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Following footprints of the Moravian Brethren in Western Cape

Ambassador Blanka Fajkusová and Head of Economic and Commercial Section Ms. Ivana Klímová together with German Consul General in Cape Town Mr. Roland Herrmann visited on 4-6 November 2013 three villages in the Western Cape, founded in the 18th and 19th centuries by missionaries from the Moravian Church (Moravian Brethren) – Mamre, Genadendal and Elim.

Mamre was founded in 1808 by missionaries J. H. Schmitt and J. F. Kohrhammer in the area of Groenekloof farm. Mamre, a town of almost 10 000 inhabitants, is situated some 50 km north of Cape Town.  

Genadendal has today 5 600 inhabitants. Located approx. 140 km east of Cape Town, its is the oldest mission station of the Moravian Brethren in south Africa, founded by Georg Schmidt, who in 1738 settled in Baviaans Kloof (Ravine of the Baboons). G. Schmidt was born in 1709 in Kunvald (Kunewalde) in Moravia (on the territory of today’s Czech Republic) and died in 1785 in Niesky, in Upper Lusatia (Germany), one of the colonies of the Moravian Church (Jednota bratrská in Czech), founded by Czech emigrants who fled from persecution and forced re-catholisation in their homeland.

Elim, the smallest of these three Moravian villages with only 1 500 inhabitants, is situated close to the most southern tip of the African continent, Cape Agulhas, approx. 180 km south-east from Cape Town. Elim was founded in 1824 by three families of German missionaries, Hans Peter Walbeck, Johann Gottlieb Bonatz a C. Thompson.

Mamre and Elim kept their status of mission stations and are administered by the Moravian Church (only the historical compound in Mamre, the whole village of Elim). Genandendal is a part of Theewaterskloof municipality.

In Mamre and Elim the members of this small Czech-German delegation made a tour around historical sites and with local reverends discussed possible cooperation. In Elim they visited also the Elim House, a house for severely mentally and physically impaired children. The house is run by the Moravian Church. Although originally intended only for children, the Elim House provides accommodation and care also to a couple of adults with no families, which could take care of them. Altogether the Elim House looks after 50 clients. Reverend Godfrey Cunningham expressed the wish to welcome volunteers from the Czech Republic who could work there side by side with those from Germany. In the village there is also the Mispah School, special school for children with barriers to learning.

In Genadendal, accompanied by the Director Dr. Isaac Balie, they visited the local museum, which is dedicated to life of local people, but commemorates also the some of personalities of Reformation, among them most prominently John (Jan) Hus and Johann Amos Comenius.

More on the Moravian Church also in the article “Moravian Brethren in South Africa”.


Po stopách Moravských bratří / Following footprints of the Moravian Brethren