This study examines the impact of rapid and multi-faceted change (both domestically and inter-nationally over the past four decades) on the Dutch Reformed Church. 2 February 1990 is taken as a water shed date in the history of South-Africa: a speech in parliament of former president FW de Klerk put South-Africa on a course of fundamental change in all spheres of society. The research problem deals with loss the Afrikaans community experiences as a result of societal change. The result of change and loss is long-lasting, collective grief. Grief is defined as the nor-mal, spontaneous reaction to change and loss. Unresolved grief and nostalgia saps a lot of energy and tends to turn a congregation’s attention to itself, thereby contradicting the sound reformed ecclesiology. There is no appropriate practical theological theory to help congregations address unresolved grief. Change, loss and grief are made focus points for theological reflection and empirical study. The guiding hypothesis states that efforts to build up the local church are more likely to succeed, once the “black holes” of unaddressed grief have been dealt with by a collective and on-going process of mourning. Mourning is defined as an intentional and courageous process of letting go of different losses. It is hard work, but the result of deliberate mourning is growth – and eventually a more appropriate, new identity. Unresolved grief causes congregations to get stuck in survival mode, in stead of reaching out to the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mourning is an antidote (Hamman 2005:35). The research model of G Heitink (1993) is employed to generate fresh practical theological thinking on the research problem: that congregations fail to live according to their missional identity. The hermeneutical cycle explores the “new” practical theology in the framework of a post-Einstein epistemology, as well as the theory of building up the local church in the framework of an ecosystemic meta-theory. The hermeneutical cycle is concluded with the study of contemporary theories of loss, grief and mourning. The empirical cycle reports the results of a qualitative empirical study in three local congregations of the Northern Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church. A rich description is given of 31 respondents’ experience of loss and grief in the new South-Africa. It is established that unresolved grief indeed impacts negatively on efforts to build up the local church. The strategic cycle searches for practical theological wisdom and for a theory that can guide congregations to more productive responses to change and loss. The research boils down to twelve strategic suggestions for local congregations on how to make collective mourning a normal and on-going part of their ministry. The study concludes with the hypothesis that practical theology can serve the church by developing a theory that integrates intentional mourning and grief work as a necessary and normal aspect of ministry.