Who Are We?
Short History of the congregations
1.Milne Street congregation
(called St. Michael from 1985)
In 1890 Rev. O Stavem from the Norwegian Mission Society started work in the harbour town of Port Natal. He obtained the plot in Milne Street and built a small structure where a growing congregation could start. Many Lutherans had moved from up country to find employment in the growing town.
In 1906 the first building was replaced by the bigger church that is there today. Rev. S. Eriksen took over the work. He was married to the daughter of consul Abraham Larssen, a Norwegian emigrant who had started many businesses in Durban, among others the Whaling Station at the Bluff.
On 25th August 1915 the first black pastor, Rev. Petrus Lamula, was ordained to be the pastor in charge of the congregation. He became especially involved in the situation of the many male labourers living in cramped conditions in hostels in the harbour area. He gathered the workers not only for Sunday worship, but also for educational and social meetings during weekdays evenings. This work grew to be the start of the Labour Union Movement in Durban area.
Rev. Lamula was an extremely gifted teacher and pastor. He had to resign from his work in Milne Street church and was replaced by Rev. B. A. Mpanza in 1924. The urban church was faced with an entirely new challenge when the rush into the city increased and large slums like Cato Manor developed. A small corrugated iron church was built in Moore Road in 1926. This became an important daughter-congregation to Milne Street, mostly catering for domestic employees.
The Durban Corporation in co-operation with the government embarked on the establishment of major housing schemes in the outskirts of the city. They started in Lamontville in 1934 and in Chesterville in 1946. Already in 1936 the church in Lamontville was built – also as a daughter-congregation to Milne Street. In 2009 major renovations and extension work to the church building, including two extra rooms and a toilet block were completed.
A mission outreach in Chesterville was embarked on. It was planned to build a church, but a site could not be obtained. For many years the congregation worshipped in a corrugated iron building, but were eventually given notice by the owners. Subsequently worship continued in an incomplete workshop building for some years. Thereafter the congregation used a classroom in Chesterville High school, where they are currently worshipping. Chesterville congregation has managed to obtain a site and is about to finish the construction of a ground floor of a two-storey church building, where they plan to move to in the coming months.
On Easter Sunday of 1959 an English service was started in Moore Road Lutheran church for “Coloured” families who had been removed from their homes in Zululand. It was a humble beginning, but the few that were present had a missionary zeal.
In the 1960’s many of the “Coloureds” were moved into Austerville and later the area was extended to include the whole of Wentworth. The churches were given space for worship in a long barrack in Goschen Rd. There were 13 church denominations under the same roof. A task group was appointed to recommend a way forward for the work of the Lutheran Church among the “Coloureds”. They came up with a suggestion that the Lutheran families could join other churches in the area, such as the Methodist or the Anglicans. Dean P. B. Mhlungu, later bishop, was strongly opposed to this suggestion. He claimed that if the Lutheran Church shall be relevant in the South African situation, it must be a church for all population groups. The work continued. When the churches had to move out of the barracks in Goschen Road, the Lutheran congregation could, after a short interim in the church building of the Reformed Church, move to the new church in Happy Valley, Ogle Road in 1980.
This relatively young congregation started using classrooms of a nearby high school as a worship site. Through successfull fundraising they managed to buy a wood and iron church building from a catholic congregation on Sarnia Road, where they are worshipping now.
Othandweni was founded in 2002 where they met in a classroom of the New Forest High School. Now they worship at Khulangolwazi Special School.
The Hermannsburg Mission set up a work in Cator Manor and built a small church building of corrugated iron – at the corner of then Cato Manor and Old Main Rd. Later this was replaced by a solid church building, which eventually burnt to the ground. In 1960 the municipality decided to clear the slum area of Cato Manor and the church site was lost. The Cato Crest Congregation was newly formed by members formerly attending St.Michael’s and met in school classrooms. Since 2009 a room is used for services in the former SPCA Building – now an interim shelter for people from the informal settlement area in Cato Crest, which is being converted to a low-cost housing project.