ORANGE GROVE CHURCH ORIGINS
The family returned to England once again in 1929 but because Alfred Webster could not find work with Sabbath privileges they returned to South Africa permanently a few months later and rejoined the group of Seventh-Day Adventists in Orange Grove, which subsequently was recognized by the church as an organized group on 1 December 1934.
They subsequently worshiped in the Sons of England Memorial Hall on the corner of 8th Street and Louis Botha Ave.This wasn’t a very convenient arrangement as invariably the hall had to be tidied up before Sabbath School could begin following the usual party of the night before.
During the early 1940’s Alfred Webster donated the two adjust-scent stands one at the bottom of Tenth and the other at the bottom Eleventh Streets, Orange Grove for the purposes of building a Church and a School. Connie van der Molen who transferred from Mellville Church, was a master-builder and in 1944 built the Church in Eleventh Street (Hall today). He later built the additional wing which became the Orange Grove church as we know it today.
Seventy years ago, on Sunday 26 June 1949, Pastor Jan van der Merwe, who was then President of the Natal Transvaal Conference, laid the stone that can be seen at the front of the church commemorating its construction.
But how did it all begin? We must go to the year 1913 when a young man Alfred Webster emigrated to South Africa from England with his wife and their younger son Leslie. This family initially settled in Pretoria during which time the Webster family were blessed with the birth of two daughters, “Dolly” Bagg and Sybil Pleass. They would later move to Johannesburg.
About 1921, while the family was on holiday in Port Elizabeth, Lilly Webster purchased a book called “Daniel and Revelation” from a faithful Colporteur. Little did she realize at the time what an influence this would have on the future of the Webster family. In 1922 the family returned to England but year later came back to South Africa and settled in the Bellevue and later the Fellside suburbs of Johannesburg east.
In 1926, Pastor William Hurlow (Snr) held an evangelist effort in the Sons of England Memorial Hall , Orange Grove .Lilly Webster recognized the beauty of the truth as contained in the book she had bought some years earlier and accepted the evangelist’s message. Later, following Bible studies in their home, her husband also accepted the message and the family joined a small group of Sabbath-keepers who met in a small schoolroom in Shipton Lane, Victoria – a small suburb situated between Orange Grove and Norwood near the Houghton Golf Course.
The first major refurnishing was in about 1952 as a result of great sacrifice from the small group of members who donated funds for the pews, and a special donation by Oscar Hurley fro the Pulpit and the Platform furniture which we still use to this day.
Some of the Pastors who played an important role in the shepherding the flock in the early days were Pastors Le Butt, Staples, Hurlow and Evanglists Hassenphulg and Turner. Over the past years Pastors Harcombe, Landless, Spencer, Simplicio, Erasmus, Jonker and van Nie Kerk have given us their services for which we would like to pay them a special tribute.
68 years on and still Orange Grove Church continues to be a beacon of light and hope for the community. The bond we share as a family is ever so strong as we await the return of our King and Saviour Jesus Christ, as he promised in His word…
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
Paterson Park Primary School
MUCH-NEEDED building was brought to its completion. What rejoicing! What Sacrifice! Three new classrooms, an office, a crafts room, library and toilets were ready for use.
It was the evening of June 18. A large crowd of church members and friends had lined the stoep of the old block. On the ramp leading to the first floor stood important guests, Pastor P.H Coetzee was at the microphone.
One by one the group on the ramp was introduced. Then came the greatest event.
Unfortunately, the Mayor had a previous engagement and could not come. In his place stood Dr H.J Scheepers the inspector of schools for Rand Central. His speech warmed the hearts of all present as he started with “Brothers and sisters…..”. Dr Scheepers told of how this school had come up in record time and at a record cost of £6500. He felt proud of Paterson Park, and very happy to welcome her into the group of schools under his care.
Suddenly there was silence as a shining pair of scissors was plunged forward. The ribbon snapped in two, the new block had been opened. A long line of friends inspected the classrooms and then separated into various classrooms for a banquet.Grace was most unusual. Six Paterson Park Tiny Tots sang sweetly “Thank You God … for everything”. One hundred and forty persons set down to eat. A special word of thanks and appreciation went to the went to the builder, Mr W Botbyl, who had put his all into the building.
After various toasts were made, Pastor Clifford, Secretary -Treasurer of the Transvaal Conference handed over the key of “success “to Pastor E.C Webster, Chairman of the school board. He reminded him that the conference had now handed “the baby” on, and that the new hands were to care for it now. Pastor Webster accepted the key and thanked the conference for its help. The Principal A.B Mew stepped up and accepted the key from Pastor Webster as the challenge of the hour. He went on to appeal to parents to bring the raw material – their children, for the building up of the school.
A good start on a library was been made. Books were received from the Transvaal MV Department and from the Religious Book Depository. A cash donation was given by Sedaven These gifts have given the school a good beginning towards a good collection of books
To close off the pleasant evening Pastor W.R Vail, Division Education secretary pronounced the benediction dedicating the school to God.