This article sets out to describe how churches have responded and continue to respond to fastchanging
urban environments in Pretoria Central and Mamelodi East, animating Henri
Lefebvre’s sociological perspective of citadins or urban inhabitants. We make tentative
interpretations and offer critical appreciation. Churches, which were historically separated
from the city centre, now directly participate in claiming a right to the city. With necessary
fluidity, churches express lived African urbanisms through informality, place-making, spatial
innovation and everyday rituals. Though not exhaustive, the article focuses on rituals shared
among historic urban Christians and contemporary African urban Christians, namely prayer,
listening to the Bible and worship. These rituals, when combined with the churches’ spatial
innovation, to a certain degree contribute to place-making.
This article forms part of a collaborative research project entitled ‘Religious innovation and competition amidst urban social
change: a Pretoria case study’. The project is also a sub-theme of the ‘Faith in the City’ research project, hosted by the Centre for Contextual Ministry in the Faculty of
Theology, University of Pretoria.