Our Past


The Civic Hall was used as a meeting place for all the churches in Pinelands in the early days of the Garden Cities. Services were held on alternate Sunday evenings by each of the churches. The Presbyterians used the Minor Hall as a preaching station attached to Mowbray Presbyterian Church until 1938.

It was when the Rev Alban Heath came to live in Pinelands and was asked to conduct services that the group outgrew the Civic Hall. In July 1937 he was appointed minister in charge and the first church roll was created in November of that year.

Garden Cities originally allocated a site at the corner of the Triangle and North Walk for the Presbyterian Church. Early in 1938 the original site was exchanged for the present one. Mr . MacDonald laid the Foundation Stone for the first church building on 12th November 1938 and the building was opened by Mrs. Ecclestone on 15th January 1939.

A manse was purchased in 1942 in Scouts Place but this was later sold and the present manse build on the church grounds.

A hall was required for the large numbers of children attending the Sunday School and the Rev J.W. Summersgill laid the foundation stone for the hall in October 1949.

The church building proved too small for its growing population and the larger church building, added to the smaller original building was consecrated on 1st November 1959. This is the building we worship in today.

The Pinelands Presbyterian Church Men’s Association (currently known as the Men’s Fellowship) was started in November 1958 when 18 male members of the Church decided to try and maintain the excellent camaraderie amongst of the men of the Church at that time. They continue to meet five times a year offering faithful witness to the life of the Church.

The evening group of the Women’s Association prepare to serve tea circa 1958.

The Pinelands WA was constituted on the 15th November 1937 and the women have been active in the church ever since. The Work Party held its first meeting at the home of Betty Melville on 29th April 1963 and continues to meet each week.

Previous Ministers
Rev Alban Heath 1937 to 1942

The Rev. Alban Heath was the first minister to be appointed to the charge of Pinelands Presbyterian Church per se, when in July 1937 it was given that status and ceased to be a preaching station of Mowbray Presbyterian Church. Rev Heath presided over the building of the first, small church (now the chapel), which was commenced in 1939, and remained minister to this congregation until his retirement in 1941. He died in 1944, and his death was followed shortly afterwards by that of his wife Janet. Both are commemorated by a plaque in the chapel.

Rev J.W. Summersgill 1942 to 1954

Rev and Mrs Summersgill steered the congregation with great sensitivity through the grim days of World War II, their faith never faltering even when the elder of their two sons was killed in this global conflict. After the war the congregation increased rapidly as the post-war expansion of Pinelands brought many new residents to this Garden City, including a high proportion of emigrants from the United Kingdom seeking a new life away from the austerity or their war-torn country. The Scots among these new South Africans eagerly embraced the faith of their forefathers by joining Pinelands Presbyterian Church. Thus, Rev Summersgill’s ministry was notable for a huge increase in the number on the Roll of the church, also for the beginning of expansion of the church premises as the building restrictions that had been in force for the duration of the war were lifted.

Rev John Anderson 1954 to 1958

The Rev, John Anderson was active in the youth ministry and was also much involved in many of the fund-raising events that took place in the 1950s when it became apparent that the small church that had served the congregation since 1939 was now far from adequate for the enlarged congregation and a new, much larger sanctuary would have to be built. Building proceeded well during Mr Anderson’s ministry, and the new church was almost complete when he left Pinelands for Johannesburg in 1958. From Johannesburg he proceeded to

Rev Andrew L.C. Gray 1959 to 1977

The Rev. Andrew Gray came to us from North Berwick in Scotland, with his wife Nora and four young children, Donald, David, James and Alison. The congregation took this delightful family to its heart, and the Christian influences of their youth later bore fruit in that both David and James entered the ministry and are today active and much-loved ministers in the UPCSA. Sound family values and a strict moral code were at the root of Mr Gray’s ministry during the 1960s and 1970s, a time when the world was changing and long-accepted principles were being challenged. If some perceived him as conservative and unbending, he was generally much respected as a staunch upholder of fundamental Christian values

Rev James Patrick 1978 to 1986

The Rev. James Patrick, a young man of 32, came to Pinelands from Umtali. The call to this youthful and relatively inexperienced minister to assume responsibility for the Pinelands congregation, mainly much older than himself, could have been daunting, but he accepted the challenge with great enthusiasm and soon set about the task of bringing about change in the worship and life of the church. His deep love of music was brought to bear on his ministry. His approach to preaching was fresh and vibrant, and he soon attracted many younger people into the congregation. Friendship and fellowship were major features of the ministry of James Patrick in this church. His love of music has made him known as a presenter on Fine Music Radio, a task he performs with great aplomb.

Rev Matt du Preez 1987 to 2009

The Rev. du Preez (soon fondly known to most of the congregation as Matt). became well known for his caring concern for the elderly and frail, as well as anyone else in need, and was much loved for his compassionate nature. Caring was the essence of his ministry and under his influence became a feature of the congregation as well. He often applied his hobby of woodwork to good effect. As his secretary remarked in a tribute to him on his retirement: ”He could fix anything—and DID.” Having spent some years in the financial world before deciding to enter the ministry Matt also made his administrative skills available to the Presbytery of the Western Cape and served for many years on the Executive. He was truly a man of many talents, all of which he used for the Lord.

Current Minister
Rev Rob Calder 2010 to

On 28 January 2010 our present minister, the Rev. Robert Calder, was inducted to the charge of Pinelands Presbyterian Church, answering our call after a 28-year ministry at Scottsville Presbyterian Church in Pietermaritzburg. In the 8 years they have been with us Rob, as he is fondly known to all, and his wife Pam have become much loved by the congregation as a whole and have made many friends. Rob’s approach to ministry and all aspects of worship is innovative and dynamic, a declared objective being to take the church into the modern era, attracting younger people while not alienating the older generation. His emphasis in ministry is that the Church is the Body of Christ and each one is a part of it, whether young, old, black, white, traditional, charismatic, conservative or liberal – WE belong together and need each other in a local congregation and local congregations of different denominations in an area need one another to be the Church of Jesus.