home of the South African Centre for Netherlands and Flanders. In 2015 and again in 2017 plans were submitted to demolish the building and build a multi-storey, multi-use block with shops. After a huge outcry from the community there was an undertaking to keep the building and allow the tenants to continue.