I hope this study will bring hospitality into the communities of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in South Africa (EPCSA) and will also bring the gospel to the people within their context. I hope this study will not only be fruitful to the EPCSA, but also to outside readers or other churches or congregations that might experience growth in their congregations that might come with language challenges. The principal aim of this research is to develop more inclusive liturgy praxis for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in South Africa. The main focus of this study is the Sunday liturgy of the EPCSA, known as Magandzelelo Ekerekeni. Magandzelelo Ekerekeni is a Sunday liturgy for the EPCSA and is exclusively in the Tsonga language. It consists of five (5) Sunday orders of service, i.e. one for each Sunday of the month.
Chapter 1 introduces the thesis and the church to the readers. The motivations for the chosen research are discussed as well as the relevance and the importance of the research. This chapter also states its aims and objectives of the research, the problems to be researched, methodologies and the expected outcomes. Chapter 2 introduces the history of the church (EPCSA), looks at the profiles of the founders of EPCSA and the possible influence they might have had on the Sunday liturgy of EPCSA. This chapter also considers the influence of the community on the development of the EPCSA in the past. Chapter 3 introduces the liturgy of EPCSA; it looks at John Calvin‘s view on liturgy and his influence in the EPCSA, discusses the historical development of the liturgy of EPCSA, analyses the liturgical inculturation in the township and city churches within EPCSA and concludes with a critical review of the liturgy. Chapter 4 shares Paul‘s theology of being inclusive and how South Africa‘s democracy helps us in this regard (Truth and Reconciliation Commission). This chapter also discusses Christology and inculturation from a biblical perspective and concludes with inculturation and liturgy. Chapter 5 concentrates on data collection and discusses the methodology considered, the ministers‘ view on the inculturation of the church‘s Sunday liturgy, compares the data collected from individual church members found in townships as well as in the villages, provides a brief detail on the meaning and methods of EPCSA and concludes with areas in the EPCSA in need of inculturation based on the collected data. Chapter 6 discusses the findings of the study and the challenges to the EPCSA liturgical team in the twenty-first century and multicultural context found in the church.
To give the readers a brief idea on the structure, management and values of the church, I share a quotation from the general secretary‘s office. I found this to be very important to offer background to what I am working with and the kind of Presbyterian Church I am working with:
Quote from the office of the general secretary of the church:
“The Evangelical Presbyterian Church in South Africa —formerly known as the Tsonga Presbyterian Church —is the result of the work of the Swiss Mission in South Africa which that began in the Northern Transvaal in 1875. The gospel was first proclaimed to the Shangaans people by two Basotho evangelists, seconded by the Parish Evangelical Missionary Society. A Network mission station was established in the northern and eastern parts of the Transvaal. As Whilst the rapid growth of the mining industry drew many people to the towns, congregations were established in the Pretoria Reef and later the Welkom (Orange Free State) areas (Orange Free State) and also in Zululand.
The church became autonomous in 1962, but still relied on the Swiss churches for financial support. Tsonga is the official language of the church. 1
The church confesses one universal faith, this faith being in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Saviour of the World: the same Jesus whom God revealed Himself. The church, therefore, worships the ONE GOD, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it strives to foster the advent of the Kingdom on earth and to prefigure God‟s new creation.
I acknowledge her (EPCSA) dependence on the Word of God, as contained in the Scripture of the OLD and New Testament. This Word stands in judgment over the Church and constitutes the only foundation of faith and life.
She (EPCSA) confesses the faith proclaimed by the early church as embodied in the declaration of the Ecumenical Synods and represented by the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. These are considered to constitute a witness and test of its faith, which the Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples and are still confirmed by the Holy Spirit in the church.
Activities and priorities:
Evangelism: planting of new churches;
Promoting of spiritual growth of the church;
Playing a leading role in health matters in the battle against HIV/AIDS,
Empowerment of ministers—lay preachers and administrative staff with management skills;
Addressing poverty and unemployment.”
A quote such as the above from the general secretary of the EPCSA is informative for this research because it provides an understanding of what the church stands for and what its aims are.